Snarky Behavior

An Impulse I Never Understood:

January 10, 2008 · Leave a Comment

The call by Ron Paul and other Libertarians to “abolish the US Department of Education” and return the control of educational decisions to the local level, based on the 10th amendment.

(Granted I am biased, because I have worked in some capacity for the US Department of Education.  But I worked in the non-controversial branch — that is to say statistical data collection and analysis — not policy regulation and funding.)

I realize that we are a country founded on frontier schoolhouses and homeschooling.  But that tradition seems pretty antiquated in a modern, global context. 

Yes a more heterogeneous system may result in a healthier diversity, which is key to the concept of creative destruction and innovation in particular. 

But when we are competing against ethnically homogenous nations like China, Singapore, Japan, and to some degree India and most of Europe– and many of those countries have centrally planned educational systems resulting in a relative and absolute advantage in the percentage and number of highly-educated students… we lose.

The ironic take on this position is that Friedrich Hayek, one of the founding members of the Austrian School of economics that largely informs the libertarian position, observed that one of the results of the capitalist system and the labor specialization it entails is that as our society progresses technologically, the potential of any individual to retain a relative share of the totality of human knowledge must decrease. 

It therefore follows that the homeschooling impulse is misguided because unless a parent is a mental giant, his or her likilhood to better educate his or her children than might a trained, professional teacher, is extremely small. 

And it is national standards and accountability norms that result in highly trained professional teachers.  Federal standards raise the bar of what we expect our teachers to teach, and our children to know.  It’s really not that hard. 

The debate should be over where and how we set the bar, not whether it should be there at all. 

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