The Formation of the U.S. Department of Education Ruined America

The formation of the Department of Education back in the — you guessed it — 1970s under Jimmy Carter (the first US president to be born in a hospital, incidentally) is the next round, to be a prologue of separate theories on American higher education and the faculty and staff therein. As I’ve researched, lived within and among, and studied these topics, I’ve learned there are hierarchies and layers to the issues. One problem is often “solved” by a solution with greater negative unintended consequences (which could be seen by anyone not made myopic and presbyopic by political desires and immersion.)

Therefore, how the DofE has absolutely damaged Americans in countless and irreparable ways is my next installment in the “Wild Theories” Series (“Stop rhyming; I mean it!” “Does anyone want a peanut?”) and the first of a few I’m planning to orbit around American education. I’ve spent a lot of time in academia both as a student and a professor and an employee and a volunteer. Over 20 years by my count as a student alone.

And my family unfortunately has been littered with academics through the years. So I know a few things about this. My aunt, who has a Ph.D. and also is an academic, worked in the Carter administration at the very time this disaster was created. She worked, as many of our workers at the highest levels do, right out of school and green in every way possible. Their promised reward for helping with the campaign, or being romantic with someone who did and could get you a government job, as in her case. A LOT of well-connected Georgians relocated to the DC/MD area in the late ’70s. She was with the NEA, although I’m not sure if that was the Natl Endowment for the Arts or National Education Association. Not that it matters.

And in fact, the good family friend who got her that job still works for Jimmy Carter/The Carter Center (who, according to the website, “wages peace“!) doing communications and being a travel companion for him it seems ever since he left office. So I’m no stranger to the Obama-and-Biden-quality-level Carter administration either. It’s where my political interest began. There’s a photo of me as a kid sitting behind Walter Mondale’s desk with my feet up on it floating around somewhere, back when getting into and around the White House was a little more “relaxed.” It was more like a bar – you just needed to know somebody and you were in. I don’t even think you can approach the fence surrounding the property anymore. (What’s caused such a huge change in security between now and then? That’s another post worth jotting down.)

That’s the top of my head at the White House. That’s my aunt and grandfather during the brief Carter years. My grandmother was always taking photos with her little Kodak she kept in her purse, and was terrible at it.

That’s a big, if not the biggest reason I’m so into politics. It’s second nature to me. I grew up with my family always talking about politics because they worked for the federal government. My mother did as well. And I try to be careful not to veer into a literary political swamp, but at times it’s relative and necessary. This isn’t meant to be political, however, as much as how our government is inept when it comes to educating our children-young adults. Politics and government/civics aren’t necessarily the same. That delineation isn’t made nearly enough at nearly the most appropriate times.

I indict the US DofE regularly but as with all of these theories of mine, I never get to elaborate, which is important I feel. Anytime something or a person is indicted there should be a lot of reason and the ability to lay it out clearly. THat’s partly why I’m getting them all down in writing here. Another part is because I want my daughter to know how I think/thought after I leave this mortal bag of bones. Sound snippets are poor communication. There’s too much left to assume, and all sorts of false conclusions are drawn. That’s a recipe for disaster, which should be something to go in the ultra-valuable Life Lessons Series I also store here.

Here’s the theory with this that I would enjoy anyone debating. I’ve never had anyone dispute any of it. And I plan to fortify my theory here. Or disprove it – I’m not infallible. I’m curious and like to get to the bottom of things. We have a true educational mess on our hands now, so let’s see what’s at the bottom of it. My own mother sensed it and saw it coming which is why I was put into private school, where I remained until my sophomore year of college and transferred to and graduated from the best college in my home state of SC: The University of South Carolina. Which was my first glimpse into federal and state-sponsored bureaucratic Hell.

I won’t detail the US Department of Education since Google can do that much better than I. But it does need some explanation. The US Department of Education was formed in 1979. It was a HUGE, and needless to say unprecedented, centralization of the entire educational system here in America. Cabinet-level, which used to be a BIG deal. Everything to be under one roof in a very basic sense. Which already should send up a GiGaNtIc red flag. Nope. Open the flood gates, and a giant checkbook, and let’s get started. (Oh, and don’t forget two things: bussing and desegregation issues that were fairly new and untested and quite controversial.)

