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Sunday, August 20, 2006

NATIONAL DUMB DOWN!


It strikes me as "telling" Jesus Claus’s blog entry, “Natural Stupefication” (sic), has been in place for an entire day without comment. JC's assertion demonstrates the U.S. is behind at least 32 other countries in its awareness and knowledge of accepted scientific analysis of how mankind came to be. Argue evidence if you wish, but the point is, our nation lags woefully behind others in its pursuit and commitment to the education of our greatest resource, the children of our nation. As the rest of the industrialized world, and indeed, much of the so-called second and third world countries struggle mightily to educate and enlighten their young people, America stands passive. The historical success America has won was based in our resources. The consolidation of the 13 original states into a union, and subsequent exploration and expansion, along with the vast natural resources and lack of competition within the contingent land mass certainly provided for an environment for the rapid progress that ultimately led to the nation becoming the preeminent world power. Make no mistake though. We got where we are today because of education. From the earliest times onward, learning has been the foundation of the country that has risen from the expansion of another great empire, Britain, through the beginning process of nationhood, and little consideration as relevant, into the expansion stage, agri-society, industrial age, rising star of democratic republics, world player (along with Britain and France during the world wars), to its position today as the one true world power that exists. Benjamin Franklin has less than two years of formal education between the ages of 6 and 8, and yet became one of the most prolific inventors, writers, philosophers, statesman, creative minds, ambassadors, and leaders the world has ever seen, ALL because he read everything he could get his hands on, spoke with anyone with ideas and depth of thought, and joined with others of like mind to increase the width and breadth of his education.

Franklin’s story is but one example among many, some larger than life, but most less visible in the growth of the intellectual engine that has impelled this country forward for over 200 years. Between the end of World War II and about 1980, the great middle class expanded exponentially to what it had been before, largely because of programs, ideas, and legislation put into place by a series of progressive leaders and citizens who knew without wisdom, not only would our progress be stemmed, but we would actually reverse the advances made. Now this has begun to happen, and in fact, this has been with us for more than a couple of decades, and we’ve lived on nothing more than the inertia of our past successes and the continued nurturing of the remnants of those among us who hold the principle of education dear in a personal way. Now a national malaise has set in, the great forward thrust of this nation’s engine has gradually slowed and sputtered to a halt and others have passed us and many more are gaining. Unless we are able to repair this motor, and provide it with the fuel of education, we are doomed to go the way of so many world powers before us.

The power resides in the hands of the people of this nation, a power that has been deflected and distracted by leaders who are either uncaring, unknowing, or who are driven by motives of personal agenda. Every person I know provides “lip service” to the education of our children. You will not find anyone of any intellect at all who will argue against learning as a tool to compete and survive in a world that changes more rapidly today than ever before. Any speech you hear from our leaders, some (at least small) homage is paid to education. Yet we are slipping backwards on this slope, skidding faster and faster away from the prize of the dreams and hopes, aspirations and plans, of all Americans from the day of our nation’s birth until today.

JC’s entry about our standing among nations as regards to something as simple and obvious as evolution is to anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of the science of evolution, is but one, albeit significant, signals of the failure of this country’s commitment to learning as the most critical element of progress. Over 50% of African American children drop out of school, and 80% of their children are born out of wedlock. I select this group because of the cultural and financial challenges it has faced in our nation’s history, and because of the great strides it has made in the past 60 years. It has accomplished this feat in spite of barriers placed in front of it by conspiring elements of bigotry, indifference, and lack of opportunity. It is always the group who is least integrated into the heart of national inclusion who is first to fall back when a society begins to suffer. White America, and all other Americans of myriad color, religion, culture and condition, are also lagging behind. More and more of our children are forced to seek a living without the advantage of education as the foundation for their future. The great middle class that propelled us with such vigor and enthusiasm into the second half of the last century is rapidly shrinking, more rapidly than any other developed nation. The U.S. has more two person incomes per median family than any other first world country, because of families desperately trying to hand onto the American dream, a dream that is now becoming a nightmare. During the Bush administration alone, education costs have risen at 5 times the rate of Pell grants, meaning if our children are to obtain an education at all, they will need to borrow against their futures. Some simply cannot afford it, while others throw their hands up in despair while their parents cry inwardly at their inability to help the children they love.


Ask yourself a couple of questions! What happens when you are in a retail market with a young person at the cash register? When was the last time you saw one of them able to actually count out change instead of using the automation of the computer system? Do you think the young boy or girl behind the counter could do the math to provide your change? The last time you were in a hospital or medical center, how many of the doctors could you clearly identify as being born and raised in the United States? How many do you suppose were from so-called second or third world countries? We're not just stagnate. The young people we are sending out into the world don't even have the abilities of students of 20 years ago, 40 years ago, 60 years ago in this country.


There is so much wrong with this picture it is impossible to point to any one solution. Universal Healthcare can provide benefits to impact this problem, election reform could and would alter the landscape of a political system that is unresponsive to the needs of our citizens. Reversing the gap between the extremely richest and poorest of us will help resolve these issues. Reinvigorating our middle class through stronger unions and fairer legislation would provide exceedingly good results towards positive ends. The list can be amended and addended almost to infinity, but there is only one true answer for us now.

