–Cognitive inconsistency and how it makes us uneducate our children

The debt hawks are to economics as the creationists are to biology. Those, who do not understand Monetary Sovereignty, do not understand economics. Cutting the federal deficit is the most ignorant and damaging step the federal government could take. It ranks ahead of the Hawley-Smoot Tariff.

I am fascinated by the human ability to suffer from two, mutually exclusive beliefs. Psychologists call this phenomenon “cognitive inconsistency.” The cognitive inconsistency I often discuss on this blog is the belief the U.S. federal government could have difficulty paying its bills, while acknowledging the U.S. federal government has the unlimited ability to create money. Most amazing; this cognitive inconsistency is shared by laymen and renowned, Nobel-winning “experts” alike

Now, consider the Pledge of Allegiance. Why do we require our students to take school time rote reciting it? Very few people believe it makes students more patriotic. Many kids recite the words wrong (“one nation, underground, invisible,” “livery injust is”), and the concept of being allegiant to a flag, surely is beyond the understanding of most kids, and probably many adults, too. So why? The pandering politicians, religious zealots and hyper-patriots tell us it is “good for the kids,” and somehow we buy that. Cognitive inconsistency. (If it worked, why aren’t adults made to do it?)

I mention cognitive inconsistency today, because an interesting new example popped up in my home village of Wilmette, IL. According to the local paper,

Wilmette schools plan to add a “moment of silence” to the opening of the school day in the wake of an appellate court ruling that the Illinois Silent Prayer and Student Prayer Act is constitutional because it does not require the time be used for prayer . . . legislators cited the secular and practical purpose of calming students at the beginning of the day. . . the teacher will monitor 15 seconds of silence, then the pledge (of Allegiance) will be recited . . . This period shall not be conducted as a religious exercise, but shall be an opportunity for silent reflection on the anticipated activities of the day.

This latest bit of cognitive inconsistency is hilarious on several counts. It clearly is a religious lie, an attempt by the pious to sneak in a bit more religiosity (remember the addition of “under God” to the Pledge) in the guise of “calming” students. And what about the very name of the bill . . . “Student Prayer Act.” Would you consider lying in the name of religion to be cognitive inconsistency, ironic or merely hilarious? And the idea that the children will use the time for “silent reflection on the anticipated activities of the day” – is this cognitive inconsistency or simply a sad joke?

And finally, the notion that 15 seconds is the right length of time for this silent reflection – cognitive inconsistency or just hilarious? Or is it neither, because it adds one more silly burden to schools that already endure excessive silly burdens? But who could be surprised? The law was passed by politicians. These are the guys who expound and vote on our economic futures, while not understanding Monetary Sovereignty, the basis of economics. What next? Mandatory flag sewing classes? Our educational system has been turned into a mess, but we have time for silliness?

And just as I was writing the above post, I saw the following:

By Kevin Huffman, winner of The Post’s 2009 America’s Next Great Pundit Contest, is executive vice president of public affairs at Teach for America., Monday, January 31, 2011

Last week, 40-year-old Ohio mother Kelley Williams-Bolar was released after serving nine days in jail on a felony conviction for tampering with records. Williams-Bolar’s offense? Lying about her address so her two daughters, zoned to the lousy Akron city schools, could attend better schools in the neighboring Copley-Fairlawn district.

Williams-Bolar has become a cause célèbre in a case that crosses traditional ideological bounds. African American activists are outraged, asking: Would a white mother face the same punishment for trying to get her kids a better education?

Meanwhile, conservatives view the case as evidence of the need for broader school choice. What does it say when parents’ options are so limited that they commit felonies to avoid terrible schools? . . .In this country, if you are middle or upper class, you have school choice. You can, and probably do, choose your home based on the quality of local schools. Or you can opt out of the system by scraping together the funds for a parochial school.

But if you are poor, you’re out of luck, subject to the generally anti-choice bureaucracy. Hoping to win the lottery into an open enrollment “choice” school in your district? Good luck. How about a high-performing charter school? Sure – if your state doesn’t limit their numbers and funding like most states do. And vouchers? Hiss! You just touched a political third rail.

Williams-Bolar lived in subsidized housing and was trapped in a failed system. In a Kafkaesque twist, she was taking college-level courses to become a teacher herself – a dream she now will never realize as a convicted felon. It’s America’s version of the hungry man stealing bread to feed his family, only to have his hand cut off as punishment.

. . . The harsh reality is this: We may have done away with Jim Crow laws, but we have a Jim Crow public education system. As Dan Domenech of the American Association of School Administrators told NPR last week, “The correlation between student achievement and Zip code is 100 percent. The quality of education you receive is entirely predictable based on where you live.” And where you live in America today depends largely on income and race.

Consider the recent results from a test of 15-year-olds around the world. Headlines noted the embarrassing American mediocrity (31st out of 65 countries in math, with scores below the international average). Competing with China and Finland – they’re on track to scrap it out with Bulgaria and Mexico.

Some on the left will say this is the pernicious result of poverty. Solve poverty, and you solve the Zip-code-equals-outcomes issue. Some on the right will blame culture. Stop teenage pregnancy and crime, and the outcomes look different.

Actually, it’s not teenage pregnancy that is a problem; it’s teenage birthing. But don’t allow any of them to have an abortion. We want all the unwanted, unaffordable, unsupervised children we can get, because as everyone knows, teenagers have the sense to just say “No.” And if they don’t, tough luck.

Like millions of parents hoping to do right by their kids, Kelley Williams-Bolar thought that schools were the answer. She didn’t have the luxury of waiting a generation while intellectuals argue about poverty or culture. She looked at her options, she looked at the law and she looked at her children. Then she made a choice. What would you have done?

In summary, while politicians (whose kids attend the best schools) focus on the Pledge of Allegiance and 15 seconds of silent . . .? . . . (anything, but prayer), there is no time, no creative thinking and no money for schools. How do we know? The politicians tell us federal deficits will be bad for our children, and heaven forbid they want to do anything bad for our children . . . oh, except not educating them.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

No nation can tax itself into prosperity, nor grow without money growth.

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