Charter Schools, Traditional Public Schools, and $$

by Honolulu Mother

Charter and Traditional Public Schools Fight Over Money

The linked American Prospect article discusses conflicts between traditional public schools and public charter schools over the limited available pot of public education dollars. The specifics of the conflict vary from place to place depending on state laws, but I would think that the existence of the conflict must be pretty universal.

To me, both types of school have a place in the public education system, and I think our state does a reasonable job of balancing the interests by limiting the number of charter schools that can be created so that they offer an alternative to, but not a threat to the existence of, neighboring public schools. Our main problem is ensuring that freeing charter schools from the usual bureaucratic oversight doesn’t result in nepotism and other egregious misuse of public money. However, it sounds like some states have been less successful in finding a funding structure that works for both traditional and charter schools.

I’m sure you all have thoughts on this.

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102 thoughts on “Charter Schools, Traditional Public Schools, and $$

  1. Look at what has happened with charter schools in Detroit for a cautionary tale
    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/29/us/for-detroits-children-more-school-choice-but-not-better-schools.html

    This is a toxic brew of for profit charter companies, poor oversight, a refusal to close down unsucessful schools, and yes, poverty. One of my friends worked for one of the Michigan for profit charter companies for a few years, and she told me after this article came out that it exactly reflected what was going on. She added that her company was one of the chief culprits. They have made a move into the NYC area, which really concerns me.

  2. Wow. So, as usual, the issue is poor political planning leading to ever-tightening resources, to be fought over by more players.

    Fundamental problem #1: “Intensifying the heated political clash between charter schools and traditional school districts is that overall spending on public education, for all schools, has fallen.”

    Fundamental problem #2: Many states apparently chose not to fund teachers’ pension plans out of current revenue, but instead to rely on future teachers to provide sufficient payments to pay prior teachers’ pensions, based on an assumption of ever-increasing growth (e.g., the standard pyramid structure of the many at the bottom covering the few at the top). But the advent of the charter system has inverted that pyramid by siphoning off teachers and students (and their corresponding allocations under the state school budget) — but the current and future pension payments are still allocated to the school budgets and now must be covered by lower budgets and fewer current employee contributions. Sounds like Finn’s solar energy issue — at some point the stranded costs make the rates unaffordable for the few who remain.

    Sure, it’s not the charter schools’ fault — but it’s not the public schools’, either. It’s the state legislatures’ fault for choosing the present over the future at every turn. But it’s going to get fixed on the back of the teachers (who will find their pensions and salaries cut, because the state budgets can’t cover the costs, and there is no political will to raise taxes to cover the shortfall) and students (who will be offered fewer and fewer services and likely have to cover more fees and costs to participate in anything beyond core academics).

  3. We have two charter systems with schools nearby. We live at the border between working/solid middle class neighborhoods and middle class/UMC neighborhoods. In both systems (about 4 schools near us), what seems to be the case is the working/solid MC neighborhood families who are trying to work their way up the economic ladder are sending their kids to the charters. The charters require more parent involvment – must transport kids to school, must attend certain meetings, etc. These kids seem to be doing better than they did in their public school, but the public schools are left with fewer involved parents.

  4. “The linked American Prospect article discusses conflicts between traditional public schools and public charter schools over the limited available pot ”

    I don’t think pot has a place in traditional or charter public schools

  5. I spent many hours during May and June as the parent representative on interview committees to hire new teachers, special Ed teachers, and a guidance counselor.

    Many of the candidates for each position were coming out of NYC. It was incredible to hear the differences between each public school in the same city. Many times in the same borough. I know from my own experience as a child and now stories from my friends about how segregated some of the schools are in a city like NYC.

    The NYT Magazine just had an amazing, but thought provoking story about how one neighborhood in Brooklyn “self selects”, and kids can be segregated even in such a small location.

    I’ve never been a charter school fan, and that Detroit story sums up many of my own thoughts.

  6. Originally, charter schools were supposed to be these small scale, experimental schools. The idea was that they would be a lab for new and innovative approaches, and that the best of these approaches would be transferred to public schools. The ones that did not live up to their promise were supposed to be shut down. And they were supposed to be hyperlocal, freed of the bureaucracy of large school districts, with innovations bubbling up from the school itself.

