The Education Blob

K-12 education is a virtual government monopoly--and monopolies don't improve.


Since progressives want government to run health care, let's look at what government management did to K-12 education. While most every other service in life has gotten better and cheaper, American education remains stagnant.

Spending has tripled! Why no improvement? Because K-12 education is a virtual government monopoly -- and monopolies don't improve.

In every other sector of the economy, market competition forces providers to improve constantly. It's why most things get better -- often cheaper, too (except when government interferes, as in health care).

Politicians claim that education and health care are different -- too important to leave to market competition. Patients and parents aren't real consumers because they don't have the expertise to know which hospital or school is best. That's why they must be centrally planned by government "experts."

Those experts have been in charge for years. School reformers call them the "Blob." Jeanne Allen of the Center for Education Reform says that attempts to improve the government monopoly have run "smack into federations, alliances, departments, councils, boards, commissions, panels, herds, flocks and convoys that make up the education industrial complex, or the Blob. Taken individually, they were frustrating enough, each with its own bureaucracy, but taken as a whole they were (and are) maddening in their resistance to change. Not really a wall -- they always talk about change -- but more like quicksand, or a tar pit where ideas slowly sink."

The Blob claims teachers are underpaid. But today American teachers average more than $50,000 a year. Teachers' hourly wages exceed what most architects, accountants and nurses make.

The Blob constantly demands more money, but tripling spending and vastly increasing the ratio of staff to student have brought no improvement. When the Blob is in control, waste and indifference live on and on.

The Blob claims that public education is "the great equalizer." Rich and poor and different races mix and learn together. It's a beautiful concept. But it is a lie. Rich parents buy homes in neighborhoods with better schools.

As a result, public -- I mean, government--schools are now more racially segregated than private schools. One survey found that public schools were significantly more likely to be almost entirely white or entirely minority. Another found that at private schools, students of different races were more likely to sit together.

The Blob's most powerful argument is that poor people need government-run schools. How could poor people possibly afford tuition?

Well, consider some truly destitute places. James Tooley spends most of his time in the poorest parts of Africa, India and China. Those countries copied America's "free public education," and Tooley wanted to see how that's worked out. What he learned is that in India and China, where kids outperform American kids on tests, it's not because they attend the government's free schools. Government schools are horrible. So even in the worst slums, parents try to send their kids to private, for-profit schools.

How can the world's poorest people afford tuition? And why would they pay for what their governments offer for free?

Tooley says parents with meager resources still sacrifice to send their kids to private schools because the private owner does something that's virtually impossible in government schools: replace teachers who do not teach. Government teachers in India and Africa have jobs for life, just like American teachers. Many sleep on the job. Some don't even show up for work.

As a result, says Tooley, "the majority of (poor) schoolchildren are in private school." Even small villages have as many as six private schools, "and these schools outperform government schools at a fraction of the teacher cost."

As in America, government officials in those countries scoff at private schools and parents who choose them. A woman who runs government schools in Nigeria calls such parents "ignoramuses." They aren't -- and thanks to competition, their children won't be, either.

Low-income Americans are far richer than the poor people of China, India and Africa. So if competitive private education can work in Beijing, Calcutta and Nairobi, it can work in the United States.

We just need to get around the Blob.

NEXT: Has the "Violent Political Rhetoric" Panic Come to an End?

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  2. alt-text "Hey lady, I can see right down your shirt!"

    1. it's micro-aggression, showing her breasts to those undeveloped girls.

      1. They'll grow up hating their va-jay-jays. Thank goodness Obamacare has manadatory va-jay-jay counseling in its basket of endless bounty.

        1. Feck va-jay-jays. No, really, feck va-jay-jays! Girls! Arse! Drink!

  3. How many poor Americans would actually give up cable to fund their kids education?

    1. ... if they were aware that they'd be dependent on those kids for thier care during old age, since SocSec is bandrupt?

    2. Good revealing question. Wasn't one of the objects of public education to teach people how to be rational?
      Looks like it failed - this culture is more and more on board with enabling the irrational to get away with their bad choices at the expense of those who make better choices.

