What If Schools Aren’t Failing?

LandscapeIt’s a controversial question: what if it’s a mistake to say that schools are “failing”? Students today clearly have a weaker grasp of the “three R’s” than they ought, but what if many school administrators have a private, and different, set of goals defining success in education than Joe Public does?

Sure, politicians of every stripe decry how education is failing our students, and pledge to “do better”. Doing better means shoveling more money, equipment, or books at the problem, or maybe testing new educational theories on our kids.

But specifically how are schools failing? By what standard do we measure, and what constitutes a failed outcome? Many school models exist, with widely differing objectives, and methods. Against whose standard are we measuring results?

If the public assumes that the main goal is literacy, numeracy, competency and learning, many schools have objectively failed. But measuring the success of our schools in that way would unknowingly misinterpret their results — IF the system has a different goal.

Hannibal’s exploits in Cannae proved that yielding a little ground can win a larger battle.

The Carthaginian General Hannibal allowed his army to be pushed backwards in the center. The Roman attackers saw that Hannibals’ army was losing ground. If they thought they were winning, they couldn’t have been more wrong. Hannibal drew them into a trap, surrounding the larger Roman army The battle that had promised Rome an easy victory, became one of history’s famous catastrophes. Tragically, the Roman leaders lost because they could not distinguish between a Roman advantage, and a Carthaginian tactical retreat.

Could we be making a similar mistake? More fundamental than school curriculum itself: what are the philosophical objectives of our system? Without that information, we cannot truly evaluate it.

The Chinese school system is intensely competitive, and rigidly structured, with a 6 day week, and a flurry of planned activity from before sunrise until after dark. The old Soviet system deliberately dissolved familial bonds, indoctrinating kids with a higher allegiance to the State. They were intentionally anti-theistic and discouraged inquiry and free expression.

The Classical method, first in Athens, and later tweaked by Christians like Augustine, emphasized inquiry, critical thinking, and mastery of multiple disciplines. The Western World as we know it today is the outgrowth of that system.

Islamic Madrassas, especially radicalized Wahabbi ones, are yet another example.

It would be foolish to say that all of these systems define success the same way. They have radically different goals, even if each would claim to educate their kids in the “basics”.

What fundamentals are our schools being built upon?

Critics of recent Teachers Strikes might conclude that Teachers, Unions and Political parties are just in a symbiotic political relationship, viewing students either as pawns or an afterthought to the warring factions.

The British Education systems have sharply declining international scores on literacy and math. Their solution? That Evolution be taught even in Independent schools. They favoured a push for ideological ‘conformity’ over goals in literacy.

The American Education system is currently replacing classic English literature with non-fiction “informational texts” and government publications.
The Canadian system has so elevated the “distinctiveness” of various factions that they have created schools that exist only for certain groups.

One is an LGBT school with an emphasis on issues relating to sexuality. Another is Toronto’s “Afro-centric” school. Yes, you read that correctly. Late to the party, Canada “finally” has a racially segregated school. And don’t forget the teachers that call themselves “co-parents”.

Is it any wonder so many students cannot use numbers or words properly? With so much energy spent on having students conform to the values our “betters” deem necessary: environmentalism, sexual permissiveness, party-affiliated political activism, anti-Western propaganda, a narrow brand of tolerance, social justice, etc, who can find time for math or literature?

Forget the sad state of our student’s ability to work with numbers and words. Forget their inability to critically evaluate flawed arguments. Schools aren’t failing, if their goals are something other than education.

What if we are actually dealing with undisclosed goals of indoctrination?

Prominent American Humanist Paul Blanshard said, “I think the most important factor moving us toward a secular society has been the educational factor. Our schools may not teach Johnny to read properly, but the fact that Johnny is in school until he is sixteen tends toward the elimination of religious superstition.”

And Vladimir Lenin said, “Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have planted will not be uprooted”

And A.A. Hodge predicted in 1887 “… a comprehensive and centralized system of national education, separated from religion, as is now commonly proposed, will prove the most appalling enginery for the propagation of anti-Christian and atheistic unbelief, and of anti-social nihilistic ethics, individual, social and political, which this sin-rent world has ever seen.”

We must seriously consider what the stated and implicit goals of our schools and curricula actually are, and hold them to account. If you have children, and they teach values contrary to your own, find another educational option.

Regardless whether you have children, challenge wrong-headed educational philosophies — possibly even seeking election — because the ideas and values these children graduate with will one day govern the country.

