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May 05, 2008

Education Linkage

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

* Pres. Bush's Reading First program: a big bust that has had zero impact on kids' reading scores. The cost? A mere billion a year.

* Since 1986, the price of public education has been rising faster than the price of gasoline.

* Busing may be coming to an end in Milwaukee. It has accomplished little, and at a cost of $57 million a year, according to officials.

* Charles Murray and Steve Sailer point out a basic fact that educators seem to have a hard time grasping: Half of all kids are sub-average in academic terms. Me, I think that Americans over-obsess about college, and under-acknowledge the value of vocational training.

* MBlowhard Rewind: I argued that writing teachers make too much of the "show, don't tell" command.



UPDATE: Mike -- whose wife works in special ed -- comments.

posted by Michael at May 5, 2008


We make a mistake in telling any school that they can expect a new reading program. We need to point out what should be obvious: a school IS a reading program. Our ancestors have done all the prep in providing us with a simple, if not exactly phonetic, script. All a school needs to do is teach it, using whatever method commonsense suggests. And do it NOW.

Posted by: Robert Townshend on May 6, 2008 4:23 AM

My wife, a university English professor, is now coping with the firstfruits of No Child Left Behind. With rare exceptions, her incoming high school students are simply unable to compose coherent English, and are abysmally ignorant of syntax, grammar, punctuation, spelling, logical construction of sentences and paragraphs, and so on.

These students got good English grades in their various high schools. And no, her experience is not isolated. Her whole department is experiencing the same disaster. (Her university is graduating students who are seriously inadequate in English.)

Whatever the cause (probably public school teachers teaching "to the test" rather than English) these incoming products of NCLB are failing to master their own language.

One of my wife's colleagues, a French language professor, is retiring early, saying he can't teach a foreign language to students who don't know their own.

Posted by: Richard S. Wheeler on May 6, 2008 9:56 AM

Working in the museum (which is a sister facility to the university here) admissions office and store I see a lot of kids each week. Last week there were about 600 elementary kids through here, all with teachers who commanded them not to touch anything and to not talk. Sort of futile, really, I mean these kids were in a big room with big things and lots of questions.

The children all had an expression of "Then why are we here?" At that moment I knew that the education methods in use were futile and I was sure the kids knew it too.

Posted by: Angela on May 6, 2008 10:32 AM

The whole point of public education is to dumb kids down so that they are neither interested in how the country is run nor will ever challenge the people who run it. If any education does take place, its mostly job training mislabelled as an education.

If you think that's a ridiculous statement, ask yourself why would any of the people who run the educational establishment want a populace of well-educated, curious, self-directed people?

Well-educated, curious, self-directed people are independently-minded. They don't take direction thoughtlessly, question authority (aka critical thinking), are more active (interrupting well-laid plans), and are quite curious (they might actually find out what is really going on).

Whose interest does it serve to have a well-educated populace? Business? All they want are people who take direction well and that have certain technical skills. Outside of that, they couldn't care less. Government and politicians? They don't want an intelligent populace. They want people who are easily swayed by slogans and modern advertising techniques, and just go to sleep for four years every election cycle. The big advertising companies want dumbed down people. The big stores and merchandisers want dumbed-down consumers. The PC propagandists want dumbed-down people who uncritically buy their propaganda.

In fact, nobody wants well-educated people except certain perents. Most parents just want their kids to get "good grades" so they can get a degree and "good jobs". They don't really care about education.

Its time to figure out that the public schools are there to produce workers who are otherwise thoughtless, passive consumers who never interfere with the levers of power. Ever. And the same elites who never want to be challenged run the educational system. The sad state of "education" is all by design.

If you are naive enough to think this might cause economic problems in the future, well, that's what open borders/unlimited "immigration" are for. Can't find what you are looking for in store A? Go to store B. Countries are just businesses. The masters want slaves, not rebels. And the teachers are increasingly well-trained slaves themselves. Our children are being raised to live in chains, and have been for a long time.

Posted by: BIOH on May 6, 2008 11:55 AM

BIOH, do you have any thoughts on "Unschooling"? And I completely agree about parents, and people in geneeral, not actually caring about education.

