Saturday, February 18, 2012

Weekend Reading: The Random Unrelated Things Edition

As I drove to work yesterday, I remembered one more way I deal with stress- the "what am I so worried about?" game. I was running late. Petunia had slept in, and woke up showing signs that she might be getting sick (and indeed she was- day care called after nap to tell us she had a fever). She seemed cranky, but didn't register a fever. She eventually asked for the "ice bunny"- a little plastic ice cube wrapped in a bunny that we use when the kids hurt themselves. She took the ice bunny and put it on top of her head. So we guessed she had a headache and gave her some tylenol. She perked up not long after, but the damage to my morning routine was done. I left the house 10 minutes late.

To make matters worse, I had told my team that I'd bring them donuts, since we had been pushing hard all week to get a demo ready for today. And the car needed gas.

As I headed down the hill toward the freeway, I was feeling the stress that comes from running late, but then I asked myself what I was so worried about? Did it really matter if I was 30 minutes late today? The answer was no. I had no meetings until 9:00- and I was on track to get to work by 8:30.  No one would care if I was late.

(Even on days when I do have an early meeting, it would not usually matter all that much if I was late, as long as I don't make a habit of it.)

I use this trick a lot. It works really well when combined with a certain amount of financial security- if what I am so worried about is that I might get fired, well, so what? I'd be OK if I was.

And this last thought reminds me of one of the things that puzzles me the most about the narrative about mothers in high powered careers- we forget the impact of money. I can buy my way out of a lot of work-life balance conundrums, from things as minor as not worrying about buying lunch if I don't have time to make it to things as major as deciding that we can just pay for an after school Spanish class if that is what we want for our daughter. Heck, if push came to shove, we could easily just pay for private school.

There are many, many mothers who do not have that luxury, and yet are working just as hard as I am. Why don't we as a society worry more about how hard it is to combine motherhood with working two or three minimum wage jobs to make ends meet? THAT seems like a big problem to me, worthy of the societal hand-wringing that we instead apply to wondering about whether women like Sheryl Sandberg and Hillary Clinton can truly be "good mothers". (Chelsea Clinton seems to have turned out pretty well....)

Which brings me (finally!) to my first link: Scalzi had a wonderful rant up yesterday about rich people whining rather cluelessly. As he points out in his rant, people like me and my husband (who aren't even in the 1%!) may have problems, but money really shouldn't be one of them. I would extend that to add that we should also be aware of how much our money makes things easier for us.

While we're on the subject of the privileges money buys, here's an interesting article from Slate about homeschooling/unschooling, which argues that taking this route usually requires a certain amount of money. Note that I said "interesting" and not "100% correct'- but I do agree that money probably makes choosing those options a lot easier. And I was struck by the fact that someone in the article is quoted as saying she doesn't want strangers raising her kids, a refrain that will be familiar to people who use day care. It is disheartening to see it applied to school age kids, too.

I also came across another excellent, albeit older, Scalzi post, about when he first realized that homophobia was wrong. I particularly liked this quote:

"there’s a difference between the fact that the universe is inherently unfair on a cosmic level, and the fact that life is unfair because people are actively making it so."

On a completely different subject: I really liked this post by Laura Vanderkam about getting out of a rut. I particularly like her story at the end about how she got a book deal for her book 168 Hours: I think she is right that a lot of what we perceive as "luck" in people who succeed in pursuits like writing is actually persistence,  and a willingness to try a lot of things.

On another completely different subject: I found this beautiful post about having an empty nest via @AskMoxie's twitter feed.  She has a follow up that will probably make most parents chuckle and wince in equal parts.

Happy Weekend, everyone! Petunia seems to be on the mend already, and Pumpkin seems to have dodged this cold (she looked like she was getting sick last night, but is fine this morning), so I'm optimistic about ours.

26 comments:

  1. "There are many, many mothers who do not have that luxury, and yet are working just as hard as I am. Why don't we as a society worry more about how hard it is to combine motherhood with working two or three minimum wage jobs to make ends meet? "

    Yes. This. Whether we stay at home, work part-time, or work a 40-hour paid-work week that we totally enjoy.

    thanks.

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  2. The Slate article about homeschooling makes some good points, but I disagree with the argument that you can only homeschool if you're well-off and one parent stays home. I know plenty of homeschooling families who are not well off by any means, and I also know several homeschool families, mine included, where both parents work. As the article notes, homeschooling is done by a wide variety of people in a wide variety of ways these days. I definitely don't think that everyone should homeschool, but to say that it's an option open only to the privileged and stay at home moms incorrectly makes it a class/mommy wars issue when it doesn't need to be.

