Is Georgia the dumbest state?

When states are ranked for their intelligence or lack of it, Georgia  usually ends up in the bottom 10.  What is the Peach State doing wrong?  A lot. 

We are confronted here by a confusing swirl of malpractice and scandal, so let's start with a quick summary.  Georgia officials insist on using the worst theories and methods.  Predictably, their schools get bad results.  To cover up the embarrassing results (of course, the officials would not think of adopting better methods), the schools create elaborate cheating mechanisms.  This works until the truth leaks out.  Scandal ensues. 

Cheating scandals occur in many states, but Georgia appears to hold the prize for biggest scandal in the public schools.

The New York Times recently  reported on this pathetic story: "A state investigation in 2011 found that 178 principals and teachers in the [Atlanta] school district were involved in cheating on standardized tests. Dozens of former employees of the school district have either been fired or have resigned, and 21 educators have pleaded guilty to crimes like obstruction and making false statements."  That's a lot of principals without principles.  (Note that throughout this discussion, it's adult bureaucrats who are cheating, not students.)

Why did school officials decide that cheating is necessary?  Were they never taught how to run a school?  Or is the truth even worse than that, and they have embraced all the worst ideas in the hope of getting bad results?  (Progressives tend to think of mediocrity as socialism in action.)

Here is an interesting clue.  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2011 reported that "reading climbs priority ladder."  Savor that empty claim.

A major liberal newspaper breathlessly announces that reading, the single most important skill, has been nothing special in the state of Georgia for many decades.  Even now, after a major push by the new governor,  reading is being promoted only partway to where it belongs.  This is an astonishing admission, and it helps explain why Georgia ranks among the less literate states.

The media usually protect the Education Establishment.  But in this instance, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution ripped away the veil and showed the world that the people in charge don't value reading highly at all.  And as reading goes, so go all the other subjects.  A child who cannot read can't learn history, geography, science, literature, current events, or very much else.

Here is another revealing twist.  The governor wants to explore complex, expensive fixes to reverse the decline that should never have been allowed to happen in the first place.  For example, "a pay differential for topnotch teachers willing to work with some of the state's youngest students."  In other words, nobody's looking for simple answers that actually work.

In general, the article wants to be very clear that reading is oh-so-important in Georgia, and if this governor has his way, reading will move higher on the "priority ladder."

Why doesn't Governor Deal endorse a phonics program and make sure Georgia's kids can read in the first grade?  Then he could bring about the improvement he says he wants without administrative maneuvers or extra expense.  Easy as A-B-C.

Revealingly, the state of Georgia is phonics-phobic.  Almost all school websites in Georgia specifically brag that they teach sight-words, or Dolch words.  These sites talk about Dr. Dolch, a quack from 50 years ago, as if he were a god.

Here is a quote from a typical school website: "Essential Sight Words – Reading skill (fluency, accuracy and understanding) is increased when common or high frequency words used in text becomes automatic in a readers [sic] internal lexicon. ... Edward William Dolch, Ph.D. published a book in 1948 called Problems in Reading which devoted an entire chapter on sight words. Dolch identified a need for a sight word list as opposed to a standard word list[.]"  Note that if sight-words are not quickly mastered, and that is what typically happens, the child is  subjected to Reading Recovery, an expensive and mostly useless intervention.  When that doesn't work, the child is subjected to psychiatric intervention, possibly including Ritalin.

The money's flowing, and the fix is in.  Kids in Georgia don't have a chance.  Inevitably you will have tens of thousands of children performing way below their potential.  Common sense would suggest that Georgia start using the method that works best – i.e., systematic phonics.

Instead, Georgia doubles down on sight-words and Whole Word (same thing), with the result that the kids can't read, and with the further result that they are performing poorly on their many tests.  At that point, you have a public relations disaster.  So school officials in Georgia decided they would have "cheating parties."  The officials would thereby be able to prove to the world that Georgia students are doing just great, thank you very much!

This is like the self-deception of the alcoholic whom George Orwell wrote about.  A man has problems, he drinks to deal with those problems, and the problems get worse because of the drinking.  It's a death spiral, and that's where Georgia is.  Everyone in the Georgia school system knows all about Dr. Dolch, the guy who got reading wrong.  Apparently no one knows who Dr. Flesch is – namely, the guy who sold 8 million  beloved books explaining why Dolch was a scammer.

Instead, children are told to memorize words as graphic designs.  This is a dead end.  You can't expect academic progress or respectable test scores.  What to do?  You need a cover-up.  Inevitably, this response means you will get a lot of lies and corruption, but you won't get what you really need: reform and literacy.

So Georgia is arguably the  dumbest state in America two times over.  First, academic results are mediocre, once you factor out the cheating.  Second, the citizens allow Georgia's top education bureaucrats to keep on pushing ideas that have always failed in the past.

Here is another, very frightening possibility: the country's Education Establishment is using Georgia as a testing lab and dumping ground for all the worst ideas.  Georgians ought to check into that.

Bruce Deitrick Price explains education theories and methods on his site Improve-Education.org.

