Why the Decline in American Education (and Morals)

Author: 
Miguel A. Faria, Jr., MD
Article Type: 
Editor's Corner
Issue: 
Winter 1997
Volume Number: 
2
Issue Number: 
1

Is Insufficient Spending the Culprit?

Education pundits continue to deliberate and pontificate on the reasons for America's decline in education and to offer the same, effete educational nostrums. As usual, they (particularly the liberals) claim that we do not spend enough on public education and "invest" sufficiently in the future generation. To them, although they may not articulate it clearly, nothing is intrinsically wrong with the system. All would be well, if we just spend more money and improve the children's ailing self-esteem. But, is this assessment valid and the remedy appropriate? The answer is of paramount importance for the future of the next generation hangs in the balance, and frankly, as things now stand, the future does not look promising.

If, at the national level, the trend and statistics reveal the grim picture of a worsening situation, the situation in my own state of Georgia seems even more ominous. Georgia ranks 50th among the states in Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores, and last year's National Education Assessment Tests revealed that 85% of Georgia public school eight-graders were not competent in mathematics for their grade level.

And this, despite the persistent trend in increasing educational spending. In 1945, public school spending, nationwide, per pupil was $974. By 1992, this amount had risen to $5,216 (all $ figures in 1992 dollars). Despite a 5 times rise in per pupil spending (concomitant with a 2.5 times rise in salary for teachers), the results have been dismally disappointing. From 1950 to 1992, we have witnessed a 25 point drop in the SAT math scores and a 50 point drop in the SAT verbal scores.

To the chagrin of liberals, the fact is that of the 10 states with the highest student achievement rankings, only one (Wisconsin at #8) ranks in the top 10 for per pupil spending. And, Georgia, with a 1993 SAT average score of 844, ranked 50th (last) in the nation despite a per pupil expenditure of $5001; while neighboring Tennessee, with a respectable average SAT score of 1006, ranked 14th and spent barely $4000 per student.(1)

All Consuming Problems

Before we can offer constructive solutions, we should attempt to pinpoint the underlying causes of the problems.

First, is the American obsession that when it comes to education, we put quantity over quality. We want to graduate everyone from high school, to the point many of the "graduates" can not even read their own diplomas. To do this, we lower educational standards, degrade core curricula, and rob meritorious students of a genuine intellectual achievement at graduation. A recent report states: "In our effort to graduate everyone from high school, we have so degraded the curriculum that the diploma is in terms of genuine achievement, meaningless. High school and colleges have colluded in this embrace of mediocrity."(1) They have a point. Instead of pushing achievement and demanding scholastic excellence from students, the new educators are concerned with lowering standards, as to establish intellectual egalitarianism, avoid offending sensitivities, and graduate as many students as possible.

The second problem borders on the philosophic and centers on the legacy of the American philosopher, educator, and Fabian socialist John Dewey (1959-1952), who not only claimed that truth partakes of no transcendental or eternal reality, but also insisted that truth is merely an instrument used by men to solve their immediate mundane or spiritual problems. Thus, truth must necessarily change as man's problems change (instrumentalism). Dewey, of course, was a disciple of the American physician-philosopher William James (1842-1910), who founded the prevailing philosophy of pragmatism, whereby the truth of a proposition is "not determined from miracles of faith or logical reasoning, but judged solely, from its practical outcome."(2)

Needless to say, the educational legacy of these "learned gentlemen" not only led to the situational ethics and moral relativism in which we are mired, but more directly, it led to the rejection of moral absolutes and the lack of recognition of transcendental truths. Let us ask ourselves: With such socialist seeds devoid of moral absolutes cast into the wind, what type of harvest do you think we will reap in future generations?

Third, we have the problem of discipline or lack thereof. I will not dwell on this point (which, along with violence, has been extensively covered in the media), but I mention it only because of its ubiquitous reality. One only has to consider the thought --- of how the lack of teaching morality and the discernment between right and wrong, coupled with the fact that in today's environment, teachers and parents are afraid of reprimanding the young (for fear of being labeled with the devastating and offensive charge of child abuse) --- to recognize the adverse impact these developments would have on the impressionable minds of the young.

In parallel to these reprehensible developments, we must also note that the time-proven method of alphabetic-phonics is being replaced by the "look-say" or whole language method of reading and comprehension that fits conveniently with the higher learning sophistry of deconstructionism (whereby the text has no fixed meaning and it is up to the reader to "construct" a unique interpretation). It's no wonder the children are growing up to be lost, without moral compasses to guide them, in the urban jungles of alienation and despair!

