Virtually Insane: 12-Year-Old Louisiana Boy Suspended After BB Gun Spotted In His Room By Teacher

We recently discussed the absurd case of a school sending police to the home of a 12-year-old boy in Colorado because he showed a toy gun inside his own home.  Despite teaching such children virtually, the school treated the toy gun as a violation of “in school” policies. Now  Ka Mauri Harrison, 9, who attends Woodmere Elementary in Harvey, has been suspended because a teacher spotted a BB gun in his room.  As with the Colorado case, Louisiana school officials defended this new case of virtual insanity.

NOLA.com reported that Ka Mauri was suspended for six days after his teacher spotted a BB gun in his bedroom. He was taking a virtual class on Sept. 11 when his younger brother came bursting into the room and tripped over the BB gun. Ka Mauri was taking an English test, so he quickly grabbed the BB gun and placed it “by his side” and continued the test. When the teacher called him out, Ka Mauri did not answer because his sound was muted during the test. As a result, he was suspended for having a gun “in school.”

The Louisiana Department of Education School Behavior Report listed the incident as “possesses weapons prohibited under federal law.”  Obviously, there is nothing prohibited in the possession of a bb gun, which is not even defined as a “firearm” since it is air-powered.  (The term “firearm” is defined in the Gun Control Act of 1968, 18 U.S.C. Section 921(a)(3), to include “(A) any weapon (including a starter gun), which will, or is designed to or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive.) It does meet the definition of a weapon or simulated weapon under most school policies. However, those policies were written for the appearance of such toys or weapons in school, not in the home where they are perfectly lawful.

Like many thousands of parents, Nyron Harrison told NOLA.com that he bought a BB gun and taught his son to use it safely.  It was not loaded and Ka Mauri appears to have taken possession to keep it away from his younger brother and then continued with his test.  Even if the teacher had thought it might be a firearm and appropriately called the police for the child’s safety, it was shown not to be a firearm and there was no need for this suspension.

We have been dealing with the insanity of zero tolerance rules for years. Here is a prior column on the subject (and here). Children have been suspended or expelled for drawing stick figures or wearing military hats or bringing Legos shaped like guns or even having Danish in the shape of a gun. Various criminal and disciplinary cases were opened for finger guns. Despite the public outcry over the completely irrational and abusive application of zero tolerance rules, administrators and teachers continue to apply them blindly. If you do not have to exercise judgment, you can never been blamed for any failure. Conversely, even when the public outcry results in a reversal, teachers and administrators never seem punished with the same vigor for showing no judgment or logic in punishing a child.

How is suspension in the best interest of him or the school?  It is not. It is the same blind and callous application of zero tolerance rules that has been denounced for years without no apparent impact on school officials. A simple call to the parents would have sufficed to ask them to be sure that the bb gun is not displayed. Ka Mauri’s parents seem entirely responsible and responsive in these media accounts. Instead of addressing this issue with a modicum of restraint and proportionality, the interest of the child were discarded in a thoughtless and harmful bureaucratic response. There is a need for discipline in this case but it is not Ka Mauri who warrants such action.

121 thoughts on “Virtually Insane: 12-Year-Old Louisiana Boy Suspended After BB Gun Spotted In His Room By Teacher”

    1. I’m sorry to hear that. He’s 85 and things like that happen when you’re in that age bracket. He’s been remarkably energetic all these years.

      1. watching a stroke happen on tape is so sad. I don’t think I had ever seen it before. Looked like a textbook stroke, anyways. “medical emergency” they are saying

        This avuncular old man is a true elder, who’s made so much of all his years

        incredible vitality and a strong advocate of individual rights in the most wholesome sense of the phrase, so often misused

        a true American and a patriot

  1. BB guns are good for kids, fun and an easy start on marksmanship. We need good marksman. Teach the gun safety rules too.

    Forget about fixing the teachers. The adults and the kids have to learn to hide the guns. The stupid rules help teach this smart habit.

    Yes, hiding guns is a good policy too. Hide them from prying eyes of government employees but also burglars or mischief makers who find their way into the home.

    I am not a fan of open carry. Seems stupid to me. Get a license and carry concealed. Concealment is an advantage. Don’t ever give up an advantage without something in return

  2. Candidates run for office, including school board members
    Voters vote for candidates
    Once in office, officials make rules, that can be amended quickly if they believe it is needed
    Voters have what they voted for.
    If they dont like the decisions, make it known at meetings.
    Then vote the idiots out of office.

    Teachers just follow the rules. I think it takes more than one teacher to suspend students.

    1. Ron P.
      “Voters have what they voted for.”

      Or didn’t vote for because they didn’t bother. Hopefully, a whole bunch of people have started paying attention and said “Oh, $#@!, what happened to the district?!” and are now starting to get involved.

      I know there is finally starting to be a whole bunch of people talking about the state of education in my district.

  3. Obviously it’s a case of burglary. Burglary is not a crime in and of itself it simply means entering with intent to commit or entering and commiting a crime and normally a long list of types of structures follows. The only one you might not see is a boat of some kind. But Enterinig a private dwelling with or without permission with intent to commit a crime (the act of inspecting leading to an action against the home owner or dweller) or upon entering commiting such a crime calls for an immediate investigation, arrest, rights read, defense attorney and a trial with a judge. Agents of a school are not police or any form of law enforcement. They do not have the right to act as police, judge, jury etc. Ergo Sum. An arrest is called for.

    The exception on entering a structure where boats are concerned goes to the laws back to the 1700s come under the purview of the Coast Guard who do not need warrants to make such an entry. on all navigable waterways.

    1. Maybe more like B&E, don’t think I’d submit a CC as Buglary, the prosecutor would probably nix it? But you never know.

  4. The point of a lot of this “insanity” is not to prevail in any legal sense. It is simply a matter of promoting the Democratic Party Narrative and intimidating people. The Left loves to bully and intimidate. That is why Antifa carries baseball bats and bricks to “protests.” It is the point of cancel culture. It is why these goobers are now going into the suburbs and restaurants to harass people. It is why conservatives speakers are shouted down or prohibited from speaking at campuses.

    We need to stop thinking of this sort of thing as a mistake of law, and see it for what it is – a campaign of sheer naked aggressive bullying and intimidation by the Democratic Left.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  5. The teacher should be reprimanded or sued for invading the privacy of the student’s room. The purview of the teacher is limited to the screen and the work the student does within the boundaries of the screen, work, verbal answers, etc. It does not include any other aspects of the student’s private life. The teacher should be suspended at the least.

  6. I wonder what the teacher would have done had the younger brother burst into the room wearing nothing and saw his weapon.

  7. If it were me I’d a) file suit for false accusation of a crime AND defamation, b) seek criminal charges against my accuser, and c) immediately pull my child from that school with intent of either enrolling him elsewhere or home schooling.

  8. This slippery slope could easily mission-creep into other areas. What about a cooking show using knives? What about home improvement shows displaying dangerous hand-tools? What about action movies displacing martial arts? What about Bible shows on Christian holidays displaying violence? Since this is a government entity (public school), the U.S. Constitution governs the teachers, administration and school board.

    The 2nd Amendment’s actual wording allows some regulation but over reaction also harms 1st Amendment rights as well. Next will be unconstitutional censorship of protected 1st Amendment activity like censoring movies, TV, video games, etc. A constitutional amendment is required to do that. Once we violate one right, we weaken all rights – even ones we cherish.

  9. What strikes me as interesting is this piece: “the school treated the toy gun as a violation of “in school” policies”. The “virtual” aspect is simply another form of communication media – e.g. if the class had to be held by conference call, and there was commentary about the BB gun, or sound of a BB gun, would they take this same stance? The communication medium seems irrelevant to me, since the actual location of the offending item is the child’s home. By logical extension, is the school arguing that the child’s home is under dominion of the school? If so, could the homeowner now not charge rent to the school for the school’s virtual access to his home? Would he not also be entitled to a portion of any financial support the school is given for the education of his child? If he is a renter, should the school not be subject to the same obligations to the landlord? If the home is under the dominion of the school, is the school not also liable and responsible for a portion of property maintenance, taxes and homeowners’ insurance? I don’t profess to be a legal expert, just a business person and a free thinking citizen, but it strikes me that the school is on very flimsy ground here. There are plenty of cost attribution methods I could come up with if this or any school wants to make claims to dominion over private citizen’s homes.

  10. The Second Amendment Right to bear arms and the Ninth Amendment Right of privacy are grounds for suing the teacher and school and principal for violation of his civil rights under 42 U S.C. Section 1982 etc all. He should sue for declaratory judgement and injunction. Also actual damages and punitive damages. And attorney fees. Do it today. Small lives matter. If there was a bear in the yard then include the Second Amendment Right to arm bears.

  11. Is it just me, or is there something humorous about a kid already home being suspended. I’m not sure I even know what that punishment means.

