Thursday, April 10, 2008

RUSD and Slavery

The Racine Unified School Board is asking for your help in choosing the next superintendent of schools.

Isn't this a bit like asking a slave what crops to plant?

The important consideration for RUSD parents and slaves alike is freedom to make real choices, like whether to attend a private school or to leave the plantation. But both masters deny the only choice that matters.


Michael Gibson said...

How is RUSD stopping people from attending private schools?

Denis Navratil said...

Good question Michael. Some people, like myself, can afford to pay once for RUSD and then again to send their children to a school of their choice. Others, because of a limited income, have no choice but to send their children to a public school. Now if the people who claim to have an interest in education were to embrace the idea that children would be better off if their parents could use the $13,000 or so presently and supposedly spent on their behalf to send their child to the school of their choice, I would not have made the point that I made. So RUSD is preventing the poor from attending private schools by ensuring that all education dollars are spent ONLY at public schools.

Conscious Thought said...

Good question Micheal Gibson, you'll find out that when challenged by "detractors" like you and i, the Free Racine conservative set will resort to calling you names, preaching to you about principles, principles that they have a hard time administering to themselves.

This is another classic case of what i like to call selective accountability. The anti-RUSD crowd loves to loath on the issues of the public schools failing to educate a small portion of its students. However, this aggressive tone disappears altogether when these same failures that exist in private schools fail to receive acknowledgment from the anti-RUSD crowd.

They will also side step the truth in their suppressive acknowledgment that private schools, do indeed receive public funding to provide equally poor education to these same type of students.

Let the name calling begin....

Denis Navratil said...

Hey Conscious, is calling someone a name caller a form of name calling?

Michael Gibson said...

A private school wouldn't be a private school if it were funded by taxes. Private schools charge a tuition for that reason. However, public schools do need money to operate, and, whether you would like to believe it or not, they have far less money to put to use than private schools. Prairie has 11 varsity sports programs. Walden has 0. We're lucky that we have a gym. We have desks, tables, chairs, and even computers that were hand-me-downs from other schools. Most for our textbooks are at least 10 years old. And you suggest that giving private schools taxpayer money will help us?

If you don't want to vote in the upcoming election for superintendent, then don't, but there is no need to discourage others from doing so.

Anonymous said...

RUSD does not prevent any parent from sending their kids to a school of their choice. You made the choice to send your child to another school. There is no need to whine about not getting a handout to reimburse you for your decision

Conscious Thought said...

Micheal, I am not suggesting we use tax payer money to fund private schools, but others do subscribe to that notion, so much so that the notion has become a reality and is already in practice in schools all over the country and is an increasingly growing trend. I'm of the mindset that public funds should be available to public schools.

So now, not only are public school districts competing with each other, they're now competing with private schools that have deep pockets and large donor bases. The poorest of public school districts sometimes compete with the richest of private schools.

Its easy to see who wins in these scenarios.

Anonymous said...

What a typical response.

You either have public education offered to the nations children, or you don't.

People like Navratil want both socialism and capitalism, when it behooves and serves him.

How about free college education for ever American? Because THAT is where the statistics show where real lives are changed for better incomes in peoples lives?

Anonymous said...

This post by the blogger is an object lesson in selective democracy of the right - democracy for them. The logic they hold to is no logic at all, but self referential rhetoric.

"The right wants what they want when they want it."

Anonymous said...

So RUSD is preventing the poor from attending private schools...

Is THIS rich!

A righty talking about abuse of the poor!

Who hoo! What a hoot!

Anonymous said...

All of your hooting doesn't negate the the thought that our public education system may be better off with more choice.

Anonymous said...

"This is another classic case of what i like to call selective accountability. The anti-RUSD crowd loves to loath on the issues of the public schools failing to educate a small portion of its students."

When less then 60% of Blacks graduate
from Hight School that is a small number? Or do not black kids count?


Denis Navratil said...

Michael, allowing parents to use vouchers to attend a private school would not make that school public. Piggly Wiggly is not a public grocery store because they accept food stamps.

Regarding whether private schools or public schools have more money, I am reminded of the saying that goes something like, "you are entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts." Spending at Unified, at about $13,000 per student, is far more than just about any private school in Racine County. Prairie spends a bit more than that but their tuition is less than $13,000.

I would suggest Michael that you not ignore this inconvenient truth and begin to ask where the $13,000 is going and why it is that there is no money left for educational items like textbooks.

Conscious Thought said...

Prairie has 1 multi-million dollar school to operate, RUSD has 31 multi-million dollar schools to operate, within these 31 schools, over 21,000 students. Show me a private school in Racine that has 21,000 students. Also, if you're handicapped, disabled, or have a learning impediment, private schools slam the door in your face without hesitation.

Anon, since RUSD high school graduation rates at each high school is over 70%, accelerated programming at each site, vocational training at Park, the schools have a myraid of options for students to better themselves. The 60% of students who fail simply don't value education, not because of the schools. That's a lame duck excuse. In addition, their are over 300 youth programs in the city of Racine, all of which help youth to become productive adults.

Who's fault is it that these failing students don't take advantage of the opportunities that exist in Racine and at their schools?

Denis Navratil said...

Conscious, you seem to be suggesting that it is easier to manage 1 school than it is to manage 31. I agree with you and would add that this is a good argument for breaking up RUSD into manageable entities. Vouchers would only help make RUSD smaller and more manageable.

Also, while it is true that handicapped children are more expensive, it is not demonstrably true that private schools would not take them, especially if voucher amounts reflected the additional costs to educate.

And finally conscious, you blame the students for failing and not graduating. Fine. What harm would there be to allow those students an opportunity to attend a private school? Wouldn't this be good riddance for RUSD? What are you and RUSD afraid of? Could it be that you worry that some kids that RUSD couldn't reach might achieve at a private school?

This might just show up RUSD and undermine their propaganda. Oh well, some kids just need to be sacraficed for political reasons. That's life.

Pariah Jeep said...

THIS thread is a real stitch!

Some definitions:

"Righty" - pays much of the bill for the schools and is allowed little if any input as to how the schools run

"Detractor" - pays little but has much to say; has many ears at
the schools because they help legitimize more money grabs

"Those with principles, etc" - pay nothing but are "disenfranchised" and "oppressed". They also think that learning about rights is less served by actually studying the Constitution than it is to protest the lack of funding for some pre-pubescent lesbian bike ride somewhere.

Anonymous said...

Some would say that there are significant economies of scale & synergies that can be gained with 31 entities vs 1. Resulting in lower expenses??

Pariah Jeep said...

Absolutely! But if as much as possible is kept separate we need duplication in each school, causing need-based job security.

Anonymous said...

I know several teachers whom have just switched to RUSD schools after collectively teaching 100+ years in Catholic schools...and in poor areas of Racine at that. You know what they see? That well off white kids in Racine always got better education that the poor and minority, because of inherent class and poverty issues that exist in this here white United States. Kids are kids...and they will all get a good education when the evil issues of racism, classism, and wealthism are gone.

Until them, these teachers teach; and they teach VERY well. It is not RUSD fault the United States economically divided society is like the third world.

Anonymous said...

Some definitions:

"Righty" - pays much of the bill for the schools and is allowed little if any input as to how the schools run

Watch this are wrong...

This Week on NOW: Taxing the Poor

Are rich Americans actually paying a smaller percentage of taxes than the poor? NOW examines how some state policies to generate revenue come at a bigger price for low income households than for wealthier ones. In a very revealing report, NOW documents the personal impact of regressive tax policies on three very different families in Alabama.

State-by-State: Income Inequality
Find out where your state ranks in terms of the income inequality between rich and poor, and get more local statistics.

common sense said...

Some random thoughts:

RUSD enrollment is down about 20% over the last 25 years or so.

We have limited school choice in Racine now: one unaffiliated private school and a multitude of religious private schools, public charter and magnet schools, open enrollment, and home schooling. If all these families are choosing their school, what exactly is wrong with making it possible for others to do so? (BTW, the Prairie vs. RUSD discussion ignores a whole bunch of other school alternatives).

Note that in post-secondary education public and private institutions compete with each other and both survive.

Given the favorable reputation Walden has garnered over the years I suspect it may flourish in a voucher system.

When it comes to education everybody is an expert because everyone attended school - even though no one was really paying attention to school operations and management when they were there; and everyone is emotional about it because 1)it involves kids and 2)we all pay for it. Consequently we argue emotionally and from ignorance, usually only tinkering on education's margins, usually beating each other up over things that won't make that much of a difference.

The voucher idea has merit and shows promise to be a progressive solution that provides greater than marginal improvement. It strikes me that much of the opposition to vouchers is reaction against the messengers - I don't like Denis or I don't like conservatives. What is wrong with allowing all families to pick their own schools?

Michael Gibson said...

Where do you get your figures? This week: $13,000 per student! Next week: $21,000.

Denis Navratil said...

Michael, I am glad that you question me, but I wonder if you are similarly willing to question the claims of the RUSD supporters. Anyway, regarding the $13,000 claim; a few years back I did a fairly detailed study of RUSD's budgets going back to 1993. In doing so, I was surprised to find that some of the claims made by RUSD supporters were patently false, among them the notion that RUSD has endured budget cuts- RUSD's budget has increased well betond the rate of inflation during that period. Another falsehood that I discovered were the claims made about per student cost. This figure is quite easy to discover. You add up ALL of RUSD's spending and divide it by the number of students and you get the per student cost. Now when I did this a few years ago, the per student cost was over $12,000 per student. I admit that I have not updated this study, but RUSD's budget increases every year, so I have every reason to believe that RUSD's per student spending is within a few hundred dollars of the $13,000 that I cite.

Where do you get your numbers? Please feel free to dispute my claim but do share with us how you arrive at your numbers.

Denis Navratil said...

anon 9:07, I am not up to date on some of the new terms churning out of the Sociology departments at our universities. What is wealthism?

Denis Navratil said...

I find it fascinating that while I am advocating changes that would allow the poor greater educational opportunity, I get back rants about various divisions, racism, classism etc... Wouldn't those divisions begin to break down if poor children were able to attend schools now only available to the wealthier among us? Who is perpetuating these divisions and who is trying to address them?

Pariah Jeep said...

Yes, isn't it fascinating that people who ask questions contribute to the schools through taxes are called cheap and whatever else. People like Denis and I would gladly give even more than we do but we are sick of the skimmers and takers using the mantra of "it's for the children" to grab more and more money and the kids get the crumbs.

Go read Bob Geldoff's comments abou the perception of the U.S. not doing enough to help Africa. To paraphrase, he said the U.S. gives quite a bit but corruption removes so much that the benefts just aren't realized.

For those who think there is limitless wealth out there if you could just find a way to grab it, think about helping to fix problems so that you don't need to take $10 so that $0.25 gets to the children.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't those divisions begin to break down if poor children were able to attend schools now only available to the wealthier among us?

Special schools only increased classism in the past (Catholic Schools excepted).

Michael Gibson said...

Dennis - The way that you found per student cost does make sense, but you left out a couple factors. Teacher's salaries and operating costs. I came across a pamphlet distributed by RUSD that stated that their per student cost was $10,169. In comparison to similar schools districts, this is the third highest for instructional spending and 6th in overall student spending. However, at $6.83 per assessed $1,000, RUSD has the lowest tax rate per assessed $1,000 in comparison to similar school districts and is %21 BELOW the state average of $8.62 per assessed $1,000. This is telling me that for the least amount of money, we are spending the most on the students.

Anonymous said...

My suggestion Denis is this:
If you cannot understand or deal productively with societal problems socially engineered by the right wing/corporate interests who have fasioned the United States, quit add nothing.

In fact, this rhetoric is the problem, not a solution.

Denis Navratil said...

Michael, I left out no factors. I divided total spending by the number of students. It is RUSD that leaves things out. Some RUSD spending is not counted toward per student cost. Does RUSD have a mission besides educating students that requires the spending of millions of dollars?

Anyway, understand that by citing tax rates etc... you are simply changing the subject from per student costs to tax rates. By the way, the property tax is a completely irrelevant statistic. This measure applies only to the local contribution to RUSD. If our local tax rate was 0% but RUSD got $15,000 per child from the state, RUSD would still have a per student spending rate of $15,000 per student, right Michael? While I won't challenge the tax rates that you cite, I absolutely challange there relevance to the per student spending question. Did you realize Michael that most of the money for RUSD does not come from local taxes?It comes from state taxes. Racine, being one of the poorer districts, gets a greater percentage than most districts. Last time I checked, over 70% of RUSD funding came from the state.

If you wish to challenge the $13,000 figure, please do so. But Michael, remember, facts are facts.

Michael Gibson said...

Believe it or not, schools have energy bills, desks and chairs to replace, and yes, even though you hate it, teachers to pay. To me, these are not factors that contribute to students (although any unpaid teacher probably wouldn't be a very good one).

I cited the tax rate because I was trying to make the point we spend more on our students than most other districts throughout WI even though we charge fewer taxes. If RUSD gets 70% of its funding through state taxes, I would make a bet that this is the same for other districts.

Pariah Jeep said...

Yes Denis, you hate those teachers just like me !!! This victimology thing really does become entertaining. Maybe it's on YouTube!

I sure wish my 1040 and Schedule A worked this way. If we exclude energy, salaries, infrastructure, books - gee those numbers look pretty good. But no comments on the century old furnaces or rusty pipes to drink from. Guess that old thread got boring with those pesky facts.

Anonymous said...

This victimology

What a crock!

Did you like the fact that a hedge fund criminal made 3.5 Billion dollars last year that the tax payer is bailing out? Like the other rich crooks the tax payer is bailing out?

You guys are stupid.

Pariah Jeep said...

Wow - how intellectually superior, talking about hedge funds. Here is a little news for you though: hedge funds have nothing to do with shrubbery or lawn care. Really. Google it. Now go back to watching You Tube videos of aliens taking over people's minds.

Anonymous said...

You seem ignorant.
Are you?

Hedge funds are gambling; extreme.

WE pay for the losers.

Get it now?

Anonymous said...

If you want to understand financial markets, hedge funds, from the understanding of an economist who had the job of federal oversight over these until Bush basically gave them freedom to screw the United States taxpayers, here is a link.

Hedge Fund Fraud, explained

Perplexed by the U.S. economy? You're not alone. Law professor Michael Greenberger joins Fresh Air to explain the sub-prime mortgage crisis, credit defaults, the shaky future of other types of loans and what we can expect from the U.S. financial markets.

Greenberger is a professor at the University of Maryland School of Law and the director of the University's Center for Health and Homeland Security.

Pariah Jeep said...

"If you want to understand financial markets, hedge funds"

So financial markets are hedge funds? You are so smart. The other anon said it is gambling. Another intellectual.

Sorry that I was so bored after finishing my taxes that I actually read some anon comments. Say hello to your cerebral cortex. Wait - Google that -

Nemo said...

Anonymous (6:25) said...

“Hedge funds are gambling; extreme.”

Wrong. “Gambling” implies a zero sum game. As with any investment, Hedge funds can, and in many cases do, increase in value if the performance of their components rise. Everybody wins. There is of course risk, but that should not be confused with “gambling”. To a person not familiar with the intricacies of financial markets the difference may seem subtle, but the distinction is clear. If you can not grasp it, perhaps you would be happier and less frustrated by moving your attention
to blogs related to the home cleaning or food service industries.

Pariah Jeep said...

Thanks Nemo - and shorting stocks keeps everyone honest, unless a process of shrilling/rumor-milling is undertaken by the "shortee".