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Public Schools Have Been Failing For Years

By Eileen Spatz

Orange County Register, March 18, 1998

Imagine my shock, picking up a book written in 1954 by Mortimer Smith entitled The Diminished Mind, to learn that the current problems we are facing in the public school system are old hat. Smith's words were, practically verbatim, the words that I use today, 44 years later, to describe the ailing public schools. Here I thought I was on to something new and urgent, only to discover that this issue is older than me. Much older really. Smith begins his book by referring to the primary problem, the progressive movement away from disciplined knowledge toward "real life" learning, as already 30 years in the making. Coincidentally, this time line brings us to the adoption of the "Humanist," drawn up in 1933 by the NEA as its credo, a doctrine based on socialist ideology.

In The Diminished Mind, one finds references to the same problems and practices in schools today, such as group learning, watered down curriculum, social engineering and psychological assessment. Apparently, the trend for schools to place more emphasis on adjustment to the group rather than a student's individual academic experience is hardly new. This movement was started in the 1930s in response to the newly energized NEA and its conviction to create a utopian society, one cultivated through the public schools.

The NEA's movers and shakers (Horace Mann, John Dewey, etc.) viewed the world through socialists' eyes and truly thought they could manufacture a perfect society using those principles.

Thankfully, the equalizer over the decades has been the conviction of American citizens who loved their freedom, abhorred the idea of a socialist society and continued to instill religious and patriotic values in their children -- offsetting the effects of NEA-influenced teachers and propaganda inside the schools.

But however similar our current problems in education appear to be to those of the '50s, there are distinct differences. Families are now fragmented and many parents lack principles or moral conviction, offering little to counter the schools' "value" system. In addition, because of the legislation passed in 1994 -- Goals 2000 and School to Work -- the NEA finally has what it never had all those years they have attempted to socialize this country through the schools, a law.

One review of California's infamous CLAS test of 1994 (which was to be the pilot test for the nation) spoke volumes of what was to come. Question such as "tell us about a time when you were left alone" and "describe the most frightening experiences of your life," etc., followed short excerpts of disturbing stories that the children were supposed to answer in essay format. The children would then break into groups (of course) and, after discussion, answer the questions again after being influenced by the group.

That the answers were not graded for spelling, grammar or punctuation caused many to question what the purpose of this "test" was. Although the test was dropped (parents filed lawsuits up and down the state), the fact that it was ever designed and administered was a predictor of what our schools are destined to become through the Goals 2000 legislation. Currently in place, across the country, are data collection services to track every child's personal family information, psychological and health records and assessment data based on state-defined attitudes and values.

The School-to-Work component is by far the most ominous because it will ultimately shape and control the nation's work force. Children will be routed into career pathways in elementary school and job skills will be integrated into the entire curriculum. A skills certificate will be granted on completion of the STW program, which is based on such competencies as "values diversity," "collaborative contributor," "critical thinker" and "interprets human experience."

Eventually, all children must possess the skills certificate in order to go on to college or get a job. How's that for control? This will force private schools and home schools to comply with federal mandates in order for their students to be employable.

Public schools have successfully removed almost all mention of God from their books and traditional practices. The revised history curricula (i.e., social studies) leaves our children feeling ashamed of their country, and patriotic songs are not even taught. Schools have rammed multi-culturalism (which is separatist and racist) down our children's throats, causing only more distinct divisions between groups. The NEA has indoctrinated this nation's corps of teachers to a point where most of them don't question any of this. The "trend" of teaching toward group consensus and actual group think is now an intrinsic component in today's classrooms. In addition, the whole concept of competition and individual excellence is rarely encouraged.

It is time for concerned Americans to get involved in the fight. Once informed, citizens need to voice their opposition to their elected representatives, loudly. The legislation is online at the national STW website. Read it and weep. Literally.

[Editor's note: The School To Work program was not implemented as outlined above, but we still need to continue being watchful of programs like this as they are proposed by politicians.]

About the author: Eileen Spatz is the mother of three children whom she now home schools. Because of extreme disappointment in her children's public school, she was motivated to became active in researching and writing about educational issues (since 1994). Although Spatz identifies problems such as questionable teaching philosophies (outcome based education) and faddish pedagogy (new new math and whole language) as serious problems in today's public schools, her emphasis these past four years has been on exposing the disturbing federal education bills (Goals 2000 and School-to-Work) which were signed into law in March 1994.

By informing the public through her writings, which appear in The Orange County Register, the LA Times, The Washington Post, and Investor's Business Daily, she is hoping to encourage other parents to take control of their childrens' education. In addition to newspaper columns, she has appeared on cable television specials regarding education, and is currently contributing to a book on the subject.

Eileen lives with her husband, Mark, and kids (Chelsea, 12; Christopher, 10; and Sammi, 6) in San Clemente, CA .

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