The Thinking 

The Education Con Game

September 3, 2012

ALAN writes:

If American parents had any sense, they would laugh at the pretentious nonsense “education experts” routinely write and speak. The purpose of school jargon is not to convey information but to create illusions, to make simple, ordinary things appear mysterious, complicated, and expensive. In 1976, Edwin Newman wrote: “In the field of education, the competition in producing nonsense is intense.” His words are as relevant today as ever.

Recently I happened by chance to see a 12-page booklet entitled “Effective Public School Governance,” a “White Paper” published in 2007 by the “Education Funders of St. Louis,” a group of do-gooders who apparently have more money than they can possibly put to good use. They “engaged a team of education experts” to “study urban school governance.”

English translation: They wanted to figure out how to run schools. But why would they want to do that? Isn’t that absurd on its face? Americans have known how to run schools for a hundred years or more. How come those “education experts” didn’t know that? And precisely what is an “education expert”?

Among the best practices in school board governance,” the booklet tells us, is one that “creates a highly effective infrastructure of people and systems that interacts in a consistent, clear, and jargon-free way to communicate district information with parents, students, staff and the community.”

Got that? A “practice creates an infrastructure.” Pause here to swallow and digest. Would you entrust your children to people who write such Folderol? This is a perfect example of pretentious jargon used by people who claim they oppose jargon. English translation: People will talk with other people.

It is to the people who run public schools and who take the advice of “education experts” like those who write and print such Folderol that American taxpayers continue to surrender their dollars. But wait. There is more, and it gets better – which is to say: It gets worse.

“Atlanta Public Schools [APS] is an example of a locally elected school board that is successfully implementing best practices in school board governance,” the booklet declares. “APS has been commended for their best practices in several areas… Atlanta’s achievements…include reducing the achievement gap…and consolidating schools…”

Isn’t that wonderful? Well, perhaps not precisely wonderful. Those words were published in 2007.

Four years later, in 2011, Atlanta public school teachers, principals, and superintendents were found to have changed test results, lied, falsified papers, destroyed papers, and ignored complaints of misconduct in as many as 44 schools over a span of ten years. It was opportunistic blacks who did those things. And not one among them had the moral stature of an Elizabeth Wright or a Walter Williams.

But it was not opportunistic blacks who concocted mush like “highly effective infrastructure.” It is stupid or avaricious white men and women who do that and have been doing it for decades.

To repeat: If American parents had any sense, they would laugh at such people and the pretentious nonsense they write and speak. If they had more sense, they would look backward to learn from the wisdom of earlier generations of teachers and school boards who knew perfectly well how to run schools, teach children, and enforce standards.

My father was not a highly schooled man, but he was very wise. Upon reading such a booklet, he would know immediately that such people are either fools or frauds. He attended a public elementary school in the 1920s that was locally controlled and wholly accountable. His teachers were competent. They respected him and he respected them. He spoke fondly of them 75 years later. They spoke and wrote plain English. They never pretended to be “education experts.” They would never have been so stupid or pompous as to write things like highly effective infrastructure.” Such use of words, he would say, is the sure mark of a con game.

Professor Richard Mitchell wrote about this education con game in a series of excellent books and essays. So did Edwin Newman. And so do Charlotte Iserbyt, John Taylor Gatto, and Lynn Stuter, whose writings I highly recommend to any of your readers who want to see through the thick fog dispersed quite purposely by “education experts.”

—– Comments —-

Terry Morris writes:

Speaking of education nonsense, a neighbor brought to me a student-parent handbook he’d received from the local public school his children attend, saying he knew I could find something wrong with it. I didn’t need to search far:

The second sentence of the booklet’s foreword declares: “We, the administration and faculty of _____ High School, take this opportunity to say hello and welcome you as a partner in your child’s education.

“Translation: Parents are not educators. You’re welcome to partner with the experts in your child’s education, but let it be understood that We, the education experts, assume the lead and primary role in educating your offspring. Your partnership role is simply to support our methodology and educational philosophy, which the rest of this handbook explains in fuller detail.

