The One Where huntsu Goes Off The Rails on Public Education

I’m reading an article in PolitickerNJ, a site that has atrophied and shriveled since it lost Wally Edge, and am once again pulling the hair out of my head.

Darryl Isherwood wrote the following insanity:

As it is currently implemented, the school funding formula is all about taking money from taxpayers to give to “certain taxpayers” to educate their kids.  What Giordano objects to is using it for private schools.

Isherwood equates the state providing extra tax dollars to communities where education is more expensive with using tax dollars to pay for private education with no public oversight.

This exhibits a dramatic ignorance of what publicly funded education is about.  He’s swallowed the right wing idea that it’s about taxpayers getting a bang for their buck, and in particular taxpaying parents.

I’ll repeat myself: It’s not about the taxpaying parents.

More below the fold

In fact, it’s not about “taxpayers” at all.  Everyone is a taxpayer.  As I’ve noted before, the sons of bitches who attacked us on 9/11 paid American taxes, as does the government of Venezuela.  I don’t think we’re having public schools so bin Laden and Chavez can get a return on their taxes!

And you know what?  It’s not about the students, either!  Sure, they are the direct recipient of services but they’re not the end goal of public education.

It’s about the United States of America – we’re supposed to give a damn about that – having an educated, smart, capable, talented, ready, skilled, intelligent workforce, electorate, populace, etc! I mean, how hard is this to understand?

We do not educate our children so our children have somewhere to go other than the streets.  We don’t educate our children so that parents can go to work.  We don’t educate our kids so the taxpaying parents get “choice.”

We educate our youth so that the country can be productive and supportive and maintain itself as the greatest country on the face of the earth.

In some communities, like the one I grew up in, you could throw a bunch of kids in the library and their parents would make 75 percent of the kids get a good education through sheer will and determination.  

These communities don’t need as many tax dollars for schools as communities where a walk to school is a gauntlet worthy of a Clint Eastwood movie, or where 30 percent of the parents don’t speak English.  They need more money for the education, and it’s up to us in the other communities to help out because if we don’t those kids who might have been the next Bill Gates or William Koch will wither on the vine.

And the idea that public education is the sole province of parents is a bunch of crap.  It’s not a fricking day care for their kids, and the idea that they get more say than anyone else is stupid.  Did I have less of a say the day before my kid started kindergarten than the day after?  Only an uneducated moron would suggest such a thing, yet that’s what the focus on parental choice would have us believe.

I’ll do this in caps: EVERY AMERICAN BENEFITS FROM PUBLIC EDUCATION AND SHOULD BE A PART OF FUNDING, ORGANIZING AND STRUCTURING IT.  

You don’t get extra say because you are a parent.  In fact, it could be argued that parents of school age children should get less say because they are getting additional benefits other taxpayers are not getting.  Non-parents are paying for a direct service they aren’t getting, so shouldn’t they be allowed to have a say in how their dollars are spent?  Don’t the 1 percent want a say in how food stamps are allocated even though they’ll never use food stamps?

Suppose you have three families living in three successive houses.  The 2010 Census reports that two out of every three households have no children, so let’s say the one in the middle has three kids, the ones on the sides have none.  The one in the middle receives incredible individual, direct and ancillary benefits from public schools.  

From 8:15 until 2:30 the kids are taken care of by others at no additional cost beyond what their neighbors without kids pay.  There are after school programs, sports programs, tutoring, etc. available that’s not available to the neighbors, even though the three households pay the same in school taxes.

Yet some parents would have us think that THEY should have more say in how our tax dollars are spent than people who are paying and provided no direct benefit?  WTF?

Even parents who send kids to private school or educate their kids at home are selfish in calling for more choice in how school dollars are spent.  The neighbors on the outside pay their school taxes, but have no choice and no direct benefit.  The family in the middle can choose between getting the incredible benefits of a public school for their kids that their neighbors don’t enjoy, or they can choose to be like their neighbors and not have kids in the schools.

Yeah, that’s right.  Parents who home school or send their kids to private school made a choice to be like the other two thirds of New Jersey households who  have no choice but to pay the taxes yet receive no direct benefit.  

But the parents in the middle receive the same societal benefit as the other two, and then can choose whether to accept the gift of a free education their neighbors offer them of a low-cost education.

And we’re supposed to give the parents in the middle house MORE?  They already get more than the other two house. How is that fair?

School Choice and “Equal Funding” movements are efforts to let 1/3 of the state’s households — the one third who directly benefit the most from public dollars since we spend more on schools than anything else — to get even more than they already do out of the dollars the other 2/3 pay.  

It’s an insult to the majority of people who work and pay and live and die in these communities, and it has to be stopped.  

Comment (1)

  1. Momotombo

    That felt good, I bet.  Thanks for sharing it and putting it out there.  

    Reply

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