One thing that I used to think about a lot was the difference between conventional, modern schooling and one of the few for-profit "teaching programs" still widely used, piano and guitar teachers.

As far as I know, no place in America has ever reported a scarcity in Piano teachers even though they do not make a lot of money and it takes a ton of practice to master the instrument.

Well, my main point was, look at how Piano (and Guitar) tutors teach young (and old) people their instruments.

For one, very few "real" tests, if any. You do not get report cards. The first 25 times you play "Mary had a little lamb", you basically failed. Yet, no "F".

Teach. Learn. Practice. Repetition. Practice. Practice. Mastery. Move on to next technique/piece.

Also, the best tutors understand that they need to impart a love of the instrument and music to get a steady paycheck.

Imagine having a Math teacher who could actually impart a LOVE of Calculus. What a country we would love in.

Posted by: Ian Lewis on May 6, 2008 12:30 PM


I should give you some of my background.

I went to catholic schools (grade school and high school) as a kid in a middle to upper middle-class area. Grade school was pretty standard--easy mostly. High school was a lot harder, because I was tracked high and took college classes. I also had real clergy (well-educated priests) and highly educated lay folks teaching those classes. Then I went on to a very difficult top engineering university.

So from the age of about 14-22, I got hit pretty hard on the educational front--it was demanding and very competitive.

I think that education is very important, that high standards are very important, and that competition can really spur learning.

But I also understand that a lot of my education wasn't really an education at all, but a job-training program disguised as an education.

I tend to think that education enables somebody to think. And what our education system does is enables some people to perform, and not think. The rest get neither thinking nor performing skills in abundant measure.

What I realized (being the curious, non-conformist type, but in a conservative way) in trying to correct my hard science/engineering slant with the arts and philopsophy/religion later on is that I was trained like a dog into a narrow chute, a small corner of the world of the mind. And I didn't like that.

So I think that alternatives to our current dog training schools should now be considered. The problem I have with the unstructured/no grades approach is that it misses out on the benefits of accountability, curriculum, and competition.

Schools can only do so much. So if learning is a life-long endeavor, then why aren't critial thinking skills and curiosity emphasized in our dog training schools? That's the real foundation, not test-taking.

See, reform starts with understanding that they want thoughtless slaves, and are trying to keep kids from liking learning, having curiosity, teaching critical thinking, etc. "Education" is not education--its training. Its direction, not self-direction. It sucks.

Get any and all kids you know out of the overpriced, dumbed-down, dog training schools. Home schooling and informal schooling is great, but we need to keep the high standards and some competition. That's the best I can offer.

Posted by: BIOH on May 6, 2008 1:14 PM

BIOH: "Our children are being raised to live in chains, and have been for a long time."

Heh. I just drove through a very small town - the kinds of town where nothing bad ever has happened nor ever will - and saw the school kids playing outside the elementary school, overseen by a hulking six-foot-something security guard in blue police gear with aviator glasses and combat boots and a walkie talkie. You know, in case one of the seven year olds should happen to try something.

Posted by: Brian on May 6, 2008 1:28 PM

BIOH, I don't currently have any involvement with either Homeschooling (i.e. Home Education) or Unschooling, but, my understanding is this:

Most kids that go through that type of childhood sooner or later enter into enter into a more formalized educational system. This usually happens when they are about 15-17 years old. And, then, onto some university.

I personally think that this is one of the best ways to spur learning because it keeps the child from the Memorizing, Testing, (Teaching to the Test for the benefit of the Politicians, School Boards and Parents), and Grading that produces uninterested grade-obsessed drones (or, worse, slackers and drop-outs).

But, ultimately introduces them to the more formalized institutions when they are smart enough to take from it what they will.

Posted by: Ian Lewis on May 6, 2008 3:00 PM

I guess the 2blowhards are fond of the Sailers and Murrays (and Rushtons) on the question of genetic differences between the races, especially in IQ. I must confess it makes me feel very uneasy to read these links. As a black man approaching his mid-40s, I think it may be time for me to move on from the blowhards. It is just too personal to read that Sailers/Rushton hold that my race has below average IQs and that is just the way it is. For example, Charles Murray's latest link debunks the so-called liberal elite theories of inequality in the classroom, holding true to the maxim that some (read: blacks) just can't do and failure to acknowledge this fact is doomed. The some being blacks and others who measure low on the IQ scale. (Murray seems to dismiss the "stereotype threat" problem because it can't be fixed in the educational setting. I am not sure that the lack of a solution diminishes the problem. But he glosses over that issue with out acknowledging that it is a very troubling measure.)

