Well, since you asked, here's one I wrote shortly after 9/11:
The Farce of "Public Education."
"Anyone who has passed through the regular gradations of classical education and not been made a fool by it may consider himself as having had a very narrow escape."- William Hazlitt
"How is it that little children are so intelligent and men so stupid? It must be education that does it." - Alexandre Dumas
"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education." - Mark Twain
"I believe one of the reasons so many do not get a higher education is the fear of their parents that they will lose more morally than they will receive mentally." - Williams Jennings Bryan
"In our dreams, we have limitless resources and the people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hands. The present educational conventions fade from our minds, and unhampered by tradition, we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive rural folk. We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning, or of science. We have not to raise up from among them authors, editors, poets or men of letters. We shall not search for embryo great artists, painters, musicians nor lawyers, doctors, preachers, statesmen, of whom we have an ample supply. The task we set before ourselves is a very simple as well as a very beautiful one, to train these people as we find them to a perfectly ideal life just where they are. So we will organize our children and teach them to do in a perfect way the things their fathers and mothers are doing in an imperfect way, in the homes, in the shops, and on the farm."
- Occasional Letter Number 1, from the General Education Board Established by J.D. Rockefeller, with J.T. Gates and A. Carnegie as trustees. Letter penned by J.T. Gates
"Every child in America entering school at the age of five is insane because he comes to school with certain allegiances toward our founding fathers, toward his parents, toward a belief in a supernatural being, toward the sovereignty of this nation as a separate entity...It's up to you teachers to make all of these sick children well by creating the international children of the future."
- Chester M. Pierce, Professor of Education at Harvard University, in an address to the Association for Childhood Education International, April 1972.
Public Education, especially in the United States, is a complete Farce, and a complete Failure to educate the children. It is, however, a complete success for indoctrinate the children, and to bring them down to the 'lowest common denominator.'
In order to understand this and to see it clearly, you have to understand the history of education in the United States.
In the Colonial period, education was handled by two different methods. In the North, education was an effort that was not often (if ever) state-run, but rather handled privately. The sponsorhip for such education was strictly the domain of private organizations. In the Middle Colonies, a similar effort was used, but in place of private institutions were the parochial ones. In the Southern colonies, education was the function and responsibility of the family and the individual. It was strictly a hands-off affair, that the state had no business involving itself with; it was the domain of the family and individual to determine what education, if any, was appropriate.
Moving forward to the Early American period following the Revolution, education remained eclectic in its application. However, it is during this period that some important evolutions occurred. First was the Land Ordinance of 1785, which set aside within every Western Territory sections that were allotted for the maintenance of Public Education (with a focus on Public Maintenance), and a separate section in which religious education could be performed. Second, the Nortwest Ordinance of 1787 specifically "encouraged" public education, but did not mandate it. During this period, the States (formerly Colonies) were largely left to determine how best to perform educational efforts on their own; these two Ordinances were specific to Territories and had no sway in the States. Many states, in seeing the "encouragement" to found schools, began founding them in great numbers; of particular help was the common practice of State Taxes funding the hiring of teaching staff. Various individuals established differing curriculums, but religious curriculum was explicitly denied in any State-funded school.
During the next period of American history, some important developments were accomplished. The first Secretary of Education was Horace Mann in 1837. He was a primary mover in the founding of the Department of Education, and he was the initiator of the Federalization of Education. It was through his efforts that Education began to cease being a State-handled matter, and instead began to become Federally run. Also of importance during this period was the beginning of compulsory attendance. While public schools existed previously, it was not until 1857 that the first mandatory attendance law was passed in Massachusetts. By 1918, every state in the Union had adopted such legislation. Finally, in 1839, the first State-Run school for the education of teachers was established. This would set a precedent which would culminate in the requirement that all educators be State-taught.
In the next period of American history, the State's influence began to be tempered and influenced by Business interests. Schools became "workplaces" of their own, and became focused on social behaviour conditioning. With the rapid influx of immigrants, various Industry and Business leaders felt it would be to their best interests if the students that were coming in were "conditioned" to behave in a particular manner, and to therefore "increase efficiency." To this end, the National Education Association formalized the curricula of "grammar school," and "secondary school." In addition, they formalized not only the curricula, but also the duration and developed the grading system. By 1892, the development of the modern system of schooling was finished and put forward. Coupled with the Compulsory Attendance and Child Labor laws, these formal doctrines guaranteed that the children would be "contributing to their own well-being and society's good."
This evolution, from schooling being the responsibility of private organizations and the individual or family's choice to being Federally-run and funded is one element of the failure of American Education. The focus of schooling evolving from public maintenance to "molding our children" is the other element. Either one, separately, is not helpful... but also not a critical failure. Taken together, they open the door for very important abuses to be made a reality.
