Friday, October 1, 2010

Re: Why They're Leaving

A few readers think I overstated the problems with public schools in a couple of posts I did this past week (See here and here). Many more readers, though, shared experiences that confirmed my fears that taxpayer subsidized schools are on a downward trajectory that's going to result in an increasing number of students looking for alternative educational opportunities. I don't think the numbers of such students will be high in affluent districts, of course, but I do think they'll be significant in predominately middle and lower class communities.

Here's another story of one family's personal travail with school administrators who seem from this account to be about as obtuse and bereft of common sense as anyone could possibly be:
I grew up in a small public school (I graduated with 75 students). Although my high school education was better than most, with teachers that required college level work and advanced classes, it still wasn't the "ideal" environment. My school had a zero tolerance fighting policy. One would think that to be a good thing, but not when it is taken to the extreme.
When I was in ninth grade a girl tried to start a fight with me after school. I walked away, so she grabbed my hair. She threw me to the ground and proceeded to kick and punch me. I have Spina Bifida, and was always weaker than the other kids growing up. My father always told me not to just stand there and take it, but to fight back. I hit that girl hard enough that day that she let go of me, and I got up and walked away.
The next day I was called to the principle's office. He let me off reluctantly with an administrative detention. The other girl received the same punishment. My father fought this, but was simply told that there was no tolerance for any fighting. When he wanted to see the video from the hallway camera, the administration was forced to admit that the cameras were just there to "scare students," not to actually record anything.
Last year my younger brother was also involved in a "fight" during his senior year. He didn't fight back, but let the kid punch him repeatedly while walking down the hall (which I'm sure was quite humorous as my brother is 6'2" and 250 pounds).
One of the teachers saw this and reported it to the principle. My brother and the other student involved received 3 days in-school suspension. When my father approached the principle this time, he was told the same thing, "no tolerance." The teacher involved apologized to my brother for reporting the incident. She also approached the administration asking why he was being punished for nothing. In anger, she asked if a student just stood in front of their locker while someone punched them, would they still be punished. The answer was yes.
So what lesson did these administrators and their ridiculous "no tolerance" policy teach students? It's this: If you're the innocent victim of an assault you're just as guilty as the aggressor. I wonder if this "logic" would be extended to female students who were victims of sexual assault? Would the administrators give them the same punishment as their assailants received?

When I think of the perverse concept of justice that this school is teaching it's students I have to wonder how people with advanced degrees could be so dull-witted.

Good Trade

Have you wondered why Democrats are not campaigning on the one accomplishment that they can boast of having achieved since they've been in power, i.e. passage of health care reform? Maybe their reticence is due to their awareness of how unpopular that legislation is with voters. The reason it's unpopular, of course, is that according to every study I've seen it'll result in higher costs to consumers and reduced access to care. One way the "reform" will reduce our access to quality health care is by exacerbating the impending shortage of physicians. Reuters has a report on a recent study that shows this dispiriting outcome to be hovering in the near distance:
The U.S. healthcare reform law will worsen a shortage of physicians as millions of newly insured patients seek care, the Association of American Medical Colleges said on Thursday. The group's Center for Workforce Studies released new estimates that showed shortages would be 50 percent worse in 2015 than forecast.
"While previous projections showed a baseline shortage of 39,600 doctors in 2015, current estimates bring that number closer to 63,000, with a worsening of shortages through 2025," the group said in a statement.
"The United States already was struggling with a critical physician shortage and the problem will only be exacerbated as 32 million Americans acquire health care coverage, and an additional 36 million people enter Medicare."
Doctors will be caught in a squeeze between caps on what they can charge their patients and the increasing cost of their own education. When medicine is no longer as profitable as it used to be fewer people will be attracted to the field. This is simple common sense, but it's apparently arcane enough to have eluded the grasp of the Democrats who voted for the bill.

We can console ourselves, though, with the realization that many more Americans will have medical coverage. They may not be able to find a doctor, but they'll have coverage. That probably seemed to the Democrats who passed this legislation like a good trade.