The culture that is Kansas

by on July 11, 2016 at 2:24 am in Current Affairs, Education, Political Science | Permalink

“Some have begun to call public schools ‘government schools,’ a calculated pejorative scorning both education and anything related to government,” he [Davis Merritt] wrote.

That elicited a response from Bob Weeks, the host of “WichitaLiberty.TV,” a show about Kansas politics and public affairs.

“It is surprising to me that liberals and progressives object to the term ‘government schools,’” he said on the show. “They like government, don’t they? These people want more taxation and government spending, don’t they? Well, when we think about our public schools, we find they have all the characteristics of government programs.”

That is from Julie Bosman at the NYT.

1 prior_test2 July 11, 2016 at 2:39 am

Next up, ‘government libraries,’ followed by ‘government parks.’

And if those work out, the toll road industry just might give a test ride to the idea of having people reject ‘government roads.’ After all, people driving on public roads are probably in favor of more taxation and government spending, a mind set that is a real challenge for toll road operators to face in the marketplace.

2 Lord July 11, 2016 at 8:05 am

And government social security, government medicare, government military, government food and drug inspectors, government space program, government water and sewer, government trash, ..

3 Joan July 11, 2016 at 11:41 am

They tried to make social security and Medicare unpopular by calling them socialist programs, it not only failed but now a large faction of the young think socilism is a good thing and are voting for Bernie.

4 Joan come now July 12, 2016 at 2:28 pm

Joan, I would hazard a guess that this phenomena has more to do with our failing public education. Our government schools are notoriously bad, and they are incentivized to teach youngsters that anything government is good.

5 Josh July 11, 2016 at 8:48 am

I think it’s actually a useful alteration. It signifies that the schools are no longer controlled the the community but are controlled by an outside force which is not part of the people of Kansas or of witchita. That the schools are funded by taxation is a red herring the issue is who de facto controls the socialization of the children and it clearly not the “public” in any meaningful sense.

6 prior_test2 July 11, 2016 at 8:50 am

As if school boards were only a figment of the imagination.

7 Govco July 11, 2016 at 9:09 am

School boards have negligible roles in school curriculum and workplace conditions.

8 prior_test2 July 11, 2016 at 9:20 am

Of course not – the very idea that the school board actually runs the school system is absurd.

Why, this is the sort of trivialities that Fairfax County School Board discusses, referring to Monday, July 18, 2016 – compensation and budget being items one and two on the agenda. Other agenda items include school facilities.

Not that such discussions would have any place in school curriculum (deciding the budget for new textbooks/materials has no effect on curricilum at all, one assumes) and workplace conditions (obviously, how much teachers are paid or the condition of the schools they work in has no place in discussing workplace conditions).

9 Govco July 11, 2016 at 9:23 am

Nonresponsive to what I wrote.

10 prior_test2 July 11, 2016 at 9:30 am

I provide a link to the agenda of a school board responsible for a school system with a budget of over 2.6 billion dollars, pointing out that it determines the pay, budget, and facilities of that school system (which includes such things as which materials are bought or and classroom size in terms of facilities), and the best you can come up with is ‘non-responsive?’

11 (Not That) Bill O'Reilly July 11, 2016 at 9:55 am

The size of the budget, and what the Board “decides” to use it on, isn’t a meaningful indicator without context of where the budget comes from and what strings, if any, are attached.

12 adam July 11, 2016 at 10:07 am

Anyone with even a smidge of experience in public school administration knows that the local school board’s ability to spend the budget, set the curriculum, etc. is tightly constrained by federal and state requirements. They have very little freedom of movement.

13 Govco July 11, 2016 at 10:20 am

I said “curriculum” and “workplace condition” but priortest didn’t read that far before scurrying off to google for non responsive link.

14 albatross July 11, 2016 at 11:47 am

Federal bureaucratic and court mandates definitely impose some restrictions on what the local school administration can do, but I don’t know how much impact that has on school curriculum or workplace conditions. The local public schools where I live definitely make big decisions on curriculum, establish magnet / gifted programs, etc.

I have the vague impression that the main place the court mandates land is in requiring specific services and associated paperwork for special ed kids, banning overt racial discrimination, and sometimes doing associated stuff like ordering kids bussed from one district to another to reach a desired racial mix, or ordering funds transferred from a richer district to a poorer one. But I am definitely not an expert–is there a good source of data on this?

15 mulp July 11, 2016 at 2:33 pm

Right, the Texas school book board determines the content of the majority of textbooks because it determines the largest single order of textbooks in the US.

In Kansas, textbook orders are made school by school selecting from the winner and losers of the Texas rfq.

One of the lures of ebooks is elimination of the power of Texas over textbook content.

I note that in my town, a minority Christian right got a one vote majority on the school board and then started making proposals that suddenly made the local control of schools clear to parents and students and made the school board meetings heavily attended. That lasted two years until one of them was defeated and the head of the movement resigned from the school having lost control.

Around the same time, an anti-tax movement got cuts to the town and school budgets and got various building funds and such used for tax cuts, with my $6000 bill going down $150, only to go back up in two years as the taxpayers demanded services restored.

We have town meeting government which means 10% of taxpayers typically determine the size of town public works and schools. Selectmen (elected) execute, as well as propose budgets, so big changes are hard at the public meetings and they can be extended into additional days, bringing more voices in opposition to change.

As a resident of New Hampshire, local government is responsible for half of my taxes, other than FICA which has always been to my benefit, over the majority of my life. The size of the property tax is increased by good public services, directly in the quality of the road that passes by, and in the school quality that inflate land prices and the prices of old housing. Improving the town increases our contribution to State government, mostly in property taxes.

The libertarian Free State Project picked NH as the State they would take over. My conclusion is self interest destroys the ideology of those determined to eliminate government. Getting rid of government means getting rid of the things that make your property worth buying: roads, schools, public safety, a network of businesses creating a good economy, etc.

16 SamChevre July 11, 2016 at 10:20 am

School boards that actually control schools are a figment of the imagination.

Let’s say the local school board decides to hire only teachers of “good moral character” and judges that themselves in accordance with community standards (in a slightly-more-traditional than average town); how do you expect the government (bureaucrats and judges) to react?

Or, maybe, they’d prefer that the curriculum the pre-politicization view of the causes of the War between the States; think that will actually happen?

Or, let’s say the local school board think the curriculum should reflect explicitly Christian values; how do you expect that to go?

How about setting standards for school discipline and attendance, that they think will maximize the amount the students at school learn?

School boards don’t control schools in any recognizable fashion; they could have done all those things in 1950, when they did.

17 Govcor July 11, 2016 at 10:24 am

Right, so calling it “government” makes sense, it’s a colloquial term for “I have no effing idea which branch is accountable and can be reasoned with, but it’s somewhere in the government”.

18 mulp July 11, 2016 at 2:46 pm

How it goes is the good Christians in the community react negatively to the bigotry of the school board trying to implement a “good Christian” curriculum?

Been there, seen that.

The bigots lost their school board majority in the next election at which point the leader resigned, and things went quickly back to normal. The preacher then moved on and that church moderated and expanded their school with an increase in home schooling. Even that school has dropped the school uniform that was one of the plan to remove temptation to sin from school.

19 ertdfg July 13, 2016 at 1:55 pm

Go to your local school board; ask about modifying the school lunch menus at one school.
Then find out this is controlled by the “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010” and is under Federal control.

But school lunch menus are of critical importance to education…
The school board will only do things of less importance, right?

Well, after the State picks their priorities from the ones the Federal Government hasn’t picked up to control of course…

20 JK Brown July 11, 2016 at 1:38 pm

I was just reading over at Instapundit how the University of California had shifted to being government schools as opposed to public schools. Seems they increasing reject California residents in favor of out-of-state and foreign students who pay hire tuition. They are still owned and operated by the government but are increasingly less open to the public (CA residents).

