(Apologies to Pink Floyd for stealing their line, and this is an überpost. You’ve been warned. Oh, and I’ve been adding to this since originally published as I keep finding things that should be part of it.)
A few weeks ago I caught a 30-day trip to the Zulag for sharing an education meme and my comment on it:
When I wrote Those Without Swords Can Still Die Upon Them in 2004 I was still exploring this stuff, and as a Second Amendment activist, I saw the world through that lens. I wrote:
Individual, private possession of firearms isn’t the only thing that permits individual liberty, but it is one of the essential components in a society that intends to stay free. An armed, informed, reasoning people cannot be subjugated.
So what do you do if you want to fetter a free people?
1) Remove their ability to reason.
2) Constrain their ability to access and exchange information.
3) Relieve them of the means with which to defend themselves and their property.
Which of these seems easiest, and how would it be best accomplished? And best resisted?
I thought the easiest method would be disarming the public. I Was Wrong. Deeply, deeply wrong. And far too late.
I’ve been writing essays on the deplorable American public schools since I started blogging. The first one was Our Collapsing Schools, May 21, 2003 about a straight-A student, a Junior at a “good” high school in Covina, California who was college-bound. She wasn’t capable of writing a research paper.
It has only gotten worse over time. A lot worse. She could at least read.
But perhaps we have finally reached a point where the people most responsible for children’s education – that is, parents – are beginning to realize just how bad it is. Also too late, but here’s just a couple more data points.
California, There We Went: The Golden State’s public schools are not doing their job, and parents are opting out, City Journal, April 2, 2022. Excerpt:
According to a recent report, California now leads the country in illiteracy. In fact, 23.1 percent of Californians over age 15 cannot read this sentence.
While the problem has many causes, much of the blame falls on the state’s failing public schools. The 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress found that just 30 percent of California eighth-graders are proficient in reading. And those numbers reflect results gathered before the Covid-19 lockdowns.
Just in case you were educated in California, a quarter of adults in that state are illiterate. A little less than a third of the upcoming generation could read this überpost and understand it. (And honestly, I doubt more than 50% (that’s “half” if you went to school in Covina) of the adult population there could.
California is the state I posted MoneyMoneyMoneyMoney about in 2009. Jonathan Kozol, according to Wikipedia, is “an American writer, progressive activist, and educator, best known for his books on public education in the United States.” Kozol blamed the failure of California’s education system on – you guessed it – insufficient spending. Then-California State Representative Tom McClintock wrote an op-ed on that topic. Go read the post.
It’s not the money.
And it’s not just California.
Professor Cooper is correct: If you make people ignorant, they’re easier to control. And that’s what our public school system is doing – making ignoramuses. Here’s another example: Baltimore City Public Schools Promoted Student With 0.13 GPA While Spending A $1.4 Billion Budget. Key graph:
A Baltimore mom recently learned her high school senior had a 0.13 GPA yet ranked 62/120 in his class. The student had flunked all but three classes during his first three years of high school.
(My emphasis.) Yes, 58 seniors out of 120 had lower GPAs than 0.13. That’s not a typo. A minimum of half the Senior Class is ignoramuses.
I bet they all got “promoted” too. Wouldn’t want to hurt their self-esteem!
Baltimore city schools currently have a total enrollment of 77,807. That’s more than $18,000 per student.
It’s not the money.
If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be. – Thomas Jefferson
Government-funded Public Schooling must be destroyed. Not reformed, destroyed.
“But what would you replace it with?!?” Well, we did pretty well as a nation prior to the advent of compulsory government schooling:
To find out how much better educated Americans were before compulsory attendance laws and government schools existed, all we have to do is read DuPont de Nemours fascinating little book, National Education in the United States of America, published in 1812. He writes:
“The United States are more advanced in their educational facilities than most countries.
“They have a large number of primary schools; and as their paternal affection protects children from working in the fields, it is possible to send them to the schoolmasters — a condition which does not prevail in Europe.
“Most young Americans, therefore, can read, write and cipher. Not more than four in a thousand are unable to write legibly — even neatly….
Now even prospective teachers don’t need to be literate.
The purpose of government, according to the Founders, was to create the conditions in which individuals can pursue happiness. It is not there to deliver it to them.
The purpose of education is to impart upon individuals the tools necessary to pursue happiness.
The purpose of public schooling is not education, it is indoctrination.
“I quoted the Trilateral Commision view of the educational system, namely it’s a system for the indoctrination of the young. And I think that’s correct. It’s a system for the indoctrination of the young. That’s the way the liberal elites viewed it and they’re more or less accurate. The education system is supposed to train people to be obedient, conformist, not think too much, do what you’re told, stay passive, don’t cause any crises of democracy, don’t raise any questions and so on. That’s basically what the system is about.” Noam Chomsky.
