Smarter than thou

Democrats believe “We are smart, you are dumb,” writes David Gelernter in the LA Times. For example:

Vouchers let you decide where to spend tax money to educate your children. You give the voucher to any public or private school; it’s your call. But Democrats worry that (among other things) too many parents will spend their vouchers at a local Obedience School for Little Nazis or the neighborhood Witchcraft Academy. That’s what they think of their fellow citizens. That’s what they think of you!

Now some readers will say, hold on, be fair! Democrats only oppose vouchers because the teachers unions ordered them to. Agreed, teachers unions are a big factor in every major decision a good Democrat makes, starting with what cereal to have for breakfast. But Democrats also oppose vouchers out of honest conviction. They are honestly convinced that ordinary Americans don’t have the brains to choose a school for their own kids.

Democrats are professors at heart, Gelernter writes. They see “the people” as dull students.

Even professors aren’t necessarily smart enough, however. In California, the teachers’ union allied with Democrats to kill a bill which would have allowed colleges and universities to charter schools.

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Comments

  1. It’s the same with Social Security. We, the people, are just too f**king dumb to invest our own money for retirement. Thank the God we have the Democratic Party to keep us sucking on the government tit.

  2. Mike in Texas says:

    Wow, I’m impressed!

    The author managed to insult both Democrats and college professors in one article.

  3. Gelernter is great computer scientist. I read a good amount of his published books and papers as a student in the 1980s. He was purposely targeted by that eco-terrorist the Unabomber in 1993(?), and seriously injured. I recall being so stunned I wept briefly in my office.

  4. You find that impressive? Doesn’t require much skill as far as I’m concerned.

    Besides, he’s wrong. It’s not that the lefties, the leftier element of the Democratic party and “many professors” think they’re intellectually superior, they think they’re superior in every regard that’s not objectively measurable.

    They’re not just smarter, they’re also more generous, fairer, more introspective and more compassionate. They have superior aesthetic sensibilities and more refined palates. They know what rules other people ought to live by but can’t be held to the same, dull standards as those people.

    They’re more fashionable without being shallow. They’re deeper without being dull. They know what positions to take, what poses to strike, what slogans to mouth, what books to be seen carrying and what fabric should be most prominent in their wardrobe.

    So the good doctor errs due to insufficient breadth of view. He’s like the blind man who thinks an elephant is a type of snake because he’s only felt the elephant’s trunk: he’s right as far as he goes but wrong over all.

    By the way, does anyone remember Dr. Gelerntner’s most famous encounter with the political left?

    Yes, it is that Dr. David Gelerntner.

  5. Dang Zock. Nine minutes earlier and the tail end of my post would have made sense.

    And that should be Gelernter. Double dang.

  6. Richard Nieporent says:

    Great post allen. You characterized the Left perfectly.

  7. CalTech wanted to start a science high school in Pasadena. David Baltimore though it would be a good recruiting tool for new faculty, as the local public schools are dreadful. Pasadena Unified shot it down in flames–after all, it would be “elitist”.

  8. Cardinal Fang says:

    If we instituted vouchers in my state (California) we’d immediately have to pay for every student now in private school. So the education budget instantly would go up 11%. I know that conservatives don’t like paying taxes, so where do they think that money is going to come from?

    There’s another problem with vouchers for private schools: skimming. The average cost to educate a student is, well, whatever it is, call it X dollars. But the deviation from that average is extreme. A nice little middle class kid with no disabilities costs X/2 or X/3 dollars, but an autistic kid costs 6X or 8X or 15X dollars, and it all averages out to X dollars per student.

    Now look how profitable it is to set up a private school that takes vouchers and only accept the students who don’t have disabilities and already speak English. You take the X dollars per student voucher fee, but you have a student body that’s cheaper to educate, so you can make a tidy sum. Meanwhile the public schools are stuck with the expensive-to-educate students and not enough money.

  9. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Hey, Fang, obviously you did not hear about the New York experiment.

