Mr. C.S. found this article and shared it, and when I read it, I was(and remain) both appalled, stunned, and not surprised. Americans, especially in that laboratory-hothouse of "progressivism" known as California, are ... well... just plain stupid. No, we are not talking about "lacking in certain areas" or "needing improvement" in other areas. We are talking concrete blockhead stupid. Consider the following article and the frightening statistics it contains:
Better yet, let me simply cite it for you:
- According to the 2007 California Academic Performance Index, research show that 57% of students failed the California Standards Test in English.
- There are six million students in the California school system and 25% of those students are unable to perform basic reading skills
- There is a correlation between illiteracy and income at least in individual economic terms, in that literacy has payoffs and is a worthwhile investment. As the literacy rate doubles, so doubles the per capita income.
- In a study of literacy among 20 ‘high income’ countries; US ranked 12th
- Illiteracy has become such a serious problem in our country that 44 million adults are now unable to read a simple story to their children
- 50% of adults cannot read a book written at an eighth grade level
- 45 million are functionally illiterate and read below a 5th grade level
- 44% of the American adults do not read a book in a year
- 6 out of 10 households do not buy a single book in a year
- 3 out of 4 people on welfare can’t read
- 20% of Americans read below the level needed to earn a living wage
- 50% of the unemployed between the ages of 16 and 21 cannot read well enough to be considered functionally literate
- Between 46 and 51% of American adults have an income well below the poverty level because of their inability to read
- Illiteracy costs American taxpayers an estimated $20 billion each year
- School dropouts cost our nation $240 billion in social service expenditures and lost tax revenues
Impact on Society:
- 3 out of 5 people in American prisons can’t read
- To determine how many prison beds will be needed in future years, some states actually base part of their projection on how well current elementary students are performing on reading tests
- 85% of juvenile offenders have problems reading
- Approximately 50% of Americans read so poorly that they are unable to perform simple tasks such as reading prescription drug labels
Much of this has, of course, fallen the hardest on America's poor: black people, and now, on Hispanics and so on. The culprit? Well, I'm no "edubabble" expert here, but I recall all those "multicultural tolerance" schemes a few years back, when one wasn't supposed to teach, nor expect poor children to learn, standard English and grammar, much less literature, except, of course, in nutty schemes to have them "experiment" with "gender neutral 'language'". This would be "insensitive" to their "culture." The bad news for the purveyors of this nonsense is, of course, that the last time I checked "ignorance" is not a culture, it's simply ignorance. The real message is much more subtle, and, I contend, racist, because the real message being sent to these children was "you're too stupid to learn real English, or mathematics, or literature, or science..." (Fill in the discipline of choice here). This came home to me personally years ago when I was a professor, when a young black man was struggling in my Mediaeval History class. He could barely read, or write legibly, at a fourth grade level. It was not that he was unintelligent. Quite the contrary, he was bright, capable, but had been utterly sold out and used by the system. Why? Because he could play basketball! Thus, he had been passed through grade after grade, the deficiencies of his education were overlooked. And there he was, with a fourth grade reading and writing level in my Mediaeval History class, where we were glibly tossing around Latin and Greek and examining mediaeval writs and philosophy.
He was lost. Utterly lost, and I cannot tell you the anger and outrage I felt because of what had been done to him. His vast human potential, his intelligence and creativity had been utterly wasted by an abusive system that had used him up for his athletic skills, and then tossed him away like he was only so much hamburger! Even now, as I think back on this episode, and contemplate these statistics, I am outraged. I had to administratively withdraw him from my class, but I did sit down to talk with him privately, to outline what had been done to him by the system, and to try to encourage him to educate himself, for the system had failed him, and would only continue to do so. His name was Brian, and I remember him well. He looked quite sad when we talked, but also, appreciative that someone had finally told him the truth and not just "passed him through". He was a pleasant, decent, good young man, with a mind, that had been utterly thrown away.
So why do I mention this personal story? Look at thos statistics above again, and see all the millions of Brians who have been utterly betrayed by their government, by the doctors of edubabble and the progressive educational theories that have created this mess, by the "multicultural tolerance" crowd eager to be offended by anyone and anything, by the corporations peddling technology and tests and textbooks embodying the latest fad, and feeding at the government trough... think of all those Brians, betrayed by the education courses in "methodology" and "educational psychology" and all the certification claptrap defended by edubabble and teachers certification and the whole rotten edifice, passed through the system by "coaches-as-history-teachers" and you get the idea.
My solution? It remains what it has always been: (1) no computers in the class (2) no standardized tests (3) no teacher certification and (4) an absolute policy of hiring only genuine academics... if you have a degree in "education", you're the problem, not the solution. We need people who can, and will insist, upon teaching English grammar, composition, and literature; on teaching algebra, and analytical geometry, and trig and calculus, on teaching biology and music and art (both history and actual application and theory), and so on. And we need, finally, to get away from the "group learning" model and to restore individual work and achievement. Phys ed and sports? Sports are fine, as after-school activity that one does on one's own time and organizes informally. But we've seen what the "coach-as-history-teacher" has done to Amairikun edgykayshun... it uses up the Brians simply because they can throw a football, and doesn't give one tinker's dam for their real education.
On and on I could rant, but I think you get the idea. I am angry, because I read this set of statistics, and thought of Brian.
See you on the flip side...