    But this has largely not happened. Instead, they have largely been corporatized and now are their own mini bureaucracies, with control centered in an often remote company rather than with the teachers and parents. States are loathe to close down failed charters, especially since so many belong to companies with clout in the state government. And parents are given no tools, no good ways to choose the effective charters instead of the failed ones. So we have now ended up with a separate system of school bureucracies, running in parallel with the public system, with little local oversight or input.

    When it comes to school choice, I much prefer the magnet school method – specialty schools within the public system. I have a relative on DH’s side who teaches in one, in a very poor city, and I am very impressed with what they accomplish. But magnet schools can be failures too. I know of several cases of supposed “science and technology” magnet schools that have no higher level math or science courses!

  7. My son attends a non-profit charter. My kids have also attended public schools and the older one went to Catholic school for high school. I believe there is a place for charters, but share the concerns already mentioned. States need to be faster at shutting down poor performing schools. The provisions that allow for charters to do something different seem to make it easy for some to do almost nothing.

    In Texas, charters get the same funding for instruction as the public schools, but get no money for facilities.

    I am relatively happy with the charter. The Catholic school was more rigorous, and graded much harder. My second child is getting a 4.0 with considerably less effort than my first put in for a much lower GPA. The charter also keeps a clearly deficient teacher for the whole school year where the Catholic school gets rid of them immediately. I am not sure how the public schools handle that. I think the charters may actually need more oversight, at least on curriculum, but I think that is contrary to the whole concept. The primary criticism I have heard about the one my son attends is that because the founders of the nonprofit are immigrants that the school is affiliated with a particular religious sect and promotes Islam. The claims are ridiculous, but it is not something I worry about. My biggest concern is that they operate on a shoestring budget. My son volunteers there a lot during the summers, helping set up classrooms and doing minor manual labor. Orchestra is a club after school for people who already know how to play, and they have few sports opportunities.

  8. Our school scene is fragmented. We have traditional neighborhood schools, magnet schools, a tradition of strong private schools, some well established charter schools and now the rise of home schooling which is a strong challenger to the private and charter schools. From what I can tell, the charter space has become very crowded and the newer charters are struggling with enrollment leading to closure.

  9. Originally, charter schools were supposed to be these small scale, experimental schools.

    Ours are more along that line, probably because we don’t have any for-profits or national chains operating here.

    The controlling board did shut down the one school that was using funding on stuff like aromatherapy massages and then couldn’t pay its staff, but they left open the all-online one whose principal hired her sister, also a full-time flight attendant, as vice principal, and her nephew (I think?) with only a HS degree as athletic director (the school had no athletic program). AND THEY DIDN’T FIRE THE PRINCIPAL! OR HER SISTER! They just recently showed up in the news as having DAG’ed out on the criminal charges filed a year or two earlier, and they were still the principal and vice principal. I know the parents still like the school because it’s basically just a curriculum and grading services for homeschoolers, but geeze.

  10. We have a mix of independent and corporate run charters. MBT, I think we have the same charter here that you refer to as we have heard the same issues brought up. However, the families, non-Muslim, that attend them also debunk those perceptions.

  11. My kids have gone to a k-8 charter (DS just graduated, DD is going into 8th). It was great up until this past year when the new principal (in her second year) started making signifant changes. Parents and the kids have become very unhappy and a bunch of middle school teachers left at the end of the year.

    IMO, the main problem is like Mooshi said, they have moved away from the original intent of having local schools geared to the specific needs of the community and have these for-profit companies taking over.

  12. The local public school system that serves our neighborhood is dreadful, and in recent years has lost about 10% of its students. There are a few charter schools, none run by corporations, but most of the outflow has been to better-ranked neighboring districts with liberal enrollment policies and to private schools that accept state-sponsored vouchers. Coming from northern Virginia, where real estate ads routinely describe homes by the highly-sought after school pyramid name, it’s surprising to me that the cost of a house does not seem to be affected by the SAT scores at the local high school.

    There are several magnet options, and the few people I know from the university or the neighborhood whose kids are in public school are at the IB magnet high school after Catholic K-8. I think that charter schools can be good option (KIPP seems to be doing a great job), but the hard-core dysfunctional parents are probably not going to be making the effort to move their kids there.

  13. MBT, is the charter your DS attends publicly funded? I would find it unacceptable for taxpayer funds to be used to promote any religion.

  14. “Coming from northern Virginia, where real estate ads routinely describe homes by the highly-sought after school pyramid name”

    They routinely do, but that generally means the house is an overpriced shit hole.

