Two Cents More

Why is the government in the education business at all? Prompted by Parry Graham...
For those exceptional children and circumstances, I agree that a greater amount of flexibility would likely be beneficial. However, you appear to be arguing that this approach should be extended to all children and parents, replacing the existing structure of formalized K-12 public schooling.
...we return to this question.

The argument does not proceed from exceptional cases to a generalization. I use exceptional cases as stark illustrations of the generalization.

Back up several steps.

The government of a locality is the largest dealer in interpersonal violence in that locality (definition). Place industries on a continuum. What part of the continuum from "very likely candidate for State operation" to "very unlikely candidate for State operation" does the education industry occupy? In abstract, the education industry is a very unlikely candidate for State (government, generally) operation.

Why does the State intervene in the education industry at all? This "why?" question has three interpretations: 1) The welfare-economic "why?". What does society gain from a State role in the education industry? 2) The historical "why?". What events coincided with the State's entry into the education business? 3) The political science "why?". What do those politicians who support the State's presence in the education industry gain from their support?

1) See below.
2) Anti-Catholic bigotry.
3) Dedicated lobbying by current recipients of the taxpayers' $500 billion+ per year K-12 education subsidy.

1) We consider the welfare-economic argument for a State role in the education industry here.

The case for subsidy is weak. Given the case for State subsidization of the education industry, the case for State operation of schools for the general population is weaker still.

Please read the introductory section (p 88) in West, E.G.,
Education Vouchers in Principle and Practice: A Survey
The World Bank Research Observer, V12, #1, Feb., 1997.

The education industry is not a natural monopoly. Beyond a very low level, there are no economies of scale at the delivery end of the education business as it currently operates. "Natural monopoly" and "economies of scale" are the usual welfare-economic arguments for State operation of an industry. Even when an industry qualifies as a natural monopoly or exhibits significant economies of scale the case for State operation of an industry is not decisive, and the education industry is not a natural monopoly and, beyond a very low level, does not exhibit significant economies of scale at the delivery end as it currently operates.

Education only marginally qualifies as a public good as economists use the term and the public goods argument implies subsidy and regulation, at most, not State operation of an industry. The State cannot subsidize education without a definition of "education" but then students, parents, and real classroom teachers are bound by the State's definition. You will have a hard time finding a definition specific enough to guide a bureaucrat whose job it is to assess whether State funds are well spent and yet general enough to encompass all that normal people would call "education". In consequence, policy makers compose restricted definitions which force wildly varying children into a narrow mold. The results are tragic.

Further, State assumption of responsibility for the provision (even through subsidization) of public goods does not eliminate the "free rider" problem at the root of "public goods" analysis. The State is a corporation. Corporate oversight is a public good. Oversight of State functions is a public good which the State itself cannot provide.

I see a semi-plausible case for State operation of schools for some limited subset of the sub-adult population. Compulsory attendance statutes mean little unless some schools must accept students rejected everywhere else. Call these default-option schools "the public schools". Taxpayers do not benefit from policies which give a narrow cartel (the NEA/AFT/AFSCME cartel) a long-term exclusive position in receipt of the budget dedicated to the operation of these schools. Taxpayers would benefit from a policy which periodically put contracts for the operation of these schools out to bid. Let the NEA compete with the HGEA, the AFT, Edison, The University of Phoenix, and the Catholic Church for these contracts.

Government is not some all-seeing, benevolent God. People do not become more intelligent, more altruistic, better-informed, or more capable (except in their enhanced access to the tools of violence) when they enter the State's employ. Children are not standard. Remote State actors, wielding the blunt instrument of State violence, have little usefully to contribute to the education industry.


Comment at Ken's Place

Ken DeRossa started a little argument. Here's my two cents' worth.

What's the alternative to a market in education services? Perhaps it's better to suppose a range of options on a multidimensional continuum and ask: "What actions can policymakers, teachers, taxpayers, parents, and/or students take to improve the performance of the US (formal) K-PhD. education system?" The answer will depend on the powers available to the person who answers.

The government of a locality is the largest dealer in interpersonal violence in that locality (definition). Every law on the books is a threat by the State (government, generally) to kidnap (arrest), assault (subdue), and forcibly inoculate with HIV (imprison) someone, under specified circumstances. People do not become more intelligent, more compassionate, better-informed, or more capable (except by their enhanced access to violence) when they enter the State's employ. The tools available to State actors are violence and threats of violence, and subsidy, extracted at gunpoint from taxpayers.

In the US today, academics design school policy. These academics excelled at school. They have spent their entire lives in school. They imagine that the academic is the highest form of life on Earth and that everyone wants to be a college professor. The curriculum they prescribe and the goals to which they invite students to aspire are foreign to many normal children. Training an artistically or mechanically inclined child for an academic career using a transcript as the incentive is like teaching a cat to swim using carrots as the reward.

Compulsory, unpaid labor is slavery; black or white, male or female, young or old. Compulsion kills motivation. US schools fail because they give to many children no reason to do what schools require. Einstein opposed compulsory attendance at school. Gandhi opposed compulsory attendance at school.

The State-monopoly US school system originated in anti-Catholic bigotry and has become an employment program for dues-paying members of the NEA/AFT/AFSCME cartel, a source of padded construction and supply contracts for politically-connected insiders, and a venue for State-worshipful indoctrination. If this is not so, why cannot any student take, at any time, an exit exam (the GED will do) and apply the taxpayers' age 6-18 K-12 education subsidy toward post-secondary tuition at any VA-approved post-secondary institution or toward a wage subsidy at any qualified (say, has filed W-2 forms on at least three adult employees for at least the previous four years) employer?

The NEA/AFT/AFSCME cartel's schools (the "public" schools) operate for the convenience of administrators, not for the benefit of students. Consider the concept of "a year of Math" or "a year of English Literature". This makes as much sense as "a pound of friendship" or "a meter of exercise". Think on it: measurement of course content in units of time reflects what some administrator imagines a "normal" child can acquire in some amount of time. This indicates systematic indifference to individual differences in ability. That indifference characterizes the cartel's one-size-fits-all methods of operation. And THAT kills motivation.

The education industry is not a natural monopoly. Beyond a very low level there are no economies of scale at the delivery end of the education business. Education only marginally qualifies as a public good as economists use the term and the "public goods" argument implies subsidy and regulation, at most, not State (government, generally) operation of an industry.

Amended (2008-12-21:1741 Zulu) by a one-word substitution ("reflects"=>"indicates") and insertion of "That indifference...operation".


Close to Home (Part II)

High performance education systems will generally exhibit motivated students, well-scripted curricula, and competent instructors. We can play with the concept of "system" here and falsify the assertion that any of these ingredients is necessary. For example, we might collect numerous cases where important discoveries happened by chance, to people who were not seeking them, and call this collection of cases a "system". Quite a lot of learning occurs without any composed curricula or instruction. For example, many people improve their competence at their hobbies or recreations through experience alone. We consider designed educational systems below.

Motivation, curricula, and instruction matter, and interact. Institutional care affects this interaction by displacing parents as instructors with non-parent instructors and by diminishing student and parent control over the selection of curricula. Whether institutional care outperforms informal care or unsupervised play will depend on the relative impact of family arrangements versus institutions on student motivation, curricula, and instructor competence, and on the measure of student performance (e.g., standardized test scores, juvenile crime rates, college acceptance rates, adult lifetime income) used to assess system performance.

Advocates for early childhood education and later formal schooling have an institutional interest in over-estimating the contribution which expertise makes to system performance. While any given system with competent instructors will outperform the same system with incompetent instructors, the following apply to a prediction of the success of policies which displace parents by remote "experts":
1) "Competence" includes the ability to motivate students.
2) The natural bond between parents and children makes parents naturally superior to strangers in this respect
3) In many subject areas, whatever subject-area expertise parents lack exists in books.
4) Compulsion kills motivation.
5) Institutions which derive their their revenues from State (government, generally) sources and bill taxpayers based on student time (per hour or per year) have strong incentives to impede student progress. Effective self-paced curricula would demonstrate the irrelevance of instructors for many students in many subject areas.

Close to home (Part I)

Jenny D looks at early childhood education.

On what theory does it make sense to take children from parents? Early institutionalization of children lowers overall system performance on several measures.

States which compel attendance at age 7 exhibit higher 4th and 8th grade NAEP Reading and Math scores than States which compel attendance at age 6.

Some years ago a visiting Professor of Education from Canada told me that people at some Canadian university studied the relation between the age of compulsory attendance and school performance. According to this professor (whose name I do not recall), the investigators could not find the upper limit (the point when the performance advantage shifts from parents to institutions) and quit looking when the political implications became overwhelming.

On what theory does transferring control of children from parents to strangers yield a social benefit? Consider three scenarios:

1)If the strangers are also parents and the child to caregiver ratio is one to one, we play musical chairs with children and the theory implies that children will work harder for strangers than for their own parents and that parents will more effectively instruct strangers' children than their own.

2) If caregivers are also parents and the child to caregiver ratio is greater than one-to-one, we are to believe that (over some low range) larger child to caregiver ratios yield better performance than lower ratios. Is that plausible?
3) If caregivers are non-parents, we are to believe that non-parents out-perform parents. Do you believe any of this?