  10. Cardinal Fang says:

    The experiment in New York?

  11. Walter E. Wallis says:

    The locals swore the parochial schools did so well because they were selective in their enrollment, so the Church told the locals to select 300 students at random and send them over. The publics selected 300 of their worst, sent them to the parochial school, and all of them did well. Someone else might have more on this, but that particular argument went South.

  12. Hey Cardinal, just because parents are willing to send their kid(s) to a private school doesn’t mean they aren’t also paying taxes that support the public school system. That means that for every private school student, the public education system gets money for doing nothing.

    It’s only in the fantasy land of public education that doing nothing becomes a public good and worthy of funding.

    There’s another problem with vouchers for private schools: skimming.

    I always love when the “cherry-picking” argument is hauled out and dusted off. It’s so ripe with unexamined assumptions and unchallengeable truths.

    So Cardinal, you figure California’s doing such a fine job with those X/3 dollars per student kids that the state has an unarguable claim to educating those 6X, 8X, 15X kids?

    What’s the record of the California public education system with able-bodied, English-speaking kids? Pretty good? Not so good?

    According to you, and I agree by the way, those are the kids they ought to have the easiest time educating. It’s a cinch that the autistic kids aren’t just going to be more expensive to teach but also more difficult. So what’s our measure tell us about the quality of education the public is likely to recieve for those autistic kids?

    Now look how profitable it is to set up a private school

    Ahh yes, the “P” word.

    Private education’s a real gold-mine in California, is it? Microsoft about to move into the private education market to suck up the rich profit-margins that the bit players are now getting fat off of?

    Maybe you’ve been reading some of Mike in Texas’ lurid posts about the how all the evil Republican fat cats can hardly wait to start sucking up the river of public funds by opening fly-by-night charter schools in every abandoned gas station. They’ll make oodles of evil profitssssesss by hiring undocumented aliens – most likely missing an eye or a limb – as teachers, feeding the kids dirt gruel and use discarded fast-food wrappers as text books.

    Yeah, any day now the Private School Bubble will start to swell just like the Internet Bubble. Probably tomorrow.

    Thanks Richard. I have an uncommonly, though not uniquely, good position from which to observe the wild liberal.

    I wonder if there’s any grant money available to study them close up? Maybe I can become the Jane Goodall of lefties? Observing them in their natural surroundings, analyzing their behaviour, coming to understand their place in the great web of life….

  13. superdestroyer says:

    Allen,

    The arguments about profits and corporate take overs is one of the weakest of the anti-voucher crowd. In every large city of the US, there are waiting lists are schools at charge more than $15K. Yet, no business is opening new private schools to take advantage. Why? Because a newly open school is not the same as a 100 year old established prep school.

    However, the pro-voucher crowd keeps talking about how demand will cause an instant %900 increase in the number of seats in private school. Also, a very weak argument for vouchers.

  14. Cardinal Fang says:

    Walter Wallis, I’d be very interested in a cite for that experiment in New York. I hadn’t heard of it. Google is not helping me.

    Allen, I think you mistake my argument. I’m merely saying that if we issue vouchers for private schools, then every student currently in private school who remains in private school will now cost the state X dollars, when they previously had cost the state zero dollars. Since about 10% of school-age kids are in private school, that means that the school budget would jump 11% or so right there. That’s just simple math.

    I don’t understand the comment that in the case of private school students, the public school gets money for doing nothing. Public schools, at least in California, get money according to how many students are actually attending the school, not how many students live in the district and could attend the school.

  15. Richard Nieporent says:

    Allen your on a roll today.

