Kids Are Being Ruined by Coercive Schooling

Everyone, especially parents, should read this article by Carol Black called On the Wilderness of Children. In it she most eloquently lays out several ideas that I have been, perhaps less articulately, trying to point out. We are ruining children by forcing them through public education, we are ruining ourselves with a coercive society, and we are perpetuating this destruction every generation.

She’s not glorifying tribalism, and she’s not pretending there is a simple equation that will make kids perfect angels; Carol is pointing out how many social problems are created by treating children like caged zoo animals. In fact, when public education was created, the authorities were very upfront about removing children from their natural habitat, and raising them in a way to get them used to working in industrial factories.

And we never left that model behind. Practically everything sick about our society can be traced back to the systematized abuse children suffer that many consider integral to raising children. I recently summarized a different article with the same general theme, that our society is sick with coercion, and it is literally driving us crazy!


And Carol points out that this coercion is normalized in a public school environment, so that a master/ slave paradigm seems like the only way to solve problems.

But as Odawa elder and educator Wilfred Peltier tells us, learning -– like all human relationships –– must be based in the ethical principal of non-interference, in the right of all human beings to make their own choices, as long as they’re not interfering with anybody else.  As Nishnaabeg scholar and author Leanne Betasamosake Simpson tells us, learning –– like all human relationships ––  must be based in the ethical principal of consent, in the right of all human beings to be free of violence and the use of force.  Simpson explains:

If children learn to normalize dominance and non-consent within the context of education, then non-consent becomes a normalized part of the ‘tool kit’ of those who have and wield power… This is unthinkable within Nishnaabeg intelligence.

Interestingly, the most brilliant artists and scientists in Euro-western societies tell us exactly the same thing: that it is precisely this state of open attention, curiosity, freedom, collaboration, consent, that is necessary for all true learning, discovery, creation.

Once you think about the causes of social problems, it all becomes so clear! Why do we think there are huge drug problems–both prescription and illicit–in our society? People do drugs for much the same reason that they starve themselves, behave violently, become depressed, or “act out”: they can’t stand the environment they are in and have no idea how to remedy what has been done to them.

For decades our model of drug addiction has been based on research done on laboratory rats provided with a lever they could press to deliver water laced with heroin or cocaine.  Researchers found the rats would press the lever and consume the drug until it killed them, and they concluded that the drug itself was the cause of the addictive behavior.  But then a psychologist named Bruce Alexander noticed something.  The rats who killed themselves in this way were isolated in an unnatural environment, a barren Skinner box where there was nothing rewarding to do but self-stimulate with drugs.  When they were placed in a more varied, more natural setting, able to interact freely with the environment and with other rats, their drug use was reduced by more than three quarters.  In other words, if you gave them a life they wanted to live, and a world they wanted to live in, they did not destroy themselves.   Or, as author Johann Hari has put it:

“It’s not you. It’s your cage.”

And as a byproduct of our cages, most people end up being terrified by the prospect of free humans. Many people do not understand the world outside the cage, and simply assume it would be chaos. Maybe the cage is a bleak, depressing, violent place to live, but its all I know! The outside must be worse. 

But by studying un-caged societies, and the progress being made on un-schooling the “civilized” humans, it is a pretty safe bet that free animals are happy, productive, well adjusted animals.

Political theorist Toby Rollo has pointed out how the forcible subjugation of children by adults forms the psychological underpinning of every other model of political and economic subjugation.  This is not a metaphor; it’s a structuring principle of political reality.  During the days of overt empire and colonialism –– the same days in which our modern school system was created –– Indigenous people, people of color, women of all colors, and lower-class whites were all viewed as childlike, in need of fatherly tutelage and discipline.  And because it was understood that children often required violent “chastisement” –– for their own good! –– it was natural that childlike adults would require the same.

Those who realize how harmful “traditional” education is to children have the opportunity to create a better society in one generation. We can break the cycle, we can cure the human race, and we can set in motion a cycle of freedom, love, and happiness, instead of a cycle of oppression.


Public Schools: Incarcerate and Indoctrinate

Public schools are really good at preparing students for three things: 1) a job in a factory or cubicle, 2) a job in the government, 3) prison.

Remembering back, talking to teachers, talking to students, and substitute teaching (in one of the relatively good public schools) has convinced me that there is one reason kids are sent to public school, and it isn’t to educate them.

Obey. Public schools take the natural state of things, and flip it upside down. If you have a natural urge such as hunger of having to use the bathroom, you must ask permission. Permission, from the teacher (and by extension government) must be acquired before emptying your bladder or receiving sustinence—two of the most basic natural human occurrences. Lesson: authority trumps nature.

Hierarchy: Obey Your Masters

There is not much controversy over the fact that public schools were set up to prepare children for a life in the factory. But as factory jobs became less prevalent, the same techniques of schooling were used. It is possible that the cubicle set up for private companies arose to accommodate a workforce that had been trained for one thing: working in factories. And it is easier to adjust to fit the government’s plan than to try to change the system of “educating” millions of potential employees.

