HB 1055

To: Members of the House Education and Labor Committees, Senate Education Committee
From: Malcolm Kirkpatrick
In re: HB 1055, SB1282

Please DO NOT support HB 1055 (SB 1282) (repealing the administration of a norm-referenced test).

The text of the bill includes:
"SECTION 1. The recent implementation of the common core
2 state standards initiative led by the National Governors
3 Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief
4 State School Officers, has resulted in a set of common core
S state standards in English language arts and mathematics that
6 have been developed by teachers, school administrators, and
7 experts to provide a clear and consistent framework to prepare
8 students for college and the workforce. These standards define
9 the knowledge and skills students should possess within their K-
10 12 education careers so that they will graduate high school able
11 to succeed in entry—level, credit-bearing academic college
12 courses and in workforce training programs. Therefore, the
13 administration of nationally norm—referenced tests is no longer
14 necessary."

Note how much this resembles what DOE administrators said about the Final Report of the Hawaii State Commission on Performance Standards (the Blue Book), which the PREL compiled at a cost of over $250,000, and the DOE abandoned after four years, after floundering and failing to develop practical tests based on unnecessary or vague or contradictory "standards".

The Bill further says:
(Page 1)
18 The board of education has adopted the common core state
(Page 2)
1 standards and Hawaii is a governing member of the SMARTER
2 Balanced Assessment Consortium that will be developing and
3 implementing a summative assessment
in grades 3 through 8 and
4 high school in English language arts and mathematics that will
5 provide comparable achievement standards
across all of the
6 states that are members of the Consortium.

As the bill indicates, the alternative assessment does not yet exist.

The Hawaii DOE operates one of the worst school systems in the US, as measured by standardized tests. For years, DOE officials told the people of Hawaii that Hawaii students scored "above average" on Math. In 1990 Hawaii schools participated in the NAEP and we learned that DOE instruction generated a level of performance that put Hawaii in the national cellar. Standardized assessment is to system administrators and Professors of Education what sunlight is to vampires. Please do not eliminate one of the few means by which taxpayers and parents may assess DOE performance.

Thank you for this opportunity to speak.

To: House Education and Labor Committee members
From: Malcolm Kirkpatrick
In re HB 1540

Please DO NOT support HB 1540 (lowering the time uncertified teachers may work in the DOE).
The "standards" advanced by the Hawaii Teacher Standards Board have no relation to teacher or student performance. The Teacher Standards Board requires College of Education credentials. College of Education credits add nothing to teacher performance. Please read Robert Holland's Policy Review article "How to Build a Better Teacher".

In the 1990 Brookings Institute study of school performance (Chubb and Moe, Politics, Markets, and America's Schools), the authors found that the strongest predictor of school performance, after parent SES, was a composite variable the authors called "the degree of institutional autonomy". That is, the more people above the principal telling the principal how to do her job, the worse a school performed. One key element of control the authors recommend that authorities give to principals is the power of a principal to choose her team. For this reason, they opposed policies which limit teacher employment to College of Education graduates, which current Teacher Standards Board standards require.

Thank you for this opportunity to speak.

To: Senate Education Committee
From: Malcolm Kirkpatrick
In re: SB 810

The text asserts:...
(page 2)
6 ......According to the Georgetown
7 University Center on Education and the Workforce, by 2018
8 sixty-five per cent of Hawaii's jobs will require postsecondary
9 education and training beyond high school. Despite these
10 trends, Hawaii ranks forty-first in the nation in the percentage
11 of recent high school graduates who attend college. Even among
12 Hawaii's students who do go on to attend college, many are
13 academically unprepared and require remediation.

Against this, please consider:...

"The Great College Degree scam"
First, the push to increase the number of college graduates seems horribly misguided from a strict economic/vocational perspective. It is precisely that perspective that is emphasized by those, starting with President Obama, who insist that we need to have more college graduates.

Second, the data suggest a horrible decline in the productivity of American education in that the “inputs” used to achieve any given human capital (occupational) outcome have expanded enormously. More simply, it takes 18 years of schooling (including kindergarten and the typical fifth year of college to get a bachelor’s degree) for persons to get an education to do jobs that a generation or two ago people did with 12-13 years of education (graduating more often from college in four years and sometimes skipping kindergarten).

