The Cost of Teacher Certification

Risen from the Hawaii Reporter archives (3/12/2004). The links appear as in the original. Some have expired.

Focused on the discussion of structural reform to the Department of Education, the public has heard little of a program within the DOE that threatens to degrade overall system performance more than any legislation passed since the advent of public sector unionization. At the insistence of the Hawaii State Teachers Association, the Legislature over the last 10 years has built into the Hawaii Revised Statutes and into the DOE a program, the Teacher Standards Board (TSB), which will certainly raise costs and almost certainly reduce overall system performance.

Costs will rise. As the TSB Web site says:
In the recently negotiated teacher's contract, any teacher going through the certification process will be reimbursed up to $2,500 for expenses related to the process. Teachers completing the process and receiving national certification will receive $5,000 per year for the duration of the contract (2 years). Legislation is now underway to extend the differential from the current two years to the lifetime of the national certification (10 years).

This promises no performance gains:
The Education Consumers Consultants Network compared the academic improvement of Tennessee students taught by nationally-certified teachers with the improvement of all other students in the state. The data revealed that 'on the whole, the students taught by NBPTS-certified teachers gained no more than their local peers.'

This shouldn't be a surprise. NBPTS certification is really just ordinary certification on steroids -- a puffed-up assessment of teachers' mastery of conventional certification standards. Considering the large body of research finding almost no correlation between certification and teacher effectiveness, it makes sense to expect no correlation between "super-certification" and student performance. What one should expect is proportionately inflated rhetoric about the value of the certification, which is exactly what one finds.
--Education Consumers Network http://www.education-consumers.com/briefs/may2002.shtm

"No study, however, has ever shown that National Board certified teachers are any better than other teachers at raising student achievement" (Michael Podgursky, "Defrocking the National Board", commenting on the study "The Certification System of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards: A Construct and Validity Study", by Lloyd Bond, Richard Jaeger, Tracy Smith, John Hattie. http://www.educationnext.org/20012/79.html)

Robert Grey Holland details the links between the National Education Association (NEA) -- the HSTA is an NEA subsidiary -- and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) in his Policy Review article "How to Build a Better Teacher"

Holland writes:
The nbpts purports to identify excellence through this process, but economists Dale Ballou of the University of Massachusetts and Michael Podgursky of the University of Missouri -- who called 'professionalization' into question after careful analysis -- point out that there has been no evidence to show that students of nbpts-certified teachers learn any more than students of other teachers.
Holland continues: principals of NBPTS teachers...
found it difficult to link any improvements in student achievement to the teachers' national certification.
The latest installment in the steady increase of the power of the TSB is a provision in the majority's "reform" bill (HB 2002) which would require that taxpayers subsidize, through the TSB, applications for National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certification. Taxpayers will not benefit. The math standards of the National Board, for example, mirror those of Colleges of Education and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, which disdain memorization, drill, and practice in the application of algorithms, in favor of "discovery."
In the January, 1998, Notices of the American Mathematical Society, Allyn Jackson reports her interview with Gail Burrill, President of the NCTM.:

"One small part of that report is very telling ...”

"Notices: Starting in 1968, the government funded a huge study called Project Follow-Through. It cost a billion dollars and ran almost thirty years. The purpose was to examine how different teaching methods or philosophies affected student performance. What they found was that the traditional, 'direct instruction' method was the most effective. Are you familiar with this study?

Burrill: "I have never heard of it."

Hawaii’s single, statewide school district, State-wide collective bargaining law, and the unionization of administrators up to the highest level of the DOE have created an environment where there is little difference between "management" and "labor." The taxpayers' representatives give to DOE administrators control over a $1.7 billion+/year revenue stream. Hawaii's agency-fee policy gives to the local subsidiaries of the NEA and AFSCME a guaranteed dues revenue stream of, in the case of the HSTA, over $4 million/year. An administrators' ascent of the DOE career ladder requires the assent of established interests, that is, of Russell Okata and Joan Husted. Whistle-blowers, in-house critics, and workers who would exercise their right not to support union policies threaten the control which union officers and senior DOE officials exercise over the dues-generated revenue stream and the larger DOE budget. Public sector unions and senior DOE administrators clearly benefit from Hawaii's single, Statewide school district, agency shop policy, and Statewide collective bargaining.

Collective bargaining, like a trial, is necessarily an adversarial process. Advocates make a case for the side that represents them. In a criminal trial, the prosecution represents the State and the defendant's attorney represents the accused. It is not the job of the prosecutor or the defense attorney to deliver justice. Justice is the responsibility of the process as a whole. Anyone who maintains that the adversarial process is flawed must offer an alternative. TSB legislation damages this process. Neither real classroom teachers, students, or taxpayers benefit.

