Friday, December 24, 2010

Lousy Democrats

Our local paper had an article today on the Democrats who have decided to join the Republicans in blaming the teachers' unions for the state of the schools. What's the point of that? Well, in California, the Democrats drank the KoolAid and promoted the very system that has wrecked education here. Huh? Well, every legitimate study of student performance has found that there is one factor, above all others, that determines student performance--parental income. More than quality of the school district, more than the parents' education, parental income determines how well the kid does in school. (Interestingly, this means that expensive private schools are selling to stupid, but rich, parents. Or more likely parents who don't want their kids going to school with the rest of us. Children of rich parents who go to public schools do just as well as the children of equally rich parents who go to private schools.) So the best thing we could do for the children in California schools is to reverse the neoliberalism that has promoted income inequality and depression of wages for the vast majority as a social and economic virtue.

More than that, the Democrats would have to deal with the problems faced by lower-income parents--particularly housing. In Los Angeles a third of the students change schools every year because their parents can't keep their housing. But it would cost a lot more to solve that problem rather than bash the teachers.

Worse than that, the proposals promoted by Rhee and her corporate sponsors are likely to make the problem worse rather than better. Teachers who might have chosen to work with lower-income students and distressed communities will, if the lose tenure rights, move to jobs in richer communities, where the incomes of the parents insure higher test scores.

Ngram: Neoconservative and neoliberal are both unknown until the late 1970s. Neo conservative peaks around 1990, while neoliberal is still (unfortunately) on the ascent.

No comments: