The Thursday, May 19th Detroit Free Press carried a news article by reporter Lori Higgens titled "Michigan's kids in free fall in reading." The article cites a report,
"[F]rom Education Trust-Midwest, a nonpartisan education research and policy organization based in Royal Oak. The organization analyzed more than a decade's worth of results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress--of NAEP, a tough exam given to a representative sample of students in each state."
"In 2003, Michigan ranked 28th in fourth-grade reading. In 2015, the state was ranked 41st."The article adds that Michigan also ranked 42nd in fourth-grade math, down from 27 in 2003. So it's not just reading but also math that has fallen. It doesn't take a scholar to see that if reading and math are lacking, the child will have a difficult time learning much of anything else. So what is the future prognosis?
"But Martin Ackley, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Education, expressed optimism that current efforts to change the trajectory will be successful."
Great! Just what Michigan education does not need, another bureaucracy! And when that fails another governmental group will be formed to investigate it. No, Snyder's new commission will fail too. The evidence for that failure can be seen in six of the 31 strategies the board of education is proposing? ( I don't believe there are 31 solutions to any problem in education. There is one major cure though, a rational curriculum.)"He said a current effort by the MDE and the state board of education to transform Michigan into a top 10 performing state in 10 years--coupled with Gov. Rick Snyder's creation of a 21st Century Education Commission--will identify the steps the state needs to take to turn around things."
Sounds nice but I don't think it can work. This is a good recipe for private, individual tutoring but I can't see how it would work in a classroom setting.
- "Parents, teachers and students should sign an agreement that outlines individual academic and personal goals for students."
2. "The state should expand nursing, mental health services and health centers in schools."
No, expanding these things will not bring fourth grade reading and math scores up.
Notice the concrete bound nature of this one. It's like saying 'schools doing a lousy job of financing should do a better one.' No kidding! Genius solution!3 "Schools should be run more efficiently so more money goes into the classroom."
4."The state should ensure that all students have access to career and tech programs and postsecondary courses while in high school."
Again No! This is something that can happen after the fourth-grade reading and math scores are raised to acceptable levels.
5."The state should expand access to publicly funded early-childhood programs."
As far as I can tell, all public education is publicly funded. So the implication seems to be to avoid private early education. But why? Again, I don't see how early education will raise fourth grade scores since we've had early education for a while now. I say that because there is nothing in this article identifying the cause of fourth-grade failure. More on that in a bit.
6."The state should expand access to free adult education services and family advocacy support programs."
I feel like a broken record. This too misses the point of raising fourth-grade reading and math levels.
But notice what concept is missing here: curriculum. Totally ignored by these so-called educators is the recognition that it is curriculum that teaches. So if today's kids fail to read or do math at fourth-grade levels you would think anyone who cared about children would hasten to demand that the curriculum be examined with a fine toothed comb. But no one is doing that.
To focus on the curriculum would draw attention to the philosophy of modern education. People would discover its name, Progressive Education, its creator John Dewey and his purpose of ignoring the task of teaching students how to think i.e. concept formation. Instead Dewey wanted to replace 'mere learning' with socialization which is not about teaching Johnny how to get along with Tommy. It's actually about graduating uncritical, unthinking, obedient followers who will not question authority, especially government authority.
To make sure the public doesn't get wise to the anti-cognitive nature of the curriculum, government press releases and media reporters blame every failure on lack of standards, or proper tests, or lack of money or lack of access ad infinitum.
If you look at those 6 proposals mentioned above, you'll see they are anchored with 'state should.' There is no mention or suggestion of removing education from the hands of the institute that has been failing for decades: government. So it is obvious on the face of it that the primary concern, the value to be defended at all costs is government control.
We are constantly told by our media and politicians how much they care about educating children. But what does it mean to care? My dictionary says to care is to have a troubled mind for or concern for someone or something. To be concerned then means to value something or someone, to have strong feelings for. But to value anything presupposes an answer to the question 'of value to whom and towards what goal'?
It has always been the case that parents care most about the goal of their children's education. Yes, teachers care too. Many of them love the art of teaching young minds. But it remains the parents who care the most. Parents usually take care to provide good food, clothing and shelter for their kids. If parents are dissatisfied with the food from one store or the clothing from another, they change providers. They are legally free to do so.
Such is not the case with public schools. Very little freedom of choice is available for parents. And such choice as does exist is resisted fiercely by public school bureaucrats. One has to wonder why? When charter schools are doing a somewhat better job of teaching, and private schools even better yet, how can the the tenacious resistance by the public bureaucrats be evidence of a concern for teaching?
Obviously the number one concern of government schools is continued government control. There can be a variety of reasons government control can be appealing to some people. It can be politicians seeing themselves as the great providers of knowledge, which they certainly are not. Or union leaders seeing enhanced income in dues from teachers. The more teachers in public unionized schools the better for them. There is the public that has been lied to by intellectuals claiming only the rich can afford private education, a blatant falsehood.
Regardless of the various reasons for government control of education, it remains true that the main goal of every government is to sustain and grow itself. The most efficient way to do this is to indoctrinate students with the idea that government--legalized force--is the solution to all problems including education, health care, roads, energy and virtually everything. No it isn't.
Government by its nature is unfit to control any market activity. In the face of all the failures mentioned above, the government's refusal to relinquish control of education proves it's the control that is the uber value to them, not education. Time is now to start moving public schools to the private sector.