Sunday, June 05, 2011

Standing In the School House Door

Refreshing honesty from one of the commissars in the dark hierarchy of the education-industrial complex. Article in the N&O today, by UNC Ed School Dean Bill McDiarmid. Please do read it.

His essential points go as follows:

1. Students who have uninterested or unsupportive parents fail to do well in school.
2. Students whose parents are interested, involved advocates have the potential to do well.
3. It is not fair to open opportunities for the type 2 kids, since the type 1 kids won't have those opportunities.
4. Therefore, it is more fair to have a system where all students fall well short of their potential than to have a system where some students escape the trap of poverty and the cycle of educational failure.

Dean McDiarmid actually goes so far as to say that the desperate parents in the movie "Waiting for Superman" should be forced, literally forced, to keep their kids in the horrible public school system of Washington D.C. The ideology of our education commissars is that unless everybody escapes, nobody escapes.

Why would someone who at least pretends to care about children take such an abusive position? After all, if we are to ensure social mobility and a chance for some people to realize their dreams of a better life for their children, shouldn't we want to save at least some of those poor kids? Because, remember, the research the commissar cites shows that kids without adult advocates are GOING TO FAIL EITHER WAY. The only actual question is whether we let kids who DO have adult advocates succeed. Dean McDiarmid does not want that to happen. Again, why?

A remarkable story from New York tells us why. The NAACP is mounting an aggressive defense of failing schools in Harlem. Some of these schools have success rates (proportion performing at grade level) of 3%. (That's 97% NOT at grade level, for those of you who got degrees in education...)

Who is on the other side? Who is the NAACP valiantly fighting against? Poor black people. Nice. Check this article; it brings tears to your eyes. Shame on you, NAACP, and shame on Dean McDiarmid. At the end of the day, you are happy to sacrifice the future of our poorest children for a few pieces of silver for your public unions and their ideological fellow travellers.

Several polls near the end of the 2008 race showed my support among African-Americans was 50% higher than among whites. Some of this was because I was opposed to capital punishment. But people I talked to told me their support was based on educational reform, giving choice to poor people. Rich people have always had choices, and they are leaving the system to go to private schools. Poor people are the ones who need choices, and only changing government policy can do that.

(UPDATE: Link is fixed. Thanks!)


Mike said...

First link is bad?

Did a google search and did not find it.

Mike said...

Here it is: News & Observer - McDiarmid

PLW said...

You left out the best part, "A key element in China's success on international measures of student achievement has been the country's "one child" policy in which couples generally are allowed to have only one child."

McDiarmid's solution to the failure of government run schools: selective breeding and forced abortions.

Anonymous said...

This reminds my of something Milton Friedman said once in an interview. That when he applied to college during the Depression New Jersey had a scholarship program to send students who did well academically to Rutgers, which is how he was able to attend college. Now New Jersey has a scholarship program to send students who do poorly in school to Rutgers.

Russ Nelson said...

The reason poor people need choices is because poor people don't have money -- it's because poor people have only poor choices. If we can give them more choices (particularly more choices simply by ceasing to get in their way), we make them wealthier at no cost to us, and without putting a moral hazard on them.

It's better to give poor people their own freedom than to give them someone else's money.

Brad Hutchings said...

Gotta love how McDiarmid's final appeal is based on his channeling of the founding fathers rather than any actual research.

It sure would be cool if there were something like a Kiva for poor kids who perform at or above grade level and whose parents want them out of crappy schools. I'd throw $20/week at it to see a kid failed by the public school system do a little better with a program structured to help him learn.

Anonymous said...

It does not seem to me that McDiarmid is advocating to dumb down all children as much as he is insinuating that we should pay for "adult advocates", i.e. babysitters for each child who does not have a responsible adult already looking after the child. That of course is still just another dumb ass Liberal idea. This is the United States of America, the place where opportunity is endless and anyone can become anything he wants to become. The poor and their children and poor mostly because they make poor choices -- Freedom simply demands that people be allowed to fail.