If you observe many similarities in private industry and public schools, you are observing the effect of government force on private industry. The plethora of employment options and styles in a free market would amaze anyone from such a brutally structured society as ours. But what does industry have to work with? A relatively low skilled, but obedient mass of robots, with a built in system of trying to outcompete their co-workers. Why bother trying (and paying) to change the work force? Just adjust the business model.

The corporate ladder was programmed in high school, and it rigidly defines where and when the competition should take place, overseen by the company leaders of course. Competition on your own however is considered anti-social. If you don’t want to work with a team, you are weird. And when you’re on a team, if you don’t try to claw your way to the top of the ranks, you are also weird.

One teacher is in charge of many students, and the students must direct all uncertainties at the teacher for answers and orders. But the teacher is likewise constrained by a hierarchy. He or she cannot simply do whatever they want, they must report to the principal, who likewise reports to the superintendent. The superintendent is constrained by the school board, elected by the people, giving the impression that the people control the board, who controls the superintendent, who controls the principal, who controls the teachers, who control the students.

But really elections only give the impression of control over our government. We are voting for a school board to have power in our place, and power over us. The parents aren’t who decides what is best for their kid, it is the school board.

Four year olds through 18 year olds are expected to sit still for 6 hours a day (not including homework), 180 days per year, for 12 years. Nothing could be more opposite the natural state of things. These are the most energetic years humans have, yet we are being taught that it is not appropriate to run, dance, skip, laugh, climb or even move without permission—except for maybe 15 minutes at recess.

Government Can Magically Turn Something Bad into Something Good

If your kid cannot handle sitting still, it is not because they are a normal kid. It is because they are deranged and unfit for our wonderful society. They have ADD or ADHD or are bipolar or have anger issues. Pump them full of drugs!

These same drugs are illegal when not packaged in a nice pill form, but this is another government lesson. The government has the power to take two seemingly identical things, and say one is okay, and one is not. Theft is wrong, except when the government takes your money by force and calls it taxes. Murder is wrong, except when government executes criminals, bombs enemies, or kills innocent civilians while “trying to accomplish a greater good”. Kidnapping is wrong, unless the government does it. And drugs are bad, unless the company that makes them pays the FDA millions of dollars to say they are safe fore the market.

So kids get legal cocaine to focus (Ritalin, Concerta, Adderall), and legalized heroin to relax (oxycontin, oxycodone, Vicodin, Zoloft). But if you smoke weed, you will be thrown in jail, and have future opportunities ripped away from you. Can’t you see that drugs will ruin your life? Just look at how we ruined your life when we caught you with “drugs”. Can’t you just stick to pills like most well adjusted American breeds?

Sports: Nationalism, Patriotism, and Destruction of Enemies

Then there are the sports teams. Bring glory to your town by defeating the enemy—another town. If you are not one of the warriors, support them ferociously, insulting others you have never met from rival towns. Fights will at some point break out in the stands, giving even the spectators an opportunity to join in, and show the rival denizens whose government controlled land mass is subjectively better.

Perhaps it is natural for teams to want to compete against eachother. But the teams would not necessarily be organized under various governments (towns). Most likely friends would come together, or those with similar interests, or someone capable of organizing talent would bring a team together. Then the teams are not competing “town versus town”—a predecessor to country vs. country. The teams would be made up of those who share mutual interests in one way or another, and have chosen to associate with each other.

Geographic proximity with borders defined by government is the current method of deciding who will fight who at the high school level. Someday it will be USA vs. Iraq, or USA vs. Russia, or USA vs. China, etcetera. But early on it is ingrained that you fight ferociously and without question for the hometown. Not because your hometown has any special qualities, just because you live there.

Institutionalized: You Scare Society, We Will Confine You

Prisons benefit the political class as well (redistributing stolen tax dollars), and it should be obvious that schools prepare certain students for a life behind bars. The reason you scare society is because they are afraid you might hurt them: they are afraid you as an individual might do what the government does everyday, and initiate force. But not wanting to wait for that aggression to rear its head, the government outlaws any number of things which do not have a victim.

You don’t have to shoot anyone to go to jail, you just have to carry a gun without seeking permission from the government first. You don’t have to kill anyone driving irresponsibly to be punished, you just have to imbibe more than two drinks which could lead to hurting someone. You don’t have to murder someone while high on any number of illicit drugs, you just have to be in possession of the drug, which could lead to aggressive behavior when taken. You don’t have to build an unsafe house to be punished, you just have to violate a code which theoretically could keep people safer. And you don’t have to rape anyone to be a sex offender, you just have to pee in public, because in America, we equate nudity with sex.

Some kids do actually misbehave. But if they misbehave in a public school, they were forced to be there. The system wouldn’t have to deal with many of these kids if they just let them be. In fact many would find meaningful employment in trades without being forced to waste 12 years in public schools. So instead of learning to hate authority, they would be working on an engine. Instead of being bored to tears until they lash out, they might be doing something worth while. But they would at least be doing something they want to do. Stop forcing certain people to associate with each other.

