Really, Teacher. I Read the Assignment. The Marvel Comics Version.

I don’t usually bother reading anything Conor Friedersdorf has to say. While it is fun to watch in a kind of rooting-for-injuries kind of way, there are only so many times one can sit through the wrecks of his attempts to redefine the word “conservative” as the actual state of American conservatism rejects his blandishments, and while reality consistently demonstrates its well-known liberal bias.


It’s always seemed better (or at least more efficient) to fall back on a  general stance of benign neglect when confronted by his byline.


But for some reason, I stopped to look at this short squib in which  Friedersdorf declares, breathlessly, “If true what a tremendously consequential abstract.”


That link takes you to the cover page of a working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research (a non-governmental site, despite the name) written by Hoover Institute economist Eric Hanushek.


Here’s the passage that caught Friedersdorf’s eye:


A teacher one standard deviation above the mean effectiveness annually generates marginal gains of over $400,000 in present value of student future earnings with a class size of 20 and proportionately higher with larger class sizes. Alternatively, replacing the bottom 5-8 percent of teachers with average teachers could move the U.S. near the top of international math and science rankings with a present value of $100 trillion.


Friedersdorf then links to Adam Ozimek, who calls the abstract “shocking,” and claims that the most important lesson to learn here is that


…we should place even less relative value on teacher well-being for it’s own sake (which is separate from teacher well-being to the extent that it improves outcomes) when considering reforms. I think this is something that some progressives aren’t as happy to hear, especially with regard to using the teaching profession as a middle class jobs program.


There’s only one problem.  Neither Friedersdorf or Ozimek admit to having read the underlying paper.  I’ll concede that it’s a hassle — one needs either the right kind of email address or a few bucks to do so — but still…


For my part, I did manage to track down the piece.   For the purposes of this post, I’ll go only so far as to say that Hanusek both writes widely on the economics of education and that he has plenty of critics on more or less every major line of inquiry.


But the issue isn’t whether Hanushek gets it right or wrong when he suggests that great teachers produce outcomes for the students that have cash value later in life.*


Rather, it’s that by wading into educational policy on the basis of reading a paragraph on the front end of a forty page paper (that itself lies at the tip of who-knows-how-many-thousands-of-pages of literature in this fiedld) one begins to show off one’s stupid pundit tricks.

For example:


How “shocking” are these results?


That jolt would be a little less if you read — hell not the primary literature — but, say, just blog posts written by the New York Times’ best economics writer, David Leonhardt, who in the distant obscurity of … oh, this summer, reported on another study that looked at the impact of a good kindergarten teacher on future earnings and other social outcomes.**

Anyone who is stunned by the specific result or the broader claim that educational outcomes have an impact on economic success simply hasn’t been paying attention…which evokes, of course, the inevitable Captain Reynaud moment:

I\’m shocked, shocked…

And now for the next trick:

If you only read the Cliff’s notes version blurb (h/t NonyNony) for this paper, then you get that breezy “replace the bottom 5-8%”…but you miss all of Hanushek’s discussion within the paper about how difficult it is actually to identify good teachers in advance of observing outcomes from the classroom, and how hard it is to incentivize them if you do.

But that doesn’t stop Friedersdorf from kvelling to the headline “Pay The Best Teachers More And Fire The Worst.”  Too bad he didn’t get to this line from the concluding passages of the article:

Unfortunately, we know little about the supply function for teacher quality.  Thus, it is not possible to predict what kinds of pay changes would be needed to ensure any given quality of teacher force.

Again, I’m not calling for rocket science here.  I don’t expect Friedersdorf to be a credentialed expert on everything he writes.  (I’m not, on anything.)  All I want here is minimal curiosity, and enough of both self-regard and respect for his audience to go past some quote he reads somewhere on the web and check out the primary source.  Am I crazy?

Oh, and what about the fine moral dudgeon expressed by Ozimek, who informs us weak-willed, soft-headed and pernicious progressives that we’ve just got to get over ourselves and stop treating teaching as a jobs program for the otherwise-unemployable middle class?

(A) This is pure asshattery.  Here I’m going to treat anecdotage as data, and speaking as the father of a ten year old who has experienced private school and is now in a public one, I cannot get over the fact that even the weaker teachers (and my son has seen one or two) work sixty hour weeks, in a state of continuous intellectual and emotional alert, with a level of physical and mental effort that would crush any mere blogger (or this wayward university professor, for that matter).

