March 19, 2013

How teachers think

A Midwestern reader writes:
You are one of the few conservative-leaning authors out there that seem to really understand what that world is about.  Before a career in corporate management, followed by a return to B-school and a third career in academics, I did a stint as a teacher in a public elementary school.   
Although they will not generally say so publicly, every reasonably aware public-school teacher knows the operative rules.  Urban teaching jobs suck, rural jobs suck a little less, and the suburban jobs in prosperous areas are where you want to work.  In prosperous areas the patrons usually love the schools their kids attend and they like the teachers and administrators.  There really are schools out there with little dysfunction, low levels of violence, and where kids really do learn something.   
This is why I find it ironic that many conservatives lump the entire structure together and make [public] education the enemy.  The advocated solutions seem to involve some form of economic starvation combined with higher (and universal) performance standards, and additional requirements to track and report performance data.  This while complaining about the greater number of administrators required to meet these mandates.  I think conservatives are making a huge mistake here.  It's analogous to the phenomenon of everyone professing to hate congress while reelecting the same congressman they have had for 30 years.  They like their congressman, its all the others that they hate.  
It might also be important to note that every state is not like New York, Wisconsin, or California.  Not every teacher is a communist, lazy, a union member, or possessor of a gigantic pension.  There is real risk, especially in more conservative states, of alienating people that are in these professions but generally conservative.  I tell this to my state legislators all time time, but they ignore me.

One thing I try to do is to look at political issues in the news partly from the perspective of property values in my neighborhood. From this angle, the GOP's Randian maker v. taker rhetoric seems strange. Granted, my approach of being sympathetic toward people who would make good neighbors (while being hard-headed about who would make good neighbors) is totally orthogonal to all standard ideologies, but I think the emotion  is widely shared if seldom articulated.

If schoolteachers, firemen, cops, or civil servant bureaucrats move into your neighborhood, is that good for your property values or bad? For all but the top 10% or 20% richest neighborhoods, government employees are fairly desirable neighbors: law-abiding, had to pass some kind of test to get their jobs, stably employed, usually there for the long term, don't work too many hours so they can coach kid teams at the park, and so forth. (I'm just repeating basic Chicago real estate logic.)

In other words, government employees tend to be one core element of the "small c" conservative American middle class. 

Moreover, these are people who tend to have influence with their neighbors and with your children. Teachers talk to children all day long. And they have some influence on other adults in part because they tend to be articulate and outgoing, plus they often have taught people who now vote. Similarly, neighbors who are firemen and cops are listened to at backyard barbecues with some respect and interest because their jobs entail bravery and their jobs make for interesting stories. Even government office paper shufflers can help their neighbors navigate the bureaucracy.

So, Republicans, why demonize them? Republican budget cutters have very legitimate gripes -- firemen and cops have often abused the pension system, for example, with various tricks, and most cities probably employ more firemen than they need -- but the GOP ought to look for carrots as well as sticks. Stand up for government employees against abuse by affirmative action, for instance. 

Little stuff, too: back during Hurricane Katrina, my son's scoutmaster, a fire chief, dropped everything and flew to Louisiana to help rescue people in New Orleans. But before he could be allowed into the field to save lives, he had to sit through a two hour seminar on sexual harassment!

Sure, the Republicans aren't going to win over many votes from members of government employees unions. But, you might win over, say, their in-laws if you treat them fairly on what ought to be Republican issues. But, instead, the GOP has largely given up on Reagan Democrat issues in favor of, say, talking about the estate tax.

Indeed, the Bush Administration went the other way and attacked Reagan Democrats. Alberto Gonalez filed in 2007 a discrimination lawsuit against the Fire Department of New York -- of whom 343 died on 9/11 and who are among the more culturally conservative bloc of voters in the state of New York. Thanks, GOP! I'm sure McCain and Romney did much better among Hispanics and blacks in New York because of this, right?

The new official GOP report on how the party will revive echoes the conventional wisdom of such GOP-friendly institutions as the editorial board of the New York Times: Hispanics! But, if you actually look at the Electoral College map, it's clear that the GOP's biggest Presidential election problem is not appealing enough to whites in the North Central states. 

74 comments:

Shouting Thomas said...

But, if you actually look at the Electoral College map, it's clear that the GOP's biggest Presidential election problem is not appealing enough to whites in the North Central states.

Yes, but the GOP has made it pretty clear that it doesn't want those white voters.

Why not? (I realize that I'm pissing in the wind here.)

Anonymous said...

To get the 60-65% of the white vote needed to win swing states like OH, MI, IA, and WS, you by definition need to get many left of center white votes. And you do that by moving left. The GOP elite and hard core activists hate this idea, so they cling to the more appealing but dumb idea that there is a big block of conservative Hispanics just waiting to vote for them when they find the right messenger.

Corn said...

Well said Steve.

As for Anon who says the GOP needs to move left: Yes and No. I don't think the GOP should cast social issues aside , but it needs a truly good alternative to Obamanomics, not the fellating of the rich it tries to pass off as free markets.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Amen. On conservative sites, discussions about education rapidly devolve into false nostalgia about "how much better things were when I were a lad" - most of it false, but comfortable. The idea that the self-serving memories of blog commenters who read essays about education are in any way a representative sample is so ludicrous as to defy description. And yet it persists: My grandfather was in a class of 57 in a one-room school, and all 57 went on to get advanced degrees in sciences and invent cardboard...

Alternatively, they get caught up in paranoia about government/liberal indoctrination - as if modern students adopted the opinions of teachers at a rate higher than in previous generations.

It's not just wrong because it is political suicide. It's wrong because it is false. It is the best standing example of the idea that conservatives don't actually want to govern, they just want to complain that no one is listening to them.

Anonymous said...

Maybe "moving left" in this case means coming to a working compromise with the public service unions and remnants of the manufacturing and transport unions. Maybe something like the promise of import tariffs, value added tax benefits, and immigration restrictions in return for some give on wages and benefits.

Is this possible? Hell, I don't know. Maybe the inflation of base commodities like real estate and health care, along with advances in robotics and such have put the solution out of reach.

Neil Templeton

Harry Baldwin said...

