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6: Let's Get Serious About Education

Published 2006; so no longer "recent."

But the point remains timely;

and the quotes that follow are timeless.

6: Let's Get Serious About Education

Every time I read a column by Paul Krugman, I think, “Oh, what a brilliant sophist!” He wrote a dozen columns leading up to the last election, telling us over and over that the economy is a shambles, it’s all Bush’s fault, don’t vote for him. More recently he wrote that Toyota is building a factory in Canada because workers in Mississippi are too poorly educated to assemble cars. Guess whose fault this is? Bush, of course. Krugman has become a blatant partisan. He’s not going to tell you the real reason those workers are so badly educated. Or how it happens that our public schools produce children who can’t read their diplomas.

Here’s the dirty little secret that explains why Mississippi didn’t get the Toyota factory. And why so many jobs are going to India. And why Jay Leno, when he goes “Jaywalking,” can find adults who don’t know what body of water lies to the west of California. (If you haven’t seen this particular American nightmare, stay up! Get somebody to Tivo it for you. Jay Leno is telling us more about our public schools than a propagandist like Krugman will ever reveal.) Bottom line: since 1930 America’s top educators are ideologues influenced by collectivist thinking. These people believe passionately in leveling. To achieve their goals, they have to dumb down both the schools and the students.

Here’s the capsule version of how educational theory evolved since 1920. Leftists claimed the Russian Revolution heralded a new era in human history. The Great Depression seemed to provide proof for a Marxian analysis. Ideological certainties raged. Stalin’s New Soviet Man must be our future! Capitalism, individuality and Western civilization must be euthanized!

The purpose of our public schools--this is what our top educators believed--was to prepare children for life as cogs in this new Socialist machine. Since it’s probably not feasible to make everybody smart, our far-left educators decided on the bizarre alternative: they would make everybody dumb.

The policy of dumb by design, to the extent our Education Establishment can slip it past parents and politicians, guides them to this day. Isn’t it fair to say that not one educational reform crafted by educators actually leads to better education? My impression is that none of these reforms is truly intended to lead to better education. The self-esteem movement. New Math. Fuzzy math. Whole language as a way of learning to read. Bilingualism. Ebonics. Outcome Based Education. Numerous campaigns against testing, homework, standards, or discipline. All seek a lower common denominator.

It’s hard to avoid this conclusion: our elite educators pulled off one of the great silent coups in history. There’s probably only a few thousand of these extremists but they seized control of the public schools and never let go. Give them credit for tenacity but now it’s time to exorcise the spell. They are doing to the American educational system exactly what Castro does to the Cuban economy, and for the same reasons. It’s fair, don’t you see, that all Cubans be equally poor and all American children be equally ignorant.

If this country is going to be competitive, it’s time to become serious about education. We must stop trying to level down, and start trying to raise up. Most crucially, let’s take education away from people who don’t actually care about education, not in the traditional sense. Instead, bring in people who have shown success in business, industry or the military to do the job. We should liberate teachers from the teachers colleges--one year in these places is enough. And we should liberate teachers colleges from the ideologues who got us in this mess.

Here are two concrete steps. Future teachers should have to major in the subjects they will teach. (This is common sense and the norm around the world; only here can people major in “education” or “psychology” and sally forth to teach history and biology.) Second, alternative credentialing must be made easy--if stock brokers and office manager decide they want to teach subjects they studied in college, or learned professionally, the switch should take months, not years. When you see these approaches enacted, you’ll know the situation is improving.

What’s our goal? At an absolute minimum every kid in Mississippi’s public schools should be able to get a job in a Toyota factory. The educators who delivered less are frauds.
(Note, "educators" on this site never means teachers, always means professors with a PhD who make policy.) 

Article 6>>>Written for local paper in 2005 as an Opinion piece (but not published). The limit for such pieces is 750 words. I like the brevity of the article as it turned out; but I know it would be helpful if more people had a sense of just how extreme our educators had become by the 1930’s. So here’s some supporting documentation from three of the main players in American education. In their own words:


George Counts, 1931: "The ideal of promoting individual success, which is so characterisitc of education in the United States, is almost entirely absent in the schools of the Soviet Union....No man of sensitive mind can remain long in [Russia] without feeling himelf in a veritable furnace of the world where the elements composing human society are in a state of fusion and new principles of right and wrong are being forged. Under such conditions the commonplaces of American education sound like faint voices from a distant and mythical land."

Counts, 1932: "That the teachers should deliberately reach for power and then make the most of their conquest is my firm conviction."

Counts, 1932: "Historic capitalism, with its deification of the principle of selfishness, its reliance upon the forces of competition, its place of property above human rights, and its exaltation of the profit motive, will either have to be displaced altogether, or so radically changed in form and spirit that its identity will be completely lost."

Willard Givens, 1934: "We are convinced that we stand today at the verge of a great culture....But to achieve these things many drastic changes must be made. A dying laissez-faire must be completely destroyed, and all of us, including the owners, must be subjected to a large degree of social control."

Counts, 1934: "Cumulative evidence supports the conclusion that in the United States as in other countries, the age of individualism and laissez-faire in economy and government is closing and a new age of collectivism is emerging."

Counts, 1934: " [Our new magazine] assumes that the age of individualism in economy is closing and that an age marked by close integration of social life and by collective planning and control is opening. For weal or woe it accepts as irrevocable this deliverance of the historical process."

National Education Association Journal, 1936: "Let us not terms of specific facts or skills [that children should acquire] but rather in terms of growing."

NEA Journal, 1937: "The transition of society from the philosophy of individualism to the new emphasis on group goals and cooperative action produces vexing problems in secondary education....Only education which seeks the reconstruction of society is [valid]....Teachers should play an active part in securing acceptance by their communities of new social ideas and ideals."

NEA Journal, 1946: "In the struggle to establish an adequate world government, the teacher has many parts to play...He can do much to prepare the hearts and minds of children for global understanding and cooperation....At the very top of all the agencies which will assure the coming of world government must stand the school, the teacher, and the organized profession."
Our educators seemed intent not on educating children but on creating a new kind of children...But who asked our educators to embark on this project? Who voted? Who discussed?


For further discussion of what bedevils our schools, please see "38: Saving Public Schools"; "41: Educators, O. J. Simpson, and Guilt"; "13: Precision Worth Preserving" (ANALYSIS at end being the most relevant part); and "42: Reading Resources."

© Bruce Deitrick Price 2011

Article explains that Socialism, Communism, Marxism and collectivism are inferior social and economic systems. Counterproductive educational strategies are recommended by Socialists as a way of weakening a country's insitutions.


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