Back to Top

On Schools (but NOT on Education)

I have a confession: I am wholly "uneducated" in that I don't have a degree, or any form of post-secondary academic credentials. To paraphrase a quote about Churchill, "I didn't go 'through' high school, I went under it", and instead of moving on to college as most of my friends did, I chickened out and enlisted in the Marine Corps. Yet, despite my lack of a 'formal' post-secondary education (outside of the military), I often encounter folks with advanced degrees (e.g., a Masters, or a PhD, sometimes multiple degrees) who 'rest on their laurels' and boast about their academic credentials with all of the bravado of an entitled third grader, yet also seem to have the actual intelligence of a carrot. So far, the best quote I've seen about this specific topic is "they don't give out PhDs to the smartest people, they give them to the most stubborn."

Let me be clear: I value education very highly, but I just don't place as much value on "school". I think that the cultural value attributed to a formal education is solely based on how relatively easy it is to describe, and very little to do with any actual merit. Perhaps Carl Sagan said it best:

"My experience is, you go talk to kindergarteners or first-graders, and you find a classroom full of science enthusiasts. And they ask deep questions: 'what is a dream?', 'why do we have toes?', 'why is the moon round?', 'what is the birthday of the world?', 'why is the grass green?' These are profound, important questions, and they just bubble right out of them. You go talk to twelfth-grade students and there's none of that. They've become leaden and incurious. Something terrible has happened between kindergarten and twelfth grade, and it's not puberty." - 30-Jan-1995 [YouTube Video Clip]

Sagan doesn't offer a reason as to why our schools have been failing for so long but applying the principle of Occam's Razor that "the simplest answer tends to be the best one", I think that the simplest answer is that it stems from those ostensibly in charge of the school systems: the various levels of government.
I recently read about a casual conversation between friends who agree on nothing (politically) because one is a political conservative and the other is a political progressive. The conservative friend, trying to understand the root of his progressive friend's ideology, asked the question, "what is the purpose of government?" to which the friends, after a moment's consideration, answered, "to provide for the people." In my opinion, there is no worse answer because such an answer runs contrary to everything upon which this country was founded. Thomas Paine spoke for many when he observed that "government, even in its best state, is merely 'a necessary evil'". As history has repeatedly shown 'government' is unfit and incapable of providing for its people. It creates nothing. It only spends and every coin or bill that it spends is taken from others (and almost never as a result of their own free will).

"The entire question of government spending is perhaps best perceived when one realizes that the government is not a source of wealth.  The people themselves are the only true source of wealth. Hence, the government can only give to the people what it has already taken from the people." - Frederic Bastiat

Many Americans think that the answer to fixing our schools means simply taking more money and giving it to the schools, and this is precisely what we have done in the decades since Carl Sagan observed how our schools were failing our kids. Former New York State Teacher of the Year (1991) John Taylor Gatto observed, "Good schools don't need more money or a longer year; they need real free-market choices, variety that speaks to every need, and runs risks. We don't need a national curriculum, or national testing either. Both initiatives arise from ignorance of how people learn, or deliberate indifference to it."
Despite the extravagant spending, our schools are still failing our kids. Carl Sagan saw it in the 1970s and 1980s. John Taylor Gatto saw it in the 1980s and 1990s. And we all see it today. Our schools must be freed from the shackles of government and returned to the hands of the people.


Subjects That Should Be Taught in American Schools

More than just reading, writing and simple mathematics, we need subjects that improve students' lives as well as their minds and (in my opinion) better prepares them for the world in which they are about to enter, and in which they will be asked to participate.



Committee to Elect Darren Hamilton
Powered by - Political Campaign Websites
Close Menu