Bruce Deitrick Price


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.

Most Recent Articles by Bruce Deitrick Price:

A high-tech way of explaining bad schools

Nov 8, 2018 — Bruce Deitrick Price

A high-tech way of explaining bad schools
A logic bomb is code designed to destroy data in a computer.

Imagine you programmed someone to ask people on the street, “Are you from Jupiter?” If people don’t say, “Yes, of course,” you knock them down. Thus they are bombed one by one, as you work your way across the city, until no one is left standing. All very logical.


French Class As the Perfect Way to Teach Everything

Sep 9, 2018 — Bruce Deitrick Price

French Class As the Perfect Way to Teach Everything
There is one constant throughout the past 100 years. Professors of education came up with ever more exotic schemes and nomenclatures for how education should be organized, even as these schemes confused students and destroyed achievement.

Each scheme had a catchy name (Open Classroom, Life Adjustment, Multiculturalism, Constructivism, Common Core) and a phalanx of resistance-is-futile jargon. Somehow the proposals didn’t translate into gains. One might cynically conclude that the jargon was a goal in itself (to get a grant, to build a career, to impress ordinary citizens). You may even suspect that the larger purpose of all these schemes is to create an illusion of seriousness, and to fool parents into thinking that their kids are being educated when that is not the case. I suspect as much.


K-12: Dear Abby, Here Are The Two Big Reasons Why Kids Lack Motivation

Jul 29, 2018 — Bruce Deitrick Price

Kids Lack Motivation
A mother in Chicago wrote for help: “Dear Abby: All of my grown children are underachievers. When contemporaries talk about their children getting jobs, getting married, having kids, going on vacation, buying a house/car, I have nothing to contribute. My children do not have lives; they work low-paying jobs and scrape by. Worse, they have no ambition to do better.”

Dear Abby responded with little insight: “Your children are adults. If they were motivated, they would be doing more with their lives than scraping by. Be glad they are independent and have good relationships with each other—it’s a plus, and continue living your life.”


Socialism versus Education

Jun 17, 2018 — Bruce Deitrick Price


To understand the failures of public education, we have to understand the dreams of socialism.

It has always had three main targets it hopes to destroy: family, religion, and private property. These three are the very foundation of civilization for thousands of years. How could you possibly destroy them? Through education, of course. Or perhaps “miseducation” is the proper word.


Interview with Siegfried Engelmann: one of America’s great educators

Apr 11, 2018 — Bruce Deitrick Price

Interview with Siegfried Engelmann: one of America's great educators
Siegfried Engelmann is the real thing, an educator who loves to teach children and knows how to do it, both personally and in his books. As far back as the late 1960s, he told the Education Establishment: you’re doing it all wrong.

Engelmann takes a scientific approach. He believes you formulate programs, test them, revise them, and keep doing this until you get solutions that give you the greatest success in the ordinary classroom.


Literacy Experts: Are They Ready To Apologize Yet?

Mar 14, 2018 — Bruce Deitrick Price

Berys Dixon is the Education Establishment's worst nightmare
“There is one question I’d really love to ask (One Heart!):
Is there a place for the hopeless sinner,
Who has hurt all mankind just to save his own beliefs?
—Bob Marley

The people in charge of literacy in most English-speaking countries are literacy’s worst enemies. This counterintuitive turn-about has to be one of the planet’s more bizarre stories.

The official experts praise a method, often called Whole Language, that doesn’t work. They insist that young teachers use this useless method. The teachers in turn force their students to embrace the method, and they make the parents tolerate the method. That’s how you get a never-ending illiteracy crisis.


K-12: Sight-Words vs. Vocabulary Words

Jan 4, 2018 — Bruce Deitrick Price

K-12: Sight-Words vs. Vocabulary Words
Many people use the phrases “sight-word” and “vocabulary word” interchangeably, when they are quite different. This confusion, I believe, serves a sinister purpose for our Education Establishment.

A sight-word is a one-dimensional object. You know it visually, that’s all. When you see the graphic design, you are supposed to respond in an automatic or conditioned way. You say the sound represented by the design. The Education Establishment pretends this is “reading” but it’s not.

On the other hand, a vocabulary word is a multi-dimensional object. Most importantly, you know it phonetically. You say the sounds represented by the letters. This is real reading although the Education Establishment would like to pretend otherwise.


K-12: The Schools You Deserve

Dec 7, 2017 — Bruce Deitrick Price

K-12: The  Schools You Deserve
Thomas Jefferson declared: “The government you elect is the government you deserve.” Wouldn’t the same go for a school system? If you select it, you must deserve it.

Plato said an early version of what would later be attributed to Edmund Burke: “The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.” Albert Einstein put it this way: “The world is in greater peril from those who tolerate or encourage evil than from those who actually commit it.”

In education, we have a startling amount of tolerating and encouraging.


K-12 is Worse Than You Think

Oct 7, 2017 — Bruce Deitrick Price

Problems in K-12, that’s my beat. I write a lot of articles and see a lot of comments. Many are depressing. Last week I saw the saddest yet: “The kids have given up.”

That shocked me. So confident, so sweeping. The speaker doesn’t mean a few kids, but lots of kids, maybe the great majority.


