Episode-1363- The Reformation of Public Education via Obsolesce — 117 Comments

  1. Haven’t listened yet – will on the way home from work. In my quest for liberty I keep coming back to education and the schooling system (one is not the same as the other). The schooling system has such a huge impact on everyone that gies through it, I don’t see a way to more liberty in our lifetimes without a radical deconstruction of the schooling system with a reformation focused on real education. You may be interested to check out the work of John Taylor Gatto – he has some really good books and more recently some YT vids on the topic. It goes deeper than just the adoption of the Prussian system – why they did that is as important as what they did. Thanks for the great show as always – an easy decision every year to renew my MSB 😉

    • Missed this comment before I published my reply below. I 2nd the endorsement of, and checking out the works of Gatto. This does go deeper than The Prussian System. It has to do with elitism, social darwinism, control of the classes, etc. Check out the youtube videos. Just play them in the background while you do something else (just like a podcast.) There isn’t usually any video aids that you are missing out on.

  2. Conflicted Monday: I would institute term limits for Congress. Its the only way that I can think to encourage Senators and Congressmen/women to serve the people rather than to campaign 24/7 for 30 years.

  3. SPOT THE F*** ON!! I do have one question though, and I am not rebutting the Prussian model. However, might the Prussian model have come from an older system or model perhaps dating to app. 1600-1700 or even much earlier? It seems to me that there might have been a few school system that were before the Prussian system that are not as well known? Perhaps Early English schools, or maybe even somewhere in the East, i.e. China…

    • According to Gatto’s book, the Prussian system was borrowed from India by a Englishman working for the East India Company. He tried to create a similar school in England, but they wouldn’t buy it. The Prussians did, after getting their buts kicked by Napoleon. They felt they needed to rebuild their population into one that would not do so much thinking for themselves, and would just obey. The key is limiting who gets to know what. In particular, the classical education of history, literature and religion had to go (except where it could be used to promote the state). They wanted iron workers who could make great cannons, but not question why, bankers who would do what they were do to, and not question why, soldiers likewise. Only very top elite, the children of royalty were truly educated.

      Horace Mann, Godfather of government education, actually a political hack, was hired by a group of Boston businessmen to establish the Prussian system in Boston. He took a trip to Prussia and brought back news about how well the children were doing, how great the system was and so on….He was there during summer recess. He didn’t see squat. But he sold it to the people of Boston and now we name schools after him like he is some hero.

      • My “favorite” part of that story was the fact that before Mann was in favor of the Prussian system he was promoting an education system based on phrenology (the reading of bumps on the head). Serious scientist this guy….

        • The story had a good epilogue too. After all that effort he was not rewarded with a choice position in Massachusetts or Washington, but rather as college president of some university in Indiana which at the time was nearly the frontier and light years away from civilization.

  4. (not aimed at Jack so much as certain rah-rah-homeschool demographics)

    I was homeschooled, and I am concerned about the use of certain homeschool-related vanity statistics.

    It is easy to find statistics that say “publicly-schooled children perform at x, while homeschooled children perform at y.” Yay us.

    One problem is this: pretty much everywhere, public school is the default choice. Home school is “opt-in” and has a nontrivial barrier to entry (availability of a teaching parent, paperwork, money, finding good resources, etc.). Homeschoolers therefore have a higher percentage of high-initiative people than public schoolers. I assume this results in better education.

    Most things in life are what we make them. I think that homeschooling can more easily achieve a higher potential than the public alternative, but potential must be hammered and teased and watered before it becomes fact. Having unpronounceable French cheeses in the fridge does not make me a good cook.

    The label “homeschooled” does not entitle the bearer to better performance, it simply lowers certain barriers. To focus on statements that “homeschoolers perform at y” diverts attention away from the mechanisms that result in this performance.

    Well. I wonder if that made any sense?

    • Makes perfect sense. Homeschooling families are a self selecting group, and by definition a group defined by their concern for their children’s education. This is also true for families that frequently endure varying degrees of inconvenience or expense to enroll and facilitate the attendance of their children in charter or private schools. Others often take on additional financial burdens (housing costs, taxation, commute expenses) to live in a community with above average or exceptional schools. They all care about their children, their education, and their future. Perhaps more importantly, they understand the linkage.

    • You writing and thinking skills are remarkable and a credit to homeschooling, your parents and yourself. Most college grads couldn’t do your analysis, nor compose such a pleasant and articulate argument.

  5. I haven’t listened to this episode yet but will do so a little later while out for a run. Had to chime in even before hearing it because I know how I will feel about it.
    This was our first school year that we began home schooling our daughter. To say it was the best decision regarding her education we’ve ever made is a huge understatement. Our daughter generally finishes her lessons for the day in about 3-4 hours. She’s learning about things that matter and will have value for her in the future while her friends are struggling with the idiocy of common core.
    She is still involved in the local boys and girls club so she still sees her friends after school. She plays sports and has sleep overs with her little friends so there’s no issue with socialization. She gets to spend tons of extra time with her grandparents on both sides as well as her cousins because as long as she gets her work done, it doesn’t matter where she is.
    I get a lot of extra special time with my little girl and we talk about things in life that matter that allow these to be learning sessions on matters that are important to us.
    I couldn’t imagine sending our daughter back to prison and am incredibly grateful that the option exists to remove ourselves from the matrix in this aspect of our lives.

    • Let me add to this socialization Dan, she has REAL WORLD socialization skills because she associates with friends of her choosing, not chosen for her and forced on her by the state.

      In life if I don’t like you (don’t worry I like you just fine man) I don’t spend time with you. We may “work together” but if i really don’t like you I find a new job, i get a transfer, etc.

      There is NOTHING to the socialization objection with home school because the socialization in public school isn’t normal human socialization behavior.

      In the real world when we don’t like others we don’t spend time with them, certainly if they pick on us, assault us, etc we don’t. And if they persist we have multiple choices for recourse.

  6. I echo Chris’s comments on John Taylor Gatto. The peace revolution’s Ultimate History Lesson with John Taylor Gatto is excellent. The podcast has group discussion after every 15 minutes. You can not argue with the facts they present there are extensive resources to back up everything discussed. Here is the link.

    Thanks Jack for taking on a tough topic

  7. Brilliantly put Jack. I can’t tell you how often she comes home from the Boys and girls club telling me about how awful some of the kids are and the bullying stories she hears from her friends that are in public school. Kids there are taught to suck it up and deal with the fact that some kids are mean.

    We absolutely get to choose who she spends time with and there are no trouble makers in our lives. Free association with like minded people is where it’s at. We choose our friends based on common interests, values and just plain ability to gel. Meg and I are in our 40’s now and we are so over trying to get along with people that are difficult. There are plenty of people out there that are easy to be friends with so we choose to take the path of least resistance and only associate with “our” kind of people. Jessie watches and learns this from us.

    One of the other things I forgot to mention in my other post was that WE get to influence our daughter with OUR values. I know that kids her age are still easy to shape in their values and opinions so we take advantage of that by instilling our beliefs and value in her.

    I do however make it a point to always reinforce in her that she needs to question everything. If something doesn’t make sense, even if it comes from her parents, she needs to exercise her critical thinking and question things.

    Okay, the episode is cued up. I’m out the door for a run. 🙂

  8. @Keith – according to one if the books Gatto wrote, the Prussians were copying the Hindu system (including the institutionalization of the caste system).

    • Well that just to a turd and turned it into a full on steaming pile did it not!

      • Sorry…as I said in my original post, all roads to liberty seem to lead through the schooling / education discussion and the rabbit hole is deep.

        • I’ve been pretty far down the rabbit hole for a long time. I might even be getting a deeper look from a former three letter agency special agent.. Will update on TSPN Zello if confirmed…

  9. This is just info to add to the education discussion.

    For those interested, Lisa VanDamme created the VanDamme Academy. Started as a one room school and evolved. Their website has more info,, and would be a good model for home schooling or supplementing if your kids are in public ed which Stephen King calls, “the text book looney bin”. Anyway, her story and education approach is great also she wrote an article called “The false promise of classical Education”.

  10. Looking forward to this episode a lot! Next school year my wife and I are starting to home school our daughters. My oldest is very smart( she gets it from her mother) and school is no challenge to her. Schools slow down fast learners to the pace of the slower learners. It’s call curriculum realignment. Where the top grader earners are evened out with the bottom grade earners. My school district is a fairly good school, but not even close to being good enough for my daughters. There were times I just blew a gasket like when my girl got into trouble for being late for class when the teacher left her in the bathroom a 5 year old. Well Love the show.

