Wednesday, June 13, 2012

You Want Bad Schools. Yes, You.

That, at least, is the position of the inevitable Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney. Oh, sure, right now he's whining that the Obama Administration is quoting him in context, but that it shouldn't matter because teacher compensation is a state issue.
"He says we need more fireman, more policeman, more teachers," Romney said Friday, speaking about President Obama's efforts to expand government. "Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It's time for us to cut back on government and help the American people."...

Asked about the Obama campaign's criticism by Fox News, Romney rejected their attacks.

"That's a very strange accusation. Of course, teachers and firemen and policemen are hired at the local level and also by states," Romney said. "The federal government doesn't pay for teachers, firefighters or policemen. So obviously that's completely absurd."
The real flaw in Romney's defense is that it's a cloud of smoke. The fact checkers seem to be coming back with the conclusion that Romney is wrong, given the amount of federal funding that state and local governments receive - but that's not actually the point. Romney was blessing the anti-union movement, and blessing the entire enterprise of cutting compensation and limiting or eliminating the collective bargaining rights of government employees.

And in doing so, Romney was blessing the idea that teachers are overcompensated, that public schools are adequately staffed (or overstaffed), and that's the way people want it.

You know what else? If you're a typical voter these days, he's probably right.

Unless you're a parent with kids in public schools, odds are you'd are you don't care about school funding or would just as soon see it cut. Even if you are a defender of your local schools, odds are you don't care about schools that aren't local. If you hear about problems in inner city schools, odds are you write them off to incompetence and corruption and have no interest in increasing their funding to "fix" the problems. Yes, there are exceptions, perhaps you're one of them, but if you look at the overall trend in public education and the lack of public response, it's difficult to avoid those conclusions.

As I wrote in response to Matt Miller the other day, if you believe we can't get better teachers without spending more money, we're not getting better teachers.

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