Betsy DeVos and the Plan to Break Public Schools

This lack of transparency has not translated into stellar academic results: student standardized-test scores at charter schools, the paper found, were no more than comparable with those at traditional public schools. And, despite the rhetoric of “choice,” lower-income students were effectively segregated into poorer-performing schools, while the parents of more privileged students were better equipped to navigate the system.

.. “It was created by an ideological lobby that has zealously championed free-market education reform for decades, with little regard for the outcome.” DeVos was at the center of that lobby; her lodestar, Henderson wrote, “has been her conviction that any nontraditional public school is better than a traditional one, simply because it is not operated by government.”

Trump: Tribune Of Poor White People

Heroin addiction is rampant.  In my medium-sized Ohio county last year, deaths from drug addiction outnumbered deaths from natural causes.  The average kid will live in multiple homes over the course of her life, experience a constant cycle of growing close to a “stepdad” only to see him walk out on the family, know multiple drug users personally, maybe live in a foster home for a bit (or at least in the home of an unofficial foster like an aunt or grandparent), watch friends and family get arrested, and on and on. And on top of that is the economic struggle, from the factories shuttering their doors to the Main Streets with nothing but cash-for-gold stores and pawn shops.

.. Whatever the merits of better tax policy and growth (and I believe there are many), the simple fact is that these policies have done little to address a very real social crisis.

.. His apocalyptic tone matches their lived experiences on the ground.  He seems to love to annoy the elites, which is something a lot of people wish they could do but can’t because they lack a platform.

.. these people, his voters, are proud.  A big chunk of the white working class has deep roots in Appalachia, and the Scots-Irish honor culture is alive and well.  We were taught to raise our fists to anyone who insulted our mother.

.. Unsurprisingly, southern, rural whites enlist in the military at a disproportionate rate.  Can you imagine the humiliation these people feel at the successive failures of Bush/Obama foreign policy?

.. the barely-banked contempt they — the professional-class whites, I mean — have for poor white people is visceral, and obvious to me. Yet it is invisible to them.

..  “We”–meaning hillbillies–“are the only group of people you don’t have to be ashamed to look down upon.”

.. humans appear to have some need to look down on someone; there’s just a basic tribalistic impulse in all of us.

.. By looking down on the hillbilly, you can get that high of self-righteousness and superiority without violating any of the moral norms of your own tribe.  So your own prejudice is never revealed for what it is.

.. A lot of it is pure disconnect–many elites just don’t know a member of the white working class.

.. this condescension is a big part of Trump’s appeal.  He’s the one politician who actively fights elite sensibilities

.. this condescension is a big part of Trump’s appeal.  He’s the one politician who actively fights elite sensibilities

.. they’ve been looking for someone for a while who will declare war on the condescenders.  If nothing else, Trump does that.

.. what elites see as blunders people back home see as someone who–finally–conducts themselves in a relatable way.  He shoots from the hip; he’s not constantly afraid of offending someone; he’ll get angry about politics; he’ll call someone a liar or a fraud.  This is how a lot of people in the white working class actually talk about politics,

.. all the talk about “political correctness” isn’t about any specific substantive point, as much as it is a way of expanding the scope of acceptable behavior.

.. the meta-narrative of the 2016 election is learned helplessness as a political value

.. Believing you have no control is incredibly destructive

.. The first time I encountered this idea was in my exposure to addiction subculture,

.. there’s a recognition of the role of better choices in addressing these problems.  The refusal to talk about individual agency is in some ways a consequence of a very detached elite, one too afraid to judge and consequently too handicapped to really understand.

.. I think that’s the only way to have this conversation and to make the necessary changes: sympathy and honesty.

.. One of the things I mention in the book is that domestic strife and family violence are cultural traits

.. I had to learn, with the help of my aunt and sister (both of whom had successful marriages), but especially with the help of my wife, how not to turn every small disagreement into a shouting match or a public scene.

.. They’re right that it’s a cultural problem: I learned domestic strife
from my mother, and she learned it from her parents.  

.. “They want us to be shepherds to these kids, but they ignore that many of them are raised by wolves.”  Again, they’re not all wrong: certainly some schools are unfairly funded.  But there’s this weird refusal to deal with the poor as moral agents in their own right.  In some cases, the best that public policy can do is help people make better choices, or expose them to better influences through better family policy (like my Mamaw).

.. two of the biggest predictors of low upward mobility were 1) living in neighborhoods with concentrated poverty and 2) growing up in a neighborhood with a lot of single mothers.

.. I’d make one important point: that not drinking, treating people well, working hard, and so forth, requires a lot of willpower when you didn’t grow up in privilege.

.. for a kid like me, the Marine Corps was basically a four-year education in character and self-management.

.. The other thing the Marine Corps did is hold our hands and prevent us from making stupid decisions.  It didn’t work on everyone, of course, but I remember telling my senior noncommissioned officer that I was going to buy a car, probably a BMW.  “Stop being an idiot and go get a Honda.” Then I told him that I had been approved for a new Honda, at the dealer’s low interest rate of 21.9 percent.  “Stop being an idiot and go to the credit union.”

.. On the one hand, he criticized the elites and actually acknowledge the hurt of so many working class voters. After so many years of Republican politicians refusing to even talk about factory closures, Trump’s message is an oasis in the desert.  But of course he spent way too much time appealing to people’s fears, and he offered zero substance for how to improve their lives.  It was Trump at his best and worst.

.. It’s not just that he inflames the tribalism of the Right; it’s that he encourages the worst impulses of the Left.