In 1990, George H.W. Bush threatened to veto the Kennedy-Hawkins Civil Rights Act of 1990, calling it a quota bill. As the NY Times wrote, "[The act] would effectively reverse a succession of Supreme Court rulings last year that made it harder for people who felt they had been victims of discrimination to bring damage suits against employers."

Bush's position caused a spike in his support, but unfortunately it was among the wrong kind of people, AKA whites, and that embarrassed him. So he met with Civil Rights leaders, told them how much he wanted to support the bill, and accepted a few cosmetic changes. His support among whites dropped back to where it had been.

The NY Times explained, "The handling of the civil rights legislation poses a delicate political problem for Mr. Bush, who has received a high approval rating from black Americans and has urged the Republican Party to reach out to black voters."

That strategy really paid off: Bush I got a whopping 11 percent of the black vote!

Nowadays, of course, we never hear Republican candidates challenge affirmative action. It's no longer open to discussion.

Anonymous said...

"But, instead, the GOP has largely given up on Reagan Democrat issues in favor of, say, the estate tax."

Way to bury the lede, Steve!

Stagnant wages + record corporate profits have a way of making the middle class skeptical of Big Capital and its stewards. The GOP needs to learn this or perish.

jeanne said...

Here in Montana some conservative R legislators are pushing a school voucher bill. This seems really stupid here in Whiteopia. We do get a few more NAMs here every day, I think sent here by social workers so they can get a fresh start (I doubt they'd come here otherwise). But they're still just 1-2% overall.

It can't be the white proles the proponents want to escape, because they are themselves proles.

School vouchers is a boutique rightwing issue imported from *urban* areas where it might make sense. And it's just bad PR for the Republicans.

Anonymous said...

But the Reagan Democrats are all dead. This is unfortunate, but this is where the readers of this site could benefit from reading James Bowman. There is no more blue collar identity every one aspires to be a "cognitive elite". James Bowman makes the point that there aren't anymore blacks, college professors, and unionists than there were during the McGovern campaign, but alot more people aspire to the "smart/intellectual" level. To the extent that don't its because they are like me members of the Christian Right who sense the disdain of those in the cognitive elite.

Now maybe this development means we should be nicer to teachers because they are cognitive. But of course that isn't how this works, teachers are seen as union not so much cognitive elite.

Also why isn't the GOP allowed to have tribal interests. I mean this site is alot me and mine well the GOP has to deal with the fact that even after NCLB the NEA spent millions of dollars electing Democrats year after year. Of course, the Reublicans are going to hit back. The teacher's unions started this. Vouchers wouldn't exist if the NEA donate a little more like GE (50-50 split or around that).

Anonymous said...

You make some interesting points, Steve, but here's what you miss:

The existence of government jobs on the scale we now see is the modern version of Luddite thinking. The productivity revolution that transformed the private sector never reached the public sector. We are not using information technology in government because that would create jobs.

And so when you look at it from the individual public employee perspective, it looks one way, in the big picture it really does look like a collective group of people whose political power makes them like remoras.

Anyone in the business world has heard of or works at companies that do as much or more work now with half the work forces they used to have. I can't think of a single example in the public sector.

Just look at your home state. The California state government has got a payroll system running on COBOL and computer fiascoes wherever you look. Why? Because if Sacramento used computers smartly, jobs go away.

Anonymous said...

"Here in Montana some conservative R legislators are pushing a school voucher bill. This seems really stupid here in Whiteopia. We do get a few more NAMs here every day, I think sent here by social workers so they can get a fresh start (I doubt they'd come here otherwise). But they're still just 1-2% overall.

It can't be the white proles the proponents want to escape, because they are themselves proles.

School vouchers is a boutique rightwing issue imported from *urban* areas where it might make sense. And it's just bad PR for the Republicans."

Indeed, here in Idaho, which is similarly white (but with different intrawhite demographics from Montana), the people just rejected a bunch of public supported charter school legislation, simply because it makes no sense for a heavily white and Mormon state and only benefits the shareholders of private education companies. Given that most of the legislators are said shareholders, they're not likely to learn their lesson, and public school-supporting Democrats might gain some support on the margins.

Anonymous said...

In prosperous areas the patrons usually love the schools...little dysfunction, low levels of violence, and where kids really do learn something... I find it ironic that many conservatives lump the entire structure together and make [public] education the enemy

The public schools in my area are safe, clean, well-equipped, well-maintained, and have an excellent academic reputation.

The reason we sacrifice HALF OUR INCOME to keep the kids out of them, is the damned liberal ideology that drips from nearly every page of the curriculum.

Life would be SOOOOO much easier... and we'd be earning so much more (and, note well liberals, paying more taxes too)... if the California public schools would just CALL OFF THE CULTURE WAR.

But they won't. That's why NOT ONE CONSERVATIVE I KNOW has their kids in public school. The rich do private school; the rest of us homeschool.

Several public schools not far from me, have actually CLOSED DOWN over the last few years due to plummeting enrollement (mostly due to defections to homeschooling). Yet every election cycle, the public school advocates can be heard everywhere, yapping for more money.

They can go fuck themselves.

Anonymous said...

The point of the original post is to warn the Republicans away from inappropriate "lumping.". In my state only a minority of teachers are unionized, and most that do join often do so primarily for the professional liability insurance. Outside of a couple of major urban areas, the union membership rate around here approaches zero. Quit referring to them as greedy incompetents.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Steve, you are just as naive as those GOPer who think they can win elections by appealing to blacks and Hispanics. Some blacks and Hispanics can be personally somewhat conservative but they are content to be politically represented by NAACP and La Raza. Similarly, teachers are content to be represented by teachers unions. This should tell you that any effort to pander to teachers and other govt workers would yield exactly zero votes. Just like with the minorities.

Anthony said...

false nostalgia about "how much better things were when I were a lad" - most of it false, but comfortable.

I poked around at the test scores in my somewhat racially mixed suburb. Whites got the same scores at *every* school. The variation in scores between schools was almost entirely due to variation in demographics. The schools here are good - the smarter high school kids are doing stuff that was uncommon when I was in high school. But there are a lot more non-whites in the schools than there were 20 years ago.