As I researched this article, I found there’s a LOT of misinformation online about the US public school system. I’ve studied this topic before, which is how I’ve come to be writing about it here and now. I have developed some strong opinions on it all based on what I’ve learned.

But as I search around online now, the “facts” are different. And what I’m finding when I search for certain topics within this issue, I get quotes from media outlets instead of concrete, factual answers. That’s odd for Google to do. (I happen to know a lot about SERPS and SEO too. It’s my nature.)

The internet will have you believe John D Rockefeller “invented” the US education system in 1902 as a social experiment to fill factories with well-trained, obedient monkeys workers. And that public schools are based on factories and companies and the entire concept now is totally outdated since it was based on 18th Century Prussian models. However, it was still Rockefeller that supposedly is quoted as not wanting a nation of thinkers but a nation of workers. As if they can’t be both, and aren’t going to (compulsory) school to learn HOW to be a better and smarter worker. This hypothesis is just silly. This is all baloney and is what the Washington Post, a Jeff Bezos-owned Joint, is getting onto the 1st page of Google. It’s what kids are ironically writing in reports for school, and believing. And it’s incorrect. Deliberately so, I believe. Another theory of mine I could get into.

Rockefeller donated $129 million to create a group that was to focus on improving the educational system in a rapidly growing and quickly-industrializing country. Think of Elon Musk donating his $5.8 billion these days to help with education, like physics, engineering, and all sorts of technical concerns, for a modern illustration. Rockefeller wasn’t an educator by any means. He was a philanthropic man. Like most ultra-wealthy Americans.

The reality? Glad you asked.

Firstly, the D of E isn’t just about managing and controlling the US school system. Not by a mile.

It concerns itself with all SORTS of constitutionally protected and granted services, like public education.

Just kidding. It’s totally unconstitutional, but was created via a “workaround” using a lame excuse that it fits into “tax laws.” The VERY same way B Obama got Obamacare passed if you remember. He stated it was both a tax to the courts and not a tax, to the senate and house to get it passed. That’s what you do when you want to pass something unconstitutional: find a way to say it’s a tax and not simultaneously. You have to be a good liar, though. And you don’t make it to President these days without being a professional at that nefarious skill.

The Department of Edjukashun has MANY subsidiaries. None of which really have much, if anything, to even do with schools and educating children academically. The D of E has gotten its tentacles and ooze into crevices in American families and also handles the following:

As you can see, and as I will elaborate on in a bit, our public education system has become more of a group of agencies that manage every facet of American kids’ lives, AS FAR AS THE PARENT IS WILLING TO ALLOW IT TO HAPPEN. I use the phrase “willing to allow” instead of “happily and freely giving all control to do the parenting work for them. They EXPECT it in fact.

I’m only trying to focus on the academic portion of the Department, though.

The US educational system is based upon a much more militant style of education than prior. This makes sense since it was modeled after German schools, that were derived from widely-admired Prussian models. Nazi Germany in fact which is why there seems to be so little online appearing prominently on Google. We still use the word “Kindergarten,” for example. I used to have a bunch of illustrations from books that show this very system being adopted that I’ll try to locate on a long-stored hard drive somewhere. In German schools during the Nazi occupation, there was a lot of propaganda taught, specifically about the Nazi party. That isn’t unlike America’s schools (and public library systems) today and the Democrat party, which is undebatable.

