Umberto Eco, seeing the rise of Mussolini, noted in his “14 indicators of fascism” dumbing down the populace by lowering educational standards was critical to producing a compliant populace
Save our Schools in Az. has tried to get many citizens initiatives passed that prevent vouchers for all. This last one this summer was thwarted by the legislature and paid shills of Betsy DeVos. The citizens vote for our bills but the Koch controlled legislature stops the process.
What you have written, Thom, is so important, and goes along with what you've laid out since the Regan 80's. Hard to believe what's happened, the most recent push to privatize education, Trump and DeVos' outrageous moves, and the horror stories of how poorly both teachers and kids actually are treated in those schools, most all of it by the creeping, money-at-all costs, power grabs.
Adding to this important warning you have shared, I would like to say that there is an additional step we can be aware of to save, improve and re-empower public education. Here is one quote you shared, De Vos, speaking:
“They’ve made it clear that they care more about a system, one created in the 1800s, than they do about individual students.”
Like on a mobious strip which turns back on itself, showing the opposite side, this statement does indicate ways that we must reorient public education, a direction being called for now. I can only speak briefly of it here, but the times and tides of public comment are indicating the direction we must turn, one I am driven to follow.
Our current educational system Was created in the industrial times of the 1800's, this correct. One example, the large British Empire needed a way to keep all corners of it running, in touch with the central power. Like in the industrial and piece by piece mode of production, yet prevalent in workhouses in China and elsewhere, there are photos from the 19th and 20th century of people sitting in rows, in big or small rooms, sewing, stamping, etc. or learning information for their part of the bigger project. The pictures are eerily the same as our classrooms still, rows of kids learning material and tested on it for the operation of our society. Using information for the operation of our society is imperative. So, what have been our mistakes?, because look at the world we have created!! Education is a core component of what has brought us to where we are, veering away from that central and alive part of it in the 50's and 60's, and it is paramount for creating even better education for a future for those in the system right now, and the rest of us and the earth.
Indicators something is wanting to happen: William Shatner's new book: "Boldly Go, Reflections on a Life of Awe and Wonder," he boldly alive and healthy at 91; Michelle Obama three days ago publicly speaking saying, paraphrased: "I knew as a girl what it was I wanted to do."
What is being said by both and others, is we must allow ourselves and Children as Individuals (De Vos' quote) to follow the inherent awe, interests, passions, talents and abilities that we all have, for these are what can drive us all toward the greater good. In nature, animals are guided toward a balance in species and ecosystems by instincts and certain amounts of discovery and choice. Humans, it is believed have the most of discovery and choice, and only a couple "instincts," to suck and hold on.
Instead of instincts, our passions, interests, intuitions, and talents are a part of our intelligences that we do NOT account for in our educational system, and which are required if we are to live in balance. They are our birth right: Life, Liberty and the freedom to learn. In recent decades, with the use of computers, our focus only on facts and information-transferrence has compounded back on itself, so that we are an information-only run society, with letters and numbers, linear, driving all. Letters and numbers without a connection to our other intelligences, which inherently connect us to others, has created our very linear and now virtual screen world. (Tech selected for empowerment for good will help.)
How and what do we change? We empower and free teachers once again, and ourselves, to ask Daily, engaging education and students in the question, "How does the subject matter at hand prove to have been, or is it now, actively contributing to the well being of all and the planet? No Child Left Behind particularly tied the hands of teachers to use their own creativity in presenting information in a meaningful way, and all, students and teachers were scored for their success or failure to evidence memorized information. We all, from birth, have intelligence that inspires and thrills us in discovery and quest, and this intelligence is for Good. AND we have thinking and linear abilities, fed by helpful and important, relevant subject matter and skills, to shape our discoveries and passions into solutions for this world. See "The Hole in the Wall Experiments" in YouTubes by Sugata Mitra as a start.
"Privatized public education" -- an oxymoronic fallacy that reveals the deeper schism between red and blue politics. Despite all historical evidence, the titans of private industry with their loud and obnoxious media mouthpieces echoing in our ears 24/7 would have us believe that they are intellectually and morally superior to their elected counterparts -- and rivals -- running government institutions. We all know the drill by now: Public is bad; private is good. Yeah sure.
