Thursday, March 22, 2007

Kids' Rights

Jane Galt has a spirited post about education, which has generated 130 comments. It's all worth looking through. Here are the two key passages of the post itself:
Disadvantaged kids can be taught to read, write, and perform basic mathematical operations, and they can be taught to behave if their parents have neglected that task. In our system, however, any school that manages to do so achieves this feat only through heroic efforts to overcome the institutional barriers put in the way. For various reasons, this is not happening. I have a novel approach to solving this problem: I propose we . . . pay schools on the basis of their ability to educate these children. I plan to call this system something nifty and new-economy, like . . . a market. That has an edgy, new-millennial kind of feel, doesn't it?


Then there's the taxation is theft crowd. I'm sorry if my nom de blog fooled you, but I'm not that sort of libertarian. Children are a perennial problem for libertarians, but what it boils down to is this: children (and to my mind, the severely disabled), have positive rights. They have a right to be fed, educated, clothed, sheltered, and given medical care on someone else's dime. And if their parents abdicate this responsibility, then it passes onto the community, including the state, even if none of us asked said parent to reproduce. So arguing that educating poor children is immoral . . . well, I hardly know what to say, except remind me not to get into a lifeboat with you.


Blogger Mrs. White said...

As an educator of students who are both very very wealthy and very very poor, I can definitely see the correlation between socio-economic status and academic success in school. To put it simply, wealthy kids tend to be better students. They often come from homes where mom doesn't work and can afford the time to be involved in the school and the community, and if the kid is struggling he can afford real tutors instead of the volunteer high school tutors that the poor kids can get for free. (That is, if he can go to after school tutoring at all because to go would mean he will miss his bus and mom and dad both work and can't come and get him.)

But as for the connection between SES and behavior - I'm conflicted. Sure, I have plenty of disadvantaged kids who struggle with appropriate behavior, but I have quite a few advantaged kids who have the same struggles. When I meet their parents at conferences (or talk to them on the phone because they didn't bother to come to conferences when they needed to) I get a very interesting insight into why their kid is they way he is. For better or worse, richer or poorer, they are often teenaged versions of their parents.

I guess my point, such as it is, is anyone can be an ass regardless of how much money they have, and there are plenty of asses out there.

11:02 AM  

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