In 1924 Henry Mencken (―…regarded as one of the most influential American writers and prose stylists of the first half of the twentieth century – Wikipedia) recognized what was going on within our education system by stating, “The aim of public education is not to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence. Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States.” The ―dumbing down of America continues today as verified in the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress report, also known as the Nation‘s Report Card.1 It states that, ―When it comes to reading and math skills, just 34 percent and 33 percent, respectively, of U.S. eighth-grade students tested proficient or above. When it comes to young adults in high school, it doesn’t get any better. The 2010 and 2013 NAEP test scores show that only 38 percent of 12th graders were proficient in reading, 26 percent were proficient in math, 12 percent in history, 20 percent in geography, and 24 percent in civics. Yet, many of these poorly performing students will gain entry into a college (astounding!).
A country that spends more per capita on education than most other nations in the world, yet ranks 24th is a shameful commentary. It would seem that the issue is not about money. Yet, many inner city and other school precincts are sorely in need of funds. Buildings in disrepair, shortages of supplies and books, inadequate oversight, and out of control students (with more and more resorting to violence) are common problems. Some blame can be attributed to declining neighborhoods where property tax revenues don’t provide enough funds to keep up.2 Mismanagement of funds, fraud, corruption and insufficient oversight can also be blamed. In addition, broken down family values and structure contributes to the disrespect and violence. Political forces fighting to gain an advantage in state precincts magnify the issue. The result is that money is not distributed equitably among all school districts.
Aside from money, a large part of the problem is that students are taught more about social justice, environmentalism, sex, and less about important subjects such as American history, English grammar, math, literature, music, and art. Textbooks are or have been rewritten to portray America as an immoral nation characterized by colonialism, racism, economic exploitation, militarism, and other apologetic subjects.3 These same textbooks conveniently leave out the facts that America has been the beacon of freedom to mankind, the country that has spent more money and spilled more blood to liberate other people than any other nation.
Common core standards stand at the center of these issues. This is a case where big government interference has created a disaster by de-funding and over regulating. Some believe that much of what is happening within the educational system is to advance left liberal ideas. That is, liberal ideas that have their roots in the social movements of the 1960s. Liberal institutions, afraid that students, teachers and professors will be exposed to an alternative way of thinking (especially at the college level), often intimidate those into silence. Kirsten Powers sums it up this way in her book, The Silencing, “When people are afraid to express their opinions because they’ve seen other people treated as deviants deserving of public shaming or worse, they will be less likely to speak freely.”4
There have been many instances where speakers were not invited or were uninvited to speak at college commencements because they had views opposing those of the college or student body. A 2014 article in U.S. News and World Report indicated that conservatives are disappearing from commencement programs. According to Harry Enten at the data-crunching site FiveThirtyEight. “Over the past two years, the top 30 universities and top 30 liberal arts colleges hosted 20 political commencement speakers, with nary a conservative in their ranks. Quite a change from 10 years earlier, when political speakers were more evenly split between liberals and conservatives.5 In many instances speakers are screened and must agree to certain conditions. If they do get to speak, they are often interrupted, sometimes to the point of being shouted off the podium.” In 2016, Michael Bloomberg (former mayor of New York City) was soundly booed at a University of Michigan commencement when he blasted the idea of “safe spaces” and other coddling of college students by college administrations.6
Although most colleges promote free speech, there are many examples where it is restricted. For instance, many colleges restrict free speech to what are called free speech zones that limit activity to a patch of grass, gazebo, or a few square feet on a patio. Despite rulings by federal judges that free speech zones are unconstitutional, FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) indicates that about 1 in 6 of the top colleges in the country still have them.7
Some universities are demanding that Christian groups adhere to policies that go against Christian values and beliefs or they will be de-recognized.8 This creates a stigma for such groups and the message that they should be avoided.
The lack of free speech and secular policies in the American education system are setting a dangerous precedent. Are the left liberals winning? Where else to make a large impact on a country’s future than through its education system? How are young people going to make informed choices regarding freedom and democracy when they are brought up and educated to align themselves with the far left, while at the same time being shielded from opposing points of view? Yes, it does seem that the left liberals are winning, as we see our younger generations falling in line to support socialist agendas.
This is no more apparent than in the 2016 presidential primary elections. Some of these young adults will invariably end up in the political mainstream and some will most likely be elected to Congress. Imagine a Congress where opposing views are routinely censored by shouting and other types of disruptions.
The cost of education at the university level has quadrupled over the last 30 years. Today student loan debt stands at over a staggering $1 trillion, more than the credit card debt of every American combined.9 According to the College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2015–2016 school year is $32,405 at private colleges, $9,410 for state residents at public colleges, and $23,893 for out-of-state residents attending public universities.10 Of course, tuition at the elite colleges such as Harvard and Yale is much higher.
Many believe that the Federal Government is to blame for the current rise. In 2010, legislation was passed ending subsidies for private banks that offered federally guaranteed student loans. The result was that the Federal Government, not banks, became the lender of choice for most students. Is it a coincidence that the more money the Federal Government pumps into financial student aid the more money the colleges charge for tuition? Some say it is not a coincidence and that tuition’s are artificially high directly because of federal financial aid. On top of it all, students are solely responsible for paying back loans, since loans are no longer “dis-chargeable,” or covered by bankruptcy. Choices for young adults that want to go to college are becoming more limited every year. It is either burden themselves with a huge debt or try to make a living without a college education. When the thought of incurring a high debt stands in the way of getting a higher level of education, it is not hard to understand why people stuck in low paying jobs want higher minimum wages.
1. IES>NCES -National Center for Educational Statistics, “The National Assessment of Educational Progress” http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/
2. 29 June 2015, ATLAS, “Federal, State, and Local K-12 School Finance Overview” http://atlas.newamerica.org/school-finance
3. Michael Rosenbaum, 26 February 2015, The Hill, “Rewriting history and the pursuit of ignorance” http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/education/233911-rewritinghistory-and-the-pursuit-of-ignorance
4. The Silencing – How the Left is Killing Free Speech by Kirsten Powers. ISBN 978-1-62157-370-8 (hardback). Published by Regnery Publishing, A Division of Salem Media Group, 300 New Jersey Ave NW, Washington, DC 2001, www.Regnery.com
5. Nicole Hemmer, 3 June 2014, US News, “Conservatives Vanish from Commencement” http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/nicolehemmer/2014/06/03/colleges-leave-conservatives-out-ofcommencement-ceremonies
6 Nick Gass, 2 May 2016, Politico, ―Bloomberg booed as he rips college safe spaces’ http://www.politico.com/story/2016/05/michael-bloomberg-booedmichigan-commencement-222691
7. 19 September 2013, FIRE, “Free Speech Zones on America‘s Campuses” https://www.thefire.org/infographic-free-speech-zones-on-americascampuses-2/
8. Matt Reagan, 11 September 2014, desiring God, “When Your Campus Ministry Is ―Derecognized” http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/when-your-campus-ministry-isderecognized
9. Mark Kantrowitz, 11 January 2016, Money College Planner, “Why the Student Loan Crisis Is Even Worse Than People Think”
10. Collegedata – your online college advisor, “What’s the Price Tag for a College Education?” http://www.collegedata.com/cs/content/content_payarticle_tmpl.jht ml?articleId=10064Tags: Education free speech Safe Spaces