2010/01/31

SB 2436

The Legislature would raid special funds to cover the current budget shortfall. Harriet submitted testimony in opposition.

To: Senate and House Education and Finance Committees
From: Malcolm Kirkpatrick
In re: SB 2436
2010-02-02

Please DO NOT support SB 2436. According to Chapter 431:
(h) Moneys in the hurricane reserve trust fund or in trust or custodial accounts, created for the benefit of the fund's secured parties, shall be expended by the Hawaii hurricane relief fund or its authorized designee and used solely for the purposes of this chapter.
The legislature would now violate this provision because of the inability of the Hawaii DOE, public-sector organizations, and this legislature to prioritize expenses.

The Legislature placed the Hurricane Relief Fund off limits to raids by public sector workers for good reason. Whether taxpayers will benefit from an exception to this policy depends on two factors:
1) the cause of the current budget deficit and
2) the use which the administration will make of the funds deducted from the Hurricane Relief Fund.

1) If normal business cycles produced the current downturn in tax receipts, we may expect that receipts will recover and temporary resort to special funds will do no harm. If, however, a parasitic public sector has weakened commercial activity, subsidizing and enhancing that parasitism will make the problem worse.
2) The failure of the DOE and this legislature to limit demands on taxpayers has generated a bureaucracy which, in the 2006-2007 fiscal year, reported total revenues over $2.9 billion.

The current decline in commercial activity, tax revenues, and State outlays reflects the inability of government decision-makers at all levels to resist increasing demands by recipients of the tax-generated revenue stream. Andre Marou suggested this etymology for the word "politics": "poly" from the Greek for "many" and "ticks" which are blood-sucking insects.

SB 2436 states:
...the legislature finds that providing a quality education for Hawaii's students is an overriding state priority with far-reaching effects on the prosperity, health, and growth of local communities and that ensuring adequate resources for education reflects a commitment and investment toward that priority.
How much money is enough? The DOE reported budget figures as follows:

Current dollars...................................Inflation-adjusted (2007)
.....2006-2007
Total revenues of a= $2,985,593,000
Total expenditures of b=$2,199,604,000
Current expenditures of c=$2,061,560,000
Enrollment of d=180,728.

By comparison
Current dollars....................................Inflation-adjusted (2007)
.....1996-1997
Total revenues of e=$1,213,729,000...............$1,562,471,513
Total expenditures of f=$1,241,375,000...........$1,598,061,078
Current expenditures of g=$1,117,671,000.........$1,438,813,028
Enrollment of h=187,653


The Hawaii Department of Educaton supplies data to the US Census Bureau. See
"Public School Finance Data" http://www.census.gov/govs/school/
and the inflation calculator http://www.westegg.com/inflation/

Current 2007 dollars...........................Inflation-adjusted (2007)
....2007
a/d=$16,520
b/d=$12,151
c/d=$11,407

Current 1997 dollars...........................Inflation-adjusted (2007)
....1997
e/h=$6,468.........................................$8,326
f/h=$6,615.........................................$8,516
g/h=$5956..........................................$7,667

The Hawaii DOE spends more, per pupil, than the US average, and more than any other country. Taxpayers get very little for this money and nothing for the increase between 1997 and 2007.

The legislature should look to reduce costs before it raises taxes or raids special funds. The legislature could reduce the cost to taxpayers of the Hawaii DOE by modifying compulsory attendance statutes. Albert Einstein opposed compulsory attendance at school. Gandhi opposed compulsory attendance at school Thomas Edison was homeschooled. Cyrus McCormick was homeschooled. Bertrand Russell was homeschooled. The great violinist Yehudi Menuhin was homeschooled. The first woman to receive an MD degree in the US, Mary Putnam Jacobi, was homeschooled until medical school. It does not take 12 years at $11,000 or even $7,000 per pupil-year to teach a normal child to read and compute. Hiram Maxim left school at 13 and apprenticed. Benjamin Franklin was homeschooled to age 12, attended school for two years, then apprenticed. The Wright brothers were high school dropouts.

The Hawaii DOE imposes costs beyond its $2.5 billion+ budget. The cost of school includes the opportunity cost to students of the time they spend in school. This cost appears as reduced lifetime earnings, reduced longevity, losses due to crime, and the cost of prison for the poor kids whose lives we trash. Juvenile arrests fall when school is not in session. Juvenile hospitalizations for human-induced trauma fall when school is not in session.

