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Our Educational System: Should We Just Scrap It?

Bryan Caplan contests virtually every unchallenged premise we hold about our education system today. His new book, The Case Against Education: Why The Education System is a Waste of Time and Money, expands upon Americans’ growing skepticism about the value of a college education. He argues that formal education at all levels might be a raw deal not just for some people, but for our society in general.

The evidence is clear that high school graduates earn more than high school dropouts, and college graduates earn more than high school graduates. But is that earnings differential due to the value of education earned at each higher grade or level, or is there something else going on?

To answer this, the George Mason University economist begins by discussing two major purposes of education: the development of human capital, and signaling. Human capital purists would argue that “virtually all education teaches useful job skills and . . . these job skills are virtually the sole reason why education pays off in the market.” On the other hand, he writes, the “signaling” theory of education suggests that “even if what a student learned in school is utterly useless, employers will happily pay extra if their scholastic achievement provides information about their productivity.”

Few would argue that the U.S. educational system is purely one or the other; most consider it some combination of both. Schooling seems to most of us to entail the development of skills and character needed to be a productive employee, with a bit of signaling mixed in. Caplan makes the bold claim, however, that human capital development accounts for only about 20 percent of our formal education system. The other 80 percent of education, he argues, is simply an expensive gesture toward employers.

The fact that signaling exists is hard to dispute. Dropping out of college during senior year is detrimental to a student’s future employment because he or she failed to receive a diploma, even if 99 percent of the coursework was complete. Why do employers attach such a demerit to this? Because, says Caplan, employers value what the degree represents: not just intelligence, but also conscientiousness and conformity. These are all traits highly valued by employers but difficult to glean from simply looking at a job applicant’s resume. Similarly, every high schooler knows that your junior year history grade matters more than if you can remember how many wives Henry VIII had.

Throughout the course of the book, Caplan takes into account exceptions to his claims. But his solution remains abundantly clear: Local and state governments should discontinue all funding of public education. “Government heavily subsidizes education,” he writes. “In 2011, U.S. federal, state, and local governments spent almost a trillion dollars on it. The simplest way to get less education, then, is to cut the subsidies.” Or, in simpler terms, “The best Education Policy is no policy at all: the separation of school and state.”

Ending public funding for K-12 education is unlikely to happen anytime soon. While it’s an interesting intellectual exercise, the author’s proposed solution remains relatively irrelevant to current policy debates. However, the implications of his claims are quite pertinent to debates over higher education funding.

Americans are starting to question whether a four-year college degree is for everyone. While Caplan would not encourage good students to drop out of college and voluntarily put themselves at a signaling disadvantage, many Americans would benefit from taking a closer look at whether or not college is for them.

The simple premise that education is doing poorly at preparing students for the job market is relatively easy to swallow. But what about the social effects of education? Doesn’t education foster intellectual curiosity and appreciation for high culture? Caplan provides an answer for this, too: “Education definitely can be good for the soul. But that hardly shows actual existing education achieves this noble end.” He goes on to say that in order for education to be truly enriching, there must be worthy content, skillful pedagogy, and eager students. Each of these elements is hard to come by, though. He points to the shockingly low rate of reading among American adults, and to the fact that the bestselling books of all time are fantasy books, which may not necessarily indicate an appreciation of high culture.

The educational system is a staple of American society that every citizen goes through at some level. Many subscribe to the Jeffersonian ideal that public education is essential for the success of our democracy. Caplan does not disagree that intellectual curiosity, knowledge of American history, and general social capital are important for American citizens; he simply makes the case that our educational system is not as good at achieving these goals as we might think.

Declaring that 80 percent of that system is relatively worthless may well qualify as an overstatement (as many reviews of the book have called it). But whether or not the reader buys Caplan’s premise, it is still an incredibly important argument to consider. Given the enormous public investment that Americans are putting into the educational system, and the large student loan debt that society expects its young people to carry, one would assume policymakers are extremely confident that this system is a well-oiled machine. But in fact, since the 1970s, American test scores have remained stagnant. During that time, spending for K-12 education has more than doubled in real terms.

Americans who pursue higher education are struggling with $1.4 trillion in student loan debt and one in three college graduates is underemployed according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. With this poor record of accomplishment, failing to call into question whether or not the educational system is working would be intellectually dishonest.

Bryan Caplan’s book is arguably the most thorough critique of it to date. Those who study education policy have a new tool to examine the current system—at all levels—with a critical eye. For this reason alone, The Case Against Education stands apart in a sea of scholarly material and is indispensable to public discourse concerning education in the United States.

Reader Discussion

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on May 30, 2018 at 11:00:53 am

Our educational system is geared for those teachers who have found the pot of gold, the effects on other less fortunate among the "profession" still earn quite well, and who amongst us earns a nice salary along with an eight month work schedule .
For a moment there I almost shed a tear.

