Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Not A Root Cause: Really

A few hours after yesterday's post, President Barack Obama, in what appears to be a direct response to THC, remarked in at a Catholic-Evangelical Leadership Summit on Poverty that increased divisions in society are leading wealthier people to send their children to private schools (like the President whose children attend the elite private Sidwell Friends School while at the same time ending a program under which poor children in the District of Columbia received vouchers to attend private schools) and thus spurring disinvestment in public sector goods like education.
“Kids start going to private schools, kids start working out at private clubs instead of the public parks, an anti-government ideology then disinvests from those common goods and those things that draw us together.”
Let's look at some evidence.  The first two charts from the US Department of Education and the last from the OECD and all via Powerline.

Education expenditures up about 300% in constant dollars over the past 50 years.
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Enrollment is up only about 35%.
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Per pupil expenditures for selected countries.  U.S. does well comparatively.

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As mentioned yesterday, these same types of charts were used in the healthcare debate to argue that the United States was spending too much.

THC has seen this same argument about more spending made for decades regardless of the evidence.  It's getting a little tiring.

William Voegeli's 2010 book, Never Enough, had as its thesis that there is no limiting principle in today's liberalism.  Its only constant is that whatever is being spent on a social program is Never Enough, a war cry reflecting the bizarre mindset of the Washington political world where increases in spending are denounced as "cuts" and "slashing budgets"; for more see The Fiscal Uncliff.

Isn't it time for some people to become reality-based?


  1. Compared to other industrialized countries, expenditures are below average as a percentage of GDP. True or false?

  2. You didn't mention anything about the results. The expenditures seem perfectly reasonable for the US, especially as a percentage of GDP. It's not the money spent. It's the mediocre results that are the problem. The cost curve seems pretty flat to my eyes. But the academic achievement of US student has been and continues to be underwhelming.

    And this is compared to far more socialist countries than the US. So, using an argument against "progressives" seems misplaced, when more socialist countries are getting better results for less money spent!!!

    But that, THC, is part of the problem. The education systems in France, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, and Norway are MUCH LESS socialistic than the system in the US!!! That is the problem. The reason that the US is spending so much and getting so little in return is that we are choosing to try to educate every kid in the system as if he/she is going to attend a liberal arts college. This is sheer lunacy

    It's a lowest common denominator problem, pure and simple. If we separated the bottom 10-15% out of the student population, beginning as early as kindergarten, we would see the performance jump up BIG TIME. The whole system is weighed down by kids who just don't care one iota about learning anything!!!!!

    This is a systemic problem, a PHILOSOPHICAL problem with our system.

    We need to be more selective in our education system, beginning as early as kindergarten, but before high school, we need to direct the kids that don't have college "potential" into a strictly vocational degree program, separate from the college-bound students. We should offer fast tracking to finish high school in 3 years. We should offer a lot more AP courses. We need to focus the resources much more squarely on the gifted and talented kids. The top 3% of any dynamic educational system generate over 30% of the breakthroughs and advancements. It is essential that we "fast-track" these gifted kids and promote their talent and gifts at a proper speed, which might even mean, in some cases, self-directed or even one-on-one learning opportunities. At the other end of the spectrum, for those who just aren't progressing (lack of effort, never do their homework, fail every test), they need to be removed from the normal program until they can prove that they WANT to learn. And if they lack the ability, then again, they need to be removed from the normal track. It's not easy, and some might consider it "unAmerican", but it has to happen.

    If the US would do these things, you'd be amazed at how quickly the education system would leap frog up the OECD charts. If we did these things, the need for private schools would largely go away. Public schools in the US can succeed, if we stop teaching to the lowest common denominator.