Ivar Berg: Education and Jobs; The Great Training Robbery

Ivar Berg's Education and Jobs; The Great Training Robbery begins its discussion of excessive credential requirements with the observation that the US fought WW II with an army composed largely of soldiers whose formal schooling had ended at high school or below. Berg was there. Berg observes that the US military during the war introduced new technologies like sonar and radar, and required that soldiers learn to use unfamiliar machinery. The unschooled army of 1940 rose to the task. In a later chapter, Berg recounts the response of the FAA to the expansion in air traffic. Just as corporals become sergeants when a war begins, when an army expands to meet a foreign threat, the FAA promoted experienced air-traffic controllers as new recruits assumed entry-level positions. FAA employment practices did not restrict the demanding and highly responsible job of air-traffic controller to college graduates. The unschooled recruits rose to the task.

Berg also observes that prior to around 1950 nursing, among other occupations, did not require a college degree. What does any employer get from a policy which restricts employment opportunities, in some lines of work for which a high school educuation or less suffices, to college graduates? Berg raises this question and leaves it unanswered. John Ray provided a link to this article on the expansion in college enrollment since WW II, which offers a likely explanation. Tax subsidies like the G.I. Bill may explain the increased consumption of college, but not the costly up-grading of hiring and promotion criteria by supposedly competitive private business. Tarran suggests that businesses use(d) college degrees to shield themselves from liability for racial discrimination under the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Where the representation by race of the workforce, which a company's internally-generated hiring criteria might (would likely) generate, might invite legal action, a college degree is a State-sanctioned criterion. Judges and college professors, as members of the highly-schooled population, could hardly discount the value of a college degree. College faculty, with their clear financial interest in excessive credential requirements, allied with personnel managers in the corporations' self-protective strategy. In plain words, companies contracted-out pre-employment screening to (State-run) high schools and universities.

Berg observes that the K-Ph.D. education industry uses degrees as employment criteria for the instructors whom it hires. Berg also mentions that advanced degrees contribute nothing to teacher effectiveness. More recently, Joanne Jacobs provided a link to work which supports that conclusion.

Berg acknowledges a distinction between "schooling" and "education", and between "education" and "experience", but consistently uses "education" when he clearly intends "schooling". This blog raised the issue of the difference between "education" (or "schooling") and experience here.

As I wrote here and here, it does not take 12 years to teach a normal child to read and compute.

John Ray reviewed Berg's book here.


Reckless Mendacities

The University of Hawaii (Manoa campus) bookstore has stocked its shelves with required Fall semester texts. Every semester, I scan these texts for mention of the name "Kozol". Jonathan Kozol describes shabby classrooms in inner city schools, and relates these conditions to the tax base of the school district. As the evidence given here indicates, Kozol indicts innocent parties. Kozol's thesis fails on two counts: (1) those poor, inner-city, minority school districts get more money per pupil than the State average, in most US States, and (2) as indicated by abundant evidence from foreign countries and from independent schools and homeschoolers, it does not take 12 years at $12,000 per pupil-year to teach a normal child to read and compute. Most US schools get too much money.

EDCS 625
Professor: Halagao, Patricia E.
Text: Lies My Teacher Told Me (required)
Author: James W. Loewen

Course description
EDCS 625 Social Studies Curriculum (3) Examination and evaluation of social science content, societal values and research findings as basis for development and revision of social studies materials, texts, curriculum guides, methodology. Pre: ITE 322 or equivalent, social studies teaching experience, or consent.

From the text
Meanwhile, history (sic) text books blithely tell of such federal largesse to education as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, passed under Lyndon Johnson. Not one textbook offers any data on or analysis of inequality within educational institutions. None mentions how school districts in low-income areas labor under financial constraints so shocking that Jonathan Kozol calls them "savage inequalities".

The structure of the US education industry imposes the "shocking" financial constraints under which inner city districts labor. These districts get more than enough money, as indicated by the performance of US Catholic schools, US homeschoolers, and schools in foreign countries. Urban districts in the US must support construction contractors, swarms of out-of-classroom parasites, and an artificially extended span of compulsory attendance

EDEA 620
Professor: Roberts, Stacey
Title: American Public School Finance
Author: William Owings, Leslie Kaplan

Course description
EDEA 620 Education Finance (3) Educational revenues, apportionments, budgetary procedures, costs, business management, economics of education, measures of productivity.

