Some sites I write for want a lot of links and the appearance of journalism. Why is that a plus? Journalists lie every day.
In any case, I want this to be a more personal piece. I think it will be more honest than any journalism you’ll read. I’m going to tell you what I believe I’ve figured out from writing about K-12 education for more than 30 years. (Spoiler alert: K-12 education is a huge, well-organized racket that’s gunning for you and your kids.)
My first big essay was titled “English and Education.” It appeared in the Princeton Alumni Weekly in 1983 and got a lot of fan mail. (It’s still on the internet and still a good read.)
The goal of the article was to show that when an entire field, such as education, starts to use jargon and deceitful language, you know the field has lost its way. I tried to prove that education had gone off the rails and was in serious trouble.
Later, however, I realized that I was like a Roman doctor who could study symptoms and predict correctly that a patient was soon to die. But the doctor cannot explain why. The Romans didn’t know about germs.
I knew I had to construct a “germ theory” to explain the decline of American public education. Years later, I became comfortable with the conclusion that the germs making us sick are busybody social engineers with bad blueprints. That would be John Dewey and his gang.
Five years ago I was communicating with a very rich and successful man who said, “I agree with a lot of what you say, Bruce. But I can’t accept the conspiracy angle.”
I was surprised. He was engineer-smart. How could he not see the conspiracy? It’s the size of Texas.
If you rule out intention, you have to argue that our Education Establishment has been clumsy for a century. Nobody is that clumsy. It’s more logical to assume the education elite were making exactly the decisions they thought would lead them to the goal they wanted.
That goal is well known. John Dewey and all of his associates were Progressives (or probably the more accurate term is “Fabian Socialists”). They wanted a socialist America (not that different from what Obama seems to want). John Dewey was the chief strategist for how to accomplish this goal without resort to legislation or elections. He came up with the ingenious tactic of taking over the schools of education, brainwashing the young teachers, and sending them out into the countryside to brainwash American kids. Americans for the most part didn’t want any of Dewey’s kool-aid. So Dewey and his cult had to operate in a furtive manner. But operate they did. And still do.
Here’s the essential detail: every time John Dewey and friends had a conference, exchanged letters, or chatted at lunch, they were typically plotting to take control of the country via the ed schools. That’s been the fundamental reality since about 1910. The conspirators, of course, believed in their own supreme virtue. But so did Lenin and the Bolsheviks. So did Pol Pot. If they had to lie to the public about their real intentions, that was not a problem.
For people not in education, it’s always a shock when they first realize that something very bizarre and counterintuitive is going on. Suppose you’re walking down a street, glance over a fence and see workers building a crooked house. You are sure this house is going to cause a lot of misery. You try to tell the carpenters that their house is crooked. They answer, “We know what we’re doing. Mind your own business.” At this point you become doubly intrigued. You know these people are engaged in some strange crime, or they have escaped from a lunatic asylum.
Almost all the people who write about saving K-12 education come from outside the field. One day, they see that crooked house; their minds are never the same. My favorite example is Albert Lynd, a Harvard-educated businessman with young children in the schools. He ended up joining the school board. Once inside the K-12 beast, he thought: wow, these people are nuts, I have to tell the world. He wrote a wonderful book in 1951 titled “Quackery in the Public Schools.” More than 60 years ago, society was more polite, from what I hear. Imagine the words he was saying in private.
Another great example is a Canadian name Mary Johnson, a housewife in the 1950s and a piano teacher. As it usually happens, there was a tiny incident. A 5th grade student insisted on reading “minuet” for “mimic” and Mary Johnson knew that everything was going to hell. She became a bulldog fighting for real education. All hail Mary Johnson! She wrote a book called “Planned Illiteracy in our Public Schools” in 1970. Note the word “planned.”
Once you see that crooked house, you want to tell people about each flaw. It takes a lot of skill to build a really good crooked house. You have to use gimmicks such as Whole Word reading theory, New Math, Constructivism, Self-esteem, Relevance, Multiculturalism, and literally dozens of flawed theories. The essence of the conspiracy is 1) concoct these cons and 2) force them on students.
