No More Education Presidents!
President Bill Clinton's State Of The Union Address, Jan. 27, 1998
Read the quote from President Clinton carefully – because it highlights the apogee of what is possibly the most dangerous trend in education in America.
The Federalization of curriculum and policy in elementary education was bad enough. By creating a Department of Education, President Carter rammed through the greatest Federal power grab since they heyday of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. The paltry, and diminishing, efforts of conservatives to eliminate these mandarins are catalogued by the Cato Institute HERE, but what is more disturbing is the acceptance of the premise that every child can and should have post-secondary education.
Ask professionals in juvenile justice, and they will tell you that the most common profile for young offenders is an above average manual or performance ability, and a below average verbal ability. They would be better served by vocational education, certificate programs, or training vouchers. Instead, they are forced to endure a standard college admission educational curriculum that is unimaginably boring to them, based as it is on verbal and intellectual presentation. Intellect and intelligence are not synonyms. We may now recognize that there are verbal, visual, and manual learners, but the education establishment is still skewed towards words over actions, and post-secondary education is even worse. Yet not attending college is being presented as a shameful thing. High schools measure their success by how many students go on to college, and they are even rewarded financially for this statistic with government aid.
A college degree, once a mark of distinction, has descended into mediocrity. College was once a place for the few, who needed a specialized intellectual training for their discipline. Now, it is just a place to get your ticket punched, and perhaps acquire the requisite liberal mindset. In order to accommodate the rising number of run-of-the-mill students, less demanding classes and curriculum have been developed which will allow four years of Rocks for Jocks and other basket-weaving courses, allowing these young people to have the stream of education play over them without getting any wetter than they can help. Naturally, the genuinely intellectual and specialized now need Masters and Doctorate degrees; once the education mafia can invent more post-Doctorate distinctions, we can begin to trivialize Master’s degrees, too.
The Cape Cod Times reported, “According to the results, 42 percent of the more than 72,000 open positions across the state [of Massachusetts] in the second quarter of 2005 required at least an associate's degree, an increase of 2 percent over the previous year.” (See full story HERE). We are misleading young people by telling them that education is the cornerstone of wealth and success, when it is actually hard work and determination. Why does a convenience store manager need an Associate’s degree or a government clerk need a BA? Read the classifieds, and you will see these inane requirements. At the same time, we are not adequately teaching the science and math skills needed for our information economy to be continue to be successful.
Of course, to a certain extent, this is a union issue. By requiring ever more education, the employment of more and more teachers is a necessary corollary. Politicians, even conservatives who have zero chance of a teacher union endorsement, are wary of being termed ‘anti-education’. So we have Education Presidents, Education Governors, and soon Education Planning Boards. Secondary education has become a powerful sacred cow, and no elected official wants to be gored by that ox. Conservatives must work together to eliminate Federal interference in education, and return decision making authority to where it belongs – locally elected school boards and committees.
The late David Brudnoy, the libertarian WBZ radio host summed it up very well. He often said, “We have no problem with the idea that a Michael Jordan can jump higher than anybody else, or that a Jim Thorpe can run faster. But suggest that there are differences in intellect and intelligence, and it is immediately called elitist, often racist and sexist, and certainly not to be considered. Why can’t we admit what common sense tells us all is true – that some people have more powerful brains, just like Jordan has more powerful legs?”
We need to teach our children that hard work – be it manual or intellectual – is the key to accomplishment. We are only teaching young people the skills they need to survive in a white collar world – and it was a blue collar society that made America great. We are ignoring the educational needs of anyone who does not need to wear a tie or high heels to work. Diplomas may decorate the walls, but they cannot make you a success.
Recently, Porcupine was voted into a cadre of 50 bloggers, The Wide Awakes. The Wide Awakes are made up of 25 writers, and 25 Defenders who make coments to back up posts. This is my first post as a Wide Awake, and whenever I make one, I will put the Wide Awake logo at the top as an indicator. Please visit the blogroll for a link to the The Wide Awake Blog, and while you are there, please check out my new tenant, Journey Across the Pond, the blog of a soldier currently serving in Iraq, who is about halfway throguh his rotation.