Third, a sharp rise in the dependency ratio—those too old or too young to work relative to the work age population is coming because of the aging of the American population. This means we need to increase employment participation in younger ages (e.g., 18 to 23) where participation is low today because of the rising college participation rate. The falling productivity of American education is aggravating a serious problem—a shortage of workers to sustain a growing population of those unable to care for themselves.

Fourth, all of this supports the notion that credential inflation arises from a perceived need by individuals to demonstrate potential employment competence through a piece of paper, i.e. a college diploma. Employers are using education as a screening and signaling device, at a low cost directly to them (although not costless because of the taxes they pay to sustain much of this), but at a high cost to the prospective employees and to society as a whole.

Fifth, this shows that the current problem of college student employability is not a new, and merely temporary, problem.

Lastly, I am saddened that this is happening. Many of those advocating more access are well meaning and have pure motives, but they are ignorant of the evidence. But higher education is all about facts, knowledge—learning how the world works and disseminating that information to others. Some in higher education KNOW about all of this and are keeping quiet about it because of their own self-interest. We are deceiving our young population to mindlessly pursue college degrees when very often that is advice that is increasingly questionable.
"From Wall Street to Wal-Mart: The Great College Degree Scam"

Executive Summary
Colleges and universities are turning out graduates faster than America’s labor markets are creating jobs that traditionally have been reserved for those with degrees. More than one-third of current working graduates are in jobs that do not require a degree, and the proportion appears to be rising rapidly. Many of them are better described as "underemployed" rather than "gainfully employed." Indeed, 60 percent of the increased college graduate population between 1992 and 2008 ended up in these lower skill jobs, raising real questions about the desirability of pushing to increase the proportion of Americans attending and graduating from four year colleges and universities. This, along with other evidence on the negative relationship between government higher education spending and economic growth, suggests we may have significantly "over invested" public funds in colleges and universities.
Please also read Ivar Berg, Education and Jobs; The Great Training Robbery.

It does not take 12 years to teach a normal child to read and compute. State (government, generally) provision of History, Civics, and Economics instruction is a threat to democracy, just as State operation of newspapers and broadcast new media would be. Most of the world's work is grunt work and most vocational training occurs more effectively on the job than in a classroom.

Please do not support this bill.

Update. I was late, due to an appointment with the vet, and delivered the testimony to the Senate hearing after the committee's decisionmaking. I presented the testimony on HB 1540. As recently as three years ago I would have rescheduled the vet appointment, but since legislators pay no attention to what I say, my cats have a higher priority than the lives of 170,000 children.
Update. Added link to Holland's Policy Review article. Added link to Brookings study by Chubb and Moe (1990).


HB 97 (and HB 11)

HB 11 (Cynthia Thielen, (R)) and HB 97 ( Kyle Yamashita, (D)) would lower the age at which the State compels attendance at school from six to five. Senator Avery Chumley's proposal to lower the age of compulsory attendance (start) from six to three provoked my initial interest in the relation between institutional variables such as age of compulsory attendance, district size, per pupil budgets, and teacher credentials, on the one hand, and system performance, as measured by standardized test scores, juvenile arrest rates, and juvenile hospitalization rates, on the other hand. Smaller is better. Later is better.

To: House Education and Finance Committee members
From: Malcolm Kirkpatrick
In re: HB 97 (mandatory kindergarten)

Please DO NOT support HB 97 (mandatory kindergarten). HB 97 will increase the cost of State government, add to looming pension and health benefit obligations, and degrade overall system performance.

Increased CostsThe Hawaii DOE reported a 2006 fall enrollment of 180,728 and a 2007 fall enrollment of 179, 897 students, according to the NCES 2009 Digest of Education Statistics, table 34. Dividing by twelve grades, this gives about 15,000 students at each grade level. The DOE per pupil budget was more than $12,000 per pupil in the fiscal year 2006-2007, according to the NCES 2009 Digest of Education Statistics, table 183. This figure understates the total cost as it does not include pension and health benefit obligations to former and current system employees. Adding one more mandatory grade level will increase K-12 costs by $180 million (plus uncertain but large pension and health benefit costs).

