Gail Collins wants preschool education!


Here’s where the problem comes in: Gail Collins wrote a real column today. She wrote about Obama’s proposal for expanded preschool education.

Almost surely, it won’t happen. This passage helps us see why:
COLLINS (6/6/13): I am telling you all this because nothing major is going to happen for early-childhood education without an enormous groundswell of public demand. This is a cause that’s extremely popular in theory. But its advocates have no power to reward or punish. Lawmakers who labor on behalf of preschool programs may get stars in heaven, but they don’t get squat in campaign contributions. And the ones who eliminate money for infant care programs have no fear whatsoever that they’ll lose an election over it.
Will we see “an enormous groundswell of public demand” for early-childhood education? Presumably not.

Here’s why:

The entire country has been brainwashed into the belief that we’re suffering an educational decline. In fact, test scores are way up on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (the NAEP), the widely-praised gold standard of educational testing.

How much improvement has been recorded? As of 2007, black fourth-graders were scoring as high in math as white fourth-graders were scoring when Bill Clinton became president.

That represents astonishing progress in a short amount of time—and absolutely no one in the country has heard about it. Instead, the entire country has been told that we’re in a gruesome decline. And people who think that schools don’t work aren’t likely to stage an aggressive campaign in favor of even more schooling.

Why does everyone think we’re in a vast educational decline? Largely due to a propaganda campaign from the “education reform” movement.

Some people who stage this campaign may have lofty motives. Others are trying to turn a profit through privatization ventures.

Some are trying to destroy the labor movement through attacks on teachers and their infernal unions. But whatever the blend of motives may be, the entire country has been brainwashed, as we saw this week.

It was astounding to see the reaction to Tuesday morning’s Q-and-A between the Washington Post’s Mary Jordan and Mississippi governor Phil Bryant. (For Tuesday's initial report, click this.) Jordan, who once won a Pulitzer Prize, seems to have the mistaken idea that we’re in a bad educational decline.

But then, so did each of the three governors who responded to her question. So did an education writer at the Washington Post; a life style writer at Salon; and three major cable hosts, including Rachel Maddow. (For yesterday's report, click here.)

Test scores are way up on the NAEP. But thanks to the propaganda of people like Michelle Rhee, no one in the country knows it, including our liberal heroes.

How clueless are progressive leaders concerning public schools? Tomorrow, we’ll walk you through the recent piece at Salon by progressive writer David Sirota.

Sirota seems depressingly clueless about the current state of the schools. When progressives can’t even share the good news about our public schools, no one in the country is ever going to hear it.

At the present time, our benighted nation may boast the world's dumbest collection of adults. Because we adults are so dense, low-income 3-year-old children aren't likely to see expanded preschool opportunities.

In part because of Collins' past writing, everyone in the country is sure that our teachers can’t do anything right. Why would people stand in line to demand even more of that?

Tomorrow: Sirota on schools

Visit our incomparable archives: Even the brightest college kid in the country has been brainwashed about the state of the public schools.

To depress yourself completely, go ahead—just click here.


  1. Reasons why we won't experience a groundswell for pre-school:

    1. We already have government pre-scnool, namely Head Start.

    2. According to the Head Start Impact Study, which was quite comprehensive, the positive effects of the program were minimal and vanished by the end of first grade. Head Start graduates performed about the same as students of similar income and social status who were not part of the program. see:,8599,2081778,00.html#ixzz2VTfJucNA

    3. There's a federal deficit of around $1 trillion per year

    1. Quaker in a BasementJune 6, 2013 at 8:00 PM

      There's a federal deficit of around $1 trillion per year

      False. Time to refresh the talking points, Dave.

    2. Yup, it's only 2/3 of a trillion. Chump change.

    3. Quaker in a BasementJune 6, 2013 at 11:19 PM

      So 2/3 is "around" 1? Don't lecture me about math.

    4. Not part of the program doesn't mean squat… The vast majority of the kids in the control group had other preschooling thereby compromising the findings, but you know this, David.

    5. No 640 billion is barely worth thinking about. Your point was fucking brilliant.

    6. Hey, Mr. Brilliant, how much extra deficit would it be to create full employment, and would it be worth it? Or would you rather just throw a big scary number out? I don't think you're even barely thinking. (You know R-R was wrong, don't you?)

    7. Quaker in a BasementJune 7, 2013 at 12:34 PM

      Your point was fucking brilliant.

      My point was that David wrote something demonstrably false. What's yours?

    8. That 640 billion is still a lot of money to be borrowing every year, which was the larger point. Your strategy is to quibble about details (How many visits did Shulman make?) and ignore the larger point. Why is it a good idea to run up massive debt so we can congratulate ourselves on how compassionate we are? Shouldn't we be paying for the government services we're getting, rather than putting the bill on our kids' credit cards?

    9. Quaker in a BasementJune 7, 2013 at 5:50 PM

      That 640 billion is still a lot of money to be borrowing every year, which was the larger point.

      Yes, 640 billion is a very large number. It is not the same number as 1 trillion.

      Class dismissed.

    10. It's 64% of a trillion, that's close enough for libertarian work.

    11. Well, in order to actually make a worthwhile point, you'd have to show not only that 1 trillion and 640 billion are different (congratulations?) but also that somewhere in that gap is the difference between a deficit too big to keep adding more, and one not too big. In other words, that the difference is relevant to this discussion. Otherwise, you're just picking nits, then crowing about it. The soft bigotry of low expectations.

