Saturday, March 13, 2010

Common Sense Conspiracies - a Race To The ... Where? - UPDATE AT BOTTOM

Race To The Top? Really?
I've got a question, does being aware of a trend, including it's causes and implications, mean that you buy onto conspiracies?

It's been mentioned that my concern with the Race To The Top (and the Left in general) might mean that I'm starting to buy into conspiracy theories... I don't mind so much, I usually run most 'causes and implications' past my "is this black helicopter fringe whacko stuff?" filter, I review what I'm looking at, and what others are saying about it, and if I can't ground it in philosophy and likely human nature, out it goes. I'm always particularly cautious of people who seemingly agree with me, I've found more than once that apparent agreement on details tells you next to nothing about the fundamental ideas that brought you together - for the moment.

However for those who are concerned about me, I would point out, that I am fundamentally opposed to conspiracy theories... I think they are realistically improbable, close enough to impossible to implement in secrecy - and that improbability goes up by a factor of 10x if Govt is involved - so as to almost justify ruling them out sight unseen. And honestly, the idea of there actually being well planned and executed conspiracies, gives far too much credit to those people who are seemingly involved in them - people enamored of Top Down Planning (as all deep conspiracies must be) are automatically handicapped by the fact that Top Down Planning by its very nature, is a method for generating stupidity and preventing intelligent decisions from being made by those under it's control.

That is the very reason why the Free Market works, and every variant of social-ism fails miserably - every time! Why do people persist in thinking that the same mindset which produced the North Korean economy, would somehow magically be able to produce ruthlessly intelligent and effective planning with almost godlike forethought and precision execution?

Baffling.

And to dispense with a couple of the latest conspiracies on the whacko rotation list,

  • I don't believe Obamao is involved in a widespread 'conspiracy' to turn America into a Marxist state,
  • I don't believe the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is conspiring with Kevin Jennings and Bill Ayers to destroy America through the destruction of our education establishment, and
  • I don't believe that the Chinese are conspiring with George Soros to destroy the economic system of the western world.
But before you clear my name completely, you should keep in mind that I do believe that philosophy makes unwitting conspirators of all who directly or indirectly accept its ideas. And I do see that the policies being pushed by Obamao will push America further (and perhaps past the point of no return) towards a marxist-ish state (any state whose policies are dedicated to the dismissal or erradication of property rights), I do very clearly see that the actions of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are significantly aiding Jennings and other like minded idiots in carrying out actions which will further destroy the educational system in this country, and put it significantly more under the control of the federal govt (read as 'Top Down Planning'... refer to previous comment about such), pushing parents further and further from influencing the education of their children (read John Dewey - the acknowledged father of modern education - that was explicitly one of his central goals "") and more towards the state indoctrinating children with the state approved views - if that seems at all outlandish, I suggest that you review the grade school and even high school materials given kids at school, and even sent home, regarding the 'environment' and 'glowbull warming'.

But before you jump to the conclusion that this is only a horse of a different color, this doesn't apply only to politics, or only to economics, or only to law, or only to left wing philosophies, and such issues don't require intricately coordinated efforts - and it also doesn't mean excluding small ones.

For instance, picture what would happen if there was to be an extensive art project being planned, something that would be encompassing several buildings, murals, statuary, etc, and which was originally conceived of by a left wing person who was naturally assuming it to be executed in the vein of an abstract modern art flavor. What would happen if you recruited artists to work on it who, either unbeknownst to you, or perhaps vaguely known... but not fully understood, that they were either trained in or personally partial to the classical atelier school. Even if these artists did not know any of each other, I personally would not be surprised to find that those artists would be adding as many little touches here and there of classical influence to the project as they could manage to work in to it... and perhaps some of them would even speak up to organize some of their fellow artists, or even recruit like minded outsiders with influence over the projects administrators, to do what they could to further orient the project around classical themes.

Would such a scenario really sound surprising to you? This is how beliefs are expressed, this is how they are expanded, and this is how they are eroded, if the infusion of opposing ideas and beliefs are left unchecked.

Now you may well ask how does this apply to education in general or to the Race To The Top program in particular?

Let me put it this way, how and why do you think that this doesn't apply to the 'Race To The Top' program? You really need to take into consideration the people who wrote this program, who busily promote it and who are seeking to implement it, people like Arne Duncan... You may say that 'he's no ideologue'... well that may be the case, but it is also no defense against ideology! Did you forget so quickly? Scroll back up a couple paragraphs and take a look at our hypothetical Art Project - that's not hypothetical, that is the mirror image of how the Arts in this nation were changed from the classical atelier ideal to the modernist slop which stands in for art today. Are you relying on his good 'pragmatic' and honest judgment to use 'common sense' and do what is best for the children? If so, you ought to keep in mind that he used that same 'common sense' you may be relying upon, to appoint people like Kevin Jennings to be the 'Safe School Czar' - safe for what?! Read just a couple paragraphs and answer me, safe for what?! Or maybe you're relying upon idealistic people like Wendy Kopp (scroll down within link) who will guide the programs credentialling of 'ideal teachers' (through RTTT's "Teach For America" (which goes under the acronym's of TFA, and other related programs such as TNTP, NLNS) to implement these 'planned' changes ... just what sort of changes do you think that they will enact? Do your homework, look into these peoples histories and stated ideals, and convince me, please, that I'm wrong.

Please.

But even before that... first let me ask you, do you know enough of the history of the matter of modern education or even with how the Race To The Top program differs from even recent educational reforms, in order for you to make a competent judgment either way? Do you? Have you looked into the matter at all? Have you personally developed some first hand knowledge of the situation that is deeper than what you might glean from the news?... or are you relying on your own 'common sense' to make your (uninformed?) conclusions regarding my assessments? Note: knowing or being chummy with the people involved, some teachers who may be fond of it, maybe a school administrator or school board member... those don't count towards your being 'informed' - only influenced.