And other kids are not actually misbehaviors, they are just labelled as such because they have a lot of energy. These kids are the worst off in public schools, because it wastes their time, and sets up a self fulfilling prophecy. “If you can’t make it in public schools,” they say, “you won’t make it in real life”. That is a lie though. You don’t need public schools to become an expert on building houses, plumbing, electricity—in fact I never learned any of those things in public school. Yet they are all important and lucrative ventures.

But an employer doesn’t like a criminal record. So when kids are prosecuted for smoking weed, it is not the weed ruining their lives, it is the government. When kids are sent to the principal’s office for goofing off, it is not the goofing off that is the problem. It is the institution they were forced into at the point of a gun.

Public School Success Stories

Kids that emerge from public schools educated, with their future in tact do so for one of two reasons.

1) They have parents who did most of the educating around the dinner table, and throughout life, which is really how most learning takes place anyway. These parents, if not already paying for public school, would likely structure a program at home to school their kids, or send them to a private school for their education. There are so many options these days: home school co-ops have sprung up, where parents decide to group their kids together, and each teach a different course or grade level.

2) The second type of student who emerges from public education with their future in tact is the one who took the government lessons to heart. These students have learned that they must obey authority, and are best suited for a job in government, generally in the bureaucracy, but possibly other places depending on their skill set.

The ones who learned the most from high school sports might join the military, or become police. The ones who excelled in the soft sciences will do great scattered throughout departments of the federal government. The ones who learned public school history might go on to learn intelligentsia history, and with their vastly warped worldview could become professors, political staff, or activists. There might even be a few math and science whizzes who also learned to bow down to authority. Great fit for the IRS, or NASA.

But something they all have in common is that they accept the authority over them, and believe it is just. They have been brainwashed into thinking that the natural state of things is to submit to arbitrary authority. And worse, an authority who is allowed to do all the things that you are not allowed to do like steal, attack, and murder.

And that is the final and scariest group to emerge from public schools. The ones that understand the political system will benefit a sociopath the best. They are the ones who get it: that authority is not really an authority except for their guns pointed at us. But instead of fighting that unjust system, they decide to join it. They do this out of fear, but more often because they want the power for themselves. They rise to the highest ranks of government, and perpetuate the system, starting with public education, using force for their own interests.

The Difference: When Things Are Naturally Organized Without Force

The very word organized has the root of organic right in there. An organism is a living thing, not planned, not a robot, naturally occurring. So why on earth would people think we need the government to “organize” society? Organic means it grows naturally without tweaking or adding. Our lives, our economy, our “organization” of life would be a hell of a lot more organized if left to the natural development. No force, just mutually beneficial transactions.

You see, in nature, it is not that you can’t have your rights violated, it is that they are naturally recognized. If a wolf goes into the territory already marked by another wolf, he cannot expect to emerge from that alive and unscathed. It is understood that the property marked by the first wolf is his, and will be defended as such, to the point of death. The most likely even that will happen upon invading another wolf’s territory is the death of the intruder, since the defender has more to lose. This leads to a natural tendency of the invading wolf to move on to territory not yet claimed by another wolf, and avoid confrontation for the sake of survival.

What we have is a government who takes the natural state of things, and says we can make it better, and we can do this by using force. No longer will a wolf necessarily die if he invades another wolf’s territory, because 100 more packs will descend upon the wolf who defends his territory from certain other wolves. These wolves that help the first one conquer the territory have nothing to gain from this personally, they do it because of third party influence. And the resources they use to do it (taxes), were stolen, not earned.

Imagine a scientist saying he could rip out a human’s circulatory system, and replace it, better, with a mechanical one. That is insane. Yet we allow the government to do that to our children, starting at moldable young ages, and not stopping until the development of their brains is essentially set in stone, according to the government’s blue print.

To be clear, I am not criticizing sports teams, education, business, or structure in general. I am criticizing the force used by government to create a system where they design the type of citizens they want. I want a system where these things are naturally organized by those whose interests they involve.

And I am convinced that we would end up with a happier work force, a more prosperous population, and more advancement in general. It only makes sense, based on the way humans act when met with incentives and disincentives. Currently there are vastly more government created incentives to becoming a obedient worker, rather than a creator. And when people emerge from a public school educated, the state gloriously takes credit.

This relates to an earlier post about how government will take credit for all the good in society, and blame the bad on their enemies. Everything good within a society is attributed to the government, and everything bad to whoever the government has deemed an enemy. It was not family values and good parenting that made that student smart, it was the government. The dumb student? No, no, that wasn’t the government. That was… video games? Gun toting parents? Drugs! Ah yes, another victim of the drug cartels.

In reality, much of the good is organic, while much of the evil is created by government “solutions” because the basis for government is force.

It is a farce. The government is not responsible for the things which happen to go right in society despite their intervention. The market is strong enough to overcome some of the government intrusion to deliver what the people demand from industry, but not all of it. And as the old saying goes, if you think the problems government causes are bad, just wait until you see their solutions.

