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Actor Matt Damon is a walking, talking public service reminder to immunize your children early and often against La-La-Land disease.
In Damon’s world, all public school teachers are selfless angels. Government workers and Hollywood entertainers are impervious to economic incentives. And anyone who disagrees is a know-nothing, “corporate reformer” ingrate who hates education.
Last week, the liberal box-office star addressed a “Save Our Schools” march in Washington at the behest of his mother, a professor of early childhood education. He attacked standardized tests. He praised all the public school teachers who “empowered” him and unlocked his creative potential by rejecting “silly drill and kill nonsense.” Speaking on behalf of “an army of regular people,” Damon decried the demoralization of teachers by ruthless, results-oriented free marketeers whom he mocked as “simple-minded.”
What Damon’s superficial tirade lacked, however, was any real-world understanding of the deterioration of core curricular learning in America. Students can’t master simple division or fractions because today’s teachers — churned out through lowest common denominator grad schools and shielded from competition — have barely mastered those skills themselves. Un-educators have abandoned “drill and kill” computation for multicultural claptrap and fuzzy math, traded in grammar fundamentals for “creative spelling,” and dropped standard civics for save-the-earth propaganda.
Consequence: bottom-basement U.S. student scores on global assessments over the past two decades. Blaming the tests is blaming the messenger. The liberal education establishment’s response to its abject academic failures? Run away. This is why the Save Our Schools agenda championed by Damon calls for less curricular emphasis on math and reading — and more focus on social justice, funding and “equity” issues.
Out: Reading is fundamental.
In: Feeling is fundamental.
After his drippy pep talk absolving teachers of any responsibility for America’s educational morass, Damon then lashed out at a young libertarian reporter who had the audacity to ask him about the negative impact of lifetime teacher tenure. “In acting there isn’t job security, right?” Reason.tv’s Michelle Fields asked Damon. “There is an incentive to work hard and be a better actor because you want to have a job. So why isn’t it like that for teachers?”
It’s elementary that people will work longer and harder if they know they will be rewarded. There’s nothing anti-teacher about the question.
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