This post has been updated and moved to “Favorite Posts“.
You may have read stories about the difficulty of tests given to public-school students in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Some of the questions would have challenged even the brighter seniors in today’s schools. This anecdotal evidence suggests that educational standards were generally much higher in the public schools of yore than they are now. One reason, I suspect, is the dumbing-down of schools that probably accompanied the social and legal push to keep children in school through the 12th grade.
In Michigan, when my father was of school age, it wasn’t uncommon for children (especially boys) to drop out after the 8th grade. High school, in those days, seemed to be considered preparatory for college. Boys like my father, who was intelligent but of a poor family, weren’t considered college material and would often drop out after completing the 8th grade in order to go to work, perhaps even to learn a trade that would pay more than they could earn from manual labor. (When my father dropped out, the Great Depression was at its depth and it was all the more necessary for him to take whatever job he could get, to help support his family.)
The prep-school thesis came to me when I was browsing old yearbooks and found a yearbook for 1921 in which my high-school principal is pictured as a high-school senior. (It was the high school that my father would have attended had he gone beyond the 8th grade.) One page of the yearbook gives a list of the 1920 graduates and tells what each of them is doing (e.g., attending the University of Michigan, working at a particular factory, at home without a job). Here are some things I gleaned from the page:
The class of 1920 consisted of 28 males and 50 females. This is an improbable male-female ratio, which supports my thesis that dropping out to work was common among males. (Most male members of the class of 1920 would have been only 16 at the end of World War I ended, so it is unlikely that the war had more than a minute effect on the number of males who reached graduation age.)
A year after graduation, two-thirds of the males (19 of the 28) were enrolled in college (mostly at the University of Michigan), and another one was attending a technical school in Chicago. That two-thirds of the males were in college in 1921, long before the insane push for universal higher education, support the idea that most males who went to high school were considered college material.
Of the 50 females, only 8 were definitely in college, with 5 of them at teachers’ colleges (then called “normal schools”). Several others gave locations that might have indicated college attendance (e.g., Oberlin, Albion). But there were at most 14 collegians among the 50 females.
Two females were already teaching, presumably in small, rural schools. But the fact that they were teaching at the age of 19 (not uncommon in the “old days”) is testimony to the quality of high-school education in those days. It also says a lot about the needless inflation of standards for teaching young children.
It pains me to think of the tens of millions of young persons — male and female alike — who have been pushed into high school, and then into college, instead of being allowed to find their own way in life. They have been denied the opportunity to learn a trade through apprenticeship, or just by working hard; the opportunity to learn self-reliance and responsibility; and the opportunity to contribute more to the well-being of others than most of them will contribute by going to college.
Smaller high-school enrollments would also mean fewer public-school teachers and administrators to feed at the public trough and fuel the expensive (and largely fruitless) war among school systems to see which one can spend the most per pupil. Fewer students pushed into college would also mean fewer college-professors and administrators to feed at the public trough, and to spew their pseudo-intellectual nonsense.
The best thing about smaller high-school enrollments would be the reduction in the number of impressionable young persons who are indoctrinated in left-wing views by high-school teachers, and then by college professors.
School Vouchers and Teachers’ Unions
Whining about Teachers’ Pay: Another Lesson about the Evils of Public Education
I Used to Be Too Smart to Understand This
The Higher-Education Bubble
The Public-School Swindle
Is College for Everyone?
A Sideways Glance at Public “Education”
It’s well known that the white-black gap in intelligence is persistent. (See, for example, the section headed “Race” in this post, and the graphs of average SAT scores by ethnicity in this one.) But according to this paper, those
group mean differences in cognitive test scores arise from the following racially disparate conditions: family income, maternal education, maternal verbal ability/knowledge, learning materials in the home, parenting factors (maternal sensitivity, maternal warmth and acceptance, and safe physical environment), child birth order, and child birth weight.
You should now ask yourself whether family income, maternal education, etc., are the causes of the intelligence gap or evidence of it. My money is on the latter.
But that won’t keep the social engineers at bay. Segregation is a perennial whipping-boy for those who are still seeking the Great Society, even if it’s voluntary, socioeconomic segregation rather than involuntary, state-mandated segregation. People can’t just be allowed to live among the kinds of people they prefer. No, they must be forced to integrate in the (vain) hope of bettering the groups favored by social engineers.
How can integration be forced? Well, the Obama administration found a way to get the ball rolling. It’s a HUD regulation called Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing, which Wikipedia summarizes as follows:
It requires cities and towns which receive Federal money to examine their housing patterns and look for racial bias. The intention is to promote racial integration….
Under the rule, any jurisdiction that receives money from HUD must analyze its housing occupancy by race, class, English proficiency, and other categories. It must then analyze factors which contribute to any imbalance, and formulate a plan to remedy the imbalance. The plan can be approved or disapproved by HUD. This is done at both the local and regional level. For example, a major city, such as Chicago, will have to analyze any racial disparities within Chicago, and Chicago suburbs will analyze their own racial disparities. In addition, Chicago and the suburbs will have to analyze any disparities as compared with each other. Thereafter, the community has to track progress (or lack thereof). The planning cycle will be repeated every five years. If the Federal Government is not satisfied with a community’s efforts to reduce disparities, then under the disparate impact doctrine, this could be considered illegal discrimination. As a result, federal funds could be withheld, or the community could be sued, using the racial disparity statistics as evidence.
You know about disparate impact, of course. It’s a legalistic contrivance which says, in effect, that outcomes which are attributable to inherent differences between races and genders amount to illegal discrimination. In other words, it’s illegal to pick the best-qualified candidate for a job if the best-qualified candidate is of the “wrong” color or gender. “Disparate impact” effectively outlaws tests of intelligence for jobs that require above-average intelligence because otherwise “not enough” blacks will qualify for such jobs. “Disparate impact” effectively requires the lowering of physical standards for jobs that require strength because otherwise “not enough” women will qualify for such jobs. It’s affirmative action with a vengeance.
Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing is reverse discrimination with a vengeance. Luckily, Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing may not survive the Trump administration.
Why would social engineers seek forced integration, other than for the sheer enjoyment of exerting their power and doing unto others as they wouldn’t do unto themselves? The pretext for social engineering, in this case, is the existence of supportive academic studies (shades of the “doll tests” that influenced Brown v. Board of Education). Several of the studies are cited by Thomas B. Edsall in “Integration Works. Can It Survive the Trump Era?” (The New York Times, February 9, 2017). According to Edsall, the studies purport to show that
segregation, especially neighborhood segregation, exacerbates the racial test score gap….
[T]he higher the level of racial and economic segregation in an area, the larger the achievement gap.
Among the scholars cited here, there is virtual unanimity on the conviction that one way to improve the prospects of poor minorities, black and Hispanic, is to desegregate both schools and housing.
