Government Barriers
August 2018 by V. R. Duin


As schools stuff books with key words
They want all students to know,
Bored kids flock to screens like birds.
Fun stories make reading grow.

Learn how reading lists and book fair books are government barriers to home reading programs.

Government sets up agencies to protect itself. Government allows its members, agencies and associations to prosper. It supports long-standing, monopolistic book fair books and reading lists. These books are designed for the typical, under-performing student. Government gives power to big business to print materials for its rigid education plans. This system lessens the variety of books. It is failing the other half of our children. It is hurting publishing competition. Parents are offered little choice for home reading programs. It is hard to move against the commercial force in public education. Few parents learn about tools that may best fit their children's learning levels and styles. Charter schools, school vouchers, tax credits or the ability to pay for private schools are not within reach of everyone. Parents have go out of their way to find creative books that interest and connect children to the world outside the system. Consumer welfare is harmed by government controls on labor, goods and services. The students are being cheated. Few of them enjoy reading the books they are buying.

Many parents trust “The System” to know what is best. These parents are comfortable to have their children become cogs for the political machine. Other parents want their children to become skilled workers. Critical thinking skills may not matter to them. They are not interested in the creativity or intellectual capacity of their children. These parents may be comfortable with the top-down approach to teaching. They may see efficiencies in large-scale operations. However, this concentration of market power is squeezing out suppliers. Government standards guide what parents purchase for reading at home. Rarely, will these parents try something new. They buy standardized books, recommended on standardized lists and approved by a closed education system. These materials support lesson plans that prepare students for inside tests. Financial incentives, such as subsidized books and kick-backs to the schools, should be seen as acts of conspiracy. Big government and big business share a secret plan for profit. Money keeps flowing to these books.

Government barriers to home reading programs may include the creation of deliberate obstacles to independent books. The system blocks these books. Professional reviews and grade level ratings from required companies rule out new books. New authors are kept out by the conspiracy to fill reading lists with approved books. The top-down, rigid age-based structure set in place by the Department of Public Education works against independent work and study. The power of large companies is clear in our schools. Government favors profit over learning. Many schools in poor cities operate like prisons. Police and guards are in control. Plans are being considered to arm teachers in schools. Schools are short on supplies, technology and individual attention. The commutes to these schools may be long. There is less time for home study. Often, there is no homework requirement. Schools have total control. Money comes with control, not with improvements learning.

There is a one-size-per-age control on reading in schools. Book fair books are the only books on most reading lists. Outside books might develop an independent voice and critical thinking. There is no merit or function in a meltdown of learning. Parents know their children better than the bureaucracy does. Parents make informed choices about their children's health, diet and religion. Education puts limits on parental participation in school activities or operations. The establishment discourages choice of schools. Restrictions may be placed on selection of books for home reading. Children may not be allowed to read outside their age level, Students may be forced to read for testing. Standards may be lowered. A recent analysis by The Education Trust of 5 traditional middle schools and one K-8 school found classroom assignments were not matched to students' needs. Assignments failed to challenge students with critical thought. Materials were below established standards.

Government puts limits on vocabulary in books. This may keep advanced books from gifted students' hands. The goal is to improve test scores and lower dropout rates of poor and minority children. Wealthy parents may be able to afford expensive private and religious school tuitions or to pay for the private tutoring of their children. As a result, these students may connect with their communities and have outside interests. Parents of children in public schools may be discouraged from buying anything but book fair books. These parents may feel forced to buy books on age-based reading lists for at home reading programs. Independent books are not on these lists. Few creative books meet age-based requirements. Outside books cannot be used to prepare for inside tests. Since outside books are not recommended by educators, they may not be found by parents or students. The government controls buying and promotion of books from the inside. Students may not function well in the outside world.

Increasingly, children “hate” to read. Limited book offerings may contribute to the commercial success of some in-house authors. However, many of the books used in public education are computer-generated with algorithms. The machine-generated results are flat, boring and awkward to read. These books are designed to have key words present in the desired frequencies and quantities for the targeted age group. Reading may have become a constant drill for age-based tests. Schools have turned big data into a closed system. They have merged with big business to concentrate power. Books and ideas for at home reading programs should offer interesting and fun reading practice and enrichment. Books for home reading programs should motivate and facilitate reading, math and critical thinking. Parents and students need to awaken about the risks of these barriers to study and learning. Under pressure to raise graduation rates, educators are turning a blind eye to absenteeism and graduating failing students. The goal is to boost school reputations.

Learning must be done willingly. Thanks to government restrictions, standardization and monopoly, learning may not be taking place. Children, who read boring materials, are not likely to become creative and motivated thinkers. Parents may help struggling, average and gifted students with at home reading programs. However, these programs also need new ideas and different books. Instead, the strength of a single, big supplier is weakening the competition. Parents rely on a closed system of big business and big government. Parents should have the ability to end educational programs that are not working. They should be able to experiment with alternatives. Instead, parents are subjected to a regulatory state with stagnant learning outcomes for their children. Students may not be encouraged to make inquiries or investigate current issues of importance to their futures. The government is assumed to provide low pricing and efficiency of scale. Parents need to notice what their children are reading and learning.