Clive Harber
"Schooling as Violence"
Educatioinal Review p. 10, 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.
Clive Harber
"Schooling as Violence"
Educatioinal Review, p. 9 V. 54, #1.
Furthermore, according to a report for UNESCO, cited in Esteve (2000), the increasing level of pupil-teacher and pupil-pupil violence in classrooms is directly connected with compulsory schooling. The report argues that institutional violence against pupils who are obliged to attend daily at an educational centre until 16 or 18 years of age increases the frustration of these students to a level where they externalise it.
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
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
Please do not support this bill.
Thank you for this opportunity to testify.

2010/01/30

Furlough Friday Fiasco

Harriet sent this...

To: Honolulu Star-Bulletin
From: Malcolm Kirkpatrick
In re: Furlough Friday
2010-01-30

Various Board of Education members, DOE administrators, HSTA officers, and writers of letters to the editor have criticized Governor Lingle for her role in the Furlough Friday fiasco. The Governor's critics indict the wrong party. State law requires that the Governor balance the State budget. The Hawaii Constitution gives the Governor no role in setting priorities for the DOE. The Governor acted responsibly in mandating cuts to the DOE budget, given that inflation-adjusted (2008 dollars) per pupil revenues have gone from $8,943 in 1991 to $17,626 in 2006 (the last year for which the US DOE has complete figures) and inflation-adjusted (2007 dollars) per pupil current expenditures have gone from $7,152 in 1990 to $11,024 in 2006, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Dilapidated buildings and obsolete textbooks are not due to insufficient taxpayer generosity. The DOE administration has created numerous out-of-classroom positions which raise costs and add nothing to student performance. Past legislatures approved DOE budget requests and mandated numerous wasteful programs within the DOE. We know from the Federal investigation of the DOT Airport Division contracting scandal how insiders rigged the competitive bid process. After Linda Lingle became Governor, the Legislature passed Act 51, which transferred oversight of DOE construction contracts from the Department of Accounting and General Services to the DOE. Last time I looked (15 years ago) the State paid (on average) over $200,000 per room to build classroom buildings.

Despite substantial budget increases over the years, student performance, as measured by standardized tests, has barely budged. While the DOE spends more, per pupil, than the US average (and more than every country on the planet), DOE performance remains in the national cellar. By some measures we are dead last. The evidence of waste and fraud is in the numbers. Governor Lingle used her only Constitutional authority, the budget axe, and told the DOE administration and the HSTA to find the waste. Instead of cutting fat, however, they cut muscle, and so enlisted desperate parents in their predation upon taxpayers.

It does not take 12 years at $11,000 (or $17,000) 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, Economics, Civics, or other "social studies" instruction is a threat to democracy, just as State operation of news media would be (is, in totalitarian countries). What we in Hawaii call "the public school system" originated in missionary evangelism and anti-Catholic bigotry. The government school system has become a make-work program for dues-paying members of the NEA/AFSCME cartel, a source of padded construction, supply, and personal service contracts for politically connected insiders, and a venue for State-worshipful indoctrination.

While students, parents, real classroom teachers, and taxpayers would gain from a competitive market in education services, this legislature will not address deep-seated institutional flaws in Hawaii's State-monopoly school system. Caring parents will homeschool. This does not require that families sacrifice an income; nothing n Hawaii Revised Statutes requires that homeschool instruction occur between 8 a.m and 2:30 p.m.

What odds they print it?

2010/01/28

Creeping Incrementalism

Harriet testified against HB 2190 as follows:
............................................................................
To: House and Senate Education Committee Members
From: Malcolm Kirkpatrick
In re: HB 2190

Please DO NOT support HB 2190

The Teacher Standards Board (TSB) has advanced useless, contradictory, counter-productive, and expensive teacher license requirements. This Board, as constituted, places the HSTA and HGEA in a serious conflict of interest as regards the HSTA's responsibility to represent teachers in disputes with the DOE administration. The enabling legislation which created this Board should be repealed, this Board abolished, and teacher employment decisions made at the school level.

Eric Hanushek on teacher quality...
"(T)eacher quality appears to be unrelated to advanced degrees or certification..."

