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Debate on Education Policy Reinforces Party Stereotypes

Debate on Education Policy Reinforces Party Stereotypes

I participated in a debate last night at Cornell sponsored by Students for Education Reform to encourage an exchange of ideas on education policy. I was on the libertarian panel, which was wedged between the College Democrats and Republicans. It was a fairly heated debate:

Libertarians believe the federal government should play no role, we believe the federal government should play a moderate role, and the Democrats believe that, as usual, any solution can be found by throwing money at the problem,” Digennaro [Republicans] said.

Democratic speaker Tony Montgomery ’13 criticized what he saw as “nitpicking over cost-benefit analysis [and] treating schools like a business.”

“They’re not a business. Businesses can fail, and one thing we can’t afford to have fail is our schools,” Montgomery said.

Digennaro responded to Montgomery’s argument, saying, “you could make a rhetorical point that schools can’t fail in this country, but schools have failed in this country, and teacher’s unions have played a large part in that.”

The Democrats were heavily reliant upon appeals to emotion and were rather sparse with their use of numbers or figures. The Republicans were sort of bound to support the concept of NCLB because of the national party’s stance but they somehow tried to claim that Milton Friedman would like NCLB. (Milton Friedman proceeded to roll in his grave.) It was a creative move – as in, created from no evidence – but I felt bad that they had to defend such a silly policy because of their party affiliation. The libertarians definitely had the edge in that respect. 

I noticed that the Democrats present their policy for teachers unions the way Nozick characterizes his utility monster. That is, they’re not subject to diminishing returns. Every dollar you throw at them only increases their (theoretical) productivity. Empirical evidence suggests otherwise, but College Democrats seem immune to any logic that vilifies the hand that feeds their national party. (As I pointed out and was largely ignored.)

Anyway, it was a fun debate that fell on the heels of a great visit to Cornell from Michelle Rhee. I should have the video soon. 


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“Businesses can fail, and one thing we can’t afford to have fail is our schools”

I’ve never heard “Too Big To Fail” applied to education before.
This certainly explains why the #OWS folks haven’t looked to the colleges as the source of their “student loan problem.”

You should come teach at UALR Law school. There are no college Democrats here.

    Liberty in reply to Justin. | October 21, 2011 at 9:22 am

    This post wasn’t written by The Professor, it was written by “Kathleen.” Thus, I can only assume that The Professor wasn’t there as a participant, but could have been in attendance. Not trying to be too nit picky.

Math is hard. That we’re spending more on education, at every level of government, and yet by every measure the children are failing at more and more each year should spark some intellectual curiosity.

But intellectual curiosity is the hallmark of conservatives, not doctrinaire Democrats and Republicans.

Public education has failed on a large scale basis. There are so many ingredients as to why and it would take volumes to document the forensics.

But in a nutshell, public education has become daycare along with numerous other non-educational considerations. And the folks in charge just keep throwing more money on the issue rather than attacking the root cause of public school failure in the nation.

Unions perhaps are the leading cause of these failures and is indicative to have a nationwide policy of “right to work” in every occupation and profession. Then the focus could shift on workforce policy to that of educational policy and process.

Until this happens, it will only get worse. Much worse! The dumbing down of America will proceed at an ever increasing rate…

The DOE, among others, should be shut down and schools should be administered on a state and local basis as it used to be before Teddy gave us the DOE. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say the federal govrnment is mandated to run our school systems. On the contrary, the Constitution tells exact what limited iniatives the government can do. The federa government is taking over all our lives illegally. The US is going to go down the tube until congress reads the Constitution and understands that it says “congress shall make no law infringing on the rights of our citizens”. They do that every day with their silly laws that they haven’t even read before they vote on them and wouldn’t understand if the did read them.

It’s so frustrating when arguing with Democrats/Marxists with how little they rely on facts. This is especially frustrating when they are scientists or lawyers who should have special respect for facts and data. I was liberal once, as are most kids who are thrown into college before they learn to think. Then when I got to grad school, despite my willingness to fit in, my logic and the evidence forced me on a path to libertarianism.