How people responded to COVID, especially as it related to children, basically defined my stance on their value as human beings.

What the left did was a crime against humanity. They are no longer human to me.

What libertarians did ranged from collaborator (Cowen) to complain on the internet but do basically nothing else (Bryan). So somewhere between evil and useless.

The christian daycare we got our kids into defied all of the public health authorities threats, sanctions, and punishments in order to remain open and give our kids a normal childhood. The only people I saw make real personal sacrifices during COVID for the sake of the children were devoted christians. It showed me who will really have your back when push comes to shove.

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Jul 25, 2022·edited Jul 25, 2022

A few things that interest me here.

1. I feel like your original critique of School choice and Freddie DeBoer's are very similar. Public and private schools are too similar to expect too different outcomes, so who cares. Although I do think that this is an incentives problem, as the end of the day governments and colleges require the same tests of both, so how different could their curriculum or methods be? Mostly, private schools sell segregation, not racial, but class, this is popular because people inherently understand that learning is inversely proportionate to disruption. Disruption can be measured by the quality of parents. Schools have limited ability to deal with disruptive students, the best school stat to look at isn't test scores, its students living with both biological parents. Everything else is downstream of that.

2. Schools closing during covid, was much a function of parent preference. See (https://twitter.com/mattyglesias/status/1540317446934085632) The difference between public and private opening rates were in the wishes of the segregated parent groups. If all schools were private and reflected the choices of parents, the rates for the system as a whole may not have been too different from the public rates.

3. The reason we heard so much about school closures is elite parents often sent their kids to public schools in which they depended on real-estate prices to segregate their kids, but they were still a minority in districts like DC or NY. If we get school choice it's because these elite parents now understand that the Union's and other classes of parents do not share their preferences.

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1) The private school we are sending our kid to next year has the exact same class and racial makeup as the highly rated public school in our area.

People want more from education than daycare and demographics. Having my kids taught propaganda while going through COVID and other theaters isn't "convenient". It's awful.

2) No, parents hated school closures.

Anyone on the ground knows that's bullshit. We were told this line of crap leading up with the Virginia election with all the same bullshit polls, then Youngkin killed it amongst parents making education his #1 issue. Same thing happened in other states.

Public opinion polling is nonsense. People say what they think they are suppose to say based on phrasing designed to make them give the answer the pollster wants. They also justify options they didn't have much of a say in rather then admit their own helplessness.

The closest thing to a kernel of truth is that parents preferred not sending their kids to schools during COVID because public school during COVID was a joke. You're not really "open" if your kids wearing a mask all day, half the school is out on quarantine, and they make you eat lunch outside in a freezing weather. What parents wanted was schools to be open AND normal.

3) We heard about it because making a kindergartner wear a mask all day and do zoom class is a war crime and anyone who advocated that should be put to death.

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You clearly have not talked to people not like yourself. I hated schools being closed during Covid, but not everyone is like you or I. In fact, I am very confident that people in the inner-city wanted their kids at home, because I know people who work in education, with those parents, and know what they were hearing.Also I know how hard it was for them to get parents to send their kids back once those schools were open again.

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People in the inner city often didn't want to go to their terrible schools before COVID, and not much changed. I live nowhere near the inner city.

I know many people that preferred keeping their kids home to sending them to COVID insanity schools, but what they really wanted was normal school rather than no school.

What's telling is the the COVID crowd had to force its will on others. It could never get voluntary compliance. The governor had to enforce his COVID policy on the schools in my area. The state health board had to overule my friends school board. Whenever people were allowed to make their own free choices, the COVID police failed.

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"Schools have limited ability to deal with disruptive students, the best school stat to look at isn't test scores, its students living with both biological parents. Everything else is downstream of that." Semi off topic, but I think public schools would get more support (I'd prefer school choice, but if not that, I'd prefer better public schools) if they could politically publish test results by socioeconomic status, race, household status, etc. There are schools struggling with perception and losing a lot of good parents even though pretty much every group you can imagine is outperforming because their SES mix isn't the best and therefore their overall test scores aren't the best. But the school can't publish that data because that would be them admitting that homelife matters more than the school and also that their are consequences to parents' decisions, and we can't have people feeling bad about that.

