Hello, America

 I'd like to make one suggestion. Please learn a little more about what's going on in public schools.

 K-12 is increasingly mediocre because the preferred theories and methods are dysfunctional. They were designed that way; or they turned out that way. Either way, our Education Establishment does not seem interested in making things better. They're more interested in cajoling the public into accepting whatever is offered.

To summarize, you can't teach children to read with Sight- words (or whatever it may be called in your area); you can't teach arithmetic with Reform Math (in any of its many varieties); you can't teach knowledge with Constructivism (under any of its many names).

This stuff is to education what sitting is to running.


What to do? Learn how these various gimmicks work. You will no longer respect them or the people pushing them.

My main education site Improve-Education.org has articles on most of these methods. See "Top 10 Worst Ideas in Education" HERE for the list, and a recommended article on each idea.

 Or search Google for a subject you are interested in plus the name Bruce Deitrick Price; you'll find a selection of articles.

Or obtain a copy of "Saving K-12-- What happened to our public schools? How do we fix them?" Available on AMAZON.


Update: "Saving K-12" is available as e-book on Kindle




Free Book Explains Problems in Reading    

I have five educational booklets on Teachers Pay Teachers. All excellent, for $2.50 or $3.

This one is FREE because I want everyone in America to read it. Only 8 pages. And free. The perfect deal. 

Please download it and give it to all your friends, especially parents. DOWNLOAD

Rudolf Flesch explained in 1955 Why Johnny Can't Read. All the nonsense he exposed then is still in the schools today! Let's fix this abuse.



Dyslexia – Bah Humbug

The great debate, raging throughout American society and the field of education, is whether dyslexia is actually a real thing. Shouldn't it be easy to tell? Yes, of course, if the Education Establishment were scientific as opposed to being ideological.

 Here's the whole thing condensed to a few words: children must learn to read with phonics. If you make them memorize sight-words (as happens throughout our public school system) they will have a lot of difficulty and collateral damage. 

 Having difficulty and damage--are you ready? – is what our public schools call dyslexia. They cause it and then they label it. Then they say to the parents, it's your fault because you had a defective child!!!

 If you raise children in a house with lead paint, you can expect mental difficulties. Sight-words inflict cognitive damages comparable to those inflicted by lead paint. Keep children from eating lead paint; and children will no longer have these problems.

 The link below goes to "Dyslexia is a Myth" on American Thinker. My original title was "Dyslexia--Bah Humbug." I liked this title, so I'm happy to use it here.

This article mainly presents Samuel Blumenfeld's excellent analysis of the dyslexia issue. Every parent with young children in the public schools should read this article. LINK



Phonics and reading are the same thing

The big swindle of the past century is when the Education Establishment pretended that phonics was old, obsolete, hard work, useless, no longer necessary, boring, and (clearly) children would be so much better off without it. This fraud started circa 1931 and continues today.
Those lies turn children away from being capable students to being hopeless lumps of failure. That’s the official formula followed by our public school system. The only exception would be schools that claim to teach systematic phonics and do teach systematic phonics. But such a school is rare. Most of them lie to the parents, they mix in other things, they play games.
I’m always trying to explain in simpler and simpler terms that anything that goes away from phonics is a waste of time and destructive. Phonics,  phonemic, and phonetics are basically the same Greek word, and they all mean basically the same thing: sounds. We would probably be better off if we forgot those three words and just say “sounds.”
So if one adult asks another, “How are you going to teach your  son to read,” the correct answer is, “Sounds.” “Oh, you are going to use sounds?” “Yes, all the research shows that sounds is the way to do it.”
So children learn that the letters stand for sounds. If you see an a, you know that it represents a sound something like ahh. That's the central concept and that’s all there is to it. Just 26 letters are able to represent the whole spoken language.
 But the Whole Word fraud said that children did not need letters or sounds, and that they could memorize the shapes of thousands or even tens of thousands of words. This is completely insane.
 English words were never designed to be memorized as visual objects. Many words resemble many other words. It’s a hopeless project for the average child. Some never reach 100 sight-words. Our Education Establishment must like failure because they enable so much of it.

