Lawrence M. Ludlow, who holds a master’s degree in Medieval Studies and has taught in the Detroit and Gross Pointe areas, recently wrote an article on his experience of returning to the classroom.
Ludlow describes himself as a “semi-retired business writer” who taught in Detroit 35 years ago, and returned to the classroom “because a local high school was unable to replace a Latin teacher who had resigned.”
“Once in class, I witnessed firsthand the politicized atmosphere of today’s factory-style government-monopoly schools,” he said in a Thursday article for American Thinker.
He taught at Grosse Pointe South High School, which he said is “architecturally interesting” and considered a good school by locals.
“Within a few days, however, it was clear that many students did not understand English grammar, much less Latin fundamentals,” he wrote, saying “poor preparation” was just “the tip of the iceberg.”
“Students did not bring books to class, relentlessly complained about homework, and expected high grades regardless of proficiency. And when I asked questions, I uncovered some alarming facts,” said Ludlow.
He listed the following as observations he made when returning to the classroom:
- Latin was a dumping ground for students who already had failed another language; “picking up a few phrases” was the goal.
- Many teachers expected little but awarded high grades.
- Students were subjected to parental pressure to obtain good grades regardless of performance.
- A department head had been demoted for teaching at a pre-college level and refusing to lower his standards.
- Senior teachers were dropping out in disgust; younger teachers had no choice but to accept the situation.
- Under parental pressure, the principal was establishing a process to prevent students from having to take more than one test on the same day. College prep?
As a result, Ludlow concluded, public schools have “embraced grade inflation.”
He goes on:
Subjected to this one-sided feedback, administrators tacitly urge teachers to lower standards, despite proclaiming the opposite in public. Like the Dodo in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: “…everybody has won, and all must have prizes.” Austrian economists, however, have explained this behavior. Ludwig von Mises, for example, noted the human tendency to place a high value on receiving something sooner rather than later. He called it time-preference theory.The desire for immediate gratification with little effort explains the phenomenon of grade inflation. At Grosse Pointe South High School, however, this practice goes undetected because it hides behind a much broader trend toward low achievement – most recently documented by Bryan Kaplan in his devastating book, The Case Against Education. This trend is even more pronounced in Michigan, enabling Grosse Pointe students to slip under the radar.
The illusion of competence also explains why – despite falling student enrollment, which should reduce costs – Grosse Pointe and similar school districts succeed in raising school taxes. Instead of being outraged at paying dearly for abysmal academic results, those who favor school taxes double-down on their support! It’s a combination of psychological denial and fiscal Stockholm syndrome. In denial, “the faithful” desperately cling to the notion that their elite high-tax district is exceptional despite the data. They cannot admit they have been duped. And since they cannot escape the fiscal dragnet of this tax-fed monopoly, in a classic display of Stockholm syndrome, they adopt the stance of their captors and cheer all the louder! But to an outsider, they are playing the part of the fawning mob in Hans Christian Anderson’s fable,The Emperor’s New Clothes: they pretend that the emperor is wearing splendid garments despite his nakedness.
Today’s students are never free of the school district’s watchful eye, which seems to take its cues from the CIA and TSA. But with so many parents accepting after-school surveillance (and paying for it), children never learn the sense of outrage that healthy individuals feel in the presence of Peeping Toms. Instead, they learn to love Big Brother. Likewise, a big-government political bias shapes their views on current and past events.
Ludlow concluded his article by observing that “group identity and outrage culture dominate public schools.”
“Children learn to pose as victims despite enjoying a standard of living unmatched in human history and by 95 percent of the world’s current population,” said Ludlow.
His full article can be read here.
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