The know-nothing party

To become a citizen, immigrants must answer six of 10 basic civics questions, such as: Who wrote the Declaration of Independence? What do we call the first 10 amendments to the Constitution? Who was the first president of the United States?  When the Goldwater Institute asked Arizona public high school students 10 random questions from the citizenship list, only 3.5 percent got six or more questions right, writes Matthew Ladner in a preview on Jay Greene’s blog. Half the students got only one question right.

Fifty-eight percent knew the Atlantic Ocean is off the east coast and half identified the two major political parties. However, only 29.5 percent identified the Constitution as the supreme law of the land, 25 percent identified the Bill of Rights as the first 10 amendments to the Constitution and 23 percent knew Congress was made up of the House and Senate. Only 9.4 percent said the Supreme Court has nine justices.  Thomas Jefferson was named as the writer of the Declaration of Independence by a quarter of students; 14.5 percent answered that Senators are elected for six-year terms and 26 percent knew the president runs the executive branch.
Finally, only 26.5% of students correctly identified George Washington was the first President. Other guesses included John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, George Bush and Barack Obama.

Seniors did no better than freshmen. Ethnicity made little difference.

Profound ignorance is quite equally distributed in large measure across students in the public school system.

Arizona eighth graders are supposed to be taught everything needed to ace the civics test, Ladner writes. Charter students passed at twice the rate of students in district schools; private school students were four times more likely to pass. “Still pathetic,” he writes.

Here’s part one of Freedom From Responsibility.

About Joanne

Comments

  1. Ponderosa says:

    The post says that Arizona kids are supposed to learn this stuff in 8th grade. I wonder if many DO, but it just doesn’t stick. Which raises the question of HOW it gets taught. Do they do make posters, write skits, fill out worksheets…? Do they get tested or are the assessments softer?

  2. Yeah, but all those dudes you want them to know about are dead white guys, right?

  3. wahoofive says:

    I’m always a little skeptical of survey results, since it seems like there’s a big chunk of Americans who just randomly answer, or intentionally give wrong answers as a joke. I suspect high school students are particularly prone to this.

    Whoever answered that Barack Obama was the first President isn’t ignorant of history, they’re playing games with the survey takers. Or their English skills are so weak they didn’t understand the question.

  4. So much for standards. I’d guess the state standards call for learning all of that stuff. The Know Nothing Party, by the way, was a virulently anti-immigrant northern Whig populist faction that was at its peak in the 1850s before most of its adherents became part of the coalition of groups that formed the basis of the modern Republican Party.

  5. Wahoofive is correct. There is nothing to learn here beyond the obvious: high school students like to have fun.

  6. I wonder… I’m new to your blog, but the first post I read moves me to ask: what has happened to our public school system? I went to a public school, and I’m still appalled at what you describe! Oh well, I’ll keep reading, but maybe you could write about different schools and school systems, here and abroad – and compare and contrast what works and what doesn’t.

  7. Why should those students care about that stuff? Do we, as a society, really think it’s important? Turn on the TV “news channels” today, and what do you see? Anything about the health care debate? No. Anything about the climate control bill in Congress? No. Anything about what’s going on in Iraq or Afghanistan? Forget it. All they are covering–and I do mean all–is the death of Michael Jackson. Has there been any recent news about his death today? No. But we have to see interviews with Jackson’s so-called friends, fans, shrinks, etc., etc., etc.. Every aspect of his life and death are being analyzed, re-analyzed, and re-analyzed again. The guy was a pop singer for crying out loud. It’s very tough for schools to get kids to learn and retain information about social studies topics when our society tells them in so many ways that none of it really matters. Entertainment and celebrity is what is important in this country, and to hell with everything else. Ask those same kids questions about rock stars, movie stars, and TV and I guarantee you that you’ll get a very different outcome.

