Red Shoulder Hawk

Red Shoulder Hawk

Saturday, January 21, 2006

20/20, "Stupid in America"

"To say that competition is going to improve education? It's just not gonna work. You know competition is not for children. It's not for human beings. It's not for public education. It never has been, it never will be," [teacher Ruth Holmes Cameron] said.

Why not? Would you keep going back to a restaurant that served you a bad meal? Or a barber that gave you a bad haircut? What if the government assigned you to "your" grocery store. The store wouldn't have to compete for your business, and it would soon sell spoiled milk or stock only high profit items. Real estate agencies would sell houses advertising "neighborhood with a good grocery store." That's insane, and yet that's what America does with public schools.

John Stossel, ABC News. Link.


  1. I wasn't motivated enough to read the article, so I will infer that you are talking about vouchers for private schools. I think that is a really interesting program, except it wouldn't work. I think it would mean that children who normally would cost nothing to educate as their parents can pay tuition would then get on the state's budget, and that's no good. I want to go to art school, in other news. However, I want it for the culture of the school, not for the results of the school. I would like to go to an Francisco or Oaklande School of the Arts, and then a similar college, and coem out of it with a degree in engineering or some sort of physics, something meaty and intense. I really don't like the culture ?I am anticipating for the degrees I'd like.

  2. Competition for schools often really means a competition for students -- schools will be incentivized to push bad students away. Who does this help?

  3. Competition for students is exactly why such an idea would result in a diverse array of schools specializing in some aspect of instruction or another.

    Shop at 7-11? Or Safeway? It depends on what you value. Send your kid to a competitive school that offers intensive arts? Or has a science focus? Or a community activism focus? Or great sports teams? It depends on what your family values.

    I have to wonder what you mean by "bad student." What's a bad student? Someone who's slow? Disruptive? Disengaged?

    Slow students would surely be served better by a school that specialized in teaching through all the intelligences. As for students who make trouble, well, they clearly aren't getting what they need from the current system, are they? Perhaps they are perceiving that the current system is broken, and they are opting out. Being immature, they do so in the only way they know how.

    In my experience, there are very few bad students. But there are plenty of bad teachers, who are unable to engage "bad" students, and therefore create an ongoing feedback loop of trouble.

    Hm, I wonder what sort of strange attractor graph that might plot out to?