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"a 9 a.m. class .... He said he actually liked to schedule the class early because it let him leverage selection effects to ensure he was teaching motivated students"

Matt playing wide-eyed innocent here when all along he has been posting at 6a to select for motivated commenters.

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*East Coast Bias

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"East Coast Bias"

It's not bias, Rory, and that's a hateful slander. There's no bias in our hearts. We're just trying to look after the interests of our own little comments by doing what's best for them. It's true that this system does keep our clever little East Coast comments from mixing with the slower, low-performing comments from undesirable time-zones, but that's just an unintended side effect. If those other commenters want to give their comments a better shot in life, then they should pull themselves up by their bootstraps. They have only themselves to blame for living where they do.

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I think Matt is doing society a noble service by posting at 6 am East Coast time, to allow that part of the country to jump in first. I mean, they deserve some source of pleasure and solace to counter what is otherwise the bleak, West-Coast-less existence they endure each day.

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When you see what they call "mountains", you cannot begrudge them this small advantage.

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I feel sorry for any East Coast skiing aficionado who has a ski trip at Tahoe and then has to go home and being reacquainted with what is available back there.

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I once saw a music concert at a ski resort in Wisconsin, and I took copious pictures of the slopes to share with my friends back in the West for a good chuckle.

It was really hard to resist using scare quotes anywhere in that sentence.

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New Yorker and skier here. I love Alta, the rest of the West is pretty meh. The advantage of living in New York if you're a skier is the comparatively easier access to the Alps. There's nothing in the US that compares to Les Trois Vallees or the Arlberg.

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Easterners also have to suffer through the indignity of late starts to sports on TV. As much as I whine about the time of day SB gets started, I would never trade away the former for the latter.

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Imagine being proud that "first in line" is the best one can say about their commenting quality. You don't have to tell on yourself that you're a "slower, low-performing [commenter]."

Believe in yourself. Show up late to something.

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Thanks, DH! I shall no longer believe that "first in line" is the best I can say about my commenting quality.

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I was across the Columbia from where you are now when it happened, and the same thing happened to me.

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Live where you want, but just get up early to comment. Your great grandfather had to get up at 4 am to walk 5 miles to school. :)

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Or after work for East Asians bias.

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Parent of young children bias.

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We the subscribers should just get in the habit of using the daily discussion thread at 5PM ET to restart the discussion. In theory the comments should be better because we’ve had a chance to digest the earlier discussion. Even if fewer people initially practice this behavior, should we pioneers actually produce a higher-quality dialectic, then Matt could highlight this in future Friday mailbags to encourage more participation.

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Defect! Defect from the inequitable East Coast Regime! =)

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Eh, I'm usually worn out from the discussion by then, and usually want to talk about something else that I found interesting during the day, or whatever Milan thinks is interesting to talk about.

My dream, if Matt insists on posting the articles so damn early, is if Substack adds a function to program an automatic opening of the comments that's a few hours after the article publishes. The Eastern Time Early Birds can digest the article a bit, as you say, while the rest of us catch up on waking up.

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All comments go into a pool and are selected by lottery like for charter schools. :)

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"All comments go into a pool and are selected by lottery..."

Matt goes full Neo-liberal shill and auctions off positions on the page.

You want your comment to be top comment? We can arrange that... for a price.

And remember, Milan's gotta get his beak wet, too, or the ban-hammer is coming down!

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And the proceeds from the auction of course have to go to the GiveWell Maximum Impact Fund!

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"...Substack adds a function to program an automatic opening of the comments that's a few hours after the article publishes..."

In all seriositude, I would not be opposed to this. Might improve the overall quality of the comments section.

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When I return late in the day to comment on the comments, I re-order to newest first so the last shall be first to be bathed in the elixer of my considered opinion. :)

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The daily 5pm thread is lit right now

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This comment is perfectly designed to get the strongest of upvotes from me: classic DT humor as I grumble into the void at already seeing that 136 comments have been made on a topic I might find interesting while I'm trying to caffeinate for the date.

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Suits me fine that he posts at 11am. I don't have to compete with lots of Americans

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"I don't have to compete with lots of Americans."

Certainly British people are well-advised not to attempt to compete with Americans.

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Hey, I love the 6a time. If I don't read the columns and a few comments then, the day kicks in and I can't get to it until the evening or even the next day.

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founding

I like the early time because it means that by the time I get up and start reading, there’s already plenty of discussion for me to participate in!

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Man, back in my day, our ONLY option for our required controls class was 0740. And it was uphill in the snow, and we *liked* it!

(the lecturer also worked a regular normal engineering job, I think)

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Right, I'm pretty sure it's a law that Intro Calc classes must start before 8:30a at the latest. It's, like, integral to the whole experience (not that that differentiates it from advanced Calc.).

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You're reminding me of the semester I spent waking up at 6:30 to catch my 7:30 "Advanced Non-Linear Numerical and Iterative Methods" course during grad school.

Ugh. Sooo very much coffee that year. Thank Christ I've never had to use any of it because I don't write FEA code for a living.

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Funny what you run into in little corners of the internet. I'd love to poke your brain over a beer on that one.

I took an FEA class /from the math department/ once... the proudest pity-B of my life. "As you all fondly remember from real analysis," (as the engineer furtively glances at everyone else in the room)

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I managed a C. In my defense the language of instruction was Mandarin and this was only my second semester.

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1) Yes

2) : |

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I've wondered when he will change up the schedule to get a different mix of commenters! At 6:44 am I recognize a lot of the names down here...

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"At 6:44 am I recognize a lot of the names down here..."

At 6:44 am it's too early for me to recognize my own name.

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Tried 9am's last semester -- never again

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"Tried 9am's last semester -- never again"

I totally agree -- it's just too late in the day.

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I didn't mind earlyish classes (8 AM was about my limit though) and shoving as much classwork in during the morning, so I could hang out and have a good time with friends in the afternoon.

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I love these columns. But I wish they did interrogate left of center intuitions about education a bit more. Here’s what I’m getting at: if there are some Ed interventions that really work on kids with disinterested, disorganized parents, with fewer resources, with low aptitude, etc, doesn’t it make perfect sense to cluster these kids all in the same ‘bad’ schools? maybe it’s hard to recruit ‘good’ teachers then but why are we even assuming a good teacher for the natural a students is a good teacher for the natural d students?

It may be the students with worst potential benefit most from something like direct instruction which the teachers that high SES parents love would never go for.

At the end of the day it seems what many left of center folks (either pro reform or not) are really indicating is that they think the engaged and motivated parents should have to spend their own energy on the children whose parents don’t care as much. And that this can only be accomplished by putting the low performing kids next to the high performing ones and degrading the experience of the high performing children until their neurotic parents can’t stand it anymore and solve the problem themselves. Only there’s no evidence the neurotic striver parents can even do this! And it seems more than a bit of an unfair bait and switch or maybe a confusion of the long running civil rights battles over segregation for the proximate issue.

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Public education is a solidly progressive/left institution.

Conservatives spent a decent amount of political capital trying to reform it over the last 20 years, and it didn't succeed in any real way.

Not only that, but it seems like public schools are increasingly both able and willing to push more blatantly left wing stuff on kids, either through the curriculum or through structural changes with metrics and (loosened) discipline. Especially since 2020.

To the point that it is damaging the left wing as much as it is us.

So why not defect? At least that way I can guarantee that my kids get an acceptable education. And it is far better than futilely trying to assail that fortress again.

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Apr 19, 2023·edited Apr 19, 2023

You skipped the part where conservatives came in with goofy ideas like that the intricacy of the human eyeball disproves the theory of evolution.

