Your Bullshit Conservative Ideology Is Killing Education (Series Part 2: Personal Essaying):
Fuck terrorism. You know what the top security issue for the United States is? That our schools are turning out goddamned idiots. If you have a generation or two of fat fucks who can't read, write, do math and science, or understand how the government works, then you are a nation that is doomed, probably deservedly so. And if you don't care or don't believe it, well, you either have a vested interest in people being fat and stupid or you are too stupid to notice.
How does the Rude Pundit know for sure that students are devolving? 'Cause he's been teaching your kids for 20 years when they get to college, and he has watched them get progressively stupider (no, not you, dear student who might be reading this, but surely that kid sitting next to you in class), especially in the last ten years, since the ludicrous No Child Left Behind law was rammed down the throats of our public school systems, expecting some miraculous flourishing, as if somehow the nascent intelligence of humans was somehow going to just improve because we said it would. (No, really, NCLB, with its goal of every student graduating from high school, is the kind of utopian plan that, if created by a liberal, would have gotten him or her laughed out of the public discourse or treated like Ralph Nader.)
Look, there's a hell of a lot of books written on the subject of the horrors and humiliations visited upon the public education system of the United States. So, instead, here's a quick thumbnail version of how the Rude Pundit believes we got here (it's a bit complicated, but, hey, follow the bouncing ball and sing along):
1. Ronald Reagan gets elected president in 1980. As with virtually every awful thing that has happened to the U.S. in the last half-century, Reagan is in some way responsible for its origins. Reagan opened the doors of the White House, and thus the government, to evangelical Christians who, among other cultural issues, were all upset about how the kids were learning things that might transform them from useful Jesus-fellaters to free thinkin' Me generation hippie-lite secularists. They've been fighting curriculum battles since someone taught 'em to read.
At the same time, Reagan shifted many of the responsibilities of the federal government to the states or, more insidiously, to private companies (remember: the government giving massive amounts of money to corporations to hire people to do shit is capitalism; the government just hiring people to do shit is socialism). The idea was that Uncle Miltie Friedman-esque competition would make everything cheaper and more efficient. Like most theories that involve economics and, you know, humans, it fails, again and again, but it sounds good and full of freedom cream, so we do it, again and again, until it seems like it's the only way things are done.
2. Oh, by the way, prior to Reagan coming to office, there was a big damn recession. And one way state and federal governments attempted to deal with it was through cutting education budgets. As you might imagine, that affected the quality of public schools, especially urban ones (and, in this case, "urban" really does mean "city" and not "black"). So everyone was talking about the suckage of their school system, even if it didn't really suck that much.
3. Anyways, in a beautiful merging of economic ideology and crass vote whoring, Reagan decides the cool thing to do would be to apply a capitalistic competition model to schools, and he starts to push for school vouchers, which, simply put, create a massive transfer of public dollars to private schools, including, not shockingly, religious schools. Vouchers become one of the holy grails of conservative education "reform," and it was sold in crass terms that, again, if a liberal had used, it would have been called "class warfare." Essentially, Reagan and the pro-voucher crowd said that your filthy public schools suck donkey ass and don't your kids deserve to go where the rich kids go, whether that was a nice suburban (in this case, yes, it means "white") or a nice Catholic school?
4. While a national voucher program never got passed in Congress, it essentially set the tone for attacking the majority of public schools. So school systems scrambled for a way to try to compete with each other and with private schools. Now, you may think, "Huh. Don't public school systems have to spend money on the special needs kids, including like, autism, disability, and remediation? And private schools don't? That's hardly a fair fight." But you'd be a fucking socialist, so shut the fuck up.
5. But, of course, the one thing that we're told, again and again, is that money won't solve the problem. Closing bad schools. Firing bad teachers. That'll work. Providing toilet paper and pencils and non-moldy classrooms? Fuck you, that's socialism (or some such shit) and we don't want our tax dollars going for that when there's the communists/terrorists/random Middle Easterners to blow up.
6. The ultimate dream, of course, of conservative school deform...reformers is to get rid of Public Education As We Know It and to make as many people rich(er) as they can along the way. And then there's the crowd with OCD about assessment: we must be able to quantify shit. We must be able to create rubrics that we can put numbers in and demonstrate that Teacher A and Teacher B are doing well, while Teacher C ought to walk the plank. We must be able to take one of the most difficult things you can to assess and come up with a way to assess it and, no, really, we totally promise you that it'll make kids smarter. And start charter schools.
7. So let's test the fuck out of 'em. Starting in 5th, no, wait, 4th, no, no, 3rd, aw, fuck it, 2nd grade. Yeah, yeah, motherfuckers, and if a school doesn't make the cut, we'll shut the fucker down or fire all the teachers or sacrifice a goat to the idol of the Chicago School of Economics. Hey, Chris Christie, hey, other governors, jump on this fuckin' train (private train, of course, no government funding).
Your business model is bullshit. Your rubrics are useless. Your approach is nothing but a sham, and, to put it in your inapplicable vocabulary, it's micromanaging to the nth degree. And it has failed. And the Rude Pundit has to teach the results of your failure, kids about whom we used to complain, "They can't write an essay," and then, "They can't write a paragraph," and now, "They can't write a sentence."
Why? Because, well, see tomorrow.