This blog is a tribute and memorial to the life of my dear friend, O. Jerome (Jed) Brown. The writings posted here are the articles that he published in his newsletter, The Traditional Educator. His theme was the art of teaching versus psychological conditioning, the nobility of the former and the wanton destructiveness of the latter.

Jed campaigned for the office of the Superintendent for Public Instruction in the State of Washington in 1992 and 1996. His platform was to return public education back to the traditional knowledge-based disciplines of learning; to save our school system, teachers, children, families and scociety from the disaster of the "education reform" mandated by HB 1209, our state's version of outcome based education.

In 1993 Jed led a group of concerned parents and teachers in an effort to repeal HB 1209. Had Referendum 47 succeeded, the disastrous WASL test requirement would never have seen the light of day.

In 1995 Jed researched, wrote and co-produced a 4-part video series, "The People vs The Educational Confederacy: Educational Restructuring on Trial" with Katie Levans of Tacoma, WA. If you want to know who is responsible for "education reform," this 2-hour video production lays it all out.

On September 6, 2009 Jed Brown passed away.

Please join me in "Remembering Jed."

1994 Maltby Meeting

Cursor down to the bottom of the page for six video clips of Jed's remarks addressing Education Reform legislation, Outcome-based Education, Behavioral Conditioning and Curriculum.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Total Quality Madness

by O. Jerome (Jed) Brown
February, 1994

(Article  from Squibs of Practical Wisdom published by The Phronesis Group, Jed Brown, President)

In true Frankensteinian fashion, the social engineers who are at work in our schools have hatched a most diabolical plan to produce “Zero-defect” children and adults for the 21st Century.  Like the mad scientist who pieced together the monster, these self-deified Orwellian masters have found a way to create an endless supply of robotic automatons for a utopian world that will serve their economic lusts.  The method, the brother of Outcome-based Education (OBE), is TOTAL QUALITY MANAGEMENT (TQM).  So, what is Total Quality Management?  What are the dangers of implementing TQM in education?

Developed from the theories of Edward Demming, Walter Shewhart and Elton Mayo, Total Quality Management (TQM) is a business philosophy founded on the ideas of product quality and customer satisfaction.  According to the Federal Total Quality Management Handbook, “Total Quality control may be defined as: An effective system for integrating the quality-development, quality maintenance, and quality-improvement efforts of the various groups in an organization. . . for full customer satisfaction.” (Appendix A)

Beyond establishing the concept of quality as the first priority of an organization, TQM redefines the word “quality”.  The federal handbook for Total Quality Management goes further to state, “In the phrase “quality control,” the word 'quality' does not have the popular meaning of 'best' in any absolute sense.”  Thus, with TQM, 'quality' is no longer an absolute based upon perfection.  Total Quality Management asserts that quality is not relative, defined only by what the customer wants.

TQM corporations, to maximize profits, must tailor their products or services to the needs of their customers.  Edward Sallis, in Total Quality Management in Education states, “Staying ahead of the competition requires organizations to seek out their customers' requirements and then to be single-minded in the way they organize to meet and exceed them.” (p. 17)   Sallis drives the point home stating that “Quality must be matched to the expectations and requirements of the customers. . . “ (p. 39)  With TQM, customers are the final authorities of quality.

Total Quality Management is more extreme than the old adage that 'the customer is always right.'  “TQM is a process for changing the organizational culture by constantly and radically re-assessing an organization's ability to meet the requirements of all its staff and customers.” (NZQA, Fed. 93, p. 16)  Sallis agrees that the essence of TQM is cultural change.  “TQM is about creating a quality culture where the aim of every member of staff is to delight they customers. . . In the total quality definition of quality the customer is sovereign.” (p. 26)

Given a traditional mind-set that children and parents are the customers of education, who could argue with the language of TQM?  In the traditional view, schools should indeed be responsive to customer needs, doing for the children that which parents expect and want.  Like OBE, the language of Total Quality Management presents an attractive picture, but, like OBE, there is a darker side.  This TQM, children and parents are no longer considered the customers of education.

A Total Quality Management school does not recognize traditional definitions.  Instead, TQM redefines the players in education, giving each a new role.  It is the assigning of these new roles to the participants that is at the heart of the 'cultural change' taking place in our schools.  According to the TQM view, the customer of schools becomes corporate business.  Schools are actually thought to be the service providers or suppliers to business.  Children and parents are looked upon as mere clients.

The key to understanding the “cultural change” imposed by TQM is to first understand the change that has already occurred in the public' s perception of the purpose of education.  Throughout the history of the United States, in fact, since the time of Aristotle, the purpose of education has been two-fold: to learn the proper use of language and to discipline, or train, the mind.  To discipline the mind may be defined as training that corrects, molds or perfects the mental faculties or moral character of the individual.

The training of the find is accomplished by the study of knowledge.  Knowledge is orderly.  Thus, knowledge is broken into different broad fields, or disciplines, such as science and mathematics.  Each discipline is further subdivided into various subjects like algebra, geometry and biology.  Within each subject area there is a collection of facts and theories.  As the child studies the facts and theories of a subject, he not only begins to understand the world, but also develops a disciplined mind to become a truly life-long learner.

