"Beware when the great God lets loose a thinker on this planet." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson US essayist & poet (1803 - 1882)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

i'm a big fan of healthy competition.

i also think that many laws, regulations, ordinances are created by lawmakers unnecessarily creating controversy to sway voters. i'm sure i'm not alone in this thought but i remember going to a middle school class about american government and the teacher told us once.

"the first objective of any elected official is to get re-elected"

As a 13 year old, i guess i wasn't sure what he meant. i thought and the occasional non-cynic me tries to think of elected officials as people who care about bettering our society. The truth is many elected officials do care, but not enough to make a stand which could cost votes. Too bad.

i like to also make comparision between the left and right. And also hear others peoples opinions of the two sides. here are some examples of what i've heard.

The right sees the world as black and white, while the left sees the world as shades of grey

The left vote the way the world is, the right vote the way they would like the world to be

The right see democracy as majority rules, the left see the democracy's job as protecting the minorities.

Both left and right try to accomplish the same things, they just go about it from different starting points.

My most favorite part of running is internal. i do my best thinking when lost in thought miles away from the house. The entire ordeal is very therapy for me. So here's my thoughts on charter schools from a man whose kids go to public schools.

i like charter schools. As an alternative to public schools, i think they would help produce better schools. i saw the John Stossel special on schooling and was surprised by how public schools fight the development of charters. Then i remembered back on elected officials again and it hit me..

more charter schools, means less money to public schools, since, in michigan, dollars are based on enrollment. Less dollars mean less programs, or God forbid, more efficient programs. Since School boards are elected officials and as elected, their first object is to get re-elected.

Then i thought, teachers are better in public schools, and they care most about the kids. But no, they care most about getting the first day of deer season off in their contract, two full weeks at christmas off, mid-winter full week off, spring break full week off, four day weekends out of every three day weekend normal people have. So now my kids won't get out off school until end of june. Or Early July depending on Snow days. Hell, let's work the July 4th holiday into the next contract.

And even though it's the same amount of days they work a year the teachers unions have fought hard to get all this time off for their workers. Of course more charter school teachers mean less money in the teachers unions bank accounts as charter schools are non-union. Again it's always comes back to money.

So now i see public education as all about the administrations needs and the needs of the unions and somehow our kids have gotten lost. And being the guy on the left, i see healthy competition as the only solution. Cause if it's one thing a liberal hates, it's a monopoly.

So, while i support the idea of unionized working, charter schools gives teachers an option to work in a union or non-union environment. It also forces schools boards to make better decisions to keep their customers, that's US by the way, happy. It would also force the unions to base their contract decisions on those that would better the students and keep more enrolled. More money to them, a good thing.

In the end, we all win.

Funny side note; Lincoln Park installed a new dress code policy banning any printed material on clothing wore to school. Twin students were suspended multiple times for wearing t-shirts with the first ammendment printed on the front. Whatever we do as educators, don't encourage free thought.

Ironic side note: Smoke Free bars and restaurants; back to unnecessary laws, if bars and restaurants just went smoke free or didn't go smoke free, they would either profit or lose from the new business or lack of business. Many bars and restaurants here in Michigan, where smoking is allowed, and has the 2nd highest population of adult smokers in the country, have gone smoke free and have seen an increase in business. The laws in other states were just a waste of time and money. Michigan may be getting on this craze shortly, but until then... btw... as a bartender in a business hotel i laugh at the number of californians who run to the gift shop and buy smokes realizing they can smoke at the bar. i swear those laws were supported by people who wanted to stop smoking but couldn't. Then they had to stop.

Lastly, i'm not anti-union, anti-teacher, or anti-big business. i'm anti-monopoly.

These are some of my thoughts while training for the big run.

Thanks again for reading


Animal said...

Wow! That blog must have been similar to relieving mental constipation! There's a lot to sort through there, but as an educator (and the child of educators, married to an educator who's a child of educators...) I'll go on record as supporting the line of thinking that charter schools siphon money away from public schools. The government mandates that kids have to go to school, so they're responsible for paying for it. When that payment is tied (as it currently is in Michigan) to individual children, and when individual children LEAVE the PS system for the charters, those dollars leave. That only works in theory, though, because it's the accumulation of children-tied dollars that actually pays for stuff at school. Losing the 6 thousand-odd dollars tied to Mackenzie doesn't mean that her school loses the computer Mac was using...but lose ENOUGH kids to the charters and suddenly ALL the computers disappear.

Finding solutions to problems like this is like trying to untangle the world's biggest rubber-band ball. The end point I think we ALL would like to see looks something like this: all children go to great schools with quality educators, all schools begin with at least the basic "essentials" necessary to run in the 21st century (said essentials to be decided on by - what else? - a panel of educators!), and EVERYONE in the community pays for the school. That last one is the real sticky widget, because with school funding tied to property taxes and stupidity taxes (translation: the lottery) we're not effectively raising money from EVERYONE...yet it seems like everyone is on board with the concept that educating our children is important. Do those few things, and I don't care WHERE kids go to school...but like I said, finding a solution as to how to reach that idyllic nver-neverland is like trying to find a needle in a stack of needles.

Good thoughts, Luke! Keep 'em coming.

Nitmos said...

In general, I would agree with your premise that healthy competition should end up being a win for the students. But, I have this nagging suspicion that the recent emphasis on charter schools is really an attempt to break the power of the teachers union and NOT the more innocently marketed idea of "providing choice". Once broken, I suspect the charter schools would merely blend back into the public school system. This time minus the teachers union. And with all the same old issues. Political goal achieved! Call me a cynic.

Mike said...

good point Nitmos.

i see your point. Very interesting view. i'd still go with the idea that competition would bring out the best in a public school.

i really diresgard the parochial's cause they'll always have their clients.

i would just prefer more choices.

Nitmos said...

...if we can figure out a way to keep the students from poor families who would be left holding the bag at public schools when those with the means exit for charter schools, I guess I would be more open to the charter school idea. I have this vision of a snowball effect being created...some students leave for charters, positive experiences are reported, more students leave, then, like a college education, it becomes the Place You Have To Have Your Kids if they are going to succeed. Ofcourse, this would draw the best teachers as well. So, those with the means, send their kids to charters. And those who don't, stay in public schools effectively creating a school class structure between the Haves and Have Nots. I could be wrong (and sure I am) but that is my fear. I'd rather work within the existing structure and fix whats broken. Surely there are some innovative minds out there with some solutions? There seems to be motivation and opportunity.