Laura writes:

Your partnership role is simply to support our methodology and educational philosophy, which the rest of this handbook explains in fuller detail.

Your partnership also involves your willing subservience to our education mission in your home. You will give up your evenings and much of your leisure time to the important nincompoopery we will ask of your child in the form of projects, book reports and PowerPoint presentations. Please hand these in on time.

We also ask that you slavishly comply with our requests for fundraising. The time and effort you expend “volunteering” will be valuable. “Partnering” is the progressive loss of any awareness that your child is losing the faculty of admiration entirely through our efforts to keep his nose to the grindstone, submerged in facts and liberal sentimentality. Please understand that if you do not volunteer your child will not be chosen for our gifted program and probably won’t get into the college of his choice.

We look forward to working with you. Enclosed are 4,315 consent and information forms. We ask that you sign these and return them immediately to your child’s homeroom teacher. We will be conducting criminal background checks soon on all parents who wish to accompany their children on field trips. Happy School Year!

Mr. Morris writes:

LOL. How did you know what the rest of the handbook says? :-)

Cyndi writes:

Alan’s letter is funny and totally accurate! The experts are using jargon to tell us that they don’t use jargon! I was homeschooling several years ago, so I went down to the Dept of Education library for a look at the curriculum for the grade level my child was officially enrolled in. I went over that “curriculum” a hundred times and while I am of average intelligence I can assure you that I understood not one word or phrase of that entire book. Folderol is not a strong enough word to describe its contents. I think they do that on purpose, so that parents feel helpless and dependent on the school system to “please just take that kid and teach her whatever she needs to learn.”

Tom B. writes from California:

Alan’s post on the education con game brought back memories from when my wife and I were checking out the local schools.

The first school open house we attended, the principal, a white woman in her late 40s, informed us how she had started as the school secretary, and worked her way up to principal. After her talk, (which seemed to be All About Her) the next speaker informed us that the school yard had specially designated “peer monitors” whose job was to “monitor the emotional state of” their peers, and intervene if anyone seemed upset, or sad, or, I guess, committed Facecrime. I looked at my wife and whispered, “That’s OUR job.” After spending another 15 minutes listening to the denizens of the education estrogen ghetto, we both looked at each other, stood up, and left. It’s considered a good school hereabouts.

We ended up enrolling in the local Montessori, a public school, which shared the building with another, regular public school, and still had to comply with all of the breathtaking idiocies of the California educational establishment. I had several confrontations with the staff. At one point, garbage abounded on the campus, with no garbage cans to contain them.

(Vibrancy means trash can be thrown everywhere!) I went into the office, found five ladies just sitting, and asked them who picks up around here, and why weren’t they doing it themselves?

The temperature dropped precipitously.

I was frostily informed that the custodian picked up, but “he’s busy,” and there was no money in the budget for garbage cans, but the PTA was working on it.

My kids were going to a brand new school, less than six years old, and there were no garbage cans? I said, “No.”

Off to Ace Hardware. Six aluminum cans, lids, chains, and locks, were delivered “at pickup time, in the most embarrassing manner possible, please.”

I never got a thank you, or ANY acknowledgment whatsoever.

The cans are still there. My kids are not.

We started homeschooling the following year, after my oldest boy said,” Mommy, I can’t breathe here.” My wife’s statement was,” They want to emasculate our sons.” We occasionally get wistful inquiries from the left-behinds, who sense the wrongness of it all, but who either cannot or will not make the leap to reclaiming their children from an establishment that condones drugging children (chemical lobotomy), but criminalizes spanking.

Laura writes:

You might have gotten a thank you if you had been ordered to buy the cans.

