Originally Posted by Don Zeko
Maybe it is and maybe it isn't. Education is hard, and effective evaluation of school performance is quite difficult too. It seems to me that a big expansion of vouchers will just create the kind of competition to lure students that are already likely to do well that we see in higher education.
Education is easy, and can be easily measured by competency in the tasks that depend on what is learned. Babysitting is hard. It's hard to measure quality Sitting, or what factors make good Sitters better than bad ones.
School in America is mostly babysitting with some other factors rolled in. These other factors include imagination dampening and boredom preparation, a sprinkling of cultural attunement, loyalty to heirachy; mostly useful things that are designed to prepare (farm) children for their lives as adults in their Industrial Era jobs. These are all very difficult tasks that take years of reinforcement to develop.
Your average 19 year old high school graduate is probably just as qualified to be an assistant floor manager of a factory, or do inventory management and pricing as his predecessors 40 or 60 years ago. Think of any job that 'required' a high school degree in the past 80 years, and it's not like graduates today are that worse in being qualified for them, except perhaps in a few esoteric dimensions due to technological factors.
The problem is that a High School Degree job is a job that can be easily described in a set of tasks, mostly repetitive with large lists of rules and special cases, following these directions and possibly some math or involves writing such tasks. Any job that can be easily described can be given to a computer or outsourced. Those High School jobs of the past that can't be easily converted still run a risk of obsoleting themselves (imagine a job typing envelope labels made obsolete by declining reliance on physical mail, or a Clock Repairman), and the future of new tasks that replace them are either more complex (digital clocks) or far less complex (copy machine)
Earlier Don, you said,
The possibility that educating impoverished children in communities blighted by crime and poverty might actually be much more difficult than producing consumer electronics devices is not discussed. And of course there was no talk of how incredibly difficult it is to evaluate the effectiveness of our schools.
But this completely ignores that nations that are poorer than us, and nations that spend far less than us, surpass us in comparison studies and even started surpassing our Rich White Privileged students - who aren't suffering disability.
The problem is the model. Public Babysitting While Your Parents Work is replicating a very specific model of child rearing that just doesn't work for our geography, cultural history, or our current technological development. The outcomes of such a system do not match our current needs and our culture lacks other tools to make up for disabling children with Industrial Era enculturation in a post industrial world.
Oh and one last thing Don. Market Failure does not mean 'Outcomes I don't Like". CEO pay is a superstar market with some Lottery incentives built in. It's high for the same reason a professional basketball's or actor's salary is high, and it's high for the same reasons there are sometimes large payouts for discoveries and inventions. There's some evidence that they could sit on their butts all day and play video games, and their high salary would still be worth it. The high salary is there to encourage all the rest of upper management to work their butts off so they have a better shot of 'winning' the big paycheck.
Of course, most CEO's don't sit on their butts, most actually are adding a lot of institutional capital to their firms in ways that, unlike Education, are actually hard to quantify. Things like being the public and internal face of the firm, for example.
When you consider the total contribution to institutional capital, large CEO pay makes sense. You may not like the outcome, but it is hard to say it is inefficient. Whether or not CEO pay has any impact at all on the wages of the rest of the firm? Well, I'd guess it lowers the salary of management, but beyond that it's difficult to guess. I'm sure some economist somewhere has done a regression on it though.