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Paul Richardson 2010
Conclusions/Action Plan What is to be done if we care about rescuing our kids futures let alone America s competitiveness in the global society? First, we must overcome the belief that changing the system at its foundational level is not required and that incremental changes can solve the problems. As the E.D. Hirsch quote at the beginning of part one points out, the current Progressive dominated education system is evil. Why, because it harms kids and especially poor and minority kids. You cannot overcome evil through negotiations (I have tried). You cannot overcome evil by being reasonable. There is only one way to eliminate the progressive poison from the education system. Sadly, that is through all out war. Now is a good time to reiterate JFK s remarks from the introduction of Part Two. Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.´ We could replace ³nation´ with educator, ³assure survival´ with assure a high quality education to our kids, and the ³success of liberty´ with ensuring the ability of our kids to compete in the global meritocracy. No, I am not calling for taking up arms literally. But I am talking about setting clear goals for the total elimination of the current harmful system and its pseudo scientific underpinnings over time. It would be nice if we could convince the politicians of the danger to our kids with enough force to give them the backbone required to legislate the elimination of the current system, replacing it with a new one (modeled on the very successful American Common School movement that was trashed by the Progressives beginning a hundred years ago). I don t believe that is likely because the Progressives would throw lots of sand in the gears of progress trying to lead the pols off into the weeds. They would call for more study of the problem which is ridiculous. They have consistently failed to meet the needs of our kids and no amount of added time will provide productive approaches from within the insular and inbred education system. They simply don t have the knowledge and objectivity to contribute constructively in solving the problem. Therefore, their inputs are worthless and do not justify wasting time on their machinations.
What needs to be done is known. It needs to be acted on quickly. The Progressives will never agree willingly. If we care about the kids we can t allow compromise because what they do is harmful to kids and none of it must survive. We must remember they have had their way for most of the last century and have done immeasurable harm. They have no credibility and must give way for the right education system to be implemented so that our kids, all of them including the gap kids, can learn to their potential and expect a brighter future. What will be difficult enough but will work is to structure the federal and state money going to education in a way that requires they perform MUCH BETTER QUICKLY. This would automatically cause movement away from the Progressive, content-free, discovery approaches because they take longer and never achieve the high learning levels of the content-rich approaches of the American Common School movement we used in the past and that our much more successful in educating their kids global competitors are using. Money is the lifeblood that feeds the Progressive education machine. The waste of precious resources within the current system is gargantuan. To begin with, we must turn a deaf ear to the claims that will surely come if such an effort is undertaken. That is, the first cries of pain from the educators will be that you are hurting the kids. This will be untrue if the program is designed properly. They have been hurting the kids for decades, but when they do it that is OK. We need to put a stop to their depredations and finally serve the kids as they deserve. The new initiative would be structured such that the only ones to feel pain would be those who didn t start performing better quickly. This would require a change in legislative approach from specifying process to nine decimal places to specifying required results with penalties for not producing those results. This is a much more sensible approach as it allows districts to tailor their approach to the needs on the local level, not the current top-down, central control process that represents a one size fits all approach. Highly beneficial actions getting rid of the disastrously wrong and harmful Standard Operating Procedures 1. Cut the salary budgets of the federal and state education bureaucracies by 10% per year for 5 years, then reassess whether to continue cutting. They
are staffed by those trained (brainwashed) in the progressive process. They have no ability to be objective about the harm being done or ability to pursue quality improvement until they have seen the elephant (faced adversity which forces reality to set in). 2. Increase NAEP testing requirements to be equivalent to the average of the top 5 best performing nations by subject within one year. This is not a justification for a typical multi-year ³research project, just take the latest data available from the global achievement tests and get on with it. The goal can be refined over time but initially a fast approach is required and very reasonable because it will put much higher expectations into the system putting educators on notice that the old ways will not suffice. 3. Require state achievement test scores to increase by 20% per year until they are equivalent to the NAEP levels. We must not let it take longer. It can be done. Educators will have a fit about how can you track something like this with changing standards, etc? You can do it accurately enough to measure positive results. Being 80% right quickly is FAR better than being 95% right in a few years. The over precision of nonsense is one of the well practiced delaying tactics that has prevented improvement for decades. That must end. There are times when a SWAG is more than adequate. Scientific Wild Ass Guess. 4. Require, if fed and state money is desired, that districts cut central administration salary budgets by 10% per year unless the district has improved their achievement test results in math and reading by at least 25% per year until they are within 25% of the goal. Then adjust the yearly requirement to getting half way to the ultimate standard for two years and the rest of the way in the following year. Put in place rules that the schoolbased admin cannot be grown to provide ³homes´ for central admin personnel or reduced to provide money to pay for current central administration activities. Thus, the cuts must impact the people who would be most responsible for improving the quality of education for the kids if they fail to perform. Also, the requirement should hit the superintendent and those administrators who report directly to him/her by 15% per year if the yearly improvements are not achieved. This will give them a strong incentive to perform as change leaders versus their current entrenched defense of the status quo. Some will say that might cause many to leave.
