Friday, March 11, 2011

Should the Education of your children include educating the government about your private life? The Rotten Common Core pt 2

Question: Should the Education of your children include educating the government about your home, your possessions, your habits, your own educational history, profession, the types of media you possess in your home and other tidbits of information about your family?

That pursuit of information is key to what the process we call ‘education’ has evolved into and is involved in doing today, and not only is it not considered controversial, it has been a central aim of it for well over a century. A mover and shaker of the early 1900's who we left off with last time, Ellwood P. Cubberley, had long
"... portrayed education as the main tool of America's progress... "
, and the wrenches and screwdrivers of that tool set were rigorous testing and surveying and agitating for 'education' legislation. Now by that, Cubberley did not mean that 'Educated People' were the key to our progress - that I would have agreed with – no, he meant that the educational process, the operations of educational institutions, their scope and their reach into American life, was the main tool for transforming America into what the Progressive experts had determined America should be; and thanks to aspects of our modern “Common Core Standards” programs, those tools are now being taken to the next level, one Cubberley could only have dreamt of.

Keep in mind that Cubberley (who we'll dig into further in a moment) is the same fellow we left off with last time, who approvingly said that,
“Each year the child is coming to belong more to the State and less and less to the parent.”
Amazingly, some influentially uninformed people think there's no reason for concern here. For instance, a well meaning long time legislative wonk, Kerry Messer, said in a local print sheet that there's no reason for concern about Common Core Standards because there are no ties to Washington behind them,

"It is important to point out that these reforms have nothing to do with the social engineering found in the programs coming out of Washington D.C. I can vouch for the fact that these current education reform proposals have been promoted in Missouri for more than a decade, and bills can be found in the archives of past legislative sessions to demonstrate such."
No doubt, if you stick to the letter of the law and it's intent, you know, as congress rigorously does with Article 1, Section 8 of it's enumerated powers (ahem), looking no further than how one bill refers to another, it's possible to honestly become myopic enough to believe that these programs are actually separated. But for those who look a little further than the obvious, his statement is a bit like saying that two baseball fans who've never met couldn't possibly be concerned with gathering the same sorts of statistics...'RBI's? Error's?HRr's? Come on! They've never met and discussed such things! What are the odds!?' No doubt Mr. Messer is very well informed about the legislation involved, but he's miserably ignorant of the aims and scope of modern educational policies - we'll get to the details of those policies in a couple posts, but please, history first, then legislation.

The prevalence of such influentially uninformed people is exactly why learning the history of this mess, what we term 'Education', what it considers to be it's goals, and the thinking behind such things, is so important to get a grasp of. When founded on common core ideals, there is no need for direct plans or conspiracies to be laid between state and federal level, or private organizations and corp's, their common core goals will synchronize almost on their own; weirdly, it's the same reason the Free Market works so well, as if moved by an 'Invisible Hand', common interests and objectives move people toward shared goals without any need for knowledge of each other's interests or motives.

Gretchen at Missouri Education Watchdog, caught a whiff of this sort of thing when wondering why someone at the dept of health and human services would be googling her site, nosed about and found this interesting tie-in between her posts on Education and HHS legislation:
A question: are these the intended functions and constitutional responsibilities of the Federal government and the public schools?
New Heights participants may be eligible for educational, employment, housing, support services and information about community resources until their 20th birthday. Contact the Anacostia SHS office at 202-645-4040, or the Cardozo SHS office at 202-671-1995.
This is listed under the Health and Wellness section under the teen parent program information:


We have adopted DOH’s Wrap MC Condom program in all high schools, where trained school staff provide condoms to students as part of a comprehensive health education program for students in grades 9–12. Condoms are also available through the school nurse.

Visit the Department of Health for more information.
How did this sort of thing come about? To find out, let’s continue looking back in time into the ‘new’ ‘Common Core Standards’ and the changes which have been made in the meaning and purpose of Education, when & why those changes came about and whether or not they’ve produced the benefits promised.

Looking Backward
Last time we went over how the definition and purpose of ‘Education’ has been changed and split into tasks and skills, long before the mid 20th century, and how common core standards, the new tool for intensifying this redefinition, were themselves nothing new.

But that ain’t the half of it. The problem with writing on this stuff isn’t finding damning material, but deciding on only a few to use lest your post be mistaken for an encyclopedia, and then forcing yourself to leave out the more sensational material so you don’t look wacky yourself for mentioning them (factual though they are). Probably the best place to start this post, is by continuing on with Ellwood P. Cubberley, the premier early historian of American Education, he of the cheery thought:
“Each year the child is coming to belong more to the State and less and less to the parent.”
This statement wasn’t made recently of course, or even the 1960’s, but back in the supposed good old days of 1909, and it was not said as a warning but as something to be looked forward to. Cubberly was one of the key figures involved in shaping the modern educational system we're faced with today, his career began at the close of the 19th century and continued well into the 20th, as an online bio says:

"Throughout his career, Cubberley remained deeply involved in shaping national policy on issues from teacher certification to textbooks. He retired in 1933."
Lets take a few moments and look at the full passage which that line came from, his "Changing conceptions of education" – see if it doesn’t manage to raise a few more hackles for you:

