Monday, September 07, 2020

Sit down Karen, management can't solve our school systems' problems - Education or School Systems pt 5

We've gone through the nature of our school reforms, their 'progressive' ideas and purposes, deceptive lessons being taught, and the systemic nature of our school systems failings which puts them and the education they deliver into fundamental opposition to not only America, but to the idea and purpose of education itself. Those reasons, and more, are what had prompted my too unpopular opinion, that
"The schools being closed is the best thing to happen in 2020 - why would you want to reverse that?!"
, and to ask why would you send students or teachers back into our school systems, especially today, when other options are appearing everyday for both students and teachers?

In this post I'll touch on those new options and link to more information on them, but first I want to point out the recklessness of assuming that some of the other options available - namely Charter & Private schools - are in any meaningful way, inherently different from the Public schools, as if there's something in their names which makes them fundamentally different or immune from what has ruined the rest of our school systems - there is not. To be sure, there are good Charter schools, and there are good Private schools, but they are good because of their own defining goals and methods, not simply by dint of being a private or charter school - there is more to the matter than what is in a name.

If you ask me why I say that, I'll turn the question around and ask: Why would you think that they would be meaningfully different? Are you going to judge a school by its cover? What is the educational 'change' you are truly looking for... school management?! Sit down Karen, that's not going to get you anywhere. Nothing will actually change if you aren't actually changing the part that drove you to call for change in the first place!

What changes can you expect the 'charter' & 'private' names to somehow bring you, when their administrators, councilors, curriculum writers, textbook buyers, and yes, even teachers, are all sporting the same degrees, PhD's, and years of training in 'progressive' educational theories, attitudes and the purposes for it, from the same colleges and teaching schools which have little to no interest in providing an education that'll help your child to become an independent, capable and virtuous person? What change can come of delivering much of the same publicly approved curriculum, in the same manner, with the same purpose, and targeted to the same all important state standards? True, changing brands may get you a more skilled and efficient (and expensive) delivery system in management and staff, encouraging better behaved students, and enabling teachers to be more effective, which sounds great, until you stop to consider that what that amounts to is getting a better grade of the same materials - the 'cream of the crap', as it were - with a more efficient means of administering the state approved daily dosage of educational poison.

I'm disinclined to choose that as an option.

To think that switching from public schools, to Charter or Private Schools, based on nothing more than the 'quality' of their delivery system, is to forget, or worse, to ignore, that our schools are not simply accidentally neglecting to do what they should do and once did, but are fundamentally opposed to what they once did, and to why it was done. It's worth noting that the assistant principal rioting for BLM in this video from Rochester, NY, is a graduate of those same standards, is considered by those standards to be educated, and he is, he has been, and he will continue to be, guiding teachers in the education of their students (though, he will be spoken about his bad words). What possibility of 'Change' do you see there? Unless what needs to be changed and expunged is clearly identified, there will be no change brought by changing the names of the schools management from public, to charter or private.

When a problem becomes intolerable, it is in our nature to want to try and fix it, or failing that, to want to change to something new, but have you also have noticed that it seems to be in people's nature that when they've become dissatisfied with a familiar product, that they rarely choose to change to something that is really and truly new? Instead they tend to look for a difference that they're familiar with, and such moves tend to deliver all of the 'difference' of switching from a Chevy Camaro to a Pontiac Firebird, either unaware or unconcerned that both are GM products, built from the same design, and parts, and with little but cosmetic differences between them. There are also those who, having 'done their own research' into sportscars, might choose a Ford Mustang instead (or maybe even a Porsche), without ever considering how fundamentally different any of those options are from what they should have been seeking to begin with. Of course picking and choosing between appearances and effects is fine if what you are needing really is a sportscar, but what if unbeknownst to you, what you should be seeking isn't a sportscar, or even a car at all?

What if in this analogy, you, your father & grandfather, who have all been fine with picking between sedans & sportscars, did so because all were unaware that your great grandfather was made to settle for a token car because - for his own good - he had lost the opportunity to choose from the well furnished homes that his father & grandfathers had had the luxury of choosing from? And if you discovered that that was the case, wouldn't you, shouldn't you, be angrily questioning why your grandfather, your father and yourself weren't given the option of choosing and furnishing a home, but were by omission made to settle for a flashy way of fleeing one?

