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.

Government barriers to home reading programs include rigid, standardized lesson plans, reading lists and book fair books, which give power to publishing titans for the design of plans for the median student that fail the other half of our children and harm publishing competition.

Government sets up agencies to insulate itself and allow its members, agencies and associations to prosper. Government barriers to home reading programs include support for long-standing, monopolistic book fair books and reading lists from large businesses to support the typical, under-performing student. Parents often have very little choice against this commercial influence on education. Few parents can choose the learning environment that is the best fit for their children's aptitudes and learning styles. Charter authorization, vouchers, education tax credits or the ability to pay for private schools are not within reach of everyone. Parents must go out of their way to find creative books that interest and connect children to the world outside the government sanctioned system of mass standardization. Consumer welfare is harmed by this merger of big government and big business that controls labor, goods and services in our schools.

Many parents trust “The System” to know what is best. These parents are comfortable with the creation of compliant cogs for the political regime. These parents prioritize economic growth and skilled workers over critical thinking skills. They are comfortable with a top-down approach to education and the perceived efficiencies of large scale. Government barriers and standards are not designed to cultivate creativity or intellectual capacity. This abuse of market power is effectively squeezing out other suppliers. Standards influence what most parents are purchasing for home reading programs. Rarely, will these parents try something new to develop an independent voice and critical thinking in their children. They often end up buying standardized books, recommended on standardized reading lists and endorsed by the standardized education system to support standardized lesson plans in preparation for standardized tests. Financial incentives, such as subsidized book fair books for the schools, may be viewed as acts of collusion between big government and big business that strengthen mass standardization.

Government barriers to home reading programs may include the creation of deliberate obstacles to independent books. An example of this may be a requirement for two professional reviews performed by companies that only review traditionally published materials. Independently published authors may be conveniently excluded by this standardized system of reading lists and book fair books. The top-down, rigid age-based structure set in place by The Department of Public Education works against independent work and study in the classroom. The power of large companies is apparent in our schools. Government makes them all the more profitable. Many schools in impoverished urban centers operate like prisons, with police as guards and controllers. Proposals are being considered to arm teachers in schools that are short on school supplies, modern technology and individual attention. The commutes to these institutions may be long, resulting in less home study time. Often, there is no homework requirement at all.

There exists a one-size-per-age limitation on book fair books and other books on reading lists. This delivers a humbling standardization meltdown, without merit or functionality. Parents know their children better than does the bureaucracy. They make informed choices about their children's health, diet and religion. These parents often find limits placed on their ability to participate in school activities or influence operations. Government barriers often discourage choice of schools. Restrictions may be placed on parental access to books or home reading programs that are considered “above their children's age level”, or with which students cannot prepare for standardized tests. Standardize assignments and may not be up to recent standards. A recent analysis by The Education Trust of 5 traditional middle schools and one K-8 school found classroom assignments were largely irrelevant to students' needs, failed to challenge critical thought and were below established education standards, particularly for high-poverty student populations.

Government imposes barriers on advanced vocabulary in independent books. This may keep these books from gifted students' hands in the standardized classroom. The goal is to improve test scores and lower dropout rates of poor and minority children. Affluent 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 sustain outside interests. Parents of children in public schools may be discouraged from buying anything but book fair books. These parents may feel compelled to buy books on age-based reading lists for at home reading programs. Independent books are not likely to be on these lists. Few independent books have been subjected to age-tested standardization. Independent books cannot be used to prepare for standardized tests. Since independent books may not be included among book fair books, they may not be found by parents or students. The government is a dominant buyer and promoter of book fair books and reading lists.

