Jon Stewart Wrong on Education in Baltimore

“If we are spending a trillion dollars to rebuild Afghanistan’s schools, we can’t, you know, put a little taste Baltimore’s way. It’s crazy.”

–Jon Stewart, “The Daily Show,” April 28, 2015

The Fact Checker column at the Washington Post rightly awards Jon Stewart four Pinocchios for this howler. It’s not close to being true and even as hyperbole it lends support to the common misperception that foreign aid is a large percentage of the Federal budget.

Let’s forget the off-the-cuff comparison to Afghanistan, however, and focus on a more relevant comparison. Is it true, as Stewart suggests, that Baltimore schools are underfunded relative to other American schools? The National Center for Education Statistics reports the following data on Baltimore City Public Schools and Fairfax County Public Schools, the latter considered among the best school districts in the entire country:

school data2

Baltimore schools spend 27% more than Fairfax County schools per student and a majority of the money comes not from the city but from the state and federal government. Thus, when it comes to education spending, Baltimore has not been ignored but is a recipient of significant federal and state aid.


Oh come on! Jon Stewart *and* Baltimore? You got to be kidding. Still it is nice to see Stewart trying his "Clown Nose Off" strategy. Did anyone expect him to do anything but fall over his own feet? The guy is a liberal. He is heavily invested in a political belief that requires almost total ignorance of places like Baltimore.

But OK, if I am going to be trolled, I will troll. Let's try to think of a reason why the schools of Fairfax county (63% White, 17.5% Asian) do better than those of Baltimore (30% White, 2.5% Asian)? Nope, I am all out. Can't think of any reason at all. Except that the top ten employers of Fairfax are not like other places:

# Employer # of Employees
1 Fairfax County Public Schools 23,534
2 United States government 23,361
3 Fairfax County 12,070
4 Booz Allen Hamilton 7,000-10,000
5 Inova Health System 7,000-10,000
6 SAIC 4,000-6,999
7 George Mason University 4,000-6,999
8 Freddie Mac 4,000-6,999
9 Northrop Grumman 4,000-6,999
10 MITRE 1,000-3,999

Smart people have smart children. Who do not require a permanent police presence at their schools.

Let's get past a $-per-student perspective and think about the total amount of resources invested in these kids. I'm comfortable saying the average Baltimore student gets half or less of the parental involvement and societal enrichment than the kids in Fairfax do.

We probably can't put a dollar value on parental involvement, but it's part of the total investment package, and many would argue more important to actual student outcomes than the way some of the school money in Baltimore is spent just to keep bad schools from turning into gang recruiting zones.

That's not an argument for or against throwing more money at Baltimore, just that good education is not a boxed service we just write a check for. It requires a lot of personal investment as well.

I’m comfortable saying the average Baltimore student gets half or less of the parental involvement and societal enrichment than the kids in Fairfax do.

I wonder if that is true. The great majority of people love their children.

We probably can’t put a dollar value on parental involvement, but it’s part of the total investment package, and many would argue more important to actual student outcomes than the way some of the school money in Baltimore is spent just to keep bad schools from turning into gang recruiting zones.

Do twin studies show that parental involvement matter much in schooling. Do twin studies show that parental involvement matter much in sports.

Careful with your variables. One can love one's children without necessarily spending time with them on homework or attending parent-teacher conferences.

I have no idea what the twin studies show. If you do, this would be a good time to share.

Twins studies generally show that "shared environment", which is the broader category that things like parenting style and schooling fall under, has close to zero effect on most outcomes (IQ, personality traits, etc.). It's all genes and "unshared environment".

And another has drunk the Judith Rich Harris Kool-Aid.

Parents shouldn't spend any of their time on their kids' homework. It makes both of them soft and lazy.

Not on their homework. Pounding calculus and statistics into their head on your own time should be done.

The difficulty is that no one can pee for you. There's a point where impersonal bureaucratic institutions cannot substitute for what's not at home.

What Baltimore would benefit from would be:

1. A measure of order in their schools.

2. Schools well-adapted to their clientele.

An answer would be voucher-funded (tuition-free) schools run by incorporated philanthropies which specialize in different sorts of programs, with the local police warehousing the awful. People who wanted to homeschool or send their young to tuition-financed schools could cash-out their voucher for a fragment of its redemption value. Quality control could be maintained by state regents' examinations, with the state attorney-general bringing suit to liquidate the worst performing schools.

It has very little to do with Judith Harris. It is a general finding validated by hundreds of studies over decades including MZA, MZvsDZ, falsely identified MZ, Adoption, IBD, GTCA. All you have against that is your commonsense prior that it can't be true and if only proper discipline was restored everything would be ok.

Really? The public schools are the number one employer? IIRC, there is literature showing teacher's kids perform better in school.


That is not unique to Fairfax, it occurs in a lot of subherbs/exhurbs.

What is a subherb? Like a degenerate spice, or an obedient Herbert?

Is that compared to the general population, or to the children of other college graduates? Teachers are all college graduates, so we would expect their children to perform better than the general population, whose parents are mostly not college graduates.

It's certainly plausible that having year-round access to a teacher at home confers some sort of advantage, but controlling for parental education (and ideally IQ as well) is a must.

Smart people have smart children. Who do not require a permanent police presence at their schools.
Baltimore could likely get by with a more circumscribed security force if the 'education' 'profession' would cease this 'teach every child' nonsense and have the incorrigibles hauled out of the building and put them in day detention at a facility run by the sheriff's department. They could import teachers to try to stuff some remedial education into groups of six during the intervals when these incorrigibles were not in their cells.

