Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Education: Buying less with more

How much extra education does fifty percent more NZ Government spending buy? Answer: it buys you less education. See:

As a new report by consultants McKinsey and Co makes plain (see a summary in The Economist), spending on NZ's factory schools has rocketed in the last few years, while results have ... slid back.

So we're left staring into the maw of a great truth: throwing money at education doesn't give you better education. The less that's spent on the factory schools, the worse the results; the more that's spent on the government's factory school, the worse the results. We're left to deduce (as we must with all government spending binges) that education isn't a function of the money that's thrown at it; what matters more is what that money is spent on.

What it's been spent on in recent years is bullshit, mush and toxic swill.

Rather than continuing to reward failure, as recent governments have done, it's time for a radical rethink and a wholesale rejection of NZ's educational establishment who've sucked up the money, and produced only failure.

Allow me to quote myself from a couple of years ago, pointing out the difference between the libertarian view of public education differ from those of conservatives and liberals, who between them think money and efficiency are the answers to good education:
THE LIBERAL VIEW: The liberal view is that all that is wrong with public education can be fixed with more money, better staff-student ratios, greater control of curriculum, more qualified teachers and more paperwork.

The result of several generations of liberal education policies have however been high levels of “functional illiteracy” and innumeracy, dripping-wet political correctness, central planning of curricula and truckloads of more paperwork – not to mention a failing examination system and degrees dog pedicures and air-hostessing. None of this has aroused liberals to question their thinking however; their prescription for their failure is more of the same.

THE CONSERVATIVE VIEW: The view of conservatives is that public education needs to be made more efficient in its delivery of the curriculum. With more efficiency, goes the argument, delivery of education will be better. This is essentially the thrust of National’s various policies: greater efficiencies bringing better education, while leaving aside altogether any focus on the poison peddled by the curriculum delivered.

THE LIBERTARIAN VIEW: Libertarians disagree. Libertarians maintain that public education is all too efficient: that is, it is ruthlessly efficient at delivering the government’s chosen values. And so it has – we now have several generations who are culturally safe, politically correct and unable to read a newspaper, a bus timetable or operate a simple appliance -- ‘good citizens’ of whom forty-two percent are ‘functionally illiterate’ (see the 1996 International Adult Literacy Survey for the sad details, which are now even sadder).

Previously the government's chosen values included banning the speaking of Maori in schools; this has now changed, of course, and speaking Maori at school is now compulsory, as is the teaching of the ordained versions of Te Tiriti and the inculcation of the ideas of multiculturalism and the inferiority of western culture. Sadly, there is too little time left for reading, and when there is whole language teaching ensures little of this is achieved anyway.

Such is the case when inculcating the state's chosen values are given precedence over giving the child's mind wings.

"What happens in our schools is a very big part of shaping the future of New Zealand," says Helen Clark in a recent speech, acknowledging that this is the way subjects are made out of young citizens.

Libertarians agree with Ms Clark's statement, which is precisely why we want governments away from the schools, away from curricula, and away from the education of New Zealand's children altogether. Both Liberals and conservatives endorse state control of schools and curricula and children; they both seek state control, and they both seek to be the state. By contrast, Libertarians maintain that a complete separation of school and state is needed, and for the same reason we have a separation between church and state.
The proper goal of education is not socialisation or pacification or control. As Lisa Van Damme, the principal of the Van Damme Academy, argues:
The proper goal of education is to foster the conceptual development of the child—to instill in him the knowledge and cognitive powers needed for mature life. It involves taking the whole of human knowledge, selecting that which is essential to the child’s conceptual development, presenting it in a way that allows the student to clearly grasp both the material itself and its value to his life, and thereby supplying him with both crucial knowledge and the rational thinking skills that will enable him to acquire real knowledge ever after. This is a truly progressive education—and parents and students should settle for nothing less.

UPDATE: It should be obvious that it's better ideas rather than more money that leads to better education. Walter Williams points to a film showing where so many of today's bad ideas come from: from the academic cesspools known as universities:
The average taxpayer and parents who foot the bill know little about the rot on many college campuses. "Indoctrinate U" is a recently released documentary, written and directed by Evan Coyne Maloney, that captures the tip of a disgusting iceberg. The trailer for "Indoctrinate U" can be seen at


  1. Math is where it's at!

    Any sophisticated endeavour requires math beyond 5th form level and that is why we still fail to bootstrap ourselves into more than a rube nation that relies on volatile agricultural commodities.

    Low math skills in the population is one reason why those accursed finance companies (Bridgecorp et al.) can run their rorts.

