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Compulsory Miseducation

Feb 10, 2009
Michael Hogan

Modern education resembles a cookie factory hiring assembly line workers to mass produce identical cookies using a cookie cutter designed by the management in a distant city. After all, every teacher in the state must use the identical curriculum and text books to turn out cannonfodder and other commodities. The monolithic nature of education was observed by Paul Goodman in his book Compulsory Miseducation:

At present, in most states, for 10 or 13 years every young person is obliged to sit the better part of his day doing lessons predetermined by a distant administration at the

state capital and have relation to his own intellectual, social, or animal interests, and not much relation even to his economic interests. P. 56

School systems throughout this land serve the interests of corporate commodification at the expense of the child, parent and culture. The corporate technocracy requires the education establishment to produce interchangeable identical disposable gears or parts to serve the needs of mega monopolies rather than serve students the life most suitable from a far wider variety of offerings. Freedom from the soul deadening regimen of public education will only be won when parents throw off the false impression that public education is in any way necessary.

Teacher union propaganda has convinced parents that teachers are necessary - for the moment. Among his duties, a teacher in the Westwood School District named John Heffernan is paid $80,049. per year to teach children to play with Legos on a computer. Why is it necessary to teach children how to play games ? at any cost?  Why is virtual reality (computerized Legos) taught? Don\'t children and teenagers eagerly learn to play games, both virtual and real, without teacher intervention?  How will computerized legos at $80,049/yr. build a better student and human being?  Are computerized lego classes fair to the tax payers who are removed from our midst by  ASTRONOMICAL  teacher salaries and pensions?  A teacher recently wrote to me to say he or she thought teachers in a league or class with doctors, lawyers, and accountants. I disagree.

In today\'s N.J. school districts, teachers are paid far more than doctors, lawyers or accountants on average. Today, doctors are mere serfs working for low pay at HMO\'s or so-called family practices, without the incredible pensions received by teachers. Doctors are giving up the practice to open pizza parlors. How many parents have had to put sons or daughters in business because the children couldn\'t earn a living as lawyers. The competition among lawyers is beyond fierce. It\'s cutthroat. So too with accountants. Beyond the level of income, there is the question of tenure. Doctors, lawyers and accountants don\'t have tenure of any sort.  An HMO can unload unproductive doctors at any time. This is also the case with law firms and accounting firms. The income of doctors, lawyers and accountants may go down for a wide variety of reasons. Teacher salaries can only go up.

Teachers are the most pampered privileged class in the history of man. It is fair to say we (tax payers) transfer our wealth to teachers in the type of robbery usually reserved for privileged classes. Our teacher letter writer considers doctors, lawyers, accountants, and teachers to be in a different class from the rest of us. The teacher is correct. A sociologist would agree - class distinctions remain in America. This is a different question from what should America be about. Did out forbears leave foreign lands to replicate an old order? How does teacher class prejudice affect a young student\'s self image if their parent is a truck driver or a poet? Should teachers be reinforcing class prejudice in America? How did teachers become self proclaimed members of a pampered privileged prejudiced class?

School Boards are all too often rubberstamps led by pillars of the community. Budgets are built to surely meet or exceed the state mandated 3% cap on increases in school budgets. One wish list is piled on top of another until imaginations are exhausted. Those who object are characterized as social Neanderthals unwilling to join post modernity, or are said to be against "the best interests of children". While school budgets grow at a compound interest rate above 3%, your savings account pays less than 2%.  If School Boards have little hope of controlling budgets, what is their effect on the organization, management and curriculum used in our schools? How does the School Board affect educational performance?

As a boy, my heroes were seen on baseball cards. Later in life, I began to study men whose ideas were a hit. While some were asking themselves who was the greatest American sportsman, I began to ask who was the greatest American intellectual? In time, I settled on a man named William James. Who? Henry James, the highly regarded American writer of fiction, was his brother. Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung traveled across the Atlantic Ocean to meet William James. Initially a psychologist, James became a professor of philosophy at Harvard and was the first American to be invited to teach at a European university. His series of lectures at the University of Edinborough remain in print to this day and are known as:  Varieties of Religious Experience.

William James offered the world something new and much like any cultural mainstay it remains new today. It was and is a new and distinctly American philosophy called:


Before William James, Europeans searched for an absolute truth (i.e. Hegel), while after James; each and every category of reality (or philosophy) became valid and equal.  This is pragmatism. It\'s a matter of holding in equal regard a diversity of views and opinions. It is, in fact, the essence of open-mindedness. Why do I bother to inform you of my interests? I wish to view the American public school system through the prism of American pragmatism. How would William James view the education system America has created? By pragmatic standards it seems monolithic. While school districts appear to be local indigeness operations; in fact, almost every aspect of school operation is controlled from above in a hierarchy of state and federal laws and mandates, and teachers union contracts. There are tests for both students and teachers throughout their careers. These tests are designed to categorize, certify and commodify.

