In the Corporate-State Education System, You’re the Product.

by Kevin Carson
In the Corporate-State Education System, You’re the Product.

The following article was written by Kevin Carson and published on P2P Foundation, March 27th, 2013.

The current educational system is essentially a Taylorist-Fordist mass production system, organized on a batch-and-queue basis, geared to supply a uniform, standardized and graded input for corporate employers. According to Cathy Davidson (“Standardizing Human Ability,” DML Central, July 30, 2012), education

changed drastically, radically—as did all of Western society—during the great era of Taylorist standardization of labor and of the laborer, roughly 1870-1920.  Compulsory, public, taxpayer-supported education in the United States found it needed ways to measure children’s educational productivity with the same uniform standardization as was being applied to workers on the Fordist assembly lines. Frederick Winslow Taylor invented “scientific labor management” where he strove to regularize human output, so that the well-fed, rested worker at 8 am worked at the same rate as he did at 6 pm after a full day of manual labor.  For every job, there was the “one best way” (his famous catchphrase), determined by the supervisor, and then everyone was judged by how close they came to that one best way (“soldiers,” he called them) or how far they fell from the mark (“malingerers”).

It’s hard to imagine a more dehumanizing or a more joyless way to work.

And in the first burst of Fordist assembly line labor, educators took the apparatus of scientific labor management and turned it into scientific learning management.  Virtually all of the protocols now in place for measuring academic success are based on Taylorist principles.  Not on ages’ old traditions of learning, but on a system of reducing human qualities to measurable, standardized productivity designed for the assembly line.

Naveen Jain (“Rethinking Education: Why Our Education System is Ripe for Disruption,” Forbes, March 24, 2013) makes a similar comparison to mass-production industry:

Our education system today uses the mass production style manufacturing process of standardization. This process requires raw material that is grouped together based on a specific criteria. Those raw materials are then moved from one station to another station where an expert makes a small modification given the small amount of time given to complete their task. At the end of the assembly line, these assembled goods are standardized tested to see if they meet certain criteria before they are moved to the next advanced assembly line.

We are using the same process to teach our kids today, grouping them by their date of manufacturing (age). We put them on an education assembly line every day, starting with one station that teaches them a certain subject before automatically moving them to the next class after a certain period of time. Once a year we use standardized testing to see if they are ready to move to the next grade of an education advanced assembly line.

If traditional education is a mass-production system, it should be obvious who the customer is for the product. You’re probably working for one of them. The public schools and higher education system are not designed to facilitate learning. After all, Matt Yglesias notes (“Why Didn’t Books Kill the University?” Slate Moneybox, March 26, 2013), for a self-directed student who wants to learn something for her own purposes, the classroom learning environment is—to put it mildly—a suboptimal learning tool.

Suppose you’re curious about something. Like maybe articles about the recent banking crisis in Cyprus have made you curious about the island’s history. The best first step, by far, is to go to the “History of Cyprus” Wikipedia page and read it. If you’re still interested, maybe follow up with a book or two. Watching a person stand up and talk about Cyprus is pretty far down the list, whether you’re watching the person live or on a video. It’s true that if you want to learn how to tie a bowtie or to properly flip a Spanish tortilla, you may want to watch a video. The visual information is very helpful when you’re talking about demonstrating a physical action. But to convey information? Reading is faster than listening, and buying a book—or checking one out from a library—has always been cheaper than paying college tuition, in part because when you go to college you still have to buy all these books.

So, he asks, “Why didn’t books kill the university?”

The answer, again, is that the student is not the customer. The purpose of college is not to facilitate the student learning about Cyprus. It’s to produce a human resource who’s certified by one institution to have been processed to the specifications of another institution.

If the institutionalized educational system is a mass-production factory with the human resource as its product and the employer as its customer, an educational system organized around the agency of the learner will be a lean, demand-pull system. Rather than moving human beings to an assembly line to be processed, it will move knowledge to the point of consumption, when and where it is needed. If young people are alienated from the old mass-production schools, they understand instinctively how to use new networked learning tools for their own autonomous purposes. Mimi Ito writes (“What Teens Get About the Internet That Parents Don’t,” Atlantic, March 8, 2003):

It is no wonder my daughter wants to mess around with the guitar and the Internet and pursue some interests at a pace that doesn’t feel like the relentlessly scheduled pressure of school and structured activities. For her, the Internet has been a lifeline for self-directed learning and connection to peers. In our research, we found that parents more often than not have a negative view of the role of the Internet in learning, but young people almost always have a positive one.