Beliefs Should Withstand Scrutiny, or Be Changed

Thomas Sowell knows about academia; he spent most of his life employed by universities. Therefore his warnings about the problems with colleges and what they are teaching young people who will one day run the world deserve some attention. Sowell wrote an article instructing parents how to minimize the damage done by biased professors (or biased media), and the best strategy for “waging the war” against flawed, politically correct ideas. He likens the battle of ideas to the strategy of McArthur during WWII.

Instead of fighting the Japanese for every island stronghold as the Americans advanced toward Japan, MacArthur sent his troops into battle for only those islands that were strategically crucial. In the same spirit, parents who want to bring their brainwashed offspring back to reality need not try to combat every crazy idea they picked up from their politically correct professors. Just demolishing a few crucial beliefs, and exposing what nonsense they are, can deal a blow to the general credibility of the professorial pied pipers.

Common Core is a flawed centralization initiative which should make many question the goals and competency of a centralized government. It is easy too debunk the theory that Common Core is good for students, parents and teachers, and this lesson can then be applied to other areas. If the federal government fails at centralizing education standards and educating youth properly, then will they be able the centralize healthcare and properly deliver care? Since both sides of the isle have come together to criticize Common Core, it is easiest to start by tearing down the myth surrounding that big government initiation, and let the lesson sink in before trying to tackle a more ideologically divisive issue like the Affordable Care Act–though its flaws stem from the same philosophy which gave us Common Core.

And I think Sowell’s strategy can be used when dealing with many flawed ideas that people have picked up from the biased media, or from misinformed friends. Healthy skepticism used to be a key part of learning. Good teachers and professors would teach students that not everything can be taken at face value, and the real trick was not to learn information, but to learn how to process information in a logical and critical way. When we first view things critically, if we can find no flaws, this should in the end strengthen our convictions. There is no reason why any good idea cannot stand a little bit of scrutiny. Being the devil’s advocate when new information is presented to you may make you unpopular in certain spheres, but it will certainly leave you with a better understanding of whatever subject is being discussed. Asking questions is a good way to weed out someone who is blindly repeating what they have heard, versus a person who has a grasp over the idea they are trying to convey.

Sowell gives some examples of the types of false or misleading information students may return from college with, and good sources to debunk these myths.

Although Britain is the setting for “Life at the Bottom,” Americans will recognize very similar patterns here. Problems found in low-income black ghettoes in the United States are found in low-income white neighborhoods in Britain, where none of the usual excuses about racism, slavery, etc., apply. The only thing that is the same in both countries is the welfare state and its poisonous ideology.

What Sowell suggests to parents dealing with brainwashed children is to pick your battles. Crush the most flawed ideas, or the ones you know a lot about, and it will lead to skepticism of other similar ideas, and skepticism of the people disseminating those ideas. Find common ground, like many have found in opposition to Common Core, and use that example to explain why similar programs are just as damaging. I find that sometimes asking questions is a more promising method of debunking myths people hold, versus preaching.

Sometimes students will be taught correct information, and sometimes they will be taught flawed information, but the hostility to open discussion in some arenas is concerning. Good ideas, correct ideas, and facts never have to fear open discussion. If someone tells you the debate has been settled, that should set off a red flag that maybe they don’t know what they are talking about. I think that if a person holds a belief, they should be able to discuss and defend it at length, and an attempt to prematurely close a discussion seems to suggest a shallow understanding of the subject. I welcome the chance to be stumped while having a discussion, the only possibility is that I come away from the situation with a better understanding of my own beliefs and stronger convictions, or change my mind after a more accurate assessment of the topic at hand.

Common Core Reeks of Corruption and People of all Political Affiliations Agree

A Peabody Ma School Committee meeting was quite instructional in pointing out the many issues, backdoor dealings, and corrupt plans that have been intertwined with the implementation of Common Core standards for k-12 public schools. The speaker, Professor Sandra Stotsky, is a women who helped develop the math and english standards used in Ma school districts for the 16 years prior to the implementation of Common Core—and Massachusetts actually has some of the best schools in the country.

She was on the validation committee for Common Core where she had to sign a nondisclosure agreement and cannot speak specifically about anything that happened in the process. She did not agree on the entire program, and only signed off on a few of the pieces. When the final draft came out a couple months later, it was entirely different from what she had been shown and “signed off” on. This is the information that she shared at the Peabody meeting, and her informed presentation as someone on the front lines warning America about the detriments of Common Core.

  • Common Core started as a program to develop voluntary standards for states to adopt. Standards were developed by private organizations including the Gates Foundation in secret. They then appealed to government to make those standards applied by force, since private organizations cannot use force without the government.
  • The government “seduced” the states into accepting the standards in order to centralize control of education for a vast number of people across the country with all different types of lives, opportunities, and individual interests.
  • Constitution bans federal government from forcing local controls over education, so government got the private organizations to do their bidding. Stotsky: “Its hard to see it as truly voluntary when most states need money”.
  • Gates Foundation gave $250,000 for each for 15 states to send in the proper applications for Race to Top grants, written specifically by Gates. States get $250 million from federal government for adopting standards.

