Re: Paying for Schools (was: SOCIETY: Re: The privatizationofpublic security)

From: Mike Lorrey (
Date: Thu Aug 23 2001 - 08:19:00 MDT

Miriam English wrote:
> At 07:55 PM 22/08/2001 +0100, Steve Davies wrote:
> >This is true for other countries as well as the US - plenty of work on the
> >British case for example. Here we have just officially confirmed that the
> >under 35s have a lower standard of literacy than was the case before WW I!
> I find that really hard to believe.

Beleive it. The literacy rate here in the US has gone down markedly
since the institution of widespread public education, and especially
since the institution of Departments of Education in our universities as
academic disciplines in their own right. They've taken a discipline that
has worked very well for thousands of years and destroyed it in a

> I doubt that the situation in UK is much different to Oz. I know a number
> of public school teachers and they work incredibly hard.

But they don't work very smart. I frankly find it rather indicative that
teachers, as a profession requiring a four year degree, has the lowest
average SAT scores in its practitioners of all such professions, AND
teachers seem to be the ones who protest the loudest that IQ doesn't
mean anything.

> A while ago there were some truly stupid "surveys" done here in Oz in an
> attempt to "prove" that kids here are illiterate. They came up with figures
> that the conservatives used to do a lot of chest thumping, but it really
> wasn't true. All the kids I have met are bright as buttons. I wish that
> when I was their age I had learned some of the things these kids are
> learning now.

Kids may be bright, but that doesn't make them literate. They need to
learn literacy no matter how bright they are. It's not genetic to come
out of the womb literate. The difference between my own education and
kids of today is noticable, and I'm not that old.

> It seems to be fashionable to heap shit on public schools these days.

Not on schools alone. Parents are at least as much to blame, but then,
they have to work two full time jobs today in order to live under a
system that confiscates nearly half of their productive output. Back in
the day when taxation was far more fair, and were nearly non-existent
when wars were not in evidence, a family could afford to have only one
parent working, and one staying home.

> It makes me feel sad that some people feel so unconcerned at the thought of
> wiping away a whole segment of society. Don't they remember why public
> school exists? There is this waving of arms and saying "Leave it to the
> magic of the free market -- that will fix it." But all it will fix is that
> the rich will have less tax to pay and the poor will go without
> education... and backwards we march to the bad old days.

Even in those days, the poorest who dropped out of school typically did
so with an education gained by the 6th grade that is roughly equivalent
to the sort of education our teachers empart to our kids today by the
12th grade. Nor do those who are destined for non-degree jobs need to be
able to quote Dostoyevsky or Homer. One of the big problems with
education today is that vocational training has been removed from many
high schools, it is treated as a post-secondary educational course, when
prior to public education, kids could drop out of high school with more
skills as machinists or draftsmen than many vocational graduates today.
Not every kid needs a college prep education, but teachers seem to think
they do.

> I am no fan of school (I was lucky enough to be born into a family where I
> was well-off and basically taught myself), but that doesn't mean I am blind
> to how it can bring opportunity to those who would otherwise miss out. Sure
> school can improve... it can *always* improve. But next time you feel
> tempted to dump on public school just have a look at what they *are*
> managing to teach kids these days.

Pretty much nothing but how to be a social darwinist with cliquism,
brand name awareness, and an ability to recognise that evolution and
creationism are allegedly equivalent theories....

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