  15. Coming from northern Virginia, where real estate ads routinely describe homes by the highly-sought after school pyramid name, it’s surprising to me that the cost of a house does not seem to be affected by the SAT scores at the local high school.

    Who is right in that case? I think the evidence would point to your current neighbors being correct.

  16. HM, I know a few families who sent kids to Thompson Academy. All off their kids who went there had been homeschooling immediately prior, and the families viewed Thompson as state sponsored homeschooling.

    A while back, we saw one of those families at a piano recital of DS’ piano teacher. Turns out that Thompson was paying for their kid’s lessons.

  17. They routinely do, but that generally means the house is an overpriced shit hole.

    To what degree to parents mistakenly believe the schools are responsible for those scores? I certainly don’t think the evidence is there to support the impact of school quality on outcomes within the range of areas totebaggers would live. Indeed, the evidence would tend to indicate the opposite. Kids in more mediocre schools tend to better than the same kid would do in a more competitive school. Big fish, small pond etc.

  18. You’re preaching to the choir, Rhett.

    I don’t have much to say about charters because I’m not familiar with them, but I think Mooshi has some reasonable and biting criticisms.

  19. Finn, exactly, that’s why the parents sending kids there think it’s great — they’re still homeschooling, but someone else is providing the curriculum and they get what looks like a regular school transcript. Plus apparently free money for extracurriculars!

  20. The charter my son attends is publicly funded, but I must have been unclear. The Catholic school reference was to the school my daughter attended, which is just a point of comparison. The charter has been accused of promoting Islam, but absolutely does not. One of the things I like about it,though, is that I know they are going to teach science no matter what the Texas school board does to curriculum.

    I also would oppose taxpayer funds going to a religious school, and oppose vouchers for that reason. We sought out different school options because the schools in are district are huge and because they offer no support to kids with learning issues unless they are failing. The charter is not significantly better on that front, but is granting one or two very basic accommodations.

  21. One of my clients is really involved in charter schools – different state, but they tend to be focused on a specific aim like “math and science” or similar. From the school-founder’s perspective, it is difficult to start one because you get only the state per-pupil amount and no $$ for facilities. I have never used one or looked at one for our kids.

  22. I may have mentioned here in the past that I think a key parental responsibility is finding good peer groups for their kid’s. Buying homes in high performing school districts is one way to try to meet that responsibility.

    I’ll also guess that at most high performing schools, high SAT scores are something to be proud of and to strive for, which is not necessarily the case in lower performing schools.

  23. high SAT scores are something to be proud of and to strive for

    There doesn’t seem to be all that much evidence that striving for it matters.

  24. Finn – I believe the school MBT is referencing has schools in my area as well. The school does received public funds and is not “officially” affiliated with any religion. Because the founder is from a particular country and the school has a history of bringing in teachers on visas from the country, there are perceptions about a religious affiliation.

    I know three families that have their kids on three of their campuses in our area. All are exetremely pleased with the education and do not feel that these reglious affliation perceptions are founded. Two of the families’ kids would otherwise be in very low performing schools. One chose the charter because if you transfer out of the school you are zoned for, the family must provide transportation. The charter was the only option within their resources to transport to. They have kids in the elementary and high school. The other two families chose the school because of the science focus on a particular middle school campus in town.

  25. I believe one of the reasons Thompson has so much money to spend on nepotism is that, as a homeschool facilitator, they have minimal expenses for classrooms and teachers.

    I think if the DOE took over that particular niche, it might save the state some money. And rather than pay for private music lessons, it could give those kids the option to take music classes at the local public school.

  26. My friend put her daughter in a charter because her neighbors in her primarily Asian neighborhood were moving their kids there. The school did well, because I suspect that there was a high concentration of Asian kids with involved parents. However, the school could not get more students to continue to offer higher grades. I suspect that the high concentration of Asian students put the school at a disadvantage in attracting new enrollees. She mentioned that the school was thinking of offering a private option for higher grades. After three years or so she is again looking for a different alterative to her neighborhood public. She has never mentioned what issues if any she had with that school.

  27. “good peer groups for their kid’s. Buying homes in high performing school districts is one way to try to meet that responsibility.”

    To the extent that affluence correlates with a “good” peer group. I suppose you could say that you could find an even better peer group for your kids if you only associate with families who drive at least one luxury car.