You might think my analogy is an odd one, but it seems less odd as you consider just how different our modern school systems - public, private, charter - are, from the structure, materials and purposes of the traditional education that America began with, and was formed from. Today's school systems presents us with the 'sportscar' option of education as the means of equipping you with the skills useful in 'getting a good job' to take you from here to there, and in that scenario getting an education that takes you farther and faster in terms of delivering more economic bang for your buck, seems very sensible indeed.

OTOH, a traditional education was directed towards enabling a student to live well, here and now and into the future, being fully capable of living well in any 'there' that the course of your life might take your 'here and now' to. To that end, education didn't concentrate on imparting the skills useful for the jobs of the moment (a usefulness which can change in the blink of an eye from needing those who can operate a lathe, to those who can 'write computer code', leaving a person who's learned little more than 'useful skills' with skills that've become useless), but with transmitting the timeless knowledge and principles of what was once called a 'well furnished mind', a mind, as Cicero put it,
"... so constituted as to be furnished with senses, and to have excellence of intellect which the whole nature of man obeys, in which there is a certain admirable force of reason, and knowledge, and science, and all kinds of virtues; for the things which are parts of the body have no authority to be compared with that possessed by the parts of the mind..."
, to George Turnbull’s "Observations upon Liberal All Its Branches" (1742)
"...The way therefore to judge whether education be upon a right footing or not, is to compare it with this end; or to consider what it does in order to accomplish youth for choosing and behaving well in the various conditions, relations, and incidents of life. If education be calculated and adapted to furnish young minds betimes with proper knowledge for their guidance and direction in the chief affairs of the world, and in the principal vicissitudes to which human concerns are subject, then is it indeed proper or right education. But if such instruction be not the principal scope to which all other lessons are rendered subservient in what is called the institution of youth, either the art of living and acting well is not man’s most important business, or what ought to be the chief end of education is neglected, and sacrificed to something of far inferior moment...."
, so that the educated person, whether schooled at home, in grammar school, or college, became an informed, independent, capable and virtuous person, capable of acquiring any skills that the moment might require.

Such systems of schooling as varied as traditional and modern education are, are as varied and at odds as the students they 'produce', as are their reactions to the world they did or didn't expect to find. The person with a well furnished mind is at home in their life no matter the circumstances of the moment, and sees those circumstances as being temporary and open to improvement, and when improvements are identified as being dire, will pledge their lives and sacred honor to improving them. The person trained only in getting from here to there, will never feel at home anywhere, and they will stop at nothing in their efforts to get away from here and to the mythical land of 'there' while spewing F'bombs and pledging to F'up any and all of those in their way.

What a century of school reforms have brought us, are numerous changes in making distinctions that make no difference, and have saddled us with modern educators who consider the Assistant Principal in the video above, to be in good standing with the standards of modern education. Such standards have also given us college professors who argue that it should be legal for grown men to have sex with children, as well as educators in Fayette Co. Schools who word quizzes for 5th graders that 'targeting law enforcement' to appear to be the bad guys, as well as a college professor & author declaring that: ‘They Have Deputized All White People To Murder Us’. It should come as no surprise at all that these same standards of education are being fully represented in the course offerings for first year students at the College of Washington and Lee, with a class in "How to Overthrow the State", which gives a fine demonstration of the logical ends that scholastic weasel wording such as this:
"...exercises emphasizing writing as a process. All sections stress active reading, argumentation, the appropriate presentation of evidence, various methods of critical analysis..."
, inevitably leads to, because it is inherent in the nature of our school systems. Why do I say that? Because 'Writing as a process' is concerned only with the process of quickly getting 'from here to there', and not in considering how right and true that either here or there might be, 'active reading' is typically a means of conditioning readers to scan for keywords and virtue signals, and 'various methods of critical analysis' is wacademese for the pragmatic pursuit of power for ends which justify any and all means. That knowledge and those virtues that would have given some meaning to the 'education' that our systems lie about delivering, is, as it must be, nowhere to be found. I'm not going to say more here on that, lest another ten pages of HTML should spring up on the spot, but you can find it in my blog, or a more brief clue to it here.

