|After Rove There’s Work to Be Done||Conservatism|
by Christopher Chantrill
August 26, 2007 at 12:18 pm
FOR SIX generations, writes the military historian Victor Davis Hanson, the government has been educating his family in his hometown in California. But things are not going well on the hometown education front any more.
[A]fter a haircut, I noticed that the 20-something cashier could not count out change. The next day, at the electronic outlet store, another young clerk could not read much less explain the basic English of the buyers warranty. At the food market, I listened as a young couple argued over the price of a cut of tri-tip unable to calculate the meats real value from its price per pound.
Its not just California. In Washington State Bruce Ramsay writes in the Seattle Times:
At community colleges, half the students take remedial math. At the University of Washington, atmospheric-sciences professor Cliff Mass says, I saw a profound drop in math skills starting in the mid-90s. New-age math, he says, has created a whole generation of students who cant do fractions.
The official measure of math skills is the Washington Assessment of Student Learning... a new-age test... [C]onsultant Michael Cohen, who has reviewed the WASL, says the actual math in it is seventh-grade level.
So, in left-coast Washington State half the kids entering community college cant do seventh-grade math.
To Hanson whats needed is some top-down authority. We should scrap... sermons on race, class, gender, drugs, sex, self-esteem, or environmentalism, and encourage the rational ability to make sense of the presence from a knowledge of the abstract wisdom of the past. We should allow teacher credentialing from academic subjects as well as teaching credentials. And we should end lifetime tenure.
But Rep. George Miller (D-CA) has another idea. According to Debra J Saunders, he wants to broaden the mandatory testing of students under the federal No Child Left Behind Act to provide
multiple measures of success. These measures can no longer reflect just basic skills and memorization, but rather critical thinking and the ability to apply knowledge to new and challenging contexts.
You mean like in new-age math?
Some services just cant be subject to remote central direction because, by their very nature, what makes for success is local and personal.
And that applies in particular to education. Politicians, tenured bureaucrats, and organized special interests dont do local and personal. And yet we should do something. Given the manifest failure of education under compulsion, it is time to think about the very nature of education and the social environment under which it can flourish.
Danny Kruger, a staffer fop British Conservative Party leader David Cameron, has done so. In On Fraternity he analyzes the three enthusiasms of modernity: Liberty! Equality! Fraternity!
Liberalism reduces everything to the individual and the egoic demand I shall. Socialism with its ethic of equality reduces everything to coercion and You must.
Conservatism is the philosophy of society. Its ethic is fraternity and its characteristic is authoritythe non-coercive social persuasion which operates in a family or a community. It says We should...
Our current education system is a blending of the individualist I shall and the socialist You must. It reflects a social and political philosophy which understands only a bipolar world consisting of the individual creative will and centralized state coercion. It hates the notion of authority and uses all its power to destroy the non-coercive social persuasion that lies at the center of conservative philosophy in Burkes little platoons and Berger and Neuhaus mediating structures. No wonder it is failing.
We conservatives know what needs to be done. We know that the only way to solve the education crisis is to break the monopoly of government education and establish the principle of parental control and education choice.
But even if school choice did not deliver better results than monopoly government education there is still the principle that a child belongs to its family before it belongs to the state. Writes Danny Kruger:
To the Right... the education of children is the supreme, almost exclusive responsibility of the parents who brought them into the world. Not the state, not society in the abstractwhich is the statebut the family, is rightfully responsible for a childs schooling. Parents should be in charge.
And let us be clear about this. This parental right includes the right to be wrong, even against the weight of the education experts.
But a parent would have to be a real doofus to match the experts that are sitting around watching half of our high school graduates failing seventh-grade math.
Buy his Road to the Middle Class.
When we began first to preach these things, the people appeared as awakened from the sleep of agesthey seemed to see for the first time that they were responsible beings, and that a refusal to use the means appointed was a damning sin.
Finke, Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990
In 1911... at least nine million of the 12 million covered by national insurance were already members of voluntary sick pay schemes. A similar proportion were also eligible for medical care.
Green, Reinventing Civil Society
We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.
E. G. West, Education and the State
Law being too tenuous to rely upon in [Ulster and the Scottish borderlands], people developed patterns of settling differences by personal fighting and family feuds.
Thomas Sowell, Conquests and Cultures
The primary thing to keep in mind about German and Russian thought since
1800 is that it takes for granted that the Cartesian, Lockean or Humean scientific and
philosophical conception of man and nature... has been shown by indisputable evidence to be
F.S.C. Northrop, The Meeting of East and West
Inquiry does not start unless there is a problem... It is the problem and its
characteristics revealed by analysis which guides one first to the relevant facts and then,
once the relevant facts are known, to the relevant hypotheses.
F.S.C. Northrop, The Logic of the Sciences and the Humanities
But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie
that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison
I mean three systems in one: a predominantly market economy; a polity respectful of the rights of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and a system of cultural institutions moved by ideals of liberty and justice for all.
In short, three dynamic and converging systems functioning as one: a democratic polity, an economy based on markets and incentives, and a moral-cultural system which is plural and, in the largest sense, liberal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism
The incentive that impels a man to act is always some uneasiness...
But to make a man act [he must have]
the expectation that purposeful behavior has the power to remove
or at least to alleviate the felt uneasiness.
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action
[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm
When we received Christ, Phil added, all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh
The recognition and integration of extralegal property rights [in the Homestead Act] was a key element in the United States becoming the most important market economy and producer of capital in the world.
Hernando de Soto, The Mystery of Capital