That seems like a waste. Give them leaf skimmers and make them pick trash out of the harbor.

Or use them as really cheap labor on construction projects, like the Soviets, Assyrians, Egyptians, French imperialists, and pretty much every other government with sufficient ruthlessness did.

The Mexicans have already staked their claim to that niche.

He is unfortunately not that far from the truth in the sense that the quantities spent to rebuild Afghanistan are astronomical:

I get Alex's point but I think Stewart was way off. Try $1,000,000,000,000+ spent on Afghanistan.

Completing a third of the $3.6tn needed for repairs to rail, roads and levees is a big, useless, socialist scam of course, high on unintended consequences. Better spent on global policing and protecting rich, defense freeloading (and backstabbing) countries.

Adjusted for inflation, US had spent on reconstruction in Afghanistan than the cost of the Marshall Plan to rebuild western Europe.

The future bill from the Afghan war is likely to run into hundreds of billions of dollars more. The Pentagon has indicated it wants funding of $120bn for 2016-19 for operations in Afghanistan,

Forecasts of future medical and disability costs for veterans from both Iraq and Afghanistan will reach $836bn over the coming decades. The two wars have also added to the Pentagon’s fast-growing pension bill: the military pension system has an unfunded liability of $1.27tn, which is expected to rise to $2.72tn by 2034.

So yeah, Stewart was way off.

How $620m can evaporate in A-stan:

$500m in transport planes for Afghan forces, stored for three years, turned into $36,000 of scrap metal

$80m on north Afghan consulate, officials decide too vulnerable to attack

$34m on base with 64,000 sq ft operations centre in southwest Afghanistan, never used

$3m on eight patrol boats for Afghan police, still in Virginia storage after four years

$5.4m incinerators, installed incorrectly, never used

$3.6m on TV broadcast trucks for live sporting events, unused in Kabul storage


No way Baltimore public schools are 30% white. Whites don't even make that percent of city population.

Remember that a majority of Hispanics in the US are classified as "white" by the US Census Bureau.

Per the US Department of Education in 2010 Baltimore City public schools were 86.6% Black, 7.8% White, 3.9% Hispanic, and 1.1% Asian

It's pretty easy to check that stat out. As of 2010, 29.6% of Baltimore was white and only 4.2% Hispanic.

The difference between me and you (and hopefully not the only difference) is that where you want to look at race, I want to look at wealth. Wealthy people have more resources to devote to their kids. They're also not working 2 jobs and so can raise their kids and make sure the kids are doing their homework and staying out of trouble.

Aren't there simply more causal variables for 'poor people do poorly in school' than 'black people do poorly in school?' (That's rhetorical; the answer is 'yes'.

In the US, the wealthy work longer hours than the poor.

Compare with well-regarded Howard County Schools in Maryland, which spends a very similar amount of money per student but is 66% local funding and only 30% state.

Maryland in general spends a lot in all of its school districts, but the spending at least is equitable, as the state steps in to fund the poorest districts (and the amount of state spending in general is higher). There are districts that have some money but choose to spend less, such as Anne Arundel County, which spends similar to Fairfax. (Maryland has good schools in general, but generally does not get good value for them, spending rather a lot compared to the results in Virginia, as the Fairfax-Howard-Anne Arundel comparisons make clear.)

The basic accusation falls flat.

A lot of this is surely wasted money, but for a more fair comparison, I would want to see the $ per learning support kid that each district spends. In other words, suppose a student has serious ADD or dyslexia, autism, fetal alcohol syndrome or some other hard to educate diagnosis. How many dollars (after security spending) does each district have per student to spend on that sort of student? And after that is done, what is left for the non-IEP cohort of students?

Agree that Stewart is wrong, but it's worth nothing that federal and state funding are not the same as local funding, in that the former is usually earmarked for specific causes (testing programs, free/reduced lunch subsidies, funds for special needs children, etc.) You can't make a direct comparison, because a school with poorer kids, or more kids with learning disabilities, will always get more federal and state money.

So as a school administrator, $100 of local funding makes you happier than $100 of state / fed funding?

Yes! To completely fabricate an example, $50 from the federal government is specifically for free/reduced lunch or something, so while it is good to feed poor kids, the funding from the federal government is not as useful to learning as $100 of local funding would be.

" the funding from the federal government is not as useful to learning as $100 of local funding would be."

Then what's the point? If that's the case the federal dollars should be classified as some other type of expense, like nutrition, rather than education.

What's the point?

I believe the point was to bring out trolls and drive more traffic to the site...

You are taking exception to how AT posted the statistics, yes? Because I am, too.

JS was implying that we don't spend any money in Baltimore. We do. Over 3,000 per student from federal sources alone. If you don't like how it is spent, that is a different problem.

From the same sources as Tabarrok links to, Baltimore spends $9,014 per student on instructional expenditure and Fairfax spends $7,649.

Don't know about Baltimore but in Ohio, most of the the state money given to Cleveland is unrestricted, intended solely to make up for the low local tax base.

The State of Ohio has spent a billion dollars on new schools in Cleveland in the last decade. Now the students don't learn anything in nicer schools.

Nothing at all?

Try teaching them auto repair rather than English literature.

Actually they do have one High School that teaches anything from auto repair, to Cisco and Oracle (certs included). Kind of neat.

Most funding is for something specific, like new laptops with carts and tethers so they are no longer portable. The Feds are idiots.
Someone working there told me they were more scared of the parent stealing them than the kids.

Conservatives have really jumped the shark when the only arguments that can be made defending their policies are critiquing off-the-cuff remarks by a late-night comedian. The outrage sort of proves his point.

