An Open Letter

 

TO: Allison Benedikt

FROM: Pejman Yousefzadeh

RE: Activities of Your Arch-Enemy

Dear Ms. Benedikt:

Someone who truly despises you appears to be hellbent on trashing your reputation in the punditry world by having written this preternaturally awful piece under your name. As you are doubtless a significantly intelligent and educated individual, I am sure that you join me in cringing at the words attributed to you by whatever mortal foe is possessed by an Ahabesque hatred of your illustrious person. Words like the following:

You are a bad person if you send your children to private school. Not bad like murderer bad—but bad like ruining-one-of-our-nation’s-most-essential-institutions-in-order-to-get-what’s-best-for-your-kid bad. So, pretty bad.

I am not an education policy wonk: I’m just judgmental. But it seems to me that if every single parent sent every single child to public school, public schools would improve. This would not happen immediately. It could take generations. Your children and grandchildren might get mediocre educations in the meantime, but it will be worth it, for the eventual common good.(Yes, rich people might cluster. But rich people will always find a way to game the system: That shouldn’t be an argument against an all-in approach to public education any more than it is a case against single-payer health care.)

And this:

So, how would this work exactly? It’s simple! Everyone needs to be invested in our public schools in order for them to get better. Not just lip-service investment, or property tax investment, but real flesh-and-blood-offspring investment. Your local school stinks but you don’t send your child there? Then its badness is just something you deplore in the abstract. Your local school stinks and you do send your child there? I bet you are going to do everything within your power to make it better.

And this:

I believe in public education, but my district school really isn’t good! you might say. I understand. You want the best for your child, but your child doesn’t need it. If you can afford private school (even if affording means scrimping and saving, or taking out loans), chances are that your spawn will be perfectly fine at a crappy public school. She will have support at home (that’s you!) and all the advantages that go along with being a person whose family can pay for and cares about superior education—the exact kind of family that can help your crappy public school become less crappy. She may not learn as much or be as challenged, but take a deep breath and live with that. Oh, but she’s gifted? Well, then, she’ll really be fine.

I went K–12 to a terrible public school. My high school didn’t offer AP classes, and in four years, I only had to read one bookThere wasn’t even soccer. This is not a humblebrag! I left home woefully unprepared for college, and without that preparation, I left college without having learned much there either. You know all those important novels that everyone’s read? I haven’t. I know nothing about poetry, very little about art, and please don’t quiz me on the dates of the Civil War. I’m not proud of my ignorance. But guess what the horrible result is? I’m doing fine. I’m not saying it’s a good thing that I got a lame education. I’m saying that I survived it, and so will your child, who must endure having no AP calculus so that in 25 years there will be AP calculus for all.

And this:

Also remember that there’s more to education than what’s taught. As rotten as my school’s English, history, science, social studies, math, art, music, and language programs were, going to school with poor kids and rich kids, black kids and brown kids, smart kids and not-so-smart ones, kids with superconservative Christian parents and other upper-middle-class Jews like me was its own education and life preparation. Reading Walt Whitman in ninth grade changed the way you see the world? Well, getting drunk before basketball games with kids who lived at the trailer park near my house did the same for me. In fact it’s part of the reason I feel so strongly about public schools.

(All emphasis in bold italics mine.) I am sure I don’t have to detail just how absolutely terrible this “reasoning” is, or how much the attribution of this “reasoning” to your unquestionably great and good name serves to annihilate any semblance of respect for your in the punditry world. Or outside of the punditry world. Or amongst humans in general. Or even amongst hamsters, gerbils, and paramecium.

Some have claimed that this piece was written purely and exclusively as troll-bait, designed to get Slate some desperately needed clicks, pageviews, unique visitors and attention. But I truly believe that something far more nefarious is at work. I believe that some poor, benighted soul has taken it upon him/herself to play Khan Noonien Singh to your James T. Kirk, and to chase you ’round the quizzes of Ken Jennings, and ’round the bad arguments of Matthew Yglesias, and ’round Perdition’s flames before s/he gives up on making you a pariah in the field of opinion-piece writers. As such, I strongly suggest that you take decisive action to deal with this threat to your standing. Use whatever methods you must, whatever methods are available to you to unmask your personal Lex Luthor and salvage your standing as a pundit. Remember, it’s only a no-win scenario for you if you stand back and do nothing.

