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 Post subject: Horrors! Maybe the Schools are Working Just Fine
PostPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2006 12:12 am 
An article that was forwarded to my, by my brother:

--------------------------------------------
by Sheldon Richman, 1995

Most people today are convinced that the public schools are failing. Dissatisfaction with public education is at an all-time high. But have the public schools really failed? That depends on what they were originally set up to do.
In a profound sense, the public schools are not an American institution. They were modeled on the system of public education found in authoritarian Prussia in the early 19th century. After Prussia's defeat by Napoleon in 1807, King Frederick William III reinforced the national school system set up in 1717. Children aged seven to fourteen had to attend school, and parents who did not comply could have their children taken away.

Private schools could exist only so long as they met government standards. Teachers had to be certified, and high-school graduation examinations were necessary to enter the learned professions and the civil service. The schools imposed an official language to the prejudice of ethnic groups living in Prussia. The purpose of the system was to instill nationalism in demoralized Prussia and to train young men for the military and the bureaucracy. As the German philosopher Johann Fichte, a key influence on the system, said, "The schools must fashion the person, and fashion him in such a way that he simply cannot will otherwise than what you wish him to will."

What does that have to do with the United States? Early in our history, education was mainly a private, free-market activity—no compulsory attendance laws, and no school taxes. That system produced the most literate, independent-thinking, self-reliant people in history.

But not everyone was satisfied with the American way of doing things. According to John Taylor Gatto, the New York State Teacher of the Year in 1991:

A small number of very passionate American ideological leaders visited Prussia in the first half of the 19th century; fell in love with the order, obedience and efficiency of its education system; and campaigned relentlessly thereafter to bring the Prussian vision to these shores.
They finally succeeded early in the 20th century.
Just as the Prussian system was intended to unify Germany, the American educators' goal was to create a national culture out of the disparate subcultures that comprised the country in that period. (Catholic immigrants were a prominent target.) "To do that," writes Gatto, "children would have to be removed from their parents and from inappropriate cultural influences."

The modern public school curriculum comes right out of the Prussian system. Gatto says the American educationists imported three major ideas from Prussia. The first was that the purpose of state schooling was not intellectual training but the conditioning of children "to obedience, subordination and collective life." Second, whole ideas were broken into fragmented "subjects," and school days were divided into fixed periods "so that self-motivation to learn would be muted by ceaseless interruptions." Third, the state was posited as the true parent of the children.

Over the years, various fads have seized the education bureaucrats of America, but those fads have been variations on a theme: The public schools are intended to create complacent "good citizens"—not independent thinkers—because political leaders do not like boat-rockers who question things too closely. They prefer citizens who pay their taxes on time and leave them alone to chart the course of the nation. The growth in government power since the advent of public schools is hard to ignore.

So, judged by their purpose, how have the public schools performed?

Not bad, really. Unlike our ancestors' private schools, the public schools produce citizens who look to government to make important decisions for them—from whether to help the poor, to what drugs to take, to how to get an education—and solve societal problems.

In other words, the public schools are working. If we do not like what they have achieved, then we have to junk the Prussian system and move toward an education based on the American principles of free markets and individual liberty. Mere reform is not enough. We need to separate school and state. That's the only sure way to revitalize education, families, and the American spirit.
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From this site:http://www.jim.com/schools.htm

My bro has had problems w/the education establishment his whole life (he's kind of rebellious), and that has extended to his daughter's mis-education at the hands of State bureacrats. I'm kind of mixed, myself, about it. I think there are good and bad teachers, that you can't lob them all together. This article made me think though. Hope you enjoy!


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2006 1:14 am 
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I think the primary purposes of the modern public school are to provide basic skills such as reading, writing, and arithmetic. The other thing it attempts to do is to make people conform to the system. To condition them. To make them obedient as you point out. In the American system the flag is promoted much more so than in Canada. The problem with this whole business though as we have discussed elsewhere is that people are not taught to be critical. LIke, in the current environment patriotism is highly encouraged as opposed to dissent. Criticizing the President and his policies is not condoned. This is bad of course.

But, I think school systems are reflections of society as well. In the United States as well as in Canada the final product may appear mediocre at times. I am talking about the inability of the public school system to produce critical thinkers and people who are literate in many senses of the word. These failures have been noted. People leaving the system are not really job ready, as it were. And, that is one of the goals of a public educational system.

