Monday, November 18, 2013

Readin', Writin', and 'Rithmetic........

The “dumbing” of America has just about reached its goal!

I have been writing about this very subject now for about five years. My first stab at it was an article concerning Michelle Rhee and her attempt to transform our Nation’s school system. The more I
researched this woman, the more skeptical I became about her motives and her process. It soon 
became clear to me that she was off on the wrong track. She neglected to link Corporate America 
and its money and power to the Public Education System in this Country. If I didn’t feel that this 
phenomenon was unremarkable, I wouldn’t have given it much ink. I could make a long story of it, 
here, but I will spare you the drudgery.
In a nutshell, my first-hand experience with this problem 
happened when I was able to continue my “higher” education at the ripe old age of forty three. I had 
always felt that I had received a better than average education throughout my youth. It wasn’t until I encountered students at the college level that were about half my age that I realized just how good my childhood education was.

I swear on a stack of cheeseburgers that none of these “kids” could put a complete thought down on paper. They couldn’t do Mathematics without a calculator. They had absolutely no idea what was happening socially, economically, or politically in this Country, not to mention the rest of the World. And, so it was that from that point on I was very aware that something sinister and counterproductive was going on with our Public School System. Whenever I see the likes of this “dumbing” of America, I have to ask who’s pulling the strings; 
who’s spending the money; and, who are the Power Brokers behind the scenes.
The article, below, comes to much the same conclusion as I did. Corporate 
America has had their sleazy little fingers in the pie for some forty years. 
They have executed the old “divide and conquer” theory by creating a Nation 
of numbskulls who will drink their Kool-Aide, and toe the line. What better 
Labor Force could any CEO want?

Monday, 18 November 2013 08:50
The Fraudulent 1% Campaign to Stigmatize Public Schools as "Socialist Failures"

Right Wing Heartland Institute President Joseph Bast called the public school system a "socialist regime." Michelle Rhee cautions us against commending students for their 'participation' in sports and other activities.Privatizers believe that any form of working together as a community is anti-American. To them, individual achievement is all that matters. They're now applying their winner-take-all profit motive to our children.

We're Sliding Backwards, Towards "Separate and Unequal"
In 1954, the Supreme Court decision in Brown vs. the Board of Education seemed to place our country on the right track. Chief Justice Earl Warren said that education "is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms." Thurgood Marshall insisted on "the right of every American to an equal start in life."

But then we got derailed. We've become a nation of inequality, worse than ever before, worse than during the racist "separate but equal" policy of Plessy vs. Ferguson in 1896. The 
Civil Rights Project at UCLA shows that "segregated schools are systematically linked to unequal educational opportunities." The Economic Policy Institute tells us that "African American students are more isolated than they were 40 years ago."

The privatizers clamor for vouchers and charters to improve education, but such methods generally don't serve those who need it most. According to a 
Center on Education Policy report, private schools serve 12 percent of the nation's elementary and secondary students, but only one percent of disabled students. Forty-three percent of public school students are from minority families, compared to 24% of private school students.

Meanwhile, as teachers continue to get blamed, the 
Census Bureau tells us that an incredible 38 percent of black children live in poverty.

The Underprivileged Have Been Cheated Out Of Taxes
A Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) report revealed that total K-12 education cuts for fiscal 2012 were about $12.7 billion.

90 percent of K-12 funding comes from state and local taxes. But in 2011 and 2012, 155 of the largest U.S. corporations paid only about half of their required state taxes. That comes to $14 billion per year in unpaid taxes, more than the K-12 cuts.

Untaxed and Unqualified Foundations Want To "Save Our Schools"
The "starve the beast" mentality allows the privatizers to claim that our "Soviet-style" schools don't work, and that a business approach must be used instead. Philanthropists like Bill Gates and Eli Broad and Michael Bloomberg and Rupert Murdoch and the Walton family, who have   little Educational experience among them, and who have little accountability to the public, are promoting "education reform" with lots of standardized testing.

But according to the 
National Research Council, "The tests that are typically used to measure performance in education fall short of providing a complete measure of desired educational outcomes in many ways." Diane Ravitch notes that the test-based Common Core standards were developed by a Gates-funded organization with almost no public input. Desperate states had to adopt the standards to get funding.
Bill Gates may be well-intentioned, but he's a tech guy, and his programming of children into educational objects is disturbing. One of his ideas is to videotape teachers and then analyze their performances. The means of choosing 'analysts' is unclear. Another Gates idea is the Galvanic Skin Response bracelet, which would be attached to a child to measure classroom engagement, and ultimately gauge teacher performance. It all sounds like a drug company's test lab.
As noted by Ravitch and others, philanthropic organizations tend to contribute to "like-minded entities," which are likely to exclude representatives of the neediest community organizations. They are also tax-exempt. And when educational experiments go wrong, they can just leave their mess behind and move on to their next project.

Getting Past Our "Exceptionalism"
If we're willing to look beyond our borders for help, we will see the short-sightedness of our educational "reforms." Finland's schools were considered mediocre 30 years ago, but they've achieved a remarkable turnaround by essentially challenging their teachers before they're entrusted with the welfare of the children. Most Finnish teachers are unionized, and they undergo rigorous masters-level training to ensure proficiency in the teaching profession, which is held in the same high esteem as law and medicine. In keeping with this respect for learning, government funding is applied equally to all schools, classes in the arts are available to all students, and tuition is free.

As a result, Finnish students, who are 
not subjected to standardized testing, finish at or near the top of international comparisons for reading, math, and science.

It's not just Finland with such impressive results. Research at the National Center on Education and the Economy has
confirmed that educational systems in Japan, Shanghai, and Ontario, Canada have prospered with an emphasis on the preparation of teachers for the essential task of instructing their young people.

A Strong Community Leads To Individual Success
George Lakoff summarizes: "The Public provides freedom...Individualism begins after the roads are built, after individualists have had an education, after medical research has cured their diseases...

Public education is vital to the promise of equal opportunity for all. But it will only succeed if we work together as a community, and stop listening to the voices of profit and inexperience.

Paul Buchheit
7355 W Ibsen
Chicago IL 60631
Paul Buchheit is a college teacher, a writer for progressive publications, and the founder and developer of social justice and educational websites (,,


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