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Category: Education (page 2 of 3)

To a Public School Apologist

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.”

I have dealt with the essential aspects of this comment’s issue previously in my posts “Our Students’ Potential Gap” and “Who are Parents to Decide About their Child?

Reposted from The Prometheus Inquiry

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Vocab: bantling

After retirement, Thomas Jefferson engaged in the founding of the University of Virginia.

Opposition to Central College [later to become the University of Virginia] and to Jefferson’s plans for it was to be expected from the Scotch-Irish of Staunton, who wanted to make that little city the capital of the state as well as the site of the University, and from the Presbyterians of Lexington, seat of Washington College, which would be the “bantling of the Federalists.”

[Source: D. Malone, The Sage of Monticello (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1981), p. 249.]

From various sources:  n. a very young child; it is slang with a derogatory connotation, and may be derived from a German word for bastard.

This post is part of a series, in which I look up words from my reading.  These entries include foreign phrases, archaic and technical terms, and words for which my understanding is too approximate for my liking.

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Vocab: Carthago delenda est

In retirement, Thomas Jefferson advocated public education, which he viewed as a vehicle to democratize Virginia by creating smaller units of administration around the local school that would create experience with direct democracy like the town hall meetings of New England.   Related to his passion:

[Jefferson] said that as Cato ended every speech with the exhortation “Carthago delenda est,” he would end every opinion with the injunction “Divide the counties into wards.”

[Source: D. Malone, The Sage of Monticello (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1981), p. 249.]

Definition from Wikipedia:

Carthago delenda est (English: “Carthage must be destroyed”) or the fuller Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam or also Ceterum autem censeo, Carthaginem esse delendam (English: “Furthermore, I think Carthage must be destroyed”) are Latin phrases, clarion calls in the Roman Republic which came in the latter years of the Punic Wars.

Although no ancient source gives the phrase exactly as it is usually quoted in modern times (either Carthago delenda est or the fuller Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam), something like this wording can be inferred from several ancient sources, which state that the Roman statesman Cato the Elder would always end his speeches with some variation of this expression even if he had not been discussing Carthage in the speech.

This post is part of a series, in which I look up words from my reading.  These entries include foreign phrases, archaic and technical terms, and words for which my understanding is too approximate for my liking.

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Who are Parents to Decide About Their Child?

Last month, William C. Mims was appointed to Virginia’s Supreme Court after a public career that included service in the House of Delegates, the state Senate, and as the state’s Attorney General.  I remember when he was first running for Delegate and knocked upon my door to ask for my vote.

He asked whether I had any concerns that he could act upon as a legislator, and I did.  Under the law, my daughter was born a month and a half too young to start public kindergarten, when we as parents thought was appropriate and would have been consistent with the law when I was young.  He expressed his sympathy, because his own daughter had suffered under the same legal limitation.  However, he said that as a legislator that he would be in no position to change that law.

As a parent, he knew that the law was inconsistent with the educational requirements of specific children.  Despite his concern for his own daughter, he did nothing to advance her educational interests.  Given his influence, an opportunity, and the power to right a wrong for future individuals, he refused to act.  He suspended his own independent judgment and deferred to the opinions of others.

In contrast, I paid for private kindergarten so that my daughter would advance her education.  However, the next year, the public school refused to recognize her achievement and wanted her to repeat kindergarten; despite her ability to read, write, and compute.  As parents, we pushed to get her tested and put into 1st grade over the objections of her teacher and the school’s principal.

As a result of our continuing to exercise our independent judgment, our daughter started taking AP courses in her sophomore year and graduated high school with nearly enough credits to start college as a sophomore.  She graduated summa cum laude with two degrees from a great college, where she engaged in numerous leadership opportunities.  Now, she is about to start on a five year master’s-doctoral program.

While my daughter did all the work to achieve her own goals, as parents, we acted to make those opportunities available to her; however, the experts administering the public schools, attempted to obstruct her advancement by failing to treat her as an individual.

Parents have a choice to make; either defer to the opinions of the public educrats who fail to account for individual variances, or use independent judgment to focus decisions upon the requirements of your own child.

Reposted from The Prometheus Inquiry

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Vocab: expostulation

Following their terms as President, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams through their private correspondence demonstrated that shared values should supersede disputes over partisan disagreements.  In an exchange related to differentiating natural from artificial aristocracies:

Notwithstanding his qualifications, definitions, and expostulations, [John Adams] declared that he saw no disagreement between himself and Jefferson.

[Source: D. Malone, The Sage of Monticello (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1981), p. 240.]

Definition from Merriam-Webster online:  n. an act of earnest reasoning with a person for the purpose of dissuasion or remonstrance.

This post is part of a series, in which I look up words from my reading.  These entries include foreign phrases, archaic and technical terms, and words for which my understanding is too approximate for my liking.

