Thursday, November 10, 2011

Education, Commerce and... Uhh...

By now, everyone has heard Rick Perry's gaff last night, where he couldn't remember the name of the Department of Energy; the third of three agencies he said he wanted to shut down.

The Evil party's rubber-stamped attacks on the Stupid party focus on "they want dirty water and dirty air" and "they want stupid, uneducated slaves to work for big business".  This is straight out of the Evil's playbook; I've heard the president say the first one within the last week. (sorry, don't have enough time to look for links: if you insist on one, it shouldn't take you long).  The Department of Energy was started under the execrable Jimmy Carter to end our dependence on foreign oil.  Isn't it great to be free of precarious foreign oil supplies and immune to disruptions by crazy dictators? Oh, wait.  (I'm ashamed to admit I voted for Carter.  Hey, he was an engineer instead of the career politician Ford he replaced - I was trying)

It's true that all three of these departments are useless.  The Department of Education hasn't educated a single student, and arguably has interfered with the people who are trying to educate students.  In international math competitions, US high school students typically come in somewhere between algae and various species of Elk.  Graphs like this one from the Cato Institute, which shows that test scores are constant regardless of educational spending or teacher to student ratio, can be found everywhere. 
And graphs like this one show that tuition has gone up more than the composite "cost of living" or the hated medical expenses.
So, since the quality of education stays the same no matter what we spend on it, it's clear the Department of Education isn't doing anything for us.  Why should we increase spending?  Is anyone aware of studies that show spending matters? 

See, in my mind, increasing spending should - up to some point of diminishing returns.  In my experience, the only thing that seems to affect test scores is dedicated, motivated teachers - which is why home schooled kids routinely outperform the publicly schooled.   

How about it, gentle readers?  Seen any good studies that show spending more on education buys anything? 

5 comments:

quizikle said...

But wait...Cut funding for Education???
What about The Children?
:)
Q

Xenocles said...

It probably doesn't even buy teachers' union votes; it seems like teachers vote the same regardless of who is spending or how much is being spent.

Graybeard said...

It seems to be a fundamental law of politics to keep promising some group everything and then never quite delivering, so that they stay loyal voters. I mean, once their vote is locked up (unions and black voters for the Evil party) why bother to do anything for them?

You give things to folks whose vote you're trying to buy - not to folks you have in your pocket. Famous Evil party president Johnson (LBJ) once said "I never trust a man until I have his pecker in my pocket". It's that general idea.

Xenocles said...

That's actually why I tend not to write to my US reps. I vote in Washington and my three are all Democrats. I figure that a letter about any issue that inspires me to write would reveal me as a person who would never vote for them anyway, providing them no incentive to go my way. What would I gain from the process?

Graybeard said...

Oh yeah. I have exactly the same relationship with one of my senators, Bill Nelson (Evil). My representative is fine, and the other senator is Marco Rubio. It's a little early to tell, but so far, so good with him.