In sum, when these guys look across the racial lines, Blacks are below average and anything that fails to recognize that fact is PC bull$h!t and doomed to failure. It is not the educational system (processes or people) that produce the bad results, it is the raw material, the student, that is defective.

What does this mean to me? As a man getting ready to start a family, Sailers/Rushton/Murray would wish me well and let me know that my offspring are on the shallow end of the genetic IQ pool (crap!), because on the bell curve of life we know where people fall by race.

Even if their approach is true, it does not answer every question we may have (or I have) about how to build an education system or a society for that matter. I agree that we undercut vocational education in public schools and should give everyone opportunities in those areas. But what about the rest of the people, I guess we could have some tracking or slotting system with students tracked to their determined potential based on IQs and expected outcomes. I am not sure what else Murray and Sailers are trying to tell me except that maybe the larger educated society (read: majority White, Asian, etc) should just stop spending, caring, or trying to educate the uneducable minority or turn them into members of the knowledge-based society. Teach them a trade, let them drop out of school, only let the ones above the white/asian average move into your middle and upperclass neighborhoods; save the "tenth" who are worth the effort, but let the rest fall where they belong among the lower economic classes. (And don't let your children mix with them, you will harm your own gene pool) But for God's sake, stop spending money with the expectation that you can change their natural abilities; some are smart, most are not, let it be, let it be. Let them compete in the open IQ marketplace and if that means no black or hispanic judges or policemen or doctors or scientist then that is the way it is.

I know that is not what they are precisely saying, but it does not seem like a stretch to end up down that road with a little effort. It is too depressing to read these links to Sailer and Rushton and Murray, so I need to stop it. Like a voter who wants to throw the bums out, but always votes for the incumbent, I have to just break the habit. For some, like the blowhards, the Sailers and Rushtons and Murrays hold the truth. For me, they only raise disturbing questions.

Posted by: Teej on May 6, 2008 6:37 PM

Anybody here ever spend time in the classroom of a public school as a full-time teacher? Other than me?

I taught high school English for 4 years at a typical public school in the Bay Area. (Strike one against me, right?) We have a diverse student body (racially, socio-economically, etc.). The school had some truly inspiring, fantastic teachers and a few clock-watchers, while the rest of us were a dedicated, if not overly inspiring, bunch. Your basic workplace, regardless of industry.

In my experience, and in talking with my fellow teachers, I found that family is EVERYTHING. Duh, right? Well, I don't think it gets acknowledged enough, in liberal or conservative settings. It's either society's or the teachers' fault, when in actuality, it is the homelife of the student that makes ALL the difference.

If I met the parent of a student even once, that kid passed my class. Not out of anything I did differently, but because a parent was on top of it, making sure their kid got his/her shit done. If I didn't meet the parent, then it was a crapshoot. Some kids did well regardless, others flailed (and failed).

This paradigm held true across racial and socio-economic backgrounds. I had brilliant black students, horrible white students, average Asian and Hispanic students, and every combination of the aforementioned variables. The only constant was the amount of parental involvement.

So basically, I don't buy the theories around racial differences in IQ, whether they're coming from Steve Sailor or Jeremiah Wright. I've seen the entire spectrum of intelligence present in every race I taught, and in similar numbers. The focus should be on how students' families view education, do they respect it or not? From that perspective, I have seen cultural, although not racial, differences.

Anyway, that's my 2 cents on the matter.

Posted by: JV on May 6, 2008 9:42 PM

I spent a few years as an unsatisfied and unsatisfactory teacher in Sydney schools, mostly of French and Latin. In catholic schools thirty years ago, you could teach without special qualifications. I was a listless and aimless arts grad, and it was a job I could get. Yet I saw enough to be able to agree with many of the comments of JV and Teej.

The Irish, then the Italians, then the Maronite Lebanese: each of these catholic groups was initially regarded as less-endowed. In all cases, the combination of new opportunity and old family did the trick. (The properity and prominence of the Christian Lebanese in Australia is of special note.) The sailing was not smooth, but the destination was reached.