Sorry but what policies would these be? The driver was Black. The police chief is Black. The Chief of Police is Black. The Mayor is Black. The out going Attorney General is Black. The in coming Attorney General is Black. The President is Black.

I mean, precisely what Conservatives are in the frame? The last time a Republican was elected mayor of Baltimore, the Beatles were still together.

The more accurate comment is that the Left has really jumped the shark if their cheer leader is a mere comedian who has to rely on a complete lack of honesty or facts to make any sort of criticism.

I think the "he's just a comedian" defense jumped the shark too. Jon Stewart occupies the same position in modern "progressivism" that, say, Rush Limbaugh does on the right.

Unfortunately, Jon Stewart (like Rush Limbaugh) is a thought-leader of his respective community, and when pressed on the meat of the issue his supporters fall back on the "just an entertainer."

I don't listen to those sources much, but when I do, I realize I hear the argument repeated by people in the respective camps the next day, without "entertainment" context.

Its a bit like a psychic, isnt it? When hes right his fans are all "hes a genius" and when hes a dumbass his fans are like "hes a comedian". Its easy to be a genius when everyone forgets all the times you are an idiot.

Rush Limbaugh is a far more astute commentator that Stewart has ever been. His TV show in the mid-90s was like a right wing Daily Show, without the resources that Stewart has (writers and an advanced internet). As MOFO. says, Stewart falls back on his comedian role when convenient.

I was personally told the "just a comedian" line by dittoheads in the 90s any time I pointed out problems, so I'm not going to leave it alone as just a Stewart complaint.

And no, I'm not comfortable at all that millions of Americans make up their mind this way. H.L. Mencken was right.

Which dittoheads? Limbaugh's employment prior to 1989 was in radio and in public relations (employed by the Kansas City Royals). He's never been a comedian.

You want the names of my high school classmates?

Being a bit literal, aren't you? If I had a nickel for every pundit who wanted to blame West Baltimore's problems on decades of "disinvestment" and "neglect" and yadayadayada, I could probably buy half of it. But if you look at how much state and federal money actually gets dumped on social services there, that narrative grows less and less convincing. Alex just picked a particularly obtuse example.

No, this is bullshit. You're just rounding out Stewart's con game. Take him seriously and he's "a late-night comedian." Don't, and you're oppressing him, or something. Jon Stewart and the many others like him in different layers of the media onion, hide behind the idea that they're powerless, mere observers or in his case jokesters. Just saying.

Conservatives have really jumped the shark when the only arguments that can be made defending their policies are critiquing off-the-cuff remarks by a late-night comedian. The outrage sort of proves his point.

Not that you suggest anyone we all should be engaging in lieu of Stewart. (And, while we're at it, since when does a libertarian very self-conscious about what goes down well with other professors qualify as a 'conservative'?)/

"The outrage sort of proves his point." No it doesnt. His point was wrong and people are pointing that out. It isnt outrage, its honesty.

>off-the-cuff remarks by a late-night comedian.

By which you mean, "scripted remarks by the number one lefty political commentator in America, universally adored by liberals, often quoted in the New York Times, and frequently cited as the most important news source for people under 25."

Funny how he's always "just a comedian" when he's nailed for being the partisan fraud that he is.

This brutal criticism of Stewart is much funnier than Stewart's punch lines :)

Jon Stewart drives the political opinions of a significant number of Democrat voters, let's not kid ourselves about what is sad here.

Why, when we spend hundreds of billions of dollars on conquering a country with our military, ostensibly to create conditions where a representative democracy can then function, is that not considered "foreign aid"?

You're not on message. Get with the program.

So how much money does Taborock think we have spent messing around(killing people, blowing stuff up and rebuilding it) in Afghanistan?

Whatever the isn't crazy to think we'd be better off not blowing stuff up and instead helicopter dropping it in Baltimore.

I dunno. The situation in Baltimore is pretty bad, but I don't see how bombing it will make things better.

Does foreign aid have to aid foreigners for it be considered aid? long as
1) corrupt dictators get stuff. (Preferably weapons and police state training)...
2) stuff is bought from Lockheed Martin, Halliburton and Bechtel
3) somehow loans are created on which the lower classes can pay interest...

look at the early years of Sadams regime in Iraq and you will see the model for "foreign aid"

Stewart makes the wrong comparison and Alex has a crappy one of his own.

So what would be a good comparison? There is some factor that makes a difference here. What do you think it is? If we found a similar sized city in, say, North Dakota, with a population of similar wealth, do you think the out comes would be the same?

"So what would be a good comparison?"

Comparing Baltimore's per student spending to the national average, as well as cities of comparable size. Adjusting for: the cost of living in each specific area, security spending, and the cost to educate children with special needs.

For the record I have no idea how well Baltimore stacks up when compared to the rest of the nation in this regard. I'm just pointing out that it would be a more honest comparison; then comparing Baltimore to the best schools in the nation. Of course Fairfax outperforms Baltimore both in education and student outcomes. That area has the best public school system in the nation. So how does showing that they outperform Baltimore make any sort of point?

Um, it was not shown that they outperform Baltimore? It was shown that they spend much less per student?

Alex's comparison shows that Baltimore city schools spend a lot of money per child and get a lot of "foreign" aid, precisely what Stewart was denying. What comparison do you have in mind?

Baltimore likely has to spend more per teacher to attract staff of comparable quality. Because, you know, who'd want to be a teacher in Baltimore?

A few years ago Baltimore recruited a bunch of teachers from the Phillipines. It seems in turned into a visa mess with the U.S. Labor Department and most were sent home.