  8. Richard, you forgot to add that it was the same Know Nothing Party that was the driving force behind the development of the US public education system. It’s all in Charles Glenn’s book The Myth of the Common School.

  9. How much of a problem is this?

    Is the republic at risk if students don’t know the “name” assigned to constitutional rights? Isn’t that a rather arbitrary question and bit of information. Isn’t practical application of the knowledge more relevant? How extensive is the testing of their understanding of their rights? How much knowledge do seventeen year olds need in this respect.’

    What has been the historical record of just how much extensive civic knowledge the average American, and then the average voter, possesses and utilizes on a regular basis?

    These sort of questions and statistics are misleading and need to be extrapolated into long-term trends of practical application before we determine that “we are in trouble.”

  10. Roger Sweeny says:

    Dennis, you are, of course, right about what tv news channels are showing. But I think the reason why is a lot simpler than “what we, as a society, really think is important.” A lot more people will watch MJ stories than will watch stories about the climate change bill or health care or …

    In school, we tell our students, “learn this because it is what we, as a society, think is important for you to know.” But they still would rather learn about “rock stars, movie stars, etc.”

    When it comes to tv, people can choose not to watch. Five to sixteen year olds are not allowed to choose not to come to school. But, to our frustration, they can choose not to care and not to learn much.

  11. I think wahoofive is closer to the mark than all this hand-wringing. Have you ever seen a class fill one of these things out? Highly entertaining. I wouldn’t believe a word of that report unless I knew the testing conditions.

  12. Ragnarok says:

    Lightly Seasoned said:

    “Have you ever seen a class fill one of these things out? Highly entertaining.”

    Quite true, but what about TIMSS?

  13. What about TIMSS? Isn’t that math and science?

  14. tim-10-ber says:

    Michael said: How much of a problem is this?

    Michael — to see how much a problem is just look at the US today vs fifty years ago. The public school curriculum has been dumbed down significantly, the welfare state has increased significantly. American know how is still there but the public school system was designed to dumb down the american public —

    Please read John Taylor Gatto’s underground history of american education…

    To Jay P Green– thanks for the book recommendation…

  15. tim-10-ber says:

    Here is the description of The Myth of the Common School from Amazaon — I think this answers the question. Public education is about molding the kids to do the state’s bidding rather than develop the next generation of leaders, entrepreneurs, independent thinkers, self sufficient individuals, etc. That is the job of the parents who have not abdicated their rights to raise their kids to the state and better private schools…

    Product Description
    In this thoughtful, well-wrought study, Charles L. Glenn examines the hisorical development of the idea that the State should sponsor popular education in order to mold common loyalties and values among its citizens in the interest of national unity. This idea had led inevitably to conflict with parents and groups who do not accept the values and beliefs inculcated by the state and its educators. Over the years, the issues around which such conflict has arisen have varied, but the underlying positions remain the same. On the one hand there are those who assert the absolute right of parents to control the education of their children. On the other there are those who assert the absolute right of the State to control the education of children and to do so in a way that minimizes the differences among them. Glenn examines this tension promarily as it evolved in nineteenth-century Massachusetts, with reference to parallel developments elsewhere in the United States and in France and the Netherlands. He ends by reminding us that this continuing conflict over popular education raises troubling questions in a demacracy. How, for example, can the pluralism we claim to value, the liberty we cherish, be reconciled with a State pedagogy designed to serve State purposes? Can governement assure that each child is educated in the essentials required by the social, political, and economic order without seeking to impose uniformity? He concludes by offering workable and tested solutions to this perennial dilemma.

  16. Ragnarok says:

    “What about TIMSS? Isn’t that math and science?”

    Yes it is. My point was that American kids are badly educated, regardless of this particular quiz.

