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"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." - Nelson Mandela

Chinese Should Feel Right at Home in Texas

By Carole Hornsby Haynes, Ph.D.   |   February 1, 2015 

American public education is increasingly mirroring that of totalitarian countries.  For that we can blame politicians.  For decades the U.S. government has been trying to grab control of education because education is key to imposing statism on the American people. 

Even before President Clinton took the oath of office in early 1993, there was behind the scenes plotting to transform education and the nation’s curriculum during his administration. 

On November 11, 1992 Marc Tucker,  president of the National Center on Education and the Economy penned a “Dear Hillary” letter that was placed by Rep. Bob Schaffer in the Congressional Record  on September 25, 1998.  Written to Hillary Rodham Clinton who served with Tucker on the NCEE Board, Tucker’s letter outlines an ambitious plan “to remold the entire American system” into “a seamless web that literally extends from cradle to grave and is the same system for everyone.”  It would be coordinated by “a system of labor market boards at the local, state and federal levels” where curriculum and “job matching” will be handled “accessing the integrated computer-based program.” 

The mission of the schools would change from teaching academic basics and knowledge to training students to serve the global economy in jobs selected by workforce boards.

By Tucker’s own admission, a radical change in attitude, values, and beliefs would be required to effect his strategy, which would be accomplished through skillful manipulation of the public mind to forge a broad consensus.   

To make this change, the Traditional philosophy of teaching in public schools was replaced by the Progressive -- liberal -- philosophy.  This radical left wing teaching had been introduced earlier by John Dewey and was implemented in Colleges of Education to entrench the theory in public schools, so that today it is rare to find a professor or public school administrator who is not a liberal even though they may claim to be conservative.

Under Progressive teaching, students are continually subjected to psychological manipulation in the classroom, in textbooks, and through online learning for the sole purpose of changing their attitudes, values, and beliefs.  The purpose is to dumb down students so they are compliant with the demands of a totalitarian state.  Equal outcome (Outcomes Based Education) rather than equal opportunity and individualism is engrained in the progressive theory.  To e superior intellectually or academically over someone else is unacceptable.The significance of that 18 page "Dear Hillary" letter is the blueprint for Common Core that lies therein.

Tucker’s plan was implemented by federal legislation that laid the groundwork to nationalize education -- Goals 2000 Act, School-to-Work Act, and the re-authorized Elementary and Secondary Education Act -- with funding forced upon the American taxpayer.

Implementation of the School-to-Work program during Clinton’s administration was poorly received by parents and students. 

Rather than receiving a broad liberal arts education that would provide a path to either college or the workforce, students choosing the work program would have to decide upon their career by the 8th grade.  Obviously their high school courses would be limited in scope according to their career choices.  That also would limit their options should they face career changes in the future.

The Tucker plan, designed on the German system, trains children for specific jobs to serve the workforce and the global economy rather than educating them so they can determine their own life choices.

Yet School-to-Work is effective in such countries as China and Russia because the people are conditioned to accept government control over their lives – kinda like a fuzzy security blanket to keep one safe from the free fall of life’s realities.  Career decisions are made by government central planners, not by the students.  Students are trained for the needs of the collective society -- whatever and wherever needed in the workplace.  

In Texas over the past few decades, Progressive teaching crept into the public schools with the explicit aid of Texas legislators.  In recent years the State Board of Education has done a splendid job of turning that around with their approval of curriculum standards and textbooks based upon Traditional teaching.

Texas politicians – including conservative Republicans – mucked that up by passing legislation in 2013 -- House Bill 5 -- amid the howls of conservative voters.  They made massive changes to graduation requirements that incorporate the Tucker plan and language -- the language also found in Common Core! 

Under HB 5, Algebra II is no longer required for graduation. Because many trade jobs require higher skills in math, those who take only Algebra I will be forced into a lower level in the market place.  Algebra I was originally offered in 8th grade, but under HB 5 and Common Core, it has been moved to high school; therefore, calculus cannot be offered. Dr. Stan Hartzler, retired professor and advisor at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, has been highly critical of this change in Texas education. He said that replacing Algebra II with algebra-reasoning courses will not benefit students in either their work place needs or their personal life needs.  Those who are challenged in math will be especially negatively affected.  Hartzler characterized this as further dumbing down of the curriculum.

In countries that are highly literate, such as Taiwan or Sweden or South Korea, students study Algebra in the 6th or 7th grade. Is it any wonder that American employers have to find highly skilled workers in other countries?

This decision by Texas politicians is going to have disastrous unintended consequences because many technical or trade jobs in the U.S. require a higher level of reading and math than in the past.  For example, carpenters, electricians, sheet metal workers, plumbers, refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics, floor covering installers, bricklayers, landscape horticulturalists, and construction craft workers daily use an array of mathematical formulas in their work, which they must calculate mechanically.  Yet now American students are using electronic calculators in the classroom, without which they cannot do even the simplest of calculations.  Appallingly, they will not be able to compete for many of the trade jobs.

On a note of interest, Chris Kyle, the famous American sniper, seemed to be an average student yet was a brilliant Navy Seal who had to use math in his quick mental assessment of firing at a very distant target, including figuring wind velocity and the earth’s curvature.

Thanks to Texas politicians and HB5, Texas is trekking right along on the Common Core track right down to parroting the Progressive terminology, even though Common Core is banned in Texas. 

As the 84th Legislative Session begins, Texas legislators now have an opportunity to undo their radical left wing legislation.  But only if the voters demand it!

So why are we castigating education and the School-to-Work program in China?  After all, the Chinese put Americans to shame on international student tests.

A Chinese visiting professor to Yale gives us a clue.  He prefers traditional Chinese education for his child because “…it can foster discipline and a sense of collectivism, and he fears his child would become self-indulgent under Western education, which emphasizes freedom and individualism.”  This professor clearly feels secure with the nanny government providing a collective security blanket rather than having to be responsible for one’s own survival...and being free to enjoy the fruit of one’s individual labor.

For those who believe we should emulate the education system of other countries, be careful for what you ask.  Freedom and individualism are as All-American as apple pie, even if the Chinese do view this as being self-indulgent.

On the other hand, unless we abolish Progressive teaching and all vestiges of Common Core in American education, Chinese parents need not fear sending their kids to America to study.  America will be like the collectivist China quite soon -- except that our citizens will be dumber than the “poor mountaineer” Beverly Hillbillies.  Politicians – even Republicans in blood red Texas – are seeing to that.

Copyright ©2015 Carole Hornsby Haynes, Ph.D., All rights reserved

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