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Jul 29 / Jonathan

David Brooks is creepy

He’s not alone, I’m sure. In an opinion piece in the NY Times, Brooks informs us that US education is going to hell in a handbasket. We’re falling behind.

America’s edge boosted productivity and growth. But the happy era ended around 1970 when America’s educational progress slowed to a crawl. Between 1975 and 1990, educational attainments stagnated completely. Since then, progress has been modest. America’s lead over its economic rivals has been entirely forfeited, with many nations surging ahead in school attainment.

Well, OK. I’m skeptical of golden-age claims, but there’s no denying that we’ve made a hash of our schools. Maybe because states like California, once exemplary educators, have cut public education funding in half, as a fraction of personal income? No say Brooks’s sources.

It’s not falling school quality, [Heckman] argues. Nor is it primarily a shortage of funding or rising college tuition costs. Instead, Heckman directs attention at family environments, which have deteriorated over the past 40 years.

Heckman points out that big gaps in educational attainment are present at age 5. Some children are bathed in an atmosphere that promotes human capital development and, increasingly, more are not.

How does Heckman know? He “intuits” it, via “common sense”. Our children need to be “bathed in an atmosphere that promotes human capital development.”

Creepy.

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