K-12: Occupied Territory
The U.S. government published the dark truth about K-12 schools in the famous "A Nation at Risk" report of 1983. Here is that truth: if a foreign country created the schools we have now, we would conclude that they were "an act of war" against our children.
A Nation at Risk told us that the simplest way to understand the mediocrity and malaise so common in K-12. We shouldn't assume there is anything natural about this decline or anything mysterious. It's a man-made attack by a vicious enemy who infiltrated our schools and made them dysfunctional.
But what country would that be? Spain? Sri Lanka? Samoa? Of course not. We all know there's only one country with a tradition of aggressive meddling in the internal affairs of other countries.
Let's take a look at Russian history after World War I. When Lenin and Stalin finally conquered Russia circa 1919, they immediately turned their energies to conquering the rest of the world – mainly the USA.
The Communist International (aka The Comintern or the Third International, 1919-1943) advocated world communism. That means that everyone obeys the Kremlin.
These were feverish and ambitious times. The Communists organized innumerable congresses, front groups, and ruthless plots around the world.
In the summer of 1920, Lenin sent out his Twenty-One Conditions to all socialist parties. He ordered Communists "not to trust the legality of the bourgeois states." Savor that. Simply by saying so, Lenin obliterates whatever silly ideas these countries have of being legal. No, they are illegal, and thus reasonable targets of conquest by Communists.
The Comintern's founding documents laid out that Communists must "use whatever means, legal or illegal, peaceful or violent, might be appropriate to their situations at any given time." In the summer of 1921, the Comintern explained how the struggle could be transformed into "openly revolutionary uprisings" – that is, civil war. Again, the Communists don't play patty-cake. They'll drop a civil war on your head at the first opportunity.,
Some Communist parties had secret military wings or paramilitary organizations. Their purpose was to prepare for the civil wars that Communists hoped to stir up and "to liquidate opponents and informers who might have infiltrated the party." Think about all that. Communists form their own armies and hit squads right inside your country. If you let them, they'll do it.
In 1928, the Executive Committee announced the Third Period, which would last until 1935. The Comintern proclaimed that the capitalist system was approaching its final collapse, and therefore all Communist parties must adopt a militant ultra-left line. In particular, the Comintern labeled all moderate left-wing parties "social fascists" and urged the Communists to destroy the moderate left. Translation: run-of-the-mill socialists and progressives were dead ducks. You had to be a Commie's Commie.
The U.S. stock market crashed in 1929. The Communists expected it and wanted it. Economic chaos was manna for them. It confirmed that Marx was right, capitalism was doomed, and the West was finished. The Commies would walk through the ruins, transforming everything as they pleased.
This ruthless, go-for-broke attitude seemed to crescendo among far-left commissars circa 1932. For example, more than 5 million people were deliberately starved to death in Ukraine mainly during the years 1932-1933.
That's when the Education Establishment struck at U.S. literacy with reckless force. They announced that phonics was old-fashioned, that existing reading textbooks should be destroyed. An untested, unproven method known as Whole Word was substituted. In fact, this method was arguably chosen precisely because it did not work. Henceforth, ordinary children learned to read at a slower pace. Functional illiteracy and dyslexia became common features in elementary and middle schools. The majority of children never became fluent readers, nor clear thinkers.
Now, imagine that you are a ruthless ideologue ready to destroy all opposition. But you don't have much power, and the target country refuses to surrender. What do you do? You invade any sectors that don't defend themselves. You attack the soft, easy targets: the media and the foundations. And, especially, you take over education. You don't need a sophisticated paramilitary. You just need a few thousand Stalinist professors eager to follow the Party Line.
So the United States exhibited a weird phenomenon. Communists (by whatever name) occupied small sectors of intellectual territory scattered throughout the society. I would say they still do. That is the simplest explanation for the incredible dysfunction in our public schools.
Reading is the canary in the coal mine. It's the lead indicator. If kids aren't learning to read in the first grade, you know that a school is Occupied Territory. This was the pattern in the 1930s and remains so. It's endlessly creepy that so-called educators would try this stunt.
The mystery is less pronounced, however, if you consider the origins and DNA of our Education Establishment. Communist ideologues brought a thunderous, Mussorgsky-like intensity to politics and social engineering. You agree to be transformed, or they agree to stand you before a firing squad.
Just 20 years after the introduction of Whole Word, its total uselessness was clear. Rudolf Flesch studied the destruction and wrote a book called Why Johnny Can't Read (1955). But our Cominternists went right on. Now this country has 40,000,000 to 50,000,000 functional illiterates.
As Communists like to say, you can't make millions of omelets without smashing millions of eggs. That's a fine summary of public school education in the United States for the past 80 years.
CODA: Here's a pretty irony. John Dewey, widely acclaimed as this country's greatest educator, was "a card-carrying Communist, who went to Russia in the 1920s, and convinced Lenin's wife (who could make decisions for education in Russia) to use whole-word instruction to teach reading for Russian children. She proceeded to implement it. That method of teaching reading was such an abysmal failure, that it was dropped, because it made the Russian children illiterate." Roughly in 1932, the Russians banished Dewey and his ideas from their country, at the same time that Dewey and his gang imposed Whole Word on this country. QED: Russia defended their children against this quack; Americans didn't and don't.