Tag Archives: Performance

Why is America so much more prosperous than other nations?

It occurred to me that young people are being taught in government-run schools that central planning of the economy by the federal government works better than allowing states to decide policy for themselves. Naturally, the students – lacking life experience and at the mercy of the unionized teacher’s grading pen – have no choice except to be indoctrinated. But what are the facts?

The genius of America is that the Founding Fathers allowed the federal government to only have power in certain areas of life. Other areas of policy were delegated to the states. This allows states to try different policies to see what works best, or even just what works best for them. Then the other states have the option to emulate that success, or continue doing what doesn’t work. States that do what works will see more success, with more businesses and people migrating to their states. States that persist in doing what doesn’t work will see business and taxpayers flee. That is the genius of America’s design.

Federalism encourages states to operate according to the “principle of subsidiarity”, which is an economic principle that states that problems are best solved at the lowest level possible (individual -> family -> church – > business -> community -> local government -> state government -> federal government). This is because the people at the lowest level have the most KNOWLEDGE about how to solve the problem.

Case study: right-to-work laws

Let’s look at an example – unions and right to work laws. Starting after world war 2, some states decided to pass right to work laws. These laws allowed workers to decide for themselves whether to join a union or not. Since workers had the choice about whether to join the union, the union had to care about the workers and advocate for them, instead of enriching themselves at the expense of the workers via corruption and thuggery.

Here is how different states adopted right to work laws at different times:

Map of states showing adoption of right-to-work laws
Map of states showing adoption of right-to-work laws

What happened in these states? Well job creating businesses started to move from forced-union-membership states to right-to-work states. Why? Because unions were stopping them from innovating. Companies would figure out new ways to improve productivity, such as using machines and computers. But the unions would step in and insist that the old ways were best. The unions wanted their union members to just be able to do the same job, e.g. – pulling a lever over and over, for the entire 35 years of their career. And the unions wanted their members to be paid like a software engineer or a doctor for pulling a lever over and over. The unions also wanted to make sure that underperforming workers could never be fired, or replaced. And so on. Companies realized that they couldn’t compete in a global market like this, so they got up and left for right-to-work states.

Here’s what happened next:

Rates of employment in forced union states vs right to work states
Rates of employment in forced union states vs right to work states

States with right-to-work laws never said that there couldn’t be unions, only that workers wouldn’t have to join a union to work. And in right-to-work states, not only did workers not join unions, they voted not to unionize at all. This resulted in a massive decline in private sector unions in America:

Decline in private sector union membership
Decline in private sector union membership

As a result of job creating businesses not being hampered by union corruption and thuggery, American businesses quickly outpaced their rivals in forced union membership states in productivity, as measured by GDP. They also outpaced the productivity per worker in other economically illiterate countries. Why? Because allowing companies to innovate meant that workers were using more machinery and computers to do their jobs. They learned new skills. Underperforming workers could be replaced with workers who were willing to grow and adapt. Non-union workers higher productivity allowed them to find other jobs if they were laid off.

Right to work states innovate, creating more skilled workers
Right to work states innovate, creating more skilled workers

The job security of the American worker comes from his improved worker productivity – not from the union. Not only did unemployment go down in right to work states (more jobs!) but salaries and benefits also increases, as companies had to compete with each other for workers. However, companies were ok with paying more for workers, because they would rather pay ONLY the workers who deserved it, rather than pay one rate for all union workers, regardless of performance.

This article from the far-left New York Times explains how slaries and benefits rise when job creators move to right-to-work states: Income Rises When Right-to-Work Laws Are Passed because job creators must offer workers a lot in order to get them to sign. Not just salaries and benefits, but realistic development plans to grow the workers skills, making them even more resistant to layoffs and economic downturns.

Quote:

While some persons may favor right-to-work laws largely on philosophical grounds (people should have the freedom to decide whether they want to belong to a union or not), the major reason I support such laws is that they seem to promote prosperity — specifically, higher incomes. Real personal income in the right-to-work states rose nearly twice as much as in other states from 1970 and 2013.

