Wednesday, March 03, 2004

No. 3 in a series on parental involvement in schools:



The Nebraska Department of Education and the State Board of Education have produced a document that they say defines the ''essentials'' of education. But it reads a lot more like an educrat / union policy than anything Nebraska citizens would want from our schools.

Look on http://www.nde.state.ne.us for the ''Policy on Essential Education'' dated Aug. 8, 2003. It's now being jammed down our throats as if these are OUR needs and desires through a phony-baloney ''survey'' by the government's Mid-Continent Regional Educational Laboratory's propaganda machine.

See the survey, too, although it's reportedly no longer available for educrat dupes to rubber-stamp:


You're likely to see lots of things that give you pause: forcing tiny rural schools out of existence with unfunded mandates of dubious worth . . . forcing rural kids into having to move or sit in soul-crushing TV classrooms with ''distance learning'' . . . forcing school managers to give staffers 250 minutes a week of idle, on-duty planning time . . . forcing lots of technology, when the evidence shows that, dollar for dollar, technology does very little to aid real academic progress . . . forcing all-day kindergarten down taxpayers' throats when the research shows kids are far better off OUTSIDE of school than in it, at that age. . . .

Note the three things the state says are essential for education:

1. centrally-planned standards and ''essential learnings''
2. transitions between early childhood educational settings through post-secondary settings, replacing ''K-12'' with ''pre-K – Grade 16''
3. producing people who are ''effective in functioning in and contributing to our culturally diverse democratic society''

Are the sirens going off yet? Or is it no longer ''essential'' that children be taught to read, write and figure to a high degree of competence, using cost-effective and empirically-proven methods of curriculum and instruction?

Isn't it true that ''central planning'' is what wiped out the former Soviet Union and would be certain to wipe out any hope of quality for our schools in the future?

Isn't it true that the evidence is overwhelming that concepts like universal preschool and post-secondary education as a welfare entitlement are exactly the opposite of what a free-market society needs?

Isn't it true that one of the most segregated areas of American culture right now is superintendents' offices and leadership in statewide education bureaucracies and unions, including right here in Nebraska?

It looks from this end like these ''essentials'' are what the educrats and power brokers consider ''essential'' to CRASH the independence of our schools and neuter local control once and for all.

Concerned parents and taxpayers ought to hand these birds a printout of the E.D. Hirsch Core Knowledge sequence -- www.coreknowledge.org -- as specific educational ''essentials'' that the people who pay their salaries want. Any private school or homeschool I've ever seen could come up with a better list than the state's, in a flash.

Bottom line: the true essentials of education are so obvious, they needn't be codified in bureaucratese. The very notion that our schools need ''marching orders'' is a sad, strange sign of a system that's strangling on a hairball of its own power lust.

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