More Taxes for Skoolz?

Commentary

FEB. 7, 2012

By JOHN SEILER

I’m enjoying the tiff between Gov. Jerry Brown and the other tax-increase forces in the state, in particular activist lawyer Molly Munger and the California Teachers Association. As Dan Walters notes today, Brown’s $7 billion tax hike still wouldn’t prevent cuts to K-12 schools. Munger’s $10 billion would prevent the cuts.

Munger’s initiative would increase income taxes on everyone. That is, everyone who pays income taxes in the first place. About half of Californians don’t.

California already suffers the most regressive income tax in the country. The 9.3 percent current “top” rate digs in at about $55,000 of income. (Technically, there’s also a 1 percentage point additional insane tax on million-dollar incomes to fund state mental health programs.)

Munger’s tax increase would jump that middle-class tax rate up an average of 1 percentage point, for a total tax of 10.3 percent. I hope she qualifies the ballot measure and spends her entire fortune on promoting it. (Molly: Spend all your money on this. Do it for the children.)

There’s no way her tax will pass. And Brown’s tax increase will fail, too, as will the CTA’s tax increase.

Let’s put them all on the ballot. The teachers unions also should spend all their coffers trying to pass these tax increases. Indeed, they should borrow $100 million more to pass them. (Unions: Spend all your money on this. Do it for the children.)

People are starting to wake up to how crummy California’s schools really are. And pouring more money on them won’t improve anything.

Factory Schools

Some people even are realizing that the whole public school paradigm, of warehousing kids in buildings that resemble factories or even prisons, is something from the machine age of a century ago. You put raw materials (steel, plastic, children) into one end of the factory, and out of the other end off the assembly line rolls a “product” (a car, or a high-school graduate sufficiently indoctrinated).

Look at the picture at the top. It’s of Century High School in Santa Ana. And check out the aerial view at the right. It sure looks like a factory — or a prison. It’s sealed off from the surrounding neighborhood. The entrances and exits are closely controlled. It serves institutional food.

But this is the Internet Age, where everything is being dispersed into decentralized networks. As you read this, do you know where the data for CalWatchDog.com is comes from before it gets to your computer or smart phone or iPad? I sure don’t, even though I’m the managing editor. It could be in California, or another state, or another country, or all of them. The Internet is decentralized. “Packets” of information are shifted around depending on protocols that only the top nerds understand.

Now, consider the name of Munger’s tax-increase movement: “Our Children, Our Future.”

“Our” children? It’s like we’re in some 1930s Soviet collective, where everyone is making the same bolt for the same state-run factory.

No, they’re not “our” children, Molly. Children belong to their parents until the kids turn 18.

And by saying they’re “our” children, she’s still imposing the 1930s-style, top-down, factor/prison model of schooling.

What we need are decentralized, dispersed, networked schools — beginning with the ultimate decentralization, home schools.

Even the liberal Newsweek/Daily Beast magazine has figured this out. It writes, “When Tera and Eric Schreiber’s oldest child was about to start kindergarten, the couple toured the high-achieving public elementary school a block away from their home in an affluent Seattle neighborhood near the University of Washington. It was ‘a great neighborhood school,’ Tera says. They also applied to a private school, and Daisy was accepted. But in the end they chose a third path: no school at all.”

Yes! The best school is no school.

Doing Better

The article continues: “We think of homeschoolers as evangelicals or off-the-gridders who spend a lot of time at kitchen tables in the countryside. And it’s true that most homeschooling parents do so for moral or religious reasons. But education observers believe that is changing. You only have to go to a downtown Starbucks or art museum in the middle of a weekday to see that a once-unconventional choice ‘has become newly fashionable,’ says Mitchell Stevens, a Stanford professor who wrote Kingdom of Children, a history of homeschooling. There are an estimated 300,000 homeschooled children in America’s cities, many of them children of secular, highly educated professionals who always figured they’d send their kids to school—until they came to think, Hey, maybe we could do better.

“When Laurie Block Spigel, a homeschooling consultant, pulled her kids out of school in New York in the mid-1990s, ‘I had some of my closest friends and relatives telling me I was ruining my children’s lives.’ Now, she says, ‘the parents that I meet aren’t afraid to talk about it. They’re doing this proudly.’

“Many of these parents feel that city schools—or any schools—don’t provide the kind of education they want for their kids. Just as much, though, their choice to homeschool is a more extreme example of a larger modern parenting ethos: that children are individuals, each deserving a uniquely curated upbringing. That peer influence can be noxious. (Bullying is no longer seen as a harmless rite of passage.) That DIY—be it gardening, knitting, or raising chickens—is something educated urbanites should embrace. That we might create a sense of security in our kids by practicing ‘attachment parenting,’ an increasingly popular approach that involves round-the-clock physical contact with children and immediate responses to all their cues.

“Even many attachment adherents, though, may have trouble envisioning spending almost all their time with their kids—for 18 years! For Tera Schreiber, it was a natural transition. When you have kept your kids so close, literally—she breast-fed her youngest till Violet was 4—it can be a shock to send them away.

“Tera’s kids didn’t particularly enjoy day care or preschool. The Schreibers wanted a ‘gentler system’ for Daisy; she was a perfectionist who they thought might worry too much about measuring up. They knew homeschooling families in their neighborhood and envied their easygoing pace and flexibility—late bedtimes, vacations when everyone else is at school or work. Above all, they wanted to preserve, for as long as possible, a certain approach to family.”