21 Matthew July 11, 2016 at 4:32 pm

“Government libraries”

Yes, and this is of course a massive government buggy-whip preservation program.

22 peri July 11, 2016 at 4:33 pm

Kansas has – I believe – a unique national park arrangement. It’s a tallgrass prairie. The signs indicate it’s a part of our National Park System – but it is privately-owned, nearly all of it, by the Nature Conservancy. This quirk evidently mollified some Kansas pols who definitely couldn’t see the forest for the trees*, as to where one draws the line re intrusive government. (It’s not *every aspect of your life* and 3 million checks disbursed a month – it’s something government does well and appropriately, national parks. Just so you know, that’s where to take your stand when the private life in America is dead.)

Almost undoubtedly the Nature Conservancy makes payments in lieu of taxes to the local county or however they collect property taxes in Kansas, so they can buy those new textbooks every year, as our knowledge of algebra grows exponentially and renders last year’s books out of date; or so they can fund social services for the victims of meth; or so they can buy off the people we decided we didn’t need anymore, who once made a living – however tenuous – on the land.

*Could think of no grassy metaphor.

23 BC July 11, 2016 at 3:29 am

“It is surprising to me that liberals and progressives object to the term ‘government schools,’” he said on the show. “They like government, don’t they?”

I’ve never understood why those that look favorably upon government, taxpayer subsidies, wealth redistribution, etc. object to labeling their favored programs as government, taxpayer subsidized, wealth redistribution, etc. In the case of schools, the term “government schools” would seem especially apt since both government and non-government schools are open to the public. In fact, it’s the government schools that will turn you away if you happen to not live in the right neighborhood. I could understand why liberals might object to terms like “neighborhood-exclusive schools” for government schools and “choice schools” or “open schools” for non-government schools, even though those terms would also capture the salient differences. But, government schools vs. non-government or private schools would seem to be about as descriptively neutral as possible.

24 anon July 11, 2016 at 8:02 am

Doesn’t “government” imply national for most people?

Given huge differences between adjacent school districts, I find it kind of idiotic, to be honest. Or perhaps Kansas is different, and the State exerts high control and uniformity? In which case Kansas State schools would be accurate and specific.

25 Brian Donohue July 11, 2016 at 8:34 am

Don’t project your woolly thinking onto the larger population.

26 prior_test2 July 11, 2016 at 8:49 am

What wooly thinking – when you go to a park, do you call it a ‘government park?’ Or do you call it a national park, a state park, a regional/county park? The distinction is common to make, after all – if only because the U.S, actually has different governments in charge of different things. And education is the responsibility of local governments, not the ‘government.’ And those who work in a local school system are generally called ‘school/school system employees,’ not ‘government employees.’

27 Josh July 11, 2016 at 8:55 am

You are missing the rhetorical point. They are disowning the schools in recognition that the are a tool of an oligarchical elite. its not a dismissal of government as such.

28 prior_test2 July 11, 2016 at 9:04 am

‘They are disowning the schools in recognition that the are a tool of an oligarchical elite.’

To repeat the question – hasn’t anyone heard of local school boards?

Or, if we are talking about state universities, the idea that universities are broadly autonomous in a way that few state organizations are ever allowed to be?

29 Brian Donohue July 11, 2016 at 9:28 am

The canonical government punching bag is the DMV- that’s a state institution.

My HOA is a layer of government. I refer to national parks as ‘national parks’, state parks as ‘state parks’, and municipal parks as ‘parks’. The thing about parks is that there’s not a whole lot of governing to do, so the adjective ‘government’ sits oddly there, but in just about all the other examples, it fits just fine. If you think it’s pejorative, maybe you’re not quite the fan of government you claim to be or at the least you recognize a massive PR problem your side faces.

You people are insane with whatever petty, nonexistent point you are insisting on making here.

30 prior_test2 July 11, 2016 at 9:38 am

‘insane with whatever petty, nonexistent point you are insisting on making here’

Well, let me repeat the point from the very first comment, responding to someone talking how public schools should be called government schools, which seems pretty insane compared to commonplace usage.

Do you call your local public library a government library? When you drive on public roads, do you call them government roads?

Someone below posted a wikipedia link to public goods. Should that article be renamed to ‘government goods?’

31 anon July 11, 2016 at 9:41 am

Brian has led himself into a trap. He is forced to argue that since he lacks discernment, everyone does.

32 Brian Donohue July 11, 2016 at 10:57 am

So you guys do think it’s pejorative, eh?

Way not to own it, hypocrites.

33 BC July 11, 2016 at 10:59 am

@prior_test2: “Do you call your local public library a government library? When you drive on public roads, do you call them government roads?”

If we were trying to distinguish between government-run libraries and privately-run libraries or government-maintained roads and privately-maintained roads, all of which were open to the public to use, then those would indeed be appropriate terms. For example, a “private road” is usually one which the general public *cannot* use, even if they were willing to pay a toll.

The point is that in primary and secondary education we have schools run by the government and schools run by non-governmental entities. We don’t have schools run by federal, state, and local governments, so there is no need for the terminology federal, state, and local/municipal schools. “Private” schools are not like “private roads”, which are closed off from public use, so the public vs. private terminology doesn’t really capture the distinction between the two types of schools.

I first heard the term “government schools” in discussions about school choice and vouchers. Vouchers still provide for public *financing* of education, so the terms public and private are especially non-descriptive. The salient difference between the two types of schools is in who runs the schools, government or non-governmental entities.

34 ladderff July 11, 2016 at 11:16 am

Broadly autonomous and broadly indistinguishable. They should be liquidated immediately.

35 prior_test2 July 11, 2016 at 8:36 am

Pretty much nailed it – I was a student of the government schools run by Fairfax County. Which pretty much seems to turn the whole point on its head, in a way. The government schools of Fairfax rely on the taxation of Fairfax County landowners for much of their funding, and to be honest, most voters in Fairfax County were completely fine with being taxed for this purpose while living in one of the better national school districts.

36 Josh July 11, 2016 at 8:51 am

What huge differences? What’s truly shocking is that students in California and Florida will learn the same subjects in the same order from the same textbooks written by the same professors from the same universities taught by teachers trained using the same methods, etc.

Even experimental fads are adopted nationally without regard to local culture or custom.

37 anon July 11, 2016 at 9:09 am

I grew up in an LA suburb, while my dad taught in LA city schools. At the time our suburb actually got less funding per student, but was also less political, more experimental. Would we have used the same books? I kind of doubt it.

Perhaps that has changed? Is there data?

38 Gasbag July 11, 2016 at 9:12 am

You want data to challenge your vague anecdote?

39 anon July 11, 2016 at 9:16 am

Sure, I am curious, open minded.

But starting with dinner table knowledge of “inside LA City Schools” is not starting with nothing.

40 anon July 11, 2016 at 9:28 am

If you are more than a conversational gnat, try reading this:

Common Core has an impact, but the confusion in that article makes clear that it implementated with variation.

Should your schools use Windows, iPad, or Chromebook? School board decision, along with what educational frameworks to implement with them.

41 prior_test2 July 11, 2016 at 9:09 am

If you think that Fairfax County Public Schools teaches the same things as the West Virginia Jefferson County Schools or the District of Columbia Public Schools, I really don’t know what to say to change your apparently deeply held beliefs.

42 Joan July 11, 2016 at 11:27 am

My children transferred from DC public schools to Faitfax County public schools in 3rd and 6th grade long before there was a common core. Even then curriculum was similar enough that they did not have any academic problems and what they found most surprising was that most of their teachers were White instead of Black Maybe it is you who should rethink your deeply held beliefs.

43 prior_test2 July 11, 2016 at 11:50 am

Maybe – but when DC manages to have high schools at the same level as McLean, Langley, Madison, or Woodson, let me know.

