Friday, August 15, 2008

Inconvenient truths?

Paul Soglin is upset with right wingers for blaming poor educational results in MPS on the "parents." He implies that the argument is racially based and complains that it admits of no solution by which he means that it does not readily suggest an intervention by the government - something that all social problems apparently require.

But what if they're right? Soglin doesn't like the aesthetics or implications of the argument, but what if it turns out to be true? When I talk to friends and family members who are education scholars or who work at MPS (not many of whom are conservatives), I am unfailingly depressed. The reason is that two things seem almost certainly to be true. First, there is the weight of the evidence does not provide much hope for the idea that additional research will result in better results. Second, we probably can't expect urban school districts like MPS to do much better without changing the family environments of a large proportion of the students. Indeed, it seems, much of the additional resources that urban districts call for seem to be needed so the school can do for a child what her family has not.
The problem is that government does a lousy imitation of a family. It may take a village to raise a child - I think it does - but the state is not the village.

There is, it seems to me, a reason that communities that do not have a history of dysfunctional families are marred by them today. It doesn't seem to be a simple function of racism and poverty and the absence of social programs because the degree of dysfunction has increased as both have decreased. Is it our increased laxity regarding sex and marriage? Is it the abandonment of poor neighborhoods by the black middle class?

The point seems to me that this stuff is important and it doesn't help to exclude certain perspectives because they are deemed racially insensitive or to assume that the measure of policy is involvement by the state combined with good intentions.

On a related point, Paul, in complaining about the parks in Madison, asserts that the size of state and local governments has not kept up with inflation. Is that true? It's not true nationally, is Wisconsin an exception. Do we have trouble maintaining the parks in Milwaukee County because conservatives have starved government or has government starved itself with unaffordable benefit packages that have devoted enormous resources to people who no longer work for it?


Anonymous said...

While on the topic of the effective allocation of resources, let's not forget about the $500,000 that MPS has now been ordered to pay in attorneys fees to Disability Rights Wisconsin for MPS' failure to supply adequate special education services.

Does anyone know where I could get a copy of MPS' receipts to see just where the hell that 1.2 billion dollar budget is going?

I'm reminded of an interview with Michal Bonds, the chair of the finance committee, who said that there is still a lot of unproductive spending in MPS and that cuts could be made that would leave students unharmed by a tighter budget.

Dad29 said...

Soglin creates an insoluble problem.

If it's not parents and not teachers/administrators, then what IS it with the chilluns?

The chilluns themselves. And Soglin's not going to like that, either.

Anonymous said...

Education and learning are not as important as 'keeping it real.' It's just as simple as that.

Anonymous said...

Gentlemen, the time has come for you to understand liberals like Soglin.
Soglin will never ever realize that liberalism has caused the problems that he tries so hard to deflect. He cannot, because he is a Marxist. His nearly religious fervor and belief in Marxism, allows no room for logic and reason.
Soglin, much like Joel McNally, is stuck in a "hippy" time warp, a time warp in which Soglin mattered, and McNally mattered!
The "good old days", when bitching about "Nam", and "the man" was part of lifes pageantry. Where smoking "rope" and "free love" had no consequences. It was a time, where children could pretend to be adults, and protesting for the sake of protesting was groovey!
Soglin is a "post modern hippy". Soglin was a real life hippy who never grew out of it. McNally is the same. Our current batch of wannabee free love hippies pretend not to notice these freaks, and their cool cool hair styles and their out dated protestations.
Raise your children with patriotism and values, and with a faith in God. Don't let your children grow up to be value-less commie douche bags like Soglin.

Anonymous said...

MPS is an obvious problem but anyone watching can see the same thing is growing in the suburban schools.

There are a lot of gluttonous moms and dads that attend valueless churches or none at all and think there little brats can have anything and disrespect anyone they want.

The values of this country are degenerating at a rapid pace and all we have to do is look in the mirror to see why.

Anonymous said...

Ignore Soglin. He's not relevant outside of Dane County.

We send our son to a Catholic high school. It's a much stronger school culture than the government schools offer, but I don't know that the curricula are much different. I tell the boy to go on and learn what he can there, but to also learn to barter, shoot a rifle, and grow his own food. Those three skills will keep him alive when the collapse comes.

Anonymous said...

As a life long Madison resident, I observed that Soglin moved to the center wrt to dealing with the business community and crime problems during his tenure as mayor.

After an extended absence on the political scene during which Progressive Dane rose to power, Soglin lost a mayoral election because he was painted by PD as not being left enough!

I think he's been going over the top trying to re-establish his lefty creds ever since (mission accomplished there).

His blog masthead is a reflection of himself. He's the "Democrat who play[ed] along.." and then lost in uber-leftist Madison.