|After Rove There’s Work to Be Done||Conservatism|
by Christopher Chantrill
August 26, 2007 at 6:18 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.
[The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.
[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier. — Gen. Hans von Seeckt
MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050
Civil Societya complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churchesbuilds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust
[W]hen I asked a liberal longtime editor I know with a mainstream [publishing] house for a candid, shorthand version of the assumptions she and her colleagues make about conservatives, she didn't hesitate. Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice fascists, she offered, smiling but meaning it.
Harry Stein, I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican
[T]he Liberal, and still more the subspecies Radical... more than any other in these latter days seems under the impression that so long as he has a good end in view he is warranted in exercising over men all the coercion he is able[.]
Herbert Spencer, The Man Versus the State
These emerge out of long-standing moral notions of freedom, benevolence, and the affirmation of ordinary life... I have been sketching a schematic map... [of] the moral sources [of these notions]... the original theistic grounding for these standards... a naturalism of disengaged reason, which in our day takes scientistic forms, and a third family of views which finds its sources in Romantic expressivism, or in one of the modernist successor visions.
Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self
Families helped each other putting up homes and barns. Together, they built churches, schools, and common civic buildings. They collaborated to build roads and bridges. They took pride in being free persons, independent, and self-reliant; but the texture of their lives was cooperative and fraternal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism
For [the left] there is only the state and the individual, nothing in between. No family to rely on, no friend to depend on, no community to call on. No neighbourhood to grow in, no faith to share in, no charities to work in. No-one but the Minister, nowhere but Whitehall, no such thing as society - just them, and their laws, and their rules, and their arrogance.
David Cameron, Conference Speech 2008
As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable...
[1.] protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death; [2.] recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family... [3.] the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.
Pope Benedict XVI, Speech to European Peoples Party, 2006
No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by the experience of life as that you should never trust experts. If you believe doctors, nothing is wholesome: if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent: if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe. They all require their strong wine diluted by a very large admixture of insipid common sense.
Lord Salisbury, Letter to Lord Lytton
What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph
In England there were always two sharply opposed middle classes, the academic middle class and the commercial middle class. In the nineteenth century, the academic middle class won the battle for power and status... Then came the triumph of Margaret Thatcher... The academics lost their power and prestige and... have been gloomy ever since.
Freeman Dyson, The Scientist as Rebel