Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Why is Public Education Failing?

Children are coming out of school dumb because they aren't taught academics. They have, instead, become experiments in behavior modification

It's a fact. Most of today's school children can barely read or write. They can't perform math problems without a calculator. They barely know who the Founding Fathers were and know even less of their achievements. Most can't tell you the name of the President of the United States. It's pure and simple; today's children aren't coming out of school with an academic education.

Colleges know it. They have to set up remedial courses for incoming freshmen just to prepare them for classes. Parents know it. Their children grow dumber everyday. The politicians say they know it. They hold hearings to grill education "experts," and they hold high-powered education "summits" to debate and discuss the "problem." And they keep coming up with more federal programs and dictate more standards and spend more taxpayer dollars to fix the problem. But the problem continues to explode. Why?

Frankly, any parent can find the answer simply by looking through their child's textbooks or taking a close look at the classroom structures that their children are forced to endure. That's just what I'm going to do for you and when I'm through, see if you still wonder why there is an education crisis. And ask yourselves why all the politicians, with huge staffs to do their bidding, can't seem to find the problem.

Restructuring the Classroom

It comes under many names; block scheduling, group learning, cooperative learning. It's all part of a radical change in the way children are handled in the classroom. Children are paired with others for group grades. Individual achievement is de-emphasized. Under block scheduling a number of subjects are tied together in one long class. For example, math, science, health and physical education have been combined in one school. Children are supposed to learn these skills by working on class projects, such as launching an imaginary rocket to the Moon.

Presumably when faced with various problems in building their rocket, students will seek out the necessary information. They'll need math to calculate the projectory, science to find where the Moon is and health to know what to feed the astronauts. Obviously health is for astronaut training. Children are not instructed on how to do the math calculations or how to find the information they need. They are to find it for themselves. And children who can't keep up are to be helped along by other children in their group. It's called "kids helping kids." That's why teachers are now called "facilitators."

"Cooperative learning" is nothing more than a classroom-management technique that provides a convenient hiding place for bad teachers and under-achieving students. The student who doesn't care to learn, or has failed to grasp a concept, allows the rest of the group to do the work and yet gets the same grade.

What students coming out of such classes cannot do is perform math problems, recite multiplication tables, conjugate a verb or structure a sentence. Random facts picked up in the rush to complete a project do not supply the proper base or structure to understand a subject.


Perhaps the most bizarre of all of the school restructuring programs is mathematics. Math is an exact science, loaded with absolutes. There can be no way to question that certain numbers add up to specific totals. Geometric statements and reasons must lead to absolute conclusions. Instead, today we get "fuzzy" Math. Of course they don't call it that.

As ED Watch explains, "Fuzzy" math's names are Everyday Math, Connected Math, Integrated Math, Math Expressions, Constructive Math, NCTM Math, Standards-based Math, Chicago Math, and Investigations, to name a few. Fuzzy Math means students won't master math: addition, subtraction, multiplications and division. Instead, Fuzzy Math teaches students to "appreciate" math, but they can't solve the problems. Instead, they are to come up with their own ideas about how to compute. Here's how nuts it can get. A parent wrote the following letter to explain the everyday horrors of "Everyday Math."
Everyday Math was being used in our school district. My son brought home a multiplication worksheet on estimating. He had 'estimated' that 9x9=81, and the teacher marked it wrong. I met with her and defended my child's answer. The teacher opened her book and read to me that the purpose of the exercise was not to get the right answer, but was to teach the kids to estimate. The correct answer was 100: kids were to round each 9 up to a 10. (The teacher did not seem to know that 81 was the product, as her answer book did not state the same.)

Children are not taught to memorize multiplication tables. Those who promote this concept believe that memorization is bad. Instead, children, they say, should be taught to "discover" multiplication. Students, they say, learn to multiply over several years by "thinking about math."

Social, political, multicultural and especially environmental issues are rampant in the new math programs and textbooks. One such math text is blatant. Dispersed throughout the eighth grade textbooks are short, half-page blocks of text under the heading "SAVE PLANET EARTH." One of the sections describes the benefits of recycling aluminum cans and tells students, "how you can help."