In "modern" times, we have seen massive changes that were enabled by the evolutions I've already mentioned. Between 1896 and 1920, emboldened by their success in the period from 1860 - 1892, Captains of Business and Industry spent a great deal of money to influence and manipulate the development of the forming "public school system." In fact, Andrew Carnegie and J.D. Rockefeller individually spent more on funding the "public school system" than did the Federal Government in 1915! The effects of these activities permitted these individuals and organizations to shift the focus of "public education" away from "teaching students how to learn" and towards "being good for society." In fact, a Department of Education document from 1967 entitled "Designing Education for the Future" actually defines "education" as "a means to achieve important economic and social goals of a national character." In another Department of Education document also in 1967 entitled "Behavioral Science Teacher Education Project," there are some important elements. For instance, the document promotes an educational system where "few will be able to maintain control over their opinions," and promotes a system of schooling which will show the student that they and their classmates are irresponsible and need to be controlled by the state. Does that sound familiar to any of you? It should. Elements of both of these documents have been incorporated into every State's Department of Education standards through the tactic of with-holding of Federal (which are actually Business and Industry) funds from the school if they fail to comply.
Also of interest is that the schools disciplinary procedures during the 1960s were re-evaluated and the normal methods of discipline were nominated for obsolescence and being "not good for our children," leaving the schools powerless against simple student mischief. What purpose would this serve? The answer becomes obvious when one considers that until the 1900s, there were NO "administrators" in any "public school." The first Principal was in 1892, and this individual was required to teach until 1915, when the Principal "lost" the term "teacher" and gained the term "administrator." Between 1960 and 1984, the number of "administrators" in the "public school system" grew by 600%, while the number of "educators" grew only 56%. Today, the number of non-teaching "administrators" is nearly equal to the number of "educators" in the "public school system." Think about that. Almost a one-for-one ratio of educators to administrators, but it's rare indeed to see a ratio of anything better than 30-1 educators to students! Today, the Chicago Board of Education employs more "administrators" than the entire Ministry of Education of Japan!
Today, school is intentionally dull, stupid, and pointless. It is engineered so. It is designed to be made to suit the "lowest common denominator," which works wonderfully for the intention of "contributing to society's good," but doesn't really help the student learn how to learn. If you don't believe this contention, consider the following 1988 statistics:
1.In New York City, no member of the Board of Education or elected official sent their children (if any) to public school.
2.As an average across the US, 22% of all children of public school teachers are going to private schools. The highest value is 50% in Milwaukee.
1.The National Average (for non-teachers) is 10%.
Consider those for a moment. Those who actually teach or administrate in the public school system have a higher incidence of not using the system than those who are not a part of it. What does that imply?
Consider also that average SAT scores have been steadily decreasing since 1967. Between WWII and 1967, SAT Score averages hovered around 978. After 1967, the SAT Score average declined annually to a low of 890 in 1980. Over the next twenty years, the average gained 10 points to 900. We are recovering at a lower rate than we diminished. Cross-reference this with the rising rate of drop-outs across the last twenty years, and you find that the increase in averages can be safely attributed to the attrition of those who would otherwise have brought the averages down!
The unfortunate facts are these:
1.The public school system is insulated from failure by legislative requirement to exist.
2.The public school system is protected from competition by guaranteed federal funding.
These facts combine to create a structure in which there is no drive for excellence or efficiency, but instead a drive exists to fulfill the mandates laid down by the hierarchy... namely, "contributing to society's good." Public schools need not "serve" their constituency or the needs of the constituency because they are guaranteed a salary, which is taken by force from that very constituency! They have no drive to succeed. This is why the school system is failing our students. In point of fact, efficiency is discouraged, for inefficiency is rewarded with higher budgets (also drawn from the constitutency).
Originally, schools were small and private affairs, which were driven by not only local forces but the basics of competition to produce a superior product... namely, educated youth. Not only did the schools from 1700-1900 have to make their constituency (their neighbors) happy, they also had to provide a superior product in order to retain the volutnarily provided income from their student's families. With the introduction of State funds, which are drawn by force from the constituency, plus the mandatory attendance laws, these institutions no longer have that need to either please their neighbors nor provide a superior product.
Accountability equals Efficiency. If the schools were held accountable to their individual constituencies instead of to a beauracracy that could not possibly be efficient in order to retain their position, then the education will improve. However, since the beauracracy is not accountable to the people, how can the schools themselves be? Responsibility equals Accountability, and Responsibility is NOT the same as Obedience. Our schools teach obedience and breed angst and feelings of unfulfillment through intentional time limitations. The "educators" simply are not permitted the time to personally interact with the students, and that is intentionally held that way through the mathematics of teacher-student ratios.
But ask yourself, why? Why would this be so? The answer is simple, when you understand that in such a vacuum of attention, the psyche of the individual will fixate on the other possible methods of garnering attention... Namely, consumerism and socialization. Either the student becomes a "socialized unit," attempting to gain personal fulfillment through proxy methods that are collective in nature instead of personal, or they break down and attempt to deal with the lack of personal fulfillment through consumption and substituting "novelty" for personal attention. Either of these two options are "good" for the "society," or at least good for the society that is controlled through business and industry interests... Add to that the fact that each school promotes such consumption through it's corporate sponsorship, which is made necessary through the burgeoning "administrative costs" of the school, then add chemical dependency (Ritalin is now actually being given by the school administrations now to the student body), and what do you have? A people of "perfect docility" who are "perfect just where they are."