Author: Daniel Buck

The Value of Knowledge

To no one’s surprise, Nikole Hannah-Jones, the mind behind the New York Times‘s 1619 Project, has spread a new falsehood. On Twitter, she confidently declared that school choice—a policy that allows families, not zoning laws, to choose their schools—“came about to stymie integration.” This claim is wrong in at least three ways. First, both John Stuart Mill and Thomas Paine recommended some scheme of school choice long before Jim Crow laws were introduced in the United States. Second, Milton Friedman, the popularizer of the policy, considered it a means to integrate American schools without top-down mandates. Finally, many segregationists came to reject choice, preferring school zoning laws as a means to achieve their racist agenda. Why would a journalist as renowned and supposedly well-read as Nikole Hannah-Jones make such a statement? What is critical thinking? While it is a bit simplistic to put it like this, the goal of education is to produce experts in various fields—be they historians, carpenters, or neurosurgeons. So, teachers and educators ought to be concerned with the question of what …

The Problems with America’s Best Teacher Training Programme

A question central to Plato’s Republic is “What should we teach our children?” Judging from the parents I’ve talked to, this question is not getting the consideration it deserves. Parroting a common conservative refrain regarding what some believe schools teach, a colleague referred to them as “liberal-producing factories.” Thankfully, that’s not quite the case. While the teaching profession as a whole leans left, most educators are aware of their bias and, with varying degrees of success, try to push against it. Unfortunately, this is not true of the programs that train the nation’s school staff. I received a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, one of the premier schools of education in the country, occasionally nudging out Columbia and Harvard for the top spot in U.S. News and World Report’s ranking of education programs. In reality, it was a series of graduate courses that featured various arts and crafts projects. To their credit, the faculty seek to ameliorate legitimate and pressing concerns that our schools face: racial disparities, stagnant scores that are …