When we interview young people, they will talk about how the Internet makes it easy for them to look around and surf for information in low risk and unstructured ways. Some kids immerse themselves in online tutorials, forums, and expert communities where they dive deep into topics and areas of interest, whether it is fandom, creative writing, making online videos, or gaming communities….

Young people are desperate for learning that is relevant and part of the fabric of their social lives, where they are making choices about how, when, and what to learn, without it all being mapped for them in advance. Learning on the Internet is about posting a burning question on a forum like Quora or Stack Exchange, searching for a how to video on YouTube or Vimeo, or browsing a site like Instructables, Skillshare, and Mentormob for a new project to pick up. It’s not just professors who have something to share, but everyone who has knowledge and skills.

When my daughter graduates from college, I want her to be able to ask interesting questions, make wise choices in where to direct her time and attention, and find a career that is about contributing to a purpose that’s more than her own self-advancement. I am proud of her for managing a rigorous course of study both in school and out of school, but I’m also delighted that she finds the time to cultivate interests in a self-directed way that is about contributing to her community of peers. The Internet and her friends have offered my daughter a lifeline to explore new interests that are not just about the resume and getting ahead of everyone else. In today’s high-pressure climate for teens, the Internet is feeling more and more like one of the few havens they can find for the lessons that matter most.

29 responses to “In the Corporate-State Education System, You’re the Product.

  1. No time – I have run out of time…..

    So must be quick.

    Education in the United States….

    H. Mann and his early 19th century imitation of Prussia (which started in Mass and then spread to other States) was the wrong road to go down.

    Voluntary education (both at home and in voluntary schools – both religous and secular) would have been the better road.

    How to get back on the better road is the big question.

    Universities – end the State universities, and end government subsidies to private universities (the subsidies to tuition fees and so on are the real cause of the explosion of tuition costs).


    Dizzy was wrong to keep Ottoman Empire taxes going when Britain took over in 1878.

    Just as Warren Hastings was wrong to keep Indian practices (such as the salt monopoly) goinig in 1700s India.

    As for now….

    Well investing in government debt paper (what the Cyprus banks did) has proved not to be a “safe” investment – but actually a very high risk investment.

    And it will not just be Greek government debt that will prove to be a bad investment.

  2. After reeling and writhing and fainting in coils, all you have to teacj children is how to educate themselves. And now, they don’t even need a library: there is the internet.

  3. Nick diPerna

    Hopefully MOOCs will address the imbalance.

  4. Julie near Chicago

    Reading is one way of learning, and works well for many people, at least in certain subject areas.

    But some integrate and remember what they hear better than what they read. For them, lectures are best.

    All of us learn some things best by doing them. Swimming, or building an airplane. And “messing around” with physical things is how we develop our intuition–so we sort of “know” to try this tool to attack that problem….

    But the main point I want to make is that physically meeting together in classes or “discussion sections” gives students access to–one hopes!–the knowledge of the subject matter and its context that the teacher has; knowledge that the student might never find on his own; and also the discussion that occurs as the teacher and the members of the class prompts thoughts and ideas that are foreign to this student or that one, that send him pursuing new paths of inquiry, and that result in his seeing things in a new way and giving him fresh angles from which to approach problems or issues.

    Reading (or listening) on one’s own is a very valuable thing to be able to do.

    But so is learning in a venue which allows discussion and exploration together with others, some of whom have gone farther than oneself.

    That is why people in the same field discuss their work over lunch, or whatever. It’s why we have these discussions on the Internet. We help each other to learn.

    —-By the way, “criteria” is the plural form; “criterion” is the singular. So “…raw material that is grouped together based on a specific criteria” is nonsense. You mean, “…based on a specific criterion.”

