When the “compassionate” part of “compassionate conservatism” equals big piles of dough, it’s time for a new kind of caring. Evidence: George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind monstrosity, which has resulted in massive lawsuits, crippling budgets, and huge schools that function more as union appendages and tinkering social bureaucracies than they do as educational facilities. Only by the most elaborate number-torquing can any of this be said to give kids a better education.
Nevertheless, Jeb Bush and James B. Hunt, in yesterday’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution, try, once again, to formulate a way out of failure by claiming that it’s all in the “standards” — get those right, they say, and no child will grow up stupid. That’s bogus, of course. They grow up stupid and poor, because their lousy schools are bankrupting them. Terrance Moore, writing, somewhat tautologically, in Breitbart’s Big Government, has it more nearly correct: “Beware of politicians and expert educators bearing standards, the last seventy years or more of Progressive education should have taught us. But we are slow to learn.”
Yet, miraculously, we get slower and slower. The dialectic in ed-theory goes like this: reform the reform of the reform and then reform that until it works. And of course, it never does.
This is all part of the worship of statistical “equality” — spin the numbers until they all come up sevens and you hit the jackpot. At the Fortnightly Review, Anthony O’Hear looks at what happens when politicians (British ones, in his case) use “equality of opportunity” as a tool to repair public education, but scratch their monkey-heads when nothing gets fixed.