Please read Dahlmia and Snell
"Protect Our Kids From Preschool"
Wall Street Journal, 22-Aug.-2008

Steve Biddulph
"A child-care lesson from Canada"
Sydney Morning Herald, 19-Jam.-2008
A large Canadian policy experiment provides a lesson that might save us much grief in Australia. In 2000 the province of Quebec, populous and progressive, took the bold step of providing universal day care right down to newborn babies, at a cost to parents of $5 a day. It was a well-intentioned attempt to come to terms with a large increase in the number of families where both parents were working, which had almost doubled in 30 years.
Three economists, Michael Baker, Jonathan Gruber and Kevin Milligan, seized the chance to evaluate what happened in real time. They had the rest of Canada as a control group, and a large study in place tracking children across the country to provide detailed data on their development. What they found was astonishingly clear cut in a field usually littered with carefully worded reservations and ideologically filtered reporting. The scheme was a disaster.
Evaluated in economic terms, it did not pay for itself; the tax gains from increased workforce participation (the workforce grew by 7.7 per cent) did not make up for the cost of the exercise. Also the system crowded out informal and family forms of care, so that many people simply switched the kind of care they used to take advantage of the massive subsidies.
But the human cost was the most significant. There were marked declines in child wellbeing; on measures of hyperactivity, inattention, aggressiveness, motor skills, social skills and child illness, children were significantly worse off than their peers who remained at home.
The family suffered, too: parent-child relationships deteriorated on all measured dimensions. There was a significant increase in depression rates among mothers and a deterioration in couple relationships among affected parents. None of these changes was minor. The hyperactivity increases were in a range of 17 to 44 per cent; the skills decline was between 8 and 21 per cent; childhood illnesses rose by 400 per cent. The study is littered with adjectives researchers are usually careful to avoid: strong, marked, negative, robust, striking. Yet it did echo, though more strongly, similar findings in the United States, Britain and Europe.
The Quebec policy did so many things right. It mandated many improvements, increasing from one-third to two-thirds the proportion of carers with tertiary qualifications. It supplanted private profit-making centres or took them over, a measure known to increase care quality. It also included and trained in-home carers, or family day carers, as we call them. Yet still the outcomes were dire....
The evidence points to only one possible solution: paid parental leave. When Sweden introduced this 15 years ago, babies and under-twos almost disappeared from its day-care system. This was despite it being acknowledged as the best system in the world, costing 2 per cent of gross domestic product...
In Britain, the policy of the former prime minister, Tony Blair, of building vast numbers of centres has proved an expensive mistake: a younger generation of parents is choosing to stay home and one-fifth of British nursery places stand empty. Under pressure from parents and child development experts, Britain has now introduced paid parental leave...
In the end, paid parental leave is the most equitable way and the best value for money. It is certainly the best for babies. Love, after all, can't be bought.
See "Universal Childcare, Maternal Labor Supply, and Family Well-Being"
(University of Toronto - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER))
(Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER))
KEVIN MILLIGAN (University of British Columbia - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER))
November 2005 NBER Working Paper No. W11832
The growing labor force participation of women with small children in both the U.S. and Canada has led to calls for increased public financing for childcare. The optimality of public financing depends on a host of factors, such as the “crowd-out” of existing childcare arrangements, the impact on female labor supply, and the effects on child well-being. The introduction of universal, highly-subsidized childcare in Quebec in the late 1990s provides an opportunity to address these issues. We carefully analyze the impacts of Quebec’s “$5 per day childcare” program on childcare utilization, labor supply, and child (and parent) outcomes in two parent families. We find strong evidence of a shift into new childcare use, although approximately one third of the newly reported use appears to come from women who previously worked and had informal arrangements. The labor supply impact is highly significant, and our measured elasticity of 0.236 is slightly smaller than previous credible estimates. Finally, we uncover striking evidence that children are worse off in a variety of behavioral and health dimensions, ranging from aggression to motor-social skills to illness. Our analysis also suggests that the new childcare program led to more hostile, less consistent parenting, worse parental health, and lower-quality parental relationships.
See also
San Francisco Chronicle 2005-Nov.-01
The UC Berkeley-Stanford study found that all children who attended preschool at least 15 hours a week displayed more negative social behaviors such as trouble cooperating or acting up, when compared with their peers. The discrepancies were most pronounced among children from higher-income families.
Children from lower-income families lagged behind their peers who didn't attend preschool an average of 7 percentage points on the measure of social behavioral growth. But children from higher-income families lagged 9 percentage points behind their peers. These wealthier children did even worse when they attended preschool for 30 hours or more: They trailed their peers by 15 percentage points...
"It is time to come to grips with what all too many have denied for all too long, namely, that all disconcerting news about adverse effects cannot be attributed to low-quality care, which has been more or less the mantra of the field of child development and the child-care advocacy community for decades," Belsky said.
See Belsky, et. al.
"Are there long term effects of early child care?"
See Wight
Childcare for All? No Thanks
...Professor Edward Zigler, credited as “the father of Headstart” a widespread American preschool program admits “there is a large body of evidence that there is little to be gained by exposing middle class children to early education … (and) evidence that indicates early schooling is inappropriate for many four-year-olds, and that it may be harmful to their development”.

If preschool were truly beneficial in terms of giving children a head start, those places with some form of compulsory preschool should do demonstrably better academically. The evidence does not bear this out.

For example, the two states of America which have compulsory preschool, Georgia and Oklahoma, have the lowest results for fourth grade reading tests in the country.
...the longitudinal studies often quoted to argue an academic advantage provided by preschool for lower socio-economic groups, actually also show that this “advantage” disappears by grade three.

But what about the much-touted social benefits of preschool programs? Here again, there is research to refute this. A 2005 Stanford University study reported: “We find that attendance in preschool centers, even for short periods of time each week, hinder the rate at which young children develop social skills and display the motivation to engage in classroom tasks, as reported by their [prep] teachers.”

In 1986, Tizzard and Hughes compared the language environments at home and in preschools in the UK. Their method involved tape-recording the conversations of four-year-old girls at preschool in the morning and again at home with their mothers in the afternoon. They reported:

"We became increasingly aware of how rich this [home] environment was for all the children (working-class and middle-class). The conversations between the children and their mothers ranged freely over a variety of topics.
At home the children discussed topics like work, the family, birth, growing up, and death; they talked with their mothers about things they had done together in the past, and their plans for the future; they puzzled over such diverse topics as the shape of roofs and chairs, the nature of Father Christmas, and whether the Queen wears curlers in bed.
When we came to analyse the conversations between these same children and their [preschool] teachers, we could not avoid being disappointed.
The richness, depth and variety which characterised the home conversations were sadly missing. So too was the sense of intellectual struggle, and of the real attempts to communicate being made by both sides.

The questioning, puzzling child which we were so taken with at home was gone: in her place was a child who, when talking to staff, seemed subdued, and whose conversations with adults were mainly restricted to answering questions rather than asking them, or taking part in minimal exchanges about the whereabouts of other children and play materials.

In all this research, it is difficult to sort out to what extent there is a difference between compulsory preschool programs and optional preschool but it seems that there is enough evidence both to question the push towards compulsory preschool and to throw doubt on the theory that preschool is beneficial for all.

Children at home with their families are not disadvantaged. Indeed they are very likely better off. So if your child does not wish to go to kindergarten, or you do not wish to send them, rest assured that you are not depriving them.

Relationships are the most important part of life. For small children especially, the time spent in the secure home environment is invaluable. Contrary to popular opinion, forcing children to separate from their parents before they are ready to is not necessary...


What Happened to Federalism?

Leave aside the infantile power fantasies of commissar wannabe Louis Gerstner.

What happened to federalism?

The President of the US exercises legitimate authority over three K-12 school systems, the Department of Interior BIA schools, the US DOD schools (for dependents of military employees overseas), and the US State Department's Embassy schools (for State Department employees oveseas). The President needs no more authority than he already has.

All the President has to do to inject competition into the US K-12 education industry is...

1) Require that the BIA schools, the Embassy schools, and the DOD schools develop a sequence of exams which satisfy course requirements at each grade level.
2) Require that they license independent companies and schools to administer these exams to anyone who applies.
3) Require that these schools grant credit to anyone who passes these tests, at any age, at any time of year.
4) Require that all US agencies recognize diplomas earned through the exam process.

Let competition between Sylvan Learning Centers, the Kumon Institute, and the University of Phoenix drive the cost of a K-12 education down to the cost of books and proctoring exams.

The President exercises legitimate authority over five post-secondary institutions, the Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, the US Military Academy at West Point, New York, the Air Force Academy in Boulder, Colorado, the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, and the Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, New York. The Federal government needs no more authority over US colleges or taxpayers' wallets than it already has, to transform the US post-secondary education industry.

All the President has to do to make college affordable is...

1) Require that the service academies develop a sequence of exams which satisfy course requirements for some limited set of undergraduate majors.
2) Require that these schools license independent companies and schools to administer these exams to anyone who applies.
3) Require that these schools grant credit to anyone who passes these tests, at any age, at any time of year.
4) Require that all US agencies recognize degrees earned through the exam process.

Let competition between Sylvan Learning Centers, the Kumon Institute, and the University of Phoenix drive the cost of a college degree down to the cost of books and proctoring exams.

US taxpayers spend over $500 billion per year to operate the NEA/AFT/AFSCME cartel's K-12 schools (the "public" schools). This is a fraction of the total cost. A larger cost is the opportunity cost to students of the time they labor, unpaid, as window-dressing in the massive make-work program we call "public education". It does not take 12 years to teach a normal child to read and compute. Most vocational training occurs more effectively on the job than in a classroom. State provision of History and Civics instruction is a threat to democracy, just as State operation of newspapers would be (is, in totalitarian countries). The opportunity cost of school falls most heavily on children of poor and minority parents.