To be sure, most of that reflected higher population growth in right-to-work states — there was massive in-migration to these states from the states denying workers the right to not join a union. Yet even after correcting for population growth, income per person on average rose somewhat more in the right to work jurisdictions. Capital moves to right-to-work states with a more stable labor environment, and that increases labor demand and, ultimately, income and wages.

Although unions mostly died out in the private sector, the ones that remained actually functioned well as unions – focusing on their workers instead of enriching union bosses. They had to, because if they didn’t, then the workers would just opt out of them. The only places where unions still survive is in the public sector, i.e. – government. This is because government is (by law) a monopoly, where consumers have no choice except to accept the garbage that they are offered. They can’t go anywhere else for a lower price, or a better product, or a better service. Public sector unions are immune to innovation, because they lobby the government to prevent any improvement or accountability.

Here is an example of a public sector union’s effort to “help the customer”:

Political contributions by the American Federation of Teachers union
Political contributions by the American Federation of Teachers union

And here’s what those efforts to “help the customer” produced for the customer:

Education spending has tripled since 1970
Education spending has tripled since 1970

They aren’t really helping the customer, are they? What they do is collect dues, enrich their union leaders, intimidate their opponents with threats and force, and then give money to secular left politicians to prevent their customers from opting out of a system that doesn’t produce higher quality and lower prices for the customer. The secular left politicians pass laws that prevent the customers (parents) from being able to get a better product (education for their children) for a lower price. We should abolish public sector unions in order to get the benefits for the customer that we see in the private sector.

Thomas Sowell: is the political left really concerned about helping minorities?

Economist Thomas Sowell
Economist Thomas Sowell

Do people who talk about race the most actually favor policies to help minorities? Thomas Sowell writes about it in Investors Business Daily.

Excerpt:

If anyone wanted to pick a time and place where the political left’s avowed concern for minorities was definitively exposed as a fraud, it would be now — and the place would be New York City, where far left Mayor Bill de Blasio has launched an attack on charter schools, cutting their funding, among other things.

These schools have given thousands of low-income minority children their only shot at a decent education, which often means their only shot at a decent life. Last year 82% of the students at a charter school called Success Academy passed citywide mathematics exams, compared to 30% of the students in the city as a whole.

Why would anybody who has any concern at all about minority young people — or even common decency — want to destroy what progress has already been made?

One big reason, of course, is the teachers’ union, one of de Blasio’s biggest supporters.

But it may be more than that. For many of the true believers on the left, their ideology overrides any concern about the actual fate of flesh-and-blood human beings.

Something similar happened on the West Coast last year. The American Indian Model Schools in Oakland have been ranked among the top schools in the nation, based on their students’ test scores.

This is, again, a special achievement for minority students who need all the help they can get.

But, last spring, the California State Board of Education announced plans to shut this school down!

Why? The excuse given was that there had been suspicious financial dealings by the former — repeat, former — head of the institution. If this was the real reason, then all they had to do was indict the former head and let a court decide if he was guilty or innocent.

There was no reason to make anyone else suffer, much less the students. But the education establishment’s decision was to refuse to let the school open last fall. Fortunately a court stopped this hasty shutdown.

These are not just isolated local incidents. The Obama administration has cut spending for charter schools in the District of Columbia and its Justice Department has intervened to try to stop the state of Louisiana from expanding its charter schools.

Why such hostility to schools that have succeeded in educating minority students, where so many others have failed?

Some of the opposition to charter schools has been sheer crass politics. The teachers’ unions see charter schools as a threat to their members’ jobs, and politicians respond to the money and the votes that teachers’ unions can provide.

The net result is that public schools are often run as if their main function is to provide jobs to teachers. Whether the children get a decent education is secondary, at best.

