Wednesday, September 29, 2004

The Leftist attacks on choice continue: "Arizona's pioneering school choice tax credits must withstand scrutiny of their constitutionality yet again -- only this time those passing judgment will be federal, not state, jurists. A 5-4 majority of the U.S. Supreme Court injected an element of uncertainty into the tax credit plan when it decided June 14 to allow an American Civil Liberties Union-sponsored challenge to go forward in federal district court. The decision has far-reaching significance because it extends federal judicial review over state tax matters usually reserved to the states."


"What is a puzzle to me, though, is how many teachers seem to have convictions they do not voice in the public arenas yet they spread diligently throughout the academic world. One example has to do with free will, another with morality. Indeed, in these areas they are quite often out and out duplicitous.

Consider that very many social, not to mention natural, scientists, including engineers, do not believe that any free will could exist in the world. The prominent academic opinion is that we are moved by various forces to behave as we do and there is no such thing as personal responsibility at all.

This view does trickle down into the public arena by way of such practical ideas as victimization and addiction-no one is responsible, we are all victims of circumstances, and there are no drunks, only alcoholics and alcoholism is supposed to be a disease, of course; so there is no fault-nor credit-anywhere.

But this isn't confined so narrowly among most academics-they tend to hold that there is not a thing over which individuals have any control, it's all que sera, sera -what will be, will be.

Now when it comes to, for example, the conduct of Enron executives or Martha Stewart, not to mention Senator John Kerry in Vietnam or President George W. Bush in the National Guard, this determinist view basically means they had no control over their actions. It just happened-kind of the way bad things can happen among plants and animals, with no one at fault. The same thing is true about PETA folks and environmentalists, who have lots of friends in the academy: they wag their moralistic fingers at the rest of us, yet many of them are convinced that no one can help what he or she does, it's all in the genes or dictated by evolutionary forces or whatever.

Yet no one says so in public. When Enron executives got caught, no academic with strong determinist views wrote anything for The Washington Post or The New York Times Op Ed page saying, "Leave them be, or give them therapy, they aren't responsible.".....

What does this silence about worldly matters tell our students, I wonder? That what teachers believe has no relevance at all to anything outside the Ivory Tower?

More here:


Excerpts from The American Educator:

"Researchers who analyze jobs and talk to employers find that while today’s typical job requires higher skills than in the past (when many jobs required only physical strength), the skills required for these jobs are strong high school-level skills--math, reading, and writing at a ninth-grade level (Murnane and Levy, 1996), not college-level skills. Similarly, new research on the skills needed for many good jobs (meaning those that pay enough to support a family and have the potential for advancement) are also high school-level skills, such as four years of English and mathematics through Algebra II (American Diploma Project, 2004). Unfortunately, over 40 percent of high-school seniors lack ninth-grade math skills and 60 percent lack ninth-grade reading skills (Murnane and Levy, 1996). So students do not need to go to college to get a good job, but they do need to master high school-level skills. Research shows that greater mastery of these skills in high school leads to higher earnings over time: For youth who get no college degree, a rise of one letter grade in their high school grade point average (from C to B) is associated with a 13 percent earnings gain at age 28! That’s almost as much as the pay differential associated with a bachelor’s degree, which is just over 14 percent more than students without a college degree (Miller, 1998; Rosenbaum, 2001). Solid high school skills prepare students for entry-level positions and keep the door to promotions open (Rosenbaum, 2001).

Employers report that for many jobs, non-academic skills (like timeliness, diligence, and social competence) are key (Shapiro and Iannozzi, 1999). Analyses of a national survey indicate that students’ educational attainment and earnings nine years after graduating from high school are significantly related to their non-cognitive behaviors in high school--sociability, discipline, leadership, homework time, and attendance--even after controlling for background characteristics and academic achievement (Rosenbaum, 2001). High schools can provide these skills just as well as colleges can.

The true lesson of the new labor market is this: For many of the skilled jobs in the new economy, what students really need is to acquire good work habits and solid high school-level skills. But, employers argue that they cannot trust that the high school diploma certifies knowledge of these high school-level skills. As a result, employers report using college degrees to signal that applicants possess high school skills. If, instead, the high schools provided trusted signals of high school competencies, the pressure to send all students to college could diminish. And let’s not forget that high schools can do a lot to help their non-college bound youth find productive jobs and lead fulfilling lives".


Another post lifted from Bill Vallicella. A story and some reflections

"It reminded me of a graduate student I once had and with whom I became friends. He told me once that after he finished high school he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and get a job with the railroad. His mother, however, wanted something ‘better’ for her son. She wanted him to go to college, which he did, in the desultory fashion of many. He ended up declaring a major in psychology and graduating. After spending some time in a monastery, perhaps also at the instigation of his Irish mother, and still not knowing quite what to do with himself, he was accepted into an M.A. program in philosophy, which is where I met him. After goofing around for several more years, he took a job as a social worker, a job which did not suit him. Last I saw him he was in his mid-thirties and pounding nails.

His complaint to me was that, had he followed his natural bent, he would have had fifteen or so years of job seniority with the railroad, a good paycheck, and a house half paid for. Instead, he wasted years on studies for which he had no real inclination, and no real talent. He had no discernible interest in the life of the mind, and like most working class types could not take it seriously. If you are from the working class, you will know what I mean: ‘real’ work must involve grunting and sweating and schlepping heavy loads.

'Overeducation’ is perhaps not the right word for cases like this. Strictly speaking, one cannot be overeducated since there is and can be no end to true education. The word is from the Latin e-ducere, to draw out, and there can be no end to the process of actualizing the potential of a mind with an aptitude for learning. Perhaps the right word is ‘over-credentialed.’ It is clear that what most people want is not an education, but a credential that will gain them admittance to a certain social and/or economic status. 'Education’ and cognates are euphemisms."


For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.

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