For how to teach children to read, see: "Preemptive Reading" LINK 


Education’s New Gettysburg Address

    Four score and seven years ago our progressives brought forth in this country a new notion, conceived in socialism, and dedicated to the proposition that all students must be created equal.

        Now we are engaged in a great civil debate, testing rather that notion, or any notion so arbitrary and totalitarian, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that debate. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for the ideologues who here told lies that this infamous notion might live. It is altogether fitting and propitious that we should do this.

       But, in a larger sense, we can not deconstruct -- we can not debunk -- we can not satirize -- these extremists. The brave reformers, living and dead, who struggled here, have exposed them, far above our poor power to add or detract. It is for us the free, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- we here highly resolve that this country, under God, shall have a new birth of enlightenment -- and that education of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

“Only the educated are free.” -- Epictetus

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be. If we are to guard against ignorance and remain free, it is the responsibility of every American to be informed." -- Thomas Jefferson

“Education makes people...easy to govern, but impossible to enslave.” --  Henry Peter Brougham

“The goal of education is the advancement of knowledge and the dissemination of truth.” -- John F. Kennedy


"Deliberate Dumbing Down"....Iserbyt explained

Wade through several hundred discussions about education. You finally realize it all comes down to one question: did all this crazy bad stuff happen by accident, or do the people at the top get up every morning scheming to keep kids semi-literate, unable to do much arithmetic, and ignorant in any direction you look? 

I'm fascinated by this question because, for one thing, the crazy bad stuff seems too vast to be accidental. You can’t take your eyes off it. Watching Rome burn must’ve been a similar experience. The waste, the incompetence, the reckless malice. Whatever the exact cause, finally you’ve got a city on fire. Not just any city. The world’s greatest city. And what have we got today but what should be the world’s greatest education system--and it’s on fire. But not in a good way.

Second, one of the most successful people in America told me years ago, "Bruce, I agree with a lot of what you say but I can't go along with the conspiracy stuff." That puzzled me. "Conspiracy stuff? You mean when John Dewey and his whole gang of socialists went to a conference and schemed to take over the ed schools, infiltrate the public schools, and thereby brainwash all the students?  Why don’t you want to call that a conspiracy? Obviously it is one." For my money, it's a conspiracy the size of Antarctica. QED: we're not going to make progress in our public schools until people start facing the obvious facts. Probably everybody in the Education Establishment for the past 100 years was part of this conspiracy. It was these people who deliberately dumbed-down the public schools.

 Third, once I got used to the idea that all the “crazy bad stuff” was surely the result of clever human activity, then my interest shifted to HOW. Wanting to win a fight, and being willing to do anything to win, is not the same as saying you have found the best strategy. Well, our Education Establishment is brilliant at sophistry. So what they did was to create schools with relentless, manifest activity that never seemed to advance very far. They turned public education into a Potemkin Village. That was the pretty but fake little town that Russian officials created so that Empress Catherine would think she was ruling a prosperous and happy country. Similarly, parents and community leaders are supposed to think that their public schools are doing just fine.

But that’s not the case. According to Charlotte Iserbyt’s famous phrase “the deliberate dumbing down of America,” our public schools are engaged in a deception. The key word, of course, is “deliberate.” The con, as I would term it, was carried out by the simple device of finding inferior methods, and using them whenever possible, to whatever extent was possible. For example, the Education Establishment might say that Whole Word was superior and phonics was obsolete. Well, not everyone accepted this nonsense. So the Education Establishment didn’t always win all the time. On the other hand, they never stopped trying to win. When one of their bad ideas was rejected, they came up with two or three more bad ideas. The public schools are now encumbered by dozens of bad ideas. Have you ever seen a caterpillar weighed down by parasitic wasp larvae? It was this sad sight that made Charles Darwin doubt his religion.

 For a quick rundown of the bad ideas, see "Top 10 Worst Ideas in Education" LINK 


Warning to parents: teach your children to read before school starts

Many public schools still teach sight-words. Take precautions.