Degraded PerformanceAcross the US there is a clear and strong relation between the age at which States compel attendance at school and NAEP 4th and 8th grade Reading and Math scores. States which compel attendance at age 7 or 8 have higher scores than States which compel attendance at age 5 or 6. Later is better. Early education may be important. Early compulsory attendance at school is counter-indicated.

Thank you for this opportunity to testify.

A Hectare of Confusion and a Tonne of Indifference

As noted earlier ("Did He Mean It?"), Governor Abercrombie expressed concern for State's financial difficulties and then expressed his determination to treat State employment as a welfare program. Nothing better expresses the priority that legislators assign to maintaining the income of dues-paying members of the HSTA/HGEA/UHPA/UPW (NEA/AFSCME) cartel than the practice of measuring education in terms of time. "A year of Algebra I" and "three credit-hours of Sociology" make as much sense as "a pound of friendship" and "a square meter of health". With House Bill 954, Representatives Ty Cullen (D) and Joey Manahan (D) declare their affection for ... the support of the HSTA and HGEA in the next election, I suppose.

US "public education" has become an employment program for dues-paying members of the NEA/AFT/AFSCME cartel, a source of padded construction, consulting, and supply contracts for politically-connected insiders, and a venue for State-worshipful indoctrination. If this is not so, why cannot any student take, at any age, an exit exam (the GED will do) and apply the taxpayers' age 6-18 education subsidy toward post-secondary tuition at any VA-approved post-secondary institution in the State or toward a wage subsidy at any qualified private-sector employer?

Criminalizing Concern

Jay Greene asks "Who's the Criminal?"
In Akron, Ohio a woman who put her children in a better public school was sent to jail when private investigators hired by the school found that she did not live in the district. Her father did and she sometimes stayed with him, but that was not enough to keep her out of prison for seeking a better education for her children.

Meanwhile, in Atlanta there is evidence of widespread cheating on standardized tests by teachers and administrators as well as a potential cover-up in the investigation of those accusations. No one has gone to jail (and no one ever will) for robbing children of a quality education and then lying about their true achievement by cheating on the state test to hide that fact.
If Linda Ichiyama (D) and Aaron Johanson (R) have their way (House Bill 875), concerned parents in Hawaii will face charges for aiding and abetting their children's escape from wretched DOE schools.
Establishes requirements for powers of attorney executed for student enrollment purposes. Expressly prohibits uses of powers of attorney to circumvent school enrollment requirements, and requires parents and guardians to certify that a power of attorney is not being used for those purposes.


Did He Mean It?

This morning, I went to the State Capital, seeking help in identifying the sponsors of HB 25. The Public Access Room distributes lists of legislators' committee assignments, office locations, e-mail addresses, and signitures. Capital guards directed traffic away from the public parking in the basement, reserving space for guests at Governor Abercrombie's State of the State address. I parked on Richards street and walked into the building. The Governor was a few sentences into his address when I walked into the Public Access Room.

Readers may decide for themselves how seriously the Governor intended the talk about facing financial reality and how much, on the other hand, he intended this:...
I expect collective bargaining negotiations to be conducted in good faith and with common goals in mind—to achieve savings without disrupting service to the public, to keep state employees on the job with paychecks for their families, and to exercise creativity and long-term thinking in the bargaining process to improve the work experience and achieve a resolution of the crisis of unfunded liabilities in pension funds and runaway health costs.


Rebutting the First Lady

Professor Ann Althouse quotes First Lady Michelle Obama: "We can teach ("our" children) to give others the benefit of the doubt, particularly those with whom they disagree. We can also teach our children about the tremendous sacrifices made by the men and women who serve our country and by their families. We can explain to them that although we might not always agree with those who represent us, anyone who enters public life does so because they love their country and want to serve it."

Althouse responds: "But that's quite obviously untrue! Some people seek power for the wrong reasons or go astray after they've reached power. We need to observe the government with a clear, active, and critical eye."

A loving mother can teach a normal child to read (decode the phonetic alphabet) before that child can speak. The infant ears, eyes, and brain function at a level sufficient to this task before the child can coordinate the diaphragm, larynx, and tongue. A loving mother, moving through the lessons at a crawl, can teach a normal child to compute (add, subtract, multiply, and divide integers, decimals, and fractions) by age 8 if she starts early. Once a child can read and compute, s/he can study independently with a coherent course of instruction crystallized in books. 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 would be, and is in totalitarian States like Cuba and North Korea.

