K-12: Parallels with Venezuela

Such a marvelous country.  Venezuela is twice the size of California, with a mix of tropical and temperate climates, with 1,500 miles of oceanfront and, guess what, more oil reserves than any other country in the world.  What could go wrong?  Venezuela has everything, unfortunately including a socialist government.

Barron's reported (April 8, 2017): "Venezuela is in free fall[.] ... Once Latin America's wealthiest nation and a tourist destination touted in airline ads from the 1950s, Venezuela now faces shortages of food and basic medicines[.]"

The Washington Post reported (Feb. 12, 2018), "Venezuela's economy is so bad, parents are leaving their children at orphanages."

How could so many blessings be turned into failures?  The Panama Post presented (Dec. 21, 2017) a profound political analysis of Venezuela's plight.  The key weapons used against it, according to this report, are "deception and distraction." 

Many will see a parallel with our K-12 system:

For years, the world's socialists have successfully championed the idea that Venezuela is a somewhat deteriorated democracy but a democracy after all.  A democracy where there's a government that oversteps its limits and has dictatorial aspirations and on the other hand a democratic and moderate opposition that seeks to change the government through democratic elections.  And they've always been SO close to achieving this goal, but for X or Y they could not: if only they had X percent more support, or if they'd had more volunteers in the polling stations, or more charismatic leaders, or whatever endless amount of mediocre rationalizations devised to hide the truth[.]

Again and again – since before the arrival of the treacherous and coup-leading Hugo Chávez to power – this cartel, devised and propped up by the tyrant Fidel Castro from Havana, has used the most meticulous Machiavellian-Leninist techniques of misleading through deception and distraction.  They have masterfully placed politicians to seduce and lead the opposition's masses along destined-to-fail 'electoral' paths, while seamlessly wedging the Cartel into power[.]

Similarly, we in the US are encouraged to believe that the public school system is a somewhat deteriorated servant of the people, but a servant after all.  There are always reforms now unfolding, and then we will have perfection in the schools.  We have always been so close to achieving this goal.  If only they had X percent more support, or if they had more parents involved in the schools, or smarter politicians, or whatever endless amount of mediocre rationalizations can be devised to hide the truth.

People a lot like Castro have used the most meticulous Machiavellian-Leninist techniques of misleading through deception and distraction.  They have masterfully placed educrats to seduce and lead the opposition's masses along destined to fail "progressive" paths, while seamlessly wedging the Education Establishment into power.

The bottom line was concisely stated by Samuel Blumenfeld: "K-12 education is a criminal enterprise from top to bottom."

So there are two sad obituaries.  Venezuela has everything but is a basket case.  The American public school system has everything but, for most students, is a basket case.  Arguably, these two systems are fraternal twins battered into their present deformities by socialist deception and distraction.

Socialism may be all you need to explain why our schools are ineffective and overpriced.  Everything hailed as a rescue or salvation takes us ever closer to decline and collapse.  Meticulous Machiavellian-Leninist meddling has worn us down.

In 1931, the American Education Establishment proclaimed the salvation of reading.  We would bury phonics, which never worked, and we would instead make children memorize every English word by sight.  This was a disastrous boondoggle that we are still living with.  We have 50 million functional illiterates.  As a result, the country is groggy on its feet.  This seems to be the goal of our Progressive educrats.

In 1962, the same arrogant, self-congratulatory pattern continued.  Finally, at last, our professors had figured out how mathematics should be taught.  This breakthrough was called New Math.  There was a year-long buildup for this weirdly inane failure.  Few schools stuck with it for even two years.  New Math the Sequel, circa 1985, was called Reform Math.  New Math 3 is called Common Core Math.  These things were not designed by mathematicians.  They were all designed by far-left professors in the Education Establishment.  The goal seems to be preventing children from learning to do math without a calculator.  Apparently, socialist leaders don't like arithmetic any more than they like reading.

Then we come to the teaching of facts and knowledge.  The Education Establishment was dismissive of the entire project, but parents kept asking, shouldn't children know where Texas is on a map?  What was needed was the illusion of teaching knowledge but without anybody ever learning very much.  How could you possibly manage that?  Again, we had the endless, self-important razzle-dazzle assuring us that Constructivism was a bold new way to teach everything more successfully.  Here our experts found a new gimmick breathtaking in its audacity.  Teachers would no longer be allowed to teach. Children must create their own new knowledge. As a result, knowledge has declined along with reading and math.

John Dewey was our Fidel Castro.  That's one way of putting it.  Each was so smart, so tireless, so impressive, but finally a tyrant who wanted not to build up his people, but to control them.

Mona McNee explained this point in her book The Great Reading Disaster: "Deweyism is inherently self-contradictory.  For all his talk of child-centeredness, he really aimed to sacrifice children's individuality to the group[.] ... While he derided the traditional authority he wanted to replace, he did not hesitate to incorporate more intense authority of his own."

Dewey and the typical socialist dictators say they want to make the people free.  Yes, from any power except themselves.

Improving American K-12 requires facing some unpleasant realities – namely, that Progressive-socialist schemes have controlled us by using "an endless amount of mediocre rationalizations."  Better schools were fulsomely promised, but the actual product delivered by our Education Establishment was the death of traditional education.

Bruce Deitrick Price's new book is Saving K-12 – What happened to our public schools?  How do we fix them?  He deconstructs educational theories and methods at Improve-Education.org.

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