I don't know much about IQ, but, considering my difficulties with simple computation, I suppose mine is none too high. Yet during the dismal gcochran episode on this blog, when people were unzipping and flashing IQ's (along with talk of 'fuck-you-money'), I began to suspect that there must be very large areas of human intelligence unreached and undefined by IQ testing.

Whatever the case, I hope places such as the US and Australia don't forget their main game: individual opportunity fostered within supportive and, if possible, nuclear - yes, I said nuclear - families. School is secondary, if that. Race? Get the family/opportunity thing right, then re-test.

Here on the mid-coast of NSW I've been able to observe what a few generations of idleness, hedonism and welfare can do the the intelligence of the most perfect Rheinischer Mensch.

Posted by: Robert Townshend on May 7, 2008 12:02 AM

Teej -- Thanks for your comment. I'm hoping you'll continue dropping by, and I'm also hoping you'll comment more often, not less often. I'd love to hear what you have to say about these questions. What do you think may be true about these things? What have you noticed yourself? What rings false? Are there people who talk about these questions in ways that strike you as sensible and responsible? And who strikes you as irresponsible?

As for myself, and not that my opinions should matter ... I think that 1) IQ is real, 2) there are diffs in average IQ between various population groups, 3) IQ and differences in IQ between population groups can become a dangerous obsession for some people, 4) IQ is just one of many different talents, qualities, and characteristics that an individual (or a population group, for that matter) might or might not be strong in ... IQ seems to me interesting and fairly important, but it also doesn't strike me as the be-all and end-all of anything. (And don't get me started about how I think Americans over-obsess about school, let alone my annoyance with the question of academic achievement ...)

It seems to me that the whole question of differences between population groups is a taboo, seething-just-beneath- the-surface topic of American life that could use some airing out. I think people have been prevented from talking about what they experience and see for 'way too long, and that as a consequence some of them have grown mean and surly. Open up about what we notice and experience, and maybe we'll generally grow more appreciative, funny, and companionable.

Anyway, I've always been quite cheery about all this. I like it that population groups have somewhat different bundles of talents and attributes. Makes life interesting. I love it when my friends of Italian descent talk about "the Irish," and when my Jewish friends talk about "the WASPs." I learn, I laugh; the world becomes a more interesting and a more comprehensible place. Two of my intellectual gurus have been Ralph Ellison and Albert Murray, both of whom certainly thought/think that black people and white people have their differneces, and isn't that cool? And god knows there isn't much that's funnier or more enlightening than watching black comedians make jokes about and do impressions of white people. I'd be sad if there weren't biochemical bases for at least some of these differences.

Anyway, I could be wrong, of course, but I think it's better to take the risk of opening the topic up than to try to suppress it. For one thing, according to some knowledgeable friends of mine, we've entered an era when genetics research is going to be revealing ever-more gene-based differences between population groups (and not just races). For another, migration patterns are forcing many questions to the surface. Why not face these things square on?

But I can certainly understand it if some people think they'd be better left untouched. I just don't think that's likely to be happening in the near future. Anything but. So why not tackle the questions in an open and friendly way? If, for example, Murray and Sailer (haven't read Rushton myself) strike you as coming up short, I'd sure love to know why.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on May 7, 2008 12:04 AM

I taught freshman and sophomore college English during the Clinton years. Took my English degrees during the Bush I administration.

I do not know about the impact of "no child left behind." I do know that my students, while not illterate hadn't much use or interest in the written word - they had a difficult time reading English and writing English. They really could not manage to read a 4 to 6 page essay and then discuss it in an informed manner.Hell, in an interested manner.

My texts were often full of second rate (Rigoberta Minchu, Maya Angelou) authors. What my students did have was a sense of entitlement.

I felt myself to be perceived in a waiter/diner relationship. Oh, and in the main, they had big self-esteem. Great self-esteem. And often, the worse the student, the more active the parent when the grades were bad. As in the parent called up the department head to complain about the injustice of it all.

That is the broad view. Of course, there were some wonderful students. "No child left behind" shouldn't take any more heat than it deserves.

