Easier To Get A Basketball Than A Book

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

A buddy sent me this.  I forward it, unedited:

“Here in a nutshell is what’s wrong with this nation:

Roseville Library

Mon-Thu10 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Fri-Sat10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sun12 – 5 p.m.

Closed – Thursday, January 1, 2015
Closed – Monday, January 19, 2015
Closed – Monday, February 16, 2015
Closed – Sunday, April 5, 2015
Closed – Monday, April 20, 2015
Closed – Monday, May 25, 2015
Closed – Saturday, July 4, 2015
Closed – Monday, September 7, 2015
New Brighton Library will be closed Sept 7-11 for Community Center maintenance!
Closed – Monday, October 12, 2015
Closed – Wednesday, November 11, 2015
Closed – Thursday, November 26, 2015
Open – Friday, November 27, 2015
Closed – Thursday, December 24, 2015
Closed – Friday, December 25, 2015
Open – Thursday, December 31, 2015 until 5 p.m.
Alert – New Brighton Library will close at 4 p.m. on December 31, 2015
Closed – Friday, January 1, 2016


The library is closed pretty much all hours and days that any working person could get there.  Closed at 5 on Friday and Saturday.  Opens at noon on Sunday, for 5 hours.  When I had the kids for the weekends I could get there only if we made a special day of it, couldn’t do anything else around getting to the library.  We could just barely get there on Sunday if we ate early then got on the road right after to make it to the hostage exchange on time.   Roseville is the busiest library in the entire system, hence it has the longest hours.  The others are far worse.

Books bad, basketball good.


Rec centers:

MondayFriday – 6:30 a.m.–9:00 p.m.
Saturday – 7:00 a.m.–7:00 p.m
Sunday – 11:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

All sites are CLOSED for the following major holidays:

Thursday, November 26 – Thanksgiving Day
Friday, December 25 – Christmas Day
Friday, January 1 – New Year’s Day
Memorial Day
Fourth of July
Labor Day


So the library, where books are, is closed on any holiday, real or imagined, on weekend evenings, most of the day on Sunday, etc.  Where as the rec center is open nearly all the time, and the feds want to spend money keeping them open at midnight for basketball.

Joe Doakes

Back when the GOP controlled the Legislature, the DFL used to whinge “they want to close the libraries!”.  I used to ask “What?  They’re open?”

The library in my neighborhood – a neglected old place that’s perpetually on the city’s chopping block, and hasn’t nearly the hours that the huge Roseville library has – seems to be open at times most convenient to…library staffers.  Not school kids, much less working adults.

And don’t get me started on the fact that the new Roseville “library” seems to allot about 20% of its space to…books.

But maybe that’s what the President means when he prattles about guns being easier to get than books; he’s referring to guns and books owned by government.  You can’t get to a book during hours any working person could get there – but the Department of Justice will give you a gun – if you’re a narcotraficante.

Doakes Sunday: Low Expectation

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

The student was disrupting the class.

The teacher couldn’t get her to stop being disruptive.  The teacher called the Principal.

The Principal couldn’t get her to stop being disruptive.  The Principal called for a Deputy Sheriff.

The Deputy couldn’t get her to stop being disruptive.  The Principal gave the Deputy permission to arrest the student to take her out of class.

The Deputy couldn’t get the student to stand up to leave so he dragged her out of her chair and out of the classroom.

Another student filmed the arrest.

The teacher and the Principal support the Deputy’s actions.

The student is Black, protests erupted.

The Sheriff fired the Deputy.

The lesson learned: Black students don’t have to obey school rules.

How will this lesson affect minority graduation rates, unemployment, college admissions and lifetime earnings?

Joe Doakes

Joe’s asking a rhetorical question.

We can see it in Valeria Silva’s Saint Paul Public Schools.

And when Silva’s gone?  We’ll see it in her successor’s SPPS, as well.

Just watch.

Woodbury: Time To Get Off The Clown Car

South Washington Citizens for Change, as well as District 833 school board candidate Andrea Mayer-Bruestle – have released a couple of videos that voters should think about, both for their school board vote and their vote on the bonding referendum this Tuesday.

