INDIANOPOLIS — The fact that the education reform movement has forced states across the country to consider taking such harmful measures as Indiana House Bill 1134 was sad for some reason – no, tragically – predictable.
HB 1134 is an epic act of stupidity, indulgence to voters who consider ignorance a virtue. The main purpose of this measure is to limit how much Indiana students can learn by not allowing schools and teachers to discuss anything that might come to mind. He seeks to punish even librarians for providing interesting books to curious young readers.
This is a significant departure from both the origins and the orientation of American history. Generation after generation, Americans have worked hard to ensure that their children and grandchildren have access to more education and knowledge – and therefore more opportunities – than they do.
Now many of them are fighting for their children and grandchildren to learn less, know less and have fewer opportunities.
This result has been predictable for decades, since ambitious politicians have realized that political gold can be mined by attacking public education in general and teachers in particular.
They went about their business and thought of truly idealistic people who worried that national schools were doing little to prevent the creation of a permanent lower class.
They had cause for concern. Many, many students from disadvantaged backgrounds have been losing positions year after year, from generation to generation. The fact that these gaps in achievement and ability often accurately reflected differences in race and social class created a sense of urgency.
These idealists thought that the introduction of free market principles would bridge the gap of achievement. Creating competition between schools and educators through the creation of charter schools and school selection programs would provide an opportunity to uncover innovation and entrepreneurship in American classrooms.
As a result, test scores and other signs of student achievement will increase.
It turned out that the persistent racial and class problems in America were just that – persistent – and they did not succumb to the dreams and divine thinking of the idealists of educational reform.
This could end the movement, except for a few things.
Politicians – especially conservatives – believed that votes could be obtained by continuing to undermine schools and teachers. Both traders and other fraudsters have found that it is possible to make huge piles of money by pumping out billions and billions of dollars that American taxpayers spend on educating their children.
Education reformers often had no idea that their movement had been stolen from their side.
True believers are the easiest assessment for fraudsters because they are so desperate for fraud to be true.
After it became clear that the promised success of the student reform movement in student achievement – especially the improved student achievement of disadvantaged students – was never going to become a reality using methods promoted by the movement, reformers, their supporters and their leeches were so ideologically invested, politically and, yes, financially, that they could not admit their failure.
So they changed the standard.
Surveys have shown that although permits and statutes did not provide more educated students, these “reforms” had a therapeutic effect. They forced parents to “improve” their children’s education.
So instead of saying they are helping students learn more, the self-proclaimed reformers said their movement is aimed at “spreading parental rights”.
The Reformers and their travelers had no choice but to go there. They could not argue that their changes meant that Hoosier’s taxpayers paid for two public education systems instead of one, and received no added value for increased spending and additional layers of often accountable bureaucracy.
But focusing on empowering parents also meant subjecting the facts to a popular vote and thus political pressure.
That is why we are now debating whether Nazism and the Holocaust were bad things, and lawmakers are questioning whether slavery and race had anything to do with the Civil War and this nation’s struggle against segregation.
Next we will vote for whether 2 + 2 is 4 or 22.
Or maybe something that isn’t even a number.
But we came to this place not by chance.
We were brought here by some people who don’t care about good and evil.
And some who so desperately couldn’t believe they didn’t see how much they got lost.
John Krul is the director of the Puglia School of Journalism at Franklin College and the publisher of TheStatehouseFile.com, an information site run by student journalists at Franklin College.