"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Friday, September 09, 2005

Carnine the Great

From Bush campaign advisor, to presidential appointee for literacy projects, to final judge on matters of “reading science,” to author and marketer of literacy materials, to Board member on most conservative education reform groups, Doug Carnine has remained a loyal disciple of Siegfried E. Engelmann, the 1960s founder and prophet of Direct Instruction, the scripted literacy and behavior management program that has been revived by Carnine the Great as the solution to current learning problems in poverty-riddled neighborhoods.

Ignoring poverty as the primary contributor to learning deficiencies among the poor, direct instruction (DI) focuses, rather, on memorizing and drill, regimentation and repetition, as ways to bring about academic and social order among the poor. In short, more repression becomes the remedy for an absence of dignity and autonomy, those human needs that are reserved for those who can afford them. In the meantime, of course, the profession of teaching is reduced to memorizing a script, rather than planning meaningful learning experiences for children.

The dream among the followers of the Carnine the Great, including Bush’s team of cronies at ED, is an urban utopia where dark-skinned uniformed children sit with arms folded in neat rows, repeat what is said to them, stand up and sit down when ordered, and march off at the end of their schooling with an ability to follow the script for whatever dead end job is offered them.

Please do have a look at some of the video clips available at one of Carnine’s commercial "non-profit" ventures, Association for Direct Instruction. Count the number of white children you see in these clips. I wish that I were making this up.

As you might have expected, Carnine has published the university texts for DI Reading and DI Math; and, staying true to expectations, McGraw-Hill is a leader in marketing DI materials for schools in urban areas, where educators, in a buy or die mode, are desperate to meet the impossible AYP demands and to do whatever the research tells them works.

Remember who determines what good research is? Scientifically based on Carnine's narrow definition of science, of course.


  1. Anonymous2:39 PM

    At an orientation for substitute teachers this morning, the assistant superintendant of schools in Ocean Township, N.J., stated that 20% or 1 out of 5 children have reading disabilities and are in special education. I was quite shocked at that number.

    Checking statistics on various web sites, I found articles that confirmed 20% of students have reading or learning disabilities and about 5 to 7 percent are the result of dyslexia, which he stated was a growing problem in students.

    At the Philosophy of Education Society (PES) conference that I attended in San Francisco last year, I met a professor of education from SUNY Binghamton, NY, who asked whether teachers, future teachers, have a moral and ethical responsibility to address the environmental causes of reading and learning disabilities and whether or not this is even on the radar screen in terms of the burgeoning growth in special ed.

    Some further poking around on this issue reveals articles from the scientific and medical community that links reading and learning disabilities among poor students to enivronmental issues such as lead poisioning, exposure to toxic chemicals, not to mention other, more lethal causes such as fetal alchohol syndrome or drug related issues among the nation's poor and minority communities.

    Just another angle on the sad and tragic realities of being born into the wrong family and starting life behind the 8 ball.

    The link between a poisonous environment and special ed is worth noting because for many of the kids from these poor, impoverished communities, it is more than just financial poverty. Many of them have been poisoned before they enter the world or they are being poisoned from the minute they enter this world -- leaving it up to the special ed teachers to make sure they "pass the test."

    Testing,DI or any other strategy isn't going to fix the irreversible damage inflicted on the brains of these children.

    In addition to poverty, the environmental destruction is also wreaking havoc on the nation's children as well.


  2. Anonymous8:33 PM

    It is painful to watch these videos of kindergarten children forced to follow such punitive directions.

    There is no recognition of them as unique individuals with feelings or opinions or any attempt to connect to prior experiences. Nothing these children bring to school with them is deemed of value. The teacher in the clips even states that she does not assume they know anything; she instructs them in every movement and thought, even how to turn a corner while walking in line.

    I'm sure some of them just shut down or just loose it. I know I would. I wounder what happens to those children. Perhaps they keep those children in a cage in basement, far away from the camera. :-)

  3. Anonymous10:38 PM

    The Harold O. Rugg curriculum for geography/science:

    Locate, identify and analyze the toxic waste sites in your school yard.

  4. Anonymous2:48 PM

    Goodness...it's terrifying to see the dark side at work here. Amazing and disturbing to see this kind of crap tossed around. Tell the kindergarten student reading at a second grade level that direct instruction is designed to keep him down...I dare you. People like you are the reason that student's parents never learned to read. Asshole.

  5. Anonymous2:42 PM

    In this state studies of the third grade classes determine how many improvements to the prison systems are needed to meet future prison requirements. From what I understand, DI was being used in the schools when this study was done. I wrote to Two congressmen, a Senator, the local administration, the Virginia School Administrators, the county school administrators, First Lady Laura Bush and many other school officials for help for our schools. ALL OF THEM PASSED THE BUCK OF RESPONSIBILITY TO THE LOCAL SCHOOL BOARD AS BEING RESPONSIBLE FOR THE EDUCATION OF OUR CHILDREN. The local school board was responsible for DI being used in the first place.
    Six (maybe more)years of DI failed to bring the students up to grade (no certification for the school). One year (the year after ALL the forth grade teaches quit) the new teachers cheated and when the principal was out of the building, the teachers taught as they should teach. The school gained accreditation this year. The teacher could not stomach the way the children were being taught and all but a few quit that year. The next year DI was again taught. This time by new-to-the-profession teachers. Again there was no certification. DI, from what I have been told, was dropped from the mode of teaching. To me it was as if the prison system needed the poor grades to justify building more prisons in this area. Oh yes, did I mention I believe the prisons here are private enterprises?
    If I were a parent of a child taught by DI and my child ended up in prison, I'd sue the school system for everything I could get out of it. DI is justified in use because the children are judged as special ed children. Special ed justification comes when children live in poverty areas and are considered "at risk". Poverty, or "at risk" comes because the children are not educated to their needs to compete in today's society. Hence Special Ed = DI = Poor Education = Poverty = Special Ed = = Di .... anyone see a pattern developing here? And the people responsible are getting off Scott free.