I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Incoherent World of Nick Kristof

Nicholas Kristof, New York Times columnist, 11/21/12:
So time and again, we see the decline of public services accompanied by the rise of private workarounds for the wealthy.
Are public schools failing? Well, superb private schools have spaces for a mere $40,000 per child per year. [emphasis mine]
Kristof, 10/14/09:
It’s difficult to improve failing schools when you can’t create alternatives such as charter schools and can’t remove inept or abusive teachers.
Got that? According to Kristof, public schools suffer because they have to educate poor children while the wealthy are sequestered in their own schools. And charter schools are a necessary alternative to "failing" schools.

The only thing that would make this argument fall apart would be if the charter schools themselves segregated students by socio-economic status:

Oh, my. How about an anecdote?
My daughter is so excited to be here. It's only been a week and she already loves it at this new school," said a parent of a 3rd-grader. "Her and six of her classmates transferred from the same private school, and they're all so excited about coming here."[emphasis mine]
Charter schools are, unfortunately, increasing segregation. It is, therefore, intellectually inconsistent to claim to be worried about schools that segregate by class while simultaneously supporting charters.

While I admire Kristof's work on poverty throughout the world, he has shown a troubling lack of sophistication on the issue of American public education. But why should he be any different from the vast majority of the punditocracy?


reality-based educator said...

My favorite Kristof moment was when he ran a NY Times "chat" with Melinda Gates and Times readers about poverty in Asia and the developing world last January and never once mentioned a main contributor to poverty in Asia - manufacturing employers that pay slave labor wages to employees.

One of those employers was - you guessed it! - Microsoft and Bill Gates - and concurrent with the Kristof suck-up to Melinda Gates in the Times was the story of 300 workers at FoxConn making Microsoft products who threatened mass suicide if they didn't get wages increases.

Our Dear Nick apparently didn't want to ruffle Melinda's feathers by suggesting she contributes to worldwide poverty more than the Gates Foundation alleviates it - even though it's true.

It's that kind of thing that undercuts the value of Kristof's work for me and make me think he is a sanctimonious hypocrite.






ed notes online said...

Krostof just tweeted that Finland was #1 and US 17 without a clue as to why.

KatieO said...

Paul Krugman of the NYT also shares a similar worldview. In a truthout post about the GOP love of privatization ( http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/12756-the-gops-privatization-pathology ), I posted a comment about the bipartisan love of privatization in education. His response was this:

"Understand this, there are places for charter schools but I have never seen a plan on the left to close any public schools in order to create private schools.

Many charter schools are public, not private, often called "Magnet" schools designed to give those with the added talent and abilities, a way to exceed the limits set in a class room where everyone must be treated to suit the lowest common denominator in terms of ability.

If you look at legislation at the state levels ( where public schools are funded ) it has been only GOP legislatures who have tried to provide "vouchers" so those with more cash to spend can move their kids to these charter and private schools.

I do not object to a "free market" approach to alternatives provided they do not eliminate choices for everyone. Private schools existed well before public schools and only the rich got to go."

Totally ignorant. Oh well, what more can you expect from an economist...