This country, its citizens, each and every one, and the representatives we select to lead us, to provide us with a government that provides the underpinnings for our own success or failure, must ALL commit to and begin the process of making education the number one priority we cannot afford to ignore any longer. We are being distracted by real (and manufactured realities, the importance and attention we pay of which is arguable, but none is as important as providing our nation, our children, our future generations, with the resources necessary to continue the path of greatness we all believe is our manifest destiny, that destiny (from my perspective) being an enlightened and rich and progress and peaceful nation and member of an ever growing world community that takes up this standard as their own. Utopia? I don’t believe my lifetime or the next will see that, but I do know if we are to survive and prosper, knowledge is the ONLY key, and the only one that will open the door to light. Please place this at the very top of your priority lists, and make your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, community, teachers, representatives, and leaders aware this is your commitment and one they MUST share. Without your personal dedication, it cannot, nor will it, succeed.

8 comments:

IsabellaSays said...

goddammit livid, the USA has alot more going for it than apparently YOU wanna credit it for. this post makes me want to slap the shit out of you. Out of the TOP 500 universities in the WORLD.. within the FIRST 25 AMERICA HAS 19!!! FFS LIVID.. RESEARCH before you run your mouth goddamn

Livid said...

And just what percentage of American kids get to go to these wonderful institutions of higher learning Isabella? What percentage of kids from the rapidly shrinking middle class of this country can afford to go to these schools? How much of the population of kids from moderate or lower income families can even go to a lower level university, let alone the schools you reference?

When the rising cost of education has exceeded Pell grants 500% in the past three years, what does that tell you about the percentage of our nation's children who can afford the debt associated with college, even IF they can qualify, especially when you consider the decrease in jobs in the market as it is?

When the median family income for four in this country is $48,000, how can that family afford to spend almost half of that to cover the cost of tuition, books, living/eating, etc. expenses? Hell Isabella, that family can't even afford the cost of health care for their family. One out of six people in this country have no health care coverage at all.

The dropout rate in our high schools is higher than at any time since the great depression and just after, when a high school education wasn't necessary to find a job that paid enough to live in reasonable comfort. Now a high school diploma will get you a job slinging burgers at a fast food restaurant for minimum wage, a wage BTW that is poverty level, and won't even pay the cost of living, let alone the cost for furthering education.

If our educational system is so great, and our commitment to it so advanced, then why do we have this drop out rate, and why do even the students who graduate from high school score progressively lower every year when pitted against other students across the world, and not just the industrialized so called rich countries, but second and third world countries tossed in the mix?

I don't know what personal issues you have in your life right now. I don't know if someone or something in your life has convinced you that it's okay to sacrifice the truth for some sort of personal gain, whatever that might be. Furthermore, I don't care. But I do care when you get in the way of perhaps the most important issue facing our nation today, trying to provide "our" children, and future generations of children with the foundation and resources they will need to survive in an ever growing competitive world.

So you feel like slapping the shit out of me huh? Well, sorry, but I don't feel like "letting" you. In fact, I feel like sending you away from the table to spend time in your room thinking about how selfish and stupid you've been. I've not listened to the words of others in the past Isabella, preferring to make up my own mind in giving you the benefit of the doubt. That's over now. Respect is something I give freely until it's proven not to be deserved, and then it's a long road back until I'm convinced it is deserved again.

Don't ever take me to task again about ethics or morality or character or principles until you can demonstrate your own. If you do, it falls on deaf, disappointed and disbelieving ears.

Michelle said...

Livid, you are right on. Those that wish to turn their heads or act like this is not a serious problem in America better wake up. We have become what the capitalist wanted us to become... Lil worker bees, without brains, without a social conscience, and uneducated.

The Destruction of American Education

We Can No Longer Afford Vulture Capitalism

vacreeper2003 said...

77% of the Air Force Enlisted Corps indicates they did not go to college because their families could not afford the tuition. Clearly, college in America is increasingly for those families with incomes >$100,000/year - and that excludes 75% of all American families.

Livid is right on the money!

FRisson1 said...

So true vacreeper, my best friend's son is at a state college Bozeman in Montana. He's from Seattle and has to pay out of state tuition which is a little higher,and at this time the cost for 4 years of tuition living in the dorms and books will be 109,000.00 and by the time he graduates it will probably be higher. I can't imagine what Stanford, Yale or Harvard cost!!

It always amazes me that tuition is going up and PELL grants are going down.

We have truly become a classist society of "haves" and "have nots"
Bush made it into his Father's Alma Mater not on his academics but because 40% of the slots are reserved for the descendant of their Alma Mater. That is how idiots like Bush get accepted over the more academic students who apply.

No wonder other countries that offer high education to their general populous are starting to leave us behind

Livid said...

Isabella? Do ya begin to get the picture? This ain't no fantasy world; this is real life stuff that michelle, vacreeper and frisson are talking here. I hope to see an apology Isabella, but not to me. I hope to see an apology to the millions of young people who must now struggle for the rest of their lives because of people like you who ignore their plight. Next time you feel like slapping "the shit out of" someone, try the White House gang of thieves, stop by the Senate and the House, drop in on corporate America's offices. There will be no shortage of people you can slap. Start with the person in your morning mirror BTW. As good a place as any to begin, and very appropriate in view of what you've said.

Livid said...

Michele, I neglected to thank you for the links in your comment. Both or very enlightening. Thanks!

livid

Michelle said...

You're welcome Livid!

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