Thursday, March 31, 2011

Breaking the Chains – Our Rotten Common Core Part 3a

“ In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution. ”
Thomas Jefferson, 10 Nov. 1798
What do you suppose Jefferson was referring to in the quote above? The Constitution?... or the paper it was printed on? What power does that have? I'll say... none. The Law’s only power lies in the hearts and minds of those who read and understand the constitution and insist that it be respected and followed, and even then it is powerless unless We The People insist our govt limits itself to only those powers which We The People have delegated to it – absent that, it is only paper. The only strength Jefferson’s chains can have is that which is derived from the understanding which you and I have of the constitution's meaning and purpose. That is the real strength of our Republic, and the only chains with which We The People can bind the powerful down.

This was of course the reason why Jefferson was so adamant that Education be spread across the land; our Republic cannot survive without it, but of course his idea of what Education was, bore little relation to what we think of it as being today, and in that the statist’s hacksaw has been busily sawing back and forth upon the links in Jefferson's chains. From the outright attacks and neglect of well over a century, our awareness of the common core materials, traditions and principles vital to Western Civilization and critical to our American way of life, have been damaged.

What do I mean by 'damaged'? Ask the nearest college graduate to name the key events and ideas of Western Civilization. Once you've failed at that, as there's a good chance you have, then try it again with a High School student. For bonus points, ask either one to name what Article's I, IIIII of the constitution primarily deal with.

That's what I mean by damaged. Our ability to not only understand what we read, but to know what we should bother to read; that has been just as weakened as Jefferson's chains themselves have been, indeed there is little difference between the two.

It may seem like I’m not getting to the point fast enough with these posts (here are parts 1 and part 2), but it's hard for me to see how you'd see the point clearly, if I rushed my way to it. How would you grasp the full meaning if I leave out the parts which the meaning is formed from? Ever seen a hill which you figured would be no problem to trot right up and probably not much worth doing? Then at the top of it, an hour later, winded, chest burning, you force yourself upright to look around and can't believe how far you can see?
The nature of how we've gotten to where we are is sort of like that. But not in a good way. I'm giving you key pieces in these posts, which in the end, will come together and give you the perspective to see quite a bit farther than you wish you could.

How we got where we are today, is the result of numerous well-intentioned, seemingly common sense decisions, made over the span of the last two centuries, progressively refined and reinforced with each passing decade, and are just this much short of our feeling their full power. The culmination of these rather blase decisions are what we are now feeling shake our common core, as an out of balance tire shakes its car to the point that it seems as if the entire car must fall apart – because of one simple balance weight lost. Those decisions begun way back then, changed our concept of Education and opened us up to a set of ideas that are fundamentally anti-American, ideas which incline those who hold them towards innocently seeking after the centralization of power over individual freedom, and through measures such as the industrial model school system, as seemingly common sense solutions. These ideas have quite naturally imposed their own Common Core Curriculum over that which is truly ours as Americans, and they are wiping us out, bit by bit, textbook by textbook and student by student.

Our alien common core has been steadily eating away at those chains which Jefferson had hoped would successfully bind the powerful down, and it has done so cheerfully, as if clearing away a tangle of wires instead of our lifeline. Today, not only are the powerful breaking free of their chains, but even your private life is being made a part of ‘valid’ public policy - parents are losing control the their children’s education and in some states even losing parental rights over their children for daring to refuse the indoctrination being imposed by their state, and the states are losing their sovereignty to the federal government – and the federal government is busily signing on to international policies and agreements which mean incrementally turning over control of not only our country, but that of our own lives and families to the approval of international bodies which will have power to adjudicate and enforce them, bringing us almost full circle around the the list of grievances Jefferson ticked off in the Declaration of Independence.

That’s the point.

Do you get it? Does it mean anything to you? Does it seem plausible?

Probably not.

Not without knowing what has gone into forming and supporting it, can you see what it will require of us… gimme a couple more posts. Well... what with the blog being down for a week... I had some extra time to think... yeahhh... so this post grew into two posts... so gimme a few more posts. For now, just at least entertain the possibility that our ‘new’ Common Core Curriculum is a central tool in what is effectively breaking down Jefferson’s, and our own, chains… and if that monster leviathan is successfully loosened… we’re doomed.