Well, before dismissing my assessment, please realize that I have been investigating the wider issues involved here for twenty plus years, and during that time I have looked into a sizable amount of history, a sizable amount of philosophy, a sizable amount of legislation, a sizable amount of the development of 'educational' theory over the last four centuries, particularly here in the colonies, and how and where and in what way it has diverged from the method of education which preceded it. I've looked into why the new methods and premises appeared, and when, how and why they began replacing the previous methods and premises.

For instance, to pick a seemingly trivial point, do you know where the concept of 'elective classes' came from? Or why it was agitated for and by whom? Do you know what American college first enacted them into it's regular curriculum? Guess what - it's not an innocuous issue. Elective classes may seem harmless enough, and in most cases they themselves are, but why they were put forward is not harmless in the least. Look into it!

So unless you have done something of the same, please don't simply write off what I have to say, without at least taking a look at what it is that I am saying, and what I am try to warn you about - I am not saying that you should believe me because I'm some kind of an x-spurt - even if I were, I'd caution against such a thing even more forcefully; I'm only saying that because of what I have learned over the years, in my oh so humble (and reasonably well informed) opinion, this Race To The Top program is something which alarms me and which I think is worthy of your paying much closer attention to and worthy of your real concern - and then after looking into it, you should draw your own conclusions.

And also of course, if you have done so, and you disagree with the conclusions I've come to, please, present your case, refute my position - I would seriously love to be proven wrong.

Emphasis on proven, not sniffed, harrumphed, asserted and/or name called, into being labeled wrong - I'm kinda picky that way.

In other words, if you don't know what you are talking about, please, have the common sense to admit that you in fact do not know what you are talking about. I had to do the same twenty plus years ago.

Change You Can Believe In - And Fear
I've read and examined how the field and trends of education (and the philosophies those developments derived from) changed within those transition periods from rise to decline, within the ancient Greeks, within that of the Romans, through the middle ages and into the Renaissance, and how the 'system' of education which gave birth (literally) to the minds of the Founding Father's Era (not restricted to George Washington, etc, but the generation preceding them, from Locke to Burke, in the colonies and in England), and how that 'system' (I'm adding the scare quotes because there was no official system, only a concerted effort by legions of somewhat likeminded men & women... and I'll stop using them now, because it's annoying to type, and probably to read as well - just mentally note that they are there) which created what I find to be the finest minds and culture (with some minor quibbles) in history, and how it began to change into that system which has delivered us into the state (in more ways than one) that we find ourselves in today.

I've particularly examined how our system changed, educationally - I've read the various thoughts and educational guides of the Founders era, and those which incorporated changes which transitioned us from their era and into the proregressive era, focusing not only on how it devolved into the educational system we have today, but how that proregression was implemented in the schools and in our system of government and law. I say devolved because the previous system produced a mental outlook among those raised within it, which was unified and integrated across their understanding of history, literature, philosophy, religion, science, art, music, law and politics - it was guided by a philosophic conception of The Good (See Aristotle, Cicero, Aquinas, etc).

What it gave way to, was a system which proudly boasted that there was no such integration that was possible, or even desirable, that not only was there is no 'Good', philosophic or otherwise, but no way of knowing reality at all and so all we had were merely preferences and customs... what difference does this difference make? Well, what with a picutre being worth a thousand words, here's a couple thousand virtual words to illustrate the matter,

PhilosophyArtPolitics
Classical Liberalism
Classical Beauty
Godward: A classical Beauty
Constitution of the United States of America: We The People
We The People
Pro-regressively Modern LeftismMunch: The Scream
The Scream!
Robespierre demonstrating his guillotine
French Revolution: Robespierre and The Terror

A point of trivia - Robespierre, the master of the guillotine, the instigator of The Terror during the French Revolution, the first implementer of fascism in modernity, went to sleep nightly with what philosopher of 'liberty' and 'education' under his pillow? Mr. "We must force them to be free" himself, Jean Jacque Rousseau. Hold onto that snippet for a few minutes, it'll come in handy soon.

NOTE: I personally waste no time on mindless 'What would the Founders Do' fetishes. While I do greatly admire many from that period, for those who believe that all was upright and pure through the 1600's & 1700's, I'd suggest that you take a closer look at the matter. During those times there were numerous plagues of rampant immorality which swept through the Founders time, including many instances of what we often attribute to only our time period, such as parents murdering their families and each other, students assaulting their teachers and even school shootings (and yes, by students in what would later become the Ivy League schools), and if anyone thinks that our political climate is corrosive, they really should read through the newspaper campaigns against the persons of Adams, Hamilton, Jefferson and even of George Washington himself, and then button their lips.

But the point isn't that they were purer and better then, but that they aspired to be, that they saw that they should aspire to be better, and that they had an image of what a better image of themselves would be, and that it was worth pursuing, and that they believed - with very good reason - that their culture provided a philosophical mindset (incomplete and error filled though it may have been - and as all such systems always will be, btw) which would aid and support them in their morally ambitious aspirations.

George Washington was an excellent example of this, he had an image of himself that he wanted to live up to, and kept that image in his focus at all times. And his moral ambitiousness is what helped make him into what he is nearly universally recognized as having become - the Indispensable Man - and it made all the difference to the founding of this nation.

Dancing With Darwin
Btw, in using Evolve & Devolve, I don't mean to draw too much attention to, or give Darwin's Theory of Evolution too much credit here, for though his theories have been credited as a driving force of modernity, particularly by the proregressives, he was only a fellow traveler on the philosophic train, perhaps an expansive sleeping and dining car, but not the locomotive engine of it. While I do accept the general scientific theory of evolution (while rejecting it's improper use in philosophical arguments), and in natural selection as it's most likely mechanism, Darwinista's (those who improperly use a logic chopped version of the science to make inappropriately philosophic assertions in favor of materialsim as being proved) should not use Evolve, but stick to natural selection - and we should all realize that sometimes that naturaly leads to the extinction of the species.

To Evolve, requires an ideal, a "Good" towards which your progress can evolve towards. I am well aware that for me to use the term 'Devolve', it presupposes that I have some concept of a philosophic Good which is being moved away from... whereas the strict proregressive materialistic darwinista can legitimately say nothing of the sort, they can only note that change has occurred - for good or ill, they can properly have no opinion - which is another reason why the schools are as they are. Change, when you have no concern for progressing towards an actual Good, is unconcerned with 'failure', or 'success', only change, and only for changes sake.