The ironic thing is that adopting race-realist policies would benefit government employees (particularly teachers) more than they would many other people - no more pressure to "improve test scores! close the gap! discipline without discriminating!", but most rank and file teachers would oppose such changes.

ATBOTL said...

The reason Midwestern and Northeastern whites are not voting GOP is because they just don't buy into the idea that what's best for the rich is best for everyone. Even most people here who are rich themselves don't buy that.

What the GOP needs to change to get more votes is the plutocratic economic policies. Of course, that's the raison d'etre for the current party leadership, so don't expect much to happen.

The quickness of the GOP leaders to embrace amnesty and gay marriage after the election suggests that they always wanted these things and were looking for any excuse.

ben tillman said...

Also why isn't the GOP allowed to have tribal interests.

Because those who control the apparatus of public opinion formation are members of a competing tribe.

To get the 60-65% of the white vote needed to win swing states like OH, MI, IA, and WS, you by definition need to get many left of center white votes.

No, you don't. You need ONE left-of-center White vote, ceteris paribus and assuming that "the center" is a median rather than a mean. If it is a mean, you may not need any left-of-center White votes.

Chicago said...

Why slam conservatives when obviously all types have been involved in trying to sink their hooks into the blank-slate minds of the kiddies? The meddling Bill & Melinda Gates, Obama's Race-to-the-Bottom (oops, Top), Bush's No-Child-Left-Behind, Bill Ayers' infiltration of education, creationists who try to get on school boards, Afro-centrists, and so on. There's no shortage of agendas. Then, of course, we have those who have no political goals at all but just want to sleep with a student or two.
The fascists are just revolting against the Maoists who have the upper hand at the moment.

Maguro said...

In fairness to the GOP, the public employees unions have absolutely bankrupted the state of Illinois with their ridiculous pension benefits, gained through kickbacks to the Dem politicians who "negotiated" on behalf of the state. Public sector unions are inherently corrupting.

Anononymous said...

Assistant Village Idiot said...
"My grandfather was in a class of 57 in a one-room school, and all 57 went on to get advanced degrees in sciences and invent cardboard..."

Cardboard was patented in England in 1856. He may well have attended a one-room school.

Anononymous said...

"If schoolteachers, firemen, cops, or civil servant bureaucrats move into your neighborhood, is that good for your property values or bad?"

If more schoolteachers are moving in then the ratio of home-school/private school to public school is decreasing.

If more firemen are moving it means there are more fires.

If more police are moving it means crime is increasing.

More bureaucrats however, is a good thing.

In all cases property taxes will increase to pay their salaries.

desert lady said...

steve wrote:
"Stand up for government employees against abuse by affirmative action, for instance. "

I work for the govt. Black females basically are immune to punishment. They can be as bad as they wanna be. And when they get promoted to computer jobs, oh my god. The govt basically counts on white people picking up the slack for the black workers. Not that some are not good. But a lot of the black workers slack off because they know they will not get fired and they know they can get promoted because of race.

Anonymous said...

"But, instead, the GOP has largely given up on Reagan Democrat issues in favor of, say, talking about the estate tax."

And cutting business taxes, and cutting their cap gains taxes, and cutting their labor costs via support for mass immigration/illegal immigration, and wars in the Middle East...

There is really no logical explanation for this, other than the fact that the GOP has been captured by major donors who also, conveniently, happen to be the people who will hire congressmen for congressmen for 7-figure salaries after they leave office. They also socialize with these folks and, occasionally, marry into their families - see the marriage of Orrin Hatch's son into the billionaire Marriott family to perhaps understand why Orrin has been supporting open borders since at least 1991, when he proposed legalizing the employment.

Back when WASPs controlled most of America's wealth, Congress and the media had no problem supporting increased estate taxes on America's richest. Now that the dominant ethnic group on the Forbes 400 has changed ever-so-slightly, the estate tax could well go the way of the trilobite.

Anononymous said...

Protesting Milwaukee teachers earn triple the city’s per capita income

"the per capital income in Milwaukee ... was just over $19,000

the cost of a teacher, plus benefits, will be $100,005"

Anonymous said...

What teachers think?

Teachers don't think. Thinking is too elitist for them.

Anonymous said...

One thing the GOP clearly needs to do is get the party's conservatives to accept the inevitable, and try to stop pandering to those GOP voters who believe in political ideas that are insanely unlikely to ever become policy. They make the party look ridiculous to many educated voters.

For example, we may, at some point, outlaw most abortions. It's unlikely, but it's possible. However, we will never never never in-a-million-years ever force a rape victim to carry the baby of her rapist to term, and it's ridiculous to think we might even try. It's just moral masturbation to pretend otherwise. If it makes you feel morally superior to feel intellectually consistent on this matter, whatever, but it ain't gunna happen.

Likewise, gay marriage is coming. There are valid and compelling arguments against gay marriage, and especially against its imposition by a slew of unelected judges. No Republican ever seems to make these arguments, though, and except for the latter issue even I don't find them compelling. Believe it or not, there are gay conservatives. A white gay man is probably more likely than a straight Hispanic to be a Republican.

Anonymous said...

"This should tell you that any effort to pander to teachers and other govt workers would yield exactly zero votes."

No, the nasty way some Republican pols and media figures speak of teachers and other gov't employees is a huge turnoff to those employees as well as many voters who just plain believe in "good government." You can speak nicely of teachers while not pandering to the teachers' unions.

Anonyia said...


"The public schools in my area are safe, clean, well-equipped, well-maintained, and have an excellent academic reputation.

The reason we sacrifice HALF OUR INCOME to keep the kids out of them, is the damned liberal ideology that drips from nearly every page of the curriculum. "

Do they really? Maybe it is just my state, but I don't remember my public schools being extremely liberal. Sure, we had to do a lesson or two on civil rights in Social Studies, but beyond that....I would overall call the curriculum small c conservative but secular. The teachers themselves were fairly moderate- those that were Democrats were not progressives.

Usually people that complain about liberal ideology in public schools are just upset about the lack of religion.

Anonymous said...

Your correspondent hasn't spent as much time in public ed as he presents if he really suspects it's an untapped reservoir of Citizenists. Since teaching is, after all, a conservative vocation it's logical that many to wind up doing it have a long-term partially traditionalist outlook. On the other hand they don't set the tone for the profession. An analogy would be all the "conservative" film actors at the Academy Awards--who no doubt exist, in some vague quantity.