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  3. As you know, I think the premise (as stated in the title) of the homeschooling article is ridiculous. I don't actually *want* all these ultra-religious homeschooling parents in our area trying to "fix" the local school system in a way that better fits with their beliefs. (No more Harry Potter!) And I don't think most parents probably want me exerting my son's special needs on their kids either (depending on how much change I would be demanding).

    Or, most likely, they wouldn't appreciate me trying to exert my progressive liberal beliefs (I grew up with the CA textbooks, not the TX textbooks they use here). Who is to say that my progressive liberal views on history should be forced on the majority? Because I sure as heck am irritated about the regressive conservative views being pushed here in the local publics. (It was *shocking* to see a timeline that included *gasp* evolution(!) at the private Montessori we visited the other week. That kind of heresy doesn't even fly at the children's section in our public library.)

    If there were one agreement about what school quality is and it were just about money and we knew that money actually improved things, then yes, rich people should send their kids to schools and volunteer and donate until the local school was good enough for their kids. But there's push-back for a reason on many of the things that cause people to choose homeschooling or private school. People have different preferences, different beliefs, and different special needs.

    As to: is it easier to give your kids more opportunities when you're well off, of course. And yes, there's too much focus in the media and among the elite on highly successful working moms whose kids turn out just fine and not enough focus on people who need more of that social safety net. Better childcare, better subsidized childcare. Like Jon Stewart said, poor people have crappy lobbyists.

    And yes, both higher and lower SES homeschool here, but of the lower SES, mainly only white married social conservatives who tithe. At least that's what it seems like around here.

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  4. The homeschooling article made me feel strangely invisible, as so many of them do. Do people even get to know any significant number of homeschoolers before writing those things? I know we were weird, but families like mine weren't impossible to find.

    My Mom worked. Starting in 2nd grade, my Dad stayed home. Starting in 5th grade, my Dad homeschooled me. But the biggest factors in my Dad staying home were his medical issues and his demographic status (he's in a group with 30-50% unemployment). Homeschooling was tacked on afterward.
    That itself is a bit weird. I knew a lot of middle class families that would have been much more financially secure if they hadn't homeschooled- they actively choose homeschooling over a lot of other things. Being able to make that choice is a sign of privilege.

    But being in a family like mine? We actually had a lot fewer options than most families at our income level (a smidge below the median family income, for what it's worth), most likely including the one that newspaper writer was from.

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  5. I figured that homeschooling one would be controversial. The whole homeschooling thing is an area where I haven't thought hard enough to have a firm opinion. Mostly, I figure "different strokes for different folks". But, like I said in my post, I do suspect that money makes the decision easier to make- just like money made my school decision easier to make (because we could just buy our way out of the hole we see in what our neighborhood school options).

    And I would be surprised to find that there are many families in which the parents are both working minimum wage jobs- and perhaps more than one each- who find the time to homeschool. Certainly, that subset (if it exists) would be fascinating to read about, and probably a source of excellent time management tips for the rest of us. But I suspect that pretty much every family in that situation sends their kids to public school.

    I also worry a bit about the kids whose parents are homeschooling because they don't want anyone else influencing their children's beliefs. I know that is probably a really small subset of the homeschoolers, and that is why it doesn't much influence my opinion on homeschooling overall. But I wonder what it is like when those kids come out from under their parents' wings and realize that there are a bunch of people out here who disagree with the worldview they've been wrapped up in?

    And for those worrying about kids growing up in public schools that don't reach evolution- that was me! Evolution was never mentioned at my public schools.

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  6. Cloud- I can tell you there are 239,000 children being homeschooled in families where the household income is $25,000 or less (source: US census at http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2012/tables/12s0240.pdf)
    There are also 808,000 families with both parents in the labor force. This is the largest group of homeschoolers. Yes, you read that right- in fact, the majority of homeschooled students have both parents in the labor force. (an aside- I did not know this before looking it up just now. As I mentioned, I was in one of the single-parent working households)

    Do any of those fit the category you mention? Well, mathematically, no. Because two minimum wage earners who are full time make a family income of ~$30k. So families with two full time minimum wage incomes make more than ~16% of homeschooling families.

    Data is nice.