A further cost of the US State-monopoly school system is the opportunity cost to society of the lost innovation which a competitive market in education services would generate.

If school is not an employment program for dues-paying members of the NEA/AFT/AFSCME cartel, what is the objection to credit by exam? If it is fraud for a mechanic to charge for the repair of a functional motor and if it is fraud for a physician to charge for the treatment of a healthy patient, then it is fraud for a school district to bill taxpayers for the instruction of a student who does not need our help.


Control Freaks

In The Road to Wigan Pier, George Orwell speculated that socialism may originate in a hypertrophied sense of order. Elsewhere ("Inside the Whale", "Raffles and Mrs. Blandish"), he suggested that a preference for authoritarian politics originates in vicarious sadism. In either case, some people find the fantasy of commanding millions of lives and billions of dollars irresistibly attractive. Today (2008-Dec.-01), we have an example from the Wall Street Journal, where Louis Gerstner recommends policies which will degrade the performance of the US pre-college school system.

He recommends:...
1) Set high academic standards for all of our kids, supported by a rigorous curriculum.
2) Greatly improve the quality of teaching in our classrooms, supported by substantially higher compensation for our best teachers.
3) Measure student and teacher performance on a systematic basis, supported by tests and assessments.
4) Increase "time on task" for all students; this means more time in school each day, and a longer school year.

This will make things worse.
1) Humans are not standard.
(a) A "standard" is a unit of measurement. Academic standards are to academic growth what measuring rods are to physical growth. Platinum yardsticks will not make children taller. Academic standards will not make children smarter.
(b) What "rigorous curriculum" should "all kids" pursue? Einstein opposed compulsory attendance at school. He argued that compulsory schooling kills motivation. Einstein was right.
2) "Merit pay" is an invitation to a protracted and losing argument. See Myron Lieberman's discussion of the issue in The Educational Morass. Unions object and administrators do not want the additional work nor the dissension it would cause. Who determines which teachers qualify for merit pay? Which subjects? Uniform pay scales produce over-paid teachers in over-supplied subjects (History, English, Biology) and under-paid teachers in shortage areas (Math from Alg. II onwards, Chemistry, Physics, Electronics Shop, some foreign languages).
3) We can assess student performance in Math and Physics. In English or foreign languages we have tests which reliably measure vocabulary and grammar, but that's about it. Literature? History? Art? Forget it.
4) Compulsory, unpaid labor is slavery. Compulsion kills motivation. More compulsion will further degrade overall system performance.

It does not take 12 years to teach a normal child to read and compute. Most vocational training occurs more effectively on the job than in a classroom. State provision of History and Civics instruction is a threat to democracy, just as State operation of newspapers would be (is, in totalitarian countries).

"What works?" is an empirical question which only an experiment (a competitive market) can answer.

The US State-monopoly school system delivers wretched performance at high cost because it is a State-monopoly system. The education industry is not a natural monopoly. Beyond a very low level there are no economies of scale at the delivery end of the education industry as it currently operates. Education only marginally qualifies as a public good as economists use the term and the "public goods" argument implies subsidy and regulation, at most, not State operation of an industry.


The Common Room: FLDS November 22

Please read this: The Common Room: FLDS November 22. I hope you have been following the Common Room commentary on the FLDS case.

As an aside, UH Professor Meda Chesney-Lind and other experts appeared on an Olelo TV broadcast of a Hawaii Senate informational briefing on the overrepresentation of aboriginal Hawaiians in Hawaii prisons. I did not sit through the entire broadcast. None of the experts who spoke in the interval which I saw mentioned the role of compulsory attendance statutes in generating social maladjustment. Compulsory attendance statutes inflict the same trauma as that anticipated by the Headmistress/Zookeeper, to a degree determined largely by the length of the separation from family (shorter is better), the degree of difference between parents' culture and academic culture (closer is better), and by the age of the child (older is better).


Vast and Malign

John Hinderaker at Powerline asks: "how many other "educators" share Ayers' perspective and values, but have never bombed anything and don't happen to be friends with the President-elect? That number is huge. No one is tracking their influence on our youth, but isn't it obvious that the influence of leftists in our public and private schools is both vast and malign?"

To some of us, yes. Beyond the impact of State-worshipful Professors of Education and their disciples in government-operated K-12 schools, the phrase "vast and malign" describes the entire apparatus and impact which compulsory attandance statutes and tax subsidies generate.


On the Bright Side (Updated)

Politicians want to get elected. They also want to get reelected. This second consideration imposes limits on their departures from the mean voter position, even when, as in the case of President-elect Obama and the current Congressional Democrats, they have a mendacious press covering (for) them. President Obama may initiate beneficial changes in some policies, from political considerations, out of genuine sympathy, or out of ideological motivation.

Where might President Obama improve on current US policy? Below, I offer a few wild guesses, and fond hopes.

US interests would be served by a greater distance between US policy and Israel. So also may Israeli interests be better served. Opponents of the welfare state understand the argument that welfare is a trap, that welfare damages recipients. This applies to foreign aid, including military and political support for Israel.
Update: Not to be...The Dear Leader does not understand "distance".

A phased stand-down from the war on drugs. Please. The current policy fills prisons with non-violent "criminals" who have done no more harm to themselves or to others than have the patrons of the corner bar. The current policy corrupts law enforcement and misdirects law-enforcement resources. The current policy enriches opponents of friendly governments in Afganistan, and Columbia. I see no indication that President Obama will promote a relaxation of drug prohibition, but he has far fewer ties to the social conservatives who support drug prohibition.

Immigration lowers the price which employers must pay for labor. The Wall Street Journal and large employers support open borders. Public sector unions (teachers and social workers) benefit from the work created by the younger immigrant population. Competition with cheap immigrant labor harms most the people at the bottom of the income ladder. Before the advent of widespread public-sector unionization, Democrats favored restrictions on immigration. How President Obama will weigh these and other considerations, he alone knows.

President Obama went to Punahou, an elite independent school (their Math program stinks). Current policy in most US States restricts parents' options for the use of the taxpayers' pre-college education subsidy to schools operated by dues-paying members of the NEA/AFT/AFSCME cartel. Political control of school harms most the children of the least politicaly adept parents. American Black voters supported Obama's candidacy. How will he weigh their support against the support of public sector unions? He alone knows. Most likely, he would prefer to spend a lot of money in a vain show of concern, but this option may not be available, if tax revenues fall.

What's In Store

President Obama will fail.

This prediction takes no insight at all. President McCain would have failed. Although socialism fails more spectacularly the more thoroughly politicians implement it, and President Obama and the Democratic Congress will aggregate more resources and authority into Federal hands than would have a President McCain, a quite spectacular failure will happen in the next four to eight years, guaranteed. I refer to the impending bankruptcy of entitlement programs and private pensions. President Bush attempted to address a part of this problem with his proposal to privatize part of Social Security. The Democrats in Congress, who prefer to issue IOUs to the Social Security Administration and use FICA revenues as additional discretionary (their discretion) funds, scuttled this effort. The gap between FICA and other tax receipts, on the one hand, and Medicare, Social Security, and other Federal obligations, on the other, will grow. The first baby boomers (post-WWII births) turn 65 in 2010.

The Federal government assumed partial responsibility for private pensions, with tax exemptions for company-funded pensions and retirees' medical care. Companies found it cheaper to purchase labor with promises of payment in the future than to pay for labor out of current revenues. Like politicians, they made more promises than they can keep. Bet on it: politicians will commit tax revenues in support of underfunded pension obligations for large companies like United Airlines (already happened), GM, Ford, and other dying giants.

What do you do when you have made more promises than you can keep? You have no choice. You break some of them. In this case, the default will come in two forms: direct and indirect. The direct default will come in at least two models: a legally-mandated gradual rise in the age at which one can collect benefits (insurance company executives would have gone to prison for this 50 years ago) and reductions in the care for which the government will pay. The indirect default will take the form of inflation. The government will keep its dollar-denominated promises in inflated, devalued, dollars.

The best outcome which voters could ever have expected was transparency: an actuary, accountant, or market-oriented economist as President (or some politician who would take actuarial advice seriously) and a majority in Congress of the same orientation. Instead we got a President Obama, Senate President Biden, Majority Leader Reid, and House Speaker Pelosi, who either (a) suffer severe delusions about the resources available to the State or (b) know better and hold office for the graft they can skim from the system as it falls around them.

My advice? Plant a garden and work off the books.


Corruption as naive socialism

It's official: a majority of Americans are socialist.

An ancient Chinese curse goes: "May your children live in interesting times." The next four or eight years will be...interesting.

After the fall of the Evil Empire, a few journalists located and interviewed geriatric American Stalinists who defended the cause regardless of the abundant evidence of failure. They were not alone. The Soviet leadership needed 70 years of failed 5-year plans to conclude that socialism did not work, and then they followed the Harvard economist Jeffrey Sachhs' advice and botched the transition to a market economy. Journalists report that, even today, some ordinary Russian citizens express approval of Stalin's rule. Indoctrination works and the faith of one's childhood is hard to shake. Whatever your religion, the persistence of other religions must compel you to recognize that intelligent people can maintain delusional beliefs against contrary evidence for decades.

