Saturday, May 08, 2010

Charles Murray finally admits that school choice isn't about performance, it's about ideology

For decades conservatives have been telling anyone who would listen that U.S. needed to destroy the entire public education system in this country and replace it with a system of vouchers whereby parents could send their kids to any school -- public or private.  We were told that if schools were forced to compete with each other, the magic of the market would naturally lead to better schools and improved test scores.  Never mind that this same market just pissed your 401(k) down the drain while enriching Goldman Sachs and destroying the global financial system almost overnight.

Progressives correctly recognized the wolf in sheep's clothing -- vouchers would be a subsidy to conservative families who already pull their kids out of public schools to send them to religious schools.  And progressives knew that the vouchers would never be large enough to cover the full cost of education -- conservatives' goal of course was to punish poor people and brown people by giving tax breaks to the rich while destroying the educational system serving the rest of the country.

Then a funny thing happened.  President Clinton called their bluff.  He said 'you want to create your own schools -- fine.  We'll call 'em charter schools -- they'll still exist within the public school system -- but you can run 'em and any kid who wants to can attend your charter school.'

So all sorts of philanthropists and entrepreneurs and ideologues of various stripes poured into the school system to create charter school -- all with the goal of showing the existing educational leaders that they (the newbies) knew better.

Now after a nearly 18 years of experimentation in creating and running charter schools a new study is out that looks at the effectiveness of charter schools.  And results are not impressive:

But for all their support and cultural cachet, the majority of the 5,000 or so charter schools nationwide appear to be no better, and in many cases worse, than local public schools when measured by achievement on standardized tests, according to experts citing years of research. Last year one of the most comprehensive studies, by researchers from Stanford University, found that fewer than one-fifth of charter schools nationally offered a better education than comparable local schools, almost half offered an equivalent education and more than a third, 37 percent, were “significantly worse.” 

Like always, exposed to the rigors of the real world, conservative ideology falls apart:

Perhaps the sharpest knock on charters — one that even some proponents acknowledge — is that mediocrity is widely tolerated. Authorities are reluctant to close poor schools. Some advocates concede that the intellectual premise behind school choice — that in a free market for education, parents will remove students from bad schools in favor of good ones — has not proved true.

“If you look at the hopes and dreams from 1992, it didn’t pan out that quality would rise because of marketplace accountability,” said James Merriman, chief executive of the New York City Charter School Center. “It turns out you need government accreditation to drive quality, and the human capital to make schools go. The hard lesson is, it is so dependent on human capital.” 

You would think that conservatives would put their tail between their legs and crawl back under the rock they came from.  But if there is one thing we know about conservatives, evidence to the contrary rarely derails their dystopian dreams.

So into the debate walks cracker ass cracker racist mutherfucker Charles Murray with an Op Ed in the New York Times this week. [For those who don't know Charles Murray, he's the author of the Mein Kampf of modern conservatism, The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life that argues that wealthy white people who have every advantage in the world are just better people than poor people of color and so they deserve all the advantages they get.  Like Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged it's an execrable piece of writing and thinking -- and like Atlas Shrugged it sold like crazy because it basically functions as conservative porn.]  And in his Op Ed on May 4, Why Charter Schools Fail the Test, Murray finally admits what progressive have been pointing out for years -- school choice isn't about effectiveness, it isn't about test scores, it isn't about education, it is solely about ideology.  Murray:

As an advocate of school choice, all I can say is thank heavens for the Milwaukee results [that showed the charter schools underperformed regular public schools]. Here’s why: If my fellow supporters of charter schools and vouchers can finally be pushed off their obsession with test scores, maybe we can focus on the real reason that school choice is a good idea. Schools differ in what they teach and how they teach it, and parents care deeply about both, regardless of whether test scores rise.

...And yet, knowing that [that charter schools do not outperform regular public schools], I would still send my own children to that charter school in a heartbeat. They would be taught the content that I think they need to learn, in a manner that I consider appropriate. 

Murray doesn't care if kids are learning.  He doesn't care if the nation falls behind other nations in math and science and economic competitiveness.  His ideology tells him that schools should teach in a certain way and the results be damned.


Anonymous said...

The definition of propaganda is: education by the state.

As an obedient and supine lackey of the state you love propaganda.

Murray prefers freedom.

Get over it.

Mr. Voluntaryist

RFK Action Front said...

The word propaganda comes from the Latin Congregatio de propaganda fide, Congregation for Propagating the Faith, an organization established by Pope Gregory XV. You would know that if you owned a dictionary.

So ironically, (I know, you guys don't understand irony either but bear with me) Charles Murray, who supports vouchers for parochial schools, is the propagandist (he's propagating the faith -- in spite of the fact that many of these schools are not doing a very good job of teaching math, reading, science, social studies, history, etc.).

Here's what I always wonder about conservatives: is it embarrassing to be wrong about everything, or do you find that you get used to it after a while?

Anonymous said...

I must ask, have you also read "Real Education" by Murray? The topic of ability is obviously controversial when race is applied. Why not, instead of condemning the man for pointing out the facts, read in to what he is saying about performance, curriculum, ideology, ability, and educational standards.
I question some of the ceilings he places over some student's heads according to ability, but dont the facts and statistics of those failing help us? We should want to know who is struggling, and then identify what we can do as teachers to better a child's education - regardless of whether or not the area is poor, white, black, purple, or green.
As for school choice, Murray simply wants to expand it. He feels choice can't change your genes, which it can't, and that placing a student in a better environment is best. Schools with good ideals are good, schools with bad ideals are bad.