The State of Education: A Q&A with Bruce Price

BookEducationA StubbornThings Interview1/19/16
Bruce has been kind enough to share some of his thoughts on the state of education in this country. Read ahead. You will find very little whistling past the graveyard. Bruce seems to understand the enormity of what we are up against. — The Editor

ST Editor: What motivated you to start writing about education?

Bruce Price: I saw items in the newspaper that stunned me by their stupidity. I remember an article circa 1985 where a teacher in Maryland was suspended for telling his smarter students they might enjoy “The Prince.” It was not on the official curriculum so the principal  condemned this eager teacher. A year ago I wrote an article called “K-12 education is a crooked house.” Imagine you’re walking down the street and you notice carpenters building a house with crooked doors and windows.  That’s a shock. But what happens next is even more shocking. When you try to warn them that this house will cause nothing but problems, they respond: “It’s great the way it is. We are experts. Mind your own business.” That pretty well defines the relationship that any intelligent person will have with our Education Establishment. They like crooked. I like analyzing their crookedness.

ST: What is Common Core?

BP: First of all, remember that Common Core is a huge thing, all grades, all subjects, festooned with details in every direction. If you try to read it all, you might need several hours. So this answer will necessarily be sweeping. For more than 100 years, two major goals animated the “progressive” left. First, to reduce local and state control while increasing federal control. Second, to create simple, cooperative children who prefer being part of a group, this being a transmission belt to socialism. John Dewey worked out the whole plan by 1910: take control of the ed schools, indoctrinate teachers, and send them into the countryside to indoctrinate the next generation. Education as traditionally understood was never a goal. The point was to transform the country. The simplest way to do that was to engage in what Charlotte Iserbyt called “the deliberate dumbing down of America.” I would say that K-12 education for a century has been a slow-motion coup d’état. Common Core was intended to be the culmination of all these left-wing schemes.

ST: Is the current fad for “equality” the reason for the many unproductive tactics seen in the schools?

BP: Yes, as suggested in the previous answer. John Dewey, when explaining socialism, referred to it as “democracy.” Bill Ayers, Obama’s terrorist friend and a professor of education, uses the phrase “social justice.” We also hear a lot about “egalitarian,” “fairness,” and  “educational equity.”  The Education Establishment is going to level society even if that requires cutting off heads and feet. Here’s what we are up against. If your kid knows how to spell Mississippi, and my kid doesn’t, my kid will have low self-esteem. We can’t allow that. Therefore no one will learn to spell Mississippi.

ST: Given the empty courses at many colleges and the huge cost of  going there, what advice do you give to parents?

BP: Caveat emptor  (repeat 10 times). Just as most people  have become shrewd consumers of alcoholic beverages and electronic devices, they must be equally shrewd consumers of what is peddled at colleges. As a part of dumbing down the society, there is a lot of intellectual junk at colleges. As a part of turning the country socialist, there is a lot of PC pablum. Each student must find the deep, valuable, lasting courses. Take only substantive, academic offerings where content has been fairly settled for a few decades. That is, avoid fads. Take courses where you need a professor to guide you through a range of materials. If there is a competent 100-page book available on a topic, read that instead of taking a course. To get full value from college, you have to work at it. Oh, and always remember: caveat emptor.

ST: Shouldn’t the Department of Education be abolished?

BP: Yes or at least greatly reduced in size. Everyone should be working toward this goal. (The DOE was one big step in the federal takeover of education mentioned  in the second answer.) However, I recommend putting even more emphasis on big solutions that we might be able to pull off in the short term. For example, abolish Common Core and let’s make sure that virtually all children learn to read by the end of first grade. This is doable, cheap, and would end half the problems we have in K-12. (If schools won’t do it, parents should teach children to read at the age of five.)

ST: A friend in Washington state showed me official documents outlining a drastic, Orwellian overhaul of public schools; children would learn to be “global citizens”; the idea that an answer was right or wrong would be discarded. What’s that all about?

BP: You have to think of our Education Establishment as a phenomenon much like kudzu and crabgrass, not to mention cockroaches. These people never rest; they never give suckers an even break. If one vacuous idea is shot down, they will create two more vacuous ideas. They will advance as far as each individual community will retreat.  One excellent illustration of the entire panorama is New Math, circa 1962. It was vicious and stupid. The public hated it from the get-go. Our experts laid low until 1985 and came back with Reform Math, which was 12 almost identical curricula with different names! As the public got sick of them, the experts came back with Common Core Math. The common denominator is that these curricula are ineffective by design and turn children away from math.

ST: Is home-schooling still a growth industry?

BP: Very much so. The last figures I’ve seen show that almost 1.8 million children are homeschooled. Most articles I write elicit comments that if your children are not being educated, it’s your fault because you didn’t yank them out of the evil public schools. Many parents also comment that it’s more fun than they thought it would be. The dirty little secret is you could teach your kids more in three hours than the public school will teach them all day. Another dirty little secret is that the Education Establishment hates homeschooling and would love to encumber parents with more rules. I suspect that Common Core, had it been fully implemented, would have led to more meddling with private schools and homeschooling. So everybody should support home-schooling whether they do it themselves or not.

