3-23-17  Updated 3-24-17

Greetings Legislature Education Committees, Ryan Wise, Director of Dept. of Education, Iowa Association of School Boards, and all—Please forward this post to all IA school boards.  Thank you. 

To understand how and why Iowa educators have locked Iowa school boards in an impossible situation, and have failed to teach reading and math effectively since the 1950s, it is necessary to understand  3 learning theories practiced in Iowa, and the disastrous related Iowa education timeline. 

In addition, it is explained herein why cancer and Alzheimer’s etc. researchers have been no more successful in determining the cause and treatments for dread diseases than educators have been successful in fixing failed public schools.  They have a common failure denominator, as do the politicians who created and are now floundering to fix Obamacare.  Most of them graduated from high school after 1980 with Teen Mind Development levels shown in the chart farther below.    Please read on. 

The 3 learning theories and times are:

1.    Behaviorism

a.    Originated in the early 1900s and states learning consists of a change in behavior (because this country took education off the classical concept-based education the rest of the world continues to use to out-educate us, and falsely believed immigrant behavior had to be changed).  

b.     It was widely and successfully practiced in Iowa schools until the 1950s.

c.     It  associates stimuli from the environment with observable responses of the individual

d.    The response to a stimulus is reinforced when followed by a positive rewarding effect

e.    The response to a stimulus becomes stronger by exercise and repetition

f.      Preferred teaching methods are phonics for reading and concepts for math.

g.    Worked OK for developing teen minds (considering the type of daily problem-solving they did in their lives.

2.    Cognitive psychology

a.    Originated and put to use in Iowa in the late 1950s, despite success with behaviorism.

b.    Considers people to be merely processors of information.

c.     Paid attention to complex mental phenomena overlooked by behaviorists

d.    Was influenced by the emergence of the computer as an information-processing device, which became comparable to the human mind.

e.     Learning is understood as the acquisition of knowledge: the learner is an information-processor who absorbs information, undertakes mental operations on it, and stocks it in memory—regardless of any understanding of it for problem  solving.

f.      Preferred methods of instruction are lecturing and reading textbooks; and, at its most extreme, the learner is merely a passive recipient of knowledge from the teacher.

g.    Cognitive psychology failed to develop teen minds and was replaced in the 1970s and 1980s

                                                 i.     But those who were taught with it (many of whom graduated after 1980 in the Mind Development Chart below, are in charge of Iowa education at this time) are unable to think in depth and solve problems they have not previously experienced or that they do not have in memory. 

                                               ii.     They blame students for school reading and other academic failures

                                              iii.     They cannot connect the dots to themselves or to other actual causes of the failures

                                              iv.     They become defensive and demanding of more funding for schools

                                               v.     They will cheat and adopt low proficiency standards to make schools look better than they are.

                                              vi.     They cannot recover as their minds have been developed to the extent they will be.

3.    Constructivism

a.    Constructivism emerged in the 1970s and 1980s, giving rise to the idea that learners are not passive recipients of information

b.     Learners actively construct their knowledge in interaction with the environment and through the reorganization of their mental structures.

c.     Learners are therefore viewed as sense-makers, not simply recording or memorizing given information but interpreting it.

d.    This view of learning led to the shift from the “knowledge-acquisition” to “knowledge-construction” symbols.

e.    While there are different versions of constructivism, what is found in common is the learner-centered approach whereby the teacher becomes a cognitive guide of learner’s learning and not a knowledge transmitter.

f.      Underlies the government intervention with NCLB (2002) and ESSA (2015).

g.    Forms the basis for the Common Core to return to the concept-based education that had been abandoned

h.    Did not solve the reading deficiency problem  caused by cognitive psychology

i.      Gave the government an excuse to get more heavily involved in K-12 education

The federal government took the following 3 measures to improve the nation’s failing schools that threaten national security. 