And that is something you really should fear.

As I've mentioned before, I've given a very brief (for me, and for the topic) overview of how our system of education has been changed, and how it has changed our nation, in "What never was and never will be", and I am already involved in making a fuller review of the matter, the philosophical developments which led us to our high-water mark in the Age of Enlightenment (British branch), and what has been dragging us down from that pinnacle ever since, through the detritus of the French branch of the Enlightenment, and it's various German streams, which has been slowly oozing into our culture (remember the seemingly innocuous 'elective classes'? Take a look) from... the Top Down.

Transforming America
You should also keep in mind that in the transition period between the Founders Era and the Progressive Era, the lower levels of Education out and amongst the populous at large, were still sound and strong, as evidenced by a typical eighth grade quiz from the prairie of Salina KS in 1857 (which I noted in "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness")would contain questions such as:

  • "Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion."
, and with which the teacher had the very reasonable expectations that the students could and should be able to understand not only the questions, but arrive at and explain the answers. (Note: Snopes has an interesting 'debunking' of this test... which doesn't debunk it at all, but only questions if it should make you feel 'dumber than an eighth grader'... and actually I think it reinforces the point even further. There's another site which does a somewhat better factual analysis, declaring it only 'unproven', and suggests that while it was an actual exam, and it was, it was meant for teachers, not students - but either way, I think it makes my point well.) The elitist garbage was still for the most part entering only at the college level, and stalling out in an appropriately dead end. It wasn't until after education and the fed govt first mated (The Morrill Act), that their abominable offspring began to enter into the population as a whole.

In contrast to the conceptual nature of that prairie test's question (it asks the test taker to 'describe' the three most important battles, not just 'what were' they, as a modern test, if it ever addressed the issue at all, would ask), this non-conceptual question given at my 10 year old's grammar 'school' (yes, the scare quotes are annoying, but it's really, really hard to type the name without them) stands in stark relief to it. Her school annually conducts what they call a 'Knowledge-a-thon' for each grade level, which in typical proregressive fashion, is essentially a random slew of dis-integrated trivia which the school says that the children are expected to know... but it often reveals what the teacher's themselves fail to know or even care about, such as this one:

"How was George Washington's first term as President different from his second" and the 'answer' was that "he was elected in his second term, but was appointed President for his first term"

As you can probably imagine, when I read this I was flabbergasted. This is not only false, he was unanimously elected to his first term, (the only President ever to have been unanimously elected), and he was elected in the same fashion to his second term as well, though not unanimously, but this 'trivial bit of knowledge' has apparently been part of the 5th grader's 'knowledge-a-thon' in this school for several years! Teachers and teacher's aids - and parents! - have been dutifully reading, and correcting(!) their 5th grader students, for years, based on this little bit of 'trivia'. When I brought it up to her teacher and principle, I was told

  • "You are correct. It states that plainly in our SS book. I will pass on your question/concern to the KAT committee. They are the ones who are in charge of the questions."
I'll resist the temptation to play off of the "SS" reference, but somehow that reply fails to reassure me. How about you?

If so far I've still failed to alarm you, or even to convince you that the school system has been the chief tool for 'Transforming America', and politics merely a Childs play toy for displaying what the schools had already long since accomplished, take a look at this from John Dewey's "The School and Social Progress":
"But why should I make this labored presentation ? The obvious fact is that our social life has undergone a thorough and radical change. If our education is to have any meaning for life, it must pass through an equally complete transformation. This transformation is not something to appear suddenly, to be executed in a day by conscious purpose. It is already in progress. Those modifications of our school system which often appear (even to those most actively concerned with them, to say nothing of their spectators) to be mere changes of detail, mere improvement within the school mechanism, are in reality signs and evidences of evolution. The introduction of active occupations, of nature study, of elementary science, of art, of history; the relegation of the merely symbolic and formal to a secondary position; the change in the moral school atmosphere, in the relation of pupils and teachers -- of discipline; the introduction of more active, expressive, and self-directing factors -- all these are not mere accidents, they are necessities of the larger social evolution. It remains but to organize all these factors, to appreciate them in their fullness of meaning, and to put the ideas and ideals involved into complete, uncompromising possession of our school system. To do this means to make each one of our schools an embryonic community life, active with types of occupations that reflect the life of the larger society, and permeated throughout with the spirit of art, history, and science. hen the school introduces and trains each child of society into membership within such a little community, saturating him with the spirit of service, and providing him with the instruments of effective self-direction, we shall have the deepest and best guarantee of a larger society which is worthy, lovely, and harmonious. "
Discard the flowery sales tactic puffery at the end there (though that too is ominous if you've eyes to see, "...saturating him with the spirit of service, and providing him with the instruments of effective self-direction..." need to be read from the philosophical point of view from which they were intended - not from the point of view the 'common sense' American would pass them by with - think "Ein volk, ein Reich, ein Furher!" ), and think back, those of you over the age of 18 yrs old, think about the changes you have seen in your schools, in your society, and then reread this line,
"Those modifications of our school system which often appear... to be mere changes of detail, mere improvement within the school mechanism, are in reality signs and evidences of evolution." and this "...all these are not mere accidents, they are necessities of the larger social evolution..."
, and reflect upon where those 'changes of detail' have come from. This is a very, very mild quote from Dewey, because the problem with quoting John Dewey, the father of modern education, is that from the point of view of most Americans, most Parents, his stated ideals were so out there, and yet he was so matter of fact about it, that to quote the quotes which best describe his intentions, well, it makes you out to sound like a conspiracy nutter... no one thinks it possible that such things were ever said by anyone considered legitimate, or meant the way it seems to sound. Again - read him - he is after all, creating your children and transforming your nation.