    Every word that was written by Cardinal Fang is a lie, including the and a. No state has opened voucher programs to everyone. It is limited to low-income students and it usually requires that they come from failing schools. So we don’t have to worry about a run on the treasury. The students who can get vouchers are not from affluent families but those from low-income homes. As such they have many of the problems that require more funds to address, so the school are not getting the best students. However, the one thing they are getting are students with parents who care about their children’s education. Also, the amount of the vouchers are less than the amount the state pays for a child going to the public school. The net effect is that the school system actually gains funds (the average amount of money per student in the public school goes up) when a student leaves the public school system. However, that is not good enough for the teacher’s unions. They are afraid that once their monopoly of education is broken they will lose power and influence. The Democrats are afraid that if minorities are allowed to be educated they may no longer vote Democrat automatically.

  16. Richard Nieporent says:

    D’oh. It should have been you’re in the first sentence.

  17. Cardinal Fang says:

    The cited article says “Vouchers let you decide where to spend tax money to educate your children. You give the voucher to any public or private school; it’s your call. But Democrats worry that (among other things) too many parents will spend their vouchers on …”

    Vouchers let you decide where to educate your children, Gelertner says. The Los Angeles Times is not a newspaper that is read predominantly by low-income parents of kids in failing schools. It seems clear to me that Gelertner at least is talking about a voucher program aimed at all students, so that is what I was talking about as well.

  18. But wouldn’t using your tax dollars to pay for other peoples kids to go to crazy schools bother you? I don’t want to pay for Nazi academies, Wiccan schools, Afro-Centric schools, or a list of countless others. At least with one system of public education there remains an element of public control. Granted, it doesn’t mean excellence, but it does limit the public funding of craziness a little.

  19. Miller Smith says:

    Do any of you enjoy the fact that public educatin is under POLITICAL control? A lot of you absolutely hate that (Bush, NCLB,DOE, etc.). It should come to an end. Period.

    The government of a free people DOES NOT control the content of that free people’s education. It would be a wonderful to return the CONTENT of education to the individual citizens and take it from the hands of politicians. If we don’t, we will have to put up with the whims of a take it or leave it CONTENT with every election.

    Government control of the content of education is anti-democratic and un-American.

    Now it is a public good (in the strictest sense) for the education of poor children to be publically financed. All others can pay for the “choice” they made.

  20. Richard Nieporent says:

    I don’t want to pay for Nazi academies, Wiccan schools, Afro-Centric schools, or a list of countless others.

    And I don’t want to pay for Leftist schools so I guess we can’t always get what we want. However, my concern is real, yours is imaginary. Unless you can show evidence that any of these Nazi/Wiccan voucher schools actually exist, it would seem that, like Cardinal Fang’s comments, you just made it up.

  21. Lou Gots says:

    There you go again, as a great American president used to say. It’s not your money, and much more importantly, they are not your childern. Your children go to non-publics, charters or select publics, or to publics just over the city line.

    We should face this situation honestly, and call a shovel a shovel. No parent who has a choice would suffer his child to languish in the prison-like environment of general population urbanm schools. The politicians are exploiting the system to force parents who possibly can to ante up more education dollars than the tax base could possibly support. Some pols rely on bad schools and neighborhood-busting tactics to force their opponents’ base out of the city.

    Opponents of school choice seem to think that parents should not have the choice to remove their children from an environment of violence, intimidation, harassment, sexual harassment and assault. This is precisely why parents struggle economically to buy a house in the best neighborhood they can afford–to get their children away from the grungy street critters.

    Whom do your children go to school with, anti-choice people? Do they have armed guards in the one bathroom in these schools, have they abolished lunch periods, are children raped in the fire towers or hanged alive in the coat rooms. Is gunfire commonplace? All these things have happenened in my district in the last few weeks. Are parents who want out for thier children racist, or anti-diversity. Ridiculous! All good parents White, Black or Green get their parents out of the system as soon as they can.

  22. NancyD…there *is* a potential problem with funding of some pretty wild stuff…but there is plenty of pretty wild stuff going on in public schools and universities today.

    I think that control exercised at an individual level (parent moving their kids to schools that are less crazy) is more likely to have a real impact than the current system, in which the only way you can have an impact is to get the entire school board fired.

  23. Cardinal Fang wrote:

    Allen, I think you mistake my argument.

