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Some of the most fun I’ve had as a writer was compiling the education chapter (Chapter Six) of We Are Doomed. For the connoisseur of human folly, education is a banquet.

I wrote:

Surveying the field of modern educational practice, “in touch with reality” is not a phrase that leaps spontaneously to mind. There is no area of social policy where we see more clearly the destructive effects of the modern epidemic of happy talk, no area where the magical thinking of our intellectual cheerleaders is so clearly, painfully at odds with cold grim fact. Our educational practice is driven by our educational theory; and to enter the world of education theory is to leave the solid surface of the earth altogether, to float up to the Academy of Lagado in Gulliver’s Travels, where learned men worked at extracting sunbeams from cucumbers …

Education is a vast sea of lies, waste, corruption, crackpot theorizing, and careerist log-rolling. If, as H.G. Wells asserted, “Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe,” we have lost the race, and had better brace ourselves for the catastrophe.

Sane books about education do occasionally get published, though. Two years ago almost to the day, I reviewed one such here at Prof. Ray Wolters’ The Long Crusade: Profiles in Education Reform, 1967-2014.

From my review:

Ray Wolters has written an excellent and fascinating book about education, casting his net wider than most theorists of the subject would dare. I … congratulate him on a fine work of modern social history.

Now I see from one of Steve’s commenters that Prof. Wolters has come to the attention of the CultMarx ideological enforcers.

What happened was that the American Historical Review, which is an academic journal, commissioned a book review from Prof. Wolters (who is Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Delaware).

The book to be reviewed was Ansley Erickson’s Making the Unequal Metropolis: School Desegregation and Its Limits, published last year. Prof. Erickson is Assistant Professor of History and Education at Columbia University Teachers College.

I haven’t read Prof. Erickson’s book; but the promotional blurb at gives off a strong odor of sunbeams from cucumbers.

Be that as it may, the fact of American Historical Review having assigned this book to Prof. Wolters caused historians nationwide to take to the fainting couch.

No less than six academics wrote to the Review in protest. Their sputtering is hilarious to behold.

• Wolters is an avowed white supremacist who claims that school desegregation cannot overcome racial achievement gaps … (Campbell F. Scribner, University of Maryland).

• His preoccupation with so-called “sociobiology” represents a poisonously ideological and misguided framing of the debates about racial equality … (N. D. B. Connolly, Johns Hopkins University).

• For white readers such as myself, your decision to give the stamp of authority to Wolters’s racist beliefs is infuriating. For many of your readers of color, it is also devastating … (Andrew W. Kahrl, Carter G. Woodson Institute for African and African-American Studies).

• I am not suggesting any kind of ideological litmus test for historians …

Of course not! Perish the thought!

… who must be free to explore the past and to frame any theories that can be supported with evidence.

Free! Completely free!

But there is no evidence — none …

None, I tell you — None! None!

… for the scientific racism that Raymond Wolters is trying to revive. The problem with his ideas is not that they are racist and offensive, although they are surely that. The problem is that they are false. (Jonathan Zimmerman, University of Pennsylvania).

• By choosing Raymond Wolters as a reviewer and allowing him to air his [sic] “theory” of sociobiology as a criticism of Erickson’s book, you both unfairly treat her work and misrepresent the state of U.S. history and the history of education … (Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, The New School).

Worst of all:

• I reviewed [Prof. Wolters’] book Race and Education in Teachers College Record in 2009. At that time I pointed out that … he had granted a personal interview to a website called, which is classified as a “white nationalist hate website” by the Southern Poverty Law Center … (Zoe Burkholder, Montclair State University).

Eeek! Pharmacies in college towns nationwide are experiencing a run on sal volatile.

American Historical Review has of course gone into full cringe mode in response to these letters. They have pulled the review; although they concede, with an air of bafflement, that:

[Prof. Wolters’] university webpage reveals him to be a legitimate scholar with a fairly long and solid publication record; our database also confirmed his status as an academic who has published in credible scholarly venues.

I congratulate Prof. Wolters on having caused so many conniptions among the log-rolling classes, and I look forward to his next book.

