Why Johnny And Juan Can’t Read

Notable books, including Noble Prize winning Joseph Stiglitz’s The Price of Inequality, lay out in disheartening detail the growing inequality of income and opportunity in the United States, along with the decline of the middle class.

Early in the twentieth century, a democrat, liberal, progressive and socialist inadequate conception of education became dominant in the United States. It included a belief in the unimportance of factual knowledge, a decline in reading readiness based on an incoherent, less challenging literature (often in the name of multiculturalism) and a corresponding belief in the importance of training the mind through hands-on practical experience, much like CCPS Superintendent Patton’s corporate run “Pathways” goal to educate Collier schoolchildren via digital learning and tenuous “global responsibilities” and “21 Century Workforce Skills”.

In the 1920s and 1930s, these ideas began spreading to teacher-training institutions. It took two or three decades for the new teachers and administrators to take over from the old and for the new ideas to revolutionize schoolbooks and classroom practices. The first students to undergo this new schooling therefore began kindergarten in the 1950s and arrived in 12th grade in the 1960s.

Unfortunately, their Test scores showed the impact of socialist led education ideas. From 1945 to 1967, 12th-graders’ verbal scores on the SAT and other tests had risen. But then those scores plummeted. Cornell economist John Bishop wrote:

“the historically unprecedented nature of the test score decline that began around 1967. Prior to that year test scores had been rising steadily for 50 years.”

Some scholars thought that the precipitous fall of verbal SAT scores simply reflected an increase in the percentage of low-income students taking the SAT. But since it was observed that the same downhill pattern had occurred in verbal scores on the Iowa Test of Educational Development—a test given to all Iowa high school students, who were 98 percent white and mostly middle-class, many argued that the declining effectiveness of American schools was a leading indicator for the shrinking income of the American middle class. The evidence today suggests that people who spoke out against democrat-run education programs were right. The decline in the educational productivity of our schools tracks our decline in income equality.

Later, several scholars showed that the decline of the verbal SAT scores was indeed correlated with a dumbing-down of American schoolbooks and literature books. These scholars found that publishers, under the influence of progressive educational theories, had begun to use simplified language and smaller vocabularies which demonstrated that the dilution of knowledge and vocabulary, rather than poverty, explained most of the test-score drop.

In 1965, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) became the educational vehicle for the civil rights movement and Great Society with the aim of narrowing achievement gaps by providing every child with a fair and equal opportunity to achieve an exceptional education. The federal government sought to realize that aim primarily by throwing money and regulations at the public school system. In other words, it created a government monstrosity which contributed Dewey-style progressive education and “critical pedagogical theory,” a Marxian approach to social justice that

“identifies economic inequities caused by capitalism as the primary reason for the existence of achievement gaps.”

Interesting, since 1965, trillions of your tax dollars have been spent in the name of progressive social justice education, yet The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Long-Term Trend Assessments in 2012 found that achievement gaps for 17-year-old black and Hispanic students have not improved since the early 1970s.

Chicago economist James Heckman argued that the skill gaps of disadvantaged children from poor family environments at the end of high school

“are basically the same gaps that were there when they entered Kindergarten.”

Even the New York Times commented that:

“Children of mothers who had graduated from college scored much higher at age 3 than those whose mothers had dropped out of high school, proof of the advantage for young children of living in rich, stimulating environments.”

More surprising is that the difference in cognitive performance was just as big at age 18 as it had been at age 3.

“School neither increases nor reduces it.”

E.D. Hirsch Jr. has argued for 30 years that the key to building students’ vocabularies, and thus their ability to read, learn, and hold a well paying job in life, is content knowledge.

Far from being an elitist East or West Coast Democrat, he insists, a high level of literacy is the path to educational equality and full citizenship for the nation’s minority groups.

“Cultural literacy constitutes the only sure avenue of opportunity for disadvantaged children,” Hirsch writes, and “the only reliable way of combating the social determinism that now condemns them to remain in the same social and educational condition as their parents. That children from poor and illiterate homes tend to remain poor and illiterate is an unacceptable failure of our schools, one which has occurred not because our teachers are inept but chiefly because they are compelled to teach a fragmented curriculum based on faulty educational theories.”

“The best schools and teachers have already taken some of the steps that I’ve advocated.”

Indeed, which brings us to the central theme of our post, and that is, isn’t it interesting the Naples Daily News failed to report on the recently released 3rd Grade Reading Proficiency Scores for Collier County Public Schools, where roughly 70% of Collier County Elementary Schools suffering under Superintendent Patton’s progressive dumbed-down curriculum scored D-level or F-Level in percentage of 3rd graders scoring Proficient in English?

But even more interesting, the Naples Daily News failed to report that Mason Classical Academy, a Charter School which utilizes E.D. Hirsh’s Core Knowledge Curriculum, scored 90% in 3rd Grade Proficiency, the highest of any Elementary School in Collier County.

Superintendent Patton’s soul crushing curriculum based on failed progressive education quackery, is crushing the future of the vast majority of Collier County schoolchildren, and worst of all, her curriculum is hurting less fortunate minority students the most, the very group she pretends to care for while flushing $976 million of your tax dollars down the toilet on an annual basis.

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