  2. I am with the 'libertarian' view.

    Things will only start to improve once we remove left wing socialism from the classroom....(along with everywhere else)...and the Communist teacher unions are to blame, with their perpetuation of nonsense.

  3. Milton Freidman in his book ‘Free to choose’ talks about one Dr Gammon’s “theory of Bureaucratic displacement” : the more bureaucratic an organization, the greater the extent to which useless work tends to displace useful work. He illustrates the theory with hospital services in Britain from 1965 to 1973. In that 8 year period hospital staffs in total increased in number by 28%, administrative and clerical help by 51%. But output as measured by average number of hospital beds occupied daily went down by 11%. And not as Dr Gammon hastened to point out because of any lack of patients to occupy the beds. At all times there were waiting lists of 600000 people.
    This is the black hole where all out taxes are being poured!
    And Private enterprise is sinking under compliance to bureaucratic regulations that also requires massive amounts of unproductive/ useless time and cost.
    Tim Wikiriwhi

  4. It's no wonder kids are failing when they don't know why they are being taught certain things. For example it's hard to see what value there is in studying "Shrek". My year 9 daughter chose Donkey for her character study. Seriously.

  5. "My year 9 daughter chose Donkey for her character study. Seriously."

    Anon, Year 9 is the third form, eh. If not English, may I ask in which subject that occurred?

  6. Yes it was English Sus.

    This is Botany Downs College - a 4 year old school which has a good reputation. The area has a high number of immigrants and there are quite a few fairly well-off Muslims in the class - they must think they are right about Western culture when they come here and have to study Shrek! Ya gotta laugh.

  7. Funnily enough I just heard this morning that Shrek producer Jeffrey Katzenberg's worth some $US800 million. (And doubtless thankful for the NZ education curriculum support!)

    Incidentally, he's also credited with raising a lot of money for Barack Obama's Pres campaign.

    The US teachers' federation must be in a dilemma: who to support next year? Hillary the feminist icon or Barack the black Moslem!

    Talk about being spoilt for 'minority' choice. :)

  8. How could you send your children to be processed, indoctrinated, intellectually abused and socialised in a New Zealand school? Shame on you for doing it. I'm serious. That is a terrible thing to do. If you are sending them there, why have them in the first place? What was the point?

    What you are doing is sending them off to get their faculty of reason circumcised. Convenient? Perhaps. But there are better ways to have them cared for during the day while you are working (if indeed you are not looking after them yourself).

    Here is what you do not control when you send your little ones off to a NZ school:

    1/. the syllabus and what your kids get taught
    2/. who the teachers are and what they will demonstrate to your children about morality, reason, reality etc.
    3/. Who the other children are at the school and what will they impart to your children (it has been shown that in the long run the friends of your children will have a greater effect upon them than you will).
    4/. The parents of the other children at the school- what their values and moral code is.

    You should be doing your best to give your children every advantage in life. They have to rely on your abilities to evaluate and choose on tehir behalf for the early part of their lives. they need you to show them how to live. Don't abrigate this responsibility just because it seems convenient and easy to so do.


  9. NotPC, you might like to familiarise yourself with a concept known as the Type I error.
    Mr Bonferroni

  10. LGM, I can’t resist the temptation. If you were home-schooling children would you teach them that abrigate is a word?

  11. Not surprised. The school that I go to looks like a landfill most of the time, is fill to the brim with "gangstas" and other idiots, and learning? What the heck is that?

    ...And I'm at a decile 10 school.

  12. Yeah Callum - schools around here are all decile 10 as well.

    And the system is producing the gangstas- at one of the local schools here one of the Heads came straight from Paremoremo(sp) prison for heaven's sake.

  13. The school my children go to seems to be extremely good. Certainly far superior to the schools I remember when I was young although I did buy a house in the zone especially for them to go to this school and I sometimes wonder if I should have to do that. I remember the Head Master of my primary school being almost psychotic and my mother agreed as well. Learning seems to be a lot more fun and there is a lot of kindness and caring about.

    I also don’t really see anything wrong with studying Shrek. The characters have a reasonable amount of depth and learning should be fun. I remember having to study The Merchant of Venice which was extremely dull. They might be better off studying a Miyazaki cartoon like Princess Mononoke or NausicaƤ of the Valley of the Winds which have really interesting characters that are complex unlike Western productions where they are either really good or really evil like in Star Wars.

  14. Sus, Anon, Re.character study.

    In my 3rd form I'm pretty sure I did The Power of One and pisskop was the charater study.
    A 2 inch novel rather than a 2 hour movie. Hmmm...

    I hope that the study of Eddie Murphy's Donkey was based on the canonical material of Shrek 1 and 2 (Adamson's) not the abyssmal Shrek 3.


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