It is what it is
If what you think of as being the purpose of education, is no different from those who changed and reduced our school systems into what they are today, what 'change!' do you expect to get by changing from Public to Charter or Private School? And why do you expect any? If you do not know what you are changing from, or for what purpose change might be needed, then you may very well make choices whose actual changes amount to distinctions without a difference, and the opportunities that will be unknowingly lost to the lives of those so 'educated', will be tragically unlimited.

But hey, 'Good job', on getting a 'good' education so you can go out and get a 'good' job, right? I'd warn against dwelling too long on what might be meant by 'good' in any part of that, but... given such an education, there's probably no need to.

What can you do? Look closer at the assumptions you're making in what you are changing from, as well as what you are changing to, and why. Don't make a change based upon what are popularly assumed to be 'the answers', but on what answers follow from asking worthwhile questions. Why are you contemplating sending yourself or your child to school for years? What do you seek to gain in exchange for the years of life that will be invested into that new system? When considering 'school choice', start at the beginning: What are they teaching and why are they teaching it? If they don't give you a very different answer from 'to get a good job!', then that choice is simply choosing a Firebird or Mustang over a Camaro, while leaving yourself homeless. The choice to settle for a change in management and materials which in and of itself is all the change that public, charter or private schools amount to, will change nothing of value or consequence in regards to receiving an education that's worthy of the name.

When I participated in the push a few years ago in Missouri to reform our school curriculum, I was reminded that our school systems were the first and true genesis of the 'deep state', as I saw firsthand as the bureaucracy of the state dept of education, disregarded and dismissed the stated aims of our legislator's laws, and chewed our reforms up and spat them out, without swerving from or slowing the 'progress' of their goals in the least. The problems are systemic, they are fundamental to the entire structure & purpose of our school systems in what they are and what they were designed to accomplish and why, and they have been there from their creation, a design flaw that has only intensified, expanded, and metastasized their 'unintended' side-effects throughout our school systems, and into our society today. And remember that the path that led to where we are today, began with our turning away from the aims of a traditional education to equip us with the 'useless' skills of being at home anywhere in a 'well furnished mind', to fleeing it in a 'sportscar' for rushing off from here to there with little or no understanding of either location or your part in it.

When you listen to the words of the assistant principal, when you see the faces of the mostly upper middle class antifa & BLM supporters who are violent in manner, language, and even physically assaulting bystanders, police, the elderly and even pregnant mothers, look at their faces. Don't make the mistake of being swayed into thinking that their presumed wealth, class, race, religion, or even their political affiliations, are of any real significance - they're not. What is significant is that you're seeing the self satisfied and thoughtlessly sure faces of what humanity looks like, when it lacks an education worth having - even though most have had lengthy and inestimably expensive educations in the schools that We The People have paid for, and insisted they attend, in order to 'get a degree and get a good job'; faces that are entirely concerned with getting from here to there, and with no thought wasted on what either here or there truly is, or what it'll mean when that distant 'there' becomes their ever present 'here'. That brutality of language and action IS the product of just such an 'educational system' as that, and has been blatantly obvious for those who've bothered to look at the evidence that has been there for all to see, for at least fifty years now. It was once understood that, as James V. Schall noted in his "A Student’s Guide to Liberal Learning", that:
"...The person who was most free was the one who had the most control over himself. The person who was most unfree was the one who was ruled by pleasures, money, or power..."
, a person at home in their well-furnished mind, is in control of themselves, and free, that is what 'to educate' once meant. These people in our streets today are not displaying self-control, they are not free, and they don't want liberty for themselves or for you, they passionately want to get from here to there by any means necessary, and if they think that punching you in the face means getting closer to 'there', they are unquestionably sure that those ends justify their means.

And people are wanting to send students and teachers back into them?

