Quote Of The Day

“I find it maddening how many upper middle class parents energetically “support public education” against the depredations of vouchers and other reforms, while moving their own children into better school districts or better programs.  Especially parents in Manhattan and a few areas of Brooklyn who proudly note that their experience shows how great public education is, while failing to note that their schools work because these comparatively affluent parents with a great deal of social and political capital fight like hell to divert as many resources as possible–including the best teachers–into a handful of schools in affluent areas.” — Megan McArdle

6 Responses to “Quote Of The Day”


  • I suppose these people recognize major problems with our public education system, but at the same time think privatization would do more harm than good.

    We’ve got a lot of for profit universities these days. DeVry, University of Phoenix. They spend more money on advertising than education. They’re really good at securing student loans. Student loans by the way are the most sticky loans available. You can’t just declare bankruptcy and get out from under them. Death is your only option. So these people graduate with an absolute mountain of debt. What’s the quality level? Not too great as I understand it. Employers aren’t too impressed.

    So privatization has it’s own set of problems.

  • Hey Jon,

    You bring up a separate point. This would be primary education – which is free. In other words, there would be no “student loan” debt to worry about.

    But since you bring up student loan debt regarding Universities, I wonder what you think of this post I wrote a few months back. It directly addresses the “problems” you claim.

    Also, economist Matthew Rognlie looked (see here) at the actual student loan debt default numbers and concluded that for-profit Universities are probably doing the same as non-profit, or maybe even better.

    Your thoughts?

  • Just another example of liberal hypocrisy.

  • Rognlie says the for profits are doing the same or better? I didn’t see that at the link you provided. He said we need to consider that people at for profit college have different backgrounds. OK. We should consider it. When we do, what will it show? Who knows? Somebody needs to do the work, and according to Rognlie it hasn’t been done. So we don’t know.

    Same with your link. You can’t just offer a plausible explanation and then pretend this proves that for profit is just as good. You have to do something to show it.

    My claim was that the quality was not as good and they spend more on advertising than instruction. That’s based on a Frontline program I saw. So my claim is only as good as that source. They interviewed students and made it appear that the instruction was really sub-standard. Like the nursing students had far less exposure to real hospital conditions. Kind of like a diploma mill.

    Of course being for profit this is not surprising. You talk up the product like a used car salesman and get as much money as possible. Lot’s of hard sells going on. That sort of thing. But I don’t know a whole lot about it. I just saw Frontline. But my point is a reasonable person might draw that conclusion and then conclude that privatization of K-12 school is not for the best.

  • Most of those who are for vouchers, or for-profit universities, are not arguing for a school system with no standards. In fact, I would want the same national exams to be taken at private, public, and for-profit schools. That’s the way it is, and that’s the way it should be.

    Are there kids at for-profits who didn’t learn much? Sure. But the same can be said of public universities (again, we need that control group!). Keep in mind that these for-profit Universities depend on their reputation, which is largely tied to how much the students learned and perform, to keep the school running. Companies are not forced to hire from these for-profit Universities – they choose to. And if these schools keep pumping out sub-par students, the companies will stop hiring. The schools will lose students and eventually close down. So there is a check here. And atleast for-profits don’t have wasteful majors like ethnic studies programs.

    McArdle’s point though is more subtle: she is arguing that these upper middle class people who praise the public school system, yet intentionally move to pricey neighborhoods with great schools and push their kids into gifted programs, are not really experiencing the “public school system”. What they have, is a de facto voucher – just run through the public schools. In other words, their “public schools” have to compete with other schools, have to “earn” the right to educate their kids.

    The real public school system is in the inner cities. Where there is no competition. Where the only choice the parents have are the public schools – and the public schools know it. It’s there that you see what the “public school” system is really like…and its precisely those people voucher proponents have in mind.

    In short, they want to be like the upper middle class families too, and be able to send their kids to the schools of their choice.

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