  28. Finn, that’s what I’ve thought too. The principal is a former deputy superintendent as I recall, who in that position did a study on the feasibility of an online school, and then moved on to be the principal of just such a school. She would have been well positioned to understand just how much delta there might be between the state’s per-student funding and the actual costs of running such a school

  29. Finn, I don’t think the high SAT score is a good indicator of where to live in certain parts of the country. I’m thinking of a district that is very close to me, MM/CoC.

    They have very high SAT scores, but I would never want to raise a child in that town. Especially a girl. The high SAT scores come with pockets of extreme wealth. Those parents can “buy” a top SAT score because so many of those students have private SAT and subject tutors. I’m sure the public high school in that town is great, but when I hear about some of the social issues associated with living there….ugh.

  30. Those parents can “buy” a top SAT score because so many of those students have private SAT and subject tutors.

    The evidence doesn’t point to that as being possible to any significant degree. It’s far more likely that the kinds of abilities that result in one living in one of NYC’s most affluent suburbs are heritable and have been passed down to their children.

    In short, the quality of the output reflects the quality of the input with the process applied during the interim having a fairly marginal impact.

  31. Rhett – I think that, at the very least, forcing yourself to take practice tests can bump up your score. I believe it did for me, since I got a 1070 on 9th grade PSAT, an 11 something 10th grade, 1260 11th grade, did a bunch of practice tests and attended a low-cost class, and got 1400 the one time I took the SAT.

    Of course, I also got more familiar with the math, and had more advanced verbal exposure, but even from Fall to Spring of junior year, that’s still a big jump. It doesn’t take much money at all to get a practice book and do it, provided one is self-motivated; I think the difference in the affluent districts is that the parents are eager to pay a private tutor, so self-motivation is much less of a factor.

    Finn and I probably still disagree about whether having parents willing and able to pay a tutor $50 an hour or more makes a kid a more suitable peer.

  32. I should have been more specific. These kids have tutors for a lot of subjects starting in 8th grade algebra.

    They have private coaches to make a sports team, they have paid college advisors, paid help with college essays, and then private SAT tutors.

    One of my neighbors moved from that town to supposedly give her son a better shot at Ivys.

    Oldest son just got into an Ivy, and now she’s working on the rising senior. She said living in her old town was like being home schooled because all of the top students had tutors for most subjects.

  33. then private SAT tutors.

    Which sure seems to be the perfect scam. The kids will do better every time they take the actual test. But, if you’re paying $110/hr to a tutor you’re going to think it’s the tutor not just the natural bump that anyone would get.

  34. The beneficial effect of ANY sorting mechanism for schooling (home, charter, religious, private, magnet, restrictive zoning/high housing price) comes initially from the fact that the parents/guardians of the attendees are informed, interested and capable of finding something other than a marginal to terrible no effort default school. You don’t have to be an overzealous Ivy chaser or think your child is a special snowflake to be paying that little bit of attention, but if the default school for your child has become the dumping bin for all the children whose parents don’t have the tools or inclination to pay any attention at all, finding an alternative becomes another requirement for middle class parenting. If you find yourself in a neighborhood where the public school students and parents provide an inoffensive peer group, there are adequate teachers and facilities, you have no intellectual or religious objections to the tenor of the instruction, and your expectations and your child’s abilities and inclinations fit with what is available, there is no need for a menu of options, publicly funded or not.

  35. Lauren, there are two districts near here that fit your description, and I agree, I would not want my kid in one of those districts. I had a co-worker who had gone to HS in one of them, and he told me that it was both academically and socially a real pressure cooker. The kids are under extreme pressure to get all A’s, do really well on the SATs, get accepted to IVy’s (he went to Columbia) and look gorgeous and perfectly dressed while doing it.

  36. SAT prep course are a standard feature at the Chinese and Korean Saturday schools (not so much the Japanese schools because those kids all go back to Japan for college), and the NYC Chinese schools also all feature test prep for the entry exams to the elite high schools. Asian families clearly believe it makes a difference.

  37. Multiple studies have shown test prep offers only minimal improvement in test scores. Other factors appear to have much more affect on achievement levels.

  38. Mooshi, I forgot that your sandwiched between two districts. I was talking about the one to your north.

  39. “$1,168,000, but think of the peers at Langley H.S.!”

    That house is way too close to the Beltway. But it looks oh so familiar.