Professor Althouse explains that last point: "It would make more sense to teach creationism instead of evolution than to teach these wishful lies about government since children need to learn how to be effective citizens and lulling them into passive admiration of the government undermines the democratic process. Believing or not believing in creationism, by contrast, isn't going to change what happened in the grand expanse of evolutionary time."


What the State Can Contribute to the Education and Health Care Industries

From the Why Evolution Is True site...

MichieuxPosted January 1, 2011 at 4:34 pm
Would you you care to elaborate on the “serious defects” in the “standard arguments for state provision of health and education services”? That is, could you explain what you take those arguments to be, and provide some evidence not only for those arguments, but also how they are defective? Also, and perhaps more importantly, how would you measure a nation’s health?
I will sketch a skeletal outline. I admit numerous qualifications.

Why the State cannot make any useful contribution to the medical care industry or the education industry.

The government of a locality is the largest dealer in interpersonal violence in that locality (definition, after Weber). A law is a written threat by a government to kidnap (arrest), assault (subdue), and forcibly infect with HIV (imprison) someone, under specified circumstances. Individual A has a “right” to do X if the government has pomised not to interfere when A attempts to do X and, further, has promised to interfere with individuals B,C, etc. if they attempt to stop A when A attempts to do X. A State grants “title” to a resource X to an individual A when the State reecognizes the right of A to control X which includes the right to transfer control to other individuals B (to sell the resource) on terms mutually agreeable to A and B. Market-oriented policies combine title and contract law. Because barter and commerce benefit both sides of a transaction, markets unite control over resources with the incentive to use resources is socially benefiicial ways.

A society is free in proportion to the range of behaviors between compelled and forbidden. The advantages of freedom are obvious: how many times should you chew your next bite of apple? Should we conduct a nationwide vote on that? Each individual is the best judge of his own interests.

Separation of powers, federalism, and markets institutionalize humility on the part of government actors.

At this point, I invite critics of market economies to address two questions:
1. From a State presence in which industries does society benefit, beyond what the State contributes to markets generally (an original assignment of title and enforcement of contract law)? You may imagine either a) two categories: A = likely candidates for State operation or subsidy, and B = unlikely candidates for State operation or subsidy or
b) a continuum
(highly unlikely) -1_____._____+1 (highly likely).
2. What criteria determine an industry’s categorical assignment of position on the continuum?

Usual welfare-economic arguments for State intervention in an industry involve externalities, economies of scale, and information assymetries between buyers and sellers. In the case of the medical care and education industries, the information assymetry argument applies with greater force to remote State actors than to exchange between doctors and patients. Beyond a very low level, there are no economies of scale at the delivery end of the education industry as it currently operates. Education only marginally qualifies as a public good as economists use the term and the “public goods” (positive externalities) argument implies subsidy and regulation, at most, not State (government, generally) operation of school. The State cannot subsidize education without a definition of “education” and the State’s definition will then bind students, parents, real classroom teachers, and taxpayers to the State’s definition.

Similarly, the State cannot subsidize medical care without a definition of “medical care”. The taxpayers of one medium-sized US State could probably afford one band-aid and one aspirin for every person on Earth, but the entire Earth’s GDP is insufficient to keep even one person alive forever. Everyone dies. Barring a fatal accident, most of us will consume medical resources which we will never repay. In an unsubsidized market in medical services, relatives will face the decision: pull the plug on grandma and put braces on the kids, or sell the house, extend grandma’s life another six months, and declare bankruptcy. In a tax-subsidized market or a State-operated medical care industry, some State body will make the decision when to pull the plug (a “death panel”). Aggregation of resources and authority for control over resources into government hands contributes nothing to the performance of the medical care industry.

The “public goods” argument for subsidization of medical care or education has the logical hole I mentioned earlier, that oversight of corporate functions is a public good and the State itself is a corporation. Therefore, oversight of State functions is a public good which the State itself cannot provide. State assumption of responsibility for the provision of public goods transforms the free rider problem at the root of public goods analysis but does not solve it.

More later.

This was overlong, and the site owned complained, so I brought it here.