Republican Legislator: We Don’t Need No Education Funding

On my old blog I used to do something called the Dumbass Quote of the Day. If I revived it, this would make a perfect example. A Republican state legislator in Virginia says there’s no need to adequately fund higher education because Socrates taught Plato “on a rock.”

“I’ve taught for the past 18 years at the college level, and before got a Masters and Ph.D. and all that,” Rep. Brat began. The greatest thinkers in Western civ[ilization] were not products of education policy.”

“Socrates trained Plato on a rock,” he continued. “The Plato trained Aristotle, roughly speaking, on a rock.”

“So, huge funding is not necessary to achieve the greatest minds and the greatest intellects in history. With that said, we do face huge challenges.”

Those challenges were, for Brat, less about education and more about economics. “You have kids coming out of the high school system, and if you ask them what a business is, we’d be challenged to get a good answer,” he said…

“Our kids don’t know what a business is when they graduate from high school,” he concluded, “and they need to know that.”

I don’t suppose you have any, like, evidence that high school graduates “don’t know what a business is,” do you? You do realize that every public school in Virginia has a course in Economics and Personal Finance, right? Do you think they don’t teach what a business is in that class? Do you think that every high school graduate is as stupid as you are, congressman?

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  • John Pieret

    Do you think they don’t teach what a business is in that class?

    I think he means they don’t know the Republican definition of “business”: “A large corporation who can pour huge amounts of money into your political campaign and, in return, for whom you will do every thing possible to make sure the already very wealthy executives thereof get even richer.”

  • peterh

    He forgets (or possibly never knew) the Socratic method is purely intellectual and not empirical.

  • http://cycleninja.blogspot.com cycleninja

    I miss DQOTD.

  • colnago80

    This fucking asshole was a professor of economics at Randolph-Macon Un. They must have pretty low standards at R-M.

  • cgm3

    Is Mr. Brat also aware that Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle saw nothing wrong with slavery or keeping the womenfolk sequestered? Or that they considered the truest form of love to be between two men?

  • Larry

    Our kids don’t know what a business is when they graduate from high school

    Of course they do. Businesses are people, per SCOTUS.

  • http://kamakanui.zenfolio.com Kamaka

    and before got a Masters and Ph.D. and all that

    Did you pay your own way for “all that” Mr. Brat, without any government assistance whatsoever?

    What a priviledged, self-entitled tool.

  • Trebuchet

    The religious right passionately HATES public education. Because evolution, no prayers, and evil, evil taxes.

  • http://twitter.com/#!/TabbyLavalamp Tabby Lavalamp

    “Before we go into surgery, doctor, what rock did you learn medicine your medical knowledge on?”

  • eric

    UVA gets 5% (9% of academics) of its budget from the state. William and Mary gets about 10-15%. Va Tech gets a whopping 18%. In terms of percent funding, the state of Virginia has pretty much already reached the stage of giving their flagship schools not much more than a rock.

    I don’t know about the smaller schools – hopefully they are better supported than this – but for these three IMO being “state schools” is probably more of a hurt than a help at this point. They get little for it, and in return they have to accept a certain high proportion of in-state students and not charge them as much as their education is worth.

    If I were UVA, I would be strongly tempted just to give the state the finger and go private. 5%? They could easily make that up by making tuition the same for all students and/or taking more out of state students. Heck, they might even be able to set that general tuition rate lower than what the out of state rate currently is, if they could charge the same rate to all students.

  • Alverant

    I wonder how he defines a “business”? Does a lemonade stand qualify? Thing is the word “business” doesn’t have a clear-cut definition in the first place unless you want to include all sorts of things that most people won’t consider a “real” business. Of course if someone where to give him an answer about what a business is and he disagrees he’ll use it as evidence that the schools aren’t working.

  • http://howlandbolton.com richardelguru

    “We don’t need no educashun… we do need lotsa fought control”

  • abb3w

    Having a Dumbass Culture War Quote of the Day might be a nice feature.

    Incidentally, Brat is not a member of the Virginia State Legislature. Rather, Brat is the Tea Partier who successfully primaried Cantor out of the race, and went on to win a seat in the US House of Representatives. Please upgrade your level of panic accordingly.

  • vargostatten
  • colnago80

    Re eric @ #10

    Actually, instate students are discriminated against for admission, particularly to the prestige schools UVA and VPU because, by law, they pay a lower tuition then out of state students. This is particularly true for students from Northern Virginia who are further discriminated against for admission in favor of students from the rest of the state. However, Virginia is not alone in this regard. California also discriminates against instate students for admission due to tuition differences.