  11. Many of the shortcomings of public education that you cite are actually symptoms of much larger societal problems. How can you condemn public education without mentioning the devastating consequences that the proliferation of largely poor single-parent households have had on their children’s motivation to learn, the lack of control that individual teachers, schools, districts, or even states have over their curriculum, the change in our culture to where parents demand that the teacher explain the grade their son or daughter received instead of the other way around, and the general lack of discipline that the past few generations have produced? You also missed the elephant in the room when it comes to public schools: the way we fund our schools. How can you defend the idea that the quality of your child’s education largely depends on the value of his parent’s home? Now you can make the case that this supports your idea of where education should go as far as school choice, but you could just as easily make the case that it’s time to fix this crucial part of the system that dozens of state Supreme Courts have repeatedly ruled unconstitutional. Or we can talk about how these private foundations (The Gates Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, etc.) are channeling tax-free “charity” money into passing laws that provide direct monetary gain to the corporations that they run. When Bill Gates has more control over what your child learns in school than your local school board, we have a problem that we should be talking about.

    Have you stopped to wonder what public education would look like if the federal government and corporations got out of the way and just let teachers teach? Most of the problems with public education that you cite (and many are valid) are the result of the federal government getting involved (we shouldn’t have a Department of Education in my opinion) or corporations buying off politicians to commoditize our children into data, test scores, and ever-changing curriculum (for the record I am vehemently against Common Core; but again, that is federal interference into what should be a local or at most a state issue). Schools and individual teachers want to be more innovative, but there are firm limits on what you can do when all of the students are required to take the same government-mandated standardized tests dozens of times in their school careers. This wasn’t local school boards who put a lot of these practices into action Jack, it was the federal government paying back educational corporations and holding states hostage with federal education dollars (something that should not exist in my opinion). That’s how it works; huge education conglomerates like Pearson and McGraw Hill give millions of dollars to politicians who then reward the companies by making standardized tests and certain curriculums mandated by law. Take a guess at which companies happen to administer these new requirements…

    As far as the legalized cheating that you referenced based on a call-in show the other week, I can almost guarantee you that the teacher who allowed the student to have the “information sheet” was required to by law as a Section 504 or IDEA accommodation based on a 1975 federal law (again, why are we making federal laws about education). Again, that is federal interference into what should be a local school board’s affairs.

    Homeschooling is a great option if you can make it work for your family. I was homeschooled for fifth grade because my parents were in the middle of an interstate move. I learned so much that year. My mother (a public school teacher who took time off to raise us) was my teacher. I was fortunate to have her (as well as many public school teachers) take such an interest in my education. I think it would be great if everybody who wanted to homeschool their children could do so, but the realities of downward class migration (like most of your points; one that we 100% agree on) dictates that both parents work.

    It’s ironic that you compare our public schools to prisons, considering that is exactly what we need when we further erode our public school system for all. Countries that do not have strong public school systems end up incarcerating those whose parents didn’t care to provide them with an education (or who couldn’t afford to) because the children have nowhere else to turn to except for crime (have you seen the masses of Central American children pouring over our borders in recent years?). In countries without strong public education systems that also lack law and order, you have paramilitaries and gangs (made up of uneducated youth) running the country, especially during rough economic times.

    Every time you mention the public education system, you remind us that it’s based on a Prussian model from the 1880s. Homeschooling has been around for thousands of years, therefore, wouldn’t that make homeschooling many times more outdated given the economic pressures that have turned many families into dual-wage earning entities? You are not being fair with your audience by leaving out how much public schools have changed even in just the past couple of decades since the internet has made so much available. The way you throw around the whole Prussian comparison would have disinterested parties thinking that our public school students are sitting on benches in a one-room schoolhouse huddled around a fire while the headmaster teaches eight different grades at once in between beating the children with switches when they act up. I really think you would be impressed with what many public school districts are doing in terms of innovation if you got involved or at least observed. By the way, the products of this Prussian-based system invented the automobile, won multiple world wars, put men on the moon, and made this country the economic and innovative powerhouse that it is today.

    Concerning those who you say are part of the system, and thus cannot see the errors of the system (a reasonable argument), couldn’t I say the same about you, but in the sense that you have never been a part of the education system, and therefore have many misconceptions about what it can and cannot do? You have been very successful without much of a formal education, and I know you are very open that you have never gone beyond high school, but this fact lends to the credibility gap that you have with many members of your audience when it comes to education. You discredit the ways that public schools are operated, yet you have never been an educator (nor have you mentioned that you have served on the school board or been involved as a parent volunteer; if you have, then I give you credit), therefore I don’t know how you would have otherwise acquired a knowledge of the inner workings of the public school system on which to base the strong judgments against it that you have made.

    Lastly, I can’t help but notice that when you talk about the failures of our educational system, you always call them “public schools”, when private, parochial, and charter schools largely operate the same way as public schools. Perhaps this is because you have a deep-seated resentment toward the public sector and what you see as theft of your money, and it’s not really so much about the actual way that public schools operate.

    I’m afraid that you have taken the corporate school “online academies for all” takeover bait hook, line, and sinker without realizing it. Do you really think that the taxes you pay now for public schools won’t be taken for something else education-related at the exact-same millage that you pay now? You think that the massive corporate education lobby will all of a sudden cease buying off your legislators if fewer children attend public school? It won’t matter where you send your child to school; these corporations and their legislative puppets will stay in control of what tests your child is required to take, what curriculum they follow, and what they’re required to do within the system that you envision. Please don’t just say I’m wrong because you disagree; you actually have to break my arguments.

    • The same people that engineered single parent families, the degradation of society and all the problems you point to, ARE THE SAME PEOPLE that engineered the education system. School is in fact in many ways how those things were accomplished.

      As for your claim that home school is older than the Prussian model, it means nothing. The Prussian model is a model, home is only a LOCATION.

      I have no utopian belief that government will just give back the wasted tax dollars, none. We can fight for that but don’t bet on it.

      Stop defending that which can’t nor should be defended. I am not calling for someone to close down the schools, I am saying build a better model. The only reason to oppose that is fear that it can in fact be done.

      • I think the real answers we should be seeking, is who, what, when, where, and why? We know about Freud’s nephew and advertisers, we know about the eugenics in the early 20th Century… The other answers are what we need to solve the question and puzzle of: Was this an intentional social engineering project? We know what the end game is supposed to be, but the how and why of it needs to be spread a little farther IMHO. Also, the other question that has been on my mind a lot lately. Is this an unintended consequence of bad policies, leaders, and no-information citizens, or the product of something else entirely different?

        • Read some of Gatto. I think his hypothesis is right on, which as I understand it, you had two powerful groups: rich industrialists and so called fabian socialists. They each had different ends in mind, but the means was the same: schooling that churned out good workers/taxpayers and consumers, while at the same time making people compliant and unable to think for themselves. That reduces competition for the industrialists (what a shame if everyone could think for themselves – they wouldn’t work for me or be dumb enough to buy my crap) and help the socialists move to their particular brand of hellish utopia.

  12. OK, now that I’ve listened all the way through one more thing to add: one point that I halfway expected you to talk about given your “prior life” in start ups is the role that business can play in the needed transformation. I don’t own my own business, but I have been a hiring manager for more than 15 years and its really tough, given our HR policies, to hire someone without a relatively insignificant piece of paper. One area that is ripe for invention is credentialing (maybe what you were thinking when you talked about the “home school diploma) – if I can get applicants for my jobs that I know have the skills and experiences I am looking for as verified by any independent third party, then I don’t need that piece of paper any more.

    No affiliation with the company, but I ran across one guy that is trying to do something like this – I would like to see a hundred (or a thousand) more!

    • I think it is great that big dumb stupid companies won’t hire smart, hard working, intelligent and qualified people, I think it is FING awesome to the highest of all awesomeness.

      Someone should make a site like, “” where entrepreneurs like me can find these people. They need not be people without paper, simply those who don’t use it as a qualification. A place where gifted young people specifically apply for jobs with companies that don’t give a flying shit about a degree, only skills, knowledge and ability. Now that I am back in the game with a new start up, I would go there.

      As we give people opportunities in PermaEthos, do you think we give a rip about a piece of paper? We care only for ability, talent, drive and knowledge.

      Man I never thought about this but entrepreneurs in small companies need to capitalize on this! You are talking about a pool of talented people we can hire and specifically don’t have to compete with bigger companies for. It was how I started working for small companies, gained experience. In my career before I went on my own by the way I got TWO different jobs that 100% required a degree, a degree I don’t have and never will.

      When you are really good, people find a way to hire you. These were not small companies. One was about a 100 million dollar a year concern, the other over a 500 million dollar concern.

      So this even works for the young person, get enough experience and be really good in your sector and frankly people will get hired. Oh wait, Sage Telecom that was a third, yep three that required a degree, I have no degree. At Sage the CMO simply told HR “shut up and do it, we need him, do it before he changes his mind and goes somewhere else”. That really happened, LOL

      • “Man I never thought about this but entrepreneurs in small companies need to capitalize on this! You are talking about a pool of talented people we can hire and specifically don’t have to compete with bigger companies for.”

