“Public education as we know it is a lost cause. Claims of school effectiveness will be met with increased skepticism and even outright opposition.”
- Myron Lieberman, Public Education: An Autopsy
The government schools claim to be educating children. Yet, more and more people (and international tests) now say that they are failing to do so. Worse, when they fail, they blame the children, parents or “society,” but never themselves. Not only are they failing, but they are dishonest. Incredibly, their attitude is, “We are not responsible for the children’s learning.” That, in fact, was the legal argument the teacher union used in court a few years back to defend Hartford’s school meltdown. The system seems to want children to be educated before they arrive in school. Today the schools expect parents to do much of the teaching at home.
Dishonesty is the culture of the school system. Their PR says: “We stand for excellence in education.” When parents hear such a claim, they believe that it means the schools teach the essential skills and useful information (3Rs) that children need for productive and satisfying lives--in other words: a traditional schooling. Instead, what do the public schools offer? Sad to say, the public school system has been changed (decades ago) from offering basic skills to one that is used to condition children to approved beliefs, opinions and attitudes that will make the machinery of government run smoothly and create a predictable obedient populace. That purpose– really social engineering--is the opposite of what most parents want for their children. The result is continuous wars between parents and the schools.
The school employees are trained (wrongly) to think of parents as incompetent--unable to educate their own children. Those employees are also trained to consider themselves “professionals” who take responsibility for “the whole child.” But in fact they have less education than the average college graduate, and are no better qualified or trained to be effective teachers than average parents are. Besides, much of what is taught today is deeply flawed and of suspicious origin. Therefore, teachers’ assumptions and attitudes about both themselves and parents are false.
In order to understand the public school system, we need to know its origin. In about 1840, this country’s industrial, political, and military leaders needed an army and a workforce for the coming industrial revolution–soldiers and factory workers. They admired Prussia’s system that turned out obedient soldiers to fight their frequent battles with Napoleon. The US copied the Prussian system of forced schooling and indoctrination including kindergarten intended to separate children emotionally from their parents. Thus, the system sets up conflicts with parents by “pitting the needs of social machinery against the needs of the human spirit. It is a war of mechanism against flesh and blood,” according to John Taylor Gatto’s Underground History of American Education.
Government schooling has never been about educating the youth. It is about political agendas only. Of course, a certain level of basic skill is needed even by factory workers, but Henry Ford was the first to abandon the hype that robot-like work requires years of “education.” Public schooling has been a watered-down product ever since, becoming more so all the time. Thus, the system became both anti-family and anti-intellect. “Dumbing down” describes it and it’s working perfectly. We have paid the price of becoming a nation of children who consign our own children to state-run factory schooling.
Can a dishonest education system do anything other than constantly attempt to deceive the public about its purpose and intentions, especially when it forces the public to pay for it? No, it cannot. Government schools must constantly tell us that they are serving our interests while doing the exact opposite – turning our kids into a dependent, obedient mass while preventing them from becoming self-sufficient, self-governing well-educated individuals. It seems to fool most people.
Ned Vare is an architectural designer, former school teacher, businessman, author and was Libertarian Party candidate for Governor of CT. His articles appear on line at www.borntoexplore.org; he is an unschooling advocate.
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