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View Diary: Five years in prison for homeless mom that sent her child to school (423 comments)

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  •  This comes from funding schools with property tax (9+ / 0-)

    Incidents like this are very prevalent in the Chicago burbs, and for good reason.  I'll use myself as an example.

    I live in a burb with one of the best school districts in Chicagoland, and we've paid to make it so.  Our property taxes are sky high, because we've voted to raise those taxes numerous times to keep the district well funded, and retain the best teachers.  About 75% of my property taxes go to the schools.

    There are thousands of parents from surrounding districts who would love to send their kids to our schools.  And I'd love to take them all, but we're bound by the laws of physics.  There is only so much class room space, only so many students that teachers can teach.  We have avoided overcrowding and classrooms-in-trailers that plague the outer burbs that refuse to pay property taxes like we do.

    So should we reward those who refuse to pay taxes by giving their students the great schools we built and paid for?  And what then happens to our kids when there are 50-60 kids per classroom, and demand still isn't met?  Should we be forced to take on more than we can?

    Personally, I would love for school funding to be more equitable, funded at the state level and not nearly so dependent on the local property tax base.  That would go a long way to making sure the districts are more equal and it doesn't matter so much where a child lives.

    But as long as school districts are funded locally, then districts have to be able to exclude non-residents, or it becomes impossible to have good schools.

    Because I'll be straight up honest, if our schools ever become overcrowded with non-residents, that's the day I start voting for property tax cuts, and so will everyone else in town.

    •  I guess such quaint and obsolete notions as 'equal (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      a2nite, Horace Boothroyd III

      protection' play no role in your moral calculus. Because parents in neighboring school districts refuse to pay adequate property taxes, it's OK for your school district to discriminate against their kids? What about all children's' right to a good education?

      •  The problem is relying on local prop taxes (10+ / 0-)

        That's what needs to be changed.  It's not realistic to expect people to pay high prop taxes when kids in adjacent districts where taxes are lower can also enroll.  In my experience it is often kids who are not from poor families who manage to squeeze into the better districts using various ploys.

      •  It is more then just (3+ / 0-)

        property taxes/funding.  You can look at schools across my county in which each child is funded the same amount and yet the test score performance between schools varies wildly.  What determines the outcome is hard to say but generally the schoools with demographics in which the parents have high education levels feed the schools with the highest test scores.

      •  There are state level standards to be met (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sparhawk, PsychoSavannah

        Any district that can't meet standards with local funding should get state level help.  I'm fine with that.  Everyone gets a good education.

        But how's this for "equal protection" for you?  If I have to pay high taxes, and they pay low taxes, but they get my higher quality schools for no effort, then what am I paying for?   Why did I vote for a property tax increase?

        Given that, according to you, I can't discriminate and have to let all those students in until we're overcrowded, then our schools will suck anyway.

        If we cut our property taxes, and make our schools as crappy as theirs, then everyone is equal, right?
        So I should  just keep my money, let our schools fall to their level, maybe homeschool my kid, and then those other parents who refuse to pay won't have a reason to send their kids to our district.

        Problem solved, thanks for the advice.

        •  what if they are in a neighboring, poorer, (0+ / 0-)

          area, but they personally voted for higher property taxes? still wrong?

          •  Yes, because they can move (0+ / 0-)

            After I got my job, I first bought a townhouse in one of those neighboring, poorer burbs.  My property taxes were much lower, and my schools were much worse.  I could have stayed there and saved money.

            Instead, I moved to my current house and took on the burden of the higher property taxes.  I didn't just vote for them, I've actually been paying them for 10 years.

            So to anyone in my old burb that wants to attend our schools, all they have to do is move, and start paying our tax rate.  There are 5 houses in my neighborhood up for sale right now, and 3 of them cost less than my house, a real bargain.  If they're willing to pay more today, then they should move today.

            The issue isn't what tax rate they voted for, it's what tax rate they're actually paying.  Unless you think teachers should work for free, and school buildings don't cost anything.

