1) Main site is Improve-Education.org. Articles there are scholarly (in a lively way) and intended to last for years. This blog is for short newsy bits. 2) This site is pro-education, pro-teacher, and anti-Education Establishment. Basically, that's the professors who devise policy. They love social engineering.
If you want something to be optimistic about, reflect on this...
Those goofy self-appointed experts who control the public schools in this country made a big mistake. They went too dumb, too fast, too blatantly, too obnoxiously. (You might say they did a King George.)
They basically told the parents of America, "Eat cake, shut the hell up, and don't bother us. If your kids come home with weird homework that you cannot do, just remember the reason is that you're not very bright. There's no reason to expect that your kids will be very smart. So just accept your fate, and their fate, and leave us alone so we can do our job, which is supporting Pres. Obama in his fundamental transformation of the country into a socialist paradise. And that's not a snarky joke. We really believe it will be a paradise. For us."
Their arrogance and contempt turned out to be really good news for the rest of the country. Parents have struggled with the stupid problems and come to the correct conclusion that the people designing these problems are not serious about math. They are serious about something. But what it is the average person cannot understand. That's because the average person is not a power-hungry ideologue control freak.
So there is a lot of discontent in the land. This creates an opening. Every excess in boxing or military maneuvers creates an opening for a counterattack. You don't need to persuade the mothers of America that something is seriously wrong. They know that from their own experience.
So if you're an education reformer, you can take the position that Reform Math must be destroyed completely. Use Singapore Math. Use Saxon Math. Use any old-fashioned math textbook from 75 years ago. Doesn't matter. The point is that RM must be eliminated. The parents of America are ready for that sweeping decision. First Reform Math, then Common Core. They both emanated from the same swamp.
Here is a longer discussion of the same points in American Thinker. If this whole perspective is new to you, please read this other article and the comments that people left.
But which is its dirtiest trick? This article in American Thinker (link below) argues that the sickest aspect of Common Core is that the math homework, the math instructional methods generally, divide parents from children. Only scoundrels could come up with this stuff.
The basic gambit is to teach math in a way very different from what the parents know about or can understand. We first saw this nonsense in the 1960s under the rubric of New Math. The country ridiculed this approach and rejected it. But the education professors had shown their hand. Whenever possible, they would figure out a way to teach something (anything) in a way that was alien and mysterious to the parents. The goal seemed to be to drive a huge wedge between the generations.
This works particularly well in math. Math is often a complex subject. The ordinary parent has probably not gone very far in math. So you can throw something weird at them, and they'll be intimidated. They barely remember the old arithmetic they learned 10 or 20 years before. But here is something new coming from the school that makes no sense at all. What to do?
Imagine this scenario happening a billion times each year. That's probably an accurate figure
The child comes home with an instructional sheet from the school. The parent glances at it and can't understand it. So now the parent is sitting there feeling stupid. The kid is watching and wondering what's going on. Maybe his parents aren't so bright after all. The parent can complain to the school and look small-minded. The parent can try to figure out the material and teach it to the child. But this is exhausting and takes a lot of time.
Besides, the parent senses that a trick is being played. Just look, here's a way to multiply numbers that takes twice as long as the way we learned!!
Well, at this point, you need confident parents who are willing to scream: you people are Pavlovian phonies and we're not going to take it anymore.
We see this wonderful phenomenon on a Facebook page called "Parents Against Everyday Math." For the record, Everyday Math is just one of a dozen kinds of Reform Math. It just happens to be the most common variety. Parents come to this site to leave their horror stories about homework they couldn't understand. Nor could they help their children to do it.
This has been a pattern for many decades: parents bitching and moaning about math instruction, particularly math homework. Fifty years ago and before, the children bitched and moaned. That's the way it's supposed to be, because they are the students.
The idea that parents cannot do homework intended for seven-year-olds is just so counterintuitive, just so crazy, that the average parent cannot get their brain around it. Nor should they have to try.
The parents need to look in the mirror and say these words: The school is disrespecting me. They are trying to make me look bad in the eyes of my children. They are dumbing down my children. A lot of overpaid people are spending their careers dreaming up stuff that will make my life worse and will weaken the country. I don't want to put up with this anymore. I want to find the people who okayed this bogus method, and get them demoted.
Saxon Math is better than Reform Math. Any halfway sensible approach to arithmetic is better than Reform Math.
I wrote an article a few years back arguing that you could teach first-graders everything they need to know about arithmetic with a handful of coins and a few dollar bills. At the end of the year they will know how to make change on any small purchase. They'll be able to add and subtract any one or two digit numbers. And a big reason why all that progress is possible is that virtually any parent can help them with their homework.
