OMG, Fordham on Vouchers Has Me ROTFLOL

Twitter must be infecting the brains of Washington and NY education policy “analysts.”  I say this because I can’t figure out what else could explain the short and inexplicable missives emanating from Fordham these days.  For example, The Education Gadfly declares with Twitter-length analysis: “While Gadfly supports the expansion of school choice to families in higher income brackets, he can’t help but wonder if the Year of the Funding Cliff is the right time for this idea to come of age.”  That’s it.  No other explanation, justification, or analysis is provided.

Uhm, don’t the folks at Fordham know that the voucher and tax-credit-funded scholarship plans being adopted during the current legislative session save states money?  They have generally set the voucher or scholarship amount less than per pupil spending in traditional public schools precisely so that states would save money given the Funding Cliff that states are facing.  That is an important part of the appeal of these programs to some state policymakers.

Another example of a Fordham analysis with all of the depth of a “Tweet” can be seen in  Michael Petrilli’s email response to Don Boudreaux’s op-ed in the Wall Street Journal.  Boudreaux critiques public education monopolies by asking: “What if groceries were paid for by taxes, and you were assigned a store based on where you live?.”  He continues the analogy to how we provide public education by answering: “Being largely protected from consumer choice, almost all public supermarkets would be worse than private ones. In poor counties the quality of public supermarkets would be downright abysmal. Poor people—entitled in principle to excellent supermarkets—would in fact suffer unusually poor supermarket quality.”

Mike’s complete and penetrating analysis in his email response to this piece is: “Clearly Don Boudreaux hasn’t visited a Safeway or a Giant in an inner-city neighborhood, or else he wouldn’t have gone with this analogy. “

It’s short enough for Twitter, but does it make any sense?  Yes, urban grocery stores tend to be less nice, but there is no doubt that they are better than if they were operated as local government monopolies.  There is ample evidence that markets help deliver better services at lower cost even for the very poor.

Why would someone as smart and nice as Mike make this stupid, one-line retort?  Why does Fordham’s Gadfly dismiss expanded vouchers with the mistaken and one-line claim that they cost more money and so would not be affordable with tight state budgets?

I fear that the brains of the people at Fordham have been shrunk by over-use of Twitter.  Everything is a one-line quip.  No need for facts, evidence, analysis, etc… Everything is a catty little fight.

Diane Ravitch is now tweeting about 60 times per day, but Mike Petrilli is not far behind at about 30-40 per day.  And their tweets are some of the dumbest, ill-conceived things I’ve ever seen from such intelligent people.  Seeing how Tweeting is rotting their brains makes me worried about whether I should give up blogging before I become similarly shallow.

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4 Responses to OMG, Fordham on Vouchers Has Me ROTFLOL

  1. Greg Forster says:

    I saw this almost immediately after it went up, and already someone had Tweeted it. Nurse, get me ten ccs of irony, STAT!

  2. James says:

    It’s short enough for Twitter, but does it make any sense? Yes, urban grocery stores tend to be less nice, but there is no doubt that they are better than if they were operated as local government monopolies.

    Given the number of urban neighborhoods that don’t have any supermarkets at all—known as “food deserts”—thus denying the neighborhood’s residents access to any kinds of healthy or fresh food or inexpensive staples like dry rice or beans, I’d be willing to wager that a “local government monopoly” food store would be preferable to the nothing at all that’s there now.

    What happens when the “supermarket schools” decide that the “cheaper” vouchers they’re getting from the state aren’t enough to justify opening a school in a given neighborhood? Would poor kids have to go clear across town to find a school because their neighborhood wasn’t “valuable” enough for a local school?

    There’s a reason we don’t operate things like the postal service or education according to pure “market principles”: It wouldn’t make business sense for a private post office to do mail delivery and pickup at every single street address in the country every single day, and it wouldn’t make business sense for the “supermarket schools” to open up in poor or rural areas where the incoming voucher money wouldn’t exceed the cost. We cannot afford an educational system where public benefit is subsumed to profit margins—and that is the inevitable result of any privatization scheme, as we’re seeing right now in Ohio with the White Hat charter law that gives a private company public education funds with almost no accountability, transparency, or oversight.

  3. Greg Forster says:

    Actually, we have private trash service in most of the country and it works just fine. There’s no reason mail service couldn’t be done the same way.

    And the main reason there are few Safeways or Giants in urban neighborhoods is because local political and economic monopolists manipulate poltical barriers (like zoning laws) to keep them out. That’s not a free market failure, it’s a failure to permit the free market.

    • James says:

      Actually, we have private trash service in most of the country and it works just fine. There’s no reason mail service couldn’t be done the same way.

      So people who can’t afford to pay the mailman to deliver their mail are SOL, then? That’s what the “supermarket schools” analogy would suggest. No money, no mail—just another way to cut the poor off from the rest of the world and ensure that they stay poor.

      If you’re talking about taxpayer money contracting out to private trash collection or mail delivery companies, that’s no longer the “supermarket,” is it? It’s just another form of the “local government monopoly” over trash collection, only they’re making you pay a private company instead of the city trash service.

      And the main reason there are few Safeways or Giants in urban neighborhoods is because local political and economic monopolists manipulate poltical barriers (like zoning laws) to keep them out. That’s not a free market failure, it’s a failure to permit the free market.

      Let’s see a citation for that claim, from an unbiased source.

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