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Friday, June 20, 2014

No. 000028 Tony Messenger has to go. Only Economics for Democrats can solve the Problems in Normandy Schools not Education nor DESE

Twitter, probably Facebook, and the Radical Left Media and the Reactionary Right have been all afire these last two days over the sensible decision by Frances Howell to stop accepting Normandy Transfer Students.

The worst offender was radical Tony Messenger who penned this nihilism for the Post:
What a shameful example for the entire region, for superintendents and school boards, kids and parents. The Francis Howell board showed us the worst of ourselves.
It’s not too late to change your minds. Please do the exact opposite. Choose unity over division. Choose education over profit. Choose right over wrong.
Ever since the Missouri Supreme Court ruled a year ago that children of unaccredited schools could transfer at no cost to their parents to a better school in an adjacent district or county, lawmakers, government officials, unions, reformers and political activists have been engaged in a game of picking winners and losers.
In that long, painful process, about the only thing that all sides could agree on is that every solution is good for somebody at the expense of somebody else. That is true of the proponents of more choice in public schools. It’s true of the teachers’ unions. It’s true of suburban superintendents and their school boards. It’s true of this editorial page. Every single solution proposed to provide better education opportunity for the children of Normandy and Riverview Gardens, and other districts that might become unaccredited and face the reality of the transfer crisis, is fraught with peril for some families and full of hope for others.
To the contrary, the solutions that would work for Normandy are not fraught with peril and do not pit anyone against anyone, in some game of picking winners and losers. The game in Mr. Messenger's mind is "open enrollment," forcing the taxpayers in our self-funding school districts to pay even more taxes in a social experiment that cannot work (we have been transferring students from the City of St. Louis for going on two generations now, without notable success).

Moderate Truman New Deal Democrats should be thankful that the insanity has stopped and should take the lull to accept responsibility for not having offered sound Democratic Party Economic solutions. 

A consistent theme of this blog is that the Missouri Democratic Party has ceased to function as a party, as it has no functional platform, and that the person responsible is Governor Jay Nixon.

Due to a lack of party platform on education and economic development we have no common vision permitting our pundit class to sell newpapers rather than solutions.

Our people perish without leadership. And, we suffer larger and larger losses in the General Assembly as term limits cut into our candidate pool, for lack of a cohesive platform means rough times in candidate recruitment.

Governor Jay Nixon has wasted an enormous personal opportunity through six years of practised disengagement.

Equally blameworthy, however, have been our Missouri Democratic Senators and Representatives who should have kept their public mouths shut and moved, in private, to develop a Missouri Democratic Party response to the transfer issue, a common platform for both legislating and campaigning of which the central feature would be strong public local family schools.

Regarding the school transfer issue it is a fool's folly to believe that schools, alone, regardless of whether operated by a local school board or DESE, or privately can produce the outcomes people say they want to see accomplished.

On any scale, such has never been done by the education anywhere in the United States.

The reason is very simple. The issue is an economic development issue not a school issue. The principal problem for Normandy is that not enough parents have good paying jobs. The only solution that might work is to treat the entire North County as a developing country. A necessary first step would be to abolish all of the local government units in North Saint Louis County putting the entire area into a strong regional government.

The close following step should be the Democratic economic principle of adopting devices that decrease the dependence on transfer payments for all fit to work, using the 1930's programs of the CCC, NYA, and WPA as prototypes but having the government provide a job for anyone fit to work.

If anyone asks, how do we pay for such, the answer is simple and direct, demand all our tax dollars back from the State of Missouri.

Yesterday, David Nicklaus tweeted:



Forty five percent of Missouri's' state income and sales taxes are raised in the Saint Louis region, but not spent here.

Return those taxes to St. Louis, were they will boost income, employment, and land values.

Last, some may ask, what are you saying about outstate Missouri. What I am saying is not important. Conservatives have come to realize that rural areas everywhere in the United States are on their last legs due to the brain drain of talent to our cities and urban areas. The story in Missouri over the next ten years is that Republican tax cuts are not going to create jobs but they are going to slash education, health care, and other needed social services.

Atlantic’s CityLab reports college graduates are migrating to cities (the larger, the better) in droves:
Overall, larger and more vibrant metros with strong knowledge economies, abundant artistic and cultural amenities, and open-minded attitudes are the ones that are attracting and retaining the most college graduates. On the flip side, these metros are losing less-educated residents who are increasingly unable to make ends meet. They are instead moving to smaller, less affluent, lower-cost places. In fact, we found no statistical association whatsoever between the movement of college grads and the net movement of those who did not finish high school. These very different migration patterns reinforce the ongoing economic and social bifurcation of the United States.
There are a few problems with this sorting pattern that are likely to affect (and indeed, already have affected) the cultural and economic structure of the U.S.

First, this pattern of migratory movement does not offer complementary job creation or innovation in more rural areas of America. Small towns only see a detrimental “brain drain,” rather than any rate of return on the education of their youth. Due to the amount of lower-skilled workers moving to these areas, they won’t suffer an immediate lack of potential employees. But the innovation and creation traditionally fostered by America’s bright young people will be solely concentrated in urban hubs, to the detriment of potential entrepreneurship in other areas

Rural Missouri is trapped in a non-virtuous circle or feed back loop. Look at the most important economic development issue which is broadband Internet access. The Republican Party is far more concerned about the rights of utility pole owners and small government than providing today what the 19th century equivalents of telegraph, telephone, and railroads, and the 20th century equivalent of paved roads.

Rural voters will either double down becoming either more reactionary due to increasing cognitive dissonance or they will move.

In sum, the school transfer issue is symptom not a cause. The condition of our local public schools in Normandy are not the fault of the educators there. They are merely symptoms of the economic illness of our entire Saint Louis Region. If you want better outcomes in Normandy's schools here are the polices that would work:


  • Return to the Saint Louis region all the sales and income taxes paid to the State of Missouri but spent outstate so that we could cut some taxes (earnings tax) and have the money to invest in jobs and higher education
  • A strong regional government, eliminating all our local municipalities and special purpose districts
  • Investment of $1billion or more per year in UMSL and Saint Louis University to turn both into top 30 academic institutions in the World, with UMSL offering a free education to any qualified candidate