The Constitution on Education, and an Education on the Constitution

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At Joe's behest, I am moving this discussion from the comments of this entry to a new entry.

It all started with the assertion by the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man (a.k.a. "Puffy") that "the US has some of the highest crime rates anywhere in the world." In debunking that myth, I mentioned that the murder rate for White victims in the U.S. is about even with Canada's overall murder rate. (Canada does not publish racial statistics of murder victims.) We got to discussing why the murder rate for Black victims is nine times higher than for White victims, and twice as high as for Hispanic victims. Here is the rest of the conversation:

Puffy's comments are in the blocks, mine are not.

My point was that whenever initiatives are proposed to address the problems facing disaffected communities, it seems like the opposition to those initiatives always comes from the right side of the spectrum.

and it's typically a "we don't have the money to pay for this program" argument. Bush just cut education funding again. It's one of the biggest cuts to education yet, and it means schools are going to offer less programs and tuition rates at universities are going to go up again.

"we don't have the money" The sick thing is that the amount cut from education is about the same as we spend in Iraq in four-five days.

now how does that make sense? Iraq is to protect us against terrorism? How many Americans have died in terrorist attacks in the last 10 years? In the past 10 years, how many Americans have died in inner-city violence, never having had the opportunity to get out, or to work on improving their communities?

how do you justify our budgetary priorities?

OK. Let's see where this goes. Find the Constitutional Authority for the Feral Government to spend ANY money for education.

I'll take that as your answer to the question "how do you justify our budgetary priorities?"

Education is not mentioned in the constitution, nor, i might add, is baseball. However the fed. has historically been involved in both these and a myriad other things not mentioned in the constitution. I did not say that Bush's budgetary cuts were illegal or unconstitutional. They are, however, stereotypically obtuse.

here are my questions to you:

1.) Do you think these cuts to education are more likely to benefit or harm public school children, particularly in the inner city?

2.) Is it wise, forward thinking policy for the government to look for excuses (eg. "it isn't in the constitution") not to invest tax dollars in the educational system?


I was unaware that baseball was subsidized by the feral government.

Now, in partial answer to your questions, the Governments have no money of their own. It is taxpayers' money. So why do you assume the feral government is better qualified to administer education programs than are the States? Perhaps it is the excellent quality of the D.C. public schools?

1) The feral government is less efficient, in general, than are the several States. Thus, cutting feral education programs, which would leave money in the taxpayers hands (for the States to tax) would indeed improve the education of the children of the States, assuming that education is the priority of that particular State.

2) That is a State function. "It's not in the Constitution" is not an excuse, but a fact. You seem to ignore that it is not "the government," but "the governments," and the States spend a lot of money on education. The reason the feral government was given specific, enumerated powers was to have a clear divison of powers between the feral government and the States. This avoids conflicting laws, and allows local solutions to local problems.

If you wish to change the Constitution to allow the feral government to control the schools, go for it. The founding fathers gave us an amendment process, too.

I didn't say baseball was funded by the fed.gov., but that the fed.gov. has historically been involved in baseball. the point is that the fed.gov. has had it's hands in a variety of things which the constitution says nothing about. Another example are national parks. Does the constitution say anything about national parks? (no) So does that mean it would be a good idea for the fed.gov to stop funding national parks? presumably your answer is no.

the "rights" which we have under the constitution, like "life, liberty, and p. of h." universal suffrage, etc. tend to be things that don't cost the gov. anything. it doesn't follow that the government shouldn't fund anything.

By placing the costs of education solely on state governments, you're tying the education system to the economic performance of each state. So if a state has an economic downturn, it's education system will suffer; poor states have less money for education, so the next generation is also poor, etc. How is that good for America?

The best way to insure an even system nationwide is for the fed.gov. so subsidize education. It does, and public schools across the country depend on this money. It's through the threat of cutting this money that the admin enforces it's "no child left behind" program.

additionally, the fed. can take advantage of economies of scale in a bigger way than each of the states can on their own, and it can, in effect, set up bigger trust funds.

in short, I do not believe this is a "constitutional" matter, but that the administration has failed to understand that the nation's educational system depends on the federal government's capacity to redistribute resources.

your statements suggest that you're a libertarian. Do you think education should be privatized?