Current problems in the system also include problems of security. Children actually get killed in schools as we have noticed most recently. We all know about the Colorado instance not too long ago. Children are victims. Victims in a public place. The media does not help matters either by glorifying these type of events. I think you can relate the security of children, things like actual death and bullying to problems of power. Children, generally speaking, are seen as having less power than others in society so they would be natural targets for someone seeking to take out his frustrations on society. I believe bullying to be the same kind of problem here. People with little power take their aggression out on people with even less power. I think that is the essence of bullying. As a child in my teenage years I was bullied to a certain degree so I know of what I speak. And, looking back I can relate its occurrence to the concept of power.

But, the school system is also a source of indoctrination. Yes, I think that is intended to be one of its main functions. In my own personal case in Canada I attended primary school in the mid-fifties. British Columbia was a former British colony and still had many of the features of things that came from Britain. We had to dance around the May pole, for example. Do they do such things in the States in the fifties? We sat in straight lines in wooden desks and we even had to say the Lords Prayer at the beginning of class. Good grief. But, no one questioned it at the time. You would never see such a thing in a public school now here in British Columbia. And, they even had corporal punishment. (This was eliminated a long time ago.) Many things to instill obedience into you in a Brtish fashion.

But, I was a natural rebel and the system did not get me entirely. I started out rebelling early by coming to school with dirty hands. And, later on I questioned Chrisianity and authority in general and wondered why prostitution was illegal, as a matter of principle of course. It was a natural thing for a rebel to think about. I was, however, a strong athlete in primary school and believed strongly in competition. I think the system taught me this well. In my personal blog I talk a bit about my early childhood here:

Quote:
We had to walk to school and I remember the metal lunch kits that we had and how the food smelled inside. In the fifties we had to recite the Lords Prayer and we used ball pens and we learned the McLean Method of writing. My teacher used to send me home sometimes because I had dirty hands. We sat in wooden desks that had holes to place ink in and I remember writing with quill pens

http://carl-baydala-wants-you-to-know.b ... chive.html

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2006 1:32 am 
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I think you also have to look at each state's school systems. They're quite different and each state has its own curriculum and standard courses of study. Then, within each school within each of those systems, you have administrators who are supposed to make sure the teachers are following the state's approved curriculum and standard course of study. And within the individual classrooms, you have the teachers teaching the curriculums and standard courses of study that have been approved by people on state school boards and by state superintendents who sometimes have had very little, if any, classroom experience.

Teaching is no different than any other profession:..you get good teachers and you get bad ones.

Google State Education Practices...it's a hoot.

Catherine

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2006 2:38 am 
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state's approved curriculum and standard course of study


I think this has to be changed to the national approved curriculum and standard course of study now, though there are some states that are threatening to buck the system.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2006 10:05 am 
I, by no means, am an expert on education. There are probably teachers on this site who have much more insight than I. This article was a little disturbing to me, though. JOMT seems to agree w/the premise of the posted article, and Crimson also brought up a good point regarding the homegenization of Ed in America. The fact that anyone in America can get an education is great, but, should education be compulsory? I'm kind of uncomfortable with the thought that the State can force parents to send their kids to school, and--w/homeschooling/private schools--force a State-approved curriculum on them. How are we to be a skeptical, independent, and, yes, rebellious populace when the State (and, more and more so, on a Federal level) mandates what we learn, how we learn it, and the environment in which we'll learn it? Families can instill values, but can they really compete w/a Govt system which keeps their children in a captive setting for, what, 7-8 hours a day, most of the year? It seems like there's been a big push, the last decade, or so, to have kids spend even more time in Govt-funded institutions--pre-school/daycare, food programs, etc!

Has the Govt--through the Ed system--become more of a parent to children, than parents themselves? Do you guys buy the whole premise that public Ed in America is the best way to go? Does this article hold the ring of truth? Is compulsory public ed the way to go?

Thanks for the comments! Esp. JOMT's relaying of his experience's in the Canadian system.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2006 12:54 pm 
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Has the Govt--through the Ed system--become more of a parent to children, than parents themselves? Do you guys buy the whole premise that public Ed in America is the best way to go? Does this article hold the ring of truth? Is compulsory public ed the way to go?


First we have to look at the whole picture. No we do not want Gov't to force compulsory education, on the other hand do we want kids growing up NOT knowing how to read and write? Are parents parenting? Many are not.

I am spending every Monday teaching topics such as: empathy, bullying (how and why NOT to), kindness towards others, caring for others, conflict resolution (without fighting), etc.

