By Jamie Lee
“Education must also train one for quick, resolute and effective thinking. To think incisively and to think for one’s self is very difficult. We are prone to let our mental life become invaded by legions of half-truths, prejudices, and propaganda. At this point, I often wonder whether education is fulfilling its purpose.
A great majority of the so called educated people do not think logically or scientifically. Even the press, the classroom, the platform, and the pulpit in many instances do not give us the objective and unbiased truths. To save man from the morass of propaganda, in my opinion, is one of the chief aims of education.
Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction. The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. But education which stops with efficiency may prove the greatest menace to society.
The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason, but with no morals.”
~ Martin Luther King Jr.
Compared to 40 other modernized countries, the United States currently ranks 17th in literacy, 17th in math, 21st in science out of 40 according to the recent report put out by the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD). The United States has fallen to rank 49th in life expectancy of 120 countries while maintaining the dubious rank of being number one in incarcerations, military spending, childhood obesity, hours of television watched, student debt and the highest national debt any country has ever incurred in history.
These continual poor performance rankings persist despite spending more on education than any other country with the exception of Switzerland, who ranks in the top five in education.
Currently, only 64% of students who begin college graduate within six years. Those who do graduate have collectively amassed over one trillion dollars in long term student debt. It is of no surprise that over 72% of students who have finished college in the past three years have moved back in with their parents. Additionally, young adults between the ages of 18-26 also have the highest unemployment rate in this country putting further strain on middle class families.
The U.S. tops the world list in 2010 in spending $860 Billion dollars on public education which is a 30% increase from the $660.5 Billion spent in 2000. All of this increase has come from the Federal level while in the same period state and local government spending has been relatively flat, between $28-29 Billion per year. So if hundreds of billions has been spent on public education over the past decade by our Federal government then why are schools so desperately in need of more funds and we are seeing staff size being reduced across the country in our public schools?
Much of the blame for the failure in our public schools has been unfairly placed on local staff and educators. What few outside the public school system realize is that more and more of what material the educators can teach and how they must instruct to achieve standardized national test scoring is tied to the schools receiving critical funding each and every year.
School administrators spend copious amounts of time and energies applying for grants and reviewing, comprehending and complying with yearly changes in federal and state codes and regulations while annually having to pink slip staff each Spring not knowing how much funding will be cut the following school year.
Since 2004, federally directed programs like President Bush Jr.’s “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB) and President Obama’s “Race to the Top” (RTTT) have married critical public school funding to school average test score performances. The governments stated goals of these programs was to get a national standardized education performance system in place set to a standard benchmark as well as to develop a one-size-fits all nationalized education system so that if a family relocated to another state the curriculum and testing would be equalized and consistent.
Teachers and administrators across the nation who fall below this federally mandated benchmark and then fail to show significant improvement in their schools annual yearly performance are threatened with the loss of their jobs and reduced school funding. The benchmark set by NCLB was determined by a formula known as Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). By 2010 the national failure rate was over 50% with Florida ranking the worst at 89% and California towards the low end at a 26% failure rate. Principals and teachers were put on notice that if the numbers did not come up to benchmark standard, their jobs could be in jeopardy.
While public media hails each new Presidential educational initiative, over the past few years our public schools are quietly being foisted with a new business global educational “product” called Common Core (CC). Common Core is a subsidiary of Core International, a publicly traded (only on the India Stock Exchange) IT tech company based out of India. Over the past five years CORE International has been the fastest growing company in India with an amazing annualized 52% growth rate in net income.
Very few have any idea how our modern public educational system was born as to who drafted, funded and designed our current education system and what their stated plans and goals were for public education. Many feel that given the amount of money we spend on public schools that we should be producing much higher quality students that are equal to, or superior to, education in other countries. Yet that was never the intention of the original framers of our education system, as you will read below. In fact the system is working exactly as these few men of enormous wealth had planned it all out nearly a century ago.
“In our dreams, people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hands. The present education conventions of intellectual and character education fade from their minds and unhampered by tradition we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive folk. We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into men of learning or philosophers, or men of science. We have not to raise up from them authors, educators, poets or men of letters, great artists, painters, musicians, nor lawyers, doctors, statesmen, politicians, creatures of whom we have ample supply. The task is simple. We will organize children and teach them in a perfect way the things their fathers and mothers are doing in an imperfect way.”
~ First mission statement of the J.D. Rockefeller-endowed General Education Board in 1906 Continue reading The Untold History of Modern U.S. Education; The Founding Fathers →