American Elephants


The Rise and Fall Of American Education by The Elephant's Child

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The Democrats have been trying to end poverty and problems like crime and drugs and lack of education in the black community. After a long history of segregation and slavery, being on the wrong side of the Civil War, they are anxious to make the black community reliable Democrat voters. Thus any black person who leans Republican has become an Uncle Tom, a traitor to his people, and other rhetoric that is even worse. Democrats’ efforts to improve the schools or the educational attainment of black children has been a mixed bag. They consistently focus on the wrong things.

The attempts to improve things have been many, desegregating the schools, busing, classroom amenities, Head Start, and now pre-pre school. Well-to-do families put their kids in pre-school, so that must be the answer. Head Start shows a slight improvement in outcomes which disappear by 3rd grade.

In Washington D.C., there is a program called “Opportunity Scholarships”which provides scholarships to children from low-income families to attend a private school of choice. It operates by a lottery. President George W. Bush signed the program into law in 2004. It targeted 2,000 children from low income families to give them funding to help offset the cost of private schooling, and has been hugely successful and popular.

In 2009, new President Barack Obama ‘s budget proposal cut all funding for the program and included language to prohibit any new students from receiving scholarships. Whether this was simply to attack all things Bush, or at the urging of the teachers’ unions, I don’t know.

In 2011, Speaker of the House John Boehner and Senator Joe Lieberman introduced a new Scholarships for Opportunity and Results (SOAR), restored funding and allowed new students to participate. Again, in 2012, Obama’s budget proposal did not include new funding for the program. Jason Riley argued that the program cost less per child and had a higher graduation rate than D.C. public schools. A very popular program with parents and students.

Well, never say die. The federal intrusion into schooling continues. There is a push for  pre-kindergarten, or extended babysitting for parents. Tuition-free two years of community college. Entrepreneurship education. Of course Bernie Sanders and Hillary are pushing for free college tuition, without the slightest idea how it could possibly be paid for. Obama demands less testing. Now comes the zinger. America’s national obsession with raising our “educational attainment” level has reached a new height of absurdity.

On November 6, the U.S. Department of Education put out a press release that declared a “sense of urgency about the need for significant improvement in both the rigor and flexibility of accreditation.”

The rationale is that the Obama administration is concerned that the U.S is falling far short of the president’s stated goal of becoming the nation with the highest percentage of citizens holding college degrees by 2020 — 60 percent. The numbers have actually declined slightly.

Schools with poor graduation rates are said to be “failing their students.” The federal government push for “affirmative action” has resulted in minority students enrolling in colleges where under ordinary circumstances they would not qualify for admission, but in a school with lower admission qualifications they might do well. It is meant well, but the results are bad for the schools and bad for the students. The administration fixation on graduation rates ignores the plain fact that we already have a glut of young people with college degrees, and employers are devising harder and harder tests to see if job applicants know anything.

We have an economic problem in that not enough well-paying jobs are being created — because of the actions of the federal government. An excess of regulation, high taxes, and a general suspicion of business have forced many small businesses to give up.  Colleges have designed more easy classes to appeal to kids. I don’t remember who puts out the list of silly college classes every year, but it’s enough to give you nightmares if you care about education.

The current furor on Campuses is an outgrowth. Faculty and administrative inability t0 act like grown-ups and insist on order demonstrates why the students are acting like children. We have a problem, and it’s going to get worse. Businesses will not hire graduates who exhibit no learning. Parents won’t pay for big tuition bills for poor results. The result of a college education is not supposed to be one more tic on the number of college graduates on some national list. It’s supposed to be hard, and they are supposed to have really learned something.


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