School starts in a few months. Take steps now to make sure your kids understand the basics of reading. The basics are simple. You can teach them in a few minutes.

Problems occur if children are made to memorize sight-words without ever hearing about the basics. So here are the basics 1-2-3:

1) Children must learn to say, and then to print, the alphabet (the ABC's). They can identify any letter they see. 

2) Then they learn that the letters stand for certain sounds, A is for aaa. (Some experts say, skip the names of letters and just teach the sounds.)

3) Then children learn the blends; that’s when you say the T-sound (tuh-) and an A-sound quickly....and you get "taa."

That’s phonics!

That’s the basis of everything that goes on in a phonetic language. Most children will figure it out for themselves given enough time. The problem is that less-verbal kids need direct instruction the most.

If the child ends up at a school that still teaches sight-words (also known as high-frequency words, Dolch words, whole words and other names), that child can be slowed down drastically.

Here are some resources you can use. They all deal with the same problem from different directions. So pick one and start:

"54: Preemptive Reading" 
provides quick intro to phonics concept.

Best video on reading.  
If too small, view on YouTube.


4th of July Meditation: Why Socialists Hurt Education

One bizarre aspect of any discussion about public education is that everybody tiptoes around the real reason why the schools are mediocre.

We spend billions of dollars. Millions of people work in this area. The whole country embraces public education.

So why do we have low literacy rates, widespread ignorance among ordinary citizens about simple things, etc., etc.??

The people in charge can’t be trying to do a good job. Put another way, whatever it is these people mean by “education” is not what most parents want for their kids.

John Dewey and everybody else in charge of public education from 1900 onward was a socialist, a communist, a collectivist, or something of the sort. This is not a secret. Most of these people used the word “progressive” to describe themselves, and this was a common synonym for socialist. 

The only thing that seems to be hidden is the degree to which these people would push their socialist agenda--rather than focus on the educational services they are paid to care about.

Bottom line, it clarifies every discussion about education if we understand that the DNA of this field is far to the left. Socialists want to eliminate private property, religion, family, and freedom. To accomplish all this, they try to dumb down the public through education.

Clearly, the American Revolution was not fought on behalf of these disgraceful goals.

For a longer discussion, see “Socialism versus Education.""” 




Bruce Price, Criminologist

I usually call myself an education crusader, education activist, or education reformer. The basic idea is the same: things aren’t ideal and I want to improve them.

But these terms are misleading. They do not tell what I actually do all day, which turns out to be much more like what police investigators do. Or what, I like to think, Sherlock Holmes is doing right now in his stories.

There’s a crime. The police, detectives, investigators, and forensics people arrive at the crime scene and try to reconstruct what happened and who is guilty. That’s what I’m doing all day.

Truly, American public schools are the biggest crime scene in the history of the country and probably the world. All day, weird counterintuitive things are going on. Things that give the opposite results from what is claimed. Victims, suffering and dying, are scattered everywhere.

All the while, the Education Establishment lays down a barrage of false clues and tainted evidence. Every bad idea is praised as an upstanding citizen. Every bad result is concealed by jargon and disingenuous alibis. The Education Establishment blames parents, TV, drugs, sex, the kids, the Internet, sports, popular culture--in short, everything but themselves.

The criminals in the story are presented as heroes. The crimes are treated as victories or, at worse, momentary setbacks, innocent mistakes, and in any case the work of somebody else. 

So if we want to solve a crime we have to ignore all the BS. Be cop-cool and lab-clinical. First, start with a description of the crime. For example: we have 50 million functional  illiterates. Now, that’s a crime. How could it happen? The game is on, as Sherlock would say.

Our public schools created this result by using a lethal, unworkable method called Whole Word. Rudolf Flesch solved the crime in 1955. But the Education Establishment went right on. It’s like watching a criminal at a trial, continuing to lie. Whole Word was what cops call an MO or method of operation. Still going on in schools today. You say, how could they get away with it? Well, how could  O. J. Simpson kill two people and walk?