    Also, using “her” as the pronoun of unspecified gender shows either (1) utter ignorance of English, (2) an abject submission to PC-speak, or (3) an attempt to pretend to see discrimination against women in the use of English pronouns (which is just laughable) and to preen oneself in displaying one’s PC creds. The pronoun of unspecified gender is “he” (and its various forms). The pronoun of male gender is “he,” which is NOT the same word but rather a homonym–spelled and pronounced the same, different meaning.

    Misusing “her” when you mean “he” doesn’t display your tolerance–it just makes you sound foolish, and like all poor grammar it hampers communication with your reader because it trips him up and makes him stumble. (And if he’s I, he may throw up as well.)

  5. I agree with Julie.

    I learned nothing at my state school (apart from a bit of self defence combat tactics – and that was not on the official curriculum).

    An old lady in a village not far from my home town taught me to read – but, to this day such things as spelling an grammar are a mystery to me.

    I came away with some qualifications (and went to various universities, whilst working as a secutity guard, – and got more qualifications from them), but I can not think of anything (anything at all) that I was taught by someone who was paid to teach me (I have been taught all sorts of things, true and false, but never by someone paid to teach me in a government school or university). This is not good.

    Some state school systems are less bad than others – in Europe Bavaria and Finland are supposed to be good. But I doubt it has got anything to do with “corporations” (I suspect that is just Kevin doing his “Tim Robbins in Team America: World Police” impression).

    First one has to be taught basic skills (how to read, how to do basic mathematics and so on) only then can things like “critical thinking” and so on really flourish (a person has to learn to walk before they can run). Asking children for their “opinions” of X, Y, Z, is pointless if they do not have any factual information to base their opinion on.

    The “play. play, play – and leave everything to me” of Rousseau is not really “freedom” – in that the (ignorant) child ends up the toy of the teacher even as an adult (because they have no skills or experience to be independent). Indee at the end of Rousseau’s guild to education the young man (and his young wife) end up asking the tutor to stay on and guide them in everything. A bit like the “Lawgiver” from Rousssau political writings – dependence disguised as “freedom”.

    Perhaps a teacher who is not your “best friend” and teaches you factual base of knowledge and skills (to find out stuff for yourself – and to critically examine it) that will enable you to be independent of him (to get by in life without him), is better.

    Lastly a warning on “Critical Theory” – it sounds like “critical thinking” but it is not (it is almost the opposite).

    Critical thinking is about questioning the fundemental assumptions of what one is taught – “is this stuff really true” (of course one first has to be taught stuff before one can question it – otherwise the cart is before the horse). “Critical Theory” is just the latest name for our old “friend” the Frankfurt School of “Cultural” Marxism – it is about being “critical” of ….. (yes you guessed it) “capitalist” society, The last thing the academic teaching “Critical Theory” wants the student to doubt is THEM (the academic and their, disguised, socialist doctrines) – what they (the students’ “best friend”) teach is the absolute truth, and must never be questioned.

    Question it (oppose the fundemental assumptions that “Critical Theory” is based upon) and you will find that your “best friend” turns out to be worse than the most strict old fashionied school master.

    And, of course, sometimes the Critical Theory people go by the name “critical thinking”.

    The correct answer to their stunts is to test how “free thinking” they really are.

    For example, if an academic tells you to write the name “Jesus” on a piece of paper and stamp on it. Write the name “Barack Obama” on a piece of paper and stamp on that.

    “But they have got my grade point average in their hands”.

    But I thought they were your “best friend” who believed in your “freedom”.

  6. For so long, the only “mainstream” alternative to “public” (government — the US is opposite of the UK in terminology, IIRC) education was to shell out money to put your kid in a slightly different version of the same with better quality control, and the political alternative was to agitate for credits or vouchers to facilitate that.

    I think we’ve crossed the Rubicon now, though — the government schools have become so bad, and the home-schooling options so numerous, that 10-20 years from now, having attended government schools will be something job-seekers leave off their resumes and try to avoid disclosing. “What, you were sitting at the babysitting factory all day for 12 years while everyone else was out LEARNING something?”

