History NAEP²On the Progressive Path

Paul Richardson 7/11/11

The new results for the history section of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) are out. Proficiency rates of 12% for 12th grade, 17% for 8th grade, and 20% for 4th grade. If you are of the belief that our children must understand history well as a foundation to good citizenship, you are likely greatly distressed by this result which except for minor improvement at 8th grade level is statistically the same result as in the past. A few years ago I read Michael Barone¶s book Hard America, Soft America. I highly recommend it to you. One part of the book related to how some parents, especially the liberal upper middle class were so committed to providing a good education for their children but were unconcerned with the education being received by the masses. This puzzled me at the time as I thought that if they cared about education for their own they should care about quality education for all children. Since then I have come to realize that the progressives are getting just the results they wanted when they planned the takeover of the education system starting in the early years of the twentieth century. John Dewey and his accomplices tirelessly pushed for elimination of the old American Common School approach as too rigorous and inappropriate for the industrial jobs that were transforming America from a rural agrarian, entrepreneurial society to an urban/suburban existence working for ³the boss.´ The Progressives had a clear view of the future they wanted. They desired a country where expertise ruled, their expertise, because they knew better how we should live our lives. Thus, they wanted the general populace to be minimally educated so that they would be easier to sway to what their ³betters´ had determined was the correct path for society to take. Thus, their education approach was to dumb-down curricula and

use slow and ineffective discovery methods to ensure that the masses didn¶t learn enough to question their political leaders. The progressives are inwardly smiling because the results reported by NAEP confirm that their ³grand plan´ is working very successfully. If you are surprised by my assertion it is because the education establishment ³intellectual leaders´ have been successful in packaging their travesty in a camouflage that looks very much like what society would deem appropriate for their education system. They have successfully brainwashed the teachers and administrators in their education school training to believe that they are doing the right things and as well as can be expected with the resources they are given and the quality of the kids they have to teach. They are masters of propaganda. They repeat a mantra that sounds good at first and unless someone takes the time to peek behind the camouflage to view the reality it is assumed that the assertion of education doing as well as it can is true. Besides we are so busy doing important things of our own that we have to depend on the schools to do their job well. We need that time for golf, fantasy football, shopping at the mall for the latest electronic gadget or a new wardrobe, or working two jobs to make ends meet because our own ³great progressive education´ didn¶t prepare us to compete for well paying jobs. As I have pointed out in previous posts, the education establishment is a well-oiled machine whose purpose is to enrich its workers while maintaining the status quo, poor performing system that hasn¶t worked for kids and can¶t work. When I started on my education research mission I had assumed that the current system needed to be reformed, I was wrong; it must be replaced from the foundation up. Polishing this rotten apple only delays the day when our kids are educated to be able to compete with their best educated global peers.

A last word; remember that the system is doing exactly what the progressives who designed it wanted it to do. They want a credulous populace subject to their expertise who aren¶t prepared by their weak education to question what is happening. That is not in line with our founding principles. Our founding principles may not be perfect but they are better than any other system so far tried and need to be preserved. To do that our education system needs to be rebuilt from the ground up.

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