Posts tagged ‘School Board’

Top Down vs. Bottom Up

I have written any number of times on the technocratic-statist urge to overturn emergent order that is created bottom up in favor of imposing their own top-down vision of how society should run.  The following is from David Mamet via Mathew Shaffer (hat tip Maggies Farm) and is a nice synopsis of this mindset

The problem is that “the Left today is essentially an elitist movement, and it has invested a lot of time and money in the idea that they know better.” Elites have been led to think “by getting the grades, and getting into good schools and think-tanks and government positions that they are fit” to reorder society more rationally. But this requires first demolishing the order produced by the organic processes of tradition, democracy, and markets — the culture. Why are some so susceptible to this fatal conceit? “They get out of elite schools being told nothing but, ‘You’re the best.’” Hubris — a dramatist’s area of expertise.

More good stuff, from the same interview

“There is no secret knowledge. The Federal Government is really the zoning board writ large,” he writes. What does that mean? He explains to me: “Mark Twain famously said, ‘God made the Idiot for practice, and then He made the School Board.’ The zoning board is like that — they’re just a bunch of people with power. Some are good, some are bad. But they gotta be watched like hawks, because power corrupts.” So “secret knowledge” is a Hayekian insight wrapped up like a Talmudic paradox. The secret is there is no secret — no special caste has the knowledge or goodness, inaccessible to the rest of us, to order society. Hence Mamet’s skepticism of technocracy and his preference for order created from the democratic and disaggregated processes of the marketplace.

And here is one more nice quote from Mamet, a while ago in the Village Voice

in the abstract, we may envision an Olympian perfection of perfect beings in Washington doing the business of their employers, the people, but any of us who has ever been at a zoning meeting with our property at stake is aware of the urge to cut through all the pernicious bullshit and go straight to firearms.

Like Bill Gates Complaining About Starbucks Prices

I thought this from

At Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, parents fear cuts in
Montgomery County's proposed $2.1 billion budget will threaten the
math-science magnet program.

Schaeffer puts this in perspective:

The desperate schools of Montgomery County will need to find some way
[to] stretch the $15,246 they have to spend on each of the 137,745 students
in their schools.

This is simply hilarious.  Sometimes it is hard to compare per-pupil spending on an apples to apples basis since each grade tends to be progressively more expensive than the last (high school is more expensive than middle school which is more expensive than elementary school).  Recognize that this is only partially because the education per se is more expensive at each step -- it is more because the expectation of extra-curriculars (sports, theater, etc.) go up at each level. 

However, taking 8th grade as a mean, I can say that my 8th-grader's tuition in a for-profit private school that receives no donations or outside scholarship money is less than half $15,246.  And the education he gets is generally considered the best in the city  (though his school is lighter than some rich-suburb public school on extra-curriculars).

If you have any doubt that local media generally act as cheerleaders for increased public spending, look no further than this.  Note the newspaper quote (from the Washington Post) and then Schaeffer's context:

I have saved the most touching story for last . . .

In Loudoun County, School Board members approved a
budget 14 percent higher than last year's to accommodate an expected
3,000 new students. The county faces a projected $250 million
shortfall, and the 54,000 student system will probably have to look for
new places for savings.

My heart goes out to the Loudoun County administrators. I can't see
how anyone can be expected to educate a child with just $15,000 or to
cover a 6 percent enrollment increase with just a 14 percent increase
in the budget.