(Republished from VDare by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Academia, Political Correctness, Public Schools 
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  1. Your irresistible desire to display your erudition is an advantage to your readers. Thanks for teaching me sal volatile (“smelling salts” to hoi polloi).

  2. Hubbub says:

    • Wolters is an avowed white supremacist who claims that school desegregation cannot overcome racial achievement gaps … (Campbell F. Scribner, University of Maryland).

    And I avow the same as Wolters. We’ve only had half a century (and counting) of sustained failure to show that school desegregation has indeed failed to overcome racial achievement gaps. In fact, desegregation has had the opposite effect; the achievement gap has increased to some degree. But Mr. Scribner and his ilk will continue to beat the social-justice-warrior horse until public education is truly declared null and void.

    • Replies: @Logan
    , @MBlanc46
  3. The nastiest pieces of crackpot theorizing were whole-word reading, new math, and outcomes based education. The last idiocy has been abandoned in the US, then exported world-wide, including Australia (since abandoned), South Africa (ditto), Canada (not yet), and has now been forced upon North American Engineering colleges. I look forward to reading Wolters’s book.

    • Replies: @MBlanc46
  4. grapesoda says:
    @Eustace Tilley (not)

    Yeah I guess some people are impressed by that sort of thing. I can’t see how it benefits anyone to know how to say smelling salts in another language though.

    • Replies: @JohnnyGeo
  5. When did the academic discipline of history become an offshoot of sociology and “education studies”? Has this happened in other countries, too?

  6. Ivy says:

    The review comments could fit into a study to identify characteristics of interest to academics, readers and the lay public. For example, what are the demographic and other cohorts represented, etc.

    Perhaps some enterprising social scientist could perform some replicable network analysis to show connections to be teased out of the murky data that has not yet seen the light of day.

    Now, for an RFQ and RFP, and a list of foundations to contact for lucrative grants ;p

  7. unit472 says:

    Has anything been more studied than negro academic failure? What has not been tried to reduce or eliminate this situation? Head Start, single sex classrooms, uniforms, baseball bat toting principals, hiring more ( unqualified) black teachers. Refusing to fire those unable to pass a competency exam, race ‘norming’, social promotion etc. etc. If you can imagine it someone, somewhere has tried it and nothing has worked. It is the modern day quest to turn base metals into gold. Alchemy in the 21st Century!

    Yes, it would be wrong to brand an entire race as intellectually stunted. There is an exceedingly small percentage of intelligent negroes but you cannot study them to find out what it is that makes them exceptional because if you find the answer to that you also discover the reason the rest are far less intelligent.

    • Agree: MBlanc46
    • Replies: @Johan Meyer
    , @MarkinLA
  8. @unit472

    Speaking of gold and heavy metals, regarding negro academic failure, feel free to peruse my comment history. It would be off-topic for this discussion, but if you wish to pursue the matter on Thompson’s article thread, I’d be happy to oblige there. I’d be particularly interested in studies of black high-school academic achievement the last ten years. The record is clearly dismal before that, to be sure.

  9. MarkinLA says:

    It is the modern day quest to turn base metals into gold.

    And it does. Think of all those grants and studies that have to be done by all those academic “experts” and social “scientists” that need constant funding because they always find a new way to make blacks achieve more. Will they accomplish more in math classes if it is rapped to them. Make a stufy and when it “proves” the hyposthesis send out grant money to every black school using the new wonder method.

    Newton was in the wrong business.

  10. Anonymous [AKA "Guilliam Le Batard"] says:

    The history department’s bio of Prof Wolters seems much reduced these days . . .
    compare March 2nd’s

    with today’s

    Strangely, the history department does not provide a live link for Prof Wolters on its site for emeriti faculty


  11. Oldeguy says:

    I take some ( slight ) heart from the fact that the above cited truly malevolently deranged, obstinately reality denying correspondents all appear to derive there livelihood from that grotesque bloated, utterly out of control Fantasyland known as Higher Education.
    It’s one of those American institutions ( there are others ) that reached its magnificent peak in the early and mid 20th Century and has been in increasingly rapid decline ever since.
    Anything so insanely over-priced, counter-productive, and so poisonous to its host society must at some future date simply implode.

