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Of sound mind and but not so much sound body
June 20, 2011 4:35 PM   Subscribe

Life imitates O'Henry's "The Cop and the Anthem" (tl;dr): James Verone robbed a bank to get health care while in jail. In a similar move, Nathan Bootz, Superintendent of Ithaca Public Schools, "proposed to make his school a prison" to increase the state's spending per-student to the same level as it spends per-prisoner in the jails.
posted by autopilot (37 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is still as silly as it was weeks ago... unless they've decided that all the schools will be compulsory boarding schools. That could be interesting.

Students could live their senior year in halfway houses, so they can work at night.
posted by parliboy at 4:39 PM on June 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


You can build schools or prisons. You choose.
posted by photoslob at 4:56 PM on June 20, 2011


You can build schools or prisons. You choose.

Please don't ask the American public to make that choice. They will choose prisons every time.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 4:59 PM on June 20, 2011 [27 favorites]


You can build schools or prisons. You choose.

You know, if the government is willing to raise taxes then .... BEEEEEEP! BEEP BEEP BEEP.

THE GOP WOULD LIKE YOU TO DISREGARD ANY ABOVE COMMUNICATION AS IT DOES NOT FIT THE STANDARDS OF OUR CENSORS. PLEASE RETURN TO YOUR PREVIOUS METAFILTER CONTENT. THANK YOU.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 5:00 PM on June 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


anti-gerasone anyone?
posted by mrzarquon at 5:05 PM on June 20, 2011


Simpsons did it!
posted by Sys Rq at 5:07 PM on June 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


The State of Michigan spends annually somewhere between $30,000 and $40,000 per prisoner, yet we are struggling to provide schools with $7,000 per student.

Perhaps if we privatized all schools, we could find the education industry willing to lobby up to getting that much spent per student.

...

And I'm sure, much like our prison industry, all of the money will go towards the well being of our students and the Supreme Court will totally not order us to release 30,000 kids due to cruel and unusual education or anything.
posted by yeloson at 5:13 PM on June 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


All education is cruel and unusual.
posted by jonmc at 5:28 PM on June 20, 2011


"We also spend the most money per prisoner annually than any other state in the union."

Jesus fuck. Who taught this guy grammar? Oh, right.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:32 PM on June 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why do we as Americans not see health care as a right? Even if you don't, it is much better for us a society to have healthy people and preventative care. Corporations will not continue to provide or subsidize health care in the future. I don't understand why that is so hard for people to understand.
posted by UseyurBrain at 5:42 PM on June 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


Why do we as Americans not see health care as a right? Even if you don't, it is much better for us a society to have healthy people and preventative care.

1. Lots of people who have health care hate poor people who don't. 'Cause they're "lazy" and thus deserve to be poor.
2. The default mode is to place short-term gains over long-term solutions.
posted by desjardins at 5:45 PM on June 20, 2011 [8 favorites]


This is still as silly as it was weeks ago... unless they've decided that all the schools will be compulsory boarding schools. That could be interesting.

Do you see that streak up there through the night sky, that dazzling light drowning out the stars?

That's the point going right over your head.
posted by JHarris at 5:48 PM on June 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


I wish we could do the "spend more money on schools" thing without demonizing spending money on prisons. Spending money on prisons is a good thing because it means you get nice prisons. The last time I checked the state that spent the lowest amount per prisoner was Louisiana; the state that spent the most was Rhode Island. I'll leave it up to you to guess which prison system is fairly humane versus which one resembles a slave plantation.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:49 PM on June 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Spending money on prisons is a good thing because it means you get nice prisons.

In theory.

In reality you get more and bigger prisons.
posted by verb at 5:51 PM on June 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Sure, but you can achieve the same increase in spending per prisoner by incarcerating fewer people. I suggest we start with (wait for it...) non-violent drug crimes.
posted by danny the boy at 5:51 PM on June 20, 2011 [6 favorites]


Crap like this is the only reason I stay in Australia. Fix up your health care, America!
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:52 PM on June 20, 2011


"Maintaining the death penalty in California costs at least $184 million more a year than it would simply to leave killers in prison for life, and the average wait for a prisoner between conviction and execution has grown to more than 25 years, a report due to be released next week says.

The three-year study by a federal judge and a law professor also found that California taxpayers have spent $308 million for each of the 13 executions conducted since capital punishment was reinstated in the state in 1978."

And given California's inability to maintain anything resembling decent health care for the vast majority of its prisoners, it's a good thing this guy didn't rob a bank here.
posted by rtha at 5:54 PM on June 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Spending money on prisons is a good thing because it means you get nice prisons.