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That was indeed dumb. It is not representative of conservatives as a whole. Especially not now.

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It was 20-40 years ago!

When they started blowing political capital on this endeavor education polarization wasn't nearly as pronounced and the biases involved were mostly confined to higher education, and widely joked about by students rather than taken seriously.

Conservative attempts to "fix" that were among the trends which made them look like complete idiots to high-SES folks who weren't religious.

Do you remember exactly how much right-pundit ink was spilled during and immediately prior to Bush II on the topic of "intelligent design" in public schools?

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As I'll keep noting, Discovery Institute was basically the big Think Tank in this time period pushing this Intelligent Design garbage. And who started his career at Discovery Institute? Your friend and mine Chris Rufo.

I have to 100% sign on to the fact that pushing Intelligent Design was a HUGE part of the Bush era on the Right. Remember the controversies about Texas school books?

I bring up Chris Rufo because I really think we need to get a handle as to what is motivating this "let's just privatize education" going on with the Right. This is as much about religious conservatives trying to get their way as anything...something I don't think Matt emphasizes enough in this post.

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I was in high school in Alabama during this time, so I definitely remember hearing it.

Never from a science teacher, though!

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Can you elaborate on how those two things are connected?

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Apr 19, 2023·edited Apr 19, 2023

You mean teach "Left wing stuff" like, "Science", "Math" and "Logic." [Edit: adding /S in case that wasn't clear] /S

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I mean, this is all well and good if you're intensely worried about your children becoming more liberal than you want, but this was also the argument of white parents in the South arguing for segregation academies.

Public funding shouldn't fuel parallel reactionary institutions, whether they're Islamic madrassas of Christian academies, and if reactionary state governments want to attempt, we should use the full force of the federal government to stop that, for the good of a unified nation.

Also, public education as an institution is left-leaning, is in part due to the choices of conservatives. You guys were the ones who decided that money was the only thing that mattered.

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It's an interesting thought... I wonder if it would work in an entirely different world where more resources were allocated for the difficult kids? I get the impression right now that teachers rely on having some "easy kids" in order to have the time for "difficult kids", so the blended schools are a way to accomplish that. (And then part of the current sorting is to get to schools with fewer difficult kids so that more of the teacher's attention can go toward your clever easy kid.)

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>I wonder if it would work in an entirely different world where more resources were allocated for the difficult kids?

Majority Black and Hispanic schools receive more per-pupil funding than majority white schools

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a) really though? I read articles like this that say no: https://edtrust.org/press-release/school-districts-that-serve-students-of-color-receive-significantly-less-funding/

b) even so, the amount required for a difficult student might easily be 2x what it takes for an easy student. I don't know for sure, but just picturing a class where the teacher spends twice as much time on the students who need extra help.

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“On average, both Black and Latinx total per pupil expenditures exceed White total per pupil expenditures by $229.53 and $126.15, respectively.”

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2332858419872445

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I am going to forgive you for using "Latinx" only because it appears to be quote.

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it's the quote

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my friend, can we not agree that is a negligible amount in the scope of per pupil annual spending? I'm in NY where it's over $20k per year per pupil.

I find that paper difficult to read... But it appears to be saying that this funding is not purely instructional, which makes me wonder if it even covers the increased free lunch costs in those schools.

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sure if we're talking about 1-2% of total per pupil expenditures, that's not that meaningful. But the broader point that low-income schools don't suffer from much lower funding still stands.

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The thing with the difficult students is that often the difficulty stems from trauma: abuse, poverty, stressed single mother, often all of those combined. Therapy is expensive and schools need a lot more money to deal with those students. Of course, they are generally the students who are worse academically, scaring away the middle class parents.

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Apr 19, 2023·edited Apr 19, 2023

Yes, classrooms have a tipping point. When I had 4 general ed 8th-grade classes and and ONE honors class (that teachers had to sign off for entry), it worked better because every class had a lot of good students to model behavior and academic performance. Now I have 2-3 “honors” classes that are open to anyone and that makes the 2-3 gen ed classes much worse and closer to remedial. The honors classes are also worse because many kids don’t belong there and that affects what we can do.

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The worse thing that happens, is the real honors kids basically get drafted into being tutors.

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And some of the really smart kids get bored and start acting out. With expected results

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Well I don’t know what kind of a resource allocation would be acceptable from different POV on equity. But it’s politically possible in some cases for underperforming districts to get as much $ or more per student as the richer areas. Maybe justice requires like 3x or something implausible like that. But I don’t think equality or a bit better is impossible in blue areas.

I’m not sure about ‘attention’. It is possible there’s some ideal peer group mix that creates an optimal classroom dynamic but it still seem to me like a bait and switch! The idea is some of these kids really need almost no resources from the district and they will doodle or whatever while the teachers do direct instruction on a class that’s really half as big as it appears?

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re attention, I'm talking about the quiet kids who listen to the teacher & understand the lesson easily & don't cause class disruptions. Picture the quiet girls (and boys) pulling down good grades and turning in their homework on time. They require very little individualized instruction time - just the lesson (that is delivered once for all the students) and the test/assignment grading (which is not THAT much effort, especially when the work is good).

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I just don’t agree these kids don’t benefit from attention. It seems that yes you might leave fewer ‘behind’ if you set a low bar half your kids will pass without one on one instruction. But if that’s the idea some attempt has to be made to show it’s useless to try to get the quiet girls to do better than they already are.

I think the type of model you are suggesting is how most schools teach reading. And it does seem somewhat appropriate there, to me. It’s not exactly binary can / cannot read but it’s close enough and it’s an important enough skill to be worth viewing it that way. But I don’t agree that the remaining 10 years or so of school is this same proposition over and over.

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sorry, I might be misunderstanding... Is your proposal that these good kids getting little attention could achieve even more if they DID get more attention! Oh yes, I totally agree with that! I'm saying that's a motivation for the sorting - you want to move to a "better" district where more of the attention will be on your child.

But my younger boy could be taking in the math curriculum at 2x the pace if it weren't slowed down to the class average. My older boy tests at a college reading level but is still doing middle school reading because hey, it's a middle school so that's what they teach at his age.

Or is your point different? Sorry if I'm missing something.

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That is my point, and I think it is a bit more of an open question how much the better performers can achieve if they are catered to or how much is ‘just’ the friend / social network peer effects.

Most of the folks I know that chose worse public schools (usually to have a larger home) believe that in practice their kid is still going to end up learning just as much as they would in the ‘good’ district and that they can just make friends with other ‘nice’ high SES families and get the peer network with little additional effort.

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Great podcast on econ talk where Roland Fryer showed how he turned around a bunch of public schools and provides a road map to do it.

But people don't want to because you got to fire a lot of low performers

https://www.econtalk.org/roland-fryer-on-educational-reform/

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I’m pretty sure clustering all the poor performers together never works in any setting, regardless of the intervention tried.

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You don’t think it works for like the private schools that specialize in teaching rich kids with learning disabilities? I’d imagine the practical issue is more political economy / oversight than something wrong with concept itself.

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Parental influence may be the most powerful reason our society isn't a meritocracy. I think meritocracy is a false idol, but I'm pretty confident a lot of the high-SES parents who are worried about their efforts being "wasted" on poor kids worship it. I would appreciate it if they were honest with themselves.

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Shouldn't we be encouraging good parenting?

