I didn't get your vote but I hope through my work to earn your respect
October 17, 2013 11:03 AM   Subscribe

 
Booker, catch!
posted by Old'n'Busted at 11:08 AM on October 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


Booker/Warren '16
posted by likeatoaster at 11:09 AM on October 17, 2013 [30 favorites]


Booker said he will likely be sworn in "the next week, two weeks max." The timing, he said, depends on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Vice President Joe Biden, who will likely swear Booker in.

With Mo Cowan also in the senate, is this the first time there have been three African Americans in the Senate at the same time?
posted by mattbucher at 11:09 AM on October 17, 2013


Yay! Everything I've heard about Senator-elect Booker is really good and positive and I'm glad that this has happened.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 11:12 AM on October 17, 2013


With Mo Cowan also in the senate, is this the first time there have been three African Americans in the Senate at the same time?


Yes. (But we're already living in the first time that there have even been 2 unless I'm mistaken, which I very much might be.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:12 AM on October 17, 2013


is this the first time there have been three African Americans in the Senate at the same time?

Yes.
posted by zamboni at 11:12 AM on October 17, 2013


Mo Cowan left office in July.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:13 AM on October 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Prepare to have your hearts broken. Booker has his head so far up the keister of Wall Street that he got an elbow in the eye from Chuck Schumer.
posted by JackFlash at 11:15 AM on October 17, 2013 [28 favorites]


We need another president from Jersey!
posted by smackwich at 11:15 AM on October 17, 2013


YAY!!! I voted for Booker and was so glad to see another Teabag lout defeated, especially here in the home of Chris Christie. That is pitiful that there have never been more than two African American senators at the same time.
posted by mermayd at 11:16 AM on October 17, 2013




He somehow got elected despite having a respectful conversation with a woman.
posted by The Whelk at 11:18 AM on October 17, 2013 [30 favorites]


With Mo Cowan also in the senate, is this the first time there have been three African Americans in the Senate at the same time?

Mo Cowan is no longer in the Senate. He was appointed to fill John Kerry's seat until a special election could be held. That election occurred in June, and Ed Markey now holds it.

On preview, what Bulgaroktonos said
posted by RonButNotStupid at 11:20 AM on October 17, 2013


Yeah, a booker/warren ticket is incredibly unlikely. The man is 100% in the pocket of Wall Street and the banks.
posted by empath at 11:22 AM on October 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Booker's a stand-up guy on most issues (not so crazy about his banker friends). I wouldn't have been sorry to vote for him if I still lived in NJ. $DEITY knows he's light-years better than my current senators, Cruz and Cornyn.
posted by immlass at 11:25 AM on October 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


Can someone point me in the direction of some articles about Booker's relationship with Wall Street?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:26 AM on October 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm pleased, and I like Cory Booker, but I am still curious about his ability to play at a National Level. He is a classic local politician...really good at rolling up his sleeves and jumping into frays and collecting baby kisses and getting in the paper. He has not showed anything so far in the realm of National Politics: Making speeches or making deals. He's an insanely smart guy, and moreover he is well-liked by everyone, but whether he can stand up to the heat of Washington is another thing entirely. If I were a betting man, which I am, I would put money on him ending up on the BOTTOM of a presidential ticket in 2 years. His national name recognition alone could boost Hillary or another beleaguered Democratic candidate's chances at stirring up their liberal base.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:26 AM on October 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Elizabeth Warren certainly specializes in uttering meme-able quotes that fill up my damn Facebook feed, so she should be a strong contender for 2016.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:27 AM on October 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


is this the first time there have been three African Americans in the Senate at the same time?

Yes.


That list of African-American US Senators is so very, very sad in how short it is, and the huge gaps between #2 and #3, then another significant gap between #3 and #4 also make me sad for my country.
  1. Hiram Rhodes Revels (1827–1901) - Mississippi -- in office from February 23, 1870 to March 3, 1871
  2. Blanche Kelso Bruce (1841–1898) - Mississippi -- in office from March 4, 1875 to March 3, 1881
  3. Edward William Brooke, III (born 1919) - Massachusetts -- in office from January 3, 1967 to January 3, 1979
  4. Carol Moseley Braun (born 1947) - Illinois -- in office from January 3, 1993 to January 3, 1999
  5. Barack Obama (born 1961) - Illinois -- in office from January 3, 2005 to November 16, 2008
  6. Roland W. Burris (born 1937) - Illinois -- in office from January 15, 2009 to November 29, 2010
  7. Tim Scott (born 1965) - South Carolina -- in office starting on January 2, 2013 (Incumbent)
  8. Mo Cowan (born 1969) - Massachusetts -- in office from February 1, 2013 to July 16, 2013
  9. Cory Booker (born 1969) - New Jersey - start of term TBD
posted by filthy light thief at 11:27 AM on October 17, 2013


Can someone point me in the direction of some articles about Booker's relationship with Wall Street?

Cory Booker's defense of Wall Street may hurt his status with MeFites
posted by KokuRyu at 11:28 AM on October 17, 2013 [5 favorites]




It's odd... on one hand OF COURSE HE'S IN THE POCKET OF THE BANKS, how the hell else would anybody expect to get elected these days.

On the other hand... at least he's willing to play the game. Offering to go on $30/week food budgets and actually being aware that there are other people on the planet. As far as I'm concerned, that's infinitely better than anybody else has offered.

You can't stand outside the system with your pitchforks in hand waiting for the system to just fall apart by itself, can you?
posted by Blue_Villain at 11:29 AM on October 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


(For the record I looked at the same list of African-American Senators, but somehow in the moment didn't realize July 16, 2013 wasn't in the future. You really shouldn't trust a lot of what I say, I guess.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:29 AM on October 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


May it happen many times. Fuck those guys.
posted by Artw at 11:29 AM on October 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Booker's positions on education reform isn't my favorite either. My crush on him has definitely faded over time. Fortunately, Obama has totally prepped me for the "not as perfect but can still support" role quite well, like it or not.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:31 AM on October 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Black Agenda Report: Cory Booker, the Next Black Corporate Presidential Contender
posted by graymouser at 11:31 AM on October 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


You can't stand outside the system with your pitchforks in hand waiting for the system to just fall apart by itself, can you?

Is it okay for us to be happy there's another Democrat in the upper chamber, but also be disappointed that Booker's the best we could get from a solidly blue state?
posted by tonycpsu at 11:32 AM on October 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


(Also, Booker at the top of a ticket with Elizabeth Warren on it? Jesus wept.)
posted by tonycpsu at 11:33 AM on October 17, 2013 [16 favorites]


Before we go pooping all over him entirely, keep in mind he's at least in the pocket of the more progressive type of corporate overlords.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:34 AM on October 17, 2013


Ahh, Cory Booker, (D-Chabad-Lubavitcher). Because what I want from my politicians is intimate ties to horrifyingly right-wing religious groups.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:34 AM on October 17, 2013


He seems like a principled politician who has made a difference:

Booker did not solve poverty in Newark, nor did he usher in a mecca for the “creative class” as some now refer to upwardly mobile professionals. Booker did create a stable climate where philanthropy and the private sector now feel comfortable investing in the city. Booker also made strides in crime reduction, but young males of color still kill each other far more than is acceptable. But one thing about Cory Booker, he is leaving Newark better than he found it, and that is the acid test of leadership.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:36 AM on October 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ahh, Cory Brooker,

If you can't get his name right...
posted by KokuRyu at 11:37 AM on October 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


If you can't get his name right...

Clearly my typo was evidence of my deep-seated awfulness.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:38 AM on October 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


He needs an adorable puppy mascot companion named Corgi Booker.
posted by elizardbits at 11:38 AM on October 17, 2013 [30 favorites]


Corgi BARKER
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:39 AM on October 17, 2013 [45 favorites]


Is it okay for us to be happy there's another Democrat in the upper chamber, but also be disappointed that Booker's the best we could get from a solidly blue state?

I'm not sure they're exactly the opposite, but you can't use the concept of politics and vacuum-centric ideals in the same rational thought. So if you're upset that this is the best that a solidly-blue state can do... then point me in the direction of somebody better and I'll throw my $10-$1500 in their direction next time around.
posted by Blue_Villain at 11:40 AM on October 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


He needs an adorable puppy mascot companion named Corgi Booker.

Mayor of Newbark.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 11:41 AM on October 17, 2013 [11 favorites]


Well, Charlie Brooker is pretty cool.
posted by koeselitz at 11:43 AM on October 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Have you guys heard this hilarious joke about the artist BANKSY hold on let me check my notes before i tell you
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:43 AM on October 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Cory Booker's defense of Wall Street may hurt his status with MeFites

Most of us are working in the existing system. So, that in itself is not a disqualification. What we can ask for, though, is that our leaders understand where we're at, where we need to be, and show they're willing to take steps (and spend political capital) that on a generational time scale will move us in the right direction. The problem with climate change is that it's made us all realize how inadequate political incrementalism is, unfortunately. That urgency is at odds with conventional political pragmatism.

As for Booker: short term win, for sure. I've read the Wall Street slams, but I don't know him well enough to guess how he's going to vote. I hope he pals around with Elizabeth Warren, so she can bring him to the light.
posted by mondo dentro at 11:43 AM on October 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Clearly my typo was evidence of my deep-seated awfulness.
posted by Pope Guilty


Well are you or are you not infallible?
posted by zombieflanders at 11:49 AM on October 17, 2013 [10 favorites]


Every politician has their problems. The only person I agree with 100% of the time is me and my positions have changed over time, so I don't agree with the me of 10 years ago on everything.

I think that Booker is idealistic and a trouble-maker (in the best sense of the word). I think he's on the side of the good guys and I hope that he can do some good.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 11:50 AM on October 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Is it okay for us to be happy there's another Democrat in the upper chamber, but also be disappointed that Booker's the best we could get from a solidly blue state?

"Solidly blue" doesn't mean "solidly progressive," it just means "solidly Democratic Party." The South would have been considered "solidly blue" for the century between Lincoln and Nixon, but that didn't make it a place that would have elected (even a white) Cory Booker.

Plus let's not forget that this solidly blue New Jersey only went for Kerry by six points and elected Chris Christie and Christine Todd Whitman.
posted by Etrigan at 11:51 AM on October 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Rush Holt would've been better, and he was who most progressives I know in South Jersey were supporting, but Booker had a lot more than $10-$1500 to overcome. Not to mention that the elections were almost secret given the lack of publicity, and North Jersey progressives I heard from were supporting other candidates. (I'm registered Green and can't vote in primaries.)

I am not a fan of Booker, although he's probably less bad than Lonegan. And Christie is probably going to get re-elected, so you shouldn't really expect progressives in NJ to be jumping up and down for joy.
posted by graymouser at 11:51 AM on October 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Clearly my typo was evidence of my deep-seated awfulness.