I think MLB legitimately comes under "regulating interstate commerce."

You presume too much. The Libertarian Party recommends selling off the National Parks and Forests. However, there is some debate as to whether that falls under the "general welfare of the States."

The phrase "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness" is in the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution. The feral government should fund those things it has the authority to fund. Everything else is left to the States, or the People (10th Amendment).

It is not the business of the feral government to "equalize" the schools. The States put in the school systems they want.

I do have libertarian leanings. However, I describe myself as a Constitutionalist. I do not advocate eliminating the public school system, only that the feral government stay out of it, except for D.C., of course. When D.C. is a model for the world, but not before then, I will consider altering the Constitution to allow the feral government into the State's school systems. I do, however, favor vouchers and school choice.

Now, you say you "do not believe this is a constitutional matter." So is it OK to ignore the Constitution when it is convenient to do so?

public education doesn't fall under, "general welfare of the states"?

now I'm not a constitutional scholar myself, but as a "constitutionalist" I'm sure you're aware that the majority of the constitution is built around a sort of "negative liberty", in that it tells the fed.gov. what NOT to do. And that while it does grant some specific powers, it does not mandate these things. i.e. "Congress shall have power to..." not "Congress WILL..." So since education is not mentioned, subsidizing education is not "ignoring the constitution," but operating within the "silence of the law" (I believe 'the other side' uses a variation of this argument to justify domestic surveillance programs, which seem much more dubious to me than the funding of public schools)

but even if 'congress shall have the power' to subsidize education, a cut in education, while being a poor policy choice, would still be constitutionally legit, right?

I think the point still stands that the F.G. is in a greater position than the states to take advantage of economies of scale, to set up educational endowments which generate greater interest, etc. And I fundamentally disagree that the F.G. doesn't have a role to play in redistributing resources. It is the states at the bottom of the "average income" list which need the greatest investment in education, and those same states are in the worst position to make that investment without the aid of the F.G.

now I'm not saying that the FG should RUN the educational systems, but that it plays a key role in their funding. ultimately, you can argue that the constitution doesn't mandate that the FG spend money on education, and you'll be right. But I'm asking you, "do you think it's good policy not to?"

I'm assuming you do. I do not.

You are exactly wrong. The U.S. Constition says what the fed can do, and everything else is left to the States or the People in the 10th Amendment.

Public education is specific to the States and schools that get the money. How does it benefit one State to tax it's people for the education of those in another State?

Furthermore, the only "economy of scale" that the feral government seems to be good at is wasting money on a grand scale. With all the complaints about Defense contracts run wild, you want that for the schools, too? Do you want all of our schools to be of the D.C. quality? The feral government is responsible for the D.C. public schools.

Since there is no link between more money and better schools, your whole argument for federal money is moot.

Please show me, in the Constitutioni, where the feral government is allowed to "redistribute resources" from the rich states to the poor ones.

The feral government does NOT play a key role in the funding of the public school system. I believe the number is about 5%.

I think it is bad policy to take money from the people, funnel it though the wasteful hands running the F.G., then send it back to the States. Let the money stay in the States for the purposes they deem best.

One size does NOT fit all.


"Please show me, in the Constitutioni, where the feral government is allowed to "redistribute resources" from the rich states to the poor ones."

You know it isn't there. What's your point? Please show me where in the constitution the fed. has the right to fund manned missions to the moon. Please show me where in the constitution the gov. has the right to tap telephones.

not there either, right? not explicitly stated, so it follows that these things are unconstitutional, right?

ok, so I'm not sure if it's the case that the constitution tells the gov. what it can do, like you say. Seems like the constitution tells the gov what is it's prerogative to do, and than issues a bunch of "thou shalt nots" aimed at the gov.