My sister is an elementary school teacher in Fairfax, by the way – and the variation in elementary schools is not exactly small, depending on where the school is. Fairfax has almost 140 elementary schools – some superb by any measure (think the schools feeding McLean or Madison), others probably still stacking up pretty well compared to many other school systems, even if by Fairfax standards they are below average.

But yes, I was actually thinking high schools, without even wanting to mention Thomas Jefferson.

44 (Not That) Bill O'Reilly July 11, 2016 at 12:58 pm

There’s a non-trivial distinction between what the schools attempt to teach and what they successfully impart, and difference in the latter are explained by many more factors than just the former.

45 Cliff July 12, 2016 at 5:23 pm


Swap the students and voila.

46 Mo July 11, 2016 at 10:14 am

This is pretty false. While in grad school, I volunteered to help teach math at a local school targeting underprivledged kids in Indiana. One of the issues the school had was that students moved around a lot and while the same subjects were covered over the course of a year, due to state requirements, they were frequently in a different order. Because these kids would frequently change schools (if their parents got a new job, a different living situation, etc.). they would often miss a few topics, learn some topics multiple times, etc. If a single, moderately sized state doesn’t have consistency in math curriculum, then there’s no way it’s happening nationwide.

47 (Not That) Bill O'Reilly July 11, 2016 at 10:43 am

If a single, moderately sized state doesn’t have consistency in math curriculum, then there’s no way it’s happening nationwide.

But . . .

the same subjects were covered over the course of a year


48 BC July 11, 2016 at 10:31 am

@anon: “Doesn’t ‘government’ imply national for most people?”

I don’t think so. When someone says that the government shouldn’t restrict abortion, they don’t mean that the federal government shouldn’t but state laws that restrict abortion are ok.

49 John L. July 11, 2016 at 8:39 am

“In the case of schools, the term “government schools” would seem especially apt since both government and non-government schools are open to the public.”
Hahaha. Open… This is literally rich.

50 Thomas July 11, 2016 at 9:11 am

The left is quick to label as “public” all manner of privately owned businesses that are not private clubs.

51 prior_test2 July 11, 2016 at 9:23 am

Yep, that idea of ‘public accomodations’ is a fine example. Up to the outrage of forcing such places to comply with ADA –

‘Public Accommodations and Commercial Facilities (Title III)

Title III prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in the activities of places of public accommodations (businesses that are generally open to the public and that fall into one of 12 categories listed in the ADA, such as restaurants, movie theaters, schools, day care facilities, recreation facilities, and doctors’ offices) and requires newly constructed or altered places of public accommodation—as well as commercial facilities (privately owned, nonresidential facilities such as factories, warehouses, or office buildings)—to comply with the ADA Standards.’

52 Cliff July 12, 2016 at 5:24 pm

Does Germany have an ADA? France doesn’t

53 Unanimous July 11, 2016 at 9:43 pm

This is what public originally meant. “Pub” is short for public bar. In many countries public school refers to non-government schools because any member from the public is eligible to go, whereas most government schools have a local bias.

54 TGGP July 11, 2016 at 9:28 am

In the UK they use the term “state school” for what we would call “public school”, and “public school” for what we would call “private school”.

55 mulp July 11, 2016 at 4:19 pm

We the People have a republican form of government that provides services to the public, the polis, the people. Traditionally not all persons have been included, but the objective was more perfect union, not a perfect union.

It is our republic if we can keep it.

Those who want to take our Republic away try to make it alien and thus not ours.

Those who want you to reject public, of and by for the people like you, seek to government as the majority of the majority. By one group gaining majority, all the minorities are eliminated from the public, so now it comes down to what the majority of the majority wants.

“Government” is that which does not do what you want when you think you are in the majority in power and your find you aren’t because of traitors who ally themselves with the losers in the minority.

Public is inclusive of majority and minorities. No winners and losers.

A public road serves the rich and poor, which means you must contend with people on bicycles, or else provide roads for bicycles equal to your road for cars.

(Half the roads are built with taxes on property or residents served by roads.)

And I’ve never seen a business call for more illiterate people to hire so the business can educate them to do work from scratch because they do it cheaper than “government” out of savings in taxes. But the school curriculum is tailored to the needs of businesses to a very large degree, not to the needs of citizens. I was taught civics in the 50s and 60s, and having no kids, was surprised to learn it had been largely dropped from justice emeritus O’Connor. Ironically, that civics education was highly “American exceptionalist” by emphasizing how superior we were to the commies, who counter attacked by pointing out the denial of rights to non-whites in the US. The American exceptionalism taught in civics demanded support for civil rights by the white taught civics.

And why don’t you look at this Texas curriculum, the one for middle school on this page:
In the pdf:
What IS local government, anyway?
At some time in your life you have probably learned about federalism and the fact that government in our nation is shared among the federal, state, and local levels. This simple division gets a little more complicated when you realize that there is not just one “local level” the way there is just one “federal level” or one “state level” for Texas. In fact, even in your very own city or town, there is not just one “local level” of government. Altogether in our state, even though there are fewer than 1,500 cities, there are more than 4,000 local government units that make decisions and provide services for people.
1. Just for fun, list as many local government units as you can think of in your ________________________________________
Many of these local governmental units perform special functions. In 1990, for example, Texas had 1,892 special districts and 1,113 school districts, in addition to its 1,171 cities and 254 counties. Right this minute, the only one of those numbers that is still probably accurate is the number of counties, which has stayed the same for over 100 years. The number of cities and special districts has been increasing steadily since that count was made in 1990. On the other hand, the number of school districts has been shrinking as districts merge together to provide better opportunities for students at a lower cost.
2. Why do you think the number of cities and special districts in Texas is increasing?

56 Agra Brum July 11, 2016 at 8:25 pm

If it has been called “public school” for 150 years and then a hard right government tries to change the labeling, what purpose is there other than subtle propaganda?
True conservatism would respect the traditional names of a long-standing institution.

57 MyName July 11, 2016 at 8:36 pm

The reason why “government schools” is objectionable is the same reason “marxist schools”, “christian schools”, and “muslim schools” may be objectionable to people. Because it implies that the primary thing the schools teach is indoctrination into whatever the government approves of.
But this is really a side battle in the larger issue of school funding in Kansas, which the State government has short changed for 10+ years to the point where the State Supreme Court has threatened to shutdown *all* public schools unless the state starts funding them at an acceptable level and stops shifting the funding formula so that the richest schools are able to bypass this shortfall through local taxes while the poorer districts are left to bear the brunt of the cuts.
And that’s setting aside the higher education budget which has been cut over the last 15+ years to the point where it’s almost inaccurate to call them government funded. Glad I’ve left the state, but wish my nieces and nephews didn’t have to pay the price for whatever funding experiment the governor is trying to justify.

58 HL July 11, 2016 at 11:10 pm

Kansas spending per pupil is roughly the same as California’s

59 seriously July 12, 2016 at 1:28 am

As long as we’re on the “let us accurately describe an entity’s true nature in its name” train, might we call banks “gain privitzation, loss socialization wealth redistribution schemes”?

Done and done.

60 Donald Pretari July 11, 2016 at 3:57 am

Any idea how man government farms there are in Kansas?

61 Axa July 11, 2016 at 6:41 am

Well played: 68% of Kansas farms are government farms

62 dan1111 July 11, 2016 at 6:49 am

Farm subsidies are a bad policy, and conservatives who want limited government yet support subsidies are being inconsistent. They deserve to be called out.

But still, receiving a subsidy does not make you property of the government.

63 ABV July 11, 2016 at 7:05 am

Farmers are generally supportive of government, but there aren’t many of them left anymore. Nearly 75% of Kansans live in urban areas and the rural areas depopulate more every year.

64 john July 11, 2016 at 7:44 am

So how many government meth labs then?

65 John L. July 11, 2016 at 8:41 am

Keep your government’s hands off my high!

