Take back our schools! Save our children!
By Alan Caruba
I have lived my whole life in an affluent, suburban community in Northern New Jersey. When I attended its schools in the 1940's and 1950s, the vast percentage of graduating seniors went onto college. Their parents had migrated from Newark during or just after WWII because the schools had an excellent reputation. Today, they are not much better than those of the inner city.
Here's an excerpt from a letter to the editor in our local weekly. "I understand that our education officials have yet to detail for the public exactly what measures have been taken to ensure that a first-rate education will be provided for students." This stonewalling is endemic to education bureaucrats across the nation. He thinks he's going to get an answer. He won't.
"I was horrified to learn that 34 percent of the eighth grade students in (our) Middle School were found only partially proficientthe worst groupingin the 2000 GEPA math section. Simply put, we rank 97th out of 97 schools in this failing category. Further, this dreadful performance has been repeated over the past several years.
"As a homeowner and a taxpayer, I want to know how the district's school budget increased from $5l million five years ago to $70 million today, a 37 percent increase over four years, during which time these poor test scores have not gotten measurably better and our last place ranking has not moved out of the cellar."
Throwing more and more money at our nation's current education system is not the answer. The system is inherently flawed because it is not intended to provide a basic 3R's education.
President Bush proposes to introduce a national educational standard and then test to it, but we already know American students are deficient in all the areas of knowledge the schools are supposed to be teaching. The tests today's students take are more about their values than about any body of knowledge they have acquired. Today's schools are not about educating students. They are about teaching attitudes and values.
If you have been reading my series over the past three weeks (see the archives if you missed them), you already know that the system has been designed to deliberately dumb down students.
The architects of this attack on our nation's youth can be found in the US Department of Education. They have adopted psychological methods of conditioning and jettisoned the teaching of information and basic skills. It is called "Outcome-Based Education."
Today's students, as opposed to their grandfather's or even their father's education, are being systematically conditioned to think in "global" terms about humanity, nations, religions, and, of course, the environment. They are conditioned to be citizens, not of the United States, but of the world.
That's what you need when you're creating a socialist one-world governmental system and that is exactly what is occurring at the United Nations.
Today's students are taught not to make value judgments about other nations, even if they are authoritarian dictatorships. They may not know where Brazil is on the map, but they "know" all the rain forests are disappearing. They don't know when the Civil War took place or why, but they "know" that all the Founding Fathers were slave-owners. They also "know" that America's history is one of destroying the native Indian nations, taking their land, and exploiting it with farms, mining, and the destruction of whole forests. They cannot tell you what the Bill of Rights is, but they "know" the US is the leading contributor of "greenhouse gases" to the atmosphere, thereby causing global warming. It is a full course of lies.
They haven't a clue about the individualism, sacrifice, daring and innovation that made this nation great, nor its political system, and most certainly not its history.
As Charlotte Thompson Iserbyt writes in her book, "The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America", they aren't being "taught the difference between free enterprise and planned economies, i.e., socialism; between group thinking' and individual freedom and responsibility."
By the 1990's the decades of effort to overturn an education system that taught specific bodies of information and the skills to use themarithmetic, spelling, history, civics, sciencehad effectively been transformed into today's touchy-feely system. It is a place where a student's feelings of self-esteem are more important than whether they actually know anything other than the specific answers to the test. Thus teachers now "teach to the test" (their paycheck depends on it) rather than provide a broader body of knowledge. It is a place where competition is discouraged as unfair to those less qualified for any reason. It is a place where socialist attitudes and values are the priority, not knowledge.
Given President George W. Bush's enthusiasm for education that is "accountable" and "will leave no child behind", will it surprise anyone that the "America 2000 Plan", written in 1991, was presented to the American people by Lamar Alexander, the Secretary of Education serving his father, President George Herbert Walker Bush?
The "America 2000 Plan" proposed to radically restructure American society, beginning with its schools. It was intended to affect 110,00 public and private schools. When you're trying to create good little socialists, you can't afford to have anyone who is being taught to think independently or asked to incorporate moral and ethical values.
The "voucher" program exists to give the federal government control over private schools because, whoever pays the piper, chooses the tune. Schools that accept voucher students will soon find themselves required to accept federal education regulations as well.
Goals 2000 and School-to-Work programs introduced to transform our schools reflect what Iserbyt describes as "the internationalization of education with exchanges of data systems, curricula, methods, et cetera, all essential for the implementation of the international socialist management and control system being put in place right now."
Everything, including the SAT college entrance tests, has been degraded to mask the dumbing down those who are passing through our schools. Today's SATs permit students to use electronic calculators, ask fewer questions in general and fewer multiple-choice math questions in particular. Reading passages now ask definitions from context and the formerly difficult antonym section, calling for linguistic and intellectual subtleties, has been dropped entirely.
My hometown's parent who could not get any answers from his district's school board could not know that this is repeated across America in school after school. Parents are routinely lied to. Worse, today's parents are often required to put their child put on a regimen of Ritalin, a mind-altering drug. We've got seven million government-approved drug addicts going to school in drug-free zones!
To the individual parent, there seems to be no way to resist the juggernaut of a system that routinely turns out thousands of "educated" morons. Some choose to home-school their children. Others who can afford it send them to private schools. Still others shell out for after-school tutoring services.
Why? Because the schools have been "restructured."
President Bush is not providing a solution. He is part of the problem. His father was part of the problem. Presidents going back to Eisenhower have been part of the problem because they failed to see that introducing Soviet-style educational methodsbehavior modification to produce good little socialists--into American schools was destined to bring us to this point.
Education is not about national standards and national testing. It's about individual schools in individual school districts, all answerable to their communities and to the parents of the children entrusted to them. It's not about how the child feels, but about how well the child learns. There is pride in learning, but if there are no grades, how does anyone, parent, child or teacher know what, if anything, is being learned?
Congress will probably give President Bush the $5 billion he wants to throw away on failed reading programs, and money for the national educational standards and testing he wants. Previous Congresses have gone along, failing or refusing to see how the educational system has been corrupted. The Republican "Contract with America" and the campaign promise of Ronald Reagan to dismantle the Department of Education had it right. It didn't happen. It is the only hope to reverse the damage and return schools to local control.
Sit down with your child and watch "Jeopardy" together. If neither you, nor your child knows the answer to anything other than the television or film questions, you're in trouble. Now multiply that against an entire population of Americans who don't know the answers either.
Alan Caruba, founder of The National Anxiety Center, is a regular contributor. This commentary is excerpted from "Warning Signs", a weekly column posted on the Center's website at www.anxietycenter.com/warning.htm. © Alan Caruba, 2001
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