"Congress shall make no law..."

"the right...shall not be infringed"

"the right of the people...shall not be violated"

(here I'm paraphrasing my trusty ACLU bill of rights book mark)

But you can't tell me that this money doesn't matter to school systems. School systems across the country are bending over backwards to keep this funding from the F.G., and even when they do everything right, they still suffer. In the school system I went to, they've had to cut language programs, stuff kids into overcrowded classes rather than hiring new teachers, give kids art classes only once every 10 weeks, do fewer science experiments, and all this after meeting all of the so-called "no-child-left-behind" program.

There's been no major change to the tax base in the community, or in state funding of public schools. The difference is in the F.G. policy toward public schools. on top of Bush's budgetary cuts (presumably to fund wars and tax cuts to the rich), schools are financially strained due to the costs on implementing the programs mandated under the NCLB program.

so... here are a couple questions:

What's with the domestic surveillance argument that it's legal because it isn't specifically prohibited in the constitution?

and, by your analysis, education is solely the jurisdiction of the states according to the constitution. So are you saying that the funding of public education by the Federal Government is in fact illegal?

First, the wiretapping is of known Al Qaeda members making calls to people in the U.S. That seems to be providing for the common defense.

Specific NASA programs are certainly of dubious constitutionality, but there can be little doubt that the overall technology gains made by NASA have greatly contributed to the general quality of life in the U.S., and in the world. Here is a list of some NASA spin-offs.


The Constitutional quotes you give are from the Bill of Rights, which was not part of the original document.

OK, let's accept your incorrect premise that your school system needs more money, rather than better mangagement of the money it already has. You are already complaining about NCLB!! And you want MORE of that?

It's for reasons like NCLB that the original Constitution did not have direct election of the Senators. Such unfunded mandates would never occur if the State legislatures still appointed their Senators. With direct election of Senators, our central government stopped being federal. Having gotten out of control of the States, it is now feral.

"What's with the domestic surveillance argument that it's legal because it isn't specifically prohibited in the constitution?"

I certainly made no such argument. The federal government does have the duty to "provide for the common defense... of the United States." If you are speaking of the above-mentioned Al Qaeda call, I discussed it above. Was there something else?

"So are you saying that the funding of public education by the Federal Government is in fact illegal?"

That is exactly what I'm saying.


Now, I have a couple of questions for you:

1) The feral government is responsible for the D.C. public schools. Is that the kind of system you want for your children?

2) If the feral government starts dictating curricula via standardized tests, how will we have competition for textbooks?

3) If the feral government starts dictating curricula, by whatever means, how do we protect our children from the propaganda of whatever administration happens to be in power?

first, I think the Bill of Rights is de facto a part of the Constitution.

ok, now I'm just going to answer these questions:

1. No, I do not want the federal gov. in charge of schools.

2. I do believe that standardized tests aren't necessarily beneficial to education.

3. I do not believe the gov. should dictate the curriculum

now, the FG has historically funded education in the States w/o dictating curricula. What NCLB did was say, "OK, we'll keep funding you, but only if you do this, this, and this."

trouble is, doing "this, this, and this" cost a lot of money, and NCLB didn't provide funds to pay for it's implementation, it only had the threat of cutting all funds. But schools shelled out the money to implement the program anyway because they depend on that money. Particularly in poor rural towns (like the one I grew up in) which cannot fall back on a solid tax base when faced with funding cuts.

So schools pay to implement the program to keep the federal funds, and what's Bush do? Starts cutting education funds anyway. That's my beef.

Now I'm not saying the gov needs to be running schools. I am saying that it needs to be funding them.

