Sunday, January 15, 2006

I hope this is the proper use of "in lieu"...

Ok, once again, I woke up this morning with the intent to post, and ended up stepping into a debate somewhere else. So in lieu of posting here, I give you this debate and ask you to share your thoughts.

Doug Halsted, aka Iowa Geek, is running for State Senate, and has offered this position on education, promoting school choice.

Stefanie from Bob A One of M ...err... Simplicity offered this response, which appears to misrepresent the position a little bit (see the comments) but raises some interesting points on the potential resulting school consolidation and then goes on to tie the rich/poor gap which would be created to the generalized Republican stance on criminal justice. All in all, a good post.

Anyway, in this post, Jody offers all the links I offered above and then asks for thoughts. If you don't want to follow the links, here's my response:

Ok, I'm sure you've been waiting for a lefty to crawl out of the woodwork and take this on, and while it's rather early on Sunday morning, I'll give it a shot.

The obvious draw of school choice is outweighed by the obvious drawbacks of it. Because if the government gave everyone money to send their children to the school of their choice, what would be left?

If we started this today, everyone in Polk County who cared would send their kids to Urbandale and Valley (West DSM), which would as a result become overcrowded, or impossible to get into, or if they really were run like a business, they'd raise their prices. Nevermind the gas and time expenses incurred when parents living across the street from Ankeny decide their kid should go to Valley.

As a result, our worn-out, inner city schools which have been struggling to keep up for a generation would be hit with declining enrollment and further decreased funding. And the students most at risk, children of parents who can't afford to do better, or children of parents who are unaware or don't care about their options, would be trapped in the worst schools.

I agree with some of your points on why schools need to change. The level of administrative expense that goes into schools would never fly in the private sphere and shouldn't fly in our public schools. I think the answer is a combination of solutions, restoring full funding but finding ways to eliminate some of the many administrative costs.

I had the chance last week to read some of the education ideas considered in HeartlandPAC's discussion on education. (I rolled my eyes at the thought too, but I read it and was surprised.) One included making textbooks available online for teachers to pick and choose the chapters they will teach and purchase/print them that way, eliminating the enormous cost of textbooks schools usually buy when teachers will only use half of them anyway. It's not the only solution, but it is one that could save our schools a fair chunk of change annually, and the damage done in the drawbacks would be minimal.

Anyway, I recognize I'm digging a hole here in a room where most/all readers will disagree with me, but I thought I'd throw my two cents in. I'll be at the blogger bash in February, if nothing else maybe we can continue this debate there.

So, check out Doug Halsted and Iowa Geek, follow the debate, and offer your thoughts. It's fantastic to have public political debate that doesn't involve the KKK denying someone's right to exist or the right battling the left on our ability to kill prisoners for a change.


Bob said...

LOL! That would be the correct usage, but technically, you still posted it here.


Jody said...

I enjoyed your argument. I'm not sure that "everyone" would send their kids to Urbandale and Valley, but I see your point.

But that point sort of makes Doug's point. People who care want the best schools for their kids.

But aren't kids already "trapped" in these "worn-out inner city schools"? Wouldn't competition up the ante and possibly force these schools to be better or face the possibility of closing?

We agree that administrative costs are out of line and I believe that change needs to start at the level that knows the kids: the teachers, the principals, the school board. If the state would end it's "one size fits all" approach our schools would benefit greatly.

Look forward to meeting you at the bash.