I hope and trust that this public missive has been helpful. Please do keep us all informed on your efforts to restore your good name.

There are 21 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Profile Photo Inactive
    @Lance

    Thank you for posting this.  I read this piece last night with mouth agape.  How could one reveal oneself so?  It had to be a joke.  

    Hadn’t it?

    • #1
  2. Profile Photo Coolidge
    @Patrickb63

    Well, I’ve seen some stupid ideas in my time, but the idea that reducing competition will result in a better product has to rank with the most stupid.

    • #2
  3. Profile Photo Member
    @Larry3435

    If it is not a joke, then Ms. Benedikt has certainly proved her point that she had a terrible education in public school.

    • #3
  4. Profile Photo Thatcher
    @Percival

    Who?

    • #4
  5. Profile Photo Member
    @RossC

    Well I (sort of) admire her misguided zeal.  Really, don’t you think uncle Joe Stalin would be right at home with this kind of reasoning?  We all need to get in the same crappy boat, but in some future time, believe me!, we’ll make the big leap forward.   Boooyah…

    I guess you could say the Russians, Chinese, Cambodians, and North Koreans “survivived” collectivism in the same way your kids would “survive” public school, right?  I mean at least the ones who survived, did survive.  And that’s a fact!

    So where do I sign my kid up?  I can just smell that bright future (or at least trailer park) ahead.

    • #5
  6. Profile Photo Member
    @FloppyDisk90

    Some have claimed that this piece was written purely and exclusively as troll-bait, designed to get Slate some desperately needed clicks, pageviews, unique visitors and attention.

    It’s working.

    • #6
  7. Profile Photo Member
    @
    Here’s a real life example of how regulation/gov’t ruins schools. A woman is working (parttime) at my mom’s small town assisted living facility. She is in her late 50’s, has taught for years, and has many advanced degrees. She moved to this small town to be near her daughter and family. She would loves to teach and would take any position, and really has no big desire for advancement at this stage. The school’s can’t hire her because they are required to pay a certain wages for certain qualifications…and that’ it. What a waste for everyone.
    • #7
  8. Profile Photo Member
    @thelonious

    Folks.  If it sounds too good to be true it’s probably not true.  We’re all   viewing the article as manna from heaven but this whole article is either a ruse or  Leslie Watkins on Mollies’ thread made a compelling argument  saying she thinks the author is actually making a conservative argument showing the absurdity of the left.  Either way nobody is this absurd.  Are they? 

    • #8
  9. Profile Photo Member
    @PaulDeRocco

    Ms. Benedikt (or her troll) has neglected to tell us why we should even want public schools to get better, if they’re that ghastly and resistant to improvement. She inadvertently contributes to the argument that we should give up on them entirely, and try to find ways to get everyone into private schools.

    • #9
  10. Profile Photo Member
    @
    thelonious:  Either way nobody is this absurd.  Are they?  · 4 minutes

    Well, take this part:

    Reading Walt Whitman in ninth grade changed the way you see the world? Well, getting drunk before basketball games with kids who lived at the trailer park near my house did the same for me.

    I know that seems absurd (and it is), but, crazy as it is, I assure you this is the dominant, mainstream attitude in the establishment today, and is all too serious. Diversity and relativism have won out over genuine value, plain and simple. Deans and administrators throughout America sincerely believe that learning about the greatest works of art and literature and history is an unnecessary afterthought compared to being exposed to dumb people who come from a different neighborhood than you.

    • #10
  11. Profile Photo Member
    @

    Under Benedicktian logic, I should be required to patronize crappy restaurants, so as to be “invested” in “the system.” Similarly, I should–lest I be hut for being a “bad person”– take my car to worst mechanic in town, to give them encouragement to “do better,” etc. If I have to suffer through a bad meal or two, or have my car ruined by a lousy mechanic, well that’s too bad. I’ll survive, after all, and it’s the price I must pay for being hungry or having a car.