Period.

In this post we’ll start looking at some of those tools that have been beating against those chains the longest, and the perhaps surprising sources they have been swung from – not only our classrooms, but from the hands of some of our founders themselves, for what began with well-meaning private citizens, organizations, legislators and legislation, has been carrying us further and further away from our American roots, from their day, to ours.

A Scenic View Point
There may be no better vantage point for seeing that, and as a position to start looking back from, than the present one seen here with President Obama’s recent call for “remaking No Child Left Behind”:
“A budget that sacrifices our commitment to education would be a budget that’s sacrificing our country’s future. That would be a budget that sacrifices our children’s future. And I will not let it happen,” Mr. Obama said. “So yes, I’m determined to cut our deficits, but I refuse to do it by telling students here, who are so full of promise, that we’re not willing to invest in your future.”

One fact that few seem to be aware of, is the fact that the Dept of Education is legally forbidden from doing anything regarding the education of the children residing within the several states, which seems to be lost upon President Obama and most of his audience as well. From the legislation which established the Dept. of Ed, "Public Law 96-88, 93 Stat. 668, October 17, 1979":
"SEC1.0 3. (a) It is the intention of the Congress in the establishment of the Department to protect the rights of State and local governments and public and private educational institutions in the areas of educational policies ... The establishment of the Department of Education shall not increase the authority of the Federal Government over education or diminish the responsibility for education which is reserved to the States and the Iocal school systems and other instrumentalities of the States. (b) No provision of a program administered by the Secretary or by any other officer of the Department shall be construed to authorize the Secretary or any such officer to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or schoolsystem, over any accrediting agency or association, or over the selection or content of library resources, textbooks, or other instructional materials by any educational institution or school system, except to the extent authorized by law."
Well now, believe it or not, you are here and now an eye-witness to a hacksaw sawing upon one of the links in Jefferson's chains and you are seeing how it is accomplished right before your eyes; not by violating the law outright, but by ignoring it's clear intent (though truthfully, the Act's clarity is seriously muddled by other paragraphs), and with a liberal amount of spin, nuance and misdirection, it accomplishes the effect of enabling press conferences and policy statements to take on the power of federal mandates, without coming right out and wording anything that way.

Understanding a law, seeing that it's clear intent is visible for all to see, and seeing to it that Federal agencies comport with that, is a vital link in Jefferson's binding chains. But when Federal agencies know the wording and intent of the law which is to govern their activities, and they, and their chief executive, the President, set out to get around that in order to do what they prefer it said... and the people, and the people's legislators, say nothing - that link is broken clean through. You might be comforted seeing the lengths of chains looped all about... but such chains no longer hold anything together or bind anything down. They may still be a nuissance... but that's just the matter of a bit more sawing.

Without that link securely in the chain between the law, the constitution and the citizenry, defining whether or not it’s legal for Obama (or Bush II who initiated this version of it) to misappropriate funds (steal money) for those kiddies future (which they’ve no right to affect), they are exerting power which has not been delegated to them by We The People (Usurping, was the word the Founders had for it), and without popular outcry; then We The People's understanding of our place within the Republic is missing, the intent of the laws are simply ignored, and Leviathan can be seen working it's way loose.

Law is only law, if We The People are aware of it and insist upon it’s being followed and respected. Absent that, it’s simply paper, easily edited, reinterpreted, overridden and ignored, and that is one lesson that is no longer being taught in our schools. That should be an educational issue all its own, but for those speaking public words today, their promises are routinely seen to be more important than their reality – and believe me, that lesson is being taught and learned today.

It is in just this way that, in a nation based upon ideas, rather than geography, that education becomes revolution, which is something that those who've changed our form of Education have known all along.