My point is not that you are awful (you're quite wonderful), but if you can't get his damn name right, why the hell would I believe or care about some supposed link to a "terrible" Jewish organization. Although connections to the Jews and the Bankers I suppose are bad bad bad.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:52 AM on October 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm not dancing in the streets for Booker, but Lonegan couldn't find his ass with both hands in a fogbank. So, on that reasoning, good for Booker.
posted by delfin at 11:57 AM on October 17, 2013


We need another president from Jersey!

Last one got us into a heap of trouble.

Also - tough cheese on Newark.
posted by IndigoJones at 12:04 PM on October 17, 2013


Plus let's not forget that this solidly blue New Jersey only went for Kerry by six points and elected Chris Christie and Christine Todd Whitman.

I live in Pennsylvania, so I know all about blue states that love GOP governors, but "only" a 6% win for Kerry in 2004 means the blue base in New Jersey is a hell of a lot stronger than it is in a lot of other purple or blue states. In 2004, Minnesota was Kerry+3 and Ohio was Bush+2, yet MN has Al Franken and OH has Sherrod Brown.

Yes, these are anecdata, but so were yours. :) I still feel like Booker will be a decent Senator, but I see him underperforming given the strong D base in his state. (See also: Dianne Feinstein, Barbara Boxer, and the aforementioned Chuck Schumer.)
posted by tonycpsu at 12:06 PM on October 17, 2013


I don't think the two connections are related KokuRyu. It's a petty accusation people make locally. Booker, like all local politicians, has to curry favor from certain powerful voting blocs to get votes. The Lubavitchers are a major bloc in this area. They do have some radical beliefs. There's always someone harping on about it whenever anyone gets elected in New York/NJ. But somebody's going to get their vote, right? Is sucking up to the Catholic Church that much less unsavory?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:06 PM on October 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Booker/Warren Warren/Booker '16
posted by likeatoaster at 2:09 PM on October 17

FTFY
posted by ShawnString at 12:08 PM on October 17, 2013 [17 favorites]


I'd be happy with a Elizabeth Warren / Bernie Sanders ticket.
posted by mattbucher at 12:09 PM on October 17, 2013 [12 favorites]


Like Peter Beinart, I very much remember L'Chaim in Oxford in the 90s, starting right around the time Booker was a Rhodes Scholar. (We were probably at a few of the same social events.) Anyone willing to spend a few days looking at back issues of Cherwell and The Oxford Student would get a sense of its visibility and clout among the university's societies, right up until the point that everything went tits-up.

So the fact that he's still pals with Shmuley Boteach (and was torn between party and friendship by Boteach's GOP candidacy for a House seat in 2012) raises an eyebrow. This is not passing judgement on Chabad. It's a comment on Boteach, who then as now was intensely publicity-driven and charismatic, but also had an aura of dodgy-as-fuck about him.
posted by holgate at 12:10 PM on October 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


then point me in the direction of somebody better and I'll throw my $10-$1500 in their direction next time around.

Critique and advocacy can be directed at long term change well beyond the next election cycle. I can at the same time, and in the same rational thought, vote for candidates like Booker while also describing my disagreement with their positions and the better positions I'd like more candidates to support in the future. Progressive reform is an ongoing project that requires both near-term pragmatic compromise alongside prophetic voices that articulate the need for more drastic change.

Some have criticized Booker's Newark administration for promoting among neighborhood reform groups Dominionist organizations, organizations which include those associated with homophobic legislation in Uganda. These issues aren't just about Booker himself as a candidate but the larger political narratives that took off in the Bush II administration (with previous iterations in Reagan and earlier eras) about private charities being able to do the social safety net work of government and about the proper role of government.
posted by audi alteram partem at 12:18 PM on October 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


I am not a fan of Booker, although he's probably less bad than Lonegan.

"probably less bad"? Lonegan is a tea party loon for chrissakes.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:22 PM on October 17, 2013 [13 favorites]


holgate, I really want to post a link to the expansive expose of Chabad-Lubavitch and Booker's intimate relationship with same that Yasha Levine wrote for NSFWCorp, but unfortunately while most NSFWCorp posts can be unlocked, the long-form print-edition stuff is available only to subscribers. You can get it on Kindle for a buck if you're so inclined.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:32 PM on October 17, 2013


Is it okay for us to be happy there's another Democrat in the upper chamber, but also be disappointed that Booker's the best we could get from a solidly blue state?

There are lots of kinds of "Solidly blue." New Jersey regularly votes for Democrats, but it's far from insanely left-wing, especially on fiscal matters. "Socially very liberal, fiscally moderate with a lot of friendliness toward Wall Street while being broadly symapthetic to the very poor" is, in fact, probably exactly correct for someone who represents New Jersey.
posted by Tomorrowful at 12:33 PM on October 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


That list of African-American US Senators is so very, very sad in how short it is

And made shorter by the Senate's refusal to seat P.B.S. Pinchback. There could have been two black US Senators in 1875.

Pinchback was elected in 1873 by the LA State Legislature, but his admission was held up by interminable debate about, among other things, the legitimacy of the Kellogg governorship. You can blame a) the attempt to seat McMillen, a Democrat elected by the McEnery rump legislature, and b) racism. For more on the Kellog/McEnery split, see the Battle of Liberty Place, in which 5,000 white paramilitaries seized control of New Orleans.

If Pinchback had been seated for his 1873-79 term, his friend Blanche Kelso Bruce would have joined him in 1875.

This is, of course, an huge oversimplification of the events. There doesn't seem to be a huge amount of info on Pinchback on the web - for more, see this google book chapter - The Startling Career of PBS Pinchback: A Whirlwind Crusade to Bring Equality to Reconstructed Louisiana.
posted by zamboni at 12:38 PM on October 17, 2013 [9 favorites]


but Lonegan couldn't find his ass with both hands in a fogbank

To be fair, he is legally blind.
posted by SPrintF at 12:44 PM on October 17, 2013


Tomorrowful: "fiscally moderate with a lot of friendliness toward Wall Street while being broadly symapthetic to the very poor"

Yeah, sorry, but I'm not sure how you reconcile these. I'll grant you that NJ isn't the kind of state where candidates are going to bat 1.000 on every issue, but I don't see how you can be as friendly to Wall Street as a Chuck Schumer and also meaningfully care about the poor. Does "broadly sympathetic" mean you feel a tinge of guilt when your campaign donors illegally foreclose on someone's house and light their cigars with $100 bills, or does it mean you actually do something to help them?
posted by tonycpsu at 12:49 PM on October 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


"probably less bad"? Lonegan is a tea party loon for chrissakes.

Neither Booker nor Lonegan is a move in the direction I want. Booker is still a move away from what I want in a lot of ways, but is likely to be a slower move in the wrong direction than Lonegan. Hence "probably less bad." His support for charter schools and privatization and austerity and Wall Street are part of a rightward drift among black Democrats. That's a worrisome thing, and that's why I say "probably" - he will do less damage in policy but he is part of a deeper big-picture problem.
posted by graymouser at 1:08 PM on October 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Pope Guilty, I know the piece of which you speak. Mark Ames and his Exile/NSFW cohorts have a habit of extending guilt-by-association to a point at which it gets extremely tenuous, and I'm not really interested in that.

Booker's continuing friendship with Boteach is, I think, fairer game, given that "America's Rabbi" has had run-ins on both sides of the Atlantic over the management of charitable foundations and use of their funds. Like I said, L'Chaim's rise and fall was pretty well documented at the time, although the archives are not generally online. In the early 90s, it was an interesting and diverse student society, although there was always something a little bit culty about having such a big social calendar and relatively low dues. Within a few years, Boteach was bringing Maradona and Gorbachev to Oxford Union events and doing the whole "kosher sex guru" thing, and L'Chaim had become a juggernaut associated with his personal celebrity.
posted by holgate at 1:11 PM on October 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Regarding New Jersey's interesting politics:

* There are not one but two socialist parties in New Jersey that regularly field gubernatorial candidates. I think at least one of these parties is based around Newark.

* Local Democratic Party operatives have, at least twice that I know of, tried to prevent students at Rutgers, The State University of NJ, from voting in the town of New Brunswick, either by attempting to make it harder for students to establish residency at school, or through more direct and questionably legal voter suppression methods. The NJ Democratic Party is not the machine that the Chicago party is, but it kind of wants to have consolidated power on that sort of a scale.
posted by eviemath at 1:31 PM on October 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, sorry, but I'm not sure how you reconcile these. I'll grant you that NJ isn't the kind of state where candidates are going to bat 1.000 on every issue, but I don't see how you can be as friendly to Wall Street as a Chuck Schumer and also meaningfully care about the poor.

Oh FFS! Really?? It's impossible to be well-connected and care about the poor? You have to pick one or the other do you?

Sorry, I'm trying to come up with a coherent and well-articulated response to this but I'm just sitting here shaking my head at the absurdity.

Last time I checked people needed money to get elected to things in America. Whether that's good or bad, that's how it is. If a politician needs to pass a class purity test before you'll consider them able to do good things for the poor, nothing will ever get done that does any good.

This type of rigid one-of-us-ness looks just as ugly amongst liberals as it does amongst the Tea Party. Actually it galls me more amongst liberals since I consider myself one.
posted by dry white toast at 1:47 PM on October 17, 2013 [10 favorites]


There are not one but two socialist parties in New Jersey that regularly field gubernatorial candidates. I think at least one of these parties is based around Newark.

New Jersey has some of the lowest petition bars of any state for third party candidates, so we always get a lot of them. AFAIK the only socialist group with a large presence in the state is the Socialist Party USA, a social-democratic group (but don't tell them that) whose national secretary lives in Bergen County and runs for office a lot; they also have a member of the Board of Education in Red Bank. Other parties - usually the Socialist Workers Party and the Party for Socialism and Liberation - run for office but don't have large bases in the state that I know of.
posted by graymouser at 1:48 PM on October 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh FFS! Really?? It's impossible to be well-connected and care about the poor? You have to pick one or the other do you?

That's a remarkably twisted transcription of what I said.

It is of course possible to do right by rich Wall Street donors and also do meaningful things for the poor. My point was that if Booker follows in Chuck Schumer's steps, the state of Wall Street regulation will remain so poor that anything good done for the have-nots (Obamacare, for instance) is lost ten or a hundred fold by concessions to the wealthy investor class. This is a simple fact of economics -- when income inequality is so high, offering a very small favor to the rich takes away a lot of revenue that could be used to meaningfully improve the lives of everyone else.

Last time I checked people needed money to get elected to things in America. Whether that's good or bad, that's how it is. If a politician needs to pass a class purity test before you'll consider them able to do good things for the poor, nothing will ever get done that does any good.

If they were just taking the Wall Street money and sending back a receipt, I would be okay with it, but if you can't see the quid-pro-quo of Wall Street funding their campaigns and the regulatory framework of banks and hedge funds being so lax, I don't know what to tell you.

This type of rigid one-of-us-ness looks just as ugly amongst liberals as it does amongst the Tea Party. Actually it galls me more amongst liberals since I consider myself one."

