I’m Just Not Impressed

Am I supposed to be?

Where the Schoolhouse Ends.

with one comment

Plans to blog the debate last night were derailed – apologies to anyone who stopped by for live action coverage.

There were three things that stood out at me last night.  The first was that while McCain clearly had some massive coaching from his staff on actually trying to show a modicum of respect to Obama, he really didn’t succeed.  It wasn’t a bad performance – he was definitely smoother than he’s been before, but I actually came away from this one feeling strongly not so much that Obama had won, but that McCain had lost.
His “WA WA my feelings are hurt because you didn’t denounce Lewis as a reverse racist for daring to call Sarah and I out on the fact that we are tacitly encouraging racism and xenophobia, even as we pretend we are against it” was laughable.  Seriously Senator – if you have called out everything you thought was inappropriate about your campaign, then you’re fine with your running mate implying Obama is a terrorist. Good to know.

Second, I thought that it was telling that McCain was criticizing Obama for class warfare, when he evidently doesn’t believe that it is possible that a plumber (named Joe or otherwise) could possibly make $250,000 or more a year. McCain kept harping on the idea that this plumber (read, uneducated, blue collar laborer) would have his taxes raised under Obama’s plan – never addressing his actual income, and implying that gee, if a plumber will have his taxes raised, then what might happen to you, nurse, or you teacher, or you tradesman. How fucking offensive that evidently McCain doesn’t believe – and doesn’t want the American people to believe – that a plumber might be able to make as much as a lawyer or a banker or a politician. If a plumber makes more than the east coast liberal elite, then his whole narrative is blown to bits.

My big issue with the debate – the one that really stuck with me and made me both laugh and want to throw things at the tv was McCain’s education proposal.  McCain, the man whose convention was all about “small town values” and small towns being real America and city dwellers being over-educated elitists, used Washington, DC, New York City and New Orleans as his education examples.  He referred repeatedly to wanting to give every American the sort of choice that the Obamas and the McCains have in terms of where to send their suburban dwelling children.  However, having “school choice” presumes that there are multiple schools to choose from.  So, in an urban area with multiple public schools at a given grade level in the same district and a bumper crop of private and perochial schools to choose from, school choice – be it charters, vouchers, open attendance systems can work.

But what about those “real Americans” in medium and small towns and rural areas?   Just because a school is surrounded by corn fields and small town values, it doesn’t mean that property values and taxes are high enough to maintain high quality schools across the board.  What choice is there but to go to an underfunded consolidated school, if the only other options are 30 miles away and not much better?  I sure didn’t have a whole lot of school choice when I was in high school – it was the cash-starved public school, the Catholic school, the Baptist school or the university lab school (which tended to wildly occilate in quality every few years).  And that was a lot of choice compared to elsewhere in farm country. Poor kids, kids with parents who don’t give a shit about their education, kids who graduate without knowing how to read, kids who need ESOL programs are not limited to urban areas. 

Vouchers do jack for these kids; or for the thousands of kids who don’t win the voucher/charter lottery.  Playing checkers with kids’ education and moving them around the board doesn’t change the fact that the board is warped to begin with.

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Written by emandink

October 16, 2008 at 4:01 pm

One Response

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  1. Ooh, great point about rural schools. I have a bad habit of forgetting, when thinking about education policy, that most students don’t go to school in urban districts. I also forget that not all of them have engaged parents, internet access at home, or, you know, homes.

    Anyway.

    Ann

    October 23, 2008 at 9:06 pm


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