    My kids are somewhere in the gray area between “home-schooled” and “un-schooled.” They read a LOT more than I remember having the opportunity to in government schools, because they read about what they’re interested in. Then we take what they’re interested in and run with it on a project basis, assigning it as relevant to the “subject” straitjackets the state loves so much. Math tends to be a weak area, but it comes in at a practical level and they learn on that end as they go, plus occasionally I bully them into using Khan Academy, etc. to hit some important concepts.

    • I co-authored a book on home education several years ago, but am happy to send my daughter to the local school. Out here in East Kent, the schools are much the same as they used to be. My wife and I also teach her at home. She’s five, but with a reading age of seven and rising; and we took her to the British Museum a few weeks ago, where she was able to identify various characters from Greek mythology on the pots.

      We reserve the right to educate her at home, or go with some flexischooling mix. Once she gets to eleven, we shall all sit down and discuss what to do next. For the moment, however, the local school works for us.

      • “We reserve the right to …”

        As well you should.

        Everyone is constrained to some set of options and alternatives, and that set varies from person to person, location to location, etc.

        Obviously as a parent you’ll choose the options and alternatives that strike you as most workable for you and most beneficial for your child.

        My point is that IN GENERAL:

        – Government schools keep getting worse; and

        – Options and alternatives keep increasing and improving.

        We had a number of reasons to go with homeschooling. One of them is that the district we lived in until recently routinely appeared on lists of the ten worst school districts in the US — and I thought it was over-rated at that.

        • Yes.

          If we still lived in South London, home schooling would have been the only valid option. Put my Baby Bear in a local authority school there, and she’d already have been damaged for life.

  7. Bob Robertson

    I spent my time in public school reading. I read the dusty books on the shelf while the rest were busy with make-work and following orders. I failed year after year because I simply refused to do their assignments, and yet learned far more than my “peers”.

    • Such success as I have enjoyed in life I owe entirely to systematic truancy as a boy.

    • Bob,

      I know exactly what you mean. In first grade, I refused to read allowed from the grade-level primers, saying they were “stupid.”

      The school’s first assumption was that I was slow and saying it was “stupid” to cover for my inability to do it, but fortunately my teacher insisted on a reading level test. Turned out I was reading at 7th grade level and really DID think that “See Jane run. Run, Jane, run!” was stupid. From then on, I got to go to the library during reading class and read whatever I felt like reading.

      • In the Ladybird books, I got as far as “Here is Peter. Here is Jane. Here is Pat the Dog.” I listened with disgust to the rest of the class chanting this. After that, I withdrew into my own world.

  8. Heh … and there I go embarrassing myself with a typo. I mean “aloud,” not “allowed,” of course.

  9. Over here, by the way, there are no compulsory attendance laws. S7 of the Education Act 1996 says:

    The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable ;
    a) to his age, ability, and aptitude, and
    b) to any special educational needs he may have,
    either by regular attendance at school or otherwise

    The words “or otherwise” are critically important. They have been copied from Act to Act, and clarified and upheald by the courts as protecting the right of parents not to send their children to school. Parents need no qualifications to teach. There is no right of inspection by the authorities. If you don’t wish to send your children to school, you just tell the local education authority that you are taking the “or otherwise” option. If you want to pull your child at any time, you write to the headmaster and use the magic words. That remains an absolute right. The authorities can do no more than write back to acknowledge your use of the right.

    Every time the scum who rule us try to change things, they get sacks full of precisely-worded menace from the voters. I’m proud to say I’ve had a small part in some of these campaigns.

  10. For an overview of home education in this country, see a separate posting I’ve just made.

  11. I have heard that modern technology (specifically the internet) may be of great help to home schooling – but I am ignorant of the details.

    As for voluntary schools – there is no need for them to be expensive. For example the Catholic school network in the United States used to be fairly low in cost – but they have crippled themselves by going along with the “qualified teacher” (STATE approved qualified teacher) and other regulations. The fees they charge no longer cover their costs (or anything close to it), because they have let their costs get out of control.

    “Government will learn from the private sector” is the oft repeated cry of those who (absurdly) try to reform government. Even leaving aside the offensive term “private sector” (when what is meant is civil society) – what tends to happen (via the pressure of regulations and by just the vast size of government dominating it gets involved in) is that civil society instiutions (such as Catholic schools) end up, to some extent, “learning from” the government.

