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The destruction of American education
By Alan Caruba
"No school left behind by a few absentees" was the recent headline of a news story that told of how President Bush's "No Child Left Behind" education bill is being "tweaked" because of its requirement that all students must eventually pass federally mandated tests when, in fact, nearly 300 middle and high schools in New Jersey fell short. In the third "adjustment" to the law since the start of this year, Rod Paige, US Secretary of Education, announced in March that schools would be allowed to "average their participation rates" over three years.
This takes into account that some students choose not to show up either at school or, not unexpectedly, to take the tests. The 2002 law requires that at least 95 per cent of all students be tested on a statewide basis. New Jersey's assistant education commissioner deemed the requirement "a killer for a lot of schools." Rounding up those few who simply saw no value in attending school hardly seemed worth it. Instead, schools will round out the numbers to meet the 95 per cent mandate.
Would that we could "tweak" the entire education system in America and make it work again. The reality, however, is that the thing is broken. It doesn't work. Year after year, children pass through it from kindergarten to twelfth grade, too frequently emerging into the world functionally illiterate and with their little heads crammed full of leftist and environmental nonsense of no value to anyone but the puppet masters who have crafted programs designed to make them docile, easily manipulated little "citizens of the world."
It is very hard to figure out just how damaged the overall system is. The news dribbles out in bits and pieces. Meanwhile, parents, often both working, lack the time to focus on their local schools except when their property taxes go up once again to support them.
Here's just a few pieces of news you may have missed.
Writing in August 2003, Washington Times columnist, John McCaslin, noted that, "every school day, 3,000 secondary students in the United States drop out. Once the 2003-2004 school year gets under way, nearly 540,000 young people will walk away from the classroom without earning a high school diploma. The nation's high school graduation rate is 69 percent, although the number is worse in urban areas where school districts graduate fewer than half of their students. Those who continue on to college can find the going difficult."
The typical liberal answer to this problem was a proposed piece of legislation, "Pathways for All Students to Succeed Act", introduced by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) that would fund the hiring of literacy coaches to strengthen essential reading and writing skills. It apparently never occurred to the Senator that those skills should have been property and effectively taught in the early grades. The failure to do so simply triggered a call for more money to be thrown at the failure.
A 2002 National Assessment of Educational Progress report noted that reading achievement of twelfth grade student had declined over the previous five years, with 33 percent of senior boys and 20 percent of senior girls reading below the basic level. This is a national disgrace and a national disaster.
Meanwhile, in this election year, the Landmark Legal Foundation has lodged a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service, asking it to investigate the National Education Association, a union despite its name, for engaging in undisclosed political activities and funding. The complaint alleges the NEA has used tax-exempt general revenue to fund political activities and has not reported those expenditures to the IRS for nearly a decade. Labor unions are required to file a Form 990 tax return about such matters. This teacher's union has spent millions on political activities despite telling everyone that its primary concern is the children passing through the system. Secretary Paige recently called the NEA "a terrorist organization." And then apologized.
A longtime observer of the US educational system, Samuel L. Blumenfeld, calls it a criminal enterprise. He reminds us that the April 1983 National Commission on Excellence in Education concluded, "The educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a nation and as a people…If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war. As it stands, we have allowed this to happen to ourselves."
"No Child Left Behind", the education legislation cited above, is simply the extension and expansion of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. Thus, for nearly four decades, Americans have stood by while their entire system has been systematically subverted and degraded to the point where there is hardly a statistic anyone can point to that demonstrates anything but failure.
To put it in dollars, more than $125 billion dollars have been spent by the federal government and the only result are children who have been deliberately rendered ignorant of basic skills, the history of their nation, or the superiority of Western culture, while at the same time being brainwashed with lies the environment is endangered and capitalism is an evil economic system. This year, the Bush administration blithely gave a $1.2 million grant to the United Nations-sponsored International Baccalaureate program designed to make students citizens of the world, not proud citizens of the United States. In the midst of our war on terrorism, the IB teaches "peace studies."
"Our educators have also become legal drug pushers," said Blumenfeld. The problem is so bad that in May 2003 the House of Representatives passed the "Child Medication Safety Act" intended to prevent a parent from being coerced into medicating a child so that child could attend school. The demand by teachers and administrators that children be forced to take Ritalin, Adderal, and other mind-altering drugs is a national disgrace. "Why is 80 percent of the world's methylphenidate being fed to children?" asked Dr. William B. Carey, director of behavioral pediatrics at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, when he testified before a House panel.
In February, the Education Trust and Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, after consulting with higher education officials and business executives in five states, released a report that said, "For too many graduates, the American high school diploma signifies only a broken promise." The diploma, they said, "is a ticket to nowhere." It has become little more than "a certificate of attendance."
More than 42 million adult Americans are thought to be functionally illiterate. Education Secretary Page has described America's reading crisis as an "emergency of the first order." He and every Secretary dating back to 1965 and earlier have had ample time to fix the problem.
So, let's sum things up. The present educational system does not effectively and successfully teach children to read or write well. It does not teach history or civics well. Pocket calculators have replaced the learned ability to compute anything in any way. It requires large numbers of those children to be medicated with mind-altering drugs. A growing number of school districts around the nation are either in revolt or finding creative ways to fudge the numbers required by "No Child Left Behind." The largest teacher's union is more interested in political activities than educational achievement. A high school diploma is too often a worthless piece of paper.
There's a reason why home-schooling children has become the desperate and heroic option of parents who want to insure they receive a good education.
There's a reason why the schools seem more concerned with teaching about things such as sexuality, cultural diversity, and global citizenship. The reason involves a deliberate effort to render American school children unable to compete in the real world and disengaged from the values that underpin our society, and our nation's survival and future.
Alan Caruba writes a weekly commentary, "Warning Signs", posted on www.anxietycenter.com, the website of The National Anxiety Center. © Alan Caruba 2004
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