2.04.2005

Dumbocracy

In "Students have appallingly weak grasp of free speech" in this morning's Sun-Times, Thomas Lipscomb reports that, "If an informed electorate is one of the keys to a healthy democracy, America's schools are clearly failing their students and the nation." Clips:
Almost three out of four students said they took the First Amendment for granted or didn't have any particular opinion about it . . . Once the First Amendment was read to them, one third of the students felt it went "too far" in granting free speech and one half thought that the government should have the right to approve news stories . . .

According to [Student Press Law Center director Mark] Goodman one of the problems is that "today's administrators are more corporate CEOs managing huge budgets than educators." What is particularly troubling is that school administrators in the last five years are not only interfering with student publications more and more frequently, they are increasingly asking for prior approval of their content . . .

The news gets worse at the collegiate level. Greg Lukianoff of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education says, "At colleges, free speech is increasingly regarded as a nuisance to be granted only grudgingly, and college administrations use legal excuses to suppress opinions." While teachers bear the worst consequences at the high school level, students are heavily penalized at college. They are stigmatized, expelled, subjected to mandatory psychological counseling or forced to take "re-education" courses, with very little legal recourse.
Wait a minute, here. "When it [the First Amendment] was read to them"???!! I can't remember one school year since the 6th grade in which I didn't study Civics or Social Studies or something like that. My school teacher/professor father would be enraged, as am I.

The fact is that the systematic retooling and disassembly of our "liberal education" system has been going on for four decades, and we're starting to see the results big time. Next, and it won't be long, we'll start seeing kids reporting their parents to the FBI for reading Harpers magazine.

We're all complicit. The dirty little secret on the Left is that lefties benefitted from the Reagan tax revolts as much as did conservatives. The citizens of this country just don't want to pay taxes to have their kids well-educated. As implied in Lipscomb's piece, the result (even in "public" education) is the privatization of education. And privatization is a bedrock conservative avatar.

You know all those millions of dollars spent on Democratic Party candidates in the last election cycle. People could have spent it better by giving it to their local school systems. But no - I guess we'd rather try to buy a politician than buy a good education for our children and young adults.