The new period of advance which we now seem to be entering also bids fair to be very paternalistic, perhaps even socialistic, in the matter of education. The old principle, fought for so vigorously fifty or sixty years ago, that the wealth of the state must educate the children of the state, bids fair to be even further extended with a view to a greater equalization of both the burdens and the advantages of education. Poor and overburdened towns and districts will be supplied with sufficient means to enable them to provide a good school for their children, and the present great difference in tax rates, to provide practically the same educational advantages, will be in large part equalized by the state. There is, as yet, a small but a very significant tendency for the school to free itself from the financial control of the town board or city council, and to erect itself as an independent and a coordinate branch of the town or city government, responsible only to the people for its work and its expense. There are many signs of an increasing centralization of management which will ultimately lead to greater efficiency. Many options which communities have to-day will in time be changed into obligations. The state oversight of private and parochial education is likely to increase slowly, especially along the lines of uniformity in statistics and records, sanitary inspection, common standards of work, and the enforcement of the attendance laws. In particular, the attitude toward the control of the child is likely to change. Each year the child is coming to belong more and more to the state, and less and less to the parent. In all that relates to proper care, kindness, education, and advantages, the child belongs to the parent; but when neglect, abuse, and the deprivation of the child of any natural right takes place, the child belongs to the state. The right to reasonably good treatment, proper care, an education, protection from vice, and protection from labor beyond his strength and years, the state will soon guarantee.”
Perhaps Mr. Messer, and a few of our present legislators, might want to review that once more, paying close attention to the part beginning with "Many options which communities have to-day will in time be changed into obligations.".

Cubberly was not some fringe activist, he was a hugely well respected and influential force in early 20th century educational ideas and policies, a champion of a "paternalistic, perhaps even socialistic" spreading of the wealth around so as to use public schools to ‘improve’ society in the manner his progressive views endorsed – no matter whether or not the children’s parents and family agreed with those views and purposes... he was far too concerned about ‘democratic ideals’ to quibble over the pesky rights of individuals, and those ideas of his are still in the very much in the fabric or our ‘modern’ educational thought.

And lest the tone of the final passage, protecting children from abuse and so forth, cause you to drop your guard, note that ‘reasonably good treatment, proper care, an education, protection from vice’ are extremely subjective issues, which, as many a homeschooler parent can tell you, have often been used to intimidate them for daring to home school their children away from State approved education and have even been used in some states as justification for attempting to take their children away from them.

Not too long ago, I read a paper written by a prominent modern legal beagle, Kimberly A. Yuracko, a law professor at Northwestern University School of Law, in her paper "Education Off the Grid: Constitutional Constraints on Homeschooling", she says this:
"...It highlights the legal distinctness of parents and children and emphasizes that parental control over children’s basic education flows from the state (rather than vice versa). States delegate power over children’s basic education to parents, and the delegation itself is necessarily subject to constitutional constraints."
Repeat: States delegate power over children to parents—not vice versa. What that means is that you, as a parent, have only a secondary say over your child, let alone the mere education of your child, and as the paper makes very clear, that education's primary purpose and value is to make your child accept the 'truths' of moral relativism. That is the whole purpose of her paper; she says it doesn't matter if homeschoolers are better educated, or even if they are swell, outgoing members of society. Their primary purpose is to ensure that children get their minimum daily dosage of moral relativism as prescribed by Uncle/Nanny Sam, this was how,
"Cubberley portrayed education as the main tool of America's progress."
Got your attention? Then lets go back to the views that made our future.

Cubberly’s view, and that of many others, was that the schools were a way of transforming America away from what he and other progressives saw as being disorganized and inefficient (what you and I might call individuals 'life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness') into a nation organized along the proregressive vision for how it should be, one that is arranged and guided by experts who would improve our lives by making them more scientifically structured and efficient – removing salt from your diet, reducing your flush toilets for you, stuff like that - meaning less of a constitutional republic, and more of a democratic society, one that is free to pass whatever laws ‘the people’ (as determined by those same experts) required in order to be prevented from harming themselves (remember, Prohibition was a Progressive issue, as is the war on drugs, Trans-Fats, etc), where constitutionally protected rights take a backseat to legislated needs and wants.

His biographical summary notes that,
...He saw the rise of universal public schooling as a triumph of democratic forces. Cubberley saw educational systems as continually improving, and he associated the rise and refinement of education with America's continued progress.
There is a critically important point to be made here as it is so very easy to read malice and aforethought into their intent, but Cubberley, his compatriots then, and now, from Arne Duncan (well... maybe not Duncan... oops. See?) to Bill Gates, believe this stuff! Undoubtedly there are some cynics using it to ride the gravy train, but most of them, I believe, really do want to help you... the problem is that they want to help you by forcibly limiting or mandating your activities to those approved avenues which they believe will be best for you. And IMHO that makes them far more dangerous than simple thugs and power mad politico’s – they feel morally justified in whatever means their ends require of them to do - to you.

