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Why Do You Ask?

From asking questions that require an answer To asking questions that require a conversation.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

What I Would Do To Destroy Public Education

The following is a work of satire. There is no way this could happen...not in America.

TOPIC - What I would do to destroy public education

First - I would have to think long-term: Generationally, at least 25 years would be needed.

I would start by quoting people who were around when the idea of national, free education for all children was necessary in order to build and maintain a democracy. It would have to be put in political terms first.

An educated populace is the basis for a strong democracy/republic/sovereignty.  You know, that kind of thing.  Build a nationalist spirit among the masses.

I would continue to repeat this mantra until most politicians, and all educators believed this is an inalienable right. Then, I could move forward.


Second - I would link education to the economy.

One must be educated in order to be a productive member of society.  By "productive" I imply (or you would infer) that I always mean able to pay taxes to the government coffers.

I would get support from teachers, unions, and businesses. It is a noble idea (as well as practical) that all children will grow up to have good jobs and pay taxes. I might even institute "free or reduced lunches" for the impoverished, and cause a few teachers to begrudge students their need for food. Kind of an "I pay taxes so you get free food, and you have no respect for me and my class" attitude.

I maintain a secret though. As noble and ideal the idea of 100% employment is, it cannot happen (but I'll never let that be known to teachers). I will remember my history; that all societies had its poor, and all societies of the future will have its poor.  I might even consider removing sacred texts from the classroom (calling it division of church and state) so that people would forget religious truths like the following:

  • Deuteronomy 15:11 - "For the poor will never cease to be in the land; therefore I command you, saying, 'You shall freely open your hand to your brother, to your needy and poor in your land.' (Judaism)
  • Mark 14:7 - ""For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you wish you can do good to them..." (Christianity)
  • Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 1376 - "Do not turn away a poor man...even if all you can give is half a date. If you love the poor and bring them near you...God will bring you near Him on the Day of Resurrection." (Islam - implies the poor are always present) Further, the giving of alms to the poor is one of the Five Pillars of Faith.
I would somehow convince people that "charity begins at home," and not for those around us. I might even be able to convince people that I found that saying from the Bible.


Third - Listen to successful people in the country tell their stories of how bad school was for them.

Perhaps I could get Hollywood to make movies about school life. After all, they are the best storytellers. I could get them to create stereotypical caricatures of teachers reading newspapers during class, and principals being mean and not liking kids.

I might be able to take stories of the few teachers who should never have been in the classroom (sex offenders, druggies, and other idiots) and convince the public that this is an everyday occurrence of the 6.2 million teachers in America.  That might be difficult to do, but I'll try anyway. All I need is a willing media.


Fourth - Convince teachers that children are miniature adults, with adult abilities to think and reason.

Now that teachers are adults, their brains have developed to be able to think abstractly.  Time has passed, and they begin to believe they had the same knowledge, information, experiences, and intelligence they have now when they were in school. They will have forgotten that they needed what I will call "boring and dull" in order to think like they can now. After enough "teacher movies" they won't want to look like one of the stereotypical teachers, so I can probably pull this one off.

Teachers will have forgotten that the boring process of building a warehouse of basic knowledge and skills on which they can now build their personal careers was actually the very reason they are able to think like an adult and have the career they enjoy.

[It just occurred to me, that I never touched a computer as a required part of my education; from kindergarten through my B.A.  But when computers did come out, I was somehow able to use one, thanks to the Macintosh 128k OS.  I better hush, I don't want it to get out that I really didn't need instruction in most of what I do now.  But I did need to know how to think, read, write, organize, do basic math, and communicate with others.]

If I can convince teachers that young brains should be treated with adult-like stimulus, that repetition is wrong (even though marketers and commercials know it isn't), then maybe they will forget to teach, teach, and reteach these basic needs. Then when the kids grow up to adulthood they will be lacking the ability think critically because they have no basic understanding of logical thought processes or the fundamental knowledge on which to build their ideas.

Perhaps I can develop or promote a theory that there are actually many kinds of intelligences, and that teachers should experiment with different techniques of presenting material, and yet kids automatically will be able to put the pieces together. Even common sense says this won't work, but with a little luck I might be able to do this too.

I need an expert...or a government report or something...

I will need consultants to influence administrators that kids learn more when they have fun.  Since everyone defines fun differently, I'll need competing philosophies of learning and teaching. This way I could cloud the educational process and create educational marketing wars.

Teachers could be indoctrinated by consultants in conferences designed to sell canned curriculum.

This is too easy.

Now the most difficult part...


Fifth - Wait. Wait until the students who were intentionally untaught become the teachers of a new generation.

Teachers like to learn, but likely did not learn all they could have, and they know it. They know they want a change from the way they were taught, but they are now at the mercy of someone (government perhaps?) to tell them what and how to conduct their classrooms. For, you see, they were not given the tools for critical thinking on their own.

So, when a program is designed, teachers will follow it, thinking it will give them what they didn't get.  Then they can compare themselves with their teachers and conclude they are better...or at least the students like them.

