Education Madness

In case anyone was thinking I was angling for a writing job at National Review, this post should set your mind at ease. The other day, I spied this gem from Jim Geraghty the other day and thought it was a good topic. I’ve said before that Uber has become a magic word for the beautiful people and it very well be on its way to being another word for “sacred.” Anything they want to endow with moral virtue will get the word “Uber” slapped on it in the same way people would affix and “i” to anything they wanted to make techy.

Americans are depressed.

Their deep-rooted pessimism about the future may or may not put a Republican in the White House in 2016. But seriously shaking this gloom will probably take more than the usual conservative policy proposals of tax reform and simplification, a defense buildup, regulatory reform, and so on.

History demonstrates to us that giant, rapid, positive change is possible, in both the political and the economic realms.

Actually, history argues the exact opposite. Giant, rapid changes are things like earthquakes and hurricanes. Revolutions and wars are giant, rapid changes. Good change is incremental, perhaps even glacial. The fact that someone calling himself a conservative would write such dewy-eyed nonsense says a lot about why there’s nothing left to the conservative movement in America.

But, the point of the article is education so let’s get to the meat of it.

1. School choice everywhere. Any parent, in any community, should be able to send his or her child to any school that will accept that child. Period. Yes, some might say this is Washington forcing a change on the states. Too bad. We don’t run our education system for the benefit of state and local education officials — or at least we shouldn’t. We do it for kids and parents. Any administrator who wants to deny parents the right to send their children to the school of their choice can get the hell out of the education system.

This has always bugged me about Conservative Inc. The guys with kids always latch onto public school choice like it is a magic solution, without ever thinking about what they are saying. We have school choice now. You can send your kid to private schools, you can move to a place with good public schools and you can home school. This reality has done nothing to alter the inherent defects of public schools run by unions and forbidden to discriminate.

That last part is the elephant in the room. Bad schools all have the same problem. They are are full of bad students. Those students come from bad families, usually black and poor. The schools are not allowed to throw the troublesome kids out so the schools degenerate as the responsible parents move away. School choice is just a way to segregate the bad apples, usually minorities, without owning up to the what your doing.

2. Trade schools, trade schools, trade schools. Our leaders have to drive a stake into the heart of the attitude that all American children need to go to a four-year college or university. Not every American kid needs a degree, but every American kid needs a skill. This is a cultural fight as much as a policy fight.

Jim Geraghty is an open borders fanatic. He can barely choke out the words “illegal immigrant.” Why in the world would we spend a cent on vocational training when we are importing a population of helot workers to do these jobs? Further, conservatives cheered as we let the financial sector auction off the manufacturing base to China and Mexico. Unless Geraghty plans to ship vocational school grads to China, there’s no point in sponsoring vocational training.

3. Push the business world to step directly into education. Corporations have complained for a long time that the education system is not providing them with workers ready to step into entry-level jobs. It’s time to bring the employers into the classroom.

Go ahead, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Cargill, Nike, Coca-Cola, Starbucks, Disney, Intel, Wal-Mart, Goldman Sachs. Build your own charter schools. What smart kid with an aptitude for engineering wouldn’t want to go to a Ford Academy of Automotive Engineering or a SpaceX aerospace school? Or how about a Google School of Computer Science? These schools would “check all the boxes” for the usual range of core subjects, but they would also offer a constantly updated curriculum in the specialized area relating to their industry. Attendance at one of these schools wouldn’t guarantee future employment at the sponsoring company, but it would certainly open doors and establish early connections.

This already happens. Charter schools are run by for-profit companies. Major corporations spend enormous sums in training their workers. Asking them to take over the public schools sounds great, until they send Jim Geraghty the bill. Then he is not going to be as enthusiastic, I bet. Worse still, when Acme School Inc fires Jim Junior for having a low IQ, Jim Sr. is calling his Congressman. private business spends a lot of time discriminating amongst the various inputs available. They know you can’t make a good product with poor ingredients. Google would not exist if they were forced to hire an army of low-IQ degenerates and criminals.

This is the sort of piece that reminds me of why I don’t consider myself a conservative. Far too much of what passes for conservative these days is just warmed over progressive mush from the 70’s and 80’s. I’m old enough to remember when conservatives argued for local control of schools, abolition of teacher unions and aggressive segregation of students based on merit. That was the best way to provide the best education to the broadest portion of the population, but allowing for the skimming off of the best and the worst for the special treatment they warrant.

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James LePore
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I’m not sure I follow your logic. Are you saying that all bad parents will leave their kids in public schools even if they get vouchers that would be good at decent private schools? If that’s what you’re saying then maybe you’re right. The only way to find out though is to give it a try. If just ten percent of the bad parents out there send their kids to better, that is, (by definition) non-public, schools, then something good has been accomplished.

Kathleen
Guest
Kathleen

Yes, the Federal government involvement in education is the biggest problem, and the biggest impediment to any real change. I no longer call them public schools; they are government schools. And what happens to everything the government gets it’s mitts on? That’s right, eventually you get managed failure. And Jim Geraghty’s solution of corporate schools? Not such a great idea. Bill Gates’ and his Foundation underwrote the “standards” for Common Core. Tons of education groups funded by the Gates Foundation support and promote the Common Core, which is just another scheme like Race to the Top and No Child Left… Read more »

James LePore
Guest

Mr. Zman: I would love to see your plan put into place. Public schools are a disgrace and teachers unions are perfidious, but they’re not going away any time soon. Some districts spend 10k per kid with disastrous results. Given the facts as they exist I would like to see what would happen if a ghetto family was given 10k per kid to send him or her to a private school of their choice. My hope would be that the public schools either got a lot better or went out of business.

james wilson
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james wilson

Mr. LePore, D.C. spends 27k, L.A. admits to 15 but the audited number is 25k. A true accounting is avoided through various dodges. The average private school costs less than a government school.

“A government entirely dependant on public opinion looks for some security on what that opinion should be, strives for the control of the forces that shape it, and is fearful of suffering the people to be educated in sentiments hostile to its institutions.”-
Lord Acton

UKer
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UKer

Perhaps unlike some readers here, I have taught. Albeit in the UK, but I have stood in front of a class and tried to get them to learn. I know, from experience, this is not a straightforward task: the college kids I taught were aged 16 to 18 (though at least one was 15 and was at college because he had been excluded from school for bad behaviour — I have no idea why this then as a post-school extended education problem, but it was) and they thought as kids do they knew it all. People like me were boring… Read more »

Repair_Man_Jack
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Repair_Man_Jack

Senator Lieawatha is famously fond of higher Minimum Wages. Let’s set the minumum wage for all visa-holders equal to that of any US Citizen. We do have to be multi-culti, don’t we 🙂 [You’d see ZuckerF*ck*r stop pimping for amnesty reform in 2 seconds flat].

Member

School choice means letting communities decide what kind of schools they require through democratically elected and fair (not union dominated) school boards. Why is this so hard for statists to figure out?