Friday, January 20, 2017

Trump on education: myth busting

I was among those not expecting a mention of education in the inaugural today, but there was one. Here's a look: education system flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge...
...part of a longer dystopia vision of the country.

Both halves of this statement are false.
The American education system is not "flush with cash" at all. There's a lot of good work on this, but I'd recommend beginning with the Shaker Institute's look at the myth of the inefficient education system. To wit:
...the typical presentations of data purporting to show the inefficiency of U.S. schools are so lacking in methodological rigor as to be of little if any value in our public debate or policymaking process.
And note, always, health care cost being included in education spending in the U.S. when this is not how it is done in other countries.

And further:
...per pupil spending in the U.S., which many proclaim to be relatively high based on simple comparisons, is actually rather in line with the spending of other OECD nations with similar GDP.

As for the "students deprived of all knowledge," again, there are a myriad of links, but you might start with this American Prospect piece on the myth of public school failure. A telling part of the conclusion:
...(this myth of failure) derives support from a political culture surviving the Reagan era--the suspicion of all public institutions and conviction that if public bureaucracy is responsible, performance must be deficient. The school failure myth also derives support from the nation's corporate leadership, anxious to find a scapegoat for high unemployment, racial division, and income inequality. Blaming the schools avoids confronting business deindustrialization strategies, failure to invest in high-wage jobs, and shortsighted trade policies. Faulting public education also excuses the business community's desire to reduce tax support of schools.
It appears that this is where we are.

I would take this chance to remind my readers why we need public education:
Wisdom, and knowledge, as well as virtue, diffused generally among the body of the people, being necessary for the preservation of their rights and liberties; and as these depend on spreading the opportunities and advantages of education in the various parts of the country, and among the different orders of the people...
That's as true now as it was in 1779.

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