    1. That’s funny Jim. I guess he can’t login to the virtual classroom? I always thought punishments should be to discourage the offense.

      1. I would be great if second amendment supporting families started putting home owned guns in the background of their kids work stations to show solidarity for this student.

        1. 🙂 I like the idea of charging the school district rental fees for using the homes as a classroom if they insist on treating the home as their property. And of course all the other costs and liabilities associated with “providing” classrooms.

  12. As Arty says, the problem isn’t zero tolerance rules it’s the anti-gun fervor of the feminazi teachers cabal. There are zero tolerance rules against racist remarks and profanity too yet exactly that rapper music fills the halls in some schools. It’s more corruption of traditional values by Leftists who can’t stand the rights of people to guide their own destinies without their input. And no, discipline is not appropriate here unless you mean against the Bolshevik teacher for being a prig.

    1. “it’s the anti-gun fervor of the feminazi teachers cabal.”

      That is a good explanation.

      Teachers are supposed to guide our youngsters down a path where they learn to think for themselves. This act, representing the school system, tells us we have to pull our children out of the public school system but that is impossible for most of us. We should be fighting for alternate choice including Charter Schools and fighting to break up the teaching monopoly. The teacher’s union(s) is perhaps the worst union we face in this country.

      I recommend the teacher be sent to “gun camp” and be forced to learn how to use a gun safely.

      1. Allan,
        I disagree that charter schools are the answer, though I sympathize with people in lousy districts who feel stuck.. Taxpayer money goes to support charter schools, but there is no accountability for what is taught or how the money is spent. Taxation without representation. I have enough trouble keeping on top of my public school district. How can enough of the citizenry band together to effect change if there are a bunch of charter schools operating in a given area, especially if they are largely unknown?

        1. Charter schools exist because public schools declined so bad that parents began looking for alternatives. If charter schools fail, then parents will look for something else and the charter school will cease to exist in that district.

          1. Ron P.,
            “If charter schools fail, then parents will look for something else and the charter school will cease to exist in that district.”

            There are additional elements to consider besides market forces, however. If charter schools fail, then they fail with taxpayers’ money. Private gain, public loss–that’s not so good.

            Also, determining the quality of a school funded by taxpayers should not solely fall on the shoulders of parents. That is unfair to parents, and, it’s unfair to all the other taxpayers who do not have children in these schools and cannot determine the quality of education or how responsibly their money is being used to deliver said education.

            1. “If charter schools fail, then they fail with taxpayers’ money. Private gain, public loss–that’s not so good.”

              Public schools failed with taxpayer money and the children aren’t being educated. The teaching profession and unions act in a similar fashion to private industry except they don’t go out of business when they fail. They remain and aren’t replaced. At least private industry has competition. Competition is the key ingredient.

              1. Allan,
                “Public schools failed with taxpayer money and the children aren’t being educated.”

                That is an over-generalization.

                1. “That is an over-generalization.”

                  In what way? Are you going to claim that some end up well educated despite the public school system? Are you going to say that some were partially educated? Are you going to say some public schools did better than the vast majority?

                  1. Allan,
                    Perhaps we need to have a discussion about what constitutes “failed”. Does that mean a certain percentage of students cannot proficiently read, write, or compute? Does it mean a certain percentage of students graduate? In my county most of the schools are doing pretty well making sure students not only complete high school but complete it being able to read, write, and compute, as well as know a reasonable amount about the world. I have looked at many of their coursebooks and know many people in a wide variety of the districts, so I can compare, at least to some degree, the different schools. Nearly all the schools in the county are doing very well to prepare students for adulthood.

                    There are definitely districts out there that are failing. What I observe is that the schools are about as successful as the widest percentage of the population, though that is not by any means the only factor driving the success of districts. How much the community at large (not just parents of students) cares about and pays attention to the quality of education in the district matters a great deal, though, again, even this is but another of many factors driving the success of a district.

                    “Public schools failed with taxpayer money and the children aren’t being educated.”
                    There is no qualifier attached to “public schools” in this statement. It has been stated as if all public schools are crumbling. I do not think this is the case.

                    1. Apparently NYS has divided the students into the 4 groups previously mentioned. I provided you an example of one comparison of many with the percent of students in each group so that should answer your question.

                      Graduation is not an indication of proficiency. Results might vary in different parts of the country but what this study dealt with was a group that for a good part would be failures in life. The Charter Schools increased their success rate by multiples.

                      I advocate for choice. If public schools are good Charter Schools might have to be better to survive. We know the results in NYC and if one doesn’t use those results to promote competition in the school system then they are part of the problem that costs lives, increases criminality and keeps certain minorities as permanent welfare recipients. I don’t think you want that.

                      Let parents choose. In this case we took the worst and made them equal or better.

                    2. Allan,
                      “We know the results in NYC and if one doesn’t use those results to promote competition in the school system then they are part of the problem that costs lives, increases criminality and keeps certain minorities as permanent welfare recipients. I don’t think you want that.”

                      What works in NYC is not necessarily best for the rest of the country. Parental choice is insufficient regarding money from taxpayers. Parents are not the only taxpayers, heck, they might not even be taxpayers if they aren’t home or business owners. The people who pay the taxes should get a say in how their money is used. Perhaps some places have sufficient accountability and allow taxpayers recourse to express their perspectives on the quality of non-public schools and how said schools spend their hard-earned dollars. Not every place adequately does so, unfortunately.

                      It isn’t the charter schools that are solving those problems necessarily–it is people choosing to take responsibility for their children and their children’s education and that goes a long way toward inching towards success. Jordan Peterson talks about the top two things that are associated with success: intelligence and conscientiousness. Conscientiousness has an edge on success in some ways because the associated responsibility and work ethic in conscientiousness impresses people when a brighter student fails to show up and hustle.

                    3. “What works in NYC is not necessarily best for the rest of the country. “

                      Prairie, I am not advocating any one type of system. I am advocating alternatives and a freer choice. The teaching profession is a guild and the union protects itself at the expense of the children.

                      “The people who pay the taxes should get a say in how their money is used. “

                      The people mandated education. That is fine with me. The people mandated taxes for education and that is also fine with me though I have reservations with regard to how the laws are written.

                      That doesn’t mean that the people have a right to tell a parent how to educate and indoctrinate a child. That doesn’t mean that a teacher’s guild should have total control over the money and substantial control over the political machine.

                      If one provides a standard of testing then one has a comparison from one type of school to another. That is good enough in my mind to solve the problem of the mandate to educate all children.

                      “It isn’t the charter schools that are solving those problems necessarily”

                      I’m glad you added the word “necessarily”, but from the results seen in this NYC study we find that perhaps the threat of alternate choices is absolutely necessary. Remember, if the public school system is providing a fantastic education then no student would be transferred elsewhere as far as education is concerned. If the school system is lousy and there is choice that is better then the per capita money will flow toward the alternative choice and the school system will be forced to provide better services in order to compete with the alternate choice.

                      “Peterson talks about the top two things that are associated with success: intelligence and conscientiousness.”

                      Why put the effort into conscientiousness if your pay will remain the same as another teacher who sits all day in a rubber room.

                      [Rubber room: Teachers who cannot be placed with students because of stupidity or danger are too frequently unable to be fired. They sit in a room doing nothing for the required hours. Their pay and benefits are raised along with all the hard working teachers. Money is put into their retirement fund like is done with all other hard working teachers. When they fulfill the same years required by working teachers they retire with full benefits.]

                    4. Allan,
                      What do you think constitutes ‘failure’ for schools? What are your criteria for success?

                    5. “What do you think constitutes ‘failure’ for schools? What are your criteria for success?”

                      I am not qualified to answer too specifically for I am not an educator.

                      The first step would be not to teach to the lowest common denominator and utilize competition.

                      The second thing is to recognize that the primary role of education is to teach a child how to read with comprehension and to develop his mathematical abilities. Everything else though important is secondary. The third thing that we need is civics and history, predominantly American history, because we are American. The fourth is statistics. I note on this blog that many do not have a basic understanding of statistics as demonstrated in their responses to the Covid epidemic. All of these disciplines and more need to be taught (ie science) in a way that everyone learns those things necessary to have a good and healthy life.

                      I provided a test supposedly from 1895 for 8th graders that perhaps most of us would fail. Take note how many of the questions were applicable to the type of work people did. Today we graduate kids that are unable to balance a check book. The fault was in their education. Some of these kids ignorant in math and science end up running drug labs showing that their ability exists but wasn’t expressed in the way it should have been when they were in the public school system.

                    6. Allan,
                      “That doesn’t mean that a teacher’s guild should have total control over the money and substantial control over the political machine.”

                      In my area, they do not control the money and do not control the political machine. Small towns, because of the relationships people have with one another in a town, would likely have less of a problem with this because they have to talk to each other at the grocery store.

                      “Why put the effort into conscientiousness if your pay will remain the same as another teacher who sits all day in a rubber room.”

