Richard Cohen, whom I regarded a good columnist when we lived in Washington, D.C., had made an odd turn in the past decade or so. Where normally he’d stand up for public institutions and the people who run them, he just sounds cranky lately. In short, he’s turned into a person who likes Bush Republicans. Oh, my, it erupted in his recent column which is just grousing about how much education costs in the District of Columbia, with an ambiguous, implicit claim that maybe there’s too much money going into education there.
(Well, maybe too much for the results gotten compared with a few suburban districts; not enough to boost performance on the tests.)
Jason Rosenhouse at Evolutionblog Fisks the column, Fisks Cohen, and generally supports teachers — it’s worth a read.
It’s worth a read especially if you’re one of those who, like Richard Cohen, think we should suppress the pay for teachers until they improve, ignoring all the lessons you might ever have learned about getting what you pay for, and about the economics of hiring the best, the brightest, or just the heroes necessary to make a change. Here’s part of Rosenhouse’s commentary:
But that is not the main subject of this post. Instead it’s that gratuitous slap at the unions that struck me. Cohen, like a trained seal, has learned that mindlessly bashing teacher’s unions will never get you into trouble. That is why he feels no need to provide any specifics about what, exactly, the unions are doing wrong. Instead, when it comes time to reveal those subtleties of the education problem about which Democrats need to be instructed, Cohen only produces this:
Only one candidate, Barack Obama, suggested that maybe money was not all that was lacking when it comes to educating America’s poor and minority children. Parents had a role to play, too. “It is absolutely critical for us to recognize that there are going to be responsibilities on the part of African American and other groups to take personal responsibility to rise up out of the problems we face,” he said. What? It’s not just a question of funding?
Parents! Of course! How could those money grubbing teacher’s unions and their slavish Democratic puppets have overlooked such a thing? All this focus on making sure schools have the funds to heat their buildings in the winter and patch the roof when it leaks, this crazy idea that a school using twenty year old textbooks needs money if they are to procure new ones or that science labs are not exactly inexpensive, and they simply overlooked that parents have a role to play in their children’s education. One can only hope the Democrat’s pay attention to someone as perceptive as Cohen.
The U.S. is not alone. Australia has some teacher pay and facility issues, too, according to Matt’s Notepad. Another interesting read.