K-12: Central Planning and Participation Trophies

Obama said the goal of public schools is to make everyone "college- and career-ready."  Sadly, many of the people graduating from high school are not even high school-ready.

We know this bad news from remediation rates during freshman year.  Millions of so-called college students complete their high school studies on a college campus, a wildly expensive way to do things.  Here's an idea: what if students were taught properly throughout K-12?

That is not happening now.  We know from videos (by such reporters as Mark Dice and Jesse Watters) that Americans typically learn little during all their school time from K to 12.

No matter how little a student learns, the school will try to award a diploma.  That piece of paper is almost guaranteed.  But too often, it's not  proof of any scholastic achievement.  It's merely a participation trophy.  Worse still, if all the students are said to graduate, there's no pressure to improve K-12 education.

It's time to ask: what's the point of having a dumbed down school system?  Is there some bright national future in dumb?  We seem to be creating an incompetent workforce, citizens without skills, people without depth or technology.  Worse, many lack confidence and resilience and have been deemed "snowflakes."  But it's okay because they all have diplomas.

How did it happen that our schools became wed to mediocrity?  Who chose this plan for us?

Communists have always doted on approaches typically called central planning, command-and-control, industrial policy, and such.  Government experts decide which factories will make which products, where you will work, and what you will be able to buy.  Government experts think they know all the answers.

This alien, undemocratic way of doing things exists in place like Stalinist Russia, right?  It couldn't possibly exist in the United States.  Right? 

Wrong.  It seems to exist spectacularly in K-12. 

The Education Establishment has created an education role not mentioned in the Constitution and then exceeded all reasonable limits for that role.  Ed school professors have imposed their variety of central planning on the country.  Put in Communist lingo, they have expropriated our schools, but not on behalf of higher standards.  Quite the contrary.  They have pursued John Dewey's social engineering schemes down a mean street called Dumb by Design.  These professors have seized control of our national destiny and used that control, I believe, to make the country weaker and less resourceful.

These central planning professors have commandeered much of the country's educational infrastructure and vast annual budgets close to 700 billion and used that power and that money to make the country less likely to succeed.  (If they cared about popular education in the traditional sense, we could probably have the best educated citizenry in the world.)

As it is, we have 50 million functional illiterates; we have millions of people who don't know the simplest things.  Our Education Establishment has imposed a largely unseen command-and-control industrial policy.  That's bad enough.  Here is worse news: these professors seem to be in love with ignorance and illiteracy.  How else can we explain having so much of both outcomes?

Is it too late to make the schools honest?  What would that entail?  Schools would teach much more.  Grades would give an honest indication of how much our students learn.  That used to be the norm.

For starters, everyone should argue for the intrinsic value of education and knowledge.  When we learn something new, we feel a little jolt of pleasure, which tells us we are wired to learn.  You don't have to be a scholar to enjoy acquiring new knowledge.  People are clearly in love with quiz shows.  We are endlessly fascinated by somebody knowing interesting facts.  Arguably, all humans like having their minds stretched and filled with interesting info.  If only our public schools would cater to this part of our nature.

Instead, we have ideologues who have gone all in on ignorance and emptiness.  Scientists say nature hates a vacuum.  Our Education Establishment does not feel the same way.  Its organizers seem to prefer citizens with empty heads.

Now they have, after decades of steadily expanding their illegitimate power, developed a built-in default setting that aims low, even as they decorate themselves with the latest slogans and jargon and constantly festoon the students with blue ribbons.

The bottom line here is that our progressives are nervous around knowledge.  That's an odd and dangerous phenomenon.  Once you start down that road, you naturally want to reduce the intellectual activity at any given school.  Pretty soon, you are left with a Tic-Tac-Toe curriculum.  Nothing a nine-year-old can't handle.  But give everyone a diploma, and that makes it acceptable.

Surely, it's not the job of so-called educators to guarantee that education doesn't happen.  (On the contrary, wouldn't that be malfeasance?)  But now, with their growing control over our society, these elite educators can indulge their prejudices concerning what they no doubt privately consider the problem of too much knowledge.

Liberals used to say "fight the system, fight the power."  Today they would be talking about fighting the Education Establishment.  Liberal used to mean concerned with freedom.  That's the meaning we need to recover.

What we especially need in the U.S. is a revulsion against so-called educators who dare to promote ignorance. 

Just because school officials brag about graduation rates doesn't mean there is anything to brag about.  Those graduation rates are better understood as participation rates.  And everybody gets a prize for participating.  That's the plan.

Bruce Deitrick Price explains theories and methods on Improve-Education.org.  His new book is Saving K-12 – What happened to our public schools? How do we fix them?

