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Old 07-30-2019, 12:08 PM
Max S. is offline
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Florida, USA
Posts: 1,832
To say I've had trouble following this thread is... an understatement. I've read it all a couple times through and might as well start back up at the top. I find Wrenching Spanners's post #12 to be self-contradictory:
Originally Posted by Wrenching Spanners
However, suppose that the Neighbourhood A school has a much more effective PTA than the Neighbourhood B school and thus performs better. Thatís an unequal situation, but not an unfair one.
That situation is unfair for the children of Neighborhood B. The children are not responsible for their parent-teacher association's effectiveness, but it is the children whose education suffers as a result. I've put a long explanation below, in case that doesn't make sense.


If we make a few basic assumptions, which I hope you will find uncontroversial, I hope to expose the precise contradiction in this position.
  • First is the doctrine of equity or fairness: an assumption that all children have the right to a good education. In your own words you "regard fairness as a conservative value".
  • Second is the assumption that Neighborhood B school, on account of its ineffective parent-teacher association, is incapable of providing a good education for many of its students.
  • Third is the assumption that some parents of Neighborhood B are responsible for the ineffective parent-teacher association; it is in no way the fault of the schoolchildren or the teachers (who are excellent). It is not necessarily that the parents are bad or malicious, just that they are not effective.
  • Fourth is the assumption that the ineffective parents of Neighborhood B may not be denied representation in the parent-teacher association, nor may they be expelled from the school, nor may they be forced to give the state custody of their children, nor may they be forced to be effective.
  • Fifth is the doctrine of personal responsibility: one is only responsible for one's own actions. This is the traditional definition, not the one Scylla advanced (which I recently adopted in post #34"). "You and the other residents of your neighborhood have a personal responsibility for the actions that take place in your neighborhood, not the neighborhood down the road." The parents in Neighborhood A are responsible for the parent-teacher association in Neighborhood A; they are not responsible for the parent-teacher association in Neighborhood B. "Blame is not an inheritable liability".

Now on to the analysis. It is clear that the students of Neighborhood B school are being denied a good education (2), and that a good education is their right (1), therefore the children are being denied a right. Further, the blame falls entirely upon some parents of Neighborhood B (3). Neither the parents of Neighborhood A nor the children of either neighborhood are to blame or have any personal responsibility in the matter (5).

Therefore we have a situation where some parents have deprived many children of their rights, but there is no recourse (4). This is perfectly fair to the parents of Neighborhood B, and possibly to the "families" of Neighborhood B, who are effectively curtailing their own rights; it is fair for you, a parent in Neighborhood A, who had nothing to do with the matter. But if you think of the children, it becomes clear that children are being deprived of their rights due to no fault of their own, which is in and of itself unfair.

Therefore you, on behalf of the whole of society, have the choice between reneging the rights of Neighborhood B (expelling certain parents from the PTA, taking custody of the children), waiving your immunity from responsibility (throwing money at the school, shuttering the school and busing students to Neighborhood A school), or abandoning fairness by allowing the children to suffer (status quo).

Barring some other doctrine, personal responsibility alone cannot make this choice.

Now on to a more controversial idea. Collective responsibility might make the choice. The state runs the school. The state guarantees every child's right to a good education; in fact, the state/society guarantees the rights of all innocents. Some might make an exception for acts of God, but that doesn't apply here where the causes are all acts of man. The state is at fault when, for whatever reason, the children do not have the opportunity for a good education. And all citizens, even those of Neighborhood A, take part in the collective responsibility represented by the state. Therefore the liability shifts from the parents to the state; the state is responsible for the education of children, and the parents are responsible to the state (not the children) for being effective in their PTA. Should the parents fail, the state is still obliged to provide a good education, therefore everybody's taxes go up and the status quo is definitively eliminated from the list of valid options. Then limitations on state power and a cost-benefit analysis (not free) would determine which course of action is appropriate.


Last edited by Max S.; 07-30-2019 at 12:09 PM.