          •  P.S., I'd like an honest answer to this question (0+ / 0-)

            I'd like an honest answer to this question, because I think it cuts to the heart of the matter.

            Am I an idiot, a sucker, for paying high taxes these last 10 years?
            Especially given that until 3 months ago, I didn't even have a child?

            See, according to your side of the argument, everyone from the poorer, lower tax areas should be able to attend our school district, no questions asked.  So that would include me, correct?

            Maybe I should have stayed where I was, paying low taxes, keeping the money for myself.  Maybe I should have refused to fund good schools.  And then when the time came to send my son to school, I should have snuck him into the high tax district?

            So was I right or wrong to pay high taxes to fund the quality of schools that I wanted?

        •  There's a real problem here and I'm having a hard (3+ / 0-)

          time wrapping my head around it. But somewhere in there is this very bad feeling that kids are being punished for the sins of their parents (or rewarded for their parents' right behavior and-or good fortune).

          It seems to me this nation has a vital national security interest in seeing to it that all children receive an equal educational opportunity. If that means tossing out the system of funding it with local property taxes, then that's what should happen.

          The school district system you have described merely reinforces existing class relations (children of the already well-heeled get the best education and the least well-off are left with the dregs), without providing an equal opportunity to all irrespective of class status or the whims of geographic fortune. That's profoundly un-American, imho.

          •  Are we allowed to pay more to get better, or not? (0+ / 0-)

            I get your point.  But on the flip side, if my burb votes to pay higher taxes, and we get better schools as a result, that doesn't make the schools in the neighboring town worse.  They stay the same, we get better.

            Are you saying that we shouldn't be allowed to fund our schools more if we decide to do so?  Should school funding be capped?  Should we instead be subsidizing other districts?  Because believe me, all those property tax raises would be reversed in a heartbeat if that were the case.

            I understand the desire for absolute equality in all things, but some of this is like saying that I'm not allowed to paint my house, because it makes my neighbor's house look worse by comparison.  Or that I shouldn't be allowed to have a master's degree because it makes a person with only a GED feel dumber.

            Are all the other children in all the other districts suddenly better off if we cut our funding levels down to match theirs?  If we are all "equal"?

            There is one huge problem with the desire for absolute "equlity".  You will never get it.  Like I said, I have a master's degree, I can teach any subject I want.  My son will know calculus, chemistry, semiconductor physics, systems integration, biology, literature, history, music, all of it.  And he will learn it earlier than I did.  Regardless of whether he learns it at school or his peers learn it, he will because I will teach him.

            Should I not teach my son calculus because he will then have an "unequal" and "un-American" level of education?

            There are minimum standards yes.  But I will never apologize for wanting better than the minimum.

            •  No one is talking about 'absolute equality (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Norm in Chicago, Treetrunk

              in all things.' At least not I. I am talking about equality of opportunity, to which the long arc of our nation's experience should constantly be leading us constantly closer.

              How are the children of neighboring school districts to yours receiving equal opportunity if their schools are over-crowded and inadequately staffed while yours are suffering a surfeit of all things that optimize outcomes? I really don't care why that situation exists for the purposes of our discussion here. I think we can both agree that, as with childhood hunger, insufficient educational opportunity is never the fault of the child.

              I'm certainly not advocating for absolute equality of outcomes, although I do strongly favor efforts to level outcomes out somewhat, such that the average American CEO makes only 50 times what his average employee earns, and not the obscene multiples that have increasingly become the norm since, oh, about 1981.

              It is wonderful that you can teach your son so many subjects. I hope you will consider putting your knowledge to work in volunteering to help others in your community who are less fortunate than you and your son. You never know - the child whom you help today may be the next Einstein or Salk. What a shame if his or her talents failed to be cultivated merely because of a happenstance of circumstance that dictated he or she was born in one of those neighboring school districts and not yours.

              •  Parents create oportunity for their children (0+ / 0-)

                I'm sure you mean well, but I take serious issue with this:

                But somewhere in there is this very bad feeling that kids are being punished for the sins of their parents (or rewarded for their parents' right behavior and-or good fortune).
                 
