In these PEG workshops, “teachers are trained to make sure black kids “feel respected,” and to listen to their complaints without judgment or criticism. Misbehaving kids are handed a “talking stick” and encouraged to emote about the issues underlying their anger. More often than not, they are treated as victims, even if they start fights or threaten teachers.
No longer can teachers in these programs deal swiftly with a disruptive child by removing him from class. Conflicts take days, even weeks to resolve as schools coordinate talking circles around the schedules of teachers, principals, counselors, parents and even campus police — all of whom must take time out and meet to deal ever-so-delicately with a single problem student.
And that doesn’t include the in-class circles also required under the restorative approach. Teachers are trained never to snap at a mouthy student interrupting a lesson but rather to gather students in a circle to share their feelings about the problem. Even if such pow-wows diffuse conflicts, they take an inordinate amount of time away from academic instruction. They also give troublemakers incentive to continue causing trouble [which gives them the attention and street-cred they crave].
Instead of being kicked out of school or suffering other serious punishment, even repeat offenders can negotiate the consequences for their bad behavior, which usually involve paper-writing and “dialogue sessions.” RJ (restorative justice) can encourage misbehavior by lavishing attention on students for committing infractions,” warns Paul Bruno, who participated in talking circles while teaching middle school in Oakland and South-Central Los Angeles. In fact, he added in a Scholastic.com blog, “the circles may unwittingly allow already assertive students to leverage their social dominance even further inside the classroom.”
Restorative justice activists argue the program combats bias that contributes to disproportionate discipline, suspensions, drop-outs and the “school-to-prison pipeline.” But all too often, it merely provides rowdy students an excuse for continued bad behavior.
New York public schools may get their suspension numbers “right” under the new racially correct discipline standards. But their enrollment numbers will likely suffer in the process, as more students — and teachers — transfer to safer private or charter schools. In a misguided effort to be “fair” to a few, politicians are hurting the education of the many. Don’t believe it? Read on.
According to the Huffington Post, citing U.S. Census Bureau data, “New York spent $19,076 per student in the 2011 fiscal year, as compared to the national average of $10,560.” In 90 of the city’s public schools, Families for Excellent Schools found that not a single African-American or Hispanic student received a passing grade on state tests! If there were a correlation between spending and achievement, it ought to show in grade and graduation performance and state test scores, but it doesn’t.
A Heritage Foundation study concludes: “Continued spending increases (on public education) have not corresponded with equal improvement in American educational performance. Long-term National Assessment of Education Progress reading scale scores and high school graduation rates show that the performance of [public-school educated] American students has not improved dramatically in recent decades even though education spending has soared.” [How “fair” is that to the children?]
This approach, of course, is right out of the PLDC playbook – deny, obfuscate, lie with statistics, lead with your feelings, ignore reality and lie, lie, lie until you get more loyal voters who, with clouded judgement, are addicted to your freebies – in this case free child-sitting, free breakfast and lunch (sometimes dinner, too), free transportation, free school supplies, free entertainment from teachers and staff and free stress-relieving, cage-fighting lessons using live opponents – teachers.
The report cards children receive – that all children receive – are an evaluation of the quality of their home environment as well as their performance in the classroom. Students who have behavioral issues are reflecting their upbringing and are raising the red-flag of failure for their family. So, in one respect the PLDC is right – these children should not be held solely responsible for their behavior. It is their family that is principally responsible and must be held accountable for their children’s’ behavior.
Any successful intervention for these children must be conducted in the home, must include the parents, siblings and extended family and must be conducted by people who are trained in social work – not teachers who are not trained or equipped to solve these problems that must be conducted at the first sign of trouble.
In many circumstances, social services do not get involved at the family level until a child is hospitalized or killed as a result of a home environment that has been dysfunctional for years. These situations can be prevented by action when the red-flags first go up – which they do as early as in pre-school.