        Never thought of it that way, but you are right – this is a pool that small companies can go after that big companies have a hard time with. Maybe the change in education is the seed for “de-corporatization” too since larger companies (usually corps) will have a hard time competing competing without those that know how to learn on their own and think critically.

        • Donald Trump did two seasons of the apprentice where it was College Educated folks against street smart entrepreneurs, in most of the episodes the college kids got CREAMED by the entrepreneurs.

          It wasn’t totally fair I guess because the college folks were new grads most with almost no experience. The street smarts folks had to get in based on achievement so they had real experience still the age group was identical most were 22-26 years of age.

          My wife always wanted me to go on that show, win, then turn down the job with Trump.

  13. My argument is that many public school systems have been building a better model, even though it may not ever look exactly like what you envision it to be. There is a huge movement toward starting STEM academies in public schools (in many cases these are separate schools that offer incredible opportunities for students who know that they want to study science, technology, engineering, and math. There are more options than ever before from STEM, dual enrollment with in-state universities, co-ops, career centers, e-school, and of course traditional schooling for students depending on what they’re interested in. Online options, blended learning, and one-to-one technology can – and do – have a place in today’s public schools, and their role will continue to evolve just like any other institution in our society.

    I agree with your assertion that our government *did* engineer single parent families to meet the government’s own insatiable appetite for power and control (because it creates dependency), but that is different from saying that this is what government *should* do. I don’t see how a locally-controlled public school would contribute to the devastating increase of out-of-wedlock children where one parent is often out of the picture, the way we incentivize companies to offshore jobs that leaves our communities impoverished, and certainly not the incestuous relationship between government and industry that exists in all sectors today.

    • Why improve a damaged model when we can build a new one a better one a not broken one so much faster.

      Academies? Oh in other words some get in some don’t right? Special better schools for the special better kids or worse special better schools for the so called “disadvantage”. If you want to fix this dying broken Edsel, go for it, I want to see new and better models built.

      You talk about getting more kids into college like it is a good thing, oh great more unemployable educated idiots!

      I am so sick of “technology, engineering and math” and GD buzz words! Frankly only so many students need to be taking advanced math and engineering. How many engineers is there room for in our economy, how many mathematicians? Tech, yea great but what tech?

      How does school locally and federally run contribute to things like teen pregnancy and out of wedlock pregnancy.

      Well first I don’t see out of wedlock as a problem at all, not if there is a father and a mother and they plan to be not married but just actually married in the true sense. Frankly marriage (with the state) is another thing that needs to die a deserving death. Damn the divorce industry is a disgrace in the US! Have you seen Divorce Corp, it will make you sick if you watch it. So I don’t care that people are married in a polygamist marriage (three parties man, woman and state) just that they are a true family.

      To your point though, how did we get so bad off and how does it relate to school. The educational agenda has normalized all of these behaviors. We went from mom’s who raised families to mom’s who had careers as the educational system inferred that something was wrong with women that didn’t work outside the home. Schools normalized casual sex, etc. Schools taught kids that a single mom was a hero then switched to it was just a good to be a single mom as to be a married mom.

      Now we know why, they wanted kids to not feel bad, but if you teach a girl all her life that being a single mom is a great thing to be and are shocked when she becomes one, well? Really?

      • I’m not sure how schools normalized casual sex or taught kids that being a single mom is the way to go. I think our politicians (both sides of the false dichotomy!) did, our movies and music did, and our hero worship of mindless celebrity gossip definitely did and continues to. There definitely are people out there who lay the guilt trip on women who want to raise kids and not have a high-intensity career, but I don’t know that I would level that blame on the educational system (at least not at the primary and secondary levels). I definitely witnessed it in college though and it disgusted me. At the high school level, I can think of a lot more things that we do to discourage casual hookups and becoming a single mom or a dad who can’t support his children than we would do to encourage them. If you’re talking about free and reduced lunches, transportation, etc., then I can see your point, however that is a separate issue than whether kids learn what they should in public schools.

        As far as the STEM academies, most are open enrollment for any child in the district. While they tend to attract some of the top students, even those with IEPs are welcome to attend. The attitude of the parents and their student matters much more to us than their academic abilities in these types of settings.

      • The bottom line is the school system is rigged to keep us in the dark, stupid and ultimately subservient. The government and big industry needs drones, not free thinkers. Free thinkers ask questions and cause problems and they just can’t have that.

        If the educational system was about preparing us for the world, we would be taught subjects, such as entrepreneurship, basic investing (I know stock market is rigged, but it is still a useful skill), computational math, as it relates to daily life, how to hunt and raise your own food, planning and time management skills. English, history and science could be interspersed. I really don’t think you need 12 years of any one subject.

        Here is the problem: the above skills would make you an independent free thinking individual. This isn’t rocket science, school has nothing to do with education, just like our glorious government it is a machine to produce mindless beat down individuals who cannot think for themselves. Our educational system is an indoctrination program nothing more, nothing less.

  14. In the age of Netflix, and Amazon Prime. Why isn’t education on demand. Most people can create a simple MP4 on a subject. Put a simple website ( in the cloud and your done). Why isn’t Education Open Source or Fair Use? Why does Common Core have a NDAA?

    Let the kids watch the program, and teach by the Socratic method. I talked to some high schools seniors and their public education is complete waste.

    • It is coming in due time and those of us calling for it are shouted downs as what? Tools of the elite that want education only for the wealthy. Nonsense, ed on demand would make the best education for each individual available to all.

      • That’s why I laugh at the accreditation process. I don’t care if my kids school is accredited. I care about the skills and their ability to learn. How someone promotes artificial scarcity in education is criminal. Conditioning crap like B.F. Skinner should be banned, not Tom Sawyer.

    • Umm, it is on Netflix and online. My daughter watches things like Magic School bus on Netflix. She’s 3 and has a concept around gravity, engines, bees, electricity, etc… She loves Mighty Machines and learns how all the big machines work, I’m learning about how they lay things like Natural Gas pipe or recycling centers. My family and I watch history shows all the time, Dan Carlin has a great podcast too.

      It’s not there in the way I think you think it should be, is because school is boring and you can never sell it 🙂 You need to make it fun for kids and adults in a market or else no one watches your show.

      • Personally I am a grown adult with a successful business, I need no further education for all the reasons people say we need one, mostly to get a job and be a success right? But to this day I watch almost every documentary and educational show I can get my eyes on. I have worn out both Prime and Netflix! My wife fall asleep before me most nights, as soon a she does I am hunting for something educational. That says something doesn’t it considering I HATED most of school.

        I had some teachers that challenged me, I liked them and enjoyed their classes. I had some there were considered “hard” I didn’t like them, I just considered them pricks that didn’t want to explain themselves. The ones I liked were actually harder to get an A with, imagine that.

      • Its Sad, because it simple. Demonstrate the product you are selling. It works for a Vitamix Mixer. It will work for Education. The problem it is about B.F. Skinner instead of lighting a fire in a child’s mind. Let the children question everything, and argue their the point. Now the kids, have WikiLeaks, the Freedom of Information Act, and the Internet. Now they have international sources. Argue about Plato’s republic. Argue about merits about the Affordable Care Act. Argue about Monetary Policy. At the minimum, its forces the teacher to up their games. Not just to memorize some crap in a purchased Text Book. Teach the kids you can debate anything except you cannot attack the person.

  15. Half an hour into this episode and I am so eating it up. This comes after listening to John Taylor Gatto (I hope you have heard of him, if not, find his books, and interviews, you will love him) all weekend for some reason (maybe because of the explosion of fridays episode.)

    Can you publish your list of 15, I want to share it.


    • Just finished the Underground History of American Education (available as a PDF if you have only a yellow belt in Google-Fu) and Guerrilla Education is on its way from Amazon. UHoAE is more of a compilation of essays than a book (at least in my opinion), but it leaves you with no doubt that there are powerful interests at work in leading us to where we are. Reversing that course starts with understanding and then personal action.

  16. Conflict: Government is no longer above the law, they have to obey all the laws they pass. They cannot word their way around those laws of give opt outs.

    They cannot say no counter fitting yet print money into existence. They cannot kill people and call it collateral damage, it would be murder just like if I did it. They cannot steal money and call it taxes. They cannot lie about health care programs lowering costs and claim they didn’t, that is fraud.

    • Remember Government’s did a “Great Leap Forward”, and starved 8 million Ukraine’s through a Stalin produced Famine. Decentralization is answer is to everything: food, security, and education. With automation and computing power, there is no more economies of scale with size. A decentralized grid is safer because it is isolated, and can be more adjusted to meet local needs. If the power is generated by natural gas, its the proximity to a pipeline or well head that maters. In Education, a elected board couldn’t set standards for a community. Last time, I checked Language, and Mathematics was pretty static.

