Being a diplomatic brat I didn’t hit the American educational system until the the tail end of 7th grade when my father was assigned to a border post along the Rio Grande. I had been attending Mexican schools in Mexico City, Mexican private schools as the Mexican government does not provide public schools for non-citizens. I stepped from the beginning of 6th grade where I was doing fairly well at arithmetic, straight into New Math, from which I never recovered. The Mexican school term at that time ran from the first week of January to the first week of November, about six months out of synch with ours.
Later, in the mid ’70s I started attending Long Beach City College on the GI Bill, which I supplemented by working part time as a bilingual teacher’s aide in a 5th grade classroom. I will tell you that bilingual education, based on the erroneous notion that children cannot learn except in their native tongue, is an absolute crock. I was dropped into 1st grade with a single word of Spanish – “No” – and passed with a creditable 88; my siblings all did comparably well. But I was tired of rice and beans seven days a week so I took the job and kept my mouth shut.
I found that, in the first place, the newly arrived Mexican kids were further along in their education (Mexico, at least at that time, taught the 3 Rs straight up) than their American classmates in every subject except English. Second, the Mexican kids had better classroom discipline, in both deportment and academic focus. These advantages were lost relatively quickly for a variety of reasons. As they didn’t need to learn English they tended not to. They had long since mastered the material they were being presented and so were bored out of their skulls. They began to imitate the American kids’ deportment. It was all a huge, tragic waste. Eventually bilingual education was done away with at the insistence of the non-American parents who were furious at seeing their kids set up to fail.
In the mid ’90s I stepped out of my career with no advanced planning, so briefly tried my hand at being a substitute teacher in Pasadena. What a mess! I found that academics and deportment had declined substantially. It wasn’t just that a substitute teacher has less authority, the whole system of discipline had broken down. I learned, in talking to other teachers that forty years before Pasadena schools had been a model for the nation – no more! The 3 Rs were totally passé. In their place the textbook industry was constantly developing and promoting entire new programs of study based on ever changing theoretical novelties, with the result that students had no consistent standard on which to build their knowledge from year to year. Material that in previous generations had been routinely mastered at any given grade level was now thought impossibly advanced at that same grade. The most effective and enthusiastic teachers were leaving the profession because they were being harassed and undermined by other teachers and the school administration.
Even back in the 90’s the primary purpose of education was already understood as the inculcation of self esteem rather than competence, resulting in entire generations of kids full of self admiration with accomplishment. Then came Common Core, “safe sex” how-to manuals and the imposition of gender theory right down to Kindergarten. The latest is to have female impersonators in full drag regalia reading to the little ones. I don’t dare imagine what could be next.
Why? Who benefits? It certainly isn’t the children, and it isn’t the nation the kids will inherit. There are really two answers to this question, in the short term and the long term. Today we will look at the short term.
Teacher’s Unions. Every year it seems that the schools beg for more money so they can do a better job of educating the young; predictably every year the voters approve more bond measures For The Children (TM); predictably every year the education our children receive gets worse and worse. 60 years ago California’s schools were rated first in the nation, today California proudly stands in 47th place when US schools, which once led the world, are now somewhere between 24th and 37th internationally.
Recently James O’Keefe of Project Veritas has turned his gimlet hidden camera on teachers unions. The results are pretty much what you’d expect.
There’s more, of course, over at the Project Veritas site. The Teachers Unions, and all too often the teachers themselves, have no interest nor sense of responsibility in educating your kids, still less the politicians that work hand in glove with them to keep the money flowing.