A dumbed-down America will be easy to control

TRACKSIDE  (c)   by John D'Aloia Jr.


Governments pin great hope on national achievement tests to prod schools into producing a better product and to demonstrate that all their mandates and all the tax dollars are producing results. Test results so far are demonstrating that government schools still get failing grades, that children are not being educated. One heck of a lot of prodding still needs to be done given the results from the history assessment tests given to 4th, 8th, and 12th grade students in 2001. When the results were released, the U.S. Secretary of Education said they were "unacceptable." Only 18% of 4th graders were classified as "proficient." Thirty-three percent did not even score high enough to be in the basic knowledge category, the category which is the bottom rung of the achievement ladder.

The results got progressively worse for the higher grades. Only 17% of 8th graders were proficient; 36% were below basic. The results for high school seniors were dismal - 11% proficient, 57% below basic. NYU history professor Diane Ravitch, on the assessment test’s governing board, was quoted in the July "School Reform News" to have commented "Since the seniors are very close to voting age or already have reached it, one can only feel alarm that they know so little about their nation’s history and express so little capacity to reflect on its meaning." She called the scores "truly abysmal" and was alarmed at the situation with the nation "at war and under terrorist threat."

Dr. Ravitch has every reason to be concerned. A dumbed down electorate will believe whatever the self-anointed Guardians present to them. When tomorrow’s citizens do not have a clue about their country’s history, why and how it was founded, and what sets it apart from other nations and other systems of government, to expect it to continue ad infinitum as a bastion of freedom is expecting what cannot be. History itself shows that great civilizations have a tendency to disintegrate, their common endpoint is tyranny. A noted historian, Will Durant, writing in "Caesar and Christ," stated it thus: "A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has been destroyed itself within. The essential causes of Rome's decline lay in her people, her morals, her class struggle, her failing trade, her bureaucratic despotism, her stifling taxes, her consuming wars."

Does not Durant’s description of Rome’s downfall have resemblances to America today? Example after example can be found in today’s media headlines that fit Durant’s string of reasons for Rome’s decline to a "T." We are destroying our nation from within, and apparently enjoying every minute of it. Unless there is a classic reformation of national soul and purpose, a future historian will be able to take Durant’s quote and substitute "America" for "Rome."

But enough doom and gloom. There is a way out. It remains within our reach. All elements of our nation must undertake a reaffirmation of allegiance to our Founding Principles. We do have the opportunity to survive as humanity’s "shining city on a hill."

Whether the reformation comes in schools that once again instill our history and reason for being in tomorrow’s electorate and we thus re-evolve into the constitutional republic from whence we started, or whether today’s electorate comes to its senses about what is happening to its freedom and throws out those who would be our Guardians, it matters not. From a practical matter, both have to happen to solidify and expedite the process. If it is not taught in the schools, nothing stops a person from reading founding-era source documents. "The Federalist Papers" provides a direct insight into the rationale behind our Constitution. One can explore the thick tombs that have been written to explain and dissect our Founding Principles, such as St. George Tuckers’ "A View of the Constitution of the United States." Tocqueville’s "Democracy in America" is a classic, but before you squirrel yourself away with a stack of books, reread the Declaration of Independence while considering the words of James Madison, a principle author of the Constitution: "We have staked the future of all of our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government; upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God." Were Madison to arrive on the scene today, I do believe that he would take his cue from Matthew’s Gospel, throwing out the Guardians and the den of thieves who claim that they have a right to be supported by taxpayers and are exempt from God’s Law (he could start with the 9th Circuit.) What a great housecleaning that would be.


See you Trackside.

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