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 proper goal of education is not socialisation or pacification or control. As Lisa Van Damme, the principal of the Van Damme Academy, argues:
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 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.Bravo.
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 www.onthefencefilms.com/movies.html.