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john trainor
on May 30, 2018 at 13:10:44 pm

I’m sympathetic of Caplan’s argument. But I’ll note a few quibbles.

Caplan does not disagree that intellectual curiosity, knowledge of American history, and general social capital are important for American citizens; he simply makes the case that our educational system is not as good at achieving these goals as we might think.

Perhaps not—but what remedy? Specifically, how would eliminating public funding result in increased that intellectual curiosity, knowledge of American history, and general social capital? Even if college is mostly about signalling, if we cut off poor people's ability to engage in signaling, what then? You could hardly design a more pernicious system of social hierarchy that that.

Again, I'm sympathetic to Caplan's thesis. I suspect society is spending a lot more money than it should. But I do not yet see the better path. There’s an adage in political campaigns: Everyone knows that half the expenditures are a complete waste of time and money—but nobody knows which half. And in the absence of such knowledge, we’re left to keep doing the same things we’ve always done.

[S]ince the 1970s, American test scores have remained stagnant. During that time, spending for K-12 education has more than doubled in real terms.

Perhaps. But WHO was taking those tests in 1970, and who is taking them today? I suspect that a lot of kids—poor kids, minority kids, kids with disabilities, etc.—did not take these tests in 1970, which artificially raised average test scores for those who DID take the test. But in the era of No Child Left Behind, it has become harder for schools to game the numbers via attrition. Also, I expect that the percentage of foreign-born and first-generation kids (English Language Learners (ELL) and English as a Second Language (ESL)), as well as kids living in poverty, has increased over time.

Thus, this statistic, by itself, reveals little about how the cost-effectiveness of education has changed over time. Even if the tests have not changed, the population taking the tests have—and so we’re comparing apples and oranges

[T]he bestselling books of all time are fantasy books….

I’m not sure that’s how my local bookstore categorizes The Bible, but I guess it’s a debatable point….

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nobody.really
on May 30, 2018 at 13:25:15 pm

Yes, let's make sure poor kids don't get an education. That will work out well, won't it? After all, poor kids like Benjamin Franklin have done nothing for this country.

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excessivelyperky
on May 30, 2018 at 14:24:13 pm

I promote a legal statement that has been repressed since June 21, 1788 and oppose erroneous claims from before 1700 years ago. Education, as debated in this post, has the wrong interests: “the development of human capital and signaling,” for employers, rather than serving the human individual.
The preamble to the 1787 constitution legally asserts that “We the People of the United States” manage the USA, and the people of nine states effected the change from a confederation of states on June 21, 1788.
Also, Abraham Lincoln refuted all imaginary controls of human justice in his first inaugural address: “Why should there not be a patient confidence in the ultimate justice of the people? Is there any better or equal hope in the world? In our present differences, is either party without faith of being in the right? If the Almighty Ruler of Nations, with His eternal truth and justice, be on your side of the North, or on yours of the South, that truth and that justice will surely prevail by the judgment of this great tribunal of the American people.” In other words, military power rules human disputes. I blame Lincoln for not clarifying his expectation that the military power of the North’s then 27 states would defeat the weakness of the then 7 states of the CSA.
Christian ministers in both the North and the South prayed with confidence that their factional god would reward their interpretations of the Holy Bible, with its 1700 year old approval of slave-master relationships. But the greater harm of the Holy Bible is its assertion that human individuals are evil and will suffer the consequences unless they submit a constructed uncertainty of their afterdeath to a mysterious, personal god. Neither a just government nor a civic people would encourage speculative doctrine of human evil: Children should know their nation appreciates them and believes they may develop integrity.
The military might of the North, whose people had agreed with Frederick Douglass that slavery was alright for everyone but the individual human, illustrates that personal gods do not follow human demands. The consequences of trusting the mystery of god to influence individual human powers is observable, again, in 2018 with both the pope and the archbishop of Canterbury struggling with sexual abuse by the clergy, bishops, cardinals, and beyond.
The preamble to the constitution for the USA offers overt division of citizens between those who adopt the goals stated therein and both dissidents and rebels. The preamble is a civic rather than secular agreement: It leaves pursuit of any comforts and hopes the believers perceive in a religion to the adult individual rather than the civic culture. Religious institutions seem required to maintain fidelity to statutory law, but in the USA, law enforcement in religious offenses is doubtful, as in priestly pedophilia.
The durations of both racial slavery and sexual slavery invite the articulation I share: Every human has the individual power, the individual energy, and the individual authority (IPEA) to develop integrity. I call it an articulation, because Phil Beaver does not know the-objective-truth.
With this articulation, the purpose of We the People of the United States may be to develop a way of living that does not repress the individual’s pursuit of (IPEA) and the possibility to use it to develop integrity. If the person makes that choice, he or she will be encouraged by actual reality to behave with comprehensive fidelity. It begins with fidelity to the-objective-truth, which exists and may be discovered.
Some individuals choose dissidence, rebellion, crime, evil, and worse rather than integrity and fidelity. Yet those individuals have their IPEA. Therefore, statutory law and law enforcement must develop integrity. In other words, dissident individuals are too smart to accept opinion, such as Christianity, as the basis of law: The-objective-truth is required.
Likewise, the education system must develop integrity rather than “schools and colleges to train our workers,” quoting President Obama’s second inaugural speech.
The USA can have a civic culture by publicly promoting the preamble, the first legal statement in the constitution for the USA and keeping interpretations of the Holy Bible as adult, private interests. The nation’s education system may serve the student’s possibility of both discovering IPEA and, moreover, using it to develop integrity rather than either dissidence or rebellion against human justice.

