Education and Reality

“Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.” –Philip K. Dick

That’s where we are today – a willful denial of reality by the left, in particular the commenters on various liberals sites encompassing a collective delusion that we can close the achievement gap with costlier schools or that IQ is less important than EQ. Educational Realist puts it succinctly:

For the past twenty years or so, our educational policy has been devoted to ignoring the considerable mountain of data that suggests neither government nor parents can do much to mitigate the academic and life outcomes of children living in poverty, because the outcomes aren’t really caused by the poverty. All research suggests that the child’s IQ is linked closely to the biological parents’ and IQ, not poverty, has the strongest link to academic outcomes.

and

Actual experts, in other words, will point out that E. D. Hirsch and all the pre-school advocates probably have it backwards, that vocabulary deficits don’t cause low cognitive ability, but that low cognitive ability is the source of vocabulary deficits. Knowing more vocabulary doesn’t make you smarter. Smarter people know more vocabulary.

With humanity in the greatest wealth creation boom in the history of civilization, higher education is becoming more important than ever in today’s hyper-competitive economy. There are many on the right that say college doesn’t teach you anything useful or is a waste of money, but a degree gives you connections and signals to employers that you have met the necessary intelligence threshold to get a degree and therefore, ceteris paribus, are more competent than someone who does not have a degree. On average, a degree costs $25k, or about the same as a new car, and studies have shown educational attainment is highly correlated with income , so it’s not such as bad investment when you put it in those terms. A car only losses value, but a degree gains value though higher wages, and a degree deferred means you pay more later due to inflation.

Others, myself included, have proposed alternatives such as substituting diplomas with SAT and IQ scores, but this runs into legal headwinds as was demonstrated with the landmark Griggs v. Duke Power Co case:

The Supreme Court ruled that the company’s employment requirements did not pertain to applicants’ ability to perform the job, and so was discriminating against Black employees, even though the company had not intended it to do so.

However, a way around this is to use cognitive tests when the job is presumed to have a high degree of cognitive demand such as engineering, math, or computer science related jobs. Or verbal tests for jobs involving writing such as an editor, journalist, or copywriter. Many companies are requesting SAT scores from applicants, presumably to assess suitability and competence. Others employ Wonderlic tests that have IQ-test like properties, but is technically not an IQ test, so it may not be applicable adverse impact under Griggs v. Duke Power Co. As we’ve written numerous times, substituting a costly diploma with a quick and inexpensive IQ, SAT or similar test score can exculpate a generation of high-school graduates from decades of debt.

Due to grade inflation and the generally worthlessness of GPAs, we predict testing will gradually supersede diplomas, but there will be a lot of resistance from the left, similar to how they attacked music and movie downloading sites, with the help of the government, to save their antiquated, dying industries against the onslaught of technology and the superior value it provided. Too bad the left would prefer to complain about debt and loans rather than consider pragmatic options because the are opposed to any form of testing where the results could be interpreted to mean some individuals are intellectually superior to others.

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