Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Chronicle's Gubernatorial Endorsements

The Chronicle has come out with its endorsements for the gubernatorial primaries and they provide an interesting look at what the paper's editorial board considers important.

In endorsing Kay "Bailout" Hutchison, the paper lauds her for launching "well-documented charges of cronyism and politicization of appointments by the incumbent." Considering the fact that "Bailout" pledged to oppose the bailout plan proposed by her buddy George Bush, and then bailed out and then supported that plan, she doesn't have a lot of room to talk about cronyism.

Apparently, the paper thinks that "well-documented charges" against the incumbent is sufficient reason to support a particular candidate. Personally, I am more interested in what a candidate is for than what she is against. Fortunately, the paper provides some information in that regard:

Houstonians have special reason to support Hutchison, who has fought hard to bring us our fair share of federal mass transit dollars at a time when some area legislators attempted to block them.

While the current governor has refused federal stimulus dollars to fund unemployment benefits and public education, Hutchison says she would bring those dollars to the state while negotiating to make sure they arrive without strings.

The paper supports Hutchison because she is willing to rob the citizens of other states to pay for our transportation projects and education. And she is willing to negotiate to remove any strings. I hate to be the one to inform Hutchison and the paper, but negotiations usually involve compromise. Which means, there will be strings attached. They might be a little longer than what was originally proposed, but that just provides more rope for us to hang ourselves.

The Chronicle's endorsement of Bill Green White isn't any better. The paper writes:

In a meeting with the Chronicle editorial board, White warned that Texas is at an educational crossroads and must do a better job of preparing young people to meet the challenges of national and international competition.

He noted the ominous fact that a smaller percentage of Texans between the ages of 25 and 35 have two- and four-year college degrees than in the past.

“Education, public and higher, is the principal business of state government,” he said. White pledged as governor to work to lower dropout rates and increase the productivity and affordability of Lone Star education.

Ignoring the fact that government control of education has been an absolute failure, White and the paper want more of it. Ignoring the fact that the only proper business of state government is protecting our rights, White and the paper want to give government greater control over education.

I continue to find it interesting that so much emphasis is placed on a college education. Given that functional illiterates can graduate high school, a piece of paper stating that you have completed certain classes is pretty meaningless. The implication is that holding a degree somehow confers knowledge, which is at best naive.

If White is truly concerned about education in Texas, he would be advocating removing government controls on education. He would be calling for greater freedom in education, for both educators and the consumers of education--parents and students. Instead, he declares that education is "the principle business of state government".

Government is an agent of force. Everything it does involves the use of force, sometimes properly so, but most often not. This does not change when government is involved in education--the ideas of those with political connections are imposed upon the entire student population. For evidence, witness the ongoing textbook disputes in Texas and other states.

Education is an immensely important subject. The education of one's children is the primary responsibility of parenthood, and parents have a moral right to be free of the interference of others, Bill White included.


Steve D said...

No one other than the child himself has as great a stake in his education than his parents.

You say a child’s education is the primary responsibility of his parents. I agree. It's the parent's responsibility, not the teachers, not the school, not the president's and not yours. I wish more parents understood this. I find however, that very few do.

My son's education is my responsibility and since both my wife and I work we decided to enroll him in a very good Montessori independent (private) school which I think is the next best option to teaching him myself. However, I monitor them constantly and supplement it with my knowledge as much as I can. Even in the good schools there is a surprising amount of BS which goes along with an otherwise good curriculum. I shudder to think about what a government school would be like!

It always surprises me how many stay at home parents there are and how much time they can volunteer. I have no problem with that but if you do have that time why not home school? I would.

My answer to Bill White would be no education is my principle business (or at least one of them) not the state government’s. So far as I can tell the only responsibility of the state government is the court system with perhaps some police work.

And you are right about the government being an agent of force, essentially negative in nature. If the problems could be solved by a government well I think this would have happened long ago.

Brian Phillips said...

Prior to the Civil War there were almost no public schools. Home schooling was almost universal for younger children. In other words, parents took responsibility for educating their children and for the most part, they did a very good job.

Mr. Moderate said...

Prior to the Civil War, some children received an adequate education at home. Many did not, being the children of illiterates, or from families that were too poor to spend time educating the children - it's difficult to provide education when you spend the entire day working the farm. Public schools were established to ensure the availability of education to all, including the poor, and to educate the children of immigrants to aid assimilation.

This is not to say that public schools always do a stellar job, because they don't. However, those issues can be resolved with better management and by firing the worst teachers.

Brian Phillips said...

Those children who were not educated at home had many options--community schools, tutors, church schools, etc. Immigrants had similar options.

Regardless, one man's need is not a claim on the property of others.

Steve D said...

Mr. Moderate:

This is simply not true. Please read "The Underground History of American Education" by John Taylor Gatto. Please pay especially close attention to chapter 3 and you may want to look up a number of his references.

The literacy rate around the time the civil war was far higher than today. They had a much more stringent definition of literacy as well. There is a lot of evidence for this - including actual statistics from military entrance exams. Some evidence suggests that throughout the 19th century only 4 in every 1000 adults in the US would not have been able to read well (notice I said well, not read at all).

Illiteracy started to rise only after WWII when various portions of the US had one to two generations of compulsory public school under their belts. It has been rising in fits and starts ever since. Public schools were not established to ensure the availability of education to all, but to ensure the availability of schooling to all, and that is a completely different beast..

I don’t agree with all of Gatto’s ideas but he does conclusively demonstrate a link between public schools and what he calls ‘the new dumbness’

Public schools are not designed to educate but indoctrinate. Even at the private school my son goes to there is way to much of this but I know from other parents that the public schools are much worse. Yes, it may be possible to solve some of these problems but they it is unlikely they could ever match a good private school or home schooling. If you don’t believe me consider that there is plenty of evidence for the superiority of Montessori education but this method is not taught in the public schools. They are deliberately using a worse system. Why would anyone do that?

Finally, I agree with Brian that in any event need is not claim to other property. However, there is no doubt that not only in public education immoral but it simply does not and cannot work to educate children well even if that was its goal.

Those poor farmers working in the field all day do a much better job with much less time than many of today’s professional educators.