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I think this is all well and good and in The Discourse is (not incorrectly) understood as telling parents that there is something morally wrong with them if they do not want to send their children to school in highly disruptive environments. Unless you have an answer for that then people are rightly skeptical. And when school districts do things like what that CO district Matt linked to the game is given up entirely.

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Apr 19, 2023·edited Apr 19, 2023

Yes. There was a weird conversation between the wife and my son's teacher last year where the wife felt horribly guilty for our son commenting a couple times (at home and directly to the teacher at school) "The teacher spends all her time with Johnny" and kept trying to apologize for his non-enlightened attitude, and the teacher kept apologizing for spending her time with him and he shouldn't be in the class but there was nothing she could do about it. They completely talked past each other for 90 seconds.

Wife wasn't upset at all with mainlining kids with serious behavioral issues and was aghast her 7 year old wasn't as enlightened.

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If you look at public schools in the 1940's you get an inkling of what that must look like. Exacting discipline, in which the standards that aspirational middle- and professional-class parents would expect of their children were applied ruthlessly to everyone so as to create an environment those parents found acceptable and comfortable.

Because at the time there were no alternatives; the private preparatory schools were the playground of rich children and denied even those first generation professional parents who could afford them, there were basically no non-Catholic religious schools, and the Catholic religious schools were a niche for devout Catholics where permitted. So the high-SES parents wielded disproportionate influence over public education because they were all more or less forced onto the same boat as the middle-class and working-class parents.

In the cities, there was likely *some* socioeconomic segregation based on catchment, between good and bad neighborhoods. In suburban rail commuter towns and rural areas, none. There weren't enough people to do so.

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You make all of this sound like a bad thing and I don't understand why.

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What suggests for even a moment that I think this is a bad thing?

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Then apparently I misread you!

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I’ve read similar arguments before. Worth noting that graduation rates used to be much lower. I highly doubt the rise in disruptive behavior is due to kids being passed along, however. That’s probably some small part of it, but the majority, I suspect, is due to low standards.

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deletedApr 19, 2023·edited Apr 19, 2023
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All fair in theory, never going to happen in practice absent a willingness to enforce some serious standards of discipline. The victims when they won't are the students who are there doing the right thing, and they should be the priority.

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I can't pretend to be an expert at all, but as a clerk for a judge, I was astounded at how complicated and expensive IDEA litigation is. A private cause of action as a solution for special education just doesn't seem like the best way to run a railroad.

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Do you have more details on this? My sense is that you’re on to something but I find the area of special education very confusing and FULL of very strong advocates. And is there anyone you know pushing against this in a smart way that doesn’t sound like they just have some type of animus against the disabled?

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Can you clarify? I’m fairly certain that all IEP cases with which I am familiar are generally highly legitimate and also usually take 9-24 months to realize.

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founding

What does “IEP” mean?

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When my children were in school in 80s Seattle, I walked the halls of the grammar school hearing shouts and chaos from most classrooms. The few classrooms that were quiet were occupied by children whose parents were "pushy" per some teachers' definition. Assuming that teachers can control and socialize children from homes where impulse control isn't taught is false hope, unless, and only perhaps, the ratio of controllers to kids is incredibly high. My brother taught 5th grade for years. He related telling the parents of a self-controlled child that not much would be learned in the school term because his time was mostly spent keeping two others from destroying the classroom. That was his reality.

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One or two kids out of 26 is more than enough to derail the class, speaking from experience. All “discipline” consists primarily of removing them from the classroom. The only leverage admin sometimes has is when the kids are athletes & can be excluded from games or kicked out of programs.

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It's externalities all the way down. Cf no tax on net CO2 emissions. We just do not take externalities seriously enough.

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I think there is a core question one needs to answer, and that's whether the point of public schools is to be a public service or a social engineering project (which it sounds like is more your preference). Maybe to some degree it is inherently both, but the more all in you go on the latter the less support there is going to be for the former, which is exactly the dynamic that I think is starting to play out.

Now there's a strain of conservatism that has always said public education is all social engineering. What's gotten a little nuts is now having progressives say that they're right and that it's good actually. That way lies the end of public education.

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It’s not a social hierarchy, it’s a performance hierarchy. We have JV athletics and Varsity athletics; that isn’t a social hierarchy either.

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I think you are giving this evidence a very generous read bc it says something you want to hear. But if true and if it’s the real main impulse behind left education policy it should be much more straightforwardly pitched. The typical left sympathetic person I speak to thinks poor kids suffer in school bc their school building is falling apart and there is no teacher and no pencils or paper.

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I don't know the studies, but my own gut-level hypothesis would be that if you have a school that's 90% high-SES and 10% low-SES, then the low-SES get pulled up and the high-SES kids are not adversely affected in any way - it might even benefit them. But if you have a school that's 40% high-SES and 60% low-SES, then the low-SES kids wouldn't get helped very much (though I don't think the high-SES kids would necessarily get hurt by it either, at least not academically - they'd probably cluster together in the honors classes). The problem is that mathematically you can't make every school 90% or 80% or even 70% high-SES.

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Yes, a school needs a "critical mass" of middle class kids to work. Probably there are two critical masses: first, there needs to be enough middle class kids to be able to offer the type of instruction (e.g. calculus and AP English) that is a prerequisite for admission to and success at competitive colleges. Second, a (higher) critical mass at which the at-risk kids get "pulled up" by the immersive effect of being in a majority middle-class school. To the first point, one can easily find cases where the high performers at majority at-risk schools are completely unprepared for college work, eg: https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/graduates-from-low-performing-dc-schools-face-tough-college-road/2013/06/16/e4c769a0-d49a-11e2-a73e-826d299ff459_story.html

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Don’t you think there’s some other factor in your experience beside getting the scholarship? Why were you selected? Not denying this impact on your life but the question of how much juice there is to squeeze. As you know we already do try to skim out a lot of low SES kids and particularly assign them the opportunity to meet more high SES.

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Your experience seems consistent with the hypothesis (mentioned in another comment in this thread) that this is true for a small cohort of low SES among a large cohort of high SES, but could still fall apart if you mix closer to 50/50.

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Apr 19, 2023·edited Apr 19, 2023

This is a constructive and relevant response but it seems to me that it runs into the problem that if a uniform low-SES is demonstrably bad for the kids in that milieu, it’s not clear that that wouldn’t hold for both high- and low-SES kids which in turn makes it rational for high-SES schools/parents to oppose integration of the marginal low-SES kid (especially if unselected), because even if the inclusion itself could be positive-sum the proximate transaction is more like a transfer payment (giving one’s bread to a starving person is almost certainly welfare increasing but you’re still out the bread.)

Personally I think this is an instance where marginal effects may have a weird interface with threshold effects that throw a wrench into marginal analysis, but without a comprehensive set of information and variables on that (including selection effects through programs like ABC) that’s just a rough belief of mine that’s unresponsive to the basic marginal calculus above.

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Is it really firmly established that peer effects are super important in terms of improving students' learning? This paper https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.3982/ECTA10266 (published in a top-5 journal) seems to suggest the opposite.

I'll admit I'm not super familiar with the literature on this topic, so it may be that 90% of the papers on this subject contradict these results.

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there seems to be massive "optimism bias" in educational research, where things like better peer integration, small class sizes, more funding or tech in schools, etc. all get hyped up as helpful but none of those things actually work

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The problem is that Chetty's paper doubles as evidence for the value of keeping your own kids away from poor kids. Which is exactly what we actually see wealthy parents spending vast sums to do.

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Very interesting Chetty article. Thanks for the link. “School is mostly about socialization…” Or stated another way, as the article shows, success in school is mostly about networking.