    Oh no Cardinal, I understand you just fine but you seem to be laboring under the misconception that if 100% of the tax revenue supports the education of 90% of the kids then educating 100% of the kids implies getting 111% of the revenue.

    Maybe that’s how things work in your part of town but where I live if you do half the work you get half the money and any claim to the entire amount is greeted with hearty jocularity.

    Public schools, at least in California, get money according to how many students are actually attending the school

    Well sure and how else would you do it? Certainly not by relating the budget to some measure of educational efficacy, but I digress.

    Your confusion, Cardinal Fang, is in thinking that the number of students is a multiplier. That is, the cost per student is calculated and then multiplied by the number of students. Wrong arithmetic operation.

    The number of students is the divisor and the cost per student is calculated by dividing the total budget that can be squeezed out of the legislature by the number of students.

    So, turn your example around. If the percentage of students going to private schools increases then does the public get a reduction in taxes?

    I was just ribbing you a little. Of course the public doesn’t pay less taxes if fewer kids are going to the public schools. That just means it takes more money per student to educate the kids that remain in the public schools.

    I hope that clears things up.

    Nancy D wrote:

    I don’t want to pay for Nazi academies, Wiccan schools, Afro-Centric schools, or a list of countless others.

    Given the state of public education I’d consider it a real step up if, along with teaching kids to dance naked in the full moon, they were taught TO READ.

    At least with one system of public education there remains an element of public control.

    The Detroit Public School district, if you can believe them, has a 70% graduation rate of which 30% graduate functionally illiterate. Is it your contention that the Detroit public approves of paying to educate 30% of each high school class so they’re fit for little more then manual labor?

    superdestroyer wrote:

    However, the pro-voucher crowd keeps talking about how demand will cause an instant %900 increase in the number of seats in private school.

    You must talk to a different pro-voucher crowd then I do. To the best of my knowledge, no one in the pro-voucher community is projecting a 900% increase in private school attendance. Why would they? It certainly isn’t likely to happen.

    After all, voucher parents are fairly uncommon people. They have to be sufficiently dissatisfied with the public education system to accept the greater inconvenience and involvement that the non-district alternatives seem to inevitably demand.

    Whatever percentage that is, it’s unlikely to be 100% of the parents who are currently sending their kids to district-based public schools.

    Or do you know something I don’t know?

  24. Katherine C says:

    I wish people could state their opinions or their arguments against other opinions without needing to blow things up, especially without bringing out the “Democrats believe. . .” card. Not everyone in a political party is in agreement and even if they are in agreement over, for example, opposing vouchers, they may have different reasons for it and it may be that none of them have to do with thinking people can’t choose a school for their children. For example, I’m a Democrat (incidental though, I’d like to believe) and though I do oppose most vouchers, I don’t think parents are stupid and I’m certainly not opposed to choice. I’m opposed to breaking the separation of church and state. I also think that it’s only a choice if it’s really open to everyone (at least as much as possible.) Therefore I oppose vouchers for private and parochial schools. For choice, I’m more a believer in things like charters, public schools that can offer additional variety and options to the traditional system. If a parent still feels strongly about sending their kid to private or parochial school, then they should. But the public shouldn’t fund it.

    As for Democrats believing they’re right or better, most people believe their opinions are right no matter what they’re political party and believing you’re better than others is a personal character trait, not something that should be applied across an entire group of diverse individuals who share certain political opinions.

  25. “I don’t think parents are stupid and I’m certainly not opposed to choice. I’m opposed to breaking the separation of church and state. I also think that it’s only a choice if it’s really open to everyone (at least as much as possible.) Therefore I oppose vouchers for private and parochial schools.”

    Free to choose, as long as they don’t choose an option that offends your most delicate sensibilities or the syllabus of that Political Science 101 class you took as a freshman?