                      That would be annoying, but the very best teachers put their heart and soul into their own classroom because they care; they care about the kids and they care about their craft. It would reflect badly on their character to slough off just because there is a sorry excuse for a teacher down the hall.

                    7. “In my area, they do not control the money and do not control the political machine.”

                      Prairie we are not talking about your area where the people have apparently spoken. We are talking about other areas where the people have spoken and are being ignored.

                      ” but the very best teachers put their heart and soul into their own classroom “

                      That has little to do with the problem at hand.

                    8. Allan,
                      ““What do you think constitutes ‘failure’ for schools? What are your criteria for success?”

                      I am not qualified to answer too specifically for I am not an educator.”

                      Then why say public schools have failed?

                      You are an educated person so you have some idea of what constitutes failure, especially if you see what should indicate at least a modicum of success. Perhaps they are not truly and widely failing. If there are schools that are failing, perhaps it is a particular subset that is having the worst problems.

                      “Take note how many of the questions were applicable to the type of work people did. Today we graduate kids that are unable to balance a check book. The fault was in their education.”

                      I think too many questions applicable to the type of work people did is not necessarily the right direction. We are not simply worker bees. We are citizens who are in charge of our own self-governance and should be able to function as such. I agree with many of your points regarding criteria for success because they help ungird this goal.

                      Are kids unable to balance a checkbook because of the failure of their brick and mortar education or because their parents don’t bother balancing (or using) a checkbook themselves? There are a fair number of families in my district that do not have a checkbook and some do not even have bank accounts. A financial literacy class might be of benefit in any case. My mom taught me how to balance a checkbook, but I did have to learn a lot of other financial stuff on my own (despite taking an Econ class in HS).

                      Is the fault in their education? Is the curricula bad? Are the teachers subpar? Do they have inadequate materials? Maybe.

                      The bottom-ranked cyber-charter in my area (worst scores of all of them–below the public schools) has decent materials according to a friend of mine who didn’t realize its ranking when she signed up (since such things are not widely known, unfortunately). She suspects that the reasons the scores are so bad and they are so badly ranked is because the students who have been signed up at it are so badly struggling themselves.

                      That 8th grade final test from 1895 is from a time when many people would still only have a partial elementary education; many were illiterate. Getting a high school education in the 30s and early 40s in rural areas was still kind of a big deal because getting into town was such a hardship. There were families that would board country kids in town during the week so they could get a high school education.

                      Has the sample changed since 1895?

                      I do not suggest this to down-play the problems in education. I do want to see clearly where the problems actually lie so tweezers could be used rather than a cudgel. There definitely are problems, but too often I see people shouting *reform!* and the results of said reform don’t actually address the problem. Too often they reflect the latest fad coming out of colleges of education.

                    9. “Then why say public schools have failed?”

                      Because when testing was performed by the state using the criteria of the state we found that in most if not all of the Charter schools the vast majority successfully passed those tests while the majority or vast majority of public school children failed those tests.

                      “You are an educated person so you have some idea of what constitutes failure,”

                      Of course I do but I don’t need to provide my uneducated opinion when the testing by NYS proved my point. Instead of failing the Charter School kids passed and some went on to higher education.

                      I don’t know why you, “an educated person” would expect me to provide personal evidence when an excellent study clearly did that.

                      “I think too many questions applicable to the type of work people did is not necessarily the right direction. We are not simply worker bees. “

                      It is the first issue that should be considered. If you think sending young men into the work place without skills is a good thing, I am surprised. We must provide an educated citizenry that is able to provide for themselves and understand civics enough to know that they are part of the country and that they should act lawfully.

                      “The bottom-ranked cyber-charter in my area “

                      Again you are comparing oranges to apples. If those cyber-charter schools are not meeting the standards they should not exist. But that is not the problem under discussion. The problem is what to do when the public schools to not meet the standards? That is why Charter Schools are desired, at least in NYC.

                      “There definitely are problems, but too often I see people shouting *reform!* and the results of said reform don’t actually address the problem.”

                      You are talking in generalities. In this case Charter Schools (reform) have been proven to work and the competition they provide will probably make the public schools better. Such generalities you are providing are very bad for society. One should not remain with a fixed mind based on anecdote despite the proof available.

                      As an aside, could you pass the 1895 8th grade test?

                    10. “In my area, they do not control the money and do not control the political machine. “

                      If things are perfect where there is a low density in population and parental control over the school system there may be no room for more than one school. Your community seems to be more of the exception than the rule. Have you compared your area to the rest of Iowa?

                    11. Allan,
                      I apologize for the delay in continuing the conversation. I have been (am) swamped. Continuing a thoughtful, in-depth conversation takes time. I got myself backed-up as it is with the handful of small posts I’ve done on other blog articles.

                      “Iowa ranks 23/25 NYS 12/16 (1 is the highest)”

                      Interesting chart. It appears Iowa gets a pretty good bang for its buck. Low spending but also a strong educational system. Local control is a big deal in Iowa (but that’s not the only difference). New York, however, was mixed, which is unsurprising. Very high spending and some high points, educationally-speaking, but it obviously has a lot of problems…problems that I’d say aren’t solely restricted to the system or unions or teachers.

                      If you teased out the data so that we only focused on schools that were having problems, and/or teased out the data to focus on the cohort of students whose scores were at a certain percentage, that would help hone in on the likely problems. We’d have to look at the locales where the schools were, the demographics–demographics that are actually more relevant–such as income, how families are headed (single or married), parental education, how often kids moved districts, health, percentage of founded CPS calls in the locale. Then, I’d also want to look at the high outliers. What is different about those kids or their families? Dr. Carson has shared what was different about his home-life, for instance.

                    12. “If you teased out the data so that we only focused on schools that were having problems, and/or teased out the data to focus on the cohort of students whose scores were at a certain percentage, that would help hone in on the likely problems. ”

                      Prairie, I think that was done in the study and that was what I pointed to in the study. Did you think it dealt with a different demographic and different socio economic group? If I remember correctly there was about an 85% fit as far as what you seem to be looking for. I suggest you reread what I wrote and pay attention to the example.

                      You are suggesting comparisons where selection can be a problem. Sowell took the worst groups, those that predominantly failed and showed how the Charter Schools made most of them successes. You have a study right in front of you where the comparisons made eliminated selection to the best degree possible. It was a wild success and now you want to do a new study rather than deal with the study at hand?

                      50,000 students in that area want entry into Charter Schools. Why do you want to deny them that choice for success which has already been proven. People are voting with their feet and no one that doesn’t want to go to a Charter School has to go. What problem exists that warrants another study? Open more Charter Schools and use their success or failure to tell you which direction to take.

                      It sounds like you don’t realize that in this study the selection of students was random.

                    13. Allan,
                      You wrote earlier:
                      ““Why put the effort into conscientiousness if your pay will remain the same as another teacher who sits all day in a rubber room.”

                      I responded: “That would be annoying, but the very best teachers put their heart and soul into their own classroom because they care; they care about the kids and they care about their craft. It would reflect badly on their character to slough off just because there is a sorry excuse for a teacher down the hall.”

                      Then you replied that “That has little to do with the problem at hand.”

                      I am perplexed. If it has little to do with the problem at hand, why bring up “why put the effort into conscientiousness if your pay will remain the same…”? Good teachers will ignore the poor performance of their subpar colleagues and put their effort into their own classrooms. They might expend some effort trying to encourage and mentor teachers who are struggling, but their main focus will be on their own classroom.

                      The issue of pay and performance is somewhat sideways from ‘problem at hand’ anyway. We were discussing charter schools and the tax and accountability issues, as well as, peripherally, the cross-wise nature of charter schools to self-governance.

                      In regards to dysfunctional school districts, pay and performance isn’t necessarily even one of the core problems. I’d almost describe it as one of the things that could crop up as a symptom in a dysfunctional school district.

                    14. Prairie, the question on this subject that should be asked is what creates conscientiousness and what inhibits it? It is one of the two top things you said Peterson associates with success. We can discuss that but the question at hand had to do with parental choice.

                      You wish to deny parental choice even when parents chosing Charter Schools saw their children graduate with a superior education and a much higher graduation rate.

                      I told you about the NYC study both explaining the methodology and results so I can’t see why you would have preferred those students to drop out of public school and never acquire the proficiency in math and language.

                      That was the discussion and I would like to understand why you are against parental choice of Charter Schools especially since this study demonstrated astounding results that should be tremendously beneficial to the community.

                    15. Allan,
                      Do you have the link for the study you are referring to, or, is it in the Sowell book? I do not have the Sowell book at present. What is the study he cites? I might be able to Google it.

                    16. I read the book and listened to the interview Uncommon Knowledge Sowell. It was on video and audio.

                    17. Allan,
                      “I don’t know why you, “an educated person” would expect me to provide personal evidence when an excellent study clearly did that.”

