K–12: The Problem with Private Schools

What's wrong with private schools?  Probably not what you think. 

The movers and shakers, the people who run the society, typically went to private schools.  Their children went to private schools, and their grandchildren go to private schools.  So they're comfortably insulated from the pain and dysfunction too often found in public schools.  This is not good.

The movers and shakers, if they paid attention, would probably be stunned to find that a high percentage of public school kids never actually learn to read.  They can't do easy arithmetic at a normal pace, never mind division, decimals, and percentages.  As for foundational knowledge, public schools don't emphasize it, and the kids never master it. 

Recent NAEF scores show that public school students are learning very little.  On the internet, there are more than a hundred videos showing that many Americans, when questioned in street interviews, know almost nothing.  Creating such empty-headed students should be labeled child abuse.

Foundational information is easy to teach and easy to test.  How does our Education Establishment get away with skimping on the basics?  Anybody who has been to a private school knows what good education looks like.  Why not promote what you know to be good?

How can the movers and shakers, the people most obviously in control of the society, allow public schools to be so counterproductive?

Private schools seem to create citizens who have little connection with what's happening to the other 90% of society.  But these people with little academic education will be voting in elections.  They will swamp what the movers and shakers want.

Noblesse oblige may be the best defense.  Translation: You'd better start educating everyone else's children in order to save you and yours.

There's no mystery about how to do this.  Our public schools should be run with the same attention to academic and intellectual content that is typical in private schools.  That's it.

The officially approved educational nonsense that has been let loose on the kids of America is almost beyond belief.  It's devious, murky, hard to understand.  As a result, many people don't recognize sophistry for the snake it is.  A simple way to understand American K–12 is to think of Bernie Madoff and his congenial swindling.  He assured friends he would take good care of their money and make them richer.  Instead, he expended it on more mansions and luxury for himself.  Our Education Establishment swear they will take good care of our culture and our children.  But then they squander everything.

An all too common experience in public school education is that whatever capability students come to school with, the educrats make sure it diminishes from K to 12.  Perhaps the movers and shakers should lift a finger in protest.

To repeat, traditional education is simple, effective, and cheap.  Kids start in kindergarten learning the sort of basic stuff everyone should know.  No time is wasted on psychological manipulations.  Teachers don't try to prove that some highfalutin theory works better than what everybody's been doing for thousands of years. 

The proper goal is to take every child up to his potential.  To do this, you first have to give children a foundation.  The moon goes around the Earth, not the other way around.  Paris is the capital of France.  Seven times eight is 56.  If you want to go to Japan, you have to cross the Pacific Ocean.  There are a thousand, perhaps two thousand ordinary facts that everyone should know.  If you learn a few each day, you will easily learn 2,000 facts by middle school.  This is not a difficult task.  It is accomplished by everybody fortunate enough to be in classrooms that respect knowledge.

The Education Establishment like to claim they will teach creativity, critical thinking, digital literacy, and a variety of exotic new states of mind.  But all of these things are disingenuously presented.  You must have your foundation in order; then you can advance to the fancier levels.  Basically, that happens when you can organize and rearrange information and offer examples.  You can relate what happened in one situation to what happened in another situation.  You can reach conclusions and make predictions.

Effective education is mostly common sense.  Every good school around the world does basically the same thing.  Educated teachers inform uneducated students.  It's only in America that we leave behind what is known to work.  Why do we do that?  Apparently, there are ideologues who think ignorance is their friend, and they make sure they have lots of friends.

Our movers and shakers should start viewing these ideologues as the life-threatening obstacles they are. 

"What the best and wisest parent wants for his own child, that must the community want for all of its children."  Thus spake John Dewey — probably the one thing he said that we can all agree with.

I hope no one thought I would criticize private schools.  I went to one.  I think highly of them.  In many articles I say education is not rocket science.  Pick five private schools, and copy whatever they're doing; you'll be fine.  I would like every American to have exactly that education.  What we should all hate to see is the trashy pseudo-education many millions of students in school are stuck with now.

It's sad to think the greatest country on the planet has one of the worst school systems.  There's no excuse for this.  If the movers and shakers bestir themselves even a little, we can tell our Education Establishment to stop playing their cruel games.  Instead, give every kid a real education.