First: Don’t think all that half-a-billion dollars is going to go toward more spending beyond the means, and District 833 will be bellying up to the taxpayer bar again in a couple years? Don’t bet on it:

And here’s a digest of headlines from the past few years that should show the Woodbury voter what kind of hands their district, and tax dollars, are in:

If you live in Woodbury/District 833, you’ve witnessed a pretty venal and ugly little campaign to try to separate you and your tax dollars. Pass these vids around, and let’s try not to reward this sort of thing any more.

Best Practices

In recent weeks, this blog, as well as the rest of the media, I’ve noted a bit of an uptick in publicized violence in the St. Paul public schools.

The Minneapolis public schools seem to of
been paying attention – and turn their best minds on to the problem of school violence.

We know this, because they have solve the problem.

The Minneapolis public schools are now a “violence free zone“.

Freedom Of Speech For We, But Not For Ye

There’s a school bonding referendum on the ballot this Tuesday; the district wants $250 million, on top of the huge bond they got two years ago, on top of all their state money.

There are campaigns, both against the bill and, naturally, for it.

Over the weekend, the Washington County Watchdog facebook page tripped upon a couple of giggly north-Suburban bobbleheads chuckling about stealing “Vote No” campaign signs – or, in one case, having her kids do it.

Vote Yes people in Forest Lake are dumb enough to share they are stealing Vote No (Forest Lake Schools Bond) campaign…

Posted by Washington County Watchdog on Friday, October 30, 2015

The Watchdog confirmed that one of the women is affiliated with/employed by the “Vote Yes” campaign.

The Watchdog has confirmed that Nicole _____, the self-proclaimed sign thief in Forest Lake was in fact a part of the…

Posted by Washington County Watchdog on Sunday, November 1, 2015

I’m not going to post the womens’ full names; they incriminated themselves plenty over on their various Facebook pages.

Now, stealing campaign signs is a crime that should be investigated – no, actually investigated – by the Forest Lake cops and the Washington County attorney’s office; campaign signs ain’t cheap.  It’s also a suppression of other’s freedom of speech.  And since one of the principals in the story is involved with the “Hand Over The Money, Peasants!” campaign, I see no reason this shouldn’t be a matter for state elections officials.

But I have another question.

Double Standards:  I interviewed Andrew Mayer-Bruestle and Sue Richardson, from a similar “Vote No” campaign in Woodbury.  They report that the “Vote Yes” crowd, which is seeking a half billion dollars from the people and businesses of South WashCo – sicced WCCO on them for making “misleading statements” in their campaign literature.  And WCCO leapt into action, going all Mike Wallace on some of the “Vote No” supporters, with ambush interviews and grave (and erroneous) reporting that gave off that agenda-driven stench; I’m gonna guess one of the suburban grandees involved in the Vote Yes campaign has a friend, or spouse, on the WCCO staff.  Just a hunch.

So WCCO and the Pioneer Press scrambled a Defcon Five Media Deployment over a piece of campaign literature in Woodbury.

Duly noted.

So, WCCO – any interest in a story about a group of suburban hockey moms, including a member of a competing campaign,  conspiring and acting to steal money, stifle free speech, and violate election laws?  Y’know – actual crimes?

What say, Star Tribune?  Lori Sturdevant must surely be getting the victorian vapours about this bit of incivility, no?

MPR?  I mean, you have a big, well-staffed newsroom full of news eagles ready to swoop upon public malfeasance.  Imagine that someone had brought you first-hand evidence that people – bigots! – were kyping pro-“marriage equality” signs; does not warrant similar scrutiny?

And that other newspaper in the east metro, whatever it was?

For that matter – Forest Lake has a newspaper, right?

Update:  According to the WashDog, some of the signs were replaced, and some were returned.  While the WashDog doesn’t go into details, we presume they were returned by those who stole them; hopefully they didn’t fob that job of on their kids, the way one joked about doing with the actual theft.

Everyone keep your eyes peeled; there will be a lot more of this coming up in the next year.

Everyone’s An Expert

Since the story of Ahmed “Alarm Clock” Mohammed broke, half of America has become demolitions experts.  Charles C. W. Cooke – one of my two favorite political writers in America today – notes that Ahmed Mohammed’s clock looks a lot more like a bomb than a chewed-up pop tart looks like a gun.  He’s half-right; the poptart wasn’t a gun; the clock looked like a prop from a community-theater production of “24”.

The other half?  They seem to think they’re clairvoyant; the loathsome Richard Dawkins, for starters.

RIP Public Education

It’s officially too stupid to live.