So, the goals of education --- viz, discipline; a basic core curriculum (including the fundamentals, math, grammar, reading and writing, etc.) supplemented by a liberal arts education (i.e., language, history, literature, science, and philosophy); high academic standards; and superior achievement --- were all supplanted by the new goals of "self-actualization," values clarification, sensitivity training, multiculturalism, and human sexuality. Incidentally, all of these new cliché attributes, are facets of the trendy and mislabeled "Outcome-Based Education (OBE)" curriculum (which encompasses the discredited whole language educational method).

Suffice to say, the goals of education have been perverted so that standards have been diminished to the lowest common denominator and everyone is able to perform "satisfactorily." Academic excellence is no longer pursued for fear of offending the sensitivities and "hurting" the self-esteem of underachieving youngsters. The same dumbing down phenomenon seems to be taking place in America's colleges.(3)

Sinister Objectives?

While I am still not so sure why all of this is happening, others directly involved in the educational process have come to some compelling conclusions. Writing in The New American, educator Charlotte T. Iserbyt states, "the real desired outcome of OBE elitists is a deliberate dumbed-down, easily managed and controlled global work force of compliant automatons." This contention should certainly give some of us, even if we are not prone to conspiracy theories, some food for thought and cogitation. She further asserts that "the bottom line, as usual, is global profits and global controls...."(4) With this objective, she believes that OBE would be an effective method to "train" workers using programmed learning, as described by the Russian physiologist and experimental psychologist Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936) and the behavior modification techniques used in laboratory animals by the late Harvard psychology professor B.F. Skinner (1904-1990).

Under OBE behavioral conditioning techniques, Ms. Iserbyt believes children will be trained into a docile work force fit for the coming New World Order of the 21st century. Unfortunately, these children will not be capable of using logic in the manner of St. Thomas Aquinas, reconciling faith with reason, or understanding the concept of learning or the liberal arts in the Aristotelian tradition --- that is, learning for the sake of learning and a way of liberating the mind from the toils of daily work. These programmed children, perhaps even more significantly, would be unable to take politically unpopular or controversial stands based on principle, nor would they be prepared to serve in the most important office necessary to safeguard the precepts of our constitutional Republic --- that of an informed, vigilant, and private/public citizen.

What Needs to be Done?

We must radically reform education by rejecting OBE and return to time-proven methods of education, such as the promotion of academic excellence, the dedication of more time and effort to basic core curricula (e.g. more time for math, reading, and writing), less time to values clarification, sensitivity training, multiculturalism, sex education, self-esteem improvement, and other fashionable gimmicks.

We should empower parents by increasing school choice and parental involvement in education --- including the institution of vouchers and tax deductions for paying tuition in the school of the parents' choice.

Teachers should be freed from the stranglehold of the centralized, educational bureaucracy as to be able to raise educational standards and prepare the children, as individuals, for the real technologic and competitive world they will be confronting in the 21st century.

Most importantly, the institution of the traditional family should be fortified and nurtured, and voluntary prayer brought back along with the Ten Commandments into the classroom. And based on our Judeo-Christian teachings, the children should be taught moral absolutes and universal truths so that, as they journey through life, they will be able to exercise free will and while ratiocinating clearly, be able to distinguish plainly between the divergent paths of right and wrong.

References/Notes

1. More money doesn't necessarily mean higher scores. Georgia Policy Review, Georgia Public Policy Foundation, May 1994, and Georgia ranks low in education - again, June 1996.
2. Faria MA Jr. On the moral virtues and evolving professional ethics. Medical Sentinel 1996;1(1):4-5.
3. Schlafly P. The dumbing down of America's colleges. The Phyllis Schlafly Report, April 1996, Vol. 29, No. 9.
4. Iserbyt CT. The OBE attack. The New American, August 8, 1994, p. 31-33. See also Blumenfeld SL. The whole-word hoax and down the slippery slope. Ibid., p. 23-26.

Dr. Faria is a consultant neurosurgeon and author of Vandals at the Gates of Medicine (1995) and the newly released Medical Warrior: Fighting Corporate Socialized Medicine (Macon, Georgia, Hacienda Publishing, Inc., 1997). He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the Medical Sentinel.

Originally published in the Medical Sentinel. This article can be cited as: Faria MA. Why the Decline in American Education (and Morals).Medical Sentinel 1997;2(1):14-15. Available from:  http://www.haciendapub.com/medicalsentinel/why-decline-american-educatio...