                      Whyever not? In a system run ‘by the people’, the people should have an idea of what they think children of the community ought to know in order to be thinking, productive, knowledgeable future adults and citizens of their communities all the way up to what it means to be an American.

                      Prairie Rose said: “I think too many questions applicable to the type of work people did is not necessarily the right direction. We are not simply worker bees.“

                      Allan said: “It is the first issue that should be considered. If you think sending young men into the work place without skills is a good thing, I am surprised. We must provide an educated citizenry that is able to provide for themselves and understand civics enough to know that they are part of the country and that they should act lawfully.”

                      I am not in disagreement. There is a balance, however. I see far too much ‘worker bee’ preparation going on and not enough of everything else that rounds out an effective American citizen. The emphasis right now seems to be on ‘skills’–what good are skills without knowledge? It is out of balance. It isn’t enough that people act lawfully–why are the laws there? There are plenty of big questions that Americans need to answer that require more than ‘skills’ and acting lawfully. But, that is a slight digression.

                      Allan said: “If those cyber-charter schools are not meeting the standards they should not exist. But that is not the problem under discussion. The problem is what to do when the public schools to not meet the standards?”

                      That is a good discussion, but not the initial concern I expressed:

                      “Taxpayer money goes to support charter schools, but there is no accountability for what is taught or how the money is spent. Taxation without representation. I have enough trouble keeping on top of my public school district. How can enough of the citizenry band together to effect change if there are a bunch of charter schools operating in a given area, especially if they are largely unknown?”

                      Taxation without representation regarding charter schools is an issue. There is waste. Taxpayers have a say-so in their public schools’ governance and management, but not so much when it comes to cyber-charter schools, in particular.

                      What to do when the public schools are not meeting the standards? That is a deep question. The Coleman report detailed “the politically inconvenient conclusion that family background explained more about a child’s achievement than did school resources” (https://www.educationnext.org/how-family-background-influences-student-achievement/).

                      The surface answers to ‘what to do when the public schools are not meeting the standards’ entail speaking to neighbors, curriculum and instruction directors, the superintendent, teachers, principals, and the school board, looking for ways to improve the school climate, improve the curriculum, increase accountability, or to in some other way enrich the environment to better stimulate young, learning minds. Schools can certainly tweak these areas.

                      But, what of the families? If families are critical to student achievement (and yes, even in for charter schools they are since there is at least a selection bias associated with them), then the question should extend to their role in the educational process. I can sympathize with parents, weary from fighting a dysfunctional system and dysfunctional community, who just want to get their kids effectively educated and charter schools look like a way out. But that doesn’t solve the underlying dysfunction; it may even exacerbate it.

                      I am not decidedly against charter schools. In very large locales with a high rate of dysfunction, they very well may be a good option. That does not solve my concerns about taxation and self-governance.

                    18. Sowell provided a very well done study. You want want anecdotes. That is why you were willing to compare your experiences in a small city to one that occurred in a city of 8 million. Sowell brought to light actual comparisons that are impossible to match anecdotally.

                      The initial question was ““You are an educated person so you have some idea of what constitutes failure,” To which I answered: “Of course I do but I don’t need to provide my uneducated opinion when the testing by NYS proved my point. Instead of failing the Charter School kids passed and some went on to higher education.”

                      Previously to that I stated what Sowell tested for and that the testing was limited to the most testable features and also the most important, mathematics and language skills. I don’t know why you think that most people in a community would think differently.

                      “I see far too much ‘worker bee’ preparation going on and not enough of everything else that rounds out an effective American citizen.”

                      The discussion has to do with why a person would not advocate for choice where Charter Schools is one of the choices. The discussion had nothing to do with the curriculum.

                      “Taxation without representation regarding charter schools is an issue. “

                      Prairie, I hate to say it but your argument is ridiculous. The parents voted with their feet. You wish to take choice away. The curriculum in this case is mostly dictated by NY. The testing is the testing used by NY. The students were randomly assigned except a parent should choose the public school over the Charter School.

                      ” and charter schools look like a way out. But that doesn’t solve the underlying dysfunction; it may even exacerbate it.”

                      How did Charter Schools exacerbate the problem? The students testing from Charter schools exceeded the quality of the public schools many times over.

                    19. Allan,
                      ““Taxation without representation regarding charter schools is an issue. “

                      Prairie, I hate to say it but your argument is ridiculous. The parents voted with their feet.”

                      A subset of taxpayers (or not even taxpayers) ‘voting with their feet’ is not representation of the use of taxes allocated for education. That is not accountability. Those parents who ‘voted with their feet’ were not elected into office by their fellow taxpayers to represent them as to how (and how much of) their money was spent. Accountability happens by the citizenry who pay attention and ask questions at school board meetings and at other school-related functions and subsequently at the voting booth.

                    20. To prevent confusion and mission creep I am limiting my comments to the area that Sowell studied. I am also trying to set limits on the topic so that we get to an understanding of our mutual desires and then work outwards from there. We need to deal with the fundamentals.

                      Prairie, what is the purpose of the public school system? If the majority of the children fail NY proficiency tests for math and language skills is that what you call accountability?

                      You make a big deal about accountability to the tax payer which is high on my list as well. What is your rational for mandated public school for all children up to a specific age? What is your rational for school taxes? Why shouldn’t such education needs be paid for by the parents in a similar fashion to how parents pay for food, clothing and housing (tangential but necessary for the discussion if we are to deal with your issue involving the taxpayery)?

                      If the public school system is unable to properly educate its students why should it exist?

                      In the area under discussion (the discussion can later extend to a national discussion) those against Charter Schools are saying that the lives of children from the ghetto don’t count. They are also saying that the parent’s voice doesn’t count either. Parents who supposedly know best are voting with their feet and 50,000 children lost the lottery for a position in Charter Schools.

                      More affluent families can afford to move to better school districts or pay for alternative schools. The poor child can’t and leaves school without proficiency in math and language skills so that he can remain in the ghetto ensuring future generations to follow in that path. I don’t think anyone finds that desirable. Do you? Of course not.

                      A proven solution exists. Charter Schools. Instead of failing children are succeeding. They are meeting the reason for the school mandate. Under those circumstances why would anyone want to eliminate charter schools?

                    21. Allan,
                      “Sowell took the worst groups, those that predominantly failed and showed how the Charter Schools made most of them successes.”

                      Quite often, there is a lottery system that determines who gets accepted into charter schools. However, people first have to throw their hats into the ring. That introduces selection bias. Also, as far as I understand it, charter schools are not required to educate very badly behaved students (they lose their spot at the charter) and also do not have to serve students requiring many additional services (such as autistic kids). Not having to educate either, plus getting families that are at least nominally motivated, could affect scores.

                      You seem to be arguing as though I am decidedly against charters; I’m not. There are unaddressed problems with charters.

                      None of these issues address the taxation without representation issue. Nor their affect on self-governance. Nor the issue of the private gain (and with failure, public loss) with the use of tax dollars. Can these problems be surmounted? Should charter schools only be non-profits? Should their financials and full curricula be readily available to the public? etc

                    22. “However, people first have to throw their hats into the ring. “

                      Are you against Charter Schools in general or are you against them because you believe the data produced was faulty? The questions you are asking are good but might demonstrate that you are against Charter Schools whether successful or not. I don’t think so but some of the comments in the way presented indicate that.

                      Re lottery:

                      Prairie, those are good thoughts. The lottery occurs first and then parents have the option of choosing the Charter School or not. One has a direct comparison between those where motivation existed because there is a comparison between children that won the lottery and lost. I believe one can even compare children of the same family where one child won the lottery and the other child lost. The lottery child did better.

                      Overall the lottery chooses identical populations. The autistic children that cannot function in the public school system are not in either system. The rest are.

                      The big difference is a child will be disciplined at a charter school and sent home. The lower grades of Charter Schools teach children to follow the rules which is part of educating the young. Some older children might leave but the numbers are too small to affect the final numbers of the study. Those in the earlier grades will learn to follow rules and make it easier in the later grades.

                      There are cafeterias in some of the school where both public and Charter Schools eat their lunches. The public school children are apparently controlled with bull horns wile the Charter School kids eat their lunch with quiet discussion.

                      “You seem to be arguing as though I am decidedly against charters; I’m not. There are unaddressed problems with charters.”

                      All your arguments have been to tear down Charter Schools and protect the public schools so I have to assume that to be true in argument but I am glad that you are not totally against them. You keep bringing up the issue of taxation without representation which I touched on earlier but we have to consider what representation really means. Representation in a local area means parents vote with their feel for Charter Schools. That (no taxation without representation) led to the American Revolution and they walked with their feet and guns.

                      To address the situation further I will gently touch on it and then forget about it for now because there are other considerations that need to be addressed and that is why the federal uses public tax dollars for education which is basically a state consideration. The federal government provides scholarships and backs up loans for students to attend private universities.

