Reviving Liberal Republicanism in America

Education

Education

 

The three short entries in this section highlight the serious deficiencies in America’s education system. Read them and weep, but also think about the need to do better if we are to provide real opportunity to so many Americans currently without it, and assure our national security.

 

“Pentagon: 7 in 10 Youths Would Fail to Qualify for Military Service”

Liveris, Andrew. Make It In America: The Case For Reinventing The Economy. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2012.

In the book, Make It In America: The Case For Reinventing The Economy,  Andrew Liveris, ‎the CEO and Chairman of the Dow Chemical Company, makes a powerful argument for reinvigorating “highly advanced, highly specialized, high value-added” American manufacturing. Liveris states that the manufacturing sector “can create jobs and value and growth to a degree that the service sector cannot…Manufacturing, more than any other sector, creates jobs outside it’s own sector.” He states that for this reinvigoration to happen though, we need a strong national commitment to advanced manufacturing. Liveris says, “[E]very business person I know sometimes wants government to get out of the way…that doesn’t mean it should get out of the picture.”

Liveris states that increasingly you cannot separate innovation from manufacturing. “Where manufacturing goes, innovation inevitably follows…[W]hen companies are deciding where to build their R&D facilities, more and more, it makes less sense to build those facilities far away from the manufacturing plants themselves.”

Liveris also laments the uncertainty of U.S. government policy. For example, he states, “America’s R&D tax credit has always been temporary–designed to expire unless Congress renews it. Congress has failed to renew it eight times since 1981, including 2010. [Congress has also played ping pong with the R&D credit in fashioning tax reform in 2017.] Each year, businesses have to face the distinct possibility that the R&D tax credit will be suspended, drastically cut, or discontinued. This makes it awfully hard to plan for the future.”

Liveris also discusses the importance of investing in modern infrastructure and education. As to education, he states, “Didn’t the United States used to have the world’s greatest educational system? Indeed, during the 1950’s and 1960’s, American schools were considered among the best in the world. As recently as 1995, the United States was still tied for the top spot in graduation rates. But by 2006, we had dropped from first to fourteenth. That’s partly because many other countries are investing substantially in education, raising their standards, and often exceeding them. They have longer school days, longer school years, and give students homework over the summer… Other countries are far more serious about getting results…For every 100 ninth graders we have, only 18 will go on to earn an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree in a timely fashion. If I ran my plants with an 82 percent failure rate, I’d be out of business in a matter of days. Too many students, having done all that was required of them, are graduating from high school unprepared either for college or the working world.” [1]

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[1] In this regard, see the PARCC test results from 2016 for Chicago public high schools.

The PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) is a standardized test used in certain U.S. states to assess mathematics and English ability, based on the Common Core State Standards.

The following table lists passage rates of Chicago area high schools. See, Chicago City Wire, December 18, 2017. (https://chicagocitywire.com/stories/511142194-von-steuben-metro-science-high-school-post-test-results)


Steinberg, Jonathan.  Bismarck: A Life.  Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898) was an ultra-conservative German chancellor (prime minister). Notwithstanding his conservatism, he was the originator of social welfare legislation in Europe (and therefore in the world), including unemployment insurance, mandatory employer-financed health care and worker disability laws. He instituted these social welfare policies to obtain political support from the working class because he saw the socialist political alternative as more extreme (Marxism/Communism was at the beginning of its ascendancy), and because he thought a STRONG nation ‎needed to have educated and healthy people who felt secure if misfortune befell them.

Some of the arguments I want to make around the liberal part of a Liberal Republican agenda are Bismarck’s. And if one of the most successful conservative politicians in history can make such arguments, it is not “squishy liberal crap” to make them now.‎ In this regard, note that according to the U.S. Department of Defense, in 2014 seventy-one percent of the 34 million Americans ages 17 to 24 were unfit for the military due to education status, health status or their having a criminal record. (See “Pentagon: 7 in 10 Youths Would fail to Qualify for Military Service” [here])

Also, in the Age of Trump, Bismarck: A Life could be a helpful guide for opponents of the illiberal direction American politics may be on the verge of taking. ‎Bismarck was a genius at manipulating and bullying politicians, bypassing constitutional government in the name of national security, and permitting populist attacks on particular religions (in his case, first Catholics and later Jews) to enhance his power and advance his political goals.