Recall the history of the Teacher Standards Board. In the first year that a bill for the creation of a TSB appeared, the bill described a temporary board, which had authority to compile licensing criteria for new-hire teachers. The board was to hand these criteria to the DOE Personnel office and expire. The Board of Education (and I) testified against the creation of this TSB, limited though it was. The HSTA supported creation of the TSB. The bill failed. In the next legislative session, the Board of Education supported the TSB, the bill passed, and Governor Cayetano signed it into law. This law required first the creation of a Teacher Standards Board Planning Commission. I attended meetiings of this commission. Before even the creation of the Teacher Standards Board, the Planning Commission discussed how to extend the authority of the TSB to teachers already in service, and how to get the membership of the HSTA to accept an assessment for the privilege of being less secure in their jobs than they were before the creation of the TSB. This Board, which has since grown in size and not in wisdom, then consisted of four members from the HSTA, three from the HGEA, one from the College of Education, and one from the Board of Education. Public sector unions controlled seven of nine seats on the Board. Counting the College of Education (the UHPA is an NEA subsidiary), eight of nine.

In later sessions, members of the Teacher Standards Board and the HSTA testified in favor of legislation which repealed the sunset provision, in favor of legislation which granted to the Board authority to decertify teachers already in service, and in favor of the assessment of a fee, from teachers' salaries, for the operation of the TSB, which earlier legislation had described as a temporary, non-cost program. The Legislature ultimately approved these bills, although the TSB had not performed its primary work, the specification of teacher credential requirements. The TSB named former HSTA President Sharon Mahoe to an $80,000/year position as Executive Director.

The licensing requirements composed by the Board are too loose to merit the name "standards." The Board requires that new-hire teachers have degrees from accredited Colleges of Education. No statistical, empirical research supports such a requirement. The Board requires that teachers keep abreast of current instructional techniques. Five years ago, that would have meant that reading teachers use Whole Language methods or risk dismissal. The U.H. College of Education still advocates the NCTM's Whole Math methodology and disdains memorization. The Board requires that teachers in service align instruction to Hawaii's content and performance standards. The problem here is that the content and performance standards to which this teacher standard then referred were those contained in the Final Report of the Hawaii State Commission on Performance Standards (the "Blue Book"), since abandoned as hopelessly complicated and vague. My point here is that the members of the TSB would not know a standard if you dropped one on their toes. One "standard" for Math teachers requires that they present a systematic sequence of instruction, another that teachers accommodate variations in students' interests and abilities, and a third that teachers remain alert to opportunities to introduce current events into instruction. These are all good ideas, but they are contradictory and cannot all be "standards." The TSB requires that teachers keep abreast of developments in their field. This is impossible for most math and physics teachers. It is unnecessary for almost all teachers. A teacher who knows what K. F. Gauss knew 150 years ago could teach high-school Math and Physics. Fifty year-old dissertations on colonial archaeology or Melville scholarship are as informative as current research in these areas.

"In a major report on how schools could meet the challenge in the No Child Left Behind Act to have a 'highly qualified' teacher in every classroom by the end of the 2005-2006 school year, the Secretary of Education cited in an approving way Abel's debunking of the ed-school-is-essential research (Secretary's Annual Report, 2002). Indeed, the report also commended the work of economists Dan Goldhaber and Dominic Brewer, who found that contrary to conventional wisdom, mathematics and science students who have teachers with emergency credentials do no worse than students whose teachers have standard teaching credentials, all else being equal." [Robert Grey Holland, How to Build a Better Teacher, p. 51]. This is a book of the same title as his Policy Review article.

The TSB has advanced counterproductive ("Utilizes the school's current technologies to facilitate learning in the content area(s)"), unnecessary (e.g., College of Education degrees), contradictory ("Plans and implements logical, sequenced instruction and continually adjusts plans based on learner needs" and "Connects knowledge of content area(s) to students’ prior experiences, personal interests and real-life situations.") or vague ("Fosters an appreciation of human and cultural differences") standards. The TSB has demonstrated indifference to improving the teacher workforce. Why, then, did the HSTA so strenuously promote the TSB?

Unions, even "public sector" unions, are -- private -- 501-c(5) corporations. Their assets are the property of their members and their legal obligations are to members and agency-fee payers. Sometimes unions, like other organizations, get captured by insiders, who bend the institution to their interests. Hawaii's public sector unions survive on their dues-generated revenue stream. They enhance their power by promoting or retarding people's ascent of the DOE career ladder. Control of a $1.7 billion+/year revenue stream is a valuable asset in itself. Contractors will hire your nitwit nephew. Your incompetent son-in-law will get a $50,000 do-nothing consulting contract. This is what is at stake in the HSTA/HGEA/UPW cartel's ability to terminate the employment of dissident employees.