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Phillip Ray Beaver
on May 30, 2018 at 19:29:41 pm

"[T]he bestselling books of all time are fantasy books…"

Well in my bookstore, the bestsellers are Democrat / Progressive policy treatises. I guess that supports the contention in the quoted line!

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gargamel rules smurfs
on May 30, 2018 at 19:43:10 pm

That is a distinct possibility.
However. let us also consider the results of the present system wherein innumerable poor (and not so poor) young men and women are made to believe that *college* will answer all their hopes and dreams.
1) This is manifestly untrue for most.
2) These young people are then saddled with a rather substantial debt.
3) Many, unaware of the actual job prospects for gender specialist, ethnic researchers, anthropologists AND YES political scientists may find that they are unemployable AND still saddled with enormous debt.
4) Now that the endemic bias of the pre-1970's era is over, at least institutionally, AND especially in the building trades / unions, it is disappointing to see that too few young people, in particular those who are not ideally suited for academic pursuits do not pursue such careers. I use the building trades as an example solely because of the relatively decent compensation AND, for the industrious / ambitious, the opportunity to strike out on one's own. however, I see no reason why a young person who may have an interest in the helping professions (as it was formerly known) must attend a four year or even a two year program of college studies in order to become a radiology technologists, or MRI / Ultrasound tech, etc.
5) As Mr Trainor said (with [almost] teary eyes) who benefits the most in the cases of the people I mention - the students or the academics? Trust me - you do not need 2-4 years of college to be proficient at any of the occupations I listed - and you get to keep your pay without a student loan deduction. More importantly, you need not suffer the risk of becoming *MAL-educated*.

But yes, Caplan's suggested remedy would not do much to promote education. Then again, perhaps that is what he wants!

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Guttenburgs Press and Brewery
on May 30, 2018 at 22:33:21 pm

If you're so all-fired concerned about whether or not poor children get what you consider to be an education, YOU pay for it. Quit taking money at gunpoint from my family to pay some gov't flunky to 'teach' kids a variety of things, many of which I know to be false, in a setting nearly perfectly designed to encourage the most juvenile tendencies of children to be perpetuated. Meanwhile I'll homeschool my kids, and contribute to the education of others according to the manner that I think is appropriate. Gov't is incompetent to teach children.

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Jeremy Klein
on May 30, 2018 at 22:35:51 pm

"Perhaps not—but what remedy?"

As with nearly all things, return the concept of liberty to education. Replacing Americans' educational preferences with political preferences forcibly imposed on them through taxation and onerous education laws is good for the political power of politicians, but obviously not good for Americans.

"Specifically, how would eliminating public funding result in increased that intellectual curiosity, knowledge of American history, and general social capital?"

It probably doesn't, but you have your assumptions inverted. We supposedly live in free society. The burden is on YOU to show how forcing Americans to hand over their hard earned wealth to politicians who create politically controlled schools will increase "intellectual curiosity, knowledge of American history, and general social capital?"

You suffer from the status quo bias, thinking that the burden is on others to justify educational liberty because the status quo is the severe truncation of educational liberty.

"But I do not yet see the better path."

Who cares what path you see for me. My path is MINE, not yours. I don't have to justify to you taking the path of my choosing, including my educational path. I am a free man, not your serf.

"Everyone knows that half the expenditures are a complete waste of time and money—but nobody knows which half."

There's an easy way to find out: have people spend their own money on their own educational priorities. People spend their own money very carefully and only on what they value most. It is obvious when you spend my money, you are wasteful. After all, it's my money. You have no incentive to spend it wisely. And if you can simply forcibly make me pay more using the violent power of the state, you will be even more careless.

Your parting shot at the Bible shows just how little you think about things. There is no other book in existence containing as much wisdom. It's fashionable today to be unwise, though, so the politicall correct attitude is to be condescending towards that great book.

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Ken
on May 30, 2018 at 22:42:01 pm

"Yes, let’s make sure poor kids don’t get an education."