I encountered some nice people when my older son attended public school, but then a few nice people are essential to keeping this bureaucratic behemoth functioning. Others were not so nice, especially the cafeteria workers who viewed themselves as prison guards. I especially remember the woman who took calls from parents reporting that their children were sick. “He’s still sick?” she said accusingly, when my son was in bed with pneumonia. There was also the school phone recording that chirpily informed parents that if they did not hand in a note from a doctor for any absence that was longer than three days, the absence was officially “unlawful.” We received a certified letter threatening us with charges in district court for parental negligence even though we did hand in the required paperwork.

In the sheer volume of paperwork schools demand of parents, they bring their control to exquisite refinement. The effect of so many forms is to remind parents that there are legal ramifications to all disobedience and to render them anxious, docile and bored out of their skulls.

Parents, by the way, at many private schools are not much more in control and are often groveling toadies of the school administration and teachers. They are rendered obsequious and compliant by the control schools have over their children’s future in the form of grades and teacher recommendations. What holds this control up is the belief that what college one attends determines everything. And perhaps it does in a world in which so many other forms of community have been seriously weakened or destroyed.

Jane S. writes:

Richard Rorty, former philosophy professor at Princeton University, Universality and Truth, in Robert B. Brandom (ed.), Rorty and his Critics, pp. 21-22:

“. . . we try to arrange things so that students who enter as bigoted, homophobic, religious fundamentalists will leave college with views more like our own … we do our best to convince these students of the benefits of secularization. We assign first-person accounts of growing up homosexual to our homophobic students for the same reasons that German schoolteachers in the postwar period assigned The Diary of Anne Frank… You have to be educated in order to be … a participant in our conversation … So we are going to go right on trying to discredit you in the eyes of your children, trying to strip your fundamentalist religious community of dignity, trying to make your views seem silly rather than discussable. We are not so inclusivist as to tolerate intolerance such as yours … I think those students are lucky to find themselves under the benevolent Herrschaft [domination] of people like me, and to have escaped the grip of their frightening, vicious, dangerous parents …” –

Lydia Sherman writes:

Homeschoolers do not have to report to anyone when their children are sick. It is so much more convenient to have them at home and not have to tell the school that the children will not be there. Homeschooling is complete freedom in that respect. The parents do not have to report their activities or inactivities to anyone. The school does not have any business in the choice of curriculum or the progress of learning or the teaching methods. Homeschooling embraces a declaration of independence which frees them from the dictates of the so-called experts.

Robin writes:

I grew up with a feminist mother who left me as a “latchkey kid” when I was eight years old, in order that she might pursue her “higher calling” of educating other people’s children in the public school system. This was in the late seventies.

I watched my mother move from teacher’s aide and student, to primary school teacher, to lead teacher, to lead teacher of the year, to curriculum writer for the state, to State Teacher of the Year, to World Traveling Curriculum Consultant to the State (I don’t know what the title really was, but that’s what she did – she left my Daddy and me every summer for three months to go to China, Russia, Alaska, the Amazon…to study cultural curriculum and come back and report to the State, and write some more curriculum.)

Her liberal vote canceled my father’s conservative one until he was too ill to vote and passed away. She practically worshipped the NEA.

There is a point to this.

When my son was in seventh grade, he began coming home with extremely disturbing “artwork” that he had drawn or sketched in class. No one brought this to my attention from the school he was attending, I found the artwork myself in his homework folder. It contained images of graphic rape, albeit using stick figures. He was also reprimanded for having “scissors” in his backpack on the bus: considered a weapon, and another minority student saw them in the backpack and accused my son of threatening violence towards him with the scissors. These behaviors seemed so out of character for my son, and I had to address this at once with his school.

I went to the school with the drawings, which I explained were created during class. I asked how this could possibly be, and also asked about the boy that created the drawing with my son. I was told that this other boy had been a problem in the past. Other than that information, no one at the school seemed the slightest bit concerned about what my son and another boy had drawn, and that they admitted they drew it together during a supposedly supervised English class!

Of course, I was dealing with my son at home and with our pastor regarding his part in the drawings, and the accusation of violent behavior. I had gone through a particularly devastating divorce when our son was but two years old, due to his father’s infidelity. Though his father had remarried this other woman, neither of us had considered the aftermath of anger that fell upon our son, and it was now manifesting itself fully.

