In Government, Failure Is The Route To Success

For today, I'll stop harping on the fraud by which the "poverty" rate is kept intentionally high in order to sell the gullible public on yet more "anti-poverty" spending, and turn to another example of the same phenomenon.

If you had been around Manhattan for the last week in the run-up to the election, you would have seen that most of the campaign literature being distributed for local races stressed the same theme, which was the supposed need for more "resources" for our beleaguered public schools.  All of this literature came from Democratic candidates, substantially funded by the teachers union and other public employee unions.  In the case of my own household, although we had Republican candidates running for State Senate and State Assembly in our district (in most elections we don't), we did not receive a single piece of campaign literature from the Republican candidates -- they were that badly funded.

As just one example, consider the campaign of Rebecca Seawright, the Democratic candidate in the one semi-competitive race in Manhattan, previously covered by me in the article entitled "Can A Republican Win A Political Office In Manhattan?"  (Ms. Seawright ended up winning the race 65/32 over her Republican opponent.)  Here is an excerpt from her website giving her position on education funding:

As the mother of two public school kids and PTA mom, Rebecca has personally experienced the fallout from overcrowding in our city’s schools. . . .    Long-term, we need to invest in renovating existing schools as well as constructing new ones.  But as we set aside the space and money to build, we need to find a way to address the needs of our neighborhood’s children now, even if that means being a little creative.

In literally no campaign discussion that I can find was it mentioned that in New York we spend nearly double the national average per pupil on K-12 education.   I'll bet that not one voter in one hundred knows that fact. 

Meanwhile, for all that money, large numbers of the public schools are failing.  In an editorial this morning, the New York Post has some of the numbers:

At 371 schools, 90 percent of the kids — 90 percent! — aren’t making the grade. Altogether, that’s 143,000 students whose futures are at stake.

Prior Mayor Mike Bloomberg, to his credit, had a plan to deal with the failing schools by imposing some accountability:  he closed large numbers of them, while opening new ones with new management teams, and also encouraging a substantial expansion of charter schools outside the stifling union control. 

Now we have de Blasio.  His idea?  The failing schools just need some more money!  On Monday (November 3) de Blasio announced a new program -- called his "School Renewal Program" -- for additional spending on the worst public schools.  From Monday's New York Times: 

The new program will designate 94 of the city’s most troubled schools, including the Coalition School, as Renewal Schools based on a list of criteria including low four-year graduation rates for high schools and poor test scores for middle and elementary schools. Students at those schools will receive an extra hour of instructional time each day, teachers will have extra professional training, and the schools will be encouraged to offer summer school. The schools will also be given additional resources, with $150 million spread over two years, about $39 million for this school year and $111 million in the next.

Yes, it is the very worst failures among all the schools that are getting rewarded by the new gusher of money.  Seems like the idea is, if you just give the same incompetent people more money to do the exact same thing that they have been doing so far, they will magically overcome their failure.

The Post heaps completely appropriate scorn on the plan, calling it the "Teacher Protection Program."

Under this program, the city’s 94 worst schools will be shielded from any serious accountability for three years (and probably longer) while their students remain trapped without any real hope of escape.  After that, the program hints vaguely at possible changes. But the smart money holds that by then Team de Blasio will have brand new excuses to keep the failing schools going — and the kids inside trapped.

Well, if I were a principal of one of the second-hundred worst schools, I know the lesson I would learn from this:  If I can only fail the kids a little worse next year, I can get myself a few extra million too! 

Meanwhile, the voters keep getting tricked year after year into supporting the idea that if only the schools had a little more money they'd be fixed.  If only say 20% of us could learn that our schools already get double the national average, we could at least try to end this insanity.