                      “None of these issues address the taxation without representation issue. Nor their affect on self-governance. Nor the issue of the private gain (and with failure, public loss) with the use of tax dollars. Can these problems be surmounted?”

                      That creates the wider problem of whether or not federal taxes should be used for any educational purposes. I recognize that for the most part this is a state issue but first one has to deal with the federal issue before dealing with the successive government bureaucracies.

                    23. Allan,
                      “what creates conscientiousness and what inhibits it?”

                      That is a very important and interesting question.

                      Regarding that which is more on topic, however, rather than focus on charter schools, perhaps the questions should begin with ‘why are some public schools apparently so terrible?’ Charter schools don’t solve that problem; they are more like a bandaid. Why be content with bandaids?

                      From the Coleman Report:
                      ““One implication stands out above all: That schools bring little influence to bear on a child’s achievement that is independent of his background and general social context; and that this very lack of an independent effect means that the inequalities imposed on children by their home, neighborhood, and peer environment are carried along to become the inequalities with which they confront adult life at the end of school.””

                      As citizens, we have a responsibility towards the upkeep of our shared ‘institutions’. Public schools are one. I do not think charter schools effectively address this because they are not beholden to the exact same rules as public schools. It isn’t a level playing field.

                    24. “‘why are some public schools apparently so terrible?’ Charter schools don’t solve that problem; they are more like a bandaid. Why be content with bandaids?”

                      Actually Charter Schools are a partial cure. When a child leaves the school for a Charter School only a portion of the money leaves. The rest remains with the school system so in essence the public schools should be happy when a child leaves because they make money without having to spend money on educating the child.

                      However, they don’t want that to happen and in order to prevent flight from public schools to Charter Schools all of a sudden they will have to teach their students so there would be no need for flight. Right now they are mostly trying to stop Charter Schools. Competition forces the public schools to spend more money educating the children so they are willing to remain in the public schools.

                      “That schools bring little influence to bear on a child’s achievement “

                      Your quote if true should make us question whether or not we should have mandated public education and mandated school taxes (I am not arguing that). I think the statement was BS even though I agree that the homes have a lot to do with the results we see.

                      However, the Charter Schools have caused many parents to become involved at least in the desire to see their children better educated.

                      Take note how he doesn’t talk about the very favorable results.

                  1. Ron P.,
                    Yes, I have seen that. It is, in many ways, far more rigorous for knowledge base. While it could be part of the general curriculum and not so much part of a final exam, I did not see very many synthesis or analysis questions which are also important elements of a good education. As for contemporary education, I agree that some elements of the curriculum could be made more rigorous. However, I do not think that means public schools have failed. Parents can speak up about the curriculum. I am.

                  2. Ron P.,
                    “I would offer this to support decline in education today. When grand parents and great grand parents only had a 8th grade education, what would it be today?”

                    I’ve been giving this test some thought. I didn’t do completely terrible on the test, but that’s to my best estimation since I cannot find the answers. There are some archaic words on there, as well as some outdated geography (e.g., why ask about the Orinoco and not the Amazon?).

                    I wouldn’t say this test is indicative of decline in education today overall. While students today could certainly have a better background in grammar and perhaps geography and be more adept at figuring out how to make change without a computer (practical math), this test was very particular for its student body at that time. Many of the students who were in that student body in 1895 Salinas, KS were very potentially the children of immigrants or immigrants themselves. Carefully learning how English functions as a language would be useful. The math is also very practical and geared towards the profession most would have–farming. They would be able to demonstrate some knowledge of the wider world, but not much. There wasn’t really much of anything on the test about science, art, literature, civics, or world history.

                    I remember learning about world history and geography in 6th–more than just European countries and their capitals. In many schools, students are doing dissections and Science Olympiad by 8th grade. Many are already learning algebra. The only kind of ‘pie’ the 1895 students knew about were the ones baked in an oven.

                    The issue of education and whether or not we’ve declined requires a good look at at ton of variables: where the struggling schools are and what their characteristics are, curriculum, families, socioeconomic issues, teacher quality, administration, organization, size.

                    [Allan: if you read this, too, I will try to get to your posts as soon as I can. I’ve been swamped.]

                    1. PR, I do not paint 100% of education today as inferior. But I think once the federal government created the Department of Education, more federal control of what kids were taught came from D.C.

                      Then, standardized test were created and teachers taught to the test.

                      Unions had some impact on teachers and who continued teaching, even the bad ones.

                      Too much money goes to the states and administration of schools and not enough to teachers and classroom supplies.

                      Too much interference on who passes and who fails.

                      Now, go to a fast Food outlet, let them ring up the order, say $5.26, give them a $10, they enter it and hand them another 26 cents. Do they know to give you a $5 or do they stand there luke a deer in the headlights.

                      Talk to anyone working at Williamsburg Va or other historical site and let them explain the total uninformef kids from middle school to high school that cant even ID George Washington.

                      The fix might not be one thing, but adding competition would not make matters worse.

                    2. Standardized tests, among them the College Board’s test and state regents examinations predate the federal Education Department by decades.

                      Put what you want students to learn on the bloody tests, and who cares if teachers teach to the test?

              2. Allan,
                “Competition is the key ingredient.”

                I don’t think that’s quite it. Competition isn’t the key ingredient that makes Pixar great, for instance. That would be like a one-bean soup. There are far more characteristics that are required. There is introspection, responsibility, a broad desire amongst its employees to improve and to deliver their very best in each area, curiosity, humor, a nice balance between lateral thinking and the need for structure, a sense of growth. That’s all in-house, embodied by the people there and reinforced by the culture. Leadership and a shared vision have a lot to do with it, but it’s also an interaction of the people who work together with mutual ideals.

                1. Prairie, competition is what forces all the other characteristics to the top. Show me a country or a an industry where competition didn’t exist and tremendous progress was made?

                  I can think of one answer that might be provided, JFK’s call to land a man on the moon. But what was he really saying? We have to beat the Russians to the moon. He added competition to the mixture.

                  (John, I am using this as an example even though there were other elements of competition along with other elements)

                  Prairie, I hope elsewhere you delve more deeply into our discussion of Charter schools.It is perhaps one of the most important for the most deprived people in the country. along with the country itself.

            2. Prairie Rose. “If charter schools fail, then they fail with taxpayers’ money. ”

              The problem is public or charter schools failing with taxpayer money. So school districts could not or would not make necessary changes due to race issues, union issues, federal and state testing mandates or many other local reasons. Thus charter schools became an alternative.

              So I will use N.C. as an example since it is in the lower 1/3 of states in school spending. The state spent $9,600 per student in 2018 (adjusted for something they call regional differences) and $10,843 actual dollars. There are many private schools that provide much better education for much less than $10k pernyear. My grand daughters attend one.

              Where is this almost $11 K going?. Where is the over $12k national average going? It sure as hell not on direct education because teachers, with 15- 20 children, are not making $165k-$220k per year! And parents and teachers are providing much of the supplies used per year.

              1. Allan,
                “The problem is public or charter schools failing with taxpayer money.”

                I agree; this is definitely a problem. At least with public schools, the taxpayers could at least try to effect change.

                I do have concerns with private businesses making money using taxpayer money, though, too. People complain about taxes being too high and want them lowered (so they get to use more of their own money), yet, private businesses are making money off those taxes…

                “So school districts could not or would not make necessary changes due to race issues, union issues, federal and state testing mandates or many other local reasons. Thus charter schools became an alternative.”

                I do not understand what you mean by ‘race issues’. There are cultural issues that can cause problems.

                There are other elements besides what you name that can affect success–administration dysfunction, school board dysfunction, parental and family dysfunction (etc). I agree that the unfunded mandates are definitely a problem. All children must be educated in a public school and if there are children who are allowed to have services provided for them to help support their education, then the district must provide it. If a district has a high percentage of autistic kids or kids with learning or behavioral disabilities (for example), who often need multiple support personnel, the district is mandated to teach them and foot the bill. The mandate may not be inappropriate, but the unfunded part is because the pot of money a district has to work with has now gotten smaller.

                These things are a problem and should be solved. Those problems do not mean the public school itself is the problem. Rather than fix what is broken, people leave and that does not improve the situation; it actually worsens it. Unless I am mistaken, charter schools do not have to take every kid, nor do they have to deal with unfunded mandates. Cyber-charter schools don’t even have to pay janitors or clear snow.

                None of this addresses the problem of charter schools being funded by taxpayers but without the requisite accountability by the citizenry.

                A friend of mine homeschools her kids but still watches the school board meetings because her families’ tax dollars go to support the district and she wants the district to do well even if her kids aren’t in it. She pays attention to how her money is being spent, and, to how students are being educated as best she can. I have other family members who pay attention to the local district even though their kids are long since grown and have moved to other districts.

                1. Sorry, Ron. I have been replying to both you and Allan and didn’t look sufficiently closely at the name I was replying to. My apologies.

