Saturday, May 18, 2002

American Stupidity Watch

Once again, we are reminded just how ignorant our students are of our history, yawn, as if anyone is surprised. The author points at the national curriculum standard for inspiration:

"Take a look at 'Expectations of Excellence,' [NCSS's] 1994 curriculum standards for social studies, widely followed by education authorities as they draft state standards and curricula around the country. 'Thomas Jefferson, among others, emphasized that the vitality of a democracy depends upon the education and participation of its citizens,' this statement begins promisingly. But what follows is a yawning list of 'performance expectations,' ranging from the obscure to the impenetrable, about culture, economics, technology, 'continuity and change,' and personal identity, that includes no American history, no major documents, and only a smattering of references to government at all.

Of course, being a neo-con, he blames the leftist mindset of the policy maker. Of course, being a neo-con, I agree somewhat but like to add one trenchant point: The dumbing down of standards is more than just part of politically correct indoctrination, it's a conspiracy of laziness. What's easier to teach and learn: an analysis of the Constitution point by point or some fuzzy interpretation of what that great document means to some bubble gum snapping thirteen year old? Feelings, trends and interpretations are easy to teach because they are just commentary. Ditto with math: what's easier, teaching long division by hand or using a calculator? Guessing a close answer or actually figuring the problem out? People get what they earn, and too much in our society is predicated on cheap, shoddy shortcuts. So why be surprised? Try raising standards in some marginal school district and see what happens(a school board riot) when the parents realize their stupid, lazy Johnny and Sue can't graduate because they can barely read.

Praise for the Real People's Government of Towns and States in the USA and boos for the anti-democratic forces of Yuropeon politics from Mark Steyn

The Arab world has no democracy, and little prospect of any, and so its much-vaunted ‘Arab street’ is, in fact, a symbol of weakness. Folks jump up and down in the street when they’ve nowhere else to go. The Arabs are world leaders at yelling excitedly and shouting ‘Death to the Great Satan!’ and are world losers at everything else.

Western Europe, though, isn’t much healthier. In America, Canada and Britain, we’re the heirs to so many centuries of peaceful constitutional evolution that we find it hard to comprehend the thin ice on which European democracy skates. When we look back on the Seventies, it’s Jimmy Carter, Pierre Trudeau and Harold Wilson, all of whom I could have done without. But they look pretty good compared with a stroll down memory lane in Portugal, Spain and Greece, where Seventies nostalgia means Salazar, Franco and the Colonels. In most of Europe, there simply is no tradition of sustained peaceful democratic evolution. After 215 years, the US Constitution is not only older than the French, German, Italian, Belgian, Spanish and Greek constitutions, it’s older than all of them put together.