Imagine that: tailoring schooling to meet each kid’s unique needs.

Deschooling and Decentralization

Let’s return to our computer analogy. I’ll bet you $10,000 that my computer “desktop” looks different from yours. I’ve tailored my desktop to my needs. You’ve tailored your desktop to your needs. There’s no “one size fits all.”

Then why do we impose a “one size fits all” mold on students in school? Why must they conform?

More people are realizing this. When voters reject whatever tax increases make it to the November ballot, school budgets will have to be cut even more. Ultimately, the budgets should be cut to zero.

Let’s free the parents to teach their children as they see fit. Let’s free the children to learn and live.

 

 

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  1. Rex The Wonder Dog!
    Rex The Wonder Dog! 7 February, 2012, 10:17

    The tax increases are going to fail, big-time. We saw it 2 years ago, we saw it in San Diego, we will see it again because the word is out of 1-10 million dollar public pensions at age 50-55, and the public is simply not going to get fooled anymore. San Diego’s sales tax lost by a 3-1 margin, 4-1 if you take out the trough feeders. The Arnold tax hikes failed by a 2-1 margin and I am sure it will fail by a larger margin this time around.

    I agree with John Seiler, bring the tax measures on, they will go down in flames and I welcome them with open arms. no amount of money is going to change that fact-let the public unions pour hundreds of millions into the jig, it will still fail. This is going to be the Prop. 13 for public employee compensation deal maker.

    Reply this comment
  2. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 7 February, 2012, 12:33

    I only wish I were as confident that Clownboy’s tax sham will get slapped down. At this point in time I’m not sure. Perosnally I don’t trust the California voters. Look, in 2010 the voters reelected all the same incumbent hacks who drove the state right off the cliff. It makes no sense. The polls say that the Ca citizens have given the state legislature a 10%-16% approval rating. Yet the same old slackjawed losers get voted back into office by hefty margins. Either 1) the polls are completely wrong 2) the elections are rigged 3) the voters are nuts.

    Clownboy is slicker than dogcrap. He saw what happened to Props 1a-1e in May 2009. He won’t repeat that mistake. He’s turned his tax hike proposal into a ‘class warfare’ vote. The rich vs. the poor. I saw him interviewed on TV by Brokaw the other day. He didn’t even mention his half-cent sales tax hike. But he railed on and on about how the rich weren’t paying their fair share. I hope the public is smart enough to see through his manipulation.

    The problem is that the sleazy pols made salary and pension promises to the unions that they can’t possibly keep without extracting more money from you in form of higher taxes. The general public didn’t vote to give teachers, cops and firefighters $200,000 compensations with $100,000 pensions @ 55. We were basically extorted into it.

    Reply this comment
  3. Roy
    Roy 7 February, 2012, 13:32

    I teach at a charter school and believe me, it would pain me to see some of my students being taught by there parents. I am constantly getting calls from parents asking me how to do elementary school math. Charter schools is a more realistic approach to the education woes I see day to day in Oakland than home schooling. We spend 9 hours with the students and with our small size in no way do we look like a factory.

    Reply this comment
  4. Concerned Tax Payer
    Concerned Tax Payer 7 February, 2012, 15:41

    The main reason why Government would be loathe to allow such mass homeschooling would be lack of indoctrination perpetuation. As more parents wake up to the idea that home schooling K-8 / K-12 is a good idea, the young population will start to think critically and without specific biases and slants promoted in the public school system. This will surely bring about action by the Government. Hopefully, it will be an action that is recognizable by parents that is telling of which way education will evolve (positive/negative) from that point on.

    IF change were to happen for the benefit of the pupils in our education system today, so that they were being taught effectively and truthfully, funding said system would not be so bad. At that point it would make more sense to de-fund the many regulatory committees and organizations of the state that clamp down on our livelihoods and pocketbooks now. Transfer some of that money over to education to keep it alive (reduce cuts, not increase), but due diligence on the part of the educators would be required.

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  5. David H
    David H 7 February, 2012, 16:34

    Jerry the Jesuit will do all he can to educate you children. “Let me teach a child until he is twelve years old,” say the Catholics, “and he will always remain a Catholic.” The Jesuit teaching methods are characterized as follows: The memory is cultivated as means of keeping down free activity of thought and clearness of judgement. In place of self-government “their method of discipline was a system of mutual distrust, espionage, and informing. Implicit obedience relieved the pupils from all responsibility as to the moral justification of their deeds.” (Rosencranz p.270) “The Jesuits made much of emulation. He who knows how to excite emulation has found the most powerful auxiliary in his teaching. Nothing will be more honorable than to outstrip a fellow student, and nothing more dishonorable than to be outstripped. Prizes will be distributed to the best pupils with the greatest solemnity….It sough showy results with which to dazzle the world: a well-rounded development was nothing…The Jesuits did not aim at developing all the faculties of their pupils, but merely the receptive and reproductive faculties. When a student “could make a brilliant display from the resources of a well-stored memory, he had reached the highest point to which the Jesuits sought to lead him. originality and independence of mind, love of truth for its own sake, the power of reflecting and forming correct judgments were not merely neglected, they were suppressed in the Jesuit system.” (Painter pp.172-173)

    The failure to break away from the Papal system of educational methods is plainly manifesting itself in our government, and especially noticeable in such tendencies toward centralization as the corporation, monopolies, and unions.

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  6. queeg
    queeg 8 February, 2012, 08:35

    Bend over….they will OCCUPY your moth filled wallets!!!

    Reply this comment

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