The US Supreme Court has ruled that:

1. Workers in an agency-fee shop situation may be
compelled to pay no more than the cost of collective bargaining and contract enforcement (Communication Workers of America versus Beck. 487 US 735 (1988)).
2. The procedure whereby the employer deducts from the employee's pay the equivalent of dues, and the union sometime later gives to the employee an application for a rebate, is illegal, since it compels the employee to make an interest-free loan to the union (Chicago Teachers Union versus Hudson. 475 US 292 (1986)).
3. The burden of proof is on the union to justify the assessment, and not on the employee who disputes an assessment (Abood versus Detroit Board of Education. 431 US 209 (1977)).
4. Workers who dispute the union's assessment do not have to go through the Labor Relations Board, but may take their case to Federal Court (Air Line Pilots Association versus Miller. 523 US 866 (1998)).
The DOE and public sector unions operate in violation of the above decisions.

Additionally, courts have held:

1. That employees with a religious objection to union membership may substitute for dues a donation to charity in the amount of dues.
2. That "religion" does not require belief in a Supreme Being. A civic religion, such as Confucianism, qualifies.
Before the creation of the TSB, the HSTA and HGEA leadership had an interest in retaliating against whistleblowers and employees who insisted on their right not to contribute to the HSTA's political activity. Before the creation of the TSB, however, the DOE administration had no power legally to terminate an employee for such activity, and the employee had grounds to sue the DOE for wrongful termination and the HSTA for failure to represent, should the HSTA cooperate with the DOE administration. With the TSB, the DOE administration can argue that it is bound by contract not to employ unlicensed teachers. The HSTA can insist that it is legally bound to represent only employees. The employee who has been decertified by this "independent" (NOT!) board now bears an impossible burden of proof, to show (without access to confidential personnel records of other dismissed teachers) that the HSTA and HGEA use the TSB power to eliminate dissidents. Let the employee take the Board's decision to a state court. As in traffic court, where the judge will accept the word of a police officer over a civilian (s/he has to believe somebody), judges will take the union-approved "expert's" word for it. The "standards" advanced by the TSB are a rubber yardstick. How can a teacher prove that s/he is, for example, sufficiently systematic if the Board has never defined "sufficiently systematic"? The judge will simply accept the Board's determination that this teacher is insufficiently systematic. The troublemaker is dismissed. Please READ the Math standards (student at http://doe.k12.hi.us/standards/hcps.htm and teacher at www.htsb.org), and try to imagine an assessment mechanism which might use them. If the Math standards are so vague as to be useless, what can one say about History or Art? The Legislature would recognize a conflict of interest if trial lawyers requested that a committee of lawyers determine which clients on retainer deserved representation. A lawyer who has accepted a retainer has a legal obligation to represent the client who paid the retainer. If lawyers argued that guilty clients do not deserve representation, the answer would be that guilt is established by trial, by the adversarial process, in which the lawyer plays has an obligatory role. Just so, the HSTA and HGEA are in a conflict of interest when they appoint the members of the Teacher Standards Board. The conflict is worse in the case of the TSB, as agency fees are mandated by law. The TSB would have been a bad idea had it promoted the best of standards. It is a terrible idea with the bogus standards they have created. Insiders will benefit. Students, teachers, and taxpayers will suffer. If you operate an expensive piece of machinery, and if that machinery does not perform well, it is lunacy to destroy the gages and indicator lights which provide information. The DOE is an expensive bureaucratic machine. By giving to the HSTA/HGEA/UPW cartel, which currently receives $1.7 billion+/year to operate Hawaii's K-12 government school system, the power to dismiss dissidents and whistleblowrs, the Legislature has guarantees rising costs and falling performance.

We were warned. In 1991, the Brookings Institution published a study by John Chubb and Terry Moe of school effectiveness, What Price Democracy; Politics, Markets, and America's Schools (since renamed simply Politics, Markets, and America's Schools). At the end of this study, the authors list a number of ineffective policies that they expect reformers to inflict on teachers and taxpayers. On teacher standards boards they write:

"The proposal for state licensing boards is a bad idea. In the name of professionalization, it essentially retains the top-heavy bureaucratic arrangements already in place -- arrangements that cannot do a good job of measuring and promoting good teaching, and whose numerous, time-consuming formal hurdles discourage entry into the field and vitiate what ought to be a dynamic, exciting market for teachers. The only real difference is that teachers, rather than public officials and agencies, would be able to exercise this authority. But this does not solve anything. Regulation would be just as bureaucratic and just as counterproductive as before. Worse, as political scientists have complained for decades, these self-regulating boards -- whether for doctors and lawyers or for cosmetologists, plumbers, and dog-groomers -- tend to use public authority in their own self-interest to restrict entry and enhance their incomes. And worse still, it would not really be "teachers" who would control these boards, but almost certainly organized teachers -- and far-and-away the largest, most geographically dispersed organization of teachers is the National Education Association."

