We Must Rightly Discern 21st Century America

Friday, May 19, 2017
By Paul Martin

By James Wesley Rawles
May 19, 2017

t is now fully apparent that American society is slowly sliding into oblivion. The signs are all around us, in a quiet chorus muttering the same word: “Decay, decay, decay.” We also live in a nation that is increasingly polarized. As evidence of the latter, simply study a map of the polling results from the November 2016 election.

“And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?” – Matthew 16:3 (KJV)

The Bygone Era
If you read nearly any 19th Century or early 20th Century book, you will get a glimpse of a bygone society that in the middle and upper classes was substantially more literate, courteous, reserved, and considerate than we see in the early 21st Century. It was a culture that had a rich vocabulary. They were often schooled in music and well-versed in scripture. Families that aspired to send their children to a college or university insured that they studied Latin and usually at least one modern foreign language—usually German or French. (Or perhaps, it was Spanish for those living in the southwest.)

It was standard practice in many schools to memorize not just Bible verses but also poems of moderate length. Parenthetically, I should mention that my paternal grandfather could rattle off the full text of Longfellow’s Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie in dactylic hexameter, with nary a pause, 60 years after he left high school. I’m pleased to report that my homeschooled children seem to have better recall and a wider base of general knowledge than I gained in public schools. So, perhaps there is hope for us!

The Public Fool System
Take a few minutes to read Harvard University’s entrance examination, for the year 1869. That would be considered almost graduate school level work today. And, again, that was considered entrance level, in 1869. How far we have fallen, America!

Our public schools now produce legions of illiterate fools who are just barely capable of sustaining themselves with a productive job. Often, employers must resort to remedial training. They do so just to get their employees to the point that they can do rudimentary mathematics and construct a complete sentence at an 8th grade level.

Because education has been reduced to the “No child left behind” lowest common denominator, standards have degraded dramatically. We now live in era where achievement testing is considered “unfair” or even “cruel”, and where everyone goes home with a pat on the head and a Participation Ribbon. The priority is positive self image rather than academic vigor. Discern the truth: If this trend continues to its logical end, then we are doomed.

Public high school students now “graduate” largely ignorant of history, geography, the sciences, and literature. Most of them cannot balance a checkbook or count out change at a cash register. Nearly half of them cannot even read an analog dial clock. They do not know the parts of speech and cannot diagram a sentence. Some cannot correctly answer simple three column subtraction problems. Very few can write a sentence cursively. Their vocabularies are considerably truncated, compared to past generations. They have never had the Constitution taught to them in detail. They have never memorized the Declaration of Independence, as children often did up until the 1930s.

SAT Score Shenanigans
By the middle of the 20th Century, Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores had been rising steadily for nearly five decades. But then, in 1967, the trend reversed dramatically, and scores have never recovered. The response to this dilemma from academia was laughable. Instead of improving the educational process, they declared: “Re-norm the tests!” And in 1995, that is just what they did. And when even that proved insufficient, our colleges simply lowered their entrance requirements.

A substantial percentage of baccalaureate degrees are now awarded to “special cases” with low GPAs. The end result: The once-revered Bachelor of Arts degree is no longer any relevant gauge of either intelligence or knowledge.

Not surprisingly, America’s academic decline has led to both a decline in real (inflation-adjusted) wages and a decline in competitiveness in global trade. Secondary school students in the United States now rank in the bottom one-third in math scores of the 34 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) “developed” countries.

Adjusted for the real rate of inflation, average after-tax income has fallen in 10 of the past 15 years. This has meant that the middle class is shrinking. We are living in the midst of a hidden economic depression, but few in the mainstream media want to admit it.

Some Signs of the Times

The Rest…HERE

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