How about this one from Dewey's "Democracy and Education, Chapter Seven: The Democratic Conception in Education", it is still fairly tame sounding, unless you actually read it with some understanding of it's meaning and implicaitons. I think one of the implications should jump out at you... let's give it a whirl and see:
"The peculiarity of truly human life is that man has to create himself by his own voluntary efforts; he has to make himself a truly moral, rational, and free being. This creative effort is carried on by the educational activities of slow generations. Its acceleration depends upon men consciously striving to educate their successors not for the existing state of affairs but so as to make possible a future better humanity. But there is the great difficulty. Each generation is inclined to educate its young so as to get along in the present world instead of with a view to the proper end of education: the promotion of the best possible realization of humanity as humanity. Parents educate their children so that they may get on; princes educate their subjects as instruments of their own purposes.

Who, then, shall conduct education so that humanity may improve? We must depend upon the efforts of enlightened men in their private capacity. "All culture begins with private men and spreads outward from them. Simply through the efforts of persons of enlarged inclinations, who are capable of grasping the ideal of a future better condition, is the gradual approximation of human nature to its end possible. Rulers are simply interested in such training as will make their subjects better tools for their own intentions." Even the subsidy by rulers of privately conducted schools must be carefully safeguarded. For the rulers' interest in the welfare of their own nation instead of in what is best for humanity, will make them, if they give money for the schools, wish to draw their plans. We have in this view an express statement of the points characteristic of the eighteenth century individualistic cosmopolitanism. The full development of private personality is identified with the aims of humanity as a whole and with the idea of progress. In addition we have an explicit fear of the hampering influence of a state-conducted and state-regulated education upon the attainment of these ideas. But in less than two decades after this time, Kant's philosophic successors, Fichte and Hegel, elaborated the idea that the chief function of the state is educational; that in particular the regeneration of Germany is to be accomplished by an education carried on in the interests of the state, and that the private individual is of necessity an egoistic, irrational being, enslaved to his appetites and to circumstances unless he submits voluntarily to the educative discipline of state institutions and laws. In this spirit, Germany was the first country to undertake a public, universal, and compulsory system of education extending from the primary school through the university, and to submit to jealous state regulation and supervision all private educational enterprises. Two results should stand out from this brief historical survey. The first is that such terms as the individual and the social conceptions of education are quite meaningless taken at large, or apart from their context."

Do I need to remind you of just what sort of 'regeneration' was accomplished in the Germany Dewey was referencing? Little guy with a goofy mustache come to mind? Swastikas? This WAS the ideal of the progressives, they idolized the 'modern Bismarkian German State' and particularly its military like organization laid out through Top Down Planning - forget about the particulars Hitler brought to the system, the holocaust, etc (!), the system itself, the state in control and deeply ordering and involved in every aspect of society and its citizens lives - that was, and IS, the proregressive ideal, and it is still alive and well today - they are just confident that it'll work out better - this time. Again. As they've been trying to improve it, again, since Robespierre first grasped and implemented it. And then Lenin. And then Mussolini. And then Hitler. And then Stalin. And then Mao. And then Pol Pot. And then... get the picture? They can try it again and again as often as they like (as long as you allow them to), but the result will be the same, because the principles are the same - the dismissal or eradication of Property Rights, soon followed by that which is built upon them, Individual Rights.

If you find it hard to believe that we, here, would try such things 'again', as most American's with 'common sense' will, take a look at the plans for AmeriCorps(e), already passed into law, in H.R. 1388: Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education Act, Down in Part III, SEC. 120. INNOVATIVE DEMONSTRATION SERVICE-LEARNING PROGRAMS AND RESEARCH, you'll find this gem,
"‘(B) service-learning is a mandatory part of the curriculum in all of the secondary schools served by the local educational agency."
. State mandated volunteerism... see any similarities or potential problems there?

Assuming I still don't have your attention, here's another tie-in... going back to the 'elective classes' again.

Again? What's with the elective classes already? Nothing. At least not with the classes themselves, but it might be of some interest to know, that the fellow who first brought them into the mainstream of American education, at a major American College (soon afterwards a 'university'), also happened to be an influential professor, though they shared a mutual dislike for each other, to a fellow named Charles Pierce. Why does that matter? Well Pierce was the main founder of the American philosophy of Pragmatism (and don't be fooled by the 'common sense' view that it just means 'common sense' - it means the denial of principles as such, and the acceptance of the 'fact' that we cannot know reality, and so shouldn't bother trying, that we should just try stuff, and go with what seems to work), and together with two others he strongly influenced, William James and, yep, John Dewey, it became the biggest single factor that undermined and subverted the philosophy of Classical Liberalism, which animated our Founding Father's generation, and gave rise to our constitution and Declaration of Independence.

No conspiracies need apply. Philosophy does the job quite handily, thank you very much.

Oh, and guess who was a major influence on the fellow who taught Pierce and instituted the elective classes? Those German fellows Dewey mentioned, Kant, and through him, Hegel and Fichte. Guess who was a major influence on Kant? Why, Rousseau of course.

There are so many quotes of Dewey I could pull, his fear of individuality, that the mere learning of facts produces dangerous signs of it, that it is the job of the school to get in between the parent and child and as much as possible prevent the child being influenced by the beliefs of the Parent... I won't pull them all, or even some of the available horror quotes of Dewey and those who followed him, because I prefer that you discover the implications yourself. Just look at what I have presented here, the ideal is to remove the education of your children to the control of the state, and by slowly tweaking, altering, adding some features while lessening and ultimately removing others, it is very consciously designed to eliminate the influence of the parent, and mold the preferences of the children to conform with that of the State.

With that in mind, recall what he said above,
"Those modifications of our school system which often appear... to be mere changes of detail, mere improvement within the school mechanism, are in reality signs and evidences of evolution. The introduction of active occupations, of nature study, of elementary science, of art, of history; the relegation of the merely symbolic and formal to a secondary position; the change in the moral school atmosphere, in the relation of pupils and teachers -- of discipline; the introduction of more active, expressive, and self-directing factors -- all these are not mere accidents, they are necessities of the larger social evolution."
I assure you he meant what he said, there are sites which indicates that his followers still mean what he said, the school is to remove mere parental and moral understanding, and emphasize turning your children into happy little cogs which make the state's wheels go around. I can't resist two horror quotes:
""There is no God and there is no soul. Hence, there are no needs for the props of traditional religion. With dogma and creed excluded, immutable truth is also dead and buried. There is no room for fixed, natural laws or moral absolutes."

