Monday, April 04, 2022

The election is upon us - Tuesday, April 5th, get out and vote for Adam Bertrand and Randy Cook!

UPDATE - Both Adam Bertrand and Randy Cook won in FHSD, and also Izzy Imig in Rockwood! Congratulations candidates and citizenry!
Even if you haven't paid close attention, you've heard about the issues surrounding education and school boards, locally and across the nation, concerning key issues, curriculum, and various excuses and evasions made for them. What triggered the controversy, was when shortly after remote learning began, parents were shocked to overhear what was being taught to their kids, in their schools. Unbeknownst to them, such ideological lessons and activities have been pervasive in our classrooms for years, with the knowledge and consent of the establishment educational system and supporting political figures (Left & Right), who had been confident that parents and the wider community would never find out, or wouldn't take much notice of them if they did. Why? Because they either personally agreed with those practices and policies, or they aligned with them because of what the pretense of them did for their own image.

The four establishment candidates in FHSD, one of whom has been on the Board of Education for 12 years, have no substantial concerns with how things have been run, or with how little parents have been informed of what they've been doing. When pressed to voice some concern about the turmoil in our district and districts across the nation, they'll answer that maybe they should've explained it better to the public, who they think should be grateful that the 'experts' (themselves) know best, and continue supporting them. If you like the way things have been going, there's not much I can say at this hour to change your mind.

For those who are not so satisfied with the current state of our educational system, there are two candidates in the Francis Howell School District race, Adam Bertrand, and Randy Cook, who do recognize that there have been problems, educationally and fiscally, and who will do their best to return responsible oversight to our entire school system.

I suggest visiting each candidate's website to get their views on the issues, perhaps beginning with their priorities for FHSD:
Adam Bertrand:
Randy Cook:

If you're in the Francis Howell School District, I very much hope you'll cast your vote for Adam Bertrand and Randy Cook.

 
Outside of FHSD, there are two candidates which I strongly support:
For  Lindbergh School District, David Randelman,
For Rockwood School District, Izzy Imig
Elsewhere in Missouri, those concerned parents and community members who have been paying close attention, are supporting these candidates:



Friday, April 01, 2022

What the establishment candidates agree upon is why I'm voting for Bertrand & Cook in the FHSD School Board Election April 5th!

What the establishment candidates running for FHSD school board are in agreement with each other upon, are why I'm voting for Adam Bertrand & Randy Cook in the Francis Howell School Board elections, on April 5th. If you watch our FHSD School Board Candidate Forum, there were at least three points which the four establishment candidates were of one mind on, and those are themselves reason enough, IMHO, for voting them out of office ASAP:
  1. 'We just need to explain things better'
  2. 'I'm opposed to banning books'
  3. 'We don't teach *that* class in our schools'
Let's take a closer look at those:
  1. "We need to explain things better" Well of course they do, because it couldn't possibly be the case that the public actually does understand what FHSD has said and is doing - in everything from cost over runs to promoting divisive policies - no, it simply must be the case that the public is so unable to comprehend their wisdom, that they need things *explained* again and again and again to them until they finally 'get it' and submit to their way of thinking. No thank you.

  2. "I'm not for banning books" What an easy, and thoroughly disingenuous thing to say (no school board has the power to ban books). Our school libraries remove hundreds of books every year, and recently through policies such as "decolonizing the stacks", FHSD school libraries have quietly been removing books such as 'The Federalist Papers' from our school libraries, such as with Francis Howell Central HS, whose Book Search portal page shows no copies of it remaining in its library (I didn't find it in other schools that I checked either). Does that mean that 'The Federalist Papers' have been banned?! No... but it does mean that this book, which is fundamental to understanding our nation's form of government, has been 'Weeded Out of the stacks' under the watch of FHSD's current administration, which the establishment FHSD BOE candidates, one of whom has been on the BOE for 12 years, are in support of.

    To emphasize that point: Missouri's public schools were created by Article IX of the Missouri Constitution, to ensure the:
    "...diffusion of knowledge and intelligence being essential to the preservation of the rights and liberties of the people..."
    , and FHSD's administration and BOE believes that purpose is better served by the presence of revoltingly crude and pornographic books such as 'Crank', or 'Not all Boys are Blue' and the like which they have been adamant about retaining, over books such as 'The Federalist Papers', which have been quietly removed from school libraries under their oversight and without the knowledge of the public, and they don't want parents or anyone else questioning their judgement or submitting such choices in reading materials to public scrutiny.

    That does not reflect the type of judgement that I'm comfortable with overseeing the teaching of students in my community.

  3. "... We don't teach *that* class in our schools..." What this says about what they think of the public, speaks volumes. Would you ever dream of saying that a college student who becomes passionate about a class they studied in college, Logic for instance, would be unlikely or unable to think or teach logically, in any of the classes they later went on to teach? If you're honest and have some grasp of logic yourself, no, you wouldn't. Note that the issue with this statement isn't even about CRT, but about the foolishness of saying that an all encompassing method of thinking and behavior (whether of logic, ethics, or an ideology such as CRT), could not and would not be taught by those who believe in it, without a formal class specifically designed for teaching the entire college level subject to students. The people repeating the statement that 'CRT is a college class only and therefore is not taught in FHSD Curriculum', have either a) not bothered giving the matter any thought for themselves, or b) don't understand what a set of concepts are or how to apply them, or c) they assume that no one in the public does, and so they can get away with misleading them.

    Critical Race Theory entered into standard Teachers College courses in 1995, through the deliberate and publicly stated purposes of one of the most popularly assigned course authors of the last several decades, Gloria Ladsen-Billings, who first wrote an influential paper called "Toward a Critical Race Theory of Education", and many others followed her lead as well. If you have any responsible concern for the students of FHSD and your community, you'll look that up before voting. If not... I hope the future is kinder to you, than it will be to the students who're subjected to this divisive ideology in our schools. Hint: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, are concepts derived from CRT, and they are present in, and are influencing, numerous classes and policies in FHSD, and when FHSD tells you that '...equity means things are fair...', as with the other two statements above, that is simply not true.

Vote Adam Bertrand & Randy Cook April 5th!

Remove this dangerous technology from the classroom: Textbooks

The fact that even with twelve plus years of schooling, many of our students today can't or won't read, or write, or count, says all that should need to be said about the methods of modern schooling in general and of public education in particular. What more does need to be said, is that it's not the students, or even the teachers, who are most to blame for our modern 'educational system', but 'We The People' who've failed them by continuing to perpetuate this phenomenally failed political experiment known primarily as 'public education' (more on that to come). One of the central tools in this process is related to the concerns that many today have about technology in the classroom, but although their concerns tend to focus on technologies that students have some control over, such as smartphones and apps like Instagram and Twitter, their concerns would be better placed if they'd give more thought to the most prevalent tech of all in our schools, that particular piece of modern technology which controls what and how they learn, and which was singled out for condemnation as early as 1893: Textbooks.

I don't mean those technical compendiums of references & standards that you might find in an engineering textbook, but those which digest volumes of literature down into the dense matter which 'Social Studies', 'English', and other such textbooks are formed from. This bit of unassuming tech was one of the earliest products of our endless 'education reforms', and one which Noah Webster particularly helped advance towards its modern format of providing 'brief essays of fact', with the good intentions that students would then begin learning from:
"...A selection of essays, respecting the settlement and geography of America; the history of the late revolution and of the most remarkable characters and events that distinguished it, and a compendium of the principles of the federal and provincial governments, should be the principal school book in the United States. These are interesting objects to every man; they call home the minds of youth and fix them upon the interests of their own country, and they assist in forming attachments to it, as well as in enlarging the understanding..."
Once again (see previous post), as good as that might sound on the surface, what did he mean by it, and how do you know that? Consistent with his disdain for students 'wasting time' reading that literature which he and his fellow reformers had themselves been educated from, he wanted to have nameless people skilled in summarizing selected topics in a format which students could more quickly study and be quizzed and tested upon.