Because you think our current politically controlled schools do make sure poor kids get an education? It's evident no one is more failed by the political school system than poor kids. The private sector does and did a MUCH better job at educating poor kids. Why do you think government employees currently working for our politically controlled school fight so vigorously, viciously, and sometimes violently, AGAINST educational liberty, especially when poor parents want? Because those government employees KNOW any easily available, widespread privately provided education industry, Americans will find out just how awful our government education system actually is.

"That will work out well, won’t it? "

Private sector education systems work out excellently for poor children, as US history shows. The terrible education poor children get now is ONLY because of the government's usurpation of educational liberty from US citizens.

The assertion that if government doesn't pay for education no one will is the petty (and false) myth government employees desperately need people to believe.

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Ken
on May 30, 2018 at 22:45:50 pm

Your rambling missed the legal and moral doctrine of liberty. If we are coerced into politically controlled institutions using politically dictated curriculums, then clearly we do not have educational liberty. Either we are free men, able to choose for ourselves what education we want to get or we are serfs, little more than political units, upon which politicians experiment for THEIR ends, regardless of what the People want.

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Ken
on May 30, 2018 at 23:05:13 pm

Yes, it's vastly expensive and produces a crappy product at best. Some combination of home schooling with online learning would be much, much better. The main lack of this approach is for learning that needs stuff like lab work and group activities like band and stage. But even with those limitations it would still be vastly superior.... oh, and the need for 'socialization' that today's schools supposedly provide is vastly overrated.

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TBlakely
on May 30, 2018 at 23:19:30 pm

You may not accept that you, a human person, have the individual power, individual energy, and individual authority (IPEA) to develop integrity . . . or not. Perhaps you exercise your individual liberty to develop infidelity.

"Some individuals choose dissidence, rebellion, crime, evil, and worse rather than integrity and fidelity. Yet those individuals have their IPEA. Therefore, statutory law and law enforcement must develop integrity. In other words, dissident individuals are too smart to accept opinion, such as Christianity, as the basis of law: The-objective-truth is required."

Tragically, most cultures teach humans that they do not possess IPEA, and many individuals accept the weakness their society imposes on them. The USA can have an achievable, better future by recognizing IPEA and promoting integrity.

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Phillip Ray Beaver
on May 30, 2018 at 23:24:52 pm

Scrap it! It’s making children dumb. It’s robbing children of getting an education.

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TeeJaw
on May 30, 2018 at 23:33:02 pm

Re: An eight month work schedule
As a high school teacher, I work a 10 month schedule and I get paid for 10 months. I'm not pulling down two months of pay while I sit at the beach soaking up rays and having drinks with little umbrellas in them. Those other two months I have to compete with high school and college kids for a summer job earning a little more than minimum wage. Back in the day, I did "summer school" but the school system's done away with it. I'm not asking for your sympathy, just trying to rid you of your ignorance. It's what we do.

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Jack Long
on May 30, 2018 at 23:47:24 pm

Concerns about lab classes and band are trivial. It's amazing what needs the free market rushes to fill if someone expresses the slightest interest. With only 2% of school age children being home schooled there is already a surfit of options. There are no fewer than four co-ops within a half hour drive of our home. There is also a "learning resource center" where children may attend lab science, music or team sport classes either by paying a fee or having the parent in turn teach a class. Our local archery club, parkour gym, and YMCA, all teach home school sections of classes. There are two facebook groups in our area that arrange field trips based on areas of interest. The biggest problem is the fact that home school parents are still paying the taxes to the public school system and have to pay to school their own children on top of that. The median amount a parent spends to home school their child is $600/year. About $150 of that is for curriculum, the rest is for enrichment outside of basics.

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Marcia
on May 31, 2018 at 01:14:47 am

“Specifically, how would eliminating public funding result in increased intellectual curiosity, knowledge of American history, and general social capital?”

It probably doesn’t, but you have your assumptions inverted. We supposedly live in free society. The burden is on YOU to show how forcing Americans to hand over their hard earned wealth to politicians who create politically controlled schools will increase “intellectual curiosity, knowledge of American history, and general social capital?”

Gosh, your silver tongue has persuaded me. And golly, I can’t bear that burden of proof. So I guess we’re all now relieved of the duty to pay taxes that support schools. Yippie!

Or perhaps—and humor me for a moment—just perhaps there are tax laws currently in place for the financing of schools? And just perhaps those laws will remain in place until someone bears the burden of persuading politicians to change them?

It’s another perspective, anyway.

“Everyone knows that half the expenditures are a complete waste of time and money—but nobody knows which half.”

There’s an easy way to find out: have people spend their own money on their own educational priorities.

Why, what a brilliant idea! I wonder if it’s ever been tried before? Like, perhaps, throughout most of US history?

