A reply to Infovores' reply to Caplan and Parr
"The status quo bias is strong with this one."
IMO it's hard to deny that formal schooling teaches a lot of conformity... on an emotional level isn't that the reason why libertarians hate it so much?
May I make a small request. For those of us raised on British English the use of the word "school" in American English can be quite confusing. Outside the US school always means primary or high school, or confusingly sometimes night school (for adults), but never university. At times this essay seems to be talking about universities, other times under-18 education, at one point it talks about children before moving smoothly back to students and so on.
I'm left confused about the extent to which this argument is meant to apply to under vs over 18 educational institutions.
By the way, where I went to under-18 school we did have to wear uniforms.
This was really good. Looking back at my own education, it could have easily been compressed at least in half without sacrificing anything worthwhile. I can still remember my kindergarten teacher forcing everyone to go over these stupid phonetics exercises that were entirely pointless for those of us who already knew how to read, so I started to read a book. She got very irritated that I was not following along with the rest of the class; and she ordered me to stop reading my book, so I could pretend to learn how to read at the same pace as everyone else. I couldn't articulate it at that age, but I knew right then that the whole thing was bullshit.
With regards to 2. the description by Nick that you quote is actually more similar to the UK system. So you should be able to do some cross-national comparison to tease out more of the truth on the sheep-skin effects. I am sure there are lots of different systems round the world that can make for good tests of that and some of the other things going on with this topic.
Good job of covering the issue. I am generally on Caplan's side and is why I have been trying to change my own courses to include more practical stuff that can actually be useful, rather than just the signal.
Regarding the sheepskin effect, I would note that in some fields the senior level courses are way harder than the freshman level courses. Also, the senior year tends to be mostly in-field courses vs. things like basic English or electives.
Fields that are math heavy have courses that build on top of each other. Poor retention of early subjects causes a cumulative effect leading to dropping out.