    • Replies: @Stan d Mute
  12. @Oldeguy

    Anything so insanely over-priced, counter-productive, and so poisonous to its host society must at some future date simply implode.

    The normal market mechanisms would have already begun their magic on the cesspool of American education but for the fact that their indoctrination has become a matter of policy for virtually all large organization employers. HR policies nearly everywhere mandate at least a two year degree and more often a four year degree to even be considered a candidate for a job opening. So they’ve effectively dodged market forces which would have demanded experience (and thus tangible proof of ability) over SJW/PC indoctrination demonstrated by a college/university degree. Without complete economic collapse I don’t see how this cycle can be broken. To become an HR manager, you get a degree in HR management. Then you implement policy requiring all job candidates to possess a four year degree. Aside from mom and pop small business or the unicorn successful startup where talent is paramount, the market is closed to any who resisted the indoctrination.

    • Replies: @Oldeguy
    , @Negrolphin Pool
  13. WGG says:

    Public schooling is immoral. Instead of paying half of your salary in mortgage and taxes to get your kids into “good” public schools, buy an older affordable home in a safe (non-black) area and send your kids to private school. All the things you want a school to be are right there waiting for you. Extended family atmosphere, real Christmas plays, no trouble makers, no pornographic how-to demonstrations for gay sex under the guise of sex education, etc.

    • Replies: @Alden
    , @dfordoom
  14. Art Deco says:

    Of the six people complaining, none appear to do any quantitative work or have any background in a discipline where quantification is important. One’s a soi-disant ‘activist’. Nearly all ‘activism’ re supra-local issues is humbug or concerns causes (educational reform and shutting down abortion clinics) that these academic crudniks indubitably hate. Three are manifest race obsessives; at least one and perhaps two of these three are on the race-patronage payroll .

  15. TheJester says:

    There is an aphorism, “If you can’t stand the answer, don’t ask the question.”

    There are a lot of answers from science, collective human experience, nature studies, and simple logic that the Cultural Marxists can’t stand. Therefore, they go to great links to ensure no one is asking the questions.

    Idealogues who take flights of fantasy or otherwise divorce themselves from reality in the pursuit of ethereal utopias are violent authoritarians by instinct. How else can they prevent the “wrong” questions from being asked? Force … or course. How else can they keep from being exposed?

  16. Alden says:

    My family has attended private and religious schools for generations. Here are a few facts.

    Private schools are just as PC and liberal as public schools. In fact they can be more so as they assume all the kids are “rich” and thus must “give back” more to the poor and disadvantaged.

    Catholics and Lutherans run the biggest chains of religious schools. They are one and all totally pro unlimited immigration.

    Even the Catholic parish schools are not cheap. In coastal California they are about $12,000 a year for grade school. Private high schools run from about $15,000 to $40,000 per year.

    The curriculms in private and religious schools are set by the state with the same liberal c**p as the public schools. The teachers went through the same brainwashing education schools. There is a private school, Marlborough in Los Angeles that costs $40,000 per year. I don’t know if she is still there but they had a black headmistress who wrote terrible recommendations and did her best to keep White kids from getting admitted to top universities.

    You mentioned Christmas. At Sacred Heart in Seattle a Jewish teacher decided to ban all mention of Christmas in her 4th grade class because there was one Hindu boy in the class. At least the Jew assumed the boy was a Hindu because he was Indian. It turned out that the boy and his family were Catholics. And not recent Catholics. They were part of the Catholics of Kerala who claim they are the descendants of Christians converted 2,000 years ago by St Thomas the apostle and it is probably true. At least it is true that their group has been around at least 1,800 years as attested by Indian historians.

    Depending on where you live and what you make the cost of private schools can be horrendous.

    About where to buy a house.