From the text (on vouchers)...
...any program that would take monies out of public education would be of concern to all educators now and in the future. (p. 366)
Here is a naked expression of the authors' preference for State (government, generally) provision of education services. Not ("public education"="State-operated schools"). Vouchers take money from the NEA/AFT/AFSCME cartel's schools and support each participating parent's choice of school. Since, as many scholars have found, the private sector of the education industry yields higher performance at lower cost than State schools, it's the NEA/AFT/AFSCME cartel which takes money from public education.
All states attempt to compensate for the impact of local wealth and education spending (much more will be explained later in the book), but wealthier school districts usually outspend poorer school districts by a wide margin. The poorer school districts tend to be urban poor and (sic) isolated rural districts which have great demands and few available resource. These inequalities tend to have a "savage" impact on the neediest students.(39)
(39)with all due respect to Jonathan Kozol. For an excellent and disturbing read detailing these impacts, see his book Savage Inequalities: Children in America's Schools.
Their Kozol endorsement, on the central topic of their book (school finance) discredits their voice.

EDEF 310
Professor: Tavares, Hannah M.
Text: American Education: A History
Authors: Wayne Urban, Jennings Wagoner

Course description
EDEF 310 Education in American Society (3) Interrelated historical, philosophical, and socio-cultural contexts of education with an emphasis on contemporary problems and applications. Students enrolled in colleges other than the College of Education are asked to confer with the College of Education director of student services before enrolling in 310. A-F only. DS

The text gives a brief but balanced account of the development of the voucher argument, although it ignores the common use of voucher-like policies in colonial British North America and the early post-Revolutionary US. The text follows that balanced account with this...
From the text
Despite the evidence offered by [James] Coleman and the powerful arguments of [John] Chubb and [Terry] Moe, the school choice movement made relatively little headway in the 1990s. On several occasions, states included school choice initiatives on their ballots and, in every case, voters rejected the policy. Many factors contributed to these defeats, perhaps including voters' instinctive recognition that school choice could function only as a release for individual students and parents dissatisfied with public schools and not as a large-scale deplacement for public schooling. Strong lobbying against the school choice movement by most members of the educational establishment, particularly teacher organizations such as the NEA and AFT, also contributed to their defeat.(p. =?)

Will the professor remark how quickly "voters' instinctive recognition" evolved, I wonder. Perhaps the authors intend "instinctive" metaphorically, but how to interpret "recognition that school choice could function only as a release for individual students and parents dissatisfied with public schools and not as a large-scale replacement for public schooling"? In Belgium, Hong Kong, Ireland, and the Netherlands, a majority of the school population attends independent or parochial schools at taxpayer expense. See OECD, Education at a Glance and G.T. Kurian, World Encyclopedia of Education.

Many leading state equity suits to date involved cases in which the tax base of rural districts was compared to that of suburban districts. These cases have largely ignored inequaliities found in large city school systems. Here, equity suits have accomplished little. In New York, for example, the contention that city school systems are overburdened financially because of higher costs than in suburban or rural districts, and are therefore entitled to financial relief from the state, was denied by the state Supreme Court. The reluctance to address the special needs of poor urban students indicates that the United States is a long way from addressing some of the most persistent and troubling aspects of educational inequality of the late twetieth century.
The problems of urban schools, many of which stem from funding problems faced by those school districts, have been highlighted most recently in Savage Inequalities, a book by Jonathan Kozol In this provocatively titled volume, Kozol chillingly depicted the many educational deprivations that affect the largely poor and minority student populations in the nation's largest cities. However, Kozol did not refer to the issue of 'overburden', a term that points to the high cost of educating the urban poor, as brought up in the New York State school equity case. If he had, he would have been better able to answer those who point out that in some large cities, such as Atlanta, Georgia, the per pupil expenditure substantially exceeds the state average, without yielding any corresponding increase in achievement. (p. 424, 425)
Without a definition of "overburden" which does not involve urbanization, the authors make a circula argument. The direct financial cost of a school district equals its expenditures. The authors here assert that inner city minority schools cost more because they spend more money.