The Senate in 2013 requires 60 votes to get anything done, which means for meaningful Wall Street reform to happen, the 60th most progressive legislator would have to approve of it. Cory Booker will enter the Senate with a pretty good score on most progressive issues, but a very questionable record with issues that are very important in the wake of the Great Recession. I'm not expecting 60 Elizabeth Warrens in the Senate, but if we can't get someone more amenable to financial regulation than Booker in New Jersey, we certainly won't get enough Senators who will grudgingly vote for cloture on a strong regulatory bill in the more reddish states.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:16 PM on October 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


If you guys aren't satisfied with Cory fucking Booker, I don't see how we're ever going to get anywhere.
posted by 256 at 2:40 PM on October 17, 2013 [18 favorites]


Obviously, I would rather have Cory Booker in the Senate than anybody the Republican party is going to field in the near future, especially from the state of New Jersey. Wall Street backs Chris Christie pretty heavily, for example, even though he often breaks with national Republicans in visible ways. Here is the problem, however: there were two other better, much more progressive candidates in the New Jersey democratic primary. Booker got in through name recognition and his connections to wealthy and powerful donors.

Ideologically, Booker is pretty much fits the steoreotype of a "limousine liberal" perfectly. I think he does genuinely care about "the poor", but he sees it as an act of charity. He'll promote standard neoliberal solutions to poverty like micro-lending and "education reform", but he won't actually do anything to address the structural issues that cause poverty in the first place. For example, he won't stand up to the institutional forces, such as the financial services industry, that push the policies that led to the gutting of the American middle class such as deregulation, union busting, and austerity. As evidence, I would point to his criticism of President Obama in the spring of 2012 over attacks on Romney's record at Bain capital.

Overall, I would say he is actually a worrying of example of the "celebrification" of politics that increasingly is leading to disasters like the debt ceiling showdown we just witnessed. If we only pay attention to stunts and slogans, debates over legislation become unmoored from actual policy and simply become battlegrounds where one side or the other tries to win "victories" purely for aesthetic purposes.

Let's not forget that what initially emboldened the Tea Party to try to extort concessions from President Obama over the healthcare law was Obama's willingness to negotiate with them the last time they refused to raise the debt ceiling. Simply trying to appear to be the most "serious" person in the room, rather than making decisions based on considerations of governance and policy, already concedes that the "game" is going to be played in terms of "winners and losers", rather than attempts to hash out comprises over actual legitimate differences in views over policy and vision for the types of values legislation reflects.
posted by eagles123 at 2:46 PM on October 17, 2013 [9 favorites]


If you guys aren't satisfied with Cory fucking Booker, I don't see how we're ever going to get anywhere.

I can't think of a single politician that I'm "satisfied" with. Is Cory Booker better than the alternatives? Yes. But it's also pretty shady that, for instance, he got publicly upset with Obama for criticizing Romney and Bain Capital for engaging in the private sector version of the GOP plan for America as a whole.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:49 PM on October 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


If you guys aren't satisfied with Cory fucking Booker, I don't see how we're ever going to get anywhere.

My mantra is "more and better Democrats, wherever possible." Cory Booker beating Steve Lonegan helps us on the "more" but does very little for "better" when you consider he's replacing Frank Lautenberg, who ranked somewhere between the third and tenth most progressive Senator on the DW-NOMINATE scale (an imperfect metric, but show me a better one.)

You don't have to be a liberal stalwart to be "better", just more liberal than the person you're replacing, which generally means as liberal as one can reasonably expect to win in your state. I don't expect to do much better than Mary Landrieu in Louisiana, so I'm happy just having "more" there. But I id expect to be able to do better than, say, Joe Lieberman in Connecticut, so I was happy to see him get a primary challenger, and sad when Democrats let him keep his committee spots when he left the party.

So, no, of course I'm happy to have Booker over Lonegan, but I'd much rather have someone closer to Lautenberg's ideology than Booker. Could a Lautenberg type win in today's Jersey political landscape? Perhaps not, but let's talk about that instead of just shutting down the conversation with dismissive talk about how wanting someone better than Booker is asking for too much.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:51 PM on October 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


Prepare to have your hearts broken. Booker has his head so far up the keister of Wall Street that he got an elbow in the eye from Chuck Schumer.
No heartbreak incoming here, I see his corporatist nature and expect him to give us the worst of Obama and non of his strengths.

No way in hell I want him in the Presidency.
posted by Critical_Beatdown at 3:37 PM on October 17, 2013


Booker has his moments, but he's really anti-progressive. Has this been posted to the blue?

Two-Faced: The Democratic Party's Divergent Future. Bill de Blasio and Cory Booker personify alternative ways forward for the party.
Not to put too fine a point on it, Booker is a corporate Democrat and de Blasio an anti-corporate Democrat. Booker sees the corporate and financial sectors as allies in helping America’s poor, while de Blasio sees the corporate and financial sectors as the groups that have used their power to rig the economy in their favor and at everyone else’s expense....

Given both his city’s and his own dependence on the kindness of the rich, it was nonetheless stunning but in no way surprising when Booker told viewers of Meet The Press, in the midst of the Obama re-election campaign’s attacks on Mitt Romney and Bain Capital, that he found such attacks “nauseating.” “Enough is enough,” Booker said. “Stop attacking private equity.” Booker’s vision of the forces for progressive social change apparently includes the very poor and the very rich—the former as beneficiaries, the latter as dispensaries, of private wealth.
posted by supercres at 3:38 PM on October 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


If you guys aren't satisfied with Cory fucking Booker, I don't see how we're ever going to get anywhere.

If progressives were satisfied with a politician as tremendously corporate as Cory Booker, that would be grounds for serious concern. It's healthy that the latest "star" of the Democrats isn't winning over people who see themselves as on the left, because as ample links in this thread have shown, he's the corporate candidate du jour.
posted by graymouser at 3:54 PM on October 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you want to see somone who's a better politician, try (the guy Booker defeated in the primary) Rush Holt. He's a *nuclear physicist*, and attempted to repeal the USAPATRIOT act in light of all the Snowden revelations.

Also, he managed to beat Watson at Jeopardy.
posted by leviathan3k at 4:38 PM on October 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


Serious question: Aside from those comments about attacking private equity - which, admittedly, were boneheaded - what has Cory Booker done to feed the perception that he is a Wall Street shill?

I'm not snarking. I seriously want to know.
posted by breakin' the law at 5:42 PM on October 17, 2013


Local Democratic Party operatives have, at least twice that I know of, tried to prevent students at Rutgers, The State University of NJ, from voting in the town of New Brunswick

Got a cite on this? I can't find anything (quickly, admittedly).
posted by mintcake! at 5:50 PM on October 17, 2013


Aside from those comments about attacking private equity - which, admittedly, were boneheaded - what has Cory Booker done to feed the perception that he is a Wall Street shill?

"Other than exploding when lightly tapped from the front or behind, what makes you think this car is unsafe?"
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:00 PM on October 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Got a cite on this? I can't find anything (quickly, admittedly).

My also very quick and broad google search doesn't turn up anything obvious. A time-constrained search of local and student paper archives from the early 2000s would likely prove more fruitful. I think this was an issue in the '90s and also the later '00s as well. Sorry for lack of citation.
posted by eviemath at 6:04 PM on October 17, 2013


From this Black Agenda Report article:

Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg’s $100 million gift to the Newark Public Schools made Booker look like an urban miracle worker – although the transaction was actually more like Booker presenting the schools as a gift to Zuckerberg and his privatizing friends. Other Silicon Valley fat cats set Booker up as head of a start-up Internet company that made Booker a millionaire, at least on paper. Now that Booker is going to Washington, the start-up is going down the tubes.

There is this profile in the Black Commentator from 11 years ago that first profiled Booker's deep moneyed connections that were critical in training him and starting his career, and the charter school agenda that was at the core of his Newark mayoral candidacy. Ten years later this article from the Black Agenda Report looks at how completely Booker has followed through on their agenda.

When someone is trained by corporate money, bankrolled by corporate money, follows through on the corporate agenda in his first major performance, and is richly rewarded by those corporations - what on earth would make you think that on a higher stage he will not be a corporate Senator lock, stock and barrel?
posted by graymouser at 6:11 PM on October 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Everyone who is knocking education reform...

How wonderful were Newark's schools before, that you think that system was working? And what if your kid was stuck in a shitty useless school with zero choice to go anywhere?

Going against the teacher's union is a seriously brave and risky move for a Democrat. If you want to use that to paint him as a soulless corporate automaton (because lord knows Wall Street really gives a shit about Newark's public schools, lol) then you are buying into the propoganda that is designed to force poor kids to stay in useless, failing, and often dangerous schools just so bad teachers can keep their jobs and their salaries and their summers off. And it's bullshit.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:51 PM on October 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Union busting and giveaways to private interest are not "reform." The fact that schools in largely black cities were criminally underfunded is not an excuse to give away the public schools to charter companies that simply do not perform.

Going against teachers' unions is not "brave," it is craven. Corporate Democrats are dismantling the public school system in a way the Republicans would never be able to get away with. Putting kids in for-profit scab schools is a disgrace, and Cory Booker should be held to shame for it.
posted by graymouser at 7:13 PM on October 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


Tell us about the rubber rooms, the young rope-rider.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:24 PM on October 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


their summers off

Hello, you don't know shit about teachers, go away please.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:56 PM on October 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


If you want to see somone who's a better politician, try (the guy Booker defeated in the primary) Rush Holt. He's a *nuclear physicist*, and attempted to repeal the USAPATRIOT act in light of all the Snowden revelations.

Also, he managed to beat Watson at Jeopardy.
I think Rush Holt is great, and I'd very much prefer him to Booker even though I am basically happy with Booker for the most part. But "better politician"? Come on. Rush Holt has the stage presence of a deer in the headlights.
posted by Flunkie at 8:36 PM on October 17, 2013


Ideologically, Booker is pretty much fits the steoreotype of a "limousine liberal" perfectly. I think he does genuinely care about "the poor", but he sees it as an act of charity.

Well, if it's so easy to go out there and, in your thirties, go out and become mayor of Newark, and the go on to win a Senate seat, we should all go out and do it. So he has at least tried. You can't fix every single problem overnight as mayor.

As for his Wall Street connections, the problem with American politics is that it takes money to run on the national stage, lots and lots of money.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:22 PM on October 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


And your own president, whom many people on MetaFilter idolize, is in the pocket of Goldman Sachs.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:23 PM on October 17, 2013


And your own president, whom many people on MetaFilter idolize, is in the pocket of Goldman Sachs.

Appeal to hypocrisy, meet fallacy of division.

It's entirely possible to think President Obama is a very good president, but has been terrible in how he's handled regulation of large banks and investment firms. Similarly, someone who thinks that way and sees that Senator-elect Booker has many of the same ties to Wall Street might think that Booker will make a great senator on any number of other issues, but may nonetheless be concerned about whether his closeness to Wall Street money will be a problem given how central these issues have been to domestic policy in the wake of the Great Recession.

