Report on the Current State of Public Education

From (whistling past the existential question of if it’s possible to have a steady-state) Crisis via New Advent, we get the following discouraging report on what it’s like to be a teacher in a public school if you have any grip on logic, history or culture (let alone religious beliefs). I’m curious if people – meaning here both my regular readers – find this report surprising in any way.

Here’s a recap:

The grandfather of public education, John Dewey, had a great hand in effectively purging the Great Western Tradition, human nature and the human soul from the developing reductionist algorithms the schools formulate to craft the modern citizen.

In this respect, Dewey was merely continuing in the tradition established by Fichte in the early 18oo’s, which in turn was based on Luther and, less directly, on Plato, with stops along the way at Hobbes and Locke and others. According to this tradition, the primary purpose of schools is to create the kind of subjects the state wants. Just as a mafia don describes what he does in terms of providing needed order and stability in a violent world, people like Dewey describe what they are doing  in terms of egalitarianism and justice. It is not discussed that the price and method of this more just world is the destruction of  the inherited culture of their students, who are thereby generally turned against their parents. Any existing culture is replaced it with a culture of conformity to the state. It’s just business, nothing personal.

That’s why schools have to be mandatory, and why the heavy artillery these days is directed at homeschoolers and unschoolers – because some people will figure this out, and decide that, no, they don’t want their culture destroyed, and they don’t see their highest calling as being useful tools of the state.

The teachers themselves, who are products of a process – education certification – designed to select out or break down any subversive enough to think for themselves, are taught to think of themselves as saviors and martyrs, not as enforcers of cultural conformity.

The public schools have been systematically eliminating real standards for decades.  The vertical order of things in the real world is artificially and forcefully turned to horizontal. Research shows that when one group excels, the rest of the student body may suffer attacks of envy and low self-esteem.  This response to excellence is not tolerated.

Yes. And? I’ve elsewhere argued that the success of public schools now recalled fondly by those who attended them prior to the 1960’s was due to the existence of millions of graduates from locally controlled one-room schools. As long as that competing model – graded classroom schooling is about as far as you can get from the age-blended peer-to-peer teaching of the one-room schools – kept producing better ‘output’ at lower costs, the factory school model had to at least pretend to care about actual learning. Once the one-room schools were closed, and the numbers of their graduates started falling, then factory schools could dispense with the charade of caring about actual learning. Thus, after a couple transitional decades, we reach our current state.

It must occur to us all that there really isn’t such a thing as a teacher that doesn’t reference at least some kind of standard of truth; even if that standard is one’s own mind. This is the case for the modern relativists who must comprise nearly the entire body of public school teachers.

Yep. Sometimes, in our ‘you can be anything you want to be’ society, we fail to notice just exactly how much filtering goes on. Some filtering is based on nature and objective reality – you want to play professional football? That’s a career choice not open to slow, clumsy out-of-shape people.* But increasingly, the filters are based on certification, which doesn’t necessarily correspond to any special talent or aptitude, but rather to ability to play the game, whatever the game is.** So, you very often hear or read teachers talking about how nothing in their education degrees prepared them for the reality of teaching in a classroom.

I’ve often wondered if an education degree doesn’t render a large segment of its recipients effectively unemployable in the real world. If you really and truly bought in to what they’re selling, would anyone outside of government ever hire you? A related question higher up the educational food chain: there is clearly no demand for, say, critical theory practitioners outside of academia. Insofar as any of the millions of kids exposed to such ‘thinking’ took it seriously, they, too, would be unemployable – except by government, where certification precedes and often obviates skill.

So, Mr. Mazzeo is stuck working in an environment peopled by educators, who, in addition to any personal allegiance they may have for the whole public school project, probably suspect on some level that they are all but unemployable outside the education bubble.

There are only two really radical protests left to most people: 1) get married, stay married and have a bunch of kids; 2) don’t send them to public schools, or any private schools based on the public school model. Do that, and you’ll really tick of a lot of people.

*Oddly, professional football is open to women – just as soon as a 300 lbs woman who can bench 250 lbs 25 times and run a sub 5 second 40 with the skill to apply crushing blocks to 250 lbs linebackers come along, every team in the NFL will want to talk to her. The barrier isn’t being female.

** In my case, I noticed early on in getting my MBA that the goal was not so much to teach anything concrete as to filter out anyone who wasn’t willing to play the corporate game. Hiring a freshly minted MBA is a significant investment for any company. They want to know, first and foremost, that their new hire isn’t likely to find corporate life intolerable or decide to pursue a career in chaining themselves to trees as a professional protester. The math and accounting and marketing you can pick up.


Author: Joseph Moore

Enough with the smarty-pants Dante quote. Just some opinionated blogger dude.

One thought on “Report on the Current State of Public Education”

  1. “… suspect on some level that they are all but unemployable outside the education bubble.” This goes a long way to explaining why some of my teaching friends get a sort of vague fear in their eyes when I talk to them about homeschooling, even though they appear to have a rational understanding of my argument.

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