As a Brookings Institute study of teacher quality notes
According to recent evidence, certification of teachers bears little relationship to teacher effectiveness (measured by impacts on student achievement). There are effective certified teachers and there are ineffective certified teachers; similarly, there are effective uncertified teachers and ineffective uncertified teachers. The differences between the stronger teachers and the weaker teachers only become clear once teachers have been in the classroom for a couple of years.
Please read Matthew Ladner (Jay Greene's blog) on the Brookings study of teacher quality.

The Hawaii Teacher Standards Board testified in favor of salary enhancements for teachers who have attained certification by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Abundant statistical empirical research finds no support fo this policy.
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.

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:...
No study, however, has ever shown that National Board certified teachers are any better than other teachers at raising student achievement
The State Auditor (Hawaii Reporter, 2009-03-02) wrote:
Seven years after assuming the licensing function, the board has neither an effective initial or renewal licensing program in place. The board exceeded its authority in extending licenses beyond the original authorization. It has been granting license extensions rather than renewing licenses beyond the two years set by the 2001 Legislature.
Harriet predicted this years ago: "The Cost of Teacher Certification" (Hawaii Reporter, 2004-03-12).

Abundant evidence supports the following generalizations:
1) As policy makers move control over the choice of curriculum and the pace and method of instruction away from individual parents to remote authorities, overall system performance falls.
2) Political control of school harms most the children of the least politically adept parents.
In consequence, States with numerous small school districts achieve higher performance at lower cost than States which enroll a large percentage of the student population in a few large districts. In general, local control of school yields higher performance, lower rates of juvenile crime, and lower per pupil cost. The Hawaii Teacher Standards Board enhances centralized control at the expense of students, parents, real classroom teachers, and taxpayers.

Please DO NOT support HB2190.

Thank you for your time.
..............................................................................
Harriet apologized. Repeal was not on the committee's agenda.

The Bill would make small changes to the operations of the TSB. As Harriet noted in ad lib remarks, the Bill would move policy two inches East while the testimony above recommends a move ten miles West. Once the Legislature creates a program, opposition to incremental changes to the program takes the form of opposition to change: as assent to the status quo. Hence the title to this post. From its inception, the TSB has grown by small steps in the direction of enhanced control over DOE teachers by their union. Hearings on incremental changes to existing legislation provide the only venue for opposition to a program in place.

Here, markets in education services again offer an enormous advantage. Just as people vary in their preference for some goods over others, different levels of risk over others, differnt allocations of time to work and leisure, different rates at which they discount time ("live for today" versus "take care of the long term and the short term will take care of itself"), people differe in the magnitude of change in policy they will accept. "There are too many 'r's in 'revolution'." Some parents might prefer a different text for Alg. II, while some parents might prefer a self-paced Math curiculum which does not separate Algebra, Analytic Geometry, Set Theory, and Logic. In an institutional environment which featured numerous small school districts or a competitive market in education services, parents could shift from one school to an incrementally preferable school or select an entirely different method of teacher selection.

2010/01/26

More on the Teacher Standards Board

Harriet testified against the proposal to create the Teacher Standards Board when the proposal would have created a temporary Board which was to have developed licensing requirements for new-hire teachers, pass these to the DOE, and expire. Finance Committees did not hear the initial legislation, as it did not contain (acknowledged) cost items. The initial legislation passed, with supporting testimony from the Board of Education and the Hawaii State Teachers' Association. Harriet attended meetings of the TSB Planning Commission, formed to design the TSB. By the second meeting of the TSB Planning Commission, members were discussing how to make the Board permanent and how to talk HSTA members into supporting changes in TSB powers which would make them less secure in their jobs. The Board lobbied for legislation which repealed the sunset provision, extended its licensing powers to teachers already in service, imposed a $50 per year fee on DOE teachers to pay for the Board's operation, and for legislated salary enhancements for teachers with National Board for Professional Teaching Standards certification. Since its creation, the Board has imposed enormous costs on Hawaii's teachers and taxpayers. As predicted.

The State Auditor, one of the few honest people in State government, had this to say...
Seven years after assuming the licensing function, the board has neither an effective initial or renewal licensing program in place. The board exceeded its authority in extending licenses beyond the original authorization. It has been granting license extensions rather than renewing licenses beyond the two years set by the 2001 Legislature.

The Standards...
1. Complete a State Approved Teacher Education Program (SATEP).
...
And lookie here...
"State-approved teacher education program” means a teacher preparation program that meets the board’s state approval
and...
“Board” means the Hawaii teacher standards board.