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Yes, freedom to choose is important even if educational outcomes are about the same because you model autonomy and critical self responsibility both essential for engaging the world effectively.

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"Normal life plus COVID is better than lockdown life without COVID."

This is geniusly put.

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School choice tying itself to academic outcomes has always been a bad bet. There are a lot of benefits to school choice, but higher test scores ain't one of them.

In fairness to the school choice movement, public school in like the 1990s wasn't as ridiculous as it is today. It wasn't as dysfunctional or ideological. It wasn't even as expensive either (K-12 spending has ballooned way faster then inflation). Today its obvious to parents how terrible schools are even if it didn't effect test scores at all, but it wasn't obvious when I was growing up.

Ironically, one of the big selling points of the school we are sending our oldest to next year is that it mostly does things the way they were done when I was in public school back then. Before "education reform".

Anyway, every single decision related to schools always happens on a party line vote. I got to see that up close recently. If you want school choice, you need to elect overwhelming margins of Republicans at all levels and put their feet to the fire to do it.

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I agree, somewhat, with the latter, however the charter school movement is huge in Colorado, and its blue shift doesn't seem to have changed anything.

You would probably get a red wave in Colorado if the Ds seriously pushed for ending charter schools.

It is one of those things that once it is in place, it is hard to get rid of. In this case, for something good.

Of course, I would prefer vouchers over charter schools, and separation of school and state over vouchers, but charter is a good start.

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I think charter schools are a dead end. I'd prefer them over not, but if that is the end of your education policy, you're not worth someones time.

It's full no strings vouchers for everyone or bust. Any politician or movement that delivers on that deserves 110% loyalty. Any that doesn't deserves little to nothing.

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I have one BIIIIIGGGGG issue with vouchers.

Is there any reason a voucher program wouldn't do to the cost of private education what the Guaranteed Student Loan program did to the cost of higher education?

Lets use the example of an exclusive school that currently charges $20k per year. Suddenly a $10k voucher program exists. How long before they are charging $30k?

And the school that used to charge $8k? They are now going to be charging at least $10k. No one will be charging less than the voucher amount.

That is one advantage of charter schools. Because they are still "public", they only get the per student amount. Mostly, anyway. My daughters charter school does charge a $130 annual materials fee. And does lots of fundraising. But that seems on par with what private schools do.

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The private school we are sending our kids to operates with the lowest possible tuition it can while still paying their teachers just enough to get by. It costs 60% of the local public school spending per student.

If we had a voucher I don't think it would change tuition much. The board of directors already feels bad about having to charge what it charges, but any less and we couldn't operate at even a bare bones level.

But we aren't an "exclusive school". It may well be that expensive private schools get even more expensive, since exclusion is the purpose of the tuition.

In our case, the board would be overjoyed if it became cheaper for families to attend (most of the financial aid they give out goes to bigger families that are struggling).

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"If we had a voucher I don't think it would change tuition much."

I think it would go up to the amount of the voucher, because it would be stupid to charge less than that. Your out of pocket would be zero, so it would be great, but the board would still raise tuition up to the voucher level.

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I guess, but the most likely source of vouchers these says is state per student funding and that would amount to less than the current tuition level, low as it is. Still, it would eliminate most of our tuition expense and be a big help.

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> School choice gives parents insurance against further official hypochondria… as well as protection from further expansion of woke brainwashing.

The reason I support school choice / education vouchers is because it give parents The Right To Walk Away (https://pontifex.substack.com/p/the-right-to-walk-away) -- something which makes it harder to oppress people in a whole variety of situations.

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It's also worth stating that private schools have insane amounts of extracurricular provision. One headteacher I knew used to say, "if children don't have free time, they don't have the time to be lazy or mean". His philosophy was to make sure that almost every hour of their day was accounted for by a combination of sports and academic clubs. They would have a few hours in the evening and were utterly exhausted, but their did seem to be a certain logic to the idea. Not to mention the fact that there were very few obese or mentally ill children in the school. That's what parents pay the big bucks for.