On the NBPTS, Chubb and Moe write: "First, no certification scheme, especially not a national one, can possibly provide much vital information n the quality of an individual's teaching: assessments will inevitably rely too heavily on standard formal measures and too little on school-level discretionary judgment. Second, voluntary national credentialing would doubtless become cloaked in public authority anyway, as states, districts, and collective bargaining agreements make board certification a requirement for increased pay and educational responsibilities. It would be voluntary only in the sense that it would not constitute a legal barrier to entry. It would, on the other hand, become a legal barrier to career advancement. Third, credentialing by a national board would, in the end, create yet another bureaucracy that teachers and schools would have to contend with in doing their jobs. Making it private or voluntary or teacher controlled does not change its essentially bureaucratic approach to the problem of teacher quality and professionalism. And fourth, this board would be strongly influenced and perhaps dominated by the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, adding to their already stifling hold on educational personnel." (Chubb and Moe, p. 204-205).

Take care. Homeschool if you can.


A Personal Note

Mary Frances Berry: "Tainting the tea party movement with the charge of racism is proving to be an effective strategy for Democrats. There is no evidence that tea party adherents are any more racist than other Republicans, and indeed many other Americans. But getting them to spend their time purging their ranks and having candidates distance themselves should help Democrats win in November. Having one’s opponent rebut charges of racism is far better than discussing joblessness."

I have experienced baseless accusations of homophobia (a redefinition of "marriage" that binds employers to an expansion of health care benefits amounts to a tax increase on shareholders, single employees, and the self-employed. Taxpayers carry too large a burden already) and racism (a moderator at the atheist/agnostic website Internet Infidels objected to "what do you mean 'we', paleface", and "Engrish, prease" in response to garbled text).

Until the campaign ends, this is my response to an accusation that I am a racist or a homophobe: "As I demonstrate on my website, The Harriet Tubman Agenda, the person making this accusation is a thief and a child molester." I can make this accusation with as much evidence as he has for his accusation (i.e., zero). I calculate that this citation will immunize me against legal liability. We shall see. At least, it does not leave the original accusation hanging in the air.

Updated with an expansion of the second paragraph.


A Standard Con (2010 edition)

Jay Greene and Joanne Jacobs discuss standards. Both pay due homage to Cato's Neal McCluskey. The comment below appears at Greene's place and Joanne's place, somewhat modified.

Support for curriculum standards proceeds from magical thinking. The fundamental flaw in the argument for standards is that neither children nor their future career paths are standard. The education industry is no more likely a candidate for national standards than is the restaurant industry or the shoe industry. Imposed standards are utterly inappropriate for an industry that would generate a more harmonious result if utterly free of external control, beyond individual parent’s desires and provider’s capabilities, for very young children, and students’ desires and instructors’ capabilities, for older children and young adults.

This view has empirical support. Years ago I took the grades which the Fordham Institute and the Education Trust gave to States for their standards, converted these grades into numbers on a 0-4 point scale, and applied the EXCEL correlation function to States’ NAEP 8th grade Math score. The result was negative–the higher the standard the lower the score.

What do people expect curriculum or performance standards to accomplish? What do these words mean?

A measure is an order relation on a set. Ordering students by height is a measure.
A test is a procedure or a device which establishes as measure. Standing back to back and shifting the taller to the right is a test.
A standard is a unit of measurement. A kilogram weight, a meter stick, and a mark on the wall are standards.
Standards impart no magic.

The State cannot subsidize education without a definition of "education", but then these standards bind students, parents, real classroom teachers, and taxpayers to the State's definition of "education". Standards distract attention from the critical argument: What does society gain from a State presence in the education industry, anyway? Aside from drug abuse, vandalism, and violence, that is.


Donna Ikeda, Clueless

Katherine Poythress covers education for Civil Beat, an attempt at a viable (i.e., paying) new media news and comment enterprise. Poythress called various Board of Education candidates to hear their opinions on the proposal to shift from the current elected Board of Education to an appointed Board. She found Donna Ikeda's views worthy of publication.

Katherine Poythress writes...
"In all those years, no matter what we did, no matter what we'd try — and it's funny because they talk about education reform and reinventing education today, and we've tried that many, many times — nothing has gotten better," Ikeda told Civil Beat.

From Ikeda's perspective, the board has become mired in petty politics. And without an effective board, even the most well-intentioned reforms for Hawaii's schools will go nowhere.
As the closing comment indicates, Donna Ikeda expects "well-intentioned" top-down control to enhance overall system performance. Many people in Hawaii apparently agree. This widespread compulsion to control others, which the Statewide school district enables, is the reason "nothing has gotten better".

In The Road to Wigan Pier, George Orwell speculated that socialist leanings originate in a hypertrophied sense of order, like compulsive handwashing or people who sort the socks and underwear drawer ten times a day. Elsewhere (e.g., "Raffles and Mrs Blandish", "Inside the Whale"), Orwell suggested that a preference for authoritarian politics originates in vicarious sadism. In Socialism, Ludwig Von Mises suggested that the socialist orientation originates in a primitive revenge fantasy. The Russian mathematician Igor Shafarevitch advanced a similar argument in The Socialist Phenomenon.

System performance measures summarize student performance measures. Student performance depends on policy variables, things which policymakers can manipulate like budgets and teacher credentials, and non-policy variables, which policymakers cannot manipulate, like heredity, prenatal nutrition, parent SES, and a supportive home environment. The key policy variable which determines student performance is student motivation. Policies which enhance student motivation will enhance system performance.

