Education? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Education

Bob Herbert recently published an op-ed piece in the New York Times called Putting Our Brains On Hold. In the piece Herbert points out that the USA is 12th (out of 36) with adults 25-34 with college degrees among developed nations. Herbert quotes a report by the College Board that says that Canada, South Korea, Russia, Japan, New Zealand, Ireland, Norway, Israel, France, Belgium and Australia ranks above us in that 25-34 group having college degrees. Herbert calls this “beyond pathetic”. I call it inexcusable.

It’s easy to point fingers to bad public schools, ill conceived government intervention, and everyone’s whipping boy, the media. The fact is that learning is looked down upon in our country. Unlike years ago, people who are smart are looked down upon. I could list many more ways that this happens, but here’s a start:

  • We have blanded our educational system so that mediocre is the norm. No Child Left Behind pumped billions of dollars into Special Education programs to ensure that lower students got a good education. However, it neglected to keep the upper level students challenged. Upper level, high achieving students are not intellectually challenged in most schools in the US.
  • No Child Left Behind created an environment where many teachers wind up teaching to the test.
  • As a culture we don’t value intellect. Right now, there is a whole political movement set up upon the concept that the “Elitists” (read those who are educated) don’t get everyday life. We don’t want the smartest people in the room, we want the ones that we can have a beer with.
  • We give entertainers, athletes, and celebrities higher status than they are often worth.
  • The Fundamentalist/Evangelical Christian community has long downplayed the idea of a thorough “liberal” education. Most Fundamentalist/Evangelical colleges have an agenda on hand that smacks of indoctrination rather than a learning experience.
  • Secular Universities and Colleges who are more interested in a bland “political correctness” that teaches no morality. Religion teachers who are fired for teaching the moral statements and beliefs of the relgion that they are supposed to be teaching.

Herbert predicts dire consequences if we don’t fix the education gap. I think those consequences have already started to take effect. Our political process has become dominated by those who would like to sit down with us for that symbolic beer. The trouble is that they lack a true understanding of our Constitution (on both sides of the aisle). We are addled into believing that a  public debate on the incarceration of Lindsay Lohan  is really discussing current events.  We need educated leadership and an educated workforce to survive the next generation.

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Published in: on 08/08/2010 at 8:53 pm  Comments (1)  
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