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"But since most adults retain almost no academic knowledge..."

Where is the link supporting this statement?

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He wrote a whole book about it.

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California was so afraid of the privates gaining market share, that the rules for school closures were the same for both publics and privates. Cal even barred online private charters--built from day one to be online schools--from enrolling any new students.

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An aside from Bryan's case here...

Seeing that half of government schools were open by 2021 would surprise those of us who only paid attention to main stream media — the Evening News created the impression that not a single school anywhere was meeting in-person.

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Either the schools in your area were 100% open or they are 100% closed. This has to do with a mixture of local politics, state politics, and unelected health boards. It's not like a you had two schools in the same district where one was open and one was closed.

More importantly though, "open" is open to interpretation. The school around us eventually "opened", but open school was a draconian COVID nightmare. Nothing like normal school before COVID. For many people this option was worse them homeschooling.

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I had to chuckle at this particular line: "since most adults retain almost no academic knowledge," Thanks for reaffirming my 12 years of education was a waste of time and that most of what I know is from being self taught. Not to mention the boatload of money I saved dropping out of college.

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Most pundits never change their minds and would never admit it if they did. Bravo.

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Apology accepted (if I can be presumptuous). Powerful argument for a market in education is that it shifts responsibility back to parents. You don't like X, Y, or Z, vote with your feet and stop kvetching.

Yes, with power (empowering parents) comes responsibility. Teachers / schools also empowered - go elsewhere if you don't like it. Everyone's happier.

The parochial system of my youth - pastor as relatively disinterested school board and one nun running the school - had much to recommend it. Parental input? No, we don't need that. If you don't like it, leave. For most part, was a good model.

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During COVID-19 school closures, I remember seeing this as a good opportunity to test the signaling theory of education. Some students totally missed some portion of schooling. Some students partially missed some schooling. Some learned from home. Some missed nothing. However, for almost everyone the signal is the same. Missing some school should have a small effect, but maybe you could detect it with a large enough data set. Will these students have worse life outcomes? I'm very skeptical. Students will retain less in the short term, but in the long term it all goes to nearly zero.

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What I've observed is that COVID had a huge impact on the social skills of young children that were isolated during it. I saw it in my own kids and every single person I talk to says the same thing.

We were lucky to have gotten them into a defiant private daycare at one point and there's been much improvement since then but that's what I worry about most with long term effects.

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I'm not sure: I see these as the options: and rate their likelihood

1. No outcome differences, students catch up (20%)

2. Small outcome differences much less than original gaps measured after pandemic (30%)

3. Outcomes vary greatly by age, with some kids completely catching up, but some kids just being the wrong age to miss out (20%)

4. Outcomes vary by class, poor kids do worse, but middle class and up catch up (20%)

5. School is just bad, kids who missed it do better in life (10%)

As a parent, I feel like my 3 year old missed nothing by leaving day-care, but my then 5-year old would have really suffered if we didn't pay for in-person private school. Now the young one is starting Kindergarten with no issues, and the older one in second grade and doesn't have issues reading, which I think he would have if he were home during K and 1st grade.

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But do you think that your 5 year old will earn less income over their life, be less healthy, be less likely to attend college, etc? I do think that there will be a drop in scores in the near future, but over the longterm I just don't think it will amount to changes in later life outcomes.

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No I think my 5 year old is doing great, he missed no school, but we are wealthy and have options. He's now going into second grade ahead of his peers. I think a 5 -6 year old in kindergarten in March 2020, who was struggling with reading before, may have lost so much that their life outcomes are affected. But I'm not sure, we are in uncharted waters.

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Sorry I misread you. I gotcha.

Have you read Bryan's education book? I just am more skeptical (optimistic?) that it won't ultimately matter too much.

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My model is, that school between 1st-4th grade actually does a bunch of teaching basics through repetition, and it is more aligned to the human capital model than the signaling model. Additionally, that kids are learning those basics at just the right time. So most kids before that window like my younger son, and after that window, like older kids will see no impact, or even a positive impact since school can be net negative for some. However, there will be a set of kids who were right in the pocket of human capital formation, with less helpful parents, who will never catch up.

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