Image: St. Gil, Marc, 1924-1992, Photographer (NARA record: 8464473); Current location:
National Archives and Records Administration, College Park; public domain

About the author: Wes Walker

Clashdaily's Religion Editor, Wes Walker, believes that freedom, faith, family, and the flag need more than to be simply cherished. They need to be understood, articulated, defended and promoted, not just by a few voices in prominent places, but by every man or woman who truly prizes them. In fact, the reason he wrote "Blueprint For a Government that Doesn't Suck" was so that every "ordinary Joe" will be able to do just that... and do it with confidence. Follow on twitter: @Republicanuck

View all articles by Wes Walker

  • DoingMoreWithLes

    They are very successful from the federal government’s point of view.

    “The government wants you just smart enough to run the machines and fill out the paperwork, but not smart enough to question what the government it up to.” – George Carlin RIP

    • WASP

      AND, buy the Big Corporations’ products and services, and pay the damm gummint it’s blood money.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ann-Wilson-Kingsley/100000397000382 Ann Wilson Kingsley

    Excellent article!

  • NJRedDog

    Thought provoking commentary.

    Not sure I get this. Your title says “”what if schools aren’t failing?”

    But then I think you answered your own question: “If the public assumes that the main goal is literacy, numeracy, competency and learning, many schools have objectively failed. ”

    There you go. And those are the measures that are used to identify successful schools.

    The fact is, jobs of the next 50 years will require more education, and more of it in the areas of math and science.

    As you pointed out, we aren’t graduating kids who will be able to earn a living.

    Let’s focus on getting back to basics and stop the pearl-clutching lunacy. Oh dear, it’s the liberals, the homosexuals, the environmentalists, the evolutionists! “They” are out to take over the world.


    Pure and simple: we aren’t teaching our kids math and science. But more importantly, we have parents who have their heads in the sand about what’s important.

    Forget all the political baggage you bring with you (by “you” I mean the generic “you”, not anyone in particular). Forget the anti-(insert the name of whatever group you are not). We owe it to our children – to our country – to make sure children learn math, “get” science, and love to learn. With a strong desire to search for understanding, and to understand the world, all the rest will follow.

    Why don’t we spend more time figuring out how to make the system better, rather than trying to come up with new reasons it’s broken? I know, I get it. It’s easier to point the finger at “them”, and then for everyone to nod their head and say “yeah!”. I find myself doing it too. But then I realize that after doing that, we are no closer to fixing things, and just feel more frustrated.

    • Iluvliterature

      Actually the author has it pegged all too well. My husband and I are both teachers in the public school system (high school setting) and it is quite evident the empty vessels that are being created by our system. It is not that these subjects- math and science aren’t being taught- it is that so much broad sprectrum information is being thrown at our students that they have no time to master anything. (This is currently occurring with my kindergartner – his math curriculum is forcing him to breeze through math concepts but no time is set aside to master skill). And massive amounts of time are lost to standardized minimum competency tests. Critical thinking is avoided at all costs, lecture/teacher centered classes are unforgivable, and a feel good approach to education is encouraged – “lyke kreative speling” and the absolute avoidance of requiring the memorization of grammatical rules, spelling terms, and math facts, is encouraged so as not to “damage” their love for learning; besides we have calculators and computers that can “know” all that information for us right? All we need to be able to do is know how to find it- right? No need to have to bother the brain with learning pesky facts and stupid rules. . .
      Additionally, schools are working hard to find new ways to lower the bar of expectation for learning and behavior. For many districts, tracking (where students are grouped according to ability within a subject and can move at a proper speed to ENSURE meaningful learning is being accomplished) has been eliminated. Time constraints and curriculum overload force classes to work to completion and not mastery of a skill set. Little things like foul language and aggressive or distracting behavior are also be overlooked because it is more important that the child remain in class than that the students learn to behave in a mannerly, self-controlled way. But the most important lesson schools are robbing from our kids is the option to fail. Deadlines no longer matter- yes there are late penalties, but just turn the work in whenever you get around to it, even if you didn’t do any for the entire nine weeks. Grading scales are being lowered- it is now mathematically harder to fail within our district and many others. Additionally, there are many safeguards in place that keep our kids from ever having to feel the sting of failure- that not trying or not caring or not working hard all have dire consequences. The system wants teachers to coddle students and avoid holding them to firm standards. And, sadly, many parents expect this treatment too- “I just want my child to pass”.