In many of these textbooks there is literally no math. Instead there are lessons asking children to list "threats to animals," including destruction of habitat, poisons and hunting. The book contains short lessons in multiculturalism under the recurring heading "Cultural Kaleidoscope." These things are simply political propaganda and are there for one purpose - behavior modification. It's not Math. Parents are now paying outside tutors to teach their children real Math - after they have been forced to sit in classrooms for eight hours a day being force-fed someone's political agenda.

English, Reading and Literature

Conjugate a verb? Diagram a sentence? Learn to spell? This is language class. We have more relevant things to learn. In a seventh grade language arts class in Prince William County, Virginia, children are given a test entitled, "What makes you good friendship material." Children are to circle "yes," "no" or "maybe" to questions like, "Am I someone who is trusting of others; likes to have close personal friends; is able to influence others; enjoys sharing with others; can keep a secret? If you answered yes to most of these then you are really good friendship material. If not, you need to work on yourself."

One book being used in classes is called The Book of Questions. Designed around situation ethics, the authors openly admit that "this book is designed to challenge attitudes, values and beliefs." Again behavior modification - not academics - is the root of this exercise. Here are a couple of sample questions from the book of Questions:

(1) On an airplane you are talking pleasantly to a stranger of average appearance. Unexpectedly, the person offers you $10,000 for one night of sex. Knowing that there is no danger and that payment is certain, would you accept the offer?

(2) A cave-in occurs while you and a stranger are in a concrete room deep in a mineshaft. Before the phone goes dead, you learn that the entire mine is sealed off and the air hole being drilled will not reach you for 30 hours. If you both take sleeping pills from the medicine chest, the oxygen will last for only 20 hours. Both of you can't survive; alone one of you might. After you both realize this, the stranger takes several sleeping pills and says it's in God's hands and falls asleep. You have a pistol; what do you do?

And so it goes, in Geography where, instead of looking for Colorado on a map, children are instructed to make a "Me" map to psychologically profile the children. In Civics, instead of learning how the government runs and of the great checks and balances that the Founding Fathers installed to protect our liberties, children are taught how to be "global citizens" under the UN's Declaration on Human Rights." In Health classes children are taught about Mother Earth - Gaia - with lessons on the Sierra Club as heroes.

Children are coming out of school dumb because they aren't taught academics. They have, instead, become experiments in behavior modification to prepare them to be citizens of a global village. The fault lies with the U.S. Congress, which now dictates curriculum and perpetuates the Department of Education, from which all of these evils flow.


Britain too now has ghetto schools

Airport-style metal detectors could soon be fitted in hundreds of secondary schools in an effort to deter pupils from carrying knives. Details of the initiative emerged as Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, admitted she would feel unsafe walking alone in London at night. Police are investigating a series of stabbings this month and Gordon Brown has expressed his alarm about "out of control" gangs of teenagers on the streets. More than three-quarters of knife crime is committed by 12- to 20-year-olds. The metal detector plan will be a key element in a new government action plan on violent crime next month.

Although the initiative carries disturbing echoes of some US cities, where high-school pupils are routinely scanned for weapons, head teachers said it could help to tackle violence in high-crime areas.

Ms Smith said schools could "build on" schemes by the British Transport Police to install metal detectors in busy railway stations. "I think it is a good idea if we look at the ways in which, in some schools, it might be appropriate to use search arches," she told BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show. "I want young people to know it doesn't make them safer to carry a knife - it actually makes them more likely to be a victim." It is understood the use of metal detectors will be encouraged in schools in cities worst affected by knife crime, such as London, Birmingham and Liverpool.

John Dunford, general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association, said: "There are schools serving areas where knife crime is high in the community and it is right these schools take measures to protect pupils." Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrats' home affairs spokesman, said: "It is sad school scanners are necessary to stop a small minority of young people from carrying knives. But the number of high-profile stabbings at or outside schools in hot-spot areas for gangs means this is a sensible precaution."

Ms Smith also confirmed the Government was looking at whether alcohol was being sold too cheaply by supermarkets following the murder of Gary Newlove, the Warrington man killed by a group of drunken teenagers. "I think we need to look at whether or not both pricing and promotion is having an impact," she said.

Asked if she would feel safe walking in a deprived area such as Hackney at midnight, Ms Smith said: "Well, no, but I don't think I'd ever have done. You know, I would never have done that at any point of my life." She was also asked whether she would feel at risk in a more affluent district such as Chelsea. She replied: "Well, I wouldn't walk around at midnight and I'm fortunate that I don't have to do that."

