Reasoners on the Tube: Veronique de Rugy on Bloomberg, Talking Education Myths


Reason economics columnist and Mercatus Center economist Veronique de Rugy appeared on Bloomberg TV last week to talk about education myths. We're spending ever-greater sums of money on historically high numbers of teachers per students, notes de Rugy, yet our high school graduates' test results have been absolutely flat. What can be done to help students, especially those trapped in the worst-performing schools?

About 6.30 minutes.

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  1. In defense of outspending everyone else, we do shell out for a lot of non-educational things like that of state of the art Astro Turf athletics fields or metal detectors and campus security officers. For the children.

  2. What can be done to help students, especially those trapped in the worst-performing schools?

    Burn the schools down, fire the teachers and administrators, then disband the school districts.

    After all that we might see some effective education reforms.

  3. Four high schools in my little 175,000 person town got Field Turf installed on their practice fields on the absolute assurance that it was a long term money saver.

  4. Veronique devastates again!

  5. Veronique devastates again!

    Is this the beginning of a double life for her?

  6. There was a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth around here about the local school budgets. Naturally, no one mentioned possibly cutting sports, and making the parents of those who wanted to play (or boosters) pay for their own damn games.

  7. I live in Los Angeles. We have spent ungodly amounts of money on our public schools here.

    Yet we graduate less than 50% and less than 10% are now going to college. I don’t know what the answer is.. but the problem here is huge.

  8. Educational outcome is based on community standards. If you have an unwed pregnancy rate near 100%, rampant crime, etc etc then you’re always gonna have bad results.

    None of what has been tried — ie, more money, smaller classrooms, ect — affect the community’s issues, so they don’t work.

    Conversely, none of what was suggested in this video address those issues, so they won’t work either.

    You could take the best non-union teachers in the world, rewarding the best performance, and drop it into Detroit and within 5 years you’d have the same results. The teachers would all leave, and the parents wouldn’t tolerate the high standards, and the “moral” issues (crime, drugs, etc) in the community would ruin the rest.

    1. you raise an excellent point. Schools try to “fix” communities with education, but really, people and communities are more or less married to their dysfunctions. When a group of educated people from outside the community comes in and tries to tell them that maybe you shouldn’t get pregnant at 13, or that thug-life doesn’t pay, etc., you get open rebellion against education.

      Some see it as trying to “whiten” the community, or as a damnation of their way of life. No one likes to be told they are wrong. And really, when the thugs in your neighborhood hold all the relative power and wealth, why not aspire to be like them? The top of the dung heap is still the top.

      They don’t see their communities as dysfunctional because that’s the way they’ve been functioning for so long, its normal, comfortable, and not for any outsider to condemn. But there is also some underlying frustration there; they would not resent it so much if there was not a subconscious knowledge that something isn’t right or that there is a better way to live, if only they could find a way without being subject to (what they see as) a finger pointing at them and saying “bad dog” while rubbing their noses in their own shit.

  9. JoshINHB has some good ideas. When Peter the Great wanted a modern army, he sent future officers to train with Prussia, Britain, Italy and France. They were kept apart from the regular army. When he had enough of them, and they had a dinner of all the officers at one time. Then the new officers executed the old officers. That way, the old set of officers wouldn’t be a bad influence on the new officers.

    How about we eliminate the Carnegie unit for graduation from high school? Students must demonstrate they understand the material, not just sit through class. And let’s raise college tuition: if it isn’t going to pay, don’t go. Nurses and engineers will deserve jobs. Women Studies, communications and business majors, not so much. With college out of reach, students will work harder in high school.

  10. Veronica’s statistics are behind the times. In the last 2 years my classes of 3rd grade students have been 26-28 students, and these are the children of parents who know no English and are not fluent in their home language of Spanish. She fails to take these elements into account.
    This year I was also given 6 highly disruptive students. This is not a recipe for success, even though I was rated most HIGHLY EFFECTIVE by the LA Times in raising my students’ standardized testing scores in the last 6 years. I was one among 100 out of 6,000 rated in LAUSD.

    1. Ann, every individual teacher’s classroom is not going to be reflected in data that shows us national averages. My class sizes went up and down over the years too, depending on enrollment numbers in the district.

      To your point about ELLs and disruptive students, I think a return to tiered class structures is warranted. Differentiated instruction is very, very difficult and I am not sure it accomplishes anything other than serving the middle-performing students. And there needs to be a better way to deal with disruptive kids. I was openly threatened by a student (a very big one) and ejected him from class, only to be told he had to come back because there was no where for him to go and that I had to “figure out what to do with him.” The cry that we must educated everyone, regardless of a desire to actually be educated, makes a teacher’s job difficult and makes the lives of other students a bigger hassle than it needs to be.

    2. I read an article on a study (forget where sorry) that indicated the problem of class size was not really the total number of students. It was the more students in the class room, the more likely there was going to be a critical mass of disruptive students.

  11. Veronica…

    Uh, that’s Veronique. And normally I don’t point out spelling mistakes, but it’s pretty egregious when you get the author’s name wrong, especially when the author’s name is listed twice and is easily googlable.

    Core professional competence fail.

    [Cue “Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2”]

  12. Its like the teachers unions are beating a dead horse, except the dead horse is actually a pi?ata filled with money that they get to keep after it gets beaten out of the horse.

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