    We wanted the school pyramid with high test scores, SAT or otherwise, because they are a marker for the peer group amenities Finn mentioned. DH and I both went to very middling high schools without many high-achieving students. It was not fun to be a high-achieving student there, and we agreed that, if we could manage it, we would never send our kids to that kind of school. Other people have different reactions to being the big fish in the small pond.

    We had friends who bought houses in more “affordable” parts of Fairfax County without giving much thought to the school situation. They were not happy to discover that half of the kids in their son’s kindergarten class were learning English as a second language because their neighborhood of nice middle class homes was surrounded by garden apartment complexes. There was a reason that their house was cheaper than comparable homes in our neighborhood.

  40. It was not fun to be a high-achieving student there, and we agreed that, if we could manage it, we would never send our kids to that kind of school.

    Then, for you, it was more about purchasing a luxury good along the lines of a luxury car or first class plane ticket*. Is it going to get you to a better place or get you there any faster? Unlikely. Will it be more pleasant and comfortable and will the service be better? Certainly.

    * A very totebagger approved luxury good at that.

  41. “It was not fun to be a high-achieving student there, and we agreed that, if we could manage it, we would never send our kids to that kind of school.”

    It would appear that your eldest has not internalized that aspect of totebag values, and has taken the opposite tack.

    I mean, you try to raise kids up the best you know how, teach them right from wrong, and then they just up and do this: move to some Podunk town in the Midwest where there are no good options for brunch.

  42. Who was looking to go to Europe but airlines prices were crazy? Delta is having a fare sale to Europe. $800 to Sweden. Not bad.

  43. That was me, and we gave up on Europe. I agree that $800 to Sweden isn’t bad, but a lot of the problem was unexpected home maintenance costs. Plus Sweden wasn’t really on our list of places in Europe.

    I think we have pretty much finalized our trip. We are doing a bit of a road trip – camping and biking first in the Champlain Islands, then on to the Laurentians where we will camp some more. Then, a total contrast, we are staying for a couple of nights at a nice hotel in the resort village at Mont Tremblant. And then finally, off to Ottawa, which has miles and miles of bike paths, and our hotel has a “bike friendly” program – they are right on the Rideau Canal bikepath, and they have secure storage for bikes. This trip will give us a bit of luxury, allow us to do a lot of biking, and also will bring in the culture aspect – lots of great museums in Ottawa. And the kids can practice their French.

    The fun part will be transporting 5 bikes that far.

  44. Wait a minute, Rhett and Milo. I suppose each of you intends his snide comment as good natured ribbing, but they have a bit too much bite for me not to come to Scarlett’s defense. I was unhappy and a misfit intellectually and socially for the entire 12 years of my elementary and secondary education, and I wasn’t in terrible schools and I was less privileged in background than most of my classmates. With little money as a parent, I expended a lot of effort trying to find the right school fit for my kids. It wasn’t to assure them the golden ticket to my desired version of the UMC life or to keep them from associating with people with unapproved values growing up. And it is absolutely “not done” to put HSS decals on your car window, so it wasn’t to gain public bragging rights for the two high achievers. (I did look for a Wossamotta U. decal – pre internet so I didn’t find one) It was so they wouldn’t have to pass as regular to keep from getting teased or spend 75% of 4th grade looking out the window trying not to get into trouble or listening to teachers who told them things that were false.

  45. That sounds like a great trip.

    We have 1.5 days in Anchorage on our upcoming trip that aren’t yet planned out. If anyone has been and has suggestions, I would love to hear them. Honestly it seems like a slightly uninspiring city but it’s our jumping off point for the rest of the trip.

  46. Meme – just curious, did any of your kids do their schooling at the neighborhood schools or were they all at other schools ? How about your grand kids ? Do you see the schools in the weathlier suburban Boston towns as meeting their needs ?

  47. The fun part will be transporting 5 bikes that far.

    Mooshi, what do you use for transporting 5 bikes? DD finally is fully up to speed on riding a bike (it was a long struggle) so now we’ve outgrown the 3-bike trunk rack I’ve had for 20 years (if anyone is looking for a 3-bike rec, this one is awesome – https://www.saris.com/product/bones3)

    Anyway, the only 4-bike racks I’ve seen are the hitch mount ones, which cost $300-$500 or more, plus it’s another $150 or so to have a hitch mount installed. And DD’s bike won’t fit on the current rack anyway because there’s not enough space between the bars, it’s a “girl’s bike” style. The only thing I can think of is to get a roof rack and put DD’s bike up there and the other three on the back rack.