Clear the hoodlums out, and a great many people might be pleased to work there.

How do you identify the hoodlums? Where do you send them to?
Are we not incarcerating enough people right now?

A. No, we're not. Re the penal courts (not the schools), 60% of the convictions are resolved with alternatives to incarceration and the mean sentence of imprisonment (for those there dispatched rather than the county jail) is 30 months. This 'mass incarceration' discourse is tommyrot.

B. How do you identify any class of malefactors? You have rules and standards and you enforce them. It's not as if teachers do not know who the problem students in their classes are.

C. As noted elsewhere, ship them off-site to warehouses operated by the sheriff's department.

Any male aged 16-24.

You left out 'black'. Or did you forget which website you were on?

I don't think anyone outside of Fairfax actually thinks it is a well regarded district.

Outside of TJ, the product is crap. And yes, I mean the graduates.

I don't think people in the DC area understand just how privileged they are with school districts. All of the suburban school districts easily beat 99% of school districts in the nation, and DC public schools are actually really good compared to other big city public schools.

There's no need to send your kids to private school in this area, unless you are super Catholic or something.

Does anyone know a good, relatively readable introduction to Marx's economics?

Notice how carefully the WaPo treads when criticizing Stewart. Sort of like how they tread when criticizing "Jackie" for fabricating a rape story, making a bunch of false accusations, inciting mob violence, etc. The editors must have worried that they would lose credibility if they didn't at least mention that Stewart was spouting total nonsense.

Wow!!! Such reaction on an off-the-cuff remark (he makes a lot these with a smile) about money spent in Afghanistan said by a comedian.

Anyway, avoiding how the money was spend, isn't 1 trillion dollars fairly close the cost of the war in that country? So he was not that far off in overall picture. And remember Iraq cost over 1 trillion dollars and we are still over there. I always assumed most people overestimate foreign aid money spent with the explosion of war and military cost.

I am still waiting for a conservative Republican to off to cut defense spending by $300B to pay for a corporate tax cut of $100B and pay the states to cut sales tax by $.50 so everybody can benefit.

Surely if all of that war money was pumped into public schools, test scores would be at an all-time high, right?

As I noted let us cut military spending and taxes at the same time. And I believe Afghanistan and Iraq price tag are each near $1T dollars. (Iraq is over $1T while Afghanistan is still under $1T.)

Well you're not going to get much argument from me or most other people here on that score, but it's not really germane to the post.

If they hired some of my friends and made higher test scores the primary goal I am sure we could make it happen.

I think the $1 T was for both Iraq and Afghanistan. With most going to Iraq.

As opposed to 840 Billion for Solyndra? Remember Obama said the stimulus would be spent on "shovel-ready jobs" only to learn to admit a year later that there is no such thing as a shovel ready job. Cash for Clunkers? With brain-dead stupid stuff like this, liberals would be better served not to get in an argument about spending on dubious matters.

It was $540 Million, not Billion. Doesn't make it a smart thing to have done, but you were off by a significant chunk of money...

Comedian considered serious news analyst - news at ....

Well no, there really isn't all that much news being printed or broadcast these days in the U.S., is there?

And no libertarian love for how Stewart treated a lying, war mongering former NYT reporter just a couple of days ago?

Stewart was just being a bully with Miller, something he reserves solely for lefty hate objects. The next time he acts like this with a liberal will be the first time.

What do you mean a bully? As a long time viewer the MSM was all over the Iraq and helped sell to the US population. And the sell was Iraq was creating WMDs that were an immediate danger to the US in 2002 and WE HAD TO ACT. I remember reviewing the WMD evidence with Iraq in 2002 and thought it was not very strong. If I were in a jury, I could not convict Saddam Huessain of a WMD program. So I was not that surprised WMDs were not found and hated anybody who complained the Intelligence was wrong. (I am seeing the same Iran is guilty of building the bomb in 2015.)

At the time, Jon Stewart's The Daily Show was one of the few media outlets that questioned the Iraq from the beginning. And the media like Judith Miller had a very big part in selling this unnecessary war and she did not present her case very well. I heard a lot Intelligence failure.

They just finished destroying the WMDs they found two years ago. Is the rest of your analysis as 'insightful'?

Totally worth $1.1T.

He's constantly weighing in on the political topic of the day, and trying to use humor to influence his audience's views on the matter. The idea that he should get to cloak himself in "I'm just a comedian!" whenever he says something stupid is ridiculous.

All News is entertainment. Journalists and comedians are entertainers. The former are just more likely to play-act at seriousness and objectivity.

So are there any studies out there on the correlation between school funding and performance when adjusting for SES, race, etc.?

Not a study but Tino as usual is excellent on that topic.

Take away: Once you control for race, school funding does make a difference in test scores.

"Take away: Once you control for race, school funding does make a difference in test scores."

If that's really true then why do so many rich people pay large sums to send their children to private schools? Including people who are aware of the literature and publically agree with it such as Greg Mankiw.

Ugh. Because more goes on at school than learning.

Because as a parent, the single largest influence you have in your child's life is picking their peer group (remember all of those studies that show peers have a greater influence on children than parents do?). Would you prefer your children hang out and attend school with the high-achieving children of high-achieving parents or with children who will be in prison before they drop out of high-school at a school where there are metal detectors at the entrance?

to put it bluntly, they are paying to keep your kids out

I think you have drawn the wrong conclusion. Before controling for race it appears that how much you spend does not matter.

Once you control for race, places that spend more do better.

So it makes total sense to send your child somewhere that spends more.