My solution is to have states be in control of the money in the first place, not the federal government. Abolish the 16th amendment authorizing the income tax, abolish the federal programs that it funds (including the Department of Education),  and then states can appeal to their citizens to raise taxes instead of begging the “overlord” federal government for money. Bottom up approach should be used, not top down.

  • Common Core includes data mining of religious and political affiliation, information about family and home life, as well as other personal questions. Personal information can now be shared with private companies; though the law was not changed, “interpretation” of the law has changed. This is another reason to reduce the power of courts and legislators in favor of individual liberty, and law based on contracts and agreements.
  • Stotsky: “If teachers’ comments mean nothing to a department of ed, then they need to go elsewhere.” Stotsky suggests Ma legislators have more control, and wonders aloud whether we still need a state board of ed, commissioner of ed, or department of ed, again pointing to centralization of control as a key problem.
  • Stotsky facetiously speaking about the federal government and their response to the backlash over Common Core: “…we have wise all knowing people in the department of ed who know the right things for all kids and then we have these fringe groups—not parents because they don’t dare criticize parents as parents—except Arnie Duncan who put his foot in his mouth and had to retract it.”
  • Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan had a huge hand in development of Common Core. He is the guy that said suburban moms are against Common Core because they are realizing their kids aren’t as smart as they thought. See his exact words here.
  • Need to stand up against these standards “If we are still a sovereign state” says Stotsky and asks, “Are Parents in charge of their own children?”
  • When writing Common Core standards, parents were left out, teachers were left out, State legislators were left out, and local school boards were left out. College educators of Freshmen were not  asked about “College ready” standards. No standards have been developed for disabled and special needs students. Everything seems to be going towards everyone being reduced to an “egalitarian middle” by “reduc[ing] variation in achievement, and want[ing] to hold everyone to the same standards”.

Even historically government compliant unions are starting to oppose Common Core because of the extreme backlash from their teachers. This is so obviously counterproductive to education, that finally people of all political alignments can come together to oppose it. Of course, it makes my point that the less power government has and the less centralized it is, the easier it is to avoid situations like this in the first place—maybe libertarianism can pick up a few disenfranchised liberals.

These hearty objections are coming from Massachusetts of all places—let that sink it. I’m from Massachusetts so I have seen first hand how the machine works, and right now that machine is breaking down, finally. Throughout the video the speaker makes references to how no one could understand what was going on, why the states, teachers, parents and politicians were being ignored in this process, why things weren’t explained, why pilots were not tried before national implementation.

I have a feeling Stotsky had an opinion on why those people were brushed aside—control—but it shows that not enough people have a healthy distrust of government. It is all about control, and the power seekers are starting to drop the facade as the desire for control moves forward at full speed, and the sheep’s clothing that these wolves wear starts to blow off.

The whole video can be found here, and is worth a watch if you have kids in public schools, might someday, or just want to stop the destruction of future generations. Continuing to raise awareness about how terrible Common Core is, as well as going to the local meetings to oppose it is something that can be immediately done to combat this. Another idea is to pull your kids out of public schools and either homeschool or send them to private school if you have the means to do so. Please take the time to watch the video, there is even more information about the implementation and consequences of Common Core.

Bureaucracy in Action: School Policy Leads to Frostbite for Student

If you’re just following orders, you can’t get in trouble, right? When you’re in the government, if there is a policy imposed by any kind of or central authority, well you’ve got to follow that policy or risk your job. After all, why would we ever need leaders in schools who can make pertinent decisions based on a situation at hand?

This is why central planning works so well, because everything can be predicted, and we just need humans to act as cogs in a machine to carry out the directives handed down to them by someone smarter. It would be dangerous to have a bunch of free thinkers running around who could solve problems on the fly, and take responsibility in situations where someone could get hurt.

And because this is the prevailing philosophy of our day, things like this happen: a fourteen year old girl got frostbite after being forced to stand outside in the cold on a day where temperatures were negative 5 degrees Fahrenheit, only wearing a swimsuit, wet from swimming during gym class, when a fire alarm went off. School policy prevented her from being allowed to retrieve her clothes, sit in a teacher’s car, or walk across the street to seek warmth in the elementary school.

Her problem solving peers, not yet brainwashed by the do-as-you’re-told mentality forced upon children in public schools, decided to huddle around her to keep her warm, possibly preventing more severe frost bite. One rebel educator eventually broke protocol to give the half naked girl his jacket, on a day when the wind chill brought the real feel down to negative 25 degrees.

[Kayona] Hagen-Tietz asked to wait inside an employee’s car, or at the elementary school across the street. But administrators believed that this would violate official policy, and could get the school in trouble, so they opted to simply let the girl freeze…

[Her mother] also noted that she would have been arrested for doing such a thing to her child.

