In reading the “overview” of Dr. Jill Biden’s 2006 doctoral dissertation from the University of Delaware, I am reminded just how rotten, from top to bottom, are America’s schools of graduate education. That a doctor of anything could write a sentence like the one that follows speaks to the historic worthlessness of most graduate programs in education:
Three quarters of the class will be Caucasian; one quarter of the class will be African American; one seat will hold a Latino; and the remaining seats will be filled with students of Asian descent or non-resident aliens.
An advisory committee had to approve this mumbo-jumbo. Apparently, none of the committee members noticed that when you add three fourths to one fourth, you’ve pretty much exhausted all the “fourths” available — all the seats as well. Although the temptation is to write Dr. Jill’s dissertation off to the power of political pull, her dissertation, from my experience, represents something of a norm in the illiteracy, innumeracy, and race obsession of grad-level education.
My oldest brother, an exceptional high school principal, refused to pursue a doctorate in education — the key to becoming a school superintendent — because he thought the courses he took to get his Master’s a waste of everyone’s time. My middle brother became a very good high school math teacher without getting any education degrees. He simply retooled through a special quickie program after retiring as an engineer from Exxon.
On the other hand, an in-law, since deceased, did go on to get his Ed.D. As a “doctor,” he quickly climbed the ranks and became a school superintendent. Oh, one caveat: I took his Graduate Record Exams for him. He could not have passed on his own. My bad.
In the fifteen years since Jill Biden became a “doctor” — Whoopi Goldberg once pitched her to become surgeon general — the average school of education has gone from being merely a bad joke to becoming scarily woke.
The reader need not take my word for it. The schools of education boast of their eagerness to subvert just about everything you believe in. Even the University of Delaware invites its students to pull information “from the social sciences, situated cognition, critical pedagogy, critical race theory, feminist theory, and disabilities studies,” all the better to twist young minds. Today, without that information, such as it is, a would-be educator has no career.
In the mind-twisting department, history teacher Gabriel Gipe of Natomas, California made the mistake of boasting about his desire to do just that. Gipe was recorded by Project Veritas saying, “I have 180 days to turn [students] into revolutionaries,” his technique of choice being “to scare the f— out of them.” The Natomas Unified School District was quick to assure the Sacramento-area parents, “The actions and approaches taken by one teacher do not represent the overall staff, students and school community.”
No, not every educator at Natomas has a hammer and sickle tattooed on his chest, but as one angry parent asked, “where the hell was the principal? Where were the vice principals? Where was the faculty of the school? Where was the superintendent, where was the rest of the district? Where were you?” Unknown to the parents, the adult educators had already been indoctrinated themselves.
According to U.S. News & World Report, the nation’s best education school is the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE). In thumbing through the online catalogue, I would estimate that roughly one out of every three or so courses offered by HGSE has something to do with race or “equity.” What Harvard does today, your local State U will be doing tomorrow. Education schools chase trends as mindlessly as dogs chase tails.
In the 2020–2021 academic year, for instance, Samantha Fletcher, an “Equity and Inclusion Fellow” at HGSE, offered a course titled “Say Her Name: Gender, Race & Punishment from Tituba to Breonna Taylor.” I suspect that a student who volunteered that Breonna’s drug-running beau fired first at the Louisville cops would likely not get an A in her class.
Also on Fletcher’s plate the first semester was an “Equity and Inclusion Leadership Practicum” and a course titled “Creating Justice in Real Time: Vision, Strategies and Campaigns.” Fletcher kicked off the second semester with “Citizenship, Segregation, and Racial Equality in Schools.”
Speaking of segregation, Fletcher served as the V.P. of political action and engagement for the Black Graduate School Alliance and on the committee to plan “Harvard Black Graduation.”
An aspiring school superintendent who felt insufficiently rebellious after Fletcher’s courses might enroll in Aaliyah El-Amin’s “Educating to Transform Society: Preparing Students to Disrupt and Dismantle Racism.” Disruption is El-Amin’s thing. In the first sentence of her bio, she tells us of her commitment “to ensuring that educators have the knowledge and tools they need to disrupt systems of oppression.”
In the disruption and dismantling class, students undertake “a culminating project,” in which they “design and if desired, implement an education and liberation based anti-racist intervention.” El-Amin’s students will soon be sending résumés to school districts like Natomas with their Harvard degrees in bold, and school supers will compete to hire them.
Given that parents like those at Natomas are not always keen on all that promised disruption and dismantling, Harvard offers a course that will help educators keep them at bay. Despite its opaque title, “Preserving Privilege, Contesting Exclusion: Parents’ Roles in Educational Inequality,” the goal of the class is pretty clear. Future principals and supers will learn how to manage those pesky parents who seek to “preserve … inequitable educational systems for their own and other children.”
Of the first five faculty listed in the Harvard catalogue, all five claim to do research involving race. Bianca Baldridge, for instance, “explores the sociopolitical context of community-based education and how the confluence of race, class, and gender shapes the experiences of Black and Latinx youth in these settings.”
Peter Blair’s research “focuses on the link between the future of work and the future of education, labor market discrimination, occupational licensing, and residential segregation.” Whitney Benns works actively with an organization that “combats the criminalization of poverty and state violence, to align internal relationships, culture and communication with their vision of liberation for St. Louis.” Maybe they will have an opening for Natomas’s Gabriel Gipe in the newly liberated St. Louis.
Those students who leave America’s schools of education, Ed.D.s in hand, now control just about all forms of public education — and much of private education — from pre-school to (yes) medical school. Unlike schools, say, of engineering or computer science or even liberal arts, if every graduate school of education in America shut down tomorrow, no one not on the payroll would miss them. Always useless, they are now much worse than useless, and we are all paying the bill.