Had we been spectators watching the class of 2003 run its 12-year academic course, we would have seen it start strong, lose steam, and then finish decidedly behind its peers from abroad. To see such promise squandered is to wonder what goes wrong, mid-course, in American education. Cheri Pierson Yecke helps us to understand one major source of the problem: a trend toward mediocrity resulting from the middle school movement.
The middle school agenda has been about much more than buildings and busing for middle- grade students. Like so many other twentieth-century education movements, it has artificially pitted equality against excellence. The quest to make all students equal has left all children equally disadvantaged academically. The effort to use the middle school to accomplish social goals, as Dr. Yecke documents, has left true educational goals further out of reach.
As I wrote in The Educated Child, “All children deserve access to a rich curriculum, a common core of worthwhile knowledge, important skills, and sound ideals. Good schools may vary the pace and pedagogy as appropriate, but they take pains to retain the content for all.” A number of reports on education, including the pivotal A Nation at Risk (1983), have observed that an enemy power could develop no better strategy for subduing the United States than to cripple its education system. Yet our educational breakdown has been self-inflicted.
It is too late to talk about how a social experiment as aggressive as the middle school movement described here was propagated through a monopoly government education system, but it is not too late to do something about it. Dr. Yecke’s book is a rallying cry to that end.
Foreword written by Dr. William Bennett, former U.S. Secretary of Education.
For more information, go to http://www.waragainstexcellence.com
Book Review: Stuck in the Middle With You
The middle school is where American academic achievement goes to die.
Let me be clear—middle schools—that is, educational institutions that house students in grades 6, 7, 8, and sometimes 5—are alive and kicking. This grade level organization, while challenging in some respects, is capable of producing wonderful academic achievement, as we have seen in such stellar middle schools as the KIPP academies.
It is the middle school concept, the notion that middle schools should be havens of socialization and not academies of knowledge, that has met its Waterloo—though the fervent partisans of middle schoolism do not yet realize it.
This report joins a swelling chorus of individuals and organizations that are calling for advocates of the middle school concept to wave the white flag, surrender peacefully, and go home. It will cover the history of the middle school movement, the growth and ultimate ascendancy of the middle school concept, and how a number of communities have successfully, and at no great cost, transitioned back to the traditional K-8 model.
For more information, go to: http://www.edexcellence.net/foundation/publication/publication.cfm?id=345
Book Review: Mayhem in the Middle
The USS Emmons: Eyewitness Accounts from Survivors of the Battle of Okinawa
The USS Emmons (DD-457/DMS-22) was commissioned on December 5, 1941. It went on to serve in many major battles in World War II, including the Battle of Okinawa.
The Battle of Okinawa began on April 1, 1945 and raged on for nearly three months until the Americans achieved victory on June 22. This was the largest amphibious assault in the Pacific theatre of war during World War II.
On April 6, the nearby USS Rodman (DD-456/DMS-210) was attacked by Japanese planes, and the Emmons came to her aid to provide anti-aircraft cover. Although crew members were successful at shooting down a number of enemy planes, the Emmons was not able to recover after taking five serious blows. The ship was abandoned near dusk on April 6 and scuttled the following day so it wouldn’t fall into enemy hands.
In simple and honest prose, the young men of the Emmons described a fierce and bloody battle, one in which they saw their friends killed and injured by enemy fire.
Courage and bravery were on full display that day and while thirteen crew members were recognized for individual acts of heroism (one Navy Cross, four Silver Stars and eight Bronze Stars) the entire crew’s conduct was such that the Emmons was awarded a Navy Unit Commendation.
Within 48 hours of the attack, crew members recorded their eyewitness accounts of the battle. This book transcribes these accounts so that the first time in 85 years their voices can be heard.
For more information, go to: https://www.ussemmons.org/survivor-report-book.
Well-researched and amazingly eclectic, this book serves as a support for those interested in a deeper understanding of the Little House series. Based on the books written by Laura Ingalls Wilder, The Historical Little House Companion contains a chapter for each of the Little House books, providing historical context and background information designed to enrich one’s understanding of the times and events in Wilder’s life. Each chapter ends with lists of additional resources ensured to feed the curiosity of hungry minds. An added bonus is a comprehensive chronology that exists nowhere else. This book is a must-have for parents, homeschoolers, teachers, and anyone who is a serious Wilder scholar.