To those ends, Cubberley pushed everything from the use of I.Q. Tests (guess where assessment tests such as the ACT and SAT tests originated from) to wide ranging surveys in order to gather information on the schools and the communities they operated within, gathering quantitative data on students, teachers, schools and their communities in order to make them operate and progress, more efficiently. Cubberley worked tirelessly, wrote textbooks which sold millions of copies, spreading his ideas, including that of the need to marginalize the influence of local school boards – boards which would of course be made up of parents and community leaders – in favor of ‘experts’ in administration, again, to make things approach that progressive nirvana of 'efficiency',
Cubberley edited a series of textbooks for Riverside Press that sold more than 3 million copies... In his textbooks, he advocated autonomy for school administrators. Although school boards might set policy, they lacked expertise to run school systems and Cubberley believed they should give way to the administrator's expertise in day-to-day operations.
Those expert administrators of his would ideally collect information on students, teachers and “the world outside” reshaping school systems on the industrial production line model to promote the progressive ideal of societal efficiency, he,

… called for increased social efficiency in schools. He extolled the use of tests and measurements as techniques to measure educational efficiency and to provide scientific accuracy to education. He analogized the educational process to industrial production, in that schools should strive to maximize efficiency and product....
Always championing the use of public schools to ‘improve’ society in the manner his progressive views endorsed. As he put it in his “Changing conceptions of education

The school now shows signs of becoming conscious of itself in a new and a truer direction; its gaze is now outward instead of inward, and the relation of the school to the world outside has now become a question of the first importance in educational procedure. The school is essentially a time and labor saving device, created — with us—by democracy to serve democracy's needs. To convey to the next generation the knowledge and the accumulated experience of the past is not its only function. It must equally prepare the future citizen for the to-morrow of our complex life. The school must grasp the significance of its social connections and relations, and must come to realize that its real worth and its hope of adequate reward lies in its social efficiency. There are many reasons for believing that this change is taking place rapidly at present, and that an educational sociology, needed as much by teachers today as an educational psychology, is now in the process of being formulated for our use.”
And those under the delusion that ‘democracy’, in the hands of progressives, means greater liberty and freedom for you to do what you want, you had better have a look at what progressives mean by democracy,

“Our school curriculum bids fair, too, to experience many modifications during the next one or two decades, and chiefly along a line that will lead toward preparation for increased social efficiency. Much antiquated material, adapted largely to the needs of a society that has preceded us, will doubtless be eliminated. New subjects and new points of emphasis in old subjects, better adapting the school to our changed and changing social and industrial life, will probably be added. Our city schools will soon be forced to give up the exceedingly democratic idea that all are equal, and that our society is devoid of classes, as a few cities have already in large part done, and to begin a specialization of educational effort along many new lines in an attempt better to adapt the school to the needs of these many classes in the city life. City, town, and country schools alike have, in the past, directed most of their training to satisfying the needs of the children of the well to-do classes, and those headed for business life or the professions. More recently, most of the larger cities have provided some form of work leading to preparation for the executive positions in technical pursuits.”
That ‘antiquated material’ of a 'a society that has preceded us (aka America)' he mentions, would of course be made up of materials like the quality literature and histories of Western Culture in general and American history in particular, and the events and ideas which are critical to understanding our Constitution – the same constitution which continually blocked the 'education' legislation Cubberley and friends wished would enable them to impose their vision upon us, not only without interference, but with the aid and force of government mandate – for our own good. What you typically find in those who profess “Democratic ideals” is ultimately making it easier for those who are ‘inadequate” to serve the ideals and needs of those who are more efficient – also for their own good.

It seems obvious that Cubberley’s ideas would find themselves very much at home with issues such as Gretchen has been uncovering at Missouri Education Watchdog on the use of Longitudinal Data systems, they are the fulfillment of his ideas, which are designed to gather bits and pieces of data on not only your child's learning issues, but on your home, the materials and media within it, and on parents education, habits and beliefs – those things which you might have naively considered to be private, they consider to be ‘useful’ and fair game because of that.
“These agencies want to know information such as dental prosthetics, family income, gestational age at birth, number of teeth, weight, weight at birth....and on and on. Some of these questions pertain to educational concerns, but is much of this data pertinent for educational reasons?”
For Education? No.For the 'educational process' of transforming society? Definitely. "You got a problem wid' dat?!"

The Regressive Roots of Progressives
But again, the point I was making in the previous post, these changes not only didn't begin with our current Common Core Standards, or in the 1960's, or even 1900's, but even earlier still - they are not modern, they are not scientific, but are reactionary actions taken against those principled ideas which came before, because they came before. The changes which Cubberley was seeking and admiring were well under way by the time the 20th century opened up.

