In the 1990s, Outcomes-Based Education had many parents in an uproar. I attended and spoke at a meeting in Greensburg, PA – the State Board of Education was listening to parents voice their opinions about Outcomes Based Education, which was then in vogue. I believe both Anita Hoge and Peg Luksik were present that day. Hundreds of parents spoke against OBE. It became official policy anyway. We had exercised our right to assemble and to petition; thanks very much; now go away while the adults talk – that was my abiding impression of the meeting.
Anita Hoge is still active, now crusading against Common Core. I admire Hoge and Luksik – they’ve spent thousands of hours reading, researching, organizing, writing. I agree with many of their concerns. Yet, I believe they have set their lances a bit off target, as a bull charges a red cape.
This battle began a very, very long time ago. How long? At least as far back as Aristotle’s fantastic imaginations in 350 BC.
It took nearly two thousand years for it to become possible for governments to mandate mass education according to their templates. Martin Luther helped start the process:
If the government can compel such citizens as are fit for military service to bear spear and rifle, to mount ramparts, and perform other martial duties in time of war, how much more has it a right to compel the people to send their children to school, because in this case we are warring with the devil
This theme was taken up by many influential pundits and politicians, leading to Fichte:
the new education must consist essentially in this, that it completely destroys freedom of will in the soil which it undertakes to cultivate, and produces on the contrary strict necessity in the decisions of the will, the opposite being impossible. Such a will can be relied upon with utmost confidence and certainty.
Fichte was not aiming merely for literacy, the Three R’s, or critical thinking skills. His aim was to create subjects who would not merely do as they were told, but would be unable to think otherwise.
This led to the Prussian Model of Education, which was imported to America by Horace Mann, Calvin Stowe, and other very influential pundits and politicians, initiating a process which began in the early 1800s in America.
OBE and Common Core are merely the extension of a very, very long process, designed to ensure the safety of the State itself, and the compliance of its subjects. To attack this process, we must challenge the very roots: the presumption that the government ought to provide, fund, and control education. School “choice” does not go nearly far enough; there are European nations which have evolved such “choice,” and their nominally private schools are compelled to act almost identically to their government schools. They are at best a little cheaper and a little more effective at teaching the same curriculum, with all its flaws and misrepresentations.
To succeed, we must completely divorce School from State.