Our schools are full of bad ideas. A parent's first job is to understand why they're bad.
Public schools are intellectual jungles. Parents can’t understand what's going on there. Most teachers cannot justify the methods commonly used in their own schools.
Bruce Deitrick Price, the country’s most prolific and aggressive writer on K-12 education, urges parents: “Be smart consumers. Understand what's going on inside the classroom. Then you can defend and assist your children.”
Price has published more than 400 articles and two books explaining the inner workings of our school system. The following is a quick summary of the obstacles that parents and children must work around:
First of all, we see a relentless devaluing of basic skills and foundational knowledge. Reading, writing, and arithmetic are necessary building blocks but these are taught clumsily and often unsuccessfully. Kids don't learn enough geography, history, and general science.
Furthermore, public schools often oppose direct systematic instruction of every subject. Our schools oppose memorization of anything, and mastery of anything. The general theory for almost a century is to learn by doing. In practice, that means you throw kids into fairly meaningless activities and projects. That's not how children become educated.
"The most shocking thing for me," Price notes, "is that across the whole educational landscape, there is constant prejudice against facts and knowledge. Kids don't know where China and England are on a map. They don't know what the moon goes around. They don't know how many stripes are on the flag. Think of simplest things that every citizen should know. Probably the children in your local school do not learn these things.”
There is a separate prejudice against asking students to do a good job, finish assignments on time, take care of details, and try to be accurate and disciplined. This prejudice undermines character.
If you look closely at the favorite methods devised by our education professors, Price predicts you'll be shocked by the inefficiency. For example, phonics is the natural way to teach a phonetic language such as English. But our Education Establishment aggressively promoted Sight-words starting in 1931, with the result that we have tens of millions of functional illiterates.
Price believes that most subjects, and especially arithmetic, are best taught by starting with the simplest facts such as 1+2 = 3. He stresses, "You don't want to confuse children at the beginning. You want them to feel in command. Then they will enjoy learning and want to learn more. Our public schools often break their spirits very early. Common Core and its excesses have made everything worse.
A major crippler across all subjects is a theory called Constructivism. The students are supposed to invent their own new knowledge. Teachers are supposed to stand aside. If you want to learn a subject, you are told to go on the Internet and see what information you can discover. If you don't figure out something for yourself, it doesn't count. This bizarre theory has been gospel throughout our school system for almost 40 years.
Additionally, classrooms are often disorderly and dangerous. Standards are not enforced. Many children are anxious, and fear going to school. Many teachers give up each year and leave the profession.
Now imagine all these counterproductive theories and methods operating simultaneously. Unhappy, uneducated children are inevitable.
Price’s advice to parents: "Stay involved. Don't assume the school system means well. If they're doing a bad job, you can demand an IEP (Individualized Education Plan). Support your children by finding great books and websites, and by visiting museums, art galleries, or historic sites. Discuss with your children their ideas on what a great school would be like. If private school or homeschooling aren’t feasible, tell your children that if they can be good students at a bad school, they are heroes!”
In particular, Price urges parents to oppose Common Core, Sight-words, and Constructivism. They are the worst.
Price concludes: "To save our country, we first have to save our schools. At the moment they are a slow-motion train wreck.”
For a more complete analysis of problems in our public schools, see Price’s guide to school reform: ”Saving K-12: What happened to our public schools? How do we fix them?” (Available on Amazon).
Robert W. Sweet, Jr., long-time President of the National Right to Read Foundation, stated: "Bruce Price’s SAVING K-12 is a MUST read! It is precise, concise and powerful. Action is required…for the sake of our children, our grandchildren and the future of the American Republic!”
Price founded Improve-Education.org in 2005, an article site that focuses on explaining the counterproductive theories and techniques so often seen in K-12.
Bruce Deitrick Price is available for guest editorials, radio interviews, consulting, etc.