Gary Hubbell: The Redneck Tree-Hugger
August 7, 2008
Yesterday at City Market I noticed they were