“I am so happy that my (Democrat or Republican) team now sits in the big white house. My chosen team will assemble the education experts to solve all of our challenges. They they will then push their education 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 trained people in the local school houses? Perhaps this delusional belief is just byproduct of begging for a few resource crumbs returned to our local community.
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.
Each year politicians revise and expand the myriad of education regulations that steadily grow more onerous and contradictory. The elected bureaucrats are on the lobbyists’ payrolls, and beholden to oligarchical institutions. Rules and regulations are drafted by industry lawyers and passed to politicians for passage accompanied by hefty campaign contributions. The system works just as our high school civics course taught us, no?
Centrally-planned improvement solutions are announced in soothing sound bites. The regulatory morass arrives at each institution in volumes of confusing rules and instructions that read like assembly manuals for a Boeing 757. State and Fed regulatory compliance teams can not keep up with or understand the constant changes. Enforcement is selective in most cases. Individual school operations and their staff members reel from rule inconsistencies and required retooling as 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.
Once a mandate is funded, it is never eliminated. The gravy train of state contract money is never rescinded, only adjusted. The abusive standardized testing is one great example. This author has not met one person who supports the insipid K-12 testing madness or anyone in the trenches who thinks 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, and padding their resumes while “serving the public.” Will it be cancelled? Never.
The big question each of us need to ponder is why do we continue to believe solutions for education improvement will 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 fiscal control far from our neighborhoods, and too much power in too few hands. Funding control that over the decades central power sucked away from local communities gives us the one-size-fits-all mandatory solutions shoved down the throats of local schools.
The failures of the K-12 education system cannot be solved by a centralized collection of so-called “experts,” “blue-ribbon” committees, new laws, more regulations, or other solutions from far away places, no matter the team logo (“R” or “D”) adorned by committee members. There is great evidence proving centralized control actually mucks things up.
We continue to plea for answers 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 expect the broken system to fix itself. We the people are also dysfunctional in our belief system.
No single model, approach, or solution for enhancing learning exists. There are many creative approaches, yet we pine for monolithic-foolish dogma from the capitol-city. Committee-cloistered, politically-appointed education “experts” have no greater insight into learning success than a seasoned 6th grade teacher, students, parents, or teaching veterans in a local school.
Education is to learning what food processing is to eating, healthcare is to healing, or publishing is to reading. Take the word “educate,” add an “r” and drop an “e,” and we have “educrat.” An “educrat” is a bureaucrat for learning. 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 an institution or a classroom. Learning is surprising, ephemeral, internal (unseen among the human mind and soul), and not completely quantifiable.
Education is the management of financial resources that may facilitate learning. Educrats hold funding hostage until we surrender to their concoctions attached to resource distribution. Educrats like to standardize learning, similar to accountants standardizing money counting. Educrats engineer learning factories, with fancy names. Educrats are occasionally helpful, but certainly not creators of learning. Educrats don’t own or control learning, but often delude themselves to believe thus.
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 (the end product) are produced like cranking out iPhones on a factory assembly line, with some minor variations of course (like colors). Educrats engineer education systems that the public too willingly accepts as the next iteration of learning perfection.
Highly processed and manufactured food is often devoid of nutrition. And the same analogy can be drawn to over-processed learning labeled “education.” We all learn to talk before we are “educated.” There are no toddler language institutions dotting the landscape. How is it possible we learn speech without education? 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 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 us. Now, they rules 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! The experts will educate the masses on learning. It is so decreed from the capitol-city. And if you want your funds, you will comply.” So it is decried from capitol-city.
Today, educrats still mandate Frederick Taylor-like factory assembly line education, with divvied up subjects under academic silos, and standardized lessons all in the name of efficiency and quantification. Learning morphed into education long ago following infestation from educratic mandates. And there are boatloads of mandates, many we’ve learned to live with kind of like the lead in our drinking water.
Educratic mandates are often nothing more than some ridiculous, ossified practice 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.” Well, we must all be grateful for educratic guidance on thinking. All the crawling, walking, running, climbing, talking, and imagining is certainly not evidence of thinking, right? Thinking exclusively commences the very first day of attendance at an educratic institution, after the bell rings of course. The brain does not come with a user’s guide so the educratic system provides one, thank goodness. Long live the queen.
Why do we continue to accept the doctrine of perpetual education solutions spewing forth from the capitol-city? Evidence for this belief system is found in the debates occurring among talking heads on mega-corporate media channels, individual rantings on personal media, political punditry, and dialogue at local school board meetings. The finger of blame and hope always points to D.C, or the state capitol. All problems and solutions flow from the failings or fortitude of the current regime, so go the arguments. We are fools.
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. As the money slithers up the chain of control, do does local authority and control.
Learning occurs one mind at a time. Each learner comes in many flavors, with different passions, different interests, varied attention spans, language forte, family circumstance, strengths, and weaknesses.
Creating central education models from afar is a vestigial practice from the bowels of the industrial revolution and seeded by Prussian soldier-prepping practices. Educrats appointed to committees in faraway places are no more learned or enlightened than seasoned local professionals. The capitol-city educrats are very often much less experienced teachers, or not even teachers at all. The capitol-city educrats certainly do not reflect local community culture and values.
Capitol-city committee members are far removed from little Sally Smith and her teacher Juanita Perez. Perez and her support team in the local schoolhouse share years of experience, community ties, even generational relationships with parents and students. Perez and team have certifications, degrees, and training galore, often way more than necessary (because of educrat mandates). The local team will do just fine coaching, guiding, and motivating Sally’s personal 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 need to stay the hell away!
Cancelling capitol-city micro-management allows 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 every classroom, home, teacher, and student. The best and brightest approaches, ideas, and practices should 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 educrat micro-management culture. Learning improvement is only possible if we the people change our way of thinking.
Stop petitioning our centralized rulers for answers and solutions. We must staunchly dis-invite the capitol-city educrats from managing local schoolhouses, and send them into teaching if they truly want to help learning. They are the people’s servants, not the reverse. We must also recapture local fiscal control.
Is this a perfect solution, heck no, there are none, get over it. 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.
We must change our thinking, call out the educrats, kick them out of our classrooms, and demand our local money back.
“Copyright © 27MAR17 by Steven A. Schwab”