Schooling made new

Technology can break the cycle of mediocrity in America’s public schools and bring down college costs, argues Glenn Harlan Reynolds in The New School: How the Information Age Will Save American Education from Itself.

In constant dollars, education spending rose from $1,214 per pupil in 1945 to nearly $10,500 in 2008, writes Reynolds, a University of Tennessee law professor who blogs as Instapundit.

Online education and “gamification” will liberate public school students from the education bureaucracy and help homeschooling expand, he predicts. Young people seeking higher education will have low-cost alternatives to brick-and-mortar colleges.

Reynolds is the author of The Higher Education Bubble.

“I am a new breed of warrior that is trying to infiltrate from the inside by actually teaching math as it should be taught,” writes Barry Garelick in Letters from John Dewey/Letters from Huck Finn. “This means—I am told by teachers getting ready to retire—that I should teach in a private or a charter school. ”

As “John Dewey,” Garelick chronicles his journey through ed school as he pursues a second career as a math teacher.  Writing as “Huck Finn,” he describes his experiences as a student teacher and then a substitute teacher grappling with the “ideological, political and cultural divide in math education.”
About Joanne


  1. PhillipMarlowe says:

    It is too bad that Instaputz is gone.
    But thanks to them, they come to mind when I hear Glenn Reynolds:
    I’d like to think this post had something to do with the erosion of his ability to successfully pose as a “nonpartisan libertarian,” but ultimately, as the War in Iraq deteriorated even further and Bush proved himself to be every bit as incompetent as his critics had been saying from the start, Glenn helpfully outed himself as a boringly conventional, Bush-supporting, gun-toting right-winger from East Tennessee.

    It’s been fascinating to watch his descent into 110-proof wingnuttery. His total wrongness about the Iraq War was followed by his total wrongness about the Great Recession. And after Barack Obama was elected (yes, Putz was bullish on a McCain victory — along with other things), just like every other Bush/Cheney cheerleader who didn’t want to call themselves Republicans after being humiliated in back-to-back elections, he put all his energy into promoting the Teabaggers — a movement that just four years later is now, predictably, a massive dumpster fire.

    And here’s the best part. The sad, small fig leaf Putz used back in 2006 to make himself seem “centrist” — his support of gay marriage — is now boringly mainstream. And, tellingly, he hasn’t found another to replace it. But he doesn’t bother with the pretense anymore, and anyway, no one’s buying it when he tries.

    His hatred for liberals, Democrats, and “the media” — which simmered and occasionally boiled over during the Bush years — became unhinged, spittle-producing rage during the Obama years. The “nonpartisan” who constantly whined about how mean and unfair “the press” and “the left” was to Bush finally snapped and labeled the first black president in American history a “racist hatemonger,” sounding more like a deranged Stormfront blogger than a law professor.

    In short, this blog’s reason for being — exposing Glenn Reynolds’ wingnuttery — has run its course. So, I’m saying goodbye.

  2. A law professor…. Which means he works in a bloated, bureaucratized system which uses antiquated lecture hall teaching methodology for which students pay far too much, and professors get (or don’t get) tenure based upon their publications as opposed to classroom performance. It’s a bit of a joke for somebody coming from that context to claim to know anything about effective education, but on the other hand it’s pretty easy to recognize that hopping on the “school reform” trope is a path to greater book sales. I suggest, though, that for his next book he focus on the beam instead of the mote.

  3. So it would be safe to assume that neither one of you weighty intellects has read Reynolds’ book and you’re criticisms, to the extent the word applies, are based on your assumptions about Reynolds?

    If it helps I believe Reynolds’ assumption about technology being the force that destroys the public education system is wrong. Public revulsions with the idiotic notion of public education will be the engine driving that train although advancing technology will make the transition to a private education environment easier. But I’m okay with it if Reynolds is right.

    • PhillipMarlowe says:

      Like a clock, Mr. Reynolds may be correct twice a day.
      I wouldn’t spend my time slogging through his work. He has demonstrated dishonesty.

