Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Education and the Failures of Capitalism

I was venting about a lot of different things both personal and political when I wrote this but then Bridge posted this article and it's actually a good case study on how economic self-interest can decimate public institutions. The article is actually pretty even-handed in the push and pull between teachers and districts fighting over money.

Because of personal experience and other biases (my mom was a teacher for 30 years), I tend to side with the teachers. Specifically, a lot of charter schools do have horrible working conditions and low pay at least without the current slew of bonuses and I have no faith that's sustainable in the long term or that the charter operators will even stick to the terms of their own deals when dollars get tight, which they will (and I'll get to it in a moment)

Let me put it like this. In Ken Burns Vietnam War documentary an ARVN interviewee says he told the American government the fastest way to end corruption was to pay officials enough money honestly so that they didn't have to steal to support themselves, as once they crossed that line all bets were off, and doing so would comparatively cheap.

It's not the same thing and I don't want to even come close to pretending it is but that's more or less how I came out of my experiences with education. That a lot of the problems of education were caused because there just wasn't enough money to seriously tackle problems and the knowledge of that so lowered moral that some people stopped trying.

At the same time, I don't like the cutthroat competition the article describes even amongst the teachers. As much as I hate to admit it they aren't blameless, or at least not as blameless as I would like to pretend.

That having been said of feel the article is missing a bad guy.

This entire situation is the result of nearly a decade of bad public policy regarding education. I have mixed feelings about how hard I want to rail against charter schools. Love them or hate them nearly half of Detroit's kids are enrolled in them now.

But the state legislature needs to own that.

To own they have a monster of their own making and deal with it.

Which brings me back to the squabbling.

There is so little money in the system that both the teachers and the schools are desperate for every dollar. The state needs to intervene with both funding and guidance to bring order to a system of laisse fair dog eat dog economic self-interest.

And let me be clear I don't want the state to come in and punish teachers who have been dog pilled on enough, but to act as a fair and just referee in a conflict they engineered.

They created this system with the idea that such economic competition for students and by extension funding would increase the quality of the educational system.  By now it is the nearly common knowledge that on its own it has and not can not.

We need law. And we know whoose responsibility that is.

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