Several mornings each week I drive to a nearby gym, and on the way pass the massive facility that houses school buses. Even though we live in a mountain community, we are in the heavily populated foothills of Denver. These buses take our thousands of kids to their various institutions each day, a phenomenon our writer Steve Kelly calls “warehousing.” If only they could be set free, but what to do with them?
Kids in this area now start the school year in Mid-August and will continue until mid-June. The state has strict guidelines on how many hours they must attend, what subjects must be taught, what testing standards are used to grade a school’s “performance. The final arbiters of student “success,” GPA and results of SAT and ACT tests, will determine which students are allowed to advance to even higher forms of indoctrination.
Here’s a website that does a different kind of measuring. It is a 2003 study by the Department of Education called the “National Assessment of Adult Literacy.” To my knowledge this assessment had not been repeated since that year, 14 years ago (and eleven years before, in 1992). I don’t know why but speculate that they quit studying it because the results were a fair assessment of not only the failures of our education system, but of the success of real objectives too. Our leaders do not want thinking citizens.
This page, Key Findings, cuts to the heart of the matter. It breaks down the levels of comprehension among American adults, including college graduates. It has four dividers in our ability to deal with “prose,” or written words, “documents” such as maps, tables, drug and food labels, and “quantitative,” or balancing a checkbook or computing a tip.
The gradation of levels is as follows:
- Below Basic: no more than the most simple and concrete literacy skills;
- Basic: can perform simple and everyday literacy activities;
- Intermediate: can perform moderately challenging literacy activities;
- Proficient: can perform complex and challenging literacy activities;
Here is their graph showing results:
The results are consistent in all categories and through all years – only 13-15% of us are proficient, and 30-50% “intermediate;” this after warehousing kids for twelve years of their lives and hammering them with classes, textbooks and tests.
I can conclude that our education system is either a stunning failure, or a modest success. The “success” is contained on both sides of the divider between “proficient” and “intermediate.” In the “proficient” category you will find our doctors, lawyers, scientists, accountants, managers and supervisors. In all the other classes you will find our workers, homemakers, shop owners and unemployed.
Among all of them you will note an absence of any who are skilled at what we call “critical thinking,” which is not even measured. It is here that our education system scores its greatest success. Twelve years, ten months a year, six to eight hours a day, and the vast majority of Americans cannot see through the most crudely constructed hoax, Sandy Hook for instance, the granddaddy of clumsy.
The reason I write this is because of a string of comments beneath the Yitzhak post (starting here) in which a few lament that we seem unable to reach people. On the other side are those (like me) who simply take heart that life is worth living even as almost all around us miss the education bus, instead riding those yellow school buses on the road to mediocrity.
I have been labeled Pollyanna in outlook because I don’t imagine we can reach people with our work. If you fully absorb the implications of this 2003 study, you will begin to see what a daunting task we face if indeed we want to reach our fellow citizens*.
I suggest that if you are serious about that undertaking, that you measure your audience and adjust your tactics accordingly. You cannot reach them with prose, referral to documents, or arithmetic and math. Forget about logic. You can only reach them, as our leaders know so well, with images, subtle propaganda techniques of persuasion, and by establishing yourself as an authority figure. In other words, fight fire with fire.
Of course, in the process you will become the enemy, as the power that the leadership class has over the vast majority of our people is like a golden ring. Touch it, and it changes you.
*Keep in mind too that if we do score a modicum of success, TPTB simply step up their efforts at keeping the masses under thumb. I mean, what is the “conspiracy theory” meme if not a brilliant maneuver to discourage people from thinking?