It’s utilitarianism upon stilts.* And the stilts — the studies — are of dubious quality. Consider, for example, the one that seems to be the least circular of the lot, and which claims to prove that desegregation raises the measured intelligence of blacks. I’m referring to Rucker C. Johnson’s “Long-Run Impacts of School Desegregation & School Quality on Adult Attainments” (National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper 16664, January 2011). According to the abstract, the study
analyzes the life trajectories of children born between 1945 and 1968, and followed through 2013, using the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID). The PSID data are linked with multiple data sources that describe the neighborhood attributes, school quality resources, and coincident policies that prevailed at the time these children were growing up. I exploit quasi-random variation in the timing of initial court orders, which generated differences in the timing and scope of the implementation of desegregation plans during the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. Event study analyses as well as [two-stage least-squares] and sibling-difference estimates indicate that school desegregation and the accompanied increases in school quality resulted in significant improvements in adult attainments for blacks. I find that, for blacks, school desegregation significantly increased both educational and occupational attainments, college quality and adult earnings, reduced the probability of incarceration, and improved adult health status; desegregation had no effects on whites across each of these outcomes. The results suggest that the mechanisms through which school desegregation led to beneficial adult attainment outcomes for blacks include improvement in access to school resources reflected in reductions in class size and increases in per-pupil spending [emphasis added].
Before I get to the italicized assertions, I must comment on Johnson’s method. Convoluted and speculative are the best words to describe it. Here are some apt quotations directly from Johnson’s paper:
I compiled data on school spending and school segregation, linked them to a comprehensive database of the timing of court-ordered school desegregation, and linked these data to a nationally representative longitudinal dataset that follows individuals from childhood into adulthood. Education funding data come from several sources that are combined to form a panel of per-pupil spending for US school districts in 1967 and annually from 1970 through 2000. School segregation data come from the Office of Civil Rights (OCR), and are combined to form a panel used to construct school segregation indices that span the period 1968 through 1988. The school segregation and spending data are then linked to a database of desegregation litigation between 1954 and 2000.
The data on longer-run outcomes come from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) that links individuals to their census blocks during childhood. The sample consists of PSID sample members born between 1945 and 1968 who have been followed into adulthood through 2013; these individuals were between the ages of 45 and 67 in 2013. I include all information on them for each wave, 1968 to 2013. Due to the oversampling of black and low-income families, 45 percent of the sample is black.
I match the earliest available childhood residential address to the school district boundaries that prevailed in 1969 to avoid complications arising from endogenously changing district boundaries over time…. Each record is merged with data on the timing of court ordered desegregation, data on racial school segregation, student-to-teacher ratios, school spending at the school district level that correspond with the prevailing levels during their school-age years. Finally, I merge in county characteristics and information on other key policy changes during childhood (e.g., the timing of hospital desegregation, rollout of “War on Poverty” initiatives and expansion of safety net programs…) from multiple data sources. This allows for a rich set of controls.
The comprehensive desegregation court case data I use contains an entire case inventory of every school district ever subject to court desegregation orders over the 1955-1990 period (American Communities Project), and major plan implementation dates in large districts (compiled by Welch/Light). Every court case is coded according to whether it involved segregation of students across schools, whether the court required a desegregation remedy, and the main component of the desegregation plan. The combined data from the American Communities Project (Brown University) and Welch/Light provide the best available data that have ever been utilized to study this topic for several reasons. First, the year of the initial court order (available for all districts) is plausibly more exogenous than the exact year in which a major desegregation plan was implemented because opposition groups to integration can delay major desegregation plan implementation by lengthening the court proceedings or by implementing inadequate desegregation plans…. And, court-ordered desegregation by legal mandate is plausibly more exogenous than other more voluntary forms of desegregation. Second, the date of the initial court order is precisely measured for all districts.
Sixty-nine percent of the PSID individuals born between 1945-1968 followed into adulthood grew up in a school district that was subject to a desegregation court order sometime between 1954 and 1990 (i.e., 9,156 out of 13,246 individuals), with the timing of the court order not necessarily occurring during their school-age years. Eighty-eight percent of the PSID black individuals born between 1945-1968 followed into adulthood grew up in a school district that was subject to a desegregation court order sometime between 1954 and 1990 (i.e., 4,618 out of 5,245 black individuals). The share of individuals exposed to school desegregation orders during childhood increases significantly with birth year over the 1945-1970 birth cohorts analyzed in the PSID sample….
After combining information from the aforementioned 5 data sources, the main sample used to analyze adult attainment outcomes consists of PSID individuals born between 1945-1968 originally from 8 school districts that were subject to desegregation court orders sometime between 1954 and 1990; this includes 9,156 individuals from 3,702 childhood families, 645 school districts, 448 counties, representing 39 different states. I restrict the estimation sample to individuals who grew up in school districts that were ever subject to court-ordered desegregation, since school districts of upbringing that were never under court order are arguably too different to provide a credible comparison group.
That’s just a small sample of Johnson’s statistical gyrations. Given the complexity of his sources, assumptions, and statistical manipulations, there was ample opportunity for cherry-picking to arrive at the desired result: integration is good for blacks and doesn’t harm whites.
If Johnson has shown anything, it’s that throwing money at the problem is the way to get results. That’s all integration means in the context of his study; it has nothing to do with whatever beneficial effects might arise from the commingling of blacks and whites. (About which, see below.)
And throwing money at the problem most certainly harms whites because most of the money undoubtedly cames from whites. How many white children are denied a chance to go to college, or to a better college, because of the school taxes levied on their parents? Johnson doesn’t bother to consider that question, or any other reasonable question about the deprivations visited upon whites because of higher school taxes.
Moreover, throwing money at the problem doesn’t really work:
Academic performance and preparation for college success are widely shared goals, and so it is useful for the public and policymakers to know how they have varied over time at the state level. The present paper estimates these trends by adjusting state average SAT scores for variation in student participation rates and demographic factors known to be associated with those scores.
In general, the findings are not encouraging. Adjusted state SAT scores have declined by an average of 3 percent. This echoes the picture of stagnating achievement among American 17-year-olds painted by the Long Term Trends portion of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a series of tests administered to a nationally representative sample of students since 1970. That disappointing record comes despite a more-than-doubling in inflation-adjusted per pupil public-school spending over the same period (the average state spending increase was 120 percent). Consistent with those patterns, there has been essentially no correlation between what states have spent on education and their measured academic outcomes. In other words, America’s educational productivity appears to have collapsed, at least as measured by the NAEP and the SAT.
That is remarkably unusual. In virtually every other field, productivity has risen over this period thanks to the adoption of countless technological advances—advances that, in many cases, would seem ideally suited to facilitating learning. And yet, surrounded by this torrent of progress, education has remained anchored to the riverbed, watching the rest of the world rush past it.