Of course, the truth is quite the opposite. Mindbogglingly corrupt billionaires and their minions of brainless Orcs marauding across the land capturing weak minds scream and holler about the corrupt politicians they themselves have corrupted by every means possible. It's private industry that corrupts government, not the other way around. Keep it straight, people: Greedy, ruthless assholes are NOT more efficient and less corruptible than anyone else.; white Christians are NOT ordained by God to rule over all us sinners; rich people should NOT have political power greater than anyone else.
There lies the big divide: blood enemies who do or do not believe in their hearts in multicultural democracy. But the undemocratic behavior of the billionaire class is based on the fundamental lie that rich people by their nature somehow know better in all things. Wrong! That's a really bad, horrible, plain stupid idea for a nation founded on egalitarian principles! There is simply no upside to what passes as "conservative" thought these days; it's all corrupt as hell. The Trump era just exposed the truth for the world to see, to learn the lesson of American oligarchy.
"... [Texas] State Rep. Andrew S. Murr, R-Junction, filed a bill that would abolish state school districts’ maintenance and operations tax. That M&O tax is used to pay teachers’ salaries and day-to-day expenses."
The idea of public schools did not become popular until President Lincoln initiated the land grant schools. When southern schools were forced to integrate it created the impetus for the creation of whites only charter schools like the one that the infamous Jerry Falwell quickly created.
Following Bacon's Rebellion in 1676 when white indentured servants and tenent farmers joined forces with their black and native American counterparts did the white elites realize it was dangerous to allow these people to associate and fight their true oppressors among the rich and powerful.
It is important to pervert our country's history to support the propaganda of the elites, who although a tiny minority, wield tremendous power and take more than 80% of the wealth generated by the workers. Heaven forbid that young people were to realize that all wars are fought for profit and paid for by the lives of workers and not the sons of the elites whose interests they serve.
Article XII of the West Virginia constitution says that "The legislature shall provide, by general law, for a through and efficient system of free schools". The republicans so called Hope Scholarship provides grants of up to $4300 of taxpayer money to help pay private school tuition. In a 4-1 decision this law has been upheld by the WV supreme court. This money is only available to new private school enrollees; for now.
Education professor Henry Giroux refers to these Republicans (GQP) as the "hyper-dead:"
"In this way, the zombie — the immoral, sub-Nietzschean, id-driven “other” who is “hyper-dead” but still alive as an avatar of death and cruelty — provides an apt metaphor for a new kind of authoritarianism that has a grip on contemporary politics in the United States."
We created a network map using Thom's article to 'follow the money' from billionaires to the Republicans destroying the public education system. https://thedemlabs.org/2022/11/27/republicans-attack-public-education-push-fascism/
The posting I sent early this morning which I had written before discovering your article for today did not address several of the points which were in your post. Those points, which I believe are not factual or defensible, need to be discussed at least briefly now that I have had time to review the piece thoroughly. I had a long morning and was forced to cut my second post on the public section short for several reasons, including fatigue, no caffeine or breakfast, and a visitor who was returning from a tri-state trip.
My good friend and mentor Al, who taught junior high history would be turning over in his grave right now at your suggestion that our public schools should get the credit for putting men on the moon, inventing transistors, and all kinds of innovations and advances of a generation. He would be fuming and scoffing and ridiculing such a preposterous idea. It amazes me that you would repeat that foolishness.
It is probably a fact that many of the scientists, inventors, and creators of a variety of devices and novel technologies and wonders of the modern world attended public schools at some point. However, that line of connection and causality is beyond specious and in no way proves anything about the superiority or beneficial character of the schools. Al would say that, had those same people not attended those schools, they probably would have established world peace, solved many of the world’s energy problems, ended inequality, and put men in much more livable homes here on earth.
I have honored excellent, self-sacrificing teachers many times in this space. They often motivate, inspire, inform, and rescue floundering students. They get a lot of the credit for the greatest successes. Nevertheless, the students are typically most responsible for their work and accomplishments, and more happens off school grounds, in spite of school rituals, limitations, and requirements, and during moments of respite from the insanity, repetition, and boredom of school. Parents, genetics, and a healthy environment also rank far above the schools. You need to get out more among the real people.
Hatred is caustic but I have to claim a certain hatred for the Kochs. I drove to CA to protest one of their elitist conclaves about fifteen years ago. People took lots of photos of my handmade sign. But even Trump accidentally or inadvertently stated things that happened to be true, although for all the wrong reasons. Koch happens to have been right about separating school and state, but for the same reason church and state must be separate. The indoctrination that Koch imagines and exaggerates is not the consequence of the state influence, the law, the bureaucracy, the administrations, or liberal teachers. It is primarily because freedom and autonomy have been able to creep in through the cracks that he would permanently seal up, no credit to the school or the requirement to attend.
