Tuesday, January 03, 2012


Beware of this book, if you want to understand what is going on in K-12 education. Then again, it's a fascinating read:


It has 462 pages plus that will blow your mind. Ironically, I found something that explains the basis for Nebraska's truancy law while I was looking up background information in this book on the Hatch Amendment,which is supposed to protect pupil and parental privacy in schools and uphold the parents as the No. 1 arbiters of what happens to kids in school.

What does the Hatch Amendment have to do with truancy? I think Nebraska's new truancy law violates it, bigtime. But while researching, I lit on this startling connection, starting on p. 202 of the eBook (it's 203 in the printed book):

A farmer testified in 1984 before the U.S. Department of Education's Region VII hearing on the Hatch Amendment, protecting pupils' and parents' rights in school. His little girl was in a rural school somewhere near the Lincoln (Neb.) Public Schools. LPS had a federal contract for $710,000, approved by the U.S. Ed Department in 1975, to introduce Project INSTRUCT to area public schools, including this farmer's little girl's school.

So that was 36 years ago. Keep that in mind.

Project INSTRUCT was one of a few "models" for outcome-based education -- code-named "mastery learning" -- now code-named "standards-based education" -- around the country. You know all the learning standards and assessments to measure how well the kids have mastered them? This is where all of that comes from. That's the system that almost all of our schools are operating under today, because of the federal money that comes with compliance.

But this farmer, Stephen Broady, said that his daughter suffered "emotional change" as a result of what he called "psychological manipulation" and "behavior modification" that undergirded Project INSTRUCT. He called it "a deliberate attempt to make children conform to an artificial environment which is more suited to the thinking of the school than to the needs of the children."

Whoa! Ignoring the needs of the children to force compliance with senseless governmental rules! Does that sound like the impact of Nebraska's micromanaging truancy law, which is hurting good students with good grades from good families and who don't NEED scary, criminalized government intervention in their studies . . . or what?

Broady proceeded to obtain the Project INSTRUCT evaluation report from the LPS superintendent's office. He found out that the same behavior modification techniques were to be used on anybody else who came in contact with that school, besides just students. That meant parents, the media, all administrators and teachers, paraprofessionals, volunteers, and even prospective employees.

So educators were being told to allow no behavior that didn't synch with the highly-structured behaviors that were part of Project INSTRUCT . . . even from the students' PARENTS?!? Compliance and conformity first, in other words. They trump everybody else's rights and needs.

The idea was that the quality of the education would increase if the Project INSTRUCT methods were consistent. Ironically, according to test scores, reading achievement went DOWN, and stayed DOWN.

But across Nebraska and the whole country, everybody's still using those methods! And learning capacity and progress are both still DOWN compared to the quality that we had in the 1970s . . . before school started becoming a prison and educators were forced to become wardens.

Same book reports on p. 198 that mastery learning was piloted in Omaha from 1969 to 1971. I think that was in the Millard Public Schools, though it doesn't say so in this book.

So when you are struggling to understand why Nebraska lawmakers cling to the truancy law despite the fact that threats and government programs don't help kids learn better, and illegally violate personal privacy rights of students and parents to boot . . . take heart in knowing that at least this kind of stuff has been around for over 35 years. Might take that long to get rid of it again, but at least it isn't some big, new monster that came out of nowhere.

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This is a fantastic, well researched article! Is there someway I can share it on the Nebraska Family Forum? I'd like to publish it there under your byline of course. Let me know.

Stephanie Morgan
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