Not only have dramatic spending increases been unaccompanied by improvements in performance, the same is true of the occasional spending declines experienced by some states. At one time or another over the past four decades, Alaska, California, Florida, and New York all experienced multi-year periods over which real spending fell substantially (20 percent or more of their 1972 expenditure levels). And yet, none of these states experienced noticeable declines in adjusted SAT scores—either contemporaneously or lagged by a few years. Indeed, their score trends seem entirely disconnected from their rising and falling levels of spending. [Andrew J. Coulson, “State Education Trends Academic Performance and Spending over the Past 40 Years,” Cato Institute, Policy Analysis Number 746, March 18, 2014]
Similar findings emerged from an earlier study by Dan Lips, Shanea J. Watkins, and John Fleming, “Does Spending More on Education Improve Academic Achievement?” (The Heritage Foundation, Backgrounder Number 2179, November 8, 2008). The answer to the question posed by the title is “no.”
Johnson’s expedition through a maze of data sets somehow miraculously arrives at a conclusion that isn’t supported by following the much more direct route of the Cato and Heritage studies: Throwing money at public schools has had almost no effect on the academic performance of students. Johnson report of exceptional results for a select set of public schools that had been integrated is incredible, in the proper meaning of the word: ” So implausible as to elicit disbelief; unbelievable.”
Don’t try to tell me that court-ordered integration has been worth the cost — in money and liberty — because it has fostered brotherly and sisterly love between whites and blacks. The opposite effect is the more likely one. Rather than repeat myself, I refer you to “Genetic Kinship and Society,” especially the discussions of Robert Putnam’s “E Pluribus Unum: Diversity and Community in the Twenty-first Century“ and Byron M. Roth’s The Perils of Diversity: Immigration and Human Nature. A clear implication of those analyses is that conflict — political, if not violent — is bound to result from racial-ethnic-cultural commingling, especially if it’s forced.
Forced integration is on a moral par with with forced segregation. Don’t let the social engineers tell you otherwise.
*This is an allusion to Jeremy Bentham’s characterization of natural rights as “simple nonsense: natural and imprescriptible rights, rhetorical nonsense,—nonsense upon stilts.” It is a characterization with which I agree.
* * *
Race and Reason: The Derbyshire Debacle
Race and Reason: The Victims of Affirmative Action
Race and Reason: The Achievement Gap — Causes and Implications
“Conversing” about Race
Evolution and Race
“Wading” into Race, Culture, and IQ
Evolution, Culture, and “Diversity”
The Harmful Myth of Inherent Equality
Let’s Have That “Conversation” about Race
Affirmative Action Comes Home to Roost
The IQ of Nations
Liberty and Social Norms Re-examined
Gregory Cochran writes about “safe spaces”:
The more I think about it, the more I suspect that a lot of our present and future ‘elites’ would develop some valuable perspective from having someone beat the living crap out of them. Certainly worth a try.
Collegians’ demands for “safe spaces” and their refusals to brook alternative points of view are symptoms of a deeper problem. Some have called it the capitalist paradox. It is capitalism — really a regime of (relatively) free markets — not government, that has liberated most Americans (and most Westerners) from the Hobbesian fate of a poor, nasty, brutish, and short life. The most “liberated” are those who are the furthest removed from the realities of everyday life (such as being kicked in the ribs by yobs): collegians, ex-collegian academicians who propagandize collegians, ex-collegian teachers who propagandize public-school students, ex-collegian pundits and so-called journalists who have absorbed enough academic theorizing to have developed a distorted view of reality, and ex-collegian politicians and high-ranking bureaucrats who eagerly adopt pseudo-intellectual justifications for the various collectivist schemes that serve their power-lust.
This is a roundabout way of agreeing with Cochran. The functional equivalent of having someone beat the living crap out of cosseted elites, would be to slash appropriations for tax-funded universities, and especially for the so-called liberal arts. The possessors of soft minds and bodies would soon learn about real life, and be forced to live it alongside the proles whom they profess to love but actually disdain.
The currently fashionable notion of “free” college for everyone — well, fashionable on the anti-capitalist left — is exactly 180 degrees wrong. There are already far too many numbskulls (students and professors) on college campuses, as there were when I was a collegian almost 60 years ago. College isn’t for everyone; it’s for the brightest, or it should be.
This post is based on a column that I wrote for my long-defunct weekly newspaper. The column ran in the March 30, 1977, issue of the paper.
The choice of a topic for this week’s sermon was difficult. I was torn between economists and educators.
Having been raised as a devout economist, I decided not to risk supernatural retribution by poaching on my brethren — this week. But I can’t resist repeating the old saying that a thousand economists laid end-to-end wouldn’t reach a conclusion.
I feel kindly toward teachers, mainly because it’s been almost 60 years since my last involuntary encounter with one. During the interval I have come to understand that the oft-maligned species pedagogus publicus Americanus is a victim of society. (“Society” is an abstraction and doesn’t have victims or do any of the things mentioned here. But this is my blog, so I’m free to blather on about “society” as if I were a demented left-wingnut.)
Through a complex historical process, educators have come to feel that their work is essential to the maintenance of society. Much of society seems to feel that same way, but the feeling is a conditioned reflex.
From the late 1800s through the 1950s, public schools augmented and reinforced the education that most children received in the home — an education not just in the three Rs, but also in how to get along with other human beings.
Many bad things got their start in the 1960s. Among the least harmful are bad hairstyles and terrible clothing. Among the most harmful — in addition to Medicare, Medicaid, and welfare “rights” — is the sharp rise in the numbers of working (outside-the-home) mothers. It was then, no doubt, that most parents came to think (to hope) that education is something that can be packaged and shrink-wrapped.
The fact of the matter is that schools can’t turn out well-mannered, well-spoken, literate human beings if the raw material they’re given to work with is defective. If Johnny can’t read, or if Johnny is a hoodlum, whose fault is it? The natural tendency of parents and school-board members is to blame educators, if not “society.” But that’s the easy way out — like firing the manager of a baseball team because he’s saddled with mediocre players.
Parents are supposed to be members of the education team, too. but how many of them think of themselves as such? (PTA meetings and parent-teacher conference have always struck me as rituals having nothing to do with teamwork.)
If lousy parents could be traded for audio-visual equipment, parents might take their jobs more seriously. Those who aren’t up to the job of parenthood could at least admit to their offspring that it isn’t an occupation that everyone should take up.
How can parents find the time to do a better job? Well, they’ll just have to get their priorities straight, won’t they?
Clearly, some parents don’t have enough time to be good parents because they’re working hard to put bread and Smart Balance® on the table. But they’re in the minority. Most parents are working hard to keep up with the Joneses, who are working hard to keep up with the Browns, who are working hard to keep up with the Smythes. It’s a real rat-race out there, but consider what that makes you if you’re racing to keep up with the other rats.
Anyway, if schools were no longer supported in the style to which they have become accustomed — that is, if the frills were cut off — parents would face lower tax bills. This would make it easier for those who are truly hard-pressed and want to spend more time with their children to do so. (The perceived need to keep up with the other rats is not a valid excuse for neglecting one’s children.)
