There is a deliberate effort in academia to downplay, or in the case of this piece, distort and even place blame on the Protestant Christian educational movements of early America. The Great Awakenings that spurred the creation of U.S. colleges and universal public education were fueled by a moral tradition and were an enormous success. That tradition has nothing to do with todays failing public schools. The author also fails to note that the current American home school movement has explicitly Christian roots.
I noticed that immediately, too. Gray gets an "F" from me on Church history. I realise he's a psychology professor, but he really should have done his homework and read something that wasn't revisionist scholarship. His remarks on the Protestant Reformation are pretty weak gruel, because the presenting cause of the Reformation was to challenge the authoritarian Italo-Papal hierarchy in Western Europe. The Reformation was precisely about questioning authority.
If Martin Luther were to read Gray's remarks today, I think he'd find them patently ridiculous.
Perhaps you should try reading the article and my comment for context, because it's apparent you didn't understand them. I'm saying that Gray is demonstrably wrong about authoritarianism wrt the Reformation, because the Church was not above criticism. The article, and my comment, was on-topic in that regard.
I definitely noted that he made an awfully long string of assertions to not have presented any kind of backing evidence. He presented an entire history of education ... but it could just as easily be a revisionist version as a fact-based one. It strikes me much more as a soapbox than a factual summary.
So how exactly is the author wrong? The first education law in the US, the Ye Olde Deluder Satan Act of 1647, makes it explicitly clear that the purpose of school is to prevent kids from turning to the devil, which is what the author said. The fact that universities also come from a religious tradition is irrelevant.
Another key constituency are the school builders. Schools are in constant need of construction and renovation (often because they are poorly built). It is one of the larger budget items in any school district.
Your argument is borderline dishonest. Teachers in Finland don't have to worry about a lot of things U.S. teachers do because they're taken care of by the government via taxes, which results in said utilities and services being cheaper. For example: health care. I also bet that Finland teachers don't have to spend their own money on buying supplies for their students, which is sadly really common here.
Teachers in the US typically have full health benefits paid for by the government as well as a pension and other benefits. So using health care as an example is just inaccurate. Finland teachers also pay a higher tax rate than US teachers so their real income is even lower by comparison. The problem isn't compensation, it's that it's almost impossible to fire a bad teacher and therefore the personal incentive for individual teachers is less than it would be if teachers were paid based on outcomes rather than time in service. Teacher quality is unrelated to seniority. Yet pay scales are almost completely biased towards seniority rather than results. The rules of economics don't end at the schoolhouse door.
Are you claiming that teacher's don't have copays? Because that's patently false. How about before Obamacare when you could be kicked off your insurance roles for having a "pre-existing" condition and then you couldn't find healthcare anywhere? Do you think that didn't effect teachers? People in the U.S. pay more for healthcare than people in Finland do when you take into account the amount of taxes they pay. When the costs of programs are spread among the public, things tend to be cheaper.
Let's take a look at the Finland school system. They have strong unions that are allowed to take an active role in helping decide what's taught. They have seniority. They don't care about standardized tests, which differs dramatically from the U.S. They don't have any No Child Left Behind bullshit.
The students defer drastically, as well. All the students in Finland have healthcare. When they are sick they can go to the doctor and not have to worry about a gigantic bill. They have a poverty rate of 5.3% compared to the U.S. which has a rate of 23.1%. I'm also willing to wager that a significantly larger chunk of their population believes in evolution and global warming compared to the U.S. It's hard to learn when your hungry and sick.
" that it's almost impossible to fire a bad teacher and therefore the personal incentive for individual teachers is less than it would be if teachers were paid based on outcomes rather than time in service"
For what it's worth, it's probably even far harder to fire a teacher hired on a permanent basis in Finland.
Totally different. "Cities" like Houston grow outward like the suburbs. Houston has almost 3 times the land of Chicago. Population density of Houston 3,623/sq mi, Chicago 11,864.4/sq mi. One is a city, the other a glorified suburb.
Today's Boston can't even build a traffic tunnel. The Big Dig was a disaster-- took decades, costs billions more than planned, and was so shoddy the finished roof fell and killed someone. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Dig
As someone who works in an office building along rose kennedy greenway, I wouldn't say it was totally a disaster. Basically everything along the greenway has been revitalized and it's pretty beautiful to walk around in the summer. There is a lot more activity in the area and lots of new restaurants.
The real problem with the Big Dig is that is was designed and built in ignorance of the law of demand  as it applies to lane capacity. The traffic congestion that the Big Dig was supposed to eliminate simply moved outward .
They should have eliminated the Big Dig completely and spent the money on increasing rapid transit capacity.
That said, eliminating the elevated highway that cut the North End off from the rest of the city seems to have been a major boon.
I can't really speak to traffic because I rarely drive, but I do agree there needs to be more investment in rapid transit. I rely on the red line/walking to get to and from my office. It is the only line I would consider living on.
But I did want to add that it isn't only the north end that was cut off. I doubt the resurgence of the Sea port area/"innovation district" would have happened if it hadn't been for the big dig.
The main obstacle in the U.S. is that the interstate passenger rail system was nationalized by Congress. Congress forces unprofitable long-distance routes on Amtrak and keeps the monopoly company undercapitalized. Amtrak owns amazing assets like the Northeast corridor rail lines, but there's almost no innovation as the monopoly loses billions of dollars and can't really tap private capital markets.
Meanwhile American freight rail-- totally privately owned and managed-- is the best in the world.
To be fair it was nationalized in the wake of the Penn Central bankruptcy and all of the other railroads wanting to drop passenger rail. Railroads were even able to opt out and I think a few did for a few years but it just didn't make sense to move passengers vs freight.
The actual problem was the federal Interstate Commerce Commission regulated routes and ticket prices and wouldn't give passenger rail companies the flexibility needed to compete with cars and growing air travel. Central planning failed and completely destroyed U.S. passenger rail.
You should control for geographical differences in pay and language distribution. California likely has more Ruby programmers-- the higher cost of living and higher salaries there may explain the entire difference between Ruby and PHP.
California is so large it has many great public schools, but other states like Virginia (UVA and William & Mary) have public schools that rival the best in California, and most large states have an elite public school (Texas, Michigan, UNC, Georgia Tech, etc etc) that would be top tier in California. To some degree, California's support for its universities has slipped and the reputation is based on the past.