by Christopher Paslay
America, and its public schools, have changed.
Despite my bold November 1st proclamation, Arne Duncan remains the U.S. Secretary of Education, and Barack Obama remains president. Last Tuesday, nearly half of all voters—some 58 million of them—called for change . . . or put another way, called for a return to the values and traditions America was founded upon.
Curiously, “values and traditions” in the 21st century are now a matter of cultural perspective. No longer are there universal human truths that transcend time and gender and race, but a kind of orthodoxy revolving around a concept of “fairness” that has become known as social justice. Some 61 million Americans—made-up to a large extent of minorities, agnostics, the young, the single, and those on various government assistant programs—voted for the status quo . . . or put another way, called for a bigger intrusion of government into all of our lives.
Here’s a closer look at the changing trends of America and as a result, public education.
The Institution of Marriage and Family
For the first time in the history of the United States, there are now more single women than married. Likewise, there are now more single households than married. One of the great pillars of America—the institution of marriage and family—is now in the minority; in President Obama’s “The Life of Julia,” the interactive website feature that showcases the benefits of various Obama-backed welfare-state programs, the 31-year-old single Julia “decides” to have a baby all by her lonesome–no husband in the equation. Does this impact education? You bet. It impacts everything. But when it comes to schools, research shows children from single parent families do far worse academically as well as behaviorally than do children from two parent families.
Curiously, the racial achievement gap is proportional to out-of-wedlock births. On nearly every standardized test, from the NAEP to the GRE—from 3rd grade to graduate school—Asians score the highest, followed by whites, followed by Hispanics, followed by blacks. Here is the percentage of out-of-wedlock births to women under the age of 30 by racial/ethnic group from 2003 to 2004: Asian 16%; white 34%; Hispanics 46%; blacks 77%.
Institution of Religion
Today, one-fifth (20%) of Americans consider themselves atheists, agnostic, or unaffiliated with a religion. In fact, in August of 2012, the Democrats removed the word “God” from their party platform. In a May 2012 speech at the prestigious Roman Catholic Georgetown University, President Obama not only failed to mention Jesus once in his remarks, but also persuaded the school to cover the name of Jesus–IHS–at Gaston Hall where he made the speech; Obama did the same thing in April of 2009 when he delivered remarks on the economy at Georgetown.
What does religion have to do with the quality of public education? Morals. Or, the lack thereof. Crime and violence in schools is on the rise. In Philadelphia alone, there were over 4,500 violent incidents reported during the 2009-10 school year. According to the Inquirer, “on an average day 25 students, teachers, or other staff member were beaten, robbed, sexually assaulted, or victims of other violent crimes.”
Embracing religion doesn’t necessarily mean following a particular deity per se. It means letting go of ego–the self centered perspective that teaches that man is the end-all-be-all of the universe, that there is no broader consequence for immoral behavior.
Competition and Individualism
In 2010, for the first time in America, minority births (50.4%) outnumbered whites. This is significant because the values of the dominant white culture are now viewed as oppressive by progressive education scholars. According to Vernon G. Zunker, a noted expert on career counseling, “Career choice, for example, may be driven by goals of family as opposed to individual aspirations. In the individualistic cultures of Europe and North America, great value is placed on individual accomplishment. In the collectivist cultures of Africa, Asia, and Latin America, the individual focuses on the welfare of the group and its collective survival.”
In other words, “individualism” and “competition” are a white thang, and should be discounted in the career and academic world. Hence, the advent of “group work” as opposed to direct instruction, the notion of “student-centered” lessons as opposed to “teacher-centered” ones, and the great push for schools to lower admission standards to elite schools and AP courses; from this also stems the recent opposition to suspensions and expulsions of public school students–a movement which values the rights of the violent and unruly few over the rights of the hardworking many.
The results of this brand of educational socialism? Academic mediocrity, and a horrible decline in SAT as well as AP scores.
Thanks to the systematic deconstruction of marriage, religion, and American individualism, Duncan remains, and so does Obama. It appears Big Government–and a Marxist brand of educational socialism–is on the rise. But hey, America asked for it.
To quote the classic line from H. L. Mencken: “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.”
To those who asked for it–I’m sure you’ll get it good and hard.