Here we are, as of 2008-November-5, facing a corrupt socialist as President-elect. How long will the delusion, that we can prosper by picking each others' pockets, last? I cannot see how Congressmen who pad appropriation bills with earmarks can believe that their work benefits ordinary taxpayers, but so long as voters elect the most promising politicians, politicians must continually expand the role of the State. Naive and/or mendacious journalists helped create this mess, but I blame another villain. Thanks to the State-monopoly school system, Americans learned nothing from the collapse of communism.

Console yourself with these words of wisdom from H. L. Mencken: "Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard."

I'm gonna plant something edible, and buy a couple of guns before the law changes.

Cute. The spell checker allows "gonna".


The Argument, continued (more)

Dear Sir,

Perhaps I should accept as much agreement as we have achieved and leave it at that. You have approved homeschooling when parents homeschool in the belief that they can provide a better education than can standard schools. You accept the legality of homeschooling. You see vouchers as offering an escape from wretched inner-city schools.

This discussion suffers from a lack of definition. "Education" has no simple definition which accords with normal use. In Hawaii, "homeschool" has an operational definition: legally, whatever parents do with their children after they file an application to homeschool and withdraw their children from school, subject to the condition that no court finds them (parents) guilty of educational neglect. I tutored a Korean immigrant child from third through sixth grade and continued to advise him after. His parents withdrew him from school after seventh grade and homeschooled him. This meant that they went to work and Eugene sat in on university Math classes and studied on his own. He took the GRE (Math) at 16 and got accepted into the graduate program before he turned 17.

To continue our argument...


One reason you have given for your opposition to homeschooling is that you want State-mandated indoctrination (evolution by natural selection, US History) of other people's kids, so it's not a question of whether kids receive indoctrination but of who decides what indoctrination they receive. Given ideological conformity among College of Education professors, successful indoctrination of the entire population seems to me more likely to occur through State intrusion into the education industry than through a hands-off policy.

"The terrifying thing about modern dictatorships is that they are something entirely unprecedented. Their end cannot be foreseen. In the past, every tyranny was sooner or later overthrown, or at least resisted because of 'human nature', which as a matter of course desired liberty. But we cannot be at all certain that human nature is constant. It may be just as possible to produce a breed of men who do not wish for liberty as to produce a breed of hornless cows. The Inquisition failed, but then the Inquisition had not the resources of the modern state. The radio, press censorship, standardized education and the secret police have altered everything. Mass suggestion is a science of the last twenty years, and we do not know how successful it will be." --George Orwell-- Review of Russia under Soviet Rule by N. de Basily" (Essays, George Orwell, Knopf, 2002).

"One has only to to think of the sinister possibilities of the radio, State-controlled education, and so forth, to realize that 'the truth is great and will prevail' is a prayer rather than an axiom." --George Orwell, Review of Power; A New Social Analysis by Bertrand Russell.

The market in education services

"What works?" is an empirical question which only an experiment can answer. Millions of homeschooling parents applying their unique local knowledge of their own children's interests and aptitudes will generate more information than will schools which march all students through a standard curriculum at a uniform pace. You may object that this feature of current schools is not necessary. I see two problems with this objection:
1) The State cannot subsidize education without a definition of "education", and then students, parents, teachers, and taxpayers are bound by this definition.
2) Internal bureaucratic imperatives drive standardization. The uniformity we see is not a coincidence.

The assertion that in homeschooling "you have one or at most two teachers" does not describe many homeschooling situations. Many homeschooling parents hire tutors, or send their kids to classes (Foreign Language, Art, Craft). Expanded legal room to maneuver would widen this range. Legally enforced, the opposition to homeschooling becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy (homeschooling is narrow so it must be restricted).

Market failure

The government of a locality is the largest dealer in interpersonal violence in that locality. People do not become more intelligent, better-informed, more altruistic, or more capable (except to the extent that they have access to violence) when they enter the State's employment rolls. Wherever markets fail, governments fail also, except in the few cases where monopolistic control of violence is beneficial (war, crime reduction).
Pareto equilibrium versus Kaldor-Hicks equilibrium? How did this enter the discussion? We were discussing the market as an information-generating mechanism. Absent compulsory attendance laws, homeschooling parents are the free marketplace of ideas.

Education budgets

I do not see the point of using percent of GDP as a measure of education costs. Of course the US could afford to spend more on the NEA/AFT/AFSCME cartel's schools. We could pour billions down other ratholes as well. Bill Gates undoubtedly spends a smaller fraction of his income on food than I do. Is he therefore malnourished? Basic literacy and numeracy contribute to economic growth. Above this rather low level of education, State support of school is just as likely to be a drag on the economy. Legal treatment of property and capital, transparency (anti-corruption), and the tax system matter more than percent of GDP devoted to education.


You write: "Most of us think that it isn't a particularly bad thing that kids have to get an education...". Under current law, children "have" to attend school. If school is a means to the end of education, since homeschoolers typically outperform conventionally schooled children, both on standardized tests of academic achievement and on measures of social adjustment, why would you not prefer homeschooling?


Compulsory, unpaid labor is slavery. Compulsion and compensation are matters of degree. Compulsory attendance laws require compulsion, obviously. Children, especially very small children, will work their hearts out for the love and approval of parents. Schools cannot match this compensation, and it's very dangerous for them to try. Later, self-directed study is self-motivated and internally rewarded. Compulsion kills motivation, as Einstein observed.

School as an impediment to education

The success of some schools (e.g., magnet schools with voluntary enrollment) does not rebut the generalization that compulsory attendance and the uniform pace and the standard curriculum stifle the development of many kids. The complexity of some jobs in modern society (e.g., engineering, surgery) indicates to me that society would benefit if some kids started specialized training earlier. Did you read that Marvin Minsky comment on school which I linked earlier? Here is another advantage of homeschooling.


The way to teach tolerance of diversity is to tolerate diversity.

Teachers versus parents as taxpayers' agents

Parents are more reliable agents. Raw numbers of abuse cases are not informative. By analogy, more humans die at the hands of other humans than are killed by sharks, but I'd rather walk the length of Kalakaua boulevard at midnight 100 times than swim the mouth of Pearl Harbor at midnight once.

Teacher certification is a joke. It does not screen child molesters and does not certify subject-area competence.


The system generated these corrupt standards and the more resources taxpayers pour into it, the greater the payoff to insiders to corrupt the standards. The most reliable education standard is the parent standard: "do I want my child in that school?"


Have you read any doctoral theses in Education? I have. They are...rhymes with "theses". Whole Language did not fall to criticism from other experts "in the field", it fell to criticism from professors of Psychology and Linguistics with tenured positions in prestigious universities. Pure "argument from authority". The argument was correct, but the authority was all that mattered to the idiots in Colleges of Education.

Justifying homeschooling

Every law on the books is a threat by the State to kidnap (arrest), to assault (subdue), and to forcibly inoculate with HIV (imprison) someone, under specified circumstances. Seems to me, it's the advocates of violence who bear the burden of proof.

This post updated with the observation on the difference between "school" and "education".


The Argument, continued

My comments in italics. Dilan Esper's in bold type.


Your goals do not match your means. I suggest that they are mutually exclusive.

People normally advocate for multiple principles, and since these principles are not restatements of each other, they differ and must inevitably involve trade-offs in some circumstances and occasionally conflict. For example, honesty and compassion are both virtues and do not inevitably conflict, but sometimes they do (what do you say when the Nazis come to your door and ask if you're sheltering a Jew?). That's okay, but "everyone must learn X" and "people should learn to tolerate differences of opinion" seem to me to conflict pretty directly from the start. As I wrote earlier, the way to teach tolerance of diversity is to tolerate diversity.

You wrote: "Look, the cure for indoctrination is to have a diverse educational environment with lots of teachers, not one teacher at home who has no professional certification and thus is LESS likely to be able to avoid indoctrinating the student."

As Milton Friedman once said: "I'm on your side, but you're not". The cure for indoctrination is to have a diverse educational environment, where millions of parents, applying their unique local knowledge of their children's interests and aptitudes, determine for their own children the course, the pace and the method of instruction. Again, homeschooling parents have chosen to homeschool, not to move to Mars. Their children will inevitably encounter others.

That depends. Some parents ensure homeschooled kids socialize with a wide variety of other kids. Other parents have homeschooled kids only socialize with other kids who are homeschooled. And, of course, on the extreme end you have religious groups like the FLDS which actively prevent their kids from interacting with anyone who might disagree with them. But further, you miss my point about indoctrination. If you have a kid who is indoctrinated by teacher A, it's really useful for him to have teachers B, C, D, E, and F, who have different views, and then the next year for him to have teachers G, H, I, J, K, and L. At homeschooling you only have one or at the most two teachers, and there is therefore a much greater chance of successful indoctrination. Indeed, one reason some people homeschool is precisely because they WANT to indoctrinate their kids.

Further, as I previously observed, your preferred means do not yield your stated ends. Laws in every US State compel attendance at school, yet the American public does not exhibit a high level of scientific or historical knowledge. As an aside, here, evolutionary arguments apply directly to economic policy. I have not read Herbert Spencer, but I have read that "progressive" (i.e., socialist) critics misrepresented his position. This would not be the first nor the last time that has happened. Unless you approve waste and fraud, you should welcome the institutional evolution which competitive markets promote...
Markets are good at what they do, but there's plenty they don't do well. And Darwinian competition, especially, is a very brutal way of achieving many social goods. Essentially, Pareto-optimality is a heck of a lot better than Kaldor-Hicks optimality. In any event, your position is a curious one coming from someone who is defending parents who choose NOT to expose their children to a free marketplace of ideas.
...Society as a whole benefits when inefficient suppliers of education services fail.

