There are many things that one can look at in our society and see just how idiotic things are and yet, most do nothing to change it. One specific area of idiocy is the way educational leaders leap without looking into the pits of “educational reform” that do more harm than good.
Specifically–in Michigan–and even more specifically–the demise of the Detroit Public School system–is the result of educational idiocy–the origins of which are yet being determined. The real problem however is in the fact that those in position of authority and supposed leadership have allowed this demise to occur simply because they did not think about the ramifications of the “so-called research” that ignited the changes in how we do education.
Some years ago–approximately twenty years or so–someone had the bright idea that students in Detroit, did not need to be taught grammar skills and as such–teaching grammar was forbidden and rather rigidly enforced. Since I learned grammar the way that works–constant repetition (skill and drill)–I could not understand why anyone in their right mind would ever think that the “whole language theory” would benefit children who were “not raised in environments using Standard English.” For those students across the country who were living in environments where Standard English was the rule of the day and not the exception–whole language teaching might have worked. Unfortunately, since college professors all over the land and the business industry have great concerns about college students and employees not knowing how to write, it would appear that “whole language” learning was a bust.
But now we have “data-driven” theories which subject students to testing to the degree of overkill and then teachers are being subjected to unfair evaluations when the test scores do not improve. How is a teacher supposed to clear the way for improvement in learning (anything) if they never have time to “teach” because they only have time to “test” what has not been taught? The whole process of testing, testing, and never teaching, is total idiocy! No one has ever learned anything by being constantly tested and never taught. Now, I believe Einstein said, “to keep doing things the same way, expecting a different outcome is insanity.”
What I don’t understand is why–those in positions to make decisions--educational leaders have failed to understand that they did not need to change what worked. What worked? Repetition–this is how most human beings learn–constant repetition and the addition of new concepts introduced–when learning is evidenced of what had been introduced. To expect students to learn new concepts, when they did not understand what had already been taught, is ludicrous–total idiocy!
We have a number of people who are responsible for the demise of education in the Detroit Public School system: The State Superintendents who did not exercise judicious oversight of what was being represented as “educational reform” simply because of those who developed the research (not everyone with a degree is a credible source of information); and a systematic problem of not having a credible system in place to determine that those teaching–knew what they were teaching; the school board members who only wanted a position on the school board as a step forward in their political ambitions and who had no clue as to how to have oversight of what the superintendents were doing, they hired; the negligible parents who didn’t care enough to know anything about who they electing and positioning politicians to govern the educational process; and refuse to stay actively involved in their child’s education; the students who come because “socializing” is their priority, not learning–-but if their parents had cared enough to teach them how to do school, before they ever started school, this would not be a problem; and last, but not least–the teachers–who did not and do not think that continuous education is important and so they mis-teach information they did not understand and now we have a colossal mess on our hands with people who did not learn what they should have and they keep perpetuating a vicious cycle of illiteracy and idiocy.
How do we climb out of this pit of idiocy? Someone has to have enough nerve to bring the problem to the forefront and confront the idiots in-charge to make changes in how we educate children that will make a difference. Since those in positions of authority have really screwed it up–they should all be fired! In the case of anyone who chooses to accept “new research” as the catalyst that will bring about miracles; they really need to look at who’s behind the research and understand their purpose or intent. I believe there has been a conspiracy–to maintain a manual labor force with the students of Detroit–which is why–the idiocy has been allowed to blossom to the nuclear mess we now have.
If people are incapable of critical analysis of anything before forcing others to join the melee, they should be lined up and made to suffer penance for the damage they have inflicted upon others. Where do we start in Detroit? Perhaps with a white male, Mike Lamb who decided that Detroit students did not need to be taught grammar (I’m sure his own children were raised in an environment using Standard English). Where do we stop? Perhaps with Karen Ridgeway and those who hired her since she thinks testing is the only way to get children to learn. And then there are all of those who fit in the middle–some I know by name, some I do not. They know who they are and they should be ashamed of themselves for perpetuating such idiocy in the guise of a quality education. Now that the cover has been pulled off and the idiocy exposed, what are you (especially if you live in Michigan) going to do about it?
I have addressed this issue more extensively in my book, If Parents Cared Enough, Johnny and Juaneshia Could Read (available on amazon.com). My intent is not just to make money or to point fingers at those who caused the problems, but to ignite real change–that will benefit all children. Get involved and change the landscape of idiocy so all children will have a quality education!