    And – something to warm Kevin’s anticorporate heart……

    Some of the leading backers of the far left “Common Core” curriculum pushed by the Obama Administration are certain large corporations (step forward Bill Gates of Mircosoft, and the Google gang) why?

    Partly (in the case of Mr Gates and some others) perverted benevolence (remember the Annemberg Foundation Annenberg Challenge for education that Bill Ayers and Barack Obama got so much money out of [for all sorts of Comrades], I doubt that Walter Annenberg intented his money to make comfortably off Reds even more comfortably off – he just wanted the warm fuzzy glow of having left his money to “do good” without bothering his head about the details of what would actually happen to the money). But it is more than that….

    The corporations that back “Common Core” just happen to be the ones that stand to get big contracts out of it. Lenin was correct – some capitalists will sell their enemies rope, even if those enemies intend to hang the capitalists with it.

    By the way – an education project that all could enjoy.

    Warren Buffet (the richest man in the United States) is celebrating 50 years of dealing with dear Goldman Sachs (he is celebrating by taking a big chunk of them – in the same kind of “take a lot in return for very little actual payment” scam that he did with Bank of America).

    An educational project would be to work out just how much the American (and other) taxpayers have been ripped off by Warren Buffet and Goldman Sachs over that half a century.

    I have an open mind (if it turns out that W.B. is a fine upstanding person – fair enough), but muyguess is that he AIG bailout scam (get the government to bailout AIG, so they could pay Goldman Sachs, who in turn could pay Warren) was only the tip of iceberg.

    Full disclosure – I started to dislike Warren B, for a nonpolitical reason.

    I watched him (many years after his father died) go on (and on) about how much he had “loved” his father.

    I know American culture is differnet – but a man just does not talk like that.

    So I looked indeed the father and son – and came to the conclusion that Buffet senior, far from loving his son back, would (if he was around today) beat Buffet jr to death with a baseball bat. Especially after what Warren did in 2008 – openly ally (for money) with people his father spent his life fighting.

    I tend to be wary of people who make a great big show of giving their money away.

    Because sometimes (NOT always – but sometimes) it indicates that a person has doubts (in some neglected corner of their mind) over whether they came by that money honestly.

    After all – why not build up the business? Improve the estate, develop the manufacturing enterprise (whatever), with each generation building on the achievements of their ancestors?

    Why the big rush to get rid of the money, and not develop the business over the generations?

    A successful enterprise normally does more good than throwing money around. In providing better and cheaper products over time, and in providing employment. Give some money away certainly – but why the core money (thus undermining the independence of the enterprise?).

    But then American tax law may partly explain this. American tax law, unlike traditional German tax law, favours “trust fund kids” over passing on a functioning estate or other enterprise.

    Warren B. often used to decend on family business enterprises playing on how their children would be hit by inheritance tax – whereas if they sold out to B-H all would be well, their children could have income from a trust fund…..(rather than the hard work of running a family business).

    When there was pressure (from the courts) to change German inheritance tax – up popped Warren, like a vampire…..

    Still I am going into rant mode – so I had better stop.

  12. Julie near Chicago

    Sean, in re your S7 of the Education Act of 1996, I can only say that you folks are FAR more advanced (in a good way!) than we are, at least in that area.

    Hang on to that right for dear life, you lovely British people. It could conceivably mean the revival of Western Civilization–literally. Here, too many of the individual states are at a minimum trying to dictate just exactly what must be taught by homeschoolers, complete with achievement tests to be passed every so often on the officially sanctioned doctrines and so forth, if not to outright ban the practice.

    It’s very interesting. Back nearly 50 years ago, there was relatively little homeschooling because in most states it was against the law. At that time it was (at least allegedly) the conservatives who tended to be against it and the liberals (including classic liberal types) who were fighting for the right to homeschool. There was a famous case in Michigan in the ’60’s where the homeschooling mother was sentenced to 17 years in prison if I remember rightly, that is.I’m pretty sure the case went to the Michigan Supreme Court at least–I think but won’t swear that she won out in the end. Gradually the liberals managed to get the states to be a little more flexible. Feds too I suppose, although I don’t know if they had the same stranglehold on the schools that they do now.

