Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A terrible thing to waste

Charles Murray's WSJ op-ed (Jan 16) begins this way:

Education is becoming the preferred method for diagnosing and attacking a wide range problems in American life. The No Child Left Behind Act is one prominent example. Another is the recent volley of articles that blame rising income inequality on the increasing economic premium for advanced education. Crime, drugs, extramarital births, unemployment -- you name the problem, and I will show you a stack of claims that education is to blame, or at least implicated.

One word is missing from these discussions: intelligence. Hardly anyone will admit it, but education's role in causing or solving any problem cannot be evaluated without considering the underlying intellectual ability of the people being educated. Today and over the next two days, I will put the case for three simple truths about the mediating role of intelligence that should bear on the way we think about education and the nation's future.

Like all nature-nurture questions, this one is complex. But speak English to Europeans and speak any foreign language to Americans and the power of better education is quickly apparent. And language facility opens many doors -- on the job, reading, traveling, thinking, etc.

I agree that there is no substitute for intelligence but what a waste to not adorn it.