But, in order to be successful, the state must be ready and willing to remove the child from the abusive environment at the outset. Without this possibility, there will be insufficient incentive for the family to take the intervention seriously. They must have a stake in the outcome as much as society does – a society that realizes that a product of a dysfunctional environment is going to cost everyone for that child’s entire life and to which society turns a blind eye at its own peril.
This situation will not get better with time because we are now three generations into a public-school system controlled from Washington, DC under Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society umbrella that begins with the premise that African-Americans cannot make it in America without the cradle-to-grave help from the federal government. The federal government has succeeded in making that belief a reality. The tragedy is that it is so disgustingly wrong and so cruelly destructive for so many good kids.
I dread the number of teacher assaults and murders it is going to take before America admits that the solution to the problem is not in the classroom – it is in the living room – the living rooms where – if I were proposing a study my thesis would be that – these kids learn the disrespect for authority, aggressive behavior, the verbal, psychological and physical skills of intimidation and violence, where they are first exposed to racism and racial hatred and where they are conditioned to view the real world through the lens of their parents, siblings, extended family, neighbors and friends who learned these lessons from the previous generation.
Of course, this situation is not limited to the African-American community. It is prevalent in all economically challenged communities where the lack of responsibility as a social indicator is widespread and has been passed down for generations. Virtually any excuse and any bias for the inability to succeed is acceptable despite the free opportunities that are provided by society in the form of temporary relief from need and paths to enable employment. Without a moral sense of responsibility to family, community and employers however, success is impossible.
The conditions that have led to the poverty and hopelessness in the inner cities are not primarily racial – they are the results of social pathology and crosses all boundaries – racial, ethnic, gender, national origin, etc.
There are an inexhaustive number of studies that prove that children (for the most part) are born into this world as loving, forgiving, curious, happy little people. In the African-American community specifically, for all of the reasons we have read about in this treatise, by the time their babies get to school, they are already psychologically damaged – some irretrievably so – and they act out the lessons they have learned at home.
The unique problem with the African-American community is that they have been conditioned for generations – perhaps centuries – to distrust the white community – the very agency that has exhibited success in creating sound family, educational and economic communities throughout the nation in both urban, suburban and rural areas.
Suggesting that African-Americans follow the White-American example will fall on deaf, if not openly hostile, ears. For those same generations, so-called black leaders, who continue to heavily influence the African-American community, have betrayed their people by working to create the government dependent society that exists today.
There are African-American voices of reason in America. Dr. Thomas Sowell and Dr. Walter Williams are great examples of honest brokers for the African-American community. It is difficult for them to find a widespread public voice however, because the press/media prefer the flamboyant race-baiters who strive for the sensational – with an eye toward the profit line – and perhaps to avoid their extortion industry.
Dr. Sowell is an American economist, social theorist, political philosopher, author and Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He was born in North Carolina, but grew up in Harlem, New York and has served on the faculties of several universities, including Cornell University and the University of California, Los Angeles. He has also worked for think-tanks such as the Urban Institute. Since 1980, he has worked at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. Sowell has written more than thirty books (a number of which have been reprinted in revised editions), and his work has been widely anthologized. He is a National Humanities Medal recipient.
Dr. Williams is an American economist, commentator, and academic and the John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics at George Mason University. Williams has been a professor of economics at George Mason University since 1980, and was chairman of the University’s Economics department from 1995 to 2001. He had previously been on the faculty of Los Angeles City College, California State University – Los Angeles, Temple University and Grove City College. Williams was awarded an honorary doctorate degree at Universidad Francisco Marroquin. Williams has written ten books and hundreds of articles. His syndicated column has been published weekly in approximately 140 newspapers across the United States, as well as on several web sites by Creators Syndicate. He also wrote and hosted documentaries for PBS in 1985. The “Good Intentions” documentary was based on his book The State Against Blacks.
Because the United States was founded on Judeo-Christian principles, perhaps a consideration of the role of a Christian education is worth some thought. Listen to Rod Dreher, the senior editor for The American Conservative.
