Why Force Parents To Keep Their Children In Failing Public Schools?

Tyler Durden's picture

Via Duane of Free Market Shooter blog,

The nomination of Betsy DeVos was fraught with criticism from the left.  She was derided for having “no experience with public education, no political experience, no government administrative experience,” and her support for school vouchers/charter schools, among many other things.  Notably, most of the criticism came from educators, many of them members of the teachers’ unions, who have had many years and more than enough funding to fix failing public schools, with little (if any) success.

Which all begs the question – if your student is enrolled at a failing public institution, why should he/she be forced to remain enrolled there?

Recently, someone shared the experience of “Madeline” (the mother of a Philadelphia school student) and “Steve” (the student himself).  Their names have been changed for the purpose of this article, which as Madeline explains, is more than likely necessary, so they do not face reprisal from public school educators and administrators.  For her and her son, having a choice has meant the difference between years wasted in a failing school, and a real chance at a real education.

Madeline and Steve, both African Americans, live with Madeline’s husband in West Philadelphia, where most families are hard working but underpaid by any standard.  Steve attended John Barry Elementary School (Grades K-8) from Kindergarten through 3rd grade.  They both described the school as “terrible,” among several other less than savory terms.  Every day there were fights, with girls pulling hair out, and kids would turn over desks/chairs before running through the halls while class was in session.  Teachers would try to break up fights, but would more often call security, who would remove the offending student.  If the issue couldn’t be resolved, parents would be called, who wouldn’t always show up to take the child away.  If teachers took away phones from students who used them during class, they would curse at teachers and administrators with little fear of reprisal, sometime assaulting teachers.

Security consisted of one police officer.  Lockers were not considered safe, and oftentimes items left in them would be stolen by other students.  The food was considered to be “awful” by Steve, and the bathrooms were filthy, with urine on the floor and by the drains.  Classes were approximately 30 students each, with the principal changing every year.  Notably, Steve was academically ahead of his classmates – most of the students did not want to be in school, and were extremely disruptive.  Steve had one good teacher, but he noted that the teacher had difficulty actually teaching anything, since there were so many disruptive students.  Steve stated his only positive experience from the school were his field trips to a farm and a circus.

If you look at the performance of John Barry Elementary School, you can see this for yourself.  Reproduced below are the PSSA charts for Grade 3 (the one grade listed that Steve was in attendance for), and unsurprisingly they are far below the SDP average. 

Also below is the teacher attendance for John Barry, which is far below the SDP average as well.

Madeline (unsurprisingly) did not want to keep Steve in John Barry, seeing it as a hostile environment to not just learning, but Steve’s safety, and his development as a person.  She feared that leaving him in this school would bring out the worst in him, and that could lead him to a life of crime or worse.  Madeline put her son on a waiting list to get into a charter school, later finding out that only 1 of every 3 applicants were accepted, and she believes some schools have a lottery.  Her son got into Mathematics, Civics, & Sciences Charter School of Philadelphia (K-12), courtesy of two friends’ cousins who used to teach at the school.

Her son said that from the day he got to the school, he was actually learning.  The kids were all serious, and not playing around.  The teachers were “not soft, striking fear into unruly students,” and the students subsequently respected the teacher and wanted to be productive.  The teachers, in turn, trusted the kids, but there is still far more security, with one guard in each hallway.  The principal frequently interrupts classrooms and asks students what they are learning, sometimes having “guests” present to evaluate the teachers.  The most positive experience that Steve shared is the teachers are “top notch,” and he feels he is finally learning something at school.

It’s not all perfect for Steve though – the school doesn’t have a gym, and not a lot of sports and physical education are available.  There is a basketball program, but the school needs to use facilities at other schools.  Still, that was the only negative relative to John Barry that MCS Charter had in everything that was discussed.  A recent article in Philly.com which described a similar charter school in Northeast Philadelphia was described by Madeline as “very similar” to her experience with MCS.

Finally, Madeline was asked about Betsy DeVos – if she know who she was (she did), and of the criticisms that were sent her way.  Her answer was brief – “the criticisms are true – she doesn’t know much about public school.”  But then she added, “would anyone really want to know more about John Barry, besides how to get their student out of the school?”