Without this, these kids CANNOT learn. I have to stop the chaos in my classroom FIRST, before any learning can take place. If education was NOT required, most of these kids would grow up on the streets without ANY education at all. They would not even be able to register to vote.

50% of my students come from homes with:
no electricity
no food
no water
being cared for by one parent, or an aunt, or a grandmother
many fathers are in prison
many fathers are unknown
have foster parents
both parents are in prison
a child is being molested by a boyfriend, girlfriend, a neighbor, or reletive

There is not enough time nor space to list what goes on in the homes of these children.

Do we save them all? No. Do we have success stories? Yes

What would happen to these kids if there was NO public education?

We have laundry facilities in our building. Our principal does laundry for many kids so they can have clean clothes. We have uniforms. We supply the uniforms to those who cannot afford them.

I have kids who don't want to go home. If we provided room and board they would stay at school ALL the time. I have had kids beg me to adopt them.

I don't know what the answers are. I leave work many days crying. I am just one person. I can't change the world. I have to constantly remind myself I can only make small changes in my small world. Multiply that by 75 teachers in my building alone all feeling this way.

Some days I want to throw in the towel.

The government is however, making my job impossible. I gets kids on a 3rd grade level and I am to prepare them for a 6th grade test in 9 months. LOL

But if I don't do the impossible - our district (which is poor to begin with) we get dinged and even more money withheld (from the gov't).

We do try to get kids to be complient. NOT for the government. To be able to follow rules to make school a better place to learn. If we did not do that, the schools would look like a huge animal house. Everyone would run amuck.

Quote:
with the thought that the State can force parents to send their kids to school, and--w/homeschooling/private schools--force a State-approved curriculum on them.


Generally the state approved curriculum is reading skills, writing skills, some US and world geography, math, history (and many of the history books are inaccurate), so much "physical exercise" in phys. ed., health, and technology, and foriegn languages. If teachers felt the curriculum was not a good one there would be huge resistance.

Private schools also add religion to their curriculum.

I teach reading and writing. I get to choose most of the materials I want to use. I teach skills like making inferences, reading between the lines, fact and opinion, etc.

Over all it isn't a bad curriculum. We are cramming too much too soon (of the math and reading skills) that many kids are shutting down. They are cognativly unable preform many of these skills. I had algebra in the 9th grade thirty years ago. We now begin teaching it in the 4th grade in Ohio.

I tell people over and over to visit their local schools. Sit in classrooms and observe. These are your schools being funded by your money. It is your right and your duty to keep an eye on them. If you are not welcome or turned away, then there is something VERY wrong in that particular school building. People who do get actively involved in public education come away with a much better feeling about what is going on and are generally impressed. My favorite line is, "they don't pay you nearly enough for what you do!"

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 08, 2006 9:02 pm 
Its great to get a teacher's perspective on all this. An aunt of mine had a short-lived teaching career--she got out of it due to low pay. It is enlightening to hear some of the struggles a teacher (an exemplary one, it sounds like) goes through. I believe (don't know for sure, but still) that the vast majority of teachers are good folks who are (most likely) saddled w/administrators who give them too much to do--and not enough resources to do it with. I wonder if the parents of those poor children are products of the public ed system? Do schools produce independent individuals, or obedient little citizens?

How long have you been an educator, sadie? Who, ultimately, certifies teachers? Who certifies the certifiers, and how/why? Have conditions improved, or worsened, during your career?

Also, would I be off-base to say that privately educated and homeschooled kids, in general, out-perform publicly educated kids? I, personally, remember going to school w/other kids who had--prior to their arrival in public school--been home/privately educated. I must say that, w/o exception, they were ALWAYS ahead of us pub-ed kids. I also know, currently, parents (most have never had formal teacher training) who homeschool their children, to greatly better results than would've been gained from the 'professionals'. Again, I'm not knocking the individual teachers like you. I think ANYONE (any profession) who works in a bureacratic (Govt as well as Big Corp) setting is stiffled by rules-and-regs.

Something else: Who thinks GW Bush has their children's best interests at heart? Who thinks its a good idea that he has a say-so over what/how their children are educated? IF (big hypothetical, to me) the Dept of Ed was going in a positive direction, under Clinton, does anyone think GW got into office and decided to stay the positive course? Why do we have a Dept of Ed, in the first place? Do politicos in D.C. know whats best for all children's education? Why does anyone think its a good idea to give ONE MAN (through appointments to Dept of Ed) this kind of power?

