Kevin Williamson on Homeschooling

October 3, 2012

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

If you subscribe to National Review, don’t miss Kevin Williamson’s fantastic piece in the new issue on home schooling. Here are three little tastes of a long article in which every paragraph is good:

In the public imagination, homeschooling has a distinctly conservative and Evangelical odor about it, but it was not always so. The modern homeschooling movement really has its roots in 1960s countercultural tendencies; along with A Love Supreme, it may represent the only worthwhile cultural product of that era. The movement’s urtext is Summerhill: A Radical Approach to Child Rearing, by A. S. Neill, which sold millions of copies in the 1960s and 1970s…

[Dana Goldstein, writing against home schooling in Slate] went on to argue that the children of high-achieving parents amount to public goods because of peer effects…She does not extend that analysis to its logical conclusion: that conscientious, educated liberals should enroll their children in the very worst public schools they can find in order to maximize the public good…

Teachers’ unions have money on the line, and ideologues do not want any young skull beyond their curricular reach. A political class that does not trust people with a Big Gulp is not going to trust them with the minds of children.

If you don’t subscribe – shame on you!

Swedish Education Irony Alert!

April 4, 2012

Meet the two coolest things ever made in Sweden.

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

In the new issue of NR, the invaluable Kevin Williamson profiles Massachussetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren. He writes that in a book they co-wrote, Warren and her daughter “offer an array of policy prescriptions ranging from the mild (decoupling public-school assignments from geography) to the Swedish (subsidizing stay-at-home parents)…”

Oops! It’s actually “decoupling public-school assignments from geography” that’s the Swedish idea here. Sweden has had a national system of universal school vouchers since 1993. They’ve even developed economically sustainable for-profit school companies. It’s so successful that about a year ago the Social Democratic Party, which I’m tempted to describe as Sweden’s socialist party but will instead describe as its more socialist party, decided not to try to kick the for-profit schools out of the system.

Williamson does have a number of good words for Warren, including this nugget, which ed reformers will particularly enjoy reading:

Warren taught public school briefly and then quit rather than go through the obligatory, despair-inducing credentialing rigmarole (a fact that speaks better of her than almost anything else you’ll learn).

NR’s Must-Read on Big Business and Big Government

March 27, 2009


(Guest post by Greg Forster)

Folks, you simply must read Jonah Goldberg’s cover story in the new NR on how big business loves big government.

I know, I know, to most readers of JPGB it is not likely to be news that big business loves big government. But the article contains a whole slew of fascinating information that I never knew before, covering everything from a hundred years ago to the present day. And it’s very powerfully presented and argued – better than I’ve ever seen on this topic. The article is as delightful to read as it is informative.

There are revelations in the article about Upton Sinclair and the creation of government regulations for the meatpacking industry, and about how TR reversed his position on “trusts” after he left office, that floored me. Back when his book came out, Goldberg said he had to cut huge swaths of the original manuscript – I forget how much he said, but if I recall, it was definitely more than half – because the book was just too long. He was lamenting how much fascinating, little-known historical stuff wouldn’t go into the book and hoped that it would eventually be useful elsewhere. I think he’s getting some of that good stuff into circulation with this article.

Here’s a sample, from the opening:

Honesty and marital necessity require me to state that everything I know about prostitution I have learned from a distance. That said, based on what I’ve gleaned from reading and from films of dubious artistic value, it seems to me that the farther you move up the prostitution price range, the more elaborate the lies become….The relationships grow not only more complex but more reciprocal — and, most of all, the real lies aren’t what the hookers tell the johns, but what both parties tell themselves.

That’s something to keep in mind as we watch the spectacle of American big business and the Democratic party seducing each other once again.

It’s for subscribers only, alas. His syndicated column today takes on the same subject but is much, much less interesting – there’s not much in it that JPGB readers won’t already know. Besides, online subscriptions to NR are cheap and you should have one anyway.

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