Thomas Friedman is not a stupid guy, and he writes lots of books and is published in the NYT, and is often mistaken for this other Friedman because they both don't completely hate capitalism. Guys like Thomas Friedman don't seem to have just one job, they've got lots of them, and they get lumped into a wonderful group known to Coastal people as "Public Intellectuals." Since most of them have no connection at all to public life, and no specific intellectual training, it's sort of a weird title.
I honestly do not know how to become one of these people, but the career track of all of them seems to go something like this:
Go to an Ivy League School like this guy (which means, be born rich and attend East Coast prep schools). Then attend Oxford for a Master's, or perhaps get two Masters degrees at Oxford, I mean, the town is lovely, or just stay at the Ivy League school you attended in the first place.
Then with all those nice connections you get from attending Harvard and the great stories you get from drinking in pubs in Oxford, start writing books about yourself, Bobos, or something as vague as women.
Make sure you get on television, maybe start a couple of talking heads shows. Network shows are good but so is CNN.
But don't let your training or education get in the way. You can have absolutely no professional or intellectually relevant training at all and still spout opinions if you went to Harvard.
Well Thomas Friedman never went to Harvard, but he did make up for it by doing the Oxford thing. Despite this tremendous handicap, he's managed to enter the Public Intellectual Club, probably as an affirmative action Midwesterner from Minnesota. However speaking as a fellow Midwesterner, this column is an embarrassment to all things from our lonely and desolate part of the nation. Senor Friedman wants us to take the Obama bailout and give teachers tax credits to buy homes, double their salaries, and eliminate their income tax bills. And not all teachers, no, just those who work in public schools, because well, his wife is a public school teacher.........that's right, Thomas Friedman is advocating that we give his wife all of these things.
Now setting aside for a moment the fact that Tommy and his wife don't really need these perks because they are swimming in family money because his father-in-law started this little family business, I had to ask myself, what evidence do we have that such measures would improve education? The answer seems to be that we can double per pupil spending and still get no progress.
This kind of broad, JFK like crap we continue to get from really rich baby-boomers is annoying to me, not because I don't like teachers, but because they are platitudes coming from people who have no connection to the rest of us and no idea what our lives are like. They toss around silly ideas without the formal training necessary to be considered experts and then wonder why the rest of us aren't bothering to read newspapers or watch mainstream media.
All the Public Intellectuals would need to do would be to Google the phrase teacher's salaries in Catholic and public schools to discover that Catholic schools that pay their teachers far less get better educational results. Then the Public Intellectual could wonder about how relevant teacher salaries are related to student performance. And while we're on the subject, why give the teachers who get BIGGER SALARIES all the benefits he proposes.
I have a quick suggestion to the NYT - if you have a constant compulsion to allow only Harvard and Oxford grads on your editorial pages, try to let experts in say education write about education. And let the Thomas Friedman's of the world write about the struggles of trying to raise a family on two incomes, one a public school teacher's, while living in an 11,000 square foot home in Bethesda with a net worth of 25 million bucks.