October 25, 2009
Good Night, Sweet Hack
Education Gadlfy, Grald Bracey, died this week. He had a sharp analytic ability. It is sad that he only applied it to refute some of the shoddy evidence, like international testing comparisons, against the things he believed in. For all the other shoddy evidence supporting the things he believed in, like poverty/school outcome research and whole language research, he consistently failed to use his sharp analytic abilities. This curious dichotomy and his penchant for cherry picking evidence permitted him to be an apologist for America's public school system. It takes quite a bit of cognitive dissonance to be one of those and Jerry was a full-throated one. He deserved but never received one of his own bad apple awards.
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Ouch, Ken. That's a little harsh. Jerry WAS selective, but aren't we all? He DID have his blind spots, but don't we all?
Jerry was a journalist in researcher's clothing. But his books, PDK columns, and EDDRA were worthy contributions to the cause.
Jerry, like you, was willing to take on any-and-all. More such are needed.
Jerry certainly made a contribution, but his blind spot was particularly large and he was unwilling to confront it. I expcet more from Jerry who should have known better. He was not just some dopey journalist.
Gearald Bracey debated Myron Lieberman at the University of Hawaii Campus Center in the summer of 1995. I remember only that Mr. Bracey began his presentation with the observation that the collapse of the Soviet Union freed Marxist scholars of the burden of defending a failed model.
Command economies (e.g., the US government school system) fail for reasons understood and explained over 80 years ago by Ludwig Von Mises in __Socialism__, reiterated by Hayek in his 1945 __American Economic Review__ article "The Use of Knowledge in Society", and given more modern treatment by Friedman in __Capitalism and Freedom__.
Federalism and markets institutionalize humility. If a policy difference turns on a matter of taste, numerous local policy regimes or a competitive market in goods and services allows for the expression of varied tastes while the struggle for control of a State (government, generally)-monopoly provider must create unhappy losers. If a policy dispute turns on a matter of fact, where "What works?" is an empirical question, numerous local regimes or a competitive market in goods and sevices will generate more information than will a State-monopoly provider. A State-monopoly school system is like an experiment with one treatment and no controls; a retarded experimental design.
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