Posted by: Larry on May 7, 2008 12:36 AM

"I know that is not what they are precisely saying,..."
"For me, they only raise disturbing questions."

Teej, you are right that that is not what they are saying. I can not speak for any of them, especially Rushton, since I am not that familiar with his writings, but, Sailer does not believe that IQ is the be-all and end-all of Human Value. Not by a long shot.

And even if there is evidence saying that one ethnic group or race has a lower AVERAGE IQ does not mean that anyone or everyone of that group is then damned.

But I could never list the fact that "they only raise disturbing questions" as a reason for not listening to someone. If anything, I would offer them a medal for at least approaching this, now, Politically Incorrect subjects.

In an age where more and more things are becoming Politically Incorrect, I really think that is something.

Posted by: Ian Lewis on May 7, 2008 9:19 AM

If I met the parent of a student even once, that kid passed my class. Not out of anything I did differently, but because a parent was on top of it, making sure their kid got his/her shit done. If I didn't meet the parent, then it was a crapshoot. Some kids did well regardless, others flailed (and failed).

JV, I think that your logic is a bit off. I could say the same things about the hockey rink near my house. The people that simply show up to play are significantly better than the ones that don't (I will goof off with them on the street sometimes). But it is simply self-selection.

Why do some parents care, and others do not. Why are some better focused? More interested?

My father was a public school teacher for years in Delaware and, yeah, you could definitely see patterns.

Heck, you could say the same thing about fashion-sense. The reason that girls, on average, have a better fashion sense than boys is because they actually read those magazines and pay attention to the different styles and fashions.

But, the question is, why do the girls pay attention to those things? Nature or Nuture?

Posted by: Ian Lewis on May 7, 2008 9:26 AM

I don't think there is any intentional conspiracy by the "they" who control society to employ the public schools to produce good little serfs. The public school system was a 19th or early 20th century system designed to produce graduates who were literate enough to be employable in industrial jobs. It relies on rote kearning and endless drilling for its results and worked fairly well in olden days when America had different demographics and the average eight-year-old didn't feel they were entitled to be entertained every waking moment and school didn't have to compete with an immersion in an entertainment environment that's like living inside an arcade game.

The public education sytem is like a hand-cranked automobilke or a Edison wax cylinder phonograph. They were spectacular innovations for their time, but the world has moved on.

Students today spend far too much time being told the same stuff over and over. A lot of it is irrelevant and always was: makework assignments like memorizing the 50 state capitols. History is taught as an endless, meaningless procession of nams and dates without explaining their significance.

Every student is treated unrealistically as though they were all going to Harvard. Most won't, so they flounder around till they are liberated by graduation or drop out. There's virtually no good vocational training. We need good car mechanics, electricians and carpenters. We don't need more lawyers or assistant professors of philosophy.

Posted by: Peter L. Winkler on May 7, 2008 11:41 AM

Peter LW -- Nicely said!

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on May 7, 2008 11:44 AM

Peter Winkler,

Education in the past was not merely public and not merely for job training. If you read some of the writing of even average people back then, it was far better than students today. Its no joke that at every level, students were required to demostrate far more knowledge than students today. That's why they have to keep dumbing down standardized tests all the time.

There's lots of evidence to show that this dumbing down is intentional. That is, if you care to look and challenge the idea that the government only wants what's best for the populace. You know--that challenging the status quo thinking thing that thinkers do.

As far as the black/white IQ thing, its backed up by tens of millions of tests taken over generations, personal experience, etc. etc. The key thing to remember is that there is variation in any group, and there should be opportunities for everybody. Rushton was a eugenicist. I don't like those guys too much. IQ isn't everything, but its not nothing either.

Also, when do blacks give whites and asians any due for being good at something and doing good things for others with that skill? I don't like the "woe is me" focus. Give credit where credit is due.

Posted by: BIOH on May 7, 2008 12:05 PM

Dear BIOH:

I never mentioned the race-IQ issue, though others here have.

Lowering academic standards for passing and curricula - dumbing down - is done not as part of some conspiracy to produce stupider graduates, but as a coping strategy to deal with the political pressures to make schools "accountable" while at the same time dealing with the reality of trying to teach a different demographic than schools dealt wih decades ago: the bottom strata of society and immigrants for whom English is a second language.

