RE: Didn't need no welfare state (Was: Re: news...)

From: Billy Brown (
Date: Tue Apr 18 2000 - 09:42:56 MDT wrote:
> Mike:
> > The average high school graduate in 1920 was more literate than the
> > typical college graduate today.
> That's why the appeal of the Harry Brown book TOTALLY lost me ... hearken
> a better life back then... How good life was before it all got interfered
> with by those darn civl rights laws. Hogwash.
> People are always going to whitewash the past.

In general I agree with you. However, that doesn't mean you can always
assume the past was worse than the present in every possible way.

As it happens, this particular topic has been rather well researched. Mike
is exaggerating a bit, but it is certainly true that in the first half of
the 20th century American high schools taught many subjects that are now
considered advanced college fare. My favorite example is the fact that the
material colleges now cover in three semesters of calculus used to be taught
in high school as a matter of course. Much the same thing has happened in
all of the sciences, not to mention literature and foreign languages.

Now, obviously that doesn't mean that every citizen of the day was actually
proficient in all of these skills. It does, however, make it clear just how
far our current system's standards have declined.

> Things weren't so good for "others". Others have it better now, but
> not much -- oh yes, and at a cost to the middle class non-ethnic, white
> America. I know you have heard this before and discount it, but it's my

Funding a free high school education for every child in America, using
1920s-era standards for materials, classrooms and student-to-teacher ratios,
would cost maybe 10% of what we currently spend on education. If money had
anything to do with the quality of education, we'd have the best-educated
population in history.

Our current system has become just another example of political rent
seeking. The goal of public schools (and teachers' unions, and the dept. of
education) is to secure ever-increasing budgets. Individual teachers may
care about the students, but the school system doesn't.

Billy Brown

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