  17. An easy way to push for change is at the county/state level by demanding a tax voucher system for education. The voucher would be used to pay for a home, private, charter, even another ISD school of choice. Every education body would be competing for that tax dollar.

    • I was strongly in favor of vouchers for the same reasons you stated, but now I am not so sure. There are some that argue that any voucher system would come with strings attached to all those that accept the vouchers – i.e. its a back door for the Dep of Ed to do the same thing to all private schools that they have done to public schools. Here is a recent article from Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt, a former dep of Ed official:

      One reason I think Jack may be right on this one: the only way to fix it is to start over.

    • Nice to agree with you for once. While I prefer no taxes funding schools at all, as a realist, I do see vouchers as a great step. School bitch and say it takes away needed funds, they are full of shit for two reasons!

      1. If my student isn’t in your school you don’t need the funds to teach him do you. There are too many kids in most schools anyway so this is a God send for many schools. Flatly if you can educate 1,000 kids for 10 million there is no reason you can’t educate 500 for 5 million, period.

      2. It is a net gain in funding per student for the schools because the vouchers are never equal to the funding per student in the schools. If the average money per year per student is about 10K and it is, most vouchers have been from 3-6K. Going to the top at 6K. Lets do a word math problem like common core.

      Johnny leaves Shitty School District, and the district is getting funding of 10,000 dollars a student at current student levels. Johnny leaves and goes to XYZ Private School and is given 6,000 dollars to go to it instead. When Johnny leaves his school the taxes collected by his district do not get reduced. Answer this problem in two parts.

      Part A – Write a number sentence explaining how much money is left in the school district and how that increases the schools dollars per student. For extra credit explain how if half of all students did what Johnny did how much the schools budget per student would increase (hint it is higher than 20% but less than 25% and remember to show your work).

      Part B – Explain how it must feel to be a school bureaucrat telling parents that vouchers reduce funding per student when the above number sentence says you are lying and anyone that can do basic math knows it.

      For even more credit explain why the average American can’t work out the above numbers and how that is unfair, how it must make them feel and what kind of trophy they should be given to improve their self esteem.

    • Jack, if Johnny leave the public school the public school gets 10K less. The State gives Johnny’s mom a 6K voucher and plows the other 4K into the general fund – they don’t remit the 4K back to the school district.

      In your example, the funding per student is actually $55.55/day present, and the school needs 180 of those to get the 10K. That’s why they take attendance and give parents a hard time about absences.

      • Except that isn’t how it works. See property taxes and federal assistance are EARMARKED to public education. The district MIGHT loose PART of Johnny’s money to another district but the money DOES NOT leave the education sector, try again dude.

        • Sorry, Jack, it’s called Average Daily Attendance (or ADA) funds and it’s what States use to allocate their share (which is about half of a public school’s “revenue”). Federal money and local money (from property taxes), account for the other half and follow other schemes. Even many counties use a per pupil scheme, so that money isn’t earmarked. You are correct about federal funding though, which is around 20% of a public school’s revenue.

        • May be you need more common core math Mike? If choice were granted state wide do you think they will give the school taxes back? It is called the law of averages and again if the people running the show are too stupid to allocate the excess properly that is their own problem. In the end more money per student remaining would be the result, well unless everyone left.

        • Or perhaps California has “Robin Hood” style school funding, if that is the problem in CA it is just ONE MORE REASON TO LEAVE. We had something similar in Texas, the people stood up and sued, it was ruled unconstitutional and now it isn’t done. That means all local school taxes stay in the district where they are collected. If your state doesn’t do that, again ONE MORE REASON TO LEAVE.

        • I’m not familiar with “school taxes,” just federal, state and local taxes. The state and counties will allocate money to school districts based on demonstrated need (justified by how many students they have, as outlined above).

          If choice were given statewide then most vouchers would still be used within the same city/county – but I don’t know what point you’re making here. No Robin Hood transfers between counties in CA.

          Even if there is a slight per-student increase because federal funding doesn’t change, understand that the public school now has a higher ratio of students that are special needs kids who cannot find entry to private or charter schools who can refuse them. The school will not want test score to go down and will hire more aids and tudors.

  18. Go Wyoming, that is where I went to school. You are right “when I was in school” people there didn’t take you stepping on them. They also had lots of programs in the school.

  19. Here is the answer on the social skills that I give. So you mean my daughter won’t want to have sex with a boy at the age of 12, want to try drugs, and think she is not pretty because she doesn’t have the latest fashion and start cutting herself. Yeah, your right interacting with people of all ages and choosing who she hangs out with will ruin her social skills forever.

    My daughter runs up to any kid right now on the play ground and says Hi my name is Mila, would you like to x…. If we are at the store she has a conversation with the checker. If you want your kids to have social skills interact with them and quit ignoring and hitting them. Encourage them to use their words.

  20. Just glad I homeschooled my four. Started back in the 80’s when it was still “new” and not socially acceptable.

  21. Jack, I love when you talk about the education system. It echoes many of the sentiments I’ve been telling people for years. For your consideration, however, maybe the current school system isn’t broken at all. Maybe it’s working exactly as it should be…

    Schooling, The Hidden Agenda – Daniel Quinn

    • You know I don’t pick on grammar and typos or what have you but man I can’t read that. Wow a giant gob of screen edge to screen edge text and no spaces between paragraphs, it hurts the eyes and the head. Sure it is good but I just can’t read crap like that.

  22. Not so funny fact: The same food served in prisons is served in our schools and military. I was in all three, (worked in law enforcement, not a prisoner) so I have witnessed it first hand. I can guarantee government officials are enriching themselves of these “give us shitty food for a high price” contracts, but that is a topic for another time.

    Los Angeles, CA is a perfect example of the school system being broken, not necessarily the teachers. I 100% agree with Jack, teaching is a job, the system they teach in is the main problem. In Los Angeles the administrative buildings are like the Trump Building, they are that ridiculous! Not to mention, they have a 2 to 1 administrative to teacher ratio, if I remember right at one time it was 4 to 1. So basically a teacher can manage 25-30 students, but it takes 1 administrator for every 2 teachers for the system to function. makes absolutely no sense.

    A lot of my friends home school their kids in California, because the schools are that bad. Who wins in that situation? Ultimately the school machine, you continue to pay the same taxes, but you now home school your own kids, makes perfect sense to me. I think it would be fair that if you home school your kid, you should get some type of refund for not using the system. I know that makes too much sense, but I like to dream.

    • Except that prisoners get a better meal, three squares and more meat then in school. Also now many of our troops in the field only get two meals a day while prisoners get three. Sad don’t you think bro.

      • I have always said give prisoners a choice: bologna sandwich or MRE’s.
        That would not only save a ton of money, but probably cut down on the recidivism rate drastically. They would rather get out and live off food stamps, but I’ll take it that is a lot cheaper than the 55k an inmate paid in California.

        Don’t worry Jack, Michelle O with all of her infinite health wisdom has solved the school lunch problem by giving them soggy vegetables and an apple that they can throw at someone. I could come up with incredibly healthy meals, that cost less and the kids would actually like in a heart beat. But again, we are way past rational thinking and problem solving. Just like the student loan debacle, the government created the problem, now all of a sudden they are there to fix it by using more tax money. Nothing better than looking like the hero to those who elected you by taking more money from them through slight of hand. WTF – you have to love our politicians.

        Hell I remember being in the GOV and getting zero meals a day when things were hectic. That is why I always had protein bars somewhere because that could be my only food.

  23. As a teenager still in high school I can agree with most of what you are saying about our schools and how similar they are to prisons.

  24. I totally agree with you Jack, it’s basically what the Steiner schools have been doing for close for many many years, not teaching the kids to read until they are 7 years old and tailoring to each of the kids needs, but unfortunately those schools are few and far between in the USA, Rudolf Steiner was so far ahead of his time it’s not funny, what we need is to contact one of the schools and at least in some way model the curriculum after his design, he was one of Bill Mollison’s inspirations for Permaculture.

  25. Wow Jack… this episode was awesome! I’ve been advocating home-/un-schooling to my fiancee for the last couple of years (we don’t have kids yet, but will probably start soon after we get married next fall), and she has VERY slowly progressed from refusal to skepticism and finally to unenthusiastic acceptance that I wasn’t going to change my mind.

    After listening to today’s episode, I let her know how important and powerful I thought it was, and asked her if she’d be willing to listen to it because it was important to me. Being the amazing woman that she is, she agreed, and upon finishing the episode and immediately after taking her headphones off, she said…

    “You’ve been right this whole time. Let’s start studying.”