While I wait, I'll be working on some other things.


Sixth - Begin a campaign that declares all children are equal in ability, and maintain this is what is meant in the Declaration of Independence where it is written:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed

Once this idealism takes hold, students who do not have the same mental capacities are then denied the specially trained teachers who could actually help them achieve at higher levels.  I could force these kids to leave smaller classes and enter into crowded classes with greater distractions. I could call it something like "INCLUSION."  (The opposite is exclusion, and no one wants to be equated with thinking students should be excluded.)  Going further, I would determine to equate Inclusion with Equality.  Anyone who disagrees with this methodology is seen as a person who is heartless and seeks to create (or maintain) an unequal education; equating it to the separate but equal doctrine that was unfair.

If that doesn't work...then I'll figure out a way to get the government to deny funds to the school system.  Schools always want money, and will sell their souls for it.

Then, I'll sit back and watch educators fight over this issue. The Special Education teachers will be passionate about their kids, and the regular education teachers will think with their hearts and accept the children into their rooms, even though they are not equipped or qualified to teach them.

Then, once all kids are considered equal, I'd have no reason to employ specially trained, special education teachers. 


Seventh - Create a system under which teachers must disseminate certain information and on which all students will be tested.

I already know that there will be some who cannot meet the standards I set forth, for it is by definition that special education students cannot meet the standards set forth. But that won't matter, because I have already convinced everyone that all students are to be equal, or it's not fair or quality education.  I'll also make it a law that immigrants who do not know the English language must take all test in English, so they can't understand the questions, so they'll fail too.

Once the testing is mandated, I cannot fail at achieving my goal.  Either the students with lower academic and language abilities will fail or the questions will be so simplistic that all can pass. If students pass, then I'll claim that only "certain" students are doing well. I will use a big word like, like, like DISAGGREGATION. I will bring race and gender into the equation. I'll make sure no one really knows how the tests are scored, but the results will be considered valid, and I'll eventually find that either minorities, the economically disadvantaged, or girls are being discriminated against.

I'll have to make sure some of the standards do not have meaning for specific groups of students and that the tests use words and names that are foreign to the students as well.  But that shouldn't be to hard to do.  I'll just make the questions Eurocentric.

When students do not pass the test (and I have created conditions where I know some cannot), I can claim the teachers are not doing their job.


Eighth - Continue to endorse multiple methods of instruction (differentiation) as a means of keeping teachers from mastering the art of teaching.

Just when a teacher is beginning to be effective, change what they are allowed to do in the classroom by claiming the next program is better than what they are doing.  When they get good at that approach, then change it again.  If I do it in the name of helping the student, then no one can oppose me, because it's for the children.

When test scores return after using method #1 and we find that not everyone passes, then we move on to method #2.  When method #2 results come in, and score are too low, we move to method #3.

Remember, I have set up three things already:

  1. Teachers who cannot think critically.
  2. Students who are all measured by the same set of criteria which will be impossible for some to pass.
  3. Citizens who are undereducated and who did not experience success in schools when they were young. More movies might be needed.
With this in place, I can now get to my real goal.


Ninth - Convince the public, all of whom believe they are education/school experts because of mandatory attendance policies, that teachers are to blame for the poor education of the nation's young people.

I am getting close to my goal at this point.  I think this might be my most difficult task.

Somehow, I have to get the public to believe that when a student doesn't do their work, they get little encouragement at home, they do not come to school with the intent to learn, that when they fail the test that is designed for some to fail, that IT IS THE TEACHER'S FAULT.

My earlier steps will have to be really successful for this to work. It is so obvious that people should not be judged on the performance or activities of others, but I really need for this to happen. 

I have to have this kind of math - Student's failure = Teacher's fault


Tenth - Implement a Pay-For-Performance scheme for teachers.

I will reduce base pay, and then offer incentive pay, even though I know Al Gore's former speech writer, Dan Pink, has just spoken about how incentive pay does not work. But that's okay, because teachers don't know about TED anyway.

Knowing that teachers will not work harder for incentive pay, and that I have set up classrooms with students who cannot achieve on arbitrary tests, and I have a culture of teachers who cannot think critically because of my implementations 25 years earlier, I know I can reach my goal.

But just to be safe, maybe I could get one of the richest people in the world, who is a college drop-out, to believe he is an expert in public education (even though he attended private schools). He could then badmouth things of which he didn't experience.

Then, I could easily achieve my goal.  After all, everyone knows that the rich are always right.

Public education will end. I will have created an exponential atmosphere in which the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, and I will use the one system created to keep that from happening.

And since the rich will support my political ambitions, I'll be constantly re-elected and never have to work a day in my life. But more importantly, my kids and grandkids will have less competition in the future.  Because I'll be sending them to private schools and pay for tutoring, and make sure their schools are exempt from testing.  Some of them might even become president one day.

America - what a country!

Posted via email from Murry's World

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