Zombie: Proposals for an Educational Renaissance

Zombie, as the final chapter of a 5-part series on US Education, has some proposals for an Educational Renaissance.

They basically boil down to:

(a) back to basics. Focus on children actually learning something (language, math, and sciences first and foremost, but also useful day-to-day skills), and eliminate ideological claptrap from left and right alike

(b) the more competition between schools, the better. Encourage this by school vouchers or tax credits, encouraging homeschooling,… I would personally add: do away with school catchment areas. One reason (as John Stossel discovered) why state-run and state-subsidized schools in, e.g., Belgium deliver better quality for less money per pupil is that parents can send their children to any public or state-subsidized school of their choice, regardless of where they live. This creates internal competition on quality between schools in the same system.

There is a lively discussion in the comments. Get thee there and read it.

/Now back to the salt mine…

Zombie: Ideological war spells doom for America’s schoolkids

Still totally overwhelmed with relocation and work in realspace, so sorry for the light blogging.

My blog-ancestor has a 5-part series of essays on the culture wars in the US elementary and secondary school systems. Thus far, three four parts are up:

Go and read them all. You may not agree with everything you read (I have some qualms about the bits on Texas), but I agree with his/her basic premise, which is expressed in the title.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gW8nh9c1C3ASlayer: Expendable youth (embedding disabled).

PC insanity of the day

Victor Davis Hanson has some interesting (as always) observations on the Morgan Hill fracas (see Zombie’s report, and our earlier posts here and here).

From the comments, this gem deserves an award for PC insanity:

Purple Victory

I’m currently pursuing a degree in Music Education at the University of Montevallo (PV!) in Shelby County, Alabama. I can tell you that the educational establishment is all about these neat little categories based on color. As part of my “education bloc” classes I had to take a course in classroom diversity that required learning racial stereotypes and writing lesson plans for each color of student. We quite literally had assignments that said “You have a classroom full of black students. Write a lesson plan.” When I decried this as racist the teacher told me I was being a white supremacist; when I told her I’m Hispanic and just light skinned she said I was a traitor to my race for not falling in line with this garbage.

“Racially appropriate” lesson plans. Hmm, where have we heard this idea before?
And as for being a “traitor”, welcome to the club.

Morgan Hill flag insanity continued (video)

“I never thought I’d be on national TV for wearing the American flag.” Indeed. Only in a nation that has lost the will to live would somebody who wears the national emblem on a minor holiday of a minority group — not even observed in most of the home country of said minority — be punished for “hurting the feelings” of the minority. (It’s not like they bowdlerized “Cinco de Mayo” as “Cinco de Quattro”, as a certain POTUS [payaso of the United States] has been known to do.)

Amusingly, the two “thought criminals” being interviewed both have last names (Carvalho and Maciel) that would seem to hail from the Iberian peninsula, which suggests they might qualify as Hispanics themselves.

See earlier coverage by Zombie as well as our own earlier coverage.

Also, while I shall not dwell on the place I once called home, those otherwise inclined will find some interesting material related to this controversy at Diary of Daedalus.

Bloat in the NJ school system: an eye-opener

Just one example of the reverse Midas touch of the US government can be found here: Yes, there’s bloat in New Jersey public schools. Since 2001, the NJ school system added 3/4 of an employee for every additional student, with basically less than nothing to show for it.

[T]he real budget-buster has been health and pension costs. Between 2001 and 2006 (the latest year data are available), total benefit costs rose by a whopping 115 percent, adding several billion dollars to school costs.

After this runup, outlays are now a whopping $16,000 per student, nearly 60 percent above the national average. Jersey already was a leader in this spending category back in 2001; the spending spree has widened the gap, at great taxpayer cost.

There’s been little educational payoff. Performance on national education-assessment tests has been a mixed bag. On crucial eighth-grade reading tests, for instance, the percentage of Jersey students scoring at or above proficient in 2009 was just 42 percent, up slightly from 38 percent in 2005.

Let me get this straight. $16K/pupil and where 3 out of 5 kids can’t even read at grade level?!