Bruce Deitrick Price
K 12: Whom can you trust?
Can we trust the education establishment? No.
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By Bruce Deitrick Price
December 7, 2017

Memo to parents, teachers, and community leaders. In matters educational, don't be so darn trusting. Don't be so gullible. Don't be such an easy mark for the con artists lurking in the dark.

Is American K-12 doing so wonderfully that you want to give the commissars in charge a 10-year extension on their contract? Or carte blanche for more of the same dysfunction and failure? No, you definitely do not want to do this. The whole Education Establishment should be wearing an ankle bracelet while on probation. They have done little in 85 years to inspire love and confidence.

Here are some questions to put this discussion in perspective. Do you trust everything the Pentagon says? How about Big Pharma, do you trust them? What about the major political parties? Seriously, do you believe a word they say? How about the media, places like CNN and the Washington Post? How about religious leaders? Wall Street tycoons? How about Hollywood? Even scientists with three degrees, do you think they have all the answers? No, probably you don't.

Most Americans have gotten savvy for good reason. The credibility of our would-be experts and opinion-leaders is often minimal.

So here's the big question frankly stated. You have an appropriate suspicion of many of the important forces in our society, from used-car salesmen to presidential contenders. But let the subject turn to education and too often you are soft and forgiving. You murmur, do what you want, I like being overcharged and lied to. I see my children can't read, can't do arithmetic, don't know anything, and I feel grateful!

What is wrong with this picture?

Our Education Establishment is no more trustworthy and reliable than those other unscrupulous characters, Big Pharma, CNN, Wall Street, and so on. Big Ed shouldn't get a pass.

Americans are in danger of being some of history's great patsies. Whatever counterproductive ideas our Education Establishment comes up with, millions of Americans say, oh, what the heck, give them a chance. So what we get less-than-perfect results?

I suspect one explanation for all-of-the-above is that our Education Establishment has mastered the art of the low profile. Before 1950 there were famous names, in the tradition of John Dewey. Now there are only nameless shadows. So if you're angry, where do you direct that anger? The public may have heard of Diane Ravitch, Salman Khan, and a few others. But these are not the powers-that-be at Harvard's Graduate School of Education and Columbia's Teachers College. These familiar names do not create the ruinous theories and methods used at your local school. If you want to know who's responsible for some really dumb idea, you probably won't be able to find a name. I suspect all the worst decisions are made by faceless, nameless committees.

I think another part of the explanation is that these people will say anything and use any excuse. If the public doesn't like something, the professors say they're fixing it. If there is a problem, the professors say, not at all, the latest research shows everything will get better. They can extemporize from problem to problem like Fred Astaire gliding across a ballroom floor. But this is only possible because nobody pins them down and nobody knows enough to ask tough questions.

These people have been refining the Art of the Steal for almost a century. When they want to get rid of a good idea, they announce the unveiling of something supposedly new and wonderful, such as New Math, Constructivism, or Common Core. Everything they say comes down to this claim: the check is in the mail. Months later, when you realize there is no check in the mail, no check anywhere, they move on to the next charade.

In the presence of widespread educational decline and a weird silence about who's responsible, your only sensible solution is to withhold your support. Everyone should move to Missouri, the "Show-Me State." Demand precise promises, clearly worded claims, and documented proof that any good deed has actually been performed.

The country has 50 million functional illiterates. Our experts surely know how to teach reading in the first grade but they refuse to do so On international testing in every category, we always seem to rank at some pathetic position such as 20th or 30th. Seriously, that's all you need to know to be sure you can't trust the people presiding over this failure. So please don't do it anymore.

Let the Education Establishment feel your disapproval. Maybe if they run face-first into your hostility now and then, they'll get their act together.

The more that Americans understand what's going on in their schools, the more control they will have.



Bruce Deitrick Price's new book is "Saving K-12 – What happened to our public schools? How do we fix them?"

© 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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