Teaching kids is hard, which is mere prologue to the more on-point issue…

…which is that (B) If teaching is some royal road to indoor work and three squares a day — this job program of which Orizek speaks — then it is hard to reconcile that sense of unmerited employment with figures that emerge ( yup, again) from the body of the paper whose abstract so stunned some folks capacity for further inquiry.  Hanushek writes,

the U.S. has have for a long time trained considerably more teachers than the number of positions that annually become open in schools.  For example, in 2000 86,000 recent graduates entered into teaching, even though 107,000 graduated with an education degree the year before

That is:  as it really exists, as opposed to the form it takes in the minds of those whose sunlit minds are seemingly unsullied by experience of the world the rest of us inhabit, teaching is no soft-option safety-net occupation into which any liberal-arts drifter may come to rest as an alternative to asking “would you like fries with that?”  Rather, it is one more tough occupation in which the supply of labor exceeds the current labor market demand.

And in fact, given the decline in the economic value we place on the education of the young,***  the search for first class teachers  increasingly turns on the hope that enough people will see it as a calling, and not as white-collar sweat-shop labor.

That devoted, expert, effective teachers can be found as often as they are (and thankfully, emphatically, in my son’s classroom) is testimony to the fact that money is not the sole measure of value for all things and all people.  But that also suggests that whatever the answer may be to the question about how to get more of such folks distributed through American schools, it seems to me vanishingly unlikely that a blithe disdain for the well-being of such teachers (outcomes or no) will do the trick.

Please note:  I’m not saying that the US does not have a huge education problem to address.  I’m not saying that there aren’t giant issues of both social justice and pure efficacy to deal with.  I’m not saying I have any better idea than anyone else about what to do.  Figuring out how to make sure our kids iz lernign gud is as important as anything I can think of.

But as Friedersdorf and Ozimek remind us, this is why it is so difficult to hear the phrase “conservative public intellectual” without both weeping and snorting.  Seriously — if the best they can do is trot out a f**king abstract in defense of a bit of more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger union bashing, then they have only themselves to blame when we mock them.  And on the flip side — if we leave such fecklessness unsnarked then we may blame only ourselves when such miserable stuff becomes revealed truth.

*Given that a fair amount of what economists do when they are performing well is to quantify the obvious, I’ll go out on a limb and say the conclusion that good teachers help their students do well in life is not exactly stunning.  Not that it isn’t worthwhile documenting, or examining in detail…just that, pace poor, easily stupified Mr. Ozimek — I can’t claim to be shocked by that part of Hanushek’s research.

**One interesting aspect of this study is that it suggests that test scores may be a less than wholly reliable indicator of real-world success.  (I’m stunned.)  But that’s for a different post, and a lot more work.

***Hanushek writes,

Perhaps the most notable recent pattern in teacher salaries is that they have fallen dramatically in relation to the rest of the economy.  The changing position of teachers is clear in salary trends since the beginning of World War II.  Compared to the earnings of male college graduates, the average male teacher was slightly above the 50th percentile in 1940.  The average female teacher was close to the 70th percentile among college-educated females.  But then male teachers fell precipitously to the bottom third of the earnings distribution for college graduates, and female teachers were below average during the 1960s and close to the relative male position by 1990.  In 2000, less than 30 percent of young males and less than 40 percent of young females with a bachelor’s degree earned less than the average teacher

Images: Krzysztof Lubieniecki, School Teacher, 1727.

Kasimir Malevich, Unemployed Girl, 1904

46 replies
  1. 1
    Rob says:

    Talk to Matt Yglesias and Ezra Kelin about that. Abstracts on economic working papers are come ons, its meant to get the paper read and hopefully published in a high ranking journal. They aren’t “facts” or even real conclusions, they are propaganda pieces trying to sell something.

  2. 2
    El Cid says:

    Teachers’ contributions to the economy are all lies because they are government workers. We don’t need any government employees teaching our children liberal indoctrination and how to be a better Muslim.

    And if an economist suggest that there are 5-8% of the worst teachers doing even less, then you know to multiply this by 10, so we should immediately get rid of 50-80% of “public” schoolteachers and either award much lower paying contracts to private employees — and in these times they won’t be so snobby and greedy and will work for far less with no benefits — or give parents a tax credit for home schooling.

    It’s obvious from reading the excerpts included in the blog post above that this is all the evidence needed.

  3. 3
    NeenerNeener says:

    El Cid – how long have you been channeling my in-laws?