  • raven

    Needless to say, Socrates and Plato lived in a civilization not too far from the stone age. Average life spans were short, 30 or 40 years. Literacy ran around 10-20 percent and was expensive to acquire. Cell phone reception wasn’t too good. Electricity and clean running water were scarce.

    Guy is an idiot.

    We can’t run a modern Hi Tech civilization without widespread literacy and education. We call places like that, the Third World.

  • http://Reallyawakeguy.blogspot.com somnus

    And it’s not as though succeeding in modern society requires a lot more technical knowledge than they had in Ancient Greece…

    Besides which, talking about what motivated geniuses could accomplish with minimal resources tells you absolutely nothing about what education policy will be productive for the vast majority of average human beings.

  • Michael Heath

    Rep. Brat writes:

    “So, huge funding is not necessary to achieve the greatest minds and the greatest intellects in history. With that said, we do face huge challenges.”

    Those challenges were, for Brat, less about education and more about economics. “You have kids coming out of the high school system, and if you ask them what a business is, we’d be challenged to get a good answer,” he said…

    Brat demonstrates he doesn’t fuck-all about business. If he did he’d know that the business sector’s one of the strongest proponents of public and higher education.

  • raven

    Mississippi lawmaker opposes more school funding …

    www. rawstory.com/…/mississippi-lawmaker-opposes-scho…

    15 hours ago – Mississippi lawmaker opposes more school funding because ‘blacks’ get ‘welfare crazy checks’ … now with Mississippi’s upcoming test of third-graders as “a perfect storm,” Alday said more money is not the answer. Admitting …

    Here is another one from yesterday. Mississippi. No surprise.

  • Pierce R. Butler

    Apparently the Honorable Mr. Brat failed to learn that Plato taught Aristotle – among quite a few others – in a garden/grove.

    How much Plato charged Aristotle and classmates for this has not been recorded. But we can make a safe guess as to whose books were mandatory purchases.

  • Sastra

    “You have kids coming out of the high school system, and if you ask them what a business is, we’d be challenged to get a good answer,” he said…

    Well, given that this gentleman apparently thinks higher education should take place on a bare rock, the kids could probably give an excellent answer to ‘what a business’ is: it’s McDonald’s, Walmart, and making sure the customer can find the peas.

  • raven

    This hits right at home.

    Education is the key to a lot including why we are the world’s leading (if fading) nation and the last tottering superpower. It’s necessary for running a complicated Hi Tech society and for upward mobility.

    It’s a way out of dead end, no hope backwaters. I know. It worked for me.

  • Childermass

    Athens did not have to pay Socrates a salary so fit right in with Republican plans for education.

    /No science labs either

    /No library books

    /No heating or air conditioning.

    I assume that Philip payed Aristotle to teach Alexander, but that of course is different. Phillip was a rich guy. And all that money would be wasted if spent on the non-rich guys anyways.

  • colnago80

    Actually, in terms of science and mathematics, the three individuals named by Brat contributed very little. Far more important were folks like Archimedes and Euclid. Archimedes came very close to inventing the integral calculus some 1700+ years before Newton and von Leibniz.

  • raven

    The War on Public Education is real and has been a lot more successful than I thought.

    1. Public schools are a major tax expenditure. They cost a lot. In most states it is around over 50% of the budget.

    Private schools are worse though, ca. $10,000/kid/year and some of them aren’t very good at producing educated kids anyway. Public schools benefit by being subsidized by the majority of people who don’t have kids actually enrolled in them.

    2. The average public school student is nonwhite, at 51%.

    Hard to say how far this will go. We could end up like the Third World easily enough.

    It’s all rather stupid. I could increase my disposable income by simply not paying my bills. OTOH, after a while I’d run out of food and end up freezing in the dark with a nonrunning car, hungry cats, and no internet connection.

    Taxes buy you a civilization and a future for your kids and your nation.

  • Bruce

    The main expense of education is to persuade an educated person to sit on a rock all day for the benefit of someone else. But not even Warren Buffett volunteers at the expense of giving up his time working on his investments. Teachers must receive income from someone. If Representative Brat knew what a business was, then he would know that. For someone who was recently receiving pay for supposedly being an educator himself, Mr. Brat seems to be following the tradition of jumping the shark here.

    In ancient Athens, my education tells me that all of the leading families had slaves that contributed to their income. So is Brat endorsing bringing slavery back to Virginia?