      1. Wasn't one of the objects of public education to teach people how to be rational?

        Hello, no. Quite the opposite. The express objective of US public education was (is) to create a compliant, obeisant worker class. So ... mission accomplished!

  4. Education is no different than the Military. Both government monopolies that get more and more expensive.

  5. I hope she leans over the boys' desks like that as well. If not, that's some serious othering going on...or she's also the softball coach after recruits.

    1. She can lean over my desk. I won't complain.

  6. Spending has tripled! Why no improvement?

    because the spending has gone for hiring more administrative staff, from the central office to a raft of assistant principals at every level. None of the spending goes toward anything that actually impacts the classroom, unless you believe that one more deputy vice assistant superintendent makes a difference.

    1. Yes but it is also hard to argue why it takes significant additional money to cover basical K - 8 education. Even things like Computer labs cannot possibly explain the cost because desktops bought in bulk are (and have been for quite some time) cheap.

      Even if you argue that every additional dollar has gone towards useless overhead administrative staff, that still cannot explain why there have been no productivity gains allowing them to provide better education for the same cost.

      1. There've been no productivity gains because there's no reason, on the part of the public education system, to pursue productivity and it would be foolish to do so. It's also why there's been little improvement in educational outcomes even with the vast increase in funding - there's no reason to pursue educational excellence.

        Who benefits from improving educational productivity? The tax-paying public? Obviously. But any such improvements won't occur until the current situation, in which no one sees a benefit to improved productivity, is changed.

        One change that's leading to greater productivity is the charter school.

        Not free to ignore the demands of parents charter schools can't engage in the hiring of unnecessary staff. Similarly, since parents want their kids to get a good education charters aren't free to indulge in the latest edu-fad nor are they free to ignore teacher incompetence.

  7. Learn how to make money using Google. You can monetize your searching skills and earn up to $375 per hour working for this billion dollar company. You can choose your working hours. For more info visit

    1. $375 per hour? Is the company run by a Nigerian oil prince?

      1. With a name like "bopotXQ", it sounds legitimate to me.

        1. Ok I'm convinced. I'm putting in my notice now. Hello fat paychex!

  8. How do you feel about reduced speed limits in school zones?

    1. Good idea. Why don't you push to have the school-zone speed limits set at, say, three miles per hour?

      Oh, that's too slow, you say? Well, fuck, Nando... and here we thought you cared about the children.

  9. Can we stop calling Statist Leftists "Progressives"?

    It's social policy masquerading as legal analysis, it's an inability to do basic math, it's morality by government proxy, it is ad hominem attacks and straw men arguments and angry refusals to learn from past economic and policy mistakes.

    We should refer to it as "State Progressivism" or, more simply, "Social Crpytofascim"

    Reasonable people can and should differ... but from what's going on over at The New Republic and Slate et al. ... the shrieking, and name-calling, and hipper-than-thou dismissals of contrary positions makes me wonder when the book burning will begin.

    Probably soon after Obama is reinstalled and DHS sets up those Hope Camps...

  10. Here's an idea: Let's look at the countries that are kicking our ass in education outcomes and emulate them. Oh wait, they're mostly Socialist Democracies...

    P.S. Stossel's a moronic simpleton.

    1. We aren't doing that now?

      1. No. Look at Finland, which is always near the top of the rankings, yet kids don't go to school until they're 7 and are done by 16 (high school). That's but one of many differences:

        1. Yes because a socially and racially homogenous country with 5 million people is exactly the same as America.

          Try again idiot. Also our system IS a social democracy as far as education goes. And it's completely failing. So I guess it just needs more Top. Men.

          Fuck off Slaver.

          1. Why does it matter that Finland is racially and socially homogeneous? Oh yeah, you hate brown people and think that if given the same opportunity, namely free education and health care, that they'd just squander it. Fuck off you racist nitwit.

            1. Nice strawman, and racist card! I see your public education has suited you well. Enjoy your mediocre lifetime of authoritarian rule, sucker.