Posted by: Peter L. Winkler on May 7, 2008 1:24 PM

IQ doesn't have to be the be-all and end-all to be a necessary but not sufficient condition for many desirable social outcomes. In fact, pointing out that IQ is necessary but not sufficient cannot by definition be reductionist.

The fact remains that people on the left of the Bell Curve have a very hard time of it today, and it's only going to get worse. People with IQs of 70 used to be able to work as farm hands, as labourers, and at other (bloody hard) but gainful types of employment. Now...where are the jobs that someone at that level can do?

Consider as well the fact of poor health outcomes for the low of IQ. They go to the doctor, he gives them a bottle of pills with a label that says, "3xday w mls/150mg/e=mc*2/cogitoergosum", and has instructions attached in an oh-so-helpful pamphlet that says: DO NOT TAKE WITH MONOAMINE OXIDASE INHIBITORS, SIDERGINE REUPTAKE EXHIBITIONISTIZIFICATIONMOTHERF*CKERS (or something to that effect). And then, of course, the low-IQ person, who may barely be able to read, forgets to take his pills, takes too many, eats with them when he shouldn't, etc.

The low of IQ are having a horrible time of it, and we cannot ignore them by pretending that they don't exist, or that we're all equal in the eyes of God, or we all have special traits that make us special! THEY CANT FARKING READ. THEY CANT FIND JOBS.

It is not compassion that makes us repress the awful truth about the importance of IQ in a modern society. And it's not the celebration of
differences either. There are "differences" and "diversity" that we just don't have the heart to face, let alone celebrate.

It's the fact of low IQ, its intractability, and its terrible effects on the lives of those with low intelligence, that has made me much more sympathetic to a Rawlsian social democratic political philosophy, compared to my hopelessly naive libertarianism of yore.

Teej is right to be depressed about Sailer, Murray et al's findings. But that doesn't mean we can just take some kind of collective Prozac and make those findings go away. They won't.

Posted by: PatrickH on May 7, 2008 2:04 PM

Peter Winkler,

Why isn't english a problem for the eastern euros who come here, but just for the Mexicans?

Also, the lowering of standards to try to put lipstick on a pig (your own admission) is saying, de facto, that the dumbing down is intentional. You could make the same excuse for dumb white kids, but it never happened before.

See Charlotte Iserbyt and here site ate It will be hard to refute me when you see that the official memos from the DOEd say that they are deliberately dumbing down the population.

Posted by: BIOH on May 7, 2008 2:26 PM

Your "show don't tell" remarks explained to me why so much US journalism reads like the work of naive 14-year-olds. Well, partly explained.

Posted by: dearieme on May 7, 2008 3:38 PM

As the son of a public school teacher and guidance counselor and brother of a public school teacher let me say it is not the educators who "seem to have a hard time grasping [that] half of all kids are sub-average in academic terms." No, that would be the politicians, bureaucrats and certain parents (voters) who maintain that every Johnny and Suzie is capable of the highest level of achievement ... if only the teachers knew how to do their job properly. NCLB is all about the notion that all children are created intellectually equal; therefore any difference in outcome must be the fault of the schools and teachers. And since school funding (and ultimately their jobs) now depends on test scores too much effort is spent "teaching to the test" as Mr. Wheeler points out rather than teaching students how to learn. And while his comments are as over-the-top as usual I agree to a point with BIOH that the system is more interested in producing consumer/worker bee clones than thinking citizens.

In one of the other areas under discussion here, too many of the Murray, Sailer, et al fans use the connection (and let's accept that there is one) between genetics and IQ on the very large scale as an excuse for insulting, demeaning and dismissing the very real concerns of those who see a great deal of inequality in educational resources and opportunities. Add me to Teej, JV and Mr. Townsend is saying far too often this type of "Bell Curve" thinking is simply an excuse to under-fund and dismiss the concerns of those involved in educating minority students.

At the heart of all of this is the conundrum of how our society funds public education. It is a losing game. In most places in this country education funds come from property taxes, this gives an advantage to the wealthier suburbs. Even there, voting to cut the school budget is the one area where a voter can actually see their vote translate immediately into lowered taxes. So, schools are typically under-funded, teachers are underpaid and since they are underpaid their status is low and it is difficult to attract and retain excellent teachers. As a society we get what we pay for.

