Bruce Deitrick Price
The ugly truth about K-12
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By Bruce Deitrick Price
November 23, 2021

Study our public schools for any amount of time and you will probably agree they are handicapped by a variety of counterproductive theories and methods.

Then you have to ask yourself the big question. Could all this dysfunction be accidental? Or do you have to consider the unpleasant thought that the numerous bad theories and methods have been inserted into our schools deliberately?

This reflection is utterly necessary for improving our schools. Everyone has to face up to what may actually have happened in education over the last century.

One exact analogy is that you have illness and death at the local hospital. You naturally want to assume it's accidental. But then somebody speculates there may be a sociopath doctor or nurse at the hospital. For whatever hellish reasons, this person is poisoning the food.

Unpleasant to consider, right? But necessary.

I had studied education more than a dozen years before any of these possibilities went through my head. I was talking to a fairly famous person who shocked me by saying, "Bruce, I agree with everything you say except the conspiracy parts."

I hadn’t mentioned the word but we had discussed what were the real goals of our educators? What were their intentions? That turns out to be the key question. What did these very aggressive social engineers hope to achieve? Nothing good, that's my conclusion. So I suppose that takes us into the realm of conspiracy.

Let's look at the ultimate paradigm of our Education Establishment at work. In 1931 they staged what is in effect a coup, by ordering the elimination of phonics from all public schools and the adoption of an inferior method called Whole Word, also known as sight-words.

Let's freeze the frame. What did our education professors want to accomplish? Higher literacy? Don't be absurd. Literacy started to drop almost immediately. There has been a long slide for 90 years. The Education Establishment has never apologized for this sabotage.

Here's the sick part. They were doing a lot of research in the background, so they already knew their ideas were fallacious. They wanted diminished literacy. They figured out how to get it. And they got it. So now we have 50 million functional illiterates, thanks to the tireless fanaticism of a few thousand professors of education. So I suppose that could be called a conspiracy. But let’s not get bogged down in nomenclature. We have to focus on what these people actually did.

Whole Word had many names; there was a lot of regrouping and rebranding; teachers and students both were kept in constant confusion by the weird sophistries created by the geniuses named Ken Goodman and Frank Smith. But the overall patterns of decline and subversion are always there.

Now imagine this same sort of shenanigan was happening in every part of the school, in every subject, from K to 12. Finally, as I belatedly realized, there are almost no good ideas left in our school system. Everyone has been systematically discredited and eliminated, just like they did to phonics. That's why our schools have declined and nobody seems able to reverse that decline.

Now, for me to write a lot of articles and for you to read them, could be tedious and difficult. But it's quite easy for everyone to reflect on the main pattern: they find something that works and obliterate it.

And every time you are confronted by the fundamental fork in the road. Do you think all this nonsense and failure could happen accidentally? Or might you concede that some very clever people concocted our problems intentionally?

Personally, I decided I could not see how you get to any of these bad results accidentally. If it had happened accidentally, there would be a reaction and an urgency about fixing the situation. That's what we don't have now, a sense of urgency about fixing the schools.

Sherlock Holmes wrote a story about the dog which didn't bark. That would be the media and cultural leaders who didn't bark. They didn't say a word. They hoped the community will not notice their treachery.

Literacy is the fundamental skill. Our far left got that part right. If kids don't learn to read in the first few grades, their education thereafter will be half what it should be.

Do you realize that in all those lists of sight words, there are no proper names, no place names? So there goes all that education that children normally got about George Washington crossing the Delaware, the pilgrims settling Massachusetts, and Thanksgiving. Forget about learning to read all that as sight-words.

No, the kids learn only short words for a long tme: a, and, away, big, blue, can, come, down, find, for, funny, go, help, here, I, in, is, it, jump, little, look, make, me, my, not, one, play, red, run, said, see, the, three, to, two, up, we, where, yellow, you.

As I said, reading is the paradigm. Everything stupid and vicious is right there for you to reflect upon. I also argue that all the other nonsense is the same, gimmicks such as Constructivism New Math, Common Core, and many smaller one, Cooperative Learning, Learning Styles,. Each of these is a vicious attack upon something that works, even as we soon find out that the brilliant new replacement does not work.

So now K-12 is the land of illiteracy and ignorance. I hope I can persuade people to reflect upon how we got there and they realize that big transformations like this do not just turn up one day.

The dirty secret, of course, is there was never anything accidental in our public schools. The professors of education always knew exactly where they wanted to take us. The only variable was how much they could get away with.

(PS: I would like to mention that Saving K-12, my book, is an excellent gift for smart people.)

© 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; now being rebuilt). 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. His relevant book is Saving K-12

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