              1. If it's a strawman, prove me wrong by explaining why racial and social homogeneity matter in this context with like you know, facts and stuff. I'll wait...

                1. No, how about the schools are already completely and utterly failing. So you prove to me why more-of-the-same is the answer.

                  I'll wait.

                  1. Well, since that's not my point, I don't care to prove it. My point is that we aren't emulating successful educational institutions, and we should be. In my own life, I prefer to emulate success rather than failure or fantasy.

                    Also, to say that schools in this country are "completely and utterly failing" is just complete hogwash. We are #21 on the list, but not statistically far behind the leaders. Educating a country is hard. Some people will never value education. That doesn't mean you scrap the whole thing.

                    1. Now you've completely changed your tune.

                      Which is it; are they "kicking our ass" or are we "not statistically far behind"?

                    2. The original "kicking our ass" was used as an extension of the tone of the article. As in, the article claims our education system sucks so why don't we focus on emulating successful examples?

                      The "not statiscally far behind" was an attempt to approach the truth which Stossel is so loathe to use if it doesn't suit his simplistic argument.

                2. Having different cultures creates tension, which leads to problems running schools. Moreover, differences in socio-economics across cultures which leads to vastly different priorities within each culture.

                  I'm a 4th year HS math teacher and what's needed is tracking. By sixth grade, we know which students are cut out for college, those who should go the VoTech route, and those that should simply be educated up to a certain point and be given valuable life skills after that.

                  Finally, education can't be truly fixed without doing two more very important things: fixing the structural issues in our economy and illegal immigration. Over the past 20 years, we've built an educational system that tries to send as many students to college as possible. Well, we now realize that economy doesn't exist anymore. And of course, we've sent way too many jobs overseas chasing cheap labor. That's has to be fixed.

                  Finally, answer this simple question. How much better would our unemployment rate, economy, education and deficits be if 95% of the illegal immigrants self-deported because they couldn't find work and our population was properly educated with reasonable expectations about employment?

                  P.S. go do research on what's called H1-B visas. We are literally hiring foreign nationals to come to the U.S. and take jobs from our college educated, just because corporations claim our people aren't good enough or don't have the right skills, both of which are fabrications.

                  Take care!

            2. Why does it matter that Finland is racially and socially homogeneous?

              The obvious need not be explained.

            3. Why does it matter that Finland is racially and socially homogeneous?

              Because if you look at the list of most prosperous nations, you will notice that they tend to be smaller in size, more ethnically homogenous and politically decentralized.

              1. They also tend to be socialist democracies. Chicken or egg?

                1. They also tend to be socialist democracies.

                  Again, they also happen to be racially and socially homogeneous.

                  There aren't whole segments of society who hate each other for whatever excuse, who compete to use government help themselves while screwing over someone they hate.

                  Because they're homogeneous, they tend to get along with each other.

                  Something Americans do not do.

                  1. Can't we all just get along?

                2. I think "politically decentralized" and "socialist democracy" tend to be mutually exclusive. Socialism usually involves having The Right People in charge.

                  1. The term "socialist democracy" is misleading because to some "socialist" means a robust safety net, while to others it means the government in charge of the production and distribution of all goods and services (or both).

                    1. Ok. I'll call them "Democracies with robust safety nets" from now on.

                3. If we're going to emulate Finland let's start with the amount Finland spends per student - about a third less then the U.S. Here ya go -

                  Straight from the OECD.

                  How would that be?

                  After that let's fire, oh, lots of teachers. Finnish teachers are held to high standards. That would be as opposed to the U.S. where teachers are held to no standards.

                  You still lovin' Finland?

                  1. I'm starting to.

                  2. I'm loving Finland even more!
                    It should be noted that the graph you linked to includes tertiary education spending per student. No one would argue with the claim that our universities are a joke when you judge them in the context of value.


