Rainbow over Galileo Lane, Tucson

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

After viewing the Crucible

 On seeing the Crucible once again. 
There is evil in the world. Some of it is the result of warped and demented minds. Some of it the result of greed- not just for money- though that is productive of much evil,  but there is also the greed for power.  And some of it is the result of amorality : people who follow orders but take no responsibility for the result.  But , as  Arthur Miller made clear in his Salem witchcraft play- some of it is the result of people so righteous and sure of their own beliefs that they would impose them on others regardless of the suffering it might cause. Fundamentalism is not just confined to religion.

The evil I speak of is what is happening in schools to children in the name of teaching them to read. All of the forces of evil are involved: Greed of publishers and profiteers, greed of politicians who use literacy  to attack schools and stir up fear among their constituents, amorality of school board members and administrators. But especially evil are those whose fundamentalist views of literacy, learning, and schooling are being enacted into laws that are designed to root out heresy- anyone who does not share their  fundamentalist belief- and create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation  for any who challenge their doctrine.

What has happened in American schools in last 15 years has devastated schools where they are most needed in the urban ghettos: the schools of New Orleans, Philadelphia, Detroit, Chicago, Oakland, and our nation’s capital are wounded beyond repair. Schools are closed where they are most needed and any semblance of self-government of local education is gone.

And schools everywhere are  being turned  into sweat shops in which five year olds can be failing in the first week of kindergarten and the primary day  is spent almost entirely on fundamentalist literacy programs. Like the good people of Salem, professional teachers are being rooted out or forced into submission, and blamed for the failure of their programs to work, turned away from the truth by the Satans in the teacher’s colleges.
Education is not the only aspect of American life in which this is happening- see the parallel in the attack on modest attempts to provide health care to millions without it.

But what  is more evil, or more dangerous to democracy than what is happening to the education of a generation of our youth?

Pervading all this evil is an anti-intellectualism which serves well those greedy for money and power. If you can’t trust yourself to tell truth from fiction, sense from nonsense, science from myth then you are prey to voting against your own best interests.

It is not the fundamentalists who have brought this situation about. By themselves they could not have the power. But they are being used by those who  have power to minimize the tax burden of supporting public schools while limiting the access to  knowledge and literacy.

Those with power have the clever minds in the neo-conservative think tank to do their evil for them. They know how to use the institutions of democracy to subvert democracy.

How do we fight this evil? With the only tools we have.
Knowledge  and  the same political process they are using against us.
Save Our Schools is a national coalition organized  to resist  this evil.
If you are parents exercise your rights as parents to  protest bad tests and curriculum. Defend your children from the sweat shops. You can join with other parents  and the professionals in defending your schools or taking them back from the fundamentalists. Get on school boards.
And educate yourself and others.


  1. Please give me your opinion about easyCBM. It looks like DIBELS in sheep's clothing. Have you done any research on the program or know of anyone other the University of Oregon folks who have?
    I was a good friend of Maryann Manning's and had the pleasure of meeting you several times. I recently retired from a school district that now I am out of the way has begun implementing poor practices especially in early childhood. I live in the community thus have a vested interest in the school system and am trying to advocate for the teachers who are being bullied into keeping silent. Any help you could give me would be greatly appreciated.
    Deborah Camp

  2. Ken,
    What you have written here is so true. The evil you identify is not unique to the USA. Most of what you describe is happening down her in the Land of Oz too.
    Our new Federal Government is promising much of what you describe as 'evil' down here too-- mandatory synthetic phonics for ALL children, DI as the prferred pedagogy for both indigenous and mainstream children, increased funding for private schools, cut backs to the public system, control of pre-service teacher ed content and pedagogy, etc. Our obscenely wealthy capitalists are copying what your "1%" are doing and getting away with it. Dissent is becoming a criminal offence.
    We're feeling helpless and impotent too,