  17. Good points, Tim-10-ber, but I would add that everything the state does is about molding individuals to do the state’s bidding. Public education is just one example out of many. The more incompetent people appear to be the more it can be claimed that they need a state to protect them, provide for them and to make decisions for them. The state becomes a god to most people. Progressives today are really no different than religious fundamentalists, except that they worship the state as their religion. Any suggestion of getting rid of the state as a solution to most of our problems is met with horror and disbelief that someone could believe it possible that we could get along without the state.

  18. Oh, well, that’s always your point.

  19. Ragnarok says:

    “Oh, well, that’s always your point.”

    No, my point is that I want the system to do better.

    There’s plenty of blame to go around, but in the end I want to see kids growing up well; that means growing up to be good human beings, in addition to learning skills.

    And none of this will happen as long as there are people who deny that things are quite bad, whether they be apologists or just protecting their jobs. It doesn’t take much to realise how bad it is. I remember posting a link to the CBEST and asking how the devil any teacher could fail it, though fail it they do.

    And I dislike having to send my kids to private schools because the public schools here are so bad, in spite of all the money they get.

  20. Tim-10-ber,

    Could you explain the difference in scores and statistics between the US now and fifty years ago? Perhaps before you do so, you might consider reading Diane Ravitch’s “Left Back: A Century of Failed Public School Reform.”

    If you see the US fifty years ago as some Golden Era of education and Leave it to Beaver communities, you have a very narrow view of history. Compare the students of fifty years ago with the numbers today completing AP/IB courses – college level if you’re unaware. Take a look at the IB program or the AP calculus or European History or Biology or Comparative Government before you are quick to chastise today’s students.

  21. Oh, well, that’s always your point.

    If only it weren’t so relentlessly true.

    But then, so what? The kids have to show up. The public has to pay. The payroll checks clear and the bennies are paid for.

  22. This is disgraceful. We are keeping kids in school longer, but why? They are not learning much; what little progress many make is flushed when they leave that class.

    It used to be common for some kids to treat high school as a time to play around, socialize, and do the minimum – they were the ones immortalized in Grease – the kids who just squeaked out. When there were jobs for unskilled and barely educated grads, that was fine.

    Now, teachers have to perform contortions to “entertain and motivate” these types of students. ALL students are expected to be “college ready”. Well, what if they – and their parents – really have little to no interest in more education? Face it – you can’t get a kid ready for college if he/she won’t do the work necessary to build the skills needed.

  23. Public education is about molding the kids to do the state’s bidding rather than develop the next generation of leaders, entrepreneurs, independent thinkers, self sufficient individuals, etc.

    Any yet, after generations of public schooling, we have hordes of leaders, entrepreneurs, and independent thinkers. I see no sign that public education is at all effective in molding kids to do the state’s bidding. Since the start of public education we have had the Civil Rights movement, resulting in a black president of the USA, we have had the gay rights movement, which has now reached the point of pushing for same-sex marriage, the rise of feminism, which has resulted in female prime ministers in NZ, the UK, etc, we have had Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and the numerous other IT millionaries, the wonderful outburst of invention with the Internet, the Indian populace managing to end Indira Gandhi’s movement to dictatorship, Milton Friedman changing the face of economics, the collapse of Communism, etc.

    Public education may aim to mold students to do the state’s bidding, but it’s backfired in a big way.

    I agree that schools don’t churn out self-sufficient individuals, they don’t teach students to be Crocodile Dundees, but then humanity could hardly survive if we were self-sufficient individuals. We’re a species that functions in packs – pregnant women need support and assistance and humanity needs pregnant women to survive. Aiming for self-sufficient individuals is a bloody stupid goal, unless you are in favour of human extinction.

  24. Where do you think the ability to protect the pregnant from danger comes from? Self-sufficient individuals.

    No one says that these individuals have to be loners; but the intelligence of the herd is dependent on the intelligence of the individuals. And, with the individuals in question, I’m concerned about extinction of the herd.

    They need to be able to do basic math – to build, to engineer, to make a bare living.

    They need to be able to communicate with others – not in txt slang, but in standard English, which, for those who care about these things, all those new immigrants will be working to learn. Another language would be nice, too.