Here’s one example from a typically forgettable Baccalaureate Address seeking after a broader mission (go figure) for liberal education, delivered in Agricultural College Chapel (remember that word, ‘Agriculture’ it's going to come up a lot), Sunday, June 9, 1901, North Dakota. By an aptly named fellow, J. H. Worst, LL. D, regarding what he assumed to be ‘common’ ideas, which indeed were, sad to say, becoming all too common,
“... For many years progressive educators have been striving against the culture-alone theory and advocating the education of the whole man—hand as well as head, body as well as mind. As a result the ancient educational structure is pretty well broken down, and the erstwhile curriculum has become a reminiscence. Many wealthy parents still educate their children for the larger pleasure which they believe education of the old type will afford them in life, but parents generally have come to look upon life as a period of intense activity rather than a brief round of pleasure, and hence provide an education for their children that will fit them for the every day demands that duty or necessity may make upon them. Since it is a matter of common observation that wealth is easily dissipated, especially when inherited, farseeing parents prefer an education for their children that is adapted to some useful end rather than the education that is largely ornamental or fashionable.”
Translation: The wealthy are the only ones fit for the sort of Education your Founding Fathers found indispensable, the rest of your kids need to be fit to serve them, or as Wilson put it, they must “...forgo the privilege of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks.”

What he means by “… striving against the culture-alone theory and advocating the education of the whole man….” is that educating “hand as well as head, body as well as mind” can only be accomplished absent any coherent knowledge of his culture, particularly the ideas, principles and foundational epics, such as Homer, Virgil and the Bible – such ‘culture-alone’ information they believed would inhibit and confuse ‘progress’.

Never mind that the greatest progress in all of human history occurred beginning in 1776, precisely because of that 'antiquated cultural knowledge'. Arghhh.

The proregressives hit a full head of steam beginning around 1900, their ideas didn’t begin there, or even with those fellows I’ve mentioned so far, many people helped stoke the boiler for the progressive era’s steam, such as a fellow I mentioned at the close of the last post, Lester Ward, who ‘advanced’ ideas of social science and social justice and put some of the final touches on those ideas which became our ideas of what schooling was for - IOW, if you look into our newest common core standards, you’ll find that they are some of the oldest standards of them all.

The lever to which the power must be applied.
Who the heck was Lester Ward you might ask? Good question, but it’s unfortunately a question which is rarely thought of today, especially not thought of by legislative mavens like Messer, who unknowingly furthers those goals of his which have become so common today as to be nearly universally accepted as self-evident common sense.

There was a time was a time though, when they did still have to be careful how they spoke of them, as Ward, put it in 1897 in “Dynamic sociology

(“Wards Educational Theories” C.S. Mihanovich) Definition of Education:
"Education… may therefore be defined as a system for extending to all the members of society such of the extant knowledge of the world as may be deemed most important.

But the knowledge referred to is just that which is embraced in the word science, and the diffusion of it is the process which goes by the name of education.

If by the term education there can be constantly implied the two adjuncts, scientific and popular; if the word can be made to embrace the notion of imparting a knowledge of the materials and forces of nature to all the members of society, there can be no objection to the employment of this word education as the embodiment of all that is progressive.

Education thus defined is the available means of setting progressive wheels of society in motion; it is, as it were, the lever to which the power must be applied.”
Notice how carefully Ward minces around the word ‘education’? Almost as if he was holding up some sort of plague ridden rat? But by carefully redefining it from what some few remaining grand parents might still remember having heard about from their parents, he transforms it into a system whose purpose is to efficiently deliver useful facts as a means to applying the “the lever to which the power must be applied.” and reshaping society in the process. If you ever wondered where Cass Sunstein got the idea of ‘Nudge’ from, he learned his shtick from proregressive unfounding fathers such as this one. Keep that in mind as you send your kiddies off to school – especially in Wisconsin.

One admiring historian, Henry Steele Commager, described Ward, who we've forgotten today, as,
"In perspicacity, intellectual acumen, and imagination, he [Lester Ward] was the equal of Henry Adams or Thorstein Velben or Louis Sullivan, but he was better rounded and more constructive than these major critics. In the rugged vigor of his mind, the richness of his learning, the originality of his insights, the breath of his conceptions, he takes place alongside William James, John Dewey and Oliver Wendell Holmes as one of the creative spirits of Twentieth-century America."
Another even called him the “American Aristotle” grgqlskdulph (Sorry, I just threw up a little bit in my throat at that).

Ward's ideas were deeply influential and they helped to cement the ideas of Charles Pearce’s pragmatism (more on him and that later) into common cause with the body of Sociology, and the idea of an entirely new view of not only what they thought that education should be, but of justice as well. Ward was just one of many, but he became one of those without whom, we might not have had the proregressive era as we know and rue so it today. Ward, like his contemporaries such as Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, came of age in the Civil War, and learned all the wrong lessons from it, thinking they were turning society away from the ideas which brought that conflict about, they instead spread the actual cause (statist power) still deeper and wider into the mind of our nation.

And as far back we've come, even still, we have not yet gone back to the source of the rot which pervades our ‘common core’ in education ... though we are coming to the point where a key source of the rot still visibly stood out, rather than blended in, stood out at least, for those who still had eyes to see and try to warn their fellows before it became too late.

Leaning Our Educational Ladders Upon The Wrong Wall
A popular essayist of the 19th century, Charles Dudley Warner, noted one of the critical issues which would probably do as much or more to un-Americanize America, than any other measure, legislation or constitutional amendment, the carrier of the virus which plagues us to this day. Warner wrote "The Novel and the Common School" on the subject of what was going wrong with education, which went a long way towards being able to pull the switcheroo between the materials which the Founders era understood Education to require, and the placebo items which creatures like Ward, Cubberley & later John Dewey would find so useful in nudging the American people out of their liberties - “Textbooks”.

