Austerity in Disguise

Public education is being turned into crap on purpose. It’s an austerity measure. People who care about their kids and have the slightest means to do so will find an alternative option to educate them. This is a brilliant way to introduce austerity without using the word or betraying your real purpose.

So if you wonder why first-graders are being taught that there are 50 genders, why good books are removed from the curriculum and substituted with unreadable crap, and why future teachers get less and less training in their disciplines – this is why. The public option becomes so low-quality that you are forced to use your own resources to substitute.

10 thoughts on “Austerity in Disguise

  1. I’d almost be OK with that, since we were never going to put our kids into the school system anyway… but out here in the real world what’s going to happen next is an all-out war on homeschoolers, as individual school districts realize that all those kids they just lost to alternative education… took a bunch of per-student funding out with them.

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  2. They are doing serious harm to public education. One of the most egregious to me is removing programs that support gifted students because they don’t want anybody to “get an unfair advantage.” I don’t know if their intend is to kill public education, but their actions certainly are leading to that. Now the most gifted students who are more likely to outperform will go to private schools.

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    1. Serious harm had already been done to public education in all but the most wealthy school districts. I don’t think it was salvageable, and I’m not sad to see it go in the dustbin. I’m concerned that things like truancy and “child” labor laws will remain long after the system has been completely gutted, though (teachers and infrastructure will be scrapped first: people with fat admin paychecks will cling like swollen ticks long after there’s nothing left to administer): kids in crap school districts are already (and have been for years) better off simply not being in school, and finding other things to do with their time. But there’s nothing there to replace the school system, and laws put in place to protect that system (teacher certification, truancy, child labor, private school regulations, some states’ onerous homeschool requirements…) actively discourage people from looking for alternatives, particularly at lower income levels.

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      1. “I don’t think it was salvageable, and I’m not sad to see it go in the dustbin. ”

        Good free public education can do a lot of good to a country. Private education can be very expensive and out of many people’s reach, so I’m not celebrating this.

        I’m not holding my breath, but I do hope we start steering away from this woke garbage. It’s absolutely useless.

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        1. Good free public education is a wonderful thing. I don’t think we’ve had it in the US in over fifty years. It’s the sort of thing you read about in the Little House books, and Ralph Moody’s memoirs: where even the kids who weren’t that dedicated to learning finished eighth grade in better shape than today’s college freshmen. And at that time, the qualification for becoming a teacher was… a high school diploma, good references, and passing the teacher qualification exam. If you include Gene Stratton-Porter’s accounts, there’s a teacher-training course of a whole… several weeks? Any bright high school grad could leap into a job teaching elementary school with minimal investment. And this system graduated a far more literate and numerate population of kids than anything we have today.

          IMO, it was all downhill sometime after the introduction of mandatory education masters’ degrees as a jobs-protection racket. Teaching in public grade-schools used to be a way-station for bright, enthusiastic young people between graduation and either marriage (for women) or a real profession (for men). You can read contemporary complaints about it from school districts– that you could never keep a good teacher very long, for these reasons, and that people who stayed in the profession did so because they couldn’t hack it doing anything else. But what this meant for the lucky students is that the schools weren’t crammed with burnt-out teachers who were trapped there because they needed ten years to pay off their college loans, and now they’re too old (and not bright enough) to move into any better career. The current system locks in a workforce of mediocre talent and enforces a dull and minimally-effective education on the majority. The occasional great teacher who’s doing his or her best for the sheer love of it… that teacher gets smothered by admin and trashed by colleagues for making everyone else look bad.

          And that’s before you throw in any of the problems of budget, cultural decay, politicized curricula, etc. I don’t see any way to reform that, and current law kills most alternatives in the cradle. It’s time to scrap it, and let people experiment and find out what works for modern life. Some experiments would fail some kids, but it wouldn’t take long to see what works, and failing some kids would be far better than failing nearly all of them, which is what we’re doing now.

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          1. “IMO, it was all downhill sometime after the introduction of mandatory education masters’ degrees as a jobs-protection racket. ”

            YES! Absolutely true! And everything is being done to make these MAs unavoidable. More and more social-justicey garbage courses get piled on, making it next to impossible to prepare teachers to teach their actual discipline during a BA. Then they start teaching and they can’t transmit any of the material because they don’t know it. Kids graduate high school, come to college, but they are still prevented from learning the actual material. It’s a vicious circle and a total scam. I hate, hate, hate mandatory MAs for teachers. We are being pushed to create them at my department, and the whole idea makes me want to vomit.

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            1. My mother taught elementary school for forty years. Some things I learned from her:

              1) Most teachers are completely burnt out in less than five years.
              2) You don’t learn anything in teachers’ college that is relevant to actual teaching– it’s a complete waste of time.
              3) All of the useful things you learn about teaching, you pick up during your student-teaching year, and maybe the occasional serendipitous non-BS teacher inservice training.
              4) A lot of people graduate teachers’ college without even possessing the basic literacy/numeracy they’re supposed to be teaching, because there’s no proficiency exam you have to pass.
              5) Unless you are extremely lucky in your school’s principal, doing an excellent job with your students will make you a pariah among your (mediocre, burnt-out) coworkers.

              Expensive, time-consuming, and unnecessary licensing/education requirements (don’t get me started on teachers’ unions…) in any profession create a subpar workforce by making it difficult for unsuitable people to leave the profession. Once you’ve invested years of your life and piles of money getting in… what do you do, when you find out you’re not any good in the classroom, or you actually hate kids? Most people have too much invested in it to quit…

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              1. We had a really good proficiency test for our future teachers of Spanish. Then we were forced to substitute it with the state-mandated edTPA test. That test is so stupid that you have to game it to pass. So we have learned to game it and now spend a semester teaching students how to do it. I have a colleague who has actually done a research project on how to game it. She hates doing it but what is the alternative? Let everybody fail? The test has nothing to do with the actual knowledge of Spanish.

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              2. “The test has nothing to do with the actual knowledge of Spanish.”

                My husband just had a similar experience with the licensing exams for the medical specialty he just graduated in. The school sponsored them through a weeklong test-taking bootcamp to make sure they passed, because the tests ask a lot of hypothetical questions about possible clinical scenarios… and the “right” answers have almost nothing to do with what the students have been doing/learning in their actual clinicals for the last two years…

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              3. With us it’s even worse. The students have to write an essay about promoting diversity in the classroom but they fail unless they use the exact wording that’s expected in the exact order that’s expected. Obviously, the essays are written in English.

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