Those of us who have been lucky enough to be able to clearly see the world and how it operates have difficulty understanding the Progressive mind and how Progressives can attempt the same thing time and time again. If you go by Albert Einstein’s definition, “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results,” it borders on insanity. We’ve seen this repetitiveness in regard to their arguments for global warming and immigration, but probably the area where this tendency has been the most deleterious is in education.
In all three of these areas, faced with indisputable opposing information, Progressives hold on to their beliefs with the fervor of religious fanatics. I have two examples of this, one personal and one well known. Recently, I had a conversation with a close friend regarding American policies on immigration. He believed that we could do better, that the current policies “weren’t fair.” I asked him if he was aware that the United States probably had the most liberal immigration policies in the world, and that we allow more permanent legal immigrants and refugees than any other country.
His response was essentially that “it doesn’t matter,” and that “we can do better.”
I wondered how much better we could do, since we are already doing better than the rest of the world.
This philosophy is essentially utopian, the belief that we could have a world where everything is fair, everything is shared, and nobody suffers. I’ve come to the conclusion that those that hold this belief system have a genetic defect that doesn’t allow them to see the world that really exists. That they didn’t hear it when their mother told them, “Honey, life isn’t fair.”
This “genetic defect” exists at the very highest levels. For an example, look no further than a conversation between Al Gore and Irish filmmaker Phelim McAleer about the nine significant errors a British judge had found in Gore’s movie, An Inconvenient Truth, and specifically an error in the movie which pertained to “climate change” and the polar bear population.
Regarding Al Gore’s assertion that the polar bear population is in sharp decline [despite a wealth of scientific explanation which proves the opposite], the former vice president continued to insist that they were endangered, while McAleer continued to respond that the number of polar bears are actually increasing.
“If the number of polar bears increased,” McAleer said, “surely they’re not endangered.”
Throughout the entire exchange, Gore’s expression was one of an adult trying to explain a fact of life to a small child and being frustrated that he couldn’t grasp this obvious truth. The fact that there is no proof concerning the danger of polar bear extinction, even if global warming proved to be true, has no effect on Gore’s argument that the endangerment of polar bears is one of the main reasons to stop global warming.
This inability to see the facts when they conflict with their powerful belief system is not limited to Progressives. In fact, most of us have problems seeing, accepting, or even considering any data that conflicts with what we strongly believe. However, what makes the Progressive belief system different than what most of us experience is that it is essentially “religious” in nature, based on a faith that goes to the core of who they are.
The problem, of course, is that most often Progressive policies have unintended consequences that are significantly worse than the problems they are trying to solve.
With regard to immigration and because we are a welfare state, most concerning is the ability of the United States to be able to support the millions of people that would flood into our country once any sort of Democratic Party comprehensive immigration bill is passed. While with global warming, it is the loss of opportunity that will result when trillions are spent on a project that will result in very little improvement, whether the problem actually exists or not.
The issue where the religious fervor is especially strong is in education. Any intelligent look at our current public education system, especially in schools populated by a majority of children from families dependent on welfare, would uncover very few success stories. The unintended consequences of Progressive policies regarding education is almost a total lack of education in that segment of population that so badly needs to experience success in this area.
While the failure has many faces, perhaps no such facet serves as a better example than the total lack of classroom discipline, caused by Progressive policies that insist on “civil rights” for all students, regardless of the unintended consequences. Obama showed us yesterday that he has no intention of changing these failed policies and in fact will “toughen civil rights enforcement in the nation’s schools … everything from academics to discipline.”
This runs completely counter to what has been observed by many of the people serving these children. In fact, we are losing excellent, committed teachers because they have lost their passion for teaching when they have to spend the vast majority of their teaching hours struggling with disciplinary issues. Here’s a couple of anecdotal examples that I am personally aware of:
The first involves a woman whose family moved from an area where the majority of the students in her children’s classes were on welfare to an area where only a small minority were dependent on governmental assistance. She had been very concerned about her own son’s inability to read and so had decided to volunteer as a classroom aid. As such she was able to view firsthand what happened in the classroom.
I asked her how her son was doing in the new school. She told me he was doing “much better.”
I believed that the school in her new middle class neighborhood would have better resources and teachers than the previous one. However, she explained to me that the previous school actually had better resources, including more computers and a more complete library. Furthermore, she thought that the previous school’s teachers were very committed and well qualified.
When I asked her about the difference between the two, and why things were looking up if the school she and her son left had better resources than where they had settled now, she explained that in the previous school there was a complete lack of classroom discipline. “In my experience,” she said, “a conservative estimate of the classroom time teachers spent on disciplinary issues in that school was at least 70 percent.”
“How much classroom time is spent on discipline in the new school?” I asked.
“Zero, nada, not a single minute.”
In order to be absolutely fair to the “civil rights” of all of the students, Progressives are allowing a small minority to significantly denigrate the educational experience of the majority. So, the unintended consequences of the Progressive policies regarding classroom discipline is that most students attending schools in low-income areas are not getting the education they need to succeed as adults. And it has nothing to do with resources, textbooks or fancy computers. It has to do with a achool administration’s willingness to enforce policies already on the books.
Not surprisingly, when strict discipline is enforced, the exact opposite happens.
For another example, consider the story of a very close friend of mine currently in his second year of teaching in a school district where almost 100 percent of the student population is from families on welfare. Initially, he had terrible discipline problems, but decided to install the discipline from his military experience into the classroom.
The first year, things went extremely well and his fifth grade class was the highest performing in the district. The second fifth grade class scored so well in the mid year tests (92nd percentile) that the principal insisted that he take over a sixth grade class that had scored extremely low. Again, he was faced with a total lack of discipline. In fact, on the first day, one the students gave him the “one-finger salute.” My friend told him to leave the classroom and wait for him in the hall. After calling in a substitute teacher, he confronted the student, telling him to “stand up and face me.”
As the student stood, however, he pulled a loaded gun from his sock and pointed it at my friend’s head. My friend slowly backed up toward an exit, hoping to at least get the kid out of the school building. Luckily, a teacher down the hall saw this happen and quickly notified the police. As they got outside of the building the student was overpowered and the incident ended. Of course, the story spread quickly throughout the school and the students in his new sixth grade class were sure that they has seen the last of him.
They were wrong, however, and there my friend was — in class, the very next morning, acting as if nothing had happened and still demanding the level of discipline that had served him so well. I more recently asked him how things were going.
“It’s a struggle,” he said. “The average kid in this class is reading and doing math at the second grade level, it’s hard to catch them up in just one semester.”
“How about the discipline?” I asked.
“Oh, that’s was taken care of quickly. When I showed up the next day they knew I was serious and that was all it took. When I think about it, I realize that I have at least taught them the value of discipline. Each day starts with, ‘Good morning Mr. Smith.’”
I have no doubt that the kids will do much better, even if my friend only has them for half a year. They’ve not only learned the value of discipline, he’s teaching them that they do have some control over what will happen in their lives. He’s teaching them the value of personal responsibility, single-handedly looking to turn back the years of Progressive influence in the schools.