Obama spoke yesterday on education, specifically about the problem of getting kids to complete high school. I am, of course, interested in seeing how his critics will attack his claim that kids should stay in school so they can get better jobs and contribute more to the social good. I assume that since the public schools are just that, public, he will be attacked for endorsing a national socialist plan of education.
Rather than get into the politics of the matter, my main concern is with considering his claims about the alleged negative impact of not completing highschool.
Obama noted that people who do not finish highschool make less money than graduates, are more likely to be unemployed and are more likely to engage in undesirabe behavior, such as commiting crimes. His proposed solution is to take steps to make it more likely that children will finish school.
The general line of reasoning behind this seems to be that since the problems he mentioned are associated with a failure to graduate, it follows that the failure to graduate is the cause. The obvious solution is to see to it that kids graduate.
I do agree that a failure to graduate does cause various problems and I am for taking steps to make it more likely that kids will graduate (and do so with a proper education). However, it is important to carefully consider the causality of the situation.
It is tempting to infer that the students who do not graduate suffer the problems they suffer from (such as lower employment) because they did not graduate. In many cases, this is no doubt the proper inference. However, it is also worth considering that the failure to graduate and the problems mentioned above stem from the same causal root. That is, the failure to graduate and the other problem might very well be effects caused by some other factor.
To use an analogy, suppose a person developed a sore throat and then had a fever. If he inferred that the sore throat caused the fever, then this would be too quick. He should consider that a third factor (such as a virus) caused them both.
So, when facing the graduation problem we should consider that there might be cases in which the falure to graduate is an effect rather than a primary cause. The reason why this is important is that addressing how to get people to graduate can be a rather different matter than addressing what causes people to not be succesful in life.
T. J. Babson says
As long as the focus is on equal opportunity and not equal outcome, there won’t be any criticism.
It’s too bad no one seems to want to consider single sex education, which is probably the only way to reach some of these kids.
The Taliban would be happy to sit down and talk ‘single sex education’ with you. 🙁
T. J. Babson says
P.E.N.Name: I hereby sentence you to a 24 hour Vagina Monologues marathon…
We talking theater or real talking vaginas here? Hey. I’m all for keeping women in their place, barefoot and pregnant. Let’em run loose and get educated and you end up with more women than men in the board room. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1107721
“We show that female directors have a significant impact on board inputs and firm outcomes. In a sample of US firms, we find that female directors have better attendance records than male directors, male directors have fewer attendance problems the more gender-diverse the board is, and women are more likely to join monitoring committees.” Damn. You mean I’ll actually have to attend meetings of the four boards of which I’m a member to get paid? Damn again and again.
T. J. Babson says
Don’t be a troglodyte. Here’s how modern men abuse their women:
Welcome to the New Paleolithic, where tens of thousands of years of human mating practices have swirled into oblivion like shampoo down the shower drain and Cro-Magnons once again drag women by the hair into their caves—and the women love every minute of it. Louts who might as well be clad in bearskins and wielding spears trample over every nicety developed over millennia to mark out a ritual of courtship as a prelude to sex: Not just marriage (that went years ago with the sexual revolution and the mass-marketing of the birth-control pill) or formal dating (the hookup culture finished that)—but amorous preliminaries and other civilities once regarded as elementary, at least among the college-educated classes.
T. J. Babson says
Just for the record:
Single-sex education (SSE), also known as Single-gender education, is the practice of conducting education where male and female students attend separate classes or in separate buildings or schools. The practice was predominant before the mid-twentieth century, particularly in secondary education and higher education. Single-sex education in many cultures is advocated on the basis of tradition, as well as religion and is practiced in many parts of the world. A number of studies starting in the 1990s are showing statistical data that children from single-sex schools are outperforming students from coeducational schools}. In 2002, because of these studies and bipartisan support, the US law of 1972 that made coeducation in public schools mandatory was revoked and funding was given in support of the single-sex option. There are now associations of parents who are advocating for single-sex education.
According to supporters, gender roles can be subverted in a single-sex environment (e.g. Sax, 2005); boys will be more likely to pursue the arts, and girls more likely to pursue mathematics and science. Margrét Pála Ólafsdóttir, an Icelandic educator who introduced single-sex kindergarten to Iceland in 1989, stated: “Both sexes seek tasks they know. They select behavior they know and consider appropriate for their sex. In mixed schools, each sex monopolises its stereotyped tasks and behavior so the sex that really needs to practice new things never gets the opportunity. Thus, mixed-sex schools support and increase the old traditional roles.”
tj “I’m all for keeping women in their place, barefoot and pregnant. Let’em run loose and get educated and you end up with more women than men in the board room.” Written tongue-in-cheek, of course. But society’s effects on evolution are actually proving to be quite forward-looking:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/02/science/02evo.html?ref=science. This research is just getting underway.
Nevertheless, I suspect that the movement away from the ‘niceties’ described in the Weekly Standard article started well before the sexual revolution and birth control. More likely it started a bit before women won the right to vote. And it’s been gaining steam ever since. Give’em an inch. And they’ll take a mile, right?
There must be a word for the education the Taliban advocate. It’s not mixed-sex education. It involves one sex. Let’s call it male-gender-specific. Sorta like our voting system was until, oh, about 90 years ago. Back when the sexual ‘niceties’ of our society were in full flower. . .
T. J. Babson says
This is pretty much on target, too:
Men, “Operation Feminist Movement” has worked, and more swiftly and completely than many of you thought possible. Mere decades ago, we spent endless hours and countless dollars before marriage courting and wooing; after marriage, we shouldered the entire financial burden for our families.
Now, after marriage, women can be expected to pay for half of everything, which is to the good, because video games are expensive. But, as more and more of you are discovering, why bother with marriage at all anymore? You can stay up all night, hang with your buds all the time, secure in the knowledge that on any given night you can be sure to find a willing woman, a woman who has likely been taught, conditioned even (by other women!) to expect nothing from you in return — and that this is a good thing.
Is it any wonder that, according to recent research , women these days are “becoming less happy relative to men” across all age, income, and marital levels? No, this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, although the unhappiness of the modern woman seems to be taking many of them by surprise. After all, don’t they “have it all”?
No — it is men who now have it all.
And here I thought that women smoking in increasing numbers has made them as unhappy as men.”While smoking rates in general are declining, the number of women smoking cigarettes is not declining as rapidly as the number of men who smoke. Between 1965 and 1993, the percentage of men who smoke dropped 24%, while the number of women who smoke dropped only 11%. In addition, women are beginning to smoke at a younger age. If the trend continues, women smokers will soon outnumber men smokers.” http://www.womenshealthchannel.com/womensmoking/index.shtml
At least it’s a different view and one not quite so “male-defensive”. You have to admit, lung cancer does have a tendency to affect one’s happiness ( 🙂 –I mean 🙁 )
Gee Mike, You’re really sensitive about Obama being attacked.
Michael LaBossiere says
Not really. Even if I were, it would not be relevant to whether the attacks are warranted or not.
You mean the attacks you imagined may happen…
Michael LaBossiere says
Obama seems to be regularly attacked or, if you prefer, criticized. Some of this is warranted, some is not. I am opposed to unwarranted attacks, fine with ones that are justified.