Obama said the goal of public schools is to make everyone "college- and career-ready."  Sadly, many of the people graduating from high school are not even high school-ready.

We know this bad news from remediation rates during freshman year.  Millions of so-called college students complete their high school studies on a college campus, a wildly expensive way to do things.  Here's an idea: what if students were taught properly throughout K-12?

That is not happening now.  We know from videos (by such reporters as Mark Dice and Jesse Watters) that Americans typically learn little during all their school time from K to 12.

No matter how little a student learns, the school will try to award a diploma.  That piece of paper is almost guaranteed.  But too often, it's not  proof of any scholastic achievement.  It's merely a participation trophy.  Worse still, if all the students are said to graduate, there's no pressure to improve K-12 education.

It's time to ask: what's the point of having a dumbed down school system?  Is there some bright national future in dumb?  We seem to be creating an incompetent workforce, citizens without skills, people without depth or technology.  Worse, many lack confidence and resilience and have been deemed "snowflakes."  But it's okay because they all have diplomas.

How did it happen that our schools became wed to mediocrity?  Who chose this plan for us?

Communists have always doted on approaches typically called central planning, command-and-control, industrial policy, and such.  Government experts decide which factories will make which products, where you will work, and what you will be able to buy.  Government experts think they know all the answers.

This alien, undemocratic way of doing things exists in place like Stalinist Russia, right?  It couldn't possibly exist in the United States.  Right? 

Wrong.  It seems to exist spectacularly in K-12. 

The Education Establishment has created an education role not mentioned in the Constitution and then exceeded all reasonable limits for that role.  Ed school professors have imposed their variety of central planning on the country.  Put in Communist lingo, they have expropriated our schools, but not on behalf of higher standards.  Quite the contrary.  They have pursued John Dewey's social engineering schemes down a mean street called Dumb by Design.  These professors have seized control of our national destiny and used that control, I believe, to make the country weaker and less resourceful.

These central planning professors have commandeered much of the country's educational infrastructure and vast annual budgets close to 700 billion and used that power and that money to make the country less likely to succeed.  (If they cared about popular education in the traditional sense, we could probably have the best educated citizenry in the world.)

As it is, we have 50 million functional illiterates; we have millions of people who don't know the simplest things.  Our Education Establishment has imposed a largely unseen command-and-control industrial policy.  That's bad enough.  Here is worse news: these professors seem to be in love with ignorance and illiteracy.  How else can we explain having so much of both outcomes?

Is it too late to make the schools honest?  What would that entail?  Schools would teach much more.  Grades would give an honest indication of how much our students learn.  That used to be the norm.

For starters, everyone should argue for the intrinsic value of education and knowledge.  When we learn something new, we feel a little jolt of pleasure, which tells us we are wired to learn.  You don't have to be a scholar to enjoy acquiring new knowledge.  People are clearly in love with quiz shows.  We are endlessly fascinated by somebody knowing interesting facts.  Arguably, all humans like having their minds stretched and filled with interesting info.  If only our public schools would cater to this part of our nature.

Instead, we have ideologues who have gone all in on ignorance and emptiness.  Scientists say nature hates a vacuum.  Our Education Establishment does not feel the same way.  Its organizers seem to prefer citizens with empty heads.

Now they have, after decades of steadily expanding their illegitimate power, developed a built-in default setting that aims low, even as they decorate themselves with the latest slogans and jargon and constantly festoon the students with blue ribbons.

The bottom line here is that our progressives are nervous around knowledge.  That's an odd and dangerous phenomenon.  Once you start down that road, you naturally want to reduce the intellectual activity at any given school.  Pretty soon, you are left with a Tic-Tac-Toe curriculum.  Nothing a nine-year-old can't handle.  But give everyone a diploma, and that makes it acceptable.

Surely, it's not the job of so-called educators to guarantee that education doesn't happen.  (On the contrary, wouldn't that be malfeasance?)  But now, with their growing control over our society, these elite educators can indulge their prejudices concerning what they no doubt privately consider the problem of too much knowledge.

Liberals used to say "fight the system, fight the power."  Today they would be talking about fighting the Education Establishment.  Liberal used to mean concerned with freedom.  That's the meaning we need to recover.

What we especially need in the U.S. is a revulsion against so-called educators who dare to promote ignorance. 

Just because school officials brag about graduation rates doesn't mean there is anything to brag about.  Those graduation rates are better understood as participation rates.  And everybody gets a prize for participating.  That's the plan.

Bruce Deitrick Price explains theories and methods on Improve-Education.org.  His new book is Saving K-12 – What happened to our public schools? How do we fix them?

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