Sunday, April 8, 2012

Blaming the wrong people

 Yet we continue to hammer teachers and allocate ever more resources to try to get the schools to force every kid to succeed, whether or not the student or parents put any effort. We try to make the 10% make up for the other 90%!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Priestcraft in Education

A definition of priestcraft from the internet is this: "priestcraft - a derogatory reference to priests who use their influence to control secular or political affairs."  I would add "or for money" to that definition.  Another definition that perhaps fits even more with education is this(with two words to change): "priestcrafts are that men preach(teach) and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion(children).”(2 Nephi 26:29)  I believe that public education has suffered a great deal from the effects of educators involved in this abusive practice who seek not for the welfare of the children, but only to promote themselves or their pocketbook.

One of the most damaging things for public education is when educators use their position to gain higher position or income by promoting a program or product they developed.  This self-interest causes them to use children, and parents' concern for their children, to gain increased income or standing.  Usually those doing this are able to hype the kids, or their parents, long enough to make the program or product appear worthwhile - enough so to sell it or use it to gain promotions.

The supposed benefits usually fade away after they are gone, disappointing those left holding the bag. This disappointment has built up politically until there are many who, not only don't trust educators, but actively fight against public education in general.  "Priestcraft" in education is what has created the "fads" in education.  Fads like open classrooms, whole language, new math, and other controversial programs would be examples.

Ironically, competition, which is billed as the silver bullet of accountability to route out these fads, actually increases and promotes this kind of abuse.  When accountability and evaluations are based on competition in education, those most guilty are most able to gain promotions, power, and more money, because they are those most likely to use or misuse data to promote themselves.

Large district size contributes to this, because it gives a higher ladder to climb, places to hide accountability whether by complexity or distance, and bigger budgets to raid.  Thomas Jefferson taught that government is safest the wider it is shared.  That was why our government was spread between three branches and three separate levels of government by our forefathers.  Spreading that control not only makes abuse more difficult, it helps train more people in self government.

I do not know a way to ban false philosophies in a free society.  I have no trust in legislative attempts to guarantee "good" education, nor to guarantee a quality teacher in every classroom.  I do believe that by sharing the governance of education and pushing it to the most local level (by dividing our large schools and school districts), is the safest, most likely way to avoid the abuse of the system by educators practicing "priestcraft" for their own advantage at the expense of the children.