From the October 2003 Idaho Observer:
A insider account of how public schools are failing America
By Ashley Anderson, 16 years old
September 16, 2003
It's back to school time!
This is for all the parents and their children who attend public school. I attended public school all my life, until September 2002 when I began attending a private, Christian school. The differences are incredible!
Reading, writing, and arithmetic used to be what a child learned in school. Is this what you think your child is getting in school?
Throughout most of my time spent in public school, the kids in my classes only read one or two books throughout the whole year. I was identified as being smart/dumb enough to go to "Gifted and Talented" a.k.a. Advanced Placement classes. The Advanced Placement courses have now been replaced with IB classes, which are part of the International Baccalaureate Organization, UNESCO, United Nations. In this class, we were assigned numerous short stories to read, mostly about the myths of other countries, and about their religions. This class bragged it was a higher-level class, in which advanced students could "maximize" their learning capacity. I was busy learning about the religions and cultures of other countries, but never knowing such authors as Henry van Dyke, Washington Irving, O. Henry, or even Henry Wadsworth Longfellow until I attended private school. These authors and others like Mark Twain and Emily Dickinson are purely American, and the basis for all literary writings in America to date. Why were they never taught to me? Even in the so-called advanced classes we never read "Rip van Winkle." Instead, we were assigned books like "The Giver" by Lois Lowry, which gave the details of killing babies and living in a world where no one was special and a person's worth was based on his/her ability to conform to the group. Was I being conditioned?
After reading this letter in a shortened form in the newspaper last week, two public school teachers fired back with a letter of their own. They spoke about how great their school was and how their students read a book a week, not one a year. Are they really reading them, or are they "skimming" and using "study guides" to pass the test? They criticized my remarks about "The Giver" being inappropriate reading. They said,
"The Giver is certainly about much more than 'killing babies'. In fact, the reader should realize the novel is based on what would happen if our individuality, freedom and world were taken away. Its theme is similar to 'Fahrenheit 451' by Ray Bradbury and '1984' by George Orwell."
I wonder if they know that Lois Lowry's book is being read to children as young as 6 years old and sometimes younger? How can a child that young understand the significance of what's being read to them? After reading it, I was really shaken up, wondering why I was reading something like that when I was only in the seventh grade. This was in the "Advanced Placement/pre-IB" class; I was still only about 12 years old. What about the book, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou? It's a book also being assigned to black as well as white children to read. It's a story filled with disappointment, frustration, and tragedy. Why do young children need to know that the author was raped at the age of eight? This is literary significance?
Kids are told they will be writing in a "journal" and that no one will see it except the teacher, and they are free to write whatever they are feeling. They could write about parents, friends, pastor, and anyone else, and parents would never know! When I was given this assignment, I knew my privacy was being invaded, so I wrote about how ridiculous it was to write in a journal. It was really none of the school's business. Strangely, I was never reprimanded or counseled. They were profiling me and to see how and what I thought. Why else would they want to pry into my private life?
They were treating me like just another "product" of the education system, just another number. They want worker bees. Push a button. Pull a lever. Get just enough 'education' to learn how to be compliant, happy little 21st Century workers who don't ask any questions and keep their noses to the grindstone. I thought, "surely, not my school". I was wrong.
In the 8th grade, my science class spent the first six weeks learning from the end of the textbook. It was all about global warming, recycling, and population control. It made me wonder how this "control" will be accomplished. My teacher wanted to get all those things out of the way so we wouldn't have to deal with them later in the year, but why are they in the curriculum in the first place?
For one geography assignment, I was asked to list all the major appliances in my house including microwave ovens, telephones, televisions, etc. They even wanted to know what the highest level of education my parents had achieved, and a roundabout figure of how much they earned each year. It was an exercise to make me feel badly that American families have so much and the rest of the world goes needy. I began to feel sorry for people in other countries who don't have as much. I started to want everything to be fair, and for everyone to have exactly the same. The very things my parents taught me, like working hard, don't cheat anyone, and earn your own way, were changed little by little in seeing how people live in these third-world toilets. It scared me that someone could just change my ideals by playing on my emotions. They were manipulating my compassionate feelings and using them against me to make me want what they call "equality". I still wonder at how they will use the list (which was taken up) in the future.
When my mother was in school, she was taught phonics. In public school, I was taught to memorize the look of words and how they sounded. I was taught to remember the answer, not understand the question. I didn't have spelling or vocabulary words to learn past the sixth or seventh grade. Why not? In my private school, everyone has spelling and vocabulary words, in every grade, every week, to understand and learn how to use them in sentences. Words like philanthropy, misanthropic, and ameliorate were never taught to me in public school, despite the so-called "advanced" classes I was in. My mother, however, insisted on my having vocabulary words, even though it was not provided in public school.
