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Sep 12, 2016

Local Political Change is the Only Solution for Bad Schools




Like many people, I think that inner city schools are a dismal failure.  But who do the voters in districts with bad schools vote for?  Do they vote based on government policies that affect them, or do they vote their identities?  Based on how neighborhoods in Chicago vote, the inner city hell holes with horrible schools vote at least 90% Democrat every time.  They believe the liberal narrative of racist Republicans and vote their identities, not their interests.  Republicans generally favor school choice.  Democrats generally favor teachers' unions, with absolutely no regard for the students.  This problem can't be solved in the courts.  It can only be solved in ballot boxes when the voters with awful schools get past the false liberal narrative and vote their interests instead of their identities. 

I completely agree that sacrificing these kids for the benefit of teachers' unions affects everyone.  But the courts were never a good vehicle for solving this problem.  That's why we're in the mess we're in.  Courts have always been a blunt instrument.  Legislation and executive branch management at the state and local level is what ultimately makes or breaks schools.  After Katrina, Republican Governor Bobby Jindal rebuilt with all charter schools in New Orleans.  Democrats in Congress shut down the Washington, DC, voucher program after they took control in 2009.  The contrast is fairly clear.  The fact is that Republicans get no votes for doing the right thing with inner city schools, so it's less of a priority than it should be for them.  But when Republicans do the right thing, the Pravda Press doesn't report it so nobody knows. 

Any change in public schools, whether major dismantling or minor tinkering, requires local political change to make it happen. We need experimentation at the local level to find out what works.  The shortcut of a Supreme Court decision is tempting because it seems to grant your wishes instantly.  But the reality is that Supreme Court decisions tend to freeze arguments rather than resolve them.  The success of Brown versus Board of Education seems magical only in retrospect.  It was a painful and lengthy process. Given the conditions of schools today, I think the Brown decision really didn't change that much in the long run.  Schools are a local government matter.  Prior to World War II, there was almost no federal involvement in education.  The experiment I'm watching is Wisconsin, where government union dues are optional and not deducted from workers' paychecks.  They also have a large charter school movement in Milwaukee schools.  The combination may improve schools quite a lot.

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