    Powerful episode Jack, and just like TSP, PermaEthos, and everything else you do, it’s another game-changer brother. I’m so grateful that you’ve been a teacher of mine since Episode 107. Please rest assured in the knowledge that YOUR legacy as a teacher will live on in many of the lessons I pass on to my children, as I’m sure it will in the families of many of the other members of this audience. Keep up the good work… the permaculture community and the world are lucky to have you as an example of the permaculture (ie. life) ethics.

  26. I’m 53 and the school system was horrible back when I was a kid too. I didn’t get educated until I learned self discipline in the Marine Corps.

  27. One thing to improve our government???

    My first awareness of husband and wife tag teams in Congress was South Dakota’s Tom Daschle and Linda Hall Daschle. In this case it has to do with L-3 Communications security machines at airports. The government had to purchase a certain percentage of these airport scanners from L-3 Communications.

    Now we hear about the poster child for Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), Rep. Mike Rogers and his wife Kristi Clemens Rogers. Kristi just happened to secure a $10 billion dollar government deal as past president and CEO of Aegis LLC, a “security defense contractor company.”

    No elected official should be able to be in office if they have a lobbyist spouse. Even if they are caught in the act of a conspiracy, the U.S. Constitution does not allow the government to have them testify against each other.

    The elimination of lobbyist spouses of elected officials would go a long way in salvaging this nation.

  28. NVP was first implemented in December 1973 by computer networking researcher Danny Cohen of the Information Sciences Institute (ISI), University of Southern California, with funding from ARPA’s Network Secure Communications (NSC) program.[1] The project’s stated goals as stated in IETF RFC 741, published 1977, were “to develop and demonstrate the feasibility of secure, high-quality, low-bandwidth, real-time, full-duplex (two-way) digital voice communications over packet-switched computer communications networks…. [and to] supply digitized speech which can be secured by existing encryption devices. The major goal of this research is to demonstrate a digital high-quality, low-bandwidth, secure voice handling capability as part of the general military requirement for worldwide secure voice communication.”

    NVP was used to send speech between distributed sites on the ARPANET using several different voice-encoding techniques, including linear predictive coding (LPC) and continuously variable slope delta modulation (CVSD). Cooperating researchers included Steve Casner, Randy Cole, and Paul Raveling (ISI); Jim Forgie (Lincoln Laboratory); Mike McCammon (Culler-Harrison); John Markel (Speech Communications Research Laboratory); and John Makhoul (Bolt, Beranek and Newman).

    The protocol consisted of two distinct parts: control protocols and a data transport protocol. Control protocols included relatively rudimentary telephony features such as indicating who wants to talk to whom; ring tones; negotiation of voice encoding; and call termination. Data messages contained encoded speech. For each encoding scheme (vocoder) a frame was defined as a packet containing the negotiated transmission interval of a number of digitized voice samples.

    NVP was used by experimental Voice Funnel equipment (circa February 1981), based on BBN Butterfly computers, as part of ongoing ARPA research into packetized audio. ARPA staff and contractors used the Voice Funnel, and related video facilities, to do three-way and four-way video conferencing among a handful of US East and West Coast sites.

    NVP was transported over the Internet Stream Protocol (ST) and a later version called Stream Protocol, version 2 (ST-II), both connection-oriented versions of the Internet Protocol (IP) and which carried the IP protocol version 5. These protocols may be viewed as early experiments in quality of service and connection-oriented network protocols such as Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM).

    • Um no, out of context. NVP in copper is nominal velocity of propagation, no one “introduced it” it simply is. It is the speed of a signal in copper media compared to the speed of light in a vacuum. If a copper wire has an NVP of 78 that means the signal travels though the copper at 78% the speed of light.

      The question was define NVP and state if it is for copper or fiber. Once that was done describe the equivalent specification for the other media. Meaning in this case optical.

      So part one is above, part two. In optical cable the specification is called the refractive index. RI is basically the same measurement but it is the spec for optical cable vs. NVP for copper. A optical fiber with an RI of say 82 means the light in the cable travels at 82% the speed of light in a vacuum.

      I don’t think I was very clear in how I asked it but the first person to email a response got it right. He even pointed out that there is a third media which is air. In radio and wireless it is called propagation delay, it is here the speed at which light travels in our atmosphere vs. its speed in a vacuum. Again they are all essentially the same thing.

      These numbers matter in the world of testing transmissions because the speed of light at 186,000 miles a second is the constant by which all computations in testing are done. For instance in testing data transmission rates in fiber or say near end cross talk in twisted pair copper.

      Cool no?

  29. The third factor in the nominal velocity of propagation (NVP) is Radio, along with Optical and metallic.
    Awesome show!
    I like it when you play music- Another “Brick in the Wall” by Pink Floyd would have been perfect!

    • See my above response to Joseph, your not wrong, you just didn’t answer the question.

  30. Can you post links to the articles referenced? I have been discussing home school with my wife (a former teacher) and have tried to base my case on my personal experiences, but showing these would help back up my argument.

    • It is a good tool but it is really just conventional school classes online. Great first step but I feel it is time for true innovation.

      Can’t we make a cartoon or something that say teaches basic algebra for actual real world use?

      Can’t we create games that are journeys though REAL HISTORY that teach what really happened and how things really were?

      I mean those are just two ideas, have we not simply taught a+b=c long enough? Can we not get truly creative with education?

      I’d love one of my old teachers Mr. Sakavich (not sure on spelling) to do a history series of DVDs. The man was as good at impressions as Rich Little. He had the most difficult history tests I ever took and I almost always got 100% and he gave more As than any history teacher in the school, because to his students who LEARNED his tests were actually easy.

      Worked like this, beginning of a segment you got 50 terms we would cover. Say one was Rosenbergs and one Hydrogen Bomb (like Billy Joel’s song).

      On test day you would get two lists say List A and List B. First part was easy, draw a line matching a term in List A to one in List B. This however got you ZERO POINTS! Didn’t matter if you were right. Next to the term in List B was a blank, you had to in two sentences clearly articulate why the two term were related to one another.

      I think he gave so many As the school actually checked into him at one time. But when they looked at his tests many of the faculty could not pass them. So he was left alone.

      I highly doubt teachers have such freedom any more.

    • It does remove the “it costs too much” excuse provided you can go to one income or figure out some alternative work schedules.

      I would also agree it is the starting point rather than a complete education. One really simple component that was an easy add was to start requiring my 14 year old to start listening to your 5 minutes with Jack.

      I like the blog idea, I should learn blogging and make starting a blog requirement as well.

  31. Anyway that was a great show.. When you speak from the heart you are many times very amazing. Keep up the great work. I still say that relatives of elected officials should not be able to be paid lobbyists.

  32. The comment about the food in mandatory school lunch programs really jumped out at me. Nina Teicholz just published a pretty exhaustive account of the rot in the scientific community, especially the NIH, and the AHA relative to what has been handed down on nutrition in the last 50 years. If you thought science was pure when it comes to nutrition, you better reconsider. What has been demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt is that the Federal government allied with Big Food, Big Pharma and apparently Big Science will make you very, very sick. And now they are force feeding your kids via the public education system.

    • Indeed, if you want to know how F’d up the school lunch issues are check out the two seasons Jamie Oliver did on his program, don’t remember the name. It had great ratings but got canceled, HMMMMMMM wonder why!

  33. FYI, I’ve tried to speak objectively on this subject with my daughter-in-law who is a new high school teacher but she seems to take every criticism of the educational system personally. She recognizes that something is going wrong with the system and since she is a brand new teacher, she has the latest educational theories in mind that she is willing to share with anyone who will listen, but along with these theories comes some distorted attitudes.

    For example: She says, “These are my kids!”

    I point out (softly and kindly) that they are not HER kids. They are the PARENTS’ kids.

    She then looks at me as if I’m about to put a wooden stake in her heart. I had struck at a major motivator driving her to put up with all the crap she’s been taking. I now approach her indirectly.

    I recognize what Jack has noticed about teachers… in 5 years she is going to burn out and she is going to have to make a decision. I’ve been suggesting working for a private school…. or better yet… creating a new paradigm for education. With her youth, energy and degrees she could credibly create a new way of teaching… and sell it. But she’s not listening right now. She is drowning in the moment. When high school kids are fighting in the hall she jumps into the middle and breaks it up. She could be killed but she has the cold determination that we wish all teachers had. She is not going to put up with any crap whatsoever.

    And she uses me as an example for her students…. a good idea, BTW…. all modesty aside. I am a Mexican-American who doesn’t speak Spanish. She tells her students that. She brings her husband to class… my son… another Mexican-American (now they call us “Hispanics”) who also does not speak Spanish. He is a Phd candidate. Why is NOT speaking Spanish important? It’s not. IT’S SPEAKING ENGLISH that is important. My father recognized this so he refused to speak Spanish around us. That forced us to learn English.