I soon decided he was never going to ride the bus again. I also decided that I would take the day off of work and “observe” this English class. I was astounded at what I saw. The time limit of the class was practically expired by the time the teacher spoke, as she had been forced by State nutrition regulations to FEED the students snacks during her class! Chaos reigned; she had no authority or control over any of the students. Some were standing on their desks. Food was everywhere. Drink was everywhere. Loud noises abounded. Some quietly sat at their desks, doing quiet activities alone, but most were engaged in the party atmosphere at hand. I was disgusted, and went to confront the principal (a woman).

Upon confronting the principal, I learned that English class was scheduled in such a way that it “conflicted” with State nutritional programs that required poor students to be offered a snack and a beverage. So much for English class! I was fuming. I informed the Principal that I was withdrawing my son from school, and asked her what was required, as I would be homeschooling him.

I spent a week with my pastor’s wife who homeschooled her three children, and she helped me order curriculum appropriate for my son’s age. She filled in the gaps where needed, and helped us join a homeschool co-op in the area for my son’s physical and social needs, as he was an only child. I quit my full-time job immediately, knowing the gravity of my son’s needs, and began working part-time making jewelry at odd hours where I could take my son with me. He even began to learn to make some men’s items that he liked, and also worked in the store to clean and help out the owner, a church friend of mine.

Things began to look up.

Until my NEA-loving mother found out, and conspired with my ex-husband – who took my son from me and won joint custody, because of the “insane” activity I was involved in: homeschooling my son. How dare I do such a thing, when the State does such a fine job?

I would like to impress upon other readers that there is a spirit attached to public education in America that is truly evil. I know that sounds harsh, but I fully believe it to be true. I have seen my own mother at war with her only daughter, thinking she’s “saving” her grandson by legally bullying his mother into forcing him back into public school. If something has that much of an emotional and mental hold upon another human being, I consider it to be anti-Christ and pure evil.

Kevin M. writes:

I read with deep remorse Robin’s letter re her feminist mother and her son’s problems. I don’t doubt her account at all.

Not long ago I saw a U.S. government chart displaying the rise in girls’ grades since 1960 and the boys’ decline over the same period. It looked like a stretched out “X”.

How is it possible that a federal agency charged with the administration of the education of our children spend half a century collecting data that shows the girls skyrocketing in performance and our boys plummeting into irrelevance and not see a problem? They don’t because–and I believe this with all my heart–the whole thing was orchestrated to produce precisely those results. The education system, the NEA and the teachers unions are seething with feminists that know–and it doesn’t take the RAND Corporation to figure this out–that if you educationally hobble boys, you will eventually crash their admissions into college. That’s the key to establishing a matriarchy: the fewer men who are educated to take high-pay and high-status positions, the easier it is for women to control society. It is in fact the only possible outcome.

Evil is the only word for this. Women seek men who are good at something, good earners and well adjusted. Above all they like men who are high status. Hanna Rosin’s career was created by her feminist cronies over the past forty years. Christina Hoff-Sommers’ book, The War on Boys, is next on my reading list.

I hate to sound like a tinfoil hat-wearing loon, but the public education system in the U.S. is one of the most morally grotesque conspiracies in modern history. Millions of lives are being destroyed by feminists during childhood, and it goes on unchallenged.

If I had a son, I wouldn’t let him near a public school, nor would my daughter attend one (I have no intention of raising a fembot).

Our nation is not merely in a state of decline; it is on the cusp of collapse. Matriarchies implode. All of them have.

Terry Morris writes:

Pursuant to Robin’s closing statements in her correspondence, I would reassure her that there are those among us who understand precisely where she’s coming from. After all, if “every child is entitled to a public school education,” a very common refrain these days, spoken by people who know little to nothing about what education is on the one hand, and by yet others who know exactly what it is on the other, then the logical conclusion one must arrive at ultimately is that any child who is not receiving a “free” education in the public schools is being neglected by his parents, which, of course, is intolerable.