“Teaching means different things in different places, but seven lessons are universally taught from Harlem to the Hollywood Hills. They constitute a national curriculum you pay for in more ways than you can imagine, so you might as well know what it is. You are at liberty, of course, to regard these lessons any way you like, but believe me when I say I intend no irony in this presentation. These are the things I teach, these are the things you pay me to teach. Make of them what you will.
2. Class Position
4. Emotional Dependency
5. Intellectual Dependency
6. Provisional Self-esteem
7. One Can’t Hide
John Taylor Gatto, The Seven Lesson Schoolteacher.
I edited out the examples he gave for each. RTWT. Notice he doesn’t mention reading, writing, mathematics or science.
“A primary purpose of the educational system is to train school children in good citizenship, patriotism and loyalty to the state and the nation as a means of protecting the public welfare.” – Judge H. Walter Croskey, In Re. Rachel L. (2008)
Henry Louis Mencken:
And what is a good citizen? Simply one who never says, does or thinks anything that is unusual. Schools are maintained in order to bring this uniformity up to the highest possible point. A school is a hopper into which children are heaved while they are still young and tender; therein they are pressed into certain standard shapes and covered from head to heels with official rubber-stamps.
The (British) schools would produce the people who would then become parts of the bureaucratic administrative machine. They must be identical to each other. They must know three things: they must have good handwriting because the data is handwritten, they must be able to read, and they must be able to do multiplication, division, addition and subtraction in their head. They must be so identical that you could pick one up from New Zealand and ship them to Canada and he would be instantly functional.
The Victorians were great engineers. They engineered a system that was so robust that it is still with us today, continuously producing identical people for a machine that no longer exists.
But they don’t even do that anymore.
The judge quoted above isn’t wrong. A primary purpose of the educational system was to make good citizens. And both Chomsky and Mencken are right, too, about what the System believes a “good citizen” should be, and it uses Gatto’s seven lessons to churn out those “certain standard shapes covered from head to heels in official rubber-stamps.”
Public Education was a machine designed to produce identical little cogs that fit happily into the Great Machine, but the indoctrination has changed over time. Gatto himself noted when the current regime kicked off:
“I lived through the great transformation which turned schools from often useful places (if never the essential ones school publicists claimed) into laboratories of state experimentation. When I began teaching in 1961, the social environment of Manhattan schools was a distant cousin of the western Pennsylvania schools I attended in the 1940s, as Darwin was a distant cousin of Malthus.
Then suddenly in 1965 everything changed.
Whatever the event is that I’m actually referring to—and its full dimensions are still only partially clear to me—it was a nationwide phenomenon simultaneously arriving in all big cities coast to coast, penetrating the hinterlands afterwards. Whatever it was, it arrived all at once, the way we see national testing and other remote-control school matters like School-to-Work legislation appear in every state today at the same time. A plan was being orchestrated, the nature of which is unmasked in the upcoming chapters.”
John Taylor Gatto, The Underground History of American Education: An Intimate Investigation Into the Prison of Modern Schooling, Chapter 4 (2000)
What was the change? Well, I believe, and the evidence supports, that around that time the early products of what Rudi Dutschke called “The Long March Through the Institutions,” a march that started in the 1920’s, hit the hallowed halls of academia in a wave. The third generation of the Progressive disciples of education reformer John Dewey, a man who wrote “I believe that education is the fundamental method of social progress and reform” had taken over the public schools. They were the Progressive Professors of Education, the policy makers, the experts, and they finally had the power to change things! And they did.
Dewey was central to the introduction of compulsory State education in the Prussian style. That was deliberate, and it led to the Seven Lesson Schoolteacher Gatto wrote about, with the intent of social engineering, this time to make little cogs that fit into the Great Society.
Much of this sweeping change was the result of the Frankfurt School‘s creation of Critical Theory. and one of its greatest proponents, Herbert Marcuse. It spawned others as well, such as educational theorist Paolo Friere whose book Pedagogy of the Oppressed, first published in 1968, has become a common textbook in Schools of Education in the U.S. One of Friere’s best known quotes is “The educator has the duty of not being neutral.” No, they must proselytize.
The result of this is the public school system being a factory no longer for the manufacture of good citizens, but radical activists. Since 1965 we’ve had nearly three more generations indoctrinated under this system. A certain percentage of current parents are the grandchildren of the first wave, and it has had its effect.