Periodically Steve will post a piece such as this demonstrating remarkable ignorance of the post-competence bureaucratization of America, particularly for a man of his age (though perhaps he belongs to a geographical-generational cohort who are just big suckers for the Honest Postman fairy-tale). I do realize his own work experience doesn't extend much beyond the paperclip-manipulation sector, G-loaded office errands for lawyers etc., and pontificating over a keyboard. He's certainly never pursued employment in construction, auto repair, HVAC service, or any kind of manual labor, and maybe even escaped the inanity of entry-level Walgreens duty. Stop lecturing the rest of us on how we need to respect our county recorder clerks until you've done some time in the quotidian world.

Anonymous said...

Indeed, the Bush Administration went the other way and attacked Reagan Democrats. Alberto Gonalez filed in 2007 a discrimination lawsuit against the Fire Department of New York -- of whom 343 died on 9/11 and who are among the more culturally conservative bloc of voters in the state of New York. Thanks, GOP! I'm sure McCain and Romney did much better among Hispanics and blacks in New York because of this, right? Even Meg Whitman not a good candidnate got the police union behind her because she wanted to be tougher on crime. Yet, the libertarian draft of the Teaparty prevents this.

civil service said...

The productivity revolution that transformed the private sector never reached the public sector.

In other words, Baumol's cost disease, but the bloated public (and rent-seeking para-public) economy is feeding off productivity gains rather than trying to keep up with them. "Growth" is the health of the state...

Anonymous said...

When my daughter attended the large state university in our area she really had only one professor in four years prone to political harangues. He was not a liberal but a libertarian.

Anonyia said...


"No, the nasty way some Republican pols and media figures speak of teachers and other gov't employees is a huge turnoff to those employees as well as many voters who just plain believe in "good government." You can speak nicely of teachers while not pandering to the teachers' unions."

Precisely. I've gotten the vibe that one of the reasons teachers disproportionately support Democrats is out of practicality rather than ideology. Who would support someone who attacks them constantly? NCLB probably also caused a lot of otherwise conservative teachers to cut ties with Republicans.

One of the reasons they attack teachers in the first place is because it allows Republicans to divert the blame for poverty/crime/low test scores to the (mostly white)teachers instead of race. A lot of mainstream Republicans have this moronic view that if the NAMs just received the right kind of indoctrination (ie creationism and capitalism), and if they were removed from the corrupting influence of secular liberals, then they would turn out to be freedom loving model citizens. From anecdotal observation about 75 percent of Republicans believe this.

Mr. Anon said...

One thing that could be done to curb the awfulness of the public education establishment is to eliminate the requirements on teachers for continuing education. A lot of the left-wing bias in education comes from the Education Colleges. These requirements mean that teachers have to periodically attend refresher brain-washing taught by people like Bill Ayers. Also, teachers have to pay for those courses, and freeing them from that burden would mean more money in their pockets, which they would undoubtedly like.

Eliminate those, and the credentialling of teachers by Ed Colleges. That would be a pro-teacher yet anti education establishment policty that the GOP could advocate.

Anononymous said...

"government employees are fairly desirable neighbors: law-abiding, had to pass some kind of test to get their jobs, stably employed, usually there for the long term"

Compared to a private sector business, government jobs have lower standards. A business is under pressure to make a profit and needs to have higher standards and be more strict. Government jobs can tolerate more unproductivity, obesity, misbehaviour than a business will. Businesses also also don't have quotas for majorities and women.

Anonymous said...

Anonyia said...

"Usually people that complain about liberal ideology in public schools are just upset about the lack of religion."

Which is probably more important an issue.

Anononymous said...

State Run Amuck

total cost to taxpayers for all of these state employees, on the average of $70,627 per employee

average wage among all Californians last year was $48,090

Whiskey said...

The estate tax is for rules-playing business owners (Joe White Successful guy) of small-middling size. Bill Gates is donating his money to the ... Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Tax-free. Which will be controlled by ... his kids. Same with Buffett. Taxes are for ... oh yeah suckers. GOP is basically small/medium size business owners, so they hate the estate tax (not enough connections/payoff juice to make the Gates move fly through the IRS).

NE Whites vote Dems because they LIKE what is on offer, from gay marriage to gays in the military to AA to gun grabs to anti-White stuff. Even though they themselves are White. White women are generally on that side of things, being mostly unmarried and Sandra Fluke rather than Sarah Palin. NE Whites want to make time with the "market makers" for sex and love and family, so who are they going to go with? Republicans who are not for paying Sandra Fluke to blog about spending $3k per year on condoms, so who do the market makers in sex and love and family prefer? Party of Goodies and Good Times.

GOP if they want to recapture Reagan's magic have to stand for: not grabbing your bank account (Cyprus), Economic Growth (men you can play Beta Male provider not have to amp-up the Alpha A-hole arrogance), and a credible national job champion. See Obama's Auto Bailout and raise him aerospace wages. Women will always go with Dems, but they are vulnerable in one area: social pressure that intimidates. Real stuff not imaginary KKKrazy Glue. Think Mean Girls. I.E. voting Dem is the mark of a loser slut who has to settle for a beta male she despises instead of the winner Alpha snagged early.

Education Realist said...

Teachers are 30% Republican, last I checked, and firefighters and policemen much more so. Educational policy makers are liberal, and it's really shocking sometime how openly liberal and anti-reality education policy is. Teachers, as a group,are (like cops and firefighters) as close to the old blue-collar Dems as you get these days. Yes, some of them are extremely and irritatingly liberal, particularly in the history and English departments. The problem is that there are *more* English and history teachers, because they teach per grade, while math and science teachers teach per subject.

But the union reps aren't your usual progressives, but very practical old school pols--again, blue collar. I've been at three schools and seen union reps from age 25 (head of the union at a huge school district) to age 60, and they are all very similar. Not at all your elite progressive.

And, by the way, while ed school itself is probably necessary, the idea that it's indoctrinating teachers? Complete crap.

By the way, the suburbs in some states have lots of Title I schools. California, for example, is full of them. But most teachers take suburban poor over urban every time. Urban poor is just incredibly difficult to manage.

