Historic Public School Disaster: You're (Probably) Smarter Than an 8th Grader

Historic Public School Disaster: You're (Probably) Smarter Than an 8th Grader
(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Historic Public School Disaster: You’re (Probably) Smarter Than an 8th Grader

Just 13 percent of American 8th graders are “proficient” in American history and civics. Thank a teacher. And an administrator. And a lefty school board member. Thank the Public Education Blob as a whole.

And given what passes for proficiency these days, we shouldn’t be too sanguine about what the 13 percent actually knows.

In other comforting news, “The Department of Education recently found that nearly one-third of 8th-grade students in the U.S. can’t describe the structure or function of the American government.”

Then the Department went back to worrying that kids might be praying in schools.

This is a little confusing. Isn’t one of the fundamental rationales for a public school system that it makes American kids into American citizens?

Connor Boyack of the Libertas Institute in Utah told Fox News the 13 percent is “an appallingly low figure, especially because these kids are going to mature and become voters.” (They may become voters, but “mature” seems kind of optimistic.) Our 8th graders “can’t even pass the citizenship test that we require of other people,” he said.

Yep. That’s terrific news for the left. Not so much for the republic. The Constitution can’t save us for long if citizens can’t even identify it, let alone understand what the founders meant it to do. That takes the “self” out of “self-government” and leaves the business of understanding government and its limits to an elite, priestly class who see ruling as their duty and their right.

And it those people want to use government as a goody bag from which to dispense money or privileges to favored groups? If they start finding new “rights” in fortune cookies or floating around in the ether? (Those aren’t rhetorical questions, because that’s what we already have. How’s it working out for us?)

That further infantilizes the electorate, fostering victimhood and dependency. And that’s the point. There’s nothing so empowering as the knowledge that you’re a free-born citizen of the republic, with all the rights and duties that entails. So ignorant young voters who see government as a provider and a social leveler are a feature for progressives, not a bug.

On the other hand,  as you can see in popular culture and on college campuses, nature abhors a vacuum. (Well, the kids in STEM kids see it. Who knows what the post-colonial queer poetry majors see.) Those with no grounding in real history are defenseless against fashionable takes. A kid with no grounding in colonial history has no tools to evaluate the assertion that the American Revolution was fought in defense of slavery.

This is how we get garbage like the 1619 Project. It’s how we end up with demands for reparations in a state where slavery was never legal. And it’s how Howard Zinn’s communist slander of America became a standard text on our history.

How do we fix it? Boyack says “We have to unleash the entrepreneurship and ingenuity of millions of people, which is why we need so-called school choice or education freedom, rather than protecting this monopoly, the system that is just old and inefficient.”

The teachers unions would never countenance such heresy. Nor would the edu-crats. And the army of psychologists, counselors, DEI consultants et al. that lard up school budgets, what would they do? We can’t have them walking the streets muttering “Don’t tell your parents” to themselves or dealing hormone suppressors on the street corner.

No, Big Education is an employment program for America’s mediocrities, and no government program ever really disappears. Heck, Reagan couldn’t even strangle the Education Department in its infancy.

Oh, and there’s one more group that won’t allow anyone to mess with the Blob: the media. I wrote a couple of weeks ago that a school board in Colorado adopted a new social studies program called “American Birthright,” created by a right-wing advocacy group that warns of the “steady whittling away of American liberty.”

That description comes from the 4,000-word hit piece NBC published on the board. Can American Birthright be any worse than whatever is producing 13 percent proficiency? I doubt it. Maybe a program that “warns of the ‘steady whittling away of American liberty’” can do something to whittle away American ignorance.

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