Texas (!) school district arrests kid for building a clock that they call a “hoax bomb”, even though he never, ever called it that.  Indeed, other than the idiots at his school district and the Irvine TX police department, nobody ever did:

Ahmed Mohamed — who makes his own radios and repairs his own go-kart — hoped to impress his teachers when he brought a homemade clock to MacArthur High on Monday.

Instead, the school phoned police about Ahmed’s circuit-stuffed pencil case.

So the 14-year-old missed the student council meeting and took a trip in handcuffs to juvenile detention. His clock now sits in an evidence room. Police say they may yet charge him with making a hoax bomb — though they acknowledge he told everyone who would listen that it’s a clock.

In the meantime, Ahmed’s been suspended, his father is upset and the Council on American-Islamic Relations is once again eyeing claims of Islamophobia in Irving.

And you know what?  CAIR is right, and I hope the Mohammeds sue that idiot district back to the Stone Age.

I do, in fact, have some experience with brain-dead school administrators making things up from whole cloth – and my hatred for them burns like a million suns.

Mr. Mohammed:  if you need airtime to raise money to sue your scumbag district, let me know. I’m happy to help.

Popehat has a much better piece on the subject.

Royalty Doesn’t Need Feedback

The Saint Paul Public Schools are discontinuing TV broadcasts of the “public feedback” segment of school board meetings.

Let’s make sure we’re clear on what we’re talking about here; the public feedback part of the meeting is about half an hour, starting at 5:30 (which is a brutally difficult time to make, for people who have day jobs), during which the School Board deigns to allow commoners to address it, in slices of three minutes, while they converse amongst themselves or pretty visibly try to fight nodding off.  I did it a few years ago; you could tell that most of the board would rather have been getting a root canal.

But people watched those session via cable -and occasionally they drew blood:

…a May 2014 appearance before the St. Paul school board by five district teachers pushing for greater expectations of students and consequences for those who misbehave is credited with sparking a Caucus for Change movement dedicated to unseating board incumbents….

Board Member Anne Carroll [Who else? – Ed] argued that the change is part of a series of moves related to the collection of public comments that should give citizens a greater voice. She cited a new policy of taking online submissions that will be documented in the same way as in-person comments.

Board Member John Brodrick, who opposed the move in what was a 5-1 vote, said that having people speak to the board but not to the public via broadcast “betrayed the meaning of public comment.”…

…Currently, the comment period begins at 5:30 p.m., and when finished, gives way to an agenda item recognizing the “good work provided by outstanding district employees.”

Which sounds – I kid you not – like deputies in the old Supreme Soviet of the USSR rising to congratulate one of the collective farms in their district for meeting their five year plan with sufficient socialist fervor.  Seriously; these recognitions sound like competitions to see how many times you can fit the words “Diversity” and “Multiculturalism” into sentences while still maintaining a sentence structure.

Anyway – a school district that already hides out in its Stalineque bunker on Colborne Street, above, beyond and away from its constituents, is trying to become even more so.




When I was in high school, I may have been the last generation to actually spend any time watching instructional films.  Not videos – productions shot on film.

Now, my beef is not with the medium on which the production was shot; video versus film is an aesthetic argument, and not one that I’m particularly involved in.

But along about time time video supplanted film, computer animation began to replace an older, more fascinating art – the building of explanatory models.

Explaining complex processes, equations, and mechanical concepts is difficult.  And in a way, I’ve found the plethora of computer-based animations used to do the explaining today are almost too accurate to do a job of explaining complex concepts.

Filling that gap, long before there were any computers, was the operating model.

An operating model took a complex concept, mechanism or process, simplified it, magnified the important stuff while omitting (or deferring) the minutia, and explained it.

And it’s kind of a lost art.

Which was why I loved this film – which explains the function of the auto differential, a bit of mechanical engineering that always amazes me…:

…and this one, which is as good an explanation of pretty much every firearm operating system in the business:

And I can watch them for hours.


Earlier this week, while listening to Jack and Andrew on the lesser talk station, I caught them running through this piece about 38 examples of liberal privelege on college campuses. 

The piece is very much worth a read.

Of course, if you live in a place like the Twin Cities, you realize there’d be room for a similar piece for adults in places where Jon Stewart is considered news and where chanting “settled science!” is considered an argument-ender.