    That was at the start of the heyday of Experimental Education, or at least of the latest wave of it. Montessori schools (very good, if run sensibly, but even 30 years ago they weren’t always); Summerhill (Bruno Bettelheim’s experiment). Everyone in Higher Education was all excited about Summerhill for awhile–the kids seemed to be doing better than their peers in the regular schools. After some years of this, I remember reading that after all the Summerhill kids weren’t doing so well. Then people started saying that up to two years at Summerhill seemed to be benign in results for most kids, but that longer in that environment seemed to be not so good for them. After that, I quit paying attention.

    Still, all that’s only the way I remember it, and I’ve discovered that my memory’s not so reliable as I used to think it was….

  13. Julie near Chicago

    Growing up in the 50’s…I spent the Grades 1-3 (we had no kindergarten, but littler kids were welcome to visit at will for half a day or all day with their older brothers and sisters) in one-room country school. I think our maximum student body was 16, spread across Grades 1-6. What a joy! You did your own classwork, and then read or listened to the upper-grade kids’ lessons, or daydreamed (while pretending to study), Or helped out the younger kids. Ideal learning environment!

    But my point is, all the readers up through the 6th-grade one were on the teacher’s desk and we were at perfect liberty to walk up and choose one to read while the teacher was busy with another class. What a joy!!!!

    So when we all went to “town school” (they closed our school altogether when I finished 3rd grade) I marched up to the teacher’s desk–what’s this? No 5th, 6th, 7th grade readers? I was told “No, you may not read upper-class readers. This is FOURTH grade.”


    • Julie,

      That’s interesting, and confirms a theory I’ve had for some time that one reason for American educational decline was the end of the old “one room schools” and the transition to rigid grade levels and constant moaning about “class size.”

      As you point out, in a “mixed” school like the one you attended, the younger kids would try to keep up with the older ones, and the older ones would get valuable review/reinforcement experience by helping the younger ones (or at least hearing their lessons).

      These days, they even do what little recess they have by grade level (at least in the district I’m familiar with), so that younger and older kids don’t mix at all.

  14. Julie – in Germany homeschooling still is (de facto) against the law.

    In Britain Sean is correct about the legal position (and the exact words of Acts do matter) – however,in practice schooling has (for most people) has been de facto compulsory.

    I think it was the Act of 1876 that made schooling (de facto) compulsory for places that has adapted a School Board (under the Act of 1870) and places that voted AGAINST having a School Board will compelled to have one by the Act of 1891.

    Elected School Boards were abolished by the Act of 1902, with County Councils (under Cental Government) taking over.

    Thomas – this was a British version of the “scientific consolidation” so beloved by American Progressives (Republicans such as T. Roosevelt as much as Democrats such as Woodrow Wilson).

    Properly “trained” teachers (in the “best” H. Mann tradition). And bigger and bigger (less and less local) School Boards – and more and more State involvement.

    Federal involvement was less till after Carter won the tight 1976 election – with the help of the teacher unions (the first time the teacher unions were blatenly political on a national level).

    Even the New York Times was against the creation of Federal Department of Education – but Carter did it anyway (like his mentor Governor Maddox, Carter always paid his political debts to those who had helped him – till they were no longer useful, after all the same Mr Carter who backed Maddox in 1966 replaced him in 1970 and now claims to have had nothing to do with him).

  15. Julie – the idea of being forbidden to read stuff is scary. As is the story Sean tells of the chanting (it is like “The Borg”).

    Perhaps my own school background environment (chaos, fires, fighting and so on) was less bad.

    I actually found quite a lot of interesting books (once the old lady had taught me to read) – no one had even bothered to burn them (they were from the days when the school had been a Grammar School – it had also been famous for tracking Soviet space stuff), no one wanted these books in my day – so I read them.

    Perhaps I should have “homesteaded” them as well. After all, when the school was finally closed, they were (doubtless) destroyed.

  16. British schools, including those in the “private sector” (more or less) are now a giant outdoor-relief-system for combining syncrhonised childminding with an employment system for people who can’t do anything at all.