    “An older house in a safe non black neighborhood” Where can you find that? And in many areas, San Francisco, Piedmont and other areas the older houses that have actual rooms instead of the all purpose impossible to decorate and difficult to keep tidy great room cost a lost more than the badly built new homes.


    How will the kids get to school. I know someone whose kids go to an orthodox Jewish school halfway across Los Angeles. His wife spends about 3 hours a day transporting them back and forth to school. The biggest problem with private schools other than Catholic parish schools is that their friends and activities are spread all over town and parents have to drive them all over or hire a driver. It is quite common in California for parents to have to hire a driver for private school kids.

    My kids went to private school in San Francisco and took city buses to school and for all their activities. But San Francisco and our neighborhood and their schools and friends were all in safe neighborhoods although the boys occasionaly were accosted by little black thugs. Remember, with blacks its always at least 3 blacks against one White.

    And my house in San Francisco was a\90 years old but it was in one of the 2 most expensive neighborhoods in the city.

    • Replies: @Art Deco
    , @WGG
  17. Logan says:

    “school desegregation has indeed failed to overcome racial achievement gaps.”

    This does not, however, demonstrate that it cannot do so. Like Communism, it just hasn’t been done right yet.

  18. @Logan

    Lazy Susan baby assignment will finally bring about our multiracial worker’s paradise.

  19. Oldeguy says:
    @Stan d Mute

    The points which you make are discouragingly cogent, but one change that I believe possible from a conservatively shifted Supreme Court ( given the octogenarians remaining on the Court, Trump could easily be filling three more vacancies in his current term ) would be the weakening or outright abandonment of “disparate impact” as ipso facto proof of bias in aptitude testing.
    To put it mildly, Identity Politics based “Studies” tend not to hone critical thinking skills ( they are far more along the “four legs good, two legs bad” line ), and the awareness that objective evaluation of the ability to actually logically reason as a necessary hurdle prior to employment might prompt a reconnection with the real world.

  20. MBlanc46 says:

    Alas, there will be no one left to declare it null snd void.

  21. MBlanc46 says:
    @Johan Meyer

    I had the “new math” in jr. high and high school. I never had the old math to compare it to, so I can’t fairly evaluate it. I went on to become a math major at a small liberal arts college in the 1960s, so it can’t have been a complete failure.

  22. @MBlanc46

    I had the new math in elementary school in the 60s. In high school I was baffled by an SAT problem on long division that had letters in place of numbers. I had never seen long division done the normal way. Never learned the times tables. I still do addition by mentally moving coloured sticks.

    I coasted through multivariable-calculus but I can’t do 7 x 9 in my head in less that 10 seconds.

    • Replies: @Negrolphin Pool
  23. I can’t see how it benefits anyone to know how to say smelling salts in another language though.

    It might, if you were to find yourself in one of the less hygienic no-go areas in Europe.

  24. @Logan

    Like Communism, it just hasn’t been done right yet.

    Like Fascism…
    For any of them to work perfectly you just have to “do it right”.
    So which one shall we try again first?

  25. Art Deco says:

    There are very few authentically Catholic schools left. The economy of such schools was destroyed by the demographic implosion of the religious orders. The decline in recruitment to the diocesan priesthood (a 60% decline in ordinations in a typical year, along with a decline in the shelf-life of an ordained priest) was bad enough. Ordinations to the regular clergy declined by 90%. The situation with orders of men and women religious wasn’t substantially better. (A sister from the Congregation of St. Joseph told me that 60 women took their vows in 1961 and 1962 whereas about 30 did so between 1969 and 2001). Regular clergy, sisters, and brothers live communally, have few personal possessions, are paid modest stipends, and do not have families to support. The schools had to hire lay teachers to stay open. Lay teachers have family responsibilities which render them much more expensive and do not have the degree of education and formation in the faith that even shizzy clergy and religious receive. Co-incident with that was the decline in institutional elan in and among both the diocesan clergy and the religious orders; most clergy have a very uncertain relationship with the faith and some orders are devoted to the charism of single-malt scotch and sodomy. It’s all just a ruin. Google ‘Charlotte Catholic High School’. These are just private schools founded by the Church. Their clientele are professional-managerial types who think of the faculty as hired help.