I’m going to take quick shot at it, off the top of my head:  if you’re an adult in a “progressive” city…:

  1. You’ve never had to learn to confront dissent as anything other than either a mortal threat to your worldview, or a joke to be scuttled away from, using ad homina if necessary.
  2. You’ve never had to learn to debate at a level beyond strawmen, red herrings, and chuckling “facts have a liberal bias” as if the saying were handed down by the ancients, rather than by a mediocre comic who made a living satirizing conservatives.
  3. After 12 years of indoctrination in the public schools, and often as not 4-8 years at an institution where dissent is treated as a pathology, you are utterly secure in your faith that your club is the sole source of truth.

35 more to go!

Bigger, Badder, Here-er

Fresch Fisch, from Saint Paul, emails:

Currently happening, June 11 to 16. Alexandria MN.  5600 students high school Trap students participating in the MN High School Clay Target Championships! Six full days, six divisions, 900+ students per day.

You say, just what does the largest shooting competition in the world look like? A drone’s eye view!

I was there Sunday and it was totally awesome.


Not only is it the fastest growing high school sport in Minnesota and America, but it gives the world’s Bloombots acid reflux.

And that alone is an unalloyed good.

Impulse Control

This past week has been a really, really bad one for Governor Dayton and anyone who thinks he’s ready for prime time as a governor.

First, it the promise (since delivered) of a veto of the K-12 E-12 bill over a few hundred million in spending that a bipartisan majority in the Legislature had already turned down (in support of a program that nobody but Education Minnesota really wants).

And now?   He’s accusing Republicans of “hating teachers”.

Which certainly perked up my ears, what with having a father, two grandparents and a little sister who’ve been teachers.

Oh, yeah – Sondra Erickson, also a teacher, was not amused:

 Rep. Sondra Erickson, R-Princeton, who chairs the House Education Policy Committee said Dayton should apologize for the remark.

In a statement, Erickson said:

“As a public school teacher with nearly four decades in public school classrooms, I am disappointed with Governor Dayton’s disrespectful remarks. Minnesotans expect their public officials to respectfully debate the issues facing our state without resorting to personal attacks. Republicans and Democrats passed a bipartisan budget that underscored our commitment to students and teachers including significant investments in proven early learning programs. Teachers deserve nothing but great respect because of their dedication to prepare our children with knowledge and skills for the future. Closing the achievement gap requires only the highest regard for those who teach and lead our children. I respectfully request that the governor apologize for his remarks.”

Of course, he’s not going to do it.  I fact, look for them to double down.

Because that’s page 1 of the Democrat messaging handbook.  Question how veterans benefits are paid for?  “Why do Republicans hate veterans?”.

Dispute global warming?  “Why do Republicans hate science?”.

Don’t like abortion, and think identity feminism has done a lot of damage?  “It’s a war on women!”.

Push back against a pork-barrel program that will at best do nothing useful for the vast majority of kids, but will plump up Education Minnesota’s and the DFL’s coffers?  “Republicans hate teachers!”.

And the thing is, 40-odd percent of Minnesota voters are stupid enough to buy it.

Why would he apologize?

Governor Dayton’s Priorities

Governor Flint-Smith Dayton is threatening to veto the budget deal over the lower level of funding promised for pre-kindergarten.

I’m not sure that our legislature – much less our governor – is smart enough to fight the battle based on something like “what’s best for children”…

…but in case any legislators are focused on that, psychology and even teachers are starting to think that jamming down academics with young children is at best of no value, and at worst counterproductive in the long run:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/201505/early-academic-training-produces-long-term-harm (I’ve added emphasis):

A number of well-controlled studies have compared the effects of academically oriented early education classrooms with those of play-based classrooms (some of which are reviewed here, in an article by Nancy Carlsson-Paige, Geralyn McLaughlin,and Joan Almon).[1] The results are quite consistent from study to study: Early academic training somewhat increases children’s immediate scores on the specific tests that the training is aimed at (no surprise), but these initial gains wash out within 1 to 3 years and, at least in some studies, are eventually reversed. Perhaps more tragic than the lack of long-term academic advantage of early academic instruction is evidence that such instruction can produce long-term harm, especially in the realms of social and emotional development.

When you start regimenting kids bright and early, is it a surprise they grow up less able to think for themselves?

