K-12: Walk Away
When Brandon Straka founded the WalkAway movement in May, hardly anyone imagined that several hundred thousand longtime Democrats could turn against the party of their family and friends. Although it's a big, difficult decision, many Walkaways made videos aggressively explaining their decisions. They often conclude: "I'll never vote Democrat the rest of my life."
What made these people walk away with such passion? Certainly, Trump's success and charisma explain a lot. The "lying media" are also a major factor. One woman attended a crowded Trump rally. When she reached home a half-hour later, CNN was showing a half-empty stadium where she had been standing. She knew that the place had been jammed. At that moment, she walked away from CNN.
Perhaps the most important factor is that leaders on the left, for many decades, became increasingly socialist/communist in their perspectives. The rank and file are more sophisticated now and realize that their party bosses walked away from them long ago.
So here's the picture that Straka has brought into focus. Namely, lots of people are mad as hell and determined not to take it anymore.
We need this exact same spirit in K-12. You're mad as hell and refuse to continue the same destructive relationship. You know what the schools are doing to children: keeping them ignorant and illiterate. You hate this. You don't want it being done in your name. Or with your taxes.
So walk away.
Democrats, heretofore passive, are showing you how to do it. Just do it. The liberal leaders at the top of the Education Establishment are exactly the same people whom working-class Democrats have learned to scorn. (Indeed, studying K-12 education is a great way to understand the warped politics of the party. Same people, same goals, same collectivist thinking.)
You've heard the rumors, or you have seen the results yourself. Kids can't read, not fluently. Incoherent Common Core homework makes them cry. Students don't know the simplest things about geography, history, science, or anything else. Jay Leno, Jesse Watters, Mark Dice, and now Jimmy Kimmel have shown this over and over.
The incompetent, ideological extremists perpetuating this educational malpractice should be rejected or at least rebuked. What's a simple way to do that? You don't need to send them a card. Just walk away...if not physically, at least emotionally.
Parents with kids in a public school have to deal with teachers and school officials. But you can withhold support; you can show disdain for programs you don't like. Let the Education Establishment know that you don't approve of their dumbing-down strategies. You would like to see children educated at the highest level that each one can handle. The main thing is to stop tolerating what you sincerely feel is unacceptable. (Some people say homeschooling is the only option. I argue that being an informed, demanding parent contributes greatly.)
Teachers in particular know the dark secrets about ideological maneuvering and financial chicanery. The result is that textbooks and methods that didn't work 25 and 50 years ago are still used today and still don't work. The dysfunctional gimmicks that made New Math useless can still be found in Common Core Math. Someone is making more money. But the students are losing. Don't support what you wouldn't want for your own kids.
According to one of the popular sophistries of the past 75 years, if you criticize public schools, the professors will say you are "opposed to public education." You may have to spell it out. You're not at all opposed to public education. You're opposed to ineffective, screwed up education that keeps many children as ignorant and illiterate in the 10th grade as they were in the 4th grade.
The point is not to give support to something not worth supporting. Our Education Establishment has grown increasingly wacky and reckless over the past 90 years. The country had near universal literacy in 1915, then Progressives started to take over. By 1955, a book titled Why Johnny Can't Read became a huge bestseller. Apparently, millions of people knew "Johnny" personally. Many social critics wrote books with titles such as Quackery in the Public Schools and Educational Wastelands: The Retreat from Learning in Our Public Schools. Sixty years later, the steady decline slithers on. Prof. Patrick Deneen at Notre Dame recently accused our public schools of creating "cultural illiteracy" intentionally.
Now is a good time for everyone to start being judgmental.
Walk away from dangerous, chaotic schools. Walk away from sight-words and the functional illiteracy they cause. Walk away from Common Core nonsense that makes little children cry. Walk away from dysfunctional theories and methods that never seem to work as promised. Walk away from imperious superintendents who tell the parents what they can have, not what they need.
Walk away from elaborately engineered pedagogy that diminishes children. Walk away from Constructivism, which dictates that children must figure out everything for themselves while teachers stand idly by. Walk away from Self-Esteem, a cute little sophistry that basically freezes every class at the level of the slower students. Walk away from Multiculturalism, which dictates that American children have to know more about foreign rivers than about American rivers. Walk away from all the clever gimmicks that undercut real education and replace it with "progressive" – actually regressive – folderol.
In particular, walk away from so-called educators who see education as indoctrination, not enlightenment. That is John Dewey's malignant legacy. We need to walk away from all that.
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.