“Fascism flourishes when people are ignorant”. You hit the nail on the head there. Our schools were modelled after the Prussian schools of the 19th century. They practiced military style discipline, and mercy was not to be found in such miserable places. The students could recite the material and dared not step out of line, but they were largely ignorant about things that mattered and about life, values, and a pursuit of knowledge for its own sake. The edges have been softened and the pain has been moved from the body to the mind, but the level of ignorance regarding the things that you and I have learned to cherish is at an all-time high. Right-wing conspiracy theories, Republican cruelty, and Trump prove that point.
I have over thirty pages of material to show that schools are a lost cause under the compulsory paradigm. It is research from top-tier institutions and highly trained and qualified professionals. Give me an email address where that sized document can be sent and prepare to eat a lot of crow. Or, if you prefer, give me a snail mail address and I will resend the material, which also includes an outstanding paper by a brilliant education professor from Idaho by the name of David Gabbard. Download the book, “Battleground Schools”, Vol.1, edited by Sandra Mathison & E. Wayne Ross and find the article beginning on page 136. It is astonishing.
You audience is not a representative sample of the American public. Your extrapolations of your personal school experience probably do not even remotely match those of most of your classmates or most students nationwide. That school Kool Aid may have great taste appeal but it is nothing but empty calories and is highly carcinogenic. And, do not expect your local school board to treat the average parent or student with any deference or much respect if there are issues that conflict with the state guidelines. The cookie crumbles and they don’t even get the crumbs in most instances.
My remarks in the public comment section this morning had to be closed abruptly. The last sentence was written under immense pressure and had a rude tone. I am exasperated and angry but I have tried to avoid personal insults. Please excuse that rushed and unprofessional finale.
The decline of the US Public School System K-12 has been a straight-line progression during the last 40 years, and no single set of values, teacher pay, general school funding or legislative actions can be blamed. Globally the literacy rates for our US born students have steadily declined, and the number of US born students sufficiently motivated by parents and selves to excel in Math, Science and Biology has steadily declined.
In the same time period the rising percentage of female teacher https://www.zippia.com/teacher-jobs/demographics/have diluted the time both boys and girls have had to be exposed to competent male teachers; in a parallel development the increase in the percentage of children living in a single female supervised household has dramatically increased. https://www.census.gov/newsroom/stories/single-parent-day.html
Our dropping parent involvement in PTAs, and the increase in the number of households where all adults are working full time https://www.flexjobs.com/blog/post/stats-about-working-parents-us/to provide sufficient economic resources to support the family, both have contributed to a lack of parental time to supervise homework assigned by teachers - many school districts have, as a result. abolished home work.https://www.wsj.com/articles/no-homework-its-the-new-thing-in-u-s-schools-11544610600
All school districts have seen an increasing percentage of students at the end of their elementary grades, and at the end of their middle school years, become unable to pass their annual state tests, school districts have bowed to the pressure from parents to socially promote students https://www.publicschoolreview.com/blog/is-social-promotion-crippling-our-childrens-future-the-debateat the end of both elementary schools and at the end of their middle school years. Thus, the end-result has been a steady increase in students completing their K-12 US public education with a globally substandard level of skills in almost all areas. https://www.thebalancemoney.com/the-u-s-is-losing-its-competitive-advantage-3306225 and
Finally, the teachers in all our schools have been subjected to an avalanche of well-meaning legislation by both conservative and liberal legislators to test our students continually in order to explain the lack of sufficient growth of skills students are demonstrating - on a multitude of tests. In most school districts teachers have to stop teaching at the end of January to start preparing students for tests - and testing for the remainder of the school year. https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2016/06/how-much-testing-is-too-much/485633/
Most schools see very few adult parent volunteers nowadays, and young teachers are quitting in high percentages https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2018/data-on-display/how-many-teachers-are-leaving.htmbecause they can't afford to pay baby-sitters https://childcare.gov/consumer-education/paying-for-childcareor their own children, AND because they simply are no longer allowed to teach a full school year due to the level of testing and federally required paper work.