Impatient to produce the desired results in students - knowing important facts - he sought the effects of an educated understanding, without attending to its cause: having enough familiarity with the material and the ideas and methods involved within it, so that you would be able to state a brief summary of it along with its key facts. But memorizing the facts without having the understanding which enabled them to be sifted out and cited, was, and is, an empty sham.

Or how about his assumption that a textbook of these essays would or could be interesting to the minds of youths - have you found that youths are typically interested in reading or committing lists of features, names, dates, and rules to memory? Are textbooks what you see people bringing to the beach to read for personal benefit and enjoyment? On the contrary, our experience with such materials is that the 'pre-chewed' information that textbooks provide, are inevitably poorly and unimaginatively written - typically by committee - and are less likely to put down roots of interest in a student's mind, than to turn them away from, and even against, any whiff of such subjects in their future (say hello to: "I just hate history!").

This textbook processing of education shortchanges students of worthy materials, while at the same time giving them the impression that they know something that is important about a subject, thanks to the metrics of quizzes & tests that *prove* that they know what is important to know. But their confidence comes at the price of never having understood what was valuable about the subject which those facts were extracted from,
  • Yes, Athens and Sparta defeated the Persians, and then warred with each other. And...?
  • Yes, Cicero wrote many legal arguments, speeches and popular essays, and was a Consul... and? He matters... why?
  • Yes, the (a) Magna Carta was signed and sealed by King John at Runnymede in 1215. And...? What of it?
The textbook can inform the student that "Cicero wrote important texts such as 'On The Laws', 'On Duty', and the 'Philippics'", and can even tell them what they were about, but those students will never gain any sense at all of what it was about his reasoning and eloquence that inspired those, like John Adams, who had their lives not only enriched, but the courses of their lives changed because of the experience they found in their consideration of them.

Students are not educated through textbooks into an understanding of a subject, they aren't led into developing the habit of considering various perspectives and vantage points to enable them to "See things as they are", the technology of the textbook reduces a mass of literary text to a few condensed facts, and trains the student to mistake the skill of skimming for, recalling, and repeating other people's opinions of what those facts are facts of, as their own understanding, while never actually coming into contact with what was valuable in them, themselves. Absent such active contact, those facts can make no deeper impression upon their minds than the short-term memory needed to pass the next test, and the dimness of their understanding is inversely proportional to the impression of brightness that the student is given of their own abilities via their test scores. The dangerous side of technology has always been that we become distracted by its benefits, and fail to notice that when technology is doing what it does for us, it's at the very same time taking something else away from us, and the textbook is a... well... a textbook example of that. Textbooks, factual or not, are someone else's narratives, scenic postcards given out in lieu of hiking through the actual landscape, and our students are given grades and diplomas as merit badges for having hiked a landscape they've never set foot within.

Less understood is the fact that textbooks efficiently perform their dis-educational effects, no matter what pedagogy or reforms might currently be guiding their use. Whether it's the '1619 Project' textbook, or whatever textbook moderates and conservatives would rather have being used in schools, they all tell students what to think, and keep them from having the experience of actually thinking such matters through - such an education does not part or even thin the shadows, but thickens them, begetting less wisdom & virtue in students, than folly & bravado from the feeling of knowing what they in fact know little to nothing of. The textbook is the modern technology that projects shadows on the walls of The Cave, and blinkers the eyes of those who might have noticed their thinness. The fact is that Textbooks, and the schools which rely upon them, are veritable engines of Dunning-Kruger-ism, whose products are then graduated into our society, year after year, after year.

Putting skills to the test - que bono? Who benefits?
Our Founding Reformers wanted to focus education on more 'useful skills', to benefit the working man and the economy, but they failed to consider what benefit such a focus would actually bring, or who would benefit most from trading those 'elitist works' away for more utilitarian skills. Alexis De Tocqueville noted in his 'Democracy in America' in 1835, in Book One, Introductory Chapter, he notes that once
"... the exercise of the intellect became the source of strength and of wealth, it is impossible not to consider every addition to science, every fresh truth, and every new idea as a germ of power placed within the reach of the people. Poetry, eloquence, and memory, the grace of wit, the glow of imagination, the depth of thought, and all the gifts which are bestowed by Providence with an equal hand...."
, it was through a liberal education that the people as a whole gained access to the valuable and powerful qualities of mind that had once been the real advantage which the elites had always had over the 'working man', and that education,
"...even when they were in the possession of its adversaries they still served its cause by throwing into relief the natural greatness of man; its conquests spread, therefore, with those of civilization and knowledge, and literature became an arsenal where the poorest and the weakest could always find weapons to their hand....."
Far from being 'elitist material' of little worth, that literature is what first alerted and armed the working man against the predatory tendencies of those with more wealth and influence than they had. A person armed with such an education is generally able to not only respect and recognize threats to the quality and maintenance of justice, but is competent enough to learn the skills of most any trade as need arises for whatever time and circumstance they find themselves at in life.

But how easily can someone who's been trained mainly in vocational skills, 'pick up' the ability to free themselves from the darkness of popular opinion, ignorance and prejudice, which are 'skills' that a republican form of governance relies upon 'We The People' having? Those skills are best developed during school age, and can't easily be picked up later in life - not even in college. As reported by those few remaining professors who have something worthwhile to profess, our new educational dark age of useful skills has even elite college students demonstrating their skills along with an utter lack of what an education should have, and should be, providing them:
"...The students in his Shakespeare class undoubtedly boast a median verbal SAT score in the upper 700s (out of 800). The large majority probably received a perfect score of 5 on the AP (Advanced Placement) English exam. If any group of college students should be capable of deciphering complex texts, writing incisive expository prose, and constructing compelling analytic arguments, it is they. But apparently they’re not.

To understand how this predicament came to pass, one needs to understand how students manage to get into places like Harvard or the Claremont colleges in the first place. It is not by learning how to read, write, or think. It is by jumping through the endless series of hoops that elite college admissions offices have developed over the decades to winnow down their skyscraper stacks of application folders.

To win a place at such a school, students most receive top grades in a broad range of AP courses, show evidence of participation in a dozen or more extracurricular activities—sports, arts, student government, et al.—demonstrate “leadership”, engage in “service”, and gather experiences, often through purpose-built programs, to write about on their personal essays, statements designed to convince the admissions officer of the existence of an actual human being beneath the credentials. To do all this, they will work without cease for years on end, sleeping little and foregoing the freedoms of adolescence.

This is not a system that’s designed to foster intellectual engagement. Students learn to skip and skim, not just their assigned readings, but everything. Everything is done at maximum speed and with the least possible effort. Curiosity and passion must be actively suppressed. Students become experts, not so much in subjects as in working the system..."
[emphasis mine]
Today, when both 'working man' and college elite have spent their valuable school-age years learning 'skills', whether mechanical, narrative, or 'critical', rather than a deeper understanding of the nature of life and reasonings most effective role in it, what happens when the world changes and those 'skills' become less or no longer useful? What happens is what has happened, whether their economic plight comes from those skilled jobs having gone over seas, or from 'anyone but liberal arts degree!' students getting hired, they are left defenseless against the language and designs of demagogues seeking to transform their plight into power over them, for the demagogue's advantage.

Who it is that benefits most from an 'education' of Textbook centered schooling, are those in positions of power, or seeking to gain power over their fellows - they have a vested interest in having 'skilled students' who know little or nothing of what enabled our Founding Fathers to establish this nation, which is the one thing that our schools are successful at producing.

The slow-motion trainwreck of our educational transformation was accomplished by building upon the good intentions of our Founding Reformers 'adding' some useful skills to the educations that they themselves had received, and that turn towards the 'skills & facts' view of education, began a gradual process of eliminating that form of Education which had not only distinguished the West from the rest of the world, but which when properly taught (logic through grammar, the method of reasoning through the consideration of plot and theme, the ability to discover and communicate the essentials through rhetoric, an appreciation of truth and beauty through the contemplation of style, structure and meaning of a story, and the lessons that nature to be commanded must first be logically understood) that form of education is what established the Greco/Roman-Judeo/Christian West, and made it possible for America to be founded in the first place.

