Anyone taking even a casual glance at American public schools during the last 75 years would have to scream: “NO!”
My thesis, often written about, is that John Dewey and his progressives got control by the 1930s, and from then on they dumbed-down education to whatever degree they could in each particular school district.
The point to focus on is that virtually every public school is LESS THAN IT COULD BE. The Education Establishment uses the most extraordinary array of bogus theories and methods to undermine the schools. Whole Word guarantees illiteracy. Reform Math guarantees that many children can’t do arithmetic. Constructivism guarantees the kids don’t have much knowledge. Etc. For quick recap of this tragedy, see “56: Top 10 Worst Ideas in Education.”
The past few weeks I’ve been writing a lot of articles about John Saxon. He was a brilliant man. His books were clearly superior. And yet the Education Establishment was able to marginalize him, and is now slowly trying to grind him into irrelevance. That they wish to do so is the great sin. “A Nation at Risk” in 1983 declared that the public schools, if designed by another country, would be regarded as “an act of war.” Think what they were saying.
The Education Establishment is, in effect, that other country. It seems to operate as a cult, with its own rules, its own initiation ceremonies, its own way of making sure that all the people who rise to the top are true believers. So it’s easy to be pessimistic and cynical about any chances for improvement.
However, there are some positive signs. I listed eight in a piece called “Good News About K-12 Education.” The title is lightly ironic. The people in charge of K-12 education would see this news as bad. However, Americans in general should be glad for anything that reduces the power of the Education Establishment, that undermines the monopoly of the public schools system, and that allows people to try other ways to educate kids.
I write all over the Internet, and I know from comments that many people are bitter and have given up hope. Their attitude is that public schools should just be burned to the ground. And then we start over. That doesn't seem to me even remotely realistic. I’ve always held to the idea that if we are clever, and we understand the opposition, we can work our way toward better ideas. If you agree with that approach, please read this article and pass it on to others who might appreciate a short article about hope.