I am a big fan of Tino but his post doesn't answer the question of whether the difference in outcomes is due to differences between the students within the states or the spending of the states. maybe a little bit of both ?

The question is largely moot, it seems, anyway. The school where the riot started Monday afternoon, Frederick Douglass, has a nearly 50% truancy rate, from what I heard on the news. It really doesn't matter how much you spend on schools if the kids don't show up. It's former principal was convicted of embezzling $2 million last year, too:

Eliminate mandatory attendance laws for school. They were devised in an era when small farmers would just as soon keep the kids at home to help work the farm or kids needed to work to support their families. The laws are not needed anymore, most people value education.

In districts like Baltimore, making kids go to school is counterproductive. It does nothing to help the kids who will drop out at 16 anyway and it degrades the system for the kids who want to be there (or have good families who want it.)

Think of it as a form of triage. We concentrate on the kids we can actually save and let the rest go to the place they are going anyways.

I have to pile on here. I was at a public high school and the experience improved tremendously in the final two years because all the kids who didn't want to be there were finally gone.

You're better off when they do not show up.

1. Have schools dedicated to basic education for every age level (literacy, English grammar, arithmetic, elementary algebra, and the fundamentals of American history, geography, and civics).

2. Have academic secondary schools for students who have completed their basic education, with two tracks: a diploma track for students who want a completed set of certificates in seven modern arts-and-sciences and a slow track for students who want to complete one or two certificates 'ere going to vocational high schools.

3. Have vocational high schools for the broad mass of the population who've completed their basic education.

4. Have detention centers for the hopeless.

Good ideas, but what happens when you observe that some tracks have more of some racial groups than others? You might be asked to explain *why* that is, and we all know you don't want to do that.

We do?

I do not care what the racial composition of the various tracks is, only that the sorting process is valid and socially optimal. The people who care are those who wish to engage in social engineering schemes and those who despise blacks and want to rub their noses in other people's contempt.

I agree. I think tracking is great. One renegade principal did that on the sly at her high poverty Minneapolis school with good results. Still even if we don't care about the inevitable racial disparities. The Democrat Party, academia, media and the professional agitators will care.

Look at how hard folks fought tracking?

Jon Stewart's audience of trained seals will never know any of this. All they will remember is that the problems in Baltimore are 100% Republican caused, even though the city and state have been run by Democrats for more than a generation.

Jon Stewart is a real politician ass kissing ass.

My experiences growing up and as a young man lead me to believe that the problem with these cases of police killing young is that their are a significant number of Police who think that nightsticks are for the backs of fools. They think it is part of their job to try to intimidate and rough up young punks and that they are not as good as they think they are discerning between future career criminals and others. This is bad and can and should be improved.

I went to a school considered bad but I think that the schools that we call bad are not really any worse than the public schools we call good. Good students do well in these supposedly bad schools. The teachers in the bad schools are delighted when they get to teach a well behaved well motivated student and go all out for them. Now I think a different type of school might do much better with the typical student who goes to a bad school.

A city in the industrialized world the size of Baltimore has tremendous opportunity. I can not believe otherwise.

Blacks in general do great in the USA. They excel in what they want to excel in. There is a crime problem among blacks but it is decreasing at a rapid rate.

We should end the war on drugs all together.

One more point, when I was watching the riot it seemed to have very few particianants considering the size the city. Seems to me that only a tiny portion of Baltimore blacks are not on the rioters side.

A line of black men eventually stood with the police at their back facing the rioters, so I'm inclined to ignore most of the Left's narrative. There are more white lefties insisting on black rage than there are rioters.

Everything that is happening in Baltimore has to be someone else's fault. If the left cant figure out a way to pin it on some evil Repub, then they might have to explain why such a thoroughgoing Democratic place has turned out so shitty.



Suppose we were talking about auto body shops specializing in serious wrecks versus lube-car wash shops? The spend per car at the lub-car wash shop is going to be very little compared to the body shop. On top of that if you looked at the cars coming out of the lube-wash place, they'd all probably look pretty good while the body shop cars might just look OK all things considered...maybe less than ok at that.

What gives? Clearly the people taking cars to the lube-wash place have pretty good cars to begin with and they are just having them 'topped off' so they look great. The people taking their cars to the body shop, though, have been in accidents so they are wrecks and need lots of work.

@Boonton why do you have such a low opinion of the people of Baltimore to compare them to wrecked cars?

Recognizing that kids in Baltimore are disproportionately likely to be raised in poverty and/or in a broken home doesn't necessarily imply he holds them in low regard.

The connection isn't poverty and broken homes. Boonton is a racist.

Doubtful, given what I've read from him elsewhere. Could be wrong.

Not racism. The simple fact is the more you ask of a school, the more it will cost and the harder good results will be to find.

If you have kids with unstable home lives, living situations that can change dramatically, possible abuse and poverty, then these are all higher things a school must overcome before we can start comparing test scores and graduation rates.

Returning to the auto shops....a car that left the showroom last month probably looks great coming out of the car wash while the car that got slammed will look ok. That's not an indication that the car wash does better work than the body shop or that car detailers are better than body men.

It also calls into question the spending argument. If you have a kid who keeps moving around because his parents have trouble keeping the rent paid, trying to overcome that with special tutors and catch up lessons is likely to be expensive. The more efficient solution might be some type of housing stabilization for his parents instead rather than doubling down on extra help.

Good analogy...look at Gray. He had serious developmental issues from toxic lead levels in his blood as a toddler (which kids don't recover from), single mother, drugs in the household, etc., etc. Money would be better spent remediating all the lead out of the old Baltimore housing stock to save the next generation.
But the kids in Fairfax - new homes, new suburbs, parents typically wealthy professionals, in new school buildings. Doesn't seem like much of a surprise that Fairfax is doing better on test scores.