So we can make arguments about the constitutionality of funding education, and you can claim that flying around in space contributes to "the general quality of life in the US," but public schools don't. But you might also want to practice this:

但它未被指定在宪法

That's Chinese for, "But it wasn't specified in the Constitution"

The Bill of Rights is part of the Constitution, but it was not when the Constitution was passed. But so what? The Constitution gave the federal government specific, enumerated powers. The Bill of Rights limited those powers further, and even specified that "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

Now, I have conceded that the space program was on shaky ground, Constitutionally. However, space exploration is not something that can be done by individual States. Schools are something the States can do. In fact, the Dept. of Education did not even exist until 1980, and the feral government has NEVER provided more than 10% of the money for public schools.

Bush has proposed a 5.5% decrease in discretionary spending for the Dept. of Education. That's about 0.5% of all public school funding. That doesn't sound so horrible, especially when the cuts are targeted to programs that have not been working.

Now, two more questions:

1) Has public education gotten better or worse since we created the Dept. of Education in 1980?

2) Has the feral government ever given out money without attaching strings to it?

Follow-up question to (2):
2a) Why do you think the feral government will not start dictating curricula, if it is providing money?

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28 Comments

zimzo said:

Why should anyone take you seriously, Jack, when you insist on calling the federal government, the "feral" government? It's like when Republicans refer to the Democratic Party as the Democrat Party. It just makes you look partisan and dumb and not worth having a an intelligent discussion with.

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

杰克是一个很好的例子,美国的教育体系未能

Posted by: zimzo | September 20, 2006 8:14 AM

That's about the most intelligent thing you've ever posted here, Zimzo.

Posted by: Jack | September 20, 2006 8:17 AM

The conversation has moved to http://www.novatownhall.com/blog/2006/09/the_constitution_on_education.php

Posted by: Jack | September 20, 2006 11:24 AM

that's pretty funny ^

Jack, you said, "space exploration is not something that can be done by individual States. Schools are something the States can do."

Really, states COULD do space exploration, but it would be so much less efficient to have 50 small space programs rather than one big one. I think the same goes for education. What happens when two similar companies are in trouble? They merge, because it's more efficient that way.

so maybe all the state educational systems ought to merge and set up a national, hmmm, "department of education" or something w/o F.G. involvement. It just seems more sensible to do this through the federal gov. which already has an infrastructure in place, than to spend all kinds of money to reinvent the wheel. Again, this is in regards to financing education, not planning the curriculum.

If education has not improved since 1980, it doesn't mean that the solution is to abolish the Dept. of Edu. Remember that all the other countries we're supposedly falling behind have even more centralized systems than we do.

as far as federal money w/ strings attached, it only takes a little imagination. you said yourself that the fed. has no money on it's own, only the people's tax money. I'm not asking them to GIVE so much as redistribute. even though it may be worded differently in the constitution, all taxation is really a process of redistributing resources.

So I would like to see an equal amount of money spent on every American school student, everywhere in the country. Why not? Such a proposal isn't nearly as radical as the constitution itself was in it's day.

Now, I don't think the fed. needs to be dictation curriculum, but I have to wonder if you have any specific examples in mind of what you might not want your children exposed to.

Posted by: Stay Puft Marshmallow Man | September 20, 2006 11:36 AM

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

sry, guess I got a little select-happy there

"Democrat Party" - never heard that one but, gosh, I agree it is repugnant, scurrilous, blood-libel which chills me to the core of my being. That such a thought could be even imagined by one of my fellow humans makes me wish I could cast off every trace of "humanity" and join the gentle genus of the creek newt among whom such hideous ideas would be completely alien.

zimzo said:

I didn't say "Democrat Party" was a huge insult, I said it made Republicans look stupid, which I know is not a big concern for you. I haven't really figured out why they suddenly started doing it but this article gives some insight:

http://mediamatters.org/items/200608160005

Thanks to Media "We have a LOT of time on our hands" Matters for spelling all of that out. I'll surely never read Robin Toner the same way again.

Jack said:

Zimzo:

I have twice now explained my use of the word "feral." I'm using the definition "having escaped from domestication and become wild." As originally constituted, the United States was a federal government, in that the state legislatures had some control through the Senators. Since that control was removed, the states have no longer had any control over the U.S. Government, and so it cannot, by definition, be a federal government. It is feral.