Unfortunately, many people feel that's exactly the problem (until someone they care about has to do time for a crime they "didn't commit.")
posted by katillathehun at 6:01 PM on June 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why do we as Americans not see health care as a right? Even if you don't, it is much better for us a society to have healthy people and preventative care.

Actually, the problem is that we sort of do see it as a right, but have done an incredibly bad job of implementing a system that treats it as a right. Federal law is pretty darn clear that hospitals in the Medicare program (in other words, basically all of them) have to treat your emergency condition regardless of your ability to pay. Show up in the emergency department and you have the right to be evaluated by a medical professional. Have an emergency and you have the right to stay there and receive hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of treatment without paying a nickel.

We do this because, at some deep level, we do view health care as a right. If a guy is dying and there's a hospital that can try to save him, he basically has the right to that care. It would obviously be horrific and uncivilized if doctors shoved him out on the street to die (not that this doesn't still happen sometimes, but it's at least what we're trying to avoid), so we basically give the hospital an obligation to take care of him, and as a result, give the man the right to emergency health care.

This certainly isn't a bad idea, but it's a phenomenally bad way to run a health care system, because it ignores problems until they become far more serious. It's like having a police department that ignores misdemeanors and only handles major felonies or a fire department that won't start spraying water on your house until it is completely engulfed in flames. From a pure cost perspective, it costs orders of magnitude less to teach someone how to manage their diabetes and make sure they get and take their insulin than to amputate their foot. It's certainly a far better outcome for the patient!

If we truly don't see health care as a right, then critically ill indignant patients should be thrown out of hospitals unless they can find a charity willing to sponsor their care in time. But as long as we're recognizing that we not going to do that, we should build a system that actually provides everyone with real care while reducing costs.
posted by zachlipton at 6:14 PM on June 20, 2011 [16 favorites]


If we truly don't see health care as a right, then critically ill indignant patients should be thrown out of hospitals unless they can find a charity willing to sponsor their care in time. But as long as we're recognizing that we not going to do that...

Actually, we DO do that. Arizona recently cut funding for critical organ transplants. Several people who had been on the waiting list for months were suddenly booted off of the list. At least one, who therefore missed out on getting his transplant, died. Others are scrambling around, desperate to find charities who will pay for their transplants before they die.

This just happened this year. Arizona is a perfect example of just how incapable of governing the far-right is in this country.
posted by darkstar at 7:01 PM on June 20, 2011 [10 favorites]


Crap like this is the only reason I stay in Australia. Fix up your health care, America!

I hear universal health care is the best salve against the constant onslaught of vociferous racism.
posted by smithsmith at 7:25 PM on June 20, 2011 [8 favorites]


automatic +1 for O.Henry link
posted by Bwithh at 7:32 PM on June 20, 2011


although note it's "O. Henry" not "O'Henry".
posted by Bwithh at 7:33 PM on June 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Is underfunding actually what's wrong with the US public school system? My mother (an English advisory teacher and inspector) inspected schools in New York a few years ago. From what she said, failures of planning, organisation and oversight were more significant problems than lack of money. The raw numbers, as far as I can tell, don't suggest that education in the US is underfunded. Is there something I am missing on this point, or is mismanagement the root of the problem?
posted by howfar at 7:45 PM on June 20, 2011


Depends what you mean by "underfunded." If you add up our official K-12 spending and divide it by the number of K-12 students, we fund out schools quite generously. But huge portions of that money go to school lunches and busing, programs for disabled and ELL students, and extracurricular activities (at one point my state funded its science museum out of the education budget). I'm not saying these are unnecessary activities, but other countries don't consider them part of the school system's responsibility.

Add in the fact that we have smaller class sizes than most other countries, and a few layers of administration that are probably a bit too thick, and by the time you're done our funding per classroom is staggeringly low by international standards.

What is certain is that our current system of funding districts by local property taxes is completely idiotic. But that's another question.
posted by miyabo at 8:30 PM on June 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Why do we as Americans not see health care as a right? Even if you don't, it is much better for us a society to have healthy people and preventative care.

Because we are a country are still suffering a hangover from several millennia of authoritarian rule in which we were taught that suffering was ordained by God and that if we were suffering, we deserved it. Getting rid of kings did not entirely wipe this attitude out, and it's been fed by years of conservative propagandizing and the media's adulation of rich assholes, i.e., the chosen ones who we all want to be, and if we're good enough and smart enough, can be. Someday. And we don't deserve healthcare till we are. That's why we don't mind not taxing them either; they are, must be, better than us, to be so rich and successful. Who are we to make demands on them?