I think it’s what we call a corrupted jury. The Education Establishment is a billion-dollar syndicate, and protects the members of the gang and pays them well.

And what would be the motive, which is the main thing to deduce in criminal behavior. All of our educators are progressives, collectivists, socialists of some kind, and this has been true since the time of John Dewey 100 years ago. Their big goal is social engineering, creating a Brave New World, making a new kind of kid. Once you start thinking like that, you really don’t care if  children know  where Japan is on a map or what 6 x 7 is. And that’s the collateral damage we get.

 I remember when I found Sherlock Holmes and how much I enjoyed all the stories. I’ve enjoyed trying to solve educational crimes just as much. For an interim report from police lab, see Top 10 Biggest Crimes in Education. (aka Top 10 Worst Ideas) www.improve-education.org/id83.html 


To save the country, first save the schools

Here's a theme I've been talking about for a few years. The country's intellectual and financial decline is partly due to the mediocrity of the public schools. This decline can be reversed by adopting proven theories and methods. That's a doable project:  

Free The Schools --  a simple four-step plan  

 Our Education Establishment has an 80-year record of praising and protecting bad pedagogies. Enough.
Here is what we need instead, starting now:


1. REAL READING. That means systematic phonics for several months until children learn to read. That means no Whole Word, no sight-words, no Dolch words, no high-frequency words. These gimmicks are all the same thing and the reason we have 50 million functional illiterates.

2. REAL ARITHMETIC. Schools use sensible, coherent programs such as Saxon Math, Singapore Math, or the like. (They do not use Reform Math in any of its forms-- Everyday Math, Connected Math, TERC.) Children master basic skills, know the multiplication tables, and can find answers. No more spiraling, fuzziness, or dependence on calculators. 

3. REAL LEARNING. It’s knowledge-based and fact-filled. Children learn basic information in the fields of Geography, History, Science, Literature, etc. Students advance in a logical way from the simple to the complex--which leads to genuine critical thinking. 

4. REAL EDUCATION. It’s academically correct (as opposed to politically correct). The emphasis is on building study skills and scholarly character. Students know a great deal, and know how to learn more. They can do independent work. They understand that precision, rigor, and honesty are the same things.


is simply what all good schools have done throughout history and are now doing around the world.  

Good education is not rocket science. 
Get the asinine theories and methods out of the way. Real education will thrive.

We especially need this in the early grades, 
where lots of children have to play catch-up.


If you can use or advance this campaign, please do so. If there are people or groups we should contact, 
leave info at: Word-Wise, 757-455-5020.


A short article on what NOT to do: 
56: Top 10 Worst Ideas in Education.

A short article on what schools SCHOULD do: 
“A Bill of Rights for Students 2013”

[both on Improve-Education.org]

YouTube video version of FREE THE SCHOOLS: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aaT2S4Vep-w

The last straw: my paper in Norfolk just ran an article praising local schools for adopting all the recycled bad ideas from New Math, Reform Math, Constructivism, Cooperative Learning and all the rest. There is nothing new, not one good idea. But this newspaper is all aglow. 
How can parents defend themselves against this nonsense if the media always aid and abet the Education Establishment? The short answer is that parents should not expect much help from the school system or local media. Parents need to familiarize themselves with the bogus theories and methods, understand why they don’t work, and know that we can easily do better.



It’s sad and pathetic the way the Education Establishment pretends to care about math. In truth, they do everything possible to make sure that children don’t become good at arithmetic and math.

Close-up, their MO is to litter the landscape which so many obstacles, perverse instructions, and upside-down signs that most children give up. They tell the world that they are just not gifted at math. They don’t try any more math courses. And science is close to math, so they’ll avoid that too.

And that’s how the Education Establishment wins, even while mouthing pretentiously about their love for lifelong learners and the rest of it.

But let’s stand back a long way and try to see the one essential thing the Education Establishment does. Here it is. They make sure that the children, from day one, experience failure, only failure.

