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The PJ Tatler

by
Matt Vespa

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August 29, 2013 - 3:45 pm

Slate, a Washington Post-affiliated site, is known for being a cesspool of left-wing drivel.  Yet, it was the usual nonsense – with the occasional piece that slammed Obama on the lack transparency, drones, or whatever liberals thought was wrong within his administration. Now, Allison Benedikt, the managing editor for Slate‘s feminist Double X blog, has a problem with private school.  If you send your kid to private school, you’re a bad bad person.  And people wonder why feminism is other bad f-word.

In Benedikt’s August 29 post, she admits she’s not a “educational policy wonk.” She’s just “judgmental.”  Yeah, this sounds like a girl you want to bring home to mom and dad.  Yet, wait for her grand policy proposal to fix education:

It’s simple! Everyone needs to be invested in our public schools in order for them to get better. Not just lip-service investment, or property tax investment, but real flesh-and-blood-offspring investment. Your local school stinks but you don’t send your child there? Then its badness is just something you deplore in the abstract. Your local school stinks and you do send your child there? I bet you are going to do everything within your power to make it better.

[...]

Many of my (morally bankrupt) colleagues send their children to private schools. I asked them to tell me why. Here is the response that most stuck with me: “In our upper-middle-class world, it is hard not to pay for something if you can and you think it will be good for your kid.” I get it: You want an exceptional arts program and computer animation and maybe even Mandarin. You want a cohesive educational philosophy. You want creativity, not teaching to the test. You want great outdoor space and small classrooms and personal attention. You know who else wants those things? Everyone.

Whatever you think your children need—deserve—from their school experience, assume that the parents at the nearby public housing complex want the same. No, don’t just assume it. Do something about it. Send your kids to school with their kids. Use the energy you have otherwise directed at fighting to get your daughter a slot at the competitive private school to fight for more computers at the public school. Use your connections to power and money and innovation to make your local school—the one you are now sending your child to—better. Don’t just acknowledge your liberal guilt—listen to it.

So, Benedikt isn’t a fan of school choice – a typical liberal view – and calls her colleagues “morally bankrupt.”  This isn’t a policy proposal, or a call for a “moral adjustment.”  It’s a whiny rant.

Now, admittedly, I’m a product of private education, and it was great.  At the same time, emphasizing this investment in public education has its problems, which are egregiously omitted from this piece.  Additionally, I’m not even scratching the surface, but here are a few.

First, confidence in public education is abysmal.  In fact, confidence levels have reached historic lows.  There isn’t a lot of room for positive advocacy when only 29% of Americans trust the system.  Second, teachers unions incessant habit to protest for unsustainable pay and benefits raises isn’t helping the image of teachers or education.  Keep in mind, teachers only work nine months out of the year, unlike the rest of us.  Also, while the teachers are protesting, they’re not instructing their students.  Yeah, talk about a crackerjack education. Lastly, we need to talk about the family.

This is probably one of the most important aspects of the crisis.  The growing number of single mothers in America – and the erosion of the American family – has played a part in the crumbling education system.  Single mothers aren’t to blame.  After all, there are only so many hours in the day.  Yet, in 1966, the Coleman Report was released, which shattered the typical liberal equation that x amount of dollars should equal y results.

It stated that the success of a school district depended on the family structure of the respective student body.   Granted there were other factors such as the amount of television watched, how many days were missed, how much reading material was present in the home etc. but family is the key to it all. George Will noted in a lecture at Washington University in St. Louis in December of 2012 that because the family structure has dissolved – and we still don’t know why – there’s an emerging class of youngsters who don’t know their shapes or colors.  Yes, the benefits of a family dinner are quite astounding.  As Will noted, you’ll be surprised how much of an impact saying “here honey, have a round green pea” will have concerning development of your child’s skills in this area.

Regardless, the shortfalls in our system are stark. Recently, 11,000 – or 80% – of NYC’s high school seniors had to re-learn basic skills in reading, writing, and arithmetic to enter community college. So, frankly, it’s rational parents have questions about public education.

James Pethokoukis of AEI cited his colleague Michael McShane in a response post published today saying Benedikt’s piece lacked data – and logic for that matter:

Oh, by the way, do we have any data on the educational impact of helping lower-income and poor kids escape the public education monopoly? Like, say, data from the District of Columbia Opportunity Scholarship Program? Well, the US Education Department’s OSP study found the program, McShane points out, “produced $2.62 in benefits for every dollar spent on it. In other words, the return on public investment for the private-school voucher program during its early years was 162 percent.” What’s more, “The OSP increased the high-school graduation rate of students by 12 percentage points if they were lucky enough to win the annual scholarship lottery.”