In various parts of the country, educators who have succeeded in raising the educational level of minority children to the national average — or above — have faced hostility, harassment or have even been driven out of their schools.

Not all charter schools are successful, of course, but the ones that are completely undermine the excuses for failure in the public school system as a whole. That is why teachers’ unions hate them, as a threat not only to their members’ jobs but a threat to the whole range of frauds and fetishes in the educational system.

The autonomy of charter schools is also a threat to the powers that be, who want to impose their own vision on the schools, regardless of what the parents want.

This story reminds me of another story of people on the left blocking poor minority children from better schools, in order to protect the jobs of underperforming unionized teachers.

The Heritage Foundation explains how the Department of Justice, in a Democrat administration, hurts the poorest minority students.

Excerpt:

On August 22, 2013, the United States Department of Justice filed a motion in federal court to stop Louisiana from issuing school vouchers to low-income children in numerous school districts. DOJ is basing the suit on decades-old desegregation orders that treat Louisiana as if it were the same state it was nearly 40 years ago—something that the United States Supreme Court recently rejected in the case of Shelby County v. Holder. Ironically, DOJ’s action will prevent low-income and minority students from accessing the successful Louisiana school choice program, which empowers children, underserved in their assigned public schools, to attend schools of choice that match their learning needs. Vague, open-ended, and stale court orders should not be used to prevent educational innovation and opportunity.

Vouchers are a way of helping poor, minority students to get a quality education by letting them choose to attend better schools – any school the parents choose. But school choice is a thorn in the side of the public school unions who support the political left, because it allows poor, minority child to escape underperforming schools. Poor, minority students don’t help Democrats to get elected, but public school teachers do. And that’s why the administration sides with them against the children. On the other side of the aisle, it’s the conservatives who push for more school choice, and better education for poor and minority students.

But education policy is only one area where minorities are harmed by leftist policies.  Minimum wage is another obvious choice.

Let’s take a look at the data and see how minorities are affected by leftist policies.

Excerpt:

Battles are brewing in New York, California, Minnesota and the nation’s capital over hiking minimum wages, with Democrats having the votes to ram through hikes in all four cases.

These politicians are claiming the moral high ground, saying it will help the poorest in our communities. Don’t be fooled.

Hiking the minimum wage hurts — not helps — the lowest-paid workers, especially young black men. A 10% hike in the minimum wage causes a 2.5% drop in employment among young white men without a high school diploma and a staggering 6.5% drop among young black men without that degree.

Young black males get clobbered three times as hard because they tend to work in the fast-food and restaurant industries, where any increase in labor costs produces layoffs.

[…]Only 5% of American workers earn the federal minimum, according to the latest government data, compared with 13% in 1979. Minimum wage workers are largely first-time workers. They are learning what all of us learn on our first job: to be prompt, dress appropriately, do what the boss asks and be reliable.

First-time workers face the biggest risk of being priced out of the job market by a minimum wage hike. They aren’t worth much to an employer when they start working. They don’t have the skills.

When the government increases the minimum wage, it’s more expensive to hire first-timers. According to David Neumark and J.M. Salas, University of California economists, and William Wascher of the Federal Reserve Board, “minimum wages tend to reduce employment among teenagers.”

[…]All teens are harmed, but black male teenagers are hit hardest by minimum wage hikes, according to a 2011 study by labor economists David Macpherson and William Evans. Unemployment among young black males is currently 29%, double the rate for young white males.

Macpherson and Evans found the reason is that one out of three young black men without a high school diploma works in the restaurant/fast-food industry, where profit margins are thin. Any labor-cost hikes compel these businesses to cut their workforce.