    They need to be able to read directions for do-it-yourself projects, recipes, instructions for work, etc.

    What good are kids who only know gossip about celebrities, sports figures, and their inner clique? They may be able to dissect the flow of their favorite reality show, but that’s has no practical use. Being able to play an awesome Guitar Hero doesn’t translate into actual, non-air, guitar.

    They need to be able to exist for more than 10 minutes without reaching for a distraction – mp3 player, cell, aimless chatter. Too many of my students appear to be incapable of doing that. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been interrupted or ignored when trying to explain how to do a lab or activity, which they want to do, and appeared to be excited about. Then, after the other groups are working, ask “so, what do I do?” It can take some kids 10 minutes to realize they don’t have a pencil or paper (at which point it becomes “my problem” – well, it is, don’cha know – if I were a better teacher, I’d have a stash of stuff, which I’d donate to kids who have more money than I do).

    Whew!

    It’s too early in the morning to get this hot and bothered about this.

  25. So the public education system’s responsible for the survival of the species? Talk about performance anxiety!

    Sorry, but species survival has never been the reason for the establishment of a public education system. It’s always been the survival of a religion or a state that provided the impetus for creating a *mandatory-attendance* education system.

    As for all those leaders churned out by public education systems, on the basis of this particular survey and all other similar surveys, I’d say it’s more likely that those leaders emerged both diminished and leaders despite the most strenuous efforts of the public education system to render them ignorant and incapable of independent thought.

  26. Tracy W says:

    Where do you think the ability to protect the pregnant from danger comes from? Self-sufficient individuals.

    Nope – groups. For example, the farmers that provide the food that we eat are not self-sufficient. They buy in tools, expertise such as vetinary, resources such as fertilisers, tractors, etc. Back before we had such resources farming was a much more labour-intensive and even more obviously cooperative system.
    Gatherers work together, in groups spotting the best places to find resources. Fishers work together with nets, hunters often work together, eg combining to drive animals into nets, developing traps, speicalising in making knifes or arrows.

    No one says that these individuals have to be loners; but the intelligence of the herd is dependent on the intelligence of the individuals.

    To quote Newton: “If I have seen further than others it is because I have stood on the shoulders of others.” The intelligence of individuals is dependent on the intelligence of other individuals – we take what others have learnt and apply it in our own lives, rather than trying to work everything out from scratch ourselves.

    Look at it this way, if you had a brain wipe, how much of your modern knowledge do you think you would be able to recreate? The Ancient Greeks didn’t have long division, is that an evidence of their stupidity, or is our having long division an evidence of the slow accumulation of knowledge over the centuries?

    They need to be able to communicate with others – not in txt slang, but in standard English, which, for those who care about these things, all those new immigrants will be working to learn.

    And this of course is particularly important if they’re not going to be self-sufficient. I mean, if you’re going to be self-sufficient you can get away with communicating in grunts, but if you’re ever going to get pregnant being able to communicate with other people things like “the baby’s coming!” become much more important.

    As for the rest of your points, I don’t see the relevance.

    Allen: I’d say it’s more likely that those leaders emerged both diminished and leaders despite the most strenuous efforts of the public education system to render them ignorant and incapable of independent thought.

    Quite possibly. My argument is that public education systems, whatever the intentions of their funders, are associated with independent thinkers. For example, medieval monarchies had no public education systems, and maintained themselves in power for centuries. The Peasant Revolt in England was ended when the leaders of the revolt believed the king’s promises (and once they’d laid down their weapons were promptly executed). Cromwell, whatever else you think of him, did not make that mistake. Meanwhile, the Eastern European communist countries had an education system designed amongst other things to maintain the Communist system in power, and yet still their political systems collapsed.