It's also quite possible (I would say probable) that the people making critical comments about Booker in this thread aren't part of the "many people" on MeFi who idolize Obama, assuming that's a true statement to begin with -- "idolize" is a pretty strong word, don't you think?
posted by tonycpsu at 9:54 PM on October 17, 2013


Probably. But it seems completely ridiculous to call Booker a "limousine liberal" when he has made more of a difference than many of the people, including me, commenting in this thread.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:58 PM on October 17, 2013


the young rope-rider: "Going against the teacher's union is a seriously brave and risky move for a Democrat. If you want to use that to paint him as a soulless corporate automaton (because lord knows Wall Street really gives a shit about Newark's public schools, lol) then you are buying into the propoganda that is designed to force poor kids to stay in useless, failing, and often dangerous schools just so bad teachers can keep their jobs and their salaries and their summers off. And it's bullshit."

graymouser: "Union busting and giveaways to private interest are not 'reform.' The fact that schools in largely black cities were criminally underfunded is not an excuse to give away the public schools to charter companies that simply do not perform."

Well, obviously going up against unions is neither intrinsically good nor intrinsically bad, and neither intrinsically brave nor intrinsically craven. There have been terrible, awful unions before, unions which failed spectacularly to fulfill their duty as guardians of the working class. And there have been very good unions, unions which it would be terrible to oppose. Likewise, unions are indeed very powerful and popular in Democratic circles; so a lone candidate opposing them would be showing a kind of bravery. But if that candidate did so because she or he knew that very powerful monied interests made up the difference, that would hardly be bravery.

So what matters isn't whether Booker went against the unions or not. It's whether he was right to go against the unions, and whether his aim was correct and just.

Judging from my own merely general knowledge of charter schools and the way they work, I don't believe he was. In every instance in which I've observed them, charter schools tend over the long term to reduce the quality of education by exploiting teachers and removing all the mechanisms teachers have for retaining control over their own careers and their own classrooms. The removal of union influence is, as far as I can tell, literally the only purpose charter schools seem to serve; they do not cost the state less money, they do not cost the taxpayer less money, and they do not afford teachers more freedom and discretion but in fact offer them less. People who have stood to make money from charter school schemes have sometimes managed to make them seem worthwhile for a few years, but the bottom always falls out.

My experience is mostly in observing the progress of the Chicago public schools. The teacher's union there is very strong and keeps solidarity. My brother was a Latin teacher there in a charter school for several years. For those years, he vehemently defended the charter school system; we don't need a union, he said, if we have administrators we know we can trust to stand behind us. He was there for three years before the principal summarily hired his job out from under him, leaving him unemployed and scrambling for a job.

I think it should be obvious that this kind of exploitative and crude treatment of teachers does not help the educational environment. I'm more familiar with universities, as that's where I'm looking to spend my career; up here, the university administrations took over long ago and started outsourcing everything to sweatshop-level adjuncts and money-making MOOCs. Take it from me on that - empowering administrations in the way charter schools do is not a great idea.

But I guess I don't know New Jersey very well. I respect the young rope rider enough to want to hear a bit more about why charter schools were the only solution. In lieu of an explanation of that, I'm inclined to think that charter schools are apt to utterly destroy an already-ailing school system; but, again, I have no idea how New Jersey works. Maybe the unionized teachers there really are rolling in dough and relaxing all summer in Tahiti.

(If so, please forward my mail to Newark, as that's where I'll be moving.)
posted by koeselitz at 10:02 PM on October 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


KokuRyu: "Probably. But it seems completely ridiculous to call Booker a "limousine liberal" when he has made more of a difference than many of the people, including me, commenting in this thread."

That's like saying I can't criticize my hockey team's goalie when he blows an easy save just because I'd be even shittier if I got in between the pipes myself.

Cory Booker is free to criticize me for writing shitty code even if he doesn't know what a function pointer is, and I'm free to criticize him for having some shitty political views even though I've never held elected office.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:04 PM on October 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


As for his Wall Street connections, the problem with American politics is that it takes money to run on the national stage, lots and lots of money.

If people don't criticize and oppose candidates who are bound hand and foot to Wall Street and other moneyed interests, they are effectively ceding the entire electoral arena to the rich. The way things are going we need more, not less, people who say that the dominance of money and the wealthiest people in the country is not acceptable.

And your own president, whom many people on MetaFilter idolize, is in the pocket of Goldman Sachs.

That's very true, and personally I'm much more critical of Obama than a lot of people here. But Booker stood to the right of Obama on the Bain Capital question, and looks to be even worse in that regard.
posted by graymouser at 11:12 PM on October 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


graymouser: “If people don't criticize and oppose candidates who are bound hand and foot to Wall Street and other moneyed interests, they are effectively ceding the entire electoral arena to the rich.”

Money is not inherently evil. Politicians have used money for good before; that's kind of the hope here after all. I'm more interested in whether Cory Booker is actually doing good or doing poorly at being a mayor and a public official. "He has friends with money" is not very effective as a criticism; if it were, I would never be able to vote at all.
posted by koeselitz at 6:05 AM on October 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


The removal of union influence is, as far as I can tell, literally the only purpose charter schools seem to serve

This is absolutely not true. Some charter schools (and there are some bad ones, don't get me wrong) work wonders to improve educational outcomes for kids in poor communities. I think that the model of charter schools as a regulated laboratory for improving public education is a great idea.

Meanwhile, the Boston Public Schools have one of the shortest school days in the country. More instruction is key for student from under-resourced communities, and the teacher's union is unwilling to lengthen their hours. The average teacher's salary in BPS is 83K, which is great, but I also think it's reasonable to ask them to put in more than 6.5 hours per day in the classroom.
posted by Aizkolari at 6:55 AM on October 18, 2013


Money is not inherently evil. Politicians have used money for good before; that's kind of the hope here after all.

The overall effect of money on the American political system has done tremendous amounts of harm. I mostly vote third-party (although in this case I didn't) because of how the system is stacked.

Candidates like Booker are worrisome in that they represent an inroad in Black politics, which was for a long time one of the areas where there was real popular movement and not simply corporate interest driving a wing of the Democratic party, being corrupted. That's why the people at the Black Agenda Report and Black Commentator are so harsh on his Wall Street connections.

I'm more interested in whether Cory Booker is actually doing good or doing poorly at being a mayor and a public official.

If you like privatization including charter schools and outsourcing city jobs (plus a failed attempt to privatize water services), corporate welfare and an ineffectual record on crime, then Cory Booker is your man. If you're a progressive and most of those things are horrifying to you, then they speak very poorly of Booker.

"He has friends with money" is not very effective as a criticism; if it were, I would never be able to vote at all.

Booker's got very complicated ties with Silicon Valley and Wall Street money, he's not just a guy who "has friends with money" - he's totally beholden to capital in a way a candidate like Holt wouldn't have been. Again, the biggest worry is that Booker seems to be the next level in the corporate takeover of Black politics.
posted by graymouser at 7:01 AM on October 18, 2013


I also think it's reasonable to ask them to put in more than 6.5 hours per day in the classroom.

There are vanishingly few teachers who only spend the time they're in class -- or even in school -- doing their jobs.

More instruction is key for student from under-resourced communities, and the teacher's union is unwilling to lengthen their hours.

There is another way to provide students with more instruction: hire more teachers.
posted by Etrigan at 7:01 AM on October 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


me: “The removal of union influence is, as far as I can tell, literally the only purpose charter schools seem to serve...”

Aizkolari: “This is absolutely not true. Some charter schools (and there are some bad ones, don't get me wrong) work wonders to improve educational outcomes for kids in poor communities. I think that the model of charter schools as a regulated laboratory for improving public education is a great idea. Meanwhile, the Boston Public Schools have one of the shortest school days in the country. More instruction is key for student from under-resourced communities, and the teacher's union is unwilling to lengthen their hours. The average teacher's salary in BPS is 83K, which is great, but I also think it's reasonable to ask them to put in more than 6.5 hours per day in the classroom.”

So – please correct me if I'm wrong: you're saying that in this case charter schools succeeded because they allowed the community to stipulate longer school days than the union wanted to allow. Which is to say, the charter school worked because it removed union influence. That's pretty much what I meant: that's the point.

(I'm also not entirely sure that it's "reasonable" to "put in more than 6.5 hours per day in the classroom." Classroom hours are absolutely different from working hours as they're counted normally; I'd guess that the average teacher puts in at least about half an hour a day of prep time and grading for every classroom hour, which pushes that 6.5 hours per day far above a full-time schedule. But that's probably a different conversation.)
posted by koeselitz at 7:03 AM on October 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


graymouser: “If you like privatization including charter schools and outsourcing city jobs (plus a failed attempt to privatize water services), corporate welfare and an ineffectual record on crime, then Cory Booker is your man. If you're a progressive and most of those things are horrifying to you, then they speak very poorly of Booker.”

I was sort of asking for an actual argument about why those things are wrong specifically in this case, rather than an appeal to the horror I'm required to feel when you say certain words and a suggestion that I vote purely by inclination.
posted by koeselitz at 7:06 AM on October 18, 2013


Aside from union busting, charter schools also are a highly unequal method of funneling money away from students in public schools to "elite" students in charter schools. And as the article in that link demonstrates, charter schools tend to push out students who are struggling instead of actually doing the hard work of teaching them.
posted by graymouser at 7:07 AM on October 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


This is absolutely not true. Some charter schools (and there are some bad ones, don't get me wrong) work wonders to improve educational outcomes for kids in poor communities. I think that the model of charter schools as a regulated laboratory for improving public education is a great idea.

Do Charter Schools Work? Yes, but not always and not for everyone.
Some charter school advocates will surely point to the new study [of Boston charter schools] as yet more evidence that public school districts should be replaced by a more decentralized approach to education, with a greater emphasis on charter schools. But that’s a very narrow interpretation of the mounting evidence of charter schools’ successes. Focusing on these successes glosses over the many cases where charter schools fail to outperform their public peers. For suburban districts in Massachusetts, for example, the numbers don’t favor the charter school advocates, in large part because suburban public schools in the state are pretty effective already. What’s more, lottery studies like the one out Wednesday can only be done at schools that are oversubscribed—and hence probably among the better charter schools around. As my Columbia Business School colleague and leading education researcher Jonah Rockoff puts it, saying charter schools are good is “like saying Italian restaurants are good places to eat—some are and some aren’t.” (In theory, underperforming charter schools lose their licenses, but it doesn’t always work out that way.)
Meanwhile, the Boston Public Schools have one of the shortest school days in the country. More instruction is key for student from under-resourced communities, and the teacher's union is unwilling to lengthen their hours. The average teacher's salary in BPS is 83K, which is great, but I also think it's reasonable to ask them to put in more than 6.5 hours per day in the classroom.

