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mike shupp

{I keep trying to post here, but the post doesn't go through. Maybe it's too long, so I'll break it up.]

I'd sort of like to see some better breakdown than "teachers and bureaucrats."

Consider: when I was a tad, school kids were supposed to cross streets by themselves. In some cities, older kids put on Sam Browne belts and served as crossing guards -- it was considered good citizenship rather a paying job. Today, in Los Angeles, there seem to be half a dozen adults working as crossing guards at every elementary school and junior high in the city. Is this essential, or just something to make parents happier? I'm not a parent, so I won't guess.

Again, when I was young, at the end of the school day, the kids went home and within an hour or so the teachers and everyone else but the cleaners had gone as well. Today, the California schools stay open till 6 or 7 or so, basically to babysit the kids since there aren't any stay-at-home moms, and we can't trust school-aged children to fend for themselves till their parents get home. I understand Mark Perry is certain this is a scheme by empire-building school administrators. Memory, however, tells me it was proposed by Rob Reiner (ALL IN THE FAMILY's Meathead, turned social activist) and it's paid for by a buck-per-pack tax on cigarettes.

[more to come]

mike shupp

Another point: I'll bet Mark Perry went to school entirely surrounded by English speakers. I did. I suspect you did. The current LA school system has kids speaking 100 different primary languages, and no, anymore kids can't be sent home because they don't speak English -- law reguires that they get primary schooling in their native language. You think it's easy finding credentialled bi-lingual teachers in 100 languages? You think they work for free?

There are teachers aides all over the place. That didn't happen when I was in school either. Other hand, my public school experience was a tad less than "inclusive." We didn't have kids with Downs syndrome in our classes ("morons" stayed home in the good old days, and were tended by their mothers, as The Good Book prescribes). We didn't waste school money on kids with spinal bifida or other illnesses that kept them in bed, either. We didn't have 12 year old children protesting "I'm not a girl! I'm a boy! And I want doctors to operate and fix me!" If we'd had them we wouldn't have thought they were a responsibility of the schoools in any way -- they'd have been sent home for enough paddling to teach how to behave. And we didn't have kids with ADDS or hyperactive kids -- actually we probably had them, but no one saw it as a medical problem; teachers were supposed to treat their problem students with a whack on the back of the hand, or -- in worse cases -- by expulsion.

Also, back in those days, you could drop out of school after 8th grade. It had been 6th grade, but this changed about the time I got to first grade. Did I mention that in my day, kids didn't go to kindergarten? And no one in their right mind even dreamed of nursery schools.

Most schools when I was a kid did not have a school nurse as a regular thing. Most schools did not have official dieticians, and I can't recall ever being in one with more than one full time adult librarian. Schools didn't have guidance counselors as a rule -- we had two in my last high school, which graduated 400 kids a year, but I'd never met one before then. There certainly weren't social workers -- either for the kids or the kid's parents back then. Hell, except in stories, there weren't even truant officers.


[even more to come]

mike shupp


And the funny thing is, we didn't think we were getting Little-House-On-The-Prairie style schools. It looked pretty damned decent back then -- all the middle class teachers and the middle class students and the middle class parents just accepted this as just what the school system ought to be.

So all this splendour has been cruelly torn apart, cast down, trashed as if by fiends and demons and other enemies of mankind in the past five or six decades. Did it happen because the evil UNIONISTS in the NEA sat around with LBJ and Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton in the White House plotting for their share of federal spoils? Or because the way the USA operates changed over the years, and schools got carried along in the changes. In particular, a whole bunch of non-teachers decided that American schools should start teaching all American children without regard for the cost, and that schools should be the place where society chose to intervene in childrens' lives.

Figuratively, what you and I and Perry think of as "proper" for schools is a bunch of apples (no doubt destined for a teacher's desk). What we have now is oranges and bananas and kumquats, and they don't compare. Too bad. Maybe in a better world we'd have left the schools alone and dumped all these strange new responsibilities (and the costs) on juvenile courts or yet another federal bureaucracy. But we didn't, and now we're stuck, and the situation isn't apt to change because PARENTS WANT SCHOOLS TO OPERATE LIKE THIS.

My dad was a school teacher and administrator. It's possibly warped my judgement.

[this is really the end]

Dave Tufte

Certainly some of this could be to mollify parents.

Anyway, my point was targeted at Utah. I think if I went down to the Wal-Mart parking lot and asked people if they thought Utah was in the top or bottom half of that distribution, that almost all of them would get it wrong.

The self-image of Utah is that the state is politically conservative because it's socially conservative. The reality is that the politics aren't really conservative at all. We're just like Wisconsin only with old-fashioned morals.

mike shupp

Okay, I see your point. I just wanted to kick at Perry, after all, not you personally.

Thinking about this, in retrospect, it's not so surprising Utah is in the higher part of that distribution. The state's in the upper rank in terms of median incomes, the population is comparatively young, I suspect educational levels are also well above average, most of the population is clustered in reasonably urban settings. Yadda yadda yadda. Yes, your fellow citizens all profess their capital-C Conservatism, but on paper they do indeed fit the mold of red state liberals.

I agree, this ISN'T intuitively obvious.

mike shupp

Okay, I see your point. I just wanted to kick at Perry, after all, not you personally.

Thinking about this, in retrospect, it's not so surprising Utah is in the higher part of that distribution. The state's in the upper rank in terms of median incomes, the population is comparatively young, I suspect educational levels are also well above average, most of the population is clustered in reasonably urban settings. Yadda yadda yadda. Yes, your fellow citizens all profess their capital-C Conservatism, but on paper they do indeed fit the mold of red state liberals.

I agree, this ISN'T intuitively obvious.

David Tufte

Sorry I didn't get back to you right away. I've been blogging Cyprus a ton for my classes.

Perry? Rick Perry?

I didn't take anything you said personally. :) It seems like I wasn't clear enough.

Anyway ... it isn't obvious to people in Utah either (that their state is politically like Wisconsin). There's a whole lot of early 20th century progressivism in Utah, they're just in denial about it.

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