"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

How Public Education Got "Robert McNamara'd Into Submission" by the Elites/Intellectuals

Simon and Garfunkel were McNarmara'd in the 60's.  Taxpayers are currently being McNamara'd in education reform.

Neither Conservative Thomas Sowell or Liberal Mark Naison are happy with governmental control and the plan of the elites.   

Sowell thinks the intellectuals are to blame for our troubles...from Althouse:

"The more I study the history of intellectuals, the more they seem like a wrecking crew, dismantling civilization bit by bit — replacing what works with what sounds good."

Writes Thomas Sowell, in a column called "On Christmas, Liberals Are By No Means Liberal."
After watching a documentary about the tragic story of Jonestown, I was struck by the utterly unthinking way that so many people put themselves completely at the mercy of a glib and warped man, who led them to degradation and destruction. And I could not help thinking of the parallel with the way we put a glib and warped man in the White House.
Wow. That's harsh.
Here's the documentary about Jonestown. And here's Sowell's excellent book "Intellectuals and Society."

What caught my attention was Sowell's hrase "replacing what works with what sounds good".  Common Core Standards immediately came to mind.  Education reform wants to dismantle the 93% of Missouri school districts that were performing well so they can all be "common".  These standards may sound good...but why are we implementing standards that are unproven, untested and unfunded for those districts testing well?   

One of the reasons why CCSS is important to implement might be so the definition of what is historically important can be decided by private consortia.  (The history standards are currently under construction).  If your student doesn't know who Robert McNamara and McGeorge Bundy were, then he/she doesn't have the capability of linking of these mens' roles in the Kennedy/LBJ administrations' Vietnam War strategy to the roles of the elites in supporting Teach For America.  Liberal Mark Naison chimes in on the educational aspect of elitism and his apprisal of TFA, the "elite" cadre of teachers funded primarily by private corporations:

Teach for America Leaders-Are They the Robert McNamara's and McGeorge Bundy's of This Generation?

Increasingly, the leaders of Teach for America remind me of the Ivy League efficiency experts who brought us the Vietnam War, a war their children never fought in, just as the schools that TFA corps members are sent into, or the charter schools they found, are ones their own children would never attend. Here’s why: ********Robert McNamara, in the summer of 1965, recommended that the US send hundreds of thousands of ground troops into Vietnam, knowing that they could at best produce a stalemate, knowing that 10,000 American soldiers would be killed per year, to help protect its reputation as a "guarantor" of nations facing Communist aggression. However, would he have made that recommendation if he had know that his own son could have been one of those killed? Similarly, TFA leaders would never send their children to a school where the bulk of teachers have 5 or 6 weeks training and would be even less likely to send them to a school like KIPP where students spend an hour looking at the wall if they are disrespectful in class. ********Policies which claim to be in the “public interest” that only affect other people’s children and affirm race and class privilege, should be subject to the most careful kind of scrutiny. And that goes for the alternative certification route to teaching that only affects schools in poor neighborhoods, or hyper-segregated charter schools which promulgate a “no excuses philosophy” and implement a prison like discipline. 

Sowell and Naison agree on one issue: the intellectuals/efficiency experts are cut from the same cloth and cross political affiliations to control the lower class and maintain power. The takeover programs of education (Race to the Top, Common Core State Standards, Teach for America) are driven by a small number of private individuals/corporations propped up by public officials using taxpayer money without any taxpayer input and/or little legislative action. Whether or not you agree with the goals of these programs, many of these are mandates that have not borne the test of voter approval, even as taxpayer money is being used for implementation.

A foreshadowing comment McBundy made about the war may prove prophetic about current educational reform (unproven, untested and unfunded) policies of the elites (Obama, Arne Duncan, Michelle Rhee, David Coleman, Jeb Bush, Bill Gates):

He was crisply articulate, but there was one persistent young man, who resembled Trotsky, needling Mac with questions about the war. Mac finally cut him off saying, "Your problem, young man, is not your intellect but your ideology."

Later, as we were clinking highballs, the Trotsky look-alike cornered Mac: " What about Vietnam?" 

Bundy: "I don't understand your question." 

Trotsky: "Mac, what about (italics)you(end italics) and Vietnam?" 

Bundy: "I still don't understand."

Trotsky: "But Mac, you screwed it up, didn't you?" 

Glacial silence. Then Bundy suddenly smiled and replied: "Yes, I did. But I'm not going to waste the rest of my life feeling guilty about it." 

When he died, McGeorge Bundy was working on a book about the war whose main message was that Vietnam was a terrible mistake.

It's a loss that he did not live to write in full what he had learned from the Vietnam calamity.

Young men died in Vietnam fighting a war the elites knew could never be won.  Are students stuck in public education with elitist/intellectual reforms (that won't work to improve education) about to be sacrificed for a vision that cannot and will not work (for students) but create wealth for the educational reformers?  Do you think the elites and intellectuals will "waste the rest of their lives feeling guilty about it"?

Simon and Garfunkel's "A Simple Desultory Phillipic" or "I was Robert McNamara'd into Submission".

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