      • So, a chicken shyt proofreading flame, to demonstrate intellectual ponderousness, followed by the admission that the book’s been “read” by identifying the author.

        Look, I can understand why two decades of increasingly worrisome failure in the political arena could easily result in a desire to ignore reality by retreat into invective but it can’t be a source of pride. Doesn’t your pride, at least, require you to find a response more substantive then the ludicrously childish epithet of “Instaputz”?

        • PhillipMarlowe says:

          You don’t understand.
          I didn’t write Instaputz.
          But it seems totally appropriate for someone who calls President Obama a “racist hate monger.”

          BTW, you misspelled guano.

          • “In short, this blog’s reason for being — exposing Glenn Reynolds’ wingnuttery — has run its course. So, I’m saying goodbye.”

            Perhaps you should take some time out from your busy schedule of name-calling and mirror-gazing to work on your writing skills.

            On the other issue, your admission of narrow-mindedness is gratifying but unnecessary. Your studied refusal to deal with the changes occurring in public education hardly constitutes a worthwhile case against those changes just as your scat-slinging original post doesn’t constitute a critique of Reynolds’ ideas. Heck, it’s not even much of a call to prayer of the faithful.

          • PhillipMarlowe says:

            As Ray Smith of DeMatha would say, “Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Son, I can not believe…”
            that allen can’t click which I posted after the quote from that site. From there you would see who wrote Instaputz and can read more of Glenn Reynolds wing nuttery. Racist hate monger in deed.

            As for chastising me for being narrow minded, I plead guilty. I would just as sooner read Glenn as I would read David Duke.

  4. Not used to finding ad hominem attacks here. Nor vulgarity.

    • Mike in Texas says:

      You haven’t been visiting this site very long, have you?

    • PhillipMarlowe says:

      (Half addressing Mrs. Teasdale)
      I didn’t come here to be insulted.

      That’s what you think.

      from Duck Soup

  5. I’m with RuthJoy, where did the vitriol suddenly come from?

    So far have skimmed The New School and will be delving in cover-to-cover this week. From my impression, Instapundit is asserting that technology is driving the change in education. My take is that digital life is enabling the change. What’s driving it is the changing economy.

    • The vitriol arises from the public’s refusal to go back to sleep on the subject of education.

      In previous episodes of public alarm at the state of public education – the post-Sputnik episode, “A Nation at Risk” – there was a flurry of public interest in public education but after a relatively brief interval the public lost interest. About the only thing that stuck in the aftermath of that public alarm were funding bumps.

      But the past twenty or so years has been different and lately it seems like bad news, if you’re a proponent of the district-based public education system, pops up every fifteen minutes. For those who depend on public apathy its disappearance would be alarming and one of the faces of that alarm would be vitriolic responses to any criticism.

  6. Roger Sweeny says:

    One of the primary functions of K-12 is daycare. Unless technology can take that over, it will have only a marginal, not a revolutionary, impact.

    • Daycare doesn’t require the substantial, sometimes vast, administrative organizations that typify public school districts. Daycare doesn’t require concentrating the kids into buildings containing hundreds of kids. That’s a convenience to the central administration.

      The technology won’t have much impact on those products of the political power and inherent irresponsibility of the district-based public education system other then to make its disassembly easier. Fortunately, the technology to make it easier to bring an end to the district system has come along as the political will to bring an end to the district system is coalescing.

    • Deirdre Mundy says:

      How much daycare do the 10 and up crowd really need? Make sure they do 2 hours of school a day, and then let them play all the video games they want…. They can fix their own sandwiches and drinks. An Xbox for each child and a new game every 2 weeks would be a lot cheaper than school…….

      Parents who cared could limit xBox time, have the kids go to the library, etc. Parents who just wanted daycare could park them in front of a video game system or cable TV. Maybe have small neighborhood tutoring centers with proctors, computers for lessons, and things like Lego Robot Teams for the kids who wanted more than basic skills and lots of video game time……

      Heck, the free games could even be educational! Or at least teach citizenship or something. With multiplayer modes, so kids could socialize too…..