And, if so, maybe we could look back on US history and identify the reasons that people started subsidizing education in the first place?

It’s another perspective, anyway.

People spend their own money very carefully and only on what they value most. It is obvious when you spend my money, you are wasteful. After all, it’s my money. You have no incentive to spend it wisely. And if you can simply forcibly make me pay more using the violent power of the state, you will be even more careless.

Fair enough, as far as it goes. But, wisely or not, I sense that some people believe that a student’s access to education should not depend solely on his or her wealth.

That doesn’t mean that we need to stick with the status quo. Charles Murray argues in favor of converting many government programs into cash grants; perhaps we should do that with education, too. Giving people the grants would give them the option of investing in education (assuming the grants were sufficiently large), and also the option of doing something else with the money. That would create more market pressures on education providers.

However, I also sense that many people believe that education generates positive externalities. Thus, people might object less to seeing their tax dollars financing education than seeing those dollars blown at the racetrack. So, to address these concerns, we might instead (or in addition) issue education vouchers—that is, grants that can used only to finance “education,” however we choose to define it. This would provide SOME competitive pressure on education providers, and some control to the student, albeit not as much as the pure cash grant program would provide.

But no, neither of these proposals would eliminate the taxpayer’s burden.

”’[T]he bestselling books of all time are fantasy books….’ I’m not sure that’s how my local bookstore categorizes The Bible, but I guess it’s a debatable point….”

Your parting shot at the Bible shows just how little you think about things.

Me? I’m not the one who said the bestselling books of all time are fantasy books; that was Amselem, presumably paraphrasing Caplan. I’m just the person who noted that the bestselling book is The Bible—an observation I was able to make by thinking about things. And by having a sense of humor. People with these attributes seem to be in short supply.

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nobody.really
on May 31, 2018 at 06:24:45 am

This sounds to me like a "too big to fail" problem. Even if Kaplan's argument is sound and even if 80% of all Americans agreed with his data and conclusion, people will never be willing to sacrifice an entire generation of children to a transitional phase of chaotic and developmental change while the market sorts out competing options and new "start-ups" go through growing pains to become stable. And the problem of educating children living in poverty is a critical concern during that transition period, whether or not the existing system is corrupted and bloated and wasteful. Killing the current behemoth of public schooling will likely require some kind of slow transitional process, or a catastrophic breakdown that causes the funding to cease by necessity rather than choice. I predict neither our politicians nor our culture generally have the cajunes to address the problem directly regardless of its merit. Hopefully online certifications/accreditations can develop and compete as signals effectively enough to challenge the existing monopoly of dysfunction, and access to that education could be provided to low income citizens through charity institutions at considerably lower cost.

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Cassandra
on May 31, 2018 at 06:30:22 am

Yes, next question.

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Pam
on May 31, 2018 at 06:48:57 am

Strange how the educational system starting declining about the time the Department of Education came into existence....

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Mary J Lawson
on May 31, 2018 at 07:02:57 am

The problem with our modern education system is that it is basically a factory for building Model T's; the model is a century out of date and works poorly at best. For instance, when my grandkids struggle with a subject, I now direct them to the Khan Academy on YouTube. With today's computer networks, do we truly need school buildings, buses, etc. Cannot many of the administrative tasks be automated?

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Jay Dee
on May 31, 2018 at 07:07:59 am

Six.

That’s the answer to both questions (wives and grade).

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Jim Whyte
on May 31, 2018 at 10:33:51 am

Either you are not competent enough to seek higher remuneration in the private sector, or you are consciously making a sacrifice and shining some light into the lives of the inmates stuck in the school apparatus. If you are doing the latter, then why complain about it? If you are doing the former, don't expect to find sympathy with anyone who works in a job subject to the vicissitudes of supply and demand.

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Kris
on May 31, 2018 at 12:50:26 pm

The Federal government is responsible for the entire mess. In the early 60's , I left college in disgust at the uselessness of courses which I was being forced to take to get a degree. . At that point I had to go into the job market in NYC . At the time , all large corporations, including banks, ad agencies, food companies, etc., gave extensive tests prospective employees . I applied to several large corporations all of whom tested me and all of whom offered me jobs in management trainee positions which were usually entry level jobs for college grads. I accepted a job with a large Wall Street company because they offered the best pay and seemed like a reliable company. Several years later, the Federal government decided that extensive pre-employment testing was discriminatory , which led to the increased emphasis on college degrees.

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rwisrael
on May 31, 2018 at 15:27:40 pm

I know Community College professors who are doing just that. No research, no teaching during a prolonged summer. Semester ends at the beginning of May and back to teaching in September, all the while sitting at the beach in-between. Seems like a good gig.