Read my 2006 post RCOB™. Excerpt:
I cringed as my young son recited the Pledge of Allegiance. But who was I to question his innocent trust in a nation I long ago lost faith in? – Nina Burleigh, Country Boy, Salon
Ms. Burleigh was born in Chicago in 1959. When Mr. Gatto’s “great transformation” hit the Chicago public schools, she was six years old. She moved to the Haight-Ashbury area of San Francisco at 7, then on to Bagdad, Iraq. Her father, Robert Burleigh is an author of children’s books where he “…is noted for introducing difficult historical topics to young readers in an accessible and effective manner.” I haven’t seen any of his works, but his daughter is also the journalist who offered to give oral gratification to Bill Clinton “for keeping abortion legal.” One wonders what her father taught her. It certainly wasn’t patriotism. A Progressive product of the system, true to form she went into journalism to proselytize.
She is just one of millions. But millions more aren’t as lucky.
Despite the title of this überpost, this is not an excoriation of public school teachers. The vast majority of them are simply products of the system they now inhabit. There are occasionally some exceptional teachers who can accomplish great things in the face of vigorous opposition. Jaime Escalante is a sterling example, teaching AP calculus to students in a high school known for poor academic performance. Most teachers aren’t able, much less willing to buck the administration, and I can’t blame them. Gatto bashed his head against the NYC educational administration until he’d had enough and quit.
No, my problem is with a system captured wholly by the Woke that has produced generations of the brainwashed. From a new teacher:
Each and every parent has an outcome that they want for their kids. That desired outcome has NOTHING to do with educating their child. What they want is for their child to receive good grades, so that child can “get into a good college.” The parents don’t care if the child actually learns anything. The goal is good grades. If their child doesn’t receive high marks, then they blame the teacher for picking on the child, claiming favoritism. Even when you show them that the exams are all multiple choice, and the correct answer was not selected by the child, the parent continues blaming the teacher. I even had one parent accuse me of substituting an incorrectly marked test for their child’s test, so I could make her look bad.
Read the links. Teachers have no defense against that, especially when they aren’t backed up by the administration. And they aren’t, even if they’re the Wokest of the Woke. God help them if they’re not and don’t hide it. No one else will. Toe the line or lose your job. Don’t piss off the parent(s) or the Administration.
Just as one unruly child can wreak havoc on classroom learning, one bad parent can wreak havoc on a teacher’s career. And there’s no solution to this problem available.
The bad teachers outnumber the good, and the rest are just there to collect a paycheck and their retirement, and above all of them is an administration promulgating the policies that prevent, you know, education.
‘Once men gain power over other men’s minds, that power is never used sparingly and wisely.’ – E.B. White
The result is a population that cannot read, but can vote. That doesn’t question, just accepts. That can’t reason, but can be manipulated. And even many who can read still cannot reason. They never learned how because no one taught them, and they were unable and/or unwilling to teach themselves. They are seldom right, but always certain, and any love of learning they entered the system with has been thoroughly beaten out of them.
As I recently argued elsewhere, America’s educational system has not prepared us for the government power grab because it does not create enough Emersonian independent thinkers or, frankly, even adult thinkers. Due to the extreme Left bias of higher education, many of America’s college graduates remain intellectually infantilized to the point that they can do little more than Tweet ignorant hate at any idea that does not accord with Progressive mantras. – Robert E. Wright
The public school system cannot be reformed. I must be destroyed and the people in it must never have power over children again. It is my belief that almost all children are born with a need and an ability to learn, and that they can educate themselves given the opportunity, the tools and the encouragement. One last excerpt from my previous education überpost, again from Dr. Sugata Mitra:
I made a hole in the boundary wall of the slum next to my office, and stuck a computer inside just to see what would happen if I gave a computer to children who never would have one, didn’t know any English, didn’t know what the Internet was. The children came running in. It was three feet off the ground, and they said “What is this?” And I said “Yeah, it’s, I don’t know.” They said “Why did you put it there?” I said “Just like that.” And they said “Can we touch it?” And I said “If you wish to.” And I went away.
About eight hours later, we found them browsing, and teaching each other how to browse. So I said “That’s impossible, because- You know how is it possible? They don’t know anything.” My colleagues said “no it’s a simple solution. One of your students must have been passing by and showed them how to use the mouse.” So I said “Yeah, that’s possible.” So I repeated the experiment. I went 300 miles out of Delhi into a really remote village where the chances of a passing software development engineer was very little. I repeated the experiment there. There was no place to stay, so I stuck my computer in, I went away. I came back after a couple of months, found kids playing games on it. When they saw me they said “We want a faster processor and a better mouse.” So I said “How on Earth do you know all this?” And they said something very interesting to me. In an irritated voice they said “You’ve given us a machine that works only in English, so we had to teach ourselves English in order to use it.” That’s the first time as a teacher I’ve heard the words “teach ourselves” said so casually.
Azimov was correct. Self-education is the only real kind of education, and the only thing formal schooling is for is to make self-education possible.
So of course, home schooling must be destroyed, not the national disaster of public schooling.