Which brings me back to the criticisms lobbed at DeVos, again by HuffPo.  They quoted some things the DeVos said in March 2015 at the SXSW conference in Texas.  Some excerpts:

Government really sucks. And it doesn’t matter which party is in power. Having been around politics and government my entire adult life, I have five observations about government for you:
Government tends to believe in top down solutions and government fears of bottom up solutions.
We don’t pay teachers enough, and we don’t fire teachers enough.
In that one sentence, I have raised the ire of both the Republican and Democrat political establishments.
The Republicans don’t want to pay our best teachers enough, and the Democrats don’t want to reform tenure laws. It’s another partisan standoff.
But I am willing to bet that every one of you had one or more teachers who made a big difference in your life, who opened your eyes to possibilities and to opportunities. You probably recall them in your mind’s eye right now.
And likewise, I am pretty sure that every one of you had one or more teachers who should not have been teaching. That doesn’t mean they were bad people, or maybe they were, but regardless, they weren’t any good at teaching. You are probably thinking of those teachers right now.
And by the way, teaching is hard. It takes a lot of skill. Not everyone who tries can do it well. We need to admit that and act accordingly.
We should reward and respect great teachers by paying them more, and we should stop rewarding seniority over effectiveness.

As it applies to education, you would be hard pressed to find Madeline not in agreement with DeVos.  Top-down solutions to education and government (read: teachers’ union) fears of bottom up solutions to education have led to a public school system that is behind the curve in nearly all examples.

This is not hyperbole – the US spends approximately $115,000 per student, which is fifth globally, behind only Austria, Luxembourg, Norway and Switzerland.  But throwing money at the problem has not led to increased performance, as the Pew Research Center recently analyzed – our students score similar to the Slovak Republic, which spends less than half, at $53,000 per student:

What a surprise – a PISA report has noted the following:

…among OECD countries, “higher expenditure on education is not highly predictive of better mathematics scores in PISA.”

We can reasonably conclude that instead of trying to throw money at the problem, it appears Betsy DeVos intends to “fix” the public school system by giving parents a choice of where to send their students to school.  She appears prepared to use the exorbitant cost of public education to finance this choice, and forcing all schools financed with public dollars to become far more accountable for their own performance.  Who ends up the big loser?  Obviously, failing public schools – if enough students leave the failing schools behind, they will be forced to shutter their doors.

It should be of no surprise then, that teachers’ unions are fighting charter schools at every turn.  A recent Forbes article did an exemplary job of dissecting their opposition:

Teachers’ unions often fight charter schools by claiming that they are less accountable to students and families because many operate under less burdensome regulations than do traditional public schools. The real reason for their opposition, of course, is that charter school teachers are not unionized. The reality is that charter schools are much more accountable to young people and their parents than are traditional public schools. If parents do not like their children’s charter schools, they can send their kids elsewhere. This threat of exit gives charter schools an incentive to raise the quality of the education they offer in order to retain students.


Despite union scaremongering, the verdict is in on charter schools: The public favors them 2 to 1. Among African Americans, who are arguably the biggest beneficiaries of alternative schooling options, the favorability ratio is greater than 3 to 1. Even public school teachers desert the union position on charter schools by a slim margin—38% of teachers favor them, and 35% are opposed.

With a favorability rating of 3 to 1 among African Americans, the ethnic group with the largest percentage of students in failing public schools, it should be quite surprising to learn that the NAACP opposes charter schools.  Recently, the NAACP ratified a controversial resolution calling for a moratorium on expansion of charter schools, and stronger oversight of charter schools currently in existence.

Publications ranging from U.S. News to The National Review have struggled to answer this question:

The NAACP board will vote this weekend on a resolution urging a moratorium on the creation of new charter schools, on grounds that they worsen segregation and erode local control. This is not a new position for the nation’s oldest civil-rights organization, but it’s gotten more support than ever before — for example, from groups such as those affiliated with Black Lives Matter — and has drawn thoughtful repudiations by the New York Times and the Washington Post as well as the Wall Street Journal. As the Post’s editorial board noted, “that the beneficiaries of [charters] are, in large part, children of color hopefully is not lost on an organization that is supposed to be looking out for the interests of minority people.”

But Education Week said what no one else would:

“The African-American community was shut out of power and authority for so many years, even if African-Americans see the warts on the local district, it’s their district.”

So something else needs to be said, because no one else has said it: if you want your failing public school, you can keep your failing public school – no one is forcing anyone to put their kids into a charter school.  But do not take away the option for someone else to remove their child from a toxic environment, and make their own choice on whatever they feel is the best place to send their children to school.

Betsy DeVos wasn’t brought in to enact more “reforms” or toss more money at what appears to be an unsolvable problem – instead, it appears she intends to do something that no one else has done in the past – give more students a choice of what to do with their education.  The criticisms about her are all correct – she isn’t well versed in public school education, something she readily admits, but knows that it is failing our country’s students, no matter how much time and money has been spent for who knows how long to repair it.  Isn’t a new approach long overdue?

Take note – former President Obama sent his kids to Sidwell Friends, a private school in the D.C. area.  And who can blame him?  D.C. public schools recently ranked dead last in the nation.  Why should the rest of our nation’s students be given a “one size fits all” approach to public education, when that “one size” is a well-funded yet underperforming public school system?


Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
kavlar's picture
kavlar (not verified) Mar 9, 2017 11:18 PM

The same way America is forced to give IsraHell Billion$ and Billion$ a year, while millions of Americans go homeless, jobless, and hungry.

Croesus's picture

They need to call it what it is...paying the Vig. There's absolutely no need for Israel to be on US-taxpayer funded welfare. Scratch that...there's no need for Israel to be...

kavlar's picture
kavlar (not verified) Croesus Mar 9, 2017 11:24 PM

Amen to that.

Belrev's picture

To indoctrinate them in NWO agenda, like being transgender.

cheka's picture

schools don't fail.  students do.  schools OFFER education, they can't force tyrone or shameekanita to learn sh-t

bloofer's picture

Spend some time substituting or volunteering in an urban public school. The public school described in the article is typical. Classrooms and hallways are in a continual state of semi-riot. Classrooms are often so loud and the kids so disruptive that the teacher can't even be heard, even if he or she were shouting. Books and materials are destroyed. There are continual fights. The situation is something that you can't even imagine until you've seen it.

Handful of Dust's picture

Many of these "kids" should be in prison rather then public school.

jsgibson's picture

What's the difference between schools and prisons - other than the color of the buses?

prime american's picture
prime american (not verified) jsgibson Mar 10, 2017 5:56 AM

I'm making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life. This is what I do... http://bit.ly/2jdTzrM

ebear's picture

Wow.  Just, Wow.

What planet is SHE from?

Still Losing Money's picture

it's all the fault of the joooosss  hitler was right   kill the joooooooooos

nuubee's picture

Hah, that's funny, as if Tashiqua is going to look after her 5 pop tarts while she flips burgers.

hedgeless_horseman's picture


Come to Marfa and talk about it.


Education: Russell Fish, Disintermediated education in your home and community

chosen's picture

Two problems with this:

1. When looking a country statistics, you have to remove the negroes from the US statistics.

2. Many parents (probably most) use public education as free day-care.  They would never pay for a better school or do home-schooling.

Lost in translation's picture

In CA, K-12 public education is THIRD WORLD daycare.

Public universities in CA are for-profit growth industries constructed for the monetary enrichment of the banksters loaning the FRNs into existence.

jsgibson's picture

Homeschooling is a tremendously rewarding alternative.  Teach your kids to think outside the cinder block walls of the public school prisons.

cheka's picture

but it's the school/teachers fault that they can't pass the test.  this article is stupid - moving failing students will do NOTHING for them.  they'll just bring down the 'good' school they transfer to.  better to keep the deadwood segregated

BrownCoat's picture

Check out edchoice.org 

Milton and Rose Friedman proves you wrong. It looks like competition improves everyone's performance.

NoPension's picture

Why are parents forced to to have their children attend failing schools?

Because, where else will those " teachers" go in this world to collect a salary and benefits.

Overstaffed administrations, way too many kneegrows in positions of authority, teachers unions.
This is a jobs program. The kids don't even factor in.

Education needs a paradigm shift. Somehow, it needs to be Internet based. The best teachers can teach online, and earn a million a year. The rest can be hall monitors, or find something else.

My 1980 Catholic High School diploma is equal to today's 4 year degree. Betcha.

dr kill's picture

Perhaps the poor teachers would be great truckdrivers. Boom! Both problems solved. Hey, I should be in government!

CRM114's picture

My 1970s high school curriculum would probably now get me a Masters.

Grade 10 Geography project - Devise a 10 year agricultural plan for Bolivia.

lester1's picture

Sorry if I sound like a jerk, but single moms are to blame for failing public schools. They simply cannot give their kid the attention they need and they are a poor example for kids to follow.

NoPension's picture

Not a jerk. Call it like it is. They don't like hearing it...fuck em.

Kids having kids, and no values instilled. We're circling the drain in the name of Social Justice and other assorted bullshit. Nobody is training the little animals. And that's what they are, if not properly trained.

lester1's picture

Some of them are like Walking Dead zombies

cheka's picture

broken homes produce broken students.  there's nothing the skool can do to MAKE the bastards learn.  they just dont give a fk

bloofer's picture

Broken homes are good. It means you have removed the person who is detrimental to your children from your home, so the kids can be raised in a peaceful, loving, and secure environment.

just the tip's picture

what was it?  the '80s.  i think it was the '80s when white unmarried high school girls started bringing to school their black babies and carrying them down the halls and into class with them.  badge of honor.

Thorny Xi's picture

I'm a single dad with a 10 year old. It's damn hard, even though I have the luxury of having retired thanks to dot com and have time to help, and not all schools are failing.