Independent thinkers and authors online might be the best place for parents to start their book search. Outside “The System”, there are interesting and fun books. These can be used to enrich reading at home. Many of these books may be obtained or borrowed from lending libraries at no cost. This outside approach is less radical than pulling students from the failing system to place them in private programs or home-school them. Independent books with original ideas are widely available for home reading programs. However, these creative writers rarely are able break through the strict control of book selection. Reliance by educators on the book fair alliance is growing. Schools that take tax dollars are subject to bureaucratic oversight. Politicians, policy makers and the educators have set up a regulatory state. The “establishment” leaves parents with no choice in the supply of labor, goods and services for the education of their children.

A mastery-based approach is being tested in a few schools across the country. Students can advance in skill level, but they are stuck with public promotions for book fair books and other pay-backs. Individualized programs may be helping gifted, average and under-performing students advance at these schools. These students prove knowledge and understanding of course content by completing the necessary worksheets, discussions, coursework, internships and testing. Improved outcomes may be attributed to the improved engagement and increase in confidence. These programs may offer better match of coursework to students' personal strengths and weaknesses. However, few of these students may be truly engaged. They may not be broadening their intellectual capacity. They may not enjoy what they are doing. “Superstar” suppliers created with government support may be contributing to this problem. Discouraged readers may reject home reading suggestions from parents.

Government barriers, regulations, procedures and requirements typically work against independent thinking. Rarely do they promote it. Exceptions may be Iowa's Muscatine Community School District, Ohio's “credit-flex” program, Brooklyn's “M.S. 442” program, District of Columbia and Bethesda, Maryland' “Mysa Menu” and some “micro-schools”. These schools are experimenting with individualized education models. The results seem to show dramatic increases in reading and math proficiency. Students are given an opportunity to breeze past content they have mastered, so they may focus on any deficiencies. Unfortunately, these programs may not be complete deviations from mass standardization. They still rely almost exclusively on reading lists and book fair books. Many of these programs use alternative testing programs with lower passing scores to hand out diplomas. At home reading programs should operate free of any abuse of market power.

The government barriers of standardized education bind students and teachers to a strict lesson plan. It is built of standardized lessons, standardized books and standardized tests. Outside thinking in home reading programs seems to be discouraged by the strict structure, policy and the protocol of mass group-think. The failure of education may be due to an intellectual free-fall of politically correct books, reading lists, literary theory, standardization and value-free education. Standardized teaching and alternative testing seem to matter less to learning and thinking than to teacher payments and school reputations. Nobody is winning in this meltdown of learning. It is hard to build an independent at home reading program in support of a closed system that may not be working. Credit recovery and alternative testing programs may not be sufficiently rigorous to prepare students for the next level of numeracy or literacy. Parental pressure for increased intervention is building. The average grade school student should be reading stories at the rate of 125 words per minute. The average student in junior and high school should read stories at a rate of 200-250 words per minute.

A return to the traditions of our ancestors may provide improvement. Reading comprehension skills and creative thinking have a long history. Western education began and developed along with Germanic university teachings. Today, learning is hurt by the focus on standardization. Unless society finds a way to improve learning, graduates will continue to find difficulties in the work force. State collusion with business also has an accompanying loss in individualism. Freedom of choice may serve as the ultimate element of accountability and self-governance. People should have sufficient clout to close or punish under-performing schools and education systems. Government regulators target manufacturers, shipping companies and banking institutions. They ignore abuses by the government for which they work. Concern must be raised by parents to prompt the Federal Trade Commission to look into the share of of revenue earned by suppliers to education. The system may be cheating small business.

Readers, writers and educators should remain alert to independent learning opportunities. Throughout this journey, many materials may be found online and in the community to flesh out at home reading programs. On average, only one half of children in the United States are reading at grade level. To avoid summer school, students are taking online make-up courses. These credit recovery programs may offer struggling students an opportunity to work at their own pace. They also avoid summer school. Full credit may be received for this fast and easy summer program. Students who are off track for graduation can submit to alternative tests to earn a diploma. More students are graduating and fewer are attending summer school. High school graduates of these programs may be unprepared for college and the working world. At one school in Palm Beach County, Florida, grades were changed by the vice principal on final tests for this online course. Several students had their grades raised from 0% to 95%. Parents can help their children by asking questions and pushing for positive change.

Rigid standardization does not seem to stimulate learning for many students. Except for a one-point increase in 8th grade math scores, student achievement is flat or dropping according to the latest Assessment of Education Progress, known as Nation's Report Card for 2017, released in April of 2018. After reading these statistics, parents in the United States may want to put greater faith in the long tradition of home reading programs. Public schools may be inflating graduation rates with programs for credit recovery and online tests with multiple choice options. Students are merely learning to answer specific questions. This may be creating universal mindsets. Free-thinking does not develop with nominal education accomplishments based on boring reading drills. This may be convenient for the bureaucracy, but it does not build communications or connect students with what is happening in their world. As dominant players grow stronger, marketplace apathy must not be allowed to increasingly follow.

Home Reading Programs

  • Book Fair Books Reading Rates says:

    Government-sanctioned Book Fair books give power to some publishers at a loss of diversity in the supply chain.

  • government barriers Reading Rates says:

    Government barriers make it difficult to find beneficial, independent titles and structures for at home reading programs.

    • reading listsReading Rates says:

      Students, who are not stimulated by the offerings of book fair books and approved reading lists, are unlikely to read as adults.