Believe it or not, Education didn’t always involve the use of textbooks, they are a modern innovation and an insidious one, and there are few things more ably suited to destroying education more thoroughly than them.

Here’s a snippet from Warner’s essay on how he, who actually received something like an actual Education in his youth, thought about 'textbooks', and that was that he thought of them as robbing children of an Education, robbing them of a vital component of receiving an Education, that of having experience with the Good, the Beautiful and the True.
“The notion that literature can be taken up as a branch of education, and learned at the proper time and when studies permit, is one of the most farcical in our scheme of education. It is only matched in absurdity by the other current idea, that literature is something separate and apart from general knowledge. Here is the whole body of accumulated thought and experience of all the ages, which indeed forms our present life and explains it, existing partly in tradition and training, but more largely in books; and most teachers think, and most pupils are led to believe, that this most important former of the mind, maker of character, and guide to action can be acquired in a certain number of lessons out of a textbook! Because this is so, young men and young women come up to college almost absolutely ignorant of the history of their race and of the ideas that have made our civilization. Some of them have never read a book, except the text-books on the specialties in which they have prepared themselves for examination. We have a saying concerning people whose minds appear to be made up of dry, isolated facts, that they have no atmosphere. Well, literature is the atmosphere... No text-book, no one reading-book or series of reading-books, will do it. If the teacher is only the text-book orally delivered, the teacher is an uninspired machine... The teacher is to present evidence of truth, beauty, art. Where will he or she find it? ..."
When Education changed from teaching what a person needed to know in order to become a virtuous, self-governing person, referred to as “the culture-alone theory”, and changed over into being that of producing, factory like, efficient, skilled, new members of the workplace... we as a culture picked up and moved our ladders from the walls of those buildings filled with glorious stained glass windows that lifted your eyes towards the virtuous and saintly, and plopped them over onto that of an aging factory with little to see but a view of the skillful hucksters working the streets below.

Dudley wrote his essay decades before Woodrow Wilson came on the scene with his ‘of necessity in every society, to forgo the privilege of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks."’, back in 1880, but even that is still not the beginning, still no golden era... not even close. If we go back a decade further to1870, digging around in commentary from folk 'back in the day' it will lead us into loads of material from folks such as this fellow, a Priest named Michael Muller, who wrote a very concerned book on the disturbing state of 'Public Education' with such a sense of warning and dread that’s hard to shake, this is just some of the first paragraph from the opening chapter of it,
“... principles are disregarded, and iniquity is held in veneration. We see nothing but confusion in religion, in government, in the family circle. Sects spring up and swarm like locusts, destroying not only revealed religion, but rejecting even the law of nature. Fraud, theft, and robbery are practised almost as a common trade... The illustrated press has become to us what the amphitheatre was to the Romans when men were slain, women were outraged, and Christians given to the lions to please a degenerate populace. The number of the most unnatural crimes is beyond computation. A wide-spread and deep-seated dishonesty and corruption has, like some poisonous virus, inoculated the great body of our public men in national, state, and municipal positions, so much so that rascality seems to be the rule, and honesty the exception. Real statesmanship has departed from amongst us; neither the men nor the principles of the olden time exist any longer...."
As you read it you're tempted to think he's going just a bit over the top, right? But ... well... seeing as how things have played out... maybe not. He continues in Chp 1,

"Now we cannot expect the people to set to work in earnest about stemming the torrent of the[Pg 15] great evils of the land, unless they are well enlightened as to the source from which they flow. This source is principally that wrong system of education introduced into this country about fifty years ago. At that time very few, perhaps, could foresee what effects it was calculated to produce. After a long trial, we can now pronounce on it with certainty by its results. The tree, no longer a sapling, can be judged by its fruits. These fruits have been so bad that it is high time to call the attention of the public to the tree...”
What is most interesting, is continuing in Chp 2, how he notes, with perhaps some quibbles this way or that, what would have been recognizable to members of the Founders era as being similar to what they were taught to think of as education:

“The term education comprehends something more than mere instruction. One may be instructed without being educated; but he cannot be educated without being instructed. The one has a partial or limited, the other a complete or general, meaning. What, then, is the meaning of Education? Education comes from the Latin "educo," and means, according to Plato, "to give to the body and soul all the perfection of which they are susceptible"; in other words, the object of education is to render the youth of both sexes beautiful, healthful, strong, intelligent and virtuous… Now the body is the dwelling of the soul—the palace of this noble king; the nobility of the soul must induce us to attend to its palace—to the health and strength and beauty of the body;—health, strength and beauty are the noble qualities of the body.