Others have covered this, but I'll chime in: Do you even know any teachers? Every single one of them I know has a ton of hours outside the classroom. Lesson plans don't write themselves, homework doesn't grade itself, and dealing with parents and the administrators doesn't happen while kids are in school. The reason teacher's unions are leery of extra hours is because most teachers are already putting in work weeks that make most 9-5 jobs look like a breeze by comparison. The teachers I know that worked in charter schools had a hell of a time doing anything but teaching and eating and sleeping. They had to deal with problems that were better left to people with psychology degrees and MBAs, because charter schools are about improving outcomes, and if that means offloading parenting onto teachers, so be it. If it got bad enough, better to lose some dead weight with behavioral problems or learning disabilities than let them drag down their scores. All but one has quit because when they looked to make things better, it became obvious that the vehement opposition to unions among the people running charter schools was more ideological than practical. Unsurprisingly, the only one who stayed was in an urban charter school, where there was at least some extra resources for most students, but the ones teaching in rural communities were basically screwed from day one.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:16 AM on October 18, 2013 [7 favorites]


I was sort of asking for an actual argument about why those things are wrong specifically in this case, rather than an appeal to the horror I'm required to feel when you say certain words and a suggestion that I vote purely by inclination.

The links show that Booker has done what I said he has done: he's handed schools over to private charter groups and busted teachers' unions in the process, he's busted public workers' unions to privatize city services, he's continually tried to privatize municipal water in Newark over large public objections, and he's given large amounts of tax breaks to large corporations while screwing over small businesses in property tax. My case is that he's run Newark like a model pro-corporate, anti-union politician, and the facts back it up. It's a "Which side are you on?" question and Booker's on the wrong side.
posted by graymouser at 7:19 AM on October 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I agree – sorry if I'm sounding intransigent.

To give my (admittedly limited) perspective on this: charter schools generally seem to be designed by people who believe that public schools are failing because teachers' unions are slowing down the process and making unreasonable demands to the detriment of kids and their learning process. I don't think this is truly the case. There are industries where unions have basically become a sort of mafia, running things and thriving on arbitrary controls imposed by fiat in order to make more money. Education, however, is not one of them.

The role teachers' unions have played in all the cities I've examined seems to be to push back against the demand from all sides that teachers do ridiculous and insane things to try to increase the productivity of schools. Aizkolari basically suggested above that there's no reason why teachers can't put in more than a ten-hour workday every day; that's true, teachers absolutely can put in more than a ten-hour workday, and at charter schools they often do happily. That's the way teachers are. The trouble with this is, while it raises test scores for a year or two and makes things look good, it is absolutely not sustainable. Teachers are not going to work ten years, twenty years, thirty years at that clip. If they try, they will run themselves into the ground and their ability to teach kids effectively will suffer.

That's why I really don't believe these schools are a sustainable way to do this. They seem like a magic spell: remove union controls, and suddenly we can push people to do amazing things! But that magic comes at a tremendous long-term cost, and that cost is not something we can ultimately pay.

Really, the only way to improve schools is to bite the bullet and do what we've been dreading: pay teachers more, and pay more teachers.
posted by koeselitz at 7:20 AM on October 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


Paying teachers more?? When you look at schools where the average salary is in the 80s and say that you need to pay them more (!!!!!) or else kids won't learn, that's just crazy to me. At that point they're getting paid as much as engineers, more than nurses who preform critical care, and they get a huge amount of vacation time on top of it.

I love unions in general, have worked to support pro-union politicians, and yet I can acknowledge that just because something is a union DOESN'T MAKE IT GOOD.

You have a majority white middle-class union that provides a service that poor people are REQUIRED to use. Parents are required by law to send their kids all day to these schools, that don't even provide full-day childcare in many cases. They have no choice but to put their kids into these schools year after year and watch them fail their children. Watch their children's prime developmental stages for learning pass them by. Listen to the racist excuses about how these kids families just aren't good enough.

Then you tell me that those middle-class white people with guaranteed employment and summers off need more money to teach those poor kids. More money to do THEIR JOB. It is complete and utter bullshit. It is white middle-class welfare at that point, on the backs of the most disadvantaged children.

If someone reaches 18 and they can't read, they have no potential for economic security. If someone reaches 18 and they can't add, they have no potential for economic security. They can't go to school to become teachers and get 80k. They have no good options. They often go to prison repeatedly. They live their lives on the economic margins, with few to no labor rights and poor working conditions.

It is disgusting to tell me that we should prioritize a vague "unions good" concept over solving this EMERGENCY. This complete and utter waste of potential; this complete condemnation of children who happen to live in the wrong district to a constrained and limited future.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:47 AM on October 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh, and I looked it up. There are no corporations who have ever turned any significant profit on charter schools. People have tried, but it's not exactly a money machine.

Who benefits? Don't just ask that about charter schools, ask that about the teacher's union too. Who benefits from these teachers in horrible nightmare schools continuing to be paid their middle class salaries no matter what? It's not the goddamned kids, I'll tell you that.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:50 AM on October 18, 2013


it's not exactly a money machine.

The critiques I've encountered with regard to money don't simply state that charters suck away money for profit. There are more complex issues such as lack of accountability and transparency. Then there are questions as to what challenges a profit model, whether it actually realizes a profit or not, might pose and how to best address them (which isn't to say that the traditional public education model doesn't have problems that need to be addressed too). These are difficult problems made all the more difficult in being seen through conflicting ideological lenses, with potentially workable solutions subject to the whims of institutional change.
posted by audi alteram partem at 9:15 AM on October 18, 2013


Do you even know any teachers?

I know tons of teachers. I think more of my friends work in education than in any other field. They work in education advocacy, for City Year, or they teach in charter or public schools.

Do you know anyone who teaches at Match, Kipp, or Edward Brooks? I do, and they are some really impressive people putting in hard work and long hours to close the achievement gap between rich and poor kids. I know people who work in BPS and they are similarly impressive and committed to their jobs. I wish the people who worked in the charters got paid as much as those at BPS, and I wish those in BPS were in the classroom as long as those in charters.

I support teachers' unions right to exist and their right to collectively bargain, although I would support limiting their ability to make political contributions if I could. I do think it is important to keep in mind that they exist to look out for their dues-paying members, not for kids or the public good. That doesn't make them evil; indeed, protection of the interests of its members is what a union is for. It does, however, make me uninterested in listening to them (teachers' unions, not the teachers themselves) about issues of effective education policy. They're not here for good ed policy. They're here to look after teachers.
posted by Aizkolari at 9:16 AM on October 18, 2013


So – please correct me if I'm wrong: you're saying that in this case charter schools succeeded because they allowed the community to stipulate longer school days than the union wanted to allow. Which is to say, the charter school worked because it removed union influence. That's pretty much what I meant: that's the point.

In that case they did oppose the union's influence because the union was against good, sound education policy. Ed reform is about getting good policy in to place, and when the unions are against those policies, ed reform will be against the unions on those issues. That's not the same thing as being anti-union in general.
posted by Aizkolari at 9:23 AM on October 18, 2013


It's possible that both sides are right on the length-of-day issue. Students may need adult supervision at school for longer than the current school day that ends before parents leave work; but teachers may already have too much to do to provide quality instruction and supervision for additional hours (e.g., if they teach for 40, then they will be working much longer than 40 to accommodate grading, administrative work, and parent conferences). The union's not wrong to point out that requiring people to work long hours degrades the quality of their work, which is not good for students receiving instruction from overworked teachers.

The obvious solution is to recruit and pay for more teachers if schools need those hours covered, but that's not an acceptable solution in this day and age of slash-and-burn funding. It's much easier for people who don't want to raise taxes to turn parents against teachers and teachers against parents.
posted by immlass at 9:45 AM on October 18, 2013 [9 favorites]


It's much easier for people who don't want to raise taxes to turn parents against teachers and teachers against parents.

The ed reform movement is not against raising taxes. Anyone I've talked to that works on ed reform would be overjoyed with a tax hike on the wealthy to pay for better education. For example, people like de Blasio's pre-K plan, but are concerned that the progress that NYC has made with charter schools will erode under his tenure.
posted by Aizkolari at 10:00 AM on October 18, 2013


The ed reform movement is not against raising taxes.

I wasn't particularly referring to your comments, but I live in Texas and many pro-charter educational reformers are anti-tax here. I also lived in NJ for a number of years in the mid 00s and there are definitely people against raising taxes in the suburbs there.
posted by immlass at 10:03 AM on October 18, 2013


the young rope rider and Aizkolari: the fact is that no matter how much you say unions are good in certain places, supporting charter schools is effectively the same thing as crossing a picket line. Charter schools are there to bust unions. That is their goal. You acknowledge this, even as you mouth that you think teachers' unions have X, Y and Z rights, by admitting that their ostensible goals are only met by breaking the resistance of unions.

The crisis in public education is not because teachers' unions are too powerful; it is the long-term result of deliberate programs, including the current wave hyperfocused on test results, that have systematically destroyed schools serving poor and minority communities. In the guise of meritocracy it has created apartheid. Charter schools further this and combine it with a savage attack on the rights of teachers to organize.

A number of my close friends are teachers. They put in a hell of a lot more than their classroom hours, and sitting there arguing that they should be in the classroom longer gives you zero credibility.
posted by graymouser at 10:06 AM on October 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


A number of my close friends are teachers.

How many in Charter Schools?

For another view of Jersey education, check out The Cartel (and, because I am fair minded, its discontents).
posted by IndigoJones at 10:12 AM on October 18, 2013


Charter schools are there to bust unions.

You shouldn't speak in absolutes, and this is an absurd statement in any case. Charter Schools are there to either create a great school, or create a business opportunity. In either case, they may or may not bust unions but to speak of charters, which have some some amazing work in educating some of the poorest children in my city, as only union-busting operation is to deny the hard work of thousands of caring teachers, administators, and contractors. I've worked with public, private, and charter schools and in all three I've found the majority of people were there for the children, not to join a union and not to bust a union.

One of the charter schools I worked with was set up as a non-union school, after a few years the teachers unionized and life went on. In another, unionization was resisted by the administration and the teachers failed to unionize.
posted by cell divide at 10:14 AM on October 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


A number of my close friends are teachers. They put in a hell of a lot more than their classroom hours, and sitting there arguing that they should be in the classroom longer gives you zero credibility.

Seriously. Among the teacher's I've known (my mother, my father, my wife, many friends), the average day at school is probably ten hours, plus time at nights at home and on the weekend. Asking to add additional classroom time on top of that is completely unreasonable. You can maybe make it last for a little while, but very few people are going to stand those working conditions for very long and they probably won't be as effective when they try. Teachers are stakeholders in the educational system, whose needs need to be respected as part of any effort at reform. Unions are the way that happens.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:17 AM on October 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


Because it looks like people may have forgotten how awesome Cory Booker is, he has saved a woman from a house fire, and shoveled snow for people of his city in a particularly bad blizzard. I don't like his politics, but to pretend he's not an awesome dude who will probably make a somewhat badass senator is a poor show.
posted by corb at 10:30 AM on October 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bulgaroktonos, I know that teachers have to put in lots of hours outside the classroom and I share your concerns about the sustainability of teaching as a career. I also don't think that unions should be excluded from the ed reform discussion; I just wish people didn't get slammed with attacks from the left for disagreeing with the unions on some particular issue.

