K–12: Educrats Are Parasites
One of the most grisly images in nature is a wasp methodically injecting eggs into a big, soft, helpless caterpillar. Wasp larvae will eventually eat the drugged caterpillar from the inside, and a new generation of wasps will emerge from dying caterpillars.
This sequence was so upsetting to Charles Darwin that he started to turn atheist. He opined, "There seems to me too much misery in the world." In fact, parasitism is extremely common and usually not a problem for either party. In the more disturbing arrangements, however, the parasite alters and slowly kills the host. Darwin did not approve.
Extreme parasites (i.e., parasitoids) have the ability to change fundamentally the host's behavior. For example, the host may be paralyzed, disorganized, or acting in ways that directly benefit the parasite. Researchers call this phenomenon "mind control" or "brainwashing." Some life cycles are particularly convoluted, bizarre, and unsettling. For one example, roly-poly bugs, which normally prefer the darkness under rocks, will, when infected, seek out white backgrounds. Why? So hungry birds can more quickly sight the bugs and eat them! This is suicidal for the bugs — but a great way for the parasite, living in the bugs, to extend its territory. Birds consume the bugs and then excrete the parasite larvae growing inside.
The victims in such arrangements can be called zombies or slaves. They sacrifice themselves to benefit the parasite.
Many will sense parallels with our educational system, where the "host" has been changed dramatically.
Parents in American K–12 often see that their children are unhappy and not learning much. But parents for the most part tolerate this abuse. Why?
Teachers accept danger, disrespect, and the constant prospect of burnout. The autonomous activity that teachers traditionally engaged in is effectively prohibited. Why do they accept this?
Meanwhile, unnecessary administrators swarm through the system, and superintendents are notoriously overpaid, many above $200,000 a year. Principals and administrators hardly deign to negotiate with the community except to say, "No, you can't." The Education Establishment has changed public education into a lucrative private business. Why do taxpayers tolerate this underperforming but overcharging colossus?
For all of these questions, one obvious answer is parasitic mind control. John Dewey and his true believers wanted to use the school system for social engineering. They had to rewire, intellectually speaking, the system so it would pursue new goals in new ways. Dewey's plot has been successful.
The school system, at a casual glance, appears to lumber on as it did a century ago. But there is now a vast disconnect as educrats have altered every part of the system, discarding intellect and sincerity and using a vast but empty husk to perpetrate social schemes on a broader population. In short, the K–12 system is severed from its original intentions, just like the doomed caterpillar.
At some point there is an obvious dysfunction, as when a caterpillar becomes a wasp nursery. Similarly, all the many goals and purposes that public education was supposed to exhibit have now been largely jettisoned. The system seems to be on autopilot, ignorant of its original purpose. The Education Establishment can promote one destructive gimmick after another, from Whole Word to Reform Math to Common Core to Constructivism, and the host (which includes us) hardly complains.
What can the caterpillar do? Absolutely nothing. A wasp grips the caterpillar firmly and patiently. Tiny eggs are inserted one by one — at least 20 of them. Chemicals are injected with the eggs; these complete the caterpillar's degradation. The caterpillar is no longer concerned with its own needs and destiny. It serves another master. That in a nutshell is what happened to American public schools. Now they serve Dewey's blueprint, his ideological dreams, his Progressive imperatives.
The central diktat, which connects all the many separate details, is that schools must be focused no longer on academic matters,but on psycho-sociological concerns.
We can all see how abjectly the parents, teachers, and community leaders accept this fate. There's little defiance, much silence. The mind control has been going on for a long time. People know better than to expect too much from their Education Establishment. Sure, if they want a real education for their kids, they have to send them to a private school. Or they have to hire tutors all along the way, or homeschool them.
The education officials, on the other hand, are doing quite well. Remediation and assessments are whole new industries. The more damaged students that a school turns out, the more Title I money the government sends. There are so many productive ways to spend this money. What about a three-day conference on Deeper Learning and 21st-Century Education? These presentations will put victims into a deeper trance.
Students need to be active enough to carry books from class to class, that's all. They go home and come back, not much else. Surrender is easy. The host should feel, as Pink Floyd said, "comfortably numb."
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.