Ignored here is the additional hypocrisy is it's the left that derides us for not spending MORE on foreign aid. You see, all spending is good, anyway, it's just better at home.

I think you vastly overestimate how much the US spends on foreign aid. Take out Israel and Egypt and most of the budget disappears entirely.

what how much did we spend on Afghanistan operations?

But how much do we spend on Afghanistan schools? Find the number. I bet it's way below the Baltimore number--- maybe 99.9% lower.

A lot of energy going to deny something Stewart didn't even say. I don't see where in that statement he alleges that Baltimore receives less federal or state funding than other Maryland school districts. Obviously we don't spend trillions on Afghan schools - but that's a little something called hyperbole. The gist of the joke seems to be less spending on foreign military adventures, more on education at home. You can disagree with that prescription, but it's not something you can discredit with a simple fact-checking gotcha.

Pretty obvious implication of his statement is that Baltimore is relatively underfunded. And he is certainly saying that more money would produce better results.

Also in the quoted portion he specifically complained about us spending the money on Afghan schools, not the military adventures more generally.

Relatively underfunded compared to what? Afghan schools? That's the only comparison he makes, and it's pretty obviously a joke. Interesting that the theory that more money can produce better educational outcomes has been disproven by a comparison of two school districts. Sociology is easy!

So what's the joke? Is he pointing out that Baltimore schools are hilariously overfunded in comparison to Afghani schools? That would be funnier, more insightful commentary.

I would say his statement implicitly assumes that American education is underfunded generally, and that Baltimore in particular is underfunded even in comparison to other American school districts. And that more money would make things better.

Oh, Nate! Let's figure this out. “If we are spending a trillion dollars to rebuild Afghanistan’s schools, we can’t, you know, put a little taste Baltimore’s way. It’s crazy.”

We've put more than a "little taste" Baltimore's way. Jon Stewart is lying, you're trying your best to cope with the cognitive dissonance, and the left's views on education funding have been proven wrong, time and again. (and Sociology IS easy, that's why you like it, that, and it's blatant disregard for reality that doesn't mesh with liberal politics)

I don't know, out of a trillion dollars I think Baltimore should get the bulk of that and Afghanistan should be getting 'a taste'. Last I checked Baltimore is actually a part of the United States. When you tell me a star has been added and Afghanistan is the 51st state, I'll be happy to say we should spend a trillion upgrading them.

Boonton, isn't $17,000 per student year enough to deliver directly to the teacher's union arm of the Democrat party? Even assuming students would see a dime of the extra money, you'd still have to demonstrate that it would actually do something.

I'm more comfortable with US teacher's unions indirectly getting a healthy share of a trillion dollars than Afghan tribal leaders.

Also $17K per kid is probably not that unreasonable given the economics of education. What do upscale, for-profit private schools charge per kid? What is the overhead the system has to pay for (i.e. old large buildings, bus systems etc.)?

If your assertion is that Balitmore's teacher's union are so amazingly successful that they've unreasonably driven up the price of education there then Baltimore teachers must live very upscale lives? Yes? There must be a huge surplus of people trying to get into Balitmore teaching? Is there?

. What do upscale, for-profit private schools charge per kid?

A little like asking what unicorns smell like, isn't it

A) We aren't spending trillions on Afghan schools and B) We CAN put some Baltimore's way as the statistics reveal what part of his statement wasn't complete BS?

I think it almost 100% certain that the outcomes for Baltimore's children would be improved if the city eliminated its Department of Education entirely and, instead, simply sent all the money spent/pupil to the parents or guardians of said children with no strings attached. The same is probably also true for Fairfax County.


For the past 50 years, they've been proving Einstein's defintion of insanity. And, year-in and decade-out the results are consistent failures.

Maybe the time has come to implement your proposal.

"Dey needs to spent moar munney!!!" It's so easy to play the meretricious, moronic liberal (I repeat myslef again!).

There's nothing inherently moronic about being a leftist, just as there's nothing inherently moronic about being a rightist.

Moronic(ity?ness?) is orthogonal to the Left/Right axis. It's about time the commentariat here stopped making this confabulation without reproach.

There's nothing inherently meretricious about being a leftist, just as there's nothing inherently meretricious about being a rightist.

Meretriciousness is orthogonal to the Left/Right axis. It's about time the commentariat here stopped making this confabulation without reproach.

$17,000 per student, per year, for 13 years? $269,135.71 at 18 for every kid in Baltimore. How are these Democrat teachers pilfering so much money from the poor? The scale of the sham is incredible - and every Democrat is complicit.

Yes I'm sure the road to easy riches is to be a public school teacher in Baltimore. Those who teach the kids of the 1% are typically on food stamps, those dastardly Democrats stealing from the poor!

The money is evaporating. Where is it going?

republicans too...No Child Left Behind...the red/blue stupidity is strong at this site

My bad, gabe. Teachers unions donate 50/50 between the parties, and receive 50/50 legislative support in return. Yep.

(Testing Companies) donate 50/50 between the parties, and receive 50/50 legislative support in return.
(Defense Companies) donate 50/50 between the parties, and receive 50/50 legislative support in return.
(Police Unions) donate 50/50 between the parties, and receive 50/50 legislative support in return.
(Prison Unions) donate 50/50 between the parties, and receive 50/50 legislative support in return.


I bet that it is not the teachers, I bet it is administration.

Hmm, I wonder what the effect of paying people on welfare $17,000 a year for every school aged child they have would be...