Good, they are not doing anything positive anyway and certainly won¶t be missed from a performance point of view. 5. Require districts to eliminate the Progressive doctrine, ³how-to, no content´ curricula within 2 years or face total loss of fed and state funding until they accomplish the task. These curricula are the foundational sources of the poison being injected into the system and must be eliminated immediately. Replace with content-rich curricula and direct instruction. There will be loud complaints that you can¶t afford or get the books and other materials required in that amount of time. It can be done. You might not end up with shiny new color printed books for a few years but eliminating the current ³pretty´ trash being used on our kids and replacing it with materials on the positive side of the ledger would be a huge and immediate improvement. If you think about it the constructivist or discovery methods so favored by the Progressives are totally contrary to workable approaches to exploring new territories. Throughout history when people have gone into new territories they have used knowledgeable guides to help them successful get where they want to go safely. Shouldn¶t our kids have the benefit of teaching that has the knowledge and experience to lead them on the way to subject understanding instead of the current wandering in the wilderness unstructured Progressive approach. It is so obvious why the direct instruction to high knowledge standards is working so well for our global competitors. 6. Decouple all education school training from teacher and leadership certification requirements. We need to stop the flow of more ³brainwashed in the wrong doctrine´ people into the system, especially since the education schools do not teach subject matter with any rigor. Replace with rigorous subject matter testing every two years to maintain certification both for new and current teachers. Provide alternative certification processes to allow those with real educations in subjects to fill the void created by current educators leaving because they aren¶t motivated or capable of passing the rigorous subject matter tests within a year. If we want (need) to teach our kids to a level that allows them to compete globally, we must not allow educators who can¶t perform well to remain in the system. Most will be able to perform acceptably if they decide to. If not, it is their choice.
You might be thinking, this would be a very contentious process. You are right. But, you need to realize that it is the only way that the current harmful to kids process can be repaired to something that will serve our kids and country well. Ignoring reality has gotten us where we are. Continuing down that path hoping things will get better is a craven fool s approach to the problem. We know from the results of the last many decades that educators are incapable of positive change unless they are forced to do so to keep their jobs. It is easier to continue ignoring the reality but aren t the kids worth some discomfort? Make no mistake though, the Progressives are formidable foes. Previous assaults on their fiefdom have failed because they had more staying power than the attackers, not because their doctrine was right. It will take consistent and strong long-term effort to finally break their disastrous for our kids grip on our educational system. Remember that any delay in action allows millions of kids to continue being harmed. A last comment for our political leaders Your initial reaction to this proposal is that it is unworkable. The first fear is that the teachers unions who are among the biggest campaign contributors will literally kill the candidacy of anyone who supports this approach. You are right to be concerned, but if this is done on a uniform basis across a whole state or country their impact will be greatly diluted. That is, their current fearsome reputation is based on their ability to devote overwhelming resources both monetarily and on the ground to given problem elections. They have been able to do that because the problem elections are localized and rare as is the occurrence of politicians with backbone and desire to do what is right not what will get them reelected. If they had to spread their resources over a much larger spectrum of political races their impact would be tiny in comparison. Thus, everyone doing this approach at the same time provides a safe and sane way to go. That is why it needs to be done on at least a whole state basis and preferably on a whole country basis. If on a whole country basis the requirements must be tighter than those that are part of NCLB. That is, NCLB left weasel room for each state to set their own standard definitions of proficiency which has resulted in a great deal of sandbagging in that area to the detriment of the
kids. That is, a lot of stripes were painted on the pavement and called high hurdles for proficiency levels. That must not be allowed in the future. If the schools were forced to report their true performance in a global context, parents, business groups, the whole community; all but those feeding at the government education trough would be appalled and motivated to see the problem fixed immediately. We all have work to do. We need to start immediately demanding that our kids get a rigorous education not a coddled one.
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