Thursday, July 26, 2007

Of Wild Geese and School Students

Holy crud, we have to cover these people!


Of wild geese, the P-G's Brian O'Neill pleads, the story won't die.

He discusses the issue with David Feld of GeesePeace, who makes some good points and some bad ones, and they end up here:

We can't kill our way out of this mess, and there's a strategy that might satisfy those that revere wildlife and those disgusted by the daily drop of 400 pounds of goose feces. That seems worth a try. Meantime, if you're thinking of feeding the geese, remember that's about as smart as reaching out with what you're stepping around.

Sounds like Iraq, only substitute oil money for goose poop.

More importantly, Brian fails to come out against Dan Onorato's abrupt executive extermination.

Editorial Comment: LINK (UPDATE: Link fixed)


Of school students, the P-G's Ruth Ann Daily pleads that ...

If you live in a healthy community, one with a good mix of businesses large and small, thriving churches, bustling restaurants and a fair number of entertainment options ...

... then you should care about public schools -- and not just your own.

Nonetheless, they argue, since the public schools are doing such a poor job, we should encourage the free-market competition that vouchers would bring to the system. That would force the bad schools to shape up or lose their student bodies and funding.

I don't disagree with any of that, and if the condition of a school district like Duquesne doesn't open our minds to consider alternatives, I don't know what will.

We should have known Ruth Ann would find a way to get vouchers and charter schools into the mix, and she paints a tempting picture.

The Comet fears that these will greatly advantage only those with a parent or guardian that has the wisdom, the literacy, the inclination, and the free time to go through a rigmarole. Way too many of our children will still be left behind, in even worse public schools.

Still, she seems to arrive at her insistence out of an honest desperation.

We call on the gentleman from the Conversation. You got us in to this morass. The floor is yours.


  1. "The Comet fears that these will so greatly advantage those with parents who have the wisdom, the literacy, the inclination, and the free time to go through the process -- that too many of our children will still be left behind in even worse public schools."

    Wow. Just wow. If that doesn't tell you what's wrong with places like Duquesne I don't know what will.

    Forget about the literacy and the wisdom part. Just concentrate on the part where your excuse for not letting parents who care to choose the best schools for their kids rather than the government choosing is that some parents don't have the inclination (read: care enough about their kids) or "free time".

    Since most of Duquesne lives in poverty, I assume the unemployment rate and rate of those being taken care of by the welfare state is pretty high and therefore they have more free time than anyone.

    Just drive through some of these neighborhoods at 1 in the afternoon and see how many are standing on corners. Where oh where will they ever find the free time to pick a school for their children???

  2. Yes, I share that sentiment sometimes. But then, there will be bad parents. What to do about their children?

    Leaving aside with what happens to Duquesne -- those dice have largely been cast -- the question remains what to do next time a neighbor is in danger of losing such life-giving civic infrastructure as a school district. Might we raise the specter of: annexation?

  3. Gentleman? You are too kind.

    I'm not opposed to charter schools, and I'm not opposed to school vouchers that are targeted at low-income families, or families who live in distressed communities. But let's remind our libertarian friends that those are government solutions. Money for vouchers would come from public coffers, and charter schools are public schools--they just happen to be freed from some state regulations and can choose to specialize in certain areas.

    In other words, even if government wouldn't be providing education to these students, it would be paying for it. And that's as it should be, because education is a public good. We rely not only on our own education, but on the education of others to allow society to function.

    Now, plenty of people think that education is one of many things that the private sector could do better than the public sector. Never mind that privatization of a school in Wilkinsburg several years ago failed, nor that, to me knowledge, the nation's for-profit K-12 education firms have yet to actually make a profit. (I could be wrong on that.)

    We can talk all we want about government bureaucracy, or union rules, but at the end of the day, one of the biggest determinants of education success is socio-economic status, and the big challenge is to help schools overcome the disadvantages that poverty brings.

    Certainly, many public schools have found ways to do this, and some private schools as well. In Pittsburgh, we have the Extra Mile Education Foundation, which funds four K-8 Catholic schools that primarily serve low-income, African-American students. (And mostly non-Catholic, if I'm not mistaken.) These are great schools, and many of their students continue their success through high school and attend college.

    But this brings us back to what Bram is talking about. I don't think the Extra Mile schools go out recruiting students. Perhaps they get referrals. I'm guessing that most children end up there because their parents found out about the schools, or were told about the schools, and made the decision to send their children there. They took all the necessary steps to enroll them. These kids may be poor, but they have parents who care about their education and are motivated to do something about it.

    So the question is, how we can help those parents do even more for their children, and what can we do for the children who maybe aren't so blessed? Government can not do everything, you are correct, am in bp, but we have to acknowledge that if we just write off these children, than our most ugly predictions and fears about them will come to pass, and the problems the result will not confine themselves to Duquesne.

  4. I'm sure that's the first time I ever heard of the Extra Mile education foundation. If something is working, that would be great. It might also justify expanding them, and doing outreach (intervention?)