    • Replies: @Alden
  26. @MBlanc46

    Individual drive and intelligence can overcome hurdles, but for most, a more reasonable math education is needed. I quit school after grade 8, worked for a couple of years, got the grade 12, and eventually got into graduate level math heavy STEM. Most people could not do that, but that does not mean that many of them would still be unable with a reasonable and consistent math and high school education.

  27. @Eustace Tilley (not)

    I think it’s not an exaggeration to say Derb is one of our greatest living essayists.

  28. @Logan

    The liberal education program should be replaced by this one

    If cost >>>>>>>>>> benefit AND evidenceItCannotWorkEver > 0 then



  29. @Stan d Mute

    The gig economy stands a good chance of changing that. And what part it can’t, automation surely will.

    Ultimately, the only way markets are truly bypassed is through the barrel of a skillfully wielded gun.

  30. dfordoom says: • Website

    Instead of paying half of your salary in mortgage and taxes to get your kids into “good” public schools, buy an older affordable home in a safe (non-black) area and send your kids to private school.

    That may have been a good idea a couple of generations ago. Today you’ll find that private schools offer the same PC indoctrination as the public schools. Christian schools are the worst, since mainstream Christians are by far the worst SJWs.

  31. @Seminumerical

    That’s an astounding, nearly insurmountable handicap. In a base 10 number system, not knowing the times tables up to 9×9 would seriously hinder one’s ability to do any calculation involving higher numbers of digits. It would also render doing mental division nearly impossible for anyone without genius-level raw mental power.

    That’s educational malpractice of the highest order. Do they still substitute colored sticks for multiplication tables? No wonder cashiers can’t count change.

    • Replies: @Seminumerical
  32. WGG says:

    Ok, first off, my kids actually go to a private school like the one I described. In fact, it is much better than how I described because I wasn’t trying to get too specific. However, I don’t live in Commiefornia, I live in the South. As a Southerner, I have uniquely qualified advice to give on lost causes. California is a Lost Cause. Instead of drowning in a sea of leftwing nutcases, move to the South and help us bolster our numbers.

    Here are my anecdotes. In the original interview to get into the school, the principal asked if there was anything I did *not want my children being taught. I answered, “cultural marxism” which got a knowing nod from the principal. Also I asked her if she thought any of the faculty would ever consider applying for a concealed carry license to carry a firearm in school. She said they already do. Based principal ftw. And they had a wonderful Christmas play this year which had a message of Christ’s forgiveness. The kids dressed in Victorian Era costumes- it was awesome.

    • Replies: @Alden
  33. JohnnyGeo says:

    those in need of sal volatile in this case would undoubtedly order it under that name

  34. @Negrolphin Pool

    There is not a lot of difficult arithmetic in multivariable calculus or data structures, so I just plodded through it with pencil and paper and the “new” way of doing long division which was not taught to my younger brothers. By the time I got to university (non-programmable) calculators were allowed in all science exams.

    I still see the coloured sticks when I do simple addition. It was ingrained at age five.

    Hmm, I see from google that they really existed and were not a dream from 50 years ago. They are called Cuisenaire rods.

    My youngest brother (adopted and not clever) was required to learn to do arithmetic in an arbitrary base in grades five and six. The idea was to teach the concept rather than a practical skill. He had bases four and six in some homework he showed me. It was madness because his teachers must have known that he’d been left behind (as had most of his inner city schoolmates) when it came to ordinary decimal arithmetic. I couldn’t understand why they didn’t at least use bases eight and 16, which could be useful right out of high school in those days.

  35. Alden says:
    @Art Deco

    I know all that. When I referred to Catholic and religious schools I was not referring to religion

    I write about the cost of private schools and the transportation problems.

    In the cities. Catholic parish schools are flourishing because no one wants to send their kids to big city thug dominated schools. The teachers of course are not nuns. But the schools are still there.

    It’s not 1917 but the catholic schools are still there and there are more Lutheran and Christian schools now than there were 100 years ago because of school bussing.