Increasingly, children “hate” to read. Book standardization may contribute to the commercial success of some in-house authors. However, many of the book fair books and those approved on reading lists for use in public schools and libraries are computer-generated with algorithms. The results are often flat, boring and awkward. These books typically are designed to have key words present in the desired frequencies and quantities for the targeted age group. Reading appears to have become an inflexible drill for standardized tests. Schools are hypnotized by big data. They have merged with big business to concentrate power. Books and structures for at home reading programs should offer interesting and fun reading practice and enrichment. Books for home reading programs should motivate and empower literacy, numeracy and critical thinking. Parents and students need to awaken from the risks of government barriers to independent study and learning. Under pressure to raise graduation rates, educators are turning a blind eye to disqualifying absenteeism and forcing out unqualified students to boost their reputations.

Learning must be spontaneous and willingly adopted. Thanks to government barriers, restrictions, standardization or coercion, learning may not be taking place. How can we expect children who read uncreative, standardized work to become creative and motivated thinkers? Book fair books and those on reading lists are prepared by big business and big government to support the age-based preparation of students for standardized tests. Parents and educators may help struggling, average and gifted students with at home reading programs that offer new ideas and new books. Instead, the dominance of a single supplier is weakening the competition and increasing reliance on a merged system. Parents should have the ability to end educational programs that are not working and experiment with alternatives. Instead, parents are increasingly subjected to a regulatory state with stagnant learning outcomes for the education of their children. Students may not be encouraged to make inquiries or investigate current issues of importance to their futures. The government is assumed to wield the yardstick for low pricing and efficiency of scale. Skeptics are questioning the academic shortcomings of this system.

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 with which to enrich at home reading programs. 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 standardized public education system and placing them in private schools or homeschooling them. Independent books with original ideas are widely available for home reading programs. However, these creative writers rarely are able break through the standardized system of reading lists, book fair books and other government barriers to independent book selection. Reliance of the education system on dominant publishing suppliers is growing. Schools that take tax dollars are subject to bureaucratic oversight. The regulatory state of politicians, policy makers and the education establishment now seems to override parental choice in the supply of labor, goods and services.

A mastery-based approach is being tested in a small number of schools across the country. Although these schools may allow students to advance in skill level, they adhere to the government barriers of book fair books and other books on approved reading lists. Individualized programs may be helping gifted, average and under-performing students advance at these schools. These students are able to prove knowledge and understanding of current course content through the independent completion of standardized worksheets, discussions, coursework, internships and testing. Improved outcomes may be attributed to the improved engagement and increase in confidence that accompany a better match of curricula to students' personal strengths and weaknesses. However, few students may be truly engaged or broadening their intellectual capacity. “Superstar” suppliers created with government support may be contributing to this apathy and discouraging parental efforts to design independent home reading programs.

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 such government barriers and abuse of market power.

The government barriers of standardized education bind students and teachers to a strict lesson plan. It is built of standardized coursework, reading lists, book fair books and standardized tests. Outside thinking in home reading programs seems to be discouraged by the strict structure, policy and the protocol of mass standardization. The failure of education may be due to an intellectual free-fall of politically correct book fair 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 standardization morass. It is hard to build an independent at home reading program in support of a closed standardized 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.

A return to the independent 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 hampered by the government barriers that come with an insistence upon standardized reading lists and book fair books. Unless we continue to improve learning in at home reading programs, we risk favoring state collusion with business, for an accompanying loss of 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 tend to focus on manufacturers, shipping companies and banking institutions, drawing little antitrust attention to the education branch of government. Sufficient concern must be raised by parents to prompt the Federal Trade Commission to look into the share of of revenue earned by dominant suppliers for the academic system's mass standardization. Standardized reading done in preparation for standardized tests may be cheating smaller rivals and creating universal mindsets.

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, and avoid summer school. Full credit may be obtained 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 about book fair books, reading lists and standardization to prompt positive change.

The rigid adherence to 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. The public school system may be artificially inflating graduation rates with programs for credit recovery and alternative tests with online multiple choice options. Students are merely learning to answer specific questions. Free-thinking does not develop with nominal education accomplishments based on books on reading lists, book fair books and boring reading drills. This may be convenient for the education bureaucracy, but it does not foster communications or connect students with what is happening in their world. As dominant players grow stronger, marketplace lethargy 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.