  4. 4
    beltane says:

    Those last statistics you cite don’t even take into account that many teachers (most of them where I live) have masters degrees, making comparisons with BA recipients even worse. Are there any other professions requiring this amount of education that pay so poorly?

  5. 5

    I’m not a school teacher, although I’ve done a bit of lecturing at the college level.

    Speaking as an outsider, I’d say that the best thing a teacher can do is connect with the student. That is probably the one thing that influences the future most. Students of all ages need to be engaged in order to learn.

    But how do you measure that? Ask the students?

  6. 6
    schrodinger's cat says:

    The problem I think is that good teaching is really hard measure. Test scores shouldn’t be the be all and end all of teaching. Also Conor what’s his name is an idiot.

  7. 7
    Dennis SGMM says:

    Everyone knows that people become teachers because they can’t get real jobs.


  8. 8
    NonyNony says:


    Abstracts on economic working papers are come ons, its meant to get the paper read and hopefully published in a high ranking journal. They aren’t “facts” or even real conclusions, they are propaganda pieces trying to sell something.

    Just a bit of an open secret to folks out there who aren’t involved in academia – ALL well-written abstracts on ALL academic papers are advertising pieces for the paper. I wouldn’t quite go so far as to call them “propaganda pieces” (because that has a different connotation for me) but they ARE advertising pieces. This is their purpose in life – they aren’t meant to be “Cliffs Notes” summaries of the paper except to the extent that you need to provide a brief summary to get people to read the paper.

    This is true of journal articles, conference papers, and basically anything published in academic circles. If all you read is the abstract of the paper and you base your conclusions on that, then you are missing a hell of a lot of data, caveats, concerns, and basic information. The conclusions in the abstract are usually either a candy-coated stretching of the truth or a deliberately provocatively worded set of paragraphs to get attention for the paper they’re attached to.

  9. 9
    Mnemosyne says:

    The dirty secret of teaching is that for many, many years it relied on very smart, college-educated people being forced into the profession because they had no other choice. Not just women (though that’s what I’m thinking of primarily) but also African-Americans, who could either become teachers or be the best-educated elevator operators in their city.

    Now that we have something that resembles equality in hiring, the people who might have become teachers 50 years ago are becoming doctors and lawyers instead because those paths are no longer closed to them. Essentially, teaching was treated for years as paid volunteer work and now we’re shocked, shocked to discover that smart, capable people actually expect to be paid for their efforts instead of being so grateful to have any kind of a job that they’ll accept low pay and long hours without a qualm.

  10. 10
    Redshift says:

    There are so many areas where it is stupefying how much those who worship “the free market” demonstrate they have no damn idea how it actually works.

    Even if you take the abstract at face value on its own, how mentally twisted do you have to be to claim to be a free marketeer, read a statement saying that good teachers produce far more value, and conclude that obviously, the answer isn’t to pay them more?

  11. 11
    Waingro says:

    Friedersdorf also has the annoying tendency to refer to people as ‘Mr. X’. “While I disagree strongly with Mr. Dogg’s preference for marijuana, ….”

    God, it’s irritating. Something about these overly earnest twentysomething peckerheads trying to act middle-aged that drives me up a wall. It’s phony as hell.

  12. 12
    Martin says:

    This is a fantastic piece, Tom. To give a baseline to the economic cost of K-12, the national average is that for every $1000 in earned income in the nation, we spend $41 per pupil on K-12 education. That is to say, if it were funded entirely out of income taxes, a nominal rate of 4.1% would get the job done as we’re currently doing it.

    There’s a huge economic return on that education, because if you do it poorly the effects of post-secondary and graduate ed never materialize, because the student can never get there. K-12 is the great economic multiplier. Always has been. And 4.1% is a shockingly small investment to make.

    And since I’m trying to make a case for my state, California only spends $37 per pupil per $1000 in earned income. More of that goes to teacher salary than any other state but Utah. Our teachers do earn about 25% more than the national average, but with 22 students per teacher, as compared to 14 nationally, they’re 50% more efficient and our cost of living is 30% higher than the national average. The 25% certainly seems warranted.

    Cuts to K-12 have been called for due to the budget, with the assumption from the right that inefficiency in K-12 is the problem. California’s entire K-12 funding from the state is $47.5B, or $7600 per student. The deficit is currently $28B. Balancing the budget through K-12 would bring per-pupil spending down to $4500, which would be 1/3 lower than any other state, and about half the national average. I’m not sure how anyone can think that’s a reasonable solution.