John Dewey, "Soul Searching" Teacher Magazine, Sept. 1933[Note: I haven't been able to find this source and verify the quote, but I can say that it comports well with what he has said elsewhere, ]

"The schools cannot allow parents to influence the kind of values-education their children receive in school; that is what is wrong with those who say there is a universal system of values. Our (humanistic) goals are incompatible with theirs. We must change"
Paul Haubner, Specialist For The N.E.A. "
You shouldn't need to be deeply religious for that first quote to alarm you. As Dewey's fellow proregressives such as Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson made abundantly clear, they felt that the U.S. Constitution was an archaic hindrance to 'all the good they could do' for us... and they considered it archaic and a nuisance, because it rested, most visibly in the Bill of Rights and in particular the 9th and 10th amendments, upon Natural Law, more explicitly stated in the "Declaration of Independence", also a document which has been denigrated and dismissed by TR, Wilson, and most proregressives since their time, and for the same reasons.

Natural Law is not 'merely' a Christian concept, it has been the bedrock foundation of Western Civilization going back through Cicero, Aristotle, Aeschylus and all the way back to the beginning of the West, in Homer. It is what made Western Civilization possible - that there is a Good which illuminates the fact that there is a Right, and that there is a Wrong, and that we can and must choose between them in ordering our lives. It is what makes our concept of Objective Law and Constitutions possible, and it is what has prevented, so far, our becoming little more than an American knock-off of your favorite fascist or communist state.

The simple fact is, that from the inception of modernity (Rousseau is the most visible marker for the starting point of this), Natural Law, and all of it's implications - Individual Rights, the right to Free Speech, Property, that you have a Right to live your own life in liberty and in the pursuit of Happiness, all of that has been the target of modernity in general, and of proregressivism in particular. It is a threat to them because such concepts get in the way of the proregressives precious Top Down Planning and zeal to recreate man and society in their image - Natural Law is in the way, because they need you to do not what is Right, not what you want, but what they want you to do because it will effect 'useful' changes to society. And such 'archaic' things as Individual Rights and Morality, get in the way of 'breaking a few eggs' as needed to accomplish their transformation of society.

It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things that men of intemperate minds cannot be free; their passions forge their fetters. - - Edmund Burke
Okay, I've already gone much further than I intended, and I’m not going to try and write another synopsis, I already did in the link above, and the series of posts it was a part of, Modern Madness, the full answer requires what I am already in the midst of with my series of posts on Justice, but I will restate the key progression which is mostly unknown today.

Our Founders were made possible by a system of education which sought to Educate it's students, to lead them out of bondage to themselves, to their urges and passions, but not through a Top Down Planning system, or through having rules imposed upon them by institutions, their system taught them to know and understand time tested rules whose wisdom had already been proven throughout the ages, and to choose to observe those rules themselves. The system which created our Founding Father's generation was one which was widespread in its practice, it came from the bottom up of experience, and was rarely codified or set down in a manual, one of the few manuals that were written, and which survived into the modern day, was "George Turnbull, Observations upon Liberal Education, in All its Branches [1742]". It was focused upon the ideal that worldly success depended upon morality and the habituation of virtuous thoughts and deeds. The refining and development of these ideals can be seen in how the education of the Founding Father's generation was accomplished in their colleges, and can be seen particularly well in how those first Colleges taught those ideas, as in this from "Education of the Founding Fathers of the Republic -Scholasticism in the Colonial Colleges",
"“At the time of his graduation from William and Mary, Jefferson was eighteen. Durin the two preceding impressionable years he had been under the tutelage of Professor Small and had been well grounded in the ethics, commonly taught at the colleges in those days. We have no theses from William and Mary because of the fire but the ethical theses that are available from the four colleges, Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Brown, are all sufficiently alike to make it clear that they represent the moral philosophy teaching of the time. Under ethics or politics at most of the colleges they defended the proposition that authority for government devolved originally on the people, and was by them transferred to the ruler. If he did not rule for the benefit of his people they had a right to remove him and substitute another. This is the teaching that was in many minds at that time as the result of their college theses and it was this that was incorporated in the Declaration of Independence, the source of whose theory of government must be found in this ethical philosophy that was the common teaching of all the colonial colleges, and had for centuries been the teaching of the universities generally unless they were under royal influence.”"
They relied heavily upon knowledge of the history, philosophy and literature of Ancient Greece and Rome, English history and the development of the Arts and Sciences which guided them, as well as proficiency in Greek and Latin - and for those pained educators out there lamenting that 'minorities can't be expected to understand THAT material - they don't know those languages or histories', I'd remind them that in the later Elizabethan period, when this type of education began to spread beyond the exclusive use of royalty to the broader public, most of those English and American students receiving it, were not familiar with that information either, and neither were their parents, they didn't know those languages or histories either - but they learned them all the same, and well before the age of 18.

Our children are not less human than Jefferson was - only our system for educating them is.

Our current generations of mis-educated and mostly illiterate youths were raised upon an educational theory which began with Rousseau, and the rationalist purveyors of 'swell idea!' progressives, such as Fichte, Wundt and Dewey, whose over riding message is that morality and virtue are irrelevant, that art is whatever you want it to be, and that it is more important to learn a trade, than to learn how to master yourself.

You tell me... look back at the pictures I inserted above, compare them... which do you think did best by it's students and society?

Our first educational system, required no central authority to train teachers, required no intellectually deadening textbooks to convey it's key facts and it fostered a culture worthy of the term Culture. It had simple principles - which required intellectual effort to understand, and were difficult to master but were visibly worth doing so - and which were reinforced throughout the system by each 'branch' of learning (and professors, and particularly the schoolmaster or college president, were expected to be masters of all 'branches').