66 ABV July 11, 2016 at 9:18 am

Ha! Missouri and Oklahoma definitely have a comparative advantage in the meth lab industry. Kansas is dominated nowadays by Johnson County. It’s the fancy ‘burbs for Kansas City where everyone has moved for – wait for it – better schools!

There is definitely some disconnect in the discourse vs. the reality on the ground. This school budget thing is more a minor annoyance in the grand scheme.

67 Art Deco July 11, 2016 at 11:19 am

Kansas is dominated nowadays by Johnson County.

About 1/4 of the population of Kansas lives in Johnson and Wyandotte Counties. It has a medical center and a branch campus of the University of Kansas, but no other state college or university. Seven of the 10 largest employers in Kansas are headquartered elsewhere. The last governor to grow up there or make his career there left office in 1979.

68 HL July 11, 2016 at 11:28 am

Thanks for making the point Art. A quarter of the population and 30% of the largest employers are in two counties in the KC Metro area.

Johnson County Community College is an impressive campus that could rival the state schools in Hays or Emporia. Many kids going to KU go to JCCC to pick up cheaper general ed requirements.

69 Art Deco July 11, 2016 at 12:31 pm

I’m not making the point, your arbitrary assertions notwithstanding. ‘Domination’ is a word with a specific meaning, and you and he misuse it.

70 HL July 11, 2016 at 1:00 pm

Fair enough, forgive the hyperbole.

Would you say that NYC dominates the state of New York? The ratios are more extreme.

2015 estimates:

JC/WC: 740,000 KS: 2,900,000 or 25.5% of the population

NYC: 8,550,000 NY: 19,795,000 or 43% of the population.

in 1990:

JC/WC: 518,000 KS: 2,477,000 or 20.9% of population

NYC: 7,322,000 NY: 17,990,000 or 40.7% of population

There’s certainly a growth of the KC burbs relative to the rest of the state. Johnson County especially. It is generally the wealthiest and nicest part of the state to live in excepting for some enclaves here and there in other metro areas. To an extent it has reached saturation and the surrounding counties are beginning to experience growth, mostly along I-35 and 169.

The meth labs are more likely to be found in SE Kansas or maybe out west which is rather desolate.

71 Art Deco July 11, 2016 at 2:00 pm

Funny you should mention it. Although not related to populations I do know a good number of NYC based dominatrixes I can personally recommend

72 Art Deco July 11, 2016 at 2:18 pm

Can we please oust the sock puppet?

73 Art Deco July 11, 2016 at 3:32 pm

Would you say that NYC dominates the state of New York? The ratios are more extreme.

Fully 65% of New York State’s population lives Downstate and 43% lives in the Five Boroughs. New York’s public universities are, for the most part, Upstate. However, the private research universities have a larger census. You have 140,000 enrolled in the Five Boroughs v. 70,000 Upstate. Six out of the largest 10 employers in the state with local headquarters have their offices in New York City. As for the state’s major pols, NYC pols (or plutocrats with NYC residences) have since 1955 held the governor’s chair about 80% of the time, have held the attorney-general’s office > 90% of the time, have held the state comptroller’s office about 75% of the time, and have held the Assembly speaker’s chair about 75% of the time (in fact, Manhattan pols have held that job 40 years straight).

74 msgkings July 11, 2016 at 3:33 pm

The blog hosts you so enjoy insulting are probably amused by the sock puppeting.

75 Art Deco July 11, 2016 at 4:56 pm

The blog hosts appreciate useful and thoughtful commentary. The sock puppet is clearly a disturbed individual who follows me from blog to blog always using different identities and voices.

76 JWatts July 11, 2016 at 5:39 pm

“The sock puppet is clearly a disturbed individual who follows me from blog to blog always using different identities and voices.”

It’s unfortunate that the forum doesn’t require passwords and actual logins. …. And maybe a Preview button.

77 Roy LC July 11, 2016 at 4:31 am

Why the assumption that it is meant to be perjorative of education? Oh that is from Davis Merritt font of “Public Journalism” and completely impartial observer, well surely he is just telling it with neither fear nor favor…

Religious conservatives of the sort Davis, and the NYTimes, loathe are probably not opposed to education in general, but why let objectivity get in the way.

78 John L. July 11, 2016 at 8:42 am

As long as the poor have no access to it, of course.

79 Dude July 11, 2016 at 9:42 am

If those poor people actually cared, they’d do something about it. Like get an education.

80 John L. July 11, 2016 at 10:35 am

Yeah, of course. Or at least help killing those devilish “government schools”.

81 Roy LC July 11, 2016 at 11:59 am

I may be in error here, and things have changed in the last year, but these same destroyers of the commonwealth have been pushing vouchers pretty darn hard. The entire point being to maintain public supported education while simultaneously privatizing it.

This is a fight over a school funding bill that would allow more charter schools after all. I can certainly understand opposing this, but Davis Merritt and the NYTimes are not exactly objective here, but they are more than some.

82 Barkley Rosser July 11, 2016 at 5:31 am


“Government schools” may turn people away for being from the wrong neighborhood, but non-government schools turn people away for all sorts of reasons, including what religion they are and their level of academic ability, among others.

83 Thomas July 11, 2016 at 9:13 am

Oh to work at a selective institution dependent on government subsidy. Shame.

84 adam July 11, 2016 at 10:18 am

So I assume you object the labeling of state universities as “public universities”? After all, they turn people away for all sorts of reasons, including academic ability, insufficiently athletic, wrong race, etc.

85 albatross July 11, 2016 at 11:56 am

Most commonly, for too-low test scores and grades.

86 Stuart July 11, 2016 at 6:20 am

This at least avoids confusion with the British term “public school”.

87 dearieme July 11, 2016 at 8:45 am

English term. In Scotland they are (or were) called private schools.

88 Carlos Duarte July 11, 2016 at 6:32 am

I suppose that they dislike for the simple reason that it’s wrong. The (federal) State owns the schools, NOT the Government. So State Schools or Federal Schools would be perfectly appropriate. Calling them “Government Schools” would be akin to, in a private manufacturing company “X”, calling the plant ” X board’s factory”.

89 dan1111 July 11, 2016 at 6:46 am

No. “Government” can have a broader sense. Terms like “government buildings” and “government land” are commonly used, and “government schools” would be no different.

90 anon July 11, 2016 at 8:05 am

Not in common use. Government is federal. State, county, and city are specifically named.

Los Angeles City Schools follow this practice exactly.

91 prior_test2 July 11, 2016 at 8:39 am

Fairfax County Public Schools, for another example.

92 JWatts July 11, 2016 at 12:35 pm

“Not in common use. Government is federal. State, county, and city are specifically named.”

Maybe not for you, but I hear government used to apply to Federal, state, county and city all the time. I think you are projecting.

93 Carlos July 12, 2016 at 5:12 am

“Government buildings” makes perfect sense, if said building houses government services (i.e. it’s part of the “machinery” of government). They exist to enforce government policy, rather than serve the public directly (saying that someone like the IRS “serves the public” would really be stressing it). Schools are similar to other public services such as libraries – their goal is to serve the public rather than enforce government policy.

94 Jess Riedel July 11, 2016 at 8:35 am

Folks who say “I work for the government” don’t mean they work for the politicians, they mean they work for the state. This is common usage.

95 Government Cheese July 11, 2016 at 9:15 am


96 Todd July 11, 2016 at 6:49 am

I guess this qualifies as an insult in Kansas, where the state government has conspired to destroy the fiscal competence and economic competitiveness of the state.

97 Ray Lopez July 11, 2016 at 10:03 am

As the meme goes, the Democrats make the best stewards of government, sad but true.

Also I think the Midwest led in the fight against compulsory education, back in the days. Ignorance is strength in the land of the US military, agricultural and mineral subsidy (aka The Midwest).

98 Jay July 11, 2016 at 12:55 pm

I’ll remember that when IL or CA file for chapter 11 or pay refunds in IOU’s or a governor gets indicted AGAIN.