Bad education theories function like viruses in a computer: everything slows down. Neither the theories nor the viruses appear by themselves. Somebody has to put them in play. Similarly—and this is the good news—you can take the bad ideas out of the schools just as you can remove viruses from your own computer. That’s what we need to do, clean out the garbage.
What we have in K-12 education is a vast interlocking array of crookedness, both in the sense of a crooked house and crooked people. I think at this point there are few good ideas left in American public schools. Instead there are two dozen viruses, i.e., intellectual sophistries that render progress difficult. Just consider this one example. Self-esteem emphasizes positive reinforcement for all students. Sounds good, right? In practice this turns out to mean that you have to eliminate any material that some students find difficult. There goes your curriculum.
A lot of very smart sensitive people have written books about their own crooked-house experiences. Charlotte Iserbyt has a book on the Internet you can read for free called “The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America.” Note the word “deliberate.” More recently, attorney Robin Eubanks published a book called “Credentialed to Destroy: how education became a weapon.” Eubanks saw the homework that children were bringing home from school and thought: are you kidding? All these books end up making the same point: we’re being attacked by a carefully orchestrated plot to take down our country.
This year, Samuel Blumenfeld, our ranking real educator, published his tenth book, “Crimes of the Educators.” He says that K-12 education is a “criminal enterprise from top to bottom.”
The problem with our Education Establishment is that it is steeped in deviousness. I don’t know how they live with themselves. Each year they come back with their warmed-over sophistries and their cute little propaganda ploys. Really, the only way we’ll have any relief is if the public starts to treat them with the contempt they deserve. These are clowns that pop out of a clown car and throw garbage at us. At some point you have to think: I don’t want clowns throwing garbage at me. That’s reasonable.
I’ve put hundreds of education articles and videos on the Internet; they are all trying to explain various nooks and crannies of the conspiracy to dumb down our public schools. In effect, we’ve got doors that won’t close, floor boards that are warped, pipes that leak, and a fireplace that will always spew smoke into the house. It takes a weird kind of genius to build a fireplace like that. I’ve written 30 articles just on reading. That’s how slippery and twisted each sophistry is. Do you think I exaggerate? Rudolf Flesch wrote two whole books (1955, 1981) explaining Why Johnny Can’t Read but millions of people still didn’t get the message. Canadian and American schools have been in an alternative reality for 75 years. In that reality, sight-words are a great way for children to learn to read. That’s the triumph of sophistry over common sense, because almost no one can learn to read with sight-words.
Five or six years ago a Canadian woman contacted me on the Internet. She was really angry. I would ask a question and she would write back two anguished pages. She had a daughter in the third grade and the school officials had announced: “Your daughter has dyslexia and will never learn to read so we recommend tape recorders and various adaptive technologies.” This woman basically screamed back, “My child is fine. You have messed her up because you won’t teach her to read with phonics.” Only nine, and this kid was already written off. Heartbreaking.
Multiply her story times many millions and you know what the Education Establishment in Canada did to the children there. All of this is contained in the phrase “planned illiteracy.” Keep a child from reading and you create a tragedy that spreads out in all directions. I’m sure the mother’s health was affected. As I say, she was really angry.
This ruthless game is continuing in the United States where Common Core is a repackaging of all the bad ideas from the last 75 years but now locked-in by federal regulation. The whole thing is wonderful if you like totalitarianism. The sales pitch is sophisticated but all the ideas are the same old instructions for building a crooked house.
My hope is that you’ll share this article with friends, discuss the ideas, and then find more information on the Internet. The people in charge of your schools probably do not deserve your support. Quite the opposite. Get informed. Get involved. Knock down the crooked house. Then we’ll start over and build it right.
Bruce Deitrick Price has been writing about education for 25 years. He is the founder of Improve-Education.org. His fifth book is “THE EDUCATION ENIGMA—What Happened To American Education.” More aggressively than most, Price argues that America’s elite educators have deliberately aimed for mediocrity—low standards in public schools prove this.
(For information about his novels, see his literary site Lit4u.com.)
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