April 18, 2008

Think, then blog

I'm occasionally embarrassed when a typo appears in a blog entry, and I'm frequently learning from comments here, but I'm surprised at Mike Petrilli's simplistic argument that "bad ideas flow from academia into our K-12 system ... (... moral relativism, the decline of the core curriulum, dubious pedagogical approaches)" and that "one of public education's worst features" is "its hyper-unionized workforce." I'm not sure when I've seen Petrilli this shrill.

Taking the claims one by one...

  • The arguments about moral relativism and the decline of civilization appeared ... let's see: "Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book." That's Cicero. Today, everyone's writing blogs (PDF), including Petrilli. In any case, I don't think Cicero could blame either TV or higher education.
  • If one wants to blame higher ed for the decline of the core curriculum, when should we pinpoint it? Harvard with its elective system in the late 19th century, or when institutions stopped requiring Latin and Greek for Ph.D.'s? Si tacuisses, philosophus mansisses.
  • To claim that higher education is at fault for standard pedagogy, one would have to accumulate evidence that it was substantially better at some point. And that evidence is...?
  • Public education's worst features... unionization? So Mississippi and Alabama schools are perfect, because they don't provide collective bargaining rights for public employees?
Incidentally, is there any evidence that graduate-student unions are horrors visited upon public universities that have them?

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Posted in Education policy on April 18, 2008 5:15 PM |