Alexander Dolitsky: For American schools to succeed, they need this one key ingredient - Must Read Alaska
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Alexander Dolitsky: For American schools to succeed, they need this one key ingredient

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By ALEXANDER DOLITSKY

Education and knowledge translates into power. Education does not parallel economics or politics, but is the soul of the society, and more fundamental than these others. Education determines people’s moral values, appearance, eating habits, the role of citizens; it shapes behavioral and subsistence strategies.

Today, unfortunately, there are several weak areas in the primary and secondary education system in the United States and in Alaska in particular: the absence of a unified methodology for teaching, a lack of consistency in school policies, a weak academic curriculum (compared to other technologically advanced countries), and an often– unsavory school environment.

In addition, some researchers suggest that the U.S. educational crisis is more social than academic, including a remarkable indoctrination of our youth in the divisive “white privilege” and “critical race” doctrines, the 1619 Project and “gender identity” theory.

While some educational experts recommend American schools adopt aspects of our Asian and West European counterparts—longer school year and more rigorous  requirements—in order to raise the scholastic level of U.S. students, other researchers indicate that recently immigrated children of Asian, European and Russian origin are able to excel in the American school system as it exists.

Despite hardships and limited knowledge of English and western cultural values, these children quickly adapt to their new school environments and rapidly excel within the first few years of schooling. 

In the late 1990s, the California Achievement Test (CAT), for example, demonstrated that the performance of newly arrived students was exceptional. Their mean overall score on the CAT was in the 54th percentile, placing them just above the national average. Evidently, the lowest scores were found in the language and reading test, not a surprising  as English was their second language. In this case, the mean score was slightly below the national average.

How can we explain the remarkable performance of newly arrived immigrants in a foreign social and economic environment? What social stimulus forces newly arrived immigrants to perform better in school than those who have lived in this country for three or four generations?

It appears some factors were parental encouragement, dedication to learning, family pride in educational excellence, a clear realization that education is the most important “instrument” for success in the highly competitive American society, collective consciousness among members of the nuclear family and most importantly, sustaining conservative moral values in the family.

Studies showed that conservative moral values play an important role in the educational achievement of children. In my 18 years of teaching at the Alyeska Central School (a former correspondence school affiliated with the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development), my best and most outstanding students were from conservative, religious, and traditional families.

On the national level, among Southeast Asians, for example, the Confucian and Buddhist code of behavior (harmonious relationships between parents and children, subjects and rulers, men and women, rich and poor) is a main source of motivation and direction in their life. The family is the central institution in these ethnic groups, where achievement and knowledge are admired and encouraged. 

Nowhere is the family’s commitment to education more evident than in time spent on homework. During high school, Indochinese students spend an average of three hours per day; in junior high, an average of 2.5 hours; and in grade school, an average of 2 hours per day.

Research in the U.S. shows that American students study at home about 1.5 hours per day at the junior and senior high school levels. Studies also found that parents who attributed greater importance to fun and excitement than to education had children who achieved lower grade point averages: 2.90 as opposed to 3.14.

The result for children of parents who valued material possessions more highly than education were similar: GPAs were 2.66 versus 3.19. 

It is essential to remember that school is not an entertainment center, but an institution where teachers share their knowledge with students in the most harmonious, professional and effective way. A teacher is the fundamental “instrument” of education. No brilliant policy, effective administration or sophisticated technology will ever replace the harmony of teacher–student relationships.

If we want to deal effectively with the crises in America and Alaska education, we must address the problem of professional educators who serve as frontline social activists for radical political groups that seek to indoctrinate and brainwash our youth in neo-Marxist ideology—such as today’s popular and divisive “white privilege” and “critical race” doctrines.

Social engineering to create a new identity by imploring radical socialist ideology in our school system does not work, as well as meaningless concepts in education, such as “gender identity,” “white privilege” and “critical race” doctrines or “critical thinking”— if thinking is not critical, then it is not thinking. 

My mother was an outstanding primary/elementary school teacher for 32 years. She taught basic and fundamental skills to her students; and none of these bumper–sticker nonsense. If our teachers just do that, we would be in a much better place in our education system today. 

For American schools to succeed, parents, families and communities must become more committed to the basic education of their children. Families, especially, must create within the home an environment conducive to learning by participating in the process so that their children feel comfortable learning, and then go to school willing and prepared to study. 

On the other side, schools must reach out to the families and engage them meaningfully in the education of their children—identifying cultural and moral values and educational methods for success that might enhance students’ scholastic achievement. Schools must empower families by directly involving them in the educational process, providing support and training to parents when necessary.

Unconventional means of schooling such as correspondence studies with emphasis on home schooling should continue to be applied effectively in Alaska as a viable and family–controlled educational system that provides students with excellent instruction, a safe study environment and parental involvement that is critical key to children’s educational success.

Here is the bottom line: Place a student from a home that values education in a class with an impartial teacher who loves and proficient in his/her subject and enjoys teaching, and learning takes place. Everything else is a “window dressing.”

