Tough Luck, Kid

For all of the passion and strong opinion expressed on this blog - and I hear complaints about it - there is a broader spectrum of opinion expressed elsewhere. I read education stories in the Seattle Times, the Seattle Weekly, the Stranger, Crosscut and on other online sources and I read and participate in the reader comments that follow the articles.

Some of the folks who comment on these sites give voice to some absolutely shocking sentiments. There are some who oppose the very idea of publicly funded education. There are others who are okay with the government funding education but don't think the government should be providing it. I read a lot of bumper-sticker thinking - folks who think the whole education failure can be solved by vouchers, charters, abolishing the teachers' union, or school choice. Only none of these solutions is actually workable and none of them will really make any difference. Scratch the surface of any of these solutions and you will find them to be without merit.

As thoughtless as those folks are, I'm most disturbed by the folks who think that some children should be excluded from access to education. These folks believe that there are reasons - none of which are the child's fault (as if children can be blamed for anything) - that some children should be left without an eduation. These beasts who appear human will write off children with unsupportive families, with disabilities, who are members of families that came to this country through illegal means, with poor families, with single parents, with family members with chemical addictions, who are experiencing violence at home, with family members in prison, with negligent families, and more. I have read a stunning array of excuses for failing to do our duty to educate children. They all disgust me.

And we do have a duty to educate children. Title IX of the Washington State Constitution makes it clear:
It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex.
We have a duty to educate these children and we are honor bound to fulfill that duty. It is the law. It is the right thing to do. We must not shirk that duty.

Some children are very inexpensive to educate because they are largely educated at home. Most children cost more. Some children cost much, much more. Averages are meaningless. It doesn't matter anyway - we choose to teach them all. Universal public education is a moral issue as well as a legal one. It should not, however, be a political one. We cannot fail it.

Sorry to subject you all to this post but I just had my fill of horror after reading this sort of sewage.


Yes, I get unnerved when I read this kind of stuff. No busing ("in my day we walked 3 miles, uphill both ways", no food (not even lunches), vouchers, no helping Special Ed kids, particularly no help for ELL kids (and "get those illegals out"). I also love the people who rail against higher ed and advocate for having different levels at high school between those who want to go to college and those who don't. Then they complain about tracking.

And, as Charlie said, these people know bumpkis about our district and just write it off.

While public education is not perfect now, I think people forget how the good old days had a lot of problems that were not addressed and were ignored. The plethora of activities and ideas that were presented to my kids made me jealous. I would have loved to have these kinds of opportunities when I was in school.

I also like to point out to these people that the U.S. has the best, the absolute best, higher ed system in the world. We didn't get that way by having the worst K-12 system in the world.
Steve said…
This is amazing to me as well. I can only think that some of these people had really awful education experiences when they were young, and they are now so bitter at the system that they are essentially condemning others to the same educational experience. In the same way that our country quickly forgets history, we're tending to "forget" the future as well, and focus only on our own current existence and the very near-term.
Anonymous said…
Charlie, I know how you feel. I spend a fair amount of time reading about another issue (Palestine/Israel) and believe me, the threads at sites like Yedioth (ynetnews) or Jerusalem Post (jpost) reveal a very dark slice of humanity. I've learned for the sake of my own health to be more judicious of which ones I bother opening. That's OK, since at most daily news sites, comment threads are meant to drive page counts, not dialog. I save my fire for other battles. Respect for people like you who have a stronger stomach than I do.

Gentle Reader
Patrick said…
The people writing these comments are writing for shock value, not their real, considered opinion. 21st century graffiti. At least, that's what I choose to believe.
Charlie Mas said…
I don't think that they are all trolls. I think there are people who actually believe that public school students are subjected to liberal indoctrination by union teachers and that the schools are teaching "social justice" instead of the three R's. There really are people who don't recognize that the Glenn Beck Show is performance art. There really are people who listen to ridiculously extreme political views and believe what they are told. And these people are angry. They are outraged. Sure, they are ill-informed. Of course they aren't thinking critically. But they can post to these comment boards and they can vote.

