Sunday, November 16, 2008

Michelle Obama on 60 Minutes, regarding the D.C. Public Schools

Where will Malia and Sasha go to school, part 2....

60 Minutes: Would you seriously consider sending the girls to public school?

Michelle Obama: You know, we're still in the process of figuring out that transition, and what we have asked people to understand is that the decision that we make will be based on the best interest of the girls. We haven't made that decision yet, you know, we want that to be a personal process, and people have been really good about respecting that.

The Whited Sepulchre: Almost everyone wishes that they could select their school based on their childrens' best interest. They can't make that decision yet, you know, because the government insists on assigning kids to various schools based on residential zip code. Everyone wants their school choice to be a personal process, especially since they're taxed to pay for schools.
Therefore, Mrs. Obama, some of us have difficulty accepting your rationalization for not putting your kids in the Washington D.C. Gladiator Training Facility.

If the government absolutely has to be involved in education, the government should do the decent thing and issue tuition vouchers for the school that the family chooses. We don't need any more White Flight Suburbs. We don't need to keep funding bad schools that don't work.

On a related note, here's a suggestion for politicians who oppose socialized medicine: Insist that public medical care be provided based on residential zip code, just like public education. Nobody in his right mind would vote for it.

Vouchers would go a long, long way toward solving the education problem.
And The Hypocrisy Watch continues....

On an unrelated note, those are some cute little girls. It's going to be good to have some children (with a new dog) in the White House. Just trying to find an upside....

15 comments:

Dr Ralph said...

Of course, the fact that Obama (and by extension his family) has had more threats than any other president-elect in history shouldn't be factored into this at all, right? Nor the fact that gun sales have sky-rocketed since his election, and the lunatic fringe has been thoroughly roiled up by a certain shameless demogogue in designer clothes.

Nope, that makes no difference at all for the safety of those sweet little girls.

Dr Ralph said...

...Comment moderation?

What is this "comment moderation" of which you speak?

Lazy Slacker said...

Amen. Education is one of my major issues, and you're absolutely right on this one. If the Obamas send their children to a D.C. public school, they knowingly would be doing them a grave disservice. The only reason why they're even considering this is because the teachers' unions are major Democratic supporters.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

Dr.,
Are you implying that public schools are inherently less safe than private schools? Even with Secret Service protection?

The Clintons used the privacy argument to avoid the horrors of a D.C. public education. I don't think the Obamas will play the privacy or the safety card, though. Somebody will come up with something creative.

The Comment Moderation option has been invoked because off-topic comments were taking over. According to the URL's, some were coming from a company in Cleburne called Rangaire. The others were coming from my own place of employment, but I haven't gotten a chance to trace the URL's to a specific computer yet.

LazySlacker,
Thanks for the comment.
The Obamas aren't even considering it. This is a carefully choreographed dance to show that they're agonizing over the decision to put their kids in Sidwell Friends school.

Dr Ralph said...

Vouchers? Money from the government? Sounds positively socialistic.

How exactly are vouchers going to work? Are they like a refund if you refuse to send your kids to the public schools? Or is it a way to privatize the public education system? Are they like a tax credit or are they like the educational equivalent of food stamps?

So the same taxpayers who bitch about funding public schools are going to be perfectly okay with handing out vouchers? Somehow I'm not seeing that happen.

Here's the thing: if the Obama children go to Sidwell or Holy Joe's Education Emporium, or any other private school, their parents will pay for the privilege, just like I would if I wanted my kids to go to Trinity Valley. Vouchers start looking an awful lot like another example of welfare for the rich and/or middle-class.

And yes...some public schools are a lot less safe. But not all of them.

Do you honestly think having a voucher-based educational system would solve problems like the DC school system? Or are they just a way to abandon troubled schools without looking callous?

The Whited Sepulchre said...

Dr.,
Please not that I said "If the government absolutely has to be involved in education".

Please don't think I'm outlining what anyone perceives as an ideal scenario.

My hope would be that they would act like food stamps that would eventually help privatize part of the public school system.

The vouchers would introduce an element of competition into the system. When that has happened with airlines, trucking, telephones, and agriculture, prices have dropped dramatically and quality has improved.

And I really do think they would improve the quality of the D.C. school system. They're already spending nearly as much per pupil as Trinity Valley. The money is there.

sandersonmom said...

I wonder if the Obama's do decide to put their girls into public schooling, do you think they would be able to thwart the comments of the not so educable society that goes to public school? I know that even though people are saying that racisim is not as much of a factor anymore, I hope and pray that those little girls have a chance to get a good education out of this.

vampE said...