I guess he is prejudiced against Afghan children.

Well, if half of their parents weren't in prison due to the war on drugs aka war on black people (with a ratio higher than South Africa apartheid i have heard ouch!), probably the school outcomes would be a little bit better wouldnt they? And for the record Jon Stewart IS NOT A JOURNALIST he is a COMEDIAN.

"And for the record Jon Stewart IS NOT A JOURNALIST he is a COMEDIAN."

So what?

So, you shouldn't take much of what he says too seriously.

At 31 I was still seeing clips posted on Facebook by people with Professional-school educations with titles like "Jon Stewart DESTROYS Republicans on X." Some people are taking him relatively seriously, as more than just a clown.

Do you take anything posted on Facebook seriously?? Huuum... ;)

'So what?'

Well, it means you laugh at what he says, regardless of the reason - for example, you laugh at him when he gets his facts wrong. Though the idea that a comedian needs to get their facts right to have their humor taken seriously by those laughing seems a bit limiting in terms of understanding comedy, but whatever.

Political comedy and satire is usually better when rooted in something that resembles facts...

It sure is strange, then, that the Black "community" does not advocate legalization of rugs. You'd think if anyone could "see it," it would be them, but nope, it's a bunch of White "libertarians." The community prefers the older explanation which is that all of their woes stem from not having enough money.

And you know what happened if you released ALL of the drug dealers from prison and assumed that they would be model citizens and that none of them would find their way back in through other crimes?

You'd still have a higher rate of Black imprisonment than apartheid South Africa, which is only surprising to those who do not know anything about apartheid South Africa.

It is a very weird fact (?) anyway... which maybe says a lot about the US "justice" system...

Lots of facts look weird if you start with the premise that the only difference between White people and Black people is in the color of their skin.

$17,000 per student year is the amount that progressives are stealing from every poor black child in Baltimore. A bigger transfer of wealth from poor to rich than Picketty's bullshit, and it's 100% caused by Democrats and progressives. Fascinating.

Jon Stewart is right. Baltimore needs at least $55,000 per student year. Then, they'll have Ivy equivalent outcomes. The teachers will still be broke, of course. Six figures for slaving away at an air conditioned desk for 9 months out of the year. There should be rallies.

if half of their parents weren’t in prison

Really? Half the parents?

Well, if half of their parents weren’t in prison due to the war on drugs aka war on black people

There are somewhat north of 500,000 blacks in state and federal prisons. About 20% of those incarcerated are so consequent to a drug charge as the top count. That amounts to north 100,000 blacks if the distribution of black convicts among offender classes is similar to that of the general prison population. You have roughly 6,000,000 blacks with school age children and not all convicts imprisoned on drug charges have school age children, so the ceiling would be 1.7% of their parents in prison due to 'the war on drugs'. When you can be in error by something less than a factor of 60, get back to us.

Well, if half of their parents weren’t in prison due to the war on drugs aka war on black people (with a ratio higher than South Africa apartheid i have heard ouch!), probably the school outcomes would be a little bit better wouldnt they? And for the record Jon Stewart IS NOT A JOURNALIST he is a COMEDIAN.

Even if school outcomes aren't much better, which they might not be, at least the users would have more money because the drugs would much cheaper.
End the insane war on drugs. This battle is so frustrating, I only know 2 people who support the war on drugs. Is my crowd that different, am I that out of touch?

Yes, you are out of touch, Spicoli.

Really 2 people? I can see that with marijuana, but you must live in a libertarian colony to know all those people who support legalization of cocaine and heroine.

Lots of Black people support the war on drugs. Cheaper drugs might mean more drug use and they see what drug use does to their community.

I found this:

Two Out of Three Americans Think People Shouldn’t Be Prosecuted for Possession of Drugs Such as Cocaine and Heroin; 63% Support Moving Away from Mandatory Minimums; 54% Support Marijuana Legalization

And for the record Jon Stewart IS NOT A JOURNALIST he is a COMEDIAN.

Well, you could see how we would forget. Comedians are supposed to be funny.

The legacy of past segregation has a lot to do with the spending. Cities that were focused on keeping students apart built lots of small schools that you get trapped with when the population drops. Very interesting stats in the links:

Fairfax - 219 schools for 180k students with 14.2k full time teachers.

Baltimore - 195 schools for only 84.7k students with 5,3k full time teachers.

The must spend quite a lot on the physical plant of those schools keeping things up. Doesn't look like the money makes it to the students and teachers in the same way Fairfax does. Virginia took the other route when desegregating, just closing any public school that the courts ordered to be integrated, then sending all the white students to private academies.

I wonder how much the schools get from private fund raising as well. I'm a TJ alum and got a letter last summer looking for donations. 1000 bucks could get my name on a seat in the new auditorium!

Good luck closing down the extra, unnecessary schools. Every time you propose that the locals protest.

Chicago is seeing a steady decline in public school enrollment and is drowning in debt. Rahm Emanuel almost lost re-election on a platform of closing the surplus schools to save money.

Yeah, very difficult political problem. The schools are some of the last middle class type jobs available in these communities. There is a lot of resistance to consolidating and eliminating redundancy.

The schools are some of the last middle class type jobs available in these communities.


What does that even mean? People with salaried jobs and small businesses commute to malls, commute to office parks, commute downtown, commute to industrial campuses, commute to neighborhood shops on occasion. The number who live within walking distance of their employment is small and you're not going to find many school teachers living in the Baltimore slums. (Officer Goodson lives in Catonsville out in the County; there's a lesson in that). People with bourgeois employments can generally afford to live in neighborhoods which do not sport homicide rates north of 30 per 100,000. The impecunious wage earners who actually live in those neighborhoods do not qualify for bourgeois civil service employment, so the jobs there do not fill their stomachs.