  48. DD – we have a hitch rack on the van. Nothing else compares to its ability to hold weight, as it’s bolted into the frame. Also, all the crossovers and minivans nowadays seem to have that little plastic spoiler over the back window (aerodynamics/fuel efficiency), which is not great for a hanging rack to weigh on.

  49. We have the kind that goes on the hitch mount. We have had it for several years now, and it gets heavily used in the summer. It goes on in May and is taken off in November. This will be the farthest we have gone with 5 bikes – up to this point, we have gotten them up to the Adirondacks.

  50. Rhett, it is possible,albeit against the rules and possibly illegal, to buy a better test score. I’ve read of people who find really smart people to take the test for your kid,for a price,with a guaranteed minimum score.

    That level of cheating aside, I think prep can make a difference, and I want my kids in a school where they will exchange tips and info on how to improve their scores.

    I do agree that without cheating there’s a ceiling to how high tutoring and test prep will raise one’s score.

  51. Denver, there’s one of those platform 4-bike racks on CL for $250.

    But is your dd’s bike a problem because it lacks a cross bar? You can get a clip-on cross bar for hanging-rack transport.

  52. Milo, the problem is there isn’t enough space between the bars to get it on a hanging-rack. I’ve tried posting a link to it twice and my posts keep getting eaten, so that’s why there are so many if they show up.

    And again, I don’t have a hitch mount so that’s $150 on top of the price of any hitch rack.

  53. “It would appear that your eldest has not internalized that aspect of totebag values, and has taken the opposite tack.”

    Ha ha. Yes, it would certainly appear that way. However, I know that he and his brothers rarely felt like outliers because they were interested in books and learning, and that is worth a lot. Though DS#1 does admit that no one at his current workplace shares his longstanding interest in British politics, so on the day after Brexit he was forced to text his DC friends to discuss it all. It’s probably easier to live in Podunk when you have a smartphone.

  54. “It was so they wouldn’t have to pass as regular to keep from getting teased or spend 75% of 4th grade looking out the window trying not to get into trouble or listening to teachers who told them things that were false.”

    Yes. This. My vocation as a comma queen began in fifth grade, when the teacher wrote “perscription” on the board and my classmates made fun of me for raising my hand to correct her.

  55. Thanks for the link Milo, I wasn’t aware of those. We still have the issue of not having a hitch mount that adds to the cost of any hitch rack.

  56. DD, could you fit the girl bike inside the car, perhaps with the front wheel, or both wheels, removed?

    If not, adding a hitch might make sense. There are a lot of other things you can use with a hitch, and it will increase the value of the car.

    Most roof racks require rails. If you don’t already have rails on your car, don’t forget that cost if you decide to shop for a new rack.

  57. IME, rear racks in general are preferable to roof racks. Bikes on the roof can really cut gas mileage, especially at freeway speeds, and also can collect a lot of smashed dead bugs. And of course they require you to remember the bikes before driving into your garage.

  58. Finn, we’d have to take both wheels off to have a chance to get it inside, and even if it fits, taking the rear wheel off and putting it back on is a pain in the a$$. We’ve had the car over 5 years now and haven’t needed a hitch yet, so I’m not expecting to need it any time soon. And how much does it increase the value? Certainly not more than the cost of installing it :) We do have the rails, otherwise I wouldn’t even consider a roof rack.

    I know I’m just being stubborn now.

  59. My vocation as a comma queen began in fifth grade, when the teacher wrote “perscription” on the board and my classmates made fun of me for raising my hand to correct her.

    Having done something similar, I have to ask: Have you ever considered that you may have aspergers?

  60. Lark – I only know bit about Anchorage. The Anchorage Museum (history, art, etc – all under one roof) – is quite lovely and has a very fancy restaurant. Much nicer happy hour than I could have expected – I imagine the meals are nice, too. If you have any interest in buying Native craft work, the quality and prices in the Museum shop are quite good.

    Downtown is quite walkable (including to and from the museum) and has some quirky and fun stores, as well as galleries. Snow City Cafe is where everybody eats breakfast – there seems to always be a wait, but it is totally worth it. Captain Cook’s lounge is nice for a drink – and great for people watching, it is quite the local scene – but the food is unremarkable.