Our modern system is famously 'complex', impossible to integrate, pushing theories that favor lofty sound bites, but are impossible to practice, and offer no role legitimate models of successful practitioners of their ideals - diversity, relativism, etc.

The difference is probably best caricatured by the approach of the two systems to learning to read. The previous system emphasized the phonetic system, a series of rules and principles and memorization of sounds, prefixes & suffixes, etc, which while it takes some time and effort to master, once accomplished, it enabled the reader to read anything, even words they'd never come across before. Whereas the ideal of modernity is the maliciously stupid "See and Say" system of the likes of James Cattell, which teaches students to memorize words, learn to recognize those words on sight, and they called that being literate - even though it left the student, and the resulting adult, unable to read any word which they hadn't ever seen or heard before, their vocabulary, and potential level of intellectual understanding, is straight jacketed to those few thousand words they were trained to recognize as youths.

One of these systems produced the most literate people in the history of the world, able understand the concepts necessary to create and implement the Declaration of Independence and Constitution of the United States of America.

The other produces people high on their own unsupported self esteem, chronically illiterate and fit only to tear the previous systems accomplishments down.

Let's get back to those 'elective classes'. The Harvard professor who first proposed and implemented them, was Charles Eliot. He took a European tour and was enamored with the German system which set about looking at the field of education from a more 'scientific' perspective. It, following the modernist sentiments of Descartes and Rousseau, decided to discard all that could not be quantified and proven. Have you ever tried to quantify the value of a poem? They did. The reduced the appreciation for an entire work like the Iliad, to examining the 'truth value' of particular lines. The end result was that what they couldn't quantify, they determined had no value, and the humanities were out. Textbooks, tomes written in such a way that they could be neatly summarized in quizzes at the end of each chapter, and the students retention of its factual data quantified, was in.

Not to get too far off track, but the person who reads the Iliad and comes away from it with a grasp of how deeper values can be lost through too much attention pursuing glittering surface attractions, and that through deep soul wrenching loss, we can sometimes be brought to realize that mistake and reclaim ourselves, comes away from it with an entirely different Education than the person who is trained to recall how many lines Achilles spoke, vs Odysseus in the 'embassy to Achilles' portion of Book IX.

However, Eliot was swept up in this new German style of education, their new creation of "Phd's" to indicate that someone had attained a sufficient quantification of 'understanding' in a field, etc, and their focus on the idea that 'education' must have a quantifiable purpose and value - morality and virtue, weren't quantifiable, so they were of less interest and value to the new system, what was of more importance now, was training people in 'right responses' and in skills of production, management and employment.

Aristotle would have pointed out that seeking more exactitude from a subject than it is capable of supplying, showed a lack of education - he also would have pointed out that people trained for employment without developing an understanding of The Good, and of themselves, were nothing more than more specialized slaves.

But then, Aristotle now belonged to that which belonged to "the relegation of the merely symbolic and formal to a secondary position".

So Eliot brought this German system back with him to Harvard, and he became the longest running and most influential president in Harvard's history. I'm sure he approached his position with supreme common sense, and never would have wished anything which might harm his students. But as with our Arne Duncan, Eliot brought back more than he bargained for, as Dewey mentioned, he began the importing of the German system of education, and with them he imported such truly Anti-American ideals as the ideas of Kant and Fichte and Hegel,

Kant was the one who constructed an entire philosophy around the idea that we can never really know reality, and did so under the pretext that he felt he "Found it necessary to destroy knowledge in order to save faith"... look around you... while maybe it can credibly be said he accomplished the first half of his goal... how about the second? Without knowledge, and a sound basis for it, you are not left with faith, but with passion, heated, unreasoning passion.

Hegel took Kant’s ideas to their obvious ends of collectivization and that life could only be lived properly through the spirit of the State: “All the worth which the human being possesses, all spiritual reality, he possesses only through the State. The people would be nothing, living only to serve the Spirit." or as someone who saw his ideas made reality before him quoted,
"the State 'has the supreme right against the individual, whose supreme duty is to be a member of the State... for the right of the world spirit is above all special privileges.'" Hegel, quoted by William Shirer in The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (1959, page 144)
Fichte was the head of psychology at the University of Berlin in 1810, and as Bertrand Russell admiringly, and correctly summarized him, Fichte felt strongly that "Education should aim at destroying free will so that after pupils are thus schooled they will be incapable ... of thinking or acting otherwise than as their school masters would have wished." and to that end Fichte himself urged in his "Addresses to the German nation", that
"23. It is essential both for this first aim and also for the second, which will be mentioned soon, that from the very beginning the pupil should be continuously and completely under the influence of this education, and V should be separated altogether from the community, and kept from all contact with it.” pg 31
Hence the entirely German invention of "Kindergarten", pre-school, where the state should see to it that children are removed from their parents asap and their training begun. Sit. Roll over. Beg. Lie down. Good citizen, here's a treat.

The Power of 'Education'
Eliot may not have entirely bought into these views, but nevertheless he imported them into the American system of education, and it was never the same afterwards.