99 dano755 July 11, 2016 at 11:05 pm

“Schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged,” Northwest Ordinance of 1787. Northwest referred to the territory north and west of the Ohio River (AKA the Midwest.)

100 BenK July 11, 2016 at 7:05 am

It’s interesting; because it implies not the ownership, management, or governance, per se, but the client. Schools that serve the needs of the government vs those of the public (when those two are divergent). It had long been said that schools served the needs of industry or commerce; to turn students into workers. That appears on its face to be incorrect; given the educational outcomes. Now the question is whether the schools are producing instead people whose needs and attributes best serve the government. From an analysis of the institutions, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise that the discretionary funding from a concentrated interested party (bureaucrats) as opposed to the obligatory or coerced funding from a diffuse party (local residents) is the more influential in directing the behavior and performance of the management.

The alternatives include church schools (long decried as serving the needs of the church) and family schools (including those paid for by parents with discretionary funds and those actually run by parents in the home).

IS there a way to change the ‘government schools’ back to ‘public schools?’ Perhaps by having the local people decide either to pay with voluntary donations (or to set the local school tax rate without state and federal coercion/contribution). This would likely produce outcomes objectionable to some people outside many communities; which brings us back around to the current conflict.

101 dan1111 July 11, 2016 at 7:34 am

To the extent that the bureaucracy is corrupted to be self-serving, it serves not the institution as an abstract, but its concrete current makeup. A corrupt bureaucracy works for the interests of current bureaucrats. The current government employees do not (generally) realize any concrete benefit from training future government employees, so the education system would not be corrupted to this end.

102 anon July 11, 2016 at 8:13 am

Community centered public school is one of the oldest patterns in American life. It has been hugely successful. It is literally a foundation for Moon shots.

Make it better, don’t treat it like a football in a quick game of partisan politics.

Don’t put the C students in charge.

103 Jeff R. July 11, 2016 at 10:03 am

Public schooling consumes about three times as much resources as it did in the 1970’s and produces the same results. How this can be described as “successful” is beyond me, but if you have any ideas for making it better, by all means…run for your local school board or something. Let us know how it turns out.

104 anon July 11, 2016 at 10:22 am

Huge variation, link

105 anon July 11, 2016 at 10:28 am
106 albatross July 11, 2016 at 12:00 pm

I haven’t read the link (so I’m the problem), but my impression is that a huge amount of the increase in school spending comes down to either:

a. Mandated services for special ed kids

b. Mandated services for underprivileged kids (free lunches, aftercare, etc.)

Neither of these are really in the core mission of teaching the majority of kids to read and do math, preparing them for college or a job or the military, etc. To the extent that schools in 2016 are providing education for the majority of kids, plus a bunch of extra services (specialized education for the kids with special needs who used to be ignored or flunked out, school lunches, anti-drug programs, etc.) that weren’t provided in 1956, a straight comparison of dollars spent probably isn’t fair.

107 Jeff R. July 11, 2016 at 11:17 am

If there’s huge variation in cost and performance, which is true, perhaps your blanket statement that public schooling has been “hugely successful” was a bit wide of the mark, then, yes?

108 fallibilist July 11, 2016 at 7:33 am

Does it matter that this “calculated pejorative” is wholly accurate? That these schools are funded by taxes, which are paid involuntarily by all, as opposed to user fees, which are paid by clients in proportion to the resources that they use?

So the retiree who never had any children must pay school taxes just the same as the single mother of eight children. Is it not at least a question about whether this is equitable?

These government-provided, government-mandated resources necessarily have to take positions on controversial matters: sex education; integration religion in the public square; transmission of American and World History; appropriate standards of dress for the young; the suppression of violence between kids while not overpunishing childish indiscretions, etc.

In a nation that is wildly heterogenous with a withering base of common shared norms, the attempt to administer a sprawling but essential bureaucracy from a central position is failing in increasingly acute and obvious ways.

Look, it would be a “calculated pejorative” (but still arguably accurate) to call these “half-day warehouse/prisons for Americans too young to vote” or, to use a term that is really employed by left-wing activists, they can be called the first half of the “school-to-prison pipeline.”

A basic public-choice analysis is apt here. Under the guise of educating our youth, the government has created a massive middle-class public sector jobs program where many of the employees work in comfortable offices far removed from the Hobbesian state of nature/Lord of the Flies classrooms that they (barely) oversee.

Kansas? Forget Kansas. The whole nation suffers this garbage…together.

109 prior_test2 July 11, 2016 at 8:42 am

‘So the retiree who never had any children’ is still taxed to pay for the military, though they did not provide any potential military members to defend the nation.

Yep, sounds unfair, doesn’t it?

110 fallibilist July 11, 2016 at 8:49 am
111 prior_test2 July 11, 2016 at 8:56 am

Let’s be honest – a well educated citizenry is a higher public good than a professional military, as illustrated by America’s resounding success in WWII.

Further, as illustrated by Germany following WWII, the highest capital good of an industrial society is a well trained workforce, as that workforce is able to rebuild destroyed machinery and facilities so as to recreate an industrial economy.

112 fallibilist July 11, 2016 at 10:07 am

The phrase “public good” is a term of art referring to goods that are non-rivalrous and non-excludable. National defense is a classic example. Clean air is another.

There is no reason the government must control the education process. The returns to schooling are mainly private in the form of higher salaries, improved marketability increased social status, etc. A robust market in education would provide increases in choice, classroom order, best practices, parental satisfaction, etc. and seems obviously appropriate for a vast, diverse, multi-cultural nation.

113 prior_test2 July 11, 2016 at 11:35 am

‘There is no reason the government must control the education process.’

Milton Friedman, in a 60 year old article advocating vouchers that is linked below, disagrees with you.

‘The returns to schooling are mainly private in the form of higher salaries, improved marketability increased social status, etc’

Let me quote Friedman again, as he disagrees with you in a fashion that I fully support – ‘A stable and democratic society is impossible without widespread acceptance of some common set of values and without a minimum degree of literacy and knowledge on the part of most citizens. Education contributes to both. In consequence, the gain from the education of a child accrues not only to the child or to his parents but to other members of the society; the education of my child contributes to other people’s welfare by promoting a stable and democratic society.’

‘A robust market in education would provide increases in choice, classroom order, best practices, parental satisfaction, etc. and seems obviously appropriate for a vast, diverse, multi-cultural nation.’

Here, Friedman is in complete agreement – as long as government is, properly, in charge of defining a standard of education, which comes with sizable costs.

114 MyName July 11, 2016 at 8:50 pm

I don’t know do words matter anymore? I’d say trying to talk down the mission of public schools in order to lower your taxes because you already got your education seems like a special kind of selfishness that is as destructive in its own way as any of the other kinds of “moral decay” preached by most conservative leaders today.

115 rayward July 11, 2016 at 7:41 am

Government funding of “government colleges” across America has been cut by 17% per student since the beginning of the great recession. The 2017 budget in Kansas cut support for “government colleges” in Kansas by almost $31 million. Of course, funding cuts mean tuition increases. Funding cuts also mean more student debt and fewer young men and women who can afford higher education. “Government colleges” were largely responsible for the long period of shared prosperity in America; cuts in funding for “government colleges” will mean more division in America. From time to time Cowen has suggested that America needs to increase investment in “public goods”. “Government schools” would be a good place to start.

116 Engineer July 11, 2016 at 8:17 am

“Of course, funding cuts mean tuition increases.”

Or it could mean reducing expenses and increasing efficiency. Or even admitting fewer marginal students.

When I went to college, it was just assumed full time students would graduate in four years. In recent years, its become quite common for full time students to take and additional semester or three to finish, at huge cost to both the student and the college. The colleges seem to encourage this, and in fact often are managed in ways that students cannot even schedule required courses.

