The most important opinion piece published today is by Angelo Codevilla and addresses the disturbing reality of how poorly our military and intelligence establishment are performing relative to the taxpayer dollars Washington has been throwing their way. He concludes:
It behooves all Americans, but especially those on the right, no longer to pretend that the military and intelligence services are anything other than the bureaucracies they are—to stop reflexively giving them money, and to demand that they actually serve their intended purpose.
One of those federal bureaucracies that has once again failed us — as in 9/11 and the immediately-following anthrax attacks — is the FBI. A “Nikolas Cruz” posted a YouTube comment that he “was going to be a professional school shooter” — and the FBI couldn’t even find the individual with that unusually spelled first name in the government’s gun registry, where Nikolas Cruz’s legal purchase of an AR-15 rifle would have been plainly visible. Unless the FBI’s malfunctioning is to be shared with Congress and the ATF.
Then there was the Texas church shooter who was able to obtain his guns legally because the Air Force failed to report his bad conduct discharge and domestic assault conviction — of wife and child — to the ATF registry.
So we not only have a problem of people with violence-oriented mental problems who aren’t getting identified, treated, and banned from gun purchases, but also federal bureaucracies so bloated they don’t or can’t perform their most basic functions of protecting the country’s citizens at home and abroad.
This is the same government that presumes to manage, unconstitutionally, your retirement savings, medical care, banks, money, interest rates, and, in part, your children’s education.
But who will dare to send their children to a public or private school if the FBI, Congress, and ATF can’t even thwart violent, mentally disturbed individuals from purchasing lethal weapons with government approval?
The educational bureaucracies
Aside from public safety issues, the education sector has multiple problems that have to do with bureaucracies other than those just named.
The depth of the problem of scientific illiteracy in the US is highlighted by an ad that National Public Radio (NPR) placed for a science editor — science education not required. The American Council on Science and Health (ACSH), which took note of the bizarre ad, comments that:
If you’ve ever wondered why science journalism is so incredibly bad, this is why. (It’s also one reason why we ranked NPR’s science coverage rather poorly.) But it’s not just NPR. It’s almost all of journalism.
But surely our finest universities are working hard to remedy this defect? Not so fast, the ACSH adds, in an article titled “Major Universities ‘At One’ With Junk Science,” noting that
Major universities (think Harvard, Columbia, Duke, and the University of California) have hopped on the “alternative medicine” bandwagon.
US mathematics illiteracy is fostered by excessive emphasis on applied mathematics and by socio-economic inequality, broken or dysfunctional families, and low-expectations tracking at school, according to a scholarly article in American Affairs Journal.
One important cause of humanities illiteracy is the dumbing down of the “Eurocentric” “white male” humanities curriculum by faculty and administrators caving into enraged, ignorant leftist students, as at Reed College recently.
The late Common Core identified as a culprit
According to National Association of Scholars (NAS) president Peter Wood, Common Core contributed, at the K-12 level, to both the mathematics and humanities illiteracy. But some argue that, contrary to Wood, good “informational texts” (i.e., non-fiction) — President Washington’s “Farewell Speech” and Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address” come to mind — don’t detract from the literature curriculum but enhance it.
Charter schools do better than public schools
A Cato scholar writes that “charter schools outperformed [public] district schools in each city [of eight, including New York City] on student achievement despite receiving significantly less resources per student.” Charter schools are less encumbered by teachers unions and local educational bureaucracies than their public counterparts.
Overlong schooling and excessive credentialing
Another American Affairs Journal article, “Accelerate Education,” argues that “the time young people spend in today’s educational institutions must be drastically reduced, and complemented by new institutions that would give them more experience, teach discipline and perseverance, help them build networks, and better prepare them for their lives and careers.”
On a similar theme, an outstanding economist, Richard Vedder, asks “Should We Really Be Encouraging the Master’s Degree for All? The advantage gained by having a college degree is rapidly diminishing.”
Banning affirmative action produces greater upward mobility
Will recent research on the negative effects of affirmative action finally move the Supreme Court to close the last loopholes in their jurisprudence on the subject?
Freedom of speech and faculty diversity
What are our supposedly top schools doing for the cause of freedom of speech?
Harvard University and the University of California at Berkeley are used to being ranked among America’s top colleges, but a ranking issued by a campus watchdog on Monday isn’t much to write home about. Both schools are included on the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s annual list of the 10 worst colleges for free speech.
Peter Wood, president of the NAS, [see his Common Core discussion above] argues that the biggest threat to academic freedom comes from students and faculty who believe “psychological safety from hearing viewpoints that they disagree with is more important than the ability to articulate arguments or listen to the opposing side in a sober, thoughtful manner.”
One might add that there are a lot of these critters in the humanities and social sciences departments of our colleges and universities.
Click here to go to the previous issue of Founders Broadsheet (“Mindfulness, sugar & Alzheimer’s, Medicaid & opioids, ibuprofen & men”)