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Jake
on May 31, 2018 at 16:57:30 pm

Caplan privileges the economic value of education over other to my eye equally valid rationales for education. But traditionally, we have worked for other purposes. Public education originally focused on civic good, and the ethos of self-improvement that later American statesmen like Calvin Coolidge termed, very broadly, spiritual (he meant by that preparation for living a full and thriving human life).

Here is Russell Kirk, describing the value of liberal education: https://home.isi.org/purpose-liberal-arts?utm_source=Intercollegiate+Studies+Institute+Subscribers&utm_campaign=74650fae6a-Thursday+Review+May+31&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_3ab42370fb-74650fae6a-93252325&goal=0_3ab42370fb-74650fae6a-93252325

Here is a useful essay discussing Coolidge's finest speech--his speech on the meaning of the Declaration of Independence. Note Coolidge's assertion that being a proper citizen requires a certain kind of knowledge and certain necessary civic dispositions: https://coolidgefoundation.org/blog/calvin-coolidge-and-the-spirit-of-the-constitution/

When we frame the value of education solely around economic return on investment, we miss the fact that certain kinds of societies are better at promoting the kind of human thriving that both Kirk and Coolidge, rightly in my view, find good. Or, put differently, there is more to a good life than a simple calculus of economic return can encompass.

One of the tensions inherent in liberalism is captured in the notion of "ordered liberty." As the original 17th century liberals recognized--I am thinking of guys like John Locke, Samuel Pufendorf, and Algernon Sidney-- human liberty is realized in society, which means that there are limits to how far one can privilege individualism. Jon Winthrop wrote compellingly of this, in his "little speech on liberty" in if memory serves 1645. And pretty clearly, some human habits and human dispositions better prepare liberal societies to endure over time, and some do not. The character of citizens matters, if you want a liberal republic to last any length of time.

Coolidge and Kirk knew this to be true. So, among contemporary theorists, does Deidre McCloskey. It is not at all clear, however, that Caplan apprehends this. Since I think that teaching students about the ideas of guys like Locke and Winthrop, not to mention Jefferson, Madison, Lincoln, Coolidge, and Kirk, contributes to the civic health of our republic, I find Caplan's arguments to be destructive.

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Kevin Hardwick
on May 31, 2018 at 20:14:47 pm

I especially appreciate the introduction to McCloskey who has described herself as a "literary, quantitative, postmodern, free-market, progressive Episcopalian, Midwestern woman from Boston who was once a man. Not 'conservative'! I'm a Christian libertarian"; [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deirdre_McCloskey.

I write and work to create an education system that appreciates the individual and encourages him or her to accept the individual power, the individual energy, and the individual authority (IPEA) to develop integrity from the moment of personal autonomy until their body, mind, and individual stop functioning. The education culture serves the citizen rather than the business community, and the economy thrives on human integrity rather than capitalism, empathy or any other emotionalism.

It seems to me Locke, Winthrop, Jefferson, Madison, Lincoln, and Coolidge wanted citizens to conform to a society. I want a government to offer mutual, comprehensive safety and security so that willing citizens may responsibly pursue the happiness they perceive rather than the dictates of a someone's god or political theory. Dissidents to human justice may be encouraged, by example, to join the civic culture.

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Phillip Ray Beaver
on June 01, 2018 at 12:54:33 pm

Oh, horse hockey. If poor kids didn't have public schools most of them wouldn't learn how to read, because their families would send them out to work rather than have them hang around the house all day. But of course that would be a good thing, like Newt Gingrich wanting third graders to work as janitors in order to get used to their role in life. Let's face it, most private schools don't want poor kids because of those transportation and free lunch guidelines. And handicapped kids? To the attic where they belong, because they are waaay too expensive to educate--there's a reason private schools don't have them, unless the parents can afford to pay.

But then, people who want privatization of the school system know exactly what will happen, *and that's what they want*.

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excessivelyperky
on June 01, 2018 at 12:55:53 pm

Yeah, home schooling means women have to stay home and not compete for jobs that should go to men. So impressed!

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excessivelyperky
on June 01, 2018 at 12:56:42 pm

People have been complaining about the schools since the beginning of the Republic.

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excessivelyperky
on June 01, 2018 at 13:00:03 pm

Well and good, but it would be nice if people could learn to read and run their finances, which wouldn't happen if no public school education existed. Besides, people under your system might become well enough educated to disagree with you. Oops.

I notice that there isn't anybody here who has worked with the public school education system from the inside.

But then, there's such a wonderful opportunity here to cash in on the education industry if the main competitor is gone.

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excessivelyperky
on June 01, 2018 at 13:03:21 pm

Yes, let's fix up a system where only the rich get an education. I guess society never benefits from people who know how to read and write and do math (even janitors have to read hazardous materials documents to make sure their cleaning chemicals don't get too exciting). And of course old people never benefit from a system that produces doctors and nurses, oh noes!

