America’s poison of choice
“Choice” may be an odd word to use when discussing America’s educational decline, since lack of parental initiative to exercise choice in education is a large contributing factor. Still, by not choosing to choose something other than government-run education, an overwhelming majority of American parents have chosen to condemn their children to the poison of an academic life of mediocrity and substandard quality. It is understandable that many parents may not have options other than government-run education available to them, but they certainly can and should make their objections to an unproductive curriculum known. Many do not do this because either they do not know or care about what is going on in the classroom or they simply trust that the government knows what it is doing. In either case, they have chosen poorly. By trusting government to run education efficiently and increase its quality, Americans have trusted government to do two things it has never done: run something efficiently and fix the problems it created.
From first to last – place
Only 20 years ago, America enjoyed the academic ranking of being an untouchable number one worldwide. Currently, globally recognized credible reporting organizations such as The Learning Curvei and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Developmentii, report a marked decline in America’s secondary educational benchmarks when compared to other countries. While the details of the benchmark indicators can be argued, the overall decline, no matter how you slice it, cannot.
CBS news online confirmed this assertion in a statement made by Barry McGraw, director of the Organization for Cooperation and Development. In their interview with Mr. McGraw, he affirmed that the United States ranked first in the world as recently as 20 years ago. Mr. McGraw went on to explain that his 30-nation organization develops yearly rankings as a way for countries to evaluate their education systems and determine whether to change their policiesiii.
On its website, The Learning Curve states that its reports that were first compiled in 2012 and updated in early 2014, were based on:
- The progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS)
- The trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS)
- The Programme (sic) for International Student Assessment (PISA)
- The initial output from the Programme (sic) for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), which looks at cognitive skill levels across the population.
One of the reports referenced above rated America as being 11th to 20th out of 39 countries and another as 17th out of 50 countries. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development assimilated and analyzed data from 74 countries. Out of the 74 countries, America rated 31 in Math, 23 in Science, and 17 in Reading. In the 2012 PIAAC , America came in dead last.
It should be noted that grade school rankings are somewhat higher. But it should also be noted that homeschooling scores are also taken into consideration and more students are homeschooled at the elementary level than they are at the secondary level. Although 90% of community colleges reported that freshmen required remediation, private college rankings in America score slightly higher marks. However, that is not necessarily good news. The high percentage of flaming liberal professors have done a good job in turning our children into anti-American and Utopian dreamers that in many cases shock their conservative parents with historically proven unrealistic and dangerous philosophies. Worse, they have done it at the parent’s expense, which were foolish enough to pay for their children to attend classes taught by men like Bill Ayers and Ward Churchill.
Can they dispute it?
Of course some American educators take issue with the conclusions of the above-referenced reports. They claim that the indicators used do not paint a true picture of American education. In an article entitled America’s World Education Tanking is no Reason to Panic, Professor David Labree criticized the PISA standards by saying: “This is leveling the playing field with a bulldozeriv.” Professor Labree’s statement is especially interesting because that is what the latest government intrusion known as Common Core seeks to do: level the playing field with a bulldozer by mandating that every child should meet the same grade level goal throughout the nation. The rationale behind this foolishness is that in an increasingly mobile society, children entering a school system at any grade will be academically level with their new classmates. Like other well-sounding theories, the reality of this endeavor is woefully unrealistic and more than potentially damaging. As any parent of more than one child can tell you, a standard such as this can only on rare occasion be achieved within a household, never mind nationally. In order to achieve such an outcome, the quality of education of those in the upper 50% achievement level will have to be lowered to accommodate an achievable level for those in the lower 50%. The picture is even grimmer for those in the extreme lower percentage, which will have to be disenfranchised altogether since teachers and schools will not be able to spend the individual time with these students that they may require and still meet their quotas. This is nothing less than government sanctioned and mandated mediocrity that will transform the minimum competency level into the maximum.
Unfortunately, many accept the premise that since American education is in a dire state of decline, that the government should intervene and set standards that will reverse the trend. What they fail to realize is that prior to government involvement, and as stated in the CBS article quoted above, 20 years ago America ranked number one worldwide. You may be wondering what happened 20 years ago. Twenty years ago, President Bill Clinton’s Department of Education introduced Goals 2000. This was the government’s first attempt to mandate core curriculum standards. Although Goals 2000 was defeated by well-informed parents all over this great nation, its insidious influence throughout the core curriculum standards set by many states was adopted under the radar of unsuspecting concerned citizen. Hence, in the 1990s, America began its educational decline that has reached epic proportions today. So, to those that think that government intervention to rectify a failing educational system is a good thing: history has shown us that just the opposite is true.
The poison – and the antidote
However, there is good news. While irate parents nationwide fight the latest government re-invention of Goals 2000, Congressman Scott Garrett of New Jersey has authored the LEARN Actv, which stands for Local Education Authority Returns Now. While this Act will not make the Department of Education disappear, it will seriously limit its ability to impose mandates and illogical programs on local boards of education. The main problem with the LEARN Act is that it has not received national recognition. As anyone involved in politics at any level quickly learns, most politicians do not support anything that their constituents do not pressure them into supporting.
Therefore, if the LEARN Act is something that you believe is good for America, please pick up the phone and let your congressional representative know that this is something you want them to support. AND…after you pick up the phone, write them a letter, send them a fax, and arrange for a group to go and see them at their local office. In short, remind them that they work for you and that you are watching what they do. Yes, it is possible, even probable, that the absurdity of Common Core will be defeated, but why settle for defeating one program that will most assuredly morph into another when you can defeat once and for all the unconstitutional government intrusion into local curricula? Take a stand now so that you will not have to stand again later, and later after that, and later after that. Barack Obama was right about one thing; it is time for a change. It’s time Americans change the way government abuses our rights and its time we stand together and take our government back. Today we can defeat Common Core; tomorrow, who knows – maybe we can pull out of the United Nations. Maybe I’m a dreamer, but America was founded on people who refused to surrender their dreams to tyrants. I’m betting there are still a few of those dreamers alive and well in America today. Time will tell. In the meantime, pick up that phone, write that letter, and send out that fax. And above all – may God have mercy on America.
Reprinted from The Daily Rant; copyright 2014 Mychal Massie. Appears by permission.