I don’t have a strong interest in education policy. I tend to agree with John Derbyshire’s analysis of American public education. The very short version is the schools are run by an unassailable cartel and no reform is possible. Critiques from the conventional Right all miss this point, which is why they go nowhere. Reform efforts from the Left are largely based in Rousseauist nonsense and therefore doomed from the start. That leaves it a pretty dry subject as far as I’m concerned.
That’s why I could not restrain myself from commenting on this post by Nick Steves at Handle’s Haus. Steves is a sharp guy with some interesting things to say. There’s too much Moldbuggery for my taste, but that’s a topic for another day. It’s a well reasoned technocratic reform plan that has no chance of adoption. I tried to point that out, but Steves is a prickly guy and there’s little point in engaging him. I bring it up only to point out that education policy seems to make people crazy. I don’t get it, but I don’t understand the fascination with a lot of things.
The people it makes most crazy seems to be teachers. It is the one thing about education I find fascinating. Teachers are some of the most deluded people you will find in modern America. Years back I had a conversation with a gal who was fresh out of college and in her first teaching job. She was complaining about the pay, the hours and the fact that she was taking work home. It was one of those times when you feel old, listening to a young person complain about reality.
I tried to explain to her that lots of people take work home and they also work during the summer too. I also pointed out that most college grads were not making $55,000 per year for eight months work. She tried to argue back on these points, but there’s not much that can be said. Most jobs in America are tougher than being a teacher and pay a lot less, but I got no where with her. Of course, this was not the first of the last time I had this conversation with a government worker.
I thought of that when reading this post at Sailer’s new shop. The post was actually a post from Education Realist, someone I assumed was somewhat realistic about education. Again, we see the delusions about the realities of teaching. It is a really good gig compared to most jobs. The pay is good, the benefits are outstanding, the hours are excellent and you get summers off. Yet, teachers think they have it tough. Even when this is pointed out that still carry on like Job.
I pointed out that the retention rate for teachers is pretty high compared to all private sector fields. If you look at this table from the DoE, teachers just about die in their jobs. The average age is 40 and the average tenure is 14 years. That number is only going up based on demographics. Over 40% of teachers have been on the job for more than 15 years. Generous pension plans means they are not walking away for late life career changes. Reveal;ed preference says teachers have it quite good.
What I find very weird about teachers is they seem to think they lack respect. You never hear this from people in the dreaded private sector. Lawyers take more abuse than almost any profession. You never hear them bitch about it. Car sales has to be at the bottom of legitimate work and they joke about that fact. Public sector employees always worry about status and no group frets over it more than teachers. Any criticism is treated like an assault upon their person.
All of this nuttiness is most likely due to an absolute avoidance of several truths about human biology. One is that not all people are equal in IQ. The goal of making everyone above average is madness. Then you have issues of race that were not a lot to talk about in public. Sex differences are another thing we are not supposed to notice. When you exclude large chunks of reality from your view of the world, you are bound to end up in a very weird place.