    It’s a 10 minute drive from downtown, but Alaska Fur Exchange is a bizarre/horrifying stop (if you have a car and are not against fur) – tons of complete skins, high end fur products, as well as tacky tourist souvenirs.

    An (unfulfilled) dream of mine – to hit up Anchorage Costco. I love that Costco often has a local element (loved the selection at Costco Cabo San Lucas), and would be interested to see what they have at Anchorage Costco. Next time I am in Anchorage with a car, it will be on my list.

    The airport tends to be busiest through the night – most shops and such are open all night long. A lot of flights depart in the wee hours, so that people can be on the West Coast at 6a to connect somewhere else.

  61. Louise –

    My three older kids all attended the working class public school 4 blocks from my house through 4th grade. (The looking out the window is an actual reference) The sort of school where they still sang God bless America and called teachers Mrs Murphy. (It is now a charter school). The other neighborhood schools called the teachers Sally and Jim and one had its eighth grade trip to Cuba when that wasn’t exactly legal, so I picked the lesser evil. The youngest went across town to a double immersion bilingual program housed in the poorest school where everyone was on free lunch. The girls got scholarships to an elite girls’ prep school (where one took Latin and Greek!) for 5th grade on. The boys went to public middle and finished up at the public high school. I did what I could to steer their education through all that. The older one was in a private special needs school for 3 years at the insistence of the school system – not for academic reasons. But even he at 9 was called encyclopedia brown for his big words and manner of speech.

    I only have 2 years of granddaughter one and a year of town preschool for granddaughter 2 for evaluation, but there is no reason to think that the public schools in that suburban town (one of the top three systems in the state, which are also the ones with the largest proportion of high achievement ethnic groups) will not continue to meet their needs. When they get to middle and high school they may not get into the highest track or even seek it out because that sort of focus (and elite college attendance) is not prioritized by their parents, but they will hold their own throughout life when compared to tutored peers on sheer natural gifts and cultural capital.

  62. Thanks Meme.
    In the years past, DH would argue with me saying that our friends who were professionals but didn’t appear to be Totebaggy would stay in more urban areas where they had bought condos or were long time renters. Turns out he was very wrong because all slowly moved to areas with very good school districts. I laughed when I saw the VA lot that Milo posted. My friends bought a similar house/lot but in a wealthy town in CT. They didn’t raze the house though, they still live in it.

  63. Not a chance Rhett. DH does have at least two colleagues on the spectrum though. Some disciplines seem to attract them, and academic life can be a good one if they have some handlers in the department who can help with social cues.

    A few months ago, I noticed a sign at Whole Foods (!) that directed shoppers to the dairy “isle,” further suggesting that shoppers in need of assistance contact a staff member. Though sorely tempted to request a rowboat, I let it go. But when it was still there the following week, I approached the employee who most looked like an English major. She was suitably horrified.

  64. Shooting of Dallas police is crazy and scary! Some black guy was hanged from a tree in Atlanta and another shooting.
    This world is becoming vicious.

  65. The hanging was determined to be a suicide, although it seems not yet definitive.

  66. I saw the Dallas news last night before I went to bed. This feels like the beginning of a vicious downward spiral. I think the areas that most need the police are going to really suffer.

  67. The areas that most need police are already suffering higher rates of violent crime. A young black man is far more likely to be killed by another young black man than in any police shooting, justified or unjustified. Perhaps if all of those killings were captured by videocamera and livestreamed on Facebook, activists might start a new movement.

  68. A young black man is far more likely to be killed by another young black man than in any police shooting

    I guess it makes it OK then.

  69. The report I just read indicated that one shooter spoke extensively with police before being killed. Not clear yet whether he was the sole shooter, since the other individual whose photo was circulated turned himself in and was released immediately. (To me, the sight of private individuals carrying long guns openly in a crowded city setting is jarring, but his behavior is legal and apparently not unusual in Texas.) following up on our post from last week on Orlando, his reported words could cause us to label his crime as one or all of: a) work of deranged lone wolf, b) hate crime against whites, c) domestic terrorism against law enforcement, d) urban thuggery. The ensuing discussion, blame and excuse making as always will be shaped by the targets, the context and the make up of the shooter.

  70. I notice a lot of Second Amendment advocates claim that an armed population is required in case the government starts to trample on the rights of its citizens. Isn’t the sniper just exercising his Second Amendment rights as they see them? Or… have they really not though this all through?