This is the theme of The Human Network by Matthew O. Jackson. “Entrenched forces of homophily, coupled with the information and opportunities that flow through one’s network, are fundamental forces behind investment in education, immobility, and inequality.”

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Networking and socialization are not the same thing.

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I think that kahlenberg has published some studies showing that higher % of middle->upper income families at a school correlates with improved outcomes for low SES students.

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Here is the conservative view against these school choice bills. The state money that is being provided to parents is paid by people without kids. Why should my tax dollars go for someone to spend on their kids to give them an education that I might not approve of.

What’s ironic is the same people that are against welfare or cash benefits for poor people, support this cash benefits for a select number of parents.

Finally, as a parent of five kids, who has raised four other step-kids, and raised them all over the country because of the military… When people say they want a good schools, but they really mean is they want their kids to have good peers. And since it’s impossible to tell if any particular kid is “good “they use the kids parents as proxy.

When most parents meet one of their kids, friends, inevitably one of the first questions they ask is… What do your parents do?

I’m guilty of it. But I also know that the most liberal progressive parents also ask the same question. We all couch it in curiosity, but really, it’s a way for us to judge.

I like these education posts by Matt, but I really wish he would talk more about his decisions as a parent.

I believe he said that he sent his son to a public school, but I wonder what his thinking is. Will he continue to assess kids get older, or will he maybe consider moving to another area, or will it be a private school.

The perceived peer effects are much more significant as you get to middle school and high school.

Speaking of peer effects, my son that was notorious for making friends with the worst influences, no matter what school we went to. My son easily got A’s and B’s without even trying, but every single one of his friends was shady. Like shady, they broke into our house and stole stuff shady. It was like he was attracted to these bad kids for whatever reason. Because a little bit of delay in his adult hood stability. But happy and then he ended up living in Scotland for a couple years met a really posh girl and moved back to Boise recently, and started working for my company Siemens Energy as a generator Winder. And he is kicking ass… They love him. He’ll be making six figures by the age of 28.

Anyway, I’m in Perú guys and I gotta go to work. Have a great day.

(this entire post was dictated on my phone while I’m eating breakfast)

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Since Matt lives in a large urban district, he'll have the opportunity, if he wants to, to enroll his kid in a selective-admission public high school. Matt's expressed some skepticism about selective-admission schools in the past, but there's really no alternative if you want to send your kid to an urban public high school and you want them to be around any academically-minded classmates whatsoever.

Middle school, though, is a big problem in a lot of cities (not sure about DC). I think some cities do K-8 elementary schools, which mitigates the issue. But selective-admission middle schools are rare. And I kind of get why they would be rare. But you really wouldn't want your kid going to a genpop urban middle school. Genpop suburban middle schools are hard enough!

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Google took me to this DC-based discussion board where one parent proposed that the selective-admission high schools in DC be eliminated. Other parents were not receptive to this proposal. https://www.dcurbanmom.com/jforum/posts/list/1123556.page

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Thanks for this interesting post. I wonder if the snobbery about parents jobs could be mitigated if the kids go to an exam based public school. I went to one and while the cohort was disproportionately from PMC families there were many who were not. Some of my friends who were particularly bright had eg a cab driver dad and stay at home mom, a driving instructor dad etc. I don’t think my parents cared one bit and I certainly didn’t.

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So.... my daughter goes to a selective exam based boarding school (South Carolina Governors School for Science and Math) and the question still gets asked, but really its more out of curiosity. The students are already self-selected for academic achievement and a certain drive to get in. After the first semester when 20% of kids drop out (its basically a college) because its not a right fit or home-sickness... all the kids are pretty much successful. It has like a 99% college acceptance rate.

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It’s so cool that you basically have anecdata for *all* kinds of school experience!

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oh yeah I do. Military Base schools are by and far superior to anything else. No matter the kid's academic accomplishment, you know for sure that their parents will whip ass if they misbehave on base. Plus, because of the transitory nature of military life, kids are less cliquey and there is sort of a common bond... military brats vs everyone else.

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I wanted to chime in and say that wrt Matt potentially changing or evolving his position on sending his kid to a private school, a really common choice for parents is to send their kid to "public school" in air quotes ie., your kid is technically going to a public school but is taking only advanced classes such as Honors or college level courses. I went to a high school of around 3000 students and it was so large that if you took advanced classes, it was like going to an entirely different school.

Plenty of parents find that to be a good compromise. They get to have their kid get the public school experience of actually interacting with the general public (at lunch, at PE, in homeroom or at other school functions, or just out and about in school), but they know that secretly their kid will, when the time for learning come, be in a perfectly uniform environment with other advanced kids.

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I think the reason conservatives don't think of the school vouchers as a handout is because you're already paying property taxes to fund the local public schools that you aren't sending your child to. So what the voucher does, in effect, is not to redistribute someone else's hard-earned money to you, but rather to repay you your own money that you were unfairly taxed. There are empirical questions about how the math works out, but I don't think this is at all conceptually incoherent. (And it strikes me as plausible that some of the people who support vouchers also support the idea that adults without children shouldn't have to pay into the public education system either. If not they'll need to come up with a story about the normative goodness of having children/of society having policies that encourage this.... which I at least *think* could be done in a way that doesn't necessarily endorse preferential funding for kids who go to public schools.)

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Your explanation about the rationale for vouchers is indeed what I usually see given on libertarian or conservative websites when the discussion comes up.

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'Unfairly taxed'. The reason we have public schools funded by a 'fair tax' on all is to have an educated society that can compete at the highest level on the world stage.

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In the interest of continuing to steelman their argument...

At least in theory, if the private schools are subject to standards and curriculum review, they also serve the goal of having an educated society that can compete at the highest level on the world stage.

Given that schools are generally funded by property taxes, it's not crazy that people would think of school funding in terms of "I pay money to receive services." If it was about the larger societal benefit, there's not much reason for funding to be allocated at the municipal level. As it stands, these rich parents' tax dollars aren't being redistributed to improving the quality of public education for those who'd most benefit from it/can't afford private schooling; they're being redistributed to other rich kids in their rich suburbs. For religious schools in particular, this is basically a redistribution from rich religious people to rich secular people. (This obviously depends on the empirical particulars - surely there are exceptions - but given our massively efficient geographic class sorting, most rich people live in municipalities with other rich people.)

I'm guessing you *also* believe that school funding shouldn't be allocated at the municipal level, given your views on the purpose of public education. But the way the system is currently designed very much encourages thinking of education tax dollars as a service one personally benefits from.

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Glad your son is doing well Rory. It’s great to be close to family if you can swing it.

I wasn’t the worst kid in my peer group but I was probably the worst academically performing kid. I hung out with all the honors students because I did a lot of extracurricular stuff and was really interested in youth government/model UN/politics.

I remember getting a few side eyes from parents because I was the kid that always want to play mortal combat or go ride bikes (not do study groups or whatever). I benefitted from those friendships and I think they benefitted from mine.

Ideally my kid will have a mix of peers but the important thing is that she will learn right from wrong and what is a situation to avoid vs what is one to take a chance on. Learning about risk and reward is an essential lesson of the social educational experience.

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Thanks Bo. I could write a whole post about my Son. It was very stressful as a parent to see him flounder, despite multiple opportunities. So much that we had very little communication. Then all of the sudden, he decides to get serious. The crazy thing is seeing how much like me he is at work. The irony is I was the same way as a kid. 2.2 GPA in HS. Failed out of Community College. Air Force saved me.

