“I am so happy that my chosen (Democrat or Republican) team sits in the big white house. My team will assemble the education experts to solve our problems and then push their improvement solutions all the way down to the school in my neighborhood. Hallelujah!”
Many folks believe this mantra. Why do so many people put faith and trust in solutions concocted by a committee from the capitol-city?
Do we truly believe elected officials and their political appointees are more enlightened than the highly experienced and educated people in the local school houses? Perhaps this delusional belief is the byproduct of needing to beg for a few educational resource crumbs returned to our local communities.
In any case, we don’t yet have a dictator in the big white house that can make sweeping functional changes all across the kingdom by fiat, thank goodness. Senators and Congressmen, many serving in office for umpteen decades, outlast any chief executive flavor of the month (okay few years). So-called solutions from the capitol-city are never wholly encompassing and arrive enmeshed with complicated compromises, historical entanglements, regulatory confusion, and rule contradictions.
But the faith is not shaken. We look to politicians to save us and solve our problems, by committees of course.
Each year politicians revise and expand the volumes of education regulations that steadily grow more onerous and contradictory. The elected bureaucrats on the lobbyists’ payrolls, are beholden to oligarchical institutions. Rules and regulations are drafted by industry lawyers and handed to politicians for passage accompanied by hefty campaign contributions.
The system works just as our high school civics course taught us, no?
Press conferences are called to announce centrally-planned improvement solutions using smooth sound bites. The regulatory morass arrives at local schoolhouses in volumes of confusing rules and instructions that read like assembly manuals for a Boeing 757.
The State and Federal regulatory compliance teams can not even keep up with or understand the constant changes.
Enforcement of rules is selective in most cases. School administrators and teachers reel from the rule inconsistencies and requisite retooling. They struggle to respond to outrageous mandates that compile year after year. There is barely enough time, energy, and human resource left to serve the students after the bureaucratic documentation is reviewed, systems adjusted, and operations reconfigured.
Mandates come with additional procedures and tasks, but no funding for expanded staff and technology to carry out the composite requirements.
Once a mandate is funded, it is never eliminated. The gravy train of state contract money is never rescinded, only adjusted. Abusive standardized testing is one great example of this.
Will the madness of expanded mandatory testing ever be rolled back? No, not likely. There are too many fingers in the revenue stream with lobbyists ensuring the gravy train keeps moving to the testing corporations.
This author has not met one education professional who strongly supports the insipid K-12 testing madness, or anyone in the trenches who believes its effective. The only believers are some damned-fool bureaucrats appointed to committees at the state or federal level, blinded by their own self-importance, blathering about bullshit, and padding their resumes while “serving the public.”
The big question each of us needs to ponder is why do so many continue to believe that solutions for education improvement must arrive from benevolent rulers in the capitol-city? It is blatantly obvious that the cause of the long tailspin of education effectiveness is due to too much control far from our neighborhoods and too much power concentrated in too few hands.
Fiscal and regulatory control continues to evaporate from local purview. Central power sucks control away from the local communities, and the local education customers. In return we receive one-size-fits-all mandatory solutions shoved back down the revenue pipeline and the throats of local school teachers, parents, and students.
The failures of the K-12 education system have not and can not be solved by a centralized collection of so-called “experts,” “blue-ribbon” committees, mandatory laws, more regulations, and other solutions from far away places, no matter the team logo (“R” or “D”) adorned by club members. There is great evidence proving centralized control actually mucks things up.
We continue to plea for help from the fools-on-the-hill, and they are more than happy to oblige with their one-solution-fits-all. We the people continue to suffer from centralized solutions concocted by the dysfunctional capitol-city committees. We truly expect the broken system to fix itself.
We the people are thus dysfunctional in a failed belief system.
No single model, approach, or solution for enhancing learning exists. There are many creative approaches. Yet we pine for monolithic dogma from the capitol-city. Committee-cloistered, politically-appointed education “experts” have no greater insight into learning success than a seasoned 6th grade teacher for example. Teaching veterans in the local school, parents, and students are a continuous source of entrepreneurial experimentation for innovative learning approaches.
Learning is surprising, ephemeral, internal (often unseen by human mind and soul), and not completely quantifiable. Learning is personal, internal, instinctual, and natural. Learning occurs one soul at a time. Learning is often spontaneous, it happens anywhere, any time, and isn’t exclusive to institution or classroom.
Take the word “educate,” add an “r” and drop an “e,” and we have “educrat.” An “educrat” is a bureaucrat for learning.
