What it’s all about: Willing the good of the other

I meant to post this over the weekend. But here you go…

Our friend Lynn Teague retweeted this from up in the Midwest:

Her comment was to say this was where South Carolina was headed, what with those folks finally managing to pass their bill to pay parents to abandon public schools. (At least, that was what I assumed she meant.) This caused me to recall something I wrote during that period, so I shared it:

Of course, that was back a couple of bishops ago.

Lynn responded:

And that really got me going. First, I responded as you see above: “You know what’s anti-Catholic? Accepting money diverted from schools that exist to educate all the children….”

But I had a little more to say. My favorite homilist Bishop Barron had had a really good sermon on May 14, distilling more or less what our faith is all about — or, to be more precise, what love is. Rather than sending the whole video, I looked for a tweet when the bishop said it (he had mentioned saying it often), and found that here:

I followed that up with this:

Anyway, that’s really what I wanted to share. That’s what love is: Willing the good of the other. The applications of that concept are innumerable, and of supreme importance…

Here is the homily to which I referred…

35 thoughts on “What it’s all about: Willing the good of the other

  1. Barry

    The push of Conservatives to send public money to their favorite private schools is an obsession.

    As the father of 3 that went to both private and public schools, this was always a strange push for me. I know the private school all of my children attended for 6 years didn’t want to be open to the wider community. They were small for a reason. For example, they weren’t equipped to serve disabled children and I never knew of a disabled child at their school. The school’s focus was religious education.

    The reality is private schools are private for a reason. They want to be exclusive. They want to be small. Many want to teach their own version of Christianity and most aren’t open to or equipped to serve children with disabilities or learning problems.

    But this is what South Carolina right wingers want and that’s what we are going to have – tax money funding the religious education of the right wingers that want their kids to have a religious based education.

    After all, it’s a pretty good deal if you can get other right wing, likeminded politicians to get the state to pay for your children to get a religious education.

    Hopefully, some large Muslim schools will open up in the very near future in the heart of Columbia, Greenville, and Charleston. It will interesting to see the reaction of some of these right wingers when they have to pass by Muslim schools each day they are funding.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Except, of course, they’re not conservatives. They are antisocial, self-centered people who call themselves “conservative.”

      We’ve twisted the word “liberal” as well, of course.

      The ways these terms are misused is, to repeat myself, part of the whole broad effort to boil everything down so that everyone perceives politics as a bitter struggle between two factions — and only two factions; that’s all that’s allowed — that hate each other. Of course, when you seek to cram the whole human race into only two teams, each team is going to be very diverse ideologically, embracing a range of views that make them very different from each other. But it’s apparently critically important to cram them into these pens, so you can call them “liberal and conservative,” or “left and right,” or “blue and red.” So that you and every else knows which herd you’re in, and which herd you hate.

      And of course, no force in society has worked harder to twist and narrow our understanding of these terms than news media. Never forget that…

  2. Ken

    There are multiple motivations behind the school voucherization push.

    Along with the gimme-MY-money crowd,
    Some dislike so-called “government schools” – with the voucher campaign part of a larger effort against government generally.
    Others hope to use it to inject (right-wing) religion into the public sphere (Dare we call it “indoctrination”?)
    Then there are the market ideologues, who claim they’re promoting “competition” and “choice,” as if education were just like any other commodity.
    And, obviously, some are driven by a combination of motivations.

    Perhaps their ideal school system is one like in Brazil, where a Brazilian friend tells me the public schools are so neglected that every parent who can places their child into a private school – since public schools are for society’s “losers.”

    1. Doug Ross

      Well, the evidence is pretty clear that the public schools in South Carolina are not very good, despite decades of useless mandatory testing, excessive spending on all sorts of curriculum and initiatives unrelated to basic literacy, and abandoning any pretense of holding students to a standard for behavior.

      You can ignore the data that has been collected for decades that shows more money doesn’t deliver better results. You can wear blinders when the mandatory test results show little to no improvement in any of the basic education areas like reading and math. The public schools in SC graduate a large percentage of barely functional illiterates. Kids who demonstrate by the testing that they are unprepared to advance are pushed along, year after year. My daughter, a high school teacher in a decent school district, has juniors and seniors who cannot read, write, or do math at an elementary school level. The public schools have failed all those kids.

      Why WOULDN’T a taxpaying parent who cares about their children’s education want to find an alternative? Why WOULDN”T a taxpayer look at the outcomes the public schools have delivered demand alternatives the provide better options to all students?

      If the goal if PUBLIC education, then that should be supported in whatever way a parent chooses to provide it: public schools, private schools, charter schools, home schools, vocational schools… the tax dollars should follow the child, not be thrown into failing school systems. The public school monopoly demands competition.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Oh, and to save y’all all the trouble of going back and reading ANY of that, here’s my point in sharing it:

          People who think vouchers are a fine idea, and people who think THOSE people don’t understand what public education is for, have completely different ways of understanding themselves and their relationship to society. There’s a cognitive wall between them that is very hard to climb over.