What "Teacher Education Program" does the Board approve? Accredited Colleges of Education. Never mind the abundant evidence that Education credits add nothing to teacher competence.

Harriet will have more to say anon.

Simon Legree's Agenda

The legislature's hearing notices here. Harriet will update this post during the session. The House Committee on Education will hear testimony on a bill affecting the powers of the Teacher Standards Board (TSB) on Wednesday, 2010-01-27.

Harriet has edited this post. Material which appeared here mow appears in the following post.

2010/01/22

Economy

Harriet offered the following analogy to Senator Espero and to Representative Lynn Finnegan: Suppose you were an administrator of a hospital which derived its revenues from direct payments from patients, payments from insurance companies, and donations from charitable foundations. Suppose that your charitable donors told you that their portfolio had declined and their donation to your institution would not match the previous year. How would a hospital dedicated to its mission respond? An institution in such a situation might try load shedding: use more out-patient care instead of in-house treatment, reduce post-surgical stays if this will not significantly impede recovery, send non-critical ER walk-ins to the day clinic.

Some children do not need the full DOE treatment.

Hawaii Revised Statutes compels attendance, for children age 6-18, with exceptions as specified.

[§302A-1132] Attendance compulsory; exceptions. (a) Unless excluded ...
Attendance at a public or private school shall not be compulsory in the following cases:
(1) Where the child is physically or mentally unable ...
(2) Where the child, who has reached the fifteenth anniversary of birth, is suitably employed ...
(3) Where, upon investigation by the family court, it has been shown ...
(4) Where the child has graduated from high school;
(5) Where the child is enrolled in an appropriate alternative educational program ...; or
(6) Where:
(A) The child has attained the age of sixteen years;
(B) The principal has determined that:
(i) The child has engaged in behavior which is disruptive to other students, teachers, or staff; or
(ii) The child's non-attendance is chronic and has become a significant factor that hinders the child's learning; and
(C) The principal of the child's school, and the child's teacher or counselor, in consultation with the child and the child's parent, guardian, or other adult having legal responsibility for or care of the child, develops an alternative educational plan for the child. The alternative educational plan shall include a process that shall permit the child to resume school.... [L 1996, c 89, pt of §2 and am c 162, §2]

The legislature could qualify condition (4) with a provision that the DOE must accept the GED from any student 16 years old or older and must accept any equivalent measure of high school completion, such as British school O and A level exams, at any age.

Harriet recommends that the legislature modify condition (4) as follows
(4)Where the child has graduated from high school or has
A) passed the GED by age 16 or later or
B) passed the British GCSE exams in English, Math, and Science with a score between A* and C (inclusive) at any age or
C) attained scores above the mean on the verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning sections of the Graduate Record Exam at any age.

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 the DOE to charge for the instruction of a student who does not need our help.

Opening Day

The 2010 session of the Hawaii Legislature opened on Tuesday, 2010-01-19. In fat years, legislators treat opening day as an occasion to celebrate. This year, budget cuts impend, and many once reckless spenders accept the need to prioritize and reduce expenditures. Harriet spoke with Representatives Della Belatti, Gene Ward, Lynn Finnegan, and Mele Carroll and with Senator Will Espero, who all acknowledged the new financial realities. In anticipation of an opportunity to testify in support of a bill which would mandate load shedding by the DOE, Harriet has prepared the following recapitulaton of the revenue figures of the Hawaii DOE.

Year
1) Total Revenues (unadjusted dollars), in thousands
2) Total Revenues (2008 adjusted dollars), in thousands
3) Enrollment
4) $/student (unadjusted dollars)
5) $/student (2008 adjusted dollars)

Year______1_________2_______3________4_______5___

1991__$1000848___$1563002___174747___$5727___$8943
1992__$1067810___$1619005___177448___$6017___$9122
1993__$1140173___$1678370___180410___$6319___$9301
1994__$1177915___$1689988___183795___$6408___$8857
1995__$1201888___$1682235___187180___$6421___$8987
1996__$1215924___$1652399___187653___$6479___$8804
1997__$1282702___$1714010___189887___$6755___$9026
1998__$1328572___$1747346___188069___$7064___$9290
1999__$1404897___$1799152___185860___$7558___$11301
2000__$1682330__$2083599___184360___$9125___$11301
2001__$1890806__$2304922___184546___$10245__$12488
2002__$2078876__$2474787___183829___$11308__$13461
2003__$2138137__$2497875___183609___$11645__$13604
2004__$2274166__$2571917___183185___$12414__$14039
2005__$2703718__$2957166___182818___$14789__$16175
2006__$2985596__$3185822___180728___$16519__$17626
2007__$2950803
Taxpayers spent twice as much, per pupil, in 2006 to operate the Hawaii DOE as they spent in 1991 as measured by inflation-adjusted total revenues per pupil.

