Photo of the day

Back to this week’s Telegraph’s animal photos of the week.  I feel like there’s a fable in this one.

A baby turtle hitches a ride on a bullfrog in one of a series of stunning shots captured by photographer Shi Khei Goh in the forests of Batam, Indonesia

A baby turtle hitches a ride on a bullfrog in one of a series of stunning shots captured by photographer Shi Khei Goh in the forests of Batam, Indonesia. Picture: Shi Khei Goh/MEDIA DRUM

Myths of Education

EdNC is a new non-profit focusing on Education policy in NC and from what I’ve seen so far, they’re doing really good work (I follow on FB).  Anyway, I really liked this 5 myths of the education budget as a couple of things that have always really bugged me, especially the “North Carolina Education Lottery.”  Back when the lottery was passed, a huge part of the pitch was that it would be important to funding education (as if money were not fungible).  From my perspective, it’s actually done real harm to support for education funding as there’s a widespread sentiment of the sort, “but don’t we have the lottery to fund education?”  As if:

Myth #3 – The NC Education Lottery should be able to solve all of North Carolina’s public school funding troubles.What do you think? In 2014, the lottery’s total revenue was $1.84 billion (which was used for prizes, operations, and education). Of that total, $489.1 million was distributed to education programs (49 percent for teachers, 22 percent for school construction/renovation, 17 percent for pre-school, 10 percent for scholarships/financial aid, and 2 percent for digital learning. Per legislation, school districts must use lottery money only for these specific spending categories). Also, while the amount of funding is substantial for classroom teachers and construction, it is important to note that the total lottery funds going to support public schools accounted for only 3.8 percent of the total $8.3 billion (FY 2013-14) annual state funding for K-12 public education.  [emphasis mine]

Also like their take on that traditional conservative bugaboo– too much bureaucracy and administration:

Myth #5 – There would be plenty of money for schools if North Carolina just cut out the education bureaucracy.What do you think? This idea sounds good because, let’s face it, who wants to advocate for more bureaucracy? In truth, public schools have a low percentage of bureaucracy or administration. In fact, if North Carolina eliminated the entire Department of Public Instruction, all local central office staff leading local school districts, all principals and assistant principals, this would total approximately 6 percent of all public school funding and would leave teachers to handle all administrative tasks for themselves, from payroll to school scheduling, purchasing and transporting students to and from school and more.   [emphasis mine]

I don’t doubt there’s some bureaucracy to be streamlined, but, as in most cases, this is a red herring for what really needs to be addressed to improve public education.

Poverty and family structure

Nice column from Kristoff on what a mistake it was for liberals to reject and disparage Daniel Moynihan’s report on the relationship between poverty and family structure.  That family structure contributes significantly to poverty, can now be of little doubt:

The fundamental problem,” Moynihan wrote, is family breakdown. In a follow-up, he explained: “From the wild Irish slums of the 19th-century Eastern seaboard, to the riot-torn suburbs of Los Angeles, there is one unmistakable lesson in American history: a community that allows large numbers of young men to grow up in broken families … never acquiring any stable relationship to male authority, never acquiring any set of rational expectations about the future — that community asks for and gets chaos.”

Liberals brutally denounced Moynihan as a racist. He himself had grown up in a single-mother household and worked as a shoeshine boy at the corner of Broadway and 43rd Street in Manhattan, yet he was accused of being aloof and patronizing, and of “blaming the victim.”…

The liberal denunciations of Moynihan were terribly unfair. In fact, Moynihan emphasized that slavery, discrimination and “three centuries of injustice” had devastated the black family. He favored job and education programs to help buttress the family.

But the scathing commentary led President Lyndon Johnson to distance himself from the Moynihan report. Scholars, fearful of being accused of racism, mostly avoided studying family structure and poverty…

Yet Moynihan was absolutely right to emphasize the consequences for low-income children of changing family structure. Partly because there is often only one income coming into a single-parent household, children of unmarried moms are roughly five times as likely to live in poverty as children of married couples.

Causation is difficult to tease from correlation. But efforts to do that suggest that growing up with just one biological parent reduces the chance that a child will graduate from high school by 40 percent, according to an essay by Sara McLanahan of Princeton and Christopher Jencks of Harvard. They point to the likely mechanism: “A father’s absence increases antisocial behavior, such as aggression, rule-breaking, delinquency and illegal drug use.” These effects are greater on boys than on girls.

Conservatives shouldn’t chortle at the evidence that liberals blew it, for they did as well. Conservatives say all the right things about honoring families, but they led the disastrous American experiment in mass incarceration; incarceration rates have quintupled since the 1970s. That devastated families, leading countless boys to grow up without dads.

I guess I’m a young enough liberal that I missed the wars over Moynihan.  In my experience, many liberals recognize the problems created by family structure.  Regardless, now that both liberals and conservatives can recognize this is a clear problem, we need to figure out policy solutions.  Alas, that’s the hard part.  Though, safe to say that mass incarceration, demonizing poverty, and a political focus on gay marriage are not the solution.

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