Some possible solutions:
1. Volunteer in your children's class rooms
2. Read-aloud in school libraries to children from low socioeconomic homes with lagging literacy skills.
3. Attend school board meeting and call for common sense approaches; run for a school board seat.
4. Abolish invasive federal K-12 school funding entirely as it's currently provide and substitute with simple block grants that provide enough funding per student in all areas of the country to provide sufficient funding to hire and retain high quality teachers of both genders - with MA pay equal to other industry salaries in business and engineering.
5. Adopt simple annual retention expectations for all our students, with a summer school option to master failing skills, or a simple mandate to repeat a grade with the expectation that parents are obligated to help their children do a sufficient amount of home work and practice to help their own children acquire necessary skills.
Mr. Hartman citations:
But the United States spends almost a trillion dollars a year on primary school education, an expense category just below healthcare and even more than the Pentagon budget: there are massive profits to be made if privatized entities can skim even a few percent off the top.
Those profits, in turn, can be used — with the Supreme Court’s blessing — to legally bribe elected officials to further gut public schools and transfer even more of our tax dollars to private schools and their stockholders.
This pursuit of America’s education dollars is nothing new. The first American president to put an anti-public-schools crusader in charge of the Education Department was Ronald Reagan.
At the time, our public schools were the envy of the world and had recently raised up a generation of scientists and innovators that brought us everything from the transistor to putting men on the moon.
Reagan and Bennett oversaw the gutting of Federal support for civics education, cutting the nation’s federal education budget by 18.5%.
This lead to the situation today where the group that runs national exams of eighth-graders across the country, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, determined in 2018 that only 24% of US students were “proficient in civics.” It’s gotten so bad that the Lincoln Project is launching a K-12 civics program of their own called the Franklin Project.
George W. Bush continued the tradition, proposing an 8% cut to education and welfare budgets.
Of all our democratic institutions, from Congress to state houses to city councils, the most on-the-ground, closest-to-the-people are school boards.
They’re the most vibrant and often most important of our governmental bodies, designed to express and facilitate the will of local parents and voters. And a great springboard to other elected offices: many members of Congress began their political careers running for a school board.
Earlier I sent a reply to the post on the Pompeo dustup directly to Thom, which I had written on Thursday and revised slightly this morning. This is intended as a public post in response to that post. If I am unable to post both on the same day, I will have to improvise to get this message out.
The blind faith of true believers in a certain deity, a savior from a distant time and place, or in forced public schooling as the sure guarantee to a better future is not a characteristic of a fully rational and well-educated individual. Jefferson and others like him who believed in education as a necessity and a public good were right, of course. They were also correct in saying that education should be financed adequately with public funds. To the extent that they advocated for compulsion, coercion, and an authority-based system with the state as the ultimate authority within a hierarchy, they were dead wrong. They are dead and they are still dead wrong.
School is not now and never can be an adequate cure for ignorance. Use any definition you prefer for education. The founders were working with human behavioral science and knowledge which was fine given their circumstances and given the state of the population. But anyone who has taken a few basic contemporary courses in psychology, sociology, anthropology, history, philosophy, political science, or a related discipline should be able to discern that duress and coercion are not conducive to learning, proper development, competence and confidence, or anything that can be called edifying education.
To ignore the harm done in the schools we have under our current paradigm is willful ignorance. The statistics and research results are numbing and mind-boggling. If you want to protect public schooling, then get serious about what they are about and what they are doing now and have been doing for generations. Mom, apple pie, and the flag are great. Authoritarian bureaucracies suck.
Randi Weingartner is surely a hero and her union has probably done more for students and teachers than any politician. Nevertheless, turning a blind eye to the failures and fiascos and scandals does not help anybody. As I stated in an earlier post, we do not have public schools. The state establishes and controls our schools and every aspect of their operations and the public be damned. School boards are required to follow the letter of the law and the letter of the law has little or nothing to do with authentic educational opportunity.
When Alexis de Tocqueville traveled on this continent, people were aware and informed but it was because they valued knowledge and accurate information and recognized their importance to their survival and success. That all changed, albeit gradually, when schooling became the default avenue to an entirely bogus conception for education for all but a handful of students in each class.
I do not relish being the skunk at the garden party but someone has to shake people out of their fantasies and reliance on mythology. You can’t ruin what has already been ruined. You cannot save institutions which are founded on error and bad science, pseudoscience, or simply no science. How else can I say it and how many times must I repeat it? If you want education, focus on education. Individuals become educated when they choose education. They must be allowed and encouraged to make the choice. Encouragement cannot be improvised, fabricated, or unnaturally coaxed. Fight for true liberty or remain silent.