Another Reason To Dump Public Schools

Down Mississippi way, the high-school students don’t know third-grade history and civics, and a news story about it sent up another flare about American miseducation.

The really frightening thing isn’t the ill-educated students, however, but the ill-educated politicians and teachers who know as little as the school kids.

If you want another reason to flee the public schools, here it is.

The Story

The uncelebrated Mississippi Rep. Roger Wicker, the Associated Press reports, asked some high school kids to name the unalienable rights outlined in the Declaration of Independence.

Like a teacher, the earnest Wicker prompted an answer by giving a little of it.

“Among these are life,” Wicker said, “and….” Wicker awaited the answer.

“Death?” one numbskull asked.

“So much for liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” the AP writer wryly observed.

Recent testing, AP reports, revealed that 75 percent of fourth-graders thought the president, not Congress, passes laws, while 25 percent didn’t know the significance of July 4. Hilariously, some thought it marked the end of the War of Northern Aggression. Fifty percent of high-school seniors thought the Axis Powers were American allies in World War II.

The nut of the story?

Thirty percent of fourth-, eighth- and 12th-graders, AP reported, “could not even show a basic understanding of civics at their grade level,” according to the national testing in 1998. Ditto for U.S. history. “They lack even partial mastery of fundamental skills.”

Politicians Uneducated Too

Funny thing is, Wicker doesn’t know much more.

Apparently, he doesn’t know the Constitution does not give Congress and President a role in public education. If he does, he is ignoring and undermining the Constitution. Let’s prefer to think he’s misinformed.

But Wicker, AP reports, is only following an ill-educated leader. The president burbles about “no child left behind,” and expands the federal education budget relentlessly. He has pressed for better civics and history instruction since learning students had problems with the Pledge of Allegiance and Gettysburg Address. What an irony given the philosophical subtext to both: The federal government is omnipotent.

We have no room for an exegesis of the unionist Pledge, or the subtle lies about our Republic’s history and political order promulgated in Honest Abe’s dishonest oration. Suffice it to say, school kids carry fables about both into adulthood and their lives as elected officials.

And no wonder, given this eyewash from an “American studies” teacher at a recent confabulation of the National Education Association: “I will not measure my success [if a student can] tell me Hamilton’s financial plan, but [if a student can] tell me if [he] voted.”

Said another, “If our kids walk out of our school systems without an understanding of democracy, democracy will cease. That’s a scary thing.”

No, the “scary thing” is schoolteachers like this, and elected officials who know less about the Constitution than 12-year-olds.

Mission Accomplished

This miseducation of American children, including those who grow up to be congressmen and presidents, is no accident.

The goal of government schools is not education, but inculcating blind obedience and robotic loyalty to the State. Thus, the near sacrilegious devotion to secular mythology in the Pledge and Gettysburg Address.

Disagree? At the next family barbecue, suggest abolishing government schools and Social Security.

Our friendly democratist pedagogue agrees with educationists who say education’s goal is making good “democratic citizens.” That’s code for obedient, stupid taxpayers.

As Rep. Wicker woefully learned, mission accomplished.

July 5, 2003

Syndicated columnist R. Cort Kirkwood [send him mail] is managing editor of the Daily News-Record in Harrisonburg, Va.

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