Webster's 'brief essays of fact', although a boon for the publishing world and to those 'educators' who write the textbooks that the schools which students are required to attend, require their students to buy, have progressively devolved into the standard form of 'Textbook' used today, which are segmented, often non-sequential (especially in History/'social studies'), poorly written, boring and expensive tomes for testing a fleeting appearance of knowledge of what students actually know very little about - a self-reinforcing system for the mass production of Dunning-Kruger-ism which is one of the deadliest fruits of our modern educational system, and something which the Pro-Regressive Administrative State could not exist without.

Learning to fail the test
But how did a once educated people sell themselves on this course? Why, they followed the 'science!', of course - or at least the scientistic appearance of its methods, quantifications, and statistics of test scores, that frauds in lab-coats use to reassure the unwary that all is well. The wary, OTOH, weren't as easily misled, those like Charles Dudley Warner noted in an earlier post, or as mentioned in the previous post, Albert Jay Knock and the Italian nobleman he spoke of in 1931, who'd wondered why he'd met no educated Americans under 60 years of age. BTW - how do you suppose Knock's Italian nobleman determined that? Do you suppose that he quizzed each person he met on their recall of Social Studies facts & conclusions? As the Positivist 'science' of 'Social Studies' didn't exist at all prior to the 1800's, and didn't become commonly accepted until into the 20th Century, my bet is that Social Studies wasn't the yardstick he used to measure the educations of Americans by.

Or do you imagine that he tested them on their 'Critical Thinking' skills? Well... seeing as their conversation occurred prior to 1931, and 'Critical Thinking' wasn't concocted until 1945 (by a student of John Dewey), I'm going to go with 'no' on that one as well.

How do you tell whether or not someone is educated? More to the point, what if how you test their level of education, doesn't in fact test their level of education... what might be done to students by using false tests to guide them in their education?

To turn the uncomfortable questions towards what might be seen as 'my side' with traditional literature, do you suppose that he buttonholed hapless Americans and quizzed them on their knowledge of the Great Books of the Western World? Tallied up their dismal scores on 'key facts' of Dante & Milton and exclaimed 'Momma Mia are these American's uneducated!'?

While I'm a huge fan and proponent of most of the works typically categorized within GBWW, using those works as a database for quizzing people on what they know of them, runs contrary to the nature of what The Great Conversation which those works are a part of, is - such conversation isn't judged by the facts found in it, but by the depths of understanding confronted and revealed through it. It is a mistake to view what is available to be learned from, as being just as, or more, valuable than what there is to be learned - the evidence of an education is found in indications that a person has left The Cave, not in tallying up how much they've stuffed into their cave!

To put an education to such a quantifiable test as to presume that those who know more facts, are better educated, presumes that the student making a perfect score on an ACT/SAT exam, must be better educated than Shakespeare, or Cicero, or Aristotle, could have been, as they came along before most of the facts known to us were able to be known to them. How would such a view as that, view Plato, who when teaching his young student who was named Aristotle, knew nothing of the works which Aristotle would later go on to write? Or of Cicero who knew nothing of Petrarch, who in turn knew nothing of either Shakespeare, or much else of what we now refer to as 'The Great Books'? And of course though most of them understood Geometry well enough, those past masters could have known nothing of calculus, or even algebra, let alone 'Social Studies' or 'What are the 12 causes of the Civil War?'... are you getting the picture?

The notion that a standardized test could tell you something worthwhile about a person's education, is the modernist's view of asserting that everyone born prior to our time, knew only '...outmoded ideas of an agrarian people...', which, for anyone who cares to give it a moment's thought, it's a blitheringly idiotic notion. I strongly suspect that if you devised a test for Knock's Italian nobleman to take regarding his knowledge of the 'facts' of the GBWW, he'd recognize you as having been born long after the 1890's, shake his head and wander away, much like Prometheus did in Richard Mitchell's "The Gift of Fire".

So if all of our popular 'Educated Tests' fail the test as a test of a person being educated, how did our Italian nobleman conclude this about our great grand parents? He did it the old fashioned way, he talked to them. It wasn't because they lacked a recall of facts or skills, but because in conversing with them, he witnessed their habits of repeating the statements that others had made, the shallow reasonings they gave for them, and the ineloquent language they used to state them. As they demonstrated their lack of the habit of adequately questioning, assessing those ideas that they mechanically talked about in an unthinking repetition of follow-the-dots talking points, with the flow-chart imitation of logic that ties them together. Through the test of conversation, it became clear to him that they literally didn't know what they were talking about, which is a tell-tale sign of someone who is still dwelling comfortably deep within The Cave, and lacks the ability to see their way out of it (AKA: an education).

It's not just a matter of can they reason, but do they? As a matter of course? It's not just a matter of reciting the virtues, but of working at applying and living them. Getting a good education is not just about checking boxes of facts to know, or passing a test upon this or that collection of them, but on being able to observe, inquire, and relate the new, to the past, looking for what their contrasts can bring to light, and considering how best to go forward in light of both, and perhaps even imagining things anew. It's about the ability to be 'self-directed' by what is in reality true, and being able to do so while living in society with others.

If that's what you want for your child, and I would be amazed to hear the reasons of those who might not want that, the standard establishment schools are not where you're going to find it. Instead, you will find students who are being processed through a textbook education, who will spend more than a decade in them being trained to skim for, and memorize facts for recalling on quizzes and tests so they can get a good job and 'succeed in life!'... with little or no attention given to understanding what a successful life is, and depends upon. They might know about great works, but without actually knowing those great works, their minds will not have been challenged to pursue any depth of knowledge of what life could, and should be, or how and why to seek out and question the depths of their own knowledge - and politically ambitious men are taking note of how useful such minds as theirs will be to their own ambitions.

One of the more astounding things to me about our Founding Reformers, is that despite Webster and his fellows knowing first hand the danger of power having sway over the minds and actions of a people, nearly all of them wanted to empower legislatures in providing their idea of education, to the public. Even as Webster noted that,
"...In despotic states, Education, like religion, is made subservient to government...."
, as did John Adams with observations such as,
“Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views beyond the comprehension of the weak; and that it is doing God’s service when it is violating all his laws.”
, somehow they managed to square the circle in their minds as they nearly all came together in sentiments similar to Webster's statement, that:
"...Education should therefore be the first care of a Legislature; not merely the institution of schools, but the furnishing of them with the best men for teachers. A good system of Education should be the first article in the code of political regulations;..."
Somehow they expected that we'd somehow escape the consequences of putting the process of educating future voters, under the political control of progressively more ambitious and ideological men. And sadly we have not. And as more and more Americans have been raised with progressively less and less familiarity with what had once been commonly understood, we've lost our grip upon what Jefferson had described as the common 'expression of the American mind', which has had profoundly dangerous ramifications to everything that our Founding Fathers had valued, cared about, sacrificed, fought and died for.

To our Founding Fathers' credit, it did take nearly two centuries for their good intentions to bring us down to the level we are at today, while in the birthplace of those endarkened ideas in Europe, those lessons began to bear their horrific fruit of slaughter and terror within just a few decades. But now that we've nearly caught up in the West's race to the bottom, it would be worth it to look at the nature of the education which we're being told will 'take it to the next level' by turning away from truth and towards power; and what a society looks like which condones and supports that - which we'll do in the next post.

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Judge Ketanji Brown, lest you be judged

The law is a subject that I find fascinating, how it developed, and developed into principles that could uphold justice, and particularly how its philosophical concepts are best applied to the often messy realities of life. Whatever your opinion of my opinions on the subject might be, I've put in a great deal of time and effort over the years into writing numerous posts on law, justice, and diving into the history of how it has developed from its origins in ancient times, down to today, and where it's gone right and wrong along the way. I've dug into the records and opinions of early figures from Cicero to Edward Coke and  John Locke through our Founders, and down to the present day. I've looked into the often opposing opinions of judges nominated for the Supreme Court of the United States of America, from Thomas, Breyer, Garland, and how disturbing it is that legal pundits of 'the right', reflect the left turn taken by Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.. But with Judge Ketanji Brown... I can't muster the interest to dig much deeper than a couple of the remarks she gave at her confirmation hearings.