Conversely, good teachers and good curricula present things that children can master. They gain confidence. They want to move toward more adventurous challenges. That’s the way it is for all ages, in all subjects, all the time. If you don’t think you can do something properly and you’re experiencing failure day after day, you will run.

 Joan Dunn, in her wonderful 1955 book “Retreat From Learning,” wrote what I think is the most profound statement you will find about education: “The children suffer academically because learning is neglected, and the time that should have been devoted to skull work in reading, writing, thinking, and speaking is given over to chatter. Nobody knows this better than the children. They want to be taught step by step, so that they can see their progress. The duller they are, the more important and immediate is this need.”

It’s the duller students that are most destroyed by the Education Establishment, those so-called experts who should be creating schools which make sure that slower students are given every chance.

To do that, you would want to look at how John Saxon designed his textbooks. You give students a morsel. You make sure they understand it. You give them little tests. You then review what they learned. When you’re sure the children have really got it in their brains, then you move to the next morsel. You never go ahead until the students feel in control.

That feeling of being in control is the key to everything. If you know anything about Reform Math, the very essence of it is that the children never feel in control. (“Everyday Math: Innumeracy By Design is a collection of comments by irate parents about this diabolical curriculum.

To show how Reform Math works in practice, I put an article on hubpages (title: “Why American Kids Can't Do Math") where I said, let’s do a thought experiment; let’s imagine you are trying to make sure that a captive population never learns to do arithmetic. What will you do?? Very much what Reform Math does!

For contrast, here is an article about John Saxon and his ideas.


Education: open letter to Valerie Strauss

Dear Valerie Strauss,

I’ve been writing about education for many years; I’d like to share with you my explanation for why the public schools are mediocre despite huge budgets.

Newspapers are full of analysis that I don’t think tells us much. There is definitely something counterintuitive about the field of education. It makes me think of optical illusions, such as the one way where steps are going up AND they are going down.  

The problems in education are hidden in plain sight. They are the theories and methods endorsed by our Education Establishment. If you examine these theories and methods one by one, you find a surprising consistency: all are more destructive than they are helpful.

The breakthrough for me was reading theory. Ever since 1931, the Education Establishment pushed Whole Word (or sight-words) as a way to learn reading. It doesn’t work; it cannot work. But they keep pushing it. Freeze that frame. Everything you need to understand education is right there.

 Reading is the paradigm. But the same pattern replicates itself over and over. Each new method is much praised and massively promoted; we are supposed to accept it as a panacea. A decade or two later the stats get worse. We look closely at this thing and we realize that it’s not working. But the Education Establishment doubles down.

You probably remember the famous drawing from Gulliver’s Travels: a huge man held down by dozens of tiny, almost invisible strands. Public schools are something like that. Kids don’t learn to read as well as they should. They can’t do arithmetic as well as they need to. They don’t learn basic knowledge as well as they could. They are encouraged to guess and approximate....There’s an across-the-board attack on every aspect of the kid’s education and every aspect of the kid’s character.

On an optimistic note: I believe all these ideas were systematically inserted into the schools, and they can be systematically withdrawn from the schools. I suspect you could improve quality by 10% and cut costs by 10% almost without lifting a finger. You would just have to stop using all the bad ideas. 

If we try to decide motive, we will get lost in political discussions. I know people who say it’s a far-left plot, while others say it’s a far-right plot. A documentary called “Zeitgeist” maintains its neither the left or the right, just ruthless SOB’s at the top  who want everybody else to be stupid.

Well, Valerie, my purpose is to urge you to throw this analysis out there, provoke the public, and challenge the elite educators. Inquire innocently as to why they can’t do a better job. 

The main thing is to open up the debate. Get people talking.

What I fear is not just the terrible stats but a terrible paralysis. I don’t see the Chamber of Commerce, Mission: Readiness, the media, the elite universities doing anything. I think the Education Establishment has deliberately battered everybody into passivity. People hear the same arguments over and over for decades, but nothing changes. Superman does not show up. Ordinary citizens feel helpless. If the official leaders can’t do anything, what can parents do? 