                    1. So you're good with a substantial reduction in spending on education in order to better emulate Finland?

                    2. Absolutely! Who wouldn't support better outcomes for less money?! Other than perhaps the NEA...

                    3. People who hold up Finland as an example of how peachy public education can be would be another bunch entirely opposed to cutting one, thin dime from education spending.

                    4. Except I'm in that group and I am not entirely opposed to cutting education spending.

              1. Yes, I can. Not sure what your point is though. Proclaiming that social homogeneity is the basis for Finland's relative success implies that, since Finland is mostly white, we can't achieve something similar because of the brown people.

                1. Could Nick be the troll we've been waiting for?!?!?!?

                  so far he's really good at moving the goalposts, but he's throwing the race card rather early in the game. Let's see how he does going forward.

                2. Does "Fuck off you racist nitwit" ring a bell, Nick?

                  Learn to use words properly, you stupid cunt.

                  1. If "racially homogeneous" being used as a reason for educational superiority doesn't set off your "stupid fucking racist" alarm bells, you're probably a stupid fucking racist.

                3. No it's not what's implied; it's what you inferred. Me myself personally, I inferred from it not that brown people are why we can't succeed, but that brown people combined with white people combined with asians, etc., might be a limiting factor.

            4. Why does pointing out that a much smaller country that's racially homogenous == racist "hate brown people..." Leaving race totally out of it, just take an example of say a very white school district in NY or CA vs one in Alabama. One group would probably be very ok with teaching of Earth Dayesque material, the other area would be really pissed about it. One area would respond much differently to say the teaching of sex-ed than the other. White to White just so i'm clear. Throw in the various religions we have here and how butthurt they get over any perceived offense to them. Look at the way many blue staters view red staters and vice versa - those represent very real differences that can't help but come out in the way people relate with their educational system. I think it's a very valid difference and I also happen to do quite a bit of cheering for Brown, Yellow and Black people (if it wasn't for the Asians and African kids pulling up our averages, we'd probably be notably lower). You have more faith in ranking systems than I do - I think it's all way too gamed to really dictate public policy on - but I guess we'll just have to disagree there

              1. Ergo the solution:


        2. I'd be willing to bet Finnish-Americans are doing quite well, too.

        3. Your link doesnt work, from an android phone anyway.

            1. Finland has "free" universal daycare from 8 mos to 5 years, and they consider that critical to their education success. Do you want to emulate that? Besides the cost do you know what kind of clusterfuck that would be over here?

              1. If it's critical to their education success, then yes, I would want to emulate that. I don't know what kind of clusterfuck that would be. I've never implemented a nationwide daycare program.

                1. I can help you with that: picture every government program, especially their cost and the quality of their outcomes. Now apply it to every child in the US.

                  1. Well, I'm not of the mind that government's primary purpose is to operate with corporate-like efficiency. It's huge, it's bureaucratic, and it does important stuff that won't be done by private companies. Some waste is inevitable, but the outcomes are sometimes great. No reason it couldn't be done in this case.

                    1. "Sometimes great"? Such as?

                    2. "A variety of programs run by the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and state and local Public Health departments have greatly improved the health of most Americans. For example, the scourges of polio, cholera, and smallpox have been effectively eradicated from this country ? a huge achievement. And vaccination programs have reduced by 95% our risks of contracting potentially debilitating diseases like hepatitis B, measles, mumps, tetanus, rubella, and diphtheria. Federal funds spent on buying and distributing these vaccines have saved countless lives and the billions of dollars it would cost to treat these illnesses."

                      I would add to that the following as programs that I consider to be "successful". Obviously the benchmarks of success when we're talking about government programs necessarily have to be different than corporate benchmarks (ROI).

                      Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Head Start, Small Business Administration loans, the Interstate highway system, etc.

                    3. Now I thin you're just trolling. Social security? You consider that outcome "great"? Medicaid? The whole reason obamacare even made it to the table is because Medicaid's results have been lousy.

                    4. You sure picked a bunch of losers to "prove" your point about government success.

                      Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid,

                      Yeah, fiscally unsustainable programs. That's the way to demonstrate success. The fact that none of the programs can be run without running huge deficits is a reason to rethink them even if you do thingk there needs to be a "safet net".