A number of my close friends are teachers. They put in a hell of a lot more than their classroom hours, and sitting there arguing that they should be in the classroom longer gives you zero credibility.

Do they teach in BPS? If they do, then they damn well should put in longer hours in the classroom. 85K is a great salary in Boston and I have no problem asking public employees to put in more time in order to better educate children.
posted by Aizkolari at 10:36 AM on October 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Do they teach in BPS?

No, they teach in public high schools in New Jersey (the state we are talking about) and have been the subject of such wonderful experiences as salary freezes. Most of them are sick to death of the awful administrations that have been foisted on them over the last several years. I would suggest that overall, administration is more of a problem than teachers.
posted by graymouser at 10:41 AM on October 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Charter Schools are there to either create a great school, or create a business opportunity.

Charter schools are staffed primarily by people who want to do these things -- but they are allowed by politicians who want to bust the teacher's unions. Virtually every discussion of how they achieve the aims you state include discussion of how The Unions make it impossible to fire bad teachers or reward good ones.
posted by Etrigan at 10:49 AM on October 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


I agree that administration is a huge problem in public schooling. I think it would be great to get more people into programs like this one to improve the quality of administrators in our schools.
posted by Aizkolari at 10:54 AM on October 18, 2013


the young rope rider and Aizkolari: the fact is that no matter how much you say unions are good in certain places, supporting charter schools is effectively the same thing as crossing a picket line.

Yup. And I would cross a picket line again and again if it meant keeping poor kids out of a sick system that dooms them to a life where they can't read a prescription bottle or their electric bill. For a lot of kids, charter schools are their only hope of escape from a stratified, racist system.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:05 AM on October 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


For a lot of kids, charter schools are their only hope of escape from a stratified, racist system.

For the kids who don't get into them, charter schools are stealing what funding their schools already have. And for kids who do get into them and underperform or have developmental disabilities, well, the existence of charter schools with 2 seniors for every 5 freshmen is pretty damning.
posted by graymouser at 11:11 AM on October 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


the young rope-rider: " Yup. And I would cross a picket line again and again if it meant keeping poor kids out of a sick system that dooms them to a life where they can't read a prescription bottle or their electric bill. For a lot of kids, charter schools are their only hope of escape from a stratified, racist system."

Yeah, if those students happen to be admitted to those charter schools, but what about the rest of their peers?

To my knowledge, no charter school has been able to show demonstrable progress year after year to the point where it could scale up to meet the demand for education and compete favorably against public schools. They often rely on small sample sizes, cherry-picking of the best students, and even rigged test results to make themselves compare favorably. These advantages disappear for the most part when you're forced to scale up to teach the public at large, so pitching them as a general solution to the shortcomings of our education system is misguided.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:14 AM on October 18, 2013 [7 favorites]


You know, let's assume some that charter schools do cherry pick the best students - you know, kind of how elite private academies that charge actual tuition do.

So they give bright children who would not have a chance to be in a safe school learning at a high rate, a chance to be with other bright children who due to poverty would not be able to receive such a great education, and this is a bad thing? Charter schools side by side with other schools allow parents from poor areas with bright kids to give them the best chance they can, while still letting everyone get an education as mandated by law, without charging money for tuition.
posted by corb at 11:19 AM on October 18, 2013


corb: "I don't like his politics, but to pretend he's not an awesome dude who will probably make a somewhat badass senator is a poor show."

The idea that people need to be reminded of his quite remarkable stories of personally helping out his neighbors is silly, because without those stories, nearly nobody outside of Newark would have heard of him. He achieved a certain level of notoriety for his very admirable performance as mayor early on, but what put him on the national radar was his expert use of social media and image-consciousness, which these acts of heroism obviously help to bolster. (I sincerely doubt he did these things only to enhance up his brand, but he certainly knew they weren't going to hurt it.)

And, really, "a somewhat badass senator?" Are we electing a superhero or a legislator? A politicians politics are what is important. I don't want legislators taking breaks from legislating to save a kitten that climbed into a tree, I want them increasing funding so that the trained experts at the fire department can do it. Same goes for shoveling snow -- I recognize Newark's resources weren't such that Booker could have unilaterally improved snow removal for everyone, but in Washington, you have the power to affect major change for a whole lot of people. Spend that valuable time writing laws, not doing these one-off random acts of kindness.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:20 AM on October 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


corb: "So they give bright children who would not have a chance to be in a safe school learning at a high rate, a chance to be with other bright children who due to poverty would not be able to receive such a great education, and this is a bad thing? Charter schools side by side with other schools allow parents from poor areas with bright kids to give them the best chance they can, while still letting everyone get an education as mandated by law, without charging money for tuition."

How do we know who the best kids are that they're selecting for? Targeting resources toward those who demonstrate early progress completely kills the chance that someone who develops a bit later might benefit from those resources. If you want to make sure that the tranche of students who test high (probably because their parents sent them to test prep courses) get even better while everyone else gets worse, then your scheme makes sense, but don't pretend that taking resources away from everyone has all upside for the early bloomers and no downside for everyone else.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:23 AM on October 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


(BTW, Chris Hayes' Twilight of the Elites has a couple chapters dedicated to this exact problem of so-called meritocracy in K-12 education, much of it based on his own experience.)
posted by tonycpsu at 11:26 AM on October 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


tonycpsu, the article you quoted said,
Most charters drifted toward enrolling the average urban student and left districts to figure out how to reach special education students and English language learners.
So we do actually know who they're selecting for - average urban students - I say bright, because it takes a lot of smarts just to be average in an awful situation. They're not selecting for special ed, true - which is extremely expensive and benefits just a few children to the same cost as often the rest of the children in the rest of the school, and they're not handling English language learners - which would require them to hire bilingual teachers, again, at extra cost.

But the average student - the one who's being averagely failed by our shitty average system - they get a better shake from it all. This is not exactly children-getting-prep-courses territory.
posted by corb at 11:28 AM on October 18, 2013


I'm sorry, but I seem to have missed the point where you refuted anything I said.

You admit they're stacking the deck in their favor by excluding these kids, and performing better without these other students that cost more to educate. The obvious response is, okay, let's pick some random urban public school districts, take out the ESL and special education kids, and compare those using the same metrics and across multiple years, and then see how much better these charters are. I'm missing the magic ingredient other than the sampling problems I mentioned above (and, of course, the cheating, an ingredient that comes directly from the profit motive) that would make charter schools better if they had to teach everyone.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:34 AM on October 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


To my knowledge, no charter school has been able to show demonstrable progress year after year to the point where it could scale up to meet the demand for education and compete favorably against public schools.

Some charter schools are having this kind of success. The primary limit on their scaling up is that there's a charter cap in Boston and no new schools can open up at this time.
posted by Aizkolari at 11:35 AM on October 18, 2013


Yeah, some. Anecdotes are useful, but when you look at the bigger picture, the evidence shows that charters don't outperform non-charters. With charters only covering 5% of students and enjoying these advantages of being able to self-select for the best students, forgive me if I'm not seeing the compelling reason to spend more on them when they haven't shown any particular evidence that their approaches are working except when you drill down to individual outlier districts.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:47 AM on October 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


Kokoryu -

Your argument seems to suggest that one cannot criticize something if one has not already done it. So I can't criticize a director or author if I haven't made a movie or read a book. That is an ..... unusual position, especially when applied to a democracy, where robust public debate over issues is an integral part of the system and a right held by the governed.

Your defense of Booker comes uncomfortably close to that of a devotee of the head of a personality cult or a teenager defending their favorite celebrity. "Nah, Nah h@torz, what have u done" is an argument I'd expect on TMZ over Justin Bieber. It is not one I'd expect to find in the context of a political discussion.

Then again, maybe you understood "limousine liberal" differently than the way I was using it. I was using it as a label for a set of beliefs, rather than a descriptor of a set of actions. I wasn't alive when the term was in wide use, so maybe I used it incorrectly.

On Charter Schools -

Most charter schools perform about as well as comparable public schools serving comparable populations. Some perform better, a larger percentage perform worse. Some are also unionized, although most are not and I think the teachers need to organize separately from the existing collective bargaining agreement in their district. I could be wrong on that though.

The danger I see with charter schools is that they are being sold as a cure to educational inequality when in fact evidence is mounting they do not constitute such a cure. Comparing educational outcomes worldwide and throughout the U.S., it is clear that poverty is one of the driving factors of poor educational outcomes. Whether schools are public, private, or chartered, or whether they are unionized or not, doesn't seem to matter as much as the amount of resources available to the student. I am not just talking about money schools spend on their students. I am talking about the money and resources parents and communities from which children come have available to raise them.

Quite simply, the worst performing schools in this serve areas with high concentrations of poverty and populations that face issue such as assimilation to a new culture (immigrants) or legacies of discrimination and persecution. Charter schools do nothing to address this. In fact, when some of their proponents ally with people who push policies like austerity and cuts to public funding, they make the problem worse.

Young Rope- Rider

Your comments betray a deep ignorance of the issue and a contempt for teachers. Firstly, having worked in the School District of Philadelphia, I can tell you that the teachers in the public schools are not exclusively, or even mostly, "white middle class people". Not that it should matter, but many of the most experienced teachers are actually minorities who come from the communities that the schools serve. They are also generally the teachers some reformers want to get rid of. The "white middle class" teachers" you seem to hate so much generally teach in the suburbs or in charter schools. That being said, I hesitate to make overly broad generalizations because, unlike you, I appreciate the complexity of the issue.

You should really research an issue more before you comment on it. Your arguments are offensive, misinformed, and unhelpful to the cause you claim to care about.

Also, as a side note, I'm not sure why it is absurd that teachers should make as much as engineers or nurses.

On "Cory "fucking" Booker" -

I'm not sure what Cory Booker did to earn the "fucking". Running into burning buildings and (allegedly) consoling dying drug dealers is awesome, but it has nothing to do with policy. People carrying it on like this are sounding like the people who voted for Bush because he would be "good to have a beer with" or who followed him into Iraq because he looked good in a flight suit. Maybe he drives a pick up truck and likes the Red Sox too ......

