Originally Posted by SpamSandwich
I admire you, Midwinter. You don't give up. That attitude is what the people we are allegedly talking about need most.
Looks like I'm in the right profession, then.
Reply 1) Throwing money at a problem tends to create more government bureaucracy attempting to control (and distribute, and quite frankly, siphon off) that money. Look at what happened to the Katrina families. Hundreds of millions seemingly evaporated. That was completely predictable. It's a fact that money in the hands of government encourages graft and corruption, and it rewards incompetence.
Throwing money at the military works. And yes, the failures of FEMA after Katrina were predictable because many of them were just stupid. But it always amuses me when people always say that throwing money at education won't solve anything, and yet we throw immense amounts of money at other national endeavors and no one seems to mind. Good lord, what's Iraq costing us? A billion a week? The simple fact of the matter is that we don't fund education worth a damn, and states like MS fund it so poorly that they deserve to be mocked by every human being in America. Teachers need to be paid more. Schools don't have enough supplies. Buildings are in horrible disrepair. Textbooks are old. Libraries are horrible.
One would hope that groups like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will help, but the problem, frankly, is so large in scope that whatever software they donate would be a drop in the bucket.
Reply 2) I like this idea under the current system, although as a rule I am against public education. The private sector would be far more effective in educating and training kids, identifying troubled kids for special attention and being responsible for meeting goals or losing students to more effective schools.
So far, the private sector has failed miserably at this, so far as I can tell. Certainly, private (i.e. non-corporate) schools are different. But their success is largely a function of endowment. Princeton, for instance, has I believe the largest endowment in the nation, which means it can recruit the best faculty (pay), build the best library, and on and on. They cultivated an upper-class studentry (a university can, really, just buy
better students; this happened at Rampoa in NJ) who after graduation made lots of money and donated it back to the University. Wealth begets wealth.
In other words, someone threw money at the problem and got one of the best schools in the world.
Meanwhile, Jackson State University, an historically black college in MS, is in rough shape (although its campus is gorgeous).
I wrestle with the idea of vouchers (and find I tend to favor it) since poorer parents could then send their kids to the best schools.
I do not like vouchers because parvenu rednecks in MS will pull their kids out of schools with a lot of black students (MS's black population is about 35%...more than twice the national average). Sure, there are arguments to be made about vouchers, but the fact of the matter is that, like in Israel, folks need to live and work and go to school and play together. The state is already segregated enough; vouchers would make it worse.
Everyone tends to benefit from an educated population. How this would work with illegal immigrants, I have no answer to that yet.
A rising tide lifts all boats. A better educated population kills so many birds that I can't imagine counting them.
Reply 3) I am 100% in favor of privately funded arts and education centers. Great idea, as long as there is no coercion involved for these MS "rich people". (I just updated this response, I thought you were talking about Microsoft)...
Usually, I'm thinking in terms of tax breaks. But rich folks also tend to want a legacybuildings named after them, scholarships, you name it.
Reply 5) Not sure what upward bound is... is it anything like Outward Bound?
is about preparing at-risk kids for college. Here at my university, for instance, we start in the 9th grade (which is where we lose a massive chunk of our Hispanic/Latino population). About 50 kids from the area get identified by teachers as smart but at-risk of dropping out or not going on to college. Through a federal grant (TRIO, I believe), those kids come to campus every Saturday for 4 years. They get math, science, language, and arts training. When they graduate from high school (and this is the part I'm working on right now), they enter a bridge program where we bring them to campus for the summer, let them live in the dorms (with some supervision) and take two general education summer classes as a cohort. By the end of the summer, they've got some gen ed credits, they know their way around campus, they have a group of friends, and they know some faculty. I'm currently involved in revamping two parts of this: the classes they take and how soon we get at them. I'm setting the stage for a Political Scientist friend to start working with them in the 7th grade. This is all completely free for the kids.
Reply 9) I have no idea who Shelby Thames is. Sorry. Someone in Mississippi perhaps? I'm thinking more country-wide.
Shelby Thames is the current President of my alma mater. He is regarded by people like me in much the same way that Bill Clinton was regarded by Republicans in the 90s. He is the bane of my existence, and I would just as soon suit his sorry ass up in desert fatigues and send him to Iraq as look at him. I will donate no money to my alma mater until he is gone (I have told them this). He has destroyed the department that awarded me my degree and has directly led to the ousting of three of the strongest faculty they had.
get me started on that.
So anyway. To sum up: much of what we do is half-assed or idiotic or woefully inadequate, and so of course we fail. We can do better than this, and it is in our best interests to do so. Quickly.
But the changes I'm outlining here would be generational in nature. This problem is systemic, and no bumper-sticker campaign or short-lived politicking will fix it.