K-12: Sight-Words are Hoax Words

Jul 16, 2017 — Bruce Deitrick Price

Hundreds of websites broadcast the same misguided message: children must memorize Sight-Words.

This message is false. Probably the most aggressive falsehood is that such memorization is easy to do.

One popular site proclaims this malarkey: “Because many Sight-Words are phonetically irregular, tend to be abstract, have limited visual correspondence, or even easily understood definitions, students must memorize them to read quickly and fluently.”


Why is K-12 education reform so hard to achieve?

Nov 5, 2016 — Bruce Deitrick Price

Local newspapers in the US don’t cover education in any depth. Maybe they’ll tell you superficial and trivial stuff (for example, that a superintendent was hired or fired, that there will be a meeting next month of the school board). But you won’t find anything about the nuts and bolts that determine whether you child learns to read, or learns anything at all.

At first glance, this non-coverage can seem to be a mystery.


K-12: Criminal Minds At Work

Oct 20, 2016 — Bruce Deitrick Price

“Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.”

The date is 1900. Professor John Dewey and his cadre of “Progressives” launch an ambitious scheme to transform the country. They want a more collectivist society. For convenience, let’s call their goal European Socialism.

However, the United States is hostile to Socialism and Communism for another hundred years. Beatrice Webb, founder of the Fabian Society in London, decrees that the word Socialism shouldn’t be used in America. The recommended euphemism is “Progressive” and, later on, Liberal.

Socialism, as that term is generally understood, is what Dewey plans for us but he can’t say it. He and his gang must dissemble at every turn. They have to lie and, little by little, work outside the law.


Memo to American teenagers and millennials

Sep 28, 2016 — Bruce Deitrick Price

Reflect for a few minutes on your experience in school, especially if you went to a public school.

Were you taught as much as you could have been taught? Were your schools set up to increase your learning and your mastery of basic skills? When you were in elementary school, did the school teach you to read right away? If a store was selling something for $10 and now there is a 15% discount, do you know what the new price is? If you read in a book that the Civil War occurred in the middle of the 19th century, do you know what years that is, even roughly?

The poi


Why Kids Can’t Read

Sep 3, 2016 — Bruce Deitrick Price

In all reading theories, there is a fundamental concept known as automaticity. This means you know or can do something instantly, automatically. Reading happens fast. If you don’t know something with automaticity, you might as well not know it at all.

So the question quickly becomes: what exactly are children supposed to learn—that is, memorize—with automaticity?  On this question hangs the fate of our school system, and perhaps our civilization.

Traditionally, children memorized 26 English letters. Virtually the entire population can do this in a month or two, even at a young age. At the end of the process, people can look at a large group of letters and instantly identify each one, no matter the size, color, or typeface, no matter whether it’s uppercase or lowercase, no matter whether it’s tilted or slightly defaced, And humans can do this at a quite extraordinary speed (about 2 per second) and with no errors and no guessing. That’s automaticity in action.


Is Close Reading a complete fraud?

Jul 15, 2016 — Bruce Deitrick Price

Perhaps not entirely. Any method, no matter how silly, can be used as a change of pace. Let’s stipulate that variety is often a stimulus.

Here’s the chief, if ironic, benefit of this bad method. Make kids wallow for half-an-hour in something unpleasant (for example, how to prepare taxes) and many will beg for anything half-way interesting. Please, teacher, let us read a novel. Please!

Otherwise, Close Reading is almost a perfect fraud. At least, that’s my conclusion.


Why Socialism Is A Bad Deal

Jun 7, 2016 — Bruce Deitrick Price

Thanks to Bernie and Hillary, Socialism is on everyone’s mind. These politicians, like so many in our media and universities, claim it’s a glorious idea.

Usually thought of as an economic philosophy, Socialism is more sweeping than that. It dictates how all of society must be organized. It claims to be fairer; it claims to deliver happiness. Socialism is a philosophy of life that, I’ll argue, steals the life right out of you.
The central vision, indeed the central requirement, is that everyone be equal and cooperative. Competition is evil. Striving for success is scorned. In order to obtain the promised benefits, you agree to be a cog in the machine.


Educational decline: who is to blame?

Apr 8, 2016 — Bruce Deitrick Price

There is endless chatter in the media about K-12 education: why are the schools so bad and what should we do?


Reading IS phonics

Feb 19, 2016 — Bruce Deitrick Price

The last 80 years have seen one of the weirdest intellectual debates you can imagine. The Education Establishment constantly argues that phonics is wrong or unnecessary, that phonics is something you can throw away and nobody will be hurt.


Steve Jobs vs. the Education Establishment

Jan 15, 2016 — Bruce Deitrick Price

Steve Jobs, founder of Apple Computer, was arguably more intelligent and capable than 99.9% of the population.


Bill Ayers and Social Injustice

Oct 27, 2015 — Bruce Deitrick Price

From John Dewey circa 1915 to Bill Ayers a century later, we hear the same progressive spiel. There must be drastic change, and perhaps much destruction and death, in order to create a more just society. A dubious trade if you stop and think about it. Lenin gave the same deal to the hapless Russians.


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