                Rewarding our children with the end results of our good behavior is every parent's fundamental right.  What have I studied and worked so hard for, if I'm not allowed to provide the best life for by son possible?

                I wasn't born into this burb and this school district.  I worked very hard to earn this life, and to pay for what I want my son to have.  If I'm only allowed to give my son "equal oportunity", then I have no incentive to work harder.  At least, not through official channels.  I guess I have to go Galt, and teach my son in secret, so as to not offend tender sensibilities.  His oportunities will not be equal, by my hand.

                I'll explain it again.  There is horrible overcrowding in the outer far-right wing burbs because those parents wanted huge houses and luxury cars, and low, low taxes.  They created the horrible overcrowding through their greed, and punished their own children, while we paid more taxes and lived sensibly.  Even if they were all paid much more, they would still demand low taxes, and probably all remodel their 10 year old kitchens.

                My burb has avoided flash and get-rich-quick schemes at every turn.  We have every right to pass the results of that good behavior on to our kids.  And anyone who wants to move and live the same way and reward their children is welcome to join us.  We have plenty of affordable housing.

                As for volunteering,  I don't think I can, per your words.  I can't teach every child, so I would be picking winners and loosers.  I would be creating unequal oportunities, when every child is supposed to get exactly the same oportunity.  I'll have to limit the damage of my inequality to my own child.

                I'm sorry to be harsh, but this is at the end, only an issue of personal responsibility.  People have to care about their children's future, and work hard for it.  Demanding "equality of oportunity" is only going to result in everyone geting the absolute minimum.  

      •  So, per your 'moral calculus'... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Norm in Chicago

        ...it's just fine to weaken MY kids' education by allowing all those folks to flood our schools with their kids instead of paying a bit more to improve their own?

        Just to throw some hard numbers into the discussion, here are the spending numbers for our public high school in Kentucky:

        High School: $9228
        District Average: $9822
        State Average: $10174

        District includes 1 high school, 1 middle school, 4 elementary schools and 1 alternative school.

        We're doing extremely well while operating almost $1000/year below the state per-student spending average, but we CANNOT sustain that in the face of any significant non-residential enrollment.

        The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

        by wesmorgan1 on Mon Nov 04, 2013 at 04:18:38 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Whenever I hear the phrase 'Those folks,' I flash (0+ / 0-)

          to other notable proponents of American elitism like Ann "You people" Romney.

          The "those folks" to whom you're referring are CHILDREN! Since when were they ever responsible for the educational milieu in which they find themselves?

          So since we're talking about 'moral calculus,' perhaps you'd care to explain why you find it acceptable to sacrifice the educational opportunities of 'those folks' (CHILDREN), just  so you and your neighbors can save $1000/year.

          BTW, I assume those numbers are your annual per-pupil expenditures? Otherwise the numbers make no sense.

          •  Wow, nothing like a personal attack... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Be Skeptical

            ...to demonstrate the strength of one's argument.  **cough**

            Your argument suggests that there should be no consequence to the actions taken in the course of local control of schools - in other words, "who cares what the local school board or district does, just send your kids to that school over there!"

            Well, you don't get both local control/funding of schools AND free rein to 'comparison shop' among public schools.  Schools simply cannot scale their efforts in that fashion.  It just so happens that our county is immediately adjacent to a metropolitan area with a population of over 200,000; do you really think that they (or any substantial subset of them) should be able to switch their kids to our county's schools on a whim?

            When my wife and I decided to move 15 years ago, the quality of local schools was a major factor (if not the primary factor) in both our decision to move and our evaluation of potential communities. Others are free to make that same choice. Since then, our voters have approved two property tax increases in order to improve funding of our county schools and public library.

            When it comes to children, we often hear that "it takes a village."  Well, that would seem to suggest that we shouldn't just toss our kids into someone else's village, eh?  If you like what our village is doing, you're welcome to join us - but JOIN THE VILLAGE!  Don't just pull a drive-by every morning to drop your kid off at school...

            The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

            by wesmorgan1 on Mon Nov 04, 2013 at 08:02:45 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

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