Her relation to Critical Race Theory shows why. Not because she supports its ideas, but because she embodies its meaning. She has repeatedly written and remarked about her admiration for the founders of Critical Race Theory, Derek Bell, and Kimberle Crenshaw, and on at least one occasion she's lectured to students about its relevance to guidelines in federal prison sentencing, citing CRT as one of the interesting factors that should be considered when considering sentencing:
"...I also try to convince my students that sentencing is just plain interesting on an intellectual level, in part because it melds together myriad types of law – criminal law, of course, but also administrative law, constitutional law, critical race theory, negotiations, and to some extent, even contracts. And if that’s not enough to prove to them that sentencing is [sic] a subject is worth studying, I point out that sentencing policy implicates and intersects with various other intellectual disciplines as well, including philosophy, psychology, history, statistics, economics, and politics..."
, and with the likes of that in her easily searchable record, this is what she had to say about CRT in her confirmation hearings, in one of her exchanges on the topic with Senator Cruz,
“In your understanding, what does critical race theory mean?” Cruz asked the judge.

“Senator, my understanding is that critical race theory is, it is an academic theory, that is about the ways in which race interacts with various institutions,’ Jackson responded. “It doesn’t come up in my work as a judge. It’s never something that I’ve studied or relied on, and it wouldn’t be something that I would rely on if I was on the Supreme Court.”
, for her now to claim that 'CRT doesn't apply', is not just a lie, but it is an application of Critical Race Theory in action, especially in regards to its disdain for what is objectively true, that we know something to be true because it conforms to reality. The CRT'r requires the use of scare quotes to refer to 'objective truth', and usually will no nearer to the subject than Epistemology, and then only to deride its degraded modern expression of 'epistemic adequacy', on their way to touting the root of Critical Race Theory's, in 'Social Epistemology', and CRT's foundational roots in Charles Mills, where 'truth' is socially constructed through 'narratives' that best serve the interests of the 'authentic' group.

Why does that matter? Because it means that there is truly no reason to give her reasoning any consideration, her words purposely have no relation to reality beyond how they might move her narrative 'forward'. The only 'truth' she values, is what pragmatically 'works' to manipulate the listener to advance her ideological narrative. Such a point of view is not compatible with our Constitution, or with Individual Rights under the Rule of Law, such a person as 'Judge' Brown, has no business being involved in the law, let alone having a seat on the Supreme Court.

I don't need her to tell me that she puts 'objective truth' in scare quotes, when she's demonstrated so well that she believes just that. And given that, I find it hard to imagine why anyone would bother asking her for the 'reasoning' behind her sentencing of this criminal or that. It advanced her narrative and undermined our society and the rule of law. End of story. That's CRT's purpose and interest, and that is exactly what Delgado & Stefancic meant when they wrote an explanation of it for High School level audience with ‘Critical Race Theory: An Introduction, first edition (2001)':
"... critical race theory calls into question the very foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and the neutral principles of constitutional law..."
IOW: There is no reason for you to think that her words bear some intentional relation to reality. Why would anyone give her the credit of thinking that they might?

The frosting on the cake, of course, was her meme worthy reply to Sen. Blackburn asking her if she could provide a definition of a woman.
"No. I can't. Not in this context, I'm not a biologist."
, what she meant of course, was 'Sorry, no, that wouldn't benefit the narrative of lies that I am advancing, and intend to continue advancing while on the SCOTUS'.

I'm sorry, but 'Liar' is a far too respectful term for such a person as that, but if you're willing to have the likes of that 'darken counsel with words that have no knowledge', go for it, but know that if you judge her acceptable, or choose to judge not at all, you will be judged for that, and not just by me.

If the first concern that you, like Joe Biden, have about 'Judge' Brown, is about what her race is and that she is a woman (whatever that is), then you are a racist and a sexist. If your main concern about her nomination, is which political party she aligns with and furthers, rather than being deeply concerned with how the implementation of her ideas through our courts will affect the Rule of Law in our nation, then you are an ally of lies and are serving the advancement of hatred, death, and destruction.

For me, as she has shown herself to be, at best, an unjust person, she has no business sitting on any court of law in the land, let alone the Supreme Court of the United States of America. If Brown is confirmed to the Supreme Court, as it seems likely she will be, the prospects of our children's life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, will be that much the worse for it.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

School Board Elections: Brushing off the disinformation of CRT

A pause from the current series of posts, for a short post on our School Board elections. I went 'Nextdoor' to talk with the neighbors about our school board elections, and... that went well. 😎 I endorsed 2 candidates & noted 9 of the most common CRT'rs assertions that I'd seen being made there (and the points below apply in any district), and got my acct temporarily disabled. Some people are touchy. At any rate, our school board elections for Francis Howell School District are coming up on April 5th, and here's what I had to say in regards to the most common misleading comments and assertions of those aligning themselves with CRT, which I'll bet apply in your School Board elections as well - at the very least I hope it doesn't traumatize you:

In the Francis Howell School Board election on April 5, I'll be voting for Adam Bertrand & Randy Cook, because their positions are more focused upon the content of our student's education, than on their ideological indoctrination (Randy Cook gave a very informative overview of the issues and his position on them, here).

In anticipation of several questionable statements, I've seen made in opposition to them in other comments here, I'll save some time by making and answering them first in the comments below:
1 - "CRT is a college level law school course, and not taught in K-12!" - CRT (Critical Race Theory) was first defined in legal studies by college professors (Bell, Crenshaw, Delgado...), then in 1995, Gloria Ladsen-Billings, one of the most widely assigned writers in Teachers Colleges for the last several decades, wrote an influential paper called "Toward a Critical Race Theory of Education", which she presented as being a means of injecting Critical Race Theory into the popular form of pedagogy (how teachers teach). Why would she do that? Because CRT is less a class to be taught, than a theory to be implemented in daily life by those who've learned it, and Ladsen-Billings created a pedagogy so that CRT's terms and ideas would guide not only what and how teachers would teach every subject they taught, but how administrative staff would administrate in their schools. To that end she soon followed that paper with her theory of 'Culturally Relevant Pedagogy', and that inspired 'Culturally Responsive Teaching', and several other variants that have since been taught to waves upon waves of future teachers & administrators, across our nation.


Through those and many other means, CRT's theories (such as Intersectionality, and its application through Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) have for decades been taught to those who've become the administrators and teachers in our schools, and who implement its ideals in all grade levels and classes, from math to management, and FHSD is no exception to that. Even the FHSD Board of Education parrots and promotes CRT's tenets of 'systemic racism', 'white privilege', 'antiracism', DEI, and more - see their resolution of the summer of 2020.

The claim that CRT is not in our schools, is either willfully ignorant, or deliberately deceptive.

2 - "They support banning books!" No books are 'banned' by removing inappropriate books from a school library, and unless you would support handing 6yr old's Hustler magazines, then you too support restricting or removing inappropriate materials from students in their school libraries. School Libraries are there to provide materials that support or expand upon the lessons being taught in a school, or to cater to interests deemed appropriate for students to pursue. The question to be asked is "what are the lessons that you want taught, which you think makes particular materials appropriate in a school library?" If you do want overly crude, violent, or pornographic material in school libraries, then you need to explain what those lessons are that you want students to learn or have be reinforced through them, and what you find to be of value in them.

3 - "They're on the wrong side of history, or want to hide from history" - Materials such as the 1619 project are neither history nor journalism, and have been debunked and denounced by actual historians and journalists. The 1619 Project is a narrative of 'lived experiences', written to push an ideological narrative into the minds of unsuspecting students, to turn them into activists (BTW, plain Social Studies has for at least a decade had grade level expectations for student activism that begin in elementary school). History, especially involving those aspects that are uncomfortable or deplorable, should be fully examined so as to learn from them and so avoid their being repeated. There is no excuse for not teaching about slavery, or the atrocities following it (such as the Tulsa slaughter with Black Wall Street), and all should wonder why the largely leftist controlled educational publishing system has mostly minimized or avoided their mention until recently.