      The American education system (and thus our society) is being eroded from the inside out – mediocrity is celebrated, a lack of responsibility is encouraged, and a sense of entitlement is rampant. This does not mean that there aren’t caring educators and administrators out there who are trying to stem the tide- but the “system” really is making it harder to do so. Parents need to look at and object to textbooks and curriculum standards that have an “agenda”. Involvement in the PTA and the school board are musts. I also encourage parents to schedule an appointment to “see” the school when it is in session. I guarentee that most families would be appalled to witness the behavior that goes on in the hallways, the lunchroom and classes. Teachers can always point out and complain about poor texts or a lack of support, etc but it seldom means anything until parents and students get involved to help alter the system. Don’t believe the rhetoric that the professionals and board members know what is best for your child. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the information and agendas your children are being exposed to and don’t be afraid to speak out and risk seeming “intolerant”. Your awareness AND involvement is the only way that the system can even begin to have a chance to be saved.

      • $39132868

        The USA was founded by and for White Christians. The changes you cite are beng implemented in order to accomodate the abilities and needs of the “Diverse”. The average IQ of Whites is 100-103 points. Negroes and Mestizos – the designated replacement populations for Whites – is 85 points.
        Don’t you know that?

        • Iluvliterature

          Though I prefer to look to Gardner regarding intelligence, I do understand that IQ is a means of measuring intelligence capability. IQ is not necessarily in direct correlation to how knowledgable someone is. However, as I cited in my prior comment that the removal of tracking from the school system has only brought down the performance and atmosphere of a classroom to its lowest performing students, no matter the color or gender (I’ve worked with all types). Only once basic skills are mastered can a student have a chance for success, and there should be no need for the advanced to have to sludge along with those who are slower just as those who are slower should not be bypassed because they don’t “get it” as quickly. We must be willing to admit that people do learn at different rates and that some do need extra help/time instead of yielding to the leftist agenda that we must be fair and all have the same experience with education.
          Some of my biggest success stories have come from the classes where I had the opportunity to work with kids struggling with English but still had a desire to try. No, I don’t know what the IQs were of my black, white, Latino and Asian students, but I do know that the opportunity to work with these kids daily in a double block setting, at a pace where I could get everyone up to speed and on firm footing with the important basic concepts, allowed these kids by the end of the year to have the skills to analyze and to perform works that were considered “reserved” for the gifted classes. They caught up, felt good about themselves, and realized they could be successful even in a more advanced setting. Sadly such classes have been removed by the school board. Fourteen to eighteen kids in a 9th grade classroom is a waste of valuable space – have to cram in the bodies now. Never mind my and other teachers’ documented success- such classes weren’t an equitable use of space.
          Also, others argue that tracking is racist or locks kids in a scholastic direction- this is simply an argument against responsible education and supports the liberal agenda of keeping disadvantaged kids in that position so that they will become disadvantaged adults. It is the liberal, progressive, socialist, (whatever you want to call it) agenda that has only helped to sustain the “disadvantaged” populations and the associated “I can’t” attitude that goes with the label. But unlike your assertion that a skin color or perhaps a gender is locked within certain constraints, I believe that with time and hard work, a return to a focus on basic skill mastery before promotion and an adherence to rules as well as an expectation for responsibility, generations worth of liberal poison can be washed away. I prefer to believe that everyone can have a chance to be successful and have a chance to learn, and that’s why I believe that tracking is one of the many solutions needed to correct our purposely flawed system.

          • $39132868

            Skin color is not Race. Skin color is one of the markers for Race. Race is in the DNA. Are you the one down-voting me? You have posted and EXTREMELY long reply – but you are attempting to avert any honest contemplation of the Big Picture. Culture, and civilization, are expressions of genetics. Not the other way around. You;ve devoted a l;ot of tiem and attention “lifting a hgandful up” – instead of promoteing the Best and Brightest. A society that wastes – yes WASTES – resources, on the Least and Dullest will ONLY destroy itself. We’ve spent TRILLIONS on trying to “lift” Negroes to White standards. A handful have done well for themselves – but what have THEY done for any-one but themselves? Meanwhile – academic stats show that the results are worse than ever. Think the Chinese are going to wait for us to catch up? We are a laughingstock to other Nations. Advancing Asian Nations think we have lost our collective minds – and they are correct. They will NOT make the mistakes we’ve made, re: deranged Racial Utopianism.
            Meanwhile – entire cities, as well as entire nations, have been pulled into barbarism by the vast majority of them. And now the Mestizos are flooding in. How is the trandformation of White California into Brown Mexifornia working out, overall? How is Detroit and Chicago doing? The Africanization of Detroit is now complete, and the process in Chicago is well underway. How are things going, in those places?