The DofE oversees State educational systems which oversee county, which is the end of the line usually. The governor of each state usually appoints (unelected) a school board of about 9 people, who now have tremendous power. We have 7 on the Board here in Kentucky. The state congress and senate have to approve them, but once they’re in, they can’t ever be removed until their contract is up. EVER. It’s tenure track. And that school board oversees state affairs such as establishing the correct and proper curriculum(as they see it), building more schools, ways of disciplining students, etc…

Each county has a supervisor, that’s hired by the Board. They’re also unelected, again. I happen to live in one of the largest school systems in the country, in Jefferson County, KY, with around 155 schools. Our supervisor, Marty Polio, makes about $300,000 a year. Not bad for a public school administrator. WHose teachers just striked and closed schools (the word “extortion” comes to mind) because of “low wages.” Indeed.

Interestingly, Japan also emulated that exact same model out of Germany, except they optimized it and ran with it and became one of the best-educated countries on the planet. America, on the other hand, botched it totally. However, a big reason for Japan’s success lies within their discipline and strong family values. They have nuclear families whereas America has forgone 2-parent families. At least mother and father. But the involvement by the families in the children’s education is everything. That can’t be overstated I don’t believe, and from the ample evidence that exists.

Also, to be explicit, this model runs from Kindergarten fully through to American universities and the operations/attitudes within. Colleges also are existing on unsteady ground. Their importance and value have been diluted if not replaced by other means to acquire knowledge and skills, like Massive online classrooms, tech schools, online schools, and certifications galore. And some of these don’t come from terrible credentials. Princeton offers massive online open courses (MOOCs) which I myself have taken, and they’re good. (I learned about gamification systems, which complements my deep interest in psychology and human behavior.) Harvard offers computer science classes, Columbia offers financial engineering and risk management. For free. How exactly does No-name U plan to compete with that?

So, what was the school system like before, that was so bad? It was controlled by communities and areas where the children lived. This of course was the reason the educational system became so obviously segregated. Children were schooled in the neighborhoods they lived in(or farm areas. America used to be a lot more rural), and, just like now over half a century later, most whites live in white areas and blacks live in black areas. And in between is a pile of other races and backgrounds which never existed back in the 1970s-2000s. The composition of this country was changed at the beginning of this century. A lot less WASPy. Which was evidenced by the weekly terrorist activity during Obama’s tenure. Does anyone remember constant “Red/elevated” Terrorist status updates from 2008 to 2016? Then they all suddenly stopped? Or perhaps all the (MANY) public school shootings?

Where I grew up in South Carolina, schoolhouses like this were common. Because it’s where kids used to learn. They’ve all been demolished and replaced with giant windowless brick complexes devoid of all character and warmth, that resemble prisons more than schools.

Anyway, consider this: The 2nd largest Teacher’s Union in the country, founded in 1916, the American Federation of Teachers, OPPOSED the creation of the Dept of Education. That should make you stop and think.

It should make you think because the situation is totally reversed now with Teachers’ Unions and the current public school system, as it’s slowly iterated since 1979. The formation happened despite teachers NOT wanting it to, and the Teacher’s labor unions learned QUICKLY (as teachers they should) that unions provide (a highly false and costly) sense of security. It removes a lot of personal responsibility as well. People begin working for the union, not the school. Or company in the private sector. And certainly not the kids they’re employed and entrusted to worry about.

Unions of any sort are interested in ONLY two things: power and money. Any union. And with the integration of these teacher’s unions and the federal government, we created a super-power that puts the children after power and money. It makes sense. Otherwise, it’d be as though some machinists union was claiming they cared about their metal ingots and blanks they use at work. No. It’s about their own welfare. That’s not o call them selfish, greedy or anything disparaging necessarily. Everyone needs to look out for #1. But don’t lie about the intentions being about “the children.” Teachers strike all the time because of power and money if you doubt that fact. And a lot of teachers make a lot more money than you think. Especially college professors, who constantly whine about their salaries. (at least the humanities and lower-paid ones do. You don’t hear business professors, other than Econ, complaining. No tenured professor should complain about anything, ever. That discussion is forthcoming in another “Theory” installment.) But the DofE supports the teachers, NOT the students or God forbid(and don’t let anyone hear you mention God in school anymore!) the families of the kids who are there to help.

