Thursday, March 13, 2008

War Against Intelligence

“According to a 1993 national survey by the Educational Testing Service
of 26,000 adults with an average of 12.4 years of schooling, only 3.5% of the sample had the literacy skills to do traditional college level work.”
-- Bruce N. Shortt, The Harsh Truth About Public Schools

Are your children bright? Most kids are. Chances are that you see their intelligence and strengths. You are aware of their interests and inclinations. You sent them off to school at a young age with the hope that the school would inform them of needed facts and knowledge as well as encourage their strengths and feed their interests. However, the public schools no longer do what parents expect, and that fact is the reason for the school wars.

Today’s schools have reduced the content of all instruction by about four grade levels, compared to fifty years ago. Teachers are now “facilitators” while the children reach “consensus” about their subjects. The CAPT test, Connecticut’s high school “exit exam,” is based on material offered only up to eighth grade. The courses, textbooks and tests have been dumbed down to that level. International testing shows that, compared to students in other advance countries, “The longer our students are in school, the lower their comparative performance,” says Gordon Ambach, former head of the Council of Chief State School Officers. He should know.

It gets worse: The schools have changed in purpose from education to political and social indoctrination, with “equality” as the goal. Schools don’t care how much children learn, they are primarily interested in what kids “are like.” The school’s goal is to transform children’s varied attitudes, values and opinions from those of traditional families to those desired by the government. The government seeks to turn a population of diverse children into a mass of predictable citizens who know the same things and believe the same things, with no one ahead or behind too far. That is why today’s public schools spend lots of our money trying to raise the bottom children up to the middle mass, but nothing to help high-achievers. In fact, they are designed to prevent the brightest kids from reaching their full potential. Now you know why “one-size-fits-all” and “dumbing down” are the major policies of public schools. The only way they can achieve “equality” of outcomes is by lowering their standards.

Today, the schools have a far different agenda for our children from the one we expect of them. They are failing to provide the children with the needed basic skills, knowledge and information, but, worse, they are interested in finding children’s weaknesses and psychological “needs” instead of their strengths and interests. The school system makes the basic assumption that all children have “disabilities” and need the school to provide “treatments” for them. The result is that school has become therapeutic and psychological even to the point of requiring many children to take mind-altering drugs such as Ritalin, in order to control their behavior.

The school system has several reasons to do this – all of which work directly against most parents’ hopes and wishes for their children. The government is seeking to mould the citizens of our country into a docile, easily controlled mass that can be employed or will become soldiers who do exactly what they are told to do, and nothing else. What does this all mean? It means that government school is no longer for the benefit of children. It is for the benefit of a government that seeks to control, instead of being controlled by, the people.

Unfortunately for America, our country needs well-educated people now, not dumbed-down people. There lies the School Wars, pitting the government school establishment against the rest of us. Government school offers Artificial Stupidity – turning bright kids into ignorant robots; our children need the exact opposite. The schools are turning intelligent children into stupid adults by the millions simply by not offering them what they need, while offering them large quantities of what they do not need, or want. I believe the situation is well described by Thomas Sowell: “In an age of artificial intelligence, too many of our schools are producing artificial stupidity.”

4 comments:

Carletta said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carletta said...

Ned,

My kids are 7, 4 and 1, and we are just now beginning our homeschool journey.

We are what I describe as "relaxed". I taught my oldest to read, and we work on math and language arts skills daily. Other than that we just live life. My children have many interets and love learning.

As my son gets older, I am feeling conflict between knowing that the public schools' programs and teaching methods are useless, and making sure my son receives all the education he needs for successful living.

You speak in your posts about how public schools dumb students down and fail to meet minimum standards, yet you unschooled your child and never used texts books.

How did you unschool, while still making sure your son met the academic standards public schools are failing to meet?

Carletta

(I couldn't figure out how to edit my first comment for typos, so I deleted and reposted it.)

Ned Vare said...

Carletta,
We recommend doing exactly what you are doing in a relaxed style.
There is No way to "make sure your son receives all the education he needs for successful living." However, you can be certain that the schools will not do that.

Our son was always curious, and he liked to read. He was always in charge of his own learning and never used school books, but read a great deal from libraries and elsewhere.

We knew that our son was far ahead of the school "standards," because those are so incredibly low and also because kids who don't meet them are promoted anyway.

Give your kids as much real life experience as you can. Tell them they are in charge of their own education. Tell them that they are free to learn whatever interests them. Your job is to support them in their interests as much as possible. Trust them. Trust yourself.
Ned

Sheri said...

Thank You Ned.

I just recently found your site and I must say that I really appreciate your perspective.

I've always felt strongly that school was not the best place for my kids but it took me a long time to decide to just not send her back because I faced some pretty harsh critism for even just thinking about it.

Your posts affirm many of my long held beliefs about the public school system and it's nice to know that it's not just me who thinks this way.