I think you'd find a good number of the teachers in these schools grew up in the area. Once they got the job its off to the county though. There is a pretty big black middle class just outside of Baltimore and DC that keep close working and social ties to the cities even if they don't live there now. For a lot of people their foothold in the middle class is quite tenuous to keeping employment levels high in the school system is a priority.

It's important to note that Baltimore's education problems are mostly the responsibility of Republicans, who have an incestuous relationship with teacher unions and civil service, generally. Also, internalized racism.

A Baltimore mayor that closes schools like Rahm did in Chicago, won't be mayor for much long.

Wow...Baltimore with 85K students spends $2.5K per student (16% of budget) on administration compared to Fairfax's $1.0K (8% of budget) for $180K. For that to make sense administration costs would have to be 100% fixed and independent of district size.

I will add that Baltimore teachers start at 47,000 plus benefits, and if you correct for their only working 190 rather than 250 weeks, their starting salary is actually over $61,000. Add to that tens of thousands in pension and health benefits, 21 different types of allowed leave time, and a virtual inability to be fired, and that's pretty damn good pay.

Obviously you're not a teacher. I submit that you have llittle idea of the amount and type of work that teaching entails You want the best people teaching the next generation, I would imagine. Try this idea: pay even higher wages!. This age of resentment will see so many undeserving casualities.

I would gladly support higher teacher pay in exchange for administrators having the power to fire teachers as if they worked at a private company.

It's just absolutely laughable. Each teacher has a micro-monopoly over their position of employment - what the hell would paying them more do?

I figure absurd job security is part of the compensation package, so if you reduce that, it stands to reason you increase salary. First we probably need to figure out how to train good teachers, though.

I'd support a global budget for public financing of education manifest in voucher distribution. Let the philanthropies which operate the schools and cash in the vouchers make the allocations they care to between faculty compensation, plant, equipment, ancillary staffing, and supranormal leave times. The proof of the pudding will be in regents' exam results.

Actually, I want the best people in engineering, medicine, the senior ranks of the military, the senior ranks of corporate business, the senior ranks of the civil service, and the research university faculties. I'll settle for something less than that for other sorts of teaching positions.

You imagine incorrectly

There are ~3.7m schoolteachers in America ( In a given year there are ~60k undergraduates enrolled in the ivy league (15k per class), so if we assume a 100% graduation rate, continuous 100% labor force participation rate, and a 50-year working career, then we can upper-bound the total working-age Ivy alumni (bachelors) around ~750k. It is mathematically impossible to staff more than 20% of schoolteaching positions with ivy league graduates, and achieving this level would require that said ivy league undergraduates never attend grad school, never take maternity leave, work into their 70s, and never pursue any other career including such alternatives as teaching the 2/3 of high school grads who attend college.

These are of course laughably ridiculous assumptions, but that's the point: expand the pool of 'best' all you like, the simple math is that because of the huge number of people employed, schoolteaching just cannot be an elite profession at the aggregate or median level; it cannot need "The Best" because there just aren't enough of "The Best" around. Teaching does indeed require a lot of work (I have limited personal experience teaching as graduate student), but if you think the hours, intensity, stress, and insecurity level of teaching comes anywhere close to the elite professions you're deluded. Go find some law associates, medical residents, investment bank associates, or high-level software developers and find out what their work/life (im)balance is really like.

Some teachers can be "the best people teaching the next generation," but as I've repeated ad nauseum, they can't all be. More to the point, only a fairly small minority can fit this description. To have "The Best" as your teacher is inherently a luxury. Would I like to have "the best" teaching my (as yet nonexistent) kids? Of course I would, but that's because I'm an elitist, I'll want my kids to outclass your kids, and I don't feel particularly guilty paying up for something not everyone can have. But the truth of the matter is that it doesn't take "the Best" to teach 3rd graders their multiplication tables or 5th graders US history or 7th graders how to diagram a sentence. These are things any competent adult ought to be able to do with a reasonable amount of training and preparation. Until about 6th or 7th grade it's 80% daycare anyway. It's only around 8th grade that genuine subject mastery gets important.

The sheer number of teachers requires that teaching as a job hover in the zone that makes for a middle class existence as a single income and rises to the low end of affluence when doubled in a 2-income household. In general, once teachers accumulate 5-7 years of auto-pay step-ups and assorted bumps for this or that training course that's where they are, before even considering the present value of the pensions. If you think 47k is meager as a starting level, keep in mind that the median initial salary for college grad is ~35, and ~50 is the national median for households. A 2-teacher household can make 120 pretty easily and gets the summer off. That won't put a country club membership in your budget, but it does put you in the top 25% of households nationally, with an enviable amount of vacation. What needs to change about teacher pay is not the level but the structure: more cash up front, less promised 30 years from now. Bigger and earlier step-ups for people who demonstrate skill at teaching, fewer step-ups for just showing up year after year.

He's just a comedian. Comedy can't be used to influence an audience in an attempt to advance certain policy or political goals. Only people who are properly classified as "journalists" can do that.

Stewart's program is more liberal news coverage with a silly sarcastic delivery rather than straight laugh-centric comedy. He is closer to Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck than he is to Saturday Night Live.

Can we finally just be honest and admit that blacks are inherently dumber than Asians and whites

Just curious - do the numbers for Baltimore include money allocated for school meal programs? I would guess that would explain most of the disparity at the federal level, and maybe some at the state level.

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