Schools give to many students no reason to do what schools require. 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. It does not take 12 years at $10,000 per pupil-year to teach a normal child to read and compute. Compulsory unpaid labor is slavery, black or white, male or female, young or old.

Gandhi opposed compulsory attendance at school. He argued that parents are the natural teachers of children. Children, especially young children, will work their hearts out for the love of their parents. Older children will work for social reasons, for the love of their preferred subject, for freedom, or for rewards of which politicians and Professors of Education have no clue.

Size matters. The structure of the Hawaii education industry, encoded in the Hawaii Revised Statutes, is a policy variable. So long as remote authorities impose their designs on schools, the system will abide in the national cellar.

Update: misspelling of "Poythress" corrected.


Why School? (2010 Update)

(A modified version of a communication to a reporter for Civil Beat)

When John Waihee occupied Washington Place his Lieutenant Governor, Ben Cayetano, coordinated meetings of a group called the Commission on School Governance. At that time (c. 1993) Lt. Gov. Cayetano said: "We cannot afford to waste another generation of school kids." A school generation is 12 years. Since 1993 we have wasted a generation of school kids.

Anyone interested in school system performance will benefit from reading the Brookings Institution study by John Chubb and Terry Moe, Politics, Markets, and America's Schools (1991, originally entitled "What Price Democracy? Politics, Markets, and America's Schools") and the Brookings/Urban Institute/Committee For Economic Development study Vouchers and the Provision of Public Services (2000, C. Eugene Steuerle, et al. eds.). The latter discusses a variety of industries from national, international, and abstract perspectives at various of levels of abstraction. Some of the essays require the economic and mathematical expertise of a specialist in tax policy while some essays are quite accessible. The brush-clearing introductory remarks on "public goods" in E.G. West's "Education Vouchers in Principle and Practice; A Survey" (The World Bank Research Observer, 1997-Feb., online) provide useful background. West's "Education Vouchers in Principle and Practice (full report)" (online) combines theoretical analysis and empirical research. Joel Fried's discussion of "the agency problem" in "Pots and Kettles: Governance Practices of the Ontario Securities Commission" (online) suggests important considerations which apply across the board to discussions of the relative merits of State-monopoly providers and competitive markets in goods and services.

When Chubb and Moe designed their study of school effectiveness they ranked schools by student gains between 10th and 12th grade on standardized tests of Reading, Math, and Science (they did not use Social Studies because Social Studies scores did not correlate with anything, which is pretty funny if you know any statistics). They then looked for systematic differences between the top 25% of schools and the bottom 25% of schools. The largest difference was, as expected, parent SES. That is, student gains correlated strongly and positively with parent income. The second most influential variable was a composite variable which Chubb and Moe called "the degree of institutional autonomy". That is, the more people above the level of Principal telling the Principal how to do her job, the worse a school performed.

Consider this question: "From State (government, generally) operation of what industries does society as a whole benefit?", imagine either a dichotomous classification Likely/Unlikely or a continuum, highly unlikely (______.______) highly likely, and try to generalize some principle which generates the assignment or position of an industry in this scheme.

Eduardo Zambrano
Formal Models of Authority: Introduction and Political Economy
Rationality and Society, May 1999
Aside from the important issue of how it is that a ruler may economize on communication, contracting and coercion costs, this leads to an interpretation of the state that cannot be contractarian in nature: citizens would not empower a ruler to solve collective action problems in any of the models discussed, for the ruler would always be redundant and costly. The results support a view of the state that is eminently predatory, (the ? MK.) case in which whether the collective actions problems are solved by the state or not depends on upon whether this is consistent with the objectives and opportunities of those with the (natural) monopoly of violence in society. This conclusion is also reached in a model of a predatory state by Moselle and Polak (1997). How the theory of economic policy changes in light of this interpretation is an important question left for further work.
After the fall of the Soviet State the British poet and historian of that State, Robert Conquest, wrote that the West had insufficiently learned two important lessons: the limits to the amount of good that can be accomplished by organized force (the State) and the stultifying effects of bureaucracy, public or private.

"Deadweight costs of taxation" (see an online economics dictionary) considerations imply that State operation of most industry imposes greater costs than benefits. As Zambrano indicates above, "communication, contracting and coercion costs" determine the cost/benefit result from a welfare-economic point of view. When inputs and outputs are simple, when systematic expertise matters more than specific local knowledge, and when capitalization costs are high (e.g., structural steel, plate glass), a sufficiently large State may operate an industry at close to the cost/benefit level of an industry in the private sector. Since inputs to the education industry (each individual student's interests and aptitudes) vary enormously and outputs (the potential career paths graduates will follow in a diverse modern society) vary enormously, since capital costs are low, and since specific local knowledge matters more than (bogus) systematic expertise, the education industry is a highly unlikely candidate for State (government, generally) operation.