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founding

I think the “what do your parents do for work?” question is related to the “what do you do for work?” question that adults inevitably ask each other shortly after meeting. It’s felt as just curiosity, but it has the effect (and maybe the subconscious purpose?) of classism.

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Yes, but ymmv. Teacher vs police officer vs professor vs hedge fund manager. Your prejudice about each may take into account far more than the perceived income of each.

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"Why should my tax dollars go for someone to spend on their kids to give them an education that I might not approve of."

This is related to 1A jurisprudence, where the establishment clause used to serve as a barrier to the expenditure of taxpayer money in support of religious institutions and activities. But in recent decades, the Supremes have been using the free exercise clause as a weapon against the establishment clause, so as to channel state money towards the religious right. It's going to be hard to reverse this trend without new personnel on the court.

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Try the cuy. I hear it's delicious.

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haha... I am not a fan of Peruvian food, and I am not a picky eater. The problem with Peruvian food is... its really good when cooked well at an expensive restaurant, but at the little sites I work at in the boonies... no way I am eating ceviche and the lomo saltado is tough and chewy.

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I got introduced to tiradito last summer in San Francisco and I'd love to try that again. I also love ceviche but I could understand being averse to it in sketch locations.

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US Ceviche and Peruvian Ceviche aren't necessarily the same thing. But if you had good quality Peruvian version, it is very good.

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Apr 19, 2023·edited Apr 19, 2023

"Why should my tax dollars go for someone to spend on their kids to give them an education that I might not approve of."

The pro-voucher counter that comes to my mind is...

The govt is already taxing me to provide a public education system that I don't approve of, so why shouldn't I be able to get part of the funding that would be going to public schools for the education of my kids, and use it to get an education that I do approve of?

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Except... you do approve of the public education system, since you vote for the school board, or the people that appoint education administrators.

And I actually have no problem with people getting the part of the funding that would go to public schools for their kids... as long as it was only their part... the percentage of the percentage that they personally paid.

So for example... funding per student is $10,000. That 10,000 was paid for by lets say the population of Florida 22million people, and lets say 50% are adults who pay taxes. So 10,000 / 11million = 0,009 USD, lets round up to a penny.

But your wife also pays taxes. Therefore, I fully support you getting a tax refund of 2 cents.

The other 9,999.98 paid by other tax payers for kids to go to public schools should well, go to public schools.

Compromise at its finest!

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"since you vote for the school board"

Trick question, hardly anyone bothers to vote for school board members. Oh wait...covid sure did cause a lot more people to become motivated about those offices on the ballot. That's led to entertaining things like Shiva Rajbhandari getting elected.

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I had to google, but then remembered seeing the article.

Great way to get into Harvard was my first thought. Smart.

Just perused his twitter... boiler plate progressive. I mean there is nothing wrong with that, but a little bit boring. Not really saying anything new.

I wonder if he has his sight on politics... if smart he would move out of Idaho first... we have a cap on Democrats.

It's like that kid from Parkland, Florida who leveraged the even to get into Harvard. You have to find a way to stand out.

(Im a bit cynical about these kids right now)

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The cash “benefits” are not seen by supporters as subsidies. Rather, they are seen as “refunds” to to the overtaxed and religiously persecuted who are opting out of the public system.

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Except they are getting more than they individually paid in relative to educations percentage of the state budget.

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That may well be the case, but it's not perceived that way and you'd have a hell of a time making the accounting clear enough to convince someone who wants to believe otherwise

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Oh, I agree. Weird how people are especially prone to cognitive bias when it's in their favor financially.

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It would be worth studying how much society gains from prioritizing high performing students versus how much it gains by catering to low performing students to close achievement gaps.

My intuition is that giving future professionals and leaders the best possible education is more socially useful than improving the spelling of future warehouse workers and cashiers. I know there’s research that smart working class kids really benefit from creaming. My wife did-- she was one of the poorest students in her school’s gifted program and wound up a successful CPA. She didn’t exactly grow up in poverty, her father had a good job at a tobacco factory and her mom was a bookkeeper, but she was noticeably poorer than her gifted program peers. Is there any good research on what, exactly, society gets by closing achievement gaps? Having warehouse workers and cashiers spell someone better is not nothing, but capturing the potential of the smart working class kids seems far more important.

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It's been studied in the context of educational outcomes and the model that made Finland the highest performing education system in the world (from a rather middling start mere decades ago) was in explicitly focusing on *equality of access* to quality education. It's much easier to bring up the overall average by bringing up the laggards than in making marginal gains in the few, already well-performing cohorts.

As for society-wide effects, that's harder to measure as a direct causation, of course, given the difficulty in finding a robust A/B type test. But proxy metrics are suggestive that equality of opportunity tends to increase the overall productivity curve and HDI-type measures across society.

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That's very interesting, but I'm hesitant to believe much of what applies to an ethnostate 50% smaller than metro Atlanta would also apply to America writ large.

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Why? It also works in the rest of Scandinavia, too, including Sweden, which is hardly an enthno-state with a third of its population coming from a foreign background. Even little Finland is more diverse than you think.

These are also relatively large, unified national systems that are larger than the United States' multifarious local educational systems. There is no one American school system. There aren't even state school systems, really. Things are controlled at the local level. And they operate very differently, with very different budgets. There's enough diversity to see that top-spending MA has far better outcomes, while still being both diverse and populous.

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I have a feeling like the most disruptive set of Finnish students are quite different than the most disruptive set of American students.

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Well, that’s the problem with feelings—they are often confounded by fact. The most disruptive students in Finland and the rest of Scandinavia punch WAY above their weight, heading some of the most successful companies on the planet. Neighboring Sweden has the most amount of tech “unicorns” per capita after the United States (including many you’ve certainly heard of or used, like Spotify and Klarna). Between the two o countries, they also host the only two producers of 5G infrastructure equipment outside of East Asia. Not bad for such small places, right?

I’d argue, instead, that the United States could much better utilize its considerable structural advantages to become wealthier and more innovative than it already is, if only it weren’t struggling with such a handicap in its poor K-12 education system(s) and how few young Americans actually benefit from the opportunity of even an adequate education!

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when I said disruptive I meant the kids most likely to fight others, throw things at teachers, yell loudly in the middle of class, etc.

If you've never went to school at or worked in a low-income American school, you probably don't realize how bad the bad kids are.

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https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-030-93429-3_3

To summarize... Sweden has been losing ground steadily relative to its fellow European Nations.

Of course they do better than the US. But, I agree that we should be cautious about using Scandinavian schools as some sort of benchmark or idealization that we could just magically copy.

Schools systems aren't just independently operated institutions. They work within the culture in which they exist.

Scandanavian schools are successful but so are Asian schools, and they certainly arent mirrors of each other.

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This is a great question and I have precisely the opposite intuition as you. I think there's a large number of people who are dipping in and out of poverty, some of whom then turn to crime or other anti-social behavior, who with a bit more education could have been normie warehouse workers or cashiers. The consequences for missteps when you are near-poor are substantial: desperation + drunk driving or knocking up a convenience store can cost someone their life or at least a decade of it behind bars.

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I don’t think education determines whether one can keep a warehouse job. In the early and mid 20th century, plenty of people who didn’t have high school degrees kept blue collar jobs.

The two most important things that determine labor force participation are: 1) prevailing wages of workers and 2) alternative sources of income for those who don’t work. many lower class middle age men these days are basically mooching off their parents or siblings. only within the last 50 years we’re working class families able to support unproductive men.