  26. SandraM says:

    If I’m wrong about this, please correct me, but I believe the argument that vouchers would cause more of a deficit is incorrect. As I understand it (and this is why the teachers’ unions are so vehemently against it) the money follows the child. Schools which lose children to charter schools lose funding. That’s the whole philosophy behind wanting public schools to clean up their acts and “compete” for the students.

  27. emmett54 says:

    Matthew Tabor wrote, “Free to choose, as long as they don’t choose an option that offends your most delicate sensibilities or the syllabus of that Political Science 101 class you took as a freshman?”

    Funny, my Poli Sci 101 course taught me that one of the fundamental founding priniciples of the US was the separation of church and state, so if public money is going to a church run enterprise, that would run counter to a guiding principle of our democracy. I guess I’d be pretty “delicate” about that sensibility, being an American and all. Nice ad hominen attack though, successfully skirting the issue and attacking the messenger. How ’bout some substance next time?

  28. Cardinal Fang says:

    In voucher proposals, is every student given the same size voucher? Because clearly, as I mentioned upthread, some kids are a lot more expensive to educate than other kids. That’s why I worry about skimming: nobody is going to accept an autistic kid even with a $10K voucher, say, so under a voucher system he’ll be left to languish in the ever more underfunded schools. Even a dyslexic kid (and one in twenty kids is dyslexic, remember) will cost a lot more than a non-dyslexic one. A voucher-accepting school could get great test results if it just accepted non-dyslexics– and then, again, the dyslexics would be left to languish in the underfunded public schools.

    I’d be inclined to favor a voucher system if the voucher amounts were somehow adjusted per kid, and if any school that accepted vouchers had to (1) accept any student that applied or have a lottery if there were too many applicants and (2) charge only the voucher amount as tuition, no additional tuition.

  29. Emmett, that isn’t entirely true. The freedom from government-sponsored invasive religion is a founding principle [“freedom from” – you must have come across that term in your 101 class] of our government, but that doesn’t restrict the “freedom to” choose a certain path. Freedom from religious intrusion is not the same as negating things like the opportunity for a faith-based education.

    I’ll let someone else detail the “freedom for me but not for thee” mentality that’s so fashionable, because I’d rather not re-write an argument that someone nearly perfected long ago.

    Ad hominem? Yes, Katherine’s reasoning is flawed. That’s not the fault of the content, that’s the fault of the argument she constructed.

  30. BadaBing says:

    “I’m opposed to breaking the separation of church and state.”

    I’m wondering what “separation of church and state” means to you, Katherine C. I’ll bet it’s a far cry from what the founding fathers had in mind, considering their writings are replete with references to God. I could be wrong, but I think they didn’t want the state interfering with religion, not the other way around. And if I’m wrong and you’re right, should governors, senators, congresspersons, judges and the like refrain from attending church, since a sermon might influence how someone thinks or votes or decides on an issue? We still have a chaplain in the US Senate? Kick him out? Should government officials swear off the reading of any literature deemed to be religious, e.g., the Bible? I guess you could find quite a few presidents in our history who had deep religious convictions and whose ideals were informed by their faith. Most abolitionists were Christians. Did abolition breach the divide between church and state? In fact, I doubt we’d have a country were it not for Judaeo-Christian values. The days of McGuffy’s readers are gone, but for God’s (sorry) sake, do you really think kids that go to parochial schools on vouchers are going to overthrow the secularist and godless society we now live in? Highly doubtful. If anything, they stand a good chance of making positive rather negative contributions.

  31. Badabing,

    Shhhh. Don’t write posts like that! Some people get reeeeeal mad when you suggest that it’s possible to like or even benefit from religion in the public sphere. And mixing it with education? Tsk tsk.

  32. If a parent still feels strongly about sending their kid to private or parochial school, then they should. But the public shouldn’t fund it.

    Fine. Then refund any applicable taxes(if any) to those parents who choose not to utilize the public schools.

    …believing you’re better than others is a personal character trait, not something that should be applied across an entire group of diverse individuals who share certain political opinions.