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

What's wrong with private schools?  Probably not what you think. 

The movers and shakers, the people who run the society, typically went to private schools.  Their children went to private schools, and their grandchildren go to private schools.  So they're comfortably insulated from the pain and dysfunction too often found in public schools.  This is not good.

The movers and shakers, if they paid attention, would probably be stunned to find that a high percentage of public school kids never actually learn to read.  They can't do easy arithmetic at a normal pace, never mind division, decimals, and percentages.  As for foundational knowledge, public schools don't emphasize it, and the kids never master it. 

Recent NAEF scores show that public school students are learning very little.  On the internet, there are more than a hundred videos showing that many Americans, when questioned in street interviews, know almost nothing.  Creating such empty-headed students should be labeled child abuse.

Foundational information is easy to teach and easy to test.  How does our Education Establishment get away with skimping on the basics?  Anybody who has been to a private school knows what good education looks like.  Why not promote what you know to be good?

How can the movers and shakers, the people most obviously in control of the society, allow public schools to be so counterproductive?

Private schools seem to create citizens who have little connection with what's happening to the other 90% of society.  But these people with little academic education will be voting in elections.  They will swamp what the movers and shakers want.

Noblesse oblige may be the best defense.  Translation: You'd better start educating everyone else's children in order to save you and yours.

There's no mystery about how to do this.  Our public schools should be run with the same attention to academic and intellectual content that is typical in private schools.  That's it.

The officially approved educational nonsense that has been let loose on the kids of America is almost beyond belief.  It's devious, murky, hard to understand.  As a result, many people don't recognize sophistry for the snake it is.  A simple way to understand American K–12 is to think of Bernie Madoff and his congenial swindling.  He assured friends he would take good care of their money and make them richer.  Instead, he expended it on more mansions and luxury for himself.  Our Education Establishment swear they will take good care of our culture and our children.  But then they squander everything.

An all too common experience in public school education is that whatever capability students come to school with, the educrats make sure it diminishes from K to 12.  Perhaps the movers and shakers should lift a finger in protest.

To repeat, traditional education is simple, effective, and cheap.  Kids start in kindergarten learning the sort of basic stuff everyone should know.  No time is wasted on psychological manipulations.  Teachers don't try to prove that some highfalutin theory works better than what everybody's been doing for thousands of years. 

The proper goal is to take every child up to his potential.  To do this, you first have to give children a foundation.  The moon goes around the Earth, not the other way around.  Paris is the capital of France.  Seven times eight is 56.  If you want to go to Japan, you have to cross the Pacific Ocean.  There are a thousand, perhaps two thousand ordinary facts that everyone should know.  If you learn a few each day, you will easily learn 2,000 facts by middle school.  This is not a difficult task.  It is accomplished by everybody fortunate enough to be in classrooms that respect knowledge.

The Education Establishment like to claim they will teach creativity, critical thinking, digital literacy, and a variety of exotic new states of mind.  But all of these things are disingenuously presented.  You must have your foundation in order; then you can advance to the fancier levels.  Basically, that happens when you can organize and rearrange information and offer examples.  You can relate what happened in one situation to what happened in another situation.  You can reach conclusions and make predictions.

Effective education is mostly common sense.  Every good school around the world does basically the same thing.  Educated teachers inform uneducated students.  It's only in America that we leave behind what is known to work.  Why do we do that?  Apparently, there are ideologues who think ignorance is their friend, and they make sure they have lots of friends.

Our movers and shakers should start viewing these ideologues as the life-threatening obstacles they are. 

"What the best and wisest parent wants for his own child, that must the community want for all of its children."  Thus spake John Dewey — probably the one thing he said that we can all agree with.

I hope no one thought I would criticize private schools.  I went to one.  I think highly of them.  In many articles I say education is not rocket science.  Pick five private schools, and copy whatever they're doing; you'll be fine.  I would like every American to have exactly that education.  What we should all hate to see is the trashy pseudo-education many millions of students in school are stuck with now.

It's sad to think the greatest country on the planet has one of the worst school systems.  There's no excuse for this.  If the movers and shakers bestir themselves even a little, we can tell our Education Establishment to stop playing their cruel games.  Instead, give every kid a real education.

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