Pete's Prep: Monday, July 16, 2018

News & Observer editors continue attack on charter schools

This weekend, the editors at the state's leading political newspaper - the Raleigh News & Observer - once again attacked school choice, and the people who support it.

The editorial sounds exactly like the major record labels during the rise of digital downloads. When people began sharing music via upstart peer-to-peer sites like Napster, the record companies went to court. 

First, they sued Napster. Then they sued the customers.

Meanwhile, Apple developed iTunes and left the major labels scrambling to catch up for the next decade. For example, Spotify just inked a distribution deal with Universal for its artists.

The distribution model has changed.

Defenders of the K-12 status quo are in the initial phase, I think. But they're getting pretty close to the second phase - going after the users.

The editors at the N&O argue that fewer students attending public schools is costing districts money under the existing operations models. Most of the status quo defenders will say to cap the number of charters (again) and eliminate the voucher program. In other words, go back to the model that prevented choices.

The editors make it perfectly clear, when they write: "If North Carolina is going to foster school choice, it should first ensure that choosing a traditional public school anywhere in the state is an excellent choice."

Rather than argue for all of your competitors to be put out of business until you can improve to better compete, perhaps a reassessment of the aging Prussian-built model is in order.

Traditional public schools are the most effective way to create an educated public. Diminishing them shortchanges the 80.8 percent of North Carolina schoolchildren who attend traditional public schools and it undermines the goal of broadly educating the public to support a strong economy and an effective democracy.

There’s nothing wrong with school choice itself. Parents have chosen to send their children to private schools and religious schools since schools have existed. But it is wrong to encourage the expansion of school choice by making traditional public schools less effective and less attractive.

Is it?

That's a pretty big assumption, and the editors simply plop it down without further explanation or defense. It's part of their built-in bias on the topic.

And even if it were true in the past, does that mean it is true now?

If we were building a K-12 education system today from scratch, would it look like what we have now?

It's unlikely. 

Related to this, here's a piece from President of the John William Pope Foundation, John Hood, where he mentions the obvious:

If you look at test scores, graduation rates, or other outcomes without adjusting for student background, you’ll find, not surprisingly, that states with relatively low rates of poverty, students or parents with native languages other than English, and single-parent families have relatively high academic outcomes.

The circumstances in which kids grow up have a huge effect on their academic achievement and attainment. Schools matter, too, of course — or else we ought to reconsider all the time and resources we devote to them! But if we want to have a meaningful conversation about education, we must at least try to isolate the effects of schooling from the effects of other influences.

Be sure to check out this Twitter thread from A.P. Dillon, who unloaded on the editors:


By the way, I'll take the opportunity to argue that editors should sign their work, rather than hide behind the "Editorial Board" charade.

New San Fran Mayor asks homeless to end public crapping 

The newly-elected mayor of San Francisco, London Breed, said the amount of feces on the sidewalks and streets is the worst she's ever seen in her hometown.

Her plan to fix it?

Ask homeless people to stop defecating all over the place. And get the non-profits to reinforce the request.

"I work hard to make sure your programs are funded for the purposes of trying to get these individuals help, and what I am asking you to do is work with your clients and ask them to at least have respect for the community — at least, clean up after themselves and show respect to one another and people in the neighborhood," Breed told NBC, referencing her conversations with nonprofit groups aimed at serving the homeless.

Or else... what?

I only feel like I have to ask, because the mayor's statement seems to imply that she'll drop support (and funding) for homeless services if they don't help combat this problem - which has now led to the cancellation of major conventions.

I suspect this Democratic Socialist isn't well-informed

The new poster child of the Democratic Party lurch to the left - New York Congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez - called Israel the "occupation of Palestine."

But what's striking in this exchange is how she doesn't really say anything at all. It's just a chain of bumper sticker progressive bromides and phrases. None of which leads me to believe there's any underlying substance to her views.


Barring an upset, this woman is likely going to Congress.

But, wait! There's more!

Charlotte Democrats don't want to welcome the Republican National Convention - despite telling the GOP it would.

The Carolina Journal reports that the chemical - called GenX - at the heart of a Wilmington pollution scandal is also found in solar panels.

Pete Kaliner

Pete Kaliner

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