    My brother was once stopped in an airport by the immigration services. They asked him in Spanish if he spoke English. My brother replied in English without a trace of accent, “English? Yes. I speak English. In fact, I probably speak it better than YOU DO!” 🙂

    One time I was doing a construction job in Escondido and as I was driving home to Los Angeles, an immigration officer pulled me out of line at the border check. (Even though Escondido is well within California they still did a spot check along the major highways.) The officer attempted to engaged me in casual conversation. I was so tired so I was giving one-word answers and he was getting annoyed. Then I figured out what he was doing. He couldn’t say it outright but he wanted to know if I spoke English! I apologized for not getting it right away and went into more detailed answers so that he could evaluate my command of the English language.

    Speaking English well in America is the number one best way to pull Hispanics out of the poverty rat hole and out of scrutiny of the police but what do the schools do instead? They teach lessons in Spanish! Could the schools be any more foolish? They actually teach the kids how to remain forever in poverty and throw away a generation of hard workers.

    FYI… I know some folks are sensitive about illegal immigrants in this country. My parents were born in America as was I, but many of my relatives (who were perfectly legal) spoke mostly Spanish. Keep in mind that LEGAL immigrants often speak Spanish but if you don’t want a barrio filled with ne’er-do-wells the children of those LEGAL immigrants need to learn English well and fast. Total immersion is the way… not classes taught in Spanish.

    FYI, the worry of educators is that Spanish-speaking students fall behind if they are placed in English-only classes. That is true, but if total immersion is done early, they will eventually catch up and by the time they reach high school they will be ready to learn whatever you have for them.

    Historically speaking, this problem has happened many times in immigrant communities. You have legal immigrants coming in who don’t speak English. What did they do in the past? Well… the Dutch set up and paid for private classes in Dutch while teaching their kids English so that they wouldn’t fall behind. The kids got the message directly from their parents that learning English was a priority.

    Also… frankly… the immigrants who had already assimilated into American culture found the new immigrants from their former country embarrassing and didn’t want them stumbling around and making everyone look bad, so they gave them a clue. This happened in Galveston when Jewish immigrants would come off the boat (The Galveston Movement or Galveston Plan). Rabbi Henry Cohen would meet them at the dock and tell them where they could go in Texas to make a good living and the basics of what they needed to do. He coordinated with a rabbi in Dallas (David Lefkowitz) and was privately funded by a Jacob Schiff, a banker. Many immigrants became merchants and set up stores right in the courthouse square of many small Texas towns.

    So my daughter-in-law is trying to give these kids a clue and showing real examples (myself and her husband) of Mexicans who made it in America and doing as well as any white man or woman. More than anything I might tell her… that is the one thing that is going to save the most students in her class…. real-life examples of success.

    I’d like to go deeper into how the school system has already collapsed… at least twice in history but my posting is already a little long. I’ll post about that later.


    • When I was a school principal (private, christian) I avoided hiring recent grads, especially those with ed degrees like the plague. It took years to squeeze the indoctrination out of them. I had my school board rewrite our policy manual to say we preferred our teachers not to have teaching degrees, but those applicants would still be considered. It was the best marketing device I ever did. Prospective parents call in and the first thing they ask is are your teachers certified (by the government). Before policy change I would be on the defense. After policy change, I could state our policy to them, and it really impressed the parents once I helped them think about it a little bit.

    • I was 9 years old when my family emigrated to the US. One day I got the news that we had been granted a green card and had to take residence in the US ASAP. That summer my mother hired a US teacher to give me private English lessons. Three months later I was placed in a US school two years below my grade level because I still lacked English skills. This was the 80’s before bullying or ESL or PC. I got picked on by the teacher for doing division the Mexican way where you basically subtract in your head and just write the remainder. I got beat-up after school by other kids for no reason. It didn’t matter. I was coming from a place where window panes were broken and classrooms had no AC straight into a place where lunch was served in an air conditioned cafeteria and the classrooms had TVs inside. I watched the news of Reagan getting shot right in the classroom. By 6th grade I was caught-up.

      I don’t consider our education system necessarily bad if the student and his parents do their part. Of course if you let your son wonder like boat without a sail, he is bound to pickup all sorts of indoctrination and get into trouble all the time in public school and anywhere else.

      The school my kid attends is nice, very nice. It’s a public school, but I doubt a private school has more to offer. The moment they saw the Garcia last name by my kid’s name, they wanted to place her in ESL. It’s a funding matter for the school. But I have refused their offer every time. My kids know more English than Spanish despite my wife and I only speaking Spanish at home. Two languages are better than one, two languages backed by two cultures is even better. The problem I have is that my kids are not picking-up Spanish as well as I’d like.

      My political slant is atypical for Hispanics in the US whom for the most part are liberal or at least think Democrats will right all the injustices they have suffered. Nothing could be further from the truth. For me English or Spanish work the same and I’m glad I was never allowed to forget Spanish at home. Instead, I was forced to learn English with a dictionary by the side.

  34. OK…

    The first “collapse” of the school system was around 1852 when the Massachusetts newly instituted “board of education” adopted the “Prussian Method.” Horace Mann brought the “Prussian Method” to the school system such as it was. If you watch episode 102 of the Twilight Zone entitled “The Changing of the Guard” you will see a brief scene of a teacher being inspired by a statue in front of his school. Pay careful attention to the name written at the base of the statue. The name written there is Horace Mann.

    The second collapse of the school system can be blamed on Woodrow Wilson and John Dewey (b. 1859, d. 1952) specifically who created “Progressive Education” which emphasized jargon and that education should be a profession taught by professionals… thus he mystified the whole system. (He is NOT the guy who invented the Dewey Decimal System for the library. That was Melvil Dewey. He is NOT the guy who ran for President in 1948. That was Thomas Dewey.)

    The last collapse that I recall from personal memory was in the 1960s or so. A major change in the education system took place. “Modern math” and “Modern English” were introduced. While it looked like a good idea at the time, it forced out a lot of the older, more experienced teachers who objected to this new way of teaching. Although I can’t blame “Modern English” as the reason things got screwed up, the loss of all of that experience caused what I can only describe as “a bunch of hippies” to take their place.

    Then legal issues (along with the Civil Rights Acts) forced the schools to change they way they were teaching…. mostly out of fear of being sued for being prejudiced. It was a wild time, as a recall.

    From this point most people over the age of 40 know what happened thereafter.

    Gotta go. Things to do and history to write.

  35. Mastery of reading comprehension, writing composition, and arithmetic should be a requirement for all kids leaving 8th grade.

    A solid 8th grade education should carry a person through most of life and enable him to learn new skills as required.

    Moving-on to higher education, any student who does not take at least Calculus, Physics and Chemistry or Biology by the end of high school is getting short changed by himself or by a counselor. All science and business disciplines require calculus as a minimum to begin understanding in depth the theory behind the science. Even if the student does not go to college, learning any vocational trade such as welding, auto mechanics, machine shop, programming, etc.. would be greatly facilitated by a basic understanding of the sciences.

    School can be prison like, but it can also be a place to learn. When I compare the schools in the US to the ones I went to in Mexico, I see no excuse for kids to come out illiterate and devoid of all practical skills after 12 years. My high school in the US offered trade and science electives. I took two chemistry courses and got to play in a cool chemistry lab that in Mexico I would have only read in a book. A friend of mine took two years of auto mechanics and got a job at a Ford dealership after graduation. He knew college wasn’t for him. He also sat next to me in differential calculus. Yet, in our high school, only Algebra was required to graduate, so a lot of kids just took easy filler classes after meeting the minimum requirements. At that point, I’d agree that school is like a prison, but the choice remains on the student to make something out of the time. A young man would be best served if he joined the workforce rather than waste 4 years of his life taking home economics and similar filler classes in high school. But if that person wants to go to college, high school is a great place to learn the basics for further education.

    • Well we are back to totally disagreeing. Biggest load of BS I have heard in a long time was,

      “All science and business disciplines require calculus as a minimum to begin understanding in depth the theory behind the science.”

      Could not be a bigger load of steaming crap delivered if you tried.

      • The type of mathematician that our society needs to write complex computer algorithms are extremely gifted in math, their teachers probably mostly got in the way and were unnecessary until they reached graduate studies. But other then them, almost no one uses anything beyond basic pre-algebra, even my engineering friends.

        • Anyone can learn to use a tool, even a sophisticated one like an optimizer or a piece of software that calculates the load bearing capacity of a bridge, without knowing much about the complex algorithms that run under the hood or the physics. That’s no reason throw math out with baby water.

