FAIRY TALES AND SCHOOL REFORM
When she was little, our oldest daughter, Shelly, would climb up in my lap with one of her favorite story books – Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, etc. Daddy was expected to read to her. Daddies should read to their children. Daddies should also play with them. I tended to do both.
“Once upon a time,” I’d begin by reading the opening page of her little book then quickly flip to the back of the book. “They all lived happily ever after.”
“Daddy!!!” Shelly would say, “That’s not right!”
She knew I’d left something out. A lot, in fact. It’s too bad Americans don’t realize they’re missing a good part of the fairy tale called Public School Reform. First, we’re told that only “some” public schools [mostly those inner city schools that poor, unfortunate minority children are forced into via economic segregation] are the low performers. Like all other fairy tales, school performance statistics are a fairy tale, and those who claim they support school reform are promising happily ever after. Well, once upon a time, they could get away with that lie, but not anymore.
All public schools are bad, though some are indeed worse than others.
Please think about the millions of functionally illiterate Americans out there. How do you think they got that way? Seventy-five percent of public elementary schools use the whole language method to teach kids [not] to read. Whole language attempts to teach kids to memorize whole words. Spelling rules are not taught, unless you count what educrats call invented spelling. It’s little wonder that kids starved on the whole language diet from kindergarten through 4th grade develop an anemic vocabulary of less than 1,600 words – words they can’t spell. I wish I could say the other 25% of elementary schools use phonics and only phonics.
Unlike whole language, which stupidly expects kids to memorize the whole English language, phonics requires kids to memorize 44 phonetic sounds with associated spelling rules. Kids who are taught phonics from kindergarten through the 4th grade will develop a reading vocabulary of over 24,000 words!
There is a problem though. The whole language crowd couldn’t let all those young minds escape their illiteracy nets. They claim “some” kids have difficulty articulating certain phonic sounds, so they demand whole language be inflicted on all kids in order to accommodate these few kids who tend to be from families stuck in generational poverty. Their parents are not likely to use correct grammar or enunciate words correctly, so they come to kindergarten with limited language skills. But it’s a mere deficiency, not a permanent defect. When these kids are tutored in phonemic awareness and phonics, they can develop the same language skills as other kids.
The System’s strategy is to reduce their peers’ language skills – educrats’ sick philosophy of equal education. As part of a concept called “balanced curriculum,” many schools who teach phonics are forced to also use the whole language method. They’re allowed to teach some phonics, using dumbed down modern primers – not the good, commercial stuff like Hooked on Phonics or Alpha Phonics. More importantly, they’re forced to use whole language vocabulary books. These restrictions are sort of like a race in which good runners are required to wear 10-pound ankle weights, so they won’t get too far ahead of the other runners.
[Do you recall how homeschoolers used to dominate national events like spelling and geography bees? Claiming homeschoolers had an “unfair advantage,” teachers unions and their subversive allies put so many restrictions on homeschooling contestants, they’ve pretty much been disqualified from these competitions.]
Those of you encumbered with that useless appendage called common sense are probably thinking we could reform public schools quickly if all state legislatures would simply outlaw the whole language method in their perspective state districts. There are two problems with this kind of thinking. First, you simply don’t understand that all state systems are joined at the hip with The System itself, forming a monster with more than 50 tentacles, your state system simply being one of its arms. Secondly, The System is glued together with federal dollars and those dollars come from your taxes and big business. Phonics only cost about $30 per student to teach, but whole language cost over $215 per student. Can you see a financial incentive for using whole language?
Literacy is more than reading and writing though. What about math? The next time you encounter that young sales clerk who can’t give you correct change without using a calculator or computerized cash register, keep in mind that 2nd graders are no longer taught to memorize their multiplication tables. In fact, calculators are now being issued to 1st grade teachers. Again, if you’re thinking we can fix this problem by taking away calculators, please consider how this will affect the profit margins of the companies that sell calculators and computers to public schools.
Science? Need we go there? If you’ve read any of my NewsWithViews.com articles or my book, Legally STUPiD: Why Johnny doesn’t have to read, you know what I think of teaching the Theory of Evolution as a science. It rightfully belongs in the category of religion [a.k.a., humanism]. Also, because chemistry and physics require a strong foundation in math, it’s little wonder so few high school graduates have acquired the core knowledge these courses would otherwise provide, and probably why so many Americans fail to question distraction theories about global warming.
What about history? If we don’t know where we’ve been, how will we understand where we’re heading? Today’s history textbooks are so dumbed down, it’s pointless to teach history, not that teachers are encouraged to teach anything. American history is the most important history any American child should learn, but our kids no longer learn about our forefathers, their Christian faith and their struggles for religious as well as political freedom or the wars they fought to make 13 frontier colonies into the greatest nation in history. Important dates and facts about the lives of statesmen and presidents, soldiers and generals, inventors and scientists, authors and poets were purposely left out of each succeeding edition of American history textbooks to a point where there was no more need to mention them anymore. But how will the next generation of Americans retain an American identity with no knowledge of their American heritage?