Now, what I think makes people sound stupid is using the "surveil" as the verb form of "surveillance." The verb is "survey."

"Democrat Party" does not sound so much stupid to me as lazy. Maybe that's how we went from a "War on Terrorism" to a "War on Terror."

Jack said:

Puffy:

You still have not answered my question. Considering the strings attached to highway funding (the drinking age and speed limits, for example), why do you think the feral government will "redistribute" money to the local school systems without dictating the curriculum?

Regarding the Space Program. I really cannot go into it all, but there is no doubt that the Space Program has been a tremendous boon to our country. GPS is a fantastic tool for our troops and for shipping, never mind the civilian applications. Other satellites are critical to our national security, in treaty monitoring, surveillance, and threat detection. Civilian research (the useless stuff) has contributed greatly to the development of sensors that are then used in military satellites. These would not have been possible with state-run space programs.

Back to the schools. First, providing equal funding for each child doesn't work. The gifted and the disabled both have different needs than do the large majority in the middle. Students in low-cost areas are well served with less money. So rather than the states allocating the money, you propose to put it through even more bureaucracy. Many states currently get most of their school money from property taxes. Do you propose that the F.G. start imposing property taxes, too?

Now, to the specific examples of what I don't want my kids exposed to. Well, there were the revisions of history in the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact nations. There is now the anti-Jewish teachings in the Muslim nations. If the nation at large were run by Christian fundamentalists, would you not be concerned about the teaching of creationism or Intelligent Design instead of Darwinian Evolution? That is possible in a national system, but very unlikely that all 50 states would do the same. Virginia history is more important than Vermont history for those of us who live here. The opposite is true for those who live in Vermont.

Again I say, the F.G. will inevitable dictate the curriculum if it's paying the bills. That will kill all competition for textbooks.

Aside from all that, it's still unconstitutional.

zimzo said:

Your "argument" could just as easily work the other way, Jack. Since a majority of represeantatives would have to approve funding for education it's unlikely that a majority would approve of teaching such dimwitted ideas as intelligent design, but if each state is allowed to decide indivudually some actually might. And "feral government" still makes you sound dumb, even more so with your explanation that democratic election of Senators is a bad thing. Maybe that's why Republicans are afraid of the word "democratic" since they are doing everything they can under Bush to gut democracy.

Jack said:

Zimzo:

The point is that there is a marketplace for ideas between the states, which would not occur in a centrally-run school system.

Yes, direct election of Senators was a bad idea. Unfunded mandates such as the No Child Left Behind Act are eveidence of that.

Please read up on your civics. We live in a Republic, not a Democracy.

So what, exactly, do you think they have done to "gut democracy"? Perhaps it was establishing elective republics in Iraq and Afghanistan? Allowing the Clinton Gun Ban to die? Providing money for states to upgrade their voting systems? Allowing people to keep more of their income?

Jacob Ash said:

Zimzo,
This country was and still is a republic. The balance of power is something that cannot be easily fixed. When the state legislatures chose the US Senators the states had a say so in the Federal government. This may be news to you, but you do live in a Nation of 51 seperate soveriegn states. Not one soverign state with 50 provinces.

The Federal government was to be constrained by the constitution's bill of rights as well as other elements within the original articles of the document. Unfortunately, today the Federal Guv'mint is not constrained in any meaningful way by the largely ignored 10th ammendment.

As for the dimwittedness of all those who dare to have opinions that conflict with your God like intellect, would you care to explain how come a republic acting like a republic is 'dumb'? Argument of supposition is for dummies boy.

Jack said:

The nice thing about having 50 different states, and hundreds of school systems, is that if one really doesn't like the curriculum in one's schools, he can move to another school system. That would not be possible with a single, nation-wide curriculum.

zimzo said:

I wasn't saying I was in favor of a federally mandated school system, I was just saying Jack was making a dumb argument. States running education with some federal oversight is probably the best system we can hope for. The idea that people can "just move" is also ridiculous because many people don't have the economic means to "just move."