        • @Jose. There is one good reason to through the baby out: there is only so much time in day, and an infinite amount of things to learn. If you choose to study math, you choose not to study something else.
          My daughter for instance, spent a phenomenal amount of her K-12 education trying to keep up with math. She is not particularly good at math and it took her a great deal of time and frustration to just get a C or B, and all that time and she will never use more than basic arithmetic. How I wish that time had been invested in the subjects she is really good at.

        • To be fair to Jose he is not saying such subjects should be mandatory just he thinks anyone going into business or science should choose to take them. While I think he is wrong his opinion would not require your daughter to waste her time.

          Do people going into business need calc? Um F NO!

          Do marketers? Only and still a may be if they are going to go into the statical analysis data mining side. If so they will be paid shit compared to the men and women they work for by the way and seldom will rise to their level. Frankly the people they work for like me will see them as lacking the imagination and vision for high level creative thought.

          Do those in science? Depends in many cases ABSOLUTELY in many other cases no! Even Doctors can learn a simple handful of formulas and be done, they don’t need to understand the creation of the formula only how it works. Just like I only need to know how to use a chainsaw, not how to build one.

          Now an organic chemist, certain engineers, a theoretical physicist, a person that will write algorithms for AI, yea they need not only Calc but way way beyond it.

          If I had to put a number on jobs and professions that would use anything beyond basic algebra I would say 5% so why do we shove 100% of students into it? Far more people wait tables in their lives by percentage but we don’t teach how to do that do we? Most people drive cars and would really benefit from knowing how to change a tire far more than determining what X is, but is that a subject in school?

    • Regarding “Calculus, Physics and Chemistry or Biology” being a requirement… only if you are headed for college and even then you can take it in a community college. Otherwise, if you are working in a machine shop, basic math ought to get you there. I have another story about needed “calculus” at a construction job. They required a calculus test but essentially the job requirement boiled down to “Can you use a slide rule?” and “Can you drive a stick shift?” and most importantly… “Are you easily intimidated?” The answers in my case were “Yes, yes, and no.” The calculus test was the “can you be intimidated easily” test. They didn’t give a crap if I could find the limit or integral of anything.

    • Jack, you are so easy to rattle.

      Math is the native language by which science is explained. Some business disciplines like marketing and finance are soft sciences. Why do you think investment banks hire quants that have PhDs in math and physics. Whether you learn math in college or in life you still need it for understanding. Tell me that SOE does not require a very good understanding of stats? You may not have ever taken a stats course, but I know for a fact you understand it very well. And of course, you probably would not want to be cut open by a heart surgeon that skipped anatomy 101.


      I never mentioned that science or math should be mandatory in high school. I merely said that if a student does not take advantage of that opportunity, he is cheating himself.

      The first two years in college in the US are rehash of what the student should have learned and mastered in high school. A 4 year college degree could be condensed into 2.5 years after all the basics are removed.

      • Well first it is SEO and no one doesn’t need calculus to be good at SEO. One doesn’t need it to be good at data mining or business strategy either. Budgeting and forecasting is done with the most basic of all algebra knowledge. I spent most of my life running sales and marketing systems as both manager and owner, never ONCE have I needed anything from a calc class. Not even one time.

        I find most claims about higher math to be ridiculous. Specifically as it relates to calc, trig and advanced algebra.

        Yes I used algebra in AP Chemistry but honestly basic knowledge was enough to understand the specific formulas behind things like covalent bonds.

        Same with advanced Astronomy, yes, trig is used to calculate distances, so what? I mean unless you are going Sheldon Cooper level, you can learn that honestly and not even know it is called trig.

        There are very few places where a person will ever use what is learned in long tedious classes in these higher mathematics. Said time could be spent learning something useful and relevant.

        • Engineers definitely use ALOT of high level math. I am not going to get into the details of understanding how math allows you to to switch from time domain to frequency domain (fourier transform), and other things like that, allow for troubleshooting, design, etc, etc.

          My fear is that when you start making arguments that people don’t need to be taking higher level math, it makes for a self-fulling situation when they keep saying that as a country we continue to fall behind others in making scientist and engineers. Which in my mind means all the great technology that everybody wants to write so glowing about at the moment (the internet, smartphones, automation, etc.) is the last great innovations that could come out of the USA?!?

          Make no mistake, Steve Jobs and Gates would not become who they were without the engineers that dreamed up the silicon circuit and understood the math of imaginary numbers and partial differential equations that rule that world that came before them.

          If you are really diving beyond the surface of technology, you definitely need math in your tool belt. And I am talking well beyond trig.

        • Ah yes the Fourier factor. It was the means by which we tested digitally at fluke but gave results in the analog spectrum. I am sure the engineers who developed the equipment need higher math, lots of it. But even in that high tech company with several thousand employees there were only say half a dozen such people.

          Funny you should mention Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, they were the billionaires and their engineers well paid wage slaves, think about that!

          At Fluke I made about 2-3 times what an engineer did. I am not saying it isn’t good to know math or be a good engineer, I am saying it isn’t for everyone and that even many engineers don’t need as much of it as we are led to believe. I had customers at places like Santera, Alcatel, etc. who I can assure you didn’t know 10 percent of the advanced math of our engineers at Fluke but they had really great jobs and incomes.

          I know a guy that used to work for me from China. He built the AI math behind a company I used to have ownership in called Cerion. This company

          This mans mind is beyond brilliant! He writes algorithms that predict the behavior of cell phone networks for 6-18 months in advance with accuracy to within 1 percent. So accurate that AT&T basically gave us a blank check up to 4 million dollars a year to do all we could to defer capital expenditures for them and to tell them where to invest so that a sector did not fall over. I am talking like the TV show Numbers brilliant.

          You know what though, without someone to give him a job he would not have three nickels to rub together.

        • It isn’t just about money. Some people love science and engineering for what it is. Many recognize the fallacy that money is, and rather hedge their bets on knowledge and skills. I only mentioned jobs and gates because people want to turn them into rock stars of brilliance; when reality is they got lucky: right time, right places, right resources, etc. I have no desire for that, as famously stated by the notorious b.i.g. – mo’ money mo’ problems. I am a husband and parent first, I can’t be wasting my time with a lot of business nonsense when I make a more than adequate living as a contracting PE. The best word I have learned in my work is ‘no’. I could have enough work to keep me busy 80 hours a week if I wanted. But telling people no, and the fact that engineers are so hard to come by these days; most just ask when will I have time available. Even with that luxury, I want to see more engineers, which means higher level technical people.

  36. Oh…. one more thing. I remember watching an episode of the TV show “The Mod Squad” in 1971, episode 66 “A Short Course in War” an elderly teacher is taken hostage on a college campus. (This illustrates how messed up schools were at the time that this seemed like a realistic situation to handle on TV.) As I recall, the teacher dies while attempting to uphold the “old school” way of teaching.

    In a book (as I recall), “Tuesday the Rabbi Saw Red,” a teacher is killed by a bomb on campus. Rabbi Small solves the murder. It is a bit dated but it shows how chaotic the schools were at the time. This was considered a relevant novel delving into the problems of the time… 1973 or so.

  37. Jack, there’s one big difference between Prison and School: In prison you get out early for good behavior. If there is any one thing that ruined school, it is making it mandatory. Almost all school curriculums have students read the Tom Sawyer chapter on Whitewashing the Fence, but they totally miss the point.
    Albert Einstein said, “It is little short of a miracle that modern methods of instruction have not already completely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry…. I believe that one could even deprive a healthy beast of prey of its voraciousness if one could force it with a whip to eat continuously whether it were hungry or not…”
    Zappa said, “Drop out of school before your mind rots from exposure to our mundane education system. Forget about the Senior Prom, go to the library and educate yourself if you’ve got any guts.”

  38. I love this podcast. I became an attorney first, then went and got a teaching credential. I don’t have kids yet, but likely will in the future. One thing that resonated with me was the call to just write some lessons. I can do that! In fact, I think I will. How about “lessons on the Bill of Rights” with one lesson for each amendment. Sounds fun.

    For what it’s worth, while I was earning my teaching credential, we were taught to NOT seat kids in rows, to be creative, and to foster dialogue between the students and not be “sage on the stage” like a traditional class. Maybe a change? I don’t know. But we weren’t taught to teach the way kids are being taught by the vast majority of the system now.

  39. I highly recommend that all parents and teachers watch The F.A.T. City Workshop documentary. You Tube appears to have each chapter of the original video available as individual snippets. As an example, here is a link to chapter two: (80’s hair warning!)

    This video is targeted toward adults who interact with children with learning disabilities but the demonstrations captured by the documentary are enlightening for anyone who interacts with, well, anyone else.

