No Wonder Johnny (Still) Can’t Read
Larry Sand – John William Pope Center January 4, 2012
There are many reasons for the lamentable state of education in the United States today, but perhaps none is greater than our schools of education.
My experience at California State University, Los Angeles in the 1980s was typical. The courses were easy. Rigor was non-existent. I took eleven courses for credit, receiving ten As and one B and never once feeling intellectually challenged. There was typically an easy mid-term and a final and a paper (which was supposed to show that I knew how to deliver a lesson).
Sometimes the courses were like being back in grade school. I had a lot of fun in my methods classes, especially in Physical Education, where we played games all period.
The required course work included ten weeks each of classes in music and art, but science and social science were combined into one five-week class. A basic course in classroom management, something that would have been a great benefit to future teachers, was non-existent.
Rather than focusing on the best techniques for teaching students the skills and concepts they need, professors drummed into us that we should not “drill and kill,” nor be the “sage on the stage,” but instead be the “guide on the side” who “facilitates student discovery.” The children’s feelings were to be engaged first and foremost. Legions of students who have had teachers who were trained in these progressive techniques can barely add or read, but they probably have extremely high self-esteem.
By the time I got to the classroom, I felt less prepared to teach than the day I began Cal State.
“Whole language” was the regnant theory of the day. It drops the traditional, successful, phonics method of teaching reading and replaces it with a “holistic” approach in which students are taught to use “critical thinking strategies” to guess the meaning of words they don’t recognize. It was a disaster for student reading ability, but is still prominent in education schools today. (Whole language advocates have taken to calling it by other names, such as “balanced literacy.”)
Then, in the 1990s, the fad of multiculturalism took hold and it has grown to epidemic proportions. Teachers-to-be were forced to learn about this ethnic group, that impoverished group, this sexually anomalous group, that under-represented group, etc.—all under the rubric of “Culturally Responsive Education” (CRE).
CRE means “understanding that one’s way of thinking, behaving, and being is influenced by race, ethnicity, social class, and language.” Prospective teachers are required to examine their own “sociocultural identities” and the inequalities in schools and society that support “institutionalized discrimination,” which preserves a “privileged society based on social class and skin color.”
Those ideas, incidentally, are not presented as theories, but as facts that are not open to question. Education schools are thus indoctrinating their students in a tendentious idea that encourages them to see all social problems as stemming from “discrimination” and “privilege.”
Instead of devoting their time to learning how to teach students fractions or paragraphing, teacher candidates are supposed to inspect and confront any negative attitudes they might have toward cultural groups. This boils down to saying that the dominant culture needs to understand that it has been oppressing everyone else and must make amends.
Among the offshoots of CRE is anti-racist math which has now been embraced in a number of school districts. In Newton, Massachusetts, for example, the top objective for the district’s math teachers is to teach “respect for human differences.” Students should “live out the system-wide core value of ‘respect for human differences’ by demonstrating anti-racist/anti-bias behaviors.” The problem is that you can do all of that to perfection and not learn a smidgeon of mathematics.
In 2008, education reform professor Jay Greene showed how bad the multiculturalism problem had become. Writing in City Journal, he and a research assistant explored the number of multicultural classes offered in our teachers’ colleges. They counted the number of course titles and descriptions that
“…contained the words ‘multiculturalism,’ ‘diversity,’ ‘inclusion,’ and variants thereof, and then compared those with the number that used variants of the word “math.” We then computed a ‘multiculturalism-to-math ratio’—a rough indicator of the relative importance of social goals to academic skills in ed schools.”
The results were telling.
“The average ed school, we found, has a multiculturalism-to-math ratio of 1.82, meaning that it offers 82 percent more courses featuring social goals than featuring math. At Harvard and Stanford, the ratio is about 2: almost twice as many courses are social as mathematical. At the University of Minnesota, the ratio is higher than 12. And at UCLA, a whopping 47 course titles and descriptions contain the word ‘multiculturalism’ or ‘diversity,’ while only three contain the word ‘math,’ giving it a ratio of almost 16.”
In my state, California, thirty percent of students entering the formerly vaunted University of California system now need remedial help. For the Cal State schools, which include most of the state’s schools of education, sixty percent of the students need remediation and for the city and community colleges a whopping 90 percent need remediation.
This means that we are not educating children properly in our K-12 systems. The lack of rigor and misplaced focus in education schools bear much of the responsibility.
Can our education schools be turned around?
Arizona State University, with the largest undergraduate teacher prep program in the country, has just this year unveiled a “radical” new program, in which students must demonstrate mastery of specific teaching skills as measured by a popular teaching framework. ASU is using the Teacher Advancement Program, a model run by the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching.