Posted by: Chris White on May 7, 2008 3:56 PM

Holy Cow! Is there any kind of failure in the leftist/communist string of catastrophes that isn't the fault of insufficient funding?

The ultimate refutation of this stupidity is homeschoolers and their abundant success. I'm sure you'll try to explain that away with more leftist nonsense.

Education sucks because the students are not held to high standards, no matter what their IQ, no matter how much money is spent. And this is done intentionally. There is plenty of evidence to show this too, if you care to look.

Posted by: BIOH on May 7, 2008 5:21 PM

Home schooling requires at least one parent who can stay at home to provide that education. Let's say that said parent is sufficiently educated to function as a K-12 teacher. This would presumably put their wage earning capacity above that of a burger flipper or WalMart greeter. So, let's use the very modest figure of $12 per hour as a reasonable rate they could earn in the job market. $12 x 40 per hr. x 50 weeks = $24,000 per year. Let's say said home schooling parent is teaching two kids. That's roughly $12,000 per student and a student teacher relationship of 2:1. What are the figures for public schools? A ballpark figure is $9,000 per pupil and a ratio of 15:1.

I'm not disputing the need for high standards, just pointing out that in our society we get what we pay for and public education is an area that anti-tax advocates can (and do) regularly attack because it is the one area where a small number of citizens can apply a modest effort and actually see their tax bills reduced.

Posted by: Chris White on May 8, 2008 8:30 AM

Sorry to interrupt your fantasy life Mr. White, but plenty of home schooling moms and dads still work.

Unfortunately, you don't seem to understand that schooling at home offers flexibilty. You don't have to teach kids 7 hours a day Monday through Friday, from 8am to 3pm. Most kids can outlearn their public school counterparts in just a fraction of that time.

And we don't get what we pay for. We pay for an awful lot of waste and fraud. Time to take the money and control back from the failing communists.

And all I'm saying is that that education in the hands of the big boys has nothing to do education. Its the parents who care most. Its not money that's the problem.

Posted by: BIOH on May 8, 2008 11:57 AM

Homeschool away, I say. More power to you. However, the purpose of public education is to offer some kind of formalized education for kids who would not get it otherwise, for whatever reasons. This is not some commie utopian fantasy, but a stopgap for what would otherwise be a rather large number of completely uneducated and illiterate people (as opposed to the rather large number of functionally uneducated a illiterate people we have now), that would, especially considering the disappearance of many low-skilled jobs, be even more of a burden on our society than they may already be.

I do agree that there is a great need for reform in public education.

Posted by: JV on May 8, 2008 3:06 PM


From the link you gave a few comments ago, I came across this quote:

"Obviously, something is terribly wrong when a $6,330 per pupil expenditure produces such pathetic results. This writer has visited private schools which charge $1,000-per-year in tuition which enjoy superior academic results. Parents of home-schooled children spend a maximum of $1,000-per-year and usually have similar excellent results."

Where are these schools? Seriously. Does she give specific examples in the book? Because I've been a parent for 15 years now, and I've never seen a private school that charges less than 500 bucks a month; most of them are in the $1000+ month range.

I'm all for private schools, by the way, no question many of them provide a superior education than most public schools. However, every private school I've seen costs more per student than what reports show it costs to send a kid through a public school. Nothing wrong with that, but I'm just questioning your, and that author's, assertion that a good education can be had cheaply, outside of home schooling.

Posted by: JV on May 8, 2008 3:55 PM


I think the book was written a while ago. Inflation's a killer, no?

Actually when I went to high school in the 80's, the tuition was about that high. Its dated material.

Catholic schools used to charge a lot less then because so many of the teachers were still nuns and priests. Good luck finding that now. At my old high school and grade school, I don't think there are ANY religious left on the staff.

You and I are probably about the same age, so I agree with you on how expensive private schools are. And even if you send your kids to one, that doesn't guarantee you can escape the dumbing down agenda.

I never said a good education can be cheaply had. I think it can be more cheaply had, though. Home schooling is one way.

Posted by: BIOH on May 8, 2008 8:52 PM

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