                  1. No problem.

                    By the way, it is just a difference in philosophy as d how education can be improved. More money into the current system v current money following thevstudent, either public, charter or private. I am a moderate libertarian believing that more competition between different entities elevates all entities. That includes education and schools.

                    1. Ron P,
                      “More money into the current system v current money following thevstudent”

                      I do not see this problem as necessarily binary. More money does not necessarily have to go into the current system. And, one size does not fit all for public education. Whatever is happening in NYC is not happening in small town Iowa. I think parental involvement and citizenry attention goes a long way to elevating public schools.

                2. Where do you think the public school money is going? It is going into the pockets of private citizens who have a virtual monopoly where the public guarantees their income. At least the private sector loses their business if they fail. That is not what is happening in the school system.

                  Who is the purchaser, the one buying the product? It is the child not the teachers union. Generally in an effective marketplace the purchaser determines the product.

                  What you are suggesting is that a monopoly be guaranteed an income, job security and perks no matter how good or bad they do. A great teacher makes as much as a lousy teacher or a teacher in a rubber room. Does that make sense?

                  Take note in your reply to me you also quoted Ron and I will let him answer for himself.

                  “Unless I am mistaken, charter schools do not have to take every kid, nor do they have to deal with unfunded mandates. “

                  In the study I provided the Charter Schools are paid less per child and the education provided is multiples of that of the public schools. These schools have high start up costs and are discriminated against by the government. The teaching guild is doing everything they can to prevent their existence yet I understand in NYC alone over 50,000 children want to go to these schools but caps as to the numbers of schools have been artificially created.

                  If a student goes to a Charter School only part of the money goes with him and the rest remains with the school system.

                  ” but without the requisite accountability by the citizenry. “

                  The study utilized NYS criteria not their own. Used NYS definitions, not their own. The students secured a place by lottery.

                  1. Allan,
                    “Where do you think the public school money is going? It is going into the pockets of private citizens who have a virtual monopoly where the public guarantees their income.”

                    Do you mean taxpayer money going into the charter schools? I do not think the public should guarantee a business’ profits.

                    I know where taxpayer money is going into my local district because I have watched all the budget presentations. There are problems with teachers’ unions for sure, but the current discussion is focused on the problems of charter schools and accountability.

                    “At least the private sector loses their business if they fail. That is not what is happening in the school system.”
                    I would put that failure partly on the heads of parents and taxpayers; it is their district. They chose representatives from amongst themselves to run a Board that helps hire people to run the school and educate the children of the community. If they don’t like what they see they need to look to themselves and their neighbors to work to effect change. Pay attention to school board meetings; go to school events; ask questions; compare districts to see what the successful ones are doing and emulate them.

                    “Who is the purchaser, the one buying the product? It is the child not the teachers union. Generally in an effective marketplace the purchaser determines the product.”

                    The purchaser is not the child–it is the adults in the community.
                    We have not had a very effective educational marketplace for some time then, what with heavy-handed changes at the state or federal level coercing districts with NCLB and other nonsense.

                    “What you are suggesting is that a monopoly be guaranteed an income, job security and perks no matter how good or bad they do.”

                    That is not at all what I am suggesting. Teacher’s unions do need to be addressed, but that does not mean charter schools are the answer. These are very different discussions. We have been discussing the problem of accountability and use of taxpayer monies in charter schools.

                    “A great teacher makes as much as a lousy teacher or a teacher in a rubber room. Does that make sense?”
                    This is a separate discussion that deserves attention. Unions do need reform. Merit pay is an interesting consideration. That said, charter schools are not really the answer for this problem. Allowing districts to more easily boot lousy teachers would go a long way to strengthening districts–this would need a great deal of examination, though, to be done right. I don’t think teachers should be ‘at will’ employees either. Better teacher support and a process for greater development via mentorship might help, too.

                    One thing that would go a long way toward improving teacher quality would be to improve standards not only at universities but also in how people perceive the teaching profession. It is too often looked down upon as a ‘if you cannot do, teach’ sort of way, as if someone couldn’t hack it as a physicist, then they made do as a teacher. Or, that elementary teachers are somehow less prestigious than high school teachers. Both perceptions are very misguided. Being able to excite interest and convey concepts in an organized and understandable fashion is challenging. Teachers deserve a place of honor and respect in society for such an important job.

                    1. “Where do you think the public school money is going? “

                      Prairie where do you see any taxpayer dollars going when those mandatory taxpayer dollars are going to government monopolies? The idea of a monopoly is to garner as much money and power as one can get .

                      “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely” __Lord Acton

                      “Do you mean taxpayer money going into the charter schools? I do not think the public should guarantee a business’ profits.”

                      You are fine guaranteeing money to government monopolies but not fine letting private industry compete?

                      Charter schools are not guaranteed. Their sister schools, the public schools, are guaranteed to survive whether or not they provide the services desired.

                      “I would put that failure partly on the heads of parents and taxpayers; it is their district.”

                      If the parents have a good deal of control over the public school their children are going to and that school meets their expectations then they won’t have any desire to send them to a Charter School.

                      “Teacher’s unions do need to be addressed, “

                      The problems have or have not been addressed. If the problems are addressed then there will be no desire for Charter Schools. All of these questions are the same as are the answers. Many comments that you are making fit into this general group so you can apply the answer comment by comment and we can focus on the one’s that you believe don’t fit..

                      Problems with government monopolies, unless the citizens wield tremendous control, get worse without competition. Today parents will remove their children from the public schools and place them into religious schools to satisfy their personal needs. More affluent parents might send their children to private schools for a similar reason. Some parent might home school their children for similar reasons if they have been adequately educated and able to do so.

                      The ones you are denying choice to is the poor or low income working family that either doesn’t have the time or education to educate their own students or the money to send them to private schools. That means you are discriminating against those in the low socio economic groups who in many cases were also left poorly educated. Many minority people fit in this class yet from you are saying you to deny them choice afforded to better educated and more affluent mainstream Americans.

                    2. Allan,
                      “Prairie where do you see any taxpayer dollars going when those mandatory taxpayer dollars are going to government monopolies?”

                      Our government is of the people, by the people, for the people. It is run by fellow citizens and accountable to the citizenry. Private businesses are not particularly accountable to the citizenry, hence the problem of charter schools using taxpayer money. I see where the money is going in my public school district because I attend the school board meetings and, when possible, the finance committee meetings.

                      “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely” __Lord Acton
                      I see the citizenry losing power over their money and decision-making with the influx of business into governmental affairs. Corporatism is not good for democracy.

                      “You are fine guaranteeing money to government monopolies but not fine letting private industry compete?”
                      Not with the government. There are certain things that the government should do and most everything else can be private enterprise. Private businesses should not use at their own discretion taxpayer money. There needs to be oversight and that is, at present, not really happening.

                      “If the parents have a good deal of control over the public school”
                      It isn’t just the parents. And, people do have a good deal of control over the public school if they work together. They can vote for school board members; they can attend the meetings and express their concerns; they can talk with board members and administrators about their concerns and offer ideas to solve problems; they can volunteer their time; they can knock on doors and talk about their concerns with their neighbors. It’s their district.

                      “If the problems are addressed [with teacher’s unions] then there will be no desire for Charter Schools.”
                      The teacher’s unions are not the main cause of why some schools are struggling. There is top down leadership that is often the problem in a district, and part of who is at the top is the taxpaying citizenry.

                      “Problems with government monopolies, unless the citizens wield tremendous control”
                      People can wield tremendous control. It is a government of the people, by the people, for the people. Competition won’t solve inattention, it will just reinforce a few powerful people at the top mixing between government and private positions. Then it is essentially a corporatist monopoly where the taxpaying citizen gets shafted.

                      I have a great deal of sympathy for people in lousy districts. I do think people need to step up to the plate to improve the quality of education in their districts. The internet is everywhere, including libraries, so if people want to ask questions and learn about better districts, they can. Simply jumping ship will not change things. There are schools around here that have a very high percentage of disadvantaged kids that require school uniforms, among other things to improve the consistency and discipline in the student body. I have listened to interviews of Katherine Birbalsingh in the UK regarding The Michaela School. It’s excellent and the public schools should take note of what she’s doing.

                      However, this was not a discussion about the merits (or not) of charter schools; the discussion was about them being funded by taxpayers who have no way to keep such schools accountable. I am surprised you, a conservative, do not seem perturbed about the taxation without representation element of charter schools.

                    3. Prairie, you are comparing apples to oranges when you discuss your fear of competition. By your own description to date there is no room for competition in the area you are familiar with and apparently according to you there is oversight by the parents where the government and teachers guild is subservient to them. That is not true in many other areas and those are the areas that can physically have more than one system. In NYC Charter Schools provided positive results that were multiples of the public schools based no the state’s standards. Your beliefs affect the minorities and the poor subjugating many to ghetto life generation after generation because they don’t have a way out.