For example, in the 1970s, the German government sponsored a large-scale comparison in which the graduates of 50 play-based kindergartens were compared, over time, with the graduates of 50 academic direct-instruction-based kindergartens.[2] Despite the initial academic gains of direct instruction, by grade four the children from the direct-instruction kindergartens performed significantly worse than those from the play-based kindergartens on every measure that was used. In particular, they were less advanced in reading and mathematics and less well adjusted socially and emotionally. At the time of the study, Germany was gradually making a switch from traditional play-based kindergartens to academic ones. At least partly as a result of the study, Germany reversed that trend; they went back to play-based kindergartens. Apparently, German educational authorities, at least at that time, unlike American authorities today, actually paid attention to educational research and used it to inform educational practice.

Of course, universal “free” Pre-K isn’t about educating children, much less making them grow up to be better, happier, smarter people.

It’s about providing more jobs for Governor Flint-Smith’s Dayton’s biggest contributors, and thereby more dues for the DFL.

Universal pre-K may be the best possible advertisement for home schooling.

Warehouse: Schools And Stories

I forget who I heard referring to the inner city as “government’s warehouse for poor people”. There are those who get hurt and bothered when I use that term, as if I’m characterizing the people.

I’m not.  I’m characterizing the government.

And for those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of dealing with government in a failed one-party state, this article explains why I use the simile, and don’t apologize for it, ever.

Read the story.  And then remember that while the tax money that was supposed to help alleviate these kids problems has been slashed, the Saint Paul School District’s administration has been getting huge pay raises.   Especially African-American parents:  this is your DFL in action, with your kids.  This is the wages of your allegiance the DFL. Let’s talk.

I’m not going to pullquote the article – because I’d like you all to read it.  It may be the most depressing thing I’ve read lately.

Wheat And Chaff

The Saint Paul Public Schools need to close a $20,000,000 budget shortfall.

This is on a budget in an exceptionally highly-taxed city, that is already well over half a billlion dollars.

What’s the plan (emphasis added)?

Chief Executive Officer Michelle Walker said the district looked to cut administrators and supervisors rather than those who work in the schools, but “there are going to be impacts on both sides.”

The deficit represents 3.8 percent of the school district’s $533 million general fund budget. It’s largely a product of negotiated increases in salary and benefits, as well as inflationary increases for things like utilities and equipment.

First:  as we’ve seen with the recent layoffs in Minneapolis, it’s interesting that the districts are so loaded up on useless administrative mouths to feed in the first place.

Second:  The “Equipment” line item is an interesting one:

Louise Seeba, who opposed the district’s 1:1 iPad initiative, which will cost roughly $8 million a year, suggested next year’s cuts are a consequence of frivolous spending.

“I guess the voters, our parents, have to say, ‘You know what, thanks for that iPad, but now I don’t have special ed services to the level that I expect.’ I think if the schools are upset, they might have a reason,” she said.

Others downplayed iPads as a factor in the present budget picture because a referendum dedicated that money to technology.

In other words, “the iPads are being paid for by a special levy extracted from taxpayers due to an obscure vote in a low-turnout election dominated by teachers union spending; nothing to see here”.

File under “life in a one party city”.

Silva Lining

Notwithstanding the fact that the Saint Paul Public Schools under Superintendant Valeria Silva have been stagnant at best, the district gave her a pretty dang spectacular pay hike in renewing her contract for four years.

She’s paid back her constituents by applying for a job in Palm Beach:

On Monday night, the St. Paul school district issued a statement in reaction to Silva’s Florida job application.

According to the statement made on behalf of the school board by chairwoman Mary Doran:

“It is not surprising that Superintendent Silva would be in demand by school districts across the country.

“She is a nationally recognized education leader. Saint Paul schools are notably successful. We have been a model for other districts in many ways. That attracts attention and recruiters.

“The board negotiated a new contract with Superintendent Silva with the expectation that she would be with us for three more years. She has devoted her entire academic career to Saint Paul’s children. Not many cities can say that about their superintendent.

It actually is more than just mercenarism; the Saint Paul Teachers Federation is unhappy with Silva and the School Board, and is essentially going to buy the upcoming school board elections, which’ll make life difficult to impossible for Silva, and open the door to a new superintendent, in this case a toady almost literally hand-picked by the union to carry out its wishes more closely than even the current board.

One thing that won’t change?  The new Superintendent will be a product of the “Celebrity Superintendent” system, and will cost a metric buttload of money.

