Arnold Kling  

James Heckman on the Great Stagnation

Kids and Happiness: The Sweet ... Energy Subsidies...

He writes,

Currently, over 40% of all American children are born out of wedlock and more than 12% of all children live in families where the mother has never married. Such families provide fewer financial and parenting resources for child development. It is well documented that the children of lone parent families perform worse in life on many outcomes...

Policies that recognize the importance of the early years, the central role of the family in producing skills, and the importance of skills other than those measured by achievement tests are likely to be far more effective than current school-based strategies and adolescent remediation programs.

For Nobel Laureate James J. Heckman to write this is not news. But it seems clear that he is not sold on any silver bullet for education, including tossing out the worst teachers.

I worry that most policies promoted as attempts to deal with income disparities are Hansonian, in that they "show that you care" but have no net result in curing the ailment.

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COMMENTS (10 to date)
ed writes:

Tossing out the worst teachers isn't a silver bullet, but it should at least help a little bit. And unlike Hansonian medicine, it wouldn't use up any resources.

Jack Davis writes:

I'm new to this blog, so I'm I'm not displaying ignorance, but what is "Hansonian"?

Jaap writes:

not just toss out the worst teachers, but on the other hand also try to hire better teachers with higher salaries.

Mike writes:


I'll help you out: Robin Hanson's Blog

Alex J. writes:

If we tried to hire better teachers with higher salaries, I'm sure we could get the higher salaries. I'm not so sure about the better teachers part.

Philo writes:

Natural reproduction is a bastion of libertarianism. Anyone physically capable of reproduction, who is not a ward of the state, is allowed to produce a child, over whom s/he exercises parental authority. The government oversees parenting a bit more than it used to, but the oversight is still minimal. As a result the first few years of a child's life--those that, according to Heckman, are the most important for its overall development--are spent in a random environment, virtually uncontrolled by the authorities. Official efforts to produce equal opportunity for individual development could succeed only if the government exercised much more control over who may reproduce, or who may parent his/her own natural offspring. That will not happen (fortunately).

Steve Sailer writes:

It would be gracious of Heckman to admit that he's finally arrived at right about the point where Herrnstein and Murray were way back in 1994: we need to emphasize morals and cultural values in education, rather than futilely waste time trying to close The Gap.

wd40 writes:

To Sailer: If you think that teachers cannot teach algebra, which merely requires the student to understand the material, why do you think that teachers can teach morals, which requires not only understanding but changing one's own preferences.

Jaap writes:

@Alex J.:
for decades CEO┬┤s and Wall Street people have been rewarded for doing a great job. maybe teachers will also step up the plate if they get rewarded for doing a better job than average.

fundamentalist writes:
I worry that most policies promoted as attempts to deal with income disparities are Hansonian, in that they "show that you care" but have no net result in curing the ailment.

That's the definition of all political solutions to every problem.

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