    The thing is, those character traits are what result in said opinions. Everyone believes they are better and/or smarter than others; the character trait that seems to be near universal in the Demonrat party is that this belief somehow entitles them to make decisions for their supposed inferiors.

  33. Cardinal Fang, I don’t suppose it’ll come as a suprise that I disagree with your views on differential, i.e. need-related vouchers.

    Here’s the problem.

    If vouchers funds are related to, say, a diagnosis of autism then autism will be converted from a congenital condition to a contagion. Kids will catch it from their school districts. And in case you think I’m overstating the danger, look into the abuses that followed the expansion of federal funding for the education of emotionally disturbed and mentally retarded kids. Their numbers increased substantially once they had some monetary value to the school districts.

    Oh, and Katherine C? Relax. A cheesy creche in front of the municipal library isn’t the first step to a Darth Vaderesque religious dictatorship. Neither is a Wiccun private school, unless the kids get to school via broom, likely to draw more then a very few parents and their kids.

    While you obviously don’t think parents can be trusted to make the best choices for their children, I assure you that the vast majority of parents will opt to steer their little darling into a career as an actuary rather then crystal therapist.

    andyo wrote:

    Then refund any applicable taxes(if any) to those parents who choose not to utilize the public schools.

    See, that’s what I love about this site. It attracts people with a terrific sense of humor.

    Andyo, you’re such a kidder. Refund any applicable taxes indeed. Harr!

  34. Cardinal Fang says:

    If vouchers funds are related to, say, a diagnosis of autism then autism will be converted from a congenital condition to a contagion.

    I agree that’s a problem. But if you give the same amount to all the kids, what do you do about the kids who really have autism? Are they just stuck in the more and more underfunded schools?

  35. nailsagainsttheboard says:

    The Left wants Choice….for abortion, not vouchers for education.

    The Left wants Diversity…for color and ethnicity, not for thought, especially at the university level.

    The Left wants Tolerance….for their worldview, for limitless social programs, for the government to run schools, for the redistribution of wealth, for the arbitrary redefinition of the institution of marriage, for socially engineering public schools….but has NO tolerance for others who want limited government, school choice, limited socialism, preservation of traditional marriage, and teachers to actually teach academics rather than preach their political agendas. Forty years of the ‘Great Society’…what a train wreck!

  36. Steve LaBonne says:

    “I’ll bet it’s a far cry from what the founding fathers had in mind, considering their writings are replete with references to God. I could be wrong, but I think they didn’t want the state interfering with religion, not the other way around.” Yes, you’re wrong. And those references, when they come from Deists like Washington, Franklin and Jefferson, are not to the Christian God but to something much more nebulous. (Jefferson produced a bowdlerization of the New Testament with all references to miracles and to Jesus as the Son of God edited out.) Go learn some history instead of whatever propaganda you’ve been fed.

  37. If we instituted vouchers in my state (California) we’d immediately have to pay for every student now in private school. So the education budget instantly would go up 11%.

    I take it the premise for this is that 11% of students in CA currently attend private school. But if vouchers cover a limited amount (say 1/3 of the cost of a public education), the cost would be considerably lower. In any case, a viable voucher proposal should include a small tax increase, intended to be revenue-neutral within the various income levels. I doubt that I’ll ever vote for another school bond, but I’d support that tax increase.

    Of course, the increase would have to be rescinded to the extent that additional students leave the public system and save the state the difference between the cost of a public education and the cost of the voucher.

    A nice little middle class kid with no disabilities costs X/2 or X/3 dollars, but an autistic kid costs 6X or 8X or 15X dollars, and it all averages out to X dollars per student.

    The voucher amount should be limited to x/3 or x/2 dollars (or even less, initially) for mainstream students. This would actually leave more public funds available to teach special-needs students. Anyway, I believe some voucher programs or proposals do offer more for (or are limited to) special needs students. http://www.friedmanfoundation.org probably has an up-to-date description of voucher programs in the U.S.