But I have strayed a long distance from the subject at hand: teachers. There’s no doubt in my mind that teachers — and the teachers of teachers — must shoulder a lot of the blame for the generally abysmal state of “education” in America’s public schools. For one (big) thing, it seems that instead of imparting hard-won knowledge, teachers have become manipulators of “teaching techniques” acquired while satisfying the requirements of various and sundry “education” curricula. I could go on at great length about the failings of public “education” in the U.S. of A., but you can infer the essence of my complaints from the following list of recommended fixes:
Abolish teachers’ unions, which exist mainly to overpay and protect incompetence. (The latest case in point is illustrated here.) Instead, hire and keep (or fire) teachers based on demonstrated subject knowledge, not on mastery of pedagogical techniques.
Eliminate all purely administrative positions, except those that support teachers: secretaries and file clerks (or their computerized equivalents), for example. As with department chairmanships at many universities, the heads of school districts and principals of schools would be teachers who have drawn the short straw and must take up an administrative post for a limited term (no more than two years, say).
Require teachers to take standardized tests that reveal one’s IQ. No one may teach whose IQ is less than 120. That this requirement would eliminate from the ranks of teacherdom vast numbers of certain racial groups would be of no concern if — I say if — the aim of public education were to educate.
Pay teachers according to the market value of their degrees and specialties. (Degrees like B.Ed., M.Ed, and Ed.D. would be deemed worthless.) Thus, for example, teachers of math and science would earn more than teachers of art, history, and English. The latter would protest loudly, and their cries of “unfair” would rend the air. But let them seek employment elsewhere, if they can find it. The objective of such a policy wouldn’t be to penalize anyone, of course, but to play fair with the taxpaying public, and to attract highly-qualified teachers of technical and scientific subjects.
Finally, political correctness and its associated sins would be purged. Evolution, ecology, and other controversial subjects would be taught in a balanced way; that is, the uncertainties would be fully exposed to view. Likewise, there would be no more preaching about the supposed sins of white males of European origin, and a lot less “celebration” of various groups whose contributions to Western civilization have been minimal, when not negative.
* * *
School Vouchers and Teachers’ Unions
Whining about Teachers’ Pay: Another Lesson about the Evils of Public Education
I Used to Be Too Smart to Understand This
Those “Dedicated” Public “Educators”
The Public-School Swindle
Links to the other posts in this occasional series may be found at “Favorite Posts,” just below the list of topics.
How Much Are Teachers Worth?
David Harsanyi writes:
“The bottom line,” says the Center for American Progress, “is that mid- and late-career teachers are not earning what they deserve, nor are they able to gain the salaries that support a middle-class existence.”
Alas, neither liberal think tanks nor explainer sites have the capacity to determine the worth of human capital. And contrasting the pay of a person who has a predetermined government salary with the pay earned by someone in a competitive marketplace tells us little. Public-school teachers’ compensation is determined by contracts negotiated long before many of them even decided to teach. These contracts hurt the earning potential of good teachers and undermine the education system. And it has nothing to do with what anyone “deserves.”
So if teachers believe they aren’t making what they’re worth — and they may well be right about that — let’s free them from union constraints and let them find out what the job market has to offer. Until then, we can’t really know. Because a bachelor’s degree isn’t a dispensation from the vagaries of economic reality. And teaching isn’t the first step toward sainthood. Regardless of what you’ve heard. (“Are Teachers Underpaid? Let’s Find Out,” Creators.com, July 25, 2014)
Harsanyi is right, but too kind. Here’s my take, from “The Public-School Swindle“:
[P]ublic “education” — at all levels — is not just a rip-off of taxpayers, it is also an employment scheme for incompetents (especially at the K-12 level) and a paternalistic redirection of resources to second- and third-best uses.
And, to top it off, public education has led to the creation of an army of left-wing zealots who, for many decades, have inculcated America’s children and young adults in the advantages of collective, non-market, anti-libertarian institutions, where paternalistic “empathy” supplants personal responsibility.
Utilitarianism, Once More
EconLog bloggers Bryan Caplan and Scott Sumner are enjoying an esoteric exchange about utilitarianism (samples here and here), which is a kind of cost-benefit calculus in which the calculator presumes to weigh the costs and benefits that accrue to other persons. My take is that utilitarianism borders on psychopathy. In “Utilitarianism and Psychopathy,” I quote myself to this effect:
Here’s the problem with cost-benefit analysis — the problem it shares with utilitarianism: One person’s benefit can’t be compared with another person’s cost. Suppose, for example, the City of Los Angeles were to conduct a cost-benefit analysis that “proved” the wisdom of constructing yet another freeway through the city in order to reduce the commuting time of workers who drive into the city from the suburbs.
Before constructing the freeway, the city would have to take residential and commercial property. The occupants of those homes and owners of those businesses (who, in many cases would be lessees and not landowners) would have to start anew elsewhere. The customers of the affected businesses would have to find alternative sources of goods and services. Compensation under eminent domain can never be adequate to the owners of taken property because the property is taken by force and not sold voluntarily at a true market price. Moreover, others who are also harmed by a taking (lessees and customers in this example) are never compensated for their losses. Now, how can all of this uncompensated cost and inconvenience be “justified” by, say, the greater productivity that might (emphasize might) accrue to those commuters who would benefit from the construction of yet another freeway.
Yet, that is how cost-benefit analysis works. It assumes that group A’s cost can be offset by group B’s benefit: “the greatest amount of happiness altogether.”
America’s Financial Crisis
Timothy Taylor tackles the looming debt crisis:
First, the current high level of government debt, and the projections for the next 25 years, mean that the U.S. government lacks fiscal flexibility….
Second, the current spending patterns of the U.S. government are starting to crowd out everything except health care, Social Security, and interest payments….
Third, large government borrowing means less funding is available for private investment….
…CBO calculates an “alternative fiscal scenario,” in which it sets aside some of these spending and tax changes that are scheduled to take effect in five years or ten years or never…. [T]he extended baseline scenario projected that the debt/GDP ratio would be 106% by 2039. In the alternative fiscal scenario, the debt-GDP ratio is projected to reach 183% of GDP by 2039. As the report notes: “CBO’s extended alternative fiscal scenario is based on the assumptions that certain policies that are now in place but are scheduled to change under current law will be continued and that some provisions of law that might be difficult to sustain for a long period will be modified. The scenario, therefore, captures what some analysts might consider to be current policies, as opposed to current laws.”…
My own judgement is that the path of future budget deficits in the next decade or so is likely to lean toward the alternative fiscal scenario. But long before we reach a debt/GDP ratio of 183%, something is going to give. I don’t know what will change. But as an old-school economist named Herb Stein used to say, “If something can’t go on, it won’t.” (Long Term Budget Deficits,” Conversable Economist, July 24, 2014)
Professional economists are terribly low-key, aren’t they? Here’s the way I see it, in “America’s Financial Crisis Is Now“:
It will not do simply to put an end to the U.S. government’s spending spree; too many State and local governments stand ready to fill the void, and they will do so by raising taxes where they can. As a result, some jurisdictions will fall into California- and Michigan-like death-spirals while jobs and growth migrate to other jurisdictions…. Even if Congress resists the urge to give aid and comfort to profligate States and municipalities at the expense of the taxpayers of fiscally prudent jurisdictions, the high taxes and anti-business regimes of California- and Michigan-like jurisdictions impose deadweight losses on the whole economy….