The only hope is that the grown-ups get more involved. The smart, practical people (and I think you’re one of those) can start pushing the envelope, start agitating, start pointing out that the emperors of education are not only naked but abusing children.

Okay, that’s my explanation. If you want details for any aspect of it, please tell me. 

Bruce Price


PS: For details, see this short discussion of individual methods: “Top 10 Worst Ideas in Education.”  LINK 

NB: Valerie Strauss blogs on the Washington Post as The Answer Sheet. I originally created this as a letter to her, but she didn't answer so please pass it along.  



A band director in Texas wrote to me with a complaint that was evidently a part of his daily life: “Too many administrators and school boards will ONLY hear arguments for music education that come back to ‘It improves test scores in Subjects X and Y.’  When we constantly frame a discipline exclusively in terms of what it provides to OTHER disciplines, we ignore its intrinsic value.”

Interesting point. It got me thinking. Below is my letter back to him. This discussion, with thousands of variations, is probably occurring all over the country. We are trying to answer the question, why study music?  By the same token, why study ANYTHING? I’ll bet there are people in our Education Establishment who will be pushing that very agenda in the near future. So we have to be able to answer these questions. My answer:


“...I’m all in favor of kids doing lots of different things. End of story. I would like them to play as many sports as possible, I would like them to take shop and learn how to fix an engine, I would like them to study computers, I would like them to study all the academic subjects. I would try to create, even among ordinary kids, Renaissance Minds to whatever degree it’s possible. So they should know music.

"Additionally, I would like children to have as many different ways to be successful as possible. So we have chess clubs and drama classes and anything else you can do. The world is multicultural, multi-disciplinarian, not to mention politically correct. There may be kids good at music and little else. So we need music.

"There is an entirely separate thing, which might be called discipline/technique/practice/precision. My sense is that public schools are often in the position of attacking character, in the old-fashioned sense. Kids can be lazy, they can be late, they can be half-ass about everything. But you can’t be half-ass when you’re playing music. You keep the beat and play the tune or you don’t. In this same vein, kids should learn cursive, draftsmanship, and realistic art. I was just talking to someone 3 days ago about how all children should have to draw an apple with a #2 pencil, totally realistic. That’s quite comparable to playing some simple song well on the piano. Precision. Everything they do in the public schools seems to be in pursuit of imprecision.

"Also, in my ideal school, music would be complementary to history, science, psychology, religion, et al. In other words, music teaches many other things. People should know who Beethoven is. They should know what a symphony is. It’s much better to learn about Beethoven in a music class where the music can be played in a natural way. For my money this is not the same as art appreciation, although I’m all in favor of that. There is just a lot of general knowledge that kids should know; and any way the school can be clever about teaching that knowledge is a good thing.

 "So as I look over this, I see I’m making an argument, at every junction in a child’s life, for learning SOMETHING rather than nothing. Ever since the time of John Dewey, the elite educators have at every junction made a case for NOTHING rather than something. That is why I have such contempt for them.

"... I have a fairly bleak sense of what is happening to education. So if academic content, knowledge, facts, and skills can be taught, in any way possible, to even the smallest degree, that’s something to celebrate.”


The Efficient Path to Education Reform

We hear the same debates over and over, year after year, leading nowhere. Why is there so little progress?It almost seems that no one analyzing the public schools has grasped the essential problem. 

Personally, I'm sure that super-brain Bill Gates doesn't grasp the problem; and if not he, then who? (Gates and just about everybody else seems to think there's some magical administrative, bureaucratic, or economic fix. I suspect this thinking is wishful.)

And yet the world of Bill Gates is where we find the best metaphor for our malaise. That metaphor is software. The biggest computer, with no matter how many exabytes of RAM, is only as good as the operating system. Yes, the glorious, subtle, almost godlike kernel. If it's cleverly crafted, then all

systems are golden.

If the OS, on the other hand, is creaky, buggy, and otherwise all too human, you can hardly send an e-mail or navigate around a website.

The richest country in the world spends more billions than anyone else but we end up 20th in one subject, 25th in the next, 30th in another. Obviously, the Public Schools OS is a monster of inefficiency.