I actually wrote about this back during the campaign--why on earth do Republicans hate teachers, when they lionize cops and firefighters?

http://educationrealist.wordpress.com/2012/08/29/why-chris-christie-picks-on-teachers/

But while I can accept their hatred of teachers because of the union support for Dems, what I really don't understand is what Jeanne pointed out: why the heck are Republicans castigating schools and focusing all their capital on URM test scores? They spend absolutely none of their time on the issues that concern their core constituency and seem completely clueless that most whites oppose their efforts.

The only reason I can see is that they aren't really interested in improving schools, but in cutting them down to destroy teacher union power.

But what they should be doing, as I point out here (http://educationrealist.wordpress.com/2012/09/20/on-the-ctu-strike/), is pushing for a return to tracking, giving up on Hispanics to ask about the cost of educating kids who can't speak English, and maybe, if they want to be brave, ask about what exactly we're getting for the billions we've spent on special ed.

Anonymous said...

"The only reason I can see is that they aren't really interested in improving schools, but in cutting them down to destroy teacher union power."

That's exactly it. It's the same reason they cheer the death of manufacturing jobs as a way to kill labor unions.

Honestly this mob just keeps going from bad to worse.

Peter the Shark said...

The GOP is dominated by libertarians or pseudo-libertarians. Libertarians are in no way conservative as that word is traditionally understood - they celebrate the creative destruction of free markets. Our free market system has provided plenty of material prosperity but the pursuit of economic growth as our highest value has done more to undermine traditional families, morals and regional ties over the last 50 years than any policy measure a liberal could dream up.

josh said...

I am a history teacher. Conservatives should hate us because we teach a bullshit historiography to your children in order to turn them against their own traditions and even their own parents. You should hear some of the things the female teachers in particualar are telling your children.

sunbeam said...

Education Realist wrote:

"and maybe, if they want to be brave, ask about what exactly we're getting for the billions we've spent on special ed."

What special ed are you referring to? When I hear that phrase I think of education for retarded kids.

I don't really expect retarded kids to uniformly become productive citizens. I view things like this as something that is better than nothing for them.

Look it is very difficult to care for a retarded child, and it is very easy to feel alone doing it. I'm old enough to remember how it used to be, retarded kids kept at home with varying results. Some very few probably did as well as special ed did at maximizing what education could do for them, but most weren't as capable at it. Quite a few didn't even try, for lack of desire, or any idea it could help, or they just totally lacked the ability and patience to make a difference.

My heart bleeds enough that I think the short buses and special ed programs for retarded kids are a good thing. Both for the parents, for the kid, and for any employment they might be able to eventually have.

So I do think this is social spending that is well worth it. No one expects retarded kids to eventually go to Harvard, but educating them is a lot harder than homeschooling for regular kids.

My opinion, but I don't see how you really get around this one.

Unless you mean something different by special ed.

Cail Corishev said...

Yet every election cycle, the public school advocates can be heard everywhere, yapping for more money.

That's the main problem with the school system in my small town too. Yes, they indoctrinate the kids with the current liberal ideology, but that was true in the 70s and 80s when I was in school, and people still fairly happily sent their kids.

But every few years, they come to the voters with a "critical" bond issue because they need more money. If they get voted down, they don't take it gracefully at all, committing themselves to tightening the budget and doing the best they can. They just change a few words and trot it out for the next election, getting their friends in the media to do some name-calling at the opposition, accusing anyone who doesn't want to send them a few more millions of being anti-education, anti-child, anti-progress, anti-whatever. If all else fails, they find some way to circumvent the voters completely by borrowing the money (one school did a nice trick with self-insurance) or they find a way to bribe the voters with federal matching grants. People have gotten the sense that "you can't fight the school system." They'll get their higher taxes one way or another.

After a few decades of that, and being told that this time the money will let them finally do that great job they've always threatened to do, and that anyone who questions their budget is evil, people have gotten sick of it. No one minded so much that they did a mediocre job -- government services are supposed to be mediocre at best, and it was cheap day-care. But getting the shake-down every few years for a mediocre service is insulting.

Just a few days ago, I was talking to a lady who was looking for a donation for a private school that wants to do a big expansion. She waxed eloquent for a while about all the wonderful technology stuff they've done and intend to do -- apparently their kids have nicer computers than I do. They're completely tone-deaf to the fact that ordinary people have doubts as to whether all the shiny really helps education that much.

Another thing about reaching out to "educators" in the Reagan Democrat sense: in the 80s, a school was run by men at the top, with a mix of male and female teachers. Now the schools are run by women from top to bottom, with the occasional token male here or there. Outside the locker rooms and janitor's closet, you won't find many men, and the ones you do find aren't the most manly. So you're not talking about the same people as 30 years ago, and they won't respond to the same sort of outreach.

Cail Corishev said...

It might help to remember that Reagan was considered a union buster. Remember the air traffic controllers? Reagan "reached out" to unions about the way he reached out to the USSR.

Those union-member Reagan Democrats voted for him because other issues outweighed that -- gun ownership, fighting the Commies, lower taxes, whatever. They put those issues ahead of whatever gain might have come from having the Democrats in charge to return favors for their unions. They voted for him because he was conservative, in other words, not despite it.

It should be possible to reach out to union members without capitulating to their liberal leaders -- assuming enough of the members are still conservative. Whether that's the case, I'm not sure. Probably so with fireman; less so with police and teachers. Even in my small town, the teachers have become much more PC-liberal than they were in my school days, and they were already pretty liberal then. But not nearly so uniformly.

Anonymous said...

Slapping labels like “commie” or “socialist” on liberals is badly overdone, but plenty of Chicago teachers apparently wouldn’t mind. The Midwest Marxism Conference was held November 10 at Northwestern University and Chicago teachers were well represented.

http://www.wirepoints.com/just-how-far-out-in-left-field-do-some-chicago-teachers-play/

Anonymous said...

Well said, Education Realist. To this I would add that the 30% figure is not evenly distributed across the domain of schools - and states. In my state (red) the Republican-led legislature sets up this straw man of teachers as incompetent, liberal, indoctrinating, overpaid, and underperforming. Now, you can argue that Illinois has been ruined by unions, etc. but in my state it is just not true, and, I'll wager its not universally true in Illinois. I'll bet Centraiia is a little different from Chicago Heights.