Last I looked, no country on the planet spent as much per student-year as the US. Switzerland is the only other country in contention. Further, according to John Gatto, this statistic vastly overstates the Swiss school system's burden on taxpayers, since Switzerland allows apprenticeships after 6th grade.
Those numbers are misleading. You need to look at percent of GDP. We can afford to spend much more than we do, just like other countries do.

All schools which rely on compulsory attendance statutes to generalte their enrollment suck, some more than others. Compulsory, unpaid labor is slavery.
That's an interesting position, but you are never going to get any traction with it outside of extreme libertarianism. Most of us think that it isn't a particularly bad thing that kids have to get an education. In any event, by your definition, homeschooling parents (and other parents who have their kids do any sort of work) are also enslaving their kids. Remember, the 13th Amendment prohibits private slavery, not only governmental slavery. Your argument proves too much.

Students work, unpaid, as window-dressing in a massive make-work program for dues-paying members of the NEA/AFT/AFSCME cartel. School is a huge waste of time.
Again, Beverly Hills High School, or Boston Latin, or many other public schools, are not wastes of time.

It does not take 12 years to teach a normal child to read and compute.
Depends. It takes a lot more than 12 years to gain expertise in any complex human endeavor in a modern technological society.

Most vocational training occurs more effectively on the job than in a classtroom. State provicion of History and Civics instruction is a threat to democracy, just as State operation of newspapers would be (is, in totalitarian countries).
Again, this is just not an argument that is going to sell outside of extreme libertarian circles. Lots of non-totalitarian, reasonably democratic countries teach history and civics, and there's all sorts of good reasons why we would want people to have a common base of knowledge on these subjects. I can only imagine how Balkanized society would become if we didn't do this.

The principle-agent problem:

Parents, as a class, are more likely to represent taxpayers' interests than are government employees (or, in a voucher-subsidized competitive market, school employees) as a class, for the reasons I gave earlier. Yes, there are incompetent, indifferent, and/or abusive parents, but there are incompetent, indifferent and/or abusive teachers, so the issue is: which group, in aggregate, yields the greater benefit/cost ratio?

Teachers. They are certified, regulated, evaluated, supervised, and accountable to parents and taxpayers. Parents, in contrast, are very hard to regulate, because of entirely correct and understandable concerns about interfering in the parent-child relationship. To pick a nice example of this, very few teachers have been caught sexually abusing elementary school students. However, parents and caretakers who are close relatives are responsible for the vast majority of sexual abuse of elementary school-age children. Why? Because a teacher who did that is much easier to detect and prosecute.

Considering the superior performance of homeschoolers, the wretched performance of conventional schools, and the observed seasonal (i.e., school related) variation in juvenile arrests for assault, drug possession, and drug promotion, and of juvenile hospitalizations for human-induced trauma, I'd say there's no contest. Gandhi opposed compulsory attendance at school. Einstein opposed compulsory attendance at school.
That doesn't mean they were right; also, 21st Century America is different than early 20th Century America or the colonial Raj.

The system's origin in anti-Catholic bigotry, and the role of bigotry in it's survival.

The victims are different (poor and minority kids), but the result is the same. The system imposes enromous costs on people who have least to start with. Currently, wretched instruction in State-monopoly schools and the lost opportunity to learn vocational skills on the job impose lethal (quite literally) costs on poor and minority kids trapped in wretched schools. The systematic institutional lobotomization of bright children of poor minority parents gives mediocre children of high-SES parents an advantage in the contest for admission to elite colleges and professional schools.

We are clearly failing to educate minorities in this country. That's the single best argument for vouchers. I would also note, however, that relatively uneducated urban poor, working class minority parents are the least likely to be able to homeschool their kids successfully. More broadly, though, the fact that we are failing minorities doesn't really connect with the claimed anti-Catholic origins of public schools. You clearly like that talking point, but it doesn't have any modern relevance to our current problems.

Economies of scale

Across the US, the coefficient of correlation(mean district size, $/pupil) is positive. Within States, the coefficient of correlation (%20K+dist, $/pupil), where "%20K+dist" is the fraction of total State enrollment assigned to districts over 20,000 enrollment, is positive. Across the US, within States, the coefficient of correlation (enrollment, $/pupil) is positive in all but three or four States with five or more districts over 20,000 enrollment (or 15,000 enrollment, depending on which year of the Digest of Education Statistics you use).

State level standards are bogus. Some years ago, I took the grades which the Education Trust gave to States for ttheir curriculum standards, converted them to numbers on a 0-to-4 point scale, and computed (EXCEL did the work, actually) the coefficient of correlation between standards and NAEP 8th grade Math composite scores. It is negative.

Teacher standards are bogus. Apply the EXCEL correlation function to the Digest... table on credential requirements. Across the US, the higher the fraction of districts in a State which require a Ed degree or Praxis test for teacher applicants, the worse the State's NAEP 8th grade Math performance.

Look, there are good arguments as to why one could claim that standards that are in place NOW are bogus. That hardly is the same thing as saying that the government could not impose SOME standards that are not bogus. Indeed, you conceded in an earlier e-mail that there is some room for, e.g., testing. So I don't think you really deny that there are probably ways to come up with better standards than we have now.


Professors of Education are not experts. Please read Diane Ravich, Left Back: A Century of Failed School Reform. These are the people who gave us Whole Language reading instruction, discovery methods in Math instruction, portfolio assessment, block scheduling, and countless other lunatic fads.

That's just anti-intellectual claptrap. Look, experts come up with bad things. The Harvard educated US foreign policy establishment came up with the Vietnam War. That doesn't mean that Henry Kissinger and Robert McNamara are idiots who don't know anything about international relations. It's also worth noting that a lot of the criticism of such "fads" also came from other academics in the field. You see, that's how academia works. People hypothesize. They publish. Other academics criticize. We get data. We revise hypotheses. And we lurch forward towards the truth. Now this isn't your beloved Darwinian natural selection, but it is a tradition that is equally as theoretically grounded-- the scientific method. One of the most dangerous ideas to take hold among right wingers and libertarians is the idea that intensive study and expertise is meaningless, that experts should not be believed, and that anyone can do anything as well as an expert can. That's completely bogus. Experts can be wrong, which is why we have a process for correcting error. But expertise is also extremely worthwhile. Indeed, the scientific method, i.e., scholarship, produced the very Darwinian theories that you are enamored with in the economic arena.

In conclusion

I often encounter people who suport compulsory attendance laws with the assertion that "it's important that everyone learn X" (for some X). For some, X is democratic values. For some it's mathematical and scientific literacy or diversity or global citizenship or environmental awareness. What I find strange is that they must see that X varies widely and that I see no reason why they should suppose that their particular X will win the political contest for priority. Also, this compulsion to centralize is either quite explicitly anti-democratic or there is little reason to suppose that the result of aggregation of curriculum decisions and resources would be superior to the aggregate result of millions of individual parents' decisions.

There's still a big difference that you are eliding between requiring people to go to school and centralizing everything. There's a heck of a lot of local control, there are debates about whether there should be more or whether we need more federal and state standards, and there is also a process for opting out through charter schools and a live debate about vouchers. That encompasses a whole spectrum of approaches to the issue of centralization. And establishing that there may be some problem with federal imposition of education policy-- or even state policymaking-- does not prove that we should go to homeschooling. There's plenty of levels where one can place the relevant controls, at varying levels of centralization. You'd have to prove that there is no level where they could be placed that did not result in the claimed harms of centralization before this argument could be used to justify homeschooling.


Argument with a homeschool opponent

Professor Eugene Volokh posted a comment on a Family Court case involving a dispute between parents over homeschooling versus public schooling. I initiated an e-mail correspondence with one of the people who left comments. I reproduce some of that correspondence here.

From: Malcolm Kirkpatrick
To: Dilan Esper

Dear Sir,

I saw your comment on homeschooling at the Volokh Conspiracy. Please reconsider.

From: Hyman and Penroe, Journal of School Psychology.
"Several studies of maltreatment by teachers suggest that school children report traumatic symptoms that are similar whether the traumatic event was physical or verbal abuse (Hyman, et.al.,1988; Krugman & Krugman, 1984; Lambert, 1990). Extrapolation from these studies suggests that psychological maltreatment of school children, especially those who are poor, is fairly widespread in the United States...."

Roland Meighan, "Home-based Education Effectiveness Research and Some of its Implications", Educational Review, Vol. 47, No.3, 1995.
"The issue of social skills. One edition of Home School Researcher, Volume 8, Number 3, contains two research reports on the issue of social skills. The first finding of the study by Larry Shyers (1992) was that home-schooled students received significantly lower problem behavior scores than schooled children. His next finding was that home-schooled children are socially well adjusted, but schooled children are not so well adjusted. Shyers concludes that we are asking the wrong question when we ask about the social adjustment of home-schooled children. The real question is why is the social; adjustment of schooled children of such poor quality?"

"The second study, by Thomas Smedley (1992), used different test instruments but comes to the same conclusion, that home-educated children are more mature and better socialized than those attending school." ...p. 277
"12. So-called 'school phobia' is actually more likely to be a sign of mental health, whereas school dependancy is a largely unrecognized mental health problem"....p.281

Clive Harber, "Schooling as Violence", p. 10, Educatioinal Review, V. 54, #1.
"...It is almost certainly more damaging for children to be in school than to out of it. Children whose days are spent herding animals rather than sitting in a clasroom at least develop skills of problem solving and independence while the supposedly luckier ones in school are stunted in their mental, physical, and emotional development by being rendered pasive, and by having to spend hours each day in a crowded classroom under the control of an adult who punishes them for any normal level of activity such as moving or speaking."

