Getting Started-The more things change the more they stay the same!

Welcome to thefwordedu blog!  Bienvenidos.

To get us started I would like to share a few paragraphs from the preface and chapter one of an educational history book (which all education administrators and the education deformers should read and understand) with a few word changes shown by [. . .].  I’ll give the original words, the author and title at the bottom.  The italics were in the original and the bold lettering is my emphasis.  See if you can figure out:  When was this written and about which century is the author speaking?

“When I began this study some five years ago, my intent was to explore the origin and development of the adoption of business values and practices in education administration.  My investigation revealed that this adoption had started about [1] and had reached the point, by [2], that among other things, school administrators perceived themselves as business managers, or as they would say “school executives” rather than as scholars and educational philosophers.  The question which now became significant was why had school administrators adopted business values and practices and assumed the posture of the business executive?  Education is not a business.  The school is not a factory.  Of course, by [3] the scale of operation in both business and education (in the large cities) had produced large organizations, and so it was reasonable and even legitimate to expect the borrowing of ideas and techniques from one set of institutions to another.  But the evidence indicated that the extent of the borrowing had been too great for such an explanation to be adequate.

I had felt that the adoption of business values and practices might be explained simply by the process of cultural diffusion in which the flow of ideas and values is generally from high status or power groups in a culture to those with less status and power.  By [4] as James Bryce pointed out, business was king in American society and certainly between [5] and [6] (if not down to the present time) the business and [7-finance] group has had top status and power in America.  On the other hand, it does not take profound knowledge of American education to know that educators are, and have been, a relatively low-status, low-power group.  So I was not really surprised to find business ideas and practices being used in education.

What was unexpected was the extent, not only of the power of the business-[8-finance] groups, but of the strength of the business ideology in the American culture on one hand and the extreme weakness and vulnerability of [public school educators], especially school administrators on the other.  I had expected more more professional autonomy and I was completely unprepared for the extent and degree of capitulation by administrators to whatever demands were made upon them.  I was surprised and then dismayed to learn how many decisions they made or were forced to make, not on educational grounds, but as a means of appeasing their critics in order to maintain their positions in the school. . . .

At the turn of the century America had reason to be proud of the educational progress it had made.  The dream of equality of educational opportunity had been partly realized.  Any [8-middle to upper middle class] American with ability and a willingness to work could get a good education and even professional training.  The schools were very far from perfect, of course:  [9-some] teachers were inadequately prepared, classrooms were over-crowded, school buildings and equipment were inadequate, and the education of [the lower socioeconomic classes] had been neglected.  But the basic institutional framework for a noble conception of education had been created.  [10] public schools from the kindergarten through the university, had been established.

The story of the next [11-decade of the] century of American education-a story of opportunity lost and of the acceptance by educational administrators of an inappropriate philosophy-must be seen within the larger context of the forces and events which were shaping American society.  For while schools everywhere reflect to some extent the culture of which they are a part and respond to forces within that culture, the American public schools, because of their pattern of organization, support, and control, were especially vulnerable and responded to the strongest social forces.  In this period as in the decades immediately preceding it , the most powerful force was [12- corporatism and privatization of governmental services]-the application of [13-computing] power to the production of goods [14-and services]-and along with that the economic philosophy of the free enterprise, capitalistic system under which [15-corporatism] developed in America.”

Well, what did you guess?

With a few minor changes in wording and leaving the time frames out, what Raymond Callahan wrote in 1962-50 years ago-in “Education and the Cult of Efficiency” still rings true today.  He was writing about the 20th century but it can easily be applicable today.  Although I believe that the forces aligned against public education (the Rhees, Duncans, Pearsons, Walkers, etc. . . -for a more complete discussion see:  http://dianeravitch.net/2012/06/29/who-else-belongs-to-the-corporate-reform-fight-club/ ) today are much more sinister and organized, we must continue shout out their nefarious intentions and deeds and fight with our hearts to overcome the blatant lies and distortions that they spew all the while trying to make some big bucks off the backs of OUR PUBLIC schools and the STUDENTS on whom their programs (or is that pogroms?) will effect the most.  The more things change the more they stay the same!  Or as George Santayana stated “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”.

  1. 1900
  2. 1930
  3. 1910
  4. 1905
  5. 1910
  6. 1929
  7. industrial
  8. white
  9. my word(s) added
  10. free
  11. quarter
  12. industrialism
  13. mechanical
  14. my word(s) added
  15. industrialism
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12 Responses to Getting Started-The more things change the more they stay the same!

  1. 3D Eye says:

    Brilliant. Many thanks for this. Looking forward to plenty more!
    G

  2. Linda says:

    Duane,

    Klaus on the Ravitch blog is married to Dacia Toll, the founder and co-CEO of the Achievement First Charter Chain…spreading here in CT, NYC and RI.

  3. In this context, have you read John Taylor Gatto? His critique of how American education developed under the industrial tyranny of late 19th c. is consistent with the alternative histories of Zinn and Wasserman. Also, earlier still, the experience of Bronson Alcott as a schoolteacher in Connecticut foreshadows that development. Earlier still, the hedge school masters of Ireland, and the why and how of that deplorable destruction of culture by the British Imperialists. M

  4. jean sanders says:

    thank you so much for this posting
    I really appreciate “reliving” the experience through your perspective as it helps me to
    feel less frustrated and i don’t personalize it so much . I remember in the 80s
    administrators banging a “fist on the table” (like Kruschev’s shoe) “you must think like
    a business man; don’t think like a teacher”…. it really hurt a lot from the assault on
    teachers and “teacher bashing.” A.N. Wilson writes about Queen Victoria and how she
    had to make an enemy of her mother; it seems today’s attitude is “make an enemy of your teacher”….. something subtle going on? or the same old , same old…. (and thanks for the spelling of Neruda; I will look up some more of his poetry)

  5. Robert Rendo says:

    Due-ane,

    Congratulations on your (relatively) new blog . . . ar at least, newly discovered blog.

    I will tell others about it. Great article thus far.

  6. Ed Detective says:

    Hello Duane,

    Do you plan on making any more blog posts? It’s been three years 🙂

    • Ed Detective,

      I was just going back over that today. What a coincidence. I had thought I had set it up so I didn’t have to okay posts, so I’m going to have to figure that out. Now that I’ve retired I am planning on writing more so I have decided to reactivate (in my own brain that is) and start posting again. Thanks for asking!

      Duane

      • Ed Detective says:

        Great!

        In your admin toolbar go to Settings > Discussion. There is a checkbox next to “Before a comment appears” [ ] “Comment must be manually approved.” Then the next option (comment author…) makes it so that you only have to approve a person the first time they comment on your blog, like on Diane’s blog.

  7. ciedie aech says:

    You have the ability to shed light on important subjects; here’s to more posts!

    • Thanks for the kind words, ca! Go back since the beginning of Diane’s blog and you can find many of my posts, albeit, many reposts of Wilson’s work but some otherwise normal responses from me.

      • Reibel says:

        Hola . Estoy en proceso de poder ser un especialista en asuntos de educación, aunque no todos tienen las pruebas que yo tengo . Es algo que podría impresionante ; la realidad muy clara y lo que se esconde detrás del sistema educativo.
        Podrá asegurarles que la verdad es mejor dialogar y no ignorarme o no sabrán nunca la mentira , crueldad , crimen organizados y los peligros que están haciendo un mundo porque no estamos haciendo el trabajo de inteligencia que podemos .

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