Misinformation props up argument in Vice piece on Houston education decision

March 20, 2023

By Tim Worstall

The State of Texas has just taken control of the Houston Independent School District. The justification is that the school district just isn’t very good at its job, educating students.

What is interesting is the arguments being deployed against it, such as in a recent piece from Vice.

On the one hand, we have the argument that this removes power over the school district from elected officials to those appointed by the State. We can’t say this worries us too much — it’s still the public schools being run by the political process, something that’s bound to happen when it’s tax money that pays for the schools. But then the next complaint is that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott really wants to bring in Educations Savings Accounts – school vouchers in all but name. This is also bad because it removes control of the schools from the political process.

It’s not hard to see the effect of the dual complaint. It’s not that they don’t want the state to control schools, or that they do want it to and so are against vouchers. It’s that at the level of the school board,  they want to continue to control the schools. It’s a complaint against any change, not against any specific one.

Then we get to the gross misinformation being aligned with this argument:

“So you’ve given out these vouchers,” Anderson said. “The voucher has gone to these private schools. Then you don’t have the money as a parent to pay for the next semester, and your child has to come back because you don’t have the money to pay for the second semester.

That’s to claim that a school voucher, or an ESA, is a one-time thing. Which is not how either system works at all. The money that would have gone to the school district for the public school now follows the student. This happens this semester, next semester and this year and next year. That’s just how such systems work. The idea that you get one semester at the new school then run out of money is simply nonsense – disinformation of the worst kind.

Then we get to an argument that we really object to.

They note that state takeovers disproportionately impact districts made up of a majority of students of color ….

We think this is an excellent idea. Even the most superficial look at the U.S. education system will note that the inner city schools – which disproportionately serve students of color – are the worst part of that U.S. school system. Therefore, that’s exactly where any system or action of reform needs to be concentrated. We need to raise the performance of the worst parts of the system to at least the average, no? So, whatever action we do take is going to be concentrated on those worst parts.

Not because we’re racists or power hungry but because who are the people who really, really, need a good education system? Those born at the bottom of the power structure, those poor inner-city children. That good education is their route out of a generational repeat which is exactly why we owe it to them to get those school systems sorted out.

This specific takeover of this specific school district, well, views may differ. But given the logic being offered against it we should all probably conclude that it’s a darn good idea. We shall know the enemies of logic and good sense by their arguments after all.


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