  40. This was a good podcast. My only issue with it is that I think all of our current education systems work…if the student is willing to learn. To me, it all comes down to that – they have to be willing to learn. However, the environment the student lives and works in has a HUGE impact on the willingness to learn. I went to a private, Lutheran grade school from preschool until 8th grade. The last semester of my 8th grade I transferred to a public school because my single working mother could no longer afford the private school. All I have to say is…wow! I went from doing algebra in 8th grade at the private school to taking tests on my times tables and doing fractions at the public school. It was a joke! However, I did succeed and learn in the public education system. I think my success was partly because I saw the system for what it was…a system…and I knew the key to success in life was learning and knowledge. I graduated in the top 10 of my class, I got into college easily and got scholarships for my entire freshmen year, I graduated with a computer science degree in 3 years, and now I’m out in the real world making almost a 6 figure income at age of 27 living debt-free (because I lived with my parents in college and worked 3 jobs at one point to keep my student loans low). I was about to write that I think I’m a good example of how someone can succeed with public schooling if they really want to, but now that I have wrote all this out, I’m thinking that my private education lasted so much longer after I left private schools in 8th grade. That education gave me the critical thinking foundation that allowed me to succeed in public school. Maybe the education that is most important is between newborn and 10 years old? After that, the children should have the skills to learn and succeed no matter what environment they are put in.

    Regardless, this was a good show and I look forward to the future in education.

  41. I think one point has been over looked. “home school” does not simply mean “taught at home by a parent”. Of course that is one mode of home schooling, but home schooling can mean so much more.

    “Home school” should really be defined as “a legal (or accepted) way to avoid truancy”. Once truancy has been avoided a home schooler has the freedom to develop what ever curriculum, partnerships and agreements they desire.

    My family started a homeschool co-op that has grown to 7 children and 4 like-minded families. The kids rage from 4 to 10 years old. We hire subject matter experts to come in and teach. The primary subjects are taught by a teacher we hired and the instruction is all in Spanish. We have additional subject matter experts come in and teach English, Chinese, and Electronics/programming. Parents come in and do modules with the kids based on the parents area’s of expertise.

    I know of other families that have created the very same model with a different mix of experts. We attend larger home school gatherings that attract hundreds of students. Many organizations extend special offers specifically to attract home schoolers in my area. Museums, trade schools, the library, state parks, even a wilderness and primitive living school has a dedicated home school tract.

    To create the numerous and diverse education incubators Jack mentioned we need to start by making sure that:

    1. Home school is redefined to mean free of the requirement to attend public school or accredited private school and free to develop and execute up the education experience you want.

    2. To start / continue efforts to liberalize home school laws in all states. Once the tide really starts to turn and public schools start loosing real numbers to home school you can bet state governments will start demonizing it and put it though the “problem/reaction/solution” legislation cycle to tighten up or abolish home school.

    Great show! Thanks for all you do Jack.

    • markl32 – thanks for that info. I DON’T want to send my future kids to public school, but I can’t stay home – a co-op might be the way to go for us. I could definitely contribute by writing lesson plans, things like that.

  42. Jack, just wanted to let you know my wife and I believe you are spot on with this and it is good to hear someone sound the alarm.

    I also want you to consider this. I am on episode 500 of your podcast and I started from the beginning about 6 months ago. It is uncanny how our beliefs are so similar. I listened to one episode that you described your child hood condition. I felt the same way! My wife and I have discussed this a few times and we contribute it to the fact that our parents were born before and during WWII and we grew up with kids that were raised by parents born post WWII. I always thought I was surrounded by immature kids and related to older people better. I do not know how old your parents are, but I know that you were raised mostly by your pre WWII Grand parents. Anyway food for thought.

    My wife and I would love to meet you face to face sometime. Until then keep up the good work.

    • Yes my Grandparents are what saved me on both sides I am sure of it. My parents were not really ever useful in my life. My father due to work and my mother due to being generally useless as a human being.

      Lot’s of people think “dad worked a lot” is a sob story and so does any good father, get over it kid. They have no clue, 6AM out the door, not home until about 930PM every single day, 7 days a week, took off Christmas day and half a day on New Years. Looking back I know why, he hated his life, he hated his wife, he felt trapped and work was his escape.

      My grand parents were all immigrants. Ukrainian, Italian and German, first generation all of them. In fact three of the four were actual immigrants themselves not actually born in the US but brought here by their parents though they all had very little memory of that.

      The families came for a better life then ran into the depressions of 1909 and 1929. Both grandfathers joined the military. I only learned recently my one grandfather was in the Army before the war, he went into the intel side and became a Warrant Officer and was actually involved with among other things the dropping of “the bomb”. When I asked him what he did in the Army, he’d just say typing. Convincing as he was a damn good typist. I don’t think I’d even know what an old school typewriter was like with out him.

      The other grandfather was the son of a coal miner and became one himself. Joined the Navy when the war started, figured he be drafted anyway and the Navy was better than the Army. He ended up in Panama for the whole war, actually right were I was in 90-93! Ironic.

      He came home, mined more coal, saved my great Uncles life in a mine accident. Later in another one was crushed by a massive slide and lived the rest of his life with a few pieces of coal in his arm he wore like a battle scar, always seeming to regret he was in a “safe place” during the war while so many of his friends and family were not and many didn’t come home.

      After the accident he became a carpenter and built the middle school that my two sisters eventually attended.

      The grandmothers were special. One Catholic and very much so, the other Ukrainian Catholic and extremely so. Both were at least partly responsible for my several years of hell in a catholic school, my solution was to get myself thrown out in the end.

      But they all taught me things like

      Don’t be in debt
      Fight for what is right, stick up for the weak
      Fear is only useful if it keeps you from dying
      Learn to cook and preserve food
      How to shoot, hunt, fish, forage, etc.
      How to grow food

      Thing was neither side could have done all that alone. I am very lucky I had my Mother’s Parents in Florida and then my Father’s later in PA.

      I just have to wonder why I became the man I am under their parenting but my parents did not?

      My Mother’s parents had 4 children, the other three are well functioning adults. Both boys served one in Korea and one in Vietnam, one was even in the CIA for a while, now he is a photographer. The other girl is very overweight and always has been but other than that is happy, has three happy children. All three are married and now have grandchildren. They did as well as anyone from said generation.

      On my dad’s side the three brothers don’t even speak to one another. My dad lives his life still working way to much. His brother lives across the street sucking off the tit of government with a fake disability and likely still deals drugs to get by. The oldest dodged the draft and now lives in Philly. I remember him as an adult child that brought his fucking laundry home every weekend for his mother to do for him and this in his early 40s.

      Sad but again you are right, they were my blessing. I owe the four of them everything I have.

  43. Another analogy between prison and school. Armed guards, middle and high schools here have armed student resource officers. Cops station at each school.

  44. I was thinking how crazy the public school system has become this past school year. My youngest has one more year of high school. Most of her classes are AP or pre AP. She took a theater one class this year and really regretted it.

    She decided she liked theater, but she didn’t like how 3/4 of the kids in her class didn’t want to be at school at all. Her teacher put them in groups to write and act out their own play. They were given several weeks to work on this in class. The others in her group did almost nothing, except for one other girl who cared some. She ended up writing the play, making all the props, two masks. The others did not make their masks, refused to work on their parts during class. Told her they had no phone to contact them on (while texting friends on phones). They said I guess we’ll be in trouble when our parents see that we’re flunking this class but who cares. The whole group gets the same grade (another version of the cheat sheet – put those who won’t work with those who will and have 1 or 2 students do the work for all).

    When time for the performance came the others read their parts then walked out halfway through their play, didn’t finish it. Again they said well I guess our parents won’t be happy with our failing grade. She was upset with them, her teacher knew what all work she’d done. The whole group got an 100.

    Same teacher quit a few weeks later, they had a substitute rest of the year who basically played Frozen and other movies repeatedly but didn’t even try to teach this group anything.

    Many of the kids do not want to be there, yet they are forced to go. We are forced to pay for their “education”. More of the best teachers are retiring, quitting along with some of the not great teachers. She has an awesome AP physics/chem teacher. He is retiring after next year to his farm.

    The school teaches many things from air craft mechanics, welding, construction to college bound. New students can now earn a 2 year degree by the time they graduate. All this is well and good but when police are pepper spraying students who attack each other and their teachers something is very wrong with the system, not what is offered.

    When taxpayers say no we won’t approve a bond to raise money to build an indoor football practice field, and the superintendent builds it anyway, taking funds from elsewhere then complains there isn’t enough money for stuff such as bus maintenance, time to get new people in charge. We did but problems are still there.

    My take, if they want the privilege of going to school, they should earn it in some way. If they don’t want to be there, don’t do the work, harm others, then why should we be paying for their “jail keepers” and send them out with a degree? Better to have teachers teaching those who want to learn. Everyone would be happier.

    Her favorite classes are ones where she is doing things much of the time, not lectures.

    In real life our success does not depend on how well we can take a test but what we actually do.