History requires facing historical details openly and objectively, without ideological spin. Peddling deceitful rhetoric as history has historically been a dangerous practice and a mistake we should not repeat.

4 - "SEL is an integral part of education and human development" - SEL is a system for manipulating and conforming the emotional attitudes and responses of students to an ideological agenda, at the expense of teaching sound content for students to understand and judge matters for themselves. SEL's stated goal is to promote social justice activism, and if you as a parent or citizen aren't aware of that... you should ask yourself why (BTW, they've been intent on turning students into activists for over a decade, it's only the 'Social Justice' part that they've recently revealed).

5 - "That's racist, they're racist and you're racist!" - Unless you give clear examples of the issue being described as being racist, then your charge is baseless and irresponsible (Racist: One who believes that race determines a person's traits, abilities, and worth, and judging, condemning, or praising a person, based upon their race). Calling them racist, because of the organizations that support them, without giving clear examples of why they are being called racist, is equally invalid and irresponsible. Note: simply mentioning race, pointing out where descriptively relevant, or in questioning the claim that something is valid or invalid because of race, isn't itself racist... and behaving as if it is, is invalid and irresponsible.

6 - "I'm [insert race here] and you aren't, so you don't know ___ and shouldn't talk about it!" - In forums like this we use words to discuss consequential matters, amongst a diverse population; if [insert race here] are the only people who can 'know' what they are talking about on ___, then by that token it can have no meaning to anyone else, and so there's no point in your publicly referring to it any further. If you can't use words to make a case without invoking race to validate it, you've failed to make an argument, and more than likely it wasn't one that was worth making to begin with.

7 - "Equity means equality!" If it meant equality in its normal usage, they'd use the word equality - the reason they use a different word, is because it means something entirely different. Equity is used to demand equality of outcomes, which means and requires ignoring individual merit and hindering or preventing the honest effort that is reflected by individual merit. Good luck finding an example of 'Equity' in this context that doesn't begin by promoting unequal treatment and collective (likely by race, sexual orientating, etc.) behavior.

8 - "Diversity means fairness!" As used by the woke, Diversity in every instance involves dividing people based upon some collective characteristic or trait, at the expense of a targeted group, and subordinates every individual to those claiming to speak for the collective, on behalf of the favored group(s). Fairness is the first casualty of Diversity.

9 - "We should be more inclusive!" - by being inclusive, the woke don't mean being “Welcoming”, their idea of 'Inclusion' means and always requires imposing ‘authentic’ restrictions upon language & actions, based upon some favored collective characteristic or trait, at the expense of all others, which is the exact opposite of being inclusive towards all.
BTW: A couple hearty personal Thumbs Up! for a couple candidates that I know understand what they're up against in nearby school districts:
David Randelman - Lindbergh School District
Izzy Imig - Rockwood School Board
If those are your districts, I hope you'll support them and give them you vote!
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are incompatible with, and opposed to America's national motto of 'e Pluribus Unum - Out of many, One', and are antithetical to America as such. DEI is the means of implementing CRT's Intersectionality, and as it is explicitly opposed to the concepts of individual rights expressed in our Declaration of Independence, and is fundamentally opposed to the objective Rule of Law, it is incompatible with that system that was adopted to implement justice in America, our Constitution (See their own words on that in: ‘Critical Race Theory: An Introduction, first edition (2001), by Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic: "... critical race theory calls into question the very foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and the neutral principles of constitutional law.”). DEI, CRT, and SEL, are explicitly anti-American concepts, and have no place in the political process in America, let alone in the education of American youth.

Monday, March 14, 2022

Our Founder's wrong turn towards Education today - The New Normal

American's changing understanding of what 'education' is and is for, has changed us from being a people who were literate enough for The Federalist Papers to be written for persuading the common farmer and 'man in the street' on adopting a constitution to secure their liberty, to a people who in far too many cases would rather argue that liberty requires making crude and pornographic materials available to students in the libraries of schools whose graduates are largely unwilling or unable to read The Federalist Papers (see initial post). Such radically different effects are the result of radically different causes, both seen and unseen, and the largest difference that's easiest to see, is that the educational success of early America came without any official educational system to cause it, while its current effects have resulted from a new system of education having been imposed where none had been before, in order to accomplish what had already been accomplished without one.

Can it be fixed simply by ending our public education system? Nope. As much as we do need to end it, and as much as we need to see a Separation of School & State, if what you want is to make education educational again, which I do, then no, that alone isn't going to fix what's been broken. Why? Because the unseen changes behind what our schools do and why they do it, are more significant than those that are so easily seen in which entity runs & funds a school - public, private, charter, or church - and so simply pulling your kid out of one instance, and putting them into another, is no guarantee that they'll get a good or even better, education.

Or maybe you hadn't noticed that our most barbaric antifa & blm activists tend to be the products of (expensive) private education and graduate from, or teach at, the likes of Berkeley and Harvard?

Because our schools today, public, private, charter and church, are staffed and run by 'education professionals' who've graduated from the same teachers colleges which largely teach the same radical leftist views on education, when you choose a school based mainly upon who runs & funds it, what you're most likely to find is that the private sector school will be managed more efficiently and use *better* materials, which means that your student's mind will be more efficiently injected with a purer form of the same poisonous ideas that the public schools are promoting. Say hello to Berkeley and Harvard.

The previous post went into what's changed in what we mean by Education itself, and which content we once knew was best for facilitating it, and that the inadequate new understandings of both had largely been institutionalized, and were self-evident to those who knew better, before the 20th Century even got underway. What enabled those changes to come about, came from a new purpose that had been adopted for education, which led to abandoning its traditional content, and introduced a new normal that has been accepted so completely, that few today even know that there once was an 'old normal', let alone how different the two are. That new normal has ensured that radically different outcomes would begin to follow from what had been the norm in our Founders era, and that shift had essentially been accomplished even before the 19th Century got underway.

Education's 'new normal' was encouraged and promoted by some of our most respected Founding Fathers, such as Noah Webster (yes, the dictionary guy), and it is what is most responsible, IMHO, for why our idea of Education was able to be changed into the worthless sham it has become today, and while Common Core & CRT are the most visible outgrowths of these changes, the new normal is a pervasive but mostly unseen presence in most schools today, *woke* or not, and it is one of the most significant reasons why the more easily seen differences of who it is that runs & funds a school - public, private, charter, or church - is the least telling aspect of what students will be taught in them, because the new norm is incorporated into the purposes and content of the most common understanding of education that students will receive in them today.

What might be the most dangerous aspect of the changes that've been made, is that the reasons for making them seem so sensible on the surface; they certainly seemed sensible enough to many of our Founders era who were far more educated than we are, and knowing nothing of the alternatives they seem entirely sensible to so many who are fighting so hard against what's happening in our schools today, unaware that they are repeating the same disastrous calls for reform that led to what they're fighting against today. See if any of these old calls for school reform sound similar to what we hear urged today:
  • to strengthen American's sense of identity,
  • to refocus lessons away from 'wasting time' on useless content,
  • to prove educational value by testing students on what facts they've successfully *learned* (momentarily memorized) about that content
  • teach more useful skills for *today's* workforce to boost the economy!
Those lines for reform began ringing out in our Founders' era, with our Founding Reformers. The one advantage we have over our Founding Fathers, is that, if we look, we can see what has actually resulted from such seemingly sensible ideas and good intentions, and so finally put a stop to repeating the same mistakes of history, it's not enough for us today to simply be upset and demand change, we need to know what we should change to, what changes are most important to make, and we especially need to know what we changed away from, and why they did so - otherwise we'll just continue to pour old wine into new skins.