These concerns were easier to brush off when people still at least aped the manners leftover from the fruits of an earlier education, but that is no longer the case today, and now that we are here in the place that we are, we all need to stop doing it. What excuse can there be for sending students or teachers into a system that welcomes treating the horrifically murderous ideology of Socialism & Communism, as a basis for after-school clubs?! Does that really sound like a 'good idea' to you? Why would you choose the 'option' to send your children to be taught by people you do not know, and do not know what it is that they intend by 'educating' students, and who have little or no choice but to teach to an agenda that was designed by people that they know nothing of, in order to bring us to where we are today - students who not only lack an understanding and regard for the finest achievements of Western Civilization, but despise them? There is no longer an excuse for sending students or teachers into a system, whose products are on display in the faces of these brutal zealots who are tearing up our streets and tearing down our statues.

We live in a time that is in desperate need of people who'll read and think and discuss ideas with others, yet for the last several decades most of us have been taught to scan 'informational text' to answer 'fill in the blank' & 'multiple choice' worksheets, and to 'take a stand' on popular positions, as visibly as possible. Resist. Think beyond the easy answer. If something sounds good to you... ask "why?', ask what premises it presumes & depends upon, and also 'what would follow from that?' and continue that at least three levels deep. Bad things follow when people rush after what sounds good. Resist 'change!' that changes nothing.

We don't need new means of putting cheap old wine into new skins, we just need good wine
Again, it seems to me to be important to ask: Why send kids (or teachers) back into a system of such proven failures? It is too late for the management approach today, modern educational theory deeply influences and guides the ideas, actions and materials, of even those who think they are 'reforming the system' - but the fact is that you can't reform a process that is intended to eliminate the system it operates in. It must be ended. Nothing else will 'work'.

Fortunately there are new and exciting developments that have been spontaneously popping up around the nation since the school closures began, in the form of alternatives that are being led by both parents and many good and dedicated teachers, and new businesses seeking to connect them to do what they love - teach - to the kids of ten to fifteen families, in the form of 'micro-schools' or 'learning pods'. "Introduction to Micro-schools - Katherine Curry and Jackie Mania
What is a micro school? A new wave of tiny schools is sweeping the country offering new options for parents, teachers, and students. Although there is no common definition that covers all micro schools, the understanding that students benefit from personalized learning with close access to teachers is creating an interest in reinventing the one-room schoolhouse where the emphasis is on individual student growth. Micro schools vary in size, approach and governance, and these schools “model a combination of one-room schoolhouse, blended learning, home schooling and private schooling” (Horn, 2015, para. 2).

What is unique about a micro school? Learning environments vary considerably among micro schools. Students may attend school only a few days each week, or they may attend in a more traditional, five days each week, schedule. What these schools have in common is that they offer personalized learning, access to teachers at a very low ratio, innovative approaches to pedagogy, and “a fidelity to personalization and success for all in small communities” (Horn, 2015).

In most micro schools, class size is limited to fifteen students or less, and many schools encourage mixed age level groupings. Classes meet less frequently and can be taught through a flipped classroom or blended learning approach. Class time usually involves hands-on, activity based learning that often pairs students with experts in their fields. Lectures, worksheets and book work are replaced with carefully constructed activities that foster the individual growth of students. These schools often develop content and curriculum that inspire passion for learning through real world application...."
I hope it goes without saying, that 'Micro-Schools' by name alone won't significantly alter the nature of the education they deliver, from that of public, charter or private school, but they do put it much more easily within your grasp to ensure that such a change is made, and to do so intelligently, and in concert with others of similar interests and goals. The key is to choose an education to help students develop into well informed individuals with an intellectually integrated understanding of the habits, knowledge and aims of Western Civilization (Greco-Roman/Judeo-Christian), with a strong emphasis on striving to live up to its ideals of truth and justice, for the purpose of enabling a student to become a virtuous and independent person capable of living a good life, in a society blessed with liberty. A person so equipped has, as Mortimer Adler described, has,
"... a good mind, well disciplined and its present process of inquiring and judging, knowing and understanding, and well furnished with knowledge, well cultivated by ideas."
, and is self-evidently a benefit to themselves and to their community, because they will tend to be more consciously capable of distinguishing, and choosing to do, what is wise and true, because they understand that to be a greater value to themselves and their community. That, and not the schools attended or degrees accumulated in them, will mark them as being Educated.

