Thursday, January 18, 2007

This week professor closes his eyes to reality

Dr. Thomas is a professor at Furman University, who wrote an op/ed for The State, Open enrollment a bad idea for S.C.’s public schools, which is as misguided as the one he wrote for the Greenville News last week. Professor closes his eyes to the facts.

Now Dr. Thomas is a fellow, just like us, who lives every day in 21st century America. Every day he makes choices about where to eat, where to buy his gas, where to get banking services. He shops for the essential he needs, decides when to splurge on the extras that make life enjoyable. He chooses where to get his news, both in terms of the news source and well as the medium. All of these options make his life richer. They are all made possible because talented and creative people are straining their brains every day thinking up new ways to make life better for him and his family, merely because he has the choice of where to shift some of the resources at his disposal in the form of purchases he makes.

How is it possible that a person who lives in this world can make a statement as inane as this?
[Choice proposals share] the same flawed premise...: Our schools are failing because there is no competition for customers.
Now mind you, Dr. Thomas is not arguing against a proposal advocated by a wild-eyed Republican who has no experience in public education wanting to melt down the public education establishment and start over. (Though that proposal actually was made recently by the current superintendent of a SC public school district.)

What Dr. Thomas is arguing against is open enrollment in existing public schools. It doesn't make sense to him that giving parents even the slightest control over where their children attend schools might have the least impact on improving the quality of public education. The simple fact that he has a choice works beautifully for him when Dr. Thomas stops off for a gallon of milk on the way home, but somehow principals and teachers are not mere mortals tempted by the same incentives that motivate the rest of us.

Does Dr. Thomas really believe that if creative, talented teachers have the ability to attract some of the resources currently being spent on students whose needs are not being met, that they wouldn't be straining their brains every day thinking up new ways to make their students education better? And does Dr. Thomas really not understand, that after beating their heads against an unchangable public education establishment long enough, that creative, talented teachers either give up and leave or settle into the frustration of surviving in a system they know is not working well. Given the world he lives in every day, can he possibly not understand that?

Milton Friedman said it best. You either believe in freedom or you don't. Maybe Dr. Thomas would be more comfortable if he moved to Venezuela and helped Hugo Chavez build one of the "socialist cities" run by "people power" that he has planned. None of us has any doubt what the ultimate outcome of Chavez's socialist cities will be. We shouldn't have any doubt about what the outcome of Thomas' public schools will be either.

2 comments:

Steve said...

Excellently poor logic:

"You either believe in freedom or you don't. Maybe Dr. Thomas would be more comfortable if he moved to Venezuela and helped Hugo Chavez build one of the "socialist cities" run by "people power" that he has planned. None of us has any doubt what the ultimate outcome of Chavez's socialist cities will be."

An assertion with no basis in fact, followed by an ad hominem attack, followed by a claim to be able to predict the future. A trifecta!

Swamp Fox said...

OK, I can't predict the future, but I'm willing to bet a bundle that Hugo Chavez's "socialist cities" will be disasters. Chavez said when announcing his cities, "Those of you who want to know what type of socialism I have planned for Venezuela should read Marx and Lenin." The track record of Marxist/Leninism is fairly well established everywhere it has been tried. Care to cover my bet? Then we can go double or nothing on Dr. Thomas' similiar vision for public schools.

As the post said, the statement "You either believe in freedom or you don't" is Milton Friedman's. The more I hear tortured logic from people like Dr. Thomas about how the state has to protect us from ourselves, the more I understand that, while it's not a fact, it is a brilliant insight by Dr. Friedman.

I grant that "Maybe Dr. Thomas would be more comfortable if he moved to Venezuela" is an absurd statement to illustrate the extreme to which Dr. Thomas is willing to go to deny parents even the least opportunity to act in the interest of their children.

If you think my post bothered you, imagine the despair felt by the parents of children in a failing public schools after reading Dr. Thomas' op/ed that they ought to just suck it up and live with it. And this from someone teaching the next generation of teachers. It's enough to cause them to lose all hope.