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excessivelyperky
on June 01, 2018 at 14:13:03 pm

"Besides, people under your system might become well enough educated to disagree with you. "

Educated people who disagree with me abound. Many scholars write about establishing the moral life and debate whether the basis is reason or religion. I respond that neither reason nor religion conforms to integrity.

Humans pursue integrity by discovering the-objective-truth, learning how to benefit from the discovery, behaving so as to benefit, publicly sharing the practice so as to listen to civic collaboration, and remaining open to new discovery that would change the behavior.

I think the silence is strategic. Some people want to apply IPEA for civil power rather than integrity.

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Phillip Ray Beaver
on June 01, 2018 at 19:03:50 pm

This article is a BOOK REVIEW, not the book itself. And it is well-written for what it is--a review.

It seems a stretch to launch a full-blown debate about a book's ideas when so little of the book is actually on the table.

On another note, I find the 80/20 observation repeated above to be radical, but not at all unbelievable. I have now taught at every level, and I am certain only the most eager students retain or benefit from anything more than 20% of the content. Incidentally, I believe the eagerness and attitude plays a more significant role in learning and retention than does intelligence.

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Steven Douglas Wales
on June 01, 2018 at 20:59:32 pm

Your first sentence aptly describes the present system. Maybe, just maybe, its worth trying another approach, How much worse can it get? The current public education monopoly does not seem to be working, most acutely for those you claim to champion.

Your comments all seem to have a common theme, that everyone's out there trying to screw the poor and disadvantaged. It must be hard going through life thinking the world is out to get you....

There are actually quite a few of us out here with good intentions, who sincerely want to make things better. You should be amenable to that since for liberals it's only good intentions that matter, not actual outcomes.

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Richard Werther
on June 02, 2018 at 11:09:00 am

I imagine an education system that appreciates the student as a person rather than civil capital.

Recognizing that the human being is so potentially powerful that it takes about three decades for him or her to transition from feral infant to young adult with both the understanding and intent to live to his or her full human power, energy, and authority, a civic culture encourages and coaches each collaborative student through four-year college or equal, producing a life's net egg that is delivered tax-free at the person's age 30.5. Dissidents and rebels are counselled about consequences of neglect. The student limits his or her size of the account on both natural ability and discipline, but every non-felon of age 30.5 receives an initial contribution with accrued interest.

It needs revision, but a complete theory assuming a maximum of $80,000 award is presented at promotethepreamble.blogspot.com/2016/06/child-incentive-program.html.

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Phillip Ray Beaver
on June 02, 2018 at 13:23:38 pm

The entire higher education system was supercharged by Griggs v. Duke Power Co.

The Supreme Court ruled that the company's employment requirements did not pertain to applicants' ability to perform the job, and so were discriminating against black employees. The judgment famously wrote that "Congress has now provided that tests or criteria for employment or promotion may not provide equality of opportunity merely in the sense of the fabled offer of milk to the stork and the fox."

Once IQ tests and similar tests of intelligence or even knowledge were banned, signaling was all that was left. If you could stay the course and get a degree in anything, you had passed the equivalent of an IQ test. What you learned, if anything, was of secondary importance. That is how we got here.

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Michael T Kennedy
on June 03, 2018 at 11:34:06 am

Oh yes, once again "THE POOR DEAR WOMEN" of the world are being abused.

Well, little lady, SOMEBODY has to raise all those little SMURFS that we so desperately need to haul out the trash, mow our lawns, etc and since those mean Republicans are intent on eliminating the supply of poor immigrants to take care of the elite Democrats lawns, we must have someone else to do the tasks.
So yes, let's stop educating all these little SMURFS - so that we don;t have to do anything ourselves.

That is the mindset that *perky* individuals believe resides in the cold dead brains and hearts of conservatives.

Quick, Azriel, more ingredients for my cauldron; and while you are at it - Throw in a few more Smurfs for the potion.

Give me a break, you overwrought and angry feminist zealot!

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gargamel rules smurfs
on June 03, 2018 at 18:20:41 pm

I appreciate your comment and its creativity and want to collaborate for a more promising, achievable future in the USA.

Griggs v. Duke Power Co was decided in 1971. I considered your comment within the timeline of its decade, highlighted mostly from https://www.shmoop.com/civil-rights-black-power/timeline.html. I contend that black leaders, following Alinsky-Marxist organizers (AMO), have hurt We the People of the United States by distracting citizens from the appreciation for the preamble and the constitutional provisions that followed Frederick Douglass expressed in his 1852 speech; https://rbscp.lib.rochester.edu/2945. The brief timeline is:

1963 march on Washington
1964 civil rights act against racial discrimination, then President Johnson’s war on poverty
1965 voter rights act; the Moynihan report, “The Negro Family.”
1966 SNCC and CORE fully embraced the slogan of "black power" to describe . . . trends towards militancy and self-reliance; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_rights_movement#Activist_organizations. New foundations; Black Panthers, National Organization for Women.
1967 riots, Newark and Detroit, MLK, Jr. against poverty
1968 MLK, Jr. assassinated, major cities riots, poor people’s march
1969 James H. Cone publishes, “Black Theology & Black Power.” Democratic Select Committee” founded
1971 school busing, Congressional Black Caucus founded
1972 National Black Political Convention. Saul Alinsky, violently against black poverty, published “Rules for Radicals.”