    This is rather scanty evidence, I admit, there are many ways in which medieval states varied from Communist ones, but I see no evidence to support the hypothesis that education systems do mold their students to do the state’s bidding, and neither tim-10-ber or you have provided such evidence.

  27. Richard Aubrey says:

    Sometimes, though, you run into situations which cannot be explained by high-school pranking.
    I recently watched “Valkyrie” with a couple of college grads, class of 2000. I remarked that Rommel had been involved, too.
    “Who’s Rommel?”
    I was talking to a PhD candidate in international security and she asked what I had done in the Army. “Infantry”. “What’s that?”????????????????
    Her father, dean of a law school, happened to be passing.
    “Up close and personal killing,” he said. Some people get it.

    I have several relatives of the class of 1998-2004 era, with advanced degrees. They are IGNORANT. No idea of history, economics, use intuition instead of critical analysis.
    Voted for Obama, too. Not surprising.

    My wife is a high school Spanish teacher. We noticed that in one textbook map the publishing company had mislaid a major mountain chain. I wrote them a letter and got no reply.

    Where would our polity be if the American Government classes inculcated–seriously–the fact that the government has no money but what it takes from you? You’d almost think they wanted it to be a secret.

  28. Public education associated with independent thinkers? In what conceivable way?

    Certainly the public education system doesn’t exemplify independence of thought in the way it’s structured nor the structure it enforces on its charges and employees. If independence of thought arose from rigid regimentation then I’d have expected galley slaves to be literary lions and the gold mines at Kolima to have been the source of independent thought rather then the place independent thinkers were sent for the sin of independent thought.

    Medieval monarchies didn’t have a public education system because A) they were too poor, being hardly more then subsistence agriculture economies poorer then which there are hardly any and thus lacking the wealth to forgo all that convenient child labor and the labor of adults to teach the children something and B) they didn’t need them. The intellectual demands of subsistence agriculture aren’t such that a formal, and distinct, education is required. Everything that one needs to know can be acquired on the job, so too write.

    Once you’ve got some spare money though a public education system starts to make all sorts of sense.

    If the only people who can read, write and do anything more complex then staring at the rear end of an ox most of the day, have spent years in your schools then they’re liable to have a certain fondness, not to mention little recourse, to the organization responsible for their distinctly less distasteful life. Of course independence of thought isn’t what those schools were established to encourage. If, from time to time some disagreeable sort managed to make it through those schools without having their independence of thought pounded out of their heads well, that’s a problem for another day.

    By the way, I’m aware of the collapse of communism and I’ve never maintained that the indoctrination that’s the basis for public education results in certainty of the maintenance of the current regime, just that it’s an obvious thing to do when you’ve got political power; catch ’em young and train ’em right.

    That doesn’t change the economically inefficient nature of all authoritarian regimes which is why kings are now figureheads and communism is of interest to historians and tenured economics professors.

  29. Certainly the public education system doesn’t exemplify independence of thought in the way it’s structured nor the structure it enforces on its charges and employees.

    I have nothing to say about the motives of those who set up public education. All I am saying about is the *effects*.

    If independence of thought arose from rigid regimentation then I’d have expected galley slaves to be literary lions and the gold mines at Kolima to have been the source of independent thought rather then the place independent thinkers were sent for the sin of independent thought.

    Galleys and gold mines are very different from even the most brain-washing of schools. Most schools do try to teach their students how to read and write, thus giving the successful student access to other ideas, they expose them to intellectual ideas, they put forward some explanations of the world around them. My explanation of the phenomena that I see is that this process is enough to start some of the students thinking for themselves.

    If the only people who can read, write …, have spent years in your schools then they’re liable to have a certain fondness, not to mention little recourse, to the organization responsible for their distinctly less distasteful life.

    Perhaps, I do not have statistics to hand. But I will point out that Martin Luther, Jan Hus and John Wycliffe were educated by the Catholic church, yet set themseslves up against the Pope’s commands. Maybe people are liable to have a certain fondness for the way of life, but independent thinkers still arise, and they strike me as more commonly people with education.