“Education has to be at the core of Christian survival—as it always was,” says Michael Hanby, a professor of religion and philosophy of science at Washington’s Pontifical John Paul II Institute. One of the most important pieces of the Benedict Option movement is the spread of classical Christian schools.
“Rather than letting their children spend forty hours a week learning “facts” with a few hours of worldview education slapped on top, parents need to pull them from public schools and provide them with an education that is rightly ordered—that is, one based on the premise that there is a God-given, unified structure to reality and that it is discoverable. They need to teach them Scripture and history. Building schools that can educate properly will require churches, parents, peer groups, and fellow traveler Christians to work together. It will be costly, but it will be worth it.
For serious Christian parents, education cannot be simply a matter of building their child’s transcript to boost her chance of making it into the Ivy League. If this is the model your family follows (perhaps with a sprinkle of God on top for seasoning), you will be hard-pressed to form countercultural Christian adults capable of resisting the disorders of our time.
The kind of schooling that will build a more resilient, mature faith in young Christians is one that imbues them with a sense of order, meaning, and continuity. It’s one that integrates knowledge into a harmonious vision of the whole, one that unites all things that are, were, and ever will be in God.”
“Every educational model presupposes an anthropology: an idea of what a human being is. In general, the mainstream model is geared toward equipping students to succeed in the workforce, to provide a pleasant, secure life for themselves and their future families, and ideally, to fulfill their personal goals—whatever those goals might be. The standard Christian educational model today takes this model and adds religion classes and prayer services.
But from a traditional Christian perspective, the model is based on a flawed anthropology. In traditional Christianity, the ultimate goal is to love and serve God with all one’s heart, soul, and mind, to achieve unity with Him in eternity. To prepare for eternal life, we must join ourselves to Christ and strive to live in harmony with the divine will. To be fully human is to be fully conformed to that reality—as C. S. Lewis would say, to the things that are— through cooperating with God’s freely given grace. To be humanized is to grow—by contemplation and action, and through faith and reason—in the love of the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. These are all reflections of the Triune God, in Whom we live and move and have our being.
To compartmentalize education, separating it from the life of the church, is to create a false distinction. Saint Benedict, in his Rule, called the monastery “a school for the service of the Lord.” This was no mere figure of speech. In the Benedictine tradition, learning is wholly integrated into the life of prayer and work. Today our education system fills students’ heads with facts, with no higher aspiration than success in worldly endeavor. Since the High Middle Ages, the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake has been slowly separated from the pursuit of virtue. Today the break is clean.
Educator Martin Cothran, a national leader in the classical Christian school movement, says that many Christians today don’t realize how the nature of education has changed over the past hundred years. The progressivism of the 1920s involved using schools to changethe culture. The vocationalism of the 1940s and 1950s tried to use schools to conform children to the changed culture. But the traditional way of education, which reigned from the Greco-Roman period until the modern era, was about passing on a culture and one culture in particular: the culture of the West, and for most of that time, the Christian West.”
“The classical education of the pagans that was transformed by the church attempted to inculcate in each new generation an idea of what a human being should be, through constantly having examples of ideal humanity set in front of it, and by studying the great deeds of great men,” Cothran told me. “This was a culture with a definite and distinctive goal: to pass on the wisdom of the past and to produce another generation with the same ideals and values—ideals and values based on its vision of what a human being was.”
[This is precisely the educational background and mindset of the Founders – to pass on to the generations the wisdom of their experience, and the culture they had created to express it, in the daily life of the new nation.]
“That’s what education was for over two millennia,” he continued. “It is now something that retains the old label, but is not the same thing. It is not even the same kind of thing. It has been abandoned in the modern school— including many Christian ones. Even many Christian parents who do not accept the political correctness of today’s schools have completely bought into the utilitarian concept of education.”