                      Your argument is wrong. You are dealing with your specific area that apparently has a low density population and lots of parental control. Those school systems are not at issue. It sounds like there is little demand. I am discussing the failing schools where the population density can have multiple school systems. It is unfair for you to dictate the needs of the children in those other areas. Those children have a right to a good education where at present many are being denied.

                      “The teacher’s unions are not the main cause of why some schools are struggling.”

                      Once again you are talking about a place where it appears education has been optimized. I am talking about real places like NYC’s low performance schools. In other areas of NYC there are alternatives that include religious schools, home school and private school but on average those areas service a better educated population that is more affluent.

                      How can you make such a generalization?

                      “I do think people need to step up to the plate to improve the quality of education in their districts.”

                      That is where the discussion lies. The people in the community under discussion did stand up. 50,000 students mostly minority students from the disadvantaged socio economic class want to go to Charter Schools. Are you saying that because they are not educated enough and rich enough to have a big enough voice they should be deprived of a proper education?

                      ” I am surprised you, a conservative, do not seem perturbed about the taxation without representation element of charter schools.”

                      You have it backward. In areas that are failing the public school represents taxation without representation. The parents are voting with their feet. They want their children better educated so they can leave the ghetto and they are being prevented by government and the teaching guild.

        2. “I disagree that charter schools are the answer,”

          Prairie, what I actually said was: ” alternate choice including Charter Schools”

          “Taxpayer money goes to support charter schools, but there is no accountability for what is taught or how the money is spent.”

          In NYC there is accountability and that is where the major study on Charter Schools was performed. It is a beautiful study and the selection process was carefully selected so that there wasn’t any cherry picking. The numbers studied were substantial. It involved mostly students that came from low socio economic backgrounds and were the typical minorities. The comparisons were done in charter schools where the Charter School classes were in the same building as the public school, random acceptance, compared same grades, same groups of students. The definitions and the testing used NYS criteria.

          The results weren’t even close. For the most part the Charter Schools killed the pubic schools by multiples. Based on that study at least in NYC I would consider it criminal to try and prevent more charter schools from opening.

          Pick up Thomas Sowell’s book (the study) on charter schools. It is very dry and was just published. After looking at the data I am sickened by what we have done to poor minority children so that the teachers union could benefit. Where the public schools were graduating way below proficient and below proficient students the charter schools were graduating proficient or proficient students that were minorities and their social economic class was low.

          I will provide the first comparison in the supplement. There are many pages and many comparisons on a page. This one is neither the best or the worst.

          3rd grade public school VBP 28% BP 37 P33 AP 1
          3rd grade KIPP Charter VBP 7% BP 19 P68 AP 7

          V Very B Below P Proficient A Above

          Some of the charter schools beat public schools in rich white areas.

          1. Allan,
            “Prairie, what I actually said was: ” alternate choice including Charter Schools””

            Yes, I know you stated “alternate choice including Charter Schools”. I focused my response on the charter schools element, which is where my concerns primarily lie.

            To what are you referring when you note “alternate choice”? I am interested and curious about this. As you know, I care very deeply about education, and am interested in ideas out there that might help uplift disadvantaged kids.

            “In NYC there is accountability and that is where the major study on Charter Schools was performed.”

            Thank you for the recommendation. I do need to do a great deal more reading and research on this. What you are asserting is in Sowell’s book does not ring true for my area (at least in regards to cyber-charter schools). I appreciate and respect Thomas Sowell and have enjoyed reading some of his other material. I will look it up.

            “After looking at the data I am sickened by what we have done to poor minority children so that the teachers union could benefit. Where the public schools were graduating way below proficient and below proficient students the charter schools were graduating proficient or proficient students that were minorities and their social economic class was low.”

            I am hesitant about pinning this on teacher’s unions. The problems I see in my district absolutely cannot be pinned primarily on the teacher’s union. The problems are way more multifaceted and way more complicated, especially considering all the possible ways a system can be disrupted by the varying degrees of brokenness that people can manifest.

            1. Yes, I know you stated “alternate choice including Charter Schools”. I focused my response on the charter schools element, which is where my concerns primarily lie.

              You’re on the payroll, aren’t you?

              1. Here we go again. Anyone who has read PR’s comments over the years knows that she’s not “on the payroll” — something you’ve alleged before.

                Just stop it, Art.

            2. “To what are you referring when you note “alternate choice”?”

              Any alternative to assigned public schools. Even choice of public school is an option. Money should follow the child.

              “What you are asserting is in Sowell’s book does not ring true for my area (at least in regards to cyber-charter schools).”

              How do you know? The same and worse was said about NYC Charter Schools based on lies from the teaching profession and union.

              “I am hesitant about pinning this on teacher’s unions.”

              Why?

              “The problems I see in my district absolutely cannot be pinned primarily on the teacher’s union.”

              Please provide the best examples.

              What the NYC Charter schools had to work with:

              Low socio economic status of the vast majority of students
              Drugs and crime.
              Uneducated parents
              Majority were minorities
              lower payment to Charter Schools
              A city intent on not permitting Charter Schools to survive.

              1. Allan,
                >“Money should follow the child.”
                Why should it? The money belongs to the taxpayers, not the child.

                >Prairie Rose: “What you are asserting is in Sowell’s book does not ring true for my area (at least in regards to cyber-charter schools).”
                >Allan: “How do you know? The same and worse was said about NYC Charter Schools based on lies from the teaching profession and union.”

                I am observing the issues in my district. While the teacher’s union could be better, they are not by any means one of the main problems. I can also see the scores and rankings of cyber-charter schools (there aren’t really any brick & mortar charter schools).

                Regarding any comparison to NYC–what goes on in NYC will be unique to NYC–each state has its own approach to charter and cyber-charter schools–it isn’t consistent. NYC is extremely liberal, in general, as is NY. That will affect their response to charter schools. They have big-city problems, too, which may be different, in some ways, than what more rural areas will struggle with.

                >“The problems I see in my district absolutely cannot be pinned primarily on the teacher’s union.” Please provide the best examples.”

                –Administration dysfunction, not to mention there are actually too few administrators (not a typical problem to have, but it is actually the case in my district).
                –Communication amongst ‘stakeholders’ could be *much* better
                –Low expectations of low income students, inadequate rigor in general
                –curricular problems
                –need more consistency between teachers, expectations, etc.
                –School board dysfunction—seems to be interpersonal issues, lack of vision, pet agendas
                –lack of transparency
                –financial concerns with the tax base
                –rigidity about change
                –uneducated and uninvolved parents (some with drug problems)–the uninvolved/irresponsible part is probably the most troublesome
                –low SES students with many of the struggles that seem to go along with that
                –city council/township decisions and lack of coordination that may be affecting growth and improvement in the area

                Lots of these problems are issues of interpersonal relationships, trust, honesty, cooperation, effective communication, respect. Building relationships and trust and laying the groundwork for growth is challenging but necessary for success. More seeds of positive change could grow here…

                1. Prairie, I know nothing about cyber-schools or your area. None of my comments apply in that location or to that type of schooling, though I don’t know that they shouldn’t. I do know that a lack of competition creates marketplaces that are very inefficient. I don’t know why school systems should be any different.

                  You ask why the money should follow the child. The easy answer is the child is the purchaser and the one that benefits from good service. Yes, the money comes from the taxpayer and the school system is mandated so the taxpayer has a right and an obligation to see to it the money is well spent. Where does any theory say that government employees can spend money better than private employees especially since both groups stand to gain? Will a third party person be more concerned about you and your life than you?

                  That brings us to another point. What you are promoting is socialism in a singular sector. If you are a socialist then I understand but if not then one has to think very hard to consider socializing any sector of our economy. In general free enterprise is best. Monopolies are bad but are preferable to government control. The school system in NYC is a government monopoly run mostly by the teaching guild that wields tremendous political power.

                  “I am observing the issues in my district. While the teacher’s union could be better, they are not by any means one of the main problems.”

                  How do you know that? What are the main problems? Are charter schools being inhibited in your area? Why are they all on line? What metrics were used to compare the different schools? How have you adjusted your mindset to the problem of selection? Are those on line charter schools funded by the school system? What percent of the total school system costs per student goes to each charter student?

                  Yes, NYC is unique, but the results are so astounding that one needs to reevaluate the Charter School model everywhere.

                  “Administration dysfunction, not to mention there are actually too few administrators (not a typical problem to have, but it is actually the case in my district).”

                  Generally we worry about too many administrators. Teachers are the ones that actually teach. What is the proper distribution of administrators, teachers and students? How does your system compare”

                  “–Communication amongst ‘stakeholders’ could be *much* better”

                  I can’t be sure what you mean in this statement but that is a problem in the socialized world … why improve oneself if there is no benefit?

                  “–Low expectations of low income students, inadequate rigor in general”

                  That tells us the present model teaching these students is faulty and would indicate a need for competition.

                  “–curricular problems”

                  The government is in control so if you are arguing for new ideas that means you are also potentially arguing for change and choice.