Priorities In Action

The Minneapolis public school district expects to realize a savings of about $11 million when it completes his layoff of about 100 administrative staff from its headquarters building.

The district’s line is the savings are going to go back to the classroom – including potentially allowing the middle and high schools to add an extra hour onto their curricula.

Those of us who live in the conservative, real world know what this actually means – but i’ll break it down for the rest of the audience:

Now that they’re forced to cut administrators, they can focus more money on education. 

See the priorities?

Minneapolis has been systematically shorting students, their classrooms, and the curricula to keep their administrative payrolls fat and happy. Now that declining enrollments have the district in trouble, the piper needs to be paid.

This has to be at least as much the case in St. Paul, where the district headquarters building, in the Stalinesque fortress at 360 Colborne St., is more stuffed with deadwood than Lake of the Woods after the big windstorm.

The Empire Strikes Back

The educational establishment is calling in its markers with the mainstream media, and beating the drums against charter schools in particular, and school choice in general.

Of course, it’s the same set of out of context factoids they trot out every 2-3 years.

Finances:  Some charter schools have a hard time making a financial go of it.  Of course they do; they can’t run to the taxpayer and crank up the local education mill levy (“for the children!”) whenever they spend their way into a hole, the way the district schools can.

Grades:  Some charter schools, especially schools in urban areas catering to black, Latino, Asian, immigrant and Native American kids. lag the public districts in terms of achievement.  We’ve been through this; back in 2009, after Nick Coleman joined into a previous round of catcalling charters, I ran through the stats.  Some charters – including many urban charters full of minority and immigrant kids – spanked the public districts.  Others lagged.

Paternalism:  The great unstated fact that none of charters’ opponents ever addresses; 80% of urban charter kids are minorities and immigrants.  Every black, Latino, Asian, Native or Somali kid that leaves the public school system is leaving the the reservation that the DFL is counting on to train its future voter base.

But charters in the city – especially the ones catering to older kids – have two handicaps, as I showed in 2009:

  • Burnout:  They take a disproportionate number of kids who’ve been terribly failed by the district schools, and have had their love of learning – something pretty much every child is born with – beaten out of them pretty decisively.  It takes a good charter some time to help a kid back to the point where he or she gives a crap again.  With some, it never works.  With others, it does – but rarely overnight.
  • Cooked Testing Books:  After age 16, the big district schools can shunt their less-enthusiastic students, or the ones with difficulties (criminal records, kids of their own, and on and on) off into the “Alternative Learning Centers”, or ALCs.  There, they’re off the books; their test scores aren’t held against the district.  Charters have no such option; every kid’s score counts.

If someone in the educational-industrial complex ever wanted to get the fact about charter schools versus public schools, they could do two things:

  1. Cut The Umbilical Cord:  Let public schools exist on their per-student allotments and whatever money they could raise themselves.  I know.  It’ll never happen.  If it did, over half of public schools would shut down in a year.
  2. Longitudinal Testing:  Every single current comparison of public and charter school achievement relies on straight-up comparisons on how students are doing right now.  They are the average score of every student in the charter school, versus the average of every kid in the public school that hasn’t been shunted into a diversion program.  But if they did a longitudinal study comparing how individual students did over time – specifically, comparing how students who left public schools with low achievement fared over the rest of their educational career, versus control groups of similar kids who stayed in the public systems – that would be more accurate (and, given the graduation rates for Twin Cities public schools, more damning.

But we’ve been through all this before.

The real question today is, what’s behind this latest round of out-of-context piss-balloon-throwing from the educational-industrial complex?  Why are they attacking charter schools this time?    Why is Big Education’s propaganda machine going to work to slag the hundred labors of love that make up the Minnesota charter school sector?

Why?  Oh, why?

Oh, right.   Minorities getting all uppity.   And as they leave the public districts, that’s a lot of jobs, and funding, for the political class that are harder to justify.

It must be stopped.

And that’s why the left’s useful idiots are attacking charters this year.   And next year.

Rewarding Failure

After four years of abject failure, the St. Paul public school district renewed superintendent Valeria Silva’s contract earlier this week.

And it’s a nice one, indeed:


Photo courtesy Bob Murphy

8% over four years – which, with compounding, is over 10%.

People who are actually accomplishing anything aren’t getting raises like that.

Lousy graduation rates. Unchanged achievement gap.

Money well spent.