                      Head Start,

                      Like DARE, this is a program that is far more successful in the minds of its advocates and administrators than it is in real life.

                      Head Start only works well to the extent that it can get parents interested in their children's education. There are examples where this has happened but they are rare and hardly worth the expense.

                      Small Business Administration loans,

                      The distortions in credit markets created by government subsidized loans is well documented. This is just another program that benefits a small political constituency while imposing costs on a larger but unconnected one.

                      Interstate highway system,

                      Left or right, there's plenty to find wrong with it.

                      You were on firmer ground with your quote regarding Public Health.

                      Even if governemnt can be demonstrated as necesary for some social easing, it does not mean that every time government intervenes the outcomes will be better that random interpersonal arrangements.

                    5. 1. It is not a fact that the social welfare programs necessarily require deficit spending, it is simply the current reality.

                      2. I will admit head start hasn't done much other than give a kid a meal that he/she might not otherwise get, which to me is a good thing.

                      3. Credit markets are so outrageously distorted as is (see LIBOR) that attempting to pin any significant distortion on the SBA is absurd. The SBA simply guarantees loans, but they still require collateral, jumping through all the normal hoops, etc. It's just removing a small layer of risk for the bank, which can still not approve the loan if it wants.

                      3. The interstate highway system was a financial boon to businesses across the country and still provides a necessary infrastructure for moving stuff around efficiently. It's failures are due to maintenance, primarily.

                      4. I would never claim that every government intervention is either necessary or optimal in terms of strategy.

                    6. Keep posting, Nick. We're starting to buy that bullshit. Really.

                    7. It's huge, it's bureaucratic, and it does important stuff that won't be done by private companies.


                    8. Thanks, I will!

                    9. If generous welfare states do not require either Swedish levels of taxation (which even the Swedes are getting tired of) or massive structural deficits (which we see in every Eurozone country, right now), why is it that every example has one or the other or both of them?

                      A safety net is one thing, a safety hammock is another (credit to Sugarfree).

                    10. They certainly require higher taxes, which I am in favor of.

                    11. Of course you favor higher taxes, you stupid bitch.

                    12. Nice argument you fucking moron.

                    13. Sure you do, you probably think that you won't have to pay them.

                      I wish people like you could get it through your heads that there are two possible outcomes from taxing the rich.

                      Either the rich will remove their wealth from the taxable pool or they will become tax collectors from the customers.

                      In the end everyone else will ends up paying those taxes either overtly through higher prices or covertly through reduced economic activity.

                    14. I absolutely know I will have to pay them. I have a master's degree in accounting with an emphasis on finance. I understand how this shit works. We have some of the lowest marginal tax rates in the modern history of this country and the shittiest economy. Chicken or egg?

                    15. The taxes are lower than when they were zero? Oh, right. For all the people who get back more than they pay in, I guess it is.

                    16. {with an emphasis on finance}

                      Ask now, for a refund.

                    17. Taking into consideration that the top tax rates have varied from as low as 28% and as high as 90% (since WWII). Why, Mr. Finance Master, have tax receipts remained within 15-20% of GPD?

        4. Good idea. Trade our idiotic, affirmative action enabled, Ebonics University education degree educators for the teachers in Finland.

    2. Actually, I'm pretty sure that if you corrected for the amount of streaming that goes on in the countries that are "kicking our ass in education" you would find that "we" do not do nearly as badly as it appears. Most comparisons are between our high scholl students and college bound secondary school students in countries who have segeregated out lower acheiving students at the age of about twelve.

      What we do do badly at is trying to impose a one-size-fits-all system onto a diverse population which has a huge variety of different capabilities.

      1. Right. Emulating Finland, for example, would entail going away from that one-size-fits-all system and toward a system that attempts to match student paths to strengths. Unfortunately, American exceptionalism extends to parents' opinion of their own kids. They can't all be doctors and lawyers.

