Government Reform

Union of Dunces


I'm sad. And, unhappy.

George Will has a depressing column today about 45 years of federal education failure. Here's how the column (but not the policy, alas), ends:

Inflation-adjusted per-pupil spending tripled over four decades; pupil-teacher ratios were substantially reduced as the number of teachers increased 61 percent while enrollments rose about 10 percent. Yet test scores stagnated or declined.

So, what will government do now to reverse the decline that has pretty much coincided with federal intervention since 1965? Double down.

Reason on education here. Keep an eye out for a package on education policy in our forthcoming May issue. And watch Reason save Cleveland's schools below:

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  1. The reoccurring problem is that education elites always define student success by retention rates. If a 80% high-school graduation rate is good, 90% must be better.

    The elephant in the room is IQ. Not everyone is capable of even doing good high-school level work, much less college level. High-school has been dumbed down so much in order to accommodate everyone that a high-school degree is now meaningless. The next target is college. Already people are saying that everyone, EVERYONE, should go to college.

      1. I blame the Beatles.

      2. Yay for racist pseudo science…. actually boo.

  2. It’s a problem – we must throw more money at it. After all, that’s solved every other problem we’ve had, right?

  3. the number of teachers increased 61 percent while enrollments rose about 10 percent.

    And yet they still close the schools so the teachers can generate report cards, which, BTW, change formats Every. Fucking. Time.

  4. The next target is college. Already people are saying that everyone, EVERYONE, should go to college.

    And once the BA becomes meaningless, grad school will become a human right. Get ready for a bunch of PhDs in Lesbian Peace Studies to be minted.

    1. I look forwared to that FUTURE. I suspect I shall enjoy it.

      1. And once t The BA becomes is meaningless. , grad school will become a human right. Get ready for a bunch of PhDs in Lesbian Peace Studies to be minted.


  5. Maryland [state] senators have endorsed requiring school attendance until age 18. The bill could cost $48.8 million in its first year. Proponents argue the state would save on services for delinquent youth.

  6. How about scrapping the reward of “graduation” for something more valuable? E.g., you *will* demonstrate understanding of basic logic in order to be granted the privilege of a driver’s license.

    1. You know that would never work. No more than half the population is capable of understanding basic logic.

      1. Oh, yeah?!

  7. See, if you inflate the B.A., then you just have to invent another degree that is superior to Ph.D. I always somehow thought that a “Chancellorship” was an appropriate title.

    “I am a Chancellor in Economics”


    No? Anybody?

    1. At this point, you’re simply selecting name of the new degree and whoever holds it. I suggest a title of Baron.

      I am a Biology Baron.

      1. Overlord

        1. I am the Viscount of Vaginas.

    2. Spoonman., Phantom Lord of Earth Science

      PhL, for short.

      1. We’re not being ambitious enough. Suppose we strive for sainthood as the ultimate conveyance of education:

        Saint Joseph of Electrical Engineering

        If the person graduates with honors we can precede their name with The Honorable.

    3. It’s not pretentious enough if it isn’t in Latin. Maybe Tolkien … “Valar” has a nice ring to it.

    4. Pish. As the holder of an ultimate degree in law, I am

      RC Dean, Law God.

  8. Yet test scores stagnated or declined.

    When it comes to reporting of academic test results, this statement almost invariably is misleading and is prey to Simpson’s paradox. Every single ethnic or population group that makes up the tested group has scores that go up, but the change in population ratios make the overall number go down. As an example, if Latinos on average score significantly lower that other groups in English, even if their scores goes up, if over time they make up a significantly higher percent of the population the overall results go down.

    Please read the wiki article on the paradox so you are not misled by bogus educational decline statistics. I have examined many and every single one shows score improvement over time, even though the overall average goes down. There are lies, damn lies, and statistics.

    I am not arguing for federal involvement is schools, I am arguing against statistics abuse.

    1. Congratulations, you’ve successfully attacked a minuscule portion of the original criticism with non-specific statistics.

      HOW MUCH have they gone up? What about the rest of the criticism?

    2. Linky link?

      1. Will did not give any test examples, because we all know test results are getting worse and education is going down the tubes. Libs say it is worse to get the government to spend more money on their favorite union charity (NEA), Cons say it is worse because the world is going to hell in a hand basket unless we go back to phonics (or something).

        In fact declines in both SAT and NAEP have been thoroughly debunked.

