CSotD: Lessons left unlearned

As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly. — Proverbs 26:11

In the aftermath of every election, wise observers conclude that the “horse race” coverage was not only lazy but detracted from what could be, and should be, more useful and intelligent comparisons of candidates.

And then, in the next election, as Jeff Danziger illustrates, everyone returns to their vomit.

Which doesn’t necessarily mean that I think Andrew Yang should be the Democratic nominee, but I’d rather hear comparisons of policies and of responses to issues than more reports of who’s ahead and breathless predictions of who’s going to win.

Sure, it’s a race. But call it fairly.

Granted, I’m an old man who still feels the sting of how little Donald Segretti’s Canuck letter resulted in George McGovern winning the nomination, to the delight of the Nixon campaign.


And Matt Bors brings up another phony disaster: I remember being enraged that hairspray nitwits who work with microphones every day were unable to figure out that Gov. Dean’s “roar” was simply the result of shouting into a high-impedance microphone that sounded just fine in the room but produced audio weirdness in the broadcast mix.

Even after it was explained to them.

My impression is slanted by my knowing how the people behind the cameras, who work with all those technical doodads, feel about the people in front of the cameras, who do not.

However, the mindless indulgence of Trump’s outrages are not really related to the Howard Dean thing.

It’s more in line with how the same empty suits pumped up Krispy Kreme openings in the past and, now, Popeye’s chicken sandwich.

I’ve recently begun watching the network half-hour that follows my local news, and it’s stunning to see how, with all that’s going on in the world, they still devote about half the show to inspirational crippled kids and cute animal videos.

All the news that’s hip, we print.


So here we are today, and the Democratic Party, having shoved a candidate down everyone’s throat in 2016, has overcompensated this time around, and Tom Tomorrow lays it out quite well.

The night Hillary Clinton gained the nomination, Bernie Sanders urged his followers to support her. I’m sure a huge proportion did just that.

But a loud, bitter contingent did not, and they were amplified by gleeful Russian trolls and by superficial polling that did not distinguish between people who had supported Sanders in the primaries because they wanted Sanders and those who had supported him because they wanted to upset Clinton’s applecart.

I don’t know how many fall into each slot, but part of why I don’t know is that reporters who could have found out didn’t bother to.

The on-line supporters of the two candidates — genuine or trollbots — spent more time raging at each other than they did debating the general election.

And if you think putting two wolverines into a tote sack ended up with a bag full of blood and guts, wait until we stuff 20 of them in there.


Juxtaposition of the Day

(Bill Bramhall)


(Steve Breen)

This juxtaposition is related to a point I have long made about education, which is that having eaten in a restaurant does not qualify you to be a chef, and having sat in a classroom doesn’t make you an educator.

“Helicopter parents” are those who interfere too much, and, while Bramhall is not off the mark about cheating on homework, it’s only a small part of the helicoptering phenomenon.

But only a portion of involved parents are helicopters.

Parents who give a damn often worry about whether they should step in when a situation is unfair or let their kid tough it out and find a solution. And they’ll second-guess themselves well after they make whichever decision they make.

But they also show up on parent/teacher night, they go to PTA meetings and they may also attend school board meetings, at least when the budget is being drawn up.

Where the line is drawn is that “helicopter parents” are concerned about how little Billie and Susie are treated, while “involved parents” see the problems their kids face as problems for all the kids.

They don’t want just their own kid rescued: They want an unfair situation resolved.

Good schools welcome them; all schools need them.

Which is where we come to charter schools.

Theoretically, charter schools are a good alternative to same-old-same-old.

I have a college friend who ran a private alternative school until Michigan began licensing charters, at which point he took the extra funding. And my younger son teaches at a charter which features alternative programs.

However, these are more in the line of “magnets,” not unlike the arts or engineering magnets in larger markets. Several of my kid reporters in Denver go to magnet schools.

That’s different than the charters praised in the 2010 film, “Waiting for Superman,” which advocated setting up charters as an alternative to failing public schools.

That movie got a lot of media attention and praise, but mostly from the people who had eaten in a restaurant and felt they were chefs: People who knew how things really work back there in the kitchen took a dimmer view.

And here’s where the two cartoons come together:

When charters are established as an alternative to failing public schools, they not only skim public funding from those already-underfunded schools, but they siphon out those parents who show up for meetings and raise hell when something’s not right.

Who is going to stand in line, fill out applications, then wait on a lottery to see if their kid gets in to the charter school?

And whose voices will then no longer be heard, back at the under-performing school from which they went to such lengths to rescue their child?

I like magnets in districts with good public schools.

But charters in poorly-performing districts are nearly always a smoke-screen, a way to silence the critics without spending the money and effort necessary to address the problems.

Leaving the kids who don’t have involved parents further behind than ever.

Better a helicopter than no rescue at all.

6 thoughts on “CSotD: Lessons left unlearned

  1. Breen’s image is totally misleading, sorry. Charter school, as you rightly point out, are just a cash grab that allow *some* parents to make sure their little Johnny doesnt have to mix with… you know… *those* people…..

    If anything, those labels desperately need to be reversed.

  2. What’s worse is that little Johnny’s parents jumped ship long ago and enrolled him in a private school. They’re whining about vouchers, but not about charters. They want to be paid for the decision they made, but they’d have made it anyway.

    The parents who sign their kids up for charters are the parents of Jameel and Aisha, and getting their kids out of those hellholes required getting them into the charters, because they don’t have the resources to enroll them in private schools, even low-cost Catholic schools.

    However, they are some battlers and some “mean motorscooters and bad go-getters” and they are the only voices that speak up for reform and for the kids in those slum schools. When they are channeled out into charter schools, the kids back at Ghetto Elementary School are truly at the mercy of the overseers.

  3. Mike, I understand your concerns about how charter schools skim off the parents that give a damn, but at least in our little corner if the world, the successful charters do it at a lower cost per student than the public schools.

    One of the reasons the charter schools were created was to be educational laboratories to experiment with educational and administrative methods. Unfortunately few of these lessons have been adapted by the public schools, mostly due to systematic inertia.

  4. I agree, and I was involved in an effort to start a “lab school” charter, the idea being that it would be permanently staffed by master teachers and that teachers from surrounding districts could take working sabbaticals to teach there.

    This was in an area with modest incomes — a solid share of rural poverty, not a lot of rich folks — and good schools that could have been better.

    However, the powers that be simply approved schools in failing inner city urban districts as a safety valve because that was their intent in setting up the system.

    As said, I like charters when they are a chance to stretch rather than a safety valve, as is the case in the school where my son teaches. I wish they were the norm and not the exception but my experience, and my spideysense, suggests otherwise.

  5. “successful charters do it at a lower cost per student than the public schools”.

    The charter schools not only skim off the best parents but also the best students. How many of those charter schools service students who have EIP services, are in ESL programs or recieve free lunch and/or breakfast? The charter schools in Chandler don’t even provide busing.

    And charter schools can go bankrupt,. Which I have seen happen in the middle of a school year leaving the parents scrambling to get their kids into another school.

    The whole no child left behind act was just a scam to allow well to do parents to pull funds from the public schools and use it towards sending their kids to private schools which are now called charter schools because it doesn’t so as elitist.

    As for magnet schools, I am fine for magnet high schools. When I moved to Charlotte, many years ago, we bought a house in a nice neighborhood with a nice elementary school near by. When we went to enroll our kids in school they said this is a magnet school for technology and you have to enroll in a lottery to get in.

    How can you have a magnet school for elementary school kids and how can entry be determined by lottery instead of by ability? The answer is it was a way of integrating the schools by busing but not telling the people what you were doing.

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