Princeton, Harvard, and Yale can help improve K-12 education

Posted 12 months ago|4 comments|579 views
Written by
Virginia Beach, VA
I've often had a fantasy where, circa 1955, the Chairmen of the Departments of English at Princeton, Harvard and Yale stand on the steps of the Library of Congress and proclaim, "We support Rudolf Flesch!" This small gesture could have saved tens of millions of children from misery. But nobody from these places did a thing. Much to their shame.

In 1956 Flesch's enemies created the International Reading Association to discredit him, sabotage phonics, and keep Whole Word dominant. The damage continues.

Let's start with a safe generalization: our public schools are dumbing down multitudes of children. They can't read or write at an acceptable level, they don't know much history, science or anything else. All of this is empirically verified by tests of various kinds.

Even worse, all of this is anecdotally verified by millions of horror stories. A student at James Madison University, majoring in education, told me about a fellow student who didn't know who George Washington was. Note that JMU is in Virginia; and the ignorant student is a Virginian. I asked how is this even possible. The teller of the anecdote shrugged and said, "It happened, that's all I can tell you."

Who is going to defend those semi-educated kids? Who is going to say to our Education Establishment: enough already.

Most businesses and organizations don't have any special interest in intelligence or academic achievement. But the ones that do should take more interest in protecting public school students. For example, Princeton, Harvard, and Yale.

I'm been thinking about all the thousands of professors in all the colleges in the United States. What are they doing to help secondary education in America? Anything at all? We need these people to get out and fight, even if only a little.

For example, they could explain to their communities what's gone wrong in the public schools and why children receive such bad educations. They could explain why Flesch was right about reading in 1955 and still is. Professors could start making up for all the years when they were silent.

There are two factors for people in elite organizations to consider. First, all levels of education are connected. If public schools are doing a dreadful job, this mediocrity will wash over into colleges. The smart, SELF-SERVING thing for higher education is to be more protective of all education.

Second, the sophistries wrecking public schools are not that hard to understand. For example, you cannot teach children to read with sight-words. End of story. Flesch explained this impossibility in the simplest terms. But how many professors understand that statement?

There are a dozen main sophistries embedded in our public schools. Take a few minutes and you will understand why they are fake. For example, Reform Math is a concatenation of bad ways to teach math. "No mastery" is official doctrine. Contemplate the insanity of that.

Perhaps what we need is intellectual big brotherism. An awkward phrase but all it means is that elite organizations, especially ones with power, take a greater interest in the organizations lower down. Intellectual big brothers could issue statements, make demands, express solidarity, lean on society's leaders, and encourage children to aim higher.

The Modern Language Association (MLA), National Association of Scholars (NAS), the American Historical Association (AHA), and similarly distinguished organizations should insist that public schools be improved.

The Chronicle of Higher Education should announce its own plan for helping K-12 education.

A lot of people remain confused about why Flesch was right in 1955. Maybe now is a good time for the Chairmen of the Departments of English at Princeton, Harvard and Yale to stand on the steps of the Library of Congress and explain these matters.


SHORT VIDEO: "Good School? Bad School?" (how to tell one from the other)

SHORT ARTICLE: "56: Top 10 Worst ideas in Education" (what to get rid of first)

SHORT VIDEO: "Reading is Easy" (why phonics works)
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12 months ago: Wow, Bruce, although I respect what you say and there is some truth, you don't see anyone else's side to this. We have kids that have done very well in the system. I also agree with you those Ivy league schools mean nothing if the graduates can't go out in the world and make a difference. Most are only concerned about status. Some colleges like Cornell University that we have dealings with, have professors that work in 3rd World countries providing help. I found some professors that graduated from Yale for example so full of themselves they only mingle with people like themselves. They don't know much. I've seen some mean professors who try to intimitate people. What's the difference. To me they are no better than anyone else.
Nothing is perfect, so you work with improving what you have. It takes the parents to make noise. I've had to go up against the school system. I was very unpopular afterward, but I didn't care I accomplished what I had to for mine. I was right.
It takes a lot of effort on families and nothing gained comes free.
Many kids with other talents may have reading disabilities but catch up later, but their talent supercedes their education.
Nothing is fool proof. Kids can be lazy and not want to read and later on after graduating they can't get enough of books and learning and will excel in their lives with high paying jobs. It's too bad that time is wasted.
I've seen people without degrees amass a fortune. It is up to teachers to inspire youth to make them want to learn. I remember one of my classmates saying "Why do I have to learn how to diagram a sentence", I'll never use it. This is what he believed. No one explained the importance of it. Same with math students while studying said they didn't need it so why study. It's attitude and seeing room for improvement. I still can't bash our system. We have to make the most of it and improve it. What happens if it comes down some day we don't even have that. We have to demand it and make it happen.
Virginia Beach, VA
12 months ago: You say on the one hand this and on the other hand that. We'll never get anywhere.

I'm developing a general thesis which I'm trying out in various places. Here is the short statement of it: intellectuals have's should be more protective of intellectual have-not's. I'm sure you agree.

I'm mainly aiming this thesis at organizations, ones with power and prestige, like Princeton, Harvard, and Yale. But there are many others.

Here's the amazing part. They hardly have to do a damn thing. Just make a gesture now and then. How much trouble would it have been for those professors to show up on the Library of Congress for a few hours?

How much trouble would it be now if big shots at some of these places would express, shall we say, discontent with the low level of achievement in this area or that area? This discontent would be reported. Parents would cut out the story and take it to the local school. A gesture would have consequences.

Do these big shots not care? Or is the ruling political class so overwhelmingly "liberal" that everyone is afraid to speak up?

12 months ago: Intellectual have and have nots? I would never use that term. We are on our own to make or break us.
I don't think your assessment is correct. It's the people who have a passion to make change that will make the difference, not Harvard, etc. grads. The problem with them is that they think they know it all but are really out of touch with what goes on. They also skim the surface and never go into depth with anything of importance unless there is money involved.
Usually, so called big shots don't help. It is the ordinary person who wants to make change. We don't have to rely on statements from the so called higher eschelan who are so full of personal self pride that anything and everything they say counts.
I do think it is great what you are doing. Anyone that has an interest and can see that there is need helps out.
Do you really think that people are afraid to speak up? I don't think so.
I also don't believe that so called intellectuals know everything there is to know about children receiving a good education in order to be protective of the have-nots as you put it and speak out for them. Everyone is equal and I don't care what school they went to. I know too many of them that act like they can't even tie their own shoes. I find many of them destructive from being put on an intellectual pedestal and don't understand people in general. Therefore, they cause more problems. We have political representatives that are more informative then these distant "haves" that are not in tune with society on a whole. Don't get me wrong. Many do contribute. I have yet to see any good professors who aren't a little whacky.
12 months ago: I'm not disputing your opinion as much as I am saying that all of us have a view and our own opinion of what the world should be but the reality of it is that facts and research are the only things that people take seriously. I wish it were a perfect world, but it isn't. It is probably because there are so many with different opinions and not enough facts.
I do have a relative that graduated from both Harvard and Princeton. He put it to good use for the people of the US. Doesn't mean that people who didn't attend these ivy league schools run short in the ability to achieve.

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