To Fight The Good Fight The Battle — страница 6

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eyes of these men, the only way to save the children of Pasadena, and the entire country, was to wipe out progressive educational philosophies which had been introduced in the 1920s by John Dewey and to remove the “militant subversives” who were controlling the classrooms. Their tenure on the school board was chiefly dedicated to doing just that. Progressive educational philosophies, including “new math” and “new English,” had destroyed the minds of children. They saw a militant political agenda buried within this philosophy of progressive education, an agenda that would lead to increasingly centralized government control. “Essentially, progressive educators claim that in the modern multi-cultural society. . . the emphasis on separation of powers, states rights, and

private property accumulation are hopelessly out of date,” wrote Richard Vetterli in1976. He continued, “What they say is needed is a more centrally organized political organ with the power to benevolently administer to the people under an enlightened mass democracy.”23 In his view teachers were to be the “catalyst” in this revolution. In the minds of these fundamentalists they were fighting a war for the mind and the soul of the entire country. Progressive educational philosophies were radically at odds with their political and educational theories.According to both Vetterli and Myers, progressive educators had abandoned a demanding curriculum and developed an obsessive concern with “the whole living experience of the child.” Progressive educators refused, for

example, to hold students back in grade levels because they were concerned with the psychological damage that might do to the students. They also moved away from competition and encouraged cooperation among the students, the net result being the destruction of individuality. As Richard Vetterli saw it, this was a communist conspiracy designed to undermine the structure of society and the government of the United States and this view led them to label all progressives “militants”. Finally, Myers and Vetterli were also shocked by what they saw as the lack of rigorous discipline within the schools. 24By proposing the fundamental school philosophy the board majority attempted to undermine the negative forces that they saw in the public school system. Instead of “new math” and

“new English” the schools would return the “three R’s.” Fundamental education also attacked what Myers referred to as “slobism.” They targeted disrespectful students, littering, graffiti, and vandalism, as well as lax dress codes that permitted jeans and sweatshirts–even for teachers. “A great costume, mind you, for digging in the garden on a Saturday afternoon. But hardly the garb for a professional teacher on the job,” commented Myers. 25 To counteract that, administrators at public fundamental schools implemented a strict dress code and severe punishment for those who did not treat their surroundings with respect.Fundamentalists also advocated corporal punishment. They taught children how to behave, follow rules, and to discipline their minds, which

included: setting priorities, being responsible, being neat and orderly, and being punctual. Fundamental education proponents coupled this focus on discipline with an emphasis on competition. Many of the problems faced by public schools would simply fade away if a sense of competition was put back into the schools. According to Myers, “Nearly every major accomplishment in the history of the world has been brought about by honest, free enterprise competition. Conversely, as soon as competition is eliminated, deterioration and inefficiency are inevitable.” 26 As part of this need for competition, Myers recommended that parents choose their children’s schools. This would foster a spirit of competition among the schools in the district, thus allowing those who did a better job

a chance to prosper, while those that did not would simply “go out of business.” Competition was also crucial within the classroom. Students were encouraged to work individually instead of cooperatively because this would “help the children set their aims high, yet learn to deal maturely with setbacks. . . .”27Richard Vetterli and Henry Myers made it clear in both of their books that they saw themselves as fighting some sort of international conspiracy–in all likelihood a communist one. They fought cooperation among students at every turn. At one point Myers wrote:A. . . group of individuals is working desperately to see us fail. Some of our readers will doubt that they even exist. . . This is a group of power-hungry individuals who simply do not want the masses to