But those who followed in his footsteps, such as Woodrow Wilson, as President of Princeton, did buy into the obvious implications of 'Change' and 'Democracy', when he told a group of teachers who were going to be teaching in their new creation called ,'High Schools"
"We want one class of persons to have a liberal education and we want another class of persons, a very much larger class of necessity in every society, to forgo the privilege of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks."
Interesting to note that Eliot, once the avant guarde of progressive education, soon found himself viewed as too stogy. When the proregressives were at the point of finally and nationally taking over the system of education in America, for the first time forming a true system of education in America (foul, but actual), he was soon sidelined. Eliot was called on to head a 'blue ribbon panel' called the "The Eliot Report of 1893", or better known as "The Committee of Ten on Secondary School Studies" of educators to create a new curriculum, which had things such as this to say,
"As studies in language and in the natural sciences are best adapted to cultivate the habits of observation; as mathematics are the traditional training of the reasoning faculties; so history and its allied branches are better adapted than any other studies to promote the invaluable mental power which we call judgment."
But that wasn't quite what the progressives were looking for by this time. far too much reliance on History. Math. Humanities. You know, the stuff of Western Civilization. Ugh. It was ignored, they bided their time, and in 1918, it was replaced by "Commission on the Reorganization of Secondary Education", made up by a panel of such luminaries as a dog catcher, ward boss, etc, and had a more pleasing emphasis through it's 'Seven Cardinal Principles' that were received as
"In general, the commission endorsed cardinal principles that emphasized the practical over the intellectual as well as the importance of social control and social efficiency. "
Richard Mitchell, in his splendid (and available free online) in chp. Four of his "The Graves of Academe", termed the later committee as "The Gang of Twenty-Seven", and notes it's response to Eliot's committee:
"The Gang of Twenty-seven, unhampered by intellectual predispositions, found that proposal an elitist's dream. They concluded, in other words, that precious few schoolchildren were capable of the pursuit of knowledge and the exercise of the mind in the cause of judgment. That, of course, turned out to be the most momentous self-fulfilling prophecy of our century. It is also a splendid example of the muddled thought out of which established educational practice derives its theories. The proposals of the Eliot report are deemed elitist because they presume that most schoolchildren are generally capable of the mastery of subject matter and intellectual skill; the proposals of the Commission on the Reorganization of Secondary Education, on the other hand, are "democratic" in presuming that most schoolchildren are not capable of such things and should stick to homemaking and the manual arts."
What Charles Eliot failed to grasp, as small a change his 'elective classes' seemed to be, their importance wasn't in their inconsequential details, but in their refutation of the principles of Education as a whole. His innovation brought down the entire philosophy of Classical Liberalism from which the Founding Fathers had sprung, that a sound and moral mind was the primary purpose and ideal of Education - what Eliot did in importing 'optonal classes' was not to add a feature, but discard the unified idea of the purpose of Education, mixing in notions of 'practical vocational studies', like bad money driving out the good, it's result was entirely pro-regressive. Quite naturally, the people sending their children to Harvard - founded as a divinity college BTW - when given the option of choosing to pay for classes they may not have clearly grasped the immediate value of, or ones they could see would have immediate monetary value for their kids - the chose the later. But it was the responsibility of the college, and particularly of people like Eliot, to know better than to present that option at all. But he didn't, he failed in his responsibilities as an intellectual, and the nation has paid dearly for the error.

Eliot was probably also surprised that, as influential as he originally was, the proregressivs which he helped to create, shunted him aside when he failed to offer more change. Some change, is never enough, not when all of your ideas rest upon nothing but change. What he didn't grasp, was that they had no actual principles which they held to and steered from, they had no intellectual foundations upon which to establish a firm foundation for understanding and Truth, for by their very nature, they assumed that reality was unknowable and 'Truth' only a preference, that there was nothing to intellectually rest upon, nothing to strengthen and enlarge. For the proregressive the closest they can come to strengthening their ideals, the only thing available to them approaching satisfaction, is that of looking forward to more change. Change for change sake. And they can only look forward to it - never actually experience satisfaction - they will never be satisfied. Change requires not only more change, but preferably more stimulating - shocking - change. Just like a drug addict requires more and proregressively bigger fixes, our educational system does too. It continually needs to enact more, larger, more comprehensive educational 'reforms'. Similar to, and for the same reasons, that of the person who lusts after power, they will never be satisfied, for they don't seek satisfaction, they don't seek an end point, only further, more exhilarating expressions of their power.

Race To The Top? Really? Then Why Does It Feel Like Falling?
Our previous system of education, that which led to our Founding Fathers, could be summed up in a one volume guide book, easily graspable by any competent adult, and whose methods and goals could be conveyed to their students with the aid of a few essential volumes of history, literature and science. It can be summed up in it's preface,
"Proper care about education being a concern of the highest importance, with relation both to private and public happiness; to the flourishing of liberty, learning, virtue, religion, of every thing, in one word, that is good or great in human life: And the thoughts which I have here laid together upon this subject, in the best order I was able, not being advent’rous conjectures, hazarded into the world upon no better authority than a presumptuous confidence of my own opinion, but observations transmitted to us from the more thinking and wiser part of mankind in almost all ages and nations of the world, as Truths or Facts confirmed in their experience: Permit me, my Lord, most humbly to dedicate these discourses to your Lordship, who are so universally acknowledged to have all the interests of mankind most sincerely at heart, and to be very distinguishedly qualified to serve them, by that happy concurrence of knowledge of the world, good-breeding, and polite taste, with extensive, solid erudition, true goodness, and genuine piety, which makes the perfect character, that education ought to have in view, and should be adapted to form."
, and the tools and funding such an education required extended little further than the need for a room, access to a limited set of volumes, and a teacher familiar with the material and willing and able to teach and transmit its meaning and content to their students, all of which could, as it certainly should have been and should still be, easily overseen by interested parents at the local level.

Today it seems as if we are beginning to see the pendulum swinging back to center, we are beginning to see citizens seeking to bet involved, and hungering for some sign of what they have misplaced while sleeping, they, we, are beginning to read things like the constitution. And while it certainly is good to learn the Constitution, it is even better to learn what caused and enabled them to create the Constitution & Declaration of Independence. Our Constitution was designed by an educated people, guided by the philosophy of Classical Liberalism, for a moral people... and as John Adams noted,
"We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a religious and moral people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other."
Does our present system of education strike you as being designed for revealing all "that is good or great in human life" or successful at fitting students to be master their impulses and aspire to moral uprightness? To me it seems much more like "advent’rous conjectures, hazarded into the world upon no better authority than a presumptuous confidence of my own opinion".

The modern system we have today is famous for failing, and producing an unending series of ever more spectacularly failing 'fixes', ever more concentrated bureaucracies and unintelligible textbooks delivered by teacher's who are too often not even masters of their own subjects, let alone all, who as with the "Teach For America" program, cynically relies upon their new recruits fleeting passion to 'make a difference' to be rudely wrung from them before replacing them with new teaching fodder.

