In 1996, I decided to go back to college and finish my four-year degree (at 40 years of age) in Business Administration. Since I was going full-time, I ended up in regular daytime classrooms with many 17, 18 and 19 year olds. Often, the professors would ask us to review or correct each other’s papers in class or as homework assignments. This activity, more than anything I’ve ever done in my life, has convinced me that what now passes for an education in the United States of America has almost NOTHING to do with what BUILT this country.
The lack of ability that these students displayed in expressing themselves, either in spoken form or in written form, was astonishing to me. As soon as I started witnessing this, I thought back to when I was a senior in high school and to the level of discourse displayed in 1973 suburban Connecticut. My unscientific conclusion was that my fellow students and I were much more prepared and better trained – in all major aspects of education – than any of these kids were in 1996. And based on the text book that my father had kept in our house, his generation was more prepared than mine! Why would this be? It was not for lack of funding. Connecticut has always been one of the richest states in the Union – one of the richest in the world!
As mentioned in previous columns of mine, American education has been on a demonstrably downhill slide (based on SAT scores and other indicators) since sometime around the end of WWII, depending on which studies you read. Rather than teaching math, history, geography, writing, and language, today’s teachers and college professors teach dumbed-down, watered-down area-studies courses that do little to prepare the majority of students for life in a complicated and competitive world. Look through most college curriculum course listings and you’ll routinely find offerings such as, The Social Construction of Whiteness and Women, Environmental Inequality, Multicultural Biblical Criticism, Black Marxism, Cultural History of Rap, Gay and Lesbian Cinema, and Feminist Critique of Christianity.
Studies which had, ever since the Renaissance, trained young minds in inductive and deductive reasoning, in the history of their culture, and in the lessons of the past, were now systematically cast into the garbage bin. These were now replaced by “African studies” and other irrelevant subjects like sexual practices on the Upper Nile, along with increased forays into junk science.
A recent survey of seniors at 55 leading colleges shows that 98 percent could identify the rap” artist” Snoop Doggy Dogg, but only 34 percent knew that George Washington was commander-in-chief during the War of Independence. A Department of Education study discloses that 50 percent of white college students and 80 percent of blacks could not use a bus schedule; 90 percent could not use a calculator; 57 percent could not figure out the change they should receive from $3.00 on a $2.55 check or calculate the tip; 42 percent could not put the American Civil War in the correct century.