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  7. @Becca- I am going to deliberately refuse to be offended by your tone and just state that you won't win very many people over to your point of view that way. Why are you being so antagonistic to someone who merely pointed out an interesting article (while saying she didn't think it was 100% correct) and has stated that she has no problem with people homeschooling? Do I have to agree with you 100% to avoid snark? That's not going to happen. I don't think there is anyone in the world with whom I agree 100%.

    Leaving that all aside, and going back to trying to have a civilized conversation:

    It would be interesting to see that data plotted on a map. $30k won't go very far in my area, but probably buys a decent lifestyle in some areas. I wonder where the homeschoolers on lower incomes fall on the map. My guess is that they are more likely to live in areas with lower costs of living- but that's just a guess. More informative data would be normalized by cost of living.

    Also, yes, data are nice, but your data actually don't answer my question. You've drawn the two halves of a venn diagram, but we don't know where they intersect.

    There is a very big difference between $25k on one person's salary and $25k when it requires two people working full time.

    And homeschooling with two parents making good money probably looks a lot different (from a time management stand point) than homeschooling with two parents making minimum wage. For one thing, you can buy some help (either with the schooling or other things that need doing) if you have more money.

    I'm not sure why saying that is controversial.

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  8. It occurs to me that since this comments section is turning into a discussion of education, perhaps I should state the one opinion on education that I HAVE thought enough about to hold firmly:

    I think that there are a subset of families in this country for which public schools are the only truly viable education option. There are also a subset of kids whose parents will not "shop around" and make education choices- for whatever reason.

    I suspect that membership in that first group correlates reasonably strongly with not having much money.

    I think that the kids in the second group cannot be held accountable for their parents decisions.

    Therefore, to the extent that we choose not to give our public schools the resources they need to do a decent job for all the kids that attend them, we need to also accept that we are choosing not to try to create a true meritocracy.

    Because giving those subsets of kids inadequate education is essentially giving everyone else an advantage over them- i.e., letting success depend on the accident of your birth as well as your merit.

    I don't care if individual families choose private school, homeschool, unschool... whatever, as long as they don't also then turn their backs on the public schools and let them starve for resources.

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  9. Sorry, I really was not trying to be antagonistic. I didn't expect you to know what homeschoolers as a group are like (indeed, I noted that I didn't know the specific up-to-date numbers on the SES and workforce participation stuff- why would a random person who isn't particularly motivated to learn these stats know about it?). So I thought I was being helpful by providing data which might correct a misperception- that there aren't lower income households homeschooling.

    That said, it's not the bulk of homeschoolers- who actually tend toward median incomes or a bit higher (in the past, I've heard 70k as a median income for homeschoolers, but that may have been HSLDA numbers, which are going to be skewed). But it's definitely not exclusively a group of people who decided to live on one salary because one salary was 'lots' by typical US standards, which is kind of what the Slate article implies (to my reading, anyway).

    One thing that is interesting to me, is an analysis I heard about a while back. If you just look at homeschoolers, performance on standardized tests no longer correlates with income. For a variety of reasons, standardized test stats on homeschoolers are absolutely terrible for study methodology, so I don't know if I trust that (and it's only kind of dimly remembered thing anyway), but I would very much like to see good data on that.

    For what it's worth, what I hold firmly to is:
    1) public schools are like democracy- the most terrible system except for all the others out there (that scale to large groups)
    2) we need to fund them
    3) they are a necessary but completely insufficient condition for a meritocracy. Actually, meritocracy might always be a myth (albeit perhaps a useful one).

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  10. It's really more of an urban problem, the starving of public schools for resources. (Putting all homeschoolers in public in rural areas isn't going to help much, and there aren't as many private options, especially when you limit to the kind "wealthy progressive liberals" are likely to send their kids to.) And most of that is going to be coming from housing segregation (specifically, "white flight" to the suburbs), not wealthy families in inner cities choosing to private school. Yes, wealthy families in inner cities do put their kids in private school, but they're still paying property taxes, and higher property taxes would hurt the poor families in those areas as well.

    And urban areas that have great schools drive property values up, which means that poor families can no longer afford to live there. ("Gentrification.")

    Of course, redistributing resources at, say the state level doesn't work well either because that drives property taxes down, which increases public school equality but only by driving spending on the higher funded schools down (Carolyn Hoxby has a famous paper on this when TX tried it), not by lifting the bottom.