  71. Thank you Ada.

    I can’t even on the news today. So much grief, and I look at my boys and think how unbearable it must be to lose your child through violence. I am filled with sorrow for the parents and families of all the victims.

  72. They are saying the Atlanta guy was probably a suicide with no signs of foul play, but Twitter users are rushing to judgement and are outraged.

  73. I notice a lot of Second Amendment advocates claim that an armed population is required in case the government starts to trample on the rights of its citizens. Isn’t the sniper just exercising his Second Amendment rights as they see them? Or… have they really not though this all through?

    Exactly, Rhett. I don’t think any social movement gains traction without violence. Everyone worships Martin Luther King, but he wouldn’t have made any progress without Malcolm X, Angela Davis, the Black Panthers, etc., threatening armed revolution in the background. The white establishment glommed onto King to prevent the more violent aspects of the movement from proceeding. See also: the Labor movement in the 1920s and 30s. Lots of bombs and killings.

    I wish it were not the case. But the BLM movement won’t make any progress until more cops get shot. I’m not endorsing this; I’m just reporting/predicting.

  74. Meme – I grew up in Dallas. In high school, it was very common for the guys to have rifles (and large knives and sundry camping gear) in their vehilces on Fridays as they would leave directly from school to go hunting. On any given Friday, that could be as many as 25 rifles. No one really thought twice about it and no one had ever been hurt.

    Now, I can’t image the chaos that would insue from that many guns on a high school campus. I also don’t understand the mindset that allows someone to kill other people unless you are physically threatened.

  75. Scarlett, the cops are supposed to protect citizens, not be source of killings! You certainly don’t believe it’s the same as two gang members killing each other?

  76. AustinMom – my dad was in the Rifle Club at his high school (in the 50s)! He would bring his rifle on the bus. Even the yearbook picture of the Club has them posed with their rifles.

  77. My point is that notwithstanding mainstream and social media coverage, the horrific killings of black men are statistical outliers. The black on black killings are apparently acceptable collateral damage.

    And I strongly disagree that movements for social change require violence.

  78. Of course the killings by police are outliers is what I meant. Hate posting on the phone.

  79. I don’t think any social movement gains traction without violence

    The gay rights movement was nonviolent.

  80. I understand gun ownership justifed on the basis of hunting and shooting sports. I kind of understand gun ownershp justified on the basis of self protection (though the scant research out there seems to suggest that gun ownership puts themselves and their families at more risk). I do not get gun ownership justified on the basis of needing to use force against the government. I mean, who gets to decide when shooting a gun at a government official is justified?

  81. “The gay rights movement was nonviolent.”

    I generally agree. There was not widespread violence, bombings, street riots. There was some of that.

    And, adding to RMS…Matthew Shepard

  82. If I weren’t on my phone I could link to evidence that Shepard wasn’t killed because he was gay.

    And I don’t think that the women’s movement was all that violent.

  83. And I don’t think that the women’s movement was all that violent.

    In the years leading up to the First World War, the United Kingdom was subjected to a ferocious campaign of bombing and arson. Those conducting this terrorist offensive were members of the Women’s Social and Political Union; better known as the suffragettes.

  84. Interesting. I knew about the hunger strikers (from watching Upstairs, Downstairs) but not about this, all in the UK:

    “Throughout the country members of the WSPU made themselves busy targeting the establishment and political elite who they viewed did not support their campaign.

    The contents of hundreds of letter boxes were set alight or corrosive acids or liquids poured over the letters and postcards inside, and thousands of shop and office windows were smashed with hammers. Telephone wires were cut, and graffiti slogans began appearing on the streets.

    Across the country specially selected empty houses were burned down, many of them belonging to prominent members of society, and the refreshment rooms on several of the Royal Parks were attacked by the arsonists.

    The symbols of sole male preserves were attacked. Golf courses were dug and huge slogans painted across the greens. Cricket pavilions were set alight, as were horse racing venues.

    In the British Museum exhibits were damaged, and in the National Gallery paintings including one of the Duke of Wellington were attacked with an axe. In the Tower of London a jewellery case was smashed, and the Tate Gallery was forced to close.”

    http://www.historyhouse.co.uk/articles/suffragettes.html

    But unlike male protestors, they didn’t kill anyone, and even their choices of targets (empty houses and a jewelry case) seems, well, considerate. They probably didn’t know that they could set things on fire with a magnifying glass.

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