    I have no quarrel with your explanation of why the medieval monarchies did not have a public education system, all I was pointing out was that the medieval monarchies lasted for a long time without being overthrown by the peasants.

    Of course independence of thought isn’t what those schools were established to encourage.

    And I am not arguing with you over this either. All I am saying is that, regardless of the intention of the schools, they do churn out independent thinkers. Just because you intend something, that doesn’t mean that you get it.

    By the way, I’m aware of the collapse of communism and I’ve never maintained that the indoctrination that’s the basis for public education results in certainty of the maintenance of the current regime, just that it’s an obvious thing to do when you’ve got political power; catch ‘em young and train ‘em right.

    Obviousness is not a good guide to reality. It’s “obvious” that an object in motion needs to keep being pushed otherwise it will stop. It’s “obvious” that refrigerator mums cause autism. It’s “obvious” that a country’s people all needs to share exactly the same religion for social stability. I can believe that the intent of many people who were involved in setting up public education systems was to maintain the current regime, what I question is the effect.

    That doesn’t change the economically inefficient nature of all authoritarian regimes which is why kings are now figureheads and communism is of interest to historians and tenured economics professors.

    And the leaders of the movements that caused these change were, as far as I know, all educated.

    To repeat myself, I do not dispute your claims about the intention of those who set up public education systems, all I am arguing here is about the effects.

  30. Arguing? Not hardly.

    All you’ve done so far is repeatedly assert that the public education system fosters independence of thought without giving any indication of how that miracle occurs.

    Oh, and the intentions of the founders of the American public education system, and every other public education system, most assuredly do matter.

    They set the foundation for the institution and it’s on that foundation that all subsequent developments are based. You can cavalierly assert that what those old fogies did back then has no relevance today but that’d be a display of your own naiveté. What was decided back then is what’s largely in effect today and you can prove it to yourself by boldly proclaiming a policy that the school board or administration thinks is within their area of responsibility. We’ll see who has the last word on that.

    Obviousness is not a good guide to reality.

    All obvious examples to the contrary notwithstanding.

    Try not to injure yourself coming up with specious examples in support of the silly idea that the way to encourage independence of thought is by suppressing independence of thought. The resulting injury might be beyond the powers of medicine to put right.

    By the way, I’m still waiting for something besides repeated assertions that lengthy, childhood exposure to authoritarianism is the way to teach independence of thought. Not the occasional exception who manages to resist the crushing of independence by an institution for whom children are merely grist for the mill but the inculcation of habits of independent thinking bolstered by a decent education.

    That would be the type of education in which knowing where the Atlantic Ocean resides isn’t a tough question.

  31. Tracy W says:

    All you’ve done so far is repeatedly assert that the public education system fosters independence of thought without giving any indication of how that miracle occurs.

    Allen, apparently you missed the bit where I said:

    Most schools do try to teach their students how to read and write, thus giving the successful student access to other ideas, they expose them to intellectual ideas, they put forward some explanations of the world around them. My explanation of the phenomena that I see is that this process is enough to start some of the students thinking for themselves.

    Oh, and the intentions of the founders of the American public education system, and every other public education system, most assuredly do matter.

    Quite possibly. My argument was the limited one that, whatever the intentions of those who set up public education, public education is not effective at molding kids to do the state’s bidding. There are of course a million other ways in which the intentions of the founders could matter, I do not deny that.

    You can cavalierly assert that what those old fogies did back then has no relevance today but that’d be a display of your own naiveté.

    Jolly lucky for me I didn’t make such an assertion then, isn’t it? My claim was not that what those people did back then had no relevance today, my claim is a much narrower claim that public education is not effective at molding kids to do the state’s bidding.