And about those overpaid teachers... In my state the starting pay is less than $32,000 which tops out after 25 years at around $43,000. You can retire at 65 and receive a pension roughly equivalent to 40% of your final pay. The legislature is taking over teacher evaluation, mandating all sorts of criteria and how/when they will be applied. The local manager has very little say in how to run their own school. Legislators think they can improve schools simply by increasing standards for students and teachers. They have not thought through the effects of this approach. The poor students are going to drop out earlier and teachers will cost more money.

This is in a flyover state, but what about big coastal states, you might ask. Take Florida. The starting pay there is about $37,000, however, many districts are starting teachers as "Assistant Teachers" at a huge salary rate of approximately $24,000.

Why would you want this job?

Cail Corishev said...

To get the 60-65% of the white vote needed to win swing states like OH, MI, IA, and WS, you by definition need to get many left of center white votes.

No you don't. Steve's whole point (if he's correct) is that these people aren't left-of-center. They just happen to belong to unions. If they're personally left-of-center, then going after their votes wouldn't make any more sense than going after Hispanic votes, because you'd have to move so far left that you might as well just shut down the party.

I know union members who are gun owners and hunters, who go to church every Sunday, who still salute the flag at parades, who don't like high taxes and regulations, who are quietly averse to race-mixing, who think homosexual marriage is an absurd joke. Natural Republicans -- far more so than Rove/Bush/Rubio's Hispanics. You get their votes by stressing those small-c conservative issues and not beating them up for belonging to unions, not by moving left.

However, those are almost all private-sector union members, or they work for the post office -- technically a public-sector entity, but it has to compete to some extent with private ones and watch a bottom line. I'm not convinced there are many public-sector union members like that left, at least not to the extent that there were when I was growing up. Even in my very white, rural area, the cops I meet seem much more "urban" somehow, as if they've watched too much COPS and taken too much of the "domestic terrorism" training to heart. They're not good-old-boys anymore. The teachers are almost all women, and more divorced and/or middle-aged than they were a generation ago, so much more in the Democrats' target zone. Firemen are probably still pretty conservative, but in small enough towns that's a volunteer position, not a union one, so again, appeal to their conservatism, not their group membership.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Whiskey. I'm confused by Steve's support for the estate tax. It doesn't get a dime from savvy billionaires but really screws small, family-owned businesses. That's no coincidence, either. People like Herbert Croly and Theodore Roosevelt advocated it in the first place because they wanted to move Americans out of independent farming and private enterprise and into salaried, unionized employment in big corporations controlled by the government. Our economy is dangerously centralized and top-heavy as a result, I think.

Cail Corishev said...

In fairness to the GOP, the public employees unions have absolutely bankrupted the state of Illinois with their ridiculous pension benefits, gained through kickbacks to the Dem politicians who "negotiated" on behalf of the state.

Yes, the GOP should go after public-sector unions. (Does anyone ever say the Dems are foolish for attacking the NRA?) But it should be possible to oppose corrupt unions without attacking the members. Reagan did. In fact, it should be possible to oppose corrupt unions on behalf of the members. What ever happened to pushing for union members to have the right to control where their political contributions go, for instance?

When Romney talked about the 47%, he was right, of course. But he also should have realized that the media would portray that the way they did as an attack on everyone who gets a check of any kind from the government. It shouldn't be that hard to say, "Government has gotten too big, too powerful, and too expensive, and unions have contributed to that. We want to reduce their power to use their members' money -- often without their permission or even knowledge -- to press for policies their own members often oppose."

Why is that so hard? I can only assume because the GOP no longer does oppose unions for that reason.

Cail Corishev said...

Likewise, gay marriage is coming.

If you're just going to cave in every time the media convinces nearly half the people that something might not be as stupid as they thought, why have an opposition party at all?

You do realize that, after you capitulate on whatever issues you've decided are losers today, they'll come up with new, more outrageous ones, right?

Cail Corishev said...

Maybe it is just my state, but I don't remember my public schools being extremely liberal.

Believe it or not, things have changed since you were in school. I tutor some homeschooled kids, and even some of their textbooks -- published by companies that tout their religious convictions and old-fashioned methods -- lean to the left. In fact, I'd say some of them lean left about as much as the public school I attended 30+ years ago: PC attitudes on civil rights, immigration, egalitarianism, the environment, but they stay away from the sexual aspects of modern liberalism and stick to more traditional teaching methods like phonics and rote memorization. But you'll still be doing reading class and run into a story lionizing Nelson Mandela, for instance.

If people are fleeing to homeschool curricula that's similar to a public school from 35 years ago, then either: A) they're stupid, or B) the schools have gotten worse. From the stories I hear from new homeschoolers, it's clear that the schools have gotten much, much worse. People don't go to the trouble of homeschooling just for kicks. Private schools are sometimes the worst offenders in this regard, by the way, so this isn't primarily an anti-government thing.

Anonymous said...

"To get the 60-65% of the white vote needed to win swing states like OH, MI, IA, and WS, you by definition need to get many left of center white votes. And you do that by moving left."

Economically or socially?
Social liberals are ideologically liberal. Economic liberals could be working class and middle class with conservative values who are sick of gop's pro-superrich stance.

Svigor said...

The advocated solutions seem to involve some form of economic starvation combined with higher (and universal) performance standards, and additional requirements to track and report performance data.

I guess opening education up to competition (e.g., vouchers) could be seen as "economic starvation" for public schooling. :)

Anonymous said...

"But while I can accept their hatred of teachers because of the union support for Dems, what I really don't understand is what Jeanne pointed out: why the heck are Republicans castigating schools and focusing all their capital on URM test scores? They spend absolutely none of their time on the issues that concern their core constituency and seem completely clueless that most whites oppose their efforts."

Cuz cons wanna win some moral capital on the race issue.
Many American schools are screwy because of stupid and violent blacks. But it would be 'racist' to say so, and cons are more touchy about being called a 'racist'.