    • #11
  12. Profile Photo Member
    @thelonious
    Adrian

    thelonious:  Either way nobody is this absurd.  Are they?  · 4 minutes

    Well, take this part:

    Reading Walt Whitman in ninth grade changed the way you see the world? Well, getting drunk before basketball games with kids who lived at the trailer park near my house did the same for me.

    I know that seems absurd (and it is), but, crazy as it is, I assure you this is the dominant, mainstream attitude in the establishment today, and is all too serious. Diversity and relativism have won out over genuine value, plain and simple. Deans and administrators throughout America sincerely believe that learning about the greatest works of art and literature and history is an unnecessary afterthought compared to being exposed to dumb people who come from a different neighborhood than you. · 9 minutes ago

    She could be showing the absurdity of how the left triumphs diversity and relativism over real knowledge and education.  Possibly she’s attempting to show the dystopia in a backhanded manner if all children were forced into public education.  This might be a clever angle she was attempting.

    • #12
  13. Profile Photo Inactive
    @NickStuart
    I’m currently engaged in a lengthy post-conversation with a niece is is ardently convinced that Benedikt has it exactly right.BTW, a little news item about how the Chicago Public Schools will begin tutoring kindergartners to accept same sex marriage. Somehow seems to fit the discussion:

    http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2013/08/29/cps-mandates-sexual-health-education-for-kindergartners/

    • #13
  14. Profile Photo Inactive
    @NickStuart

    Allison Benedikt apparently has three very small children. http://host.madison.com/news/opinion/column/allison-benedikt-we-waited-years-to-have-kids-big-mistake/article_ddc9af52-4640-11e2-9b1d-001a4bcf887a.html

    It will be interesting to note whether her opinion and advocacy of public schools changes over the course of the years.

    • #14
  15. Profile Photo Member
    @doulalady

    I can’t tell you how many teachers and administrators used exactly these arguments to try to guilt me into keeping my kids in public school. When I told them that it was my duty to do the best for my own children alone. I was actually told that I was selfish not to sacrifice my children for the good of the cause. Their sense of entitlement was so stupefying that I ended up feeling glad that they were loosing $45,000 per year, even if not a penny came to me for taking over the responsibility for educating my own children.

    • #15
  16. Profile Photo Coolidge
    @MisterDog

    “Mr. Madison, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.”

    • #16
  17. Profile Photo Inactive
    @Mallard

    THIS is why I gladly pay $3.58 per month to Ricochet!

    • #17
  18. Profile Photo Moderator
    @MikeRapkoch

    An Intellectual.

    • #18
  19. Profile Photo Inactive
    @CaptAubrey
    FloppyDisk90

    Some have claimed that this piece was written purely and exclusively as troll-bait,designed to get Slate some desperately needed clicks, pageviews, unique visitors and attention.

    It’s working. · 3 hours ago

    That would be my guess. Its like a poison gas attack that conveys no strategic advantage but is designed to provoke a violent response. I’m proud to say I had never heard of this woman before reading reviews of this imbecilic rant that my public school educated 7 year old would find specious.

    • #19
  20. Profile Photo Coolidge
    @TheUnreasonableMan

    Is it possible that the author’s withdrawal from public schools might accelerate those very school’s improvement, or at least enable them to maintain the status quo as opposed to declining further?  Imagine the negative consequences of her remaining involved and influencing these school’s future direction…

    • #20
  21. Profile Photo Inactive
    @PejmanYousefzadeh

    And she paid to put them in private pre-K!

    Nick Stuart: Allison Benedikt apparently has three very small children. http://host.madison.com/news/opinion/column/allison-benedikt-we-waited-years-to-have-kids-big-mistake/article_ddc9af52-4640-11e2-9b1d-001a4bcf887a.html

    It will be interesting to note whether her opinion and advocacy of public schools changes over the course of the years. · August 30, 2013 at 1:46pm

    • #21
Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.

Comments are closed because this post is more than six months old. Please write a new post if you would like to continue this conversation.