The Washington Examiner

I have three posts up already at the Washington Examiner’s Opinion Zone Blog.

First, I tackle the New Jersey teachers’ unions and their resistance to any and all reforms in public education in that state. I should note that I’m on the fence on a lot of these public education questions. While the unions (at least in places like Jersey) have way too much power, I can certainly understand their trepidation at many of the proposed reforms. That being said, I think opposing merit pay and coming up with an alternative collective pay for all teachers sort of misses the point.

Next, I urge conservatives to rethink taxes and the myth of supply-side economics. We need to raise taxes and cut spending to get our fiscal situation under control!  That’s what the first Bush did, and it worked!

And today I argued that we should cut defense spending, and that Alan Grayson’s new “The War is Making You Poor” bill is a good idea.

Thanks for reading!

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9 thoughts on “The Washington Examiner

  1. Public education is a bit like Old Regime France- everyone knows the system is failing; but “everyone” is part of one privileged order or another (and I mean teachers, administrators, students and parents alike) benefiting from the lousy system and its basement-level standards, while loudly demanding everyone else make concessions and be held accoutable.

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    • @Rufus F., the inherent problem with education is that while everything is supposed to benefit the students, they’re the only group that doesn’t take part in the constant logrolling and trade-offs. I can’t see any way to remedy this that isn’t stupid or doesn’t undermine the narrative for why we need all this education in the first place.

      As such I’m very skeptical of all the plans to “reform” education, even those that appeal to my libertarian sensibilities.

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  2. Erik, I’m curious about your thoughts on giving experienced teachers a pay differential to transfer into the most challenged schools in a district. Incentives for merit run into the inevitable “who measures the merit and how do they measure it” problem. Also, it will reward teachers in high performing schools that do not need help. Struggling schools would benefit from good teachers, good teachers are not afraid of challenges, and the main perk of seniority in a unionized district is typically the ability to pick first from available openings. In Nashville, new teachers are put into the worst schools and they transfer as soon as possible as they gain experience. Incentives to keep experienced teachers in struggling schools is, to me, an easier sell politically and directly addressed the problem – failing schools. Also, unlike merit pay, teachers already get differentials for all sorts of things – having an advanced degree, running extracurricular activities, so it is difficult to argue against.

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    • @Ian M., my main concern with it would be that experienced teachers do not necessarily equal good teachers. Some of the best teachers I had were young and enthusiastic ones or those that worked in private industry, struck it rich (we had an IPO at a chemical factory that made a lot of engineers rich and seriously bolstered the number of science teachers in my school district), and changed careers.

      That being said, there may be enough of a correlation that it might be worth trying.

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      • @Trumwill, Fair enough, but the “rewards for good teachers” ignores how to determine this by a metric everyone agrees actually works. Any mention of merit pay should include how merit is determined or the discussion becomes fantasy based. I would be willing to combine the two by giving merit pay to teachers who choose to work in the most troubled schools. I just think getting teachers and administrators to agree on what is a troubled school is easier than getting them to agree on what makes a good teacher.
        For the record, the best teachers I had were career teachers each with about 15 years of service by the time I got to them. I went to public school in a suburb of Detroit and most experienced teachers ended up in the burbs instead of Detroit. I found young teachers pretty mediocre, but there were certainly some ossified turds waiting for retirement.

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  3. The “myth” is that government will cut spending, or that raising taxes increases revenues. It’s true that just giving tax breaks as a gimmick doesn’t help, but doing away with capital gains taxes would increase revenues to government — however, if you don’t also cut stupid regulations, cut-out corporat welfare, and liberate the market, it won’t help that much. What we need is a free market with busineses allowed to keep and re-invest their profits. Signaling a business-friendly environment with stable rules would give businesses confidence to expand and hire, plus we’d be more competitive in the global market, which is what we need to be concerned about. Most statists can’t envision the revenues which would be generated from full employment and greatly increased consumer spending, plus they can’t bear to not be in control of the process.

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  4. Mike: “The “myth” is that government will cut spending, or that raising taxes increases revenues. ”

    Supply-side economics is a lie. Mike, if you’re going to play Mr. Libertarian, please read an econ book.

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