|God Rest Ye Merry Bureaucrats||The Heedless People Who Didn't Care About Michael Oher|
by Christopher Chantrill
December 25, 2006 at 12:00 am
IT IS NEARLY a quarter century now since the National Commission on Excellence in Education issued its somber warning about the nations education system: A Nation at Risk.
Luckily it was at that moment in 1983 that the US economy struggled out of the 1980-82 recession on the back of Reaganomics and never looked back. So it turned out that the nation wasnt at risk, at least not then.
Yet the education system has, if anything, got worse in the years since. Reforms come and goyour Goals 2000, your No Child Left Behindyet nothing seems to change. For instance, despite all the reform, our kids still need remedial courses before they can start college.
Though higher education is now a near-universal aspiration, researchers suggest that close to half the students who enter college need remedial courses.
The shortfalls persist despite high-profile efforts by public universities to crack down on ill-prepared students.
Thats what The New York Times reported back in September. Yet do we see educators taking responsibility for this, pledging their lives, their fortunes, their sacred honor, to right a terrible injusticein emulation of an earlier generation of American leaders? We do not.
What we do have is another blue-ribbon report. Tough Choices or Tough Times is a product of the New Commission on The Skills of the American Workforce. The commission worries the usual worries about globalization and outsourcing. While our relative position in the worlds education league tables has continued its long, slow decline... a swiftly rising number of American workers at every skill level are in direct competition with workers in every corner of the globe. Since the best employers the world over will be looking for the most competent, most creative, and most innovative people on the face of the earth... and so on. How can we hope to compete in the global economy, the commission worries, when, educationally:
Maybe its because... But you know the script. After identifying these ten problems, the commission proposes a Ten Step remedial program, all of which is long on government spending, bureaucratic reorganization, and new subsidies like tax-free accounts. And you will be glad to know that the remedy includes a big increase in teacher salaries, even though teachers are already paid about 50 percent more than equivalent workers in the private sector.
But before we sign on the dotted line we should ask some tough questions. Why is it that the United States with its nation-at-risk education system continues to lead the world economically?
In his 2004 book The Power of Productivity William W. Lewis provides an answer to this question. Based on his research on the economies of 13 different countries, he concludes: The importance of the education of the workforce has been taken way too far. You can train most people on the job, whatever their education.
And the key to wealth and productivity is a level playing field, an absence, in other words, of blue-ribbon commissions proposing new programs, privileges, and subsidies.
If the importance of education has been taken way too far, how important is it? Obviously the politicians and educators on the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce have their agenda, and public choice theory can give us a glimmer of what that agenda might be. But what about us? What do the Education Moms want?
At the Cato Institute Andrew J. Coulson, author of Market Education: The Unknown History, has just published the first Cato Education Market Index. It is designed to show how each state allows education producers and consumers to voluntarily associate with one another and encourage families to be diligent consumers and educators to innovate, control costs, and expand their services. In other words, he is measuring just easy it is for Education Moms to shop for the education that their children need.
Today, alas, the index is pretty low. In the United States, education producers and consumers are not allowed to voluntarily associate with one another. In consequence, families do not act like diligent consumers and educators do not innovate and control costs.
Heres an idea. If education isnt all that important to our national income then why not just let American parents go shopping for education at the mall just like we do for our food, our cars, and our clothes?
Then we can appoint blue-ribbon commissions to worry about pseudo problems like educational obesity, sports utility schools, and cheap education imports.
Buy his Road to the Middle Class.
[W]hen I asked a liberal longtime editor I know with a mainstream [publishing] house for a candid, shorthand version of the assumptions she and her colleagues make about conservatives, she didn't hesitate. Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice fascists, she offered, smiling but meaning it.
Harry Stein, I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican
Families helped each other putting up homes and barns. Together, they built churches, schools, and common civic buildings. They collaborated to build roads and bridges. They took pride in being free persons, independent, and self-reliant; but the texture of their lives was cooperative and fraternal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism
[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier. — Gen. Hans von Seeckt
MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050
For [the left] there is only the state and the individual, nothing in between. No family to rely on, no friend to depend on, no community to call on. No neighbourhood to grow in, no faith to share in, no charities to work in. No-one but the Minister, nowhere but Whitehall, no such thing as society - just them, and their laws, and their rules, and their arrogance.
David Cameron, Conference Speech 2008
Imagining that all order is the result of design, socialists
conclude that order must be improvable by better design of some superior mind.
F.A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit
[Every] sacrifice is an act of impurity that pays for a prior act of greater impurity... without its participants having to suffer the full consequences incurred by its predecessor. The punishment is commuted in a process that strangely combines and finesses the deep contradiction between justice and mercy.
Frederick Turner, Beauty: The Value of Values
[The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.
But the only religions that have survived are those which support property and the family.
Thus the outlook for communism, which is both anti-property and anti-family, (and also anti-religion), is not promising.
F.A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit
[T]he way to achieve a system of determining admission to the public schools on a nonracial basis,
Brown II, 349 U. S., at 300–301, is to stop assigning students on a racial basis. The way to stop
discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.
Roberts, C.J., Parents Involved in Community Schools vs. Seattle School District
A writer who says that there are no truths, or that all truth is merely relative, is asking you not to believe him. So dont.
Roger Scruton, Modern Philosophy
Paul Dirac: When I was talking with Lemaître about [the expanding universe] and feeling stimulated
by the grandeur of the picture that he has given us, I told him that
I thought cosmology was the branch of science that lies closest to religion.
However [Georges] Lemaître [Catholic priest, physicist, and
inventor of the Big Bang Theory] did not agree with me. After thinking it over he
suggested psychology as lying closest to religion.
John Farrell, The Creation Myth
Within Pentecostalism the injurious hierarchies of the wider world are abrogated and replaced by a single hierarchy of faith, grace, and the empowerments of the spirit... where groups gather on rafts to take them through the turbulence of the great journey from extensive rural networks to the mega-city and the nuclear family...
David Martin, On Secularization