            I know you flatter yourself that you are more “enlightened” than I am – but it’s really your vanity you are appeasing. You keep on your course, and you will live to feel the effects of the horrors of living under an African dictatorship . You will NOT recieve gratitude for your effforts. I suggest that you study the trajectories of Haiti, South Africa, Rhodesia, the Belgian Congo, and Detroit. Cause that’s where we are going.

  • mfernandez57MN

    Been saying this for years now, the education system is more of an “indoctrination” system than “education.” What business is it of pre-schools, elementary schools, high schools, to be teaching anything other than English grammar, mathematics,civics, history- American, world, science, biology, logic, and in the higher grades (high school) foreign languages, art, debate, and other electives in addition to the core subjects mentioned? The schools have no business teaching kids about homosexuality, or anything whatsoever about the “how- to’s of sex, whether hetero or homo. The only thing public schools need to be teaching about sex is basic biology i.e., extramarital coitus can lead to pregnancy and/or STD’s, whereas, coitus within a faithful monogamous marriage can lead to pregnancy, but not STD’s and so “abstinence” marriage is the best course and if that is not what one wants, to wait at least until the age of consent.

  • $39132868

    The USA is follwing the Soviet system,, because Soviets have taken over America. and I do NOT mean Russians. The Bolsheviks were not ethnic Russians. They were invaders, trained in the shtetls of New York City. They were, and ARE, “The People Who Shall Dwell Apart”. A Nation within a Nation. The idea is to turn the Citizenry into a nation of stupified slaves, who will serve the Light Unto the World Ruling Eilte. The American Acadamy was invaded and subverted decades ago, when the Cultural Marxist were tossed out of Germany by old Adolf. They landed on these shores, and were lovingly caught and planted by their Fellow Travellerskys. To the destruction of American academic excellence.

    Never-the-less, Mr Walker, as a White Christian man you are going to have a very difficult time with what I am about to write – but the Western mode of inquiry, and critical thinking is a Western thing. A WHITE thing. It’s all about genetics. We are NOT “All alike underneath”. Racial differences are real and profound. The Western way is being dropped, in American indoctrination centers, because American Africans and now Mestizos have a MUCH lower general IQ than White and Asian children – they average around 85 points – and that MEANS half of them are below that average. They don’t “do better” because they CAN’T do better. Nature is “racist”. “Good” Whites, and the Social Engineers cannot BEAR to admit the truth. “Racism” is the FOREMOST crime these days. Incidently – or not – making “racism” a crime was THE first plank of the Frankfurt school. The founders of Cultural Marxism.

    The USA was a social order founded by AND for White Christians. Africans have never assimilated. This ought to be obvious, in the cities and institutions they’ve been handed – and utterly destroyed. I’m certain you will rear back in horror by what I’ve just written. Go ahead. The wreckage will proceed apace.

    Now- Mestizos and Asians are movng in, all over the Western parts of the Dis-United States. California, when it was run by and for Whites, had the FIFTH largest economy in the world. Not US States – CA was more productive and wealthy than most of the Nations of the world. CA used ot be the Golden States. How is CA doing now? Now that CA is Mexifornia?
    Deranged Westerners – White People – have been FORCING Racial Utopianism in our countries for almost 200 years now. Why I cannot fathom. There is nothing “Christian”, righteous, or even sane, about an active commitment to destroying one’s own people. The Afro Centric schools are correct, and healthy. They are socializing their own people in ways that may work for them. As are Arabs. and certainly the Chinese. But Whites? We are literally disappearing from existence. But that doesn’t matter to any of you, does it? You don’t care. You are “better thant that”. You are “Above Race”. Well most of you will directly experience what happens when you alllow aliens to rule you.

    I am a Christian. I believe God created different Races to do different thngs. The Bible is loaded with admonitions for retain seperate Nations. the 7th Commandment is all about miscegenation. NOT marital cheating. We are living though what happens when the Commandments are defied. Why are so many alleged Christians revoltng against God’s wisdom?

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