“If I had a fire and brought my children out in that condition, you know, I’m sure I would be charged in some way or another if I didn’t instantly bring them into a neighbor’s house or someplace else,” she said, according to WCCO. “The ultimate goal is to keep them safe and protect your children, and, in this instance, they did a really poor job.”

This is not the exception, this is the rule. Expect more of this going forward, this is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. Most people are just worried about the liability, and it is easier to defend following protocol and letting a student be injured, than breaking with policy and possibly suffering the legal or career consequences of doing what you truly think is right, or would be best for the actual flesh and blood humans in these situations.

As Mel Brooks would say, “We’ve got to protect our phony bologna jobs!”.

The War on Moms’ Control of their Child’s Education

Arne Duncan is the U.S. Education Secretary, and has been a lead proponent in implementing new nationwide standards called Common Core. He actually knows better than the “white suburban moms” who he says are just being silly and stubborn in their opposition to Common Core. They want to keep pretending their kid is special and smart, but Duncan will set them straight. According to the Washington Post, here’s what he said in a recent speech to superintendents who support Common Core:

It’s fascinating to me that some of the pushback is coming from, sort of, white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were, and that’s pretty scary… You’ve bet your house and where you live and everything on, ‘My child’s going to be prepared.’ That can be a punch in the gut.

First, Duncan groups all “white suburban moms” into one category and says they only oppose Common Core because it makes them feel bad that they have dumb kids who cannot meet the standards. It is helpful for people like Duncan to create a straw man to argue against; this is not why most critics disagree with Common Core. Some are concerned that standardized testing places unfair burdens on teachers who will be held accountable for their students, without controlling for the differences in students between classrooms and schools. Some concerns are geared towards the gutting of literature requirements, and the fact that teachers were not involved in setting the standards. Students failing the standardized tests are not the sole reason for opposition, most people agree that there is vast area for improvement in our public education system. But the way to improve education is not by simply setting standards, and requiring that students and teachers become robots who study and teach for the sole purpose of passing a test.

The point of education is to be taught how to learn, not what to learn. Education should focus on problem solving, and playing to what kids’ strengths are. This helps individuals prepare for what they want to do in life. Common Core says that all public school students should be the same in certain areas, and that this will produce students who are better prepared for college and the job market. Well the way our economy has been advancing says that most jobs that we are currently educating our youth for, do not yet exist. If we don’t even know what we are preparing students for, then standardized testing will not help the situation. We need to be shaping students who are more creative, experimental, and can think outside the box. This isn’t the first time Duncan has unfairly criticized and categorized opponents of Common Core. In June, he had this to say:

 The Common Core has become a rallying cry for fringe groups that claim it is a scheme for the federal government to usurp state and local control of what students learn.

Why should what students learn in Belfast Maine be the same as what students learn in Los Angeles California? These are not robots that we are trying to prepare for a life on an assembly line, these are students who all have potential to be the next great inventor, innovator, surgeon, or economist. They have different desires, different opportunities, and different interests, but somehow the federal government knows how to standardize the education of 80 million children into a one size fits all test? Duncan’s opinion seems to be that parents, and specifically moms, are just trying to baby their children and not let their feelings get hurt. But what he missed is the fact that these moms are not just plopping their kids into public school, crossing their fingers, and hoping for the best. It is not a “bet” these moms are taking, it is their active involvement in their child’s education that will produce results. It is not a coincidence that the best schools have the most involved parents.

I would argue that the Department of Education has failed to educate a single child in its more than 30 year history. Parents have control over their children’s education, and while public schools can compliment this or diminish this, if we are plopping our kids in school and saying, “my job is done” then nothing will fix our education system, no matter how perfectly designed it may be. Here’s the opinion of one white suburban mom who I am lucky enough to have had write articles for this blog. This snippet is from “Parental Rights: Who’s in Charge Here?” on the subject of mandatory full day kindergarten, written before the Common Core debate was front and center.

But I think it also has to do with a pervasive paternal attitude in the government, even among local school administrators: We know best.

Your kids will do better in our hands than yours, the parents’. We’re falling behind other countries and the only thing to do is put kids who can barely tie their shoes into classrooms for six hours a day so we can teach them. You could not possibly provide an enriching learning environment or curriculum to a child that you love and to whom you can even maybe give one-on-one attention.

How insulting is that?

The problem is that too many parents welcome this transfer of power from parent to government, and others don’t care enough to put up a fuss even if they don’t like it.

I think that is exactly the attitude that Arne Duncan displays when he minimizes the issues moms see with Common Core, and constructs a paranoid straw man to lambast. Sorry but “white suburban moms” are not crazy, they care about their children’s education more than some government bureaucrat. The credibility of this government is gone; the real fools are the people who take anything these politicians and appointees say at face value. Duncan is insulting and demeaning in his words and attitude, refusing to consider alternatives and minimizing real problems with the Common Core program. Is this really the type of person you want implementing national standards for your child’s education?

Common Core: Producing Robots or Students?