"Autobiographical Notes," in Albert Einstein: Philosopher-Scientist, Paul Schilpp, ed. (1951), pp. 17-19
"It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom; without this it goes to wreck and ruin without fail. It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty. To the contrary, I believe it would be possible to rob even a healthy beast of prey of its voraciousness, if it were possible, with the aid of a whip, to force the beast to devour continuously, even when not hungry, especially if the food, handed out under such coercion, were to be selected accordingly."

A statistician in the office of the Attorney General gave me the charts below. This is what advocates of compulsory attendance statutes must defend...

I was a teacher in the Hawaii DOE schools for ten years.

Malcolm Kirkpatrick
From: Dilan Esper
To: Malcolm Kirkpatrick


Thanks for your note. I didn't say why I wasn't a fan of homeschooling in my comment-- I just noted my opposition. But since you raise it, I will tell you that my concern is about insuring that there is a collective base of knowledge that is shared by all Americans. I.e., I want every educated American to understand Darwinian evolution, STD prevention, that there are other religions that claim millions of reasonable people as adherents besides the one that they were raised in, that there are valid criticisms of religious belief that have persuaded many people, the basic principles that are enshrined in our Constitution and why they are important, etc.

My concern about homeschooling is not so much about outcomes-- I assume that most homeschooled kids do fine, but I also suspect that some kids would have done better in the public school system (it all depends on the teaching skills of the parents). And I fully understand any parent who pulls his or her kid out of the schools because the parent thinks he or she can do a better job educating the child, especially if the local schools stink.

But I suspect that in actuality, many children are homeschooled in part or in the main because their parents don't want them exposed to ideas that are different than the ones the parents hold or kids who might express those different views. And the problem is that there is a societal consequence that is paid because of that-- we end up with kids who don't understand basic biology, don't understand how to use contraception or have safe sex, and never get exposed to conflicting ideas or have the opportunity develop critical thinking techniques. Since education determines future national competitiveness, this seems like not such a good thing to me.

As I said in the comments thread, though, homeschooling is clearly constitutionally protected under existing law, so I wouldn't worry if I were you about my view gaining much traction. The most one could possibly see is some effort to require testing and instruction in particular subject areas.

Once again, I appreciate you taking the time to write.


Exactly Weasel

Weasel observes the difference between "well-educated" and "expensively schooled". Not much to add to this.


The Line

Eric Kosslyn showed me this:...

Generating Pythagorean triplets:
Let N be the set of natural numbers.
Let a^1=a and let a^(n+1) = (a^n)(a). Exponentiation.
Identity: (x^2-y^2)^2 +(2xy)^2=(x^2+y^2)^2 (work it out if you do not see it).
For all x and y in N, x+y is in N and xy is in N, so
For all x and y in N
If a=x^2-y^2 and b=2xy and c=x^2+y^2 you have a,b,c, in N and...
a^2+b^2=c^2. Pythagorus.

We can use this to generate all pythagorean triplets, and then we can use pythagorean triplets to generate systems of simultaneous equations in two variables which come out "neat".

<3,4,5> and <5,12,13> are pythagorean triplets.
Let m(L1), the slope of line 1, be 4/3 and let m(L2), the slope of line 2, be -5/12.
Use <3,4> (from <3,4,5>).
Use <-12,5> (from 5,12,13>)
Take common multiples of the first and second elements: 48 is a multiple of both 3 and -12, 40 is a multiple of both 4 and 5.
Use p<48, 40> as the point of intersection. We let L1 and L2 intersect at the point p<48, 40>.

Then, from the vector form of the equation for the line we have...
for all p(x,y) in L1, there exists an r in R such that
(x,y) = <48,40> + r<3,4>
for all p(x,y) in L2, there exists r in R such that
(x,y)= <48,40> + r<-12,5>

Read "a => b" as "a implies b", or "a, so b".

Find two integer-valued points in L1:
r=6 => (x,y) = <48,40> + 6<3,4> => (x,y) = <48,40> + <18,24> => (x,y) = <66, 64>.
r=-8 => (x,y) = <48,40> + -8<3,4> => (x,y) = <48,40> + <-24,-32> => (x,y) = <24, 8>.
So {p<66,64>, q<24,8>} is a subset ot L1.

Find two integer points in L2:...
r=-9 => (x,y) = <48,40> + -9<-12,5> => (x,y) = <48,40> + <108,-45> => (x,y) = <156,-5>.
r=11 => (x,y) = <48,40> + 11<-12,5> => (x,y) = <48,40> + <-132,55> => (x,y) = <-84,95>.
So {s<156,-5>, t<-84, 95>} is a subset of L2.

I usually use p1, p2, p3, p4 with subscript 1,2,3,4, but I don't know how to do this in the Blogger fonts . It would be {p1(x1,y1), p2(x2,y2)} subset L1 ("subset" is a U on its side).

An n-dimensional cartesean coordinate system is a function from Euclidean n-space to R^n which is one-to-one, onto, and which preserves the relation "between". Make an analogy with a proper assignment of names to people in a group: each person gets a name, each person gets only one name, no name applies to more than one person.

Let m(pq) be the slope of the segment (pq) (this is not the proper notation, but I don't know how to make the superscript bar over "pq" in Blogger fonts). Slope is a function from intervals to real numbers.
Let d(p,q) be the distance from p to q. Distance is a function from pairs of points to real numbers.
Let u(pq) be the midpoint of the segment pq. Midpoint is a function frrom intervals to points.

Repetition of "function" in this presentation prepares students for later work, where functions become a topic of study in abstract. Students will find this much easier if they have encountered functions before. Writing a Math curriculum shares some features with writing a murder mystery. You cannot have the Great Detective tell the assembled suspects in the concluding chapter: "The butler did it" if the butler never appeared earlier. He has to walk on and serve cucumber sandwiches in chapter 3.

Let T subset of E^2XR^2 be a cartesian coordinate system.
Let L1 and L2 be lines in E^2 such that

{p<66,64>, q<24,8>} is a subset ot L1
{s<156,-5>, t<-84, 95>} is a subset of L2.


point-slpoe form of L1:_______________________
slope-intercept form of L1: ____________________
intercept form of L1: _________________________
Standard form of L1: ________________________
vector form of L1: ___________________________
matrix (determinant) form of L1:__________________

point-slpoe form of L2:_______________________
slope-intercept form of L2: ____________________
intercept form of L2: _________________________
Standard form of L2: ________________________
vector form of L2: ___________________________
matrix (determinant) form of L2:__________________

L1 intersect L2 =___________________ ("intersect"" is a U upside down).
By substitution.
By matrix elimination.
By Cramer's rule.

That last answer should look like this..."L1 intersect L2 = {p<48,40>}".

Because we used pythagorean triplets for the slope and integers for the multipliers in generating points, the distance comes out integer. Because we used BOTH odd or BOTH even integers for the multipliers in generating points, the midpoint comes out integer. Because we built this exercise from the point of intersection p<48,40> to start, this comes out integer.

Once people know how to add and subtract rational numbers, (by third grade if their parents are doing their job), they are ready to start basic Analytic Geometry of intervals in one-space and lines in 2-space (which schools commonly call "Pre-Algebra" and "Algebra I").

I teach in the following sequence:
1) Linear equations in one variable
2) Linear inequalities in one variable (Let T subset of E^1XR^1 be a one-dimensional cartesian coordinate system).
3) Intervals in 1-space (inequalities with absolute value).
4) Slope of intervals in 2-spae.
5) Linear equations in 2-space.

US textbooks usually save graphing linear inequalities of one variable involving absolute value to the course we call Algebra II. This misses the opportunity to derive the equation of the line in 2-space from the definitions of "interval" and "slope".

Since the line between the points a and b is the set of all points p such that m(ap) = m(ab), the point-slope form of the equation of the line falls out of the defintition of the line.


Palin in '12

Whitney Tilson, normally sensible, supports Barack Obama. Maybe she's right. Were it not for Governor Palin in the Republican VP slot, I would burn my ballot and vote for the Libertarian, Bob Barr. The major parties have never in my adult life (that is, since 1968) offered voters such unqualified candidates for President. Neither candidate demonstrates any appreciation for federalism or the market economy. Senator Obama has no accomplishments worth a mention. His record on Education issues consists of shoveling Annenberg Foundation money to State-worshipful indoctrination programs. He advocates compulsory community service (i.e., slavery) as a HS graduation requirement and high-paid ($4000 for 100 hours), do-nothing community service in exchange for college tuition. Senator McCain's signal accomplishment, the McCain-Feingold Incumbent Protection and Kiss Your First Amendment Rights Goodbye Act, should disqualify him from all elective office were the Democrats' alternative not ever worse. Senator Biden exhibits a detachment from reality (did you watch the debate?) that must cause one to question the sanity of the Delaware electorate. I mean:...Article I describes the powers of the Executive branch and gives the Vice President no legislative authority? Really? Did this man ever read the document he has repeatedly sworn to uphold and defend?

Governor Palin got my vote with her convention speech, accepting the nomination for Vice President. She did much better than Senator Biden in the debate (others disagree, here). She takes too conventional a line on on education issues, but McCain's advisor (Lisa Kegan) trumps that consideration.