I wish we could pass legislation requiring textbook publishers to remove the politically correct but factually false Afro-centric, homo-centric and even Islamic-centric sections in their history textbooks and replace them with the true story of American history. But do you really think elitists won’t fight for their socialistic worldview of history? Do you think it’s possible that elitists want our children to think of themselves as part of the international community and no longer as Americans?
Even if all 50 state legislatures outlawed every one of The Seven Deadly Sins of Public Education, big business, teachers unions and other special interest groups would block the will of the people, thanks to their control of the court system. Popular reform measures like charter schools and education vouchers are proof that real school reform is little more than a fairy tale. Teachers unions have venomously attacked these measures, claiming they’re unnecessary and flawed. But then, teachers’ unions care only about power, not the interests of most teachers [especially the real ones] and certainly not the interests of children.
Charter schools’ record isn’t greatly better than regular public schools, but at least there’s potential for improvement because you have genuine parental involvement, and there’s an opportunity to follow a classical approach to education, instead of today’s multicultural, prole-producing teaching strategies. The best way for the charter school movement to succeed is for the FBI and that new, unneeded bureaucracy called Homeland Security to arrest teachers’ union leaders and lobbyists for terrorism and treason. Teachers’ unions have been destroying America’s intellectual capital for three generations by supporting The Seven Deadlies, and they’ve ruthlessly ambushed every serious suggestion for real school reform, beheading all suggestions for academic competition. Besides, when do you think you’ll hear about the great raid on Democratic, I mean, NEA and AFT headquarters?
Vouchers do offer parents an option they haven’t had in decades – choice. Even if the unions didn’t oppose vouchers [which, of course, they do], I’m concerned about government strings attached to education vouchers, which could be used to send kids to Christian schools. I don’t trust bureaucrats to not try to interfere with what is being taught or even who we must accept in our church-run schools. If Baptist parents send their Baptist children to a Catholic school [or vice versa], they needn’t expect the law to protect their children from being taught Catholic beliefs [or vice versa]. Anti-Christian elitists would use vouchers to water down academic and biblical instruction in Christian schools. I’d rather see a state tax credit for parents who choose to homeschool or put their kids in a Christian school, but do you think the professional politicians out there would authorize such a tax credit?
The best way to reform public schools is to stop treating them like a fairy tale and recognize them for the monster The System has become. We may not slay the beast, but we can at least sever its limbs. Unelected elitists removed prayer, bible reading, discipline and real learning from public schools through litigation. Prince Charming, it’s time to reverse the charges.
Consider the millions of functionally illiterate Americans out there, all products of The System. These poor victims need legal representation to fight for their civil right to a quality public education. Instead of an education that provided them with the core knowledge to qualify them for a good job or college, they were cheated out of real learning because educrats claimed their different learning style required different [lower] expectations, which required different teaching strategies, which mandated different [lower] academic standards and subsequently resulted in different [lower] academic achievement. Since public schools have re-instated the old Separate but Equal school systems with Different but Equal teaching strategies, I implore all warm-hearted, selfless lawyers to file thousands of class action lawsuits against public school administrators, superintendents, state boards, teachers unions, textbook publishers, etc. on behalf of millions of children who’ve been left behind.
realize the chances of winning such lawsuits are about the same as
those folks suing fast food restaurants for making them fat, but then
it worked against the tobacco companies. Regardless, the publicity
of thousands of lawsuits around the country might wake up tens of
thousands of parents, maybe enough to make them get personally involved
in their kids’ education – maybe even enough to entice them to choose
homeschooling or putting their kids in a church-run Christian school.
Other parents might fight to sever financial ties to the federal government,
political ties to the teachers’ unions and spiritual ties to the god
of this world. No, merely crippling the monster won’t make everything
happily ever after, but it will make our schools better and
maybe save our country.
© 2008 - R.C. Murray - All Rights Reserved
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R.C. Murray is a disabled veteran and former public school teacher. He left a good job as a technical writer for a satellite manufacturer in order to teach high school English, only to immediately be told he could not expect, much less require his students to read their literature assignments. After four years of fighting The System and having a stroke then a mini-stroke, he decided he was safer in the airborne infantry and returned to being a technical writer for a military contractor.
He has also dedicated the rest of his life to exhorting parents about what’s really going on in their local public school, the one they think is a good school. R.C. Murray is the author of two books, Golden Knights: History of the U.S. Army Parachute Team and most recently, Legally STUPiD: Why Johnny doesn’t have to read.
Instead of an education that provided them with the core knowledge to qualify them for a good job or college, they were cheated out of real learning because educrats claimed their different learning style required different [lower] expectations...