Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Acting like a monopoly

Did you catch the article in the Oregonian today about the Portland School District cracking down on parents who lie about where they live to get their kids into a better school?

I love it when this issue surfaces, because it illustrates in such stark terms what is wrong with the school system. Some parents, it turns out, want something better for their children than the failing public school to which they are assigned, and don't have the means to afford tuition or to move to a better area. So they commit the heinous crime of enrolling their child in a better public school than the one the school administrators find it convenient to assign them to.

And what is the reaction of the bureaucracy?:

"There will be consequences if they lie about where they live," said Judy Dauchy, the administrator for the district's enrollment and transfer center.

Only a government monopoly could have this kind of arrogant attitude.

Does the fact that parents want out of one school and into another cause them any concern? It sure wasn't expressed by Ms. Dauchy. No, they want to punish the parents who are rejecting the lousy product they provide.

What should they do? If parents are leaving school A for school B, why not let the management of school B take over school A? Why not punish the people who run school A, rather than punish the customers who want something better for their kids?

Oops, silly me. I used the word "customers." I keep forgetting that in our public school system, parents and students aren't customers, they are captives. Their educational interests are secondary to more important considerations, such as what is convenient for the school district administrators and most of all, the unions.

After all, what could be more inconvenient than parents who won't go along with where their kids are assigned? If they allowed parents to go where they wished, the administrators would have all sorts of management issues such as figuring out how to increase the capacity of the desireable schools, and to adjust the staffing levels of the crappy ones.

That might not even be allowed under the district's own governing document - the collective bargaining contract! It, of course, has final say over such matters, and nothing - certainly not something as unimportant as the desires of parents -- can be allowed to override it.

So, I imagine that Portland School District will have to have an enforcement division. Public employees whose job it is to check up on students by doing home visits to the addresses they claim on their enrollment forms. This is done in other districts.... John Stossell just ran a special on ABC called "Stupid in America" that followed one such investigator and showed how he determined whether a student lived in the home he claimed. The investigator actually went in the house, into the student's bedroom to check if there were clothes in the drawers, books on the shelves, etc, in order to root out those evil parents who don't go along with where the bureuacracy assigns their kids to be uneducated.

By the way, Stossell is coming to Portland this Sunday, speaking at a Cascade Policy Institute dinner.

Imagine the moral foundation of a school system that punishes the parents, rather than the school officials, when a school is so undesireable that parents lie about where they live rather than send their kids there.

This is the school system that is asking for yet another income tax, so it can continue to do business the way it now operates rather than make the structural changes it should have made two decades ago.

Is it any wonder that public support is waning?


Don Smith said...


Right on the money. It's just like what John Stossel chronicled in his special a few weeks ago in California. They even had an agent going around to households to examine the bedrooms of the children who purportedly lived in the district. How can we tolerate this fascism? It's so un-American.

Dare!PDX said...

I always love pointing out to extreme liberals when they advocate for more government.

I'll ask them "do you really like the police" which they usually answer no. (The more liberal the less they like cops) I then reply, "Why do you want them in charge of more."

Usually the anarchist and green party set don't like the reality of a heavy handed government, they've just never been forced to recognize the reality of their ideas.

School cops are a travisty imposed upon a free country. How people advocating for less free choice in a free country last for longer than a few seconds I'll never know.

rickyragg said...

Wish I'd read this before I posted about the same subject.

I've got no insider contacts but I don't think they're necessary to grasp this one. Most people intuit the folly of Potter's approach and his motivation.

If they think at all


rickyragg said...


Commented on wrong post.
S/B on "theory of change" above.


Alice said...

Progressives support redistribution of wealth (like the estate tax) and "progressive" (meaning rising) income tax brackets. Right? Fair is fair, level the playing field, best judge a society by how they treat their most vulnerable populations....Blah, blah, blah. If you support "fair" tax policies, you ought to support "fair" spending policies. A little intellectual consistency is all I ask.

Take, for example, the equitable distribution of General Fund tax revenues across all Oregon public schools. The "rich" school districts (like Portland) were robbed to pay the poor school districts more. This provides for equal funding of all the children in Oregon, no matter where they live. It's simply progressive redistribution of wealth: just like you wanted.

But nooooooo! Those selfish Portland Mommies and Daddies can't sit idly by and accept the averaging of statewide education spending. Their little darlings DESERVE MORE RESOURCES than all those "other" kids.

Those fashionable urban kiddies might as well be driving Hummers to school: they are the educational resource hogs.

So it's "Teachers and Children first" into the lifeboat of a new city income tax. Batten down the hatches and load the torpedoes: Portland Public Schools are going to sink the SS Equitable Education Budget.

Why are liberals so selfish when it comes to educating their kids?

Rob Kremer said...


Whenever someone trots out the fact that the Portland metro area sends more money to the state general fund for education than it gets back, I always say:

"I thought liberals were in FAVOR of income redistribution!"

I guess not when it is THEIR income getting redistributed!