David Davis, the shadow Home Secretary, said: "This is an astonishing admission. It is shameful you can walk the streets of New York, Tokyo, Paris and Berlin safely at night, but not the streets of London."

Next month's violent crime action plan is expected to set out moves to increase the numbers of searches by police of suspected troublemakers and make more use of CCTV to catch them on tape.

Metal detectors are still relatively rare and hugely controversial in US schools, but they have been used, particularly in rougher inner-city neighbourhoods, for at least 20 years with some success. Reliable statistics are hard to gather, but studies down the years suggest that about 10 per cent of US schools use metal detectors - either the door-frame style commonly found in courts and other sensitive public buildings, or hand-held ones that school officials are able to use at their own discretion. The proportion is much higher in urban areas - particularly Chicago, which installed detectors in every middle and high school a few years ago.

Some detectors were installed in response to the 1999 Columbine High School shootings and other widely publicised killings. But for the most part schools decide the issue on their own criteria. A 1992 study in Oklahoma suggested metal detectors had helped cut the number of weapons being brought into schools by more than half, and helped cut violent crimes by about 35 per cent.


German Homeschooling Family Flees to England After Mayor Attempts to Seize Children

A German family has fled to safe haven in the United Kingdom after the mayor of their town attempted to have their children seized and put into state custody for the crime of homeschooling according to WorldNetDaily (WND). WND reports that officials with Netzwerk-Bildungsfreiheit, a German homeschooling advocacy group, said that Klaus and Kathrin Landahl and their five children, "are in safety in England. They reached Dover on Saturday midnight."

The Landahl family was preparing to leave the country and had deregistered themselves as German citizens, when the Mayor of Altensteig filed a lawsuit with the local family court demanding it intervene and take custody away from the Landahls. A spokesman for the advocacy group told WND, "As the mayor knows that the family wants to leave Germany and that they have deregistered, his attempt is that the family court takes custody away in a so-called . (preliminary warrant) which means that custody can be taken away without a hearing [for] the parents."

He added also that in the Landahl case, not only were the authorities seeking to usurp the parents' right to decide their children's education, but also their right "to determine the place of abode," an action more in line with Soviet-era East Germany. The Landahls were in the process of moving into a rented apartment abroad when the court served them with a legal notice of the lawsuit.

Joel Thornton, President of the International Human Rights Group, which advocate for homeschoolers in Germany, told that the report from Netzwerk-Bildungsfreiheit is troubling since, "German government officials are willing to violate their own procedures to take the custody of children from the parents for nothing more than homeschooling. Were there criminal activity going on that was being avoided it would be understandable, however the system would probably not be so quick to act."

It is outrageous that children would be separated from their parents over this issue. The German courts need to move to protect the well being of their families from such severe government action," Thornton said. "Every parent in the world, not just homeschool parents, should be outraged that their rights are trampled by the Mayor of this town", he said. "Parents should express their outrage to the Mayor by email and let him know that this is not acceptable behavior in civilized countries."

The local court has not issued a final ruling in the case, but ever since Germany's Supreme Court ruled in favour of the state against homeschooling last fall, most families have found safety to exist in flight. WND reports that this week a Bavarian man identifying himself as "Mathew" sent this message: "This morning we received a call from the German ministry of education. Tomorrow (Wednesday) morning they will send the police to our home and take Josia (6), Lou Ann (10) and Aileen (13) by force, to the public school."

According to "Matthew," the government was emboldened by the high court's decision, and since then it has increased substantially its persecution of homeschooling families. "If we do not comply the government will ultimately revoke our rights as parents and take custody of our children," he said.

Another family said they were escaping Germany after their lawyer concluded that "only jail and loss of custody are left" as penalties from the government. "We are leaving Germany for now, and our children and my husband Tilman have already given up their permanent residence in Germany," said a note from Dagmar Neubronner. "I will maintain my permanent residence in Bremen because I am the bearer of our small publishing house." "It is hard to leave everything behind, especially our tomcat (a neighbor will take care of him), our relatives and friends and choirs and music ensembles and sports teams, our house and garden - our town and our country."


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Obviously there is one Nazi-era law on Germany's books that our troops missed when going through Germany's code of laws just after World War II in indentifying laws that needed to be repealed.