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How to destroy public education: A primer for dummies

broken school

The following is a primer for anyone interested in systematically dismantling and destroying public education in your state. Follow these steps and before you know it, you’ll have paved the way for installing the propaganda you wish into your educational indoctrination machine. 

  1. Grab control of the national narrative about education. You are going to need a lot of data here. Be careful though, make sure your data isn’t accompanied by any meaningful context as this could water down your message to the point where people won’t be frightened enough. For example, you’ll need to provide evidence that your country’s students are falling behind the rest of the world. The data here will be easy to find. The U.S. test scores are not at the top. They are down the list a bit. You need to spread this far and wide and point to teachers and teachers’ unions as the villains. Push the narrative that teachers have become complacent and that they are not being held accountable for their work. Here is a vital part of the step that must not be skipped; do not under any circumstances allow anyone to point out that the comparison of test scores between countries is not apples to apples. Take great care to avoid mentioning that in the United States we test almost all of our children and in many of the countries higher on those lists than us, they only test their students who are bound for the college track. Many other developed nations differentiate their school systems into more academic or less academic paths. In the United States, our education system operates as if every student is bound for college when that is just patently absurd. Yet, all of our students’ test scores, college bound or not, are added to the mix and ranked with the rest of the world. Don’t let out the fact that the United States still produces a great crop of very high-achieving students every year who rank favorably with any country in the world.
  2. Now you can go to work at the grass roots level and stir up your right-wing religious fundamentalist base. Convince them that the lion’s share of your state’s teachers are godless liberals who want nothing more than to create a new Sodom and Gomorrah right in your own communities. Tell them that public schools are working overtime to create a new society of anti-American communists. Shout far and wide how they lock God out of schools. Do not under any circumstances admit that most schools actually recite the Pledge of Allegiance each morning, often followed by a moment of silence. Convince your constituents that their science teachers are turning children into atheists and that their history teachers are trashing America’s founding fathers, the Constitution, and America’s greatness while propping up an outsiders’ New World Order. At every opportunity, label the sharing of multiple perspectives and the encouraging of critical thinking as liberal indoctrination.
  3. After you’ve succeeded in properly creating a suitable climate of patriotic paranoia and fascist fear, you’re all set to begin your real attack. Create a supermajority in your state’s legislature. If you live in a Red State, this shouldn’t be much of a problem, but this step is absolutely essential if you’re going to have any lasting success. Once you’ve done this, you can settle in and just watch things fall right into place. Pass new legislation aimed at “leaving no child behind” (who could be against that?). Demand that each student clear the same bar, regardless of where their various starting points are. Develop an endlessly complex system to ramp up teacher accountability and tie the teacher evaluation directly to standardized test scores. Hire massive corporations to write and assess the standardized tests and be ready to spend millions of dollars a year for this, it will pay off. Hide what is on these tests from teachers as if that information contained the nuclear codes. Create a bell curve system of cut score levels that mathematically guarantees that some students will succeed and just as many will fail. Take the results of the annual test scores and pit each school in your state against the other schools. Rank schools with an A to F letter grade based on how they compare with other schools but take great care to divert the focus away from the vast socio-economic differences between those schools. Finally, and perhaps most crucially, base school funding on how those schools rank, ensuring that the schools that need the most financial help will get the least. Then, and don’t skip this step, allow public tax funded vouchers for parents who wish to take their kids out of public schools and place them in private schools. With this system, you will soon create an achievement gap which you can further exploit for your own gain.
  4. Be prepared for push back and have a plan in place to squash it. Teachers’ unions and some concerned members of the community are going to fight back. They might even have a lot of success, like getting a relatively unknown teacher/media specialist elected in the race for state education superintendent with a victory over a crooked GOP incumbent once thought to be invincible. But don’t panic. Remember, you’re still in control. You can just take your supermajority party of “small government” and create a second state board of education, thus thumbing your nose at the will of the helpless electorate and stripping away most of the power from the duly elected newcomer. Then you can simply switch the position of state education superintendent to an appointed position rather than an elected one so you don’t have to go through all that trouble ever again.
  5. Once you’ve succeeded in the steps outlined above for long enough and have created an educational climate that you now have total control over. You will no longer have to mask your agenda at all. You can just go right after it and start changing the laws so that you won’t be able to be stopped. Now you can REALLY go to work holding teachers accountable. You can create new community committees with the power to dictate the curriculum taught in your local public schools. Make sure that these committees are dominated by non-educator parents with little to no input from classroom teachers. Then you can set up a system where if a teacher is accused of stepping beyond the bounds of your hand-picked curriculum, you can simply have a random parent file a complaint to get the teacher into trouble. Now is your chance to whitewash history the way you see fit. Now is your chance to get the book of Genesis taught right alongside evolution, or perhaps instead of it.

The world will be your oyster. 

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