      Way cheaper than the current system. And by making most education opt-in, the kids who cared could learn without the kids who were just marking time disrupting classes.

      People worry about delinquents, but we have enough bread and circuses to pacify most kids.

      • Roger Sweeny says:

        For purposes of prediction, I think the relevant question is not, “how much daycare do kids need?” It is, “how much daycare do parents want?”

        I suspect a lot of the general population also feels, “Kids should have somewhere to be. They shouldn’t be free to hang out or roam the streets all day.”

        • In the district system what parents want is largely irrelevant. What matters is if there’s any pertinent legislation and the availability of funding. Once those are lined up parental priorities are still irrelevant – you’ll take what you’re given.

          Also, why the assumption that, absent mandatory attendance, the vast majority of parents won’t see to it that their kids aren’t just hanging out or roaming the streets all day? The ridiculous assumption is that parents have to be forced to do what they can’t be prevented from doing.

          • Roger Sweeny says:

            It would be true that, “[i]n the district system what parents want is largely irrelevant” if people were compelled to stay in the district for their and their children’s lives, and if they had no way of influencing what the schools in that district did. However, both those ifs are not true.

            There is a dissonance at the heart of your arguments. On the one hand, you say that parents care so much about their children’s education that they would make sure their kids went to a good school, if only there were a market for schools. But without an explicit market for schools, they won’t care what the schools are like when they decide where to move and they won’t bother to lobby or vote or participate in local politics to influence the schools their kids go to.

            If parents really care a lot about their children’s education and if they really have no control over it, how the hell did they allow themselves to get into that situation, and why haven’t they moved heaven and earth to change it?

          • Sorry Roger but people are compelled to stay in the district for their and their children’s lives and they have no way of influencing what the schools in the district do.

            As practical matters.

            Sure, it’s theoretically possible for anyone to up stakes and move to the district of their dreams but as a practical matter, no so much. Less so as you descend the economic ladder.

            And sure, parents can theoretically influence district policy provided they can build a large enough organization of parents that has the political acumen to apply pressure where it’ll do good and can run board candidates that’ll vote their policies. But as a practical matter it’s pretty rare.

            “If parents really care a lot about their children’s education and if they really have no control over it, how the hell did they allow themselves to get into that situation, and why haven’t they moved heaven and earth to change it?”

            Why? Because it’s not all that difficult to understand an impulse to want to turn over gut-wrenching decisions/responsibilities to those who claim to be experts. The public education system, for a very long time allowed many parents to enjoy that indulgence. The hollowness of the premise, however, is becoming ever more obvious. Hence charters, vouchers, et al which is the moving of heaven and earth.

          • PhillipMarlowe says:

            “Sorry Roger but people are compelled to stay in the district for their and their children’s lives and they have no way of influencing what the schools in the district do”
            Any more gems?

          • You got something to add to the discussion or are you so taken with your brilliance that you can’t see how little you have to offer?

          • Roger Sweeny says:

            So parents have allowed themselves to have virtually no influence on their children’s education. And they have done this because of “an impulse to want to turn over gut-wrenching decisions/responsibilities to those who claim to be experts.”

            You really don’t think much of parents.

          • PhillipMarlowe says:

            Amen on that Roger.
            I see that you are projecting allen. I am not taken with my own brilliance as much as you are.
            I always thought of myself as the dumb one in the family, compared to my brother, until mom and dad tried to have us “make friends” with other children.

          • Roger, I’ve already written what I think of parents but parents are still human beings and while it may not be a point of pride to finally accept that you can’t do as much for your kids as you’d like that’s what parents do as well. The school district robs parents of their authority and some parents are more likely to accept that they’re beaten then others.

            So we’ve got parents who homeschool, as much of a demand as that places on parents, rather then accept the poor best the district schools offer. But homeschooling is demanding and those demands reduce the percentage of parents who can see their way clear to engage in that route. Reduce the threshold though and the percentage of parents who’ll choose the new route rises. That “new route” would be charters which put the lie to the myth of apathetic parents. Parents are apathetic, to the extent they actually are, as a function of the dismissive manner in which school districts treat parents and the microscopic scope of action school districts allow parents.

