Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Empress's New Clothes

What's in the Charter Schools Closet?

It might surprise conservatives to learn what the charter school agenda is really all about. From an untitled article that appeared in the Chicago Sun Times on March 8, 1996, we learn the truth:
Determined to show that all Chicago public school students can succeed, DePaul University is waiting for the stroke of Governor Edgar’s pen to kick off plans for its own charter school.... “These children can learn at the same rate as the children of Ph.D.’s.... We have a list of things we can choose from. There’s direct instruction, whole language, team learning, cooperative learning,” said Barbara Sizemore, Dean of DePaul University’s College of Education, Chicago.
Well, well. This quote stripped the Empress Sizemore and her change agent associates of whatever clothing they had left—which wasn’t much due to this type of “bait and switch” technique having been used on parents over and over again. Create the problem; parents scream; impose a solution they would never have accepted in the first place; parents gratefully accept it, not knowing the only difference between the solution and what they had before is a new label.

Some parents understood the manipulative mastery learning method. This writer has boxes full of letters from teachers, doctors, and parents in Texas, Ohio, Arizona, Indiana, etc., deploring the serious negative effects of mastery learning—sickness and stress. But when the change agents substituted the “direct instruction” label for the failed “mastery learning” label [as Sizemore does above], how could parents be expected to recognize the deceit?

Actually, it does take some kind of nerve to propose a solution which only fourteen years earlier had been discredited as a failure in Chicago, and which has put Chicago, Washington, D.C., and South Carolina at the bottom of the heap as far as test scores go. If one checked all the other inner city schools that have used this Skinnerian [computerized Programmed Instruction] method, one would find only minor differences between their low test scores and those of the three mentioned above.

Dean Sizemore was telling parents and teachers something—something very important. She was obviously very proud of the menu being offered to the na├»ve charter school parents and children in Chicago—the menu to be offered to all schools in the nation. The implementation of site-based management (unelected, hand-picked councils) would assure approval of Sizemore’s controversial outcome-based education which consisted of cooperative learning and Engelmann’s direct instruction/DISTAR/SRA/mastery learning in conjunction with literature-based whole language instruction, etc.—a delicious concoction to be sure, guaranteed to further dumb down our children.

Parents, Direct Instruction is not back-to-basics (teacher-directed instruction of content, with the teacher teaching in the front of the classroom). It is fast-forward into the world of global workforce training, where the teacher will be in front of the classroom chanting, not instructing; your children will be expected to “perform” like rats or pigeons, not learn academic content.

Parents want teachers to teach content which their child can relate to other parts of his/her life for complete understanding; they want their child to be able to make connections between what he/she learns and past knowledge, to be used in the future. Chanting back what a teacher chants is not learning—it is training. There can be no transfer of knowledge when bits and pieces of information which relate to nothing are all the “robots” can repeat. Parents don’t want teachers to be controllers or directors, and they surely don’t want their children to be passive learners chanting back answers like parrots, mimicking what a teacher says. Such training considers your child as nothing but a raw resource to be prepared and molded as a product. Traditional education, which allows for give and take between teacher and student (creativity) is the last thing in which the corporate/education elite is interested.

This new type of education (training), in conjunction with mandatory community service, workforce preparation starting in elementary school, mandatory uniforms for America’s school children, new school board policies regarding fighting in school which will allow the police to come to the school and drag your children into holding tanks for further prosecution, etc., sends chills down the back of this writer. It brings to mind the ugliness of a recent era in history which many seem to have forgotten.
[This post is excerpted and adapted from the deliberate dumbing down of america, pp. 362-363, emphasis added. For more information, see the index at the back of the book which leads to more entries on these topics.]