  13. 13

    I run this every time teachers come up, I’ll run it again.

    The single best predictor of a school, class, and student performance is parental involvement.

    We have a culture where both parents have to work to meet the necessities, both usually pulling much more than 40 hours a week. They don’t have time to be involved in the school, the class, or often with the student.

    But it’s the teacher’s fault.

  14. 14
    IrishGirl says:

    Very nice analysis of Friedersdorf’s post…asshattery indeed! I read his little stat from that article and laughed out loud. It was such an obvious glib response to a complicated problem. it was as if he was saying, “there I solved that difficult problem that’s been stumping people for decades in about 5 minutes” followed by a pat on his own back.

    Teaching kids, as you say, is an incredibly hard job and even bad teachers often work their asses off. They aren’t compensated enough to draw people to the profession and only those who are drawn to it as a calling tend to go into it. Then unless they’re gluttons for punishment, the idealism of the calling gets bludgeoned into resignation and bitterness. There is nothing sadder, for the teacher and for the kids, than a person stuck in a teaching job and hating every minute of it.

  15. 15
    Redshift says:

    And that’s leaving aside how many more teachers could be that “one standard deviation above” if they weren’t buying their own school supplies, lacking support systems to keep disruptive students from derailing everyone else’s education, having to do non-class-related administrative work because the budget for aides and staff has been cut, etc.

    To these clowns, the answer is always “we should do what it takes to make out schools better, as long as it can be done by punishing someone and not by spending money.”

  16. 16
    mclaren says:

    Malcolm Gladwell did a New Yorker piece on this issue in which he points out that it’s essentially impossible to identify good teachers using quantitative metrics. You run into the problem of people who score well on tests and fail in real life.

    Incidentally, this problem runs right across all professions in American life. Arguably the rise of people (like Megan McArdle) who test well and graduate with stellar GPAs from elite colleges but who systematically fail in real life explains a lot of why America is circling the toilet bowl and the suction in drawing it down. Freeman Dyson calls it “creeping credentialism,” where the credential becomes more important than the person’s real-world performance.

  17. 17
    Bulworth says:

    It’s all about the hippie punching, and hippie punching evil teachers unions is just tops.

    Also, too, that line about progressives valuing teachers as a middle clas jobs program.

  18. 18
    Thoroughly Pizzled says:

    A teacher one standard deviation above the mean effectiveness annually generates marginal gains of over $400,000 in present value of student future earnings with a class size of 20 and proportionately higher with larger class sizes. Alternatively, replacing the bottom 5-8 percent of teachers with average teachers could move the U.S. near the top of international math and science rankings with a present value of $100 trillion.

    So replacing absolutely god-awful teachers with average teachers makes things better. I guess it’s the magnitude of the improvement that’s more interesting, but I don’t find this shocking.

  19. 19
    Elia says:

    @Waingro: Word. I hate Conor. The consummate pseudointellectual.

  20. 20
    wonkie says:

    The teaching profession as a middle class jobs program? Conservatives really do want to impoverish all other Americans.

  21. 21
    Martin says:

    @Thoroughly Pizzled: What I found shocking was the ‘class size of 20’. No such thing here in CA. Even Kindergarden classes are larger than 20. My daughter’s 4th grade has 35 kids crammed into a mobile classroom designed for 25. My son has a 7th grade history class where two teachers chose two adjoining rooms with a movable partition and co-teach a class of just shy of 80. They open/divide the class depending on the lesson.

    Oh, and another side of the education problem here in CA. California, on an average year, adds 60,000 new K-12 students. That’s about the size of the entire greater Des Moines K-12 system that we need to build out annually. Even with an average classroom size of 30, that’s 2000 new classrooms per year – more than 5 per day.

  22. 22
    Bulworth says:

    Conservatives really do want to impoverish all other Americans.

    Well, um, yes.

  23. 23

    […] you only read the Cliff’s notes version blurb (h/t NonyNony) for this paper, then you get that breezy “replace the bottom 5-8%”…but you miss […]

  24. 24
    slag says:

    I’m with Martin. The ROI on decent childhood education is huge. I say, let’s go crazy and bump it up to 5% (or McEstimately 50%) of earned income and see what happens. Just for a lark.

  25. 25
    Maude says:

    I’m not in a room with 30 kids for 6 hours a day.
    Teachers in NJ are almost being equated with Satan. Chrisie, who must not have done well in school, esp. math, has been clubbing them like baby seals.

