Call Them on Their Assumptions

Monday, May 05, 2014

Thomas Sowell notes the demonization of educational philanthropy by the government education monopoly and, in the process, causes me to make a possibly useful connection:

It was painful to watch a well-known historian of education on a TV talk show recently, denouncing people from "Wall Street" who have promoted alternatives to the failing public schools. Apparently, in some circles, you can just say the words "Wall Street" and that proves that something evil is being done.

You can listen in vain for any concrete evidence that these philanthropic efforts to help educate poor children are creating harm.

Instead, you get statements like that from the head of the American Federation of Teachers, saying, "they're trying to create an alternative system and destabilize what has been the anchor of American democracy."

If government-monopoly schools, with iron-clad tenure for incompetent teachers, have been an anchor, they have been an anchor around the necks of American students... [links dropped]
And how is it that the mere mention of "Wall Street" is sufficient reason to forgo any consideration of actual evidence regarding the relative merits of government schools and these alternatives? For several disturbing reasons, but probably the most important of these is the following: Most people wrongly associate Wall Street with  the traditional caricature of egoism ("greed") as criminally short-range and predatory. Association with the government, which properly protects us from criminals (but improperly steals from us and subsidizes certain schools, inter alia) further gives these "educators" an undeserved spot on the moral high ground.

The proper reply to such preemptive questioning of motives is to ask something like, "How are these efforts harming students?" or "Even if we set aside the question of where the money came from, can we learn from the methods and results?" Of course, doing so openly will probably get you branded as a racist, near-criminal, but we must learn to display open indifference (or at least contempt) for anyone who would attempt to preempt a serious discussion of an issue so important as education. We should not concern ourselves with the "minds" of anyone who would perpetuate such an establishment in such a way (save in self-defense, which explains many recent tactics of the left). Doing so while offering sound arguments for a free market in education will only help us reach, persuade, and embolden far more of the merits of our cause.

-- CAV

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