  • eric

    SLC:

    Actually, instate students are discriminated against for admission, particularly to the prestige schools UVA and VPU because, by law, they pay a lower tuition then out of state students

    I fail to see a lower tuition as “discrimination against.” I think you were probably trying to say that because of the fierce competition for in-state spots, the schools effectively put a “quota” or limit on the number of candidates they will take from the NOVA region, and this has the effect of forcing NOVA kids to get higher grades/better transcripts in order to get in. Making up an example just for illustration, a Mississipi 3.5 GPA may be equivalent to a NOVA 4.0 GPA in terms of getting in, which you view as discriminatory against the NOVA kid. Sure. But that’s because of the lower tuition. The NOVA kid applies to UVA in the first place in part because they know they will get charged $13k/year (excluding room and board etc) instead of the $36k/year (excluding same). Without that deep discount, NOVA applications for UVA would fall down to reasonable numbers. You’re putting the cart before the horse in claiming discrimination against NOVA kids.

    I think the real bottom line when it comes to admissions at schools like these is that it is better to think about admissions as a satisfice-based system rather than an optimal/optimizing system. Looking at miniscule differences in academic records between one overqualified genius and another is not as rational as looking at how applicants may meet other school values. That may seem unfair, but its (IMO) a rational response of the seller to a marketplace where price cannot be raised and yet demand greatly exceeds supply. When that happens, they have to create additional selection criteria. Even, perhaps, arbitrary ones.

  • caseloweraz

    Nice teeth, Mr. Brat. Was the dentist who keeps them that way trained “on a rock”? How about the optometrist who measures your eyesight and the team that makes your eyeglasses?

    Were they educated entirely by private institutions? From kindergarten on?

    I only know one case of private enterprise running a school which produced good citizens. That was the corporation run by Mariesa van Huyten. Unfortunately, both she and the corporation are fictional.

    In the real world, we need effective public education and we need to pay for it with taxes. Yes, it doesn’t always do an adequate job. However, private enterprise has yet to demonstrate an effective alternate way of producing good citizens — as opposed to competent practitioners of some technical specialty.

  • dingojack

    And, of course, no dark sarcasm in the classroom

    @@ Dingo

  • raven

    EB: A Republican state legislator in Virginia….

    It’s worse than that.

    Brat was the guy who beat Eric Cantor in the primaries. He then defeated the Democratic candidate.

    He is in the US House of Reprentatives.

    Alternet; As Mother Jones reported, Brat “appears to endorse slashing Social Security payouts to seniors by two-thirds. He wants to dissolve the IRS. And he has called for drastic cuts to education funding,

    Can’t believe people voted for someone who wants to cut their Social Security and Medicare. He’s also a fundie xian loon and Protestant Supremacist. No suprise.

  • Ellie

    ” Do you think that every high school graduate is as stupid as you are, congressman? ”

    No, but he’d like them to be.

  • D. C. Sessions

    In ancient Athens, my education tells me that all of the leading families had slaves that contributed to their income. So is Brat endorsing bringing slavery back to Virginia?

    Well, if they’re illiterate why not?

  • colnago80

    Re eric @ #27

    I worded that badly. What I should have said that, because an out of state student pays a higher tuition, the state subsidy is lower and so reducing the number of instate students and increasing the number of out of state students reduces the cost to the state, e.g. lowers the overall subsidy. I think there is an actual quota system on instate students, at least at UVA and VPU. Students are directed to attend other state institutions such as George Mason, William and Mary, or Christopher Newport instead. The issue with Northern Virginia is to increase geographic diversity as the high schools in Northern Virginia are much better then in the rest of the state, giving students from there an advantage.

  • Kermit Sansoo

    The only way you can get people smarter than a bag of hammers to vote for stupid politicians is to keep them ignorant.

  • Francisco Bacopa

    I should point out that Socrates spoke at the agora, not on a rock. He’s getting St. Paul mixed in there. And Plato had a building and a staff that taught math and other subjects.

  • felidae

    I don’t think Mr Brat realizes that a rockpile may work for a classroom in sunny Greece but may present serious challenges for teachers and students in the northern states this time of year–further proof that, contrary to our conservative friends, that intellectual vapidity also exists in right wing academics

  • Electric Shaman

    Lisa Simpson: But Congressman Brat, claiming public schools are useless because that one high school kid couldn’t tell you what businesses are is like saying funding public education is unnecessary because Socrates, Plato and Aristotle sat on this rock!

    Congressman Brat: Does the rock work?

    Lisa Simpson: Socrates, Plato and Aristotle are famous for being smart right?

    Congressman Brat: Lisa, I’d like to buy your rock.

  • John Pieret

    raven @ 25:

    end up freezing in the dark with a nonrunning car, hungry cats

    [Cough] The cats wouldn’t be hungry for long. (And I’m cat lover … but a realist too.)