Education Madness

The other day, this gem from Jim Geraghty was featured on National Review. Uber has become a magic word for the Conservative Inc. and it very well be on its way to being another word for “sacred.” Anything they want to imbue with moral virtue will get the word “Uber” slapped on it in the same way lefty will affix and “i” to anything they want to make sound high tech.

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.

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” without sobbing. 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.

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.

Far too much of what passes for conservative these days is just warmed over progressive mush from the 70’s and 80’s. Conservatives used to argue for local control of schools, abolition of teacher unions and aggressive segregation of students based on merit and local custom. 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.

8 thoughts on “Education Madness

  1. 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?

  2. 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].

  3. 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 irrelevance.

    Mostly the kids were there at this college because they had some small aspiration to be ‘games designers’ and all believed they would command salaries of around $40,000 dollars the moment they applied for a job, which they equally believed were plentiful. They also saw no point in thinking of any discipline in such a job; a number of them thought one could come in any time after the scheduled start and others thought that hour-long lunch breaks were more like 1 hour 30 minutes. They also could not see the point of ‘being taught’ when their hopes lay in playing games all day — and in one dramatic case, all night so the lad would sleep with head on desk in lesson.

    Some of them fought over the best chairs in the classroom, then sat with feet on desk and refused to hand in any work on time. As one kid said to me: “Whatever I eventually do you have to accept. So I’ll hand in all my assignments on the last day. You have to pass them.”

    He was right: the system I taught in meant the college would not be paid by the state if the kids ‘failed.’ Lots of assignments were thus handed in at the last moment with minimal quality. What quality there was happened to be copied and pasted from Wikipedia. Some of the teachers/tutors would joke it would be swifter if they themselves did the assignments themselves because it would be correct and wouldn’t be a mad scramble in the last three days of the scholastic year to get them all ‘passed.’

    The effect of this scramble was the quality of passes were low (one ‘student’ who never studied demanded a distinction on his paper simply because he thought he ought to have one, when all he had done was barely pass grade copied from the internet) and as such the diploma they would get for ‘passing’ was asa consequence worthless. It told the potential employer absolutely nothing, other than a certificate had been given to the ‘student’ for two years uneven attendance and lack of interest.

    Most of the kids at this college had no concept of work, had no interest in a career and thought, thanks to the UK’s pervasive and insidious socialist policies, that they would be always be paid by the state for effectively doing nothing. Benefits (or Bennys as UK people call them) were plentiful and would always be there.

    Having said that some of the kids were okay, some had drive and several planned to make go of life. But the college I taught in knew they were taking kids straight from overwhelmed schools with inadequate educational standards and who had never been encouraged to learn how to learn, and in the only way a socialist government can offer, it kept the unemployable kids out of the dole queue for a while until they managed to land job serving fries somewhere.

    A lot of the emphasis, even in my computer education section, was on trying to get the kids to master some degree of English and Maths as the schools had manifestly failed to do that in ten years or so.

    When I asked one class if any of them had ever read book all I got was blank stares: they had no interest in reading for leisure or greater understanding. If it don’t come out of a computer monitor or squirted into their ears from iPods or whatever, it was pointless.

    The key to all this was home and influence: if a kid came from a home where the parent/parents cared and had a willingness to learn, they would begin to see the way forward for themselves. As a teacher I had the minimal influence on their lives by then. When I tried to tell some students about what to expect from the world of work (I had worked in the media for most of my working life before doing this bit of teaching) but one of them merely told me “I talked too much.” In fairness this lad did admit later he was disruptive in class because his home life wouldn’t let him do what he wanted at night, though I think he would have been disruptive in a different way if he had the wild time he thought he ought to be allowed.

    I suppose all that was better than the one who put his face in mine and screamed at me because I asked him to stop watching YouTube clips when there was work to be done. But then I was even luckier than two teachers I knew who were assaulted in class but in both cases the college did nothing but tell the teachers to ‘improve their teaching technique’ to minimise the risk of being attacked by kids who didn’t want to be there.

    My teaching was limited and I cannot speak, of course, for all teachers or for that matter students in the UK. I am related to people who still teach and they have some frightening stories, though far more will tell of how unwilling government here is to deal with the root of the problems. Kids arrive at school unprepared and there is no penalty for bad attitude or aggression. In fact, some troublesome school kids get rewarded by being taken out, free, to theme parks when there is an official inspection due because no one wants the wild kids to lower the school’s potential standing in front of government officials.

    The ones who will work get to stay in and work instead of being let out to play. The lesson they get is that being sensible means more work and being stupid means reward.

    I could say more about what I saw while teaching and what I think is an answer, but above all it was obvious to me that what life they kids came from was a huge influence on what they brought to their education in the first place. School and then college could not make up for what had never been there in the first place.

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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 Behind. Billions of dollars involved to further dumb down the population.

  7. 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.

    • James, I think the schools themselves are not much of an issue. We know that IQ is biological. We know personality is biological. These are inherited from parents. Kids with an IQ to the right of the bell curve and a desire to learn will have parents with those traits. Those parents will move to neighborhoods with safe schools that are efficiency administered. The rest will take care of itself.

      Are there exceptions? You bet. There are many kids born in the ghetto to delinquent dimwits, yet they are very bright and ambitious. Similarly, there are loads of losers born into good families. But, you don’t build a church for Easter Sunday. The best we can do is let individual communities run their schools as they see fit. People will vote with their feet if their town or city does a poor job with the schools.

      My plan to fix the schools is get the Federal government out of it entirely, ban public sector unions and let nature take its course. But, that’s hard and messy so the hot house flowers of Conservative Inc avoid it. Instead they prattle on about school choice, which will never happen.

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