    • Replies: @Art Deco
  36. Alden says:

    Lucky you. My kids are 50, 49 and 48 so they pretty much escaped commie indoctrination.

    My sister’s kids are 21 and 26 and their very expensive private schools in Seattle were just PC indoctrination. The private and religious schools in Seattle and suburbs are known as Microsoft Highs because it’s Microsoft salaries that pay the tuition.

    But the teachers are SJWs that go on and on about the evils of Microsoft because it is a capitalist monopoly

    In California and many states home schooling has to be somehow hooked up with the local school district. Plus home schoolers get get school district funds. But they are compelled by law to use the common core curriculum.

  37. Art Deco says:

    I don’t doubt you can find Catholic parish schools surviving; ‘flourishing’ would be quite odd. Where I’m from, three of the seven Catholic high schools operating when I was that age have closed and a fourth has survived only due to the patronage of Thomas Golisano. The diocese and the religious orders were opening new secondary schools as recently as 1962.

    • Replies: @Alden
    , @Johann Ricke
  38. Alden says:
    @Art Deco

    IN the San Francisco Bay Area they are growing . For instance Padre Serra boys high school in San Mateo county has a scholarship fund of 47 million all raised by the tech multi millionaires because they want enough middle class kids to keep the school going. They get huge tax write offs from the donations so it helped them financially
    The Bay Area Chinese all want their kids to attend private schools as well.

    Every religious and private school in California has long waiting lists.

    Different states, different parts of the states, different outcomes.

    Anyway, my post wasn’t about the decline of Catholic achools, but about the cost and transportation difficulties of private schooling plus the fact that many private schools teach the same common core racist Marxism as the public schools.

    • Replies: @Alden
  39. Alden says:

    Did you even read my post or just jumped to claim I’m wrong because it’s different where you live.

    • Replies: @Art Deco
  40. @Art Deco

    Where I’m from, three of the seven Catholic high schools operating when I was that age have closed and a fourth has survived only due to the patronage of Thomas Golisano. The diocese and the religious orders were opening new secondary schools as recently as 1962.

    Does that have anything to do with upstate NY’s massive population losses? Buffalo’s population peaked out at 580K in 1950. As of 2010, it was 260K.

    • Replies: @Art Deco
  41. Art Deco says:

    Where I’m from is an example, not meant to be particularly probative.

    I’m fairly confident you are wrong. Reason is that there isn’t much of a secular trend in the share of youth enrolled in private schooling. I’m sure you do have new private schools in places like Texas which are demographically robust, but most of the country plugs along with a youth population which grows only slowly, so there isn’t much of a market for new schools. And, of course, you don’t have a labor force to staff specifically Catholic schools. You can staff legacy schools founded by the diocese or by the religious orders. You’ll have trouble doing that, though. Catechesis is wretched most places and the population of Mass-going Catholics has declined by 1/3 since the Council opened. (The scandal at Charlotte Catholic High School was ringmastered by a quondam religion teacher). As for ‘white flight’, you have incremental change in composition of municipal populations, but the sort of rapid demographic sorting to which ‘white flight’ refers was largely complete by 1980. Caucasians who live in core cities are people who lack dependent children, or live in enclaves where minorities haven’t reached a critical mass, or get their children into magnet schools or enrichment programs, or have coping strategies for the environment they’re in. Of course, everything varies locally.

  42. Art Deco says:
    @Johann Ricke

    Upstate New York in general has not had massive population losses. Popoulation gains in the Hudson Valley have counterbalanced losses elsewhere. The Buffalo commuter belt, the Southern Tier, and the Mohawk Valley have lost population. (About 2/3 of Upstate’s population lives elsewhere). IIRC, the demographic losses in these three subregions amount to about 300,000 people over a generation, of which about 2/3 of that is accounted for by Erie County. Monroe County actually has a slightly larger population than it did in 1980. The Church in Upstate New York is threatened much more by broad cultural shifts and indifferent institutional leadership than it is by industrial decline.

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