One more from McShane:

It’s also a proud tradition in America (since Pierce v. Society of Sisters in 1925) to recognize that children are not instruments of the state. They do not exist to promote the goals of the government or the community, they (and their parents) are free to (within limits) to be educated as they best see fit.  Obviously this person has no idea about the anti-Catholicism and anti-immigrant racism that lead people to make the same argument that she is making, albeit 100 years ago.

In all, Benedikt is pyromanic in a field of straw men.  Additionally, she has called the president a bad man for sending his daughters to private school.  Within the liberal worldview, that’s so racist.

 

Matt Vespa is a conservative blogger who contributes to CNS News, RedState, Noodle Pundit, and was formerly with Hot Air's GreenRoom.

Comments are closed.

All Comments   (12)
All Comments   (12)
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We have two daughters. They will be the mothers of our descendants. I am not willing to sacrifice my beloved to any 'system' to 'try' and improve it for all. We did the best possible by them at all stages of their childhoods. Any loving, responsible parent would do the same. (They went to our local PS for a while, and when it was obvious their needs would not be met, we removed them to an educational system that would meet those needs)
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Then I'm an exceedingly bad person. All seven of my children went to Catholic grammar and high schools. All went on to graduate from college and become productive members of society. It cost alot, but I considered it money well spent. They were miles ahead of their contemporaries by the time they got to college.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
So Ms. Benedikt regards people who homeschool or send their kids to private schools as "bad" and "morally bankrupt"? As noted in earlier remarks, there are working-class parents who make economic sacrifices to send their kids to private schools as well as parents who make career sacrifices to homeschool their kids rather than consign them to a failing state-run institution run by dim, greedy, time-serving (and not-infrequently abusive) hacks. Ms. Benedikt is projecting - she's the one who is bad and morally bankrupt by shaming people into sacrificing their kids to the state-run Moloch known as "public education". I'd go so far to say that she is downright evil.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
I suppose it would be mean-spirited of me to inquire if Benedikt actually has any children of her own, and if they are in a public school; I wonder what she would do if her idealistic view of public education ever collided with the reality of Public School Hell.

I was a product of public education. It made me swear to the heavens that I would not subject any of my children to the institutionalized child abuse that public education is, and I didn't. I never have regretted the decision to home school and private school my kids, despite being broke for it. Oh, yes, one other point--it isn't just "upper class" people who private school and home school--just people who don't trust their precious children to the Government Schools.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Bad, like the Obamas who send their precious daughters to the most expensive private school, and defunded the lottery program that would, each year, send a couple less advantaged black kids to the same school?
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
I love this.
"You want an exceptional arts program and computer animation and maybe even Mandarin."
So this is what Ms. Benedikt thinks Private Schools offer, fancy stuff and a pretty campus.
My Mom and Dad yanked me out of public school and sent me to a private catholic High School, where I didn't learn Chinese or Caligraphy, just how to read and write.
When I went to college I was surrounded by students who barely knew what reading and writing was.
My mother never shed a tear about turning her back on the local school system.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Y'all should read Larry Corriea's masterful fisking of the article:

http://larrycorreia.wordpress.com/2013/08/30/fisking-slate-over-public-schools
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm here once. My child or children are also. If I have a chance to improve their opportunities in life and that does not please your liberal senses then I don't give a damn. I'm not here, nor are my children, to make liberals feel better about themselves. If they want their children to receive a crap education so they can feel good, then so be it.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
I read it too and most Slate readers were not impressed. Quite a few, in fact did not take the article seriously and berated Slate for having this Benedikt person write an obvious, unserious, publicity-bait article designed soley to get hits.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
If they want hits, maybe they should try providing well-reasoned, well-written articles.

Ah, I forgot... Journ0lists. Never mind.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Exactly. Liberal websites like Slate and (super liberal) Salon post these outrageous accusatory articles articles to boost site traffic.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
So Slate is owned by the Washington Post? I'm sure the Post is aware that the average DC private school student is a) black, and b) from a working class family. Not exactly the comfortable, dog-whistle stereotype that they're fishing around for, but facts are difficult things.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
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