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Academic Assault in the Public Schools

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If there’s one subject that the mainstream media are gaga over, it’s sexual assault.

The Virginian-Pilot, for example, has run dozens of articles. If you read between the lines, you realize that males are abusing females, males are abusing males, females are abusing females, females are abusing males. Many of these cases are murky and contentious, She said, she said, etc. But the Pilot treats the whole problem as a no-brainer, and acts as if the obvious answer is to take military officers out of the loop. Apparently, there is a vast left-wing offensive against letting the military control its own disciplinary problems.

Meanwhile, there’s another striking feature of this obsession with “sexual assault.” Numerically speaking, there is far more academic assault in our schools than sexual assault in our military. But you hardly hear a peep about this.

Every child in a public school is likely to be the victim of academic assault on any given day.

What does this mean exactly? It means: They will be under-educated and mis-educated. They will be told politically correct opinions they don’t need but will NOT be told a great array of basic knowledge they do need. They will be taught using counterproductive theories and methods (e.g., Reform Math). Finally, they won’t be encouraged to become good scholars or good students. Rather, they will be encouraged to be comfortable with mediocrity. Many will be rendered ignorant and illiterate. All of these practices constitute academic assault

Twenty-five years ago Siegfried Engelmann wrote a book called “War against the schools’ academic child abuse." He coined the phrase “academic child abuse” (equivalent to "academic assault"). Recently Engelmann commented, “Nothing’s changed. There are no provisions for schools to keep track of what works. Instead, schools adopt technically backward procedures and programs. Kids fail. The school district learns nothing more than to blindly try something else, which is usually cloaked in sweet rhetoric but is technical nonsense.”

Schools are being dumbed down for ideological reasons. Let’s consider the simplest example, which can stand in for 10,000 others.

Everybody should know that George Washington was our first president, right? No. There are many so-called educators who would say he’s a white man who owned slaves—we don’t want to glorify that. Others would say he owned businesses and helped create a capitalist society that is still grinding down the poor. We shouldn’t praise him. Other people would say more generally, children shouldn't be burdened with knowing useless information. So we don’t want to bother with George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin or any other historical figure. Another group of educators (called constructivists) argue that children should learn nothing by direct instruction, ergo they cannot be told about George Washington. They have to find it for themselves or remain ignorant.

So the schools are basically rigged to commit academic assault all day, every day. There is almost always an official excuse for teaching less, or for teaching what is taught in a bad way.

The paradigm for counterproductive instruction is teaching children to read with Sight-words. This idea has been a failure since it was introduced in 1931. That the Education Establishment keeps sneaking it into the schools tells us that literacy is not a high priority. That the mainstream media rarely explain this failed method tells us more than we want to know about their priorities.

Our public schools are full of horror stories. A recent headline sums up our malaise: “Principals say Common Core tests make little kids vomit and pee their pants.”

Education, a hundred years ago, was overrun by psychologists, sociologists, psychiatrists, and socialist ideologues of various stripes. They had many agenda but none were primarily educational. These people wanted to build a Brave New World. The ghost of Ivan Pavlov flits over all of it. He was the guy who put the saliva tube in the dog. He also put them in boys, as you see in the photograph above. Pavlov was trying to improve his conditioning techniques, which would be used to control people.

Education went off track very early. People want to use the public schools for everything but making sure that children are educated. That is the essence of academic assault.

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