Grassroots Commentary

Another Problem of Public Education Not Frequently Discussed

Duane V. Grassell · Sep. 16, 2013

In two previous articles on public education, I wrote about the abuse of federal special education laws that encourage students to go through the education system unchallenged and the effect of growing up in the welfare state and how it destroys a child’s willingness to learn over time. This article will address one more issue that is not frequently written about.

Anyone old enough to have gone through public education before, during, or immediately after the second world war, and who now have grandchildren in public education today, must realize that their grandchild’s education is not the same education they received. Beginning in the 1950s, changes were made in education and they were not for the better. It was at about this time that the new field of education research began to emerge and influence changes in public school practice. It was also about this time the Communists who had infiltrated the Democrat administrations that existed from 1933 to 1953 also began to join the teaching and research ranks of our nation’s most sought after universities. Needless to say, any and all research that has come out of these universities have had a strong slant against original American values and favors a strong leftist slant. It has gotten to the point where anyone who tries to publish anything contrary to leftist thought in education cannot be published in the same mode that a Creationist or anti-Global Warming meteorologist have difficulty being published in their fields today. I, myself, have experienced this first hand. Only the biased research of the left is permitted.

In the 1990s, I pursued a doctorate in education. The final requirement for my studies was a dissertation of original research to be written and defended. All holders of Ph.D.‘s or Ed.D.’s or those who have previously been candidates for these degrees are familiar with this daunting task. At the time I started my work on this task I had been teaching in public education at the high school level for just under 20 years. In that time I had encountered thousands of freshmen who were unprepared for the rigors of genuine high school academics. Those students who I observed with these problems had one common denominator. Many of these students had failed at least one grade, and at least one out of 5 had failed two or more. Despite these failures, the student was still pushed into the next grade despite receiving no remedial schooling during the summer. This is a practice known as social promotion. The research in social promotion began in the 1950s and the practice began shortly thereafter. If you examine any of the research in social promotion from the 1950s to the present, you will find little or no descent on this subject. The whole concept of social promotion was that retaining a student in a grade for lack of mastery of the academic material was bad for the child’s self-esteem. Therefore it would be better for the child to be socially promoted to the next grade so that they may be with their age group. It demonstrated “in the research” that these students will eventually catch up in their academic progress. As with all left wing causes, the results are the opposite of their stated intent.

One thing that socially promoted students did learn is that they can fail a grade and still be promoted. This killed their work ethic while on their way to high school. The problem occurred when these students reached the high school, where for the first time they could be failed. Statistics in education reveal a large number of 9th grade failures through the 1970s, 80s & 90s followed by a similar dropout rate. These students were actually motivated by school districts not to work toward academic success during their most formative years. Many parents did not complain as long as their child was advanced to the next grade. School districts welcomed this practice because retaining a student in a grade took more resources from an already strained public school budget. If anyone did complain to the school administration about the a poor performing student not being retained, the given answer was usually, “the research supports this practice”. This also lead to some interesting news stories were recent graduates sued their former schools for graduating them despite being illiterate. No one ever acknowledged the harm that was done to the students who were socially promoted.

I attempted to document this in my dissertation. I created a research project that demonstrated that students who were socially promoted in grades 1 through 8, had trouble succeeding at the high school level. I demonstrated that only less than 5% of those students who were socially promoted in these grades succeeded in high school or on required state testing. I also revealed in the second chapter of my dissertation of the bias on this subject in the published education research, including how some research was falsified in order to obtain the preordained conclusion. Despite the documentation I provided and my knowledge of a lengthy bibliography during my defense, my dissertation committee did not approve the dissertation nor grant me the doctorate. They had no objection to the writing, the research, the documentation or the organization. The only objection was to the conclusion. The project was doomed at this university from the beginning. From the time I first proposed the study, I was told the subject of social promotion was a “settled issue” in the literature. Does this sound familiar? Fortunately, an online university accepted my dissertation as is and granted me the degree I sought.

Whenever a new idea to transform education is proposed, the presenter will usually include the argument, “the research tells us…” The listener needs to retort, “Who’s research?” Almost all research in education is biased toward left leaning beliefs. The same can be said in sociology, psychology and many other fields. People need to realize that nothing can be proven in the social sciences. Only opinion is published. If the political left controls the research, then the political left will control the prevailing opinion. Keep in mind that a prominent education researcher favored by the current administration was previously an extreme left wing terrorist who bombed innocent civilians and once commented that people who don’t accept reeducation after a left wing takeover of our nation should be exterminated. Yet today, this individual is welcomed by government agencies and institutions of higher learning alike despite no change in his political philosophy.

Unfortunately, the practice of social promotion has gotten worse. In the 1990s, if a student failed algebra I in high school, they were required to take it again or at least take it in summer school. In high school, all social promotion stopped and the student did not advance to the next higher class without first passing the prerequisite class. Now, thanks to unconstitutional federal legislation such as No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, social promotion is now in the high schools. For the last three years I have witnessed students pushed into Algebra II classes despite never earning a credit in Algebra I. For once I have heard both parents and teachers complain on this subject, but the administration, the universities and our government all defend the practice with, “The research states…”

As I stated in a previous article I wrote on education, those involved in the patriot cause need to get involved in public education and withdraw their children from it for the time being. We need right thinking people in the classroom, on school boards and especially in the universities. Please make the effort to choose among yourselves able people who have the willingness and mentality to obtain and perform in these positions. This is one key ingredient in the salvation of our nation.

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