I guess this article just made me think. My own experience w/public ed colors my view of it. I attended grade school in CA, and--just because I had a Spanish surname--I was dumped in a bi-lingual class (for a couple hours a day) where I was completely lost. It shouldn't have been hard for the teacher to realize I didn't belong in a class for English-deficient migrant children, but I languished there for a whole school years. Guess what? It took YEARS for me to catch up! How does something like that even HAPPEN? No one was ever held responsible. Would it have happened in a private school, or at home? I highly doubt it. If it DID, someone would've been sued and/or fired.

And, sadie53, I think this article was taking a macro-view of ed. You focused on some very important micro factors. Do you think the article was, at all, accurate in its portrayal of Public Ed's 'true' goals? Is our current system based on the 'Prussian Model'?

I came across this discussion, regarding public vs. private education (its a tad dated, but still pertinent):

http://spunkyhomeschool.blogspot.com/20 ... ation.html


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 08, 2006 10:19 pm 
A similar article on early goals of public-ed promoters:

http://rexcurry.net/bookchapter1a1a.html

A little out there, but some good points.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2006 12:14 am 
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I am in my 19th year of teaching. I stayed home with own kids until they were both in school, then I started teaching in my 30's.

Public schools are not failing the children or America. Parents are failing their kids.

I am a product of the public school. My father is also. He owns his own business. My mother dropped out of high school in the fifties to get married and to get away from home.

Public/private - success is within the family. If a child comes from a home where education is important, the child will succeed. My mother was especially hard on me because she quit school. I am the first to graduate college on both sides of my family. I have a younger sister and brother who are college graduates also. Our parents did not pay for us, we worked our way through ourselves.

I am sorry what happened to you. Didn't your parents ever go in and complain? They could have forced the schools to test you and you would have been removed. The teacher should have caught it but we are human and we do make mistakes. Some days it is like stomping ants. You have 55 things to do and only a 45 minute planning period to do it in or you have to stay after school to get it all done. I have 80 essays laying here I should be grading, but I just couldn't get to them this weekend.

There are so many factors to look at private vs. public. Children who attend private schools come from families who can afford it. This means both parents are probably college graduates. There is a value on education. Not to mention, if a parent has spent $10,000 for their child to attend school, somebody is going to be in big trouble if they are failing.

Most public teachers send their kids to public schools. Why? I did. I believe in the system. It is what you make of it. I have students who come from good homes. They will succedd in spite of me. I stay in it for the ones who actually need me.

Money is not distributed evenly. There are poor districts and rich distrits. Some schools have a lap top for every child. Some schools are lucky to have one computer in each classroom.

Since Bush there has been a huge decline in the schools. Funding has been cut. Teachers have been cut. Class sizes are larger. Extras have been cut like foreign languages.

We are judged on test scores. According to No Child Left Behind, by 2012
"every child will pass The Test". Test scores are your report card. If you want to get paid - all kids must pass the test (EVEN THE MENTALLY CHALLANGED). Get real here. NCLB looks good on paper. It is killing the schools.

What most people fail to realize is that a private school can kick out problems. Guess who gets them? Private schools do not HAVE to provide services for LD (learning disabled), MH (multi-handicapped), DH (developmentally handicapped), or SBH (severe behavior handicapped). Because we are public, we do. Do you think this affects our scores?

I have no idea who certifies the certifiers, but I would love to create a test for them to take. I bet they couldn't pass it either.

In my years of teaching I have seen things decline. Especially in discipline. Parents do not discipline anymore. Kids are involved in many sports and education takes a back seat. There are even parent groups against homework. Many kids are running the home.

My daughter is working on a degree in psychology. She believes socioeconomic status of a family determines the success of most children. From my perspective, I have to agree with her. The poor are too busy holding down two minimum wage jobs and are too tired to focus on their kids. Or they are on welfare and see the schools as a babysitting service. They would have to be a product of the public schools because they would have come from poor families themselves. Private schools would never have seen them.

Public schools did not make them this way. Their environment did. Many do not see the possiblilty of attending college. They do not realize they can get loans or grants, nor do they feel they could make it. Poverty begets poverty. The richer keep getting richer and the poor keep having babies.

We do have our success stories. Without public education, these sucesses probably would not have happened. I always tell my kids if they want to further their education and can't afford it to come and see me. We will find a way.

II wish I had all the answers. I would be a very rich woman.