            And I see, Philip, that you’re as taken with content-free psycho-babble as you are with humdrum name-calling and timelessly thrilling proofreading flames. As I asked above, have you got anything to add to the discussion?

          • PhillipMarlowe says:

            Dear allen,
            There isn’t much to discuss with someone who dismisses parents, believes them to be helpless victims of the system, and who finds merit in the arguments of a man who calls President Obama a racist hate monger.
            You don’t know or care about parents because you like to see them as victims of the public school system.
            Nothing prevents them from seeking what’s best for their kids.
            My daughter had a classmate who parents traded one coast for another after dad was released from prison in order to find a better life for the family. The dad was a painter, and the mother worked at Burger King and two different night jobs in order to put their children in a Catholic school.

            But you don’t care.
            They would be standing next to you in the 7-11 and you would see right past them.

            PS. You still can’t spell. Phillip, not Philip.

          • PhillipMarlowe says:

            BULLY FOR YOU 5:36 PM APRIL 17, 2013


          • Self-evidently untrue from the link you provided. Feel free to direct the same sort of thoughtful, self-gratifying, commentary you’ve directed at Mr. Reynolds.

            When you manage to wend your way back to issues even marginally associated with public education I’ll once again confer upon you the blessings of my attention. Till then, please, have the last word.

          • PhillipMarlowe says:

            No problem allen.
            You can’t read.
            You can’t apologize for being wrong, or misspelling.
            But you confer respectability upon Glenn Reynolds who calls President Obama a racist hate monger.

            I call him a nut.

  7. Perhaps there will be a revolution in education. But it won’t be likely until the credential/credit problem is solved. I can take a MOOC course, but can’t use it as a credit in my degree program.

    Once there is more universal accrediting, then the dam will break open.

    The online stuff, at present, will be a huge benefit for homeschoolers. I would think that the best and the brightest in 5-10 years will be coming from the homeschool crowd.

    • Bzzzzzzzzzt! Too late! Home schooled kids already beat out public schools by significant margins in standardized testing:

      • Mark Roulo says:



        I homeschool my kid, but I also understand the concept of “non-representative sample” and “non-objective”. Quoting from the article:

        Regarding the third reason, there is new research showing that the average home-schooler who takes standardized achievement tests is doing very well. The study, commissioned by the Home School Legal Defense Association and conducted by Brian Ray, an internationally recognized scholar and president of the nonprofit National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI), is called “Progress Report 2009: Homeschool Academic Achievement and Demographics.”

        So … the Home School Legal Defense Association (probably pro-homeschooling … no?) commissioned a study by the president of the National Home Education Research Institute … and found that homeschooled kids did quite well, thank you very much.


        When Microsoft commissions studies from folks who have built their business on Windows and the studies find that Windows is great, most folks tend to discount the results. We should do that here, too.


        The homeschooled kids could be doing well. Or average. Or below average. But this study doesn’t show things one way or another.


        Part of the problem is that many homeschooled kids don’t take these standardized tests (my kid certainly doesn’t). The public school kids do. So … sample bias.


        If we really want to know, then we need to find a state where the homeschooled kids are required to take the same standardized tests as the public school kids. Then we’ll know (assuming we treat the test scores as proxies for learning) … for that state. Until then ….

        • Deirdre Mundy says:

          Also, “homeschoolers do better on tests” doesn’t mean that it’s HOMESCHOOLING that’s causing the score difference. There may be something different about the population choosing to homeschool, rather than about homeschooling itself.

          For instance, my kids do well on tests. But they’d also be at the 99th percentile if they went to school., It’s not that I’m a brilliant teacher. It’s that they’re the progeny of several generations worth of people who test in the 99th percentile on everything. I could totally neglect them, and they’d STILL test above average.

          It’s not that homeschooling boosts their achievement (well, it does since I let them work at their own speed, but..) so much as that it doesn’t waste their time repeating what they already know.