I've been asking this question of why we should continue sending either students or teachers into our school systems for some time now, and I've been getting answers from parents and from teachers which quite understandably expresses their anxiety over the desperate circumstances that ending our school systems would incur upon them, ranging from what to do with their kids so that they can work, to not being able to afford other options, to - especially by older teachers - not being able to risk their careers, and I understand their well founded and very real concerns. Parents, students, teachers, community - are undeniably in a very difficult situation.

And of course those concerns, valid as they are, don't address the point of the question, which is that if the system is not only broken, but is visibly harming students, and teachers, communities and the nation itself, is preserving your comfort and convenience really the answer you want to go on record for excusing it with? How many more years do you imagine that this system will be able to sustain - or will even be interested in sustaining - those benefits you are currently in fear of losing? Aren't those difficulties going to be easier to deal with now, today, than they will be with each passing day of more 'education' that the assistant principals in our school systems will have injected into our lives?

I can't help thinking of Jefferson's description of the difficulties surrounding another peculiar institution, and how successive years of kicking it down the road to another year, turned out in the end:
"...But as it is, we have the wolf by the ears, and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other..."
That our schools are closed is such a bizarre and unexpected gift of 2020, I urge you, please, don't squander it, and don't be duped by the sham of frantically seeking to get from here to there, that calls for 'change!' that changes nothing. What we are facing today is what our school systems' designs could not avoid producing, no matter what their intentions might have been. Let them go.

We are facing a deadly virus today, and it is most definitely spread through our school systems - stop sending in your students and teachers to be infected by them.


Here's a selection of some of the more interesting links I've found, in no particular order, or endorsement, other than as a means of getting a wider perspective on Micro-Schools and Learning Pods:
Introduction to Micro-schools - Katherine Curry and Jackie Mania
"What is a micro school? A new wave of tiny schools is sweeping the country offering new options for parents, teachers, and students. Although there is no common definition that covers all micro schools, the understanding that students benefit from personalized learning with close access to teachers is creating an interest in reinventing the one-room schoolhouse where the emphasis is on individual student growth. Micro schools vary in size, approach and governance, and these schools “model a combination of one-room schoolhouse, blended learning, home schooling and private schooling...” (Horn, 2015, para. 2)"

Microschooling Is The Decades-Old Relic That Is Becoming The Latest Education Trend
Families are looking into microschooling amid the coronavirus pandemic. By Meghan SchillerAugust 17, 2020 at 9:15 pm

Families Priced Out of ‘Learning Pods’ Seek Alternatives
Should public school systems provide teachers for small-group instruction?

Pods, Microschools and Tutors: Can Parents Solve the Education Crisis on Their Own?
As school openings remain in flux, families grapple with big questions about safety, money and politics.

What is pod learning and why are they putting districts on the defensive?

'Pandemic pods' and 'micro-schools': How parents are finding ways to help their kids — and themselves — manage schooling at home
By Karen Ann Cullotta, Chicago Tribune 7/30/2020

Parents turn to microschooling as distance learning begins in Clark County
KTNV Channel 13 Las Vegas•August 24, 2020

Problematic Women: Back to School, Sort of, and the Future of Education
Virginia Allen / @Virginia_Allen5 / Lauren Evans / @laurenelizevans / August 27, 2020 / 4 Comments

Here's how many more students will be home-schooled in Maricopa County this fall
Lily Altavena - Arizona Republic

Pandemic Lessons: Homecoming, Homeschooling, and the Home Economy

Many parents don't know about these small group teaching methods for remote learning
By Kristin Thorne - Thursday, August 27, 2020 5:56PM

Families Priced Out of ‘Learning Pods’ Seek Alternatives
Should public school systems provide teachers for small-group instruction?

Pods, Microschools and Tutors: Can Parents Solve the Education Crisis on Their Own?
As school openings remain in flux, families grapple with big questions about safety, money and politics.
By Melinda Wenner Moyer - Updated Aug. 18, 2020

I Run a Tutoring Company. I Get Dozens of Calls a Day About Learning Pods.
This is what the scramble to teach from home looks like. BRIAN PLATZER AUGUST 12, 2020

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