Centralization… International Bachelloreatte, Common Core Curriculum Standards... a rot by any other name, is rotten all the same
A statement such as Obama made on reforming NCLB, became possible for a President to publicly make without concern for the reactions of legislators or the citizenry, because of those things which had begun to happen a century and a half earlier. There were some who saw things going awry, as I noted in the last post, but few I think realized the full dangers that would follow if those well intentioned actions were allowed to occur. Still though, there were many who saw at least some aspects of them, and they didn't much like what they saw.

The Atlantic Monthly, in June of 1882, said about the run up to the Morrill Act,
“The year 1862 will in this connection remain memorable in the history of American agriculture. The subject of a donation of public lands for the endowment of industrial colleges had been repeatedly mooted, and in 1857 a bill to that effect was brought before Congress by Mr. Morrill, of Vermont. But in the violence of political agitation at that time, and on account of the especial opposition to the exercise of power by the Federal government, it did not become a law. "
Now, looking at the dates you might think they’re talking only about the events and conflicts leading up to the Civil War, but no, that wasn’t the case. The first attempts to impose federal and state sponsored schools upon the public, an old idea which gained modern currency with Rousseau’s Emile and much popularity in Germany and France through institutions called “Normal” schools (more on them later), were met not only with loud and rousing objections by many, but in some cases even rioting.

But who, you and President Obama might ask, could possibly be against ‘Investing in young people’s future’?

Lots and lots of Americans, it turns out. Everyone from farmers, who didn’t want to pay for such folly, to College Presidents, who being the best Educated, could see pretty clearly what would follow from the Govt intruding into what they ‘should be’ teaching in their colleges. There were actual public Riots over the proposals being made to have the state or federal government get involved in such a thing, and significantly, it was the farmers, or their children, who were being targeted most by the new innovations in ‘education’. One of the biggest proponents of this new 'free public education', particularly education that would be more "suited to their aptitudes, interests and careers" of the little people, was a Professor named Jonathan B. Turner, who gave fiery speech’s proposing that the old, outmoded, ideals which colleges had been traditionally concerned with, you know, the best authors, the best materials and Art which Western Culture had to offer (which he was a professor of, btw), and in the original languages which insured that their full meaning would not be lessened, or even translations of them if need be; Turner insisted that in the name of ‘progress’, these treasures should be discarded as being worthless, traded in for more useful skills.

Turner, Morrill and the ‘new ideas’ people, wanted a new education, more focused upon practical concerns, heavy with new sciencyish-stuff like modern agricultural skills. According to them, that would form a far more democratic basis for American society, and they felt that these new, smarter, better colleges, should be funded by the federal govt, with strings attached, compelling the states to participate in them.
The majority of people saw this for the harebrained scheme it was, something that would consume their money and produce nothing of value in return. Most people at that time were still capable of realizing that 'free public education' actually meant that the public would not only pay for it but because the govt was involved, they knew they would pay far more for it than they should, and have less say over what it would consist of.

They didn't like that. They fiercely tried to stop it., as an article at “Northern Illinois University” titled ‘The People’s College (The movement behind the Morrill Land Grant Act of 1862)’ notes,
"...But there was strong opposition to the public university system. Turner's barn and outbuildings were burned. A number of newspapers railed against the foolishness of what seemed like a Utopian idea and a perfect waste of money. Many farmers and most Illinois farmers believed no results would flow from such an institution that it would actually provide a way for its students to avoid hard, practical work with their hands..."
Although many college presidents, as well as many of the people, tried to oppose this movement, the rising popularity of the faux-science-ish proregressive movement combined with the persistent Republican Progressive Morrill, combined still further with the heat of the crisis of the Civil War, the Morrill Land Grant Colleges Act was passed down their throats.

The approving Atlantic Journal article continues,
“The subsequent events, leading to the civil war, created a strong popular tendency in the reverse direction, in the Northern States; and this, concurrently with the consciousness of the need of popular support on the part of the government, resulted in the passage by Congress, and approval by the president, of two measures most important to agriculture: the creation of the Department of Agriculture as an independent bureau, and the donation to the States of thirty thousand acres of public lands for each representative, for the endowment, in each, of at least one college for the endowment, in each, of at least one college, where the leading object shall he, without excluding other scientific and classical studies, and including military tactics, to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and the mechanic arts, in such manner as the legislatures of the States may respectively prescribe, in order to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions in life.

