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Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Universal Solution

In the Washington Post editorial "Immigration and Wages, Low pay does not justify a high wall" the editorial board espouses the universal liberal solution to all problems for the immigration issue.

What's that solution? Raise taxes on "the rich", of course. Actually, it's not a solution in immigration, as much as it is their solution on the issue of low wage earners having those wages depressed by immigrants.

Never mind the fact that the editorial, in it's first few paragraphs mentions there is little good data to support that theory. In fact, they bring out two conflicting papers as their case studies. One claiming that low wage earners get 7.4% less because of immigration, the other saying there is no apparent difference.

This leads to the obvious solution, when you can't define the problem, throw more money at it, that should solve everything:

"..the question is whether to address that inequality by trying to stop immigration or to go at it via progressive taxation, larger public investments designed to prevent poor kids from dropping out of high school, or some other policy tool."
If there were evidence that throwing more money into public education was going to help people might get behind this. However, Washington DC has the highest per student spending on public education in the country ($16,000/student), and the one of the lowest graduation rates.

Milwaukee Wisconsin spends about $2000 per student over the rest of that states average, and has a 33% drop out rate in the groups that compete directly with immigrants for those low wage jobs.

A better idea, since willy nilly spending isn't working might be actually changing the education system for those kids in the worst schools, who tend to end up in the worst jobs, and have the worst education.

Go to any major school district, and look at the worst schools, and compare the number of years of teacher experience with the best schools. What you'll find is that the toughest places to teach generally have the least experienced teachers working in them.

I'd suggest a four or five year trial period in DC, and similiar districts, that at least two of the most experienced teachers in the district into each department at the lowest performing schools.
See if putting the most qualified, and experienced teachers where the most at risk students are makes a difference.

The teachers unions of course will complain about the idea, and claim more money for new teachers will get more qualified people on the job. While it might get some new teachers with better credentials, they still lack experience, which is what's necessary when dealing with at risk students.

A masters in education might make a teacher more qualified in the subjects they are going to teach, but the students the editorial is talking about targeting don't need teachers who have more book smarts. They need teachers with "street smarts". Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth and Yale don't teach how to deal with a 15 year old with a crack head mom and no father at home; years of dealing with those students teaches that lesson.

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Blogger Rebekah said...

Yes, I think that's a good idea. I also think a voucher system is desperately needed, as well as greater freedom for schools to fire bad teachers.

More money obviously won't help.

Our education system is in serious trouble, and the sooner we stop bowing to every NEA demand, the better.

2:06 PM  

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