Friday, August 10, 2007

No Congressman Left Behind

There’s good news from Opinion Journal, which claims that high school seniors (in the US) are smarter than our Congress:

Pop quiz. Which has been most important in reducing poverty over time: a) taxes, b) economic growth, c) international trade, or d) government regulation?

We know what our readers would say. But lest you think American young people are slouching toward serfdom, you’ll be pleased to know that 53% of U.S. high school seniors also answered “b.”

I’m gob-smacked. Twelve years of government schooling and these kids weren’t fooled. Maybe there’s hope for the future after all. As Opinion Journal notes, the results of the test given by the National Assessment of Educational Progress do not bode well for members of the Socialist International or the Senate Finance Committee.

The DunceSince its founding in 1969, the NAEP has become something of an annual exercise in American educational masochism. Last year, only 54% of students met NAEP’s “basic” standard — the equivalent of a passing grade — on the science test. The previous year tested history; a mere 47% passed. But when knowledge of economics was tested this year, well, let’s just say the supply curve shifted.


NAEP reported this week that 79% of twelfth graders passed this first-ever national economics test. Holy Hayek…


What, [they were asked] is the effect of breaking down trade barriers between countries? A majority correctly said that goods would become less expensive. They chose this over “the quality of goods available would decrease.” Maybe John Edwards should hire more teenagers for his Presidential campaign.

Heck, Mr. Edwards would do well to hire these kids as tutors for himself and his staff; when he’s done with them he could pass them on to Hillary and Barack. Given their pernicious vote the other day to further burden oil companies with new taxes, the whole darn Congress needs lessons in basic economic incentives.

Opinion Journal suggested a mandatory test for all those who are elected to Federal office. This is a splendid idea. Not only should they have to take the tests…
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… the results should be published much as their tax returns are. This would go a long way toward removing some of the deadwood that manages to hang on to national office well past its useful shelf life.

In fact, a case could be made for mandatory testing of Congress in the areas of history, basic science, and even more basic philosophy, with a special focus on math, in particular as it applies to compound interest and debt.

Mandatory testing would eliminate the need for establishing term limits. For incumbents the results of these tests could well become a barrier to further incumbency.

Come to think of it, what would be especially interesting is to see the results of their ethics tests.

We could call this exercise the “No Congressman Left Behind Act”. Personally I wouldn’t mind paying a surtax to make sure Congress had the means to administer their own SOLs.

[Note to our European readers: the “No Child Left Behind” Act is a hugely expensive piece of legislation meant to line the pockets of bureaucrats and pretend to teach children. They are then subjected to a cookie cutter series of examinations called “ Standards of Learning” - thus, SOLs. Unfortunately for the educational bureaucracy the acronym “S.O.L.” has long been in use for the expression of ill fortune termed “sh** out of luck.”]

Of course, we’d never get Congress to go along with this willingly. But how about a national referendum to decide?

What’s good enough for school children is good enough for the Honorable Members of Congress.

Then they’d be S.O.L. for sure.



Jabba the Tutt said...

It doesn't have to be mandatory. If the Wall Street Journal put together an online test. They could invite the candidates to take the test. The test should include general knowledge, foreign affairs, constitution, economics and finance policy.

The candidates can take or not take the test. The WSJ can report on whether they take the test or not. In my job, I have to take a test and pass with 90%. Why shouldn't Presidential candidates?