So, the resistance to economically destructive policies cannot end with efforts to reverse the policies of the federal government. But given the vast destructiveness of those policies — “entitlements” in particular — the resistance must begin there. Every conservative and libertarian voice in the land must be raised in reasoned opposition to the perpetuation of the unsustainable “promises” currently embedded in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid — and their expansion through Obamacare. To those voices must be added the voices of “moderates” and “liberals” who see through the proclaimed good intentions of “entitlements” to the economic and libertarian disaster that looms if those “entitlements” are not pared down to their original purpose: providing a safety net for the truly needy.
The alternative to successful resistance is stark: more borrowing, higher interest payments, unsustainable debt, higher taxes, and economic stagnation (at best).
For the gory details about government spending and economic stagnation, see “Estimating the Rahn Curve: Or, How Government Spending Inhibits Economic Growth” and “The True Multiplier.”
Climate Change: More Evidence against the Myth of AGW
There are voices of reason, that is, real scientists doing real science:
Over the 55-years from 1958 to 2012, climate models not only significantly over-predict observed warming in the tropical troposphere, but they represent it in a fundamentally different way than is observed. (Ross McKittrick and Timothy Vogelsang, “Climate models not only significantly over-predict observed warming in the tropical troposphere, but they represent it in a fundamentally different way than is observed,” excerpted at Watt’s Up With That, July 24, 2014)
Since the 1980s anthropogenic aerosols have been considerably reduced in Europe and the Mediterranean area. This decrease is often considered as the likely cause of the brightening effect observed over the same period. This phenomenon is however hardly reproduced by global and regional climate models. Here we use an original approach based on reanalysis-driven coupled regional climate system modelling, to show that aerosol changes explain 81 ± 16 per cent of the brightening and 23 ± 5 per cent of the surface warming simulated for the period 1980–2012 over Europe. The direct aerosol effect is found to dominate in the magnitude of the simulated brightening. The comparison between regional simulations and homogenized ground-based observations reveals that observed surface solar radiation, as well as land and sea surface temperature spatio-temporal variations over the Euro-Mediterranean region are only reproduced when simulations include the realistic aerosol variations. (“New paper finds 23% of warming in Europe since 1980 due to clean air laws reducing sulfur dioxide,” The Hockey Schtick, July 23, 2014)
My (somewhat out-of-date but still useful) roundup of related posts and articles is at “AGW: The Death Knell.”
…but not by this simplistic item:
Of all of the notions that have motivated the decades-long rise of incarceration in the United States, this is probably the most basic: When we put people behind bars, they can’t commit crime.
The implied corollary: If we let them out, they will….
Crime trends in a few states that have significantly reduced their prison populations, though, contradict this fear. (Emily Badger, “There’s little evidence that fewer prisoners means more crime,” Wonkblog, The Washington Post, July 21, 2014)
Staring at charts doesn’t yield answers to complex, multivariate questions, such as the causes of crime. Ms. Badger should have extended my work of seven years ago (“Crime, Explained“). Had she, I’m confident that she would have obtained the same result, namely:
VPC (violent+property crimes per 100,000 persons) =
+346837BLK (number of blacks as a decimal fraction of the population)
-3040.46GRO (previous year’s change in real GDP per capita, as a decimal fraction of the base)
-1474741PRS (the number of inmates in federal and State prisons in December of the previous year, as a decimal fraction of the previous year’s population)
The t-statistics on the intercept and coefficients are 19.017, 21.564, 1.210, and 17.253, respectively; the adjusted R-squared is 0.923; the standard error of the estimate/mean value of VPC = 0.076.
The coefficient and t-statistic for PRS mean that incarceration has a strong, statistically significant, negative effect on the violent-property crime rate. In other words, more prisoners = less crime against persons and their property.
The Heritability of Intelligence
Strip away the trappings of culture and what do you find? This:
If a chimpanzee appears unusually intelligent, it probably had bright parents. That’s the message from the first study to check if chimp brain power is heritable.
The discovery could help to tease apart the genes that affect chimp intelligence and to see whether those genes in humans also influence intelligence. It might also help to identify additional genetic factors that give humans the intellectual edge over their non-human-primate cousins.
The researchers estimate that, similar to humans, genetic differences account for about 54 per cent of the range seen in “general intelligence” – dubbed “g” – which is measured via a series of cognitive tests. “Our results in chimps are quite consistent with data from humans, and the human heritability in g,” says William Hopkins of the Yerkes National Primate Research Center in Atlanta, Georgia, who heads the team reporting its findings in Current Biology.
“The historical view is that non-genetic factors dominate animal intelligence, and our findings challenge that view,” says Hopkins. (Andy Coghlan, “Chimpanzee brain power is strongly heritable,” New Scientist, July 10, 2014)
Such findings are consistent with Nicholas Wade’s politically incorrect A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History. For related readings, see “‘Wading’ into Race, Culture, and IQ’.” For a summary of scholarly evidence about the heritability of intelligence — and its dire implications — see “Race and Reason — The Achievement Gap: Causes and Implications.” John Derbyshire offers an even darker view: “America in 2034” (American Renaissance, June 9, 2014).
The correlation of race and intelligence is, for me, an objective matter, not an emotional one. For evidence of my racial impartiality, see the final item in “My Moral Profile.”
The last deal negates all of the concessions made in the other deals — for those of us who will choose to live in Free States.
I have a relative by marriage who’s a retired public-school teacher. She loved to moan about her “low” pay. She wasn’t alone, of course. Her refrain has been heard throughout the land for decade. Truth be told, however, she and her ilk were and are overpaid, as several commentators have explained (e.g., here, here, and here). The following diagram illustrates the machinations that yield above-market compensation for public-school teachers (and other) “public servants”.
Here’s a step-step-explanation:
1. The diagonal, solid-black lines represent the demand for teachers in the absence of tax-funded (public) schools (D-no pu) and the supply of teachers in the absence of tax-funded schools (S-no pu). The intersection of the S and D curves yields the level of teacher compensation (C-no pu) and employment (E-no pu) that would result were there nothing but private schools. (I am, for now, putting aside the question whether government should require school attendance through a certain age or grade, or dictate what is taught in schools.)
2. The picture changes dramatically with the introduction of tax-funded schools (indicated by the red lines). The supply of teachers for public schools (Spu) is to the left of S-no pu because (a) not all teachers are willing to work in public schools and (b) not all teachers are “qualified” to teach in public schools. The second condition arises when potential teachers have learned too much about the subjects they would teach, at the expense of taking too few (or none) of the “education” courses that enable fairly dim education majors to compile inflated grade-point averages.