    When I am the Prinicpa Secretary of State for War, I will “let” most of them be shut down, in their entirety. The “teachers” will have to go and “do something else”. The pupils will all find worthwhile work, as the “minimum wage” will have been abolished, and millions (upon millions) of jobs will be available at between 10p and £4 an hour. We shall also then be able to sack and consequently afford to deport “millions” of “immigrants”, almost none of whom will be from the “European Union” (whatever that might be – it is a tautology) – for their “labour” will be too costly, at £6.18 per hour.

    The reason that we will be able to deport them all is that the War Secretariat will have rebuilt a “blue water navy”, and thus nobody will be utterly and absolutely keen to send the thieving buggers back to us, over “our” oceans.

    Our “borders” will be the coastlines and dockyard walls of all other countries.

  17. The Libertarian Movement, whatever that is, had better not let me get important, now, had it.

  18. Julie near Chicago


    Strangely enough, we were moved to “town school” as part of becoming “CONSOLIDATED Unit School District 202.” Consolidation was all the rage around here just then.

    The old lady who taught 4th grade went to our church, so she and her family and I and mine had known her since forever. We did have shelves with some books we could read–suitable to the 4th grade student’s reading skills, of course. LOL! I say “old lady”–she had white hair and looked old to a 9-year-old, but she put at least another 15 years on the chassis, so I’d bet she was maybe early 60s. I suppose the orders to the teachers to toe the line came down from on high…I wonder what they thought of it all privately. It was only, and specifically, the upper-grade readers that were verboten. Be just terrible if the students got ahead of the class, don’tcha know. Would really mess up the organizational chart.

    Speaking of which…that was also the Era of the Efficiency Expert. I do remember him as becomiAng a popular figure of fun. LOL

    I’m very glad your old lady took an interest in you, and taught you to read. A priceless gift, and the upshot is that you’ve spent a lifetime doing it. :>))


    Yes indeed. I’ve been a proponent of the one-room school ever since I edged into my 20’as, for that very reason.

    Mixing on the playground, horrors! At least there was no rule against that in my day. Of course the kids tended to hang out with other kids from their own class, mostly.

    For awhile, some some schools would put two classes together in each room, if the classes (and the school budget) were on the small side.

    Well, I hope all of us can somehow arrive at a point where home-schooling is too common to be worth notice. And private schooling, and if public schooling is what parents have to settle for in the interim, let it be very tightly overseen by them, and let the principals and teachers believe in teaching “the three R’s.”

  19. Julie near Chicago

    Vouchers. The trouble with vouchers is that just naturally, they’re going to come with strings attached. Maybe only little thin ones at first…but gradually, I’m afraid we’ll continue to see proliferation of the rules and restrictions on what and how schools paid via the Government voucher system must “teach.” I’m afraid also that the schools in the voucher system will fall to cronyism. One way to get big and make lots of money is to offer a truly superior product to a public that wants it and can afford it at the price you offer…which is fine in a truly free educational market, but another way is to get lots of breaks and business perks from this legislator and that bureaucrat. “Most favored school ” status, so forth.

    And of course you still have the wastage of funds in paying the collectors to collect the money (taxes), then do the accounting.

    By the way–there was already one big scandal about “cronyism” and wrongdoing by one of the charter school chains down South. Maybe Thomas remembers more about that than I do.

    On balance and in theory, the voucher system would seem OK (if you think taxation for schools is OK in the first place)–but except for the idea of getting parents used to the idea that they don’t HAVE to send their kids to P.S. 151, I don’t see the advantage, since I think it would shake out to be just “business as usual.” A clean break would be much better, if it were politically possible…which it isn’t.

  20. Pingback: A conservative student's take on public school indoctrination

  21. Julie – I fear that about vouchers also. Once the state has control of school finance – why should they not take control (via regulations). Look what they tried to do to Hillsdale.

    “Some students at your university take government backed student loans – therefore you must……”

    Only by forbidding any student to take money from the government (or money backed by the government) did Hillsdale maintain what freedom it still has (which is not as much as it should have).

  22. Of course with local (un “consolidated” government) it is less difficult to “vote with your feet” (I know Lenin was insincere,to put it mildly, – but it is still a good line).