Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Government Control, the uber value

Pursuant to my last post "Flint needs privatization" which is here, I want to focus on how the most important goal to be achieved by government is the continued existence and growth of that government i.e. the absolute iron clad requirement that government stay in control of economic activities no matter how much they hurt and destroy human life.

In that post I mentioned how despite all the suffering caused by government control of Flint's water supply, the media refuses to consider the prospect of changing the provider of that service from government to the private sector. To them, the government must stay in control. This is true regarding all the so-called 'core' services the government wants to control like roads, gas, electricity, education and so on.

The evidence for this is overwhelming. I plan to present more such evidence in the next several posts but for now I want to focus on an editorial in Thursday's May 5th Detroit News by editorial director Nolan Finley regarding the sorry state of public education in Detroit. The opening paragraph:
 "All lawmakers should be worrying about in terms of the Detroit Public Schools is how to extricate the state from this mess."
An excellent way to extricate the state is to remove it from controlling education in the first place. It is the students and parents that need to be extricated from public education via privatization. He continues:
 "The district can't be saved. No amount of oversight from Lansing will keep it on financial track or improve its academic performance. The state needs to admit defeat and get out of DPS as quickly as it can."
That the state needs to admit failure is certainly true. Not only in financing but in teaching as well. The students aren't learning much of anything. Academic performance in DPS has been abysmal. Mr. Finley adds:
 "DPS is a rotten enterprise that defies reform. Even under the watch of the state's EM, more than a dozen DPS principals got caught up in a bribery scheme and are now facing federal charges."
 Such corruption is systemic in any collaboration between learning and legalized force (government). There is no skin in the game for government controllers. They are not going to lose a lot of money for failing to teach your child how to think. A private company or even a nonprofit, guilty of such failure would lose tuition money and investor money. A private concern cannot force your child into its classrooms like government does. Bad teachers can be fired in a private school. They are protected by tenure and government sanctioned unions in government schools. What then is Mr Finley's proposed solution? He wants the state to write a check and payoff the DPS debt.

"So the state should orchestrate a clean exit. Let the citizens of Detroit elect a school board this fall, return management of the district to that board, and see if the district can balance the books and provide a decent education with the extra $1,200 per pupil freed up by the debt payoff."
Here he wants to return responsibility back the the same entity that failed so massively in the first place, the city DPS, but with these two fixes: 
 "The first is a strict limit of future borrowing. The school board should not be allowed to begin accumulating more debt the state will be stuck with in the future."
 When the state has the power of force and the citizens don't, who is going to enforce that strict limit? Is it realistic to expect any government to put a strict limit on itself? And how long would such a limit imposed by the state last when all DPS has to do is cry 'It's for the children" and the state controllers would drop to their bail outing knees?

          "The second is to preserve unfettered school choice."

On this Mr Finley is 100% right. He continues later:
"DPS advocates are desperate for legislation that will let a mayor-appointed commission decide which charter and traditional schools open and close. Charter operators are absolutely right that their schools will get the short end of that stick."
          And don't buy the oft-repeated canard that Detroit charters are no better than DPS  schools. Half the city's families choose charter schools for a reason: They work for their children."
I fully support Mr Finley's call for unfettered school choice. But unfettered would have to include completely privatized schools as well. He doesn't mention that. It seems then that Mr Finley holds the view that government control to some lesser extent as in charter schools must be maintained.

Look also at the above mentioned fact that DPS wants authority to decide closings of charter schools even though they are doing better that DPS schools. Despite the sad examples of failure so aptly described by Mr Finley and many others in the media, it should be obvious that there is one value that is not to be changed or even questioned: government control of education. Why? Why is government control of our children's minds, in the face of widespread incompetence, failure and corruption, still considered the highest value to be maintained?

The controllers at the DPS and state boards of education evidently see the slightly less controlled charters as a threat to their power lust. And THAT I contend is the main problem. The goal of public ed is not teaching Johnny how to think but rather to maintain control--the power of legalized force--over him. This push in academia and the press for government control over the people is the uber value not to be examined. It critically needs to be. Education needs to be the highest value, ownership second.

If a little more freedom of choice is good for education as in charter schools, then more, as in private schools, will be even better. I'm glad to see News' editorial director Nolan Finley taking a significant step in the right direction. Lets hope he takes more steps in that direction. Now, we just need Michigan's politicians in both parties to agree with him. Education is the uber value, not government ownership. Parents are the best judge of their kids' education, not bureaucrats in city hall or state capitals.






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