    The real problem is probably the way property taxes are so linked to schooling. And there's a reason for that linkage, called Tiebout sorting-- the idea being that retirees on fixed incomes should be allowed to have no or bad schools in their communities but parents who value education should be able to be taxed for that by voting with their feet. The problem is that most poor people don't have that opportunity to vote with their feet. So we may think that schooling is a "public good" because it increases productivity and decreases crime, so we may want to de-link that sorting at least to some extent.

    Anyhow, this is a long way of giving a very short summary of a huge literature and noting that homeschoolers and private schoolers, if a problem, are only a tiny part of the school financing problem. (Even though private schooling is a canonical example for breaking arrow's impossibility theorem... but that's a different lecture.)

    What we really need is a federally funded minimum quality of school for all kids. Then there won't be such a huge problem with only being able to afford decent schools if you're willing to pay high rent. And I think that's something that most "wealthy liberal progressives" support by definition, whether or not they send their own kids to public schools. It's the not "liberal progressives" that are the problem. Articles like the one posted do nothing to address the conservative base that care only about the Joneses, they just alienate liberal progressives who already care about poor people.

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  11. @Becca, I'm sorry- I misunderstood you. I will confess to not knowing much about the population that homeschools.

    @Nicoleandmaggie- I wasn't clear. I don't mean keep resources in public schools by sending your kids there. I mean keep resources in public schools by not voting down bond measures and taxes required to fund them. As long as people are happy to pay for the public schools while sending their kids elsewhere, I don't care where they send their kids.

    And if they won't fund the schools, then they should shut up about how everyone in America has the same shot at success, because that just isn't true and they aren't even trying to make it true.

    Anyway, I don't disagree with anything in your comment. I just wanted to clarify my stance. As you know, we seriously considered private school for Pumpkin- so clearly I don't think there is anything wrong with choosing to use one.

    I think you could put what I know about public schools in rural areas on a postage stamp. That's a shame, but there it is.

    I maybe shouldn't have linked to the article. Or I should have been more clear that while I found it interesting, I didn't really agree with a lot of what was in it. To be honest, I mostly linked to it because I was surprised to find someone saying that sending kids to public school is letting someone else raise their kids. I guess what's most interesting to me in the whole article is that: the thought that its OK- desirable even- for kids to be basically shielded from other adults. It is so completely different from my way of thinking that I can't really get my head around it. Also, I'm used to hearing that argument from people on the right- it was interesting to hear it from someone on the left.

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  12. "I mean keep resources in public schools by not voting down bond measures and taxes required to fund them."

    It's not quite that easy... in areas where there are bond measures and taxes, unless it's a retirement community, the schools really aren't *that* bad. They're in the region of empirical research where it isn't that clear that additional funding actually leads to additional beneficial outcomes. (It is true! At a certain point, there is no causal link between additional school spending and outcomes. The correlation there is 100% due to SES.)

    The areas we really need to be concerned about are the ones with the 90% poverty. Here bond issues don't exist and the people who live there can't afford extra taxes even if their own children will benefit. Housing segregation is the big problem here and the linkage between property taxes and school funding.

    The folks you know who private school and vote down bond issues may not be doing any actual harm. They're also not living in neighborhoods with truly bad schools. And if they were and voted to increase taxes, that would hurt the extremely low SES tax base more than it would hurt them because they have more money to spend on taxes than truly poor people do.

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  13. Thanks for the link, Cloud. Skirting over the whole education issue, I found the "Whatever" post on people unable to live on $200k in Toronto funny. I think what has happened is that we used to view that as being well-to-do, and then the explosion of massive wealth on the top end changed that. You're competing for being on the top of the heap with people earning $20 million. This is why it is always important to choose the right reference group. We can all look at Mitt Romney and feel poor, but why? Especially in a world with billions living under $2/day.

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  14. @nicoleandmaggie- I know it is not straightforward. But... my city has one big district, and the bonds are for the entire district. So people in my rich part of town voting them down do in fact harm people in poorer parts of town.

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  15. @Laura- yes, comparing yourself to the wrong people can really screw you up. I think it takes a special kind of cluelessness, though, to complain about how hard it is to make ends meet when you have a wine budget that is more than many families' food budgets and you think swapping out your Merc every few years is a necessity.

    If you're making that much money and you haven't figured out how to spend some of it to make yourself happy- then you're doing it wrong! But that's sort of what your new book is about, isn't it? Figuring out how to spend your money so that it actually makes you happy.

