Let's add the context back into that question:
idiggory, King of Bards wrote:
Besides, one of the problems I was specifically citing was that Private Schools were inaccessible to anyone other than the upper-middle. Reducing that to the middle-middle doesn't really change my argument at all, and would only slightly temper the problem.
But wouldn't funding the tuition from the state education program solve this problem?
Why? Because we don't have anywhere close to the number of private schools to accept even a small fraction of the number of potential applicants.
Ok. But your earlier argument was one of cost, not open slots in schools. If we eliminate the cost (and let's assume transportation as well) problem so that a student in the ghetto has the same financial ability to attend a given school as a middle class kid, then what remains is the selection process of the school itself.
Because, to screen these applicants, schools will either use tests (which skew heavily in favor of the middle class) or a lottery system to admit students (so it isn't based on need).
Most private schools use tests. Charter type schools tend to use lotteries. If we assume a test, how does that skew? It skews in favor of those capable of doing well on the test. Period. Doesn't matter where you live. You're looking at statistics across an entire population in a poor neighborhood versus a middle class one. But that's not the issue here, right? I thought the problem we're trying to solve is for smart, capable, motivated kids, who are stuck in poor schools because they can't afford to go to better ones. And this absolutely does take us a giant step towards solving that problem.
And let's not forget that if we did implement this solution, more private schools would be built to meet the need. Hell. Some currently public schools might turn private and maybe we'd get improvement that way. You're assuming that the school market wont adjust to that change. It obviously would. Also, your assumption of skew might be present in the current crop of kids, but not in the next generation. If that kid from the poor family always attended a good private school from kindergarten on, then that kid's not going to have any issues continuing to qualify for each successive level of education.
You need to look a bit further down the line to see how this changes things.
Because most people are living in situations where they can't drive their kids to private school every day.
Again though, the cost savings are so significant that we could toss in transportation and still save a boatload of money. And I disagree with that. Motivated parents will find means to transport their kids to school. I went to a private school in South Bay (pretty much spitting distance from Mexico). We had kids who traveled from Mexico every day to attend school there. And these were not all rich kids (some where of course). Some of them literally walked across the border crossing, and then took a bus to school (or walked, or got a friend to pick them up).
You can find ways to get transportation. My brother and I used to get a ride to school from some other people who lived a half mile or so away. It wasn't a carpool because my mom's work schedule didn't allow her to drive. They were just nice and gave us a lift. So every day, we walked to their house to get a ride to school. And when we stayed after for football or basketball practice? We took the bus. Or we walked (not often, because that was a long long long walk). Or, we waited until our mom could come get us.
You manage. It's not easy, but you do it.
My whole issue with the system is that it's a band-aid that does nothing to solve the actual problem, but takes a huge amount of money from the initiative to actually bring about change.
I think that the problem is that too many people are trying to solve the wrong problem. We can't fix bad parenting (or at least that's outside the scope of education policy). But it seems like too many want to use the education system to fix exactly that, or offset the damage caused. That's noble and all, but the kids getting caught in the middle are those who's education resources are being consumed in that expensive and questionably successful goal, resulting in a poorer education result for them.
Do we try to "save" all the kids and turn our education system into a social services system? Or do we concentrate on educating those who want to be educated to the greatest ability we can and in the most efficient manner we can? Because right now, we're sacrificing a hell of a lot of kids who could have gotten better educations, gotten out of their poverty and made something of their lives and given better futures to their children, all on the altar of trying to save everyone.
I think that's absolutely a mistake, but that's been the driving principle for our public education system for the last 30-40 years. Edited, Feb 9th 2012 5:02pm by gbaji