The facts and theories that are gleaned from the study of the different fields of knowledge are the seeds of thought, but the crop to be harvested is the disciplined mind.  Academic freedom is, therefore, preserved in the individual min that is honed to a disciplined edge by logical study, and thus, free to accept or reject knowledge as it is presented.  It is the orderly and disciplined study of language and of knowledge that results in a self-controlled, thinking individual , the true measure of an education.

Unfortunately, over the past thirty years, our current reformers and their predecessors have succeeded in redefining the purpose of education.  The purpose of education has become that of mere vocational training.  In our materialistic society, people have been conditioned to think of education only in terms of the job the child will be able to secure upon completion of the schooling process.  To use employability as the only criteria of a quality education is destructive not only to children, but also the the schooling process and to the larger society.

While not one should diminish the importance of employment in present-day society, this anti-intellectual view of education has allowed those who proselytized the TQM/OBE reforms to pervert education.  In the name of global competition, the reformers show their ignorance of education, desiring to throw out the traditional subjects and disciplines .  They argue that the traditional form of education only teaches facts.  It is further argued that there are now too many facts to learn, and therefore, schools must change.

Corporate business, with their SCANS reports, OBE and TQM, will change our schools.  Total Quality Management is even now creating the new culture in our schools, one that will meet only the needs of the corporation.  No longer is the individual, the child, the beneficiary of education.  Man must give station to the corporation, as the corporate mind-set breeds contempt for the individual.  The child be damned, these corporate consumers, in league with the great reformers, will establish the quality standard and TQM will assure that the standard is met.

Thus, as human-resource units to be used by corporate business, children are dehumanized, becoming only the product of a conditioning process.  The TQM, the children and their parents are thought to be “clients”.  A client is a person who engages the professional advice or services of another, or a person utilizing the services of a social agency.  It is, nonetheless, crucial to realize that a “client” always has flaws.  It is a problem or something that is wrong that drives the client to a professional (doctor/lawyer) or an agency (welfare/unemployment) for help.  The “client” or the client's life, always needs to be fixed.

The idea that children are, at best, flawed clients or, at worst, human resource units, brings to light many disturbing aspects of the Total Quality Management culture of schools.  According to the experts, TQM reduces what are known as internal failure costs.  These costs are “caused by defective and nonconforming materials and products that do not meet company quality specifications.  These are scrap, rework, and spoilage.”  (Federal TQM Handbook Appendix 1A)  It is appalling that these classifications are to be applied to children.

There is a dangerous parallel between Total Quality Management and Outcome-based Education.  Is it only a coincidence that OBE remediation matches perfectly with the concept of “rework” in TQ
The Federal Handbook goes further to state, “An important feature of a total quality program is that it controls quality at the source.”  What is the source of the flawed children that enter our schools?  Flawed parents and flawed families.  In terms of Total Quality Management it becomes easy to understand other aspects of education reform.  The Parents as Teachers (PAT) Program from Missouri and the Washington Health Family Home Visitor Program are indeed TQM programs to control the quality at the source.

With the new “corporate” culture firmly in place in our schools, Total Quality Management (TQM) poisons not only the education system, but also families.  TQM reduces educators and parents to nothing more than workers on an assembly line, mass producing interchangeable human resource units to be installed in the work force.  Like toasters and widgets, children, now considered human capital, must meet the customers' standards.  Parents and teachers must give up the pursuit of excellence as measured by perfection on an intellectual standard.  Instead, human resources units will measure to the corporate standard.

Because the object is to eliminate defects, Total Quality Management also requires the continuous assessment of product quality.  Given the supposition that children are these flawed little human-resource units from dis-functional families, it is necessary to continually assess the degree to which the child varies from the standards.  Further, TQM, trying to control defects at the source, requires the use of invasive assessments of families.  Whereas before children were measured on their intellectual and academic abilities, under TQM the new assessment system will measure how well the human resource units and their families conform to the new cookie-cutter corporate mold.

To assure that schools do not stray from the imposed mass-production standards, Total Quality Management adds the element of “shared decision-making” through teams.  Individual decision making is disallowed, as team members must for a consensus before action is taken.  It is said that the team framework is for the purpose of allowing valuable input form the workers, ie. involvement.  Nevertheless, as the deception is unmasked, the use of teams becomes something quite different.  Using the Delphi Method, the team approach is used to establish “Group Think”, a specious consensus that kills individual initiative and keeps the workers in the corporate mindset.

As an added insurance policy, there is now a proliferation of school-business partnerships .  Because “delighting the customers” is the only concern, TQM requires that schools establish and maintain a close relationship with corporate business.  “The perceptions and expectations of customers are recognized as being short-term and fickle, and so organizations have to find ways of keeping close to their customers to be able to respond to their changing tastes, needs, and wants.” (Sallis, p. 27)  Having school-business partnerships, school personnel become the overseers and corporations become the overlords of education.  The customer rules.

As our society approaches the 21st Century, our schools, and by extension, our children and our families are being given over to a politico/industrial complex.  Total Quality Management, combined with Outcome-based Education, fulfill an agenda of iron-fisted cocntrol in a velvet glove.  The entire concept and those who would be a part of its implementation are truly insane.  These new slave masters of the 21st Century have indeed become drunk with greed and avarice.  They have gone mad! 

Total Quality Management is without question TOTAL QUALITY MADNESS!