June 17, 2011

The Long Reach of Educational Inadquacy

Justin Katz

Here's a little nugget of insight that deserves broader comment. Apparently, Rhode Island is having a difficult time filling the open position of Director of Health:

In a phone interview, [former director David] Gifford said that a number of prospective applicants had contacted him with questions. The salary, he said, is an issue, but not the top one.

Instead, doctors considering moving their families from out of state were concerned about the quality of public education in Rhode Island, which some found to be below par, he said.

No doubt, progressives will be chime in to declare this as evidence that people don't migrate on the basis of taxation, but that would be a distraction. The point that must be understood is that progressive policies — educationally and as a matter of civic structure — have brought us to this point. On the educational side, the emphasis of public schools has shifted toward catering to disadvantaged and challenged students to the detriment of the broader mission, and curricula have been politicized both in the content and in the amount of time that schools spend concentrating on what might be termed institutional parenting (the focus being on imparting self esteem and teaching behavior).

More significantly (and harming Rhode Island disproportionately to its competition) is the structure of the system. Centralization toward an educational bureaucracy has left municipalities less able to address the communities that they actually serve, and the unionized workforce, with the advantages that it has secured through hardball negotiations and state-government advocacy, has driven up the cost of public education to the degree that programs must be cut and schools operated inefficiently.

The pervasiveness of that problem can be observed by expanding the above quotation by another paragraph:

Additionally, continual funding cutbacks will make it hard for any director to take on new initiatives.

As a small-government type, I don't take it to be inherently a bad thing for government departments to be constrained in that way. The point is worth making, though, that limits in what they can do and the ways in which they can experiment to become more effective and efficient are sure to be imposed when an ever-growing portion of their budgets must go to labor — both current and retired.

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"It will be the best job you’ll ever have.’ And it was.”
...and that's why he is leaving???
Let's be clear, this exemplifies the downward spiral that RI is on. If you think others aren't making the same rational decisions when it comes to staying in this state, think again.
Meanwhile, the progressives just go on lying to themselves. It's so much easier than facing reality.

Posted by: Mike Cappelli at June 17, 2011 10:14 AM

As a small-government type, I don't take it to be inherently a bad thing for government departments to be constrained in that way.

Be careful where you purchase your zeppoles.


Posted by: Phil at June 17, 2011 11:20 AM

or where you go for sushi

www2.turnto10.com/.../health-department-shuts-cranston-sushi-restaurant-ar-505698/ -

Posted by: Phil at June 17, 2011 11:32 AM

When you get that small government, you'd best get yourself a big stomach pump.

Posted by: Phil at June 17, 2011 11:34 AM

Phil - totally off-topic, per your 3 ridiculous posts in this thread, but it appears that government-run institutions don't do a very good job themselves:


But they did *eventually* police themselves to an extent, so that makes it okay, as I understand the statist logic goes.

When a restaurant makes somebody sick, I'll probably think long and hard on whether to return to that establishment. I'm lucky to have that consumer choice, and incidentally, I alwasy check reviews online before I try a new restaurant. The children forced to eat 50-degree-stored grade-F meat in public school cafeterias infested with cockroaches and smelling of mouse urine don't have such options and must return to their wretched government cafeterias day after day. Perhaps not everything is as black and white as it would intially seem to the big-government progressive observer.

Posted by: Dan at June 17, 2011 11:48 AM

A proper analysis would examine what functions or "services" the state Health Department performs and whether they are all necessary or even legitimate functions of government. From the Projo article, this is "a $150-million department responsible for public-health functions from inspecting nursing homes to distributing vaccines."

I would be very surprised if a detailed list of the functions and their costs did not identify millions of dollars that could be cut out without endangering anyone's health.

As Dan colorfully points out, the quality record of government-provided "services" is awfully poor. This is natural, as unionized state employees who are not accountable for quality don't exactly give a damn about it.

Posted by: BobN at June 17, 2011 1:55 PM

I'm all about having qualified employees and management, but the qualifications have to make sense. Why would the director of the health department need a medical degree? That's absurd. Is he going to be prescribing medicine out of his office? No wonder they can't find anyone - any legitimate doctor would be out of their mind to accept a powerless hack job in the most pitiful and corrupt state in the nation.

Posted by: Dan at June 17, 2011 3:51 PM

"emphasis of public schools has shifted toward catering to disadvantaged and challenged students to the detriment of the broader mission,"

I hope I do not appear heartless. THe other day, I was behind a small school bus dropping off kids (at great taxpayer expense). These kids were clearly ineducable. I couldn't help but wonder if these funds would not be more wisely invested in "advanced classes" for gifted kids.

I know nothing of these things, but windered if this was the result of "mandates", either funded,or unfunded.

As for what I saw, I am sure there are those who will point to Steven Hawkings.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at June 17, 2011 4:19 PM

I don't think you're heartless to conclude from your car watching children exit a school bus that they are ineducable. You just are not familiar with or do not understand the education they are getting, how they are benefitting from it, and how society as a whole benefits from it.

If you said "are there no institutions?", that would be heartless.

It is a common mistake to assume that "special education" costs of today are remotely related to what was intended by the original law providing a right to education for handicapped students enacted in the early 70s.

Posted by: riborn at June 17, 2011 5:29 PM

“They see a Department of Health that’s been cut a great deal, and no evidence that any new resources will be put into it going forward,” he said.

Finally, he said, many applicants were hesitant to work for a department that is not autonomous, but is part of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services.

People go into public health “because they want to make a difference,” Gifford said. “If you don’t have any resources … and you’re not a priority because you’re under a larger umbrella agency, it’s just not attractive to people.”

This is from the same article. This seems to be more convincing as a reason for the supposed reluctance of applicants. Maybe OldTimeLefty's Procrustes is at work here too.

Posted by: Phil at June 17, 2011 6:27 PM

"When you get that small government, you'd best get yourself a big stomach pump."

You libs crack me up. You're all worried food born bacteria but not some crack head baby momma sitting home spending her welfare check on her habit instead of on her kids. Nice choice.

Posted by: Max Diesel at June 20, 2011 10:20 AM

And you pseudo-conservatives crack me up. You worry about imaginary welfare queens but not the real theft going on. Nice choice.


Posted by: Russ at June 21, 2011 1:44 PM

Right, bring in a completely unrelated matter, as if that contributes to the topic in any way.

Posted by: BobN at June 21, 2011 4:50 PM
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