Progressive Education Wrong from the Beginning The Realities

Paul Richardson 2010

The Realities y Constructivist approaches as pushed by Progressives are ineffective because they take too long (students wandering in the wilderness) and they don¶t provide the growing base of subject knowledge required to succeed as grade levels increase. This is why the comparative failure of our students versus their global peers increases as grade level increases. That is, fourth grade pupils are more competitive with their peers that are our 15 year old students with their peers. Progressives muddy the water by doing slanted or myopic research studies that show that their approaches work. And to a point they do, just not nearly well enough to allow our kids to compete with their global peers. Our (progressive) car in the race is a Model T Ford and the competitor nations are driving fast, reliable current model cars. They run circles around us. So yes, the Model T works, just not well enough to allow our kids to compete for the high paying jobs in the global economy. A typical progressive ³advertisement´ for the superiority or their method is the ubiquitous claim that they teach critical thinking skills. But the skill they teach is worthless without knowledge of the subject which they never provide at any level worth talking about. Thus, they say things that sound reasonable and of value but there is no substance behind it as is proven by the huge gap between our kids performance and that of our strongest competitor nations¶ kids. y Educators are trained (brainwashed) in the progressive education doctrine in their education school training. This is extremely consistent across the country with very few exceptions; U of Virginia and Hillsdale College are a couple of lonely examples doing it right. y Education school leadership training is weak (on purpose?) so that the socalled leaders do not have the ability to lead transformative change. ³Go along, get along´ status quo preservation is the best they can do. That is, they are earning at most a quarter of their high salaries. y The bureaucracies tasked to provide leadership and quality control over the uses of education funding from federal and state sources are staffed virtually exclusively by education insiders, that is, those brainwashed in education principles that haven¶t worked and can¶t work to the required high standard. y The favored educator approaches to criticism of our education system¶s failed practices are;

o Ignore the criticism, maybe the complainer(s) will go away. o Pretend to value the criticism and begin a ³study´ of the problem with committees and inputs from ³education experts.´ For educators, only those brainwashed in the party line have input worth listening to. And of course their input supports the harmful status quo. Quotes from The Knowledge Deficit, E.D. Hirsch Jr. The reason for this state of affairs ± tragic for millions of students as well as for the nation ± is that an army of American educators and reading experts are fundamentally wrong in their ideas about education and especially about reading comprehension. The dominant ideas in American education are virtually unchallenged within the educational community. American education expertise (which is not the same as educational expertise in nations that perform better than we do) has a monolithic character in which dissent is stifled. This is because of the history of American education schools«the history of these schools, which are institutions that train almost all of the teachers and administrators . . . is the history of intellectual cloning. o Even if action is taken it is in the form of ³polishing the rotten apple.´ Most often it takes the form of being determined to do the same wrong things that have never worked in the past, but this time do them better. A great example of this is the ³best practices´ idea. In education, best practices mean doing the wrong thing really well. You can begin to see why, even though huge amounts of money have been thrown at the education system over many decades, nothing gets better, except that the pay and benefits of the educators is increased out of all relationship to the results being achieved. o The truth is suppressed within education by ironbound use of political correctness and Group Think methods. If you can¶t openly search for and admit the truth, you will not be able to recognize and solve real

problems. Outsiders recognize the problems very well and perhaps some insiders do too. However, the insiders know that speaking out is not allowed. While education entities are loath to fire a poor performer, they have over and over found the ability to fire a truth teller with no delay or remorse. y The progressive doctrine is most harmful to the ³gap´ students, those who because of the demographic luck of the draw were born minority or have economically poor circumstances and who score at lower levels on achievement tests. They could score much better if taught in a way that works (content rich curricula that builds on previous year¶s knowledge year to year). The Progressives use the untrue excuse that ³those kids can¶t learn´ to justify what they are doing. The more advantaged students tend to overcome the poor schools to a degree through parental or outside tutoring and other help. However, the schools have dumbed down the standards to a degree that the number of even top students who score highly on SAT, for example, has plummeted since the late 1960s. y The education power groups support maintenance of the status quo through large campaign contributions to politicians who will toe the line they set pertaining to education. That line is not positive change but defense of the status quo. y In my research many education leaders told me when I questioned how the kids could be so poorly served, ³You don¶t understand. Education is run to benefit the adults who work here, not the kids.´ In the Fenty/Rhee article in the WSJ article about their experience in trying to reform Washington DC schools they state the same principle.

Coming Segment 3²Conclusions/Action Plan

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