Hence, about ten years ago my home was visited by a representative from OK DHS, Child Welfare Division. Someone had anonymously contacted them with the concern that my children were “not attending school.” Of course, my children WERE attending school, just not public school. When the DHS worker (a man who, as it turns out, had a level head on his shoulders) asked, “May I ask why you homeschool your children?,” I answered that “You don’t have the time, and I don’t have the patience at this very moment to explain to you the long of it. However, I can sum it up in the following words – For Religious reasons.” He quickly replied, “You mean Christianity?” I responded, “Is there any other kind?” I concede it was a smart remark on my part, since my tone was one of “you people just aren’t real bright, are ya?” But his reaction was surprisingly docile and sympathetic: “Not in my opinion, no.” That is the point at which our conversation became more civil.

Up until that point, tensions were extremely high. Indeed, when I answered the door for this guy, he introduced himself asking whether I knew what DHS is. When I answered “Yes, I know what DHS is,” he fired back, “Oh you do huh?, would you care to explain HOW you know about DHS?” This, of course, was a stupid question to start with, so not only had he, in that instant, offended me with his accusatory tone, but had also managed to insult my intelligence t’boot, effectively adding insult to injury. I simply, and calmly, turned to my wife and said, “Pardon us while we settle this outside.” Then walked out, closing the door behind me.

What ensued for the next ten to fifteen minutes was a heated exchange in which I more or less instructed him that as a “public servant” he worked for me, not the other way around. Secondly, that I did not appreciate his accusatory tone, which he would have to drop if he wished to have a civil conversation with me about the issue at hand, more or less countering with “how could anyone remotely aware of his surroundings NOT know what DHS is. I also said I would not allow him in my home until I could see a real change of attitude in him.

When I did invite him in a few minutes later, my wife had the children all sitting in the living room, anxiously awaiting the opportunity to meet a new friend. With the exception of our eldest son, they had no idea that anything was wrong. So when I introduced him to them, they immediately began to open a conversation with him, winning him over quick, fast, and in a hurry. As you can tell, this all ended very well. But perhaps the most poignant moment was when he sincerely asked, “Terry, if you were in my shoes and had my job, what would you do after a meeting like this?” I very simply said, “I would find another job.” And my understanding is that he did.

Resist all temptations to take advantage of any form of “public assistance.” Again, by receiving food stamps, rent assistance, child care assistance and things of the sort, you might just as well say to the government, in explicit terms, that you’re incapable of taking care of your family, thus you cannot be trusted with your child’s education either. Besides, God wants us to trust in him to supply all of our needs, not in the state.

In short, to protect themselves insofar as humanly possible, homeschoolers must be very vigilant in not giving the State reason to invade their privacy, and leave the rest in God’s hands.

 Laura writes:

These intrusions do occur and they are wrong. I agree that one must be extremely wary. But it’s important to bear in mind that the majority of the millions of families who are homeschooling, or have homeschooled in the recent past, have not been harrassed by the government.

Mr. Morris responds:

You’re right that the majority of homeschoolers aren’t harrassed by the government. But that’s probably due to the impractibility of doing so as much as anything else.

But I didn’t mean to imply that I thought of that visitation by the DHS as “government harrassment.” In the first place, the person primarily at fault was whoever made the anonymous call, not DHS.

Second, although the case worker initially insulted me with his accusatory manner, which was wrong on his part, as I said in my comments, he had a good head on his shoulders and all worked out very well. I never considered his aggressive approach initially to be “harrassment,” but rather the excercise of poor people skills.

My point about sort of ‘flying under the government’s radar’ was intended as a prescription for avoiding government harrassment. Note that in my comments I focus a lot of attention on our fellow citizens, who I personally consider more dangerous than the government. As with that particular case, the government was alerted by a fellow citizen, it did not pick my family “at random” for a visitation.

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