"Total revenues" differs from "current expenditures" by the amount spent on capital improvements (e.g., classroom construction) and retirees' pensions and health care, among other items. Compare Table 185 Current expenditures per pupil in average daily attendance, Digest of Education Statistics.

Sources: NCES Digest of Education Statistics
NCES Public Education Finance Survey
Inflation calculator: http://www.westegg.com/inflation/

2010/01/18

Bringing the Argument Home

Matthew Ladner's "Let Me Help You Out", on Jay Greene's blog, analyzes a claim of reduced school funding in Arizona. Harriet followed the link and contributed 2 cent's worth (that's $3.75 in inflation-adjusted dollars) to the comments. As Harriet observed in that exchange, detailed discussion of State K-12 budgets misses the larger point of whether taxpayers benefit from any State role in the education industry. Those who wish to focus on budget details find larger-scale considerations an annoying distraction. One annoyed party responded. Harriet is nothing if not considerate. So the argument continues here instead of there.

(Lisa): "There are plenty of websites out there where you can unleash ideology without letting the facts get in the way. This isn’t one of them..."
"Ideological" is an uncomplimentary way to say "systematic". I try to be systematic. The antonym is "scatter-brained".
(Malcolm): "...a majority of students take tax support to independent or parochial schools in Belgium, Hong Kong, Ireland, and the Netherlands (World Bank statistics say otherwise, but they disagree with several sources and I suspect they rely on an idiosyncratic definition of 'public')."
(Lisa): "...as someone whose own children attended ‘government schools’ in Ireland, I can tell you that your attempt to characterize their system is wildly off base."

You have the advantage of personal experience. I have never been to Ireland and I am not a parent. However...

Postlethwaite
The Encyclopedia of Comparative Education and National Systems of Education
Ireland: "The administration and management of schools in Ireland involves a complex balance of private and public interests, local and central control. Each primary school is managed by a local board, made up of representatives of a church, parents, and teachers. At second level, secondary schools are private institutions. Most are owned and managed by religious bodies."

OECD
Education at a Glance (1996)
"The structure of the system of education in Ireland owes much to history. Irish schools are owned, not by the State, but by community groups traditionally religious groups. It is, in general, an aided system: the State does not itself operate schools (with a few minor exceptions), but assists other bodies, usually religious, to do so." (p. 287)
"Secondary schools, educating 60 per cent of second-level students, are privately owned and operated." (p. 289)

(Malcolm): "In the US, the term 'the public school system' describes a policy which includes:
a) compulsory attendance (truancy) statutes, applied to students
b) compulsory attendance (educational neglect) statutes, applied to parents
c) Constitutional provisions (in some US States) and laws or district policies (in other US States) which restrict 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
d) minimum wage laws and child labor laws which place on-the-job training off limits to most children.

This policy originated in the impulse to indoctrinate children into the State religion (google-search 'That Olde Deceiver, Satan Act'), fed on anti-Catholic bigotry, and survives on dedicated lobbying by current recipients of the US taxpayers’ $600 billion+ K-12 education subsidy."
(Lisa): "While I want to steer clear of your wild (and quite frankly, offensive) allegations about cartels and 'Satan Acts', I think it is relevant to respond to your main assertion, which is – I think – that we’d be better off without ‘government schools’ and organized education."
(Malcolm): " 'That Olde Deceiver, Satan, Act' is so called because 'That Olde Deceiver, Satan' appears in the 'whereas' part of the bill for compulsory attendance in colonial Massachusetts (c. 1644)."
(Lisa): "We aren’t debating whether or not public education is Satan’s work or not."

Good.
If the issue is whether your State government spends enough on schools, one reasonable consideration ought to be, seems to me, whether the education industry is a likely candidate for State operation at all.

(At this point, Harriet announced the intention to move the argument to The Harriet Tubman Agenda. What follows did not appear in the Arizona Education Network comments.)

