Parents who notice and complain, says columnist.
by Rob Roper
Bill Schubart, a regular columnist for VT Digger among his many hats, never ceases to amaze me with his writing. He always provides an intriguing, insightful menu of facts and discoveries followed by a totally incongruous, twistedly partisan conclusion that makes absolutely no sense. His latest effort, There’s a lot more to education than education, doesn’t disappoint in this regard.
Schubart’s general observation throughout the piece is that Vermont’s public education system is crap and has been trending that way for over a decade. It’s a point hard to argue against, especially since the latest NEAP (a.k.a. the National Report Card) scores just came in showing dramatic declines in math and reading throughout the system. Schubart even cites the stats: “a 4-point decline in reading and 9-point decline in mathematics. It also compared these with the 2012-13 school year a decade earlier — well before Covid began in 2020. There’s a decade-long decline of 7 points in reading and 14 in math.”
Schubart then provides some fascinating personal experiences that corroborate the numbers. He and his wife over the past three years hosted two foreign exchange students from Moldavia and Serbia. At the ends of these students’ overall positive experiences in the US, Schubart reports:
“[T]here was one common disappointment. That was our school system, which they both found very disappointing when compared with the education they had had in their home countries.
Other than their American history course — and athletics — they felt they had learned little or nothing. They had already studied much of the math and science….
“Beyond the disappointment in pedagogy and course work, their biggest complaint was about the classroom culture, which they described as chaotic and hostile to learning. Their descriptions were consistent.
“Students who wanted to learn sat in a horseshoe around the teacher’s desk, students in the next rows back might be texting or watching movies on their cellphones with earbuds, while the kids in the back rows carried on open conversations, entirely ignoring the teacher.”
Double checking his sources, Schubart questioned the school’s principal, who confirmed that this was indeed the dynamic at play in the classrooms of what is supposed to be one of the state’s best public high schools.
Schubart then laments the good old days in the late 1960’s when he was a young teacher at Mount Abraham. Back then the staff understood they were to maintain a culture of respect and learning – and did — and the students for the most part understood their role fell in line.
All good, well thought out stuff up to this point, but here’s where Schubart’s characteristically left-leaning refusal to see reality, even when it is so glaringly obvious given the clear and overwhelming evidence, takes over and drives the man’s brain off its intellectual rails. What does he blame this sorry state of affairs on?
“But if the child sits at home and listens to their parents run down the school for whatever reason — demanding removal of certain books from the school library, lobbying to eliminate courses they don’t personally approve of, complaining about property taxes they pay to fund public education, for example — their animus against their child’s school and classroom will likely take root in the child and the child will have implicit permission to come to school laden with a variety of disrespects.”
Seriously, LMAO! SMH! WTAF? as the kids on their phones not paying attention to teacher might type. I’m sure the same kids who are boisterously ignoring Mrs. Wormwood’s algebra lesson are sitting respectfully at the dinner table hanging on their parents’ every word regarding Vermont’s incomprehensibly complex property tax system.
Schubart can’t bring himself to recognize or admit that since he first graced a classroom at the dawn of the age of Aquarius, leftist thinkers and culture warriors have come to dominate our public education system, certainly here in Vermont. It is they who are overwhelmingly responsible for the classroom culture and the curriculum that exists today. Does Schubart really not understand that the respect and discipline that existed during his teaching days was just the product of a racist patriarchy? Expecting all kids to sit quietly and pay attention is just an expression of his own white privilege?
At one point Schubart laments the fact that his European exchange students spoke three or four languages fluently, having taken classes since the first grade. We, he sadly notes, don’t teach foreign languages in elementary or middle school anymore. Yeah! We’ve replaced such courses with politically charged “green” propaganda and curricula influenced by critical race theory (CRT).
Students aren’t paying attention to the teacher? Maybe that has something to do with the fact that the leftist politicians and activists in and outside the classroom have spent all of these kids’ lives telling them that the adults from previous generations – like the one standing in front of the blackboard with the wooden pointer — are all systematically racist, sexist, and homophobic guardians of an oppressive society that has, among its many sins, laid waste to the planet these youngsters will inherit. Why would anyone pay attention to someone with that resume? If you want real authority on a subject, look to a fifteen-year-old (now nineteen-year-old) high school dropout whose major achievement is having collected a few million followers on Instagram.
Schubart notes that we are witnessing a rise in mental health issues with students of all ages. Again, maybe that has something to do with the fact that schools are relentlessly scaring the daylights out of children by bombarding them with a messages of hopelessness over unsolvable climate change, ubiquitous gun violence, incurable racism, and, oh by the way, you’re probably a boy trapped in a girl’s body or vice versa, let’s explore that! Just don’t tell mom and dad because the people you live with and are dependent upon can’t be trusted. But, hey, be well!
No, none of this occurs to Schubart, or if it does he sees his job as deflecting attention away from the real roots of the problems and onto the politically correct scapegoats – conservative parents.
If kids are emotionally damaged and failing to learn, it must be because mom and dad are critically pondering in the presence of their children why their property tax bills have doubled over the past two decades with declining results to show for it. Or it’s because those same bad parents are questioning the school’s decisions to replace Huckleberry Finn and To Kill a Mockingbird with Gender Queer and The 1619 Project in the syllabus.
According to Bill Schubart – and unfortunately a lot of people think like him — the very real problems that exist and are getting worse in our public school system (and, from there impacting our youth as a whole) are not the fault of the left-wing, so-called “experts” running the system. It’s the fault of the ungrateful masses for calling attention to the experts’ failed results, questioning the experts’ demonstrably ineffective methods, and demanding something better for their children. What nerve!
Of course, others might review the same evidence as Mr. Schubart and come to an entirely different conclusion. Let’s certainly hope so.