ST: Why are parents so uninvolved in keeping tabs on government schools?

BP: Some parents are lazy and self-involved, certainly that’s part of the answer. But everyone should keep in mind how brilliantly diabolical our Education Establishment is. Their great gifts are Murkiness and Marketing. They constantly come up with fake new methods, pretentious new theories to justify those methods, new jargon to confuse everybody about the methods, and new advertising slogans to make people think they’re getting a good deal, when their children’s brains are being fried. The Education Establishment has turned K-12 education into a fog-enshrouded swamp. Even the people in education cannot explain what’s going on there. Predictably, parents are confused and don’t understand how to improve the situation.

ST: Are there sinister forces out there whose purpose is quite other than helping children get a solid academic education?

BP: That’s pretty much the only forces there are. Similarly, I would say there are nothing but bad ideas in our public schools; that’s because the Education Establishment has systematically eliminated the good ideas, and inserted viruses in their place. The overriding  mission is to create a socialist America. This ideology taints everything. Power to promote that  ideology is a constant goal. When you get to the high-level administrators, professors, and publishers, then money is also a motivator. At the very top of the society, both left and right, there seem to be people who want control and stability more than anything else. Keeping people half-educated turns out to be the method of choice. I think we would be safer if our citizens were smarter. It seems the powers-that-be disagree. I think their strategy is tragic but still utterly fascinating.

ST: What could a conservative president do to help with true education reform?

BP: Many months ago, Trump said that Jeb Bush is not a feasible candidate because he supports Common Core. Clearly Trump would fight Common Core. Right there I knew that major reforms could become possible if the right president got in. If you’d like a rule of thumb, here it is: everything supported by the Education Establishment should be opposed to the max. Whatever most private schools do is probably an excellent blueprint. The president should strive to make it possible for communities to pursue their separate visions of excellence. We want educational diversity, choice, experimentation, and innovation.


Bruce Deitrick Price explains education theories and methods on his site Improve-Education.org. For info on his four new novels, see his literary site Lit4u.com. • (935 views)

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14 Responses to The State of Education: A Q&A with Bruce Price

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    One thing I have long thought is that the public miseducators should be charged with fraud — taking public money on the false pretense of actually educating students. All too often, we get indoctrination instead. They might as well use the hypnopedic conditioning of Brave New World (which book could be considered the model for modern public miseducation).

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Some of the methods and attitudes in modern government schools are so bizarre, it begs the question as to the cause. Surely no one would consciously do these things that are so feeble and/or destructive, especially in regards to promoting the needs of children.

      But it seems that actually educating children is on the back-burner, or certainly isn’t the main point. Bruce wrote in regards to the purpose of a modern state-controlled education, “First, to reduce local and state control while increasing federal control. Second, to create simple, cooperative children who prefer being part of a group, this being a transmission belt to socialism.” And I don’t doubt that motivation exists at the highest levels. But it’s doubtful the “low information” teachers and administrators at the ground level have this in mind at all.

      But it is likely they think they are doing a bang-up job when “equality” of outcome (aka…no one’s feeling being hurt) is the goal. And I realize there still are men in the education system. But one of the criticisms I’ve heard is that there are so few men in teaching that, well, that male propensity to laugh at the kind of “equal outcome, nobody’s feeling get hurt” baloney is missing.

      Bruce doesn’t sugar-coat things when he writes, “Most articles I write elicit comments that if your children are not being educated, it’s your fault because you didn’t yank them out of the evil public schools.” I admit that if I had school-age children, the pull to just dump them off with a state-paid-for babysitter would be overwhelming. To take responsibility for your child’s education means either having the means for a private school or doing the schooling yourself. And the latter options means putting the needs of one’s hifalutin “career” beneath the needs of your children.

      Again, I admit that I would find it difficult to grapple with that choice. But I’m pretty sure my resolved could be bolstered both by a reacquaintance with the general decreptitude of government schools and with the wonders that home-schoolers are working.

      For years we were pummeled by libtard messages such as “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” But as with most liberal slogans, they don’t really mean it.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        Bruce wrote in regards to the purpose of a modern state-controlled education, “First, to reduce local and state control while increasing federal control. Second, to create simple, cooperative children who prefer being part of a group, this being a transmission belt to socialism.” And I don’t doubt that motivation exists at the highest levels. But it’s doubtful the “low information” teachers and administrators at the ground level have this in mind at all

        I agree with all points made. But the Left is even more clever and create other opportunities for furthering their cause and feathering their nests while pursuing the original goals.

        In addition to landing in high-paying positions by which they fund their arson. They also create a large number of clients, dependents, supporters or whatever you want to call them.

        The “low-information” teachers and administrators may not agree with or even understand what the vanguard are doing, but due to their membership in the great education bureaucracy, they give the vanguard a huge power base. Controlling the levers of this leviathan also gives those in control the ability to dispense patronage to those they favor. Think of the power of the people who buy books for the States of Texas or California. Do you believe they might have some influence on how the books are written?