        1. In other words, you really don't have any coherent arguments at all.

          You just wanted to insult Stossel rather than counter his arguments in any meaningful way.

          1. Stossel's arguments? Which are what exactly? That American schools suck because we spend too much money on them. Teachers are overpaid and private schools are the answer. As you've seen in some of my other comments, I've pointed to an example of a truly exceptional school system that happens to be essentially the opposite of what Stossel would want, with the exception of lower cost-per-student figures, which he would obviously support. Stossel is a classic ideologue, I prefer pragmatic approaches based on reality. Looking at success and emulating it.

            1. Yes, you pointed to another model with the notion in mind that one can cherry pick what works based on the belief that ends can justify means. Stossel points to a model which is based on sound foundational ideals of liberty and individuality which would provide results as well. I don't want to enulate anyone as I would rather do the right thing from our own foundational base which (in education) was abandoned a long time ago.

              1. How do you know it would "produce results"? I assume you mean desirable results. But how do you know?

            2. Also, in previous articles and TV programs on the subject Stossel has specifically pointed to what is done in other countries, including European ones.

              In this articles he focuses on the potential benefits of private education.

              The fact of the matter is that many of the "socialists democracies" that you refer to, including Finland, have more educational choices including private ones than the NEA/AFT captive American system does. And that's something Stossel has pointed out before.

              1. Finland has a far lower percentage of its children in private schools than the US.

                1. Nick|7.5.12 @ 5:54PM|#|?|filternamelinkcustom
                  How do you know it would "produce results"? I assume you mean desirable results. But how do you know?

                  OH noes!1!!!!1111 teh freedom is scary!!!

                  1. Five bucks says Nick uses the term "freedumb" in the near future.

                    1. I'd rather use it than exemplify it.

                2. There are other countries in the world besides Finland.

                  1. But... but... Finland is gooder than America, because fuck you that's why!"

                    /leftist logic

                3. Shorter Nick:

                  Private schools should be banned, except for when politicians send THEIR kids to them, which is fine by we leftists.

                  1. I never said any of that. If you're going to put words in my mouth, I'll put your father's dick in yours.

                    1. Holy Sheet, reading comprehension wasn't a big part of that Master's Degree I take it. The point Stossel was making wasn't explicitly that Private Schools are the only answer, or that they're more gooder... it was that because the Blob is so deeply entrenched in our public school system it is quicker to achieve reform and easier to craft desirable results with private schools. The ever increasing costs and continued decline in student performance is the justification for his statement. I'm willing to bet Stossel had no issue with public education model that was run by local boards of education prior to its hijacking by the Blob.

                    2. The fuck you didn't, Nick.

        2. And it would entail cutting the amount spent on education by about a third. I'm OK with that and maybe that's the secret of Finnish success - they don't squander tax money with anywhere near American profligacy.

          So maybe the secret of Finnish success is keeping the education system a little hungry rather then feeding it ever more tax money.

  11. Can we teach the kids why Libertarian Intellectual heabvyweights like Nick "The Fonz" Gillespie don't teach the kids about LIBOR?

    Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?

    They're dropping rates left and right, kids, trying to square that circle, but the center can not hold....

    Wouldn't a nice, big war help prop it all up a while longer? Remember - it would be for the children, the precious, children.

    1. Actually, the "crisis" at that time was that LIBOR was rising out of control.

      The "regulators" were pulling every trick they could out of the hat to try to get LIBOR down.

      So I'm supposed to be worried about banks tape-painting to show a lower closing LIBOR? Why, exactly?

      Why is manipulating LIBOR a virtue when the central bank does it but a vice when Barclay's does it?

      1. Put another way, why isn't it a vice when either one does it?

        1. Well, you have to find a reason for me to care about a private tape-painting transaction.

          If my friend wants to come over my house right now and pay me $1000 for one of my kid's matchbox cars, I fail to see how that's a criminal transaction.