Separation of powers, federalism (local control), and the legal system of private property and contract law institutionalize humility on the part of State actors. No one has privileged access to divine inspiration. If a policy dispute turns on a difference in taste, numerous local policy regimes or a competitive market in goods and services allows for the satisfaction of varied tastes, while a State-monopoly system must inevitably create unhappy losers. If a policy dispute involves a matter of fact, where "What works?" is an empirical question which only an experiment can answer, numerous local policy regimes or a competitive market in goods and services will generate more information than will a State-monopoly enterprise. A State-monopoly enterprise is like an experiment wit one treatment and no controls, a retarded experimental design. The system of markets (title and contract law) calibrates the reward for improved answers to resource allocation questions to the urgency of the question and the magnitude of the resources involved.

Empirical research finds what the above theoretical analysis predicts. Abundant empirical, statistical evidence supports the following generalizations:
1. As institutions take from individual parents the power to determine for their own children the course of instruction and the pace and method of instruction, overall system performance falls.
2. Political control harms most the children of the least politically adept parents.

Why, then, is the government in the education business? This "why?" question has three interpretations:
1. The welfare-economic "why?".
2. The historical "why?"
3. The political science "why?".

In brief:

1. No good welfare-economic case exists for State operation of schools.
2. The policy which prevails across the US and which compels attendance at school, mandates tax support of school, and restricts parents' options for the use of the taxpayers' pre-college education subsidy to schools operated by State (government, generally) employees originated in religious intolerance (specifically, anti-Catholic bigotry) and the ambition of public-sector entrepreneurs like Horace Mann and Richard Armstrong.
3. The current system survives on dedicated lobbying by current recipients of the US taxpayers' $500 billion+ per year pre-college education subsidy.

The $500 billion+ figure seriously understates the cost to society of the policy which restricts the taxpayers' education subsidy to schools operated by dues-paying members of the NEA/AFT/AFSCME cartel. Additional costs include the lost improvements in educational methods and technology which a competitive market would generate and the opportunity cost to students of the time that they spend in school. The opportunity costs of student time in school include lost lifetime earnings, lower lifetime productivity, reduced longevity, and the cost of prison for the poor kids whose lives we trash.

It does not take 12 years at $10,000 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 (government, generally) provision of History, Civics, and Economics instruction threatens democracy, just as State operation of newspapers and broadcast news media would threaten democracy (and currently help sustain totalitarian regimes in Cuba and North Korea).

If it is fraud for a mechanic to charge for the repair of a functional engine and if it is fraud for a physician to charge for the treatment of a healthy patient, then it is fraud for a school to charge for the instruction of a student who does not need our help. If "public education" is not an employment program for dues-paying members of the NEA/AFT/AFSCME cartel, a source of padded construction, supply, and personal service contracts for politically-connected insiders, and a venue for State-worshipful indoctrination, why cannot any student take, at any time, an exit exam (the GED will do) and apply the taxpayers' $10,000 per pupil-year subsidy toward post-secondary tuition at any VA-approved post-secondary institution in the State 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) private-sector employer?


Candidate Questionnaire

Here's the candidate questionnaire from the Hawaii State Teachers' Association.
2010 Election
HSTA Government Relations Committee
Hawaii State Board of Education

Candidate's Name: Malcolm Kirkpatrick
Office Sought: Board of Education At Large
Occupational background: Diver (UH), US Navy Engineman, Secondary Math teacher, tutor
Educational background: B.A. (Math). U.H. 1973. P.D. (Secondary Math Education), U.H. 1982
Political background: Candidate for B.O.E. 1998, 2000,2002, 2004, 2006, 2008
Community service: Tantalus Community Association Board member (former). TCA workday coordinator (former). Workday volunteer.

What schools do your children attend or have your children attended? Public or private? If your children attend(ed) non-public schools, please indicate your reason(s): I have no children. I would homeschool if I did.

1. What are your top three priorities in public education as a member of the Board of Education:
a. I support decision-making based on empirical support of policy.
Please explain: The DOE has access to abundant research. The DOE collects volumes of raw data. These can guide decision-making.
b. I support credit-by-exam for all courses required for graduation.
Please explain: Credit-by-exam will enhance student motivation, reduce costs, and enhance overall system performance.
c. Repeal the Teacher Standards Board.
Please explain: No statistical, empirical research supports policies which restrict access to the teaching profession to people with College of Education coursework, as the Hawaii TSB requires. The TSB has advanced contradictory, complicated, and vague "standards" which raise costs and do nothing to raise system performance. The TSB places the HSTA and HGEA is a serious conflict of interest as representatives both of teachers and taxpayers.

2. If you are elected to the BOE, what would you do to promote a culture within DOE that is more supportive of teachers regarding such things as payroll lag, reclassification, etc.? I would support expansion of education options (multiple independent school districts, charter schools, tuition tax credits, school vouchers, homeschooling, etc.). If we disagree about a matter of taste, a range of education options allows the satisfaction of varied preferences, while the struggle for control of a Statewide monopoly school system must create unhappy losers. If we disagree about a matter of fact, where "What works?" is an empirical question which only an experiment can answer, numerous suppliers of education services will provide more information than will a Statewide monopoly enterprise.