Hey, Bush is a product of a private school. He sure isn't the brightest bulb in the lamp. Didn't matter - mommy and daddy could pay for anything thing he wanted - even a degree that says he is smart.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2006 12:45 am 
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Quote:
We do have our success stories. Without public education, these sucesses probably would not have happened. I always tell my kids if they want to further their education and can't afford it to come and see me. We will find a way.


Hey my new adopted mother, I want to further my education and cant't afford it!!!! :lol:

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2006 1:06 am 
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CrimsonEagle wrote:
Hey my new adopted mother, I want to further my education and cant't afford it!!!! :lol:


Too bad it doesn't work like that. :( I'd be in, too.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2006 9:31 pm 
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Didn't your parents ever go in and complain?


No, they didn't. They, like many other parents, probably thought my education was best left to the 'experts'. Eventually, they found out, but what real recourse did they have, at that point? Ask for a refund? Sue the school? I think this is a major problem w/'free', govt-provided schooling. I think (don't think its right) many parents don't have the motivation to pay attention because the money isn't coming out of their pockets, and they don't thinks its their place to educate children (even their own). I mean, that what schools are for, right? Thats why we pay education taxes, right?

Quote:
What most people fail to realize is that a private school can kick out problems. Guess who gets them? Private schools do not HAVE to provide services for LD (learning disabled), MH (multi-handicapped), DH (developmentally handicapped), or SBH (severe behavior handicapped). Because we are public, we do.


Isn't this a direct result of schools being 'public'? Also, one of 'PC-ness'? I have nothing but compassion for handicapped children (and their parents), but should they really be going to 'regular' school? Why can't common sense be used? I think this is what happens ANYTIME politicians are involved in ANY process.

Quote:
My daughter is working on a degree in psychology. She believes socioeconomic status of a family determines the success of most children. From my perspective, I have to agree with her. The poor are too busy holding down two minimum wage jobs and are too tired to focus on their kids.


I agree, too. 'Lower-class' (I include myself in this category!) folks DO and WILL have a tougher time making it, than 'upper-class' folks. Its not impossible to improve, but it IS difficult. I would ask, though: Wasn't public ed supposed to change all this? What happened?

Quote:
In my years of teaching I have seen things decline.


Hasn't public ed been around for well over 100 years? How many more years will it take for it to produce the promised results? Or, is it already producing the results that the power elite intended for it to, all along? Do you think there is a correlation between Federal involvement in Ed and its decline?

Last off, I'd like to take a moment to commend you. It sounds like you truly care about your students, and that you go above-and-beyond the call of duty. I think it is a shame that people like you get a bum rap, when you are the ONLY reason public ed has whatever success stories it does.

Thanks for your unique insight on this matter.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2006 9:46 pm 
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I taught for 31 years, and I can echo what sadie is talking about.

I figured that I averaged spending about $100 a month of my own money in my classroom, buying materials, paying for kids' lunches when they didn't have the money, and giving them spending money on field trips and other special occasions.

Catherine

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2006 1:01 am 
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Catherine wrote:
I taught for 31 years, and I can echo what sadie is talking about.

I figured that I averaged spending about $100 a month of my own money in my classroom, buying materials, paying for kids' lunches when they didn't have the money, and giving them spending money on field trips and other special occasions.

Catherine


It's a great thing when teachers care as much as you do. I'm sure you've made a wonderful impact on many children's lives because of your kindness.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2006 6:53 am 
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Most teachers do care, jobot...but the media only give attention to the bad ones. AND there are bad ones in every school.

Then we have a teacher who has lost her job because she took a class on a field trip to a museum where they saw nudes! :roll:

I had a few National Geographics in the reading center in my classroom. One day, a few students were giggling as they huddled over one of them. I asked them to share the fun. One of them reluctantly handed me the book, which was opened to a photo spread of an African village in which women were dressed only from the waist down. I looked at the photos and then very matter of factly told the gigglers that, in different cultures, people dress differently...and in those cultures which are hot most of the time, they wear as few clothes as possible. It was their culture, and really nothing bizarre or WRONG about it.

I handed the magazine back to them and went on with my work. I watched them out of the corner of my eye to see what they'd do. They looked at each other, shrugged, and put the magazine back on the shelf. My reaction to the photo had taken away all the mystery and the sense of taboo from what they were doing. Just one of those cultural things, they'd decided, so it wasn't fun anymore to look at those photos.

They chose a Highlights for Children next!

Would I get by with doing something like that today? Probably not...I'd probably not be allowed to keep NGs in the room!...but knowing me, I'd probably do it anyway, but I would try to make sure there were no "cultural" pictures in them just to play it safe. :P

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