In this case the parents are the problem, and the children problem will not be resolved until the parent problem is resolved.

J Scheppers said...

For a different perspectie, Bryan Caplan's new book "Selfish Reasons to have more Kids" argues that parenting has very little effect on long term child outcomes. Dubner and Levits in "Freakanomics" argue that there is a higher correlation between parents owning books and children's sucess than reading books to children and children's sucess.

I support much more school choice, but do think a little scrutiny of the correlation vs causation of active parents should be considered.

I would also ask if students that are found not to be meeting grade level expectations are making reasonable economic tradeoffs based on their immediate need for survival and happiness.

I suggest that low measured student performance has very little to do with student ability but more to do with the reality of the value choices these students have to make everyday. Doing well in school has very little to do with surviving on the street in a tough neighborhood in the short run.

The percieved and possible actual irrelevence of cirriculum could be key to more success. Market forces would also be an excellent mechanism to address this and provide a more valued education.

Mike said...

There are so many crap requirements keeping the individual student from her education that I find it very depressing.

Education is free, it is all online. Just go look.

That guidance, assitance, certification and credentialing are so expensive is frustrating.

I encounter my personal version of McDiarmid on a daily basis at work. There are too many entrenched interests to expect education (at any level) to change itself. Someone is going to have to do it from the outside.

I would love to see that someone do this privately and profitably. I think the market is big enough that the person that is successful in this effort will be wealthy beyond belief.

John Thacker said...

Rich people can also, of course, simply move to better neighborhoods and school districts. I actually feel that sending your kids to private school is more honest and straightforward than sending your kids to a "public school" whose tuition is paid in a higher property tax bill and marble countertops.

kebko said...

For decades, public schools insisted on failing vulnerable populations, to the point of the National Guard and the Supreme Court. And they continue to fail. Of course there are large numbers of poor people who don't value education. To paint the public schools as a necessity to counter the lack of character among poor parents brings to mind Milton Friedman's description of chutzpah - the young boy who murders his parents and then pleads for mercy because he's an orphan.

Big Al said...

Mike: You write:

Dean McDiarmid actually goes so far as to say that the desperate parents in the movie "Waiting for Superman" should be forced, literally forced, to keep their kids in the horrible public school system of Washington D.C.

but I don't read that anywhere in the article. Am I missing something?

Tom said...

Big Al, the main thrust of McDiarmid's piece was that there must not be "two systems." Mike (and I) assume he does not want to abolish government schools -- where does that leave us? Riiiight: no private schools; no charter schools.

John R Henry said...

I have a double major MBA ('79) as well as 27 years teaching in an MBA program and 6 years teaching packaging technology in a graduate engineering program.

In my day job one of the things I do is develop and present training for my industrial clients.

My wife is a HS history teacher for almost 40 years.

In 2001-2004, for reasons that are complicated to explain I got a Masters of Science in Business Education from an Ed school.

The entire program was basically content free. It was probably the most useless educational experience imaginable. As part of one of my research projects I looked into Ed schools and found that mine was typical.

The main thing I learned was that given how we train teachers, it is truly a miracle that our public schools are not in even worse shape than they are.

The very first thing we need to do is burn down every school of education and start anew. As long as teachers are trained in these schools, we will continue to have the same problems.

John Henry

Les Cargill said...

The good news is that even the good students these days will end up unemployable. So it all comes out in the wash.

Contemplationist said...

It's not their "idealogical fellow-travelers" they are fighting for, but their fellow black people who happen to be "educators." After all, in most 'failing schools' the staff itself is mostly black.

Big Al said...

When I read the article the first time, I focused on this phrase:

"to provide every child with the adult advocacy and support"

which led me to interpret his point as, "We need to foster adult advocacy in the public schools, too". But reading the article again, this line:

"If we're going to encourage and fund private and semi-private schools, populated by children who have adults deeply involved in their lives, what happens to the other children?"

does, by means of the "if", seem to indicate the more sinister agenda.