A Cruel Obama Hoax: "Improve Education at All Levels"
A recent AP story about Obama and education appeared in scores of American newspapers.
According to the report, "President Barack Obama is promising to improve American education from preschool to college."
The story appears in the midst of a drumbeat for pre-K, or "quality pre-K," as the ever-sycophantic New York Times puts it. One problem: if K-12 is wracked by mediocrity now, why is pre-K, or anything else, suddenly going to be conducted at a high level? That would be most unlikely. Here's why:
In his State of the Union last week. Obama made a laundry list of promises. Some of them are concerned with technology and grants. These he might be able to fulfill.
But the promise of improving education at all levels is mocked by the fact that Common Core, his signature effort in this area, is now devastating education at all levels in all states that have embraced it.
Simultaneous with the AP story, there was a new Breitbart story about Governor Huckabee backtracking on his support for Common Core. Apparently his fans and supporters have screamed and booed at such volume that Huckabee has been forced to pay attention. His new line is that he's in favor of it but he isn't. He wants some new terminology. He wants rebranding, as if that would change the nature of the beast.
Indeed, many states are now changing the jargon. This is precisely what our Education Establishment has always done. As soon as the public discovers that a new idea is a bad idea, our education experts don't change the idea; they change the name.
Common Core was never something the public asked for. It was schemed and dreamed by the Education Establishment. It became a reality only because Obama had "stimulus money" that he could channel into grants (in effect, bribes) for semi-bankrupt states circa 2009. Lots of glorious excuses and rhetoric were thrown at the country to make this hot-air balloon fly. Many intelligent people such as Huckabee supported it. Many people who should know better, such as the business community, supported it. Many liberal newspapers, to no one's surprise, supported it in their usual robotic fashion. So for a few years there was a genuine Common Core tsunami flooding across the country.
Then individual citizens learned what was inside this thing. They realized, for one thing, it was an exact parallel with ObamaCare. A huge overreach by the federal government, packed with untested theories and methods, the whole thing sort of scaffolded up with popsicle sticks.
As famed educator Siegfried Engelmann explained, "Common Core is a perfect example of technical nonsense. A sensible organization would rely heavily on data about procedures used to achieve outstanding results; and they would certainly field test the results to assure that the standards resulted in fair, achievable goals? How many of these things did they do? None."
The essential problem with Common Core is that there's nothing new. It's really a repackaging of all the bad ideas that John Dewey and his progressive educators came up with in the last 80 or 90 years. The basic idea is to teach children less because that's considered fairer. Johnny can't feel superior to Jack if neither one knows very much. Now, this approach may lead you to socialism, but it will definitely not lead you to an educated country.
So President Obama's lofty claims in his State of the Union speech are obliterated by what is actually happening in K-12 education in most cities in America. Charlotte Iserbyt's famous phrase "the deliberate dumbing down of America" seems more apt than ever.
The paradox we see in education is the same as that in the economy. The president talks about progress and success, but his political philosophy militates against success. Success would mean that rich people would get richer in some cases, and it would mean that smart people learn a lot more in some cases. And we can't have those outcomes. Indeed, they are carefully prevented. So Obama's rhetoric notwithstanding, his policies lead to intellectual and economic stagnation.
As Robin Eubanks asserts in Credentialed to Destroy (which may well be the most important book on education published in many years), "[w]hat is being marketed as the Common Core national standards and accompanying ed reforms is actually a planned, centrally coordinated, interrelated, complete reorganization of American education. Designed to change students from the inside-out so they will lobby for social change now. And vote for it later. These so-called 'reforms' eliminate practices, like the transmission curriculum, that evolved because they worked and created prosperous practices and useful, marketable knowledge and skills. And a spirit of individualism that has created great innovations. ... Common Core would be a bad idea if the intentions of its planners were for the best. But they are not."
Bruce Deitrick Price explains education theories and methods on his site Improve-Education.org.