        The graduation rate study Will does link is totally suspect, because it doesn’t give ethnic or socio-economic group breakdowns. See this pdf starting at about page 6.

    3. Wait, I thought the Simpsons Paradox stated that the longer a groundbreaking animated sitcom remains on air, the less groundbreaking and entertaining it will become.

  9. Somebody once told me schools “can’t” teach civics and history, because they’re obligated to concentrate on READING.

    I asked why the students couldn’t read newspapers and history books as part of their routine reading assignments; the answer was completely incomprehensible, but boiled down to, “Well, they just can’t, that’s why.”

    1. It makes you wonder for what they think the students should otherwise gain a reading aptitude. Menus?

      1. Just…you know, reading. Like…reading. They need to be able to read well, you know?

  10. I’ve said this often.
    When you lookj at the track record, any congress or administration that budgets money to the Depertment of Education for anything other than shutdown expenses has no business claiming to be fiscally responsible.

    Federal involvement with K-12 education has not been merely ineffective, it has been counter-productive. You couls probably count on your fingers the number of federal officeholders who will admit this indisputable fact.

    FTR, I likes me some George Will. Don’t always agree with him but he generally presents solid, well written arguments.

    1. Will might be all that’s left of the real right leaning intellectuals.

      1. Thomas Sowell. Clarence Thomas.

        1. Walter E. Williams.

          1. Sowell and Williams as of a few years ago didn’t classify themselves as conservatives. That may have changed as both became shills for the warfare / torture state.

            1. But you said “right leaning”, not “conservative”.

  11. Why don’t we just enslave anyone who can’t graduate from high school? We could have exceptions for those with certain limited disabilities (who, essentially, are never emancipated, anyway).

    This would be legal if we made failing to graduate a crime.

    Cheap labor on the one hand, excellent incentive to achieve on the other–problem solved!

    1. Someone, somewhere is reading this now and will show it to all of their friends while shrieking, “This is how libertarians really think!” These people are truly stupid.

      1. All part of my cunning plan to ensure that libertarians will never believe the left-libertarian lie again.

        I did wonder whether someone would take that comment seriously. I once got a totally vicious e-mail from a lurker who thought I was serious about something far less offensive.

        1. I proposed one time that people who were too stupid to take care of themselves should be owned by someone who would have the legal responsibility to take care of them. That one didn’t make too many friends for me.

          1. I believe that’s what’s known as The Obama Plan.

            1. Somebody apparently owns my ass.

    2. Why don’t we just enslave anyone who can’t graduate from high school?

      No need to enslave them when they already volunteer for it. See “Housing Bubble – 30 year mortgages” for proof.

  12. Why don’t we just enslave anyone who can’t graduate from high school?

    The coal mine is a grievously underrated educational motivator.

    1. Wouldn’t it just torque the Chinese if we suddenly had ten million slaves? Who’s got cheap labor, now, huh?

  13. Good God, Matt, don’t you know there’s a National Teacher Compensation Crisis on?!!

    FACT: The fundamental problem is low teacher pay, period. Merit pay schemes are a weak answer to the national teacher compensation crisis.

    1. I have a question. If you take into account summer breaks, how do teacher salaries compare to averages for, well, everyone else who works twelve months a year?

      1. Or, more pertinently, when you take into account what teachers make in a year, and how much they work in a year, what is their effective hourly wage?

    2. Low pay, now I get it. That’s why there’s a shortage of ed school applications.

    3. I’ve said it before:

      I actually agree that there is a national teacher compensation crisis, but I doubt I’m thinking of the same thing they are.

  14. My mom is a retired teachers’ aide, and when I stopped by the other day, I picked up her mail and saw that the current issue of the union’s propaganda organ was in the mail. The front page had a screaming headline about those alleged budget cuts that will supposedly devastate [intones gravely] our children [/intones gravely].

    When I opened up the magazine and read the article, it was three pages of scare stories listing budgets that would be “cut” by some massive number. But the absolute, year-on-year numbers were never given.

    The health care unions are running a similar ad compaign, only their ad lists a whole series of “cuts”. If all of those “cuts” were real cuts, we’d be spening zero on health care by now.

  15. Apparently, an unhappy (soon-to-be-ex-) teacher in Rhode Island had the President hanging in effigy in his classroom. He was apparently somewhat miffed when the President did not personally guarantee his job, and the jobs of his co-workers.

    *You’ll have to go find it yourself at Google News; I have faith in you.

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