Recent National Assessment of Educational Progress scores are terrifying. NAEP scores reveal that only one-third of fourth graders (and as well eighth-graders) read at a proficient level. Translation: two-thirds of America's children are to some degree illiterate. And the same scores apply in mathematics. Science, too. Everything. We're dumb and getting dumber.

Even if you work for the world's sleaziest PR firm, you cannot spin these stats. We have a school system that seems determined (even programmed) to do a bad job. "Educators" who hate "education" -- that's a hard paradox to wrap one's mind around.

The obvious first step is to fire these incompetents. Even so, we are no closer to explaining the counter-intuitive failure of the Public Schools OS.

At this point, I am going to jump to a startling conclusion, one you may want to doubt. But it really does explain a lot. 

Here's the conclusion: the Public Schools OS is not intended to work if by "work" you mean produce educated children.

Remember that famous lyric, "You say potato, I say potahto... let's call the whole thing off"? When John Dewey and his progressive educators say "education," they don't mean what parents mean. Hardly. They mean social engineering; they mean what Lenin, Castro, Chavez, and Bill Ayers mean by "education." These ideologues do not care if children learn to read and write at a high-level or can point to Japan on a map. By "education" they mean indoctrination that produces think-alike children. If that fries the cognitive circuits, no problem. Maybe it's a plus.

In short, the Public Schools OS is malware. It's a network, a matrix, of elaborately confected sophistries that invariably do the opposite of what is claimed. That's because the actual goal is a non-educational one.

Consider reading. Whole Word (i.e. sight-word reading instruction) is a medley of methods that cunningly prevent children from becoming fluent readers. So we have 50,000,000 functional illiterates.

Math? Reform Math is a cluster of techniques that prevent children from mastering much math. That's why we don't have enough scientists and engineers.

Knowledge? Constructivism says that children will discover the facts they need. They won't! Suppose I'm trying to teach you to play the piano, speak French, or climb mountains. Would it make sense to leave you, a smart adult, to discover the field's essential knowledge by yourself? That's what our schools do.

 Learning in general? Self-esteem prevents asking very much of students. Let them stay dumb and empty as long as they feel good about themselves.  All by itself self-esteem will destroy a school system.

But self-esteem is only one of a dozen ingenious worms and Trojan horses. Other lethal viruses include multiculturalism, prior knowledge, diverse learning styles, cooperative learning, relevance, no memorization, authentic assessments, et al.

Look closely and you will find that each component (or sub-routine) of the Public Schools OS is a clunker by design. That's from an educational point of view. As social engineering, they are all works of sublime genius!

In short, Public Schools OS is like Stuxnet, the clever software juggernaut used by Israel against Iran. So brilliant. And if you're cynical and perhaps politically extreme, you may think it's clever what the Education Establishment has done to this country. I think it's sabotage, and unforgivable.

We ought to reboot with a new OS. Watch the country soar. Watch education budgets plunge. Right now John Dewey's Club For Hackers has hijacked the schools. That's the "essential problem."


Is Your School Really Educating You?

Warning to students: your public school may be shortchanging you.

You’re told that you are receiving a world-class education; you are being prepared for college and career in the 21st century. This might be a big exaggeration. Chances are, you’re hardly being educated at all. You are probably not ready for a real college or a demanding career.

Did you hear of foreigners visting New York where merciless cabbies charge $700 for the ride into Manhattan? Tourists sometimes don’t know the most basic things. They can be easily tricked. Could that be you?  

First order of business, throw away the rose-tinted glasses. Be realistic about how much, or how little, education you have received.  

Start by focusing on what sort of educational experience you have actually had. Identify anomalies and deficiencies. Then you can figure out how to fix them. Here’s a checklist:


1: Can you read fluently and with pleasure? Or is reading something you do poorly, and therefore you try to avoid ever needing to do it? If the latter, then you know you have been cheated of the most basic skill there is. You do have a right to learn to read. 

