Modern education is crap — or Lincoln, math and the CDC are racist

The Center for Disease Control announced in February that schools could safely reopen, and that it was “critical” that they do so. They said the risk of COVID transmission in schools was minimal — even if teachers were not vaccinated — and the damage to children by remaining closed was maximal.

Experience in the schools that have opened bears that out. There have not been cases of widespread transmission of COVID in reopened schools. That’s undoubtedly because children are nearly immune to COVID. And their teachers retire long before they reach the COVID-vulnerable post-65 age group.

That CDC announcement that teachers, vaccinated or not, should return to work was two months ago, though it didn’t get much media attention because teachers are overwhelmingly Democrats and so are the media. Since then, many teachers still refuse to return to work even though many have been vaccinated in the meantime.

So much for “follow the science.”

Teachers’ unions deserve much of the blame. By nature, unions bargain on behalf of the workers that are average. That’s because average workers almost by definition are the most numerous and have the most votes to elect and reelect the union bosses. The few excellent workers don’t have many votes, and so the union bosses can disregard them without fear of being voted out.

I’ve been privileged to know and be taught by some of those excellent teachers. To you, I say I’m talking here about the average teachers, not about you. To you, I say thank you.

Average workers in most jobs, including teaching, want two things: More money and less work. Teachers’ unions have succeeded in delivering both to their members, especially less work. Typically, these goals are couched in dishonest rhetoric such as, “It’s for the children.”

Consider teachers’ retirement. In most states, public school teachers are eligible after 20 years for a generous retirement pension for life with cost-of-living escalators. On average they retire at age 59, and many make more money in retirement than they did before they retired. After also accounting for summers and holidays, the number of hours worked by average teachers over the course of a career is about half that of ordinary people.   

Fine, bargaining for more money and less work for average workers is what unions are for. But please don’t give us excuses about COVID safety that are contrary to CDC recommendations.

And don’t dare play the race card. When parents in California pressed for their local schools to follow the science by reopening, as the CDC urged, a teacher accused them of “cynical, pearl-clutching, faux-urgency, ableist, structurally White-supremacist, hysteria.”

The teacher’s accusation of “hysteria,” at least, seems a little projective.

This less-work-for-more-pay routine would almost be tolerable if the little time spent teaching by average teachers were more productive. But the educational-industrial complex has launched a war on academic achievement.

Programs for high-achieving students are now assaulted as elitist or even racist (that word again!) because certain demographics do poorly on them. After decades of trying unsuccessfully to improve the test scores of the poor-performing demographics, educators are throwing in the towel. Because they can’t get the “right” demographics to pass the tests, they’re abolishing the tests.

Elite colleges are abolishing the SAT test and gifted programs at high, middle and elementary schools, are being dismantled. Consider the harm this does to bright kids who are forced to sit in classes far lower than their academic level, and consider also the loss to society in holding those kids back from their potential.

Colleges and high schools that are not outright abolishing entrance tests are grading them on a racial curve. At Harvard, Asians need SAT scores 100 points higher than whites and 450 points higher than blacks.

Colleges are now full-woke in class warfare. Noted financial writer Suze Orman recently gave her standard talk to college diversity czars about getting ahead financially. It’s common-sense stuff about avoiding debt, and the miracle and peril (depending on which side of it you’re on) of interest compounding.

Orman was excoriated for being “insulting and insensitive” for failing to blame individual financial problems on “systemic barriers to wealth such as class, race or gender.” Interestingly, Orman has been married to another woman for ten years. No matter. Among the wokerati, race trumps all. 

In San Francisco, the school board has still not reopened the schools.  When they finally do (they say it might be in late April, just in time for summer break) the kids will find themselves in re-named schools. During the pandemic, the board decided that it was racist to have schools named after John Muir, Diane Feinstein, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and 40 others.

Yep, Lincoln was racist (I assume they’re referring to the time before he was shot to death for freeing the slaves) and must be canceled.

Many of the San Francisco public school students and their parents asking for reopening of the schools are of Asian descent. Their success in school and their desire to attend prompted a school board member to tweet that they are “house n*****s”

But it’s Lincoln that’s the racist who must be canceled, and don’t you dare forget it. Else you’ll be next.

Across the bay in Oakland, it’s the teachers that are intransigent, not the union. The school board had a deal with the union to reopen the schools this week but half the teachers refused to show up for work. Twenty percent of them say they won’t even show up in April. 

One last example. Oxford University is considering banning sheet music. That’s right, the 8 ½ by 11-inch pieces of paper that music is printed on might be banned. Because sheet music comes from a time that “was complicit in white supremacy.”

OK, one more. Mathematics is racist now. You can guess why. And don’t even get me started on campus censorship.

So that’s where we are. Sheet music, Abraham Lincoln, gifted students, parents who want their kids in school, Asians, math, lesbian financial advisors who caution against taking on too much debt, and the Center for Disease Control, are all racists.

Or modern education is crap. You decide.

15 thoughts on “Modern education is crap — or Lincoln, math and the CDC are racist

  1. I am a retired school teacher. I spent 30+ years in the trenches. Glenn, you are right, modern education is CRAP. There is plenty of blame to go around, so don’t lay the blame on any single group. ALL of us are to blame, but, since it’s so easy to blame the other guy, NONE of us are to blame. That’s the game that everyone involved plays all the time.

    When I was teaching, I admit to being a crappy teacher. That’s why my house was TP’d over a dozen times in the 25 years I taught in my last school district. BTW, I hold the all time record for TP’ing in our area.