    Now look how profitable it is to set up a private school that takes vouchers and only accept the students who don’t have disabilities and already speak English. You take the X dollars per student voucher fee, but you have a student body that’s cheaper to educate…

    I don’t know of any voucher program available to mainstream students that pays anywhere close to the average cost of a public education.

  38. “But wouldn’t using your tax dollars to pay for other peoples kids to go to crazy schools bother you?” I’m already paying taxes to send other people’s kids to crazy schools – they’re called “public schools” around here. And part of what’s left over after taxes will soon be going to see that my grandkids get a real education.

  39. superdestroyer says:

    Bart,

    If you could make money in private education there would be a lot of new schools opening. Yet, even in a city like Washington, DC where there are long waiting lists for the college prep private schools, no one is trying to open a new school to “compete” for the money.

    I find it odd the voucher proponents either say that public schools have to remain open, and thus give a back stop to special needs kids and to much of the lower classes or claim that there will be an instantaneous 900% increase in the number of seats in private schools.

    Also, the Wall Street Journal had an article that the average college prep private school costs $16K per year and are having problems in meeting the demand of the parents. I doubt that many good college prep schools will start up for the $4k to $6k that a voucher would provide.

  40. Cardinal Fang says:

    Richard Nieporent writes:

    Also, the amount of the vouchers [is] less than the amount the state pays for a child going to the public school. The net effect is that the school system actually gains funds (the average amount of money per student in the public school goes up) when a student leaves the public school system.

    According to The Friedman Foundation, the voucher programs in Maine and Vermont pay the average public high school tuition, and the voucher program in Wisconsin causes the school systems to lose a small amount of their funding.

  41. Cardinal Fang wrote:

    I agree that’s a problem. But if you give the same amount to all the kids, what do you do about the kids who really have autism?

    First off, pointing out a problem doesn’t create a responsibility on my part to offer a solution. The credibility of my criticism isn’t predicated on my also offering a superior solution.

    Second, are you entirely sure there is something of value to do about it? Or at least something that can be implemented successfully as policy of the public education system?

    I know there’s a powerful urge to “do something”, especially when you can convince yourself that society at large has a duty to solve the problem. After all, if you’ve done the moral heavy lifting of pointing out how society is falling short in some critical respect, what more can be expected of you?

    Unfortunately, not every problem has a solution and a respect for others dictates that the power of government not be used in pursuit of an unobtainable goal. Clearly, for a noisy fraction of our society, respect for other people takes a back seat to satisfying their own moral indignation.

    So, your first order of business is to have some pretty convincing evidence that the money you expect society to provide would be spent to some worthwhile effect. That those autistic will end up being more functional after having been ministered to by the public education system. Good luck on that one.

  42. If you could make money in private education there would be a lot of new schools opening.

    If you couldn’t make money in private education, all the private schools would close. It sounds as though you’re saying that vouchers should ultimately be harmless, as they could only be used to tranfer between public schools.

    Yet, even in a city like Washington, DC where there are long waiting lists for the college prep private schools, no one is trying to open a new school to “compete” for the money.

    Yet there is so much demand for vouchers in DC’s voucher program that they have to be doled out via lottery. The waiting lists must not be very long in the schools these parents are choosing.

    I find it odd the voucher proponents either say that public schools have to remain open, and thus give a back stop to special needs kids and to much of the lower classes or claim that there will be an instantaneous 900% increase in the number of seats in private schools.

    Really? Can you quote a voucher proponent demanding either alternative? I would assume that public schools would stay open, but I’m open to other options– over time, of course.

    Also, the Wall Street Journal had an article that the average college prep private school costs $16K per year and are having problems in meeting the demand of the parents. I doubt that many good college prep schools will start up for the $4k to $6k that a voucher would provide

    Apparently the only private schools you are aware of are “elite college prep high schools”. If we start with just that subset, then what’s wrong with crediting a parent who’s shelling out $16K with the $4K that parent is saving the public school system by not having his kid there?

