Football and Cars

No, the answer then isn’t choice,” by “Aaron,” tdaxp, http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2004/12/26/attacking_success.html, 29 December 2004.

Aaron offers a well worded apologia to throwing money at the problem.

“No, the answer then isn’t choice. The answer is money.

Then why is American public school expenditure exploding with no increase in performance?

I’ll be the first to tell you that my low-cost university education was sub-par at best. I know I’d have learned a ton more and had many more opportunities at MIT or even UMN or U. of IA. However, I couldn’t afford to go to them.

Expensive high-quality education is affordable. It is much more affordable than “free” poor education. Saying that expensive things are easier to afford for rich people doesn’t change this fact. Nor does it directly affect the issue of choice.

At this point, I would posit that Dan would have a bevy of “amortize the cost of education out over your whole life” arguments. However, the difference between Billy Cheney having an expensive schooling paid for and walking into the real world debt-free, and [tdaxp] leaving college with a fair amount of debt is astronomical. Why move this harsh reality up 15 years in a student’s life? Do mom and dad have to mortgage the house to send Dan to a good primary school? Do they have to jump through endless hoops and tax chicanery to qualify for vouchers?

If society is concerned about the fairness of the situation, create government-funded scholarships or vouchers.

Aaron says money is the problem. If that is the case, the cost of education will go up anyway. Making individuals pay for their children’s education in a free market would be no more or less than making individuals pay for their children’s education, instead of relying on property tax.

So the distance between the rich and poor increases. The poor kids attend poor schools, the wealthy kids attend good schools. What will the requirements be for the voucher program? Hard to say.

It’s certainly less well known than the current classist system.

The fact is, if you’re rich you almost certainly get a better funded public education than if you’re poor. Public education is usually partially paid for out of local property taxes. As the property values are much higher in wealthier districts, wealthier districts get more money.

The only saving grace of the current regime is that every student is trapped in a choiceless monopoly. So poor kids (disproportionately latin or black) serve their sentences in decrepit buildings, while rich kids (disproportionately white and asian) waste time in style.

I know I was happy to come up in public school. I know the people who wanted to get ahead did. I know the people who were content to revel in a social experiment didn’t.

Again, I make my case, the problem isn’t the school, it’s the culture. America equals football and cars.

Some generational causality is obvious: if a child is abused, he is more likely to be abusive when he grows up. Some, less so: if a child is hugged often, he is more likely to make an effective white-collar worker, but less likely to make an effective blue-collar worker. But the connection between failing, monopolistic schools and Aaron’s posited wrongheaded culture is clear.

Children are captives of schools most days of the week for most weeks of the year for most years of childhood. Children come into school naturally academically curious, and come out believing “America equals football and cars.” There is no connection?

Schools are a means of imposing a dominant culture. Many countires choose to impose, through their monopoly schools, a vision of their future. Perhaps its conformaty to authority, pacifism, militarism, or social justice. Some schools actually stress academics. In America, we brainwash students into believing in “football and cars.” Great.

You have a choice in school. Succeed or don’t.

Truer words have never been said. Except in Brown v. Board of Education.

The quality of schools affect the quality of graduates. “Students succeed if they want to” is an excuse for all tyrants, whether racists or monopolists or other.

Would people prefer their children to have a one-sided education, where they could be indoctrinated to solely their parents’ values? Dan might say that’s a good thing. His parents were “right”. That was convenient for him. Let’s say Dan’s parents had been crazy Jehovah’s Witnesses or worse and Dan learned that the solution to life’s problems, financial and otherwise, was a hefty dose of self-flagellation… At least in a public setting, he could’ve learned about the wonders of “science” and “math” and all these other crazy things that you need in life.

What to criticize? That public schools (presumably) do not offer a “one-sided education”? That public schools teach “science” and “math”? Or that public schools teach “other crazy things you need in life”? Why not all three?

Because most children are incapable of critical thought, education is going to be propoganda. This is true in all schools, but its most hurtful in public schoools, as we all must subsidize this choiceless PR.

How many times will a public schoolchild hear the following from teachers:

1. Nazis are/were bad
2. Racism is bad
3. Sexism is bad
4. Brown v. Board of Education established “seperate but equal is inherently unequal”?

Forcing these unquestionably on a society is dangerous.

At my graduate university, I detected a clear admiration for Hitler among many foreign students, combined with a complete disregard for his racism (after all, if you’re from southern India, Jews, Germans, and Russians all look the same). All morality aside, a resurgence of National-Socialism would be a catastrophe, because it is a philosophy that brings great-power war.

How are Americans supposed to combat this? If you say “Nazis are bad,” a less doctrinaire “not all bad” is replied. If you say “Racism is bad,” they say “I agree.” By simpliying our enemeis to characatures, monopolistic public education has disarmed us in the war of ideas.

Likewise, the PC-for-the-1970s philosophy spouted by public education paints a far too simplistic view of the world. Whatever you think of them, the terms “racism” and “sexism” are not interchangable. Further, they are often confused with the more complex issues of tribalism and genderism. Societal discussion of race and sex will naturally trend towards different directions, and painting both with the same brush of “prejudice” dumbs-down discussion of both.

Likewise, one of the most important Supreme Court decisions in a hundred years is routinely misdescribed by drones who do not know better. Brown v. Board of Education upheld Flessy v. Fergeson. If was not the first SC decision against racial segregation, and unlike earlier decisions it changed almost nothing — ten years later, almost all southern schools were still segregated. How are we preparing pupils to be future crusaders for one America when their understanding of American history is so cartoonish?

Second, U.S. public schools clearly do not teach science and math. Its empirically shown in study after study.

Third, if by “other crazy things” Aaron is refering to a basic understanding of consumer finance or how to file a small-claims case, schools fail here too.

U.S. public education: still terrible.

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