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I'm not sure how to evaluate this but my intuition is that education does indeed determine whether someone at the margins shifts into the criminal/anti-social world or stays in the lower-middle class normie employed world. So while it's true that the mid 20th century had plenty of blue collar jobs, it's also true that it had much more crime.

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the variables are hard to disentangle. a person with an anti-social personality is likely to be anti-social in school and, accordingly, more likely to drop out

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Right, perhaps another way of looking at this is how do we get people with anti-social personalities to channel them productively rather than indulge in them? If we don't do it through school then what are the back-up systems in place to do it elsewhere?

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The argument usually goes that some of those low performing students are really high performing students if they just had the same opportunities. Therefore, we are loosing out on the accepted benefits of having even more high performing students.

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founding

"The right likes the idea of regressive tax cuts, and the right is very into helping religious people."

This has been true during most of my lifetime and was even more true during the Bush NCLB years. Even so, the right tried for years to support reforms and had a few successes. The big question for me is ... What changed? Something has fundamentally altered the calculus and without understanding what that was it is hard to know what needs to be fixed.

Perhaps the education-sorting has biased the right away from education in general? or our highly-racialized discourse has seeped too much into school curriculums? or just Covid-related shutdowns and related partisanship? I don't know.

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I know it probably gets brought up too frequently and it's a tired subject, but the increase in trans identification is basically social contagion, and public schools seem to be a vector.

So between that and all the other issues with public schools (at least locally), I'm pretty much ready to defect once my state implements universal vouchers.

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I'm not sure that public schools are really a vector here except in a very, very small number of extremely insularly blue school districts. I can't even identify a single district in Philadelphia's sapphire-blue, post-liberal, professional-class inner suburbs that has policies which would cover for a teacher hiding a minor's desire to transition from their parents. There is some serious nutpicking going on here.

TikTok, on the other hand, absolutely is a vector for all sorts of body discomfort, disproportionately among teenage girls, and I hope to Christ it's been shot and buried in a shallow grave by the time my kid is 11.

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My eldest is 12, and I have three more coming up on her heels.

I'm just not allowing them to get anything more than a dumb phone for emergencies, in the hopes of limiting social media's influence.

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As we all know, historically, parents attempting to shield their kids from social change works out in ways the parents want.

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Surely the answer to this is “often, unironically yes.” How else would one account for, e.g., the persistence and indeed growth of the Amish community?

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If you go about it stupidly, you probably have a point.

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I definitely think it's a social thing (at least in part) that is spread primarily in the spaces where kids socialize. These days, that's mostly online.

That said, I do wonder how much of the rise in "transgenderism" is really just relabeling stuff that twenty years ago would have fit within accepted liberal definitions of masculinity and femininity as trans. Like, I knew guys in high school who painted their nails and had girlfriends; nobody said they were 'trans' or 'nonbinary' (I don't think the idea of 'nonbinary' even existed) they were just straight guys who were kinda goth and painted their nails. I'm inclined to dislike this trend, but a lot of it does kind of seem to boil down to using new words to describe stuff that already existed.

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Another anecdote, but I have a group of friends from high school that I still keep in touch with, and we were all massive anime nerds in the 90s and early 00s. (Some continued well afterwards, I mostly trailed off)

Out of the the eight of us in the 'core group', two of them went off the deep end over the last ~5 years and decided that they are transgender. There were no signs of anything like that back in high school, for what that's worth.

It's possible that that is coincidence/bad luck, but I seriously doubt it.

I would stake my life on there being a significant social component to it's spread.

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I mostly agree with this. There are an exceptionally small number of teachers who would actually agree to any "gender bending subterfuge" or whatever. To the extent that gender dysphoria is socially propagated, social media almost certainly has a larger impact than a teacher would.

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It seems about equally likely to me that schools socialize students into the genders as out of them.

Catholic parents sent their daughters to religious schools in the hopes that they wouldn’t have sex, and we know how that turned out…

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I...have never heard about this before, so it's not a tired subject for me yet--although I have to say that I already have very high skepticism of this. I could bounce around Google for a while trying to learn more, but if you have some links for me that you think best supports this, hit me up.

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You hadn't heard about the social contagion theory for the surge in trans identification? I could swear Matt has mentioned it at least in passing. The preliminary evidence is compelling from a basic social science standpoint at this stage (slight majority of trans identifying individuals up to about 2010 were male to female, when in literally a period of just a couple years it inverts and then over the next seven years or so becomes overwhelmingly, like 4-to-1, female to male, with the change driven almost entirely by an increase in trans identification among tween/teen girls), but would benefit from specific research.

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I have some meetings, but give me a bit and I will provide some links that I think that useful.

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Thanks, no rush.

While you're at the meetings, I'll put my skeptical cards on the table in thinking that teenagers go through a whole lot of questioning and exploration of their sexuality that ultimately doesn't stick after their teenage years, thus I'm worried that the concept of social contagion here can be aggravated into a moral panic. We'll see if you change my mind later!

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Okay, so I was going to link to a set of studies and articles, and try to provide context for each one.

Then I found this, and it is basically saying/linking to the same things I was going to, except better.

So I guess this read it. It's a right-wing source, so grain of salt. But it is far from face-palm-inducing.

https://quillette.com/2023/02/10/social-contagion-and-transgender-identities/

One of they key things is that gender dysphoria used to be something that overwhelmingly affected biological males (MTF) but in the past 5-10 years it flipped to being dominated by biological females (FTM).

Unless there is a biological/environmental component (and to my knowledge they haven't found one), that points pretty strongly to there being a social contagion effect.

Additionally, especially with young/adolescent females, it seems like it often happens in clusters via friend groups (IRL or online).

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Thanks.

The skeptical part of my mind is considering is considering three other possible factors right now: how much of this can be attributed to a one-off spike in trans awareness as it becomes less stigmatized, how sticky the phenomenon is after teenage years, and how much patriarchal influences can make becoming a man to see more appealing.

And for the interest of fairness to others who are learning like I am (I can't be the only one, right?), here's a summation of an AAP report that pushed hard against the Littman report.

https://www.nbcnews.com/nbc-out/out-health-and-wellness/social-contagion-isnt-causing-youths-transgender-study-finds-rcna41392

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Do you have any solid evidence for the latter statement? Bluntly, do you have any evidenced-based reason to think that sending your child to private school would make the odds of them coming out as Trans (vel sim) smaller?

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I'm not sure what exactly you are implicitly objecting to, so...

1) You can look up the social contagion aspect of the rise in transgenderism.

I've seen left wing sources say it is not real, I've seen right wing sources say that it is. Absent any general consensus, I believe that it likely is the main culprit.

2) Assuming it is real, then social environments where it is explicitly or implicitly discouraged should reduce the spread. It is not guaranteed, but I'm confident enough that is the case that I'd wager pretty significantly on it. (With my kids' education)

That's solid enough evidence for me. If your threshold is multiple peer reviewed scientific papers and general expert consensus, though, then no.

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Apr 19, 2023·edited Apr 19, 2023

My problem is with no. 2. I’m just not sure it works. Are student sim schools that are “sex negative” having less sex are just less safe sex (or neither)?

I don’t think the new gender/sexuality trends are primarily coming from schools at all. They come, as they always did, from peer pressure and social networking of the kids among themselves, which nowadays is mostly online. I’m not sure how much effect schools have and especially not how it would affect things. Is it better for your kid to question their sexuality , perhaps due to doubts down by online trends and “social contagion”, but then feel ashamed and hide it from you? Will that make the “problem” more likely to go away or just be dealt with badly?

In short - I suggest the thing is part of the zeitgeist, at least in the us.