    I really liked your post. As you probably know, I ruminate a lot about how people "make it" in the new economy. I've tended to focus on the luck factor, but your post made me think that maybe I'm not thinking about the issue in the right way.

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  16. I find this discussion of funding really interesting - it is so different to the way schools are funded in Australia. Money for funding comes out of the wider national and State tax base. So, there is no direct link between how much tax you pay on any particular good or service and how much funding a school in an area gets.

    The contentious issue here is how much national funding is provided to non-government schools. Essentially, the previous conservative government introduced a level of government funding to public schools to support parent 'choice' - in practical terms, this means there are now a lot more low-fee private schools than there used to be. However, whether that has increased accessibility to educational choice for lower income families is debatable.

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  17. It's nice to know Toronto Life can even annoy Americans. :)

    We make about 3/4 of $196k in Toronto and are feeling poor right now, mostly because we have chosen to have a nanny while my youngest is under 20 months of age and so we are paying $2600/mo in childcare. The difference of course is in the word "feeling". We aren't eating out or buying clothes other than strictly necessary ones etc. but it's short-term, not reality for years and years.

    I think the Slate article was a bit off but I kind of agree with the fundamental premise that there is something odd going on with homeschooling and education. For me, not in the broader reality, I'm uncomfortable with homeschooling mostly because I think it substitutes one set of problems -- and there are a lot -- for another that parents are less able to see.

    We all *want* the best for our kids so much that I think sometimes we mistake our own care for expertise. I can definitely homeschool my kids better than a bad teacher - but not as well as a really good one. The trick is what the ratio's going to be and which I'm going to choose to focus on over the next 12 years, which I'm in the middle of grappling with.

    Really great post as usual.

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  18. so late to the party here. I have a few friends who homeschool and are NOT religious. They have fancy college degrees (mostly science and engineering) and think they can do a better job keeping up with their kids' skills and interests. All of their kids are doing work above what their grade level should be.

    Not sure what my point is there, but yes, those families are all one working parent, and have a high income.

    What I don't understand is *how* families can homeschool if both parents work?? Is one parent doing a night shift or something? Wow.

    Thanks for the link to the Scalzi article. I'm not defending anyone complaining about not getting a new car every 3 years (let alone a Mercedes!) but I think once you get sucked into a certain status-oriented lifestyle, it very quickly begins to seem like you're being "deprived" if you can't have xyz like your neighbors.

    I see it on a small scale with some of the local moms, usually those for whom staying at home with the kids is not much of a sacrifice at all because their partners' incomes are so much higher than what they themselves would earn. People aren't actively being snobby, but sometimes the conversations are ridiculous. I'll admit to getting sucked into that too, as I finally gave in and enrolled my toddler in a $500 Spanish class (sigh). At least I'm learning too, so I can pretend like it might be worth that cost...

    OK, not sure where I'm going with all that, but thanks for the very interesting links to read this week :)

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  19. Loved the first Scalzi link, especially this bit: "#3 When in public, please shut the fuck up about how difficult your life is, economically. It just pisses off everybody else, and there are more of them than there are of you... # 4. If your life is genuinely economically difficult, see point one. If necessary, take your wine budget for a month or two and hire an accountant or financial planner and then actually listen to them." HA!

    @Cloud - It sucks that no one can ever talk critically about homeschooling without getting flamed and/or accused of things they did not say. (I exaggerate only slightly there.) Carry on, @Cloud!

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  20. I have been reading a lot of your posts about work/life balance, which inspire me to write my own because like you stated, it is easier to "buy" a work/life balance. I'm not minimum wage but I do find a dearth of perspective for lower to lower middle-class working families. While my husband and I have been able to pay for a p/t nanny for a while and do plan to pay for some housecleaning help, it comes at a great sacrifice for us. We are nowhere near your income as I can guess from your posts. I don't manage anyone so have to rely on the good graces of my boss for any sort of flexibility, within a very inflexible company. While stress is higher, I do think women at higher level careers enjoy more flexibility which is critical for balance. Anyway, i have to go off and try to formulate my thoughts better at my own blog at some point.

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  21. (Goodness, my initial comment seems rather blah now. I feel sort of silly.)

    I love to read the conversations here-always something new to learn.