COMMON CORE'S DIRTIEST TRICK: http://www.americanthinker.com/2014/04/common_cores_dirtiest_trick_dividing_parents_and_children.html
FIRST-GRADE MATH ARTICLE: http://brucedprice.hubpages.com/hub/PricesEasyArithmetic
I say, HOW?
I checked Wikipedia and it says there are more than 200 million Christians in this country. You would expect them to be more conservative, traditional, practical, down-to-earth, patriotic, all that old-fashioned stuff. You would expect them to push for real schools teaching real knowledge in really effective ways.
Most of all, you would NOT expect these religious people to roll over when a bunch of socialist agitators show up and try to transform everything. But roll over they did for the most part.
In fairness to the religious people, however, I must grant that this rolling over was a slow-motion process over many decades and indeed most of a century. John Dewey was still in first gear around 1914. The whole dumbing-down process was still a gleam in his twitchy little eyes (see photo above).
Anyway, what is entirely apparent to me is that if all these religious people (Christians and every other kind) would more or less push together in the same general direction, they would be irresistible.
So why don't they?
The only answer I can give you is a tribute to the sneaky subversive ingenuity of our Education Establishment. They have wrapped everything in jargon. They have come up with approaches, procedures and methods that are so complicated to talk about that nobody knows what's going on. They have concocted genuinely idiotic ideas that defy and mystify common sense. Even as the average person hears all this malarkey and finally gives up, the Education Establishment appropriates more billions in tax money and pushes twice as hard.
Think of the way Obama & Co. handle everything: IRS scandal, people dead in Benghazi, people murdered in Mexico by Fast and Furious guns, what do they do? First of all, they admit nothing. They lie about everything. They change the subject. They come up with three new proposals for going to Mars. That's more or less what our top educators have been doing for all these years. Bamboozle pretty well sums it up.
So I've recently been writing about the idea that if we had some strong leaders, Christians, Jews, et al, we could turn this thing around. Easily.
The first piece is called "Public Schools vs. Christianity" on American Thinker.
That suggested a second piece called "Where are the Christian leaders in education?" on RantRave. http://www.rantrave.com/Rant/Where-are-the-Christian-leaders-in-education.aspx
So please, if you're a member of any religious group, pick one of these articles and suggest the other members of the group read it. Then everyone talks about it in order to find if you agree on enough things to fight back.
Especially show the article to people who might step forward and provide leadership.
One important point developed in these articles is that religious leaders cannot be expected to know the ins and outs of educational nonsense. So each leader needs to have some advisors, a committee, a little group of friends who are interested in education and can explain the sophistries. This is essential. The Education Establishment overwhelms people with BS piled three stories high. I never said the education professors are not smart in a con artist sort of way. They spend their whole lives figuring out new ways to sell bad ideas. So they have a great initial advantage. But if the religious leaders will familiarize themselves with the basic theories and methods, they can then rely on the vast scope of their membership to push back.
Here's one way to find out how this stuff works. I have almost 300 or 400 articles on the Internet, where I try to explain all of the dubious schemes. Further, when people contact me, I try to answer their questions.
Or just use Google cleverly. Suppose you want to know about Reform Math. You enter such words as: problems with reform math; complaints about reform math; and similar. Eventually you will find all the best articles published about that topic.
The good news in education is that there is just too much nuttiness and people are finally noticing. Reform Math is nuttiness. Constructivism is nuttiness. Whole Word (a/k/a sight-words) is nuttiness. Common Core is nuttiness. And much else. (Admittedly, I've become quite a cynic. But I'd go so far as to say if our Education Establishment likes it, it's nutty.)
Here is what actually works. We get smart people and educate them well, until they are deeply informed on their major subjects, biology, French, whatever. Then you let these people (we call them teachers) loose in the classroom and expect them to do a good job. Add training in how to make a good presentation, then they'll be able to do that part of it. (With all the digital tools there are now, everything just got much easier.) That's it. That's the essence of education for thousands of years. Can't you almost predict that our Education Establishment will try to do the opposite at every point?
So it's a good time for a counterattack. It's a good time to say to the Education Establishment, you people are sinister and far too interested in grabbing power. You've been getting away with it for decades. But we're sick of it.
Bruce Deitrick Price
- Remain a novelist, artist, poet, and art director. But main activity is writing about education reform.. The schools, now bad due to ideology and laziness, could be easily improved. That claim is clearly explained in new book "Saving K-12--What happened to our public schools. How do we fix them?"I invite everyone to join my crusade or start your own. The worst thing is letting the Education Establishment continue its reign of incompetence.Visit Improve-Education.org. (Or Google Bruce Deitrick Price and any education topic; you'll find some interesting articles. I have 400 ed articles, videos, and book reviews on web. Please use them in your own battles.)
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