When the Bolsheviks ran a single monolithic education system America called it propaganda and crusaded against evil Bolshevism for 75 years until Bolshevism became a relic of the past. Today America is at war with fanatical fundamentalists who run a monolithic system of education to indoctrinate their young people. At what point will the American public and American educators come to understand that much like its adversaries America is operating a monolithic, centralized, hierarchical school system designed to deliver uniformity and conformity rather then diversity.

Both teachers and students are tested to assure both uniformity and conformity. While educators are literally sealing the fate of youngsters, one must wonder why?  Why are serious life choices and career decisions being made in such a venue (school) and at such an early stage by strangers who are not family? There are certainly other theories of education which are diametrically opposed to the monolithic mass testing method of education. Such different theories of education are notable in two respects: there are no tests and career decisions are typically made by the student at a later stage in life.

Unfortunately, such theories of education cannot be implemented. Parents aren\'t offered the choice. Diversity is against the law in America. The education monolith will only allow public schools and Charter Schools that are replicants of public schools. If we were to form an educational model based on the philosophy of Jean Jacques Rousseau, children would not begin any formal education until they are twelve (12). How would married fully stressed high income parents cope with their children until they are ready for formal schooling at twelve?

Two income households would need a baby sitting service, while parents at home could begin the education of their children. What does Paul Goodman say about the first six years of public schooling in his book: Compulsory Miseducation?

As I have been saying, by and large primary schooling is, and should be, mainly babysitting.? P.55

Taxpayers are in the position of subsidizing a socialized babysitting service, without the power to just say NO!  In fact, many move to the suburbs to access superior baby sitting services. A local policeman explained that process:   "We get folks with children who move when their children graduate".

According to sociologist Vance Packard in his book The Status Seekers, the typical suburban transient remains in one place for about six years. In addition to seeking status, transients move to suburban communities to have their children processed at a discount. The processing plant, or school, produces a socialized (i.e. commodified) youngster with the financial help of taxpayers. Such welfare transients, with two children in the school system for six years, costs long term residents $100,000. This $100,000 education subsidy amounts to welfare or socialism. Wealth is being transferred to those with children in the school system.

In addition to a handsome education subsidy, the welfare transient routinely expects to realize a large capital gain on the sale of a home every six years. Although the welfare transient is a minority of the population in any town, newspapers, School Boards and politicians genuflect to this minority portion of the population. As newspapers, school boards, and politicians adopt the welfare transient as the constituency to be most eagerly served, the welfare transient becomes a dominant numerical minority. The needs of welfare transients are expanding exponentially:  more students, more teachers, more bigger better buildings, mega modern sports facilities, ect.  When will it end?

The process of welfare transients coming and going seems as permanent as the tides that wash our beaches. School Boards are completely autonomous and comprised, largely, of teachers and welfare transients who are elected by 10-15% of the registered voters. That is a dominant numerical minority of the first order. School Boards will continue to serve the dominant numerical minority that elected them. Such service consists of routinely exceeding the state mandated 3% cap on yearly budget increases. School Boards will continue to throw taxpayer\'s money at teachers and welfare transients.

How are these massive expenditures of taxpayer money justified?  Westwood School District School Board member Charles Koch announced at the March 14th School Board meeting what the School Board considers its measure of success:  increased real estate values. Mayor Rudolph Wenzel struck a similar note in his televised address on March 18th. The reasoning goes something like this. Better prepare youngsters for mass testing. Rather then a creative curriculum, the school district is required to tutor for testing to raise the school districts ranking in statewide and local comparisons of schools. This increase in rank is said to increase the value of our homes (Koch and Wenzel).

Economists might differ with School Board member Charles Koch, as well as, Mayor Rudolph Wenzel. While real estate brokers tell tall tales, economists know markets are made of much more than one parameter. In any case, whether or not the school board and local politicians have raised house prices begs the question of how successfully have young folks been educated? This is the key question. Tax payers need to know what cost performance they are receiving for our investment in the local school system. Youngsters need to know how well they were educated (are being educated). Parents need to know the difference between education and propaganda. Politicians need to learn that welfare transients are a minority. School Boards need to learn to listen. Parents have been socialized in schools much like our own. Socialization is a process of conditioning or programming youngsters to accept the consensus of conformity. Therefore, parents unquestioningly accept the status quo of one monolithic school system run from Trenton. It may be pointless to report a critical analysis to people who have been propagandized by the system under review.

Newspaper editors are also folks who have been propagandized by our one dimensional school system. Such programming at an early age puts education beyond scrutiny in the press. If newspapers will not report on education and parents are uninterested, what is to be done? As I mentioned, Paul Goodman\'s work is available. Compulsory Miseducation  would resonate with any pre-teen. Even those who have stepped into the web of illusion called socialization (teenagers) might enjoy Goodman\'s critical analysis. It is important for children to understand they face "Compulsory Miseducation". Taxpayers may also be interested.

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