    Wanted to add, as a person who lives in an urban-ish school district & a person who votes to support her public schools across the board, that I don't know that under-funding of schools is only an urban problem, as @nicoleandmaggie seems to say--though I may have misunderstood their comment above. In my state, we have a long-standing problem of limited resources for education out in the non-urban areas of the state, especially in areas bordering the Appalachians. The poverty doesn't necessarily look the way it is often stereotypically portrayed, but there are still huge gaps in resources in many educational systems in non-urban areas around here. Closer to my urban home, we have plenty of traditionally "white flight" suburbs that have under-resourced & -funded schools, too, as best I can tell.

    Again, school districts vary so greatly around the country that I am loathe to say that this anecdotal info from my area relates at all to anyone else's area. I do know that I read many of Jonathon Kozol's books more than a decade ago, & I'm sorry to say that I don't think they are as out of date yet as I would wish them to be. As a result, I'm glad to hear anyone supporting increased resources for public schools, no matter where they send their actual kids.

    (And, also--though I pretty much knew this already, I just wanted to say: really? evolution is optional? I thought even the Jesuits gave up the ghost there. O science! how art thou forsaken!)

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  22. @eta

    No, low school funding is a rural problem but people like Cloud's acquaintances can't exist in rural areas. There are no fancy private school alternatives. Since public schools are funded primarily through property taxes, higher spending will directly result in higher costs that the genuinely poor cannot afford. I suppose home schooling is easier because of the lower cost of living, but there's still the problem that if wealthy people in rural areas voted for taxes they could afford to get the schools they wanted they would be voting for taxes the majority of the people in the area could not afford (which would drive property values down, most likely).

    In rural areas they also can't have "white flight" to the suburbs because there are no suburbs to fly to, which is the main problem with most urban areas. People's taxes are linked to the public goods their government provides, so they go places where the poor can't live because of zoning and other hurdles. In rural areas you're stuck with what you've got unless you send your kids to an East coast boarding school.

    The problem is that schooling is financed at the local level. This is good because it means Tiebout sorting can occur (people who value education can live in places with higher taxes and higher spending), but bad because we think that education is a public good and we want people who cannot afford it to have good schooling too.

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  23. @Nicoleandmaggie- thanks for the clarification. I think I get what you're saying now.

    CA actually does centralize a bit, but I confess I don't know the details, beyond the fact that I know that there are some (rich) districts that have an exception to the centralization that happens.

    My state's politics are so messed up!

    @hush- I'm going to take Becca at her word that she wasn't trying to antagonize... but yes, it is really hard to discuss homeschooling and not have it blow up. I think @Shandra is right- there are risks there that we don't really understand, or at least that I don't understand.

    @Anandi- don't feel bad for using your resources to give your child the best start you can. That's what parents do! I would never argue that parents should NOT give their kid a class or an experience just because not everyone can offer that to their child. I just want us all to remember what this difference in early opportunities means for our attempts to have a meritocracy. The playing field is rigged from the start. (And I mean that in the global sense- not just people commenting here, who I think all do understand this.)

    @zenmoo- we have a similar debate here, too. The operative buzzwords in that debate are school choice and vouchers.

    @eta- a big YES to this: "I'm glad to hear anyone supporting increased resources for public schools, no matter where they send their actual kids. "

    @oilandgarlic- yes, my husband and I qualify as "rich" by any reasonable measure, I think. The only thing is that we only stay rich if we keep working! And we may technically be classified as "upper middle class"- I don't know. I look forward to reading your post.

    And yes, the ability to arrange my own schedule and set up my department's culture to be work-life balance friendly are also often overlooked advantages in the whole work-life balance discussion. I am senior enough to just say no to meetings that don't fit with my schedule and not have any negative fall out (or be able to absorb any negative fall out). I try to make the same true for my team- but I know that not everyone does the same for their team.

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  24. Oh, I forgot to add- @oilandgarlic, you might like the post Laura had up today, which looks in more detail at whether or not money buys better balance, and the limits to that:
    http://lauravanderkam.com/2012/02/money-buy-balance/

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  25. I covered CA's school equalization process in class today... it resulted in people voting for lower taxes (and less money for education). That's probably why there are exemptions now. Texas tried a different strategy that resulted in lower property values (and less money for education). New Jersey tried a strategy that matched education spending even for higher spending districts and resulted in more money for education, though obviously was expensive.

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  26. Cloud,
    I just read the post you linked to http://lauravanderkam.com/2012/02/money-buy-balance/
    Very interesting. More food for thought when I finally tackle this topic.
    I do think her assumption that the richer couple does not have family support while the poor one (Jane) does is flawed. I'm glad you pointed that out in your comment.

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