2008/08/11

Olelo Presentation

Here's my Olelo "Candidates in Focus" presentation. I had to cut a bit to say this all within the five minute time limit. Links support the points.

Hello. I am Malcolm Kirkpatrick. I am a candidate for the Board of Education, Honolulu District. I graduated from Roosevelt High School, got a BA in Math and a PD in Secondary Math Education from the University of Hawaii, and taught in the Hawaii DOE schools from 1982 to 1995. Currently I tutor.

Albert Einstein opposed compulsory attendance at school. He made the following analogy: Take any healthy animal and identify its favorite food. You can kill that animal's appetite for that food by force feeding. This is compulsory schooling. Gandhi opposed compulsory schooling (The Story of My Experiments with the Truth, Chpt. 59).

What we in the US call "the public school system" consists of students and teachers and much more: tax subsidies to the education industry, compulsory attendance laws, Government-operated schools, and policies which restrict parents' options for the use of the taxpayers' education subsidy to schools operated by government employees. Defenders of this system make their case out of vague generalizations and demonstrable falsehoods. They will say that democracy and a strong economy depend on "public education". The implications, that to maintain democracy and promote economic progress, governments must compel attendance, subsidize schooling, and operate schools, are all demonstrably false.

Education and Democracy

First: most of the delegates to the convention which created the US Constitution did not attend government schools. Most of the British colonies which became the original 13 States did not compel attendance at government-operated schools.
Second: government operation of schools is not necessary to maintain democracy. In Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland, and Hong Kong, most students take tax subsidies to private and parochial schools. Compulsory attendance at government-operated schools is a feature of totalitarian governments, like Cuba, North Korea, and the countries of the pre-1991 Warsaw Pact.

Education and economic growth

Richard Arkwright was homeschooled. James Hargreaves never attended school. Cyrus McCormick was homeschooled. Thomas Edison was homeschooled, and went to work at age 13. Hyram Maxim left school at 13 and apprenticed. The Wright brothers were high school dropouts. Sam Colt went to sea at 16 and carved a wooden model of his idea, the revolver mechanism, between Boston and Bombay (Deleted for brevity).

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.

Defenders of the current system will say that schools provide necessary opportunities for socialization. This socialization argument works against compulsory attendance at a State-monopoly school system (Deleted). School is bad socialization. In Hawaii, juvenile arrests for assault, property crimes, drug possession and drug promotion rise when school is in session. Juvenile hospitalizations for human-induced trauma rise when school is in session.

The education industry does not qualify as a natural monopoly. Beyond a very low level the education industry does not exhibit significant economies of scale at the delivery end as it currently operates. "Natural monopoly" and "economies of scale" are two usual welfare-economic arguments for government operation of an industry. Even when an industry qualifies as a natural monopoly or exhibits significant economies of scale, the case for government operation is not decisive, and in any case, the education industry does not qualify as a natural monopoly and it does not exhibit significant economies of scale (deleted for brevity). 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 government operation of an industry.

Defenders of the State school system will say, as though it's a point of pride: "I believe in the public school system". School is a means, not an end in itself. Mark Twain once wrote "I never let schooling interfere with my education". I too believe in the public school system. I also believe in earthquakes, cholera, and crablice and I wouldn't wish them on anyone. The incumbent, Denise Matsumoto, supports this system. She voted to hire Paul Lemahieu. She voted to approve his performance as Superintendent scant weeks before he resigned in disgrace. She testified against the Governor's proposal to decentralize the Hawaii public school system and move control closer to parents.

The US and Hawaii public school systems originated in anti-Catholic bigotry and survive on dedicated lobbying by current recipients of the taxpayers' $2.4 billion+ annual revenue stream. "Public education" has become an employment program for dues-paying members of the HSAT/HGEA/UPW cartel, a source of padded contracts for politically-connected contractors, and a venue for State-worshipful indoctrination. If this is not so, why cannot any student take the GED at any age and apply the taxpayers' education subsidy toward post-secondary tuition or toward a wage subsidy at any qualified private-sector employer?

If recent histroy is any guide, your neighbors will return incumbents to office. These incumbents will protect this wasteful, abusive system. Parents should not rely on politicians to fix this system. Nothing in Hawaii Revised Statutes requires that homeschooling instruction occur between 8 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. It's legal to extend daycare to age 18 and provide instruction in the evening.

My name is Malcolm Kirkpatrick, and I do not support the current State-monopoly school system. I support parent control. Students, parents, real classroom teachers, and taxpayers would benefit from policies which give to individual parents the power to determine which institution shall receive the taxpayers' pre-college education subsidy.

Thank you for your attention.

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