2013/10/03

James Buchanan (1919-Oct.-03 to 2013-Jan.-09)

Don Bourdeaux observes: "Jim died this past January.  Were he still alive, he would today celebrate his 94th birthday."

James Buchanan attributed his success, in part, to his education in a one-room schoolhouse. Since the teacher could not instruct all students simultaneously, she allowed those students who could study on their own to work through the material without her help.

Self-paced, well-scripted curricula would demonstrate the irrelevance of a large swath of the public-sector workforce and so threaten the $500 billion+ per year revenue stream that flows through the "public" school system. 

2013/09/17

Incentives and Insiders

One interesting read here:
Eighty to 90 percent of people are not negatively affected by drugs, but in the scientific literature nearly 100 percent of the reports are negative,” Dr. Hart said. “There’s a skewed focus on pathology. We scientists know that we get more money if we keep telling Congress that we’re solving this terrible problem. We’ve played a less than honorable role in the war on drugs.

The point applies to as well to climate science, foreign aid (which isn't aid) and development (which isn't development) economics, allegedly crumbling infrastructure, education (which isn't education) policy, etc.
Now read Robert Higgs, "All Government Policies Succeed in the Long Run":
Many people, for good reason, have concluded that the surest test of whether a politician or public official is lying is to ask, Are his lips moving? An equally simple test may be proposed to determine whether a seemingly failed policy is actually a success for the movers and shakers of the political class. This test requires only that we ask, Does the policy remain in effect? If it does, we can be sure that it continues to serve the interests of those who are actually decisive in determining the sorts of policy the government establishes and implements. Now, as before, “failed” policies are a myth in regard to all policies that persist beyond the short run. The people who effectively run the government, whether from inside or outside the beast, do not run it for the purpose of hampering the attainment of their own interests; on the contrary.

"All of us have sufficient fortitude to bear the misfortunes of others."
Francois de La Rochefoucauld 

And if one is a politician, to inflict them for a sufficient consideration.

2013/08/09

It's Love

A link in a comment on a discussion of Common Core at Jay Green's blog led to "How Long Before Duncan and the Media Speak Out Honestly?" by Sandra Stotsky at the Pioneer Institute. 
Legislators might ask questions like: Why are we doing this if there is no correlation between national standards and student achievement? Who is going to pay for this? What are the legal dimensions of states using a copyrighted set of standards? Who will amend the standards? What do parents, teachers, or institutions of higher education do if they find problems with the standards? Good questions one and all. ...Of course, Common Core proponents can’t say that lowering academic standards is their goal. ...Their major selling point is how poor our K-12 public education system is in too many states. The fault of the teachers in them? Of course not. The fault of education policy makers who enjoy being Lord High Central Planners? The fault of the education schools and the professional development “providers” that “trained” them for the last 50 years? These possibilities have been outside the bounds of public discourse and beyond the grasp of the media. Besides which, what could be done to the keepers of the “cash cow?” Prospective teachers need some pedagogical training.
Common sense this rare deserves deeper and wider appreciation. Links within the Pioneer site led to
4 Steps to Upgrade Teacher & Administrator Prep Programs.
The part of public education that has received the least attention for reform is the most important: whom our education schools admit and how they are prepared to be teachers, administrators, education researchers, and education policy makers. Although there is very little high quality research on these topics, useful information for reforming education schools came from the massive review undertaken by the National Mathematics Advisory Panel for its report in 2008.  
It found no relationship between student achievement and traditional teacher education programs, certification status, and mentoring and induction programs. That means that teachers who have completed a traditional teacher preparation program, hold a teaching license, and have participated in an induction program get no higher student performance on average than other teachers.

2013/04/08

The Gatekeepers

Accreditation agencies protect the education industry from the market forces that raise quality and reduce costs in competitive industries. Unelected and largely unreported, they define "quality" in terms of inputs and so protect the jobs and revenue stream of the US K-PhD education industry. The role of accreditation agencies receives attention here and here.  Credit by exam would bust this racket.

2013/03/07

Is Water Wet?

Katherine Beals asks: Are Grading Trends Hurting Socially Awkward Kids?

Yes. Next question?

Sp-ed costs above the regular-ed per-pupil average provide one more reason to offer credit by exam for all courses required for graduation. Moving all children through the one-size-fits-all curriculum at a uniform pace creates expensive problems out of potentially low-cost students who will happily work faster alone.