The simple fact is he comes from the wing of the Democratic Party that is friendly to the interests of the financial services industry. Of that wing, he is by far the most unapologetic. He is not shy about expressing these views. If people haven't picked up on this by now, it is because they have been paying attention to stunts, tweets, and appearances on late night talk shows, and not to what he actually says. One of the first posts in this thread was Warren/Booker 2016. If you seriously group those two politicians together, you should research both their records and positions more carefully.
posted by eagles123 at 12:03 PM on October 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sounds to me like those who think Booker is going to be a great Senator because he has committed great individual acts of charity/heroism are Waiting for Superman.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:08 PM on October 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


In fairness, I think Cory Booker's intentions about Newark were genuine - I think he believes that making Newark more prosperous by recruiting more investment from Wall Street/big business would give the city more money to work with to solve its (serious) social problems. You can't do redistribution if there's nothing to redistribute, and as a mayor of an economically-depressed city his options for raising revenue were a lot more limited than say, the governor of a state. That said, I disagree that relying on powerful players from the financial sector was the only way to go about this, and I do worry that his relationship with big banking is way too cozy going forward.

(Man, Rush Holt would have been amazing.)
posted by en forme de poire at 12:08 PM on October 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


And now, reading that Blasio/Booker comparison article linked above, I see that it makes the same point: "In his defense, Booker can, and does, claim that governing an impoverished inner-city like Newark—he’s been mayor for the past seven-plus years—has presented him with few viable options. ... Booker’s vision of the forces for progressive social change apparently includes the very poor and the very rich—the former as beneficiaries, the latter as dispensaries, of private wealth."
posted by en forme de poire at 12:11 PM on October 18, 2013


My girlfriend works as a teacher, and the hours she puts into that damn job are abominable. She wakes up at 6-6:30 in the morning, rushes to work without breakfast, and isn't out of school till 5-7 at night. Her school believes in longer hours helping children, but the results of that policy are that teachers are too exhausted to do a damn thing. Not to mention the real problem is curriculums that don't have a clue of how children actually learn, so the result is a bunch of kids who read many grades below their level.

That's at a charter school geared towards poor students in an urban area, by the way. So please don't act like charter schools are somehow going to magically fix everything that's wrong with lower-income education.

I like Booker, but count me in as opposed to his stance on education, and I say this as a Jersey native who is living in New Jersey once more. If you didn't grow up here you probably don't know this, and possibly assume the opposite to be the case, but New Jersey has some of the best public schools in the nation. I know of a number of programs in place to help students who are struggling with the pace of their courses, as well as programs to move faster students out of the main classes in order to let teachers focus on what the less accelerated students need. I'm opposed to that kind of system on a number of levels, but considering the restrictions on national education that exist today, it does a pretty damn good job of lessening the problems within a broken system.

That's not to act like NJ is a utopia whose educational methods/fundings are somehow magical goodness, because there's plenty of fucked to go around, but when I graduated, I was told repeatedly that I'd find myself at an advantage from students who'd been taught in other states, and I definitely found that to be the case in my time at college. Earlier today I saw a chart, which I can't seem to locate, which showed the percentage of public school students per state who require free lunches, indicating a trend of public schools which are ONLY attended by people who can't afford a private education. New Jersey's had one of the lowest percentages on the list, indicating its public schools are fairly well integrated class-wise (and from my time in the public Jersey school system, I found that to be the case).

All that said, Newark is not the rest of New Jersey, and from what I hear Booker is a damn good mayor. I'm a fan of the guy myself. And when you're a charismatic guy with connections, relying on wealthier friends to donate money to your school program can be an effective way of helping out a city that's got problems. But I hope Booker is wise enough to realize that what worked for him won't necessarily work for the nation, and push for more systematic reforms to the way our country deals with teaching students. If he pushes for charter schools and private, corporate-sponsored education tracks, I'll be fairly pissed off—especially since his home state offers ample evidence that public education can be an effective approach to teaching kids.
posted by Rory Marinich at 6:02 PM on October 18, 2013 [7 favorites]


I am old enough to know that before charters and mandatory testing that many schools were functioning well for only white upper middle class kids. i taught school back in the day. I saw first hand how kids were allowed to fall by the wayside. The rest of the system sucked big time and for years that standard has been protected by teacher unions. Sen. Ted Kennedy along with Republicans championed No Child Left Behind" for that very reason. that alone exposed some huge issues which should have embarrassed not just teachers but the teacher unions. Instead all that unions did was attack the results. Believe me when it came time to educate my "brown" children they went no where near the public schools that had little expectations of their success.

so here is a shout out to young rope rider for her call out of the rascist and elitist results of our present educational system

The argument that charters take money away is ridiculous. They get reimbursed per pupil and usually don't share in the construction monies. Thus they do more for kids with less of the taxpayer dollars. .Consistently they get better results.

Unions on the other hand consistently advocate against change and improvements or innovations. Perhaps if that changed I would have a different opinion. PS I am a union raised kid whose father was a union business agent. His union did not advocate staying in the past in his profession of carpentry....perhaps teacher unions should stop trying to stay in the past just to protect the union ass as well.
posted by OhSusannah at 3:11 AM on October 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sen. Ted Kennedy along with Republicans championed No Child Left Behind" for that very reason.

NCLB and its test-driven regime have been an unmitigated disaster in the American education system. Testing has turned so many schools into long-term test prep centers that it's disgusting, and I've been watching it gut the Philadelphia system as I know Philly teachers as well as NJ teachers.

The American education system is horrifyingly racist, you won't hear otherwise from me. But testing and charter schools are not making it less racist; in both cases, they take funding away from the schools that need it most. Testing in particular has been used as the excuse to defund and destroy the schools that are supposed to serve poor and minority children.

And blaming the unions, to me, means you've bought into the narrative of the people - Democrat and Republican - who are trying to kill off public education in this country for good.
posted by graymouser at 4:41 AM on October 19, 2013 [7 favorites]


FUCK No Child Left Behind. Its emphasis on metrics might have revealed how horrible some schools are—surprise surprise there, right?— but its metrics don't promote anything even remotely close to "education" as we ought to understand it. As a result, every school in the nation has to waste days or weeks teaching to the bullshit tests, they often have to work in NCLB-related material into their curriculum, and guess what? Those horrible schools that NCLB was designed to save? Those are the schools that consequently spend the MOST time teaching the test, because they need to improve that metric. It's the equivalent of grinding in a video game, except that the grinding cuts into the time that school has to, like, teach students shit.
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:08 AM on October 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


OhSusannah: "Thus they do more for kids with less of the taxpayer dollars."

[citation needed], especially in light of the several citations above that falsify the "do more" part. On "with less", this study shows that:
the primary reason charters tend to get less funding is because traditional public schools must offer far more special education, transportation and student support services. Spending on those programs and services -- often not available in charter schools -- accounts for much or all of the difference in funding each receives.
So, as it turns out, charters are just doing less with less. There are state-level studies that, to my untrained eye, do show that some states are getting better performance out of charter schools than others, but I have yet to see compelling evidence that charters, on the whole, compare favorably when they are forced to compete on a level playing field with traditional public schools by serving the same population of students, providing the same services outside the classroom, etc. If you've got evidence to substantiate your claim, then please share it with us.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:14 AM on October 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


We live in a racist and classist society that concentrates poverty in certain areas. I am not going to argue that the education system doesn't reflect that fact. Unfortunately, simply replacing public schools with charters can not and is not remedying the problem because without additional resources to close the gaps caused by concentrated poverty and cultural exclusion/isolation the primary factors driving poor educational outcomes remain. (to his credit, even Booker's website has vauge refermces to this issue)

Even if charters are shown to perform better than public schools, that is not the same thing as saying that they are closing the education gap. Even studies showing that charters perform better than public schools on average only show minuscule gains, such as charter students being 8 days ahead in a certain subject. Statistically, it is barely meaningful and more of a talking point than anything. Slightly better than horrible is still horrible.

Charter schools are being sold as a silver bullet to remedy educational inequality by politicians and writers who seem to want a coalition of people who care about educational inequality, people who are concerned with how much tax money is being spent, and business leaders interested in reform as a philanthropic venture. There is an inherent tension in that coalition because actually fixing the problem is going to require money. There is no way around that fact. Charter schools in and of themselves are not going to fix the problem. Focusing exclusively on them as a solution, which is what seems to be happening, leaves out the people who actually want to see educational inequality adressed (whether they know it or not).

If people actually care about educational inequality they should talk about this.
posted by eagles123 at 9:17 AM on October 19, 2013 [8 favorites]


A number of my close friends are teachers. They put in a hell of a lot more than their classroom hours, and sitting there arguing that they should be in the classroom longer gives you zero credibility.

I think the reason why people say this is because putting more hours than what's in your job description is pretty much the norm in many jobs. I don't know of any job paying more than $50k a year that doesn't require you to put in unpaid time on weekends and evenings. Granted, educating children is more important (and harder) than making a website launch, and should be paid more, but talking about the hours doesn't help.

As for charter schools... there's a reason why there's a racial divide in support for charter schools and vouchers. I don't disagree with the argument that they weaken public schools, but if it were your kids? Tell me you wouldn't chose the charter every time. My parents moved their family of six into a 2-bedroom apartment so that we could get out of our crappy neighborhood school; if charters were around, you bet your ass they would have moved heaven and earth to get us into them. To portray this as simply union-busting is discounting the very real crisis going on in too many schools.
posted by snickerdoodle at 2:03 PM on October 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Its emphasis on metrics might have revealed how horrible some schools are—surprise surprise there, right?— but its metrics don't promote anything even remotely close to "education" as we ought to understand it.

One way to think about high-stakes testing in schools is that it's enlisting children -- often very young children -- to do the job of school inspectors. They are now subcontracted, unpaid civil servants.
posted by holgate at 4:57 PM on October 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't know of any job paying more than $50k a year that doesn't require you to put in unpaid time on weekends and evenings.

Middle management and skilled labor are chock full of such jobs. My spouse and I each make more than $50K and very, very rarely put in more than 40 hours.
posted by Etrigan at 5:47 PM on October 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


What's interesting to me about charter schools is that, no matter what one thinks of them, they're obviously not the long-term solution, right? They seem to be intended to attempt to fill a need immediately where there is a need; but the ideal, and the goal we are working toward, is a system in which there are no huge educational blind spots for charter schools to have to fill. Putting it a little more directly: charter schools are supposed o be creating systems use new and innovate methods to educate kids more efficiently and effectively; if they succeed, then every school should be the way charter schools are.

I mean: we have this situation where parents really want to get their kids into charter schools; this is why there's that racial divide in support for charter schools as someone said above. As has been said, we can all believe that charter schools are a drain on the system overall, but while they acknowledge that parents are not likely to let it dissuade them from putting their kids in the best school they can, particularly if their kids are otherwise disadvantaged and if this is really the best chance their kids have of stepping up out of their situation. I mentioned before that my brother was a teacher at a charter school in Chicago; he may have lost that job in a sad way, but he loved the work he was doing there: teaching Latin to kids in the lowest income brackets, kids who never would have even known what Latin was in a typical public school in their neighborhood. That is really awesome to me, and really meaningful; giving kids that sense of history, of where they are and who they are, is precious.

So some of us say: "yes, but it takes away from other schools." So fix that. Make the other schools like charter schools. People say: "okay, but charter schools often don't allow unions." So allow unions; it's not easy, but unions and schools will have to coexist on some level, and as others have pointed out, there are unionized charter schools out there today.