                  All or most of the things you mention are problems of most agencies and even private companies that are mired with some degree of stagnant thinking. That is a good reason to increase competition. The public school system you support is anti-competition and likely its leaders spend more time protecting their interests than the interests of their students.

                  1. Allan,
                    “I do know that a lack of competition creates marketplaces that are very inefficient. I don’t know why school systems should be any different.”

                    Efficiency is not the point of education. Knowledge and being able to utilize it, as well as being able to wrestle with new information and make meaning of it is more the point of education. Learning should occur as efficiently as possible, but there is a limit to how much people, especially children, can absorb effectively in a day.

                    “The easy answer is the child is the purchaser and the one that benefits from good service.”

                    The child is not the purchaser; the child has neither the money to do the purchasing nor the means to evaluate the education. Adults (taxpayers) purchase the education on behalf of children. They are not the only ones who benefit from good service—the whole community does because children are the future of the community and if they are well-educated, they will grow into well-educated adults who can handle their affairs of their home, work, and duties towards their community effectively.

                    “Will a third party person be more concerned about you and your life than you?”

                    Sometimes yes, but mostly no, which is why we each have an obligation to participate in our self-governance. I am concerned not only about the use of my money, but also about the education of my children and my friend’s children and the education of children whose parents are not especially concerned because how well their children are educated affects our community.

                    “Monopolies are bad but are preferable to government control.”

                    It isn’t an either or. Both are bad and both mean control; monopolies are worse because it’s like totalitarianism in business. Government control can be variable—high or low or somewhere in the middle. High government control isn’t good either. The amount of control a government has can be dialed in by the citizenry. I can more effectively lobby to change government than I can a private business.

                    “The school system in NYC is a government monopoly run mostly by the teaching guild that wields tremendous political power.”
                    Then that’s their own fault since it’s their government. If they don’t like it, then they need to address the issues.

                    “While the teacher’s union could be better, they are not by any means one of the main problems.” How do you know that?”
                    Because of what I’m observing.

                    “Yes, NYC is unique, but the results are so astounding that one needs to reevaluate the Charter School model everywhere.”

                    I disagree. Not everywhere looks like NYC. NYC is enormous. It’s needs are not those of other communities. It’s problems are more complicated because it is so much bigger.

                    “The government is in control so if you are arguing for new ideas that means you are also potentially arguing for change and choice.”

                    I and my fellow citizens are part of the government—we determine its actions to a large extent. When people are not paying sufficient attention then it’s like a case of ‘when the cat’s away, the mice will play’. People are paying attention now.

                    “All or most of the things you mention are problems of most agencies and even private companies that are mired with some degree of stagnant thinking. That is a good reason to increase competition.”

                    Competition is not the only way to fix stagnant thinking. Stagnation occurs when no new ideas come in and the old ways are not upkept, like a pond that does not have a stream feeding it. Stagnation can be counteracted by curiosity and creativity, and, it can be counteracted by collaboration. New eyes on a project can help. That’s why engagement by the community is important. Some organizations/businesses ask new employees what they observe about the business so people who have been there a long time can somewhat see the place with fresh eyes. They also sometimes ask people who leave their perspectives so as to help monitor the status of the organization/business. Schools should also be sure to get fresh eyes on their operations, which is why communication between the community, parents, students, school board, teachers, and administrators is so important.

                    1. “Efficiency is not the point of education”

                      Prairie, think of it logically. Taxpayers spend a limited amount of funds on education. If those expenditures are not used efficiently then education of our youth suffer. That is what is happening in NYC and will continue to happen without change. I will confine further discussion to NYC unless you wish to compare data that represents a substantial part of the school systems that are doing poorly.

                      ——-

                      “The child is not the purchaser;”

                      If you wish to quibble on this point go ahead. The child is the purchaser. The parents are the legal agents of the child.

                      The mandate comes from society and in NYC’s inner city lots of money is spent without the desired effect. The community definitely is not benefitting and that is why crime and drugs are high in the same neighborhoods. The children are getting pregnant at young ages and young mothers are turning into welfare moms continuing the cycle.

                      Your philosophizing on what you think should be done has been the modus operandi for decades. Those ideas failed so I don’t know why you wish to perpetuate them in these environments.

                      ——

                      “but mostly no, which is why we each have an obligation to participate in our self-governance”

                      The people in the ghettos of NYC are essentially being ruled through democracy. They are a large number but only the smaller fraction of the population and the school system hasn’t inculcated future generations with an understanding of civics to change the equation. That is one reason you see so much violence.

                      However, in these areas over 50,000 kids want a chance and have voted with their petitions to get into one of the Charter Schools. That over 50,000 lost the lottery and a better chance at a good life. Those that won the lottery and are being educated in the Charter Schools are succeeding beyond expectations. I do not believe that the ideas behind your preconceived notions should destroy so many lives.

                      —–

                      “It isn’t an either or. Both are bad“

                      That relates to my statement you are replying to: ““Monopolies are bad but are preferable to government control.”

                      ——

                      >>”“The school system in NYC is a government monopoly run mostly by the teaching guild that wields tremendous political power.”
                      >Then that’s their own fault since it’s their government. If they don’t like it, then they need to address the issues.

                      Once again they do not have the power to change the system. Over 51% have voted to “enslave” this smaller group by voting for leaders that have done nothing for decades.

                      You apparently do not get it. You are forcing others to live their lives based on what you want. Over 50,000 want Charter Schools for themselves but have lost the lottery. What right do you have to tell them no. What right gives 51% the power to enslave the other 49%?

                      ——

                      >>”“While the teacher’s union could be better, they are not by any means one of the main problems.” How do you know that?”
                      >Because of what I’m observing.

                      I will repeat John Say. Read Bastiat’s Broken Windows. You are advocating a position based solely what you see in a tiny location affecting a minute number of people. What you don’t see is the problem that exists for millions that do not live under such favorable conditions.

                      ———

                      “I disagree. Not everywhere looks like NYC. NYC is enormous. It’s needs are not those of other communities. It’s problems are more complicated because it is so much bigger.”

                      The largest city in the entire state of Iowa is somewhat over 200,000 (Des Moines)

                      The population of NYC is over 8,000,000. Do you not see something wrong with your comparison’s? What is the population of your school district that you can see (while neglecting what you cannot see)?

                      The rest of your arguments pertain more to rural Iowa than to large cities densely packed with a population that has not been given the safety or education needed for them to reverse things.

              2. Allan,
                “Even choice of public school is an option.”

                Busing would be a problem, I think.

                I would also be somewhat concerned about the effect this would have on communities. Having kids get bused all over a county, let’s say, would potentially cause greater deterioration in a community. Having kids go to school together is one avenue that interconnects people within a community. There are other ways, of course, but this does help promote neighborliness when people know each other in a town.

                1. “Busing would be a problem, I think.”

                  Prairie, you seem to be fighting against choice with all of your heart. On the many responses you point out every potential obstacle whether real or not. If parents are given choice then for them to choice an alternate education experience for their children the business will have to figure out a remedy for this problem and others. If the business can’t figure out a solution then the parents won’t have that choice making these many obstacles you present moot.

  13. I had a BB Gun at that age, also a Marlin 60 .22 Learned to shoot them properly and enjoyed competitive target shooting. Now as an adult I have some other guns and still occasionally go out shooting, no longer hunting. No one has been threatened nor injured by my guns. It is all about learning proper handling and safety before shooting.
    The teacher’s fear is based on ignorance.

    1. She isn’t afraid of a bloody thing. She just doesn’t like guns and doesn’t think other people should allow their children to have them. The administrators are of similar kidney and not very bright, so they make witless decisions.

  14. We have been dealing with the insanity of zero tolerance rules for years.

    “Zero tolerance” rules are not your problem. “Zero tolerance” rules are merely badly composed rules. You have badly composed rules because school administration as an occupation is a collecting pool of smarmy bureaucratic microbes who don’t have the judgment to do what they are tasked with doing. You want an example of one such microbe transported to a position where his inadequacy is manifest, look at the current Governor of Wisconsin.

    It’s none of the teacher’s business what he has in his bedroom unless the mere possession of it is a violation of the penal code or indicative of violations of the body of child protective law in Louisiana. Which of course it wasn’t. So, why did she do it? The reason is that elementary schoolteaching is an intensely feminine enterprise and that means it collects and retains people with certain tendencies and (in particular) certain vices. The peer culture among elementary schoolteachers does not contain the vices and may be enhancing them. A lot of women are officious nuisances and they want their way all the time. Their days are spent getting into petty fights with family members because they cannot respect anyone else’s preferences. School teaching is an opportunity for them to harass other people’s children and the Zoom classes allow for this tendency to extend itself into the home life of these students. Any normal range adult would not have noticed he had a BB gun in his room. It would be condign punishment for the teacher if his mother clawed her eyeballs out.

Leave a Reply