Thomas Sowell on Charter Schools

One day after his 90th birthday, Thomas Sowell joined Peter Robinson for a plague-era virtual episode of Uncommon Knowledge to discuss Dr Sowell’s just-published book, Charter Schools and Their Enemies.  Focusing on schools in New York City, the book explores in detail the success of charter schools, sometimes in the same buildings as public schools, and drawing the students from the same ethnic mix, have largely closed the academic achievement gap between minorities and white and Asian students, and why, despite this achievement, politicians are bent on restricting the growth of charter schools if not killing them entirely.

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Author: John Walker

Founder of Ratburger.org, Autodesk, Inc., and Marinchip Systems. Author of The Hacker's Diet. Creator of www.fourmilab.ch.

14 thoughts on “Thomas Sowell on Charter Schools”

  1. Thanks for this; I have only written two fan letters in my life- one to Paul McCartney and one to Tom Sowell. (Different decades of course.)

    What charter schools provide is a haven for parents and their children who value education and want to escape the violence and chaos of the public inner city schools. They also require financial and family participation. (Better not miss a PTA meeting!)

    We all remember that it only takes one kid to disrupt a classroom; let’s multiply that by 50 and the students who struggle to learn in certain public schools will not have a chance. I know something about this as a friend who grew up in urban Detroit attended the first charter- Cass Tech- because his two parent household scraped together every cent they had and made it clear why they were making a sacrifice for their son. I’d repeat what his mama said to him about excelling in school but it might break the family friendly code here.

    P.S. My friend D went on to Michigan and MIT and one might reasonably question the “Affirmative Action” stigma but he developed a great accounting business and landed on the cover of Forbes 10 years after graduation.

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  2. Thomas Sowell is an Oreo White Supremacist seeking to salaciously suppress Black urban tribalism by demanding restrictive and exclusive intellectual standards of performance while abjuring preening inherent racial academic intellectual vacuity.

    Being illiterate, innumerate, felonious, and borderline retarded is Black authenticity.  Support glib pan-disempowered  interdisciplinarity, the pretense of knowledge.  Provincialize the urban. Self-imagine modernity as serendipitous anticipation, premonition, and demarcated undecidability.  Quantitate psychometric ideological loyalty, neologistic dialectic, and intertextual multivocalities of postcolonial others regarding phallogocentric partialities.

    We must not, will not abandon out-of-African behavioral economics, dialogic praxis, gnostical turpitude, methodological eclecticism, pleonasm, ideologized reality, ontogenetic liberation, and haricot verts.  Somebody tell Thomas Sowell – who is no Jacques Derrida – that heteronormatism problematizes homosocial othering.

    (All your disintellectual0philic disingenuistic bow-wowisms are belong to me, Inner City lagomorph suckahs.)

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  3. Uncle Al; you forgot to mention he was a card-carrying Commie in the 40s. 🙂

    He wasn’t alone ; some of the great conservatives of our time were pink and learned the error of their ways. Justice Thomas was a Malcolm X devotee as a young man but actually lived and learned the error of his thinking.

    This would be a great book- Great conservatives who evolved from Commie red to Conservative red.

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  4. EThompson:
    Uncle Al; you forgot to mention he was a card-carrying Commie in the 40s.

    Thomas Sowell was born in 1930.  In the “40s”, he was thus between 10 and 20 years old.  In 1951, at age 21, he was drafted into the Marine Corps.  He says that “during the decade of my 20s” (which would be 1950 to 1960) he was a Marxist, but it was his experience working at the U.S. Department of Labor during the summer of 1960 which caused him to reject Marxism in favour of the free market.  He has never said, not have I heard anybody else plausibly assert, that he was at any time in his life a card-carrying (or otherwise) member of the Communist Party USA.

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  5. What if….we didn’t have a public school,system, we just enacted  an “individual mandate” that every parent  buy education through grade 8 for their kids , but they could buy it wherever?  The populace would have more $$ because of course this would mean no property taxes imposed by school districts—and in my state, no sales tax, which is designated a “tax for education” .
    Let a thousand flowers bloom!we could have private tutors who would only take three or four students, we could have one-room schoolhouses…it’s impossible to imagine this because the teachers union system is so big, It’s 
    like with health insurance: the existing system is too big to fail, if we got rid of it, think of the effect on the unemployment rate!
    but for whatever reason, the public school system is no longer doing what it did well for a while: standardizing education, teaching everybody to read  and write basic English and be competent at basic math. We need an alternative, and not just for the lucky lottery winners who get into the charter schools.   

    If only one good thing comes from this lockdown hysteria, let it be that everybody realizes how totally worthless both lower and higher education have become in our country.  And this in an age where access to EVERY kind of  accumulated knowledge Has never been freer nor more egalitarian.

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  6. Hypatia:  this would mean no property taxes imposed by school districts—and in my state, no sales tax, which is designated a “tax for education” .

    Let’s not forget that a lot of the money for “education” is actually going to pay pensions to retired teachers.  And retired teachers vote — early & often!  There can be no reform of public education without addressing the pension issue.