          So you get these arguments in which people keep saying the same things, and neither side moves.

          We have a lot of issues like that these days, don’t we?

          1. Barry

            My last high schooler is about finished with the school year. We’ve been very pleased with her teachers and the school.

            She found out she’s exempted most of her exams. She recently took an AP exam for one of her classes.

            It’s not one of the “rich” schools are in one of the “rich” districts. But she’s had an excellent year.

            It’s an odd thing to think about but I am glad she’s not at one of the “rich” schools or “richer” districts. I think it introduces her to a greater variety of people, all with their own struggles and problems.

            Not that we don’t have our own struggles – we do.

          2. Ken

            “… their relationship to society.”

            It’s particularly hard for folks to have a relationship with something they don’t believe exists. For market ideologues, we’re all just monads floating freely in space.

          3. Doug Ross

            It’s tough for voucher opponents to address facts so they stick to feelings.

            The facts are clear that public schools fail no matter how much money is spent or how much testing is done. There is also evidence in multiple states that have implemented vouchers that outcomes overall improved.

            If you can refute those facts, we can talk about why vouchers can’t possibly work and just sit in a circle chanting “it’s all about the children”.

            You never have been able to address the simple question: how much more money do the public schools need to produce better outcomes. It hasn’t worked before so why would it work in the future?

            Look into the Race To The Top Grant that was run in several of the worst schools districts in n SC several years ago. Three years, tens of millions of federal tax dollars spent, and the result? No improvement.. but lots of high paid consulting companies got rich . Thousands of laptops were purchased and never used.

            It’s not a money problem. It’s a parent and school administration problem.

              1. Barry

                Doug is 40-50% right.

                In some cases, it’s not a funding issue. My wife worked at a school in the midlands that had no real funding issues. The school was very nice and modern, had many resources, and it’s share of extra funding due to a few key business partnerships and a good handful of very well off parents.

                They had major issues with discipline in the school. There was no consistent policy that was easily understood and there still isn’t.

                The problem wasn’t really administration though.

                Administration at the school only can do so much. – They are following guidance like everyone else and it’s not always from district leadership. Often the school board is telling the district what they can do and what they won’t allow- and the district administration is trying to plug the round holes with square pegs.

                The school board is doing what the most vocal people in the community want done.

                Some of the most vocal people don’t even have kids in the schools. Sometimes school board members don’t even have kids in the schools. For some, it’s just a political position.

                For some- their career is not one where they have much control. They aren’t always company Presidents or even supervisors in their career field. But on a school board, they have a ton of power and they use it.

                (I’ve had the same complaint about some church leadership groups. In some cases, they can be made up of people that – in their chosen career field or job- they have no supervisory control because they haven’t demonstrated the ability to be effective. But in a church or a school board, etc- the people with the power can often be the people that meet one criteria: They are willing to run for the position.

                That’s not a recipe for the best and brightest.

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Well, one thing that keeps the best and the brightest from running these days is the ungodly amounts of abuse elected officials have to put up with.

                  It’s not so much that you need to be stupid to run the way things are, but too often, what we get are people who have no reputations, or dignity, to lose. That’s why Trump ran, I assume — since he possesses neither. All he had going for him was a sleazy sort of notoriety.

                  I can explain why he ran. I just still can’t explain why anyone, anywhere, voted for him. The only motive I can thing of is the one programmed into those famous Russian bots — the idea was to tear down America…

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    Of course, we see that more down at the school-board level, as you noted. Trump just comes up because it was so shocking to see it happen, for the first time in our country’s history, at the top level…

                  2. Doug Ross

                    Everything comes back to Trump. Newsflash: school boards in Columbia have been populated by idiots for decades. When I ran in 2002, I saw firsthand just how dumb and/or corrupt they were.. and they were mostly Democrats even though it was a non partisan race.

                    How much more money do you want Brad for schools? How much will it take? If you can’t say, then stop talking about funding.

                    1. Brad Warthen Post author

                      Houston, we seem to have a problem.

                      I just deleted Doug’s comment above because I approved and REPLIED to it yesterday. Of course, I replied facetiously, because no one could possibly be serious in asking “How much more money do you want Brad for schools? How much will it take?”

                      I gave him a number…

                      Anyway, both his comment and my reply disappeared. Weird.

                      I’m not going to rewrite it. I just post this to ask whether any of y’all are seeing technical problems at your end…

                    2. Doug Ross

                      Brad’s answer to anything that involves tax dollars has always been: MORE

                      If you won’t tell us how much more you want for schools, how about telling us what government spending you would cut to shift to schools? No hard math required there… is there any spending that would be better suited to shift to public education?

