K–12: Fake News, Fake Education
The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold... When Yeats wrote his famous lines in 1919, he was describing the chaos in Europe after World War I.
The world had exploded into pieces; communication among them was difficult. Even though life feels safer now, we nonetheless have the same uneasy sensation that deceit has become ordinary. People say one thing, mean the opposite. The center cannot hold.
President Trump complains a lot about the dishonesty of fake news. The fascinating thing is that the bearers of Fake News, such as CNN, flip the story so that Trump's complaints are said to be America's big problem, not the media's lies. That spin is an example of things falling apart.
The most unexpected feature of modern life is that fake news is only half the fakery we have to endure. There's a parallel universe, a twin, that we call education. Our public schools seem to be imitating our media.
Empty talking heads are the common denominator in media and education. Controlling opinions and attitudes is the chief concern. There is hostility toward facts and knowledge.
Here's how it works. Trump complained three years ago that illegal aliens crossing the border to Texas were not always the best people. There were some criminals and rapists in the bunch. Every honest person knows precisely what Trump meant. But from that moment, liberal pundits stated emphatically that Trump claims that all Mexicans are rapists, and this proves he is a racist. Such a distortion is so unhinged that you are shocked they try it.
When Trump went to England during the summer, reporters were eager to inform Trump that Meghan Markle said rude things about him. Trump murmured, "I didn't know she was nasty." Rude about me, that's clearly what he was saying. The media instead reported that Trump said one of the world's favorite celebrities is nasty, as in dirty, unsanitary.
The DNC seems to have a surfeit of shyster lawyers on the payroll, people who are good with twisting words. Lawsuits often turn on a single word. If you can shift the ordinary meaning even slightly, you can win. That's what Democrat propagandists do with such great skill.
Now compare fake education and its many dubious claims. Sight-Words are said to be a legitimate way to teach reading. We know that this is not true because the U.S. has 50 million functional illiterates. We are told endlessly that Reform Math and Common Core Math will improve math scores, but math skills continue to drop. The Education Establishment has embraced Constructivism as an all-purpose elixir suitable for every class, but its only real effect is to prevent teachers from teaching. They must accept the reduced role of passive facilitator, with the demonstrable result that children learn less.
We are assured that these empty suits and numerous others represent sincere efforts to improve the skills of students. Arguably, those assurances are straight-up lies. In any case, you won't believe the claims if you look closely at these pedagogical impostors.
Once a school system shifts toward social engineering and ideological manipulation, truth is no longer deemed essential. Whatever will move the most people in the direction you want, that becomes truth.
The thing we see in both universes, media and education, is recklessness. It does not matter to these people what's true or untrue. They have left those metrics behind.
For the Communist International going back to the 1920s, agitprop (i.e., agitation and propaganda) was the best weapon in the arsenal. It didn't cost any money. Whatever you could fabricate, say it relentlessly. Some people will believe you. The communists have always been much too good at lying. I think they have damaged our whole society. In particular, they have dragged public schools to new lows.
Thomas Jefferson complained bitterly about the journalists of his time. "Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper." So we know that media often had a tacky reputation.
But education was traditionally scrupulous to a much higher degree. Now it is increasingly sullied by the reckless calculation that the ends justify the means. A little army of Zuckers seems to be running our Education Establishment. K–12 has become CNN.
Here is where we are. Schools don't teach facts. Media don't report facts. Truth is an inconvenient reality in both newsrooms and classrooms.
Maybe CNN can't be saved and shouldn't be saved. But K–12 has to be saved. If the schools go lower, the whole country will be CNN. Education has to be higher than that to be in any way worthwhile.
The only option we have is to fight fake news and fake education with equal dedication.
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.