I love your examples of how the Bush Administration is aiding Democracy. Have you read the news from Iraq and Afghanistan lately? Most of those countries are not under the control of the governments we set up. I really don't want to get into your gun craziness or how everyone should have a right to a semiautomatic. Providing money for states to upgrade their voting systems? Your most hilarious example. Many of these machines haven't worked and have increased voter fraud. Keeping more of our money? Sure, if you're one of the richest one percent.

You know very well what I was talking about as far as gutting Democracy: The repeated efforts by the Bush Administration to circumvent the Constitution. Holding American citizens indefinitely without charges, spying without warrents, abrogating treaties without the authorization of Congress, etc.

And thank you, I know the definition of Republic and Democracy. Too bad you guys seem to have forgotten what they are.

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

Jack,

I realize that we're moving away from Bush funding cuts and into a more theoretical discussion of how best to fund education. You keep insisting that a national system for financing schools would invariably lead to one national curriculum. I don't think this is true. In fact, a national curriculum would be neigh impossible politically. Who would even support it? So I'd imagine that the only way for such a nation-wide financial program for schools to work politically would be WITHOUT a national curriculum.

it could work like this: all the state education systems can round up all their money into one giant fund. then they take the total value of that fund and divide it by the total number of students in all of the states, then they say, "that's how much we're going to give for each student" a slightly more complex formula could account for special needs kids.

so why does the fed. need to dictate anything? the dept. of edu. is the institution in the best position to organize such a financial program, and this has nothing at all to do with curriculum. So to keep insisting that there would have to be national curriculum seems like a red herring.

and I don't see how I'm talking about more bureaucracy. Instead of 50 programs doing the same thing, we could have one.

that's more efficient and less bureaucratic.

Jack said:

Zimzo:

Iraq and Afghanistan: Women can now vote and go to school. There are no more rape rooms, and the Kurds are no gassed.

If people cannot move because they do not have the economic means, how did we get 10 million illegal immigrants?

As for semi-automatic firearms, I refer you to U.S. v Miller, in which, in reference to Miller's sawed-off shotgun, the court said, "Certainly it is not within judicial notice that this weapon is any part of the ordinary military equipment or that its use could contribute to the common defense." Miller's sawed-off shotgun was illegal because it was not a military weapon.

On voting machines: so some machines have problems. Not much of a surprise. There will be some problems with any new system. They will be worked out.

Tax cuts: The tax rate reductions went all the way down to the lowest bracket, and the standard deductions were increase, as were the dependent deductions. Everyone got a break.

"Holding American citizens indefinitely without charges..." I am not aware of any American citizens so held, but if true, it is a serious breach of the..., no, wait a minute, the President can suspend habeus corpus in time of cases of invasion or insurrection, as Lincoln did. This power was upheld in Ex Parte Milligan (1866):


"It is essential to the safety of every government that, in a great crisis, like the one we have just passed through, there should be a power somewhere of suspending the writ of habeas corpus. In every war, there are men of previously good character, wicked enough to counsel their fellow-citizens to resist the measures deemed necessary by a good government to sustain its just authority and overthrow its enemies; and their influence may lead to dangerous combinations. In the emergency of the times, an immediate public investigation according to law may not be possible; and yet, the peril to the country may be too imminent to suffer such persons to go at large. Unquestionably, there is then an exigency which demands that the government, if it should see fit in the exercise of a proper discretion to make arrests, should not be required to produce the persons arrested in answer to a writ of habeas corpus."


Lastly, the "spying" was listening to calls from known Al Qaeda members to people in the U.S. That sounds like providing for the common defense to me.

Jack said:

Puffy:

The F.G. has never passed out money without strings. It is illogical to think it would fund all public schools in the U.S. without any strings. Does the F.G. need to dictate anything? No. But money is power, and the F.G. will use that power -- it always does. (That's also why I oppose the Faith-Based Initiative.)