                    3. Brad Warthen Post author

                      Doug, you’re off on one of your tangents again, based on something I didn’t say. Happen a lot.

                      I didn’t say a word about MORE for anything. I criticized a scheme that would provide LESS, based on little beyond the advocates’ ideological hatred of anything public.

                      So… think carefully here… do you see how silly it is for you to keep saying, “MORE? You want MORE? How MUCH more? Be specific!”

                      And to avoid the time it takes for me to type something like this again, I tend to just delete the comment that attempts to drag us off the subject. You’ll see me doing that more and more, as I’ve mentioned previously….

            1. Ken

              Rep. Neil Collins (R-Easley) addressed the facts, pointing to studies showing that use of private school vouchers in other locales have generally not raised pupil performance. But evidence doesn’t matter to fundamentalist market ideologues.

              1. Doug Ross

                I bet there’s studies that show they work though.

                But keep protecting the monopoly.. I’m sure they’ll continue to deliver the next generation of illiterates on schedule.

            2. Kay Packett

              I’m just popping in to ask Doug why he thinks private schools are the right answer. Leaving aside the fact that South Carolina’s private schools just won’t take most of the students who don’t do well in public schools–anyone with behavioral or academic issues–their educational track record is not much better compared to the rest of the nation than our public schools’. I did the math on the SAT (although it was some years ago now) and found that our private school students scored last in the nation, excepting only Alaska. And that’s while they only accept the best-supported students in the state.

              I think we should be sure the private school system is better before we dismantle the system we have.

              1. Doug Ross

                I don’t think private schools are THE answer. I think the answer is a combination of private and public schools all performing at the best of their capabilities with parents taking responsibility for their children’s education and behavior.

                Combine that with ACTUAL accountability not the window dressing the department of education has put out their for decades with useless testing. Testing isn’t accountability. Using the results of tests to a) hold students back who are not at grade level b) identify teachers and administrators who over a period of years do not demonstrate the ability to educate and c) influence changes in the curriculum to address fundamental literacy issues that plague this state. None of that is happening in the SC public schools today.

                I have always supported implementing vouchers first on a trial basis — only available to students who are either in failing schools (we know which ones they are thanks to the testing). Just a trial program in, let’s say, five districts for five years. What’s the worst that could happen compared to where those students likely will end up anyway? And to make it even easier to accept — don’t take any funding away from the districts for those students. Let them have more $$ per pupil who remain in those districts to prove what they will do with more money. I already know the answer.

                But none of this talk of money matters until parents accept THEIR responsibility in the process. Discipline is worse than ever. Teachers can’t fix that.

                Other things I would do:

                – Stop paying teachers based on degrees and tenure. Pay for performance in the classroom not on resumes.
                – Implement far better vocational options for students. Every kid doesn’t need algebra or chemistry or Shakespeare. They need to be able to read and write and think and do basic math. And many of those who drop out would better served with training in auto repair, culinary arts, welding, carpentry…
                – Make participation in high school athletics contingent on demonstrating academic performance… use the 8th grade PASS test as the gatekeeper if you want to truly implement accountability. Can’t read or do math at 8th grade level? No football, basketball, or other sports until you do.
                – This is purely fantasy but every school board member should be required to pass the same high school exit exam as the students. I’m pretty sure we’d lose half of them in Columbia pretty quick.

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  And I agree with Doug on everything under “Other things I would do.”

                  Although I argue with myself a bit over the sports thing. That’s because I feel the need to place myself in the Nikes of someone unlike myself.

                  Y’all are familiar with my problems with the way Americans may WAY too big a deal over sports, placing it above more important things, such as, you know, academics.

                  But that’s me. And here are kids who are the opposite of me — they’re bad at the Shakespeare, and good at sports. And I have found — as a father and grandfather and general observer of humans — that it’s good for kids to feel like their good at something. And too often, the kids who have trouble in school are ones whose parents can’t afford, say “travel baseball” leagues. So the only competitive outlet they have for their talents is school sports.

                  What we need to do is find a way — and no, I don’t know the way — for them to gain what confidence they can from athletics and channel it into doing better at academics.

                  But I’m torn on that course…

              2. Doug Ross

                I’d love to see the math on the private school math scores, Kay, if you would be willing to share.

                It would be interesting to see if there is any public school that could compete with Hammond, Heathwood, and Cardinal Newman. There must be some really bad ones out there (Allendale level) to move the numbers that low.

                1. Barry

                  Some of those, like Heathwood, have strict admission standards, including standardized testing, for admission.

                  It’s like comparing a fishing rod with a can of air freshener.

  3. Doug Ross

    I asked ChatGPT the following question to get the key points a pro-voucher supporter could make. I think it summarizes the view very well.

    what are the potential benefits of school vouchers that would allow parents to choose alternatives to public schools?