Reliance on technology was very big in public school. I was told not to worry about spelling something correctly, because computers have spell check programs on them. Isn't school the place to learn how to spell correctly? These were English papers I was writing in middle school and I'm not supposed to be concerned with spelling?
Learning arithmetic has taken on a whole new meaning in public schools. I was told to use a calculator every chance I got, and was even reprimanded for doing the work on paper. I know how to push a button on the rectangular device, and it's not that difficult. The more advanced students are made to wait for the others to catch up, and the advanced students are given "busy" work. I reviewed daily however, when doing the math in my head or on a piece of paper. The textbook often goes unfinished, and the students are passed anyway, because they tried their best.
Grading on a curve is commonplace in public schools, so the students don't know if they're doing anything wrong. I had the same geometry teacher my older brother had when he was at that age. Mr. Smith we'll say, actually told the class: "Some of you need to miss a few questions for the team.' He was meaning of course that it would make the top grade of the 'curve' look better.
That was in the eighth grade in public school. In the ninth grade I took Algebra. When I changed to private school, I retook Algebra because my new school taught it differently, being more advanced, and with more of the textbook. This year I'm taking trig and Algebra II, both of my own choice. I know I'll be getting the most out of them because we won't be waiting for everyone to catch up like we did in public school. I can learn at my own pace.
Most kids in public schools are uncontrollable. How can any learning actually take place? Respect for authority, integrity, and honor are not virtues generally practiced by students who attend public school. If the administrators were to enforce the rules they have, they wouldn't need to make more. Total control is the only thing gained when making more rules than needed, or altering the students individually.
I see now that teachers in public school seemed to be watching for kids who were having trouble concentrating on things, or who were especially disruptive. Only later did I learn that these kids were sent home with notes from the teacher recommending the parents take them to the doctor to get medicine for their "behavior problem"; a mind-altering drug called methylphenidate, or Ritalin. Schools get extra help (money) from Uncle Sam for putting up with kids using this medication. Many parents will tell you that their children on Ritalin act like zombies; my brother did for five years, until my mother insisted on taking him off of it. Ritalin use causes shrinkage of brain tissue, according to medical sources. Does your child's school brag about being "Drug Free"?
I was amazed at how well-behaved the students at my private school were. Not only did they work hard, but were courteous, polite, and obedient. These things are a direct result of the proper atmosphere that a private school provides. Christian values are taught, along with studying the Bible, which, needless to say, is strictly taboo in a public school.
Although I had some great teachers in public school, which are extremely hard to find, they could do nothing with the curriculum they were given from their superiors, not to mention the state, and the Department of Education, which is a part of the federal government. The department itself is unconstitutional; "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." The United States as is written here means the federal government, or national government. The Constitution allowed no such power to the federal government as to run a federal department of education. Therefore, it is unconstitutional. The Constitution, since 1787, is and has been the Supreme Law of the land.
I encourage all those who care about their children and grandchildren to go searching for the answer. There is a lot of information available but you may have to look no further than a book by Charlotte Iserbyt called "The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America". It gives a detailed account of what really happens in public schools, why, and where the corruption comes from.
Students: no one can tell you who you are. If you don't think for yourself, someone else will. It might be a strong-willed friend, the media, or even our own government. Some people would have us believe that young people can't do anything about it, even if we wanted to try. One thing we can and should do, and that's spread the word about what is going on; but you have to learn more about it.
Even though it may be difficult to fund attending a private school or homeschooling, it is the only immediate way to stop what is being shoved down the throats of America's youth. Soon even these may be forbidden. What is the most important thing? Is it more important to play football or be a cheerleader and end up flipping hamburgers in a fast food joint, or actually learning something that will be valuable to you the rest of your life?
Defend your mind, and ask questions. Don't take anything for granted. Public school is not going to change, because it is running exactly how the government wants it to run. Follow the money.
I am grateful to those teachers who taught me to think for myself and from whom I actually learned many things. They became my friends. It's because of them that I find it easy to defend the facts and stand up for the righteous truth. They are employees of the federal government, whether they think so or not, because public school is 'public' school, if you're in Arkansas or Wyoming.
I am a Christian. Believers don't belong in Pharaoh's schools. This is not the time for us to stick our heads in the dirt and hope that everything goes all right. The remnant of Christ's followers exists today as foretold in the Bible. This is the time for all believers in Christ to rise up and defend the rights our Forefathers left to us. I will stand and fight until the end, because I owe it to my country. What will you do?
Thank you mom for caring enough about me to take me out of the public school system so that I can get a proper education. Now, I am no longer a part of the dumbed down masses.