Educrats hold funding hostage until we surrender to their concoctions attached to resource redistribution. Educrats like to standardize learning. Educrats make learning factories and treat students like widgets. Educrats use fancy terminology to explain simple practices. Educrats are occasionally helpful, but certainly not entrepreneurial.
Educrats don’t own or control learning, but often delude themselves to believe it.
Give educrats too much power, and they wring the joy from learning. Educrats believe that learning is completely tangible, quantifiable, and manageable. They believe students are products like automobiles on a factory assembly line. Educrats engineer education systems that the public willingly accepts as the next iteration of learning perfection.
Highly processed and manufactured food is often devoid of nutrition. And the same conclusion can be made with over-processed learning labeled “education.”
Learning occurs unceasingly; it is a natural and personal human experience. Long before educrats planted their flag in our local schoolyard and claimed the territory in the name of the king, learning thrived just fine. But the educrats invaded and conquered. Now, they rule us with mandates from a distant potentate and court appointed “experts.”
“Learning must be adjusted, improved, standardized, efficient, perfected, and accountable according to the king’s mandates! State approved and licensed experts can educate the masses. It is so decreed from the capitol-city and the king. And if you serfs want your funds returned, you will comply.” So it is ordered.
Educratic mandates are often nothing more than ridiculous, ossified practices like the 20th century Carnegie Foundation’s cockamamie Carnegie Unit (originally designed to manage professor retirement pay).
The Carnegie Unit is the most restrictive, totalitarian, and damaging concept to ever infect learning freedom, perhaps only secondary to brain death. It is non-scientific, yet the basis of all educratic measurement. It is the educrats’ yardstick for measuring and quantifying everything in their contrived universe. The Carnegie Unit deserves a swift death sentence by firing squad.
Educrats’ oft regurgitated mantra is “students must be taught how to think.” Here is another example of educratic swill.
We all learn to talk before we are “educated.” There are no toddler language institutions. How is it possible we learn speech without educrats? We don’t require an education institution to teach us how to transition from crawling, to walking, to running. There are no toddler walking schools, so how is it possible we learn such an important skill without standardized curriculum, mandatory testing, and certified experts?
We are all expected to display gratefulness for educratic guidance on thinking. All the crawling, walking, running, climbing, talking, and imagining is certainly not evidence of thinking, right? So thinking exclusively commences the very first day of attendance at an educratic institution, after the bell rings of course.
The finger of blame for failure and hope for improvement always points to D.C, or a state capitol. All problems and solutions flow from the failings or fortitude of the current regime, so go the arguments. We are fools to believe such nonsense.
We long ago abdicated full local control of our schools by swallowing the siren song of leveraging fiscal efficiencies through state contracts, state bargaining, state textbooks, and federal grants too.
The capitol-city educrats are very often much less experienced teachers, or not even teachers at all. And the capitol-city educrats certainly do not always reflect local community culture and values.
Capitol-city committee members are far removed from little Sally Smith and her teacher Juanita Perez, for example. Perez and her support team in the local schoolhouse share years of experience, community ties, even generational relationships with parents and students.
Perez and her teammates have experience, certifications, degrees, and training galore, often way more than necessary (because of educratic mandates). The local team can do just fine coaching, guiding, and motivating little Sally’s learning without capitol-city committee intrusion, thank you very much.
More succinctly, Perez and little Sally thrive when the capitol-city educrats remove their long beaks from the local schoolhouse. Educrats, stay the hell away!
Cancelling capitol-city micro-management unshackles the marvelous talent in the trenches to devise amazing learning innovations. When creative and entrepreneurial freedom blossoms and thrives, innovation and discovery can bubble away where it should, in each classroom.
The best and brightest approaches, ideas, and practices can arise from the hundreds of thousands of communities and exceptional minds across the country, available for dissemination and adoption.
Every schoolhouse and every classroom is a potential learning innovation incubator, but only if we jettison the one-size-fits-all-top-down educratic micro-management culture.
We must stop begging centralized and distant rulers for innovations in the local classroom. We must staunchly dis-invite the capitol-city educrats from managing local schoolhouses,. We must send the educrats back into the classrooms, some of them at least. Many of them just need to find new professions. We must recapture local fiscal control.
Elected officials and their appointees are the people’s servants, not the reverse.
Is more local control a perfect solution, heck no, there are none, get over it.
But one-size-fits-all creates one-mistake-for-everyone, and it’s sure as hell not working folks. The centralized approach is dysfunctional, and it has long been broken.
It is time to change our thinking, call out the educrats, kick them out of our classrooms, and demand our local money returned.
“Copyright © 27MAR17 by Steven A. Schwab”