My post “Ravitch Admits Errors, Then Repeats” received the following comment on YouTube from cxa011550:
“Government is force? By that simplistic logic you should support anarchy. By the same token, the ultimate goal of private business is profit, not reason, and not even the benefit of students. As Ravitch pointed out in another lecture, when private organizations are put in charge of schools they often exclude ‘undesirable’ students whose low performance would take away from their bottom line. Public education DOES work for many students, just not enough.”
That comment specifically relates to the following paragraph in the original post:
“In embracing a renewed drive to fix public schools, Ravitch fails to correct one of her fundamentally flawed premises: that schools should be public. She criticizes hybrid efforts to bring business principles to school reform, while missing that the public nature of schools is one of education’s key problems. Government is force, which puts force—and not Reason—as the fundamental driver in public education.”
Let’s break the comment out and evaluate it.
1) “Government is force? By that simplistic logic you should support anarchy.”
Actually, I do NOT support anarchy as I judge that government plays an essential role in subordinating the retaliatory use of force to objective law. However, government should be utilized to achieve its proper purpose and within its distinctive competence instead of being a catch all for any collective action at the expense of freedom of association and civil society.
The comment demonstrates the process of taking a statement out of context and applying logic independent of reality, which is the Rationalism that I criticized in Ravitch’s approach and more generally is the common approach taught by public education.
In context, by saying that government is force, I refer to how government action is different from cooperative projects.
Tying this back to reality, how do we see force in government education? Compulsory education laws. Laws against home schooling. Statutory and regulatory restrictions and mandates over educational content. Expropriation of funding. Court rulings that parents do not have a fundamental right to direct their child education. I could go on, but I think that I have validated that public education applies force against children, parents, and other members of the community.
In government’s proper function, the use of force is retaliatory to protect individual rights. In the case of American public education, government initiates force against anyone who would dissent from the majority who holds power at that moment.
2) “By the same token, the ultimate goal of private business is profit, not reason, and not even the benefit of students.”
Actually, Eliyahu Goldratt put it best when he said that the goal of a business is to make money now and in the future.
The incentives for politicians are short term, until the next election or the next step up in power. In doing so, they do not need to provide excellent service to the parents and students, but only the plurality needed to grant them power.
In contrast, effective business people think in terms of their life time and even thereafter. One can point to business people that create enormous short term wealth only to have it waste into nothingness, which demonstrates the distinction between the effective and the ephemeral.
To be effective, in business, one must produce and exchange value in a fair trade of value (money) for value (service or product). What value are parents looking for in education? Reason, or at least that is what they should aspire to for their children; in an environment of free association, other parents could choose mysticism, skepticism, or other flavors of the irrational.
Instead of a private market making great, good, mediocre, and awful choices available to parents, they are now assigned by American public education only mediocre or awful alternatives with penalties to any that attempt better for their children.
3) “As Ravitch pointed out in another lecture, when private organizations are put in charge of schools they often exclude ‘undesirable’ students whose low performance would take away from their bottom line.”
This is a consequence of mixing the private and the public, which can not be used to condemn the wholly private. The same criticism could be applied to any government contracting, which can be horrific despite vital private enterprises thriving without government interference.
How is it that low performing students take away from the bottom line? By the terms of the public contracts as set by the public authority.
In contrast, in a private school, low performing students offer an opportunity to delight their customer (the parents) with excellent service by improving the capacity of those students.
For a concrete example of this in reality, I point to the private Deseret Academy (see Mr Cropper’s channel on YouTube), which took unmotivated and poorly performing public school students, and transformed them into motivated and successful private school students. Also, for excellence in private education, I cite the Van Damme Academy.
4) “Public education DOES work for many students, just not enough.”
This comment reminds me of a statement by Ralph Ketcham in his biography of James Madison:
“A student of Madison’s endowments can sometimes overcome a series of poor teachers; that he was blessed with good ones at almost every step of his education undoubtedly contributed importantly to the characteristic discipline, keenness, and polish of his intellect.”
Reposted from The Prometheus Inquiry