    School vouchers, which allow parents to choose alternatives to public schools, have been a topic of debate in education policy. Proponents of school vouchers argue that they can offer several potential benefits. Some of these benefits include:

    Increased parental choice: School vouchers empower parents to choose the educational setting that they believe best fits their child’s needs. This choice can be particularly valuable for families residing in areas with underperforming public schools or limited educational options. Vouchers can provide parents with the opportunity to select a school that aligns with their educational priorities, whether it’s a private school, charter school, or another alternative.

    Improved educational quality: Proponents suggest that school vouchers can foster competition among schools, incentivizing them to improve their educational quality to attract students. By allowing parents to vote with their feet and choose the best schools for their children, vouchers can create a market-driven approach that encourages schools to innovate and provide better education.

    Addressing educational inequality: School vouchers have the potential to address educational inequality by providing access to high-quality education for students who might otherwise be limited to underperforming schools. This is particularly relevant for low-income families who may not have the financial means to afford private school tuition without vouchers.

    Customized education: Voucher programs can offer more educational options, including specialized schools or schools with specific instructional approaches, such as religious or language immersion schools. This flexibility can allow parents to find educational environments that align with their child’s unique needs, interests, or learning styles.

    Increased accountability: Voucher programs can promote accountability by ensuring that schools are responsive to parents’ demands. If parents are not satisfied with the educational outcomes or services provided by a particular school, they can choose to transfer their child to another school. This accountability mechanism can encourage schools to prioritize student achievement and responsiveness to families.

    Innovation and diversity: School vouchers can encourage the development of diverse educational options, fostering innovation in teaching methods, curriculum, and school governance. With a wider range of school choices, communities may benefit from increased educational experimentation and the opportunity to discover effective practices that can be shared across schools.

    It’s important to note that the effectiveness and impact of school voucher programs are still subjects of debate, and the outcomes can vary depending on the specific design and implementation of the program. Researchers continue to study the effects of vouchers on student achievement, school quality, and equity to better understand their potential benefits and drawbacks.

  4. Doug Ross

    And here is the alternative view — both responses are free of the name calling and partisan politics that you find on here.

    What would be the alternative view for those who are opposed to public school vouchers?
    Opponents of public school vouchers raise several concerns and present alternative views on their potential drawbacks. Here are some of the arguments against school vouchers:

    Diversion of resources: Critics argue that implementing school voucher programs can divert funding and resources away from public schools, which may already be underfunded and struggling to meet the needs of students. They argue that instead of channeling funds towards private schools, the focus should be on improving public education for all students.

    Lack of accountability: Critics suggest that voucher programs can lead to a lack of accountability and transparency. Private schools, unlike public schools, often have fewer regulations and less oversight. Without stringent accountability measures, there may be no guarantee that voucher-funded schools are providing a quality education or meeting the same standards as public schools.

    Exacerbation of inequality: Opponents argue that school vouchers can further exacerbate educational inequality. Since private schools have the right to select students, they may not be accessible to all students, particularly those with special needs or lower academic performance. Vouchers could potentially benefit families who can afford to cover additional costs or provide transportation, leaving disadvantaged students trapped in underfunded public schools.

    Impact on public schools: Critics express concerns that implementing school vouchers could lead to a decline in public school enrollment and resources. As students leave public schools for private or alternative options, public schools may face a reduction in funding and be left with a disproportionate number of students who need additional support or have fewer educational opportunities.

    Loss of diversity and inclusivity: Opponents argue that school voucher programs can contribute to a lack of diversity and inclusivity in education. Private schools, particularly those with specific religious or ideological affiliations, may have admission policies that could result in homogeneity and limited exposure to diverse perspectives and backgrounds.

    Unproven impact on student achievement: Some critics contend that the evidence on the impact of school vouchers on student achievement is mixed. While there are studies suggesting positive outcomes, others show little to no significant improvement in academic performance compared to public schools. This lack of consistent evidence raises concerns about the effectiveness of vouchers as an educational reform strategy.

    It’s important to note that the views on school vouchers can vary, and there are nuanced arguments on both sides of the debate. The effectiveness and implications of school voucher programs may depend on their specific design, implementation, and the context in which they are applied.

    1. Bill

      What about pregnant teens who steal their daddy’s car and then rear-end me.
      Children are evil little bastards,and don’t need ANY schooling except good old rock and roll:

  5. Ken

    Gee willikers! I think we have the solution to all our social media woes: Let ChatGPT take over the “Comments” function. Eventually it might even be best to let it take over running the blog entirely. Get all us messy humans out of the equation. Problem solved!

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Well, I don’t know what that means, but I regret approving that comment from Doug. I just get so tired of denying them. Same deal with you…

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