After examining the description of this new approach to teacher education, I must say that it looks solid. Rather than using the standard “touchy-feely” methods, the program employs objective measures to evaluate teachers. It remains to be seen whether the entrenched “progressive” forces will kill off or subvert the Teacher Advancement Program, but it is a challenge to the status quo.
Most of our education schools have been getting away with malpractice that would not be tolerated in any other profession. Unless we start doing something radically different than we have been doing, we will continue to turn out teachers who miseducate the children of America.
A fine job. A few points not made:
Memorization is the foundation upon which critical thinking can take place. Contrary to what many believe, schools today DON'T require or even approve of memorization. Consequently, the student's lack any basis on which to operate intelligently. Doctor? Nurse? Fast food worker who doesn't need pictures on the register?
Hand in hand with the fact that teachers must develop classroom management skills on the job (or be driven out by the behavior of the students) is the lack of discipline. Talmud Vision is prime parenting factor in many student's background and many schools will blame teachers for not catering to students by making it all "fun" enough.
Administrators should be drawn from the ranks of veteran teaching staff. Teachers with long experience teaching subjects that students don't necessarily respond to (English, math, science, NOT electives). A teacher in NY came out of a labor meeting and was quoted, "In the old days, administrators had WHITE hair because they'd come up through the system" alluding to the fact that today administrators very often had next to no relevant experience. Did the high school principal where you are ever teach high school?
NCLB, Race to the Top, and anything else coming from DC is just a way to keep teachers stressed by constant, useless change. It's the old commie method of killing off the intelligensia to destroy historical memory.
The simple solution, after the auto da fe, is a test of basic literacy, numeracy, and whatever other content for students to ensure that the diploma is proof of functional ability. Use state tests so local schools can assess their performance vis a vis neighbors. National exams like SAT do same for national comparisons.
The Norman Dodd interview on banksters plans for education are must watch.
Here's more on the Frankfurt School and its agenda:
Lord Bertrand Russell joined with the Frankfurt School in their effort at mass social engineering and spilled the beans in his 1951 book, The Impact of Science on Society. He wrote: ‘Physiology and psychology afford fields for scientific technique which still await development.' The importance of mass psychology ‘has been enormously increased by the growth of modern methods of propaganda. Of these the most influential is what is called ‘education. The social psychologists of the future will have a number of classes of school children on whom they will try different methods of producing an unshakable conviction that snow is black...It is for future scientists to make these maxims precise and discover exactly how much it costs per head to make children believe that snow is black, and how much less it would cost to make them believe it is dark gray . When the technique has been perfected, every government that has been in charge of education for a generation will be able to control its subjects securely without the need of armies or policemen.”
Writing in 1992 in Fidelio Magazine, [The Frankfurt School and Political Correctness] Michael Minnicino observed how the heirs of Marcuse and Adorno now completely dominate the universities, ‘teaching their own students to replace reason with ‘Politically Correct’ ritual exercises. There are very few theoretical books on arts, letters, or language published today in the United States or Europe which do not openly acknowledge their debt to the Frankfurt School. The witchhunt on today’s campuses is merely the implementation of Marcuse’s concept of ‘repressive toleration’-‘tolerance for movements from the left, but intolerance for movements from the right’-enforced by the students of the Frankfurt School’.
To further the advance of their ‘quiet’ cultural revolution - but giving us no ideas about their plans for the future - the School recommended (among other things):
1. The creation of racism offences.
2. Continual change to create confusion
3. The teaching of sex and homosexuality to children
4. The undermining of schools’ and teachers’ authority
5. Huge immigration to destroy identity.
6. The promotion of excessive drinking
7. Emptying of churches
8. An unreliable legal system with bias against victims of crime
9. Dependency on the state or state benefits
10. Control and dumbing down of media
11. Encouraging the breakdown of the family
One of the main ideas of the Frankfurt School was to exploit Freud’s idea of ‘pansexualism’ - the search for pleasure, the exploitation of the differences between the sexes, the overthrowing of traditional relationships between men and women. To further their aims they would:
• attack the authority of the father, deny the specific roles of father and mother, and wrest away from families their rights as primary educators of their children.
• abolish differences in the education of boys and girls
• abolish all forms of male dominance - hence the presence of women in the armed forces
• declare women to be an ‘oppressed class’ and men as ‘oppressors’
Munzenberg summed up the Frankfurt School’s long-term operation thus: ‘We will make the West so corrupt that it stinks.'
The School believed there were two types of revolution: (a) political and (b) cultural. Cultural revolution demolishes from within. ‘Modern forms of subjection are marked by mildness’. They saw it as a long-term project and kept their sights clearly focused on the family, education, media, sex and popular culture.