Education and The Painful Failure of Circular Reasoning
by Michael Spencer
That feeling you have of going in an endless and meaningless circle? It’s the pain of circular logic. The fact is your mechanic IS the problem with your car. Whatever is keeping the thing from running, your mechanic is now invested in not seeing and repairing the problem. He must find other things to fix or else face up to the utter incompetence he’s been offering you for high prices. If you grasp this, you will go to another mechanic, who will look at this mess, shake his head, and repair the problem permanently for $50.
This little tirade is inspired by an article in my hometown paper diagnosing the reasons black students score 10-15 points lower on state achievement tests and are otherwise doing poorly when compared to white children. The entire article is worth reading, but take in this gem of liberal circular reasoning. “Experts believe the achievement gap has lingered in Kentucky for several reasons, namely institutional racism, poverty and a lack of diversity in curriculum and teaching staff.” For those of you not yet able to translate liberal analysis into plain speech, the experts are saying “The solution is more money for us. More money for affirmative-action hired teachers, more money for multi-cultural curriculum and more government money all around.”
In other words, we know what the problem is; we just don’t have the money to tackle it. It’s your fault, America, for not funding public education. This is a lie; and a nasty one. A lie meant to siphon tax-payer dollars away from working families and pour it down the most predictable waste-hole of money anyone knows of: public education’s own solutions to the problems it has created. Give us more money to keep doing what we’ve been doing wrong and we will come back in five years and ask for more money for the same reasons. How do they continue to get by with this? By hiding behind the disadvantaged and minority children this system victimizes.
The solutions for the current education dilemma are not difficult to find. Finding people courageous enough to speak the truth is a different matter. The solution is to put money into the hands of parents (preferably through tax credits) and allow them to choose the school their child attends. (Note: Like chefs that refuse to eat at their own restaurant, public school teachers and their liberal supporters send their children to private schools in high numbers.)
The solution is cutting the wacky and useless multi-cultural curriculum and teaching reading, math, science and writing with high standards and high expectations. (In America’s universities, 60% of math and science classes are now taught by internationals.) The solution is tough discipline, not tying a teacher’s hands. The solution is high standards instead of dumbing down the material. The solution is minimum grades for participation is sports and activities. The solution is paying teachers more only they succeed, not out of some schlock appeal to the salaries of athletes. The solution is accountability, graduation tests, and teachers who are there to teach as a personal mission. The solution is to treat the public school establishment as a failure and wrench the public education mission of this nation out of the hands of the teacher’s unions and their failed leadership.
The education establishment opposes the practical implementation of every one of these solutions. They want quota hired teachers, dumbed down curriculum, diversity training and cultural sensitivity. They want warehouse schools for lower performing students and no teacher accountability. They want money, money and more money. And they want nothing that empowers parents to choose or puts schools in competition with one another. In other words, the public school establishment has become addicted to the failure of their schools, and they will never have the courage to volunteer the truth.
A word about black students and their lagging behind their white counterparts. I am a classroom teacher in Kentucky with a larger than average black student population. I also have white students and a large number of international students. The difference between the three groups has nothing to do with color of my skin or the ebonics content of the textbook. The difference is the cultural value placed on education and the family’s enforcement of that cultural value.
International students live in mortal fear of humiliating their families. They work hard to succeed in order to say I made my family proud. Some of these families treat their children in ways we would call neglectful and even cruel, but it doesn’t matter. The cultural value of honoring your family’s efforts in sending you to school is intact and highly effective. When an international student gets lazy and does poorly, his/her peers say he has gone “American.”
I have a student from Kenya who has done poorly in my class. His sister and brother are in a university elsewhere in the state. They came to see me and politely asked what was the problem. I told them their brother was lazy. They asked what assignments were not completed and wrote them down. They spent the rest of the day with the brother. That young man now runs- not walks- to get my assignments and turns all of them in “A” quality and on time. I would like to have a tape of the talk that occurred between those siblings, but I think we all get the point. The look on his face is eloquent testimony to his decision to honor his family rather than appear “cool” to his American friends.
Among American students, one need only look at this same issue. If a family has succeeded in communicating the importance of education, the student will succeed, even if his/her skills are limited. They will work hard and produce. Of course, American students are presented with a very negative views of education in their youth culture. Being successful in school is not the image every student has of high school. Instead it is parties, dates, money and popularity. The family’s ability to overcome this is a major element of success. As a parent, I know it is hard work and a full time job.
All this explains the dilemma of African-American students. Their illegitimacy rate is almost 83%. The number of intact families is small. The destructive effects of African-American youth culture, seen in media, music and celebrities, are incredible. Success in school is portrayed as selling out to the white system. Athletics and entertainment are portrayed as the true realms of success. Criminal activity and sexual irresponsibility are glorified. Role models like Conde Rice and Clarence Thomas are ignored because they are conservatives. Dependency and victimization are highly imbedded ways of thinking and responding. It would be hard to overcome all this if Black families were healthy and intact. The truth is sobering: Fifty years of liberal Democrat social policies have destroyed the Black family. What African-Americans demonstrate in public schools are the the result of this situation.
Which brings me to the conclusion. How can the educational establishment continue its course when the solutions are well known and the cost to young people is so high? How can school systems dominated by this liberal mentality justify their opposition to solutions that work? These are people who are willing for others to suffer that they might prosper. It is cruel. It is wrong. It must end.