Friday, October 21, 2005

Chapter 6: Education or Indoctrination?

Dr. Lakoff asserts that “no Child Left Behind” is Orwellian speech

“The Clear Skies Initiative, Healthy Forests, No Child Left Behind. This is the use of language to mollify people who have nurturant values, while the real policies are strict father policies… Imagine if they [conservatives] came out supporting a “Dirty Skies Bill” or a “Forest Destruction Bill” or a “Kill Public Education” bill. They would loose. They are aware people do not support what they are really trying to do. “

While at the same time, Dr. Lakoff asserts conservatives believe that “preserving and extending conservative morality is the highest goal, education should serve that goal. Schools should teach conservative values. Conservatives should gain control of school boards to guarantee this.”

This appears to be a contradiction: WHY would conservatives want to destroy public education if they planned to use that infrastructure to expand conservative moral systems, and that expansion was “the “highest goal”?  The simple explanation is that Conservatives only want control of their OWN child’s education, and the public education system as it exists today does not allow for that flexibility. Again, Dr. Lakoff is attempting to use framing to avoid the real point of contention: Who is in control of what people learn?

“Why an education bill about school testing? Once the testing frame applies not just to students but also to schools, then schools can, metaphorically fail—and be punished for failing by having their allowance cut. Less funding in Turn makes it harder for the schools to improve, which leads to a cycle of failure and ultimately the elimination of many public schools”

One must admit that if a group is given a task (like educating students), and that task is not accomplished, it is not a success. Is it a metaphorical failure? No, it is a failure plain and simple. At first, it may seem that Progressives believe there should be no accountability, rewards or consequences for doing your job well or not at all. However, in reality, it may simply be that Progressives believe that the role of the Public School system is to spread Nuturant morality at which it excels.

Dr. Lakoff says Progressive educational policy should provide “A vibrant, well-funded, and expanding public education system….where teachers nurture children’s minds and often the children themselves, and where children are taught the truth about their nation”

“Every child’s brain is shaped crucially by early experiences. We [Progressives] support high-quality early childhood education.”

“Empathy and responsibility are to be promoted in every area of life, public and private. Art and education are parts of self-fulfillment and therefore moral necessities”
Therefore Progressives believe they are morally obligated to spread Nurturant Morality using public facilities, including the public school system. Ironically, this is exactly what Dr. Lakoff accuses his political opponents of.

One must wonder why Conservative parents who want their children taught “Strict Father Morality” should be forced to support an educational environment where “Nurturant Morality” and its attendant values are taught, and where the “truth” about our nation is “framed” from a progressive point of view (“Reframing is telling the truth as we see it—telling it forcefully, straight forwardly and articulately, with moral conviction and without hesitation.”)  Thomas Jefferson, often cited as the Father of Public Education also believed this:

“That to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical; that even the forcing him to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion, is depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions to the particular pastor whose morals he would make his pattern” - The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. (Thomas Jefferson)

Dr. Lakoff asserts: “Less funding [for schools] in Turn makes it harder for the schools to improve, which leads to a cycle of failure and ultimately the elimination of many public schools”

In actuality, the Public Schools are currently funded 6 times better (in adjusted dollars) than they were in 1960 (when academic achievement was higher) and increasing funding over the last 30 years has resulted in lowing academic achievement. Dr. Lakoff gives no rationalization why continuing in this manner will be likely to provide better results in the future.

Dr. Lakoff says that, for Conservatives, “What replaces the public school system is a voucher system to support private schools. The wealthy would have good schools—paid for in part by what used to be tax payments for public schools. “

”Vouchers and school testing are not ultimately about school vouchers and school testing; they are about conservative control of the content of education”

“Because immoral, undisciplined children can lead moral, disciplined children astray, parents should be able to choose to which schools they send their children… Since preserving and extending conservative morality is the highest goal, education should serve that goal. Schools should teach conservative values” “

Currently, many parents choose to pay for their child’s education twice, once in taxes and a second time in tuition, none of which is in their economic self-interest. (one must assume that  they side with “identity” when they choose a school – or maybe they simply believe that the academic achievement, a good classroom environment (the definition of which varies per child), or an environment which teaches and fosters their own values (Strict Father Morality) is more important than money ) In short, Conservatives believe that Parents should decide what the best academic environment for their children is.

Apparently Dr. Lakoff’s definition of “Conservative control” means “a lack of Progressive Control”, as vouchers put the decision in the hands of parents who may be either Progressive or Conservative. Voucher Programs remove the decision from the hands of the government and hamper Progressives’ abilities to make decisions for others, and this is the reason Vouchers are unacceptable to Progressives. Vouchers provide a choice for student trapped in a failing school, a school that teaches values contrary to those of the parents, or a school whose permissive policies (some mandated by Liberal judges) make it unsafe to attend. Testing sends a clear message to the school to concentrate on teaching rather than on furthering “Nurturant Morality” and enhancing the power of the Teacher’s Unions.

D. Lakoff asserts vouchers mean “The poor would not have the money for good schools. We would wind up with a two-tier school system, a good one for the “deserving rich” and a bad one for the “undeserving poor”

“The vouchers given to poorer (less disciplined and less worthy) people will not be sufficient to allow them to get their children into the better private and religious schools. Schools will thus come to reflect the natural divisions of wealth in society”

If the poor had “good schools” under the current system, why would they use their voucher given choice to switch? This statement implicitly admits that the current Public Schools for the poor are NOT GOOD. If they were, the vouchers would NOT be used, and the public schools would loose no funding.

The wealthy (and a high percentage of public school teachers) already send their kids to private school, and a two class division exists under the current system.  Vouchers would give Poor children access to the choices that Rich families have, granting them access to the school system of the “deserving rich”. Further, does a Student need to go to Harvard in order to get a decent education, or will a State School do? Harvard is a “better” school, but this says nothing about the quality of the education received. The intent of vouchers is to allow the poor to escape a bad school and trade-up for a "better" one. If they can't, they are not obligated to use the voucher.

Lakoff says Conservatives believe “Uniform testing should test the level of discipline. There are right and wrong answers, and they should be tested for. Testing defines fairness: those who pass are rewarded; those not disciplined enough to pass are punished…Education should promote discipline, and undisciplined students should face punishment (for instance paddling), and intellectually undisciplined students should not be coddled, but should be shamed and punished by not being promoted…

“Teachers should be strict, not nurturant, in the example they set for students and in the content they teach”

To clarify, Conservatives believe that tests indicate if the student has achieved an understanding of the subject. Conservatives believe that many subjects like Math, Science, Grammar, History contain facts about which questions can be asked, and that these questions have correct answers. Conservatives believe that those who “follow the rules”, “work hard” and achieve the intended goal should be advanced, where as those who do not, should be forced to obtain the required education.

Conservatives believe Schools exist for the education of youth, and understand (along with our founding Fathers (such as Madison and Jefferson)), that values are a part of that education. As such Conservatives should be enabled to claim the right of Conscience in deciding what values should be taught to their children. Progressives, on the other hand, want to remove children from their parents' influence early, teach them progressive values, and do so with public funds coerced from the parents.


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