News, notes, and observations from the James River Valley in northern South Dakota with special attention to reviewing the performance of the media--old and new. E-Mail to MinneKota@gmail.com

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

When an entire country can't pass a basic proficiency test

Schools need improving.  But striving to meet the needs of students is a continuous process in education.  Times and circumstances change, and real educators are always engaged in defining and finding ways to meet those needs.  But what educators determine as needs are often ignored and the public goes off in a fury of raucous, uninformed notions of the moment.

While the country obsesses about assessment tests required by No Child Left Behind and engages in mass disparagement of the schools and teachers, rather than make accurate assessments of where the problems in education lie, it puts on a massive display of its capacity for being dupes, ignorant, and willfully stupid.  It has great help from the media, whose operating principle is to build audiences by giving the people what they want.  And a huge segment of the population wants to be dupes fed an intellectual diet of ignorance and stupidity and to live in the delusion that the exercise of meanness against their fellow humans generated by ignorance and stupidity has something to do with liberty and free speech.   Nothing sells like dumb and mean.  And so, the media serves the interest of its advertisers, who find that dumb and mean is easy to dupe.  


Promoting retardation as a patriotic virtue.
The so-called Republican-candidate debates have given Americans great opportunity to indulge their penchant for displaying their refusals to become educated.  The first and most glaring symptom of public retardation is that it accepts the tedious ritual of reciting petty ad hominem snark as debate.  Over the weekend the most frequent news clip shown over cable television and remarked on by bloggers was when Newt Gingrich quipped that the reason Mitt Romney could not become a career politician was because he lost a Senate race to Ted Kennedy in 1994.  It is entertaining to watch a bunch of white guys try to play the dozens, but it has nothing to do with the issues that confront Americans or with the concept of debate, which is to examine those issues.


Americans are so ill-educated in what reading and writing are supposed to teach them that they are distracted and totally absorbed in the exchange of petty, irrelevant insults and regard them as the business of politics.  Nothing is more damning about our education system than the fact that the media gets by with calling mean, little entertainments a debate of issues affecting the lives of the people.  The people fail in the most basic test of education and intelligence:  they are deluded into accepting petty insult and abuse as political discussion, and then wonder why Congress acts like a bunch of dolts carousing around on spring break.  


While cable news and the Internet is pacifying an over-tranquilized public with the sound and fury from idiots, a few real issues do receive publication from the more out-of-it members of the media.  One of them that should be the focus of any debate that presumes to address any significant issues is the fact that the real unemployment rate in America is 11 percent of the population. As  Ezra Klein of the Washington Post points out:  


Remember that the unemployment rate is not "how many people don't have jobs?", but "how many people don't have jobs and are actively looking for them?" Let's say you've been looking fruitlessly for five months and realize you've exhausted every job listing in your area. Discouraged, you stop looking, at least for the moment. According to the government, you're no longer unemployed.


Financial Times' Ed Luce, writes, "According to government statistics, if the same number of people were seeking work today as in 2007, the jobless rate would be 11 percent."

 The snark recitations do not analyze facts or propose any solutions for the problems they reveal.  Rather, they are merely the pretext for ill-informed blame-placing by the participants against each other and the opposing party.  No options are offered other than invitations to join in on the inane castigation.  The real concerns facing the American people  are ignored, and the American people for the most part have become to ignorant to know they are being ignored.

These are the people who presume to reform education. 

Poster boy portraying goals of educational reform. 



 









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