Many colleges spend an inordinate amount of resources attempting remedial education for students who probably shouldn’t be in college to begin with.

117 HL July 11, 2016 at 10:42 am

For all the education cuts the University of Kansas sure has a hell of a lot of construction going on. New dorms, new business building, new environmental science building, new basketball dorms (a dorm for 20 people), new basketball museum(s), new small union under construction in the middle of campus, newish diversity wing added to the Union, newish football practice fields. Campus looks significantly different over the last 10 years. From looking at it I’d say business must be good!

118 MyName July 11, 2016 at 8:56 pm

Yes, and all of those are funded either through private donations or increased fees for students, or both.
The question isn’t whether the University would be better off without all of the nonsense coming from Topeka, but whether the state would be better off if its citizens, who have funded the institution for over a century, no longer had access unless they were able to mortgage their future or have their parents pay for 2x-3x more in tuition. I would not have been able to attend the University without state funding, and that was right before the cuts started in earnest. IMO, it’s worth every penny the government has spent on it and is one of the few drivers of real progress in the State (and I mean tech and scientific, primarily).

119 HL July 11, 2016 at 11:00 pm

I’m sure the state and its citizens are better off indulging the whims of WOW players and Replay Lounge hipster drunkards.

120 Engineer July 11, 2016 at 12:14 pm

Per College Board, the percentage of students who completed a bachelor’s degree within four years:

What seems best benchmark results these days:
89 Princeton
88 Naval Academy
86 Cornell
81 Rice University
80 West Point

Some state flagships schools, and two Kansas schools:
72 University of Michigan
57 University of New Hampshire
55 University of Washington
51 UT Austin
35 University of Mississippi
34 University of Arkasas

32 U Kansas
26 Kansas State

121 HL July 11, 2016 at 12:20 pm

I worked full time and went to university part time for most of my university experience. One of the things that really annoyed me were the fixed fees I had to pay each semester which were a significant percentage of the cost when taking 6 credit hours compared to a normal 12 or more.

122 HL July 11, 2016 at 12:25 pm

Today taking 12 hours a year @ KU costs $3,832 in tuition at $319.30 a credit hour, student fees are an additional $910.

30 hours would be $9,579 in tuition costs. Same $910 in fees.

123 MyName July 11, 2016 at 9:00 pm

Which shows that a number of the students don’t come from wealthy families and have to take fewer hours to work part/full time. Or is it just a coincidence that the Ivy League is the top of the list along with a premiere military organization that pays for 100% of students tuition and room/board in exchange for military service?

124 David Pinto July 11, 2016 at 7:56 am

I think you missed the most important part of the story:

George Lakoff, a linguistics professor at the University of California, Berkeley, has been tracking the trend for decades. He pointed out that the right has been more successful than the left at framing issues related to abortion, health care, labor unions and the concept of government itself, among other issues, with carefully contrived catchphrases: “Tax relief.” “Pro-life.” “The Democrat Party.” “Death panels.” (“Obamacare” was originally an attempt by the right to saddle President Obama with the repercussions of the Affordable Care Act, until he embraced the term himself.)

Besides coining phrases, Dr. Lakoff said, the right has co-opted certain words — a practice that was demonstrated, he said, in President George W. Bush’s second inaugural address, which used “freedom,” “free” or “liberty” 49 times in 20 minutes. “The right has taken over the words ‘freedom’ and ‘liberty,’” Dr. Lakoff said.

Who knew the right was so much better at the left at co-opting words!

125 anon July 11, 2016 at 8:15 am

Well, it is obviously a pattern. The idea of health counseling was not actually discussed. It was made a death panel and anti-discussed.

126 TMC July 11, 2016 at 8:24 am

More accurately, ““The right has taken over the concepts of ‘freedom’ and ‘liberty,’” Or at least have abandoned them less.

127 adam July 11, 2016 at 10:37 am

Geez, I can’t think of any examples where the left has co-opted language. Pro-choice (anti-choice), fair share, investments in [insert spending program here], affirmative action.

128 Urstoff July 11, 2016 at 10:59 am

“assault weapons”, “living wage”

129 adam July 11, 2016 at 11:07 am

Ah, yes, two more great examples.

130 ladderff July 11, 2016 at 11:20 am


131 ladderff July 11, 2016 at 11:19 am


132 Zack July 11, 2016 at 12:56 pm

“reproductive rights,” “women’s health,” “marriage equality,” “undocumented immigrants,” or my new favorite- referring to any law they don’t like as a “loophole.”

133 sort_of_Knowledgeable July 11, 2016 at 11:34 am

White Privilege, the 1%, illegal alien became undocumented worker.

134 Hopaulius July 11, 2016 at 3:07 pm

And this paragraph is preceded by this sentence: “It would not be the first time that conservatives have used semantics to sway public opinion, experts said.” Isn’t this what the NYT does with every word it publishes?

135 JWatts July 11, 2016 at 3:53 pm

“Isn’t this what the NYT does with every word it publishes?”

Well yes, but they don’t like the competition.

136 Sympathy for the Devil July 11, 2016 at 8:24 am

Gambit: Offer to restore funding to universities if, and only iff, they shut down their Sociology dept., women’s studies dept., all NCAA D-1 athletics, American studies dept., Black studies dept., Comparative Literature Dept., English Language and Literature dept., Art History dept. etc. Also necessary is a global administrative hiring freeze and a mandatory pay-cut for all non-teaching staff, from University President to Deans to Provosts and the armies of bureaucrats inhabiting their fiefdoms.

America did pretty well with its Sputnik moment. Maybe we can do it again with a sharper focus on STEM. The current system of basically four years of daily corporate diversity training is producing the graduates who are no smarter than when they were in Pampers.

137 anon July 11, 2016 at 8:39 am

There is no single “current system” to complain about, but that is the fantasy behind the naming and “government schools.”

Interaction between city, county, state, and federal agencies, along with school boards at each level, bring huge national variation.

Darn liberals, understanding the world again.

138 fallibilist July 11, 2016 at 8:55 am

This comment is willfully obtuse, rank pedantry.

The subject of the article was the government of Kansas which, through its legislature, has discretionary control over a significant proportion of the funding for its state university.

And most education reformers would agree that the federal government, via unintended consequences of its higher education funding policies, has contributed significantly to the national crisis in tertiary education affordability.

139 anon July 11, 2016 at 9:13 am

No, you are just not reading carefully.

“Sympathy” broadened the subject to higher education, while treating it as one system to be changed.

I am really tired of “obtuse” by people who aren’t keeping up.

140 8 July 11, 2016 at 9:19 am

The federal government uses regulations and strings attached to federal money to strictly control schools. You cannot have public funding and maintain local control. You have to reject all federal money, which includes all federal loans, and they still might go after a state if it used public funds.

141 anon July 11, 2016 at 9:33 am

There are some good discussions that could be had about that, but I think at the university level I think it is more often money wasted reporting things, than actually shaping content.

Common Core too is something that can be discussed, but labeling it “government schools” as if that explains it, no.

142 Jeff R. July 11, 2016 at 10:13 am

You could always stop commenting if you’re tired of being misunderstood.

143 Ricardo July 11, 2016 at 9:22 am

I would bet the people who gave America the Apollo moon missions were much more informed about literature, classical music and art than their equivalents today.

144 A Definite Beta Guy July 11, 2016 at 9:55 am

You mean steeped in the heritage of our white oppressor class. All the cool kids know you can’t read books by dead white men.

145 albatross July 11, 2016 at 12:06 pm

What would the equivalent be in modern times? The techies working in Silicon Valley? That’s a pretty damned smart, well-read bunch, overall. I expect the Apollo scientists/engineers were similarly impressive, the way a group with first-rate educations and 150-ish IQs will inevitably be.

146 MyName July 11, 2016 at 9:02 pm

Counter gambit: maybe you should let Universities continue to mostly govern themselves, as they have since the Renaissance. That’s for centuries before your “Sputnik moment” if you need help with that.