The noble qualities of the soul are virtue and learning. …

Learning is, next to virtue, the most noble ornament and the highest improvement of the human mind. It is by learning that all the natural faculties of the mind obtain an eminent degree of perfection. The memory is exceedingly improved by appropriate exercise, and becomes, as it were, a storehouse of names, facts, entire discourses, etc., according to every one's exigency or purposes. The understanding—the light of the soul—is exceedingly improved by[Pg 22] exercise, and by the acquisition of solid science and useful knowledge. Judgment, the most valuable of all the properties of the mind, and by which the other faculties are poised, governed and directed, is formed and perfected by experience, and regular well-digested studies and reflection; and by them it attains to true justness and taste. The mind, by the same means, acquires a steadiness, and conquers the aversion which sloth raises against the serious employments of its talents…”
It's not particularly important whether or not you agree with his assessment of what education should be, or mine, only that when you compare it with Lester Ward’s

“Education… may therefore be defined as a system for extending to all the members of society such of the extant knowledge of the world as may be deemed most important."
You see that there is a significant difference between these two views, the first, which reigned since the first English settlers on these shores, up until the early 1800's, giving way bit by bit until around the time of the Civil War, when the later, proregressive view came to the fore and has as the supreme goal of education in this land for well over a century, directing the minds, morals and actions of our people.

Try this thought experiment, I've tried it many times with people face to face, and the result is common; What is the initial reaction you feel when you read/hear the words "The Good, the Beautiful and the True"? Did you feel a little, almost involuntary 'tsk' or a mocking grin or an urge to roll your eyes? How about with "Vampires, zombies and corruption"? No eye roll? Hmmm does that seem 'Right side up' to you? Try it with some people you know... you might find the response interesting.

I'll leave it to you, for the moment, to compare the fruits of each.

But I'll ask you, do you begin to see why it is we no longer see things as the Founders of this nation did? Why it is that once "Self-evident truths" are no longer taken as even evidently possible? The outlooks generated by these opposing views of Education could not be more antagonistic to each other; the first holds the individual to be of value, and virtue is taken as their goal – the second holds that getting stuff in order to get other stuff, is the purpose and goal of all they might do.

Our current system of education is incompatible with the first goal for Education, because of what it believes an 'education' should be; and because of what it believes an education should be, our present system uses the materials it does, and the factory school process to stamp them, assembly line fashion, into the student laden conveyor belt classes and gathering passports stamped with grades so they can enter the workforce... with little or no conception of what freedom and liberty are, what they rely upon, or even of what their worth might be.

It was this period, around the Civil War, when the two visions for the Education of America, and so ultimately for America itself, came abreast of each other, and the older vision, the one which made our nation possible, was surpassed by the newer proregressive goals. Permit me another highbrow cultural allusion, from Star Wars, episode II, where the inexperienced Obi-Wan takes military success as victory:
Obi-Wan Kenobi: ... I must admit that without the clones, it would not have been victory.
Master Yoda: Victory? Victory, you say? Master Obi-Wan, not victory. The shroud of the Dark Side has fallen. Begun, the Clone War has!
Over the top? Mmmaybe, but something similar did happen with us, in that while the North won the war, the philosophy which drove the south - legislated rights, as opposed to Natural Law - won out in our philosophy and schools. The skills based view of education has served to drive a wedge between our founding principles and our ability to understand them and apply them - Self government is not for long compatible with the goal of ‘learning stuff to get stuff’, it is only compatible with a people who strive to be virtuous and independent people because that is seen as a priority goal and value to them.

Being a Catholic Priest, Muller’s identification of the problem – religion having been removed from the schools – isn’t so surprising, and you or I might differ with him on some details of that (though even from a secular point of view, there is more truth to that than not), but he does note a very critical ‘root cause’ of the issue with this:
“Another distinguished Professor published, in 1866, Lectures on the Physiology of the Nervous System, in which we find the following passage :
"We admit,' he says, 'without any restriction, that intellectual phenomena in animals are of the same order as in man....' 'As for free-will, we comprehend a certain kind of free-will in the more intelligent animals; and, on the other hand, we may add, that perhaps man is not so free as he would fain persuade himself he is.' And 'as to feeling the distinction between good and evil, it is a grave question, which we must first study in man himself!'"
Let it not be supposed that these principles are merely announced as abstractions; conclusions are drawn from them which must fill every thinking mind with horror. Eighty students of the Normal School, the great training institution of teachers[Pg 55] for the North of France, applauded such conclusions in a public letter.”
(he doesn't attribute it, but I believe he's speaking of William Wundt, and there's much to say about him...later)We’ll come back to this later, but Free Will, materialism, and the ‘Normal School’s are key to our issue.

The Hammer Of War
So now, finally, poking our heads back still another decade to 1862, we reach the first successful national push for these ideas - not the cause of them - but the combination of lever and fulcrum which allowed text-bookish nit-wits to unbalance the world and split our understanding of Education, here we even find the first source from which “Common Core Standards” find their source, which, then as now, the Federal govt sought to impose upon the states, with offers of help and federal dollars, in return for state compliance and... along with the means to begin imposing them.

For those who think the Dept of Education is a recent creation, no, it's not, only it's cabinet level position, the original Department of Education was formed in 1867 to ... (whadaya think?) the Dept of Ed site puts it,
"...collect information on schools and teaching that would help the States establish effective school systems. While the agency's name and location within the Executive Branch have changed over the past 130 years, this early emphasis on getting information on what works in education to teachers and education policymakers continues down to the present day..."
It certainly does, and the Morrill Act in 1863, and the second Morrill Act of 1890 gave the"Office of Education" responsibility for administering support for the forbidden fruit of the Civil War, our system of land-grant colleges and universities.