This beneficent act to promote the arts of peace, again championed chiefly by Mr. Morrill, and passed almost within hearing of hostile cannon, is entitled, whether by oversight or with a view to the conciliation of popular sentiment, A bill for the benefit of agricultural colleges, a title which does not do justice to its broad and liberal scope, and wise deference to the varied requirements of the different portions of the immense empire covered by its action"
A broad and illiberal scope, more like. ‘Liberal (learning) and practical (training)’ were once understood to go together not like ‘Ham and eggs’, but more like ‘Fire and ice’; a liberal education was understood at the Founders time, to be one that taught the ideas which freed a person from ignorance and enabled them to be moral, self-governing individuals. Such Educated people were supremely able to attain the training and skills necessary for the various pursuits and professions they might need in life or get them at Trade Schools – but the reverse is not nearly as true. Someone who’s education is entirely given over to skills and training alone is not freed by that training from their ignorance and passions, they are in fact bound tighter to their trade, and so they must be governed by others.

But such an understanding belonged to the old, outmoded view, which was also the view which produced our Constitution.

So what was the new view? From a biography of John Dewey,
""The higher education system was fundamentally changed over the next decades as a result of two fundamental challenges. The first was the democratic challenge to this older conception of education represented by the Morrill Act of 1862. The aim of this act, named for Dewey's fellow Vermonter, U.S. Senator Justin Smith Morrill (1810-1898), was to authorize the use of Federal resources, through the sale of land, for the advancement of the practical possibilities of higher education - especially agricultural and mechanical. That is to say, its purpose was to connect the schools with the practical lives of the people and to advance the common good in a democracy. As the Act itself states, its aim is "to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions in life." The second challenge to the older conception of education was the scientific challenge, based on the research model of the German universities. This challenge resulted in the founding of the new research universities in America - for example, Hopkins (1876), Clark (1889), Stanford (1892), and Chicago (1892) - with their emphases upon the discovery of new knowledge through empirical research, and the advancement of graduate study in narrowly defined specialities under recognized authorities."(emphasis added)
These were not minor differences in approach, but initiated a wholesale revolution in the understanding of what Education was, what it was for, and how it could be accomplished. We'll look closer at those research universities later, but while the proponents of the new views noted they wouldn’t dream of harming “classical studies, and including military tactics” , their immediate intent and effect was to marginalize them and begin doing away with them both - after all, adding technological agricultural skills classes meant removing other classes… and the only other classes were “classical studies, and including military tactics”… go figure.
You can see the sentiment coming across in this (again from the Atlantic article):
“Since the new institutions could not be numerous or extensive enough to educate the industrial millions, it was argued that they must aim first of all to educate the leaders of progress, to whom the most thorough liberal as well as scientific training ought to be given.
 ...In their anxiety to protect the agricultural student from possible snobbish sneers, arising from the antiquated idea that all manual labor is beneath the dignity of educated men, they proposed to make that idea a determining factor in the choice of the location, connection, and organization of the new schools, by withdrawing them as much as possible from contact with the existing centres of high culture. In this dignified seclusion they hoped to convince the pupils, uncontradicted, of the dignity of labor, surrounding them with a dense agricultural atmosphere, through which no other rays should penetrate. It was even proclaimed in an agricultural convention that muscle must be put on a level with brain, and the sentiment was actually greeted with applause at first, though subsequently followed by energetic protest against such stultification of the cause of agriculture. "
The idea that the view of "manual labor is beneath the dignity of educated men" predominated in a nation built entirely through the manual labor of educated men, was an import of European views by those expressing them, and with a lot of what would in our day be called Spin. What they meant by "they hoped to convince the pupils, uncontradicted, of the dignity of labor", was simply as Turner said, that they wanted to maintain a soft bigotry towards workers "suited to their aptitudes, interests and careers", and hoped to convince their students who, usually schooled with some 'old fashioned' ideas, that higher learning was unimportant, and their new skills would be all they needed. Problem was that those students who did want to learn the new agricultural methods knew what they wanted, a simple Trade School, those who wanted an Education, were instead being given an early version of the diluted monstrosity which dulls minds nationwide today. But even for that, the new colleges were unequipped and unable to give it, as Professor Brubacher notes,
"Neither agriculture nor mechanics was at first prepared to prosper, educationally. Neither had approved courses of study, neither had a literature, neither had skilled teachers, and both were destitute of the matter and the methods of instruction. Added to this, there was no definite call for instruction in the industries. Many people from the industrial masses desired education, it is true, but not to increase their industrial efficiency. It was rather to escape from the industries into what they regarded as a life of ease in the professions.
 Without teachers, without matter, methods, or ideals, and above all without an enthusiastic clientele, — for farmers generally scouted at "book farming," — it is not strange that the "new education " languished. Mechanics, or, as it later came to be called, engineering, fared better than agriculture. The basis of its subject matter is mathematics. Its material was thus from the start more exact than were the chemical and biological principles on which agricultural science was later to develop."
Or as he notes in another book, Higher education in transition,
"How shall we summarize the significance of the land-grant colleges? They were among the first insitutions of learning in the United States to welcome applied science and the mechanic arts and to give these subjects a recognized place in the college curriculum. They fostered the emancipation of American higher education from a purely classical and formalistic tradition. President Welch of the Iowa State Agricultural College expressed this pragmatic philosophy in 1871 when he asserted "that knowledge should be taught for its uses; that culture is an incidental result." The purpose of Iowa State was defined as being tht of promoting "the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions of life."
 Finally, these colleges stood pre-eminently for the principle, increasingly so important in the twentieth century, that every American citizen is entitled to receive some form of higher education. Together with the first state universities and municipal colleges, the early land-grant colleges represented the force of democracy working as a mighty leaven in the world of American higher learning."
IOW, the purpose was to

