The following is an adapted excerpt from the late Angelo M. Codevilla’s contribution to
Against the Great Reset: Eighteen Theses Against the New World Order, which will be published by Bombardier Books on October 18. The book is a collection of original essays by eminent thinkers, writers and journalists to provide the first major salvo in intellectual resistance to the radical restructuring of the Western world by globalist elites.
As big and powerful as it is, the edu class has never been more vulnerable. Never before have so many people been so open, even eager, to do without his services. Whatever reservoir of faith and sincere support that established American schools and universities once enjoyed has disappeared. The continued massive presence of the edu class depends more on legacy sources of funding – mostly government – than anything else. It is the life support of the edu class. In fact, he has no other resource.
The political task for those of us whose interest lies in rebuilding an educational system that sustains our civilization is to cut off that life support, allowing the educational class and its offerings to compete on the merits of what that they offer. Even more complex and demanding, it must henceforth dispense and promote an education which truly strengthens and reconstitutes our civilization. Cutting financial life support from the edu class will take no more and no less than spreading the truth about what it does and doesn’t do and why, considering the hearts and minds of its officials, people Reasonable people cannot expect it to improve on what it already offers.
THEY TRIED TO STOP SCHOOL CHOICE IN ARIZONA, AND THEY FAILED
School board elections are the best way to reshape the attitudes of those who control K-12 school funding. America suffers from an excessive concentration of educational power in too few school boards. Campaigning to split current councils into several such entities, each more tightly controlled by parents, must go hand in hand with arguments about what should and should not be taught. Tying what government does to the willingness to support it with taxes has helped define our civilization since Magna Carta.
Governments will tax and compel education. Legislating the right of parents to decide which schools (public, private, or homeschooling) tax revenues and students go to is essential, not only to discipline public school boards, but also to ensure genuine diversity, providing communities with knowledge about what types of education has what results.
With higher education increasingly removed from democratic control, the political means to address it are necessarily indirect, with one exception: undoing the massive student loan programs that have bloated and distorted colleges while shrinking the middle class and by creating a generation of graduates who are both indebted and useless. Justice and political sense show the way. Since colleges in general and administrators in particular have been the main beneficiaries of the loans, and what they have done and what they have not done is the main reason why so many graduates are dysfunctional, legislative shifting the responsibility for loans from taxpayers to colleges would both reduce their ability to compensate themselves and spend on frivolities, and ensure that, should students default, the consequences fall where they should. Taxpayers will not shed tears for the people of the Golden Archipelago.
The government’s encouragement of science and technology and its support for militarily relevant research poses the same problem today as the day Sputnik first circumnavigated the globe – especially more that China’s threat to the United States is quantitatively greater and more technology-driven than Russia ever was. The challenge for us is to stop repeating the mistake we made in transforming the National Defense Education Act and support for education in general by supporting gender studies more than genetics. Intellectually, keeping the priorities straight is easy. Politically, it takes the courage to publicly speak hard truths about what is worth what to our civilization and to our power as a nation.
Cutting off the vital support of higher education institutions requires exposing how little, if any, good they do in relation to the price and opportunity costs of attending them. A little political action can do a lot in this regard by imposing on them the same requirements of transparency about the effects they have on those they serve that apply to other providers of goods and services.
Reputation (i.e. prestige) is literally the main product they dispense. What do you get for four years at Old State U.? What about Old Ivy? These questions deserve empirical answers. Institutions announce the percentage of students they admit, and sometimes the test scores of applicants, implying that they select the best and improve them. But edu-class categorically rejects comparing students’ test scores (absolute and/or relative) before and after their participation. The vehemence of the rejection increased as the number of studies required for graduation decreased.
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Legislating on the transparency of school results is the most powerful weapon against scams. Factual challenges to established colleges’ vague claims to beneficence can also help those starting replacement institutions. But beyond the empirical evidence is that the substance of what is taught, especially when it comes from the heights of academia, has corrupted America. All sorts of corruptions are so immanent from the commanding heights of America that they make it superfluous to present facts and arguments about them.
Anyone who would reset education in America to its current path must begin by noticing and exposing its corruption of our civilization. Each new generation internalizes civilization as it does its mother tongue. Restoring the integrity of the civilization in which we educate future generations requires that educators pay attention to every word of its language.
Angelo M. Codevilla (1943-2021) was a senior fellow at the Claremont Institute and professor emeritus of international relations at Boston University.