Home schooling! It's not just for scary religious people any more.

Francis Shivone said...

Allen, I generally don't ask for comments on a post but I would like yours on my recent post on money.

http://ripsreviews.blogspot.com/2008/11/ten-random-thoughts-on-economics.html

Thanks, Francis

(disagree at will, of course)

Jay@Soob said...

dr. ralph, you believe the increase in gun sales is directly related to some mass conspiracy to assassinate the president elect?

Suzette Watkins said...

Where do the vouchers come from? Who pays for them? Who hands them out? Who decides who gets them?

The Whited Sepulchre said...

Vampe,
Nice icon. Nice blogger profile. But imagine a group of kids from Eastern Hills High School going up against the kids of some home-schooled scary religious people in a game of Trivial Pursuit. Or the SAT. Or just about anything. Who would you bet on?

Francis,
I would be honored. Bear in mind that it's all I can do to allocate my 401k funds properly. And I have no money. That's why I'm so passionate about giving the government less and less of it, and griping about them printing more and more of it.
But, after all, I do work in the shipping, freight, and logistics industry, and that qualifies me to speak out on all topics.

Jay,
Dr. Ralph and I only deal with "reductio ad absurdum" arguments, in which we reduce everything to the most absurd level possible. I do the same thing to him. People eventually get used to it.

Dr. Ralph, this is Jay. He writes about foreign policy, and sees the whole world as a big game of Risk (by Hasbro). Jay, this is Dr. Ralph. He writes about how to oppose Republicans in all their many manifestations. He would see eye-to-eye with your co-blogger, Munzenberg, on most political issues.
Help yourselves to the buffet.

Suzette,
The vouchers would come from the same organization that is currently issuing money to the public schools. The Government. They would decide who gets the vouchers by looking at the number of school age dependents claimed on your taxes.
The money is already being paid into the public trough. But instead of the government deciding where to spend it, parents would make that choice. Like so many are already choosing to do, by either moving to the 'burbs, or by paying twice (one into the govt trough, and paying again for a private school.)

Dr Ralph said...

Jay: Do I believe in a vast conspiracy to assassinate the president-elect?

In a word: no.

If there's any conspiracy, it's the gun lobby roiling up people so they can move more product. I do believe the more angry, bitter, hate-filled people there are out there with weapons, the greater the chance of some tragedy of some type happening, whether it be political violence or family violence.

WS: I could almost, grudgingly, find it in my cold liberal heart to accept vouchers as a form of educational food stamps, but that's not what I hear most often when I hear people demanding we use them. What I hear instead usually goes something like this:

1. Public schools are lousy
2. I choose to send my kids to private school
3. Why should I pay for something I'm not using
4. I should be entitled to a voucher.

To me, that sounds like a refund, not educational food stamps.

Here's the problem (to carry our foodstamp analogy a little further).

For years, I've read about how certain neighborhoods in Dallas, usually economically depressed, can never get a decent grocery store to service their community. Kroger's, Minyard's, Albertson's, Super Target, etc. would rather service the 'burbs than the hood--more dollars to be made.

The hood ends up with nothing but crappy, overpriced convenience stores instead of Tom Thumb. And that's what I see happening if we do away with the public school system and start issuing vouchers: crappy private schools in places like DC, instead of crappy public schools. And I don't see those vouchers alone paying a DC child's tuition at Sidwell.

I guess I don't have as much faith in the almighty marketplace as some do.

Dr Ralph said...

WS -- BTW, I love the game of Risk.

I've seen laid-back hippies turn into the most devious, sneaky, double-dealing megalomaniacs imaginable. Properly played, it can ruin marriages.

Delightful fun!

The Whited Sepulchre said...

Dr.,
The problem I see with your "that sounds like a refund" list is that the taxpayer doesn't get the refund. It's like a gift certificate to the school, not the taxpayer.

Food Deserts (Please remember, I work for the nation's leading value added vertically integrated supplier of produce elevation systems - we make fruitstands) have been in the news a lot lately.
I don't think that Food Deserts are the result of more money to be made elsewhere. I think they're the result of families with young children abandoning certain neighborhoods for one reason, and one reason only. The schools.
If these families are given a choice in their schools, they might be willing to stay and, incidentally, help anchor a low income area's grocery store. People willing to risk their dollars aren't rare. People willing to risk their kids are rare.