“To be sure, there is nothing wrong in principle with learning something useful or achieving excellence in science, the arts, literature, or any other field of the intellect. But mastery of facts and their application is not the same thing as education, any more than an advanced degree in systematic theology makes one a saint.
The separation of learning from virtue creates a society that esteems people for their success in manipulating science, law, money, images, words, and so forth. Whether or not their accomplishments are morally worthy is a secondary question, one that will seem naïve to many if it occurs to them at all.
If a Christian [you may substitute the “Western tradition of the moral and ethical”] way of living isn’t integrated in with students’ intellectual and spiritual lives, they’ll be at risk of falling away through no fault of their own. As John Mark Reynolds, who recently founded Houston’s Saint Constantine School, puts it, ‘Christian young people who have had a personal, life-changing encounter with Christ, and who know Christian apologetics but have not integrated them into their lives, are more vulnerable than they think. They have to learn how to translate the conversion experience and intellectual knowledge of the faith into a Christian way of living—or their faith will remain fragile.
If it’s true that a simplistic, anti-intellectual Christian faith is a thin reed in the gale of academic life, it is also true that faith that’s primarily intellectual—that is, a matter of mastering information—is deceptively fragile. Equipping Christian students to thrive in a highly secularized, even hostile environment is not a matter of giving them a protective shell. The shell may crack under pressure or be discarded. Rather, it must be about building internal strength of mind and heart.’
Public education in America is catastrophically broken. The federal government has systematically destroyed the States’ ability and responsibility to educate their children – a time honored tradition in America since the founding.
However, quality children’s education is occurring in America. It is thriving in private schools, parochial schools, charter schools and home schools throughout the land but, it is only reaching about 10% of America’s children. That is about 310,000 out of 3.5 million graduates. Even worse, only 12% of those 3 million public school graduates will attain a college degree while 45% of private school graduates are successful in college!
Unfortunately, the public education lobby – the PLDC, academia and the teacher’s union hierarchy – refuse to adopt the means and methods for educational success demonstrated by private schools – which is occurring at half the cost of public education. Why?
Because the essence of their cabal is the ignorance of the citizenry, more specifically, the voter. If the children can be indoctrinated in the progressive/liberal tradition of big government cradle-to-grave serfdom, then the PLDC elites can enjoy virtually unlimited and unchallenged power to pursue their own version of happiness. That, of course, is pathologically sadistic and its eradication therefore, must be at the very heart of the campaign to restore America.
Specifically, why haven’t American schools improved? For the most part, America’s teachers are dedicated, hard-working and caring people. We know what’s wrong with the government and the education bureaucracy but, what’s going wrong in the classroom?
According to John Stossel; “The education establishment says, “We don’t have enough money!” But American schools spend more per student than other countries. Spending tripled during [the past fifty years] and class sizes dropped. But test scores stay flat.
“Schools adopted all sorts of new technologies, from projectors to personal computers to ‘smart’ whiteboards,”. “None of these inventions improved outcomes … (E)ducational quality has been stuck in the era of disco and leisure suits for 40 years, while the rest of the world has passed it by.”
The main reason for that is that most schools are controlled by government. Government is a monopoly, and monopolies resist change. Actually, most of us resist change. We don’t want to give up the way we’ve always done things. Certainly, few of us want to work harder, or differently. We get set in our ways.
But when there is competition, we can’t get away with that. If we don’t adopt better ways of doing things, we go out of business. That forces innovation.
But government-run schools never go out of business and the teacher’s unions’ support for politicians who will toe the line will never waver. Principals, school boards and teachers – especially union teachers – have little incentive to try anything new. This might be familiar because the story was also told in the decorated movie Stand and Deliver.
In that film, actor Edward James Olmos played math teacher Jaime Escalante. Escalante taught at California’s Garfield High School. The student body was, and is, composed of some of the most “disadvantaged” students in America. Yet more Garfield High students passed advanced placement calculus tests than did students from Beverly Hills High.