  1. hijack those who wanted to learn a trade, and give them the 'lesson' that classical learning, and all of its virtues, were so much hogwash, and here's some stuff you can use.
  2. hijack those who wanted an actual Education to rise above the farms, and give them the 'lesson' that they have a place, it's on the farm, and give them the 'lesson' that classical learning, and all of its virtues, were so much hogwash, and here's some stuff you can use.
But keep in mind though, as even Brubacher points out,
"In the early days, one observer recalled, there were not enough textbooks on the subject to enable an American professor of agriculture to operate for thirty days!"
And (surprise) there were national scandals about how these new colleges which had nothing to teach, but were nevertheless eating up money quite well, meaning that, THE primary lesson they had to teach, was,

  • the 'lesson' that classical learning, and all of its virtues, were so much hogwash, get some skills and stay in your place.
Listen to any proregressive leftist (be they Democrat or Republican), talk about manual labor (other than in their speeches to labor crowds), as they speak of 'being forced to flip burgers', etc, and you'll hear all the proof of this attitude that you need. What their intent was, to keep the person formed by their environment, in their environment, though modified by experts, so that experts would be free to do what was best for them, and that included doing away with the very materials and ideas which had formed the supports of Western Civilization for centuries, the very knowledge and ideas which made their adored technology possible...

Poof.

Gone.

That's progress?

But wait... there’s less!
How could this happen? Where did it come from? Why the mania for such obvious cultural suicide? There are many reasons, but which can be boiled down to three 'root causes'... which I'll start getting into in tomorrow's post (and yes, I'll actually post it tomorrow), as well as how it began to be implemented, often by those who intended something else entirely.

1 comment:

3rseduc / handsinthesoil said...

As always it's a pleasure to read your blog. Federal intervention is illegal two ways...your mention of the 1979 act and this: The General Education Provisions Act (GEPA) of 1970 Title 20 1232a reads;
"No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system, or over the selection of library resources, textbooks, or other printed or published instructional materials by any educational institution or school system, or to require the assignment or transportation of students or teachers in order to overcome racial imbalance."