  26. 26
    beltane says:

    @mclaren: The fact that a lazy nitwit like Megan McArdle has not “systematically failed” in real life tells us everything we need to know about what is wrong with our society. The truth of it is that the only way someone of her background would be permitted to fail in life would be if she had severe mental health issues, an untreated substance abuse problem, or if she consciously made an effort to forfeit her status by joining up with a group of Marxist rebels in Latin America. It’s not easy for the offspring of the upper class to fail at anything; they have to work at it.

  27. 27
    Tom Levenson says:

    @slag: @Martin: @Thoroughly Pizzled:

    Broadly speaking, I don’t think many, if any, really doubt (a) that good (ah, but the devil’s in the definition) education, early and late, has significant value. The purported novelty in the Hanushek work is to quantify it.

    But this is in some ways a formalization of anecdotal and obvious knowledge — which is useful in policy making. Where I get all p.o’d is when folks come along and run with such material to a pre-destined end.

  28. 28
    Tom Levenson says:

    @Redshift: To be fair, Friedersdorf does say to pay the good one’s more. Omizek, not so much, or certainly not so clearly.

  29. 29
    El Cid says:

    @El Cid: If your in-laws live on my AM radio box and work around me and live in my neighborhood.

  30. 30
    Sly says:

    Unfortunately, we know little about the supply function for teacher quality.


  31. 31

    @Tom Levenson:

    To be fair, Friedersdorf does say to pay the good ones more.

    It is no good just paying the good ones more. If potential teachers don’t know in advance how good they’ll turn out to be then not compensating bad teachers adequately when you suggest they leave will mean a worsening pool attracted to go into teacher training. Hanushek is clear about that: “Developing such policies … would also require both severance packages for those deselected and higher pay for those who would then have a more risky job.”

  32. 32

    @Ian Preston: Absolutely right. Hanushek is vastly more nuanced than these commenters…but I was trying to bend over backwards to be fair to Friedersdorf.

    That said, there is such a thing as too much kindness, and your comment points out the problems with praising folks for effort, rather than actual insight. That Friedersdorf is clueless about the ramifications of what he says here is a feature in the places he writes, not a bug — and thus, as you imply, should be highlighted whenever possible.

  33. 33
    ino shinola says:

    The trouble with Ameeerica today eeyuz!!!……

    1950’s-1970’s – Working mothers

    1970’s – 1990’s – Welfare mothers

    Today – Bad teachers

    It’s great to live in a country where all your problems can be traced to some lazy woman somewhere.

  34. 34
    trollhattan says:

    Can anybody tell whether, in today’s latest Arbeit Macht Friedersdorf piece, he’s being ironic in citing Jack Welch firing GE’s “bottom 10%” yearly, or does he think that’s a really, really swell idea?


    He claims private sector experience but evidently hasn’t paid much attention while there because the private sector is all about corporate politics and building and protecting one’s turf. It’s those with poor political skills who get canned, not the poor performers, and let me add that the typical employee evaluation system is a joke, starting with anecdotal feelings about performance and magically turning those feelings into metrics, which go into a file. In a service and intellectual property economy, you can’t measure performance by counting widgets per hour, and management’s feelings aren’t a very good basis for deciding who gets a raise and who gets a banker box.

    “Coffee’s for closers!”

    In an environment like Jack Welch’s GE, everybody will function from a perspective of fear and that, friends, is not how you coax top performance in the real world. i.e., Fuck Jack Welch and Fuck Friedersdorf if he thinks Welch’s approach belongs anywhere but the ninteenth century.

    Also, too, my kid’s (Public) school simply doesn’t have poor teachers. Even though they’re so cash-strapped they’ve bumped class sizes the last two years and the PTA has to pay for the librarian, and they can’t afford a school nurse, it’s the best performing school in the city and one of the state’s best. I can just imagine the outcome if the school superintendant sashayed in and demanded the principal fire the “bottom ten percent.”


  35. 35
    Stillwater says:

    replacing the bottom 5-8 percent of teachers with average teachers could move the U.S. near the top of international math and science rankings with a present value of $100 trillion.

    No need to think of this as a one time deal, either. As an operating principle, this could lead to huge societal benefits. And it’s easy, too. Just continually replace the bottom 5-8% of teachers with better ones and pretty soon America will be strong, all the students will get high paying jobs, and all teachers will be above average! Triple win!