You can see this most clearly in the way that any discussion of healthcare veers off into "Americans are a bunch of lazy fatties and that's why they're so sick" and/or "Those People are too stupid and lazy to take care of themselves and that's why they're so sick." A few years ago there was a lot of "Gay people are too perverted and stupid to protect themselves and that's why they're so sick," as well.

It's a big clusterfuck of religious self-hatred, denial, bigotry, and class shame, and whenever anyone stirs the pot, all that shit bubbles to the surface.
posted by emjaybee at 8:38 PM on June 20, 2011 [10 favorites]


Consider the life of a Michigan prisoner. They get three square meals a day. Access to free health care. Internet. Cable television. Access to a library. A weight room. Computer lab. They can earn a degree. A roof over their heads. Clothing. Everything we just listed we DO NOT provide to our school children.

Do Michigan children not have a program for free and reduced-price breakfast and lunch, a school nurse, internet, cable, library, gym class, and computers? Don't the schools issue diplomas? And aren't they, um, buildings?

More benefits of prison: Solitary confinement! Gangs! A really high rate of HIV! Slave labor! Lack of access to education! INCARCERATION (just or not) FOR A MOTHERFUCKING CRIME, YOU JERK, WHY WOULD YOU INTENTIONALLY COMPARE THAT TO PUBLIC SCHOOL.
posted by desuetude at 11:00 PM on June 20, 2011


Yeah, it couldn't help to fund US schools a bit more, anything to keep other kids from having their P.E. teacher also be their science teacher and inexplicably spend the entire period, every other day (that's right, we had science class twice a week, no wonder I'm floundering around in the humanities), talking about his bloody stool. I guess that's science?
posted by Mooseli at 1:39 AM on June 21, 2011


*Uh, couldn't hurt...
posted by Mooseli at 1:39 AM on June 21, 2011


(Although I bet bloody stool hurts)
posted by Mooseli at 1:40 AM on June 21, 2011


I wonder if this man at any point of his stuggle for SSI/SSD got a lawyer? Yeah it's hard waiting it out on GAU or GAX, but he just screwd himself as far as getting into HUD housing. You still get Medicaid on GAU/GAX.
If this man had talked with ANY actual poor person, that is the information he would have gotten.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 2:06 AM on June 21, 2011


Why do we as Americans not see health care as a right? Even if you don't, it is much better for us a society to have healthy people and preventative care.

American society seems to put an excessive weight on the idea of "moral hazard", and to consider the unworthy getting a free ride to be far worse than the deserving missing out. Something to do with Calvinist theology, I think.
posted by acb at 3:12 AM on June 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


His grammar is lamentable. However, he does point to some critical problems that affect children's ability to flourish in school.

If all children had three good meals a day, health care, computers, access to the internet, access to libraries, and gyms they would all do better in school. If all children had access to the resources that more privileged children have in schools that spend substantially more than $7,000./year per child, they would do better.

The boarding school idea was proposed by the Workingmen's Party of New York back in the 1820s or 1830s as a way of promoting equality of educational opportunity for all children. (Note: the Wikipedia entry does not mention this policy, but I'll dig it up for anyone who's interested.)
posted by mareli at 8:19 AM on June 21, 2011


Do Michigan children not have a program for free and reduced-price breakfast and lunch, a school nurse, internet, cable, library, gym class, and computers?

School nurse? Cable? Internet? Seriously. When WAS the last time you've strolled in to a Detroit Public School?
posted by jeanmari at 6:16 PM on June 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


School nurse? Cable? Internet? Seriously. When WAS the last time you've strolled in to a Detroit Public School?

Ithaca isn't Detroit?

Don't take my word for it, read their (PDF Warning) 2009-2010 Annual Report lauding their small class size, high test scores, access to athletic and extracurricular activities and technology, etc.
posted by desuetude at 10:47 PM on June 21, 2011


The problem is you can't judge your average school district by a high-end district. Since schools are funded by local tax revenues, schools in a wealthy area can be pretty well funded, while nearby inner-city schools have a much smaller budget to serve more students with greater problems.

The best solution would be to find schools on a state level, but since equalizing funding on a per-student basis would cause the wealthy school districts to take a major hit in funding, it won't happen. Basically the majority of parents don't want schools to be equally poor.
posted by happyroach at 4:00 AM on June 22, 2011


Ithaca isn't Detroit?

Ithaca, Michigan:

96.03% White
Number of families in the city = 817 families
Number of households in the city = 1,211 households
Median income for a household = $35,045
Median income for a family = $45,795
Percentage of families below the poverty line = 7.1%

No. Ithaca is not Detroit.
posted by jeanmari at 5:50 AM on June 22, 2011


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