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Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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7 Responses

  1. Avatar Will says:

    I’m sympathetic to a lot of what you have to say, E.D., but comparing Sweden’s educational system to the United States’ is a bit too apples to oranges for my taste. No matter what Jeb Bush says about immigrants from Baghdad and Somalia, Sweden will always enjoy an incredible level of cultural homogeneity that contributes to educational success. I’m not sure how that translates to the American experience.Report

  2. Avatar Joseph says:

    Erik,

    I agree. We need creative solutions to education, and it’s really really tough to figure out what to do. And the twisty ties between education and poverty just make it harder. I know you benefited from school vouchers in Canada, and I have no problem with them in principle at all. In the US though, they seem to mostly be used as a weapon against the entire idea of public education, with every dollar going to a voucher being taken away from the education of a child in public school. That isn’t fair, it isn’t helpful, it isn’t productive. It’s just favoritism and reflexive government-bashing, and exactly what happened when Bush was in charge.

    So honestly, this coming from Jeb Bush is really rich. Yes Jebby, let’s cut school funding and make education totally dependent on a poorly-designed standardized test (administered by Neil Bush’s company of course) that only covers two subjects, and then exempt anyone who uses vouchers to go to a private school. That’ll show those lazy spoiled teachers who are solely responsible for the poor state of our educational system!

    Okay, sorry. I’m just really really bitter.

    Look, I’m 24 and have lived in Florida my whole life. Bush’s policies as governor directly hurt my educational experience. They drove up dropout rates, and forced the school to fire some of their very best teachers for being engaging and creative. And at the same time, he decimated the state child welfare system, leading to kids being lost, molested, and killed while in state custody .

    So of course he’s putting the cart before the horse – his long term goal is kill the horse, to do to public education what his appointees did to Rilya Wilson.Report

  3. Personally, I don’t think anything is wrong with the way we educate our kids. I think it is the outside factors. The anti-tax jihad is one. The other is the unstable environment outside of school for a lot of kids(poverty … broken homes). I rarely hear anyone address the poverty issue.Report

  4. Avatar E.D. Kain says:

    I’m sympathetic to a lot of what you have to say, E.D., but comparing Sweden’s educational system to the United States’ is a bit too apples to oranges for my taste.

    Indeed, Will. That’s exactly the problem. Still, it’s important to find examples of functioning systems around the world and then cull what we can from them to use to self-improve. This goes for healthcare as well.

    Joseph and Calvin, I completely agree. This is my concern with how we fund schools–both in terms of the faulty property tax model, and with the local dependence on State and Federal help. It’s all well and good when a pro-education governor or President is in office, but then when that changes BAM! everything drops off. So we either need to start pushing for Constitutional changes that protect education funding, or we need to find a way to become less dependent on the state and federal government for funding. I don’t know how viable that option is, but right now in AZ we’re feeling such enormous budget pinches it’s unreal. it’s truly devastating.Report

  5. Avatar Freddie says:

    The reasons to oppose vouchers remain very simple: those asking for change can point to neither convincing empirical evidence that demonstrates positive change, nor to a meaningful description of the causal mechanism that is supposed to create the beneficial change. And many of the more honest proponents of vouchers admit as much.

    If you can’t tell me why you think something will work, and you can’t give me evidence that it does work, and what you’re talking about impacts the fundamental architecture of our system, I have to oppose you.Report

  6. Avatar E.D. Kain says:

    Right, Freddie, which is why at this point in time I oppose vouchers. I think they would only do more harm. However, I think we do need to come up with alternative methods to improve education, including trade schools, charter and magnet schools, etc. Eventually, should we increase the living standards of more people, then maybe we can look into systems such as Sweden’s, but that time is not now, and typically the proponents of vouchers are being driven by pure ideology (cut all things public from the world, and privatize the bloody universe!) and not by a strong knowledge of how education works.

    That said, the current state of affairs in my local school system is making me seriously consider sending my daughter to Catholic school….Report

  7. Avatar Jaybird says:

    “those asking for change can point to neither convincing empirical evidence that demonstrates positive change, nor to a meaningful description of the causal mechanism that is supposed to create the beneficial change. ”

    Coming from a wacky libertarian angle, it seems to me that you should only prevent it if you can point to convincing empirical evidence that demonstrates negative change.

    It strikes me as a “freedom/liberty” thing and the burden of proof ought be on those arguing that we ought not allow people to do this rather than on those who want to be able to do it.

    The places where vouchers were tested resulted in negligible change, as far as I can tell… isn’t the benefit that comes from people choosing this, rather than having it chosen for them, a positive good in and of itself?Report