          If some other asshole out there runs up and says, "Oh no! I signed a contract that makes me pay an interest rate based on the matchbox car index, and now your unreasonable straw transaction has inflated the matchbox car index and I'm gonna lose money!" my response to that is, "Guess what? I don't give a shit. Sounds like you signed a pretty stupid contract."

          1. A breathtaking fellation of fraudulent bankers.

          2. Because fraud undermines the very foundation of free markets. That's why it's illegal. If Milton Friedman can explain away the failing of all of his free-market nation renovation experiments by blaming a failure to uphold rule of law, surely it's an issue worth getting worked up over by Libertarians, right.

            1. My transaction isn't fraudulent.

              You're essentially telling me that I have to be prevented from entering into a voluntary transaction if the knowledge that said transaction existed may negatively impact someone else.

              To which I say, Fuck You.

              In this case, we have a situation where an interest rate index was created where a borrower was pegging his own future interest rate to the transaction history of his lender, with other lenders. That's idiotic. The inherent conflict of interest can't be removed. Inventing a category of fraud to try to account for the fact that people who trade a commodity talk to each other while they do it is similarly idiotic.

              Next time demand an index that isn't based on items that are within your lender's control. Like maybe the published inflation rate. Or hell, the number of the winning horse at Suffolk Downs.

              1. "Next time demand an index that isn't based on items that are within your lender's control."

                OK. I'll go to the bank in your Libertarian fantasy-land and demand just that.

                "In this case, we have a situation where an interest rate index was created where a borrower was pegging his own future interest rate to the transaction history of his lender, with other lenders. That's idiotic."

                It's not idiotic at all you moron, unless of course the lender fraudulently manipulates its transaction history.

                "Next time demand an index that isn't based on items that are within your lender's control. Like maybe the published inflation rate."

                You're so cute in thinking that the inflation rate isn't itself manipulated.

                Got any other terrible ideas?

  12. No. Look at Finland, which is always near the top of the rankings, yet kids don't go to school until they're 7 and are done by 16 (high school). That's but one of many differences:

    1. Sorry, double post. Edit buttons are awesome.

      1. Posting statist bullshit over at DU or FireDogLake would be even awesomer.


  13. I wish someone would consult the experts at Finlandia University in Hancock, MI, for comparative info on Finnish-American versus Finnish academic achievement.

    If the Finnish-American kids are doing worse than the Finns in Finland, then we can probably rule out cultural differences and then look at what awesome differences Finland public education has vis-a-vis American.

  14. Let's leave to one side for a moment the question of why Finland has high achievement.

    It's not really important to the real question, which is: What ROI will I, personally, experience on paying more in taxes to support public education to try to catch Finland?

    To bridge the delta between US and Finnish performance would require - what, exactly? And how much will it cost?

    Because if (just as an example) it would require another doubling of per-pupil education spending, along with the creation of a universal day care entitlement, I'd have to ask why you'd expect me to support that even if you succeeded.

    Finland's performance just isn't superior enough to justify that sort of expense.

    "But - but - but - we're 21st!"

    So what?

    We're mostly talking about performance differences on the low end of the bell curve, anyway. And marginally improving the performance of the bottom 10% is not going to improve national productivity enough to justify that kind of expense. And it's certainly not going to produce more wealth-producing innovation if we suddenly have cleaner-cut janitors who can read the Daily News instead of the NY Post.

    1. Well, as was pointed out earlier, Finland actually spends significantly less per pupil than the United States, so emulating Finland would actually cost less, theoretically.

      1. So you think its a good thing to dump the bulk of your students out of school at 16--at the sophmore level in American high schools and count yourself as a 'success' for doing so?

        In the US we try to keep kids in school past sophmore year.

        And once they're gone they no longer count towards educational greatness, no? Suddenly, the only students getting grades that are counted are the cream of the crop. How convenient!

        If you've gotta cook the books to look good you don't look good.

        1. They don't dump them out of school. At 16 they either go to college, go to work, or go to what is essentially a trade school.

