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Teachers Can Save K-12

Oct 7, 2017 by

A lot of teachers might be stunned to find that many Americans blame our K-12 problems on teachers.
 The general complaint is that teachers allowed themselves to be co-opted, corrupted, indoctrinated, and in general turned into enablers for the Education Establishment.
 Teachers are one small component of a system-wide decline, so I don’t think they should be blamed for much. The point I make over and over is that there are three sets of victims in K-12: students, parents, and teachers. They are all equally victims, all equally pushed around by an ideological clique. So the real question is, why aren’t teachers tired of being victims?
 
When John Dewey and colleagues sought control of our education system, their scheme required controlling the education schools and thereby gaining control of the teachers. Teachers were always seen as a means to an end. Dewey and his bunch never wanted individual teachers to be all they could be, because Dewey was not interested in making students all they could be. Dewey’s goals could be described as collectivist. This term means that everybody’s going to be the same, whether they like it or not.
So let me state as carefully as I can what my gripe against teachers is. They need to stand back a little more. They need to separate themselves from the Education Establishment. They should realize that the Education Establishment uses and exploits them. Teachers should say: wait a minute, let me understand what exactly is going on here. If teachers had a little more  separation, they would see that they are doing things in the classroom that rarely work, for example, Sight-Words to teach reading, Common Core Math to teach arithmetic, and Constructivism to teach basic knowledge, to name only a few of the many clunkers in our schools.
 If you look objectively at Sight-words, you’ll know they aren’t working. Children struggle to memorize a small number of Sight-words. Even at the end of second and third grade, even if they memorize every word perfectly, they are still effectively illiterate; they can’t read an ordinary book or newspaper. Even worse, few children can memorize the assigned words perfectly. Typically you have students struggling with lots of half-memorized words. Meanwhile, if phonics were the primary method, the majority of children read at the end of first grade. Once you confront the sad reality, you’ll know that the people in charge do not always have the best interests of the students at heart.
 Rudolf Flesch in his famous 1955 book “Why Johnny Can’t Read” spoke directly to the teachers of his day: “You are a grade-school teacher. I know you are doing a conscientious job, that you work overtime for very little pay, that you love children and are proud of your profession. Aren’t you getting tired of being attacked and criticized all the time? Every second mother who comes in to talk to you tells you that she is dissatisfied, that her child doesn’t seem to learn anything, that you should do your job in a different way, that you don’t know your business. Why  should you be the scapegoat? The educators and their teachers’ colleges and publishing offices think of all these fancy ideas, and you are on the firing line and have to take the consequences. Have another look at the system you are defending with so much effort. I know you are an intelligent young woman. You belong on the other side.”
 
So that was the situation about 65 years ago. Little has changed. Isn’t it extraordinary that the Education Establishment has maintained that sad status quo, almost down to the exact details?
Let’s improve this situation. Talk among yourselves and decide where you think the worst flaws are, so you can  try to minimize them. Read articles by people outside the system analyzing where the Education Establishment went wrong. Visit reform websites— for example, Parents Against Everyday Math— and listen to their passionate complaints. You know they are talking about a situation that nobody can be proud of. Indeed, they are talking about a malaise that was perfectly described by a 1953 book titled: Educational Wastelands: Retreat From Learning In Our Public Schools. Savor that word, wastelands. And then reflect, if you’re a teacher, that you have been trained to preside over that retreat.
Americans are trusting people. Especially they don’t want to doubt their experts and officials. The problem is that our Education Establishment does not deserve trust. They are busy subversives; and you should turn away from them.
Thirty years ago, Catholics in Boston did not want to hear about pedophile priests. Finally there was no avoiding the crimes committed. As painful as the situation was, hiding the reality only made things worse.
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 Bruce Deitrick Price explains education theories on Improve-Education.org. His next book is: “Saving K-12—What happened to our public schools? How can we fix them?
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