  1. No Child Left Behind (NCLB)
    1. Was enacted in 2002 to stop schools from dumbing tests, excluding low test scores and to close the disastrous student achievement gaps by abandoning the attitude that students were defective.
    2. Governor Vilsack and Iowa educators knew Iowa was in trouble and fought the Feds for nearly a year to adopt the lowest Student Proficiency Standard in the Midwest—the  40th National Percentile Rank

                                               i.     It is 10 percentage points below the national average student scores

                                              ii.     Iowa schools could not meet the low standard and sought waivers

    1. It did not accomplish any of the NCLB objectives
    2. Iowa schools refused to improve
    3. NCLB did  provide more visibility of how  poorly Iowa and the nation’s schools were performing
    4. It served as evidence more government intervention was needed to fix schools
    5. The National Council for Teacher Quality assessed teacher training programs in each state, finding Iowa to be at the bottom 20%, with its elementary program graded F.
  1. COMMON CORE Curriculum
    1. Provided by the government in 2009 to eliminate memorization of words and return to phonics for teaching reading,  and concepts for teaching math.
    2. Iowa educators rejected it and concocted IOWA CORE in 2011 which allowed continuation of word and math memorization (actually calling the memorized algebraic Order of Operations a concept when it is not).  All but reading were replaced by the national Common Core.
    3. Iowa reading scores continue stagnant as a result of the inability to identify the source of the problem: the bad phonics program (with Iowa 4th-grade reading scores on NAEP remaining essentially the same but the state falling from 5th in 1992 to 24th in 2015).
    4. In December 2016, Iowa finally dropped wording in its Iowa Core reading related to memorization.
  2. Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)
    1. Established by the government in December 2015 and governs the United States K–12 public education policy and replaced NCLB
    2. It narrowed the United States federal government's role in elementary and secondary education
    3. Requires students to take annual tests between 3rd and 8th grades
    4. Requires Iowa and other states to develop state plans that address academic standards, assessments, school and district accountability, funding, and support for struggling schools.
    5. Iowa educators are working on a 2017 plan that will most likely sustain the Department of Education’s efforts to make Iowa schools look better than they are.
    6. Educators can no longer use the excuse that various demographic groups are somehow defective or medically impaired
    7. Elementary teachers continue to use memorization for reading and math in their teaching methods.


a.    Iowa educators who are trying to fix Iowa’s failed schools graduated from them after 1980 and are victims of the schools as shown in the following Teen Mind Development Chart. 

b.    As a result, Iowa educators hold fast to the failed Cognitive Psychology theory of memorization, that victimized them.

c.     As a further result, teachers are not trained to effectively teach concepts and phonics to all student learning styles.

d.    Iowa universities do not teach teachers how to teach the Five Essential Components for Teaching Reading, according to May 2006 Science of Teaching Reading Report made by The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ).  Their most recent report in December 2016, on elementary training, found that only 25% of Iowa’s teacher training programs teach all five reading concepts, and the methods still use flawed memorization.

e.    Iowa school boards are locked in an impossible situation. 

                                               i.     Teachers they hire have not been adequately trained to teach effectively.

                                              ii.     Educators themselves are victims of the failed schools and can’t fix them

1.    They flagrantly blame students, others and inadequate school funding  for the mess they created

2.    They fight government involvement and accountability

3.     They have the blind backing of the Des Moines Register, Cedar Rapids Gazette, ISEA teacher’s union, and democrat politicians

f.      Superior educator, Dr. Sue Atkinson, says “the state will suffer with this for quite a while”!

g.    Equally devastating, cancer, Alzheimer’s and other dread disease researchers are also victims of the failed public schools.

                                           iii.     They have been no more successful in determining causes and cures for dread diseases than educators have been in fixing Iowa’s and the nation’s failed schools.

                                           iv.     Most researchers graduated from high schools after 1980!

h.    Plato would likely observe the situation and say it makes sense to me.  On the other hand, Aristotle, often quoted by educators, would likely observe it and opine, it’s not their fault!    

i.      This is a case of deductive vs inductive reasoning:  inferior inductive reasoning moves from specific instances into a generalized conclusion, while superior deductive reasoning moves from generalized principles that are known to be true, to a true and specific conclusion.  In the case of education, inductive reasoning looks at students struggling to learn and decides there is something wrong with them rather than the education process; deductive reasoning believes students can be effectively taught and looks to figure out a way to accomplish this through the educational process.  This is practiced by countries out educating us.

j.      This superior level of thinking is desperately needed to fix Iowa’s failed public schools, for medical researchers to determine the causes and effective treatments for dread diseases—and for politicians to fix the messes they have created as well.



They are lifetime victims of them.

Anyone claiming to have better numbers is asked to provide them.


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