3. The horizontal, solid red line indicates the inflated compensation (Cpu) that is offered by tax-funded school systems. This above-market rate of compensation is the product of an inter-scholastic “arms race”, in which school systems — goaded by administrators, teachers, parents, and (often) local businesspersons — seek to outdo the lavishness of other school systems, not only in the compensation of teachers and administrators but also in the number and kinds of non-essential courses and activities, and the lavishness and modernity of facilities and equipment. All of which is paid for (in the main) by taxpayers and consumers who have no say in the matter, but whose income and property can be seized for failure to pay the requisite taxes.
5. Not surprisingly, there are more teachers who are willing to work at public-school rates of compensation than public schools can hire (Epu), even with their inflated budgets. That is why some teachers turn to private schools, others accept substitute-teaching jobs, and some end up doing things like selling used cars. The green lines represent the supply of (Spr) and demand for (Dpr) private-school teachers. and the corresponding compensation of (Cpr) and number of teachers employed by (Epr) private schools.
6. The supply of teachers to private schools consists of (a) those teachers who cannot get jobs with public schools but are willing to teach in private schools and (b) those teachers who abhor the thought of teaching in public schools and are therefore willing to accept lower compensation for the privilege of teaching in private schools. The compensation of private-school teachers is lower than that of public-school teachers because
- the compensation of public-school teachers is artificially inflated by the vast amounts of tax money extracted from persons who would not otherwise be in the market for education, let alone public-school education, and
- the vastness of the tax burden limits the ability of persons who are in the market for education to pay for private schooling, that it, it artificially reduces the demand for private schooling.
Because the subsidization of public schools, there are far more teachers than would be the case in an entirely private system. Advocates of tax-funded education would count that as a plus, as they would the above-market wages of public-school teachers. In fact, it is a minus, because it means that resources are being diverted to less productive uses than they would be were education an entirely private matter. Moreover, mediocre teachers and administrators — often outfitted with lavish facilities and equipment — are being paid more than necessary to “educate” children in useless subjects, at the expense of taxpayers who could put that money to work providing better homes, relevant training, and more jobs for those same children.
This analysis undoubtedly applies to higher education as well as K-12 education. The presence of tax-funded colleges and universities unnecessarily drives up the cost of higher education and burdens many persons who derive no benefit from it.
In summary, public “education” — at all levels — is not just a rip-off of taxpayers, it is also an employment scheme for incompetents (especially at the K-12 level) and a paternalistic redirection of resources to second- and third-best uses. And, to top it off, public education has led to the creation of an army of left-wing zealots who, for many decades, have inculcated America’s children and young adults in the advantages of collective, non-market, anti-libertarian institutions, where paternalistic “empathy” supplants personal responsibility.
Mark J. Perry, “The Public-Sector Premium for School Teachers“, Carpe Diem, March 3, 2011
Ironman, “How Much Do Public-School Teachers Really Make Compared to Private-School Teachers?“, Political Calculations, March 30, 2017
Andrew J. Biggs, “No, Teachers Are Not Underpaid“, City Journal, April 26, 2018
School Vouchers and Teachers’ Unions
Whining about Teachers’ Pay: Another Lesson about the Evils of Public Education
I Used to Be Too Smart to Understand This
International Law vs. Homeschooling
Religion in Public Schools: The Wrong and Right of It
The Home Schooler Threat?
The Real Burden of Government
The Higher Education Bubble
Our Miss Brooks
“Intellectuals and Society”: A Review
Guest commentary by Postmodern Conservative.
Here’s a perceptive op-ed from the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal: “Home-schoolers threaten our cultural comfort.” In all fairness, however, I think that the level of acceptance for home schooling has risen tremendously, at least in some parts of the country.
Here in Richmond, Va., sympathy for home schooling (or at least a lack of antipathy) is fairly high. I imagine that most of the rejection comes from leftists and/or adults who are into minimalist parenting. I suspect they are made to feel guilty by home schoolers, or more traditional parents in general.
Some of the article’s criticism is applicable to anyone who puts material goods ahead of the basic spiritual, emotional and intellectual needs of their children:
Young families must make the decision: Will junior go to day care and day school, or will mom stay home and raise him? The rationalizations begin. “A family just can’t make it on one income.” (Our parents did.) “It just costs so much to raise a child nowadays.” (Yeah, if you buy brand-name clothing, pre-prepared food, join every club and activity, and spend half the cost of a house on the daughter’s wedding, it does.) And so, the decision is made. We give up the bulk of our waking hours with our children, as well as the formation of their minds, philosophies, and attitudes, to strangers.
It’s the old “here are the keys to the car and leave me alone” syndrome; only now it’s “go play your video game, go on the internet, play with your iPhone, and leave me alone” syndrome. But when parents can no longer afford such distractions, as our economic downturn threatens levels of frugality unheard of in decades, the spoiled children will come home to roost. And then what?
demand[s] that a popular European history teacher at California’s Capistrano Valley High School be fired for what they say were anti-Christian remarks he made in the classroom….
[Chad] Farnan recorded his teacher telling students in class: “What country has the highest murder rate? The South! What part of the country has the highest rape rate? The South! What part of the country has the highest rate of church attendance? The South!”
Scorn is the wrong reaction. If employees of public schools are forbidden, as they are, to proselytize for religion (or to allow students to do so through voluntary activities that might somehow be related to school), then employees of public schools, by the same token, should be forbidden to proselytize against religion. And that is evidently what the “popular” teacher did.
A Tomah [Wisconsin] High School student has filed a federal lawsuit alleging his art teacher censored his drawing because it featured a cross and a biblical reference….
According to the lawsuit, the student’s art teacher asked his class in February to draw landscapes. The student, a senior identified in the lawsuit by the initials A.P., added a cross and the words “John 3:16 A sign of love” in his drawing.
His teacher, Julie Millin, asked him to remove the reference to the Bible, saying students were making remarks about it. He refused, and she gave him a zero on the project.
Millin showed the student a policy for the class that prohibited any violence, blood, sexual connotations or religious beliefs in artwork. The lawsuit claims Millin told the boy he had signed away his constitutional rights when he signed the policy at the beginning of the semester.
The boy tore the policy up in front of Millin, who kicked him out of class. Later that day, assistant principal Cale Jackson told the boy his religious expression infringed on other students’ rights.
Jackson told the boy, his stepfather and his pastor at a meeting a week later that religious expression could be legally censored in class assignments. Millin stated at the meeting the cross in the drawing also infringed on other students’ rights.
Here’s what Classical Values has to say about that:
This is a public school, and the state is not supposed to take positions on religion. It would be one thing had the school told students that they must depict or display images of the cross, but here a student acted on his own, and in a constitutionally protected manner.