The truth of the matter is that the real minimum wage is zero. In order to help minority young people find jobs, we should strengthen the institution of marriage, encourage people to get married and stay married, lower taxes on businesses, lower regulations on businesses, and so on. But strangely, the people who talk the most about helping the poor and poor minorities in particular are all opposed to that. The Democrats won’t even build the Keystone XL pipeline or expedite other energy development initiatives to create good paying jobs. So don’t believe that people who talk the most about poverty actually have the right answers about how to solve it. After all, the Obama administration talked a lot about health care, but clearly the people who lost their doctors, lost their health care, or are paying more for less health care, do not now believe that Obamacare was the answer to the health care problem.

If you’re looking for a good recent study on the minimum wage and minority youth, take a look at this study from the Employment Policies Institute. More studies here in a previous post on this blog.

Obama administration blocks Louisiana school voucher program

Fox News reports.

Excerpt:

The Justice Department is trying to stop a school vouchers program in Louisiana that attempts to help families send their children to independent schools instead of under-performing public schools.

The agency wants to stop the program, led by Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal, in any school district that remains under a desegregation court order.

In papers filed in U.S. District Court in New Orleans, the agency said Louisiana distributed vouchers in 2012-13 to roughly 570 public school students in districts that are still under such orders and that “many of those vouchers impeded the desegregation process.”

The federal government argues that allowing students to attend independent schools under the voucher system could create a racial imbalance in public school systems protected by desegregation orders.

Jindal — who last year expanded the program that started in 2008 — said this weekend that the department’s action is “shameful” and said President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder “are trying to keep kids trapped in failing public schools against the wishes of their parents.”

The Justice Department says Louisiana has given vouchers this school year to students in at least 22 of 34 districts remaining under desegregation orders.

Jindal called school choice “a moral imperative.”

Vouchers are a way of helping poor, minority students to get a quality education by letting them choose to attend better schools – any school the parents choose.

This lady from the Cato Institute explains in a 5-minute video why vouchers are a good thing.

A longer video featuring John Stossel is here:

You can learn more about vouchers below.

Related posts

New study: private religious schools outperform public schools and public charter schools

Reported by The Public Discourse.

Excerpt:

I recently conducted a meta-analysis of more than ninety studies on education, and the results suggest that perhaps it is time for America’s leadership and the general public to take a second look at religious private schools. At the risk of immodesty, let me be frank. The study is hugely important because it is the first published meta-analysis to compare the three primary types of American schools: religious private schools, traditional public schools, and charter schools.

A meta-analysis statistically combines all the relevant existing studies on a given subject in order to determine the aggregated results of the research. This meta-analysis yielded results that surprised many by indicating that students from public charter schools did no better than their peers in traditional public schools. In contrast, youth from religious private schools performed better academically than their counterparts in both public charter schools and traditional public schools, even when the results were adjusted to account for socioeconomic status, selectivity, race, and various other factors.

[…]Examining results from all ninety studies, I found that the average academic outcome for religious school students was .28 of a standard deviation unit higher than for traditional public school (TPS) students, while the average for charter school students was only .01 of a standard deviation unit higher. If one converts these numbers to percentiles, the average academic outcome was 11 percentage points higher than that of TPS pupils, while charter school attendees scored about the same as their TPS counterparts.

Translated into more tangible numbers, students who attend private religious schools attain educational levels that average about twelve months ahead of those attending regular public schools. Even when the meta-analysis employed sophisticated controls, which included measures for socioeconomic status, selectivity, gender, and race, youth who attended faith-based schools achieved at levels seven months ahead of both TPS and public charter school students.

One of the most intriguing results of the study is that the racial and socioeconomic achievement gaps are roughly 25 percent narrower in religious private schools than in public schools. This finding is particularly interesting when one considers that over the years the government has spent hundreds of billions of dollars to bridge the gaps, with only limited success. Higher expectations for students, and school leaders’ insistence that pupils take demanding courses, could help to explain these circumstances in faith-based schools.

The meta-analysis focused primarily on scholastic performance, but it also examined student behavior. The results indicated that youth from faith-based schools maintained even a larger edge in behavior than they did in school academics. That is, pupils from religious private schools exhibited fewer behavioral problems, even when socioeconomic status, selectivity, race, and gender were also controlled for. This translates into fewer gangs, lower levels of drug abuse, and greater racial harmony than one typically finds in public schools.

