Tuesday, February 21, 2012


It was really eerie at that Nebraska State Board of Education hearing in the 1990s. I was the ONLY citizen who testified AGAINST learning standards. I pointed out that, at the butcher shop, "standard" was a grade of beef "below good." Surely, citizens of the Beef State would "get" that standardizing our educational programs with those of lower-performing states and Third World Countries was a really dumb idea.

But noooooooo. Standards flew through that board, and the State Legislature, and all local school boards, 'til poof! We're stuck with them today, and the lousy, nosy "assessments" that go with them. Because we accept federal education dollars, we have to dance to the federal education tune, which is nationalizing our schools through these boilerplated "standards" and "assessments" that are magically the same throughout the land.

Finally, people are understanding that we have turned our once-proud American educational system into the Nazi / Soviet / Japanese model of workforce training:


To be fair, this didn't start with Obama. Both the GOP and Democrats have had a hand in school deform. It goes 'way back to LBJ's payoff to organized labor with the formation of the U.S. Department of Education in the 1960s and Johnson's ESEA (the Elementary and Secondary Education Act -- a huge influence in local schooling today, to our peril) . . . plus the replacement of phonics with "Whole Language" to teach reading in the 1970s . . . and set in place with the ever-flowing federal money flow through America 2000 / Goals 2000 / School to Work / No Child Left Behind federal legislation of the 1990s and '00's.

As they progress through school, kids are "assessed" -- meaning, inspected like a side of beef -- and "sorted" into those who get to join the ranks of the elite and get the cool courses to help them get in to the top schools. Meanwhile, everybody else is a "Smurf," prepared only to take the minimal donkey-work jobs that the government's central planning thinks will be needed. In the meantime, the feds keep collecting every molecule of "data" on each student and his or her family and our possessions and our attitudes, to figure out what Americans think, and why, and how to "remediate," or change our ideas so that we can goose-step along to the federal marching tune. Sigh.

Best thing Nebraska could do right now is thumb our noses at every dime of federal education funding from here on out. Pay our own way! Also, drop-kick these learning standards to the curb, and get back to teaching the content and skills that we know -- allllll by ourselves -- will turn out educated people who are literate, numerate, capable American citizens.

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