The following are position statements on some critical issues. For each issue, indicate whether you support or oppose HSTA's position. Please attach additional pages if you want to elaborate or explain your response. Be sure any additional pages clearly indicate the position or question to which you are referring.

3. HSTA opposes any continuing erosion of teachers' health and retirement benefits.
Do you support or oppose HSTA's position?

Please explain: I support policies which empower individual teachers to allot their pay as they see fit. Governments at all levels have made more promises than they can keep. It's time to stop making false promises.

4. HSTA supports paying teachers (e.g., new teachers, teachers returning from leave, etc.) in a timely manner and believes that the Board can assist in rectifying the current practice of delayed payments.
Do you support or oppose HSTA's position?
Support_X_ Oppose___

Please explain._____

5. The Collective Bargaining Law, Chapter 89, gives public employees the right to participate in deciding their wages, hours, and conditions of work. HSTA supports the preservation and strengthening of the intent and purpose of Chapter 89. HSTA opposes any action that diminishes the rights or protections granted public employees through collective bargaining or state legislation.
Do you support or oppose HSTA's position?
Support_X_ Oppose_X_

Please explain: It's a matter of interpretation. One size (or contract) does not fit all. Federalism (local control), separation of powers, and markets institutionalize the principle of humility. No one has privileged access to divine inspiration. Students, parents, real classroom teachers, and taxpayers would be better served by an education industry that featured greater local control (independent school districts at the County level or lower, expanded charter options, school vouchers).

6. HSTA supports legislation and funding of programs and activities that reward continuing education for teachers and provide cost-free opportunities for teachers to pursue professional development.
Do you support or oppose HSTA's position?
Support_X_ Oppose_X_

Please explain: I would support a legislative mandate that the College of Education allow teachers in service to audit courses at the U.H. College of Education tuition-free, if sufficient paying students enroll to justify the class. I oppose hiring of outside consultants to conduct in-service workshops. I oppose paying for travel and accommodations to out-of-State presentations.

7. HSTA supports legislation for compulsory or mandatory kindergarten in Hawaii.
Do you support or oppose HSTA's position?
Support___ Oppose_X_

Please explain: Abundant statistical, empirical research finds adverse effects and few benefits in early compulsory attendance. States which compel attendance at age 7 or 8 have higher 4th and 8th grade NAEP Reading and Math scores than States which compel attendance at age 5 or 6. Later is better. The rate of dyslexia in a population is inversely related to the age at which societies institutionalize reading instruction. Later is better. Studies of daycare find increased anti-social behavior associated with early institutionalization. Early compulsory attendance is strongly counter-indicated. Later is better.

8. HSTA supports legislative efforts to preserve public education and opposes the diversion of public funds or tax credits to non-public schools.
Do you support or oppose HSTA's position?
Support___ Oppose_X_

Please explain: It is a mistake to equate "education" and "school". It is a mistake to equate "government-operated schools" with "public education". Students, parents, real classroom teachers and taxpayers would benefit from an expansion of parents' options for the use of the taxpayers' pre-college education subsidy.

9. HSTA opposes any legislation to provide public funds for tax subsidies (tax credits, tax deductions) or vouchers for private education, religious or home school expenses, or inclusion of vouchers within the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
Do you support or oppose HSTA's position?
Support___ Oppose_X_

Please explain: See answers to questions #5 through #8.

10. HSTA opposes any expansion of non-conversion charter schools. Before the legislature expands the number of non-conversion charter schools, the Department of Education must have a good handle on the current charter schools.
Do you support or oppose HSTA's position?
Support___ Oppose_X_

Please explain: The Department of Education should have NO handle on charter schools. The most effective accountability mechanism that humans have yet devised is the ability of unhappy customers (e.g., parents) to take their business elsewhere.

11. HSTA supports a single, statewide school district.
Do you support or oppose HSTA's position?
Support___ Oppose_X_

Please explain: States with numerous small school districts generate higher NAEP test scores at lower cost than States which maintain a few large school districts. Teachers would benefit from an expansion of contract options which multiple, independent school districts would offer.

12. HSTA supports legislation and funding to eliminate repair and maintenance backlog and keep repair and maintenance current to fix our public schools.
Do you support or oppose HSTA's position?
Support_X_ Oppose___

Please explain: I would also support an investigation of the competitive bidding process. We know from the Federal investigation of the DOT Airport Division how insiders rigged the competitive bid process.

13. HSTA supports legislation and funding to reduce construction backlog.
Do you support or oppose HSTA's position?

Please explain: I would have to study this. Unit (per classroom) costs looked high to me when I last looked (ten years ago), at over $200,000 per room.