Would your kids be better served by an institution pretending it’s not there or one that at least has experience dealing with it (albeit in ways you don’t find satisfactory)?

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Apr 19, 2023·edited Apr 19, 2023

<Is it better for your kid to question their sexuality , perhaps due to doubts down by online trends and “social contagion”, but then feel ashamed and hide it from you? Will that make the “problem” more likely to go away or just be dealt with badly?>

Unless there is a (physical) environmental or biological reason for the recent rise in transgenderism, it stands to reason that it was previously successfully suppressed by society just not tolerating/accepting it as valid in the vast majority of cases.

I think that is probably a better approach for the vast majority of people.

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Perhaps, but my point that you can’t actually move “society” while staying in the same country. The issue is here in the us right now and I don’t think any school can shield your kids from it.

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Also, I don't think that they need to be 'sex negative'.

I'm an atheist, so no religious hangups around sex, and I'm not that much of a prude.

As long as the schools don't directly or tacitly allow some of the nonsense, that's enough for me.

Unfortunately, where I am at, the only real options for private schools are religiously-affiliated ones...but I think I've adequately prepared my kids (at least the older ones) to resist the more nonsensical religious stuff and act like a chameleon to fit in.

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You misunderstood me. The

Sex positive/negative thing was by way of analogy. My point is you can’t actually shield your kids from the zeitgeist and I don’t think denial works. IMO the only strategy that *might* be effective is to move to another country altogether that isn’t dealing with this issue to a similar extent.

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I think that the Right giving up on education policy is driven by the same factors that have led it to give up on non-cash grab policy more generally. The central resentment holding the modern US right together is hatred and fear of the kind of person who’d score high on the ‘openness to experience’ psychometric, and if you spend a lot of time and effort telling those people that you hate them, they’re not going to want to be part of your coalition. But doing that means getting rid of most abstract thinkers with strong non-financial motives, who are the people who design, publicize, advocate for, and vote based on policy. (Basically, Richard Hanania is right about this particular issue.)

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Agreed, I said something similar here once upon a time: like it or not, there's no one left on the right who *can* craft and implement policy more sophisticated than "mechanistically enact what a given corporate lobby wants us to do for their industry" or "cut taxes in a way that a right-funded thinktank has specified will look reasonable but favors wealthy interests."

There's no "there" there anymore.

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Or rather, the people on the right who are capable of this sort of stuff are mostly more focused on making money.

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That goes without saying.

But the downstream effect is that the GOP cannot actually do much of anything except take a pre-written set of policies from a think tank (funded by those same folks who are concerned with making money) and implement it.

It's not like the Democrats' actual representatives are intellectual rock stars, but there's a whole ecosystem of intellectuals, think tanks, and public discourse among the educated primary base which is not entirely interest-captured and profit-focused, and thus can offer policy recommendations and squabble in the light of day over who is correct about the issues.

The GOP's intellectual underpinnings have rotted so far that the party is no longer able to even act on what should be (and in some cases is) a theoretical opposition to corporate welfare and rent-seeking. Their representatives no longer have the policy ecosystem to figure out when the various interest-captured thinktanks are putting one over on them. And, of course, most of the GOP intellectual class who harbored that fundamental opposition has left the party or just shut up and left public life, so a goodly fraction of the remainder are just grifting and don't really care about markets, dynamism, limited government, or any of the old watchwords except to use them as a rhetorical club to beat on the libs.

This is a huge problem because the Democrats' intellectual ecosystem has some pretty serious blinders and limitations to acceptable discussion, such that even an earnest effort to pin down what is good policy won't actually produce great outcomes there, and the GOP can no longer exercise any sort of restraint or countervailing pressure except to channel the rage of its less political, less-educated, angrier base.

As in yesterday's discussion, we see a microcosm of the problems of one party having just given up the role of loyal opposition in a lot of local governance; rural counties are dominated by a GOP which doesn't give a fuck about keeping the local hospitals open or breaking agricultural supply and purchasing monopolies, urban ones by Democrats who have stupid, unempirical ideas about public safety, education, and housing. And neither side can do outreach because their respective bases are wrapped up in tribalistic, ritualized demonization of the other side and can't be shut up or gatekept in an era of mass social media.

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I liked this because I agree with a lot of it, but I feel like you overrate the influence of conservative thinktanks -- I think GOP governance would, if anything, actually improve a couple clicks if Republican politicians were rotely voting for thinktanks' output because thinktanks at least make some effort to have their output be logically coherent and connected to reality.

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Sure, but that doesn't mean that the output isn't logically and coherently arguing for something which is just complete rent-seeking in every way, as much of the GOP intellectual ecosystem is when it comes to regulatory, tax, and externality issues anymore.

I agree that the median "right-leaning thinktank output" is probably better than whatever GOP legislators conceive of themselves, but do you think most of it is objectively pro-market, pro-rule-of-law, pro-equality-under-the-law? I don't.

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I think this is true to a certain extent, but the parties’ situation is less symmetric than you suggest.

Democratic elected officials— including those on the far left side of the party with ambitions for big structural change— tend not to embrace their base’s wackiest ideas (no major Dem elected is a police abolitionist, and most candidates distanced themselves from even the softer side of ‘Defund’, and even the tepid hints of support for that disappeared when it became clear that the slogan was a political loser), urban Democratic primary electorates will harshly punish officials who preside over what they see as deteriorating school and public safety conditions (see recent recalls in San Francisco), and plenty of officials, policy figures, and pundits on the left side of the spectrum take what you think of as the sensible positions on education, criminal justice, and housing (worth noting that YIMBY referenda do better in leftier areas, and that Democrats are the party pushing YIMBY legislation in CA and NY right now.)

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I don't think it's remotely symmetric, not at the state or federal levels. The GOP is a uniform disaster at the federal level, without so much as a single redeeming policy instinct or thought. The federal-level Democrats are at least broadly pro-free-and-fair-market, see the need for regulatory precision and effective-but-efficient processes, support good governance, are trying to crank the ship of state around to do fewer things more effectively... there's a lot of shit there too, they still struggle to get the legacy clientelist groups the hell out of the way, the "democratic socialists" are still mostly doomer nutjobs, there are a host of ahistorical and unempirical worldviews about housing, the energy transition, race relations, etc, but they're broadly not stupid and you're right that the mainstream of the party marginalizes the idiots quite effectively. The GOP does not, lol.

At the local level I think that falls apart a lot more. In the East Coast and Upper Midwest cities, the clientelism and machine politics mean that limited funds are not well used in addressing real, serious problems. On the West Coast, the post-liberal left holds a lot more sway at the municipal and county level than I think you're giving credit for here, and the pragmatic liberals less. The tide is... kinda turning, I guess? But at present, the reality is that the cities *could* take many of their issues in hand and fix them or at least improve them immensely without federal intervention, and they consistently fail to do so in part because urban politics has become an intra-party squabble between 2-3 center-left-to-left factions, the spectrum of which is somewhat blinkered and which have limited incentive to force outcomes and policy innovation rather than fighting over the remnants of the spoils system.

Rural areas are fucked under the GOP, but they're fucked under local Democrats too, unless federal Democrats can get control over the judiciary and really go to town on anti-trust enforcement, healthcare reform, and infrastructure reconstruction. But even then they're still kinda fucked because they'll still be demographically moribund. Nothing is ever again going to change that, they're largely economically obsolete, so the impact of them spiraling into resentment and grievance politics is increasingly to poison the well at the federal level. As they really do implode demographically the GOP's structural advantages in the House and Electoral College will die, but its advantage in the Senate will likely worsen, so I don't know how that plays out.