Dougs Decks's picture

They simply cannot give the kids the "Discipline" they need,,,, FIFY

bloofer's picture

Single moms, in my experience, provide excellent examples for their kids, by working and sacrificing to provide for them. They also provide an excellent example of independence and backbone, having chosen to go it alone rather than have their kids exposed to the shiftless, abusive, and/or alcoholic bums they have for dads. Sure, it would be better if they could be stay-at-home moms and have time to give their kids attention, but that would mean Dad would have to get a job and provide for his family. And even in the unlikely event he would do that, it still wouldn't be worth it for Mom and the kids to suffer continual abuse.  

Married moms usually don't have the option of staying home with their kids, and they too mostly work outside the home. The children of single moms are better off: They don't have to live in a home where Dad is continually auditioning for The Shining.

Miss Expectations's picture

...by working and sacrificing to provide for them.

This means the children, starting when they are tiny babies, will grow up fatherless AND motherless.  A disaster for a child. They will spend more hours in daycare (8 am to 6 pm) then their mother does at work.  Mom then picks them up, they get a late dinner and perhaps a bath and off to bed.  NO time (quality or otherwise) with their part-time mother.  It's just horrible for these kids growing up in familyless homes.  These children, when grown, have NO example of how it works in a healthy mother AND father household.  They won't know how to be a husband or a wife or how children should be raised.  They will probably be disasters as a spouses and parents...this is the ruination of family.  The example of mom never being around is NOT an excellent example.  A parent who is "independent" is WRONG on so many levels.  A parent, first and foremost needs to BE THERE.  It's the children who are being sacrificed as the family dies.

CNONC's picture

And why was she having sex with a worthless, abusive, alcoholic bum?  Is that the good example you are refering to? 

BrownCoat's picture

The single mom you describe has bad decision making skills. She selected an inappropriate mate and irresponsibly brought another life into the world without building a proper environment to nurture her child.

Lost in translation's picture

High school teachers - in CA, at least - are the largest aggregation of dimwitted, collectivist imbeciles you will ever encounter, anywhere.

Reason and common sense are alien to them. Their sense of entitlement has no equal upon the earth, their deluded belief in their own importance and value [sic] in this society is obscene, and their abject ignorance of everything from sound money and free markets to the Constitutional underpinnings of this country is without remedy. They are a stain on this society and a plague upon the taxpayer. Useless progenitors of malicious propaganda, they are a curse upon the land.

That parents surrender their own children to CA public school teachers is horrifying. I would liken it to the ritual sacrifices made to Moloch in antiquity.

cheka's picture

that's cali, ill, ny type teacher deals.  the great majority of the states' teachers get nothing of the sort

Miss Expectations's picture

I'm beginning to think that California is one gigantic experiment in destruction, on every level,  political, economic, social...a test of how far they can go and how much time it will take.  Perfecting methods of America's ruin.

g'kar's picture

Public schools have to spend too much money and time teaching people who don't speak English.

Miss Expectations's picture

Not only don't the immigrant students speak English, they are also illiterate.  So, they must be taught to read and write, too.  Imagine being faced with a classroom of 12 year old immigrants who have never even been to school.  It's much bigger than a language barrier.

B1G mNy's picture

In Chicago they could fire every teacher and start over. I don't care how much money Chance donates.

Lost in translation's picture

Why not just fire every teacher, and leave it at that?

rejected's picture

"We don't pay teachers enough"

Been hearing that shit for 60 years. Fire 2/3 rds of the management and you might have more to pay teachers and probably have better run schools.

I pay more in school taxes than any other tax. And when your elderly, you get a tax break on everything except,,, ready for it!,,,, schools.

It's money down a rat hole.

The reason there's piss on the floor in the bathroom is because the animals are pissing on the floor. The reason why the desks and anything else is broke is because the animals are breking them.

The reason they're not learning is because schools are more into indoctrinating then teaching. Transgenders are more important, Illegals are more important, females are more important, everything except teaching is more important.

Government schools are nothing more than prison training camps except in prison you might be able to learn a trade.

GRDguy's picture

The real problem with vouchers is that the people who care about education would be able to run away from the problems, rather than staying, partcipating and making a difference.

Kinda like Jim Rogers packing up and moving out of NYC to Singapore, rather than help make a difference.

You might say it facilitates the sinking of the ship, the USS America.

bloofer's picture

Vouchers let everyone leave. The ship is already sunk; leave or drown.

exi1ed0ne's picture

In IT terms, you can spend 4 hours cleaning malware out of a PC and hope you got all the critters out or spend an hour reloading it from scratch.  You cannot fix this rotten husk because it doesn't WANT to be fixed, and will actively prevent you from doing so.  The entire culture of public education is rotten, and I feel bad for the few teachers that have to deal with the petty bullshit from administrators and school boards.  I dealt with this first hand in my schooling, and I homeschool my kids so they never know what it's like to have the creativity and imagination stomped out of you.  Fuck public education.