Common Core implementation has seemed to slip into our schools in the dead of night. A federal idea, but one that has been argued largely on the local level, because it was accepted by state governments after they were bribed with federal money. Said by proponents to hold schools to a higher standard, it seems to follow the example set by “no child left behind”, and make sure no child gets ahead. How could someone see replacing literature with EPA documents and establishing teaching standards that ignore the differences of students and groups of students in each classroom and school, as something beneficial for education? Probably, that someone, is a person who is not trying to foster creativity, individual achievement, and free thinking to solve problems. The Common Core push has been funded largely by Bill Gates, who has openly stated that he is excited to have a new base of customers and workers created in public education; what will become an assembly line for robots. Watch the speech from a high school Senior below to become acquainted with Common Core, and the problems it presents.

Years ago Milton Friedman said, “The world runs on individuals pursuing their separate interests. The great achievements of civilization have not come from government bureaus”. I think this gets to the bottom of the larger issue, is central planning of society or individual planning of their own interests going to produce better results? History shows that for individuals and society as a whole, when people are allowed to pursue their own interests and creative endeavors for their own purposes, is when society grows, matures, and advances the most.

Increase in School Admins Outpaces Increase in Students

For the past twenty years school administrations have been growing in number at a rate 2.3 times faster than the growth of the student body. Going back even further, the number of administrative positions in schools since the 1950’s has increased 700%, 7 times faster than student growth, according to the study by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. This trend of administration growth happened alongside the decline in the quality of American education, and American students becoming less competitive with many foreign students. All put together, it seems to corroborate what the documentary “The Cartel” points out, that public education has become a cash cow and power mechanism for unions and public employees.

The same study found no evidence of a benefit to students from the increased size of the administration, and although not necessarily a cause, administrations expanded as student performance declined. This is because teachers’ unions funnel money into politicians who make it harder for Charter schools and school choice to become viable options, despite their positive track records. The increased funding these politicians then give to the schools is used for political positions in the administration; rewards given to the people who supported the right candidate, or participated in the right union. This is why more money is spent, more teachers are hired, way more administrators exist, and American kids are getting dumber, as evidenced by “test scores and graduation rates”. And even graduation rates can be misleading; one employer only required a high school diploma, and that an applicant pass an 8th grade test to be hired. It took him 1,300 applicants before filling 130 positions. It is not about education for many of these administrators and unions, it is about money and political power.

A similar trend can be seen in colleges, where more professors, taking on smaller workloads has in part led to the surge in college tuition prices. “The study found a 25 percent decline in the number of classes each professor taught between 1988 and 2004. Dr. Andrew Gillen, the study’s author, estimated that more than 80 percent of tuition increases at public research universities could have been prevented if universities simply maintained the same course load for instructors”. Being a professor at many schools has become a cushy political job, where as long as you say the right things, indoctrinate students correctly, and donate to the right politicians, tenure is just a matter of time. The study concluded that a shift from focusing on teaching, toward focusing on research, is part of what led to the college professor growth rate. This is because research is seen as more respectable, and makes professors more money.

‘“It is not just the case that good research is rewarded while good teaching is ignored — at some institutions, the rather shocking reality is that teaching is actively punished,” wrote Gillen.’

School voucher and school choice programs seem to be the best way to reclaim the k-12 education of our kids. Competition between schools to attract students will improve the quality of education, and help reduce needless administrative positions. Also, reducing the power of the unions (who protect bad teachers, and stop merit based pay) could lead to improvements in k-12 education for no extra cost. It is not enough to throw money at a problem, as we have seen it does not help in this situation, it just contributes to the power dynamic of public schools. This is why the aforementioned documentary is correct in labeling the unions and public schools, a cartel.

Doubling Down on Failed Education Initiatives

President Obama wants to more than double the number of students enrolled in the Head Start government preschool program. Currently the program includes 900,000 students, and costs taxpayers $8 billion each year. It would be one thing if we were spending this money and getting results, but as you probably know by now, America is not doing so hot in terms of educating children in public schools. The preschool program is no different; the government’s Department of Health and Human Services released a long overdue report just before Christmas which says the program has shown no evidence of improving cognitive abilities of children in the program, and has even “reduced three-year-olds’ math abilities. It also failed to improve kids’ social-emotional, health, or parenting outcomes”. The report essentially said, the program has failed, and it was a waste of money. Obama has announced he would like the number of students enrolled in the program to swell to 1.85 million.

Whenever politicians ignore results, and scientific studies, it makes me wonder, what is their real goal? If they wanted smarter kids, they would reign in teachers unions, invest in charter schools, and implement school choice–but many on the left are vehemently opposed to any of these steps. What this is about is control over children. The government wants to decide what you children think, believe, and how they act, instead of the parent. Parents are the only ones who can truly shape their children into successful adults, and by shirking this responsibility parents seek to take the “easy way out” so that they can blame schools, teachers, and government for their failure as parents. The current track that American education is on cannot be considered positive, unless every piece of evidence is ignored, and every study about child development suppressed.