Bill Gates bought me a beer, so I bloged about the Ed in '08 Education bloggers' summit. The goal of the summit was to raise Education issues to prominence. That has not happened. It seems the media avoid all topics which might incline voters toward Republican candidates this year.


Review: Sheldon Richman, Separating School and State

Years ago, the social critic Ivan Illich argued that a compassionate society would have in its constitution a clause, like the First Amendment to the US Constitution, which would read "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of education". In Separating School and State: How to Liberate American Families, Sheldon Richman observes that the arguments for separation of Church and State apply without alteration to the separation of school and State. People use the words "God", and "education" to refer to ...something... which they obviously consider important but which they can define only in terms which others will hotly dispute. People gain from a separation of Church and State by the reduction of costs involved in resolving disputes over the meaning of "God" and the implications of God's revealed word, the Vedas/Torah/Koran/New Testament. The authors of the US Constitution resolved disputes over the meaning of "God" by the (now obvious) device of letting people find their own meaning and barring the State from taking sides.

If only they had done the same for education.

In six chapters, 101 pages of text and notes, plus acknowledgements, preface (by Jacob Hornberger), introduction (by Richard Ebiling), appendix, and index, Richman examines the institution of government-operated school from historical, sociological, political, and moral perspectives.

Chapters 1 ("Whither Public Schools") and 2 ("What's Wrong with Public Schools") motivate the subsequent examination of this institution and possible options. Chapter 3, "Why there are Public Schools", sketches contemporary (historical, at the time of establishment) arguments for tax support of school and for compulsory attendance laws. Richman devotes chapter 4 ("Opponents of Public Schools") mostly to contemporary (historical) critics of government-operated schools. He quotes (p. 66) an early critic of compulsory attendance:...
"When (Auberon) Herbert anticipated an objection to his argument--that the bureaucracy will be responsive to public opinion--he resorted to what has become known as rational-ignorance analysis":...
When a state department becomes charged with some great undertaking, there accumulates so much technical knowledge around its proceedings that without much labor and favorable opportunities it becomes exceedingly difficult to criticize successfully its action. It is a serious study in itself to follow the minutes and the history of a great department, either like the Local Board or the Education Department. And if a discussion should arise, the same reason makes it difficult for the public to form a judgment in the matter. A great office which is attacked envelopes [sic] itself, like a cuttlefish, in a cloud of technical statements which successfully confuses the public, until its attention is drawn off in some other direction. It is for this reason, I think, that state departments escape so easily from all control, and that such astounding cases of recklessness and mismanagement come periodically to light, making a crash which startles everybody for the moment.
As an aside, George Orwell uses the cuttlefish metaphor in his essay "Politics and the English Language":...
The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one's real and one's declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink. In our age there is no such thing as "keeping out of politics." All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred, and schizophrenia.
Either cuttlefish haunt the minds of English writers or Orwell recalled Herbert.
Richman does not cite Orwell among the critics of State education, although he could have:...
The terrifying thing about modern dictatorships is that they are something entirely unprecedented. Their end cannot be foreseen. In the past, every tyranny was sooner or later overthrown, or at least resisted because of "human nature," which as a matter of course desired liberty. But we cannot be at all certain that human nature is constant. It may be just as possible to produce a breed of men who do not wish for liberty as to produce a breed of hornless cows. The Inquisition failed, but then the Inquisition had not the resources of the modern state. The radio, press censorship, standardized education and the secret police have altered everything. Mass suggestion is a science of the last twenty years, and we do not know how successful it will be.
George Orwell, "Review of Russia under Soviet Rule by N. de Basily", Essays, (Knopf, 2002).
One has only to to think of the sinister possibilities of the radio, State-controlled education, and so forth, to realize that 'the truth is great and will prevail' is a prayer rather than an axiom.
George Orwell, "Review of Power; A New Social Analysis by Bertrand Russell", Essays, (Knopf, 2002).

In chapter 5, "Without Public Schools", Richman criticizes reform efforts like charter schools and vouchers, which he asserts will succumb to State intrusion following the demand for accountability for tax funds. He makes a valid point here, but "the best is the enemy of the good". The public is wise to fear leaps into the dark. Workable options outside the State school system must evolve before the public will abandon the neighborhood school. Policies, such as charter schools, tuition tax credits, tuition vouchers, and Parent Performance Contracting, which foster this growth and simultaneously reduce the taxpayers' commitment to the State-monopoly system, will more likely bring an end to the State-monopoly system than will visionary arguments alone. In chapter 5 also, Richman attempts to visualize US society society with an uncoerced market in education services.

Richman observes that the State cannot subsidize education without a definition of "education". Operationally, the State defines "education" to be whatever happens to students in those institutions which the State calls "schools" or in those institutions which authorized accreditation agencies call "accredited schools" (unless whatever happens is bad, then the State blames parents). In two earlier posts, "Exercise for the Reader" and "Why School (Part I)" we gave some brief consideration to the definition of "education" without reaching a conclusion. Observe that we got as far as defining "education" as an investment, and then defining "investment" generally. We have not yet specified which activities qualify as "education".

In the appendix, Richman presents a brief and balanced overview of the statistical case for and against a decline in school effectiveness.

In the final section of the appendix, Richman makes explicit one reason for slighting statistical arguments: that they are subject to interpretation and rely on uncontrolled data. Who can say how society would otherwise have evolved without government schooling? He is clearly correct. We cannot rewind Earth's history and run it forward 100 times, in a controlled experiment. Statistical arguments serve two principal functions: as a demonstration of expertise and to rebut assertions from the other side (e.g., homeschoolers' performance belies the argument that high performance depends on schools, juvenile arrest and hospitalization statistics belie the contention that schools reduce crime).

A further argument against (over)reliance on performance data relates to the infinite regress of "why?" questions. As a wise lady from the ETS once observed to a workshop of Campbell High School teachers: "We can't measure what's important, so we measure what we can." Those who rely on statistical summaries of scores on standardized tests of Reading or Math concede too much of the argument to supporters of compulsory attendance and tax subsidies. Who says that these are important, anyway? How much Russian Literature did Olga Korbut read in her early years? What increase in reading vocabulary compensates for how large an increase in taxation and reduction of children's freedom?

Sadly (inevitably), Richman fails to deliver on the promise implicit in his subtitle: "How to Liberate American Families". The system endures, and no reformer has suggested a way around the organized interests which maintain it. It makes no more sense for those of us who are not in government to argue about what government "should" do than it does for the swimming survivors of a mid-ocean shipwreck to argue about what sharks "should" eat. Fortunately, "we" do not have to arrive at a collective answer to the question: "How do we abolish State education?" "We" can, each of us individually, decide to homeschool. If your (US) State makes this difficult, read O. Henry's "The Ransom of Red Chief", and encourage your children to "drop out" in school. Quite a few poor minority children have discovered this option.

Take care. Homeschool if you can.



These reflections bring to mind a discussion on this point, between the writer and a slaveholding friend in Kentucky, on Christmas morning, 1846. We had asserted, that until mankind were far in advance of what they now are, irresponsible power over our fellow beings would be, as it is, abused. Our friend declared it his conviction, that the cruelties of slavery existed chiefly in imagination, and that no person in D__ County, where we then were, but would be above ill-treating a helpless slave. We answered, that if his belief was well-founded, the people of Kentucky were greatly in advance of the people of New England--for we would not dare say as much as that of any school district there, letting alone counties. No, we would not answer for our own conduct even on so delicate a point.
Olive Gilbert, The Narrative of Sojourner Truth (1850, Dover 1997, p. 48).



From the Office of Elections:

MATSUMOTO, Denise L. 67,851 40.6%
LEE, Carol Mon 37,819 22.6%
KIRKPATRICK, Malcolm 20,519 12.3%

That's a lot of seriously deluded people, whichever way you interpret that result.
One year Denise had two no-name opponents (me and one other nobody). That year, I made it into the general election and 135,000 peple voted for me. Denise got 150,000 votes. She runs on her record of supporting reform, which is a record of failure (given that the DOE has bumbled in the national cellar for the last 20 years).


Honolulu Community College Candidates' Forum

On Monday, 2008-09-15, at 11:30, Board of Education candidates presented their views on reform of the Hawaii DOE to an audience assembled at the HCC cafeteria. The committee who organized the event announced a schedule of candidaies' forums, with Mayoral candidates one day and State Representatives another. With only Board candidates in appearance for this round, we had time for more extended responses to questions. Oahu at-large candidate Garrett Toguchi did not appear, as usual.
HCC Go Vote Committee

Question 1: "Please tell us your background and your qualifications for office. Secondly, please tell us, if your view, what the challenges are that our education system faces and how you plan to address them as a member of the Board of Education." 6 minutes each, 48 minutes total
Question 2: From audience. 90 seconds each, 12 minutes altogether
Question 3: From audience. 90 seconds each, 12 minutes altogether
Question 4: "Please share with us any final comments you wish to make." 2 minutes each, 16 minutes altogether
The Honolulu District candidates sat in the following order (from stage left): Malcolm Kirkpatrick, Denise Matsumoto, and Carol Mon Lee. Denise came prepared; she had a page of double-spaced print in a rather large font. She observed, sotto voce, that the question as the forum coordinator presented it was "obstacles" and not "challenges".