Escalante was the reason. He was simply a better teacher. Escalante was born to two teachers of Aymara ancestry in 1930 in La Paz, Bolivia. He was proud of his Aymara heritage and, as an adult, he would proclaim, “The Aymara knew math before the Greeks and Egyptians.”
Some of his former students, said, “Escalante worked as if his life depended on the success of his students.” The results were beyond belief … literally. His students did so well on the state calculus test that authorities accused them of cheating. They made them take the test again. The students aced the test the second time.
What made Escalante a better teacher? One student said, “He built a relationship with each student, knew them by name, knew their story. … Students didn’t want to disappoint him.”
The movie made Escalante famous, but he didn’t change. He kept teaching at Garfield, telling students that even though they were poor, “With enough drive and hard work, the sky is the limit.” “The lessons I learned from Jaime, I apply them every day,” a former student said. “With my children, I talk about Jaime and about ‘ganas’ – desire. Nothing’s for free. You have to work really hard if you want to achieve anything.”
Stand and Deliver has a happy ending, but what happened in real life was no fairy tale.
In any other field, we might expect this combination of success, scalability, and publicity to have catapulted Escalante to the top of his profession and spread his teaching model across the country. That isn’t what happened.
Garfield’s union teachers resented Escalante’s fame and work ethic.
A former Garfield student who now is a teacher said, “The problem was that Escalante’s classes were big. … He was setting a precedent, giving the message to the administrator: ‘If Escalante can do it, why not you?'”
The union used its organizing power to get the votes to oust Escalante as math department chairman. Escalante then quit. How sad for Jaime Escalante and how sad for the children of Garfield High.
The math program’s decline at Garfield became apparent following the departure of Escalante and other teachers associated with its inception and development. In just a few years, the number of AP calculus students at Garfield who passed their exams dropped by more than 80%.
In the mid-1990s, Escalante became a strong supporter of English-onlyeducation efforts. In 1997, he joined Ron Unz’s English for the Children initiative, which eventually ended most bilingual education in California schools favored by the PLDCC.
In 2001, after many years of preparing teenagers for the AP calculus exam, Escalante returned to his native Bolivia. He lived in his wife’s hometown, Cochabamba, and taught at Universidad Privada del Valle. He returned to the United States frequently to visit his children.
In early 2010, Escalante faced financial difficulties from the cost of his cancer treatment. Cast members from Stand and Deliver, including Edward James Olmos, and some of Escalante’s former pupils, raised funds to help pay for his medical bills.
He moved to Sacramento, California, to live with his son in the city of Rancho Cordova. He taught at Hiram Johnson High School, very similar to Garfield High School. He died in 2010, at 79, at his son’s home while undergoing treatment for bladder cancer.
As you can see, the people in the union hierarchy of the AFT and the NEA and their State affiliates are merely more thugs of the PLDC, practicing intimidation of America’s teachers who love their jobs and can’t risk losing them by speaking out against the outrageous behavior of people in positions of power but with no responsibility because they are protected by the tentacles of the PLDC.
How enlightening for those in America who actually care about educating our children to be responsible and capable citizens. The solution is apparent – the education industry needs to be freed from the teachers’ unions and must provide actual leadership to America’s leaders. It won’t come from government, it must come from the People – the parents and grandparents on the front lines of fighting for their children’s future.
A modern version of a 7th Century Anglo-Saxon serf’s “Oath of Fealty” to his lord (read Democrat office holder) seems appropriate for today’s – and tomorrow’s – victims of the PLDC’s “lords of the schools”’ wicked campaign for ignorance through education:
“I will be true and faithful, and love all which he loves and shun all which he shuns, according to the laws of his God and the order of the world. Nor will I ever with will or action, through word or deed, do anything which is unpleasing to him, on condition that he will hold to me as I shall deserve it, because I submitted myself to him and chose his will.”
Next time: American Exceptionalism