So, cons have this notion that all those wonderful black kids are dying to learn but are being neglected by the truly 'racist' statists. So, what is the solution?
Free markets and free choice. Let blacks choose to attend ANY school they want.
What kind of crazy shit is that? Who wants lots of troublesome blacks enrolled in your kid's school?

David said...

Libertarianism, in actual, real-world practice, is simply destructionism. Their guru Alissa Rosenbaum ("Ayn Rand") proclaimed: "there is no such thing as society" - with the implicit subtext: nor should there be.

A typical example of this thinking *in the real world* occurred a few years ago. New Orleans was discussing repairing the dikes, in order to prevent another Katrina Katastrophe. But, city officials found, that would require cooperation across several departments. The project was dropped - and the explanation given by a black official was (paraphrased): "This requires cooperation, and we're against cooperation because THAT'S SOCIALISM."

The "Chocolate City" really got Rand Paul's heart beating faster with that one, I'll bet!

Dunno if the dikes ever got repaired. Likely not. After all, government action to protect society is all commie BS. Yum! Brands can build a dike lot better'n damn gubmit. Meanwhile, if the waters come again, everybody git in yor cars and hit the gas!

The end result is Somalia: no government, no social capital, no hated society.

I think we need to put Libertarianism in the came category as Marxism, Leninism, Freudianism, Boazianism, etc.

David said...

>the damned liberal ideology that drips from nearly every page of the curriculum<

Not my experience.

Unless "liberal ideology" means a class on civics (how many Senators a state can have, the Constitutional Convention, why taxes are raised, the Founders on good government etc.). The stuff a destructionist above sneered at as "Honest Postman" fairy tales.

(Curiously, most postmen are models of honesty. Far more honest than some recent top "makers" at Enron, Goldman, et al, who begged the government - i.e., us - to bail them out when their "honest" private schemes blew up.)

Or maybe "liberal ideology" means the section on MLK and Harriet Tubman in the history book.

Or it could mean the simple fact that there's public education in the first place.

No, I'm joking. We know what it really means. It means schools aren't teaching God's Word about Creation. Dinosaurs are a communist myth. Abolish the government!

smead jolley said...

In my state only a minority of teachers are unionized, and most that do join often do so primarily for the professional liability insurance

I don't get this comment. I've been a litigator for 28 yrs. and I've never seen a 'malpractice' claim against any kind of educator.

Anonymous said...

Check out the teachers strike in affluent Strongsville, OH. Something may be changing.

Futurist said...

If people are fleeing to homeschool curricula that's similar to a public school from 35 years ago, then either: A) they're stupid, or B) the schools have gotten worse. From the stories I hear from new homeschoolers, it's clear that the schools have gotten much, much worse. People don't go to the trouble of homeschooling just for kicks.

Homeschooling (and unschooling) has been around for decades. Maybe the homeschooling academic curriculum is the same as that of public schools 35 years ago, but there are other factors involved. Ask yourself, why would homeschooling exist at all, if public school was so heavenly 35 (or 40, or 50, or 60) years ago?

Anonymous said...

I lived in Boston for 18 years. The average city employee is stupid, ignorant, lazy and vindictive. If you're lucky the laziness will outweigh the vindictiveness, otherwise any dealings with the city can be disastrous.

Any candidate who offers to stomp on these jerks has may vote. Maybe it's different elsewhere?

jody said...

sorry, but i couldn't disagree more.

"Not every teacher is a communist, lazy, a union member, or possessor of a gigantic pension. There is real risk, especially in more conservative states, of alienating people that are in these professions but generally conservative."

LOL. what is this. sounds like a pro gun liberal talking about how republicans should be friendly and nice to them. total moron stuff.

the fact of the matter is that no matter how much personal variation there is between teacher types, THEY VOTE DEMOCRAT, PERIOD. who cares if republicans rebuke and rebuff them and downplay any of their concerns. teachers are NEVER voting republican in appreciable numbers, EVER. NO MATTER WHAT.

it's like going after african voters or union members or, lol, illegal aliens from mexico. a TOTAL waste of time. this is exactly like saying conservatives should not attack pro-gun liberals.

why not? WHO CARES. they vote DEMOCRAT. that's all that matters. at the end of the day, after all the nice talk and coddling and making buddy buddy and "hey man, we have a common concern, let's be friends, not enemies" they turn around and VOTE FOR GUN CONTROL.

who CARES if some liberal is pro gun. who cares. bash them to their faces, period. tell them off. make it clear that they aren't welcome, and no, we don't have a common cause. treat them exactly as you would treat a super pro gay agenda gay republican. tell them thanks, but your support and interest is not wanted, just go vote for the democrats, they're more what you're looking for.

jody said...

i'm sure some commenters will chime in and tell me that i'm wrong, that there are "plenty" of votes availiable out there by being friendly to OBVIOUS political enemies like teachers, who are now, unfortunately, foot soldiers of big government. people who are dependent on government growing so their paychecks can keep growing . people who are now, often, totally on board with liberal indoctrination in the public schools. under no circumstances would they EVER not vote straight democrat. their livelihoods depend on democrats growing government.

time to do some math. republicans will never get votes from teachers, union members, africans, or mexicans. or anybody who's life prospects depend heavily on growing government, increasing wealth transfers, and democrats maintaining control. to channel whiskey, there is NOTHING, NOTHING, NOTHING republicans could EVER do to get their votes, PERIOD.

my cousin works for teach for america, has for over 10 years, and is now one of their highest ranking people who is not an executive. she's met and talked with michelle rhee in person. if you think ANY of these people would EVER vote republican, you are deluded. the average teacher is a woman and is so super pro obama that some of them literally CRIED tears of joy when he was re-elected. yet we're told republicans should try to appeal to them. what a crock. what a joke. what total BS. might as well go to the NAACP convention and la raza convention and local GM union meeting hoping to get a rock solid grip on another 2% of their votes.

Whitehall said...

"Why would you want this job?"

Because maybe it is the best you can hope to get?

Here in the SF Bay Area, even suburban schools that my kids have attended sux. The liberal indoctrination is continuous and the administration and teachers are not at all interested in cooperating or even coordinating with parents.

Sorry, teachers here are the enemy and have no clue how the real world needs to work.