    What was decided back then is what’s largely in effect today …

    And of course many of the cases I quoted of independent thinkers arising from schools are historical – for example the Civil Rights movement really took off in the 1950s (though there were movemeents before then), the gay rights movement started in the 1970s, the feminist movement came in two waves, the late 19th century/early 20th, and then the 1960s, the IT entrepreneurs started arising in the 1970s, etc. So if what was decided back then is what is largely in effect today then I would not be surprised to see a continual process of new independent thinkers arising from the public education system.

    and you can prove it to yourself by boldly proclaiming a policy that the school board or administration thinks is within their area of responsibility.

    I await, with interest, for you to explain the relevance of this statement. I don’t even see how it follows from the first half of your sentence. What’s the connection between what was put into effect in the past, and the power of the school board or administration today? I find it quite plausible that a school board or administration could have more power on what is put in place today than I have, and yet also be doing something very different to what was decided back at the foundation of the school system. Your proposed test does not strike me as a good one in support of your claim, nor does it strike me as very relevant to my argument.

    Obviousness is not a good guide to reality.

    All obvious examples to the contrary notwithstanding.

    Yes, I should have added that in in the first place. It does not however alter my main point – just because something seems “obvious” doesn’t mean that it is right in reality.

    Try not to injure yourself coming up with specious examples in support of the silly idea that the way to encourage independence of thought is by suppressing independence of thought.

    Thank you for your concern about my state of health, I would prefer however if you devoted your kind thoughts to pointing out flaws in my actual arguments, if you can find any. My argument is that the process of education fails to suppress independence of thought, regardless of the intention of the educators. Your argument here appears to be one that is true merely by defintion, yes, if you suppress independence of thought then by definition you are doing the opposite of encouraging it. True, but why should I care? My argument is that public schooling, if it also teaches kids how to read and exposes them to ideas, encourages independence of thought, *despite* the intentions of the educator.

    By the way, I’m still waiting for something besides repeated assertions that lengthy, childhood exposure to authoritarianism is the way to teach independence of thought. Not the occasional exception who manages to resist the crushing of independence by an institution for whom children are merely grist for the mill but the inculcation of habits of independent thinking bolstered by a decent education.

    The Civil Rights Movement, the feminist movement, the gay rights movemement, the mass protests against Communism were not made up of simply occasional exceptions.

    And the history of medieval monarchies implies that in the absence of an education system we get less independence of thought, implying that public education does not, en masse, crush independence.

    We may want to reform education to encourage even more independent thinking, all I am responding to here is the implied argument of tim-10-ber that “Public education is about molding the kids to do the state’s bidding …. ” Molding kids to do the state’s bidding may be what public education is intended to do, but it’s not, as far as I can tell, what public education actually does.

  32. Try this simple act. It’s quite scary!

    In honor of U.S. Independence Day, print out copies of the U.S. Constitution and all 27 Amendments (you can find some succinct, small font copies online with a Google search or two) to your classroom of K-12 or college students, regardless of what class you teach. Then ask them, “How many of you have already read this?” and see how many hands go up.

    Then, tell your students that the copies were just for fun, and just for them to enjoy, no strings attached. When class is over, go into the bathroom and cry for our country. Repeat.

  33. Ah, I understand. You have no intention of defending your beliefs beyond restating them without expansion or explanation.

    Now, I’m wondering who that sort of faux patience, of condescension coupled with untroubled certainty of correctness, reminds me of?

    I’m going to guess somewhere between second and fifth grade?

    If the kids are any younger then that you’ve got to be pretty warped to not feel guilty playing with the heads like that and much older and their pride at being treated so disrespectfully is liable to kick in.

    A nice case in point for the reason “pedantic” isn’t used in a complimentary fashion.

  34. Allen, I note that you have dropped even trying to defend the hypothesis that public education has the effect of molding students to do the state’s bidding.

  35. And as I’ve noted you’ve never even attempted to defend your hypothesis preferring instead to repeat the unsupported assertion as though repetition confers credibility.