2: Can you do basic arithmetic with confidence? Can you multiply and divide, using the common algorithms preferred all around the world? If not, you are probably the victim of Reform Math curricula such as Connected Math, TERC, Everyday Math, and similar.

3: With regard to basic facts and knowledge, what information do you actually know? Can you point to Japan on a map? How many degrees in a circle? Why is George Washington famous? What’s a moon? 

4: Do your teachers actually teach? Or do they expect you to find or otherwise invent information for yourself? Why is the teacher there, in that case? Is there a realistic chance that you can reinvent the wheel, rediscover the rules of math, and formulate anew the facts and lessons of history, science, etc.?

5:  Is every activity a group activity? Are you always forced to sit at a table with 4 or 5 people? Are you supposed to learn how to do something by doing it simultaneously with other people? Do you expect to be driving a car with a group, getting married with a group, going to your first job interviews with a group? Why are you being made to work with a group--did you ever wonder this? Isn’t the insulting message that you can’t be expected to complete jobs by yourself?

6: Did you hear lots of talk about Prior Knowledge, as if what you learned  years ago is all that matters? Did your classes always seem to be mired in the past? Did you ever wonder, well, let’s get on with it, I’d like to learn something new? “Prior knowledge” can be a euphemism for running in place, which is the very oppposite of what a school should be doing. 

7: Do your teachers ask about your Learning Style? Are you being encouraged to think that you are a right-brain learner, or left-brain learner, or a visual learner, or an auditory learner, or a kinetic learner, or some other kind of learner that makes you different from other people?

(In the real world are people going to say, “You’re a visual learner? I guess I have to draw a picture for you? Haha!” Whether in a factory, on the battlefield, at an executive meeting, or family gathering, are other people supposed to cater to your alleged lopsidedness? Not likely. And let’s say for the sake of discussion you are a visual learner. That’s all the more reason why teachers should try to develop the other, non-visual parts of you.)

8: Are you constantly praised for no good reason? Self-esteem demands that students be given constant praise. But you know in your own mind that you don’t deserve the praise? Did you ever have a thought: who’s conning whom here? I’m not doing a damn thing and my teachers are telling me how wonderful I am.

9. Is there constant chatter about Critical Thinking? But there’s almost no concern with logic, rhetoric, reason, deduction, or even accuracy? If anything, didn’t you find that your school encourages you to guess, to approximate, to accept fuzzy answers and indeed fuzzy thinking?


Summing up, doesn’t it almost seem as if your education is a guided tour to nowhere? You are taken all over the countryside but somehow ended back near where you started. 

You got older. Your tastes in clothes and music changed. You watched several thousand hours of television. But what more did you learn during all that time?

It’s almost as if you were deliberately prevented from being educated. In what ways are you now more fully prepared to earn a living, to perform a specific job, or to take responsibility? Truth is, public schools in the United States typically give a shallow, almost trivial education. If you want your education to be deep and substantial, you are going to have to make it happen yourself. 

For starters, you have to redefine education as something positive, wonderful, and worth working for. There is such hostility, or at least indifference, toward education. The schools themselves hardly seem to believe in what it is they are ostensibly doing.

For the future, it’s a matter of stepping up your game. Take charge of your own education. In not that many years, you will be a voter, an employee, a parent, maybe a business owner or a community leader. The more you know, the more you can help your society.

Try to read a newspaper every day, a magazine cover-to-cover every week, and a book every month. Identify areas where you don’t know much and reflect on how you can most quickly fill that void. There’s a website, or maybe 10 of them, on every subject. Online education is becoming a real force in education reform. Whatever you want to know is out there, readily available.

But don’t think of this as work. That may be a prejudice that your schools have given you. Think of it as fun. The brain likes to learn new stuff. The brain likes to be engaged. It’s wired that way. Humans are a learning animal. They want the fireworks of new knowledge.

That’s the secret at every level, for each teacher and every student. Celebrate learning. Think of education as something you chase after, not something you try to avoid. Demand more from your schools, and from yourself. 


Here's a quick test 
(100 easy questions) 
that will reveal how much you know: THE QUIZZ


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