  2. Quaker in a BasementJune 6, 2013 at 7:56 PM

    Gail Collins wrote a real column today.

    We live in amazing times.

  3. Good point, Quaker. I hadn't realized that the 2013 deficit had fallen so much. The ongoing deficit could still rise to over a trillion:

    The CBO Deficit Projection show the deficit rising to $.895 trillion in 2020. Their alternative projection shows the deficit rising to $1.22 trillion in 2020.

    and click on read complete document

    1. Quaker in a BasementJune 6, 2013 at 11:20 PM

      Projections for 2020? Surely by then we'll have a sensible middle-of-the-road Republican president who will slash tax rates and have us swimming in federal revenue.

  4. I used to have the greatest respect for TDH's education posts. But the crazy is seeping in there, too. After the teaser: "Even the brightest college kid in the country has been brainwashed about the state of the public schools," I did click through. The main thrust of the Liao piece is that primary and secondary school teaching is not particularly well paid or high status. To help make that point, she throws in a couple lines about teachers in China and Scandinavia. Lines which are technically correct; there are higher performing countries in those regions (Finland and Singapore spring to mind).
    How is it that a college student's essay on why greater incentives may be needed to draw top students into teaching careers is somehow evidence of brainwashing? Because she fails to state exactly where the US ranks internationally?

    Can't wait to see the hit piece on Sirota who wrote an engaging and energetic piece in Salon that hit pretty much every theme that TDH claims to care about.

    1. The original mention of Liao's article contained high praise. The sad part is she's reading from the same script as the Swells. The "well established crisis" is that the teaching profession is attracting bottom feeders instead of corporate attorneys. Then some platitudes about Chinese elders. Why not just a little acknowledgement, or just knowledge of the fact that a lot of hard work, by both students and teachers, has led to impressive improvement? Enough to even take pride in.

    2. "Why not just a little acknowledgement, or just knowledge of the fact that a lot of hard work, by both students and teachers, has led to impressive improvement?"

      That would've been great--but it's not the piece that Liao wanted to write. She wrote about her own considerations in determining whether to enter teaching as a career. That's a valid topic as well. TDH does get to select the topics for others--not Kessler and not Liao either.

    3. Liao complains that teaching doesn't provide adequate social prestige, yet, in keeping with the script, offers no respect for those currently in the field. That's a pretty big blind spot. She states that it's a "crisis" that "elites" like her and her friends are opting for careers in finance, media, and corporate law. Who needs her. Teachers should be well compensated, but it's not a field best suited for fast buck artists, self-promoters and social climbers. Those are the kind of people that need to be marginalized, not teaching our kids.

    4. MF,

      Your complaint about Liao's blind spot is an entirely different claim than the baloney advanced in the TDH post: that Liao was brainwashed about the state of the public schools.

      Anyway, the expected hit piece on Sirota is out. You can try changing the subject over in that thread because TDH readers aren't buying that post either.

  5. It's sinking in a little, Mr. Somerby.

    Here's a superintendent in VA who makes your point about the "achievement gap":

    1. Thanks for this link. On the off chance that not everyone here will go over to the Washington Post site and read the article:

      Virginia lawmakers approved school reforms earlier this year that included a new A-F system of grading individual schools. Gov. Bob McDonnell championed the change, saying it was an easy way for parents to understand how well their children’s schools were actually doing. Critics think otherwise.

      In the following important post, Mark Lineburg, the superintendent of schools in Bristol, Va., his assistant superintendent, and two academic researchers challenge the soundness of McDonnell’s new reform, arguing that the grading system will unfairly affect high-poverty schools and that these schools perform better than commonly believed....[:]

      [I]n a demographic comparison of Bristol City school division, where I am superintendent, to the affluent and similarly-sized Falls Church school division, Falls Church has a poverty rate of 7%, which is hardly comparable to the 65% served by Bristol City. Interestingly, Falls Church enrolled 155 students who were classified as economically disadvantaged, a number that barely exceeded our 145 homeless students; and while we serve nearly 1,500 economically-disadvantaged students, we are graded on the same performance scale as Falls Church despite having almost 1000% more economically disadvantaged students on our class rolls.

      A simple mathematical analysis allows us to project the data for Falls Church, and if they had the same poverty rate as Bristol City then Bristol would score 4 percent better on overall English tests than Falls Church over the past three-year cycle. In other words, if Falls Church had Bristol’s 62% poverty rate (in 2012) and applied their pass rate for economically-disadvantaged students to that projected number, Bristol would out-perform them on the overall pass rate by four points.

      To further clarify, Bristol City out-performed Loudoun County for mathematics in 2012 for both economically disadvantaged students and students who were not disadvantaged. See table below. However, only 17% of Loudoun County’s students are considered economically disadvantaged, and 51% of that population passed their mathematics tests.

      This means that they can fall back on the 83% of their students who are not economically disadvantaged and who passed their end of course math tests at a rate of 80%. Conversely in Bristol, the majority of our students are economically disadvantaged; and while we outpaced Loudoun County for students fitting both economic descriptions, our 81% pass rate for the 36% of our students who are not economically disadvantaged is not enough to offset our 51% pass rate for the 64% of our students who are....
      <<<<<[End indent]

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