Professor Brubacher notes on pg 225 of his “Higher Education in Transition”,
“Opponents of the original Morrill Act had charged that it would only be an entering wedge for a vast extension of federal power. Subsequent events seemed to bear out this prediction. In 1854, President Franklin Pierce had vetoed a bill granting lands t the states for the benefit of the indigent insane which, from his “strict constructionist” point of view, seemed unconstitutional.…

… Although the Morrill Act granted large tracts of federal land to states willing to establish colleges of a specified type, there were strings attached. It was provided that none of the grant was to be used for the construction of buildings. Thus, the states would have to spend money of their own in order to take advantage of the act. Here was a beginning of the “matching dollars” concept, later developed to a much higher degree.
That concept of 'Matching Dollars' is key to how the Federal Govt still 'controls' states via golden handcuffs of Title I money - to the tune of some $14 billion - tied to "Common Core Standards', as Gretchen recently put it,

"...It's not as difficult as you may think. Dangle money in front of cash strapped states and tell them they won't get Title 1 money unless they sign onto standards. Pretend it's voluntary and just close your eyes to the fact that the Federal Government is designing curriculum. Presto. The Federal Government has now taken over education. ..."
There had been many previous attempts to establish something like national public schooling, but none got off the ground until the ‘lucky break’ of the Civil War, something which would not have surprised Heraclitus (“war is the father of all things,” ) in the least , and here it proved a perfect pretext for the very first strain of common core standards, and after Morrill failed with two previous efforts, vetoed by Presidents Pearce and Buchanan, the Civil War enabled him to put it through as a War Measure (!). Rep. Morrill said:

“The role of the national government is to mould the character of the American people." and that "Ignorant voters endanger liberty. With free schools in the South there could have been no rebellion in the future...when our youth learn to read similar books, similar lessons, we shall become one people, possessing one organic nationality."
Common Core Standards are nothing new, only the extent to which they are being imposed upon us is. Standards aren't themselves the problem, and that they are common is not even the problem; that they are arbitrarily drawn is the beginning of a problem; that they are measured by the federal govt and tie states to behaviors and actions and obligations through the carrot and stick of funding is more of a problem, but the real problem is the educational goals they serve - when the Federal Government sets out to 'mould the character' of the American people... that is the one thing you can be certain that will be accomplished... along with the mother of all unforeseen complications.

When the goal of our Education changed, from providing students with the information and understanding necessary to enable them to understand life and their place in it, so as to govern their own life; to being the goal of training you with beliefs and skills to accomplish tasks in common with everyone else... there are a number of changes which our moulds must follow.

When you are taught reverence for Truth, for nobility of soul, the cardinal virtues in the manner our Founders era was taught, knowledge and understanding becomes something vital to your own soul and happiness; your ideas and actions will tend to be internally driven and motivated. Such a focus of education teaches you to revere other peoples rights to act and revere truth as they see fit, as well.

But when taught that your driving focus, the supreme goal of your education, is to be the outward desires and goals for skills, know-how and other stuff, the fact that other people have so much of that other stuff is going to become an issue. You'll likely find it difficult not to notice that other people are... somewhat in the way of what it is that you want, how their private possessions and activities are interfering with your ability to know what there is to know. Even privacy, 'personal choices', are bound to become resented unknowns as well, in ways ranging from peoples diet choices, to flush toilets and religious convictions - what's not for the 'common good', is commonly resented.

And something else... those particular sets of useful skills which you are to be trained in are going to have to be chosen, and they are going to have to be chosen by those who govern you. And what do you suppose is the likelihood, that in and amongst those choices of what you’ll be taught to believe, will be a few tid-bits... oh... tossed in here and there, and arranged and presented... discretely no doubt... so that you, the ‘human learner’, will approve of being governed by those who are making those very agreeable choices about what you will be compelled to learn?

Before tisk-tisking me on that, you might want to check in on the School field trips made to the Wisconsin protests.. A system of education whose supreme goals are skills, and that knowledge which serves them, together with Common Core Standards set by the federal government with financial strings attached, are going to mould us even further into the people we have been becoming for over a century.

Are you happy with the trends of the last century?

We'll look at what began these changes, and then how well meaning legislators and legislation have been carrying us further and further from our American roots, from their day, to ours, in the next posts.


Marcia said...

Excellent post...THANK YOU!!!

Anyone looking for additional information on how long, how deeply, and WHO has been involved in the "transformation" of our education system can go to:

The site includes a free download of the book, "The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America", by Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt - former Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI), U.S. Department of Education, during the first Reagan Administration.

Ms. Iserbyt demonstrates, through DIRECT quotes, how progressives, socialists, and communists have been working for over 100 years to turn every American citizen / "human capital" into a "perfect citizen"...suitable for "the workforce" in the New World Order.

Oops...did forget to mention that means if you can't work, YOU DON'T NEED TO LIVE!!!! Time to WAKE UP boys & girls...