14. HSTA supports legislation and funding to provide a working phone in every classroom and to provide sufficient electrical and telecommunications infrastructure to accommodate school activities.
Do you support or oppose HSTA's position?

Please explain: Performance gains would be insufficient to justify the cost to retrofit schools. Perhaps wifi would work.

15. HSTA supports legislation and funding to increase the safety and security of all schools.
Do you support or oppose HSTA's position?

Please explain: Schools chosen by parents in a competitive market would be safer than the State-monopoly system which the HSTA protects. The one-size-fits-all approach of the Hawaii DOE guarantees, for many students, a mismatch between the student's interests and abilities, on the one hand, and the school's curriculum and methods of instruction, on the other.

16. HSTA supports preserving basic student support services such as librarians, counselors, tech coordinators, etc.
Do you support or oppose HSTA's position?
Support___ Oppose_X_

Please explain: I support a review of effectiveness. The Nobel Memorial Prize-winning economist James Buchannan attributed his success, in part, to his education in a one-room school house.

17. HSTA supports the utilization of alternative energy sources in the schools.
Do you support or oppose HSTA's position?

Please explain: I support measures which reduce costs without lowering system performance.

18. HSTA suports legislation to amend the State Constitution to repeal the Expenditure Controls, Article VII, Section 5, which controls the state's expenditure by creating an expenditure ceiling and prohibits the state from spending the monies needed to invest in public education.
Do you support or oppose HSTA's position?

Please explain: It does not take 12 years at $10,000 (or $17,000)* to teach a normal child to read and compute. Most vocational training occurs more effectively on the job than in a classroom. State (government, generally) provision of History and Civics instruction is a threat to democracy, just as State operation of newspapers and broadcast news media would be (are, in totalitarian countries like North Korea and Cuba).
Update: See this comment...
The path of big government and the welfare state is the path to broken promises and inter-generational warfare. The workers in California and vendors in Illinois are paying the price for the unsustainable public sector union contracts which preceded them, sometimes by decades.

Yet those of us who call for fiscal sanity and reform are derided by people like Sheldon Whitehouse and other Democrats as having no compassion.

Just the opposite is true.

It's called tough love. Those who feed the big government addiction are the cruel ones.

19. HSTA supports legislation to amend the State Constitution to repeal the Disposition of Excess Revenues, Article VII, Section 6, which prohibits the state from having any savings since tax refunds or tax credits must be given to the taxpayers of the state, thus, prohibiting the state from spending the monies needed to invest in public education.
Do you support or oppose HSTA's position?

Please explain: See above. As Eric Hanushek observes, beyond a very low level resources do not matter much to school system performance. Compared to taxpayers in other US States and in other countries, Hawaii taxpayers already pay too much to operate the Hawaii DOE.

20. HSTA supports efforts to fully fund charter schools.
Do you support or oppose HSTA's position?

Please explain: I support most policies which expand parents' options for the education of their own children.

21. HSTA supports legislation to allocate all funds to schools according to a weighted student formula with the following conditions:
a. HSTA recognizes that there are essential elements that need to be in place in a child's education to ensure student success. Schools must have adequate funding for sufficient computers, software, equipment, and textbooks for every child. All laboratories, shops, and learning spaces must be properly equipped and maintained. Students, faculty, and support staff must have the training necessary to be proficient in current technology.
b. Teachers must be active decision-makers in how the money is spent.
c. Teachers' salaries must come from a central salary account based on the average teacher's salary.
d. Collective bargaining must be preserved.
Do you support or oppose HSTA's position?

Please explain:
a. The use of any weighted student formula makes the DOE budget less transparent.
b. Principals should control schools, and parents should pick schools. Teachers would benefit from freedom to move between schools which offered a range of work environments.
c. "What works?" is an empirical question which only an experiment can answer. Would a pay schedule based, in part, on student performance raise system performance? Would a pay schedule which offered enhanced salaries for teachers in shortage areas make schools more appealing to students and parents? An institutional environment which featured multiple experiments in school operations would generate better answers to these questions than would a statewide monopoly school system.
d. If collective bargaining is a "right", why does the State and the HSTA force it on teachers? Does the right to keep and bear arms require I carry a firearm?

22. HSTA supports creating a funding source specifically for education.
Do you support or oppose HSTA's position?

Please explain: This proposal would enhance the security of system insiders at the expense of taxpayers and all other State programs. It would make adjustments to the budget difficult in lean times.

___________________________ 2010-07-02 (2-July-2010)

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Business email ________________________ Fax number_______________
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* (Update) NCES gives three figures for the total DOE budget: "total revenues", "current expenditures", and "total expenditures". NCES gives two figures for enrollment: "September Enrollment" and "average daily attendance". This generates six possible figures for the DOE per pupil budget, which range from just shy of $10,000 to over $17,000. The Hawaii DOE compiles budget figures after the end of the fiscal year. The US Department of Education and Department of Commerce collect statistics from all local education agencies (LEA) which receive Federal funds, and publish various summaries. The figures therefore reflect a situation two or three years past.