As I mentioned before, different states have different needs. The cost of living in Mass. is far higher than in North Dakota, so teachers in Mass. are paid more. (That money comes mainly from property taxes, which are reflective of the local cost of living.) It is not fair to spend the same amount of kids in ND and you do in MA or NY.

The money has to come from somewhere. Just because money comes from the F.G. doesn't mean it's free money. You are taking money from people in some states to educate children in another, without any evidence that it will improve the education in the other state. Money does NOT corellate with a better education, or D.C. would have the best schools in the Union.

Let the F.G. figure out the D.C. schools, over which it has absolute authority. When D.C. schools are a model for the world, I might consider altering the Constitution.

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

what's illogical is to say that because something hasn't happened, it cannot ever happen.

Adjustments could be made to account for differences in cost of living, and I don't think the price of things like text books, desks, pencils, computers, etc. very so much from state to state. Does ABC Textbook Inc. sell books to North Dakota for cheaper than it sells the same books to Massachusetts? I doubt it. Cost of living only comes into play when you're talking about salaries, and that's something a national funding program would have to take into account.

as far as money not mattering, schools with the least money have poorer educational programs. If you can't buy chemicals, you can't teach chemistry. If you can't by 40 copies of a novel, you can't very well read it in a lit. class. Do you seriously think that there is no correlation between funds and quality of education?

It seems like we've reached the end of the line, here. You are unable to imagine a string-free, nation-wide program for financing education, you seem determined to believe that anything other than a strictly state-by-state educational policy is doomed to fail, and insist on a more rock-solid proposal than I have the time to research and put together.

I don't have any proof because I haven't yet packed my bags and set off across the country to conduct surveys, investigations, and statistical analysis of 50 educational systems and I'm not a committee! You find me $50,000 and a bus, and I'll get back to you with a more rigorous proposal for a national system for financing education.


Jack said:

"what's illogical is to say that because something hasn't happened, it cannot ever happen."

I did not say it cannot happen. However, when one has withdrawn 100 red balls in a row from a bag, it is logical to assume that the next one taken out will also be red. It MIGHT be blue, but it is not likely.

Now, does money matter? In 2001-2002, the lowest per-pupil expeniture was in Utah, at $4900. The highest was NJ, at $11,793. I'd rather send my kids to school in Utah. (Actually, D.C. was at $12,102 per pupil. They have such wonderful schools there, too.) ("http://www.nces.ed.gov/pubs2004/rev_exp_02/table_05.asp")

Let's look at some cities in Virgina. Virginia Beach spends less ($6156) per pupil than it's neighbors Norfolk ($7087) and Newport News ($6598) in the 1999-2000 school year, but Va. Beach has better schools. Why? It's certainly not more money.

Arlington spent more ($11,697) than it's neighbor Fairfax ($8657), but Fairfax has the best school system in the state. Why? It's not the money.

"I don't have any proof..."

Then why are you proposing "a national system for financing public"?

I do have proof, which is why I'm against the idea.

Kevin said:

'I have twice now explained my use of the word "feral." I'm using the definition "having escaped from domestication and become wild." As originally constituted, the United States was a federal government, in that the state legislatures had some control through the Senators. Since that control was removed, the states have no longer had any control over the U.S. Government, and so it cannot, by definition, be a federal government. It is feral.'

Jack, if this is the way you feel then you would no less agree that to alter the constitution to ban gay marriage would be a colossal waste of time and energy (no doubt resulting in further regulation and litigation)? Not that I care, it's a philosophical point. Why not just leave it up to the states?

Sorry if you've covered this already, I read alllllmost all the comments.

Jack said:

Kevin:

The impetus for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution is the concern that the courts will force all states to accept gay marriages from other states. State law and amendments will not avail against such a ruling from the U.S.S.C.

Better, perhaps, would be an amendment saying that no state shall be forced to recognize a marriage, domestic partnership, or civil unton that would not be legal under that state's laws or constitution.