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Z Generation Grads!

Colonel H. Avery Chenoweth Sr. of Perry, Georgia, has written a new book entitled, Guidebook for "Z-Generation" Grads — Some Basics You May Not Have Learned in High School or College (2014), that promises "down-to-earth practical knowledge and advice to aid you in facing the uncertain future in these opening decades of the 21st century." Part I covers a variety of topics from "the American Dream" to "War in the 21st Century" and Part II from "U.S. Government Basics" to "How to Seek a Job." The book is printed in large, easy to read print and it is 313 pages of information that should truly sure as a Guidebook for the "Z Generation" Grads.

H. Avery Chenoweth Sr. has an A.B. in Art History from Princeton and a MFA from the University of Florida. He has been an advertising executive as well as a writer and cinematographer. Chenoweth served in the U.S. military and fought in Korea, Vietnam, and the Gulf War, attended the Naval War College, and attained the rank of Colonel and was awarded the Legion of Merit.

We have received Colonel Chenoweth's book, Guidebook for "Z-Generation" Grads, and we must admit that even at a cursory inspection, we're impressed by the scope, content, and knowledge in the book. We're sure it will impart wisdom to those youngsters, and even those not so young grown-ups, who read it. For our part we will read it avidly and with gusto. Congratulations! Those interested in this or any other books by Col. Chenoweth should visit www.booksbychenoweth.com. — MAF

Education in the United

Education in the United States is provided by both public and private schools. Public education is universally available, with control and funding coming from the state, local, and federal government.Public school curricula, funding, teaching, employment, and other policies are set through locally elected school boards, who have jurisdiction over individual school districts. State governments set educational standards and mandate standardized tests for public school systems. Giselle (realbraindumps)

Common Core Curriculum

Parents and Teachers Object to Common Core
By Phyllis Schlafly, GOPUSA, December 10, 2013

The media are currently filled with reports of students in the U.S. scoring poorly on international tests. The Program for International Student Assessment, which compares 15-year-olds in most industrialized countries, reports that American students dropped from 25th to 31st in math, 11th to 21st in reading and 20th to 24th in science. The solution consistently offered for these low rankings is to spend more money on schooling. But numerous studies examining the billions of dollars we've spent on education in the last decade show that money has not improved the performance of U.S. students, and higher-scoring foreign countries spend far less per pupil than we do.

Now we are told we need a new national system called Common Core State Standards Initiative, and it has provoked a grassroots uprising. Parents don't want federal control or a federal curriculum, and teachers don't like the CC tests.Common Core advocates loudly proclaim there isn't any CC curriculum, saying there are only standards, which local schools can use to write their own curricula. But the CC tests (usually called assessments) are the mechanism of federal control over curriculum because teachers must teach to the test.

As states are beginning to implement Common Core, parents and teachers are discovering many things they don't like. An Oak Forest, Ill., high school government class required students and their parents to fill out questionnaires that identified their positions on controversial political issues so they could place themselves on a "political spectrum."

http://www.gopusa.com/commentary/2013/12/10/parents-and-teachers-object-...

Mandarin or Spanish!

September 16-17, 2013

"Mandarin or Spanish in the Bibb County School System"

Dr. Faria: I disagree with the education program of "Miracle Macon," and frankly, believe some aspects of it – e.g. Mandarin language requirements – are, simply, ludicrous! I hope the school system returns to English, Spanish, and the basics!

Mr. Richardson: I'm sure you've heard of the data that shows a second language, Mandarin or not increases the brain's activity, helps connect the dots in a younger person's mind. Those who are multilingual, like yourself tend to live longer, suffer from
dementia later than those people like me who are monolingual. I love the debate, too.

Dr. Faria: Studies support what you state about being multilingual, increased longevity and better health, but this is also true for ALL intellectual pursuits, like mathematics, reading, writing, etc. But for obvious reasons: it should be Spanish not Mandarin!

Mr. Richardson: How many job opportunities is the Mexican economy producing? I agree that Spanish would be useful in a number of instances, however, the world's biggest economy, next to us and growing is China.

Dr. Faria: I would be hoping that after graduation, our graduates would be hiring Spanish-speaking legal aliens in their own businesses, rather than employed in Chinese (government) enterprises and sweat shops! I love debate too!

From the personal correspondence between Dr Miguel Faria and Mr. Charles Richardson, the Editorial Page Editor of the (Macon) Telegraph


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