May 18, 2016
Campaign To Dumb Down All US Education Proceeding As Planned; Cambridge, MA A Leader
There is no question that American public schools have been dumbed down. The government's own report in 1983, "A Nation At Risk," said the schools are so bad that they might well be a clever subversive trick by an unfriendly foreign power.
We can go back to the early 1950s, to a book written by a prominent professor of history, Arthur Bestor. His title says it all: "Educational Wastelands: The Retreat from Learning in our Public Schools." (This was one of many books with a similar message. Note that Why Johnny Can't Read came along in 1955.)
It's a fact that our secondary schools have been dumbed down for a long time. Let's give credit where it's due. Our Education Establishment has done a bang-up job of undermining traditional education and imposing so-called progressive education on our schools. (I say "so-called" because progressive usually devolves to regressive and/or repressive.)
In practice, dumbing down means that today's high school graduates possess less information and fewer skills than was the case 25 or 50 years ago. They have lower scores on their SATs. They can't write as well, think as well, or study as well. They can't perform academically as well as kids did decades ago.
One immediate result should be no surprise: a great percentage of incoming college students need remedial training, more than half of them at community colleges.
Note that we're paying to educate students in secondary school, then we pay to educate the same students in the same subjects a second time. Wouldn't it be more cost-effective (and certainly more logical) if the K-12 schools were run properly? Of course.
But the bad news is just starting. There are other damages that may be even more costly. Millions of unprepared students will exert downward pressure on every aspect of college life. This is already happening.
Colleges will have a dire choice. Maintain their traditional standards, in which case they would have to flunk out a great percentage of the students and lose all that government funding. Or steadily degrade their standards to accommodate the low quality of incoming freshmen.
One's first hope is that the colleges – "higher education," as they once proudly called it – would resolve to hold the high ground.
[. . .]
The problem is that the Education Establishment in control of K-12 will try, relentlessly and shamelessly, to subvert the colleges, for two separate reasons.
First, the typical student they're graduating is not very good. They can try to improve those graduates, or, the likely option, they can try to silence anyone who might complain. By lowering standards, you guarantee fewer complaints.
[. . .]
K-12 is now overrun by counterproductive sophistries: cooperative learning, project-based learning, constructivism, self-esteem, alternative assessment, and many more. By forcing these methods into the colleges, the methods become securely locked in at the K-12 level. The Education Establishment can then say to the parents and community: We want to do what's done at the college level; you know it's good!
[. . .]
Fundamentally, traditionalists view education as the development of an individual's intellectual skills. Progressives see education as a tool for social and cultural change. Let me reduce this to the bleak reality. If a lot of students have politically correct opinions about global warming and transsexuals, progressives consider this outcome successful, even if students learn little else.
[. . .]
One Ivy League university already boasts about its dedication to "inclusion." The problem is that everything that is "included" as official campus doctrine requires the exclusion of anything in the way of that step. "Inclusion" ends up meaning exclusion. But nobody will be able to think or speak critically about this trade-off because such discussion will not be allowed. Colleges will have more taboos, censorship, speech codes, and safe spaces. Finally, demanding higher standards and better education will be considered unreasonable, if not outright racist and elitist. You may not be legally permitted to ask for higher standards.
[. . .]
This country's Education Establishment soldiers have created 40 million functional illiterates. I think they're proud of it. I think they'd be happy to spread the blight.
May 11, 2016
Now They're Dumbing Down the Colleges
By Bruce Deitrick Price
* * *
Remarkable how feelings drive the education industrial complex, where the Therapeutic State shares power with teachers unions. If students, teachers and politicians worked toward hiring the best teachers, that might increase the number of educated students. But today in Cambridge it is all about identity politicians using feelings to gain more money and power. No wonder US schools are trending down, Trump is so popular, and will be the next President. Most of my teachers were women. I was able to learn from them in spite of feeling uncomfortable in the classes. Are all classes focused on feelings today?
student Julia Lowfleury said she has never had a teacher of color or one who looks like her. Because of this, she said she often feels uncomfortable in class. According to the Educators of Color Group at CRLS, Lowfleury’s situation is not uncommon or new.
“I need to know there’s going to be someone there who has maybe been in the same situations I have, who has been raised in the same background or has the same religious views and can understand the same problems I face. I might not find that in teachers who are from a white, upper-middle-class family,” Lowfleury said at a School Committee meeting Tuesday night.
[. . .]
The issue was not an agenda item, so the committee did not discuss it further at the meeting. Although it is not permitted to address non-agenda items during public comment, the committee allowed an exception for the group.
[. . .]
Kim Parker, of the Educators of Color Group and an English teacher at CRLS, said there is a revolving door within CPSD and CRLS that does not retain faculty of color. She said this is due to a lack of administrative support in confronting systematic issues of race and racism, as well as evaluations and evaluators that are not culturally responsive.
[. . .]
The Cambridge School Committee set a goal of having 30 percent of faculty and administration be of color at Cambridge Public Schools. While CRLS meets the 30 percent standard, Parker said her group would like the percentage to be filled by core faculty, not including administration.
[. . .]
[School Committee Member Harding said] we need to keep our eye on the ball and that diversity matters.”
[. . .]
Michelle Li, a 10th-grade English teacher at CRLS who also spoke out in support of hiring more faculty of color, said parents have told her on several occasions how thrilled they are for their children to have an Asian English teacher.
“The unspoken message here is two-fold. First, that their child has gone through many years of CPS and is just now having their first experience with an Asian teacher, and second, that Miss Li teaches English, not math, science or Chinese, but English,” she said.
As a personal anecdote, Li spoke of a time she bonded with an Asian student who used chopsticks to eat fruit in class. Moments like those, Li said, validate the richness of the students’ varied backgrounds and interests.
“It builds bridges between cultures, and signals to our students that teachers appreciate who they are and strive to deliver lessons that are culturally relevant,” she said.
CRLS student Mary Gashaw said she would be more likely to feel comfortable in classrooms if she had teachers of color, and that the current situation in schools is not ideal.
As far as demands, the Educators of Color Group is asking the School Committee for a comprehensive external evaluation of procedures used by CRLS evaluators by the Lawyers’ Committee on Civil Rights and Economic Justice to evaluate trends and their impact on retention of teachers of color. The group is also asking for “leveled-up” classrooms, bringing the current faculty of color percentage up to 30 percent and maintaining that annually, and support for educational professionals to pursue certification while providing certification prep paid for by the district to aid with passing the Massachusetts Test for Education Licensure.
Members are also are asking for district-wide cultural competency training to make all educators and administrators proficient,
[. . .]
“I feel like a diverse faculty improves every child’s education,” Parker said.
Cambridge teachers, students call for more educators of color at Rindge
By Natalie Handy
Posted May 18, 2016 at 10:16 AM
Updated at 6:58 PM