Many people, even this researcher, expected public charter school students to perform somewhere in between the levels achieved by students attending faith-based schools and those attending traditional public schools, given that they were trying to mimic certain aspects of private religious schools.

To the extent that neither traditional public schools nor charter schools are succeeding on a broad scale, it appears that the best hope for American education is religious private schools. Not only are they considerably more economically efficient, but their students also achieve better academic and behavioral results.

I think that it is noteworthy that Democrats opposes allowing parents – especially poor parents – to have a choice of what school their children will attend. The Obama administration even de-funded a voucher program that served poor-minority students. Teacher unions are one of the strongest pro-Democrat special interests. If the Democrat Party has to choose between poor, minority students and their powerful allies in the teach unions, the choice is not a hard one. They choose the teacher unions.

Is public school a viable option for Christian parents?

A couple of quick anecdotes from Yahoo News first, then we’ll see the numbers.

Excerpt:

Take the case of Petrona Smith. She says in a lawsuit that she was fired from teaching at Bronx PS 211 in March 2012 after a seventh-grader reported that she’d used the “N” word, according to The New York Post.

‘Negro.’

Smith doesn’t deny using the word. But she argues that everyone uses it, when speaking Spanish. She was teaching the Spanish words for different colors, and the color “black” in Spanish is “negro.” She also taught the junior high school students, in this bilingual school, that the Spanish term for black people is “moreno.” And by the way, Smith, who is from the West Indies, is black.

And more:

The Akron Public Schools Board of Education voted in January to pursue the firing of Melissa Cairns. She was a math teacher at Buchtel Community Learning Center.

The school district said that Ms. Cairns posted a photo on her personal Facebook page which showed 8 or 9 out of her 16 students with duct tape across their mouths. The caption read: “Finally found a way to get them to be quiet!!!” The district says a colleague of Cairns’ notified a supervisor of the photo.

[…]This past week, Cairns was officially fired because “She showed a lack of good judgment. Her conduct was unbecoming of a teacher,” Akron Public Schools spokesman Mark Williamson told Newsnet5.

He went on to explain it wasn’t the use of the duct tape, but the posting of the photo of children on Facebook that showed poor judgement.

As you know, you can’t fire public school teachers for incompetence or sexual abuse of children.

Excerpt:

He worked just one year as a full-time teacher in New York. But he has collected nearly $1 million for 13 years for doing almost nothing.

Aryeh Eller, 46, a former music teacher at Hillcrest HS in Queens, is the longest-sitting “rubber room” teacher in the city. He was yanked from the classroom in 1999 and confessed to repeated sexual harassment of female students, according to a 2000 investigative report.

[…]Since his 1999 suspension, he has collected $943,000, plus health and pension benefits — and the total will hit $1 million this year.

Now let’s see if this focus on political correctness instead of results is working for taxpayers and students.

The Wall Street Journal:

Over the last four decades, public education spending has increased rapidly in the United States. According to the Department of Education, public schools spent, on average, $12,922 per pupil in 2008, the most recent year for which data are available. Adjusting for inflation, that’s more than double the $6,402 per student that public schools spent in 1975.

Despite that doubling of funds, just about every measure of educational outcomes has remained stagnant since 1975, though some have finally begun to inch upward over the last few years. Student scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)—the only consistently observed measure of student math and reading achievement over the period—have remained relatively flat since the mid-1970s. High school graduation rates haven’t budged much over the last 40 years, either.

You can find more data to flesh out those claims linked at the Heritage Foundation think tank.

To remove any doubt, just take a look at the libertarian Cato Institute’s graph on public school spending vs scholastic achievement. We are are wasting money indoctrinating kids in political correctness. The extra money that we are spending on education isn’t going into making students smarter or more productive.