Let’s look at Sweden, where most children are placed in full day state care starting at about the age of 1 year old, or 18 months. According to the Daily Caller:

In 2010, Swedish researchers published an alarming study linking the country’s early childhood policies to a litany of evils: anxiety disorders, health problems, social neuroses, drops in learning, discipline problems, segregated labor markets, and more. Sweden is becoming a social wreck, and analyst Jonas Himmelstrand attributes this to its early childcare policies…

And according to Swedish researcher Britta Johansson:

“The public offer of full-day child care seems to make many parents lose the grip on their own responsibility. They trust that their children are better fostered by the pre-school and school … [but] pre-school and school cannot fill the gaps caused by lack of parental time with their children and trust in parents’ role.”

I have posted in the past similar sentiments about the role of parents in childcare [click here to read “Parental Rights: Who’s in Charge Here?]. Sorry parents, but there is no easy way out. If you want your kids to grow into well adjusted adults, you have to do the work. To think that the state could fill a role that the parent should be filling–all during school hours–is frankly absurd. The only thing state care does is give the illusion that your children are being properly educated and raised. Parents will later turn around and blame the schools for their children’s incompetence, failure at college, lack of job skills, or arrest record, but the responsibility to educate and raise children rests with the parents. The best thing the state can do is not stand in the way of proper parents who accept responsibility for their children’s future.

Indoctrinating Youth in Public Schools

One of the major forces which allowed communism to rise in China was that Chinese educators had been teaching the “benefits” of this ideology in schools for years before it was implemented in government. In fact Karl Marx included the top ten communist goals in his “The Communist Manifesto”. Number ten on that list was, “free education for all students in public schools”. America has had this for quite some time, and the quality of American education has been declining ever since. No longer can American students compete in Math and Science with foreign industrialized nations, but this is in part because of an influential American philosopher John Dewey. According to Thomas Sowell in his article “The Role of Educators”:

John Dewey saw the role of the teacher, not as a transmitter of a society’s culture to the young, but as an agent of change — someone strategically placed, with an opportunity to condition students to want a different kind of society.

But obviously whether or not that change is positive depends on who is placed in the classroom, and the goals of the government who placed them. Indoctrinating youth to believe everything the government feeds them is not education. Education is teaching children how to think critically about particular issues, whether or not that issue had been discussed in class. Teachers should not be telling students what to think, they should be telling students how to learn.

Even in the absence of formal indoctrination, the dumb-ing down of our education system furthers the goals of creating a mass of easily controlled peasants who will react to circumstances based on what they have been taught. With the power to teach centralized in the hands of the state, we can be sure that the masses will react just the way the government wants them to. But at the same time children are being turned into mold-able clay, they are being robbed of true education, and robbed of the opportunity to contribute productively to their communities and the world–as well as robbed of the opportunity to live a happy comfortable life with the products of their labor.

According to the documentary “Waiting for Superman”, until 1970 United States public schools were the best in the world, but there wasn’t much global competition. Education was in that time considered a ticket out of poverty. Now out of 30 developed countries the United States ranks 25th in math and 21st in science with the 5% best students performing 23rd out of 29 developed countries. When it comes to math skills the United States is almost dead last but when asked to rank the confidence in their math skills 71% of American students were confident they got good scores on standardized tests in math—could this be the effect of the politically correct “everyone wins”, “we are all special” ideology? High Tech Industries in America cannot find enough skilled laborers to fill their needs which contributes to our outsourcing problem, and is also why you see immigrants to the U.S. employed in many high skill jobs involving math, science, technology, and medical care.

This decline in quality education can be traced back to the implementation of “free education in all public schools”. According to Charles Murray in the article “Do We Need the Department of Education” appearing in “Imprimis: A Publication of Hillsdale College”:

The overall data on the performance of American K-12 students give no reason to think that federal involvement, which took the form of the Department of Education after 1979, has been an engine of improvement…

A study by the Department of Education published in 2001 revealed that the gap grew rather than diminished from 1986 [between high poverty and low poverty schools, despite more money spent on high poverty schools]…

In summary: the long, intrusive, expensive role of the federal government in K-12 education does not have any credible evidence for a positive effect on American Education.

This further brings into question the true goal of American public education. Apart from China, Thomas Sowell shares another historical anecdote about the destructive role of state education:

In France between the two World Wars, the teachers’ union decided that schools should replace patriotism with internationalism and pacifism. Books that told the story of the heroic defense of French soldiers against the German invaders at Verdun in 1916, despite suffering massive casualties, were replaced by books that spoke impartially about the suffering of all soldiers — both French and German — at Verdun.

Germany invaded France again in 1940, and this time the world was shocked when the French surrendered after just 6 weeks of fighting — especially since military experts expected France to win. But two decades of undermining French patriotism and morale had done their work.

It may be time to rethink American education. The teachers union and government are working lockstep to ensure the money keeps flowing to state educators, and that the children produced fit the government’s view of an ideal citizen–essentially the opposite of the Founding Fathers’ view of an ideal citizen. Many like to use children shamelessly to sell their own political agendas, it is time we stand up for the true interests of our children.