147 poorlando July 12, 2016 at 10:44 pm

They can govern themselves when they fund themselves.

148 8 July 11, 2016 at 9:14 am

“Government schools” is accurate for any school instituting the federal government’s policies, which is many following the roll out of Common Core. The term government is also used to clarify and focus the anti-public school argument, which tends to lean as much on values as quality. Common Core is a big winner for the right because the quality of the curriculum is atrocious. It much easier to convince people that the #1 goal of government schools is propaganda by showing people textbooks and curriculum from Common Core because otherwise you’d assume the goal is to retard the intellectual development of children. Obviously the government doesn’t want retarded children, but it can’t openly say that in pursuit of equality we have to go to the lowest common denominator. That would be problematic.

149 Edgar July 11, 2016 at 9:18 am

Kudos to Bob Weeks for an excellent website and video series. Reasonable and reasoned. Excellent use of data applied to local issues. A wonderful model for local libertarian groups wondering how to get their message out.

150 Regular Guy July 11, 2016 at 9:25 am

I live in Kansas City and I have never heard anyone use the phrase “government schools” nor read it in print until this article. It certainly isn’t, or wasn’t, part of KS or MO political rhetoric. But since it was uttered on some local access show in Wichita in response to some other utterance, it must be “real”.

I believe the NY Times decided to run an article about what a bunch of stupid backward hicks live in flyover country, and this is the result of that effort. Perhaps it will become self fulfilling and soon people all over flyover country will be referring to “government schools”.

151 anon July 11, 2016 at 9:35 am

I kind of wondered if Tyler was just trolling for people who would defend “government schools” as useful or sensible in America.

Obviously since I answered them, I was trolled too.

152 HL July 11, 2016 at 10:27 am

Most MSM coverage of Kansas, or “Brownbackistan”, seems to be social signalling more than credited analysis. In all the stories about the “catastrophic” budget of the education system no one points out that Kansas is still in the middle of the pack for education, roughly $9800 per year. They even spend more than California (~$9400) per pupil per year.

153 HL July 11, 2016 at 11:58 am

This is true to a certain extent and makes me believe that if Brownbackistan never happened the situation on the ground wouldn’t be much different and liberals would still look at Kansas with contempt.

154 Stanley July 11, 2016 at 3:00 pm

Kansas ranks right in the middle of states in terms of GDP per capita, and tends to rank fairly high in school quality measures. Sounds like you don’t know what you’re talking about?

155 MyName July 11, 2016 at 9:04 pm

Yeah, mostly agree, though alot of the weirder political nonsense gets a trial balloon in Wichita before it makes its way to the populated part of the state.

156 derek July 11, 2016 at 9:52 am

What is the fuss? Isn’t public education one of the major accomplishments of government?

Government as a descriptor is common practice around here. It means funded by taxpayer. Municipal water systems, government buildings, whether your road gets plowed in the winter. I have a private water system and sewage system, but a few miles down the road they have a government one.

It is obviously racist, homophobic and probably islamophobic to call a government funded school a government school.

157 libert July 11, 2016 at 10:02 am

“They like government don’t they?”

This is a common trope that is so stupid I honestly can’t understand why people think it, the idea that because conservatives hate government that liberals must love it. On the contrary, liberals don’t love government, they just don’t reflexively dismiss any idea because it might involve the government.

Also don’t forget the many policy issues where liberals want smaller government than conservatives do (drugs, immigration, abortion, marriage…); do conservatives love government because they want more regulation of these things?

158 (Not That) Bill O'Reilly July 11, 2016 at 10:52 am

On the contrary, liberals don’t love government, they just don’t reflexively dismiss any idea because it might involve the government.

In my experience, this understates the trend, which is for liberals to reflexively look to government as the actor for any idea they have to solve a social ill (see, for example, the instinctive reliance on the federal government to combat any loss at the state level).

In the examples you list, the government isn’t being rolled back so much as it is being re-routed–ending the war on drugs sees money going into regulation and treatment, loosened immigration restrictions routes resources from border patrol in naturalization bureaucracy, legalized abortion expands the types of procedures requiring government funding, and same-sex marriage expands, rather than limits, the social relationships now subject to the state. Even were the motivation colored by a desire to keep government within bounds, the execution certainly does not.

159 Milo Minderbiner July 11, 2016 at 10:20 am

Milton Friedman was calling them “government schools” fifty years ago.

160 prior_test2 July 11, 2016 at 11:27 am

That link is fascinating, such as Friedman writing this – ‘A stable and democratic society is impossible without widespread acceptance of some common set of values and without a minimum degree of literacy and knowledge on the part of most citizens. Education contributes to both. In consequence, the gain from the education of a child accrues not only to the child or to his parents but to other members of the society; the education of my child contributes to other people’s welfare by promoting a stable and democratic society. Yet it is not feasible to identify the particular individuals (or families) benefited or the money value of the benefit and so to charge for the services rendered. There is therefore a significant “neighborhood effect.” 


Differences among families in resources and in number of children–both a reason for and a result of the different policy that has been followed–plus the imposition of a standard of education involving very sizable costs have, however, made such a policy hardly feasible. Instead, government has assumed the financial costs of providing the education. In doing so, it has paid not only for the minimum amount of education required of all but also for additional education at higher levels available to youngsters but not required of them–as for example in State and municipal colleges and universities. Both steps can be justified by the “neighborhood effect” discussed above–the payment of the costs as the only feasible means of enforcing the required minimum; and the financing of additional education, on the grounds that other people benefit from the education of those of greater ability and interest since this is a way of providing better social and political leadership.’

He is convinced that the ‘nationalization’ of schools is problematic, but this from the opening of the conclusion seems to place him outside of much of this discussion, as Friedman is fully on board with taxing all citizens to provide education, but is concerned not about who pays for schools (everyone that pays taxes), but instead on who runs the schools – ‘This re-examination of the role of government in education suggests that the growth of governmental responsibility in this area has been unbalanced. Government has appropriately financed general education for citizenship, but in the process it has been led also to administer most of the schools that provide such education.’

In other words, using vouchers, government collects taxes, hands money to parents, and school becomes a free enterprise venture – with government, as noted above, in full control of determining the standards that must be met in educating future citizens, which comes with costs that are unavoidable in creating citizens, thus necessitating government financing of private enterprise. Anyone surprised that the end result of the need to have government abandon the running of schools is to hand tax money over to those now running the schools?

161 GoneWithTheWind July 11, 2016 at 10:22 am

The problem is the unions put money and benefits ahead of education. A government school exacerbates that problem. Put schools back under local control. Ban unions. Promote and retain teachers based on results.

162 Dirt July 11, 2016 at 11:39 am

Hear, hear.

163 zbicyclist July 11, 2016 at 10:22 am

Any time one group wants to change the name of something, there’s an agenda.
Often that agenda is to change some perceived stigma. Compare the words used to describe Afro-Americans over history, or the clients of special education classes, or the use of the terms “Pro-Choice” and “Pro-Life”. Or the initial clumsiness of de-gendering: with waystations like “chairperson” (now usually “chair”) or “he or she” (now gradually shifting to the reintroduction of “they” as a third person singular).

But if one group wants a change, the opposing groups will naturally be suspicious, particularly if there seems to reason to change a perfectly good, clear term like “public school”.

164 freethinker July 11, 2016 at 11:10 am

For decades in India “government school” has been synonymous with ” well-paid teachers ( relative to private school counterparts) , either not showing up and making no difference even when they do show . Strangely, ” Public school” here means,as in England, a school for the elite.

165 Dirt July 11, 2016 at 11:38 am

I am fully in favor of calling them “government schools” because much more must be done to promote and reinforce the sensibility among millennials that the State is not all-knowing and all-powerful and that localities are not mere flyover colonies whose value resides only in the amount of tribute they fork over. You cannot expect people to exert any virtues if you render their virtues nugatory.

