Welcome to Hawaii

Read this.
"I'm just trying to do my work as best as I can. . I'm not getting the support from above," Friel told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. "The pushback is coming from those that I'm investigating, which are actually management that has been in place before I came on the various islands. There's a lot of politics being played here."
When I would describe waste and fraud within the DOE to employees of other State and County agencies, they would typically respond: "You should see where I work." People apparently believe "if it is this bad everywhere, the State would fall apart". It is this bad everywhere and the State is falling apart.  


Two Important Posts from Dedicated Homeschoolers

One: “It is literally neurobiologically impossible to think deeply about things that you don’t care about.” 
Two: " ... all the things they did in preschool I do better or at least as well at home."


The Basics

(CNN): "Principal Diane Daprocida of P.S. 94, an elementary school in the Bronx, says she has been waiting for one thing since she started running the school 10 years ago. .. a way to teach her teachers, many of whom have four years or less of teaching experience, how to teach reading.'
"Our universities do not teach teachers how to (teach reading) at the undergraduate level, ... It's philosophy of education, sociology of education, classroom management. I mean, I can't even remember. It's been so long since I've been to school, but they are coming through a traditional track not knowing how to teach reading, just the overall basic components of it."

Classroom teachers have offered the same criticisms of their wasted hours in Education courses for decades, as have several studies of the relation between teachers' College of Education coursework and student performance. Colleges of Education add nothing to teacher competence.
Colleges of Education degrade teacher performance, as measured by student performance, below the level that teachers with degrees in their subject would achieve. The current State-monopoly system presents an incentive structure that rewards inefficient instruction at all levels. At the early-education level, the system degrades performance below the level that parents with no college at all would achieve. Basic Reading and basic Math instruction provide examples of the fundamental failure of Colleges of Education. Remember Whole Language? Colleges of Education promoted this incoherent strategy of basic Reading instruction for years. Mounting evidence of failure did not dissuade the "expert" advocates of Whole Language in Colleges of Education. Whole Language fell to an argument from authority in the form of a critical open letter  in the New York  Times to which academics with superior credentials at prestigious institutions (e.g., Steven Pinker, MIT)  attached their names. Colleges of Education continue to promote "Discovery" methods of Math instruction, despite as thorough a refutation (Project Follow-Through) as Whole Language suffered.
Why expect otherwise? The mystique of expertise sustains the professional Education industry. Why, otherwise, would parents surrender their children to experts to attain a result that they (i.e., individual parents) could attain? Benjamin Franklin, who attended school for a total of two years between age 10 and 12, wrote that he could not remember a time when he did not know how to read. At age eight or so my older sister taught my younger sister, age four or so, to read as an accidental result of playing "school".  Basic Math (counting,  the decimal digits, place-holding notation, whole number addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division)  requires even less expertise in an instructor than does basic Reading.  
Expertise matters. Few unsupported homeschooling parents could extemporaneously provide the breadth and depth of instruction that a full-service high school provides. Since few high school teachers can, either, this observation fails as a defense of Colleges of Education, compulsory attendance statutes, or of the NEA/AFT/AFSCME cartel's exclusive position in receipt of the taxpayers' K-12 school  subsidy. While, above the level of basic Reading and basic Arithmetic, experts have something to offer, the experts need not deal with children in person. Books crystalize expertise. The decidedly non-expert Education majors in US middle school History and Math classes use this crystalized expertise. So, also, can non-expert homeschooling parents use the crystalized expertise that books embody. Colleges of Education have nothing to offer. Colleges of Education disguise their irrelevance with strident political advocacy in the form of "philosophy of education, sociology of education, classroom management".     
The current structure of the US Education industry relies on the mystique of "expertise". The costs of this structure include the $600 billion+ per year tax subsidy to K-12 schools and the subsidies that Colleges of Education receive. This total provides a lower limit of the costs of the current structure.  A more accurate total would include, additionally, the opportunity cost  to students of the time that they spend in school (otherwise, why the need for compulsory attendance statutes and child labor laws), losses due to crime, the lifetime cost of prisons for the poor children whose lives we trash, losses from depressed lifetime productivity, and the opportunity cost to society of the lost innovation in education technology that an unsubsidized competitive market in education services would generate.
Which brings us back to our starting point: why Colleges of Education fail at their basic task. "What works?" is an empirical question to which an experiment will provide more reliable answers than will the self-interested Divine Inspiration that College of Education faculty offer. In public policy, "experiment" means federalism or competitive markets in goods and services. A State-monopoly provider is an experiment with one treatment and no controls, a maximally ineffective experimental design.  In the current institutional/legal environment, efficient performance does not pay. A $600 billion+ per year K-12 revenue stream and the thousands of College of Education faculty positions across the US  depend on K-12 enrollment. Curricula that would allow K-12 teachers to produce a 14 year-old actuary, electrical engineer, mason, programmer, or welder would allow homeschooling parents to do the same. Efficiency does not pay.  
And that is why, oh best beloved, after nearly two centuries of existence the US State-monopoly K-12 school system hires teachers who learn their craft from Professors of Education who do not know how children learn to read.


Adios, Andrew Coulson

Neal McCluskey  and Jason Bedrick mark Andrew Coulson's passing, far too early. Andrew and I corresponded some years ago via email and he  he asked if I would send the statistics I had compiled on the relation between age (start) of compulsory attendance and NAEP test scores (positive. Later is better) and district size and NAEP test scores (negative. Smaller is better). He said that he would pass these to Caroline Hoxby, a far more statistically sophisticated analyst than I. Perhaps she needed a laugh. Coulson's  Market Education makes the historical case that the education industry thrives without State (government, generally) compulsory attendance, subsidy, regulation, or direct operation.      


Confirmation Bias?

Teacher credential requirements maintain the mystique of the education industry. Otherwise, why not let parents decide what, where, and how their children learn? I found one class (Statistics) in the College of Education useful. Professor Ayabe suggested a year-to-year recursive grading system. Based on my experience of the useless College of Education coursework and later analysis of State-level credential requirements and State-level NAEP performance, I oppose State-imposed restrictions on whom principals may hire (aside from excluding pedophiles and other dangerous criminals).

Anyway, I am quite prepared to believe this:
Take the evidence on GPA and SAT scores. Some research suggests that these screens can predict teacher effectiveness, but the differences are small, and there’s no clear tipping point guiding states on where to set their expectations. The evidence on coursework and certification requirements is even weaker.. 


Aloha, Marvin Minsky

Yahoo news reported the death of Marvin Minsky. I have quoted many times his comment on school. He was kind enough to begin a conversation via email.