'Waiting For Superman'

pretty amazing work going on over at the Durham Nativity School...worth checking out



That's great, Frank

Those children are headed for a successful future, and I wish them nothing but the best.

That being said, we're talking about a school where the staff and board of directors outnumber the students. DNS enrolls between 22 and 26 (male) children, with a per-student cost of what? Thirty five, forty thousand dollars each, per year? If not higher?

That's your example of a way to solve our education woes? How do you propose to solicit the private funds needed for the other (approximately) 50,000 children in Durham County to attend a DNS-type school? Which would cost around 1.75 billion, if my calculations are correct. For one county, out of 100.

This is a great story, Frank, but it's not instructive. No matter how much you anti-government folks would like it to be.

Just leave it to rich philanthropists

They'll cover everybody who needs educating. Not.

Or maybe we should just wait a few years for the American Taliban to crush public education and start running their own madras with the Bible as the primary textbook. Then everybody will agree with creationists like O'Donnell and we'll fill Congress with a permanent majority of intellectual midgets.

wow...if there were any truth to that statement

I might respond in some fashion.

But that is not the case at DNS or many other charter or private schools that are at least trying to help some of the kids learn and achieve and go to college.

Every little bit helps....but if you are of the opinion that everyone has to be forced to stay in the public education system that clearly has some significant flaws and dents in it, then I guess 'Big Guvmint' wins again.

16 to 1 Student/Teacher ratio

$17,000/student annual cost

They meet in Grace Baptist Church which has graciously offered the use of their building during the week when it was otherwise empty.

I think we need to salute these teachers, students and donors and not turn this into a public diatribe just because you love the existing state of affairs in public education and want to view this as some sort of 'threat' to the status quo.

I was sorta hoping we could find some common ground between progressives, conservatives and libertarians and try to figure out how to help scale these successful efforts up and not tear them down with useless venom.

Numbers wrong

There were 26 students in 2009, 6 teachers (less than 5:1 ratio), 6 admin, and 22 board members. Your $17,000 might be closer than my original estimate, but that would still quantify out to $850 million for one county.

Like I said, I think it's great for those kids. Whatever venom I have is not for DNS, but for the idea that this is a workable, sustainable formula that could apply on a much larger scale. It simply couldn't, and any efforts to make it so would draw critical resources away from the needs of a much greater majority of students.

There are 39 students at DNS...

3 full-time teachers in selected areas of educational focus....the classes I saw on Tuesday had 16 in 1 class; 15 in another and 7 in the final one (1 was sick that day)

what do you mean 'this is an idea that couldn't work on a much larger scale?'

do you have any idea what the average cost per student is anyway nowadays in the public schools? They can range from $12,000/student in some states and areas to over $25,000 in high-density areas such as New York City.

$17,000 per student in ANY school district where they are virtually guaranteed to graduate and then go to college would be a bargain of epic proportions. Going to college is no guarantee nowadays of becoming an upright, law-abiding citizen, I will grant you that. But a college-educated student is far less likely to win up on death row, if he makes it through young adulthood, that is.

and $6 million to house a death-row, lifetime inmate is a far, far cry from paying $17,000 on him to get him through middle school and then high school.

What you are really objecting to seems to be the loss of control from a central authority place of guvmint.

Why people who grew up in the rebellious 60's and 70's put any faith in 'The Establishment' is beyond me. I thought the idealistic Baby Boomers were the ones who celebrated 'individual freedom' and 'personal choice' and 'be all you can be, baby!'

Now you mention any whiff of personal initiative or private sector solutions and the New Establishment Authoritarians go nuts because it might 'divert resources from the greater common cause'

it doesn't even make any sense in a marginal analysis in this case. It must have more to do with protecting the status quo and not giving one whit about successful outcomes for these children.

Your "range" is a little high

National average (2008) is under 10k per student. In NC it's around 8k. And that is considering funding from all sources - fed, state and local.

You might also check on the salaries those teachers are getting. No way a public school could get away with 13 kids per class. (based on your numbers)


I actively oppose gerrymandering. Do you?

Apples vs oranges

1. Does the $17,000 per student cost include use of the church property (especially utilities, insurance, capital depreciation, etc.)?

2. Does the $17,000 per student cost include transportation to and from school?

3. Does the school accept and teach students with special needs?

Any comparison of the cost of educating these 38 students versus the cost of educating the hundreds of thousands of public school students across North Carolina must take these costs into account in order to be valid.


The measure of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. - FDR

You know, you talk a good game

about wanting to find common ground and having a genuine discussion about issues, but when someone disagrees with your position, these words come out:

New Establishment Authoritarians

You just can't avoid using reductive rhetoric to describe those who question you. Putting us in a neat little Statist/Socialist/Paternalist box might make you feel better about your position, but it ain't good debate, Frank.

Never thought of this as a comprehensive proposal

to solve ALL of the public education ills.

but as soon as I put it out there, here was your reflexive response:

'That's your example of a way to solve our education woes?...This is a great story, Frank, but it's not instructive. No matter how much you 'anti-government' folks would like it to be.'

'Anti-government'? Mr. Protzman apparently thinks any and all charter and private schools are subterfuge to produce a new type of 'American Taliban' so that 'creationists' like Christine O'Donnell can produce an army of 'intellectual midgets' to run Congress?

And I can't use the 'New Establishment Authoritarian' label? That is mild to milquetoast by comparison.

I am not even a red-blooded, meat-eating 'anti-government' folk as you conveniently assert. I think government is necessary...I just don't think it can or should be used to solve all of our issues to the degree many others seem to believe.

I am an 'any-and-all-good-ideas-need-to-be-nurtured-and-pursued-so-that-all-kids-can-get-a-great-education' kind of person.

Why not explore any and all options?

Actually, James has written

more than a few times about his dissatisfaction with big-box schools and how "smaller is better", and he's also advocated for innovative approaches to both teaching and the curriculum taught.

The adverse reaction you see from us here is directly related to specific efforts we've seen by certain right-leaning influential groups, who have no interest whatsoever in improving our public school system. Their only interest is to move as many students as possible out of the public and into the private, and move those revenues along with the students.

So yes, my reaction to your initial post was probably overly-negative, and for this I apologize. But please try to understand the history that drove that response.

OK...got it.

appreciate the insight.

The mirror image is felt on the right side of the political spectrum whenever a reflexive "NO WAY IN HELL!" is shouted from the rooftops whenever a new approach is even suggested or proposed to help kids learn better, faster and quicker so we can all compete in the new global workplace environment and lead interesting lives.

so let's chuck bad feeling, ill-will and 'history' on both sides and agree to listen to each other.

Maybe we can all learn something for the benefit of these kids.

(It is really amazing what some of these kids are doing over at DNS. Go over and see them for yourself one day. It is pretty cool.