    How about the K-8 parent who wants to send his kid to a parochial school, or to something along the lines of a Montessori school, but can’t afford the full tuition because that money has gone toward school taxes? Are they too elitist for you as well?

  43. Cardinal Fang says:

    Public schools, or at least some of them, currently offer expensive behavioral treatments for kids with autism. Those treatments produce improvement, at least for some kids, but they tend to require one-on-one work or work with a few kids and a teacher, so they’re expensive. So, public schools currently are offering working treatments for (some) autistic kids, and it seems to me that voucher proponents are responsible for either explaining how their proposal will equally benefit those kids, or admitting that they (the proponents) don’t care that they’re abandoning autistic kids.

    I picked autism because it’s hyperexpensive to treat, but dyslexia is also a good, cheaper example. Dyslexic kids need extra tutoring (at extra cost, of course) to learn to read. If the vouchers sucked away all the non-dyslexic kids from public school, there would be classrooms full of expensive-to-educate kids, and, perhaps, not enough money to educate them.

  44. Cardinal Fang wrote:
    If the vouchers sucked away all the non-dyslexic kids from public school, there would be classrooms full of expensive-to-educate kids, and, perhaps, not enough money to educate them.

    How about we make up the shortfall by charging the parents of those “expensive-to-educate” kids?

    While I don’t know what kind of percentage we are, some people support vouchers because they see it might someday help them to be rid of another failed socialistic enterprise(ie, public schools).

    they (the proponents) don’t care that they’re abandoning autistic kids.

    It’s not about caring; it’s about freedom. Get rid of the “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” crap and the caring will follow…

  45. BadaBing says:

    “Yes, you’re wrong. And those references, when they come from Deists like Washington, Franklin and Jefferson, are not to the Christian God but to something much more nebulous. (Jefferson produced a bowdlerization of the New Testament with all references to miracles and to Jesus as the Son of God edited out.) Go learn some history instead of whatever propaganda you’ve been fed.” –Steve LaBonne

    Maybe you should read some of the writings of the Founders themselves. Forget secondary sources or whatever propaganda YOU have been fed. When Thomas Paine published his infamous “Age of Reason,” which denounced Christianity, John Adams responded, “The Christian religion is, above all the religions that ever prevailed or existed in ancient or modern times, the religion of wisdom, virtue, equity and humanity, let the Blackguard Paine say what he will.”

    Some of the Founders were disaffected with religion because of European wars fought in the name of religion. They were not strict Deists. Only Paine could be accurately described as such. Almost all of them approve of and even argue for a nation founded on Christian principles.

    That expurgated Jeffersonian Bible you speak of was intended to introduce Indians to Christian morality. It was to be a primer for the Indians on the teachings of Christ. It was not a refutation of anything. Moreover, President Thomas Jefferson himself sent Christian missionaries to a tribe of Indians called the Kaskasia at government expense upon signing a treaty with them. If you’re going to argue for your definition of the separation of church and state, don’t go trotting out the Founding Fathers to support your anti-religious bias. But back to Jefferson, who once said of himself, “I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus.”

    If you read their writings, you will find that the Founding Fathers intended that this country be based upon and follow Christian principles. I understand that there exists today a kind of spiritus mundi under whose influence people such as yourself seek to villify Christians as extreme right-wingers and to discredit anything they might believe in. There is also a concomitant movement to shut Christianity totally out of the public square, but if you reach back for that tired old argument about the Founding Fathers being Deists and that, therefore, religion has no place or value in our society and should be locked away in a closet and the key thrown away, then it is you who are (is?) wrong, not I.

  46. So your contention seems to be, Cardinal, that if a tiny portion of the school age population requires medical care then any move away from the current system has to be predicated on dealing with a problem to which the education system is ill-suited?

    It’d be nice if the public education system had a history of teaching literacy with an acceptable degree of success before you saddle the system with an intractable medical problem like autism. In other words, if they can’t do the easy stuff why do you think they’ll be able to do the tough stuff?