      2. Yes and as was made pretty plain earlier, we can't emulate Finland, because we are not Finland.

        1. False. I emulate people that I am not all the time.

          1. Try emulating someone who can use the word "racist" in its proper context.

            Or, fuck off and die. Preferably the latter. Hell, I have a whole roll of plastic bags in the kitchen; I'd be glad to mail you one.

            1. Emulating myself would create a rather existential problem.

              1. You can't use the word "racist" properly, so you were clearly not educated by competent people.

          2. You know, you accuse people of being simplistic and then you say all we need to do is copy a country with completely different demographics and completely different social and cultural norms. In fact, the US has thousands of different social and cultural norms while Finland basically has one.

            America is a complicated place but all simpleminded fucks like you can come up with is the same old "let's make a law".

            1. That's a leftist for ya, Issac... they want conformity and massive centralized government.

              Which isn't that much different than what social-cons want, but fuck 'em both.

              1. Yep, Nick thinks "we" need to tell all the Americans with different social and cultural attitudes that they all just need to act like Finnlanders.

                Good luck with that Nick. See how Al Sharpton and the rest of the victim lobby (see also David Duke and Pat Buchanan, and any number of white victim groups) reacts when you tell him everything will be OK if only blacks will start acting like white Finnlanders (who, lest we forget were the allies of the Nazis in the Big One).

                Because to get the same results as Finnland a whole lot of people will have to start acting differently.

                O wait, everything will be OK, we'll just pas a law, right?

                1. Good job bringing Nazis into it. Really bolsters your completely bullshit argument. If you contend that the reason we rank poorly in education is because we're too big, too complicated, too racially diverse, too socially diverse, then why the fuck doesn't Stossel just come out and say it? Why doesn't he just say, "we will never do well in education because we've got too many Brown people, too many Christians, etc, and so let's scrap the whole fucking thing and be content with being a nation of ignoramuses"? Is he a coward? Too PC?

            2. Then try Australia. And the Libertarian solution is, "let's do nothing".

              1. I say Australia because while relatively small, is racially diverse and is tied with Finland and Denmark in education ranking. If it can work there, why can't it work here?

    2. The only reason to bring up Finland is as an example of how government education isn't a uniform failure; there are government education systems that produce good results.

      Meh. I don't care. The folks who think Finland's an educational nirvana are on the hook, as far as I'm concerned to come up with credible reasons for that state of affairs not to just broadly hint that Finland's proof that government education's a good idea all myriad exceptions to that rule not withstanding.

      Stossel's right. Virtually everything that's wrong with public education is as a result of the monopolistic control of education. More worryingly the public education system's infecting other elements of society.

      Colleges have lowered their standards while raising tuitions in part due to the education kids show up with at their doors. Colleges still squeeze out the never-wills before senior year where they start to become useful to the furtherance of the university's reputation by being engaged in research but they used to not let them in the front door.

      Frickin' 1,500 character limit.

    3. The schools of education produce teachers who aren't ready to teach because the public education system places no value on teaching skill. There is value in hopping aboard every lame educational fad that makes the big time so schools of ed spend inordinate amounts of time indoctrinating their students, the better to send true believers out into the world to spread the word about the latest, lame educational fad.

      It's the last half a dozen paragraphs in Stossel's piece that bear examination.

      Dr. James Tooley puts the lie to the need for a government education system if it's education you're interested in. Governments typically use education systems to indoctrinate as much as to educate and it's never easy to determine which is the more important role. Parents have no problem deciding which is more important. That's part of the reason those poor folk's private schools Tooley uncovered are so important.

  15. Great article John Stossel. In addition to your excellent points about government run monopolies are sluggish and lack a competitive edge I'd like to add that government education is government propaganda.

    1. Nick's gonna call you a racist for that, allen.

      (not Gillespie... the idiot posting above about how Finland took his virginity and gave him magical unicorn mayonnaise.)

      1. And Nate... sorry, responded in the wrong spot.

      2. No I'm not. And let's not bring your mother into this. She was very gentle.

        1. Does "Fuck off you racist nitwit" ring a bell, Nick?

          1. "Fuck off, Mary," is more like it.

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