And, as is probably obvious - if charter schools aren't working, scrap them and start over. I don't deny that many of them are, but I'm sure those who say that many of them don't live up to the hype are correct, too.

Whatever we do, though, I think it's a mistake to let this stratify society and Balkanize public education the way it's been doing. Make improved schools available to all, and make sure teachers are given a fair working environment; that's the only real long-term solution here. I know that's insanely difficult, but all I really mean to say is - charter schools cannot possibly be the end goal here.
posted by koeselitz at 1:13 PM on October 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


My point is and remains that teacher unions don't promote innovation, change or anything related to children's needs. They promote lining their pockets.
posted by OhSusannah at 6:46 PM on October 24, 2013


OhSusannah: "My point is and remains that teacher unions don't promote innovation, change or anything related to children's needs. They promote lining their pockets."

And since you've provided no evidence for this point, why bother returning to the thread just to restate it?
posted by tonycpsu at 1:03 PM on October 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


My point is and remains that teacher unions don't promote innovation, change or anything related to children's needs.

None of those things is the union's role. Teacher's unions (like all unions) exist to protect their members, particularly their workplace safety, wages and job security -- the things that management typically chips away at to reduce costs. When innovation, change, etc. protect their members, then the unions will generally be for them; when they don't (e.g., "Work more hours for the same pay!"), then they won't.

Have there been cases where union leaders lined their own pockets at the expense of their members? Absolutely -- and it happens in lots of unions that aren't teacher's unions. That's why we have a lot of laws and agencies who oversee such things, but it doesn't mean that organized labor is a bad idea.
posted by Etrigan at 1:33 PM on October 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


Never said organized labor is a bad thing. I do say that you establish my point that teacher unions inhibit change and innovation. But there is no reason to do so. Other Labor unions have promoted change. Safety rules, production requirements, better working conditions are all examples. Today to say that teacher unions cannot promote change and innovation because that is not their job is to say that the members of those unions don't want success and achievement of their students and the resultant feeling of success in their job.

And if someone wants to give me an example of a change a teacher union promoted that was an innovation designed to advance student achievement feel free to list it.
posted by OhSusannah at 10:18 PM on October 25, 2013


Teacher's unions (like all unions) exist to protect their members,

Great, we agree. We are discussing what happens when this interest conflicts with the interests of students, as it inevitably must. If you're arguing that the union and the interests of its members should take precedence over the interests of students at all times no matter what, then we disagree. If you're claiming that the interests of the teachers naturally align perfectly with the interests of the students, then you're wrong.


I am not just talking about money schools spend on their students. I am talking about the money and resources parents and communities from which children come have available to raise them.

Quite simply, the worst performing schools in this serve areas with high concentrations of poverty and populations that face issue such as assimilation to a new culture (immigrants) or legacies of discrimination and persecution.


Right, this is the racist argument I hear all the time--poor black/latino/immigrant kids just can't learn because their lives suck so bad and their home life is impoverished and and and

So their home lives are awful and impoverished but go ahead and ask about lengthening the school day or school year--which is obviously to the benefit of the students--no way.

There is another problem with arguing that poor black/latino/immigrant kids can't learn: you then have to ask yourself why we're paying 80k a year to people who according to you can't learn because of their parents and communities?
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:34 AM on October 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


And if someone wants to give me an example of a change a teacher union promoted that was an innovation designed to advance student achievement feel free to list it.

Teachers unions consistently support teacher autonomy in the classroom, as opposed to highly detailed required curricula generally composed by non-educators for political reasons. By 2013, this is sadly innovative.

In the opposite direction, NCLB has been a largely disastrous "innovation"... that was consistently opposed by the NEA.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:00 AM on October 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


I do say that you establish my point that teacher unions inhibit change and innovation.

There's a difference between "not promoting" and "inhibiting." For instance, I do not promote in any active way the overthrow of Robert Mugabe, the dictator of Zimbabwe. However, I am not inhibiting his ouster either.

But there is no reason to do so. Other Labor unions have promoted change. Safety rules, production requirements, better working conditions are all examples.

You don't consider shorter work hours to be "better working conditions"? Higher pay? Job security?

All of those things that you use as examples of (presumably positive) change promoted by labor unions and all of those things that I use as examples have the same effect: raising the costs (direct or indirect) of "producing" (whether that's automobiles, carpentry or educated children). That's why management doesn't like those things, and it's why labor pushes for them.

And before you point out some things that management and unions agree on, recall that if management likes something, it will do it anyway without labor pushing them to. The point of labor is not "innovation," except in the area of "protecting its membership." Any "change" promoted by unions is done for that sole purpose. All unions. Everywhere.
posted by Etrigan at 9:17 AM on October 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Teacher's unions (like all unions) exist to protect their members,

Great, we agree. We are discussing what happens when this interest conflicts with the interests of students, as it inevitably must.


We're actually discussing Cory Booker being elected to the United States Senate, so feel free to not be too tetchy about when people don't follow your script.

If you're arguing that the union and the interests of its members should take precedence over the interests of students at all times no matter what, then we disagree. If you're claiming that the interests of the teachers naturally align perfectly with the interests of the students, then you're wrong.

It's a good thing that I made neither of those claims, nor anything that could remotely be confused for either of those claims by even the least charitable reading of what I said, which was in reply to an assertion that teacher's unions "don't promote innovation, change or anything related to children's needs." As I mentioned just before the part of my comment that you did bother quoting, that is not their role, and focusing so relentlessly on how they're the big racist problem in a complex system doesn't do you or your argument any favors.
posted by Etrigan at 9:23 AM on October 26, 2013


ROU_Xenophobe: "Teachers unions consistently support teacher autonomy in the classroom, as opposed to highly detailed required curricula generally composed by non-educators for political reasons. By 2013, this is sadly innovative."

Do they? It's weird - this hasn't been my experience, at least as an overall effect. The teachers I know who teach at non-union charter (and religious) schools tend to have much more latitude to design their curriculums themselves. But I would guess that's probably because, when negotiations actually start and the union is advocating for better pay, shorter working hours, and control over curriculum, the "control over curriculum" component is the least important to the union and therefore the one they're most willing to concede if it means they can get better terms on pay and hours. And I guess charter schools are more viewed as a desperate experiment, so there's more experimentalism; public schools in general on the other hand are sort of this level that politicians attempt to turn every time they want to enact "education reform," and that means standardized curriculums and across-the-board mandates for whole school districts.
posted by koeselitz at 3:44 PM on October 26, 2013


I will say this, though - I think there are some things that get lost in the argument over whether to maximize children's learning versus the well-being of teachers. It is absolutely correct that, in a normal union situation, this is a real tension. If you have a factory making widgets, the owners of the factory will say "we need to make high-quality widgets," and the workers will say "sure, but that's on our terms, and we're not here to make high-quality widgets; we're here to earn money so that we and our families can live." There is some limit to how much workers can work to make the widgets, but the 1800s showed that it isn't much of a limit. I mean, geez, there were eight-year-olds working 70-hour work weeks back then.

Teaching is more symbiotic; interests are much more entwined. Most successful career grade school and high school teachers that I know seem to be workaholics, and they push themselves pretty hard, averaging at least 50 to 60 hour work weeks, in my experience; that's fine, but there is a limit. It's not making widgets. When teachers are burned out or overworked, children don't learn. And kids aren't dumb; they can usually tell when a teacher is pushing herself or himself too hard. It sends a bad message to children. It says to them, "we as a society care very little about the people we task with your education."

I don't want to push too far in this direction - it's just a thought we should keep in mind. And I do agree, as should be obvious from my last comment, that unions often don't have the interests of most teachers in mind, much less the children. But - I also don't think the "unions are purely evil" approach works. (Not accusing anyone here of saying that; it's just an extreme on the range of possible positions.) I think we have to shoot for something in between "unions are obstructing the education of children" and "unions are saving education."

On some level, the interests of teachers and students intersect. On some level, we should be able to see that well-provided-for teachers are the best thing for students. That's the level I think we need to shoot for. I have some weird ideas about how to do that. For example, I think we need to drop this ridiculous practice of measuring work in classroom hours; everybody knows it's bollocks. Allow teachers to bill half an hour of prep time per hour in class. And, while teacher control of curriculums is controversial, maybe we really need to give it a try. I have a feeling teachers will do better when we get out of their way. That doesn't always mean unions - again, union interests and teacher interests don't always intersect - but it certainly means working with teachers unions and having them on our side.
posted by koeselitz at 4:04 PM on October 26, 2013


Teacher's unions (like all unions) exist to protect their members, particularly their workplace safety, wages and job security -- the things that management typically chips away at to reduce costs. When innovation, change, etc. protect their members, then the unions will generally be for them; when they don't (e.g., "Work more hours for the same pay!"), then they won't.

I was talking to my husband, who's a lot more of a union supporter than I am, about this, and he made a startlingly good point somewhat along your lines, which I am going to shamelessly steal. You're absolutely right - teachers unions exist to protect their members, and that is a good thing. They, like any other union, don't exist to make the product better, even if the product is "the education of young minds." They cannot and should not be expected to do anything else than protect their members, because that is their role and function. At the same time, though, parents, by their function, protect and want the best for their children. Parents want the best for their children even if it is not as good for the teachers or the teacher's union - and that is absolutely right, because the function of parents is to try to get the best situation they can for their children.

Teachers want the same things that many other employees want - and reasonably get - such as a shorter commute, good hours, and a safe working environment. Teachers, who are paid by experience and not by location, by and large, do not want to go to overcrowded inner-city schools, where their jobs and lives will be harder. They want smaller classrooms, children with involved parents, where the kids generally behave as they expect children to behave and don't come to school hungry. They want to be able to park their car close by and walk to work without worrying that their walk will be unpleasant or their car might be broken into. These concerns can be seen by migration patterns when teacher choice was allowed - the most experienced teachers migrated to the most middle-class schools, thus leaving inner-city schools to be tended by the least experienced of teachers.

At the same time, these desires - which are honestly, totally reasonable - are not best for the children who are the most disadvantaged. They need better teachers and smaller classroom sizes even more. They need the best teachers, with the most skills, regardless of whether those teachers want to be there or not - but they are constrained by law from attracting them with higher pay, even if they had it to give, which they do not.

At the same time as all that, the system as preferred by the teachers works really, really well for well-off middle-class parents. Their children get the best schools, with the best teachers who care the most. Their children get schools with people who act, even if they don't look, very much like them. So if anyone tries to oppose that, they will give full voice to their concerns and become active in only the way a parent can.

Thus, charter schools are the compromise. They don't take away from the existing schools, thus not angering the politically astute middle-class parents, who are generally fine with where their children are and don't need the charter schools as much. They don't irritate the unions as much as instituting changes to union teachers would. And they please the parents of kids who don't want their children destroyed by a shitty educational system.
posted by corb at 11:42 AM on October 30, 2013




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