The government of a locality is the largest dealer in interpersonal violence in that locality (definition). In the British colonies of North America, the policy of compulsory attendance first appeared in the Massachusetts Bay colony. The stated motivation (the "Whereas" part of the statute) was religious indoctrination. Prior to the American Revolution, some colonies compelled attendance at State (government, generally) schools, some polities subsidized attendance at schools of the parent's choice (usually Church-operated), and some polities did not compel attendance. When waves of Catholic immigrants provoked an allergic reaction in the resident Protestant majority, the (wealthier) Protestant taxpayers in those polities which compelled attendance faced a dilemma: maintain support at current aggregate levels and see the per-pupil budgets supplied to their own children fall or maintain per-pupil budgets at current levels and raise taxes on themselves. They chose neither. Instead, they restricted subsidies to schools which taught that part of the Christian religion common to all (Christian) faiths (hence, the "common" school) and, so as not to prefer any faith, they had students read the Bible themselves and determine its meaning. This was Protestant doctrine. Catholics took their Bible in Latin and salvation required the intercession of a priest. The Catholics bailed. Problem solved.

In Hawaii, the process was somewhat different. The Ali'i (hereditary rulers) had recently been pagan. Massachusetts-based Congregationalist missionaries preceded Catholic missionaries to Hawaii. When a recession on the mainland US in 1837 reduced contributions to overseas missions, the Congregationalist missionaries talked the Ali'i into subsidizing their schools and excluding the Catholic schools. Richard Armstrong, the second Superintendent of Schools, was a friend of Horace Mann, the principal motive force behind the Massachusetts school system. Both Armstrong and Mann rode waves of anti-Catholic bigotry into positions atop State-subsidized bureaucracies.

The State-monopoly school system originated in the impulse to indoctrinate children into the State religion and fed on anti-Catholic bigotry. Taxpayers get nothing from the State-monopoly school system that they would not get from a competitive market in education services or from an unsubsidized, unregulated market except drug abuse, vandalism, and violence.

State-operated ("public") schools are an expensive historical accident.

Does any of this matter? Definitely. The structure of an industry affects the cost to society of maintaining that industry. From the taxpayer's point of view, an efficient structure would deliver high performance at low cost. Across the US, costs rise and performance falls as districts increase in size. 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. Numerous lines of evidence suggest that students, parents, real classroom teachers, and taxpayers would benefit from a diversified, competitive market in education services. Departure from that diversified, competitive structure imposes costs, which rise directly with the degree to which the structure departs. Hawaii's single, State-wide monopoly school district does not qualify as diverse and competitive. Consequently, the system imposes large costs on taxpayers and delivers wretched performance.

UPDATE
In fact, this entire comment evaporated within minutes of its appearance on the Arizona Education Network site. In its place...

"Dear AEN Readers,
We have had to delete several comments that were off topic or contained inappropriate language. Please keep in mind that from time to time, students do access our site.
If you would like to engage in conversation about a different topic, you contact our team anytime at info@arizonaeducationnetwork.com.
Thank You~
Linda
Today’s Site Moderator"

UPDATE
End of discussion. Ten to one this gets moderated out of existence.

(Davidson): "AEN~ Stop feeding the trolls. Stop engaging in rational conversation with these crazies. Public Education=work of satan? Please, you are never going to have a rational discussion with passengers on the Crazy Train. Just stop interacting with them. Ignore them. Done."

Someone moderated my response out of existence. That is rude. I have not called anyone "troll". Lisa misrepresented the assertion about the religious motive behind compulsory attendance. In fact, she got it 180 degrees out of phase. The assertion was not that government schools were the work of Satan. Rather, that the " 'Ye Olde Deceiver, Satan' Act" is so called because that phrase occurs in the "Whereas" clause of the Act. The first State schools in the British colonies of North America had an explicit religious motive, to indoctrinate children into the State religion (i.e., to combat Satan).

Further, in response to (a) "(it is unlikely that) in a voucher-subsidized competitive market in education services such default-option schools would enroll more than 10% of the total student population. That is the fraction of students in government schools in Hong Kong and Ireland (HK data from Assistant to the Minister of Education Michael Lee, by e-mail, Ireland data from OECD 'Education at a Glance')" Lisa wrote: (b)"I can tell you that your attempt to characterize their system is wildly off base."

Someone moderated documentation in support of (b) [oops. Harriet intended: "(a)"] out of existence.

If AEN's moderation runs true to form, this will not appear on the AEN site. It goes as an update to my blog, about the dishonesty of State school advocates.