The high school bathrooms were so bad they had to get a bond issue to improve them to health code but the parking lot is now covered with solar panels.

BTW, the most famous graduate on our local HS was Squeaky Fromme.

My neighbor is a cop - a desk-bound captain now after driving a cycle for 20 years as a CHP. The dude is easy going, not a care in the world, very nice, but way over-paid.

I'll be damned if I voluntarily pay for his lavish pension which will be twice mine.

David said...

>I can only assume because the GOP no longer does oppose unions for that reason.<

They seem to have become left-wingers in reverse. They believe (foolishly) that all unions everywhere economically benefit all members - and they're opposed to that. Breaking one's back for 40 years to make minimum wage is what they consider proper, for the proles.

They have been painted as a Dickensian caricature for so long, that they finally went mad and embraced it. So they're no longer really about "make govt. less expensive so everyone can benefit." They're about "destroy govt. so the damned inferiors [NB: about half the country] starve or crawl as they should."

Anonyia said...


"I guess opening education up to competition (e.g., vouchers) could be seen as "economic starvation" for public schooling. :)"

Education already has competition, in the form of private schools which have existed for generations. And I'm pretty sure many people with the means have been taking advantage of that competition for generations. I don't think subsidized competition qualifies as competition. Should we start funneling taxpayer money towards companies who run amusement parks instead of the national park system? After all, it is competition of recreation!

Anonyia said...


"Another thing about reaching out to "educators" in the Reagan Democrat sense: in the 80s, a school was run by men at the top, with a mix of male and female teachers. Now the schools are run by women from top to bottom, with the occasional token male here or there. Outside the locker rooms and janitor's closet, you won't find many men, and the ones you do find aren't the most manly. So you're not talking about the same people as 30 years ago, and they won't respond to the same sort of outreach."

There are plenty of male teachers at the high school level. Most history and science teachers in particular tended in my public school system. Now elementary teachers are not generally male, but I don't think they have been since the 1800s or so.

This thread has really brought out a smattering of neo-cons. Bashing of public employees, voices of support for teach for america and the estate tax..it's like the Republican National convention all over again.

Sideways said...

Does the guy who emailed Steve not get that Wisconsin isn't a NY or California?The situation there happened because teacher are like that all over, and Madison is a Berkeley.

Harry Baldwin said...

Cail Corishev said... (Does anyone ever say the Dems are foolish for attacking the NRA?)

Not sure if this is a rhetorical question, but the answer is "yes, they do."

Democrats' support for the Brady Bill (1993) and the Assault Weapon Ban (1994) was held to be a large factor in their loss of the House that year. Al Gore lost his home state of Tennessee during the 2000 campaign attributed largely to his support of gun control. It cost then-Speaker of the House Tom Foley (D-Wash.) his job and his seat in Congress.

After this, the Democrats decided they would no longer campaign on the issue until the implacably liberal Obama couldn't resist going for it again, whatever the cost to his party.

Rev. Right said...

So, Republicans, why demonize them?

Because the teachers's unions are one of the most politicized organizations in the country, one of the largest campaign funders, and one that gives 98% of the time to democrats.

They also push leftist multi-cult equalitarian white guilt anti-American propaganda to about 80% of young Americans.

Democrat politicians shield the unions from accountability and protect their lavish benefits. In turn the unions funnel public money back to the politicians. Incestous is too good a word for this relationship.

Vouchers would end the government monopoly by forcing schools to compete and lose the nonsense.

Love the teacher - crush the union.

Education Realist said...

"When I hear that phrase I think of education for retarded kids."

Then you should read up, because you aren't terribly well-informed.

Much of the ballooning cost of education over the past 20 years has been due to the expansion of sped, and the bulk of that expansion has been for students who are not mentally disabled, but have learning disabilities.

That said, I do not think educating the genuinely mentally disabled should be a local cost. Better centralize it.

"Because the teachers's unions are one of the most politicized organizations in the country, one of the largest campaign funders, and one that gives 98% of the time to democrats."

Yeah. So what? I'm not a dem, but the idea that unions are pushing something different than the teachers want is largely a non-starter.

It doesn't change the fact that attacking schools and teachers for a political purpose entirely unrelated to education is probably not a good idea.

"They also push leftist multi-cult equalitarian white guilt anti-American propaganda to about 80% of young Americans."

To the extent that's true, it's done from the state level, not individuals.

teacher angst said...

". the average teacher is a woman and is so super pro obama that some of them literally CRIED tears of joy when he was re-elected."

Hilarious. There was one in a county north of DC (most white) where a teacher wanted to organize some sort of homage to Obama in late 2009. There was protest from the public, and even I, who had no kids in the school, wrote to the principle warning about deifying politicians--that it was not worth embarrassing oneself or committing emotions to people who were just playing politics.
Teachers in elementary and high school actually seem to me to be of low intelligence. They have a glazed look to their countenance, as if they could not bear to think too deeply about life and how it really works. I do not belong to a political party, nor do I endorse any politicians of any party (though Ron Paul said some truth), but worship of them foisted on school kids by teachers is absolutely disgusting. And I don't care who the politician is. I think some of these women actually have some sort of fetish. btw, I have a friend of Jewish background who was sent a photo of B.O. & family by a black co-worker. She responded that if she wanted family photos she'd put her own up. She voted for B.O. knowing she was voting for a Chicago politician and all that implied, but his administration came with goods she wanted, as she advocated for American Indians.
She doesn't look that deeply at politicians but at least she uses her brain. Teachers do not. If I had kids I'd really try to home school.

count chocula said...

"The "Chocolate City" really got Rand Paul's heart beating faster with that one, I'll bet!
"

They used to call Washington D.C. "chocolate city" in the early 1980s. In the past few years, you don't hear of that. It's more of a cappuccino city. Food analogies applied to human populations have always repelled me though. Gave me a real distaste for chocolate.

Tscottme said...

If the conservatives hiding within unions ever actually spoke up to influence their unions, not just people that oppose unions, it wouldn't be so easy to demonize unions.

Instead the conservative union members are always vocal to defend their union, because they are in it, and very very careful to only be conservative around other conservatives. That's been my experience.

Unions punish dissenters so the union conservatives fight with others outside the union to improve the image of the union.