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

ok, Jacko, you said:

"

Puffy:

I'm sorry if I was unclear.

1) If the fed gives money, it DOES, not "should," attach strings.

2) Correct.

Detroit, F.Y. 1998, spent $7,326 per pupil, vs. an average of $5,949 for the 100 largest school districts in the U.S. It sounds like mismanagement, not lack of money.

(Grand Rapids and Flint are not in the top 100, but I suspect the same.)

Textbooks for high school might be $300-$500 per year, if they were all bought new. However, the school systems use the same books for several years. Books for the lower grades cost less. (There are fewer to buy per student.)

Posted by: Jack | September 21, 2006 8:38 PM"

thanks for digging up an 8-year-old statistic about Detroit schools. Let's see, has anything changed in Detroit in the past 10 years? Any particular industry been laying off people left and right in recent years?? 8 years ago we were at the height of the Pax Clintonia, remember?

next, it is not impossible for the fed. to give money without strings. let's make it a law, "the fed. will not attach strings to it's public school funding" all the congressmen would be on board, problem solved. If you insist that this is impossible, fine, let's disagree about that.

but you don't have proof of anything. you envision a system in which states have full responsibility for funding education. Despite the inherent inefficiency of having 50 institutions doing the same thing, the economies of scale & "textbook" monopsony power that a unified system could take advantage of, you want to believe without proof that this state-by-state idea is the best one for America. We're both talking about theoretical stuff, and at the end of the day, neither of us have proof.

next, what? more money is bad for schools? DC has the most money and the worst schools, therefore, the less we spend on schools, the better the schools will be.

the problem with that is that it's so nonsensical!


Jack said:

The latest numbers I could find are from 2005 ("http://www.michigan.gov/documents/B101405_158642_7.pdf"). Detroit spent $11,613 per pupil. Flint spent $11,444, and Grand Rapids spent $9,839.

No city in VA spent more per pupil than Detroit and Flint. So are those schools underfunded, or mismanaged?

Money is not the problem.

Kevin said:

"Better, perhaps, would be an amendment saying that no state shall be forced to recognize a marriage, domestic partnership, or civil unton that would not be legal under that state's laws or constitution."

Or an amendmant that states "Congress shall have no part in determining marriage/civil union laws for any state. . ." etc.?

Jack said:

That still leaves the U.S.S.C. the ability to require states to accept gay marriages and civil unions from other states. It also opens the door for polygamy, which in turn would require a reworking of our tax codes and insurance laws.

(I do not know whether polygamy is forbidden by U.S. law, but I do know that Utah was required to outlaw it as a condition of admittance to the union.)

Kevin said:

You know what, that was a really stupid mistake I made by misreading your post. I actually have no problem with your suggestion but I'm positive that it's because it doesn't affect me one way or the other. Guarantee someone else would have a problem with it and reasonably so, I think. I think it's evidently problematic in that any married couple on those conditions would be forced to live in only the states that recognize that union, or lose their ascribed rights. There's probably a problem with that.

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

Jack,

you've made a strong argument, which I must say is an interesting surprise. Detroit and Flint have both experienced a rapid decline in enrollment, probably due to the auto industry layoffs, and it appears that they have had problems managing the downsizing of the education systems.

Nevertheless, these two cities are among the highest recipients of federal funding in the state. This is because of the title one program which subsidizes schools in poorer communities. While it's important to fix mis-management problems, the fact remains that schools in poor areas depend on these funds.

while education is not my forte, and this discussion has become more involved than I have time to deal with, I still believe that centralizing the financing of education, if done properly, could lead to a more efficient system. Look at any corporate merger for examples of how consolidation improves efficiency.

Jack said:

May I assume business is also not your forte? Mergers do not always improve efficiency. See here: http://www.stern.nyu.edu/networks/quotes/CNNfn_March_14_2003.htm

Jack said:

Puffy:

For more on the constitutional aspects, see Walter Williams essay: http://www.gmu.edu/departments/economics/wew/articles/06/constitution.html

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