  36. 36
    catclub says:

    Please re-read the last paragraph of the post again.
    Teacher salaries are falling relative to the other jobs.

    (I was referring to this statement in your post: “teaching was treated for years as paid volunteer work “, which can still be thought of as true, but is belied by the actual pay. I agree that teaching salries were held down by the facts mentioned in your first paragraph.)

    That means teachers were paid better than average some time in the recent past.

    The worst comparison is between the US and other countries.
    In other countries, teacher salaries are rising.

  37. 37
    catclub says:

    @mclaren: “(like Megan McArdle) who test well and graduate with stellar GPAs from elite colleges but who systematically fail in real life ”

    Let us know when she is actually fired and loses her salary.

    And gets no other – even easier, and better paying, sinecure.

    Systematic failure != well paid columinist for Atlantic

  38. 38
    slag says:

    @Tom Levenson:

    Where I get all p.o’d is when folks come along and run with such material to a pre-destined end.

    I suspect that your line of work makes you particularly attune to this problem.

    But, actually, I think a lot of people do underestimate the value of childhood education. Or, at the very least, have an unrealistic understanding of where a lot of it fits on the good-bad spectrum, thereby undervaluing its accomplishments on the whole. Not being a teacher, I’m not an expert here. But this is the sense I get from my own experiences and from my interactions with teachers.

  39. 39
    Nathan R says:

    The absolutely ridiculous conceit in most of these studies is comparing teachers to other teachers…regardless of how much improvement in teacher quality, the exact same number of teachers will be “one standard deviation above the average,” just as half the teachers out there will be “below average.”

  40. 40
    HyperIon says:

    Here’s my gripe, Mr. Levenson.
    And I’m only making it here because there are not already 300 comments to wade through….

    I like your bringing my attention to this discussion of teacher impact/evaluation. It’s an issue worthy of much reflection. But I do not like the inclusion of pundit bashing. After all it has already been established that Conor Friedersdorf is a moron, as you acknowledge in your opening sentence.

    I am so tired of posts (mostly by the other front pagers…you are restrained in your posting activity and typically have a substantive point) that do little beyond ranting about the stupidity of wingnuts. Whatever they are being stupid about is often of secondary relevance to the poster. The main point is to state AGAIN how idiotic they are and include as much snark and mockery as possible. BUT I ALREADY KNOW THEY ARE MORONS and need no further proof. It’s really getting tiresome.

    There are important matters to be discussed. And, no, discussion does not consist of writing “Can you believe what that poopyhead wingnut said?”

    I appreciate that many of the comments here focus on the actual topic of teacher evaluation. But often it seems like the comments follow the lead of poster and devolve into attempts to say more cleverly than the last commenter what we all already know: wingnut pundits who are morons are evidently thick on the ground.

    /gripe off

  41. 41
    brantl says:

    @catclub: It does when she can’t do simple math on her calculator, doesn’t it? I think so.

  42. 42

    I haven’t yet read all the comments to this post, but I hope Connor Fucking Friedersdorff hops his ass into the classroom and takes his salary like he likes it. Idiot.

  43. 43

    And I would again like to note the absence of fucking comments on Sully’s blog. Wanker. wanker. Wanker.

  44. 44
    catclub says:

    @brantl: If that generates more hits to the Atlantic website, her ‘editor’ will just tell her to keep up the good work.
    Where is the fail?

    It may be failing to use a calculator, but that is not the real life that she is worrying about.

  45. 45
    Lit3Bolt says:

    Conor has a brilliant career at the Cato Institute ahead of him, where he can stroke his beardless chin with one hand while gripping his rock hard twig of a penis between the thumb and the forefinger of his other hand, reading Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom (and orgasming to his favorite parts) on his Nook in the executive dining room of his office building, where he will be paid handsomely to tell people who will work harder than he ever will in his entire life why he thinks they should be paid even less for their services or fired.

    I’ll tell you what’s wrong with America’s education system. It’s the Ivy Leagues of America producing arrogant smug little hacks by the truckload who barely skate by in their privileged little lives, yet always land on their feet (or back) in some wealthy like minded circle of people. And they are infinitely puzzled by those lesser than they, because for them it’s so easy to succeed, so those who don’t succeed in life must be lazy.

  46. 46

    […] 26th, 2010 in Economics, Science, Teaching | by Adam Ozimek Tom Levenson at Balloon Juice has a lengthy reply to my article on the value of good teachers that accuses me of neither understanding nor reading […]

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