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Our Students’ Potential Gap

This weekend my niece, a first-grader, picked up Ralph Ketcham’s biography of James Madison from my shelf, and began correctly and unaided to read it aloud.  As she is early in her education, she is not yet corrupted by public school and eagerly competes with her older siblings to demonstrate her own individual capacity.

Within that book, I recently found an interesting observation by the author about Madison’s pre-collegiate education:

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.

In today’s era of egalitarian public schools with reportedly poor teachers, are our current students overcoming these limitations to achieve their own individual potential to develop their capacity for applying their own mind to the fulfillment of their lives?  Despite these limitations, some students excel either without competent teachers, or with the benefit of a rare competent educator.

Primarily, this potential gap ignored by ineffective publicly hired specialists is bridge by the parents; thus, those professionals frequently fault their clients for failing to perform the job for which the educrats are paid.

Given limited time resources, expertise, and private secular alternatives, how can loving parents assist the educational development of their children?  At this point, I conclude that hiring a mature and professional tutor focused upon your individual child’s development and personal goals is needed to supplement the time and money wasted in public schools.

Reposted from The Prometheus Inquiry

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Vocab: entails

Following their terms as President, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams through their private correspondence demonstrated that shared values should supersede disputes over partisan disagreements.  In an exchange related to differentiating natural from artificial aristocracies:

[Thomas Jefferson] reminded [John Adams] of the law, fathered by [Jefferson], by means of which [Virginia] got rid of entails and primogeniture.

[Source: D. Malone, The Sage of Monticello (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1981), p. 239.]

Definition from Dictionary.com:  n. the act of limiting the passage of (a landed estate) to a specified line of heirs, so that it cannot be alienated, devised, or bequeathed.

Wikipedia describes:  “The purpose of an entail was to keep the land of a family intact in the main line of succession. The heir to an entailed estate could not sell the land, nor usually bequeath it to, for example, an illegitimate child. The complications arising from entails were an important factor in the life of many of the upper classes, especially from about the late 17th to the early 19th centuries, leaving many individuals wealthy in land but still heavily in debt.”

This post is part of a series, in which I look up words from my reading.  These entries include foreign phrases, archaic and technical terms, and words for which my understanding is too approximate for my liking.

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Vocab: escheat

The following sentences reports on Virginia’s efforts to establish public financing of education during the early 18th century; such funds were to later be applied to support the establishment of the University of Virginia:

The Act of February 2, 1810, provided that all escheats, confiscations, fines (except militia fines), penalties, forfeitures, and derelict personal property accruing to the state be appropriated for encouragement of learning.

[Source: D. Malone, The Sage of Monticello (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1981), p. 236-7.]

Definition from Wikipedia:  “Escheat is a common law doctrine that operates to ensure that property is not left in limbo and ownerless. It originally referred to a number of situations where a legal interest in land was destroyed by operation of law…The term is often now applied to the transfer of the title to a person’s property to the state when the person dies intestate without any other person capable of taking the property as heir…In some jurisdictions, escheat can also occur when an entity (such as a bank) holds money or property (such as an account in that bank) and the property goes unclaimed. In many jurisdictions, if the owner cannot be located, such property can be revocably escheated to the government.”

This post is part of a series, in which I look up words from my reading.  These entries include foreign phrases, archaic and technical terms, and words for which my understanding is too approximate for my liking.

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Vocab: contretemps

During a fictional conversion between the ghost of General George Washington and Thomas Fleming (the former President of the Society of American Historians), the historian asks the following, regarding General Mifflin (quartermaster) colluding with members of Congress to bring about Washington’s resignation:

How did you resolve that contretemps?

[emphasis added; Source: T. Fleming, “Channeling George Washington:  Illusions of Victory,” History News Network, 3/2/2010]

Definition from Dictionary.com:  n. an inopportune occurrence; an embarrassing mischance.

This post is part of a series, in which I look up words from my reading.  These entries include foreign phrases, archaic and technical terms, and words for which my understanding is too approximate for my liking.

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Vocab: excrescence

The following sentences reports on Thomas Jefferson’s comment on a draft book by William Wirt (later U.S. Attorney General), titled Sketches of the Life of Patrick Henry:

They would appeal to the young, [Jefferson] said, but would be better liked by the old if some of their excrescences were removed. (emphasis added)

[Source: D. Malone, The Sage of Monticello (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1981), p. 228.]

Definition from Dictionary.com:  n. an  abnormal  outgrowth,  usually  harmless,  on  an  animal  or  vegetable  body.

This post is part of a series, in which I look up words from my reading.  These entries include foreign phrases, archaic and technical terms, and words for which my understanding is too approximate for my liking.

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