Schools roundup

  • Social justice education: on the march and coming to a school system near you [Frederick M. Hess and Grant Addison, National Review]
  • New wave of institutional reform litigation aims to replace democratic oversight of public schools with governance by courts, lawyers, and NGOs [Dana Goldstein, New York Times]
  • Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, trying to force a student to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, ignores 75 years of Supreme Court precedent [Scott Shackford] “My Daughter’s Middle School Plans to Teach Her Meek Compliance With Indiscriminate Invasions of Privacy” [Jacob Sullum]
  • “The Regressive Effects of Child-Care Regulations: More strenuous requirements raise child-care prices but have little apparent effect on quality” [Ryan Bourne, Regulation and Governing]
  • “Denver Schools Stopped ‘Lunch-Shaming’ Kids Whose Parents Didn’t Pay. The Results Were Predictable.” [Hess and Addison]
  • Wisconsin public union reform: “A school district’s implementation of Act 10 is associated with an increase in math proficiency on average. The positive impact … is consistent across small town, rural, and suburban school districts.” [Will Flanders and Collin Roth, Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty]
  • “Look to the Dutch for true educational pluralism” [Charles Glenn, Acton Institute]


  • RE: Denver Lunches

    Would it not just be better to not charge students for lunch at all? Then you don’t need a collection system or accounting…

    • Paid for by whom?

    • There is a program to do this in schools where large portions of the student body already qualify for free lunches (this includes the entire NYC public school system) according to a federal formula. It’s called the Community Eligibility Provision. It not only saves the effort of a collection system; it saves the cost of a whole bureaucratic operation that has to chase down parents for income verification forms (in any number of languages), process them, follow-up on incomplete information, track which price to charge each kid at the checkout, identifying kids by family income in the lunch line, etc… It’s just easier to say that food comes with school, just like art supplies and toilet paper and short little chairs come with school.

      As for the linked article, DPS’s “exploded” lunch debt last year appears to amount to an average of $3.87/student, and “much of the debt is from families that are not expected to pay anyway.” While it’s possible to see how it could eventually become a problem, it really doesn’t seem to have risen to anything resembling one yet.

      • mx,

        With all due respect, the link to the program seems to make the claim that the lunches are “free.”

        That seems to violate the axiom of “there is no such thing as a free lunch.”

        To illustrate, the schools around here are very aggressive in trying to get people to sign up for the lunch program. When asked about where the money for the program was coming from, members of the school board replied “from the Federal government.”

        When that was followed up with “where does the Federal government get their money?” the reply from the people who are responsible for educating kids all said “we don’t know.”

        Someone is paying for the lunches and for the program to advertise they are “free” just isn’t true.

        • Gitarcarver,

          There are just some things that society should take care of. Feeding children is one, IMHO. If society pays for education, it is not much of a leap to pay for lunches. And when compared to the total cost of other education stuff, it is small potatoes.

          Of course, whether society should pay for education in the first place could be a topic for debate.

    • It would be better if the families that “cannot afford lunch” use the WIC/Food stamps that they are receiving to pack a lunch for their little tax deductions, instead of double dipping on federal and state handouts.

  • My opinion: The Pledge of Allegiance, like the Declaration of Independence, is a statement of American ideals.

    I understand protesting against actual failures to uphold our ideals. But I have a hard time understanding why people protest and disrespect American ideals.

    • John, you make a common illogical leap here, in which people conflate “I don’t understand A” to be the same as “There is no justifiable understanding of A.” I, being a less than omniscient individual — I know that shocks you — am willing to admit there are things I don’t understand. Why, occasionally I even make the effort to understand another’s point of view, and once or twice have admitted I have been mistaken. That’s how progress is made, not be saying “I don’t understand,” usually in that tone of voice that indicates that is as far as this discussion is going.

      My understanding of why people kneel rather than stand at attention, is they are protesting the people who put their right hands over their hearts and think that’s all they need to do. There is a lot of that going around, and always has been, as long as patriotism has been the last refuge of the scoundrel. In this, I sympathize with them, even as I stand straight with my hand over my heart as a reminder that such symbols of patriotism — the flag, the pledge of allegiance — are not sinecures, but dedicatory symbols of my wavering attempts to be worthy of those ideals.

      Back to snarking tomorrow.


    • The Pledge of Allegiance isn’t a statement of of American ideals. As an oath of loyalty, it is a perversion of those ideals.

      The original version wasn’t even written specifically for the US.

      The Pledge of Allegiance was written in August 1892 by the socialist minister Francis Bellamy (1855-1931). It was originally published in The Youth’s Companion on September 8, 1892. Bellamy had hoped that the pledge would be used by citizens in any country.

      Congress has had to modify it several times to make it acceptable to the American public.

      In its original form it read:

      “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

      In 1923, the words, “the Flag of the United States of America” were added. At this time it read:

      “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

      In 1954, in response to the Communist threat of the times, President Eisenhower encouraged Congress to add the words “under God,” creating the 31-word pledge we say today. Bellamy’s daughter objected to this alteration.

      Shortly thereafter, the pledge was begun with the right hand over the heart, and after reciting “to the Flag,” the arm was extended toward the Flag, palm-down.

      In World War II, the salute too much resembled the Nazi salute, so it was changed to keep the right hand over the heart throughout.

      • Yeh,an indivisible nation, like e pluribus unum; acknowledgement we live under God, like acknowledgement that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are rights endowed by the Creator. Not ideals? Liberty and justice for all? Not ideals? I think you miss my point and perhaps make it at the same time.

        I understand protests against actual failure to uphold our ideals. Seems to me the essence of Bobs and your replies are objections to the hypocrisy of not living up to one’s stated ideals – not objections to the ideals themselves. Very well. Haven’t I said that already in different words? But it seems to me you both are missing my point by rejecting America’s ideals themselves. Or, if that’s not what you mean, then aren’t we in agreement?

        I have a hard time understanding why people protest and disrespect American ideals.

        • You missed my primary point. The Pledge of Allegiance is at its core an oath of loyalty.

          The very idea of an oath of loyalty for all citizens is opposed to the American ideal of individual liberty, not a statement of that ideal.

          None of the changes Congress has made over the years changes that essential fact.

          • I didn’t miss it, I ignored it.

            The Pledge as Loyalty Oath seems to be a subject you want to discuss. That’s fine, just go ahead without me. I’m not interested.

  • Thank you Bob. All I said is that I have a hard time understanding something. You leap to the conclusion i resist understanding it. But you made that up. I’m looking for understanding. Besides, your lecture did not attempt to engage on the Q I raise. Which, on reflection, is probably As far as this conversation will go . . . with you. . Meanwhile I still don’t understand how America’s ideals are the subject of so much objection.