The biggest difference between public and private schools? Not the cost. The cost to educate a student in public school is far greater than what the best private schools in the US cost. THE BEST. I looked it up after wondering because you hear how expensive private schools are and at the time, years ago, it was around $50,000 per student per “year” (an American academic year doesn’t resemble anything coming close to a “year”). And some of our public schools are among the worst on Earth. That could be just one reason why. I went to school 6 days a week in a private high school, for reference.

It’s not that private school students are inherently smarter or more driven or better athletes and citizens and harder workers or better at interviewing to get into the best schools. Although you obviously find those types gravitating towards private and elite schools. They’re elite students so that should be common sense. All kids typically emulate their parents’ behaviors, which often are the very behaviors that allow them to afford to send their kids to elite schools, as well as paying a fortune in taxes for public school expenses not even being used by the family. Cycles of despair are the same as cycles of success. The difference is how and where energies and resources are focused. Focus on the positive and move upward and forward. That’s a winning attitude. Don’t be deterred and talked out of your dreams by losers. And especially not by your own self.

What I’ve learned that separates the obvious and vast differences between private from public is that the families/parents of the children are about 100% more involved in their children’s education, their communities, and the betterment of the school they attend. It’s an attitude that’s unapparent in many ways, and too apparent in others when it comes to public schools. Back before the DofE, and especially in more rural schools, you’d have ALL kids in one building, and the older kids would help teach the younger kids, along with the teacher. This is getting down on a more granular level than I’d like, however. I’d rather focus more on the educational system on a national level and the job the government has done educating our citizenry. It’s begun vicious cycles of ignorance throughout our country, for sure, and has a negative influence on how Americans vote. How can people make smart decisions when they’re totally ignorant? Politicians bank on them not being able to.

My grandmother’s fourth-grade year at the beautifully-landscaped Roberta High School in Georgia, 1927-28. This was the entire student body. Shoes optional. Times were a little tougher back then.

But while I’m this side topic, the evidence I’ve seen throughout my life is that public school kids are handed over to the schools not just to educate, but to raise completely, without interference or regular involvement. I don’t state this flippantly because my ex-wife has our daughter in public school right now, even though we agreed to send her to private before divorcing. It appears making that become a reality now falls on me. (Ironic since her mother teaches for a living.) You think education would be the priority for her own daughter. But she showed with her first daughter that isn’t the case at all. She performed exactly as I just described. Pulled her out of one of the best private schools in town to put her in public and let the school take care of it all for her. That’s her common mindset. It’s why people like her love disgusting cruises or Disneyworld. Pay your ticket and let someone else do all the work and perform on your behalf. A theme for our marriage and both shared and unshared children, come to think of it.

The scene has been set for what we have on our hands as far as public schooling now. So, why am I claiming the Dept. of Education, both its creation and existence, has ruined American education? Which, I shouldn’t have to elaborate on the consequences of having an entire country with a drowning educational system taking its students and citizenry down with it.

Well, consider what I’ve laid out and the iterative changes since the formation of Federal and state nannies for our kids. Politicians are always FAR too eager and happy to run people’s lives for them. Propaganda in schools? It gets no better as far as totalitarianism goes. Which is the goal of every politician ever. Do you think they want to allow MORE freedom? Hardly. Especially as children of the very system that puts lavish meals on their families’ tables.

While the power, money, and size scaled easily for an army of administrators and bureaucrats, the attention, output, and experience of schooling in America vanished. Government is only concerned with INPUT, not output. So it became sone-size fits all. It became scrambles for Federal money, teachers union strikes, lawsuits against our very own schools, and what happens whenever you increase the sample size: everything gathers in the middle a la Bell curve. And everything becomes AVERAGE. Average in the USA is not good unless you’re accustomed to or happy with average or below. (I was raised to get all A’s and excel in any endeavor I attempt, so this whole mindset doesn’t strike a chord with me. Of course, I went to private school my whole life. Is that a chicken/egg scenario? No. My mother and grandfather raised me to think and act that way.)

I also had Saturday mornings to learn about civics:

I’m just a bill…

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