The problem that faces us today … is due to the inherent contradictions of an abnormal state of culture. The natural tendency … is for … society to give itself up passively to the machinery of modern cosmopolitan life. But this is no solution. It leads merely to the breaking down of the old structure of society and the loss of the traditional moral standards without creating anything which can take their place.
As in the decline of the ancient world, the family is steadily losing its form and its social significance, and the state absorbs more and more of the life of its members. The home is no longer a centre of social activity; it has become merely a sleeping place for a number of independent wage-earners. The functions which were formerly fulfilled by the head of the family are now being taken over by the state, which educates the children and takes the responsibility for their maintenance and health.
From Christopher Dawson’s essay, “The Patriarchal Family in History” (1933), collected in The Dynamics of World History (1956). (Paragraph break added: LC.)
Let us hope for an incremental bit of progress on one front: parental choice in the schooling of children. (By progress, of course, I don’t mean the kind of “progress” sought by regressive “progressives,” who would have us and our progeny bow to the almighty state — as long as they control it.)
[T]he danger of allowing the state to control such decisions [whether a child must have a blood test] is far greater than the threat here [to public health]…. Give the state the power to take children away from parents for the children’s own good, and you have opened a door to the persecution of religious minorities….
Not to mention the denial of the right of parents to educate their children in private schools or at home, as the parents see fit.
But…I wonder if Sandefur means that the state should never have the power to take children from their parents, for the good of the children. Never? Not even in the case of children who are abused persistently?
It’s true that, in such cases, intervention by other parties (e.g., friends, family, church) would be preferable to intervention by the state, given the state’s power (and demonstrated ability) to act peremptorily and capriciously. But, given the dearth of private intervenors (because the state has so deeply sundered the social fabric), we are forced to rely on the state as the intervenor of last resort.
See conclusion #3, here. Be sure to follow the link to the 8th-grade exam from 1895.
Clarification: Conclusion #3 (which is part of a post at Carpe Diem) and this post are about public education. “GIGO” stands for “garbage in, garbage out” — a phrase that was common in my early days as a defense analyst. It’s a shorthand way of saying that the results produced by a model will be erroneous (“garbage”) if the model itself and/or the input values chosen to represent the model’s parameters are ill-founded or empirically incorrect (“garbage”). (Much like today’s climate models.)
I don’t mean to refer to today’s public-school students as “garbage” (though some undoubtedly are just that). What I mean is that they are taught too much “garbage” (socially relevant clap-trap, sex education, etc.) and, therefore, not taught enough readin’ (including Latin and other languages), writin’, ‘rithmetic, geography, and history* by teachers who actually know those subjects. That has happened largely because public education in this country has been taken over by a cabal of university “education” departments and teachers’ unions (both Left-wing), which dictate the kinds of clap-trap being taught in (most) schools and discourage the thorough training of teachers in those subjects that are worth teaching (readin’, etc.).
As for the students, their main deficit — aside from having been let down by the “system” — is the growing absence of one or both parents, because the of the marked increase in the incidence of working mothers, divorce, and illegitimacy over the last 50 to 100 years. Today’s students (on the whole) therefore suffer (relative to their predecessors of 50 to 100 years ago) from a lack of parental interest, guidance, and compulsion.
I haven’t discussed manners, obedience, and violence because the differences between now and 50-100 years ago are too painfully obvious.
Related reading, here.
More about public schools from Carpe Diem, here. And more.
* By history, I mean not only “history” but also something modeled on Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation, with the addition of instruction in the formal development of music through the nineteenth century (the rest is noise). Desirable options: instruction in the performance of music and creation of art, as long as its music (not noise) and art (not doodles and blobs).
I know some Leftists. They’re not Leftists of the loony, venomous, conspiracy-theory variety who hang out in the comment threads of Left-wing blogs. They’re you’re garden-variety, conservatives-are-mean, government-is-good, Bush-is-bad, pull-out-of-Iraq, global-warming-is real, Social Security-Medicare-and-universal-health-care-are-necessary type of Leftist. But they’re generally quiet about it, unless they’re talking to each other, in mutual support.
The thinking of the Leftists I know was shaped by “educators” and is constantly reinforced by selective (i.e., biased) reading, listening, and viewing. In other words, they have never matured mentally. They’re stuck on the themes they were force-fed before and during their college years. I would say “stuck on stupid,” but they’re not stupid — just ignorant and mentally lazy.
The hard part is: Most of them are nice. So, it’s hard to dislike a garden-variety Leftist, in spite of his or her views. Of course, it will be a different story if any of them starts hanging around the comment threads of Leftist blogs.
They not only refuse to teach, they also try to prevent others from teaching. What a web of woe we have woven around our children — except for those who are lucky enough to have escaped the public school system.
See also: Detroit Teachers Put Special Interest Politics Ahead of Students (written in anticipation of the Detroit teachers’ strike) and Schools Need Competition Now (John Stossel’s take on the public-school monopoly).
The Home School Legal Defense Association’s (HSLDA) Chairman and General Counsel, Michael Farris, warns that even though the U.S. has never ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the convention may still be binding on citizens because of activist judges.
According to a new “interpretation” of what is known as “customary international law,” some U.S. judges have ruled that, even though the U.S. Senate and President have never ratified the Convention, it is still binding on American parents. “In the 2002 case of Beharry v. Reno, one federal court said that even though the Convention was never ratified, it still has an ‘impact on American law’,” Farris explained. “The fact that virtually every other nation in the world has adopted it has made it part of customary international law, and it means that it should be considered part of American jurisprudence.”
Under the Convention, severe limitations are placed on a parent’s right to direct and train their children. As explained in a 1993 Home School Court Report by the HSLDA, under Article 13, parents could be subject to prosecution for any attempt to prevent their children from interacting with material they deemed unacceptable. Under Article 14, children are guaranteed “freedom of thought, conscience and religion” – in other words, children have a legal right to object to all religious training. And under Article 15, the child has a right to “freedom of association.” “If this measure were to be taken seriously, parents could be prevented from forbidding their child to associate with people deemed to be objectionable companions,” the HSLDA report explained.
The HSLDA report points out that
the U.N. Convention would:
 transfer parental rights and responsibilities to the [s]tate,
 undermine the family by vesting children with various fundamental rights which advance notions of the child’s autonomy and freedom from parental guidance; and
 establish bureaucracies and institutions of a national and international nature designed to promote “the ideas proclaimed in the Charter of the United Nations” and to investigate and prosecute parents who violate their children’s rights. . . .
The State Will Determine the Child’s “Best Interest’
Article 3: “In all actions concerning children,” the courts, social service workers and bureaucrats are empowered to regulate families based on their subjective determination of “the best interest of the child.” This article shifts the responsibility of parental judgment and decision making from the family to the State (and ultimately the United Nations).
Facts of the Case
The Compulsory Education Act of 1922 required parents or guardians to send children between the ages of eight and sixteen to public school in the district where the children resided. The Society of Sisters was an Oregon corporation which facilitated care for orphans, educated youths, and established and maintained academies or schools. This case was decided together with Society of Sisters v. Hill Military Academy.