Jim said...

I've wondered from time to time, not sufficiently enough, why the Constitution has been increasingly relegated to the scrap heap of antiquated ideas. The author makes a compelling argument of how our educational system has and is evolving, making Constitutional principals, whether intended or not, increasingly irrelevant and the object of scorn by the left.

Then I become confused when seeing how our educational system has transformed our nation, by no means perfect and educationally non competitive by world standards, into one of the most powerful and benevolent countries in the world with one of the highest standards of living. Does getting stuff trump virtue, values and understanding? I don't want to think so.

Maybe the momentum from the nations founding with its Constitutional underpinnings has carried us this far. Whatever the reason I sense "things are beginning to slip suggesting we rethink our educational system with a renewed emphasis and balancing out of our founding principles.

handsinthesoil said...

So far I merely browsed your blog....will do a full review later, but I can say I am glad I'm not the only one uncovering education's "evils" i.e. Cubberley and his progressive-era desire for social efficiency, etc. as I talk about in my blog, It is interesting all you learn in school (or all I learned when obtaining my credential) about our education, curriculum, pedagogy, etc seems all "warm and fuzzy" but once you do your own independent research outside textbooks and the usual white-washed college information, you see a "dark side"...

Elizabeth "Beth" Murphy said...

Isn't the title of your article misleading as to its content and thesis? The title appeared to be about government intrusion into adult privacy--"educating the government about your home, your possessions, your habits...." But the focus of your essay appears to be government control of our children via the "Common Core Standards" of education which have been adopted by most states.

It is not clear to me, either from your article or sources outside your article, how the Common Core Standards in any way result in my providing the government detailed information about otherwise private aspects of my life.

As to the value or danger of the Common Core Standards (as opposed to local control over standards on which our public school curricula are based), your essay ignores the difficult balancing act educational policy in this country walks. As a concerned citizen, a taxpayer and a supporter of our Constitution, I feel a duty to share in the burden of educating all of our country's children (not just my own). Yet as a parent I want complete freedom to control the course of my child's education. I wish your article acknowledged the difficulty in walking this line.

Van said...

Elizabeth said "It is not clear to me, either from your article or sources outside your article, how the Common Core Standards in any way result in my providing the government detailed information about otherwise private aspects of my life."

Hmmm... I'd like to argue the point, but since I worried a bit about that myself, I can't; I can only point to the "Part 2" and ask you to indulge me for parts 3 & 4 (coming soon), before passing final judgment. There comes a point where even I have to admit a post is getting too long, and put it out the door.

However, the CCS, and the information they are gathering, which I hope you can see the outlines for in Cubberley's works that I cited, heavily promote gathering information on students and their families, and bringing that into the system in order to better control what is seen as the purpose of the system, that being transforming society into the ideal of those who are fashioning the standards.

And the deeper issue, also getting to, is not the standards, or even the invasion of privacy, but the altered principle at the core of modern education, which makes those issues not just incidental errors in judgment, but central, and unavoidable features of its design.

"I wish your article acknowledged the difficulty in walking this line."

Very much on my mind as well, not ignored, just couldn't be crammed in to this post as well without dangerously depleting the worlds precious supply of HTML.

I hope you'll stick around for the final parts and let me know if you think I managed to tie it all together.

BTW, I glanced at your site... a big thumbs up on "The Children of Hurin by J.R.R. Tolkien", but don't be so quick to hurry on to the next book, those tales, Beleg, Turambar & Neinor... they have more to be told than a single read can draw out. Tolkien is often accused of being longwinded too, but he's much more deep-winded, there are at least three or four layers to be plumbed before putting it back on the shelf....


Sorry... part of the problem of being longwinded is trying to lay everything out to be seen, rather than artfully layering it as better writers like Tolkien do.

Working on it.

Van said...

Jim said "Does getting stuff trump virtue, values and understanding? I don't want to think so."

They aren't mutually exclusive, unless their order is reversed. If reversed, it becomes nearly impossible for the virtually blinded to see what they lack, or even it's value, the phrase "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul" is completely lost on such a person.

"... I sense "things are beginning to slip suggesting we rethink our educational system with a renewed emphasis and balancing out of our founding principles. "

As you say, we have been running on the diminishing steam of earlier times, but we cannot retain that power, if we don't retain, or regain, the meaning which gave it power. As the quote attributed to de Tocqueville says so well “America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great" (I think the quote isn’t an actual quote, but a later day summarization of him - I went hunting for the source of the quote once, and couldn't find it, but I did find several paragraphs which it gives the gist of, but either way, it's accurate all the same).

We will have to re-create how we educate ourselves (I think reform is unlikely, and I do have some ideas on that, which I'll get to at the end of these posts), and our founding principles must be core to that... or whoever we become, it won't bear much relation to who we once were.

Van said...

Handsinthesoil, I guess I need to spend more time at my own blog... Gretchen sent me to yours, and I left a comment, not realizing you'd already been here!

"...once you do your own independent research outside textbooks and the usual white-washed college information, you see a "dark side"..."

That's certainly the case as I found it.