7 Comments
May 20Liked by Tom Knighton

It took us many steps - most of which seemed to make sense at the time - to get into this mess.

There were many steps that took us even to the system we had in the 1960s, when schools were still mostly good, but the cracks were already showing. There had been a massive wave of school district consolidation, with the aim of reducing costs. But another consequence of that consolidation was to make the now larger districts much less responsive to parents. And that also left them vulnerable to the power of teachers' unions, once they partnered with groups such as AFSCME and became more militant, changing teaching from a low-paid, high-prestige job (often done by young women not yet married, and retired older men and women) to a higher-paid, low-prestige traditional union job, more often done by careerists who were willing to shut down the schools to boost their pay and power. Along the way, the active parent-teacher cooperation via organizations like the PTA were increasingly sidelined, as the unions had little patience for the complaints of parents.

Then add the takeover of the teacher's colleges to ideologies such as CRT, and many public schools became actively hostile the principles of the US. Charter Schools and homeschooling may indeed be the only way for parents to take back their say in how their children are educated.

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May 20Liked by Tom Knighton

I went to school in the '50s and '60s, graduating in 1966 from a consolidated but still small school system in the Mohawk Valley of New York. Three elementary schools, one for each of the communities in the combined district; a centralized junior and senior high school. Graduating class size was about 215.

At the time one could be on one of several tracks (I was on the college prep track, and that worked out well for me). Other tracks were vocational, in areas like business, farming, auto repair, etc. The kids on the different tracks mingled all the time (especially in extra-curricular activities like sports, band, theater, etc.). Discipline was quick, sure, and severe. Parents did not (in general) object, and I never remember my parents complaining about our teachers (later, when I was grown and married, some of their opinions leaked out). Given that the teachers, as well as our parents, had grown up during the Depression, and most of the males had served in WWII, there wasn't a lot of patience with grousing.

What helped a bit was the tiered diploma system. Those on a college track would work through the State Regents curriculum, which was very challenging. Those on vocational tracks could still earn a diploma, but one conferred by the school district. Let a thousand flowers bloom, as they say.

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I won't say that was a perfect system--public education was always, to some extent, about control and thus was never going to be a perfect system--but that met the needs of a lot of students who went on to have fulfilling lives.

What we have today, doesn't.

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May 21Liked by Tom Knighton

The one thing that distinguished my 60s schools from today's is that the teachers, by and large, we're dedicated to passing on knowledge and improving our ability to *think*. There was little if any effort to conform our thoughts and opinions to theirs. Other than my senior English teacher who (I now realize) was libertarian, I haven't a clue as to the political or ideological perspectives of my instructors.

Clearly things weren't perfect, but they were a lot better than some of the stuff my grandkids are exposed to.

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Yeah, I didn't even know my teachers has LIVES outside of school, much less their politics.

Meanwhile, my son wanted helicopter memes for his English professor in college because he came right out and said he was a commie. Granted, this was college, but it still wasn't relevant.

And critical thinking is sadly missing from our modern educational world.

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Vocational Education is expensive and blue collar, so the white collar administration finds it disgusting and does whatever they can to make it go away.

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There is that.

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