Did the Act violate the liberty of parents to direct the education of their children?
Yes. The unanimous Court held that “the fundamental liberty upon which all governments in this Union repose excludes any general power of the State to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only.”
In reaching its decision, the Court wrote that
we think it entirely plain that the Act of 1922 unreasonably interferes with the liberty of parents and guardians to direct the upbringing and education of children under their control. As often heretofore pointed out, rights guaranteed by the Constitution may not be abridged by legislation which has no reasonable relation to some purpose within the competency of the state. The fundamental theory of liberty upon which all governments in this Union repose excludes any general power of the state to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only. The child is not the mere creature of the state; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.
Pierce v. Society of Sisters dates from the era of Lochnerian (substantive) due process, which ended during the New Deal. But a new era of substantive due process may be upon us. Moreover, given the Court’s present makeup (four conservatives, one waffler, and five Catholics) I am hopeful that a test of parents’ rights would be decided in favor of parents. Given Justice Kennedy’s quirkiness, I would be even more sanguine if Justice Stevens or Justice Ginsburg were to retire soon.
(Thanks to my daughter-in-law for the link to the LifeNet article.)
WriteWingNut, a homeschooler and co-blogger at Blogger News Network, writes about “Homeschooling and Socialization.” There’s much to be said in favor of homeschooling as an antidote to public education. But teachers’ unions and their allies (notably the Democrat Party) have a lot of political clout, which they wield almost ceaselessly in an effort to undermine homeschooling.
Home School Legal Defense Association is a nonprofit advocacy organization established to defend and advance the constitutional right of parents to direct the education of their children and to protect family freedoms. Through annual memberships, HSLDA is tens of thousands of families united in service together, providing a strong voice when and where needed.
HSLDA advocates on the legal front by fully representing member families at every stage of proceedings. Each year, thousands of member families receive legal consultation by letter and phone, hundreds more are represented through negotiations with local officials, and dozens are represented in court proceedings. HSLDA also takes the offensive, filing actions to protect members against government intrusion and to establish legal precedent. On occasion, HSLDA will handle precedent-setting cases for nonmembers, as well.
HSLDA advocates on Capitol Hill by tracking federal legislation that affects homeschooling and parental rights. HSLDA works to defeat or amend harmful bills, but also works proactively, introducing legislation to protect and preserve family freedoms.
HSLDA advocates in state legislatures, at the invitation of state homeschool organizations, by assisting individual states in drafting language to improve their homeschool legal environment and to fight harmful legislation.
HSLDA advocates in the media by presenting articulate and knowledgeable spokesmen to the press on the subject of homeschooling. HSLDA staff members are regularly called upon for radio, television, and print interviews, and their writings are frequently published in newspapers and magazines across the country. HSLDA’s own bimonthly magazine, The Home School Court Report, provides news and commentary on a host of current issues affecting homeschoolers. And its two-minute daily radio broadcast, Home School Heartbeat, can be heard on nearly 500 radio stations.
HSLDA advocates for the movement by commissioning and presenting quality research on the progress of homeschooling. Whether it’s in print, from the podium, or on the air, HSLDA provides insightful vision and leadership for the cause of homeschooling.
You can support HSLDA’s worthy efforts by shopping online through its Clicks for Homeschooling page:
Did you know that you can support homeschooling just by using the links on this page or special QuickLinks set from this page to get to your favorite online retailers? That’s right, the online retailers on this page will give a portion of your online purchase amount back to HSLDA for the work of the Home School Foundation. So next time you want to shop online, please come to this page first or use one of our QuickLinks to get to the online retailer. It’s easy and you will be helping the Home School Foundation support homeschooling through its Special Needs Children’s Fund, Widows Curriculum Scholarship Fund, and its other funds.
The list of participating retailers includes many familiar names (e.g., Amazon.com, Circuit City, Home Depot, Toysrus.com, and Wal-Mart.com). From now on, I’m going first to the Clicks for Homeschooling page before I shop online.
(Thanks to my daughter-in-law for the tip about HSLDA.)
In my previous post here I commented on two of Timothy Sandefur’s posts (here and here) about creationism vs. evolution. I closed my post by asking: “Who defines reality, and who decides to confront us with it? The state?” Mr. Sandefur responds thusly:
…Reality is not “defined” by some entity standing outside of it and determining its contents; it simply is. It is discovered, and observed, by all of us—some more skillfully and carefully than others….
All right, then, who decides which of us is the more skillful and careful observer of reality? It shouldn’t be the state. (I believe that Mr. Sandefur and I are firmly agreed on that point.) But, we do have government-run schools, and they do dominate education in the United States. Perforce, it is those schools, in their vast inadequacy, that decide what to teach as “reality.”
I share Mr. Sandefur’s concern that proponents of “intelligent design” would use the state to compel the teaching of ID as an alternative to evolution. But government schools that teach evolution are also the schools that teach a lot of things that skillful observers like Mr. Sandefur and I do not recognize as truth — things that might be wrapped up in the phrase “government as ultimate problem-solver.”
Now, I do not mean to suggest that government schools might just as well go for broke and teach more untruth by adding ID to their curricula. What I mean to suggest is that government schools already teach — and have long taught — ideas that are far more subversive of liberty and the pursuit of happiness than ID.
I find the belief in creationism far less threatening than the widespread belief in government as ultimate problem-solver. That is why, given the limited amount of time I have for blogging, I tend to shoot at the left and ignore the right.
On reading Timothy Sandefur’s recent posts about creationism vs. evolution (here and here), I’m prompted to ask who is the “we” who decides what to teach? Toward the end of the post linked second above, Mr. Sandefur says this about the teaching of evolution:
I believe that all men are created equal, and that they deserve to be treated like responsible adults—which means, confronted with the reality, and charged with the obligation to recognize it, or evade it and bear the consequences….
Who defines reality, and who decides to confront us with it? The state?
Adam B. Schaeffer offers some advice for “Changing School Choice Strategy” at Tech Central Station:
The legal, regulatory, and political bunkers manned by soldiers from the Democratic coalition make school choice a slow and difficult battle. What little ground reformers gain is constantly under threat of being lost. The school choice movement should step around these obstacles by concentrating their efforts on a drive, in each state with an income tax, for Universal Tuition Tax Credits (UTTCs) that allow all parents a true choice in education.
The idea has several problems:
1. Not every State has an income tax.
2. Even in States with an income tax, the size of the tax credit wouldn’t offset the cost of private schooling for parents whose income tax bill is already low because their incomes are relatively low, they can claim a large number of exemptions, or they have large itemized deductions.
3. States can reclaim lost income-tax revenues by raising marginal rates and/or increasing sales taxes.
I say, keep up the good fight for universal recognition of school vouchers. If Bush is re-elected the fight should become easier.