Background Noise

Opponents of urban charter schools – inevitably white, upper-middle-class, MPR-listening, Subaru-driving people with degrees from Macalester – have developed a habit of sniffing that urban charters are “a return to segregation”, because many charters, especially in the city, are aimed at ethnic groups.

What these lilywhite guardians of “diversity”-for-its-own-sake miss is that these charters – the Twin Cities have schools aimed at black, H’mong, latino and Native American kids, and used to have one serving Muslim students – may be “segregated”, but it’s entirely voluntary; the decision of the parents and families involved.

And why would they do that?

Because they’re racists?

Perhaps.  More likely, I suspect, it’s cultural (the Native American and H’mong schools), and linguistic (the Latino schools).

And I suspect that for more than a few parents, it’s more like this:  while they like the idea of “diversity” – exposing their children to different people, cultures, races and the like – they also know they’ve got one shot with their kids.  America’s racial problems aren’t going to be fixed in 12 years.  If they’re fixed in thirteen years, that’s great – but too late for your first-grader.

And in the meantime, lurking in the background at the worst “diverse” schools, are scenes like this (and save your breath, Volvo-driving ninnies; this sort of tension is endemic at urban schools; my kids went there for years, and while it rarely got that bad, it hovered over the school experience in ways ugly and comical for their entire time in school).  And while I suspect that, like me, a lot of parents would love for their kids to participate in America’s ethnic “conversation”, they also figure that there’s plenty of time for that when they’re adults, and they’d like to spend that first 12 years focusing on them getting an education without all the pointless, mindless tension.

Antiquated And Myopic

50 years ago, United States declared a “War on Poverty”.

For much of the last 30 years, the State of Minnesota has been actively pursuing a top-down housing policy, aggressively trying to jiggle the “mix” of housing found in communities that grew up organically over the course of a century and a half.

And for almost 20 years, the cities have been extremely aggressively squeezing out private market “low income housing”, while “investing” heavily in public low income housing.

In schools in the Twin Cities crummier neighborhoods have been terrible for nobody knows how long.

What do all of these things have in common, besides being functions of the cultural left?

The attempt to use politics to solve social problems.

So it’s perhaps ironic that Myron Orfield, the patron Saint of the dismal, discredited political “art” of “urban planning”, comes perilously close to blaming the right thing – politics – for once in one of his studies.

He’s it cited in the MinnPost::

Specifically, Orfield and his co-authors from the institute — Will Stancil, Thomas Luce and Eric Myott — blame policies and practices that redirected affordable housing programs from mostly white suburbs back to segregated neighborhoods in Minneapolis, St. Paul and first-tier suburbs such as Brooklyn Center and Richfield.

“You can build affordable housing in poor neighborhoods,” he said during an interview this week, “you just shouldn’t build all of it [there].”

Absolutely not. Why, you “should” build low income housing in West Bloomington, and Southwest Edina, and North Oaks, and Kenwood!

Except since the policy is entirely driven by politics, the people with political clout decide how the policy will be implemented. And the people in those DFL-addled areas have decided that poverty is just too hard on their property values.

In the meantime – driven by the same sorts of policies that the likes of Orfield have been peddling to cities for close to a generation – Minneapolis and St. Paul have been making it virtually impossible to be a successful private market landlord in either city. Meaning “affordable housing” is almost exclusively provided by the government – at two or three times its market value.

The DFL takes the likes of Myron Orfield very seriously (except, of course, for putting “affordable housing” next door to their leadership’s homes). The next paragraph explains why I don’t:

The study also repeats an argument Orfield has put forward before: that charter schools re-create school segregation by creating institutions that are too often mostly black or, increasingly, mostly white. “I don’t think the public schools in segregated neighborhoods have been doing very well for a long time,” he said in an interview this week. “I think they’re bad schools. I don’t defend them at all. But the sad thing is, the charters are worse.”

The difference – and it takes someone as highly educated as Myron Orfield to miss it – is this: charter schools are voluntary. They are a free market (well, free-market-ish) response to the rot and decay in our school systems. Unlike the wretched inner-city public schools, nobody forces anybody to go to them. They succeed or fail on their own merits – unlike, again, public schools.

Perhaps poor parents know something that highly educated experts like Orfield don’t; that forcing kids to be proxies for their adults “discussion on race” may make academics like Orfield feel good, but it does nothing for their children’s futures.