2010/01/03

The State Against Blacks

In The State Against Blacks Walter Williams describes policies which harm(ed) minorities, whether sold as beneficial to the majority, such as (initially) minimum wage laws and Jim Crow, or beneficial to the minority, such as (currently) minimum wage laws and affirmative action. In Black Education Dr. Williams describes the dismal state of Black schooling in the US and considers some of the causes. Dr. Williams does not name the fundamental cause of the US school system's wretched performance, the policy which gives to State (government, generally) employees an exclusive position in receipt of the taxpayers' age 6-18 education subsidy. Harriet does not believe that Dr. Williams missed this detail. Rather, the libertarian Dr. Williams likely takes as a given that the US State-monopoly school system will yield poor results and proceeds to list them.

Dr. Williams observes that facts do not support some common answers to the question "what’s to be done about this tragic state of black education?" US schools receive more than enough money, and class size reductions have little effect. He further observes that standardized tests for college admission and graduate school admission place Education majors at the bottom of the list among all academic majors.

In answer to the question "What is to be done?", Dr. Williams writes "This destruction will continue until the day comes when black people are willing to turn their backs on liberals and the education establishment’s agenda and confront issues that are both embarrassing and uncomfortable." Harriet suggests that unhappy parents will accomplish more for their children if they turn their backs on collective action as well as on government schools. Homeschooling parents do not need to reform the entire system.

Dr. Williams concludes "Prospects for improvement in black education are not likely given the cozy relationship between black politicians, civil rights organizations and teacher unions." This may well apply to the prospects for systemic reform through formal democratic processes. In one 2005 post, "An Economy based on Greed", Harriet wrote: "Political control of school harms most the children of the least politically adept parents ('Well, duh!', as my students would say)."

Homeschool. Nothing in Hawaii law requires that homeschool instruction occur between 0800 and 1430. Parents can extend daycare to age 17 (when students may take the GED)
and supply instruction in the evening.

2010/01/02

Please read Stuart Buck

Stuart Buck has a profound comment on career paths. Harriet can add nothing to Buck's post on Human Capital Misallocation. One problem of equal magnitude is how to compromise differences over the rate at which we discount time. Few other issues come close.

The Zulu clock says 0725. That's 2125 here. Good night. The TV news said that Pat Hamamoto has resigned as Hawaii DOE Superintendant. Maybe Harriet will think of something to say about that. See you all on the other side of midnight.

2010/01/01

How to Trust Experts

Arnold Kling, " When Experts Fail" recommends scepticism when a policy change would shift power from customers to "experts". Expertise may be important, but it's important that experts not choose the experts. Harriet would not perform auto-surgery. While Harriet will seek professional help, Harriet would prefer to retain the power to choose which surgeon, which mechanic, which teacher, which financial advisor, will serve.

Expertise degrades over time, as knowledge diffuses and technology evolves. Expertise becomes ossified, as "experts" become a self-perpetuating class of insiders. Absent very good arguments for a State-monopoly policy regime (arguments lacking in discussion of education and health policy, in Harriet's opinion), the default option which best protects the public's welfare is minimal State enforcement of "expert" privilege.

1) To the extent that a disagreement over policy reflects a difference of taste, multiple local policy regimes or a competitive market in goods and services allows for the expression of varied tastes, while the struggle for control of a State-monopoly industry (e.g., a school system) must inevitably create unhappy losers. In a multi-party contest, the losers might constitute a large majority of the players.
2) To the extent that a dispute over policy reflects a matter of fact, where “What works?” is an empirical question, numerous local policy regimes (e.g., small school districts, independent charter schools) or a competitive market in goods and services (e..g., health care, instructional services) will generate more information than will a State-monopoly industry. A State-monopoly enterprise is like an experiment with one treatment and no controls; a retarded experimental design.
3) Insiders have a stronger incentive to twist accountability mechanisms than outsiders, generally, have in keeping accountability mechanisms straight. Internal accountability mechanisms fail systematically. Economists call this "regulatory capture". People resolve more disputes through neglect than through confrontation. If you get a badly prepared meal or poor service in a restaurant, you don't scream at the chef or complain to management, or buy shares and influence restaurant operations "democratically", you eat somewhere else next time out. The most effective accountability mechanism humans have yet devised is a policy which gives unhappy customers the power to take their business elsewhere.