The confluence of black power, black liberation theology, black caucuses, and radical organizations started a five-decades path toward black-white division in the USA that produced African-American Christianity (AAC) rather than civic citizens’ Christian church or American Christianity; https://www.wsj.com/articles/dr-kings-radical-biblical-vision-1522970778. One, perhaps minority, AAC belief I receive, for example, from Jeremiah Wright, is that God’s chosen people have black skin and the only way a white individual may save his or her soul is to help black Americans reign supreme. Whatever it means to believers, the Canterbury Church got an introduction at the recent royal wedding. Beforehand, I had no idea African-American Christianity might extend to Europe. I have no idea where Judeo-Christianity stands with AAC.

Relief from the fruitless movements to establish supremacy of a religious group in this country, whether Christian or not, is available in the civic contract that is offered in the preamble to the constitution for the USA. It is a legal statement; for example, the statement changed the form of government from loosely cooperative, free and independent states to limited federalism managed by willing people in their states.

I propose a constitutional amendment that states that only adults who demonstrate that they trust-in and commit-to the preamble’s goals may vote in national elections.

Further, I propose to make it clear that the agreement's goal is human justice, which is based on the-objective-truth rather than dominant opinion, especially majority opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court. In other words, amendment of the constitution must be based on integrity regarding the-objective-truth rather than either reason or religion.

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Phillip Ray Beaver
on June 03, 2018 at 18:27:08 pm

I appreciate your comment and its creativity and want to collaborate for a more promising, achievable future.
Griggs v. Duke Power Co was decided in 1971. I considered your comment within the timeline of its decade, highlighted mostly from https://www.shmoop.com/civil-rights-black-power/timeline.html. I contend that black leaders, following Alinsky-Marxist organizers (AMO), have hurt We the People of the United States by distracting citizens from the appreciation for the preamble and the constitutional provisions that followed Frederick Douglass expressed in his 1852 speech; https://rbscp.lib.rochester.edu/2945 . The brief timeline is:

1963 march on Washington
1964 civil rights act against racial discrimination, then President Johnson’s war on poverty
1965 voter rights act; the Moynihan report, “The Negro Family.”
1966 SNCC and CORE fully embraced the slogan of "black power" to describe . . . trends towards militancy and self-reliance; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_rights_movement#Activist_organizations. New foundations; Black Panthers, National Organization for Women.
1967 riots, Newark and Detroit, MLK, Jr. against poverty
1968 MLK, Jr. assassinated, major cities riots, poor people’s march
1969 James H. Cone publishes, “Black Theology & Black Power.” Democratic Select Committee” founded
1971 school busing, Congressional Black Caucus founded
1972 National Black Political Convention. Saul Alinsky, violently against black poverty, published “Rules for Radicals.”

The confluence of black power, black liberation theology, black caucuses, and radical organizations started a five-decades path toward black-white division in the USA that produced African-American Christianity (AAC) rather than civic citizens’ Christian church or American Christianity; https://www.wsj.com/articles/dr-kings-radical-biblical-vision-1522970778. One, perhaps minority, AAC belief I receive, for example, from Jeremiah Wright, is that God’s chosen people have black skin and the only way a white individual may save his or her soul is to help black Americans reign supreme. Whatever it means to believers, the Canterbury Church got an introduction at the recent royal wedding. Beforehand, I had no idea African-American Christianity might extend to Europe. I have no idea where Judeo-Christianity stands with AAC.

Relief from the fruitless movements to establish supremacy of a religious group in this country, whether Christian or not, is available in the civic contract that is offered in the preamble to the constitution for the USA. It is a legal statement; for example, the statement changed the form of government from loosely cooperative, free and independent states to limited federalism managed by willing people in their states.

I propose a constitutional amendment that states that only adults who demonstrate that they trust-in and commit-to the preamble’s goals may vote in national elections.

Further, I propose to make it clear that the agreement's goal is human justice, which is based on the-objective-truth rather than dominant opinion, especially majority opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court. In other words, amendment of the constitution must be based on integrity regarding the-objective-truth rather than either reason or religion.

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Phillip Ray Beaver
on June 11, 2018 at 16:19:46 pm

How sexist for you to assume it would be the woman staying home.

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Greenhat

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