When states are ranked for their intelligence or lack of it, Georgia  usually ends up in the bottom 10.  What is the Peach State doing wrong?  A lot. 

We are confronted here by a confusing swirl of malpractice and scandal, so let's start with a quick summary.  Georgia officials insist on using the worst theories and methods.  Predictably, their schools get bad results.  To cover up the embarrassing results (of course, the officials would not think of adopting better methods), the schools create elaborate cheating mechanisms.  This works until the truth leaks out.  Scandal ensues. 

Cheating scandals occur in many states, but Georgia appears to hold the prize for biggest scandal in the public schools.

The New York Times recently  reported on this pathetic story: "A state investigation in 2011 found that 178 principals and teachers in the [Atlanta] school district were involved in cheating on standardized tests. Dozens of former employees of the school district have either been fired or have resigned, and 21 educators have pleaded guilty to crimes like obstruction and making false statements."  That's a lot of principals without principles.  (Note that throughout this discussion, it's adult bureaucrats who are cheating, not students.)

Why did school officials decide that cheating is necessary?  Were they never taught how to run a school?  Or is the truth even worse than that, and they have embraced all the worst ideas in the hope of getting bad results?  (Progressives tend to think of mediocrity as socialism in action.)

Here is an interesting clue.  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2011 reported that "reading climbs priority ladder."  Savor that empty claim.

A major liberal newspaper breathlessly announces that reading, the single most important skill, has been nothing special in the state of Georgia for many decades.  Even now, after a major push by the new governor,  reading is being promoted only partway to where it belongs.  This is an astonishing admission, and it helps explain why Georgia ranks among the less literate states.

The media usually protect the Education Establishment.  But in this instance, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution ripped away the veil and showed the world that the people in charge don't value reading highly at all.  And as reading goes, so go all the other subjects.  A child who cannot read can't learn history, geography, science, literature, current events, or very much else.

Here is another revealing twist.  The governor wants to explore complex, expensive fixes to reverse the decline that should never have been allowed to happen in the first place.  For example, "a pay differential for topnotch teachers willing to work with some of the state's youngest students."  In other words, nobody's looking for simple answers that actually work.

In general, the article wants to be very clear that reading is oh-so-important in Georgia, and if this governor has his way, reading will move higher on the "priority ladder."

Why doesn't Governor Deal endorse a phonics program and make sure Georgia's kids can read in the first grade?  Then he could bring about the improvement he says he wants without administrative maneuvers or extra expense.  Easy as A-B-C.

Revealingly, the state of Georgia is phonics-phobic.  Almost all school websites in Georgia specifically brag that they teach sight-words, or Dolch words.  These sites talk about Dr. Dolch, a quack from 50 years ago, as if he were a god.

Here is a quote from a typical school website: "Essential Sight Words – Reading skill (fluency, accuracy and understanding) is increased when common or high frequency words used in text becomes automatic in a readers [sic] internal lexicon. ... Edward William Dolch, Ph.D. published a book in 1948 called Problems in Reading which devoted an entire chapter on sight words. Dolch identified a need for a sight word list as opposed to a standard word list[.]"  Note that if sight-words are not quickly mastered, and that is what typically happens, the child is  subjected to Reading Recovery, an expensive and mostly useless intervention.  When that doesn't work, the child is subjected to psychiatric intervention, possibly including Ritalin.

The money's flowing, and the fix is in.  Kids in Georgia don't have a chance.  Inevitably you will have tens of thousands of children performing way below their potential.  Common sense would suggest that Georgia start using the method that works best – i.e., systematic phonics.

Instead, Georgia doubles down on sight-words and Whole Word (same thing), with the result that the kids can't read, and with the further result that they are performing poorly on their many tests.  At that point, you have a public relations disaster.  So school officials in Georgia decided they would have "cheating parties."  The officials would thereby be able to prove to the world that Georgia students are doing just great, thank you very much!

This is like the self-deception of the alcoholic whom George Orwell wrote about.  A man has problems, he drinks to deal with those problems, and the problems get worse because of the drinking.  It's a death spiral, and that's where Georgia is.  Everyone in the Georgia school system knows all about Dr. Dolch, the guy who got reading wrong.  Apparently no one knows who Dr. Flesch is – namely, the guy who sold 8 million  beloved books explaining why Dolch was a scammer.

Instead, children are told to memorize words as graphic designs.  This is a dead end.  You can't expect academic progress or respectable test scores.  What to do?  You need a cover-up.  Inevitably, this response means you will get a lot of lies and corruption, but you won't get what you really need: reform and literacy.

So Georgia is arguably the  dumbest state in America two times over.  First, academic results are mediocre, once you factor out the cheating.  Second, the citizens allow Georgia's top education bureaucrats to keep on pushing ideas that have always failed in the past.

Here is another, very frightening possibility: the country's Education Establishment is using Georgia as a testing lab and dumping ground for all the worst ideas.  Georgians ought to check into that.

Bruce Deitrick Price explains education theories and methods on his site Improve-Education.org.