Worse, they as continue their drumbeat for years and years, they eventually have some influence. After enough years of calling for vouchers we may eventually have them. Especially if Gates or Broad put some real money behind it.
Anonymous said…
Please don't forget that federal law (and some funding) also mandate all special education students receive an "appropriate" education.

Greg said…
I am surprised and disappointed by the opposition to public funding of education as well. To me, it seems like a basic service we provide to our children for their benefit, the benefit of society, and the strength of our economy and country.

And I too am concerned that the voucher movement could pick up momentum. I think the biggest threat to that is if a lot of people are not engaged in and part of the public education system. It is probably true that as more and more people chose private school instead of public school, it becomes more and more likely that vouchers would become a reality.

I think this means cities should work hard to make the public school system as attractive as possible to as many as possible. Here in Seattle where so many choose private school over public school, the district should ask why people choose private school over public school, especially those in the middle class who can barely afford it, and try hard to attract them back.
Anonymous said…
A slight nudge off topic.

A friend has a severly disabled child that can not walk, talk, or perform any self function other than eating with hands.

The parent will not agree to the "Medically Fragile" label, and wants their child to be in a General Ed. classroom for K and above at their Attendance Area School.

With the current ICS model would this child have a full-time aide in the classroom? Or, would it be the 1:12, 1:18 aide or yet to be determined ratio?

The commment of LE also sparks questions - what is the definition of an "appropriate" education?

-No snark, just don't know
Anonymous said…
I had a student last year ask "why should my parents' taxes have to pay for other people to get an education? What good does that do them?"

I was shocked.

After leading him through five minutes of examples, ranging from "having those educated young people get good jobs so that they can pay into Social Security and Medicare so that your parents have support when they retire," to "the consequences of uneducated people voting is that you elect people who can fool the uneducated," the student finally realized that maybe his viewpoint was without merit.

Too bad we can't do that with the many adults who spew similar garbage. But then again, they wouldn't listen if you could...
dan dempsey said…
"Tough Luck, kid" signed the Gov.

Me ... I am shocked at the Governor and the legislature.

Title IX of the Washington State Constitution makes it clear:
It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex.

On Feb 4, 2010 in the NEWS legal action, the State was found guilty of failing to fulfill its Paramount Duty by inadequately funding schools.

The Gov appealed and things have become even worse since 2-4-10.

I can live with ignorant trolls ranting online (in fact some folks see me as an ignorant ranter), it is the ignorant violators of the WA Constitution that are in elected office that really bother me.

Recalling elected officials needs to be attempted a lot more often.

If the court system ever wakes up to legislative intent, and laws as written, we may even see some recall sufficiency petitions approved in Superior courts. Perhaps the Dorn Recall at the WA Supreme Court can be the beginning of an era of more responsive government.

Responsive as in elected officials follow state laws and the obligations imposed by the State Constitution .... just like what theoretically happens in a republic, where every citizen is guaranteed the protection of the law and the constitution.
Charlie Mas said…
Another education editorial by Lynne Varner in the Times today and the predictable bwah-bwah-bwah from the thoughtless, bumper-sticker sloganeering morons.

It just makes me tired.
anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
anonymous said…
I had a student last year ask "why should my parents' taxes have to pay for other people to get an education? What good does that do them? I was shocked."

Great that you were able to share some other view points with this student and that he was receptive.

As for adults of this mentality, of which most are less receptive to other views, I always like to gently remind them to remember that it was "other peoples" tax dollars that paid for their education too.

It goes both ways.
Chris S. said…
I like that, Peon. And if they went to private school you can say "Who do you think will be running the nursing homes when you are old?"
Name said…
Chances are, if their parents went private, the kid is not in public school to begin with :)
hschinske said…
Chances are, if their parents went private, the kid is not in public school to begin with :)

Doesn't follow -- many people who went to private school themselves can't afford it now. Also, hardly anyone goes to private school for every single year from kindergarten through twelfth grade; I would be surprised if the average for those who do some private is even half of that.

Helen Schinske
Maureen said…
I remember a curriculum night in my daughter's (public) 2nd grade class where about 1/3 - 1/2 of the parents had gone to Catholic school. (The teacher had asked us all to remember our own 2nd grade.)

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