166 Rich Berger July 11, 2016 at 11:38 am

With all the squealing, I’d say the target was hit.

167 Dirt July 11, 2016 at 11:48 am

Statists everywhere have overreached.

I hope we are entering a long-overdue period of massive correction. Personally, I’ll work toward that end. The world has become irreversibly inter-connected. There’s no reason to fear that millennials will retreat into 19th century nationalism. The cellphone and the likes of Ryanair will ensure that “campanilismo” of the old variety will not return.

What are we seeing is a surge in the belief that people should govern themselves in a spatial range they themselves recognize and feel. No one will be a citizen of “the World” until humanity encounters intelligent life from another planet.

168 Bernard Yomtov July 12, 2016 at 5:50 am

What a squealing? The article quotes two people in Kansas who dislike the term.

Apparently conservatives in Kansas, having made a giant mess, have no idea how to fix it except with some phrases they think are oh so cute.

169 Art Deco July 12, 2016 at 8:50 am

having made a giant mess,

Define ‘giant mess’.

170 rayward July 11, 2016 at 11:51 am

State governments have been cutting funding for higher education because the federal government has been assuming an increasing responsibility for it (with loan subsidies, etc.). Cut state funding, increase tuition, pass along the cost to the federal government, and complain about “government”. Conservatives say they prefer devolution, but they say it with a heavy dose of hypocrisy. I have nothing against hypocrisy; some of my best friends are hypocrites.

171 Yancey Ward July 11, 2016 at 12:01 pm

Objecting to the calling them “government schools” literally concedes the argument right from the start. You either believe and argue that the “public” and “government” are equivalent modifiers, or you concede the point being made- that the localities have dwindling control over their design and operation. It isn’t a secret that the schools are falling under ever greater central control that flowed first through state capitals and now to Washington.

Now, if the localities were serious about regaining control, they would have to first withdraw their direct funding from the present schools and build their own again without the financial support from the state and federal government. Those are chains they have allowed to be placed upon them. Kind of like homeschooling but with more actual power of the purse.

172 Bill July 11, 2016 at 12:42 pm

Voucher schools are government funded schools.

Charter schools are government schools.

GMU is a government school.

Tyler and Alex are government employees.

173 Cooper July 11, 2016 at 1:29 pm

Why is Kansas so different than Nebraska?

Nebraska seems to be well run, sensible, etc. while being deeply religious and conservative.

Kansas seems to be stuck in a serious of deep ideological battles and run terribly.

Both of them are one-party Republican-dominated states.

Why such a big difference?

174 JWatts July 11, 2016 at 2:40 pm

Is there anything wrong with Kansas? The governor cut taxes and promised higher growth. Which failed to materialize. That has outraged the Left. But it hasn’t dramatically effected state spending.

175 MyName July 11, 2016 at 9:09 pm

In my opinion, the roots are in the pre-civil war period when parts of the state were overrun by rebel cowboys who were only interested in turning the state pro-Slavery, only when they lost, the never left.

176 JK Brown July 11, 2016 at 1:51 pm

There was a time when the schools owned by the government might be deemed “public”, but that was in a time when the population was more homogenous with similar values, beliefs, even religion. In the modern diverse society, the schools no longer reflect the priorities of the public, but rather they impose the values and teachings of the politically dominant group.

“In all areas of mixed nationality, the school is a political prize of the highest importance. It cannot be deprived of its political character as long as it remains a public and compulsory institution. There is, in fact, only one solution: the state, the government, the laws must not in any way concern themselves with schooling or education. Public funds must not be used for such purposes. The rearing and instruction of youth must be left entirely to parents and to private associations and institutions.”

–Mises, Ludwig von (1927). Liberalism (pp. 115-116).

177 Massimo Heitor July 11, 2016 at 3:21 pm

Awesome post and quote. I agree, however local control does provide more direct control to the people.

178 Hopaulius July 11, 2016 at 3:22 pm

“,,,even religion.” Illustrated by a conversation led by my third grade teacher ca. 1960. She asked us each to tell what religion we belonged to. When it came my turn, I replied “Christian.” (We attended a Disciples of Christ congregation named “First Christian Church.”) The teacher said, “Well I hope we’re all Christian, but what church do you attend?” Today she would be reprimanded for such an outrageous violation of the separation of church and state, and fired if that were possible. This is, by the way, my only exchange with her that I still remember verbatim.

179 Mark Anderson July 11, 2016 at 10:45 pm

That’s kind of funny, because I remember something similar when I was in third grade. Would have been about 1964. She was talking about religion and she was trying to be inclusive of Jews (this was in New Jersey), and she said “At least we all believe in the same God.” Even at the time I was kind of outraged because I thought she should not take the position that all the students believed the same as their parents (even I somehow considered it obvious that all the parents were Christians or Jews, even tho in retrospect I find that unlikely). And I do think that both my teacher’s comment and yours were terrible comments of political correctness of the time, and they should have been reprimanded. But I’m sure today’s third grade teachers make just as outrageous comments today, simply not religious ones.

180 HL July 12, 2016 at 12:51 am

With God out of the picture, what are the defining principles that our schools should teach if not the “governments” position?

181 Bernard Yomtov July 12, 2016 at 5:43 am

I don’t understand this at all.

I have no problem with using the term “government schools,” and see nothing pejorative about it. Would Tyler and Alex be offended if I referred to GMU as a “government university,” rather than a “state university?” If so, why?

On the other hand, I do think that those like Weeks and, others who think they are making some sort of clever subtle point, are morons.

182 Bernard Yomtov July 12, 2016 at 5:44 am

Today she would be reprimanded for such an outrageous violation of the separation of church and state,

As well she should be.

183 spencer July 11, 2016 at 4:46 pm

I find it interesting that the quality of US school systems seems to be inversely related to the level of federal involvement.

Graduate education is essentially complelety financed by federal money and it is the best in the world.

Undergrad schooling is significantly financed by federal money and it competes with the best in the world..

High school has some federal funding an it ranks somewhere in the top half of the world.

Grade school has essentially no federal money and it is ranked no better than high schools.

184 JWatts July 11, 2016 at 5:46 pm

Federal money does not constitute the entirety of Federal involvement. All public schools in the US are significantly impacted by Federal rules and regulation.

However, if you are going to make the point that way, I’d include the following:

The US military is completely financed by federal money and it is the best in the world.

The NSA is completely financed by federal money and it is the best in the world.

US healthcare is significantly financed by federal money and it competes with the best in the world.

185 Adrian Ratnapala July 12, 2016 at 1:23 am

“Public” definitely is a cuddly-term worth fighting over.

Where I grew up, the advertising-and-donation funded anarchist radio station was very keen to call itself “public”. Somewhat simililarly Germans are keen to call the health insurance schemes managed by for profit companies “public” so long as the scheme belongs to a “statutary” subset.

The Germans have a point, the statue in question seem very prescriptive. And because insurance is mandatory, it acts much like a tax.

186 Troll me July 12, 2016 at 2:05 pm

Calling it “government schools” is misleading in the sense that the government doesn’t control a lot of things. Teachers have a lot of independence so long as they cover all the core points and local boards still have a lot of control over many operational decisions.

Calling it a “government school” is suggestive of a high level of centralization in curriculum, pedagogy, etc., which is factually incorrect in the USA.

They are, however, “public schools” in the sense that everyone can attend regardless of ability to pay.

187 Tom G July 12, 2016 at 8:27 pm

YES! Gov’t schools help identify why they are failing — I have long been calling them gov’t schools.

In fact, “Public Choice” theory was misnamed, it should be “Government Choice” theory, because it’s a theory about how the people in gov’t, not “the public”, act.

The reality is that the two main sectors of the economy are the gov’t sector and the agreement sector. One is funded by force, the other is by peaceful agreement, or peaceful disagreement and no deal.

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