Friday, January 28, 2011

Why Schools Keep Failing

Educators have created the very culture that has severely damaged the ability to educate children

By Dean Kalahar

It’s not a headline anymore to say that the public school system needs to do a better job educating our children. The good news is there are successful education reforms based on fundamental principles of human nature and learning that are just waiting to be utilized.

Unfortunately, the monolithic public school cartel constantly tells the public it is implementing the panacea for the ills of public schooling. Yet, the constant reforms and programs offered over the last two decades have proven to be ineffective. One has to wonder, if educators are working so hard on fixing the schools, why have the problems in our schools become progressively worse?

The reason is simple. The “feel good” public school ideology built in the 1960’s continues to drive school pedagogy. School “experts” simply repackage the same old inefficient programs using the same faulty education model. Now, after 50 years of undermining the social fabric of our nation, educators have created the very culture that makes educating children so difficult.

The progressive education model has created a self fulfilling prophesy of geometrically increasing systemic failure. To paraphrase Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, schools have been the catalyst for “defining deviancy downward.” In short, the more liberal educators push their worldview in schools, the more the culture corrodes, and the harder it is to teach kids who grow up in a dysfunctional world.

Until the addicts of progressive education admit they have a problem, they will continue to create at best, self-centered illiterates who feel entitled. At worst, they will all but destroy a great nation. Educators need a reality check of self-awareness to overcome their dissonance.

What has progressive education policy created in our culture and schools?

  • Children of single mothers — particularly teen mothers — suffer disproportionately high poverty rates, impaired development and low school performance.
  • In 2009, 41% of children born in the USA were born to unmarried mothers (up from 5% a half-century ago). That includes 73% of non-Hispanic black children, 53% of Hispanic children and 29% of non-Hispanic white children.
  • One-third of children are overweight or obese.
  • 75% of students are in such a poor state that they are ineligible for military service for reasons ranging from health to drugs to criminal records to lack of education, while 23% of those who try to enlist fail the basic entrance exam.
  • In a large majority of never-married mothers, by the time a child is 5, most of the fathers are gone and the child has little contact with him. Many of the mothers go on to new relationships, where the children are hampered by repeated transitions that harm their development.
  • In 2009, for the first time since the Census began tallying marriages, the proportion of never-married Americans ages 25 through 34 exceeded those who had been married.
  • Eight reauthorizations of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 have failed to improve achievement or graduation rates.
  • Our government spends more per capita on education than any other of the 34 wealthiest countries in the world except for Switzerland. Inflation-adjusted K-12 spending has tripled over the past 40 years.
  • American test scores and graduation rates are stagnant, and nearly a third drop out or can't finish high school in four years. One in 10 high schools is a “dropout factory.” Students’ performance in one of the most prestigious global math competitions has been so abysmal that the U.S. simply withdrew altogether.

Despite these statistics, the connection to progressive education policies and their toxic cultural manifestations go unseen. Today, the same 60’s “Edu-crats” continue to demand power and control over the methodology that guides education. They are blind to the realization that if you use the same recipe you will get the same distasteful results.

Repeating the principles that produce failure is the epitome of insanity. The irony is, the insanity is coming from self anointed “education experts.”

Public school reform is not a difficult “chicken or the egg” question. Progressive schooling created the toxic culture that now inhibits school success. American education needs to go back to the principles of classical economic and political theory for answers. Our schools need a counter-intuitive model that, like capitalism, works better than it sounds instead of continuing with a progressive model that sounds better than it works.

Lindsey Burke, Heritage Foundation
Editorial, USA Today
Michelle Malkin, National Review
George Will, Washington Post

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