The Demise of Education in the U.S….
Public education in the United States is in a downward spiral of death. There are many factors that are contributing to this crisis, but ultimately we have shifted the emphasis of education from a mindset of creative and critical thinking to one of total conformity, and we aren’t doing well with that either. As a result, we are actually experiencing a “dumbing-down” of our society as a whole. As we are entering into a time of considerable civil unrest globally, it is paramount that people get educated and learn how to think for themselves and also think critically. It is the only way out of the systematic demise of the country. Charles Ferguson, writer/director of Inside Job, writes in his new book, Predator Nation,
More than ever before, the key to the American dream is education. The rise of information technology, and the opening of Asian economies, means that only a small portion of America’s population can make a good living through unskilled or manual labor. But instead of elevating America’s educational system and the opportunities it should provide, America has been going in exactly the wrong direction. As a result, America is developing not a class system, but, without exaggeration, a caste system – a society in which the circumstances of your birth determine your entire life. As a result, the American dream is dying.
We live in a society that is completely driven by the top. Those drivers, the corporate elite of the country, are steering the nation’s public education system into the ground. Our schools are grossly underfunded while we borrow trillions of dollars to fund two illegal wars and bail out the worst criminals in history, the bankers. The priorities of the United States are so out of balance and it is showing, quite clearly, in the education of our citizens. We are educating our children to become robots for the elite to control. H.L. Mencken wrote:
That erroneous assumption is to the effect that the aim of public education is to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence, and so make them fit to discharge the duties of citizenship in an enlightened and independent manner. Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all, it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality.
Those who doubt this need to look no further than the implementation of the infamous No Child Left Behind law. Through the use of standardized testing, schools are evaluated and through the evaluations, funding is determined. For instance, if there is an inner-city school with many students having learning disabilities, the test scores are quite likely to be low, meaning lower than the acceptable standard. So what is done with a school like that? The government cuts funding. The schools that need the most help get the least. Yes, it is backwards.
This fast ride to conformity is completely driven from the top. In an article written last year by Chris Hedges, he wrote,
In the past 10 years we’ve had the emergence of both [Mayor] Mike Bloomberg’s Leadership Academy and Eli Broad’s Superintendents Academy, both created exclusively to produce instant principals and superintendents who model themselves after CEOs. How is this kind of thing even legal? How are such ‘academies’ accredited? What quality of leader needs a ‘leadership academy’? What kind of society would allow such people to run their children’s schools? The high-stakes tests may be worthless as pedagogy but they are a brilliant mechanism for undermining the school systems, instilling fear and creating a rationale for corporate takeover. There is something grotesque about the fact the education reform is being led not by educators but by financers and speculators and billionaires.”
Truly, there is something grotesque about education reform being led by those on Wall Street. In fact, reform may not be what is truly needed for America’s education system to once again thrive. It may be that we need a full scale educational revolution, a complete dismantling of what is presently in place, replaced by a functional system that is not under the control of the corporate giants. Sir Ken Robinson, a noted education scholar, talks in depth about this very idea…
We are killing the creativity and critical thinking in our schools. We are terribly underfunding the education system in the U.S. We have placed a priority on profit for a few, rather than sound education for all.
Education in America needs help. It needs focus and it needs funding. Education is the only chance this country has left. If we ignore it, the nation will continue in it’s rapid descent to the bottom. Chris Hedges finishes this thought…
The truly educated become conscious. They become self-aware. They do not lie to themselves. They do not pretend that fraud is moral or that corporate greed is good. They do not claim that the demands of the marketplace can morally justify the hunger of children or denial of medical care to the sick. They do not throw 6 million families from their homes as the cost of doing business. Thought is a dialogue with one’s inner self. Those who think ask questions, questions those in authority do not want asked. They remember who we are, where we come from and where we should go. They remain eternally skeptical and distrustful of power. And they know that this moral independence is the only protection from the radical evil that results from collective unconsciousness. The capacity to think is the only bulwark against any centralized authority that seeks to impose mindless obedience. There is a huge difference, as Socrates understood, between teaching people what to think and teaching them how to think. Those who are endowed with a moral conscience refuse to commit crimes, even those sanctioned by the corporate state, because they do not in the end want to live with criminals—themselves.