    There are only 3 solutions to the problem of promised but unsustainable pensions:  (1) societal collapse, in which the slate is wiped clean of all pension obligations and the old are left indigent;  (2) Daughter-of-Covid kills most people over the age of 60;  (3) the economy booms so fantastically that all the unfunded pensions can be paid.  Option (3) would be preferable, but that would require “killing all the lawyers” and rolling back decades of excessive inappropriate regulations — and the chances of that are minimal.

    While (3) w0uld be optimal, personally, I would be satisfied with  (2) but am expecting (1).

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  7. Hypatia

    If only one good thing comes from this lockdown hysteria, let it be that everybody realizes how totally worthless both lower and higher education have become in our country.

    I got higher educated, even high school being sent to Columbia University on Saturdays to sow the fields of cerebral higgledy-piggledyness in vector analysis, which I loathed.  Monkey on a pole

    youtu.be/iM_I6rtIgn0
    … When I touch Pyrex, it sighs content.

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  8. Gavin, the pension issue is part of “too big to fail”, IMHO.   But we’ve seen now that things CAN be changed in a twinkling: the entire nation was issued a “stop work” order—and we all went home!  Unimaginable last year at this time!

    I dunno, let all the school districts declare bankruptcy.  There is a chapter of the bankruptcy code for that— ch 9,I think?   Then they can wipe out the pensions.  It could be like what the steel companies did in the 8os : they paid all their  execs a huge bonus then declared bankruptcy,  and, oh, noooo:  the pension fund no longer existed.

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  9. This just in: “Trump ‘may cut off funding’ if schools do not re-open“,  screams Reuters.
    (okay I doubt he can really do it.  Incredibly enough, it will turn out that providing instruction wasn’t one of the conditions Congress put on receipt of fed funds, so…you know the drill.)

    But here’s the amazing thing: why would it even be controversial that  the fed govt NOT PAY for a contracted service the schools are not providing?

    I wouldn’t.  Would you.?  You hire somebody to paint your house, he announces he isn’t goinG  to DO it any time in the foreseeable future—but he demands the contract price?
    Ei-yiii-yii, as we say in these parts…..

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  10. John Walker:

    EThompson:
    Uncle Al; you forgot to mention he was a card-carrying Commie in the 40s.

    Thomas Sowell was born in 1930.  In the “40s”, he was thus between 10 and 20 years old.  In 1951, at age 21, he was drafted into the Marine Corps.  He says that “during the decade of my 20s” (which would be 1950 to 1960) he was a Marxist, but it was his experience working at the U.S. Department of Labor during the summer of 1960 which caused him to reject Marxism in favour of the free market.  He has never said, not have I heard anybody else plausibly assert, that he was at any time in his life a card-carrying (or otherwise) member of the Communist Party USA.

    I realize you enjoy your status as an expert on all subjects but you missed it here. I was only going  along with Uncle Al and his humorously exaggerated ruminations. Sowell was a Marxist in his late teens and early twenties so I probably should have included the 50s as well along with some of his contributions to Marxist publications.

    I don’t make much of a distinction between Communism and Marxist thought so I suppose you could characterize my thinking as comme il faut.

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  11. Hypatia:
    let all the school districts declare bankruptcy

    My guess is that only small businesses will be allowed to fail.  All government spending will be backed.  I think the states and municipalities will just issue bonds that will be purchased by the Fed.  Nothing but small businesses will fail until the whole financial system fails.

    Powell testified that there is no plan to reduce the balance.  The plan is that it will become less of a percent of GDP.  I think this means the bonds and corporate debt that has been purchased and will be purchased are not expected to be paid back.  I wonder if treasuries are expected to be paid back.

    The question in my mind is how much will the Fed need to purchase and over what time frame and at what point does their balance sheet matter.

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  12. JTOmland:
    I wonder if treasuries are expected to be paid back.

    Treasuries have never been truly paid back since the Coolidge administration.  They are only rolled over, with the interest and principal paid by issuance of new debt.

    In other news, spot gold closed today at US$1817.7/troy ounce and silver at US$19.16/troy ounce.  It appears that some folks are looking to hedge against a collapse of the whole funny money game.

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  13. In other news, spot gold closed today at US$1817.7/troy ounce and silver at US$19.16/troy ounce. It appears that some folks are looking to hedge against a collapse of the whole funny money game.

    For sure, the global orgy of money printing/quantitative easing will have very bad consequences.  It remains to be seen if gold will be an effective hedge against inflation.  After all, we have already had one Democrat President who effectively made gold valueless, and the English tendency to rehypothecate gold in London vaults suggests that those who have bought “paper gold” may be in for some unpleasant surprises come the day.  On the other hand, possession of physical gold carries its own costs & risks, including the absence of revenue, storage costs, and plain old criminal theft (which is likely to increase as the funny money game collapses).

    Arguably, it would be better to buy a revenue-generating coffee shop or orchard or factory rather than gold.  But continued possession of that kind of asset may also be challenging in a future world where Only Certain Black Lives Matter.

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  14. EThompson says:

    John Walker:

    EThompson:

    Uncle Al; you forgot to mention he was a card-carrying Commie in the 40s.

    I realize you enjoy your status as an expert on all subjects but you missed it here. I was only going along with Uncle Al and his humorously exaggerated ruminations.

    I put in haricot verts to defund SJW mooncalves who even believe themsleves.

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