This modern system is currently up to it's umpteenth revision/fix/fad requiring billions in funding, and new bureaucracies managed and directed from the federal level, the Race To The Top package (which I've begun to touch upon here and here)... follows this with a few more endarkened highlights from it, take a close look. Ask yourself whether these excerpts reflect a desire to Educate a student to be a responsible individual and member of his family and society, capable of living his own life, or does it seem more like a plan to extend control up to the furthest removed levels of the Fed Govt, so that they can implement their latest 'fix'... from the Top Down.

pg 40:: Implementation of the reform plan described in this proposal will not stop if the State does not win Race to the Top funding. Missouri has a long tradition of fostering innovative improvements in education, and this will not change. Race to the Top funds will allow the State to move forward aggressively and comprehensively in adopting these reforms. In the absence of Race to the Top funding, the State and its partners would continue moving forward but will do so over a longer time-period and, in some areas, will have to adopt a more incremental approach. DESE would nudge LEAs toward the goals and implementation of data- driven decision making, but instituting the radical improvements in infrastructure and capacity envisioned would require more time and face challenging obstacles.
  • Incremental changes and Cass Sunstein like 'nudge'ing are bad enough - a strategy based upon hooking the school boards on federal funding, then spurring them on to take more favorable actions on their part in order to keep the funding coming - but even worse, IMHO, is 'implementation of data-driven decision making' - a stronger refutation of the sort of Reasoning schools were once designed to inculcate, is hard to find.


pg 67: The Commissioner has directed that all new grants to DESE and all grants DESE awards be focused around the RT3 goals and projects.
(A)(2)(i)(e)
Over the life of the RT3 grant, the Commissioner intends to reorganize the department around the four assurance areas and the goals/projects described in sections B, C, D, E, and F of the grant and the budget narrative. Throughout the life of the grant and beyond, DESE will be transitioned to a decentralized agency operating out of regional service centers. Many current staff positions and department services will be relocated to regional service centers. During the transition some regional services will be provided through contracts, with the goal of completing the transformation by July 2014. Most notably, Missouri has not requested large numbers of staff in this application and budget; instead the Commissioner has focused on human capital development and infrastructure in this grant application. The focus on human capital development and infrastructure is a deliberate plan focused on sustaining the education reform plan outlined in this application long past 2014 in Missouri.
  • These 'regional service centers', mean centralized decision making areas far removed from your neighborhood, school board, or even State school board - you, the Parents - will have little or no input or influence on issues that might concern you, and the decisions made will be made from those centralized Top's, and be pushed... downnnn to you and your children.
  • Another issue... how do you feel about being referred to as 'human capital'? Does that sound to you as if they 'value' the humanity of the people they intend to deal with? It may be a stretch... but just as another bit of trivia, I'l note that it was Marx who labeled the system of Free Market economics, where the most valued component is the freely made choices of the individuals involved in the market, as "Capitalism". Just sayin'.

This system, and the States continued receipt of funding, relies upon goodies such as these:

pg 76:
"(B) Standards and Assessments (70 total points)
State Reform Conditions Criteria
(B)(1) Developing and adopting common standards (40 points)
The extent to which the State has demonstrated its commitment to adopting a common set of high-quality standards, evidenced by (as set forth in Appendix B)—

(I) The State’s participation in a consortium of States that— (20 points)
(a) Is working toward jointly developing and adopting a common set of K-12 standards (as defined in this notice) that are supported by evidence that they are internationally benchmarked and build toward college and career readiness by the time of high school graduation; and..."

  • INTERNATIONALLY BENCHMARKED!!!??? Is it even possible to remove parents any further from the process???
pg 142: "Missouri will engage in a two-part process to bring the full benefits of today’s technological innovations to bear on its schools. First, the State will address deficiencies in its technological infrastructure. Currently, no Missouri schools have access to adequate bandwidth to support their participation in online assessment, video/online instruction. The MoBroadbandNow effort is underway to increase broadband access throughout Missouri by establishing a network connecting rural communities throughout the State by to the internet backbone. This effort is described in section (C)(2)."
  • Cost? State run Internet? Because China does this so well?
pg 168:
...Establish detailed yearly and interim benchmarks and define a set of leading indicators to inform LEAs’ definition of “success” in a 2-3 year timeframe.

...Design procedure to align statewide system of support with identified needs (i.e.: dropout prevention, STEM, or mentoring).

...Establish early-warning systems to identify students at risk of failing to achieve high standards or to graduate.

...Each student will complete a Program of Study (POS) that incorporates secondary and postsecondary education elements, including coherent, rigorous, and relevant content aligned with

...challenging academic standards in a coordinated, non-duplicative progression of courses that align secondary education with postsecondary education to adequately prepare students to succeed in postsecondary education. A POS may include the opportunity for secondary education students to participate in dual or concurrent enrollment programs or other ways to acquire postsecondary education credits; and lead to an industry-recognized credential or certificate at the postsecondary level or an associate or baccalaureate degree.
Does any of this strike you as intelligent? Innovative? Sensible? Seriously, keeping in mind that this document was 'written' by bureaucrats very much aware of how their positions, prestige and departmental power is involved and reliant upon all that their precious document states, does any of this sound as if it actually is the result of thought focused upon the needs of Educating children... or does it seem more like a marketing committee's conglomeration of bureaucratic mission statements, designed to enable extensive 'fine print' to run amuck, to take your money and expand their power?

What is it you think is likely to be the end result of such a race? That is a question very worth asking.

**********************UPDATE***************************
One of our state rep's, Rep. Allen Icet, Wildwood, MO, the Chairman of the Missouri House Budget Committee, agreed with our concerns over the Fed Govt overstepping it's authority, the unfunded mandates and threats to state sovereignty which is the Race To The Top program, and declined the Governor's request to fund it.

Like all such monsters, we shouldn't take it for granted that it'll stay dead, but it is for the moment!

Thanks to Gretchen Logue, and to everyone else who spoke up and expressed their concerns over this program.

Now that's called making a difference!

2 comments:

Van said...

Rep. Allen Icet, on reviewing our concerns as expressed by Gretchen Logue in The Missouri Record, has declined the Gov's request to fund the RTTT program!

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