A Theory of Mass Psychology/Politics

Or, why has hate become so popular?

A puzzled feminist mulls the feminist reaction to Sarah Palin, as though this differs from Bush Derangement Syndrome, from the vehemence of the response to the nomination of Robert Bork or the deluge of sewage poured upon John Tower when President Bush the First nominated him to the office of Secretary of Defense. Frustration with the progress of the Vietnam war leaked into public responses to the Johnson Presidency generally (remember MacBird! and the insinuations that President Kennedy's assassination was an inside job?), but President Johnson's critics usually limited their vehement disapproval to defence policy. So I wonder.

Since Reagan, Orwell's Five Minute Hate lasts years. Why? Emotions are drugs, a few milligrams of protein in the blood. Perhaps we all become addicted to some emotion and some of us find a mix of drugs (emotions) interesting. Why have so many become addicted to hate and why these targets?

Someone once wrote that not all religions need a God, but every religion needs a devil. Whose dogma requires that the public dance like marionettes, pulled by these emotional strings?

Here is my guess: (1) public sector union leaders, (2) insecure, lazy, narcissistic journalists, and (3) power-addicted politicians.

1) Because standard economic analysis would call into question the role of the State in the provision of education services (among other things), and because a realistic history of the US education industry would not flatter the institution of State (government, generally) schooling, History, Civics, and Economics teachers will, in general, present a contorted course of instruction.

While membership in private-sector unions has been shrinking, the public sector has been growing. Much more than dues revenue is at stake. The difference between free marketeers in office (Reagan, Palin) and socialists (Democrats, mainstream Republicans) in office is, to the leaders of the NEA/AFT/AFSCME cartel, the difference between earning a living doing honest work and skimming the taxpayers $500billion+ K-12 revenue stream.

The politics of personal destruction is bare-knuckle unionization tactics.

2) Admit it: the kids who hung out in the yearbook/school newspaper room in high school were the socially adept fad followers with trendy clothes. Most jocks had more on the ball. The motorheads did, too. In college, things did not improve. What does this imply? Of course some journalists could have majored Physics instead but intellectual limitations make many journalists natural socialists. The government of a locality is the largest dealer in interpersonal violence in that locality (definition). Private property (title) and the Federal principle (States' Rights) institutionalize humility. "What works?" is an empirical question which only an experiment can answer. A centralized government or a State-monopoly enterprise is like an experiment with one treatment and no controls, a retarded experimental design. Socialism is an infantile power fantasy: "What a wonderful world it would be if I ran it". On this theory journalists do not love Barak Obama, they love themselves. People hate what they fear. Free marketeers threaten journalists' self-congratulatory power fantasies.

Further, despite its avowed skepticism the profession of journalism comes with a built-in respect for authority. Otherwise, why should anyone believe them? A journalist with no respect for authority might as well use randomly selected pedestrians as sources for stories on global climate change or nuclear waste storage as use Professors of Paleoclimatology or Nuclear Engineering. Furthermore, if the DOE Public Relations Office will write a reporter's stories and allow him to put his name to them, why would he bust his butt researching and writing three articles per week for $45,000? Ready-made authority, such as an academic title or institutional position, is just too convenient to disavow.

3) Unionized J-school faculty filter journalism students. Public-sector unions sustain a permanent campaign in support of growth in the public-sector workforce. These factors shape a politically effective constituency which will reliably supply socialist (D) power addicts with an electoral fix every two, four, or six years. You have read about some meth addict killing his grandmother because she would not let him pawn the TV. That's your average State legislator, Congressman, Senator, or Governor, selling children into bondage to the NEA and taxpayers into bondage to the Chinese (your national debt), for a power fix.

So journalists stoke the fires of hatred for free marketeers and federalists, and Socialist Studies teachers contort US History and Economics classes. Three generations of school kids since widespread public sector unionization and here we are. That's my theory, anyway.

Update. There's this from Instapundit.

Kill your television.