I had no problem winging it: the Hawaii State school system yields one of the worst results, as measured by standardized test scores, of any State in the nation. Juvenile arrests fall in summer, when school is not in session. Juvenile hospitalizations fall in summer. It does not take 12 years at $12,000 per pupil-year to teach a normal child to read and compute. Most vocational training occurs more effectively on the job than in a classroom. State provision of History and Civics instruction is a threat to democracy, just as State operation of newspapers would be (is, in totalitarian countries). The system has more than enough money. There is no amount of money so great that these parasites cannot waste it. The major obstacle to effective reform is the cartel of public sector unions through whose sticky fingers flows an annual revenue stream of $2.4 billion+ per year. Do not rely on politicians to fix this mess. Homeschool.

As happened at the Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board forum, one or two candidates spoke of a vision in which there is a highly qualified teacher in every classroom and in which all Hawaii schools perform at or above the 50th percentile nationwide. Again, you might as well envision winning the Indianapolis 500 in a stock D-9 Caterpillar bulldozer. That's not visionary. That's delusional.

Aside from those witless pipe-dreams, I do not recall that anyone (aside from your humble narrator) said anything other than "Vote for me" and "The system needs more money". Perhaps it was the acoustrics that made such work out of paying attention.

One question from the audience concerned enhanced parent input. I reiterated the plea that parents homeschool.

The Makiki Neighborhood Board has a forum scheduled on Wednesday, 2008-09-18, 7:30 at the Makiki Recreation Center Arts and Crafts building.


Rather Biased

Charles Gibson, caught on a live mike on the set of ABC News: "Any distortion or misrepresentation is justified if it helps elect President Obama."

His exact words.

It took CBS two years to fire Dan Rather for his promotion of forged documents smearing President Bush in the run-up to the 2004 election. How long will it take ABC to fire Charles Gibson?


Pearl City Candidate Forum

The Pearl City Community Association invited candidates to introduce themselves to voters on Friday, 2008-Sept.-5 at the Momilani Community Center. Unusually, Office Of Hawaiian Affairs candidates and Board Of Education candidates preceeded candidates for State House, State Senate, and Mayor. The three Honolulu District candidates appeared. The Oahu at-large candidates appeared, with the exception of Marcia Linville, who notified event organizers that she could not appear. The lovely and charming Representative Lynn Finnegan surprised me by recalling my messages in opposition to institutional early childhood education. Denise Matsumoto graciously answered some of my questions about the powers of the Board even though she seemed irritated with my criticism of the DOE generally. Several legislators recognized me before I recognized them. In a representative democracy people skills matter. A memory for faces and names I do not have (but then, I'm not yet a successful politician). I stayed to hear all candidates although I probably will not change my mind about the Mayor's race. The event helped me make my OHA choice.

Richard Fernandez (Belmont Club) wrote: "... a cynic might argue that a good rule of thumb for judging movements is to conclude that the more high minded a cause pretends to be, the more sordid are its actual motives." A similar thought occurs to me when candidates for our State legislature and State-wide Board of Education speak of children as "our most important resource", when they promise "accountability" in the government school system, when they invite voters to envision transforming the State-wide school district such that every school is in the nation's top 50% of schools, or when they talk of placing highly-qualified teachers in every classroom. Before we consider the gap between lofty assertions and sordid practice, let us consider some specific rhetorical devices.

A. Who says children are "our" resources? Darrow Aiona, a candidate for one of the Oahu at-large BOE seats, for one. "Our" implies collective ownership, and so collective decision-making. This assumprion predisposes the choice of governance methods against control by individual parents. Children occupy an anomalous legal status: somewhere between "people" and "property". Under US law, children do not have the rights of adults (e.g., to vote, consent to sex, enlist in the armed forces, buy firearms, consume alcohol, etc.). In this sense, therefore, children are not legally "people". Adults may transfer legal control of children (adoption). In a market economy, the device of private property combines legal control (including the power to transfer legal control) over physical objects with the incentive to use those objects for benign purposes. The benign purpose is promoted by the proscription on coercion in private exchange. When uncoerced individuals exchange goods and services to which they have title, both sides to the exchange benefit (otherwise, why would they act?). Owners have a strong incentive to maintain and enhance the value of material to which they have title. Similarly, absent a State assumption of control over children, parents have a strong incentive to enhance the value of their children. I argue axiomatically, here:
1. Most parents love their children and want their children to outlive them.
2. If you live among people, there are basically three ways to make a living: (2.1) you can beg, (2.2) you can steal, (2.3) you can trade goods and services for other people's goods and services.
3. Most parents accept proposition #2 and prefer option (2.3) for their children.
4. Therefore, most parents want their children educated to make their way in the world after they (the parents) are gone.

Collective title (e.g., Amtrack, the State school system) and the consequent control exercised through a bureaucracy does not similarly link owners' incentives and owners' control. Additionally, the bureaucracy has proprietary interests in job security and career advancement.

The two different decision mechanisms yield vastly different results. Consider a simple case: 100 people individually buying shoes, versus 100 people using some collective ("democratic") process to select the one size of shoe they should wear. Whatever size of shoe wins the contest, someone's feet will hurt. Collective control over "our" children's education suffers all the defects of socialist production, plus added harm to children, the human "resource".

B. Former Superintendent of Education Paul LeMahieu made "standards" and "accountability" the twin pillars of his allaged reform platform. Neither pillar can bear the weight. Leave standards aside for now and consider "accountability".
"Accountability" rhetoric intensifies as overall system performance falls. this suggests that voters attribute to the term "accountability" a punitive implication. The person "accountable" for a disaster suffers. In reality, no bureaucrat suffers for poor system performance and insiders change the subject to parents' deficiencies whenever some outsider suggests that any insider should lose his job for system performance.

Whatever people intend by the term, "accountability" refers to some feedback mechanism through which the consequence of decisions influence future decisions. Policies which give to unhappy customers the power to take their business elsewhere provide the most effective accountability mechanism humans have yet devised. Internal accountability mechanisms fail for a reason political scientists call "regulatory capture"; insiders have a stronger incentive to distort accountability mechanisms than individual voters have to inform themselves and organize to maintain the mechanism.

For Paul LeMahieu, "accountability" meant enhanced centralization of control. The Board of Education gave him a unanimous vote of confidence scant weeks before he resigned in disgrace, after Tina Mclaughlin testified under oath at a joint House/Senate hearing that Kaniu Kinimaka-Stocksdale (allegedly LeMahieu's mistress) claimed the inside track on a $200,000 non-bid personal service contract as security against a loan she (Kinimaka-Stockdale) requested of Tina McLaughlin. LeMahieu had previously abused his authority, to discipline an administrator who protested LeMahieu's efforts to steer a special-ed personal service contract awarded through PREL to Kinimaka-Stockdale. Evidently this earlier malfeasance did not trouble our Board.

C. At the Pearl City candidates' forum, Carol Mon Lee, the other non-incumbent in my race, invited the audience to envision raising all Hawaii schools into the top 50% of schools nationally. Envision placing in the top 50% of finishers at the Indianapolis 500 in a stock Caterpillar D-9. This isn't visionary, it's delusional. The lady apparently does not recognize any connection between institutional structure and system performance.

D. Several candidates mouth the platitude of "a highly qualified teacher in every classroom", while none indicates an understanding of what this entails. This mantra morphs into advocacy of pay raises, without any consideration of the incentive that higher pay creates for incompetent current teachers to remain in the system and for incompetent prospective replacements to apply. If "highly qualified teacher" is some sort of innovation, what does that say about the current selection mechanism and about the teachers already in place? The Legislature deprived the Board of Education of authority over teacher credential requirements.

E. Representative Cynthia Thielen has no opposition in her race for the seat she currently occupies. I sent her a copy of the questionnaire I describe here, with a supplement: this quote from her webpage.
It is absolutely essential that we improve the quality of public education. It is an essential service that provides equal opportunity for all children in Hawaii to reach their full potential. Quality public education is especially important to our State economy since Hawaii is an isolated island state. We rely upon the abilities of our own residents to build and maintain a diversified, sustainable, growing economy to support our state.
I asked:
By "public education" do you mean "government-operated schools"?
Hawaii's government-operated schools yield one of the most inequal results in the US (as measured by the difference between the 90th percentile and the 10th percentile, NAEP 8th grade Math scores). Why do you assert "...public education...provides equal opportunity for all children..." when it clearly does not?
Why do you assert: "Quality public education is especially important to our State economy since Hawaii is an isolated island state"? What is the connection between State (government, generally) operation of school and insularity? 90% of students in Hong Kong and Ireland take tax subsidies to schools other than those operated by government employees. 40% of Singapore schools accept tax-subsidized tuition payments. These are all island polities.
She did not respond. Successful politicians have a blather generator, which allows them extemporaneously to fill the air with polysyllabic drivel.

So much for lofty assertions. Let's consider the sordid practice. If I am correct, the following are true:...
1) It does not take 12 years at $13,000.00 per student-year to teach a normal child to read and compute.
2) Since normal children will work much harder for the love and approval of parents than they will for strangers, homeschoolers have a large advantage over experts in early childhood education. Institutionalization is counter-indicated.
3) Most vocational training occurs more effectively on the job than in a classroom.
4) State (government, generally) supply of History or Civics instruction is a threat to democracy, just as State operation of newspapers would be (is, in totalitarian countries).

I argued earlier that the usual welfare-economic case for State subsidy of education relies on large and questionable assumptions, and the case for State operation of schools relies on even larger wild assumptions. For these reasons, I see two sordid motives behind the lofty rhetoric of "public education": the transfer of wealth from taxpayers to system insiders (children serve as window-dressing, like mannequins in a Christmas storefront display) and State-worshipful indoctrination.