Bruce Deitrick Price
Education reform isn't a pipe dream
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By Bruce Deitrick Price
March 9, 2016

Not long ago Forbes Magazine ran a column titled "Is education reform a pipe dream?"

Long story short, the columnist steered the discussion into financial waters, said there's not enough money, and that's that. Thinking otherwise is a pipe dream. Fuhgeddaboudit!

He set up a tug-of-war between "education reformers who overpromise and underestimate challenges, and education reform critics who defend the status quo and cling desperately to the impossibility of improvement." Well, the discussion is already hard to follow. Who is who on this fight card?

Without being entirely wrong at any point, this column is still unhelpful and irrelevant. It perpetuates the myth that money is the root of all educational evils. It does not even mention in passing the essential things that need doing, and that can be done cheaply or at a saving.

We can have more clarity if we look at Education from a different perspective. First of all, spending more money has rarely improved educational outcomes. Our Education Establishment can go through a trillion as easily as through a billion. What comes after a trillion? They can go right through that without improving anything except their own financial picture.

Strip away a hundred minor points, here is the one that matters. Our Education Establishment is fixated on social engineering. When average citizens say "education," they mean reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, history, science, arts, and literature. Same as it ever was. When our Education Establishment pontificates about "education," they mean something completely different. They mean creating a new kind of child and a new kind of society. They mean socialist manipulations.

In practice, these faux-experts don't believe in excellence, the acquisition of knowledge, or intellectual matters in general. They consider academic achievement to be elitist and divisive; it creates barriers in the Brave New World they want to build. Education as normally understood is not important to them, that's why they are lousy at it.

Our Education Establishment, since the time of John Dewey, has developed a wide range of clever sophistries which sabotage their avowed mission. Reading, for example, is neutralized by Whole Word (or sight-word instruction. Arithmetic is sabotaged by New Math, Reform Math, and Common Core Math Knowledge across the board is sabotaged by Constructivism which prevents teachers from teaching. See how it works? Public schools cannot achieve their official mission, no more than a man in shackles can run a four-minute mile.

Our Education Establishment are Fabian termites eating their way through the foundations of every organization nominally devoted to education. For them, educational excellence is a threat to the ideological goals they much prefer. As for reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, history, science, arts, and literature, these are secondary considerations if that.

The Education Establishment will say that everything is changed and that children need to focus on "new literacies" and "new competencies." Warning: this jargon is code for "kids will know less and less."

You want to improve education? It's easy. You have to get a new set of people at the top; or you have to require new attitudes from the current bureaucrats. (If they see the winds changing, they will change.)

Here is the Sparknotes on education reform. Make sure every child learns to read by the second grade. This will save many billions of dollars. Secondly, teach arithmetic in the old-fashioned way: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, etc. And teach facts one by one by one by one, to each child's limit.

Eliminate all the bogus theories and dysfunctional methods. Instead, simply do what all good private schools, Montessori schools, and classical academies do every day.

As I like to say, it ain't rocket science. Our K-12 system is best thought of as a rattling old clunker that gets 5 miles to the gallon, leaks toxic fluids, and stinks up the neighborhood with noxious exhaust fumes. Junk this thing or fix it.

It would be a big help if the movers and shakers, the ruling class, the powers that be in American society, support more genuine reform in our schools. What is "genuine," you ask. Children know a lot more about reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, history, science, arts, and literature than they do now. Forbes should jump on this bandwagon.

© Bruce Deitrick Price

 

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Bruce Deitrick Price

Bruce Deitrick Price is the author of six books, an artist, a poet, and an education reformer. He was born in Norfolk, Virginia, earned Honors in English Literature from Princeton, served two years in the Army, and then lived many years in Manhattan.

Price explains educational theories and methods on his ed site Improve-Education.org (founded in 2005). He has 400 education articles and videos on the Internet. More forcefully than most, Price argues that the public schools are mediocre because our Education Establishment wants them that way.

Price's literary site is Lit4u.com .

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