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my speculation?

I notice it is correlated with the "anti-elitist" arm of the GOP gaining more influence.

Also, the culture wars really moved into education recently - that was not true in the GWB years as best I recall. You had some fringe arguments about teaching evolution, but not mainstream arguments about "how racist should we tell kids the founding fathers were?"

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I'm not the oldest person here, but I'm rapidly moving into middle age, and as long as I've been politically aware, conservatives have been complaining the teachers are evil liberals indroctinating the children.

This idea it was betting during the 90's and 00's is just nostalgia - like, people tried to ban gay people from teaching.

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I was trying to find the article and unfortunately couldn't find it on a google search but I remember reading that education reform was kind of a Bush family obsession rather than a general GOP-wide phenomenon. What I mean is things like "No Child Left Behind" probably wasn't happening with another GOP President in the White House. This initiative was coded as more right-wing because it was Bush proposing it, but it really was more of a left initiative (hence Ted Kennedy's support).

Basically, I suspect what we are seeing is the long-term impact of the Bush family no longer leading the GOP like they did at least to some degree from 1988 to 2016 (remember Jeb! was thought to be a strong candidate in 2016. Those were the days). With the Bush family no longer center stage, it means the more anti-elitist wing of the Party can get their education viewpoints more center stage.

I will say in addition though, the religious right has always had a pretty big influence on education policy in GOP circles. Let's not whitewash GWB here. He cultivated religious right tremendously. Someone else on here noted but remember Intelligent Design? That was a HUGE obsession on the right 20 years ago. Remember the textbook wars in Texas and the fights about evolution? Remember the creationism museum in Kentucky? Yeah at least in regard to education, the religious right has been driving the bus in GOP circles probably since the election of Reagan.

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I’d be interested in this too. I genuinely would like to know is mom’s for liberty a kind of right nut-picking? They’re the big interest group on this.

Like do conservatives really think a curriculum with 2 books about Dr. King and 2 about Ruby Bridges and one in the west about anti-Mexican discrimination is unacceptable indoctrination? I taught this curriculum that made moms for Liberty famous and as someone woke I thought it really was stuck in the 90s idea of racism and was genuinely shocked to see it under fire.

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I learned all that stuff in the 90s (okay, not anti-Mexican), and it was fine.

Now it seems like they are just being used as stepping stones to try to get to stuff that is adjacent to the 1619 nonsense.

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Where, precisely, is this occurring, and how widely?

The School District of Philadelphia, whose students are 65% black, does not do this. I've looked at our history and civics curriculum and it's the same "yes, the US has some pretty terrible stuff in its history but we're getting better at moving past it" school of history that you and I were taught a few decades ago.

Perhaps individual teachers are putting a negative spin on it, I won't know until my kid starts coming home and talking about this stuff.

But as a matter of policy, one of the bluest (and blackest) school districts in the country is not doing what you claim to be rife, so maybe you should check your sources a bit more closely...

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Two hypotheses:

The first is that the long-running conservative-elite project to attack public schools finally got some traction with COVID stuff and to a lesser extent the curriculum uproars. The Kochs and crew have been trying to dismantle public schools for years but despite their efforts, public school support has stayed relatively high. But with the poor showing in many areas in handling COVID and increased partisanship, the right has finally landed a blow on the schools within their ranks.

Stemming from that, as Sarah Longwell of The Bulwark likes to say, there's before-Trump and after-Trump in the Republican party. And one of the characteristics of the after-Trump party is permission to openly reject the idea of representing everyone in favor of attacking your enemies and helping your friends. In this case, attacking public schools and helping rich, religious parents. Establishing public schools as enemies + permission to attack public schools = attempts to make public schooling worse.

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I highly suspect that covid set off a chain reaction of discontent that we're only just starting to grapple with.

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All, to some extent, plus a hefty dose of "social media and ubiquitous video/audio recording has allowed for nutpicking to be applied to teachers just like it is to cops and political commenters."

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There are over 90,000 public schools, across nearly 14,000 districts, in this country. On any given day, something kooky is going on in at least one of them. If one is looking for outrage, social media makes that easy.

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There's also a disproportionate attention from one side. Like, I remember there was a story a while back about some teacher saying some pretty openly racist stuff. But, it was a one-day story on the Left, and everybody moved on. Meanwhile, there's far more attention on any kind of "proof" the kids are being turned into trans Antifa by their teachers.

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They think they're losing, so they panic more.

I am extremely confident that the liberal position on racial issues is going to win out, that it will see off the last of the old-school racists *and* bring the new post-liberal racial essentialists to heel, so IDG much of AF about the occasional idiot racist teacher getting mocked by their students. Nor does basically anyone in the mushy middle and center-left. Fire that person and move on.

The illiberal rightists and to an extent the center-right are worked into a frothing worry about the prospect that the "gender lobby" will succeed in turning 10-20% of kids trans. If I were to straight-line extrapolate what has happened since the era of photo and video social media I would be too, but it's self-correcting, the activist community has already wildly overstepped, the social media norms are already starting to say "get the bleep off Facebook and keep your kids off Twitter and TikTok", and the center-to-lefty liberals are already revolting against the more blatant and unempirical excesses of the trans advocacy organizations, aligned folks, and for-profit medical concerns.

It is likely going to be ok, most people are supportive of positions which thread the needle on racial, gender, and sexual orientation issues. To crib from the meme, the dog has a fire extinguisher.

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Is it perhaps the changing demographics of the right in terms of age? Could it simply be that far fewer of them are actually parents? Far more are senior citizens ?

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That probably contributes. I remember years ago seeing stuff about senior citizens being more likely to vote against school bond proposals, etc. and I would presume that is still true.

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As others have kinda said, the right moved away from policy in general, and before COVID, so I think you're unlikely to find your the drivers of that change in education-specific factors.

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Education sorting probably plays a very big role. As I've said before, much of the American right is now functionally retarded and that's not intended as an insult, but a sincere description based on my own observations of the movement as someone who self-identified as a diehard conservative in the 1980s to mid-1990s, but over the last 25 years has drifted into identifying as libertarian in large part because of the sheer rising tide of stupid in the GOP.

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If Trump wins the GOP nomination again, I will be right there with you.

I'm still surrounded by plenty of rational conservatives, so I have some hope...

...but I'm in one of the few remaining highly-educated-but-still-conservative enclaves (DoD and NASA), so I know my local conditions are not representative of the GOP as a whole.

When I visit family in the more rural/depressed area, they are basically in a 'vote for whoever will screw over our enemies the most but otherwise leave us alone' mindset.

Which probably feels good when it works, but isnt going to actually accomplish anything from a political POV.

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I think the characterization of FdB's stance as anti-education is pretty unfair. He himself has gone at great lengths to explain his point, which is that there is no way that has been proven at scale to close relative achievement gaps (with the implication that due to the magic combination of nature and nurture there may be no way). What one takes away from that is a different matter.

Anyway I think the final paragraph gets to the right answer. Just like the point of trains should be to move passengers places the point of public schools should be to make excellent educational services available to everyone. When the politics around them become about anything and everything but that, normal people rightly understand that they are not for them, disengage, and those with the means and the inclination find alternatives.

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You’re right about Freddie’s argument being specifically about relative rather than absolute performance, but I don’t actually think that Matt is being all that unfair— Freddie’s entire rhetorical framing is doomer-y and all of his policy recommendations are downstream of that; he seems to not really care about absolute learning outcomes (even though he acknowledges that they’re improving)