    Ultimately, though, it’s the parents’ responsibility to see to it that their kids get the education they need to succeed. I know it isn’t completely fair since parents are so gullible. They actually believe us when we tell them what is best for Johnny. Most of the time, though, the parents are lazy and too preoccupied with the wrong things to be able to do what needs to be done where their kids are concerned. A large portion of their dereliction of duty involves all the things the schools don’t really need to be doing, like sports. And don’t even start telling me all the “Yes, buts”.

    Having said that, it’s appalling to experience the lack of real concern by the teachers for the situation. It’s far easier to blame the administrators, who in turn blame the state departments of education, who in turn blame the fed. The system is rigged from top to bottom and only a complete collapse will ever see any changes. And that’s no guarantee that any changes will actually do any good.

  2. Growing up in New York City, I’ve known all my life that the combination of public schools, unions, and progressive politics adds up to complete crap. But, alas, as your closing mention of Oxford reflects, private and religious (most notably Catholic) schools and colleges are hardly better these days.

    At the prestigious Dalton School in Manhattan, $53,000 per year tuition gets your child a body of curriculum and policy virtually written by Black Lives Matter. It’s increasingly the same just about anywhere you look, except for anomalies such as Hillsdale College.

    If I had small children now, I honestly don’t know what I’d do.

    • Where are the outraged parents. I keep thinking this is the last generation of parents who haven’t been as brainwashed and can turn things around. It’s frustrating.

      • “Where are the outraged parents.”

        Most of the parents were brainwashed in the 1990s by the PC culture of the time so many likely agree with all this woke curriculum. Most of those who survived the PC brainwashing with their cognitive functions still intact are terrified about speaking up about the toxic woke curriculum because they fear being labelled a racist, sexist, or some other type of deplorable that might get their kids expelled (not necessarily a bad thing) or have their grades negatively effected (no Ivy League for junior), and perhaps even lose their social media accounts and/or get fired or have their business destroyed by the social justice “warriors”.

      • Yes, we lost the culture war in the 1990s. When I began teaching at a community college in northern Idaho, most of my students were like Sarah Palin (who was there for a year before going on to the University of Idaho).

        There was a bumper sticker at the time that read, “Welcome to Idaho. Set your clock back 20 years,” and that 20-year lag almost got me happily to retirement. But by the late 90s both my students and my colleagues began to be different. As Luis says below, by that time “John Dewey had won, and the USA had lost.”

  3. Great column, Glenn, and great comments above. My own experience with the public “schools” is that I gave up a lucrative selling job to get my “teaching” credential and then tried to teachin two different school districts, one in rural California and the other in very rural Wyoming. When it finally sunk in that the system would not allow my work to be successful, that plus low pay and no gratitutde, I went back to a lucrative selling position, convinced that John Dewey had won and the USA had lost.
    I truly do not know how the USA continues to be the greatest nation in the world, because this decadence is not new, just ask John Dewey. It can’t go on.
    Our solution for our children? Homeschooling.

  4. “By nature, unions bargain on behalf of the workers that are average. That’s because average workers almost by definition are the most numerous and have the most votes to elect and reelect the union bosses. The few excellent workers don’t have many votes, and so the union bosses can disregard them without fear of being voted out.”

    Glenn I agree with you the education is crap, but you are wrong about unions. Unions bargain on behalf of average AND below average workers because these are the people who would be fired or demoted if they weren’t protected by unions, and hence need the union and happy to pay their dues. On the other hand, excellent workers are highly valued by employers and don’t need unions to get good pay and benefits, and thus represent a threat to unions because they demonstrate in their every day performance what is possible to accomplish when someone with skill and good work ethic isn’t hampered by union work rules designed to protect the mediocre from getting fired for lack of productivity, which is why top performers are constantly told by their union “brothers” and officials to “slow down – you are making the rest of us look bad”. If you look at union leadership you will also see that it is almost always made up of people who were very mediocre at the actual job/industry the union is organized around (i.e. teaching, mining, assembly line work, etc.), which means unions are by definition run by the mediocre to protect the mediocre.

    As for the “party of science” I find it very interesting how they are not only ignoring the scientists at the CDC, but also teaching that science is racist and sexist, and that getting the correct answer and finding the objective truth are manifestations of white privilege and toxic masculinity. Idiocracy here we come.

  5. We need to abolish the U. S. Department of Education; and ALL government unions, especially the teachers’ unions. The teachers teaching in government schools today came out of the same schools they went to – and learned nothing while there. But it is all be design. If you keep the people illiterate, they are much easier to control and brainwash.

    • Good idea, but unlikely to happen since the Democrat party gets about 50% of their contributions and 50% of their living people votes from teachers unions and their members, and any Republican who serious tries to shut the DOE and unions down will be called a racist (i.e. doesn’t care about the low test scores of blacks and Hispanics) and sexist (i.e. doesn’t care about the wages and working conditions of mostly female teachers), and it will no doubt be used by the Democrats as grounds for impeachment (see Scott Walker in Wisconsin and his union reforms).

  6. I never thought that government workers with public safety jobs should be allowed to unionize (police, firefighters, EMTs, etc, and I would extend that now to all government jobs. It will never happen of course. The left controls the country now and also the vote so I see no way back.

    • Even FDR didn’t think it was a good idea. Didn’t stop Kennedy–he knew which way they would vote.

      In the absence of some other changes, I would exempt the police, as their union is their only legal protection.

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