Parents, especially rational and conservative parents, get out of your closets, be courageous and make your voice heard. This “gender identity,” “critical race” and “white privilege” madness is not going away by itself. Teachers who advocate neo-Marxist ideology in the classrooms must be challenged by YOU!! 

Alexander B. Dolitsky was born and raised in Kiev in the former Soviet Union. He received an M.A. in history from Kiev Pedagogical Institute, Ukraine, in 1976; an M.A. in anthropology and archaeology from Brown University in 1983; and was enroled in the Ph.D. program in Anthropology at Bryn Mawr College from 1983 to 1985, where he was also a lecturer in the Russian Center. In the U.S.S.R., he was a social studies teacher for three years, and an archaeologist for five years for the Ukranian Academy of Sciences. In 1978, he settled in the United States. Dolitsky visited Alaska for the first time in 1981, while conducting field research for graduate school at Brown. He lived first in Sitka in 1985 and then settled in Juneau in 1986. From 1985 to 1987, he was a U.S. Forest Service archaeologist and social scientist. He was an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Russian Studies at the University of Alaska Southeast from 1985 to 1999; Social Studies Instructor at the Alyeska Central School, Alaska Department of Education from 1988 to 2006; and has been the Director of the Alaska-Siberia Research Center (see www.aksrc.homestead.com) from 1990 to present. He has conducted about 30 field studies in various areas of the former Soviet Union (including Siberia), Central Asia, South America, Eastern Europe and the United States (including Alaska). Dolitsky has been a lecturer on the World Discoverer, Spirit of Oceanus, andClipper Odyssey vessels in the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions. He was the Project Manager for the WWII Alaska-Siberia Lend Lease Memorial, which was erected in Fairbanks in 2006. He has published extensively in the fields of anthropology, history, archaeology, and ethnography. His more recent publications include Fairy Tales and Myths of the Bering Strait Chukchi, Ancient Tales of Kamchatka; Tales and Legends of the Yupik Eskimos of Siberia; Old Russia in Modern America: Russian Old Believers in Alaska; Allies in Wartime: The Alaska-Siberia Airway During WWII; Spirit of the Siberian Tiger: Folktales of the Russian Far East; Living Wisdom of the Far North: Tales and Legends from Chukotka and Alaska; Pipeline to Russia; The Alaska-Siberia Air Route in WWII; and Old Russia in Modern America: Living Traditions of the Russian Old Believers; Ancient Tales of Chukotka, and Ancient Tales of Kamchatka.

Read: Neo-Marxism and utopian Socialism in America

Read: Old believers preserving faith in the New World

Read: Duke Ellington and the effects of Cold War in Soviet Union on intellectual curiosity

Read: United we stand, divided we fall with race, ethnicity in America

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  • What helped in my family is living in a small town with a good library. Also, a teacher took intense interest in me personally from pre-achool to high school. Helped me with my diction gave me speech therapy and inserted herself into my scholastic efforts along with summer reading programs. This is unheard of today. My experience though atypical yielded results and I have been helpful on a few occasions helping others. Plan on having tutoring all the way through for best results.

  • Excellent post Mr. Dolitsky. For too long parents have been uninvolved in the academic going’s on with their children’s education. Being disconnected has allowed these Marxist teachers to fill your kids heads with ideas that often bring strife at home in the junior high and high school years. And that strife often creates a division between the parent and young adult relationship which often continues into their adulthood. Kids are brought up under family values only to have schools and teachers brainwashing them against those values. If what is going on right now in our schools and in our country isn’t a call to action for conservatives, I don’t know what it would take.

    • Well versed Mr. Dolitsky.
      At a very young age my mother instilled in me the value of education. At a very young age grasped how important it was, and is today the importance to gain wisdom & knowledge.
      .
      At a young age didn’t realize I was dyslexic until my in my adulthood years. I read for hours upon hours until I comprehended what was before me for an exam. I’m sure one would read much less then I and ace the exam.
      .
      Yes, it started at home. It bled to my teachers in my lifetime. Not only home, but it took my teachers who cared for my education to press on. I am ever so grateful for those who took the time to teach this one something.

  • I also found children born and raised outside America are given less toys than American parents. Because of the wealth, it enables parents to invest more on their children’s entertainment interests than their child’s education interests. American children have more toys, video games, and movies than they have books on the bookshelf. Even if a child is given books, parents arent giving quality juvenile literature, that what type of book the child gravitates to isn’t quality, that the book will do very little for brain development since its primary mission is for entertainment value.

  • Why are sports more heavily subsidized rather than core academic subjects, i.e. reading, writing, research, analysis, etc?
    Studying, analyzing and comprehending world history (not just the glorified America-first version) is a must as well.
    Critical thinking and open mindedness are the objectives!
    Staying off social networks is also a helpful policy.

    • Catherine, “Not just glorified America-first version”. If you deny America’s greatness, why are you here? Just so you can mooch off the freedom that hundreds of thousands of men who spilled their blood for. You and the like-minded ilk are rotten apples in a basket of greatness and you should be thrown in the dump with the rest of the rot. You are obviously a victim of your lack of education and the valedictorian of your indoctrination.