What is seen, helps to conceal what goes unseen
The visible results of those good intentions are easy to see today in the standardization of schools, lessons, textbooks, and teachers. It's also easy to see that pro-regressive 'Progressive' figures such as Horace Mann played an early role in 'Progressive Education', and that the first mandatory Public School laws of Massachussetts were enacted in the 1840s to manage the public alarm over 'immigrants and other dangerous individuals' flooding into America, by promising that all students would come to have the same understanding of America (or, less charitably, to create a system for imposing conformity to the ideal of 'those who know best'). But those effects were made possible by earlier and more fundamental causes, and while it's true that those were significant turning points, they aren't where the turn towards the education system of today began, those were simply pretexts - easy answers - which capitalized upon, exploited, and repurposed, the changes that had already been put in place.

The radically different effects that we're seeing today, developed out of changes that didn't initially seem as noticeable or radical to them at the time; their progressively more radical nature was slowly revealed in bubbling up through the twists and turns of pursuing and covering for the good intentions that put cracks in the restraints upon power which they encouraged and concealed. It was the unintended consequences which followed from them, that enabled and encouraged still more radical reformers in the likes of Horace Mann, who were later able to take advantage of the good intentions behind mandatory school laws, and through those cracks they infiltrated through various other openings in our existing presumptions, and subverted them towards new ends... and so on, and on. and on,

That progressive process of transformative decay requires and depends upon people settling for easy answers - the more sensible they seem on first glance, the better. And so it's worth it to begin looking at the original good intentions of those good men who were trying to do the right thing with the wrong tools, to see how the results managed to go so very wrong, so that we might avoid yet another round of the endless cycle of sure-to-fail 'school reforms' that've plagued us for the last two centuries.

Although I'm going to focus on Noah Webster, my intention is not to impugn his character, in fact I think that my point becomes stronger, the stronger you think that his character was. Webster was a leading advocate for the importance of seeing to it that all American youth received a 'good education', he saw it as his mission, and he put a great deal of his own time and effort into reminding the public that:
“It is an object of vast magnitude that systems of education should be adopted and pursued which may not only diffuse a knowledge of the sciences but may implant in the minds of the American youth the principles of virtue and of liberty and inspire them with just and liberal ideas of government and with an inviolable attachment to their own country.”
But as good as his statement might sound, then as now, it's important that you define and clarify the terms & premises being presumed for you, for instance: what did he mean by 'a good education', and how do you know that? What was it which guided the purpose of he and his fellows education, and how did that differ from what he intended to alter it to?

Webster didn't just advocate for education, he took it as his mission to create a movement in educating and forming a clearer image for Americans of what it means to be an American. As noted (pg 4) in "The Forgotten Founding Father", when George Washington mentioned that he was considering asking a colleague in Scotland for recommendations for a tutor for his step-grandchildren,
"...A stunned Webster shot back, 'What would European nations think of this country if, after the exibition of great talents and achievements in the war for independence, we should send to Europe for men to teach the first rudiments of learning?"
Noah Webster's own education had acquainted him with those works which Thomas Jefferson had recommended as an essential reading list for students: Homer, Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, The Bible, Virgil, along with a knowledge of Greek & Latin, and yet he was dissatisfied with it, and complained that such literature was "... not necessary for men of business, merchants, mechanics, planters, &c. nor of utility sufficient to indemnify them for the expense...", and that studying them kept them from learning more useful skills. Of the time he himself spent acquiring them himself, he complained:
"...How superficial must be that learning, which is acquired in four years! Severe experience has taught me the errors and defects of what is called a liberal education. I could not read the best Greek and Roman authors while in college, without neglecting the established classical studies ; and after I left college, I found time only to dip into books, that every scholar should be master of; a circumstance that often fills me with the deepest regret...."
A couple questions come to mind from reading his opinion of the content, especially with Webster's own confessed failure to fully grasp the material, as well as his assumption that everyone else's ability must be equally as lacking as his own. It's also interesting that his concern for superficiality doesn't seem to extend to those skills that are likely to be taught by teachers who don't depend upon or use them themselves, which is not only itself superficial, but is the reason why apprenticeships were used in his time, and why they are becoming popular again in ours. But Webster wasn't alone in his opinion, being one of several of our Founders, such as Dr. Benjamin Rush, and Benjamin Franklin, even to some extent Thomas Jefferson, who wanted to 'reform education' to focus upon giving students more utilitarian, practical, and economically useful skills. While not alone in their opinions, they weren't by any means universal, and the reforms they proposed, although largely forgotten today, sparked debates whose sometimes fiery nature we'd recognize something of in our own day, even progressing to public unrest in the mid 1800s.

Yet despite their complaints about the content and purpose for learning it, one thing that didn't yet need to be 'fixed', because the system for learning it had not yet been broken, was that which enables the teaching and learning of everything else: the 3 R's of 'Reading, 'Riting, and 'Rithmatic. Webster and his fellows knew from their own experience that teaching those basics were an important but nearly trivial feat which was routinely accomplished in a few years at most, through the existing materials, and attention to grammar that they were already using.

Even so, Webster, who himself had been a school teacher, thought that it would be enough that each community:
"...should be furnished with a school, at least four months in a year;..."
, and beginning with students around eight years of age, their schooling should be,
"...completed by the age of fifteen or sixteen..."
Two points on that, first, "furnished" by who, is one of the questions that're typically either avoided, or assumed by the reformers to be their ideal systems that didn't yet exist. And second, take note that the reformers were aware that a sound grasp of the basics of the 3 R's (and substantially more than that) was able to be accomplished within about eight 'years' - consisting of school years that were at least half the length of our own today (how those eight half-years, became our twelve full-years, we'll cover in a post to come) - because it was already resulting in students who in making their way through a great deal of literature and history had actually learned how to read, write, and calculate, and most of whom could be counted upon to pursue a wider and deeper understanding of such works on their own, for the rest of their lives. Even so, what our Founding Reformers wanted to change, was how that was already being accomplished, and why, and who would determine it, and that's where we find the foundational cracks beginning to form, and would soon begin forming a system of them.

What seemed to escape our Founding Reformer's attention, is that learning the 3R's from the materials they did, in the manner they did, was an important factor in how the people of our Founder's era, became the people they were. But such an oversight is not that uncommon, historically, and is one of the causes for why the West has had to re-found itself several times over the last few thousand years. It's encouraging that many, such as this modern day Italian, Angelo Codevilla, are reminding people of what we forget about how much the materials we learn with, makes us into who we are (or are not):
"...Any civilization is the totality of the language, habits and ideas in which people live and move – the human reality that defines their practical limits. To see how grossly unequal to one another civilizations are, it is enough to glance at how much or little understanding of reality the languages they speak contain – what any given language enables, or not. We are accustomed to Greek, Latin, English, French, Italian, German, etc. with their massive dictionaries, full of definitions, pronouns, tenses, moods and concepts, all tied together by grammar that flows from logic. When we speak these languages correctly, we hardly realize that we are wielding powerful tools of reason, developed over thousands of years..."
Yet despite the role that traditional literature played in who our Founders became, the general attitude towards literature by those educational reformers amongst them, was akin to what Webster expressed in this complaint, that:
“The minds of youth are perpetually led to the history of Greece and Rome or to Great Britain; boys are constantly repeating the declamations of Demosthenes and Cicero, or debates upon some political question in the British Parliment. These are excellent specimens of good sense, polished stile and perfect oratory; but they are not interesting to children. They cannot be very useful, except to young gentlemen who want them as models of reasoning and eloquence, in the pulpit or at the bar.”
, so that what the traditional learning consisted of, came to be seen by them as 'elitist' materials that were too fancy for 'working people' who really just needed to know the basics in order to go out and get a good job (which, BTW, is a typically 'elitist' position to take), even as they were employing the knowledge and skills which they themselves derived from those classics, against them. What these reformers thought about the examples of reasoning and eloquence that 'working people ' had no need of, is all the more amazing in its dismissiveness, when you consider that there were innumerable instances, such as that of John Adams, who had intended to become a farmer, but then at some point on being exposed to the writings and speeches of Cicero, became inspired instead to study the law, and through that developed into the ideal of an American patriot... which was one of Webster's primary goals. There are numerous other instances of those who remained in a trade, and yet were themselves known as scholars on a subject, and even more of people who were happy to continue such pursuits for their own personal benefit and enjoyment.

