Monday, January 28, 2008

Alan Greenspan on Education

What does Alan Greenspan have to say about education in his new book,
The Age of Turbulence? Quite simple: there is dysfunction of education in US.

The education disaster can not be penned on the quality of our
children. American children test above average at younger grades but
not during high school.

Rapidly changing world of today increases importance of lifelong learning.
Formal education has become a lifetime endeavor.
Often supplied by corporations to fill their specific needs

While our universities and community colleges have responded
impressively, in recent decades our elementary and secondary schools
have not.

Unless quality of elementary and secondary schools is brought up to
world class, colleges will have to depend on immigrants to maintain
their high levels of performance or sink into mediocracy.

Aging and retirement will decrease the supply of skilled workers. If
these skilled workers can not be replaced then the wage differential
between skilled and unskilled workers will increase. If these skilled
workers can not be replaced then our ability to maintain technological
leadership in the world will cease.

One of the skills too many HS grads lack is proficiency in is math.
It is that skill more than any other that is required to achieve
skilled job status.

Math teachers with degrees and expertease in math are increasingly less common .
A '00 study: 40% of public school math teachers do not have a degree in math.

Single salary schedule in education contributes to poor performance in math.
It is 'senseless, yet the norm.'
Flat pay scale when demand is not flat is price fixing.

Opportunities for those with math/science expertease outside of the
education field are greater than for those with expertese in other
areas. Since teacher pay is same without regard to subject, then the
quality of math/science teacher is worse than the quality of other

This is one of many bureaucratic impediments to the function of market
forces in education. Proposals to remedy this dysfunctional state
are gaining traction
An example is Math for America.

Enhancing elementary and secondary school's sensitivity to market
forces should help restore the balance between the demand for and the
supply of skilled workers in US

Mentions as positive the following examples:

Rose and Milton Friedman efforts with vouchers for education.

Hamilton Project at the Brookings Inst. that shows little correlation
between teaching credentials and teacher effectiveness.

Study in LA that showed weeding out worst 25% of teachers incresed
test scores at graduation by 14%

If large number of students continue to be 'left behind' then the
following will occur:

There will be exaggeration of income concentration.
There won't be enough supply of skilled workers required for our
economy to maintain technology leadership

Solution is one of the following:

Allow more skilled workers to immigrate
Reform education in US

If the US is to continue to engage the world and improve its standard
of living then it will either have to improve education or allow
enough skilled workers to immigrate.

Restrictive immigration policy gives the native born skilled workers
protection. This keeps their wage rate artifically high and
intensives the the income gap between skilled and unskilled workers.