      • Brian, do you think that America has reached its greatest greatness? If we don’t acknowledge that we are not perfect, we will never be able to fix the problems we now have and the ones that will visit us in the future. Reading, studying, analyzing, and thinking critically are ways to make our country “more perfect” (sic).
        Your comment shows you do not understand this. You are obviously a victim of your lack of education and the valedictorian of your indoctrination.

        • The biggest problem the US has is leftists like you.

        • How original Homo Erection Dysfunction to use my line and though I am wrongfully targeted factually, I will take that as a compliment that you couldn’t come up with anything better.
          .
          The problem with Marxist is they attempt to destroy everything good by picking at scabs of failure or shortcomings and then try to convince anyone who will listen that the entire body must be destroyed.
          .
          Of all the nations that exist today, none have a perfect humanitarian history. But what makes this Country great is it’s a foundation in freedom. The founding fathers constructed the Constitution to limit government’s power, not limit people’s freedoms.
          .
          Alexis de Tocqueville traveled from France in 1831 to see for himself what made America Great. “I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers—and it was not there . . . in her fertile fields and boundless forests—and it was not there . . . in her rich mines and her vast world commerce—and it was not there . . . in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution—and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.“
          .
          The noble idea of America was great and still can be if we quit demonizing the whole of the nation for mistakes made in the past, stop trying to throw out the historical good with the bad, and become a moral, God- fearing people again.
          .
          Preserving spirit of this Country is no different than that of a sports team. If you continually tell that team they are worthless and that the mistakes they made in the last game can never be forgiven, that team will never be competitive to make a championship. And that seems to be the tactic of the left. But to make it worse, they lie about history and use blame as a weapon of division. The success of this tactic is completely reliant on an uneducated population who don’t know the facts of history and are easily manipulated. A factual history of greatness has been replaced by a lies of white supremacy and exaggerated stories of slavery and racial bigotry. No matter the thousands or tens of thousands of great things we have done in this country, an evil force will never let slavery die.
          .
          Homo Erection Dysfunction, you would be highly entertaining as a king’s fool if the matter at hand wasn’t so serious. Drop your bias, open you mind and educate yourself if you are able to humble yourself. I suggest starting with 5000 Year Leap-The Miracle that Changed The World.

  • Your article is spot on! Even though there are a few exceptions to students from broken homes succeeding, the vast majority that have some religious, solid morals and support at home will be more successful. The best teachers are those that follow good standards and encourage higher standards for their students. Don’t lower the bar or water down the system.

  • Want schools to succeed? Simple.

    Conservative parents need to get off their asses and get involved at every level from classroom volunteering to running for school board.

    The tired old excuse of “I’m too busy working” is exactly what got us here

  • HEAR, HEAR! Short and to the point of the problem. Evil works in the shadows and behind your back.

    • Short and to the point denies that there is more to things than meets the eye. Be wary when you turn around.

  • Prof Dolitsky, I must respectfully take exception to your main point. You say, “Today, unfortunately, there are several weak areas in the primary and secondary education system in the United States and in Alaska in particular: the absence of a unified methodology for teaching, a lack of consistency in school policies, a weak academic curriculum (compared to other technologically advanced countries), and an often– unsavory school environment).”
    .
    Your use of the terms, “unified methodology” and “consistency in school policies” implies a collectivist, centrally-controlled ideology should be applied On the contrary, I believe education should be delivered via a competitive, free-market environment system. Read “Free to Choose” by Friedmann; the market will assure the best service will rise to the top; the worst service will be eliminated. Nothing has provided greater benefit and improvement to all aspects of human culture than competitive free-markets. The best way to achieve such a desirable educational environment in our current system is described in one word: vouchers.

    • To Wayne Coogan: I agree with your statement. I also support school choices and, to some degree, vouchers. “Unified methodology” means the methods of teaching based on pedagogical principles. It is not an ideological term. Consistency of school policies are essential for an effectiveness of the school district environment. As you know, often school policies and programs change, with an arrival of a new school administration–or every 3 to 6 years. Thank you for your insightful comment.

    • I would recommend reading Alfie Kohn’s “The Schools Our Children Deserve” as a good place to start.

  • The problem with our schools is that the education system in the United States has become a Federal “jobs program” for low achieving adults. Everything from school start times, curriculum and, yes Covid policy, has the heavy hand of the teacher’s union on it. Most teacher’s are only in the profession for the money & benefits. If we want better results it is imperative that we have school choice free from the caustic influence of teacher’s unions.

    • And free from the political machinations of elected school boards.

      • Bear in mind that those school boards are almost entirely the chattel property of the teachers’ unions.

    • Fishing, Pure truth in that statement.

  • This guy should be in charge of public schools. Why is he not?

  • Thank you Alexander Dolitsky for your insightful perspectives and support of ethical family value parental engagement in education versus the amoral influence of the run amok union and mean spirited WOKE movements. Another foreign born writer, Nassim Taleb (SKIN IN THE GAME) mirror’s your key perspective that citizen engagement in a republic’s governance is critical to preserving a moral society. Kudos to parents that actively support and encourage family values in their children’s educational development!

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