Perhaps the most repeated cliché in American education is this: “They mean well. They just can’t get their act together.”
Teachers, parents, politicians, and editorial writers repeat this cliché when they want to forgive the Education Establishment for creating so many destructive policies and dumbed-down schools.
It’s a sweet and hopeful sentiment. Unfortunately, it’s not true.
They don’t mean well.
And they have got their act entirely together. That’s precisely our problem.
A hundred years ago John Dewey and his followers settled on this formula: they would take over the schools of education; they would brainwash future teachers to care more about social engineering than traditional education; and those teachers would go forth into public schools everywhere to brainwash kids and their parents into being comfortable with less education. That, clearly, is having your act together. We see malice aforethought, and a steely dedication to a subversive agenda.
It’s hard for most people to deal with these assertions. The ordinary parent does not want to believe evil about local schools; so there is a built-in disconnect, a willing suspension of distrust. It’s much the same reluctance we would have about local priests, politicians and community leaders. We don’t want to believe bad things about the people who run our lives. It’s painful. Also, we may have helped put those people into positions of power; now we have to confront the fact that we didn’t do our homework and we voted for dangerous extremists. That’s exactly what happened.
If people want to save the schools, they have to become more cynical and astute. In practice that means acknowledging that our Education Establishment has had its act together for a long time.
All the bad policies adopted by our elite educators are premeditated acts. All their bad results are just what they were hoping for.
Hard to confront, isn’t it?
When Charlotte Iserbyt wrote that our public schools were engaged in “the deliberate dumbing down of America,” she didn’t mean “accidental” dumbing down, she meant deliberate. That is, our Education Establishment was conspiring, plotting, scheming, planning, maneuvering, any word you want. These top-level educators are all socialists much like Obama and, no matter what they say to us, their real goal is always the “fundamental transformation” of the country.
When Robin Eubanks titled her excellent new book “Credentialed To Destroy,” she didn’t mean “nurture and sustain.” She meant destroy. That’s the goal.
So when bad ideas get bad results, it’s not appropriate to act surprised. The bad results are the whole point. The Education Establishment doesn’t mean well at all; and they got their act together so they could act on their socialist dreams.
The whole reason they came up with Look-say (a.k.a. sight-words is to make sure children wouldn’t learn to read or think at a high level. The reason they came up with New Math (anybody who takes a few minutes to study New Math can see this) was to make sure that most children would probably never master basic arithmetic. The same goal was pursued more subtly in Reform Math.
The whole reason they came up with Constructivism was to take the emphasis away from teaching facts. Instead, they would pretend that kids would discover facts for themselves. This approach virtually guaranteed that at the end of each year there would be a net decline in the amount of information learned. That was the goal. That’s the deliberate dumbing down that Iserbyt wrote about.
Our Education Establishment was secretive and sly, but they never thought small. First, they massively diluted the content part of education. Second, they sabotaged the instructional methods used so everything that kids learned would be garbled. Third, they undermined the character of the students, making them guess, letting them be late, telling them they were wonderful even if they didn’t bother to study or do their homework.
There was almost no detail left out, so completely did these people get their act together, so completely did they mean to start a war against their fellow citizens.
As Robin Eubanks argues in “Credentialed To Destroy”: “The point of Radical Ed Reform anywhere in the world has always been to use education to gain politically unpopular broader transformations and avoid detection until it is too late. By then the transformation would be complete at the level of the consciousness of the individual citizens…Or at least a voting majority of them. It is to be painless supposedly. No one need feel a thing. And if that scenario seems like a bad movie and you want to speed through or click the channels? We wish. This is precisely what happened and it is still going on.”
Fair warning: Eubanks argues that Common Core is simply another reiteration of all the bad ideas the Education Establishment has tried to perpetrate in previous decades.
Bruce Deitrick Price explains education theories and methods on his site Improve-Education.org.