The Bloated Sacred Cow

The opening scene of a well-crafted documentary on higher education shows two freshman before a statue of the Emil Faber with a base inscribed “Knowledge is Good.” If we see knowledge as the opposite of ignorance, then the slogan is rational.

But should we always equate knowledge with what is allegedly education? Does education always imply the imparting of knowledge? It should, and knowledge should be further defined as truth. Some of our former and current Asian enemies used ‘re-education’ as a euphemism for the forcible indoctrination of subjects in the fine points of the current party line.

And what of our current education processes? How are our teachers trained? Does their ‘education’ stress a mastery in knowledge (defined as subject matter) or is it and indoctrination in trendy methodology? Dr. E. D. Hirsch has many pages of wisdom on this subject and his views make a lot of sense.

When it comes to budget priorities, money allocated for education is seemingly immune from economies. This often bloated sacred cow must not be put on any sort of a diet. To do otherwise would be to support ignorance. But does throwing money into gold-plated bureaucratic rat-holes really assure quality education? Does the per-pupil spending in the District of Columbia really produce world class schools? Are the public schools in Delaware much more cost effective?

We should not blame most of the teachers. Quite a few try to evade the rules and put the needs of the students first. Many suffer from an education that stresses mindless credentialism over factual knowledge. Some parents opt for private schools or even choose to home school. Economics puts some barriers in front of private school options and the ‘Educational Establishment’ fights bitterly against any opening of the door to competition through vouchers.

A lot of folks have their snouts in the money pit. Textbook publishers push costly books that are often agenda-laden. One might hope that the content is larded with trendiness to be more relevant. Perhaps this explained why a high school geometry book had an exercise to design and AIDS quilt. My high school plane geometry text was pure Euclid. What more was needed?

Who selects books that contain factual errors as well as gross ideological bias? Try to find one social studies text discusses the Bill of Rights that deviates from the ‘collectivist’ take on the meaning of the Second Amendment. The Supreme Court held otherwise in the Heller Decision. Do Boards of Education have any say in book selection? Or are these folks establishment mouthpieces? Either way, they deserve replacement. How many history books gloss over the mass murders of Stalin or Mao or the dismal effect of enforced collectivism on postwar Eastern Europe?

School Board elections are allegedly ‘non partisan’ affairs and the ‘endorsements’ of PTAs and teachers’ unions carry a lot of weight. Such endorsements should be treated as the kiss of death. Those who would eschew trendy radicalism should get involved with these elections and seek out and support true reformers or run for the posts themselves. Evil tends to triumph when good people do nothing.

We will not improve the quality of education by throwing more tax money into gold-plated rat holes. Some common-sense ‘tough love’ is needed. Would a truly loving parent give a morbidly-obese child a bigger allowance that could be spent at the candy shop? Yet tantrums of a spoiled child are often analogous to the demands of the Educational Establishment: Give us more or you don’t love your children and are supporting ignorance.

3 Comments

  1. Problem #1: People don’t know how to solve a problem other than the easy way, throwing money at it.

    Problem #2: In education, you have an active interest group, politically savvy, who reap a personal benefit when money is thrown at the problems.

  2. I believe that Wash, DC spends more per student than almost any other public school system in the US and they have probably the worst schools around.

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