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Fortunately, some of those buyers (especially in Texas) seem to be conservatives. At least, liberals have long complained about Texas that way.

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            It is true. Elections to the State Education Commission, or whatever it is called, have become very well advertised. Each position is fought for, tooth and nail. On balance, I would say the conservatives have been winning here.

  2. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    One of my great fears is that even if we, as a society, decided the present system is a fraud and we need to again start teaching useful subjects, we would not have the people to do it.

    The public school system has been been churning out a vast army of nincompoops for the last forty years, at least. Do we have the numbers of well educated personnel necessary to turn this around?

    This is one of the reasons I believe home schooling is so important.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I feel as if our education here at StubbornThings is ongoing, Mr. Kung. Not having school-age children myself, I want to know the facts regarding government schools. The picture is still a bit murky. But the overall doesn’t look too good.

      Being competent and knowledgeable is a good thing…or at least traditionally it has been. To honor the acquisition of knowledge is to honor wisdom over ignorance. It’s to appreciate our god-given brains, particularly when we use them like the amazing tools they are instead of treating them like ink blotters to soak up cultural nonsense fed to us en masse.

      To see the government schools atrophy as they have is to expose our lack of emphasis on being wise, educated, smart, talented, self-sufficient, and hard-working. We can blame the teachers, politicians, and administrators, as we should. But this is all a function of the parents not caring to hold their schools to high standards.

      • Steve Lancaster says:

        Brad,
        We always hear of more parent involvement but the last thing government schools want is actual parent involvement.

        If you truly desire to be an involved parent then you have to take your children out of government schools. Lower your standard of living to send your children to the best private schools you can afford. Spend time teaching them yourself and have a polite but firm response to the busy-bodies who interfere. Move to another state if necessary and under no circumstances take state or federal money for your children’s education.

  3. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    I want to let you know I like this format. Interviews can be very informative. Thanks for doing this.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Thanks, Mr. Kung. And I urge any and all to query me about doing an interview in regards to any general areas of expertise they have. The give-and-take of Q&A tends to bring out more pertinent information than prepared essays sometimes do.

      All I ask is that you go with me on it. I don’t like doing dry and dull. I like being a bit irreverent, even quirky. There’s no reason we can’t have a little fun while being informed. And, by all means, if you would like to interview someone you have access to who you think is a font of wisdom, by all means submit the interview. I’ll even help with the questions if need be.

  4. Steve Lancaster says:

    When I was in elementary and secondary schools a large portion of my teachers were veterans of WWII and Korea and the great depression. They had gone to war and returned to go to university with the GI bill. They became teachers to pass on knowledge to another generation so that the mistakes of their generation would not be repeated.

    My impression of todays education establishment is that good teachers from kindergarten to grad school are marginalized and the incompetents are promoted with astonishing regularity.

    I have spent the last 10 years in what is laughingly called academia both as student and instructor and I see only one overwhelming consistency in the modern university–the modern education institution exists to provide employment and resources to faculty and staff, students are a byproduct of this system, some would say a waste product.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Unionization certainly was the death of competition and merit. Feminization was the death of the purpose of school to be primarily a means of education instead of daycare.

  5. David says:

    When my youngest daughter was a senior in high school, she ran afoul of an aggressively dominant teacher that chose to view her as ‘troublesome’. Being smart, my daughter picked up on this instantly and tried various techniques to work with the teacher to work the situation out. She stayed after school, took on extra credit, etc. to no avail. The teacher remained intractable and at times hurtful – even spiteful. When she came home in tears for the fourth time in a week, we decided to have a talk with the principle. Certainly that would help the situation. Nothing could have been farther from the truth!

    The principle had the teacher attend our meeting, even though we had requested her not to attend. Whereupon it became instantly clear why my daughter was so distressed. The teacher began immediately to list all the things our daughter was guilty of and the principle backed her up. Such a negative summation of any person’s character would have given me pause. But this was about my daughter – not someone else.

    We were aghast. Our daughter had no trouble with any teacher previous or since. Her grades were well above average in every other subject. When we pointed this out, we were told, and I quote, “You simply don’t understand the situation with [your daughter] as well as we do and you should follow our advice in this matter.”

    We chose not to.

    In situations such as this, a ‘arbitrator’ was prescribed to facilitate our next meeting.
    In this meeting, thankfully, was a person of grace, understanding and compassion.
    Long story short, we had our daughter assigned to another teacher. When asked if there were any other conditions I would consider, I said the following;
    1. The previous teacher was not to speak to or otherwise discuss any of this situation with our daughter.
    2. Any future meetings with the principle would require either my wife or myself to be present.

    You could have cut the silence with a knife.
    In the end, all signed the agreement.

    My daughter switched teachers, grades rose to their previous levels, and most importantly, no more nights weeping because no one could help her in a difficult situation.

    In all of this I remain aghast at the inbred skepticism on prominent display by the teacher and principle of this rather large high school in Boston. They knew they knew better and were outraged that parents could question their authority.

    On the balance – my daughter’s experience in the American education system was a positive one. However, this one experience should send chills down anyones spine at the thought that we should entrust the education of our children to a government – instead of parents.

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