So-called progressives have been in charge of our public schools for a hundred years. We have had a perpetual decline in those public schools. What conclusion can you draw?

The Purpose of Public Schools

By —— Bio and Archives--October 14, 2015

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The traditional view is simply stated: the purpose of public education is to take each child as far as each child can be taken. Who can disagree with that?

If a school is aiming for less, that school would seem to me to be guilty of malpractice or false advertising. Doesn’t the word “education” imply a striving for excellence? At the end of each school year, children are presumed to know more than at the start. Isn’t that a reasonable presumption?

Somewhat bizarrely, given what’s going on in our public schools, the Education Establishment might claim they agree. Oh yes, of course, that’s exactly what we want to do.


But that’s not what they have been doing for a long time.

H. L Mencken famously proclaimed: “Th[e] erroneous assumption is to the effect that the aim of public education is to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence, and so make them fit to discharge the duties of citizenship in an enlightened and independent manner. Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality.” And that was in 1924!

Mencken describes what he had concluded is the real “aim of public education.” It’s low and ignoble, which brings us to the eternal question: is all the failure in our schools happening by intent or incompetence?

One has to suspect intent because, starting around 1905, John Dewey and his progressives laid out a blueprint for dumbing down the schools as a way to turn the US into a socialist country.

A recent book called “Credentialed to Destroy” argues that this dumbing down is not just a conspiracy, but a conspiracy organized in much greater detail than most people could imagine. Robin Eubanks, the author and a lawyer, argues that all “reforms” and all agencies have the same goal: creating a passive citizenry.

The basic strategy is to remove facts and knowledge from the classroom, using whatever pretext is handy. The point is to keep the kids engaged in empty discussions, empty projects, empty testing. At the end of each school year, astonishingly enough, many students know hardly more than at the beginning of the school year.

Samuel Blumenfeld, in a book published just before his death earlier this year, concluded: “K-12 education is a criminal enterprise from top to bottom.” (The title of that book is “Crimes of the Educators: How Utopians Are Using Government Schools to Destroy America’s Children.”)

I believe everyone should be fighting back. How?

First, teach a lot more facts. Start in K and teach the things that all citizens need to know. Surely every child can learn one new fact each day. But if schools are at all serious, they can easily teach a new fact each hour. Then we would have a reformation.

Second, understand how our phony educators accomplish so little. Here is a quick explanation of the top 10 worst ideas in the schools. When you understand the gimmicks, you can fight the gimmicks.

My impression is that there are three groups of victims in our public schools: children, parents, and teachers. To help one group of victims, you have to help all three.

As long as the children are taught with silly methods, the parents will be frustrated because they cannot help. Children will be frustrated because they are not learning and they know that. Meanwhile, teachers have to sense that much more could be accomplished if only they were allowed to use the optimal methods.

QED: don’t give the Education Establishment any more money or power. Roll back Common Core. Reclaim the educational high ground that has been given up to make room for a galaxy of gimmicks.

The correct formula is used in every serious school. First, you teach the basics, that is, reading, writing, and arithmetic. Then you teach as much factual information as children can reasonably absorb about geography, history, science,  the arts, etc. Then you teach children to think shrewdly about this information. That’s real critical thinking, when you can compare and contrast one fact against another.

Here are two facts to compare and contrast. So-called progressives have been in charge of our public schools for a hundred years. We have had a perpetual decline in those public schools. What conclusion can you draw?


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Bruce Deitrick Price -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Bruce Deitrick Price has been writing about education for 30 years. He is the founder of Improve-Education.org. His eighth book is “Saving K-12—What happened to our public schools? How do we fix them?” More aggressively than most, Price argues that America’s elite educators have deliberately aimed for mediocrity—low standards in public schools prove this. Support this writer on Patreon.

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