Similarly, while Webster understood the importance of the Bible to a liberal education and to our republic, as he noted here:
"The principles of genuine liberty, and of wise laws and administrations, are to be drawn from the Bible and sustained by its authority. The man, therefore, who weakens or destroys the divine authority of that Book may be accessory to all the public disorders which society is doomed to suffer."
, he still didn't want that taught in school either (again, 'whose school?'), as he thought that school wasn't the proper place to learn it - a point which Ben Franklin agreed with him upon, and which Dr. Rush disagreed with.

Their attitude towards the classics becomes even more odd when you read what they themselves wrote, as with a speculative paper that Dr. Benjamin Rush wrote on "The influence of physical causes upon the moral faculty", which opens with numerous references to St. Paul, and to Cicero (in Latin, no less), in which he speaks of the "virtues of a Trajan" and "the vices of a Marius", and where in describing the goal of his paper, he says that
"...I feel as Aeneas did, when he was about to enter the gates of Avernus, but without a sybil to instruct me... "
, which to any person without a knowledge of those works and languages which he himself described as 'elitist', his own scientific papers would necessarily become meaningless to the very public that he wrote them for.

Odder still, is the fact that Webster & Dr. Rush and the others understood and believed that since 'We The People' were the heads of our government, they therefore needed to know those classic works, and needed to be familiar with the ideas they developed, in order for 'We The People' to be able to 'produce' good public servants, capable of governing themselves with. It's also worth noting that it was in this period that saw the popularity of Adam Smith's views on Natural Liberty, followed by Jean Baptiste Say's works on political economy, which conclusively showed that a booming economy is far more of a side-effect of good and limited governance, than of a people being supplied by the state with a few particular skills. They knew that, they said that, and yet they opposed the means of learning that literature in the way that it had been successfully done for them, in their own revolutionary generation.

I thoroughly enjoy one of John Adams' replies in a letter to Dr. Rush, as he deliberately mocks Rousseau, and tweaks Dr. Rush as well, for that very oversight,
"...What an ingrate was he to employ arts and sciences to abuse them? And are you much better, to use the knowledge and skill you derived from Latin and Greek to slander those divine Languages..."
What you begin to notice in their sentiments towards the literature which they themselves were educated from, is what may be best expressed with the truism that 'familiarity breeds contempt', for as much as they wanted those ideas to be understood, they didn't want to associate with them in 'their' schools, as they felt that teaching them was such a 'waste of time'. They seemed to take it for granted that Americans would always simply know and understand those works... somehow, as if the ability to understand those works which they understood that liberty depended upon, would always, somehow, be passed down through the bloodstream, and so they discounted the need to 'take up time' with them in school, when that time could be *better* used, in their humble opinions, for more useful, practical, and expedient purposes.

As noted in the essay by Warner in the previous post, those who gave more than utilitarian thought to the subject of education, understood that attempting to separate out facts from the literature that such facts are the fruit of, is absurd, and that
"...It is only matched in absurdity by the other current idea, that literature is something separate and apart from general knowledge..."
To try and be as charitable towards them as possible, it seems that they were dazzled by both the nation's newly won independence and by the unfolding advancements in science and technology, and that they, like moths drawn to the flames, began to focus in too closely upon the utilitarian and 'practical' skills (what we know today as "gotta learn the skills of the 21st century!" - same idea, different century) rather than what they themselves had learned, because as Webster put it:
"... young gentlemen are not all designed for the same line of business, and why should they pursue the same studies?..."
, and,
"... The rules of arithmetic are indispensably requisite. But besides the learning which is of common utility, lads should be directed to pursue those branches which are connected more immediately with the business for which they are destined..."
It's tempting to argue over how training such varied gentlemen in a few useful skills would be less wasteful than studying more closely what all of them have in common, but the real key to all of this is in that phrase there, 'should be directed to pursue', that is the beginning of the fateful turn and transformation of their world into ours - it doesn't exactly sound like a show-stopper though, does it?

Making the U-Turn from Progress to Pro-Regress
What that 'should be directed to pursue' is expressing, is an actual turn in the nature, and purpose, and direction, of education. If you don't see the issue, it is important to consider what it is it that you might be missing, and if you do see the issue, its important to realize how easy it is to presume and accept it as being sensible. Even so, it hardly seems on a par with discovering porn in the school library, does it? Yet the destructiveness of its unforeseen consequences have led us to exactly that sort of thing happening today, in much the same way that gravity gives no grace to your not intending to have stepped off of a cliff, if in fact you do leave the ground and step off into the air, down you go. As with the old joke of a fellow jumping from a skyscraper and is heard calling out "So far, so good!" as he hurtles past the floors below, at some point the "So far, so good!" will end in hitting the ground, and if the patterns and behavior your education has habituated you to seeking, are primarily focused on what is useful and satisfying, then over time that will inevitably degrade into the thirst for power, and that is the action of a mind hitting rock bottom (see SEL & CRT for reference).

However 'meh' that may seem to us here in the midst of the 'new normal', in the old normal, you learned the 3R's as a means of developing the habits of attention and reasoning and understanding (particularly through Grammar), so that you could read the jewels of Greco/Roman-Judeo/Christian literature, and reading and considering them, helped you to come to a better understanding of yourself, of life, and your place in it. An Education was itself a value, rather than simply a requirement imposed for being able to do something else; it mattered to you, and someone who had been educated, understood the importance of looking past appearances to find what is real and true. It was that conceptual turn towards the New Normal, that made it possible to begin referring to the 3R's of 'reading, 'riting, and 'rithmatic, as 'basic skills' to be acquired as a ' common utility' to satisfy other's external expectations, and from that point on, getting an education had been transformed into training in 'basic skills' that were necessary for acquiring other useful skills, for getting ahead in business in order to 'get a good life' ('good'? Or something (anything) else so long as it's useful?), such as accounting skills, and agricultural skills, and the like.

Those who are satisfied with what is useful, are the very ones in Socrates' parable of the cave, who are content to see only the shadows cast upon the cave walls to occupy their attention, and the truth is that for those who are put on, and stay on that path, it doesn't matter if you are slave or master, poor or wealthy, if the only thing you seek to learn are those skills that you are to be employed in performing, or comforting distractions from performing them, then in seeking only what you've been trained to see, you become psychologically enslaved to that. Those who do become aware of the nature of those shadows, but don't seek the light, turning away from it out of a desire to become one of the puppet masters casting the shadows that everyone else is enslaved to, become focused upon Power for power's sake, and they themselves become enslaved to the slaves... and hate them for that fact about themselves.

That was the cave that Frederick Douglass escaped from, first physically, and then mentally, by putting himself upon the 'Old Normal's path through his 'rich treasure' and 'noble acquisition' of classics that had been compiled into ' The Columbian Orator', and that path to 'light and liberty' is what the 3R's were for, not to gain 'basic skills', but so as to enable men such as himself to understand that men are more than animals, and that even when they must work, as we must, they are more than workhorses. As noted in the previous post, Douglass observed that:
"...Education, on the other hand, means emancipation. It means light and liberty. It means the uplifting of the soul of man into the glorious light of truth, the light only by which men can be free. To deny education to any people is one of the greatest crimes against human nature. It is to deny them the means of freedom and the rightful pursuit of happiness, and to defeat the very end of their being..."
The old normal put you on a path whose destination urges you not to be delayed and distracted by seemingly scenic views, but to accustom yourself to, as Albert Jay Nock, in his "The Theory of Education in the United States" (a 'must read' BTW, but be prepared for many of your sacred cows being gored, butchered, and BBQ'd), quotes Plato's purpose to 'see things as they are'. OTOH, the path which Webster and his fellow reformers were proposing as the New Normal, intentionally or not, was where the purpose of Education was detoured onto that path which Douglass described as "... learning only those skills that were useful to their masters..." which would make them into men of the cave who lived chiefly,
"... within the narrow, dark and grimy walls of ignorance. He is a poor prisoner without hope..."
Brush aside all protestations of our Founding Reformer's good intentions of "not intended to diminish anything", the fact is that giving educational time and attention to acquiring those later skills, would necessarily entail taking time and understanding away from those materials of Western Civilization that had traditionally been used in the education of Western youth: Homer, The Bible, Thucydides, Cicero, Virgil, etc., not to mention the languages of Greek & Latin, as well as Hebrew, which was studied alongside them in many American colleges in the 1700s. Worse still, seeking to do so not only equates, but elevates, vocation over avocation, skills over wisdom, facts over truth.

It shouldn't need to be said, but of course acquiring vocational skills was and is a value, and there's no shame whatsoever in doing so, but to compare one with the other as equals, let alone trade one for the other, should be seen as not just wrong, but shameful. Far better to send your students to Mike Rowe for training in Dirty Jobs, than to Harvard or Berkeley for a slop of valueless values and supposedly high-paid skills.

That fateful turn towards the New Normal began our transformation from who we were, into who we are, by leaving us mentally & spiritually disarmed of the understanding which the literature of Western Civilization makes possible, and as we became less and less familiar with them, we became more and more vulnerable to, and unable to defend ourselves against its enemies, first in the Pro-Regressive 'Progressives', and then latter the Marxists, and now as those works are being purged from our libraries, we are prone to whatever worse variant is inexorably lowering us down to the level of actually debating whether or not having crude pap and porn available to children in their school's library, is a 'good' idea.

Our Founding Reformers took who they were for granted - taking both the literature itself, and the process that went into learning them and the habitual orientation towards what is true which resulted from that, for granted. The texts themselves were but raw diamonds, and only together with the process of learning them, did they become the polished jewels of Western literature - it takes both for the ideas to take root in heart and mind, and only then could they inspire the imagination of youths like Frederick Douglass, and John Adams before him. Even those less like them and more like Noah Webster, still benefited from the actions of becoming familiar with those ideas, as that was how Jefferson was able to write the Declaration of Independence as briefly stating "...an expression of the American mind...", whose 'harmonizing sentiments' derived from
"... the elementary books of public right, as Aristotle, Cicero, Locke, Sidney, &c..."
Those '... liberal ideas of government...', were only able to enter into the popular mind, because of those 'Elitist' works of literature, works that Webster and his fellows were themselves educated from and thoroughly familiar with... and yet were intent upon turning our education away from.

It is beyond ironic that Noah Webster, who wanted more than anything to establish the sense of an 'American Identity!', turned Americans away from the 'Elitist' works of Greco/Roman-Judeo/Christian literature that had enabled them to recognize and fight for those self-evident truths which those same Founders had sacrificed so much for - those Elite works (say it with pride and reverence), and not some accident of geography or handiness with skills, are what Americans' true identity sprang from.

Next time someone makes fun of the Indians for trading New York for a bag of Wampum, remind them that they at least traded stuff, for stuff, whereas America has traded away the accumulated wisdom of thousands of years, for a few skills that are useful only for the moment - and you may rest assured that those today who 'learn to code' will soon go the way of yesterday's buggy whip assembler. Our Founding Reformers overlooked the dangers of being misled by their own good intentions into perilous circumstances, and so following in the steps of Essau, in exchanging the harder lessons of "Know Thyself" for the easier path of utilitarian skills and goals, traded our birthright as Westerners and as Americans, for a swiftly coolly bowl of porridge.

It's difficult not to shake your head, when you consider that towards the end of his life forty years later in 1837, Noah Webster was utterly amazed over the general lack of knowledge, principles, and standards, in those who'd largely been educated in accordance with his own advice, as he wrote to Charles Chauncey, that:
“...Principles, Sir, are becoming corrupt, deeply corrupt; & unless the progress of corruption, & perversion of truth can be arrested, neither liberty nor property, will long be secure in this country. And a great evil is, that men of the first distinction seem, to a great extent, to be ignorant of the real, original causes of our public distresses...”
Again, my intention here is not to dump on or to portray Webster in a bad light, I'm trying to point out that solid and admirable men like Noah Webster, Dr. Rush, and Benjamin Franklin - men who were truly among the Founding Fathers of America - nevertheless are, then as now, prone to letting their pet assumptions run away with them under the power of their best intentions. And it is up to 'We The People' to question and slow them, but without the knowledge which their 'system of education' had made them less & less familiar with, we've progressively lost our ability to check the notions of 'great men' with good intentions, and one of the results of that, has shown itself as equating Liberty, with 'the right' to have porn in the school library.

By their fruits you shall know them
The truth is that it did not matter that our Founding Reformers intended to help Americans to become more successful, it didn't matter how certain Noah Webster was that he was going to be helping to plant, tend and grow giant Oak trees - the fact of the matter is that the seeds that they were planting, would reduce our forests to an expanse of weeds & thistles, and their 'New Normal' in education has produced ideas and practices that are deadly to the principles which Webster and his fellow Founding Fathers had helped to found America upon. Those weeds have taken root, they are darkening our councils, choking our discourse and spreading progressively further and deeper with each school years fresh crop of dis-educated graduates, as dandelions blown into the ranks of 'We The People'.

What began with the good intentions of an educated people who'd taken the source of their education for granted and attempted to 'add to it' some attention towards practical vocational skills, made enough of a crack in our foundation, for the yearly freeze & thaw of popular opinion to begin the never-ending process of education reform. In a dizzyingly short amount of time, the Pro-Regressive 'Progressive' educationists who followed after our Founders era, transformed Education from being a means to the light of truth which sets a person free from darkness and enabled them to live in liberty - an Elite ideal that America is unsustainable without - into the Power Tool of mandatory public school systems that form unseen political controls over 'We The People' and the thoughts they are led to think, so as to conform them to the ideals of 'those who know best'. In less than a century, that crack of adding 'useful skills' into education, had expanded into such a crevice by 1909 that Woodrow Wilson, while still president of Princeton University, would openly and confidently advise the Federation of High School Teachers that what was critical to what they taught and why, was that:
"...We want one class of persons to have a liberal education and we want another class of persons, a very much larger class of necessity in every society, to forgo the privilege of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks..."
That was and is the counter revolution that has been waged against America, manned by different factions over the years, factions who've warred even amongst themselves, but always against the Greco/Roman-Judeo/Christian traditions together, and they all are the fruit of our Founding Reformers 'New Normal', and their fruit is that of SEL & CRT, which they believe now has us in the 'End Game'.

Our Founding Reformer's would've done well to pay closer attention to a quote from Noah's cousin, Daniel Webster:
"...Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of power; but they cannot justify it, even if we were sure that they existed. It is hardly too strong to say, that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intention, real or pretended. When bad intentions are boldly avowed, the people will promptly take care of themselves. On the other hand, they will always be asked why they should resist or question that exercise of power which is so fair in its object, so plausible and patriotic in appearance, and which has the public good alone confessedly in view? Human beings, we may be assured, will generally exercise power when they can get it; and they will exercise it most undoubtedly, in popular governments, under pretences of public safety or high public interest. It may be very possible that good intentions do really sometimes exist when constitutional restraints are disregarded. There are men, in all ages, who mean to exercise power usefully; but who mean to exercise it. They mean to govern well; but they mean to govern. They promise to be kind masters; but they mean to be masters. They think there need be but little restraint upon themselves. Their notion of the public interest is apt to be quite closely connected with their own exercise of authority. They may not, indeed, always understand their own motives. The love of power may sink too deep in their own hearts even for their own scrutiny, and may pass with themselves for mere patriotism and benevolence...."
From our end of history, their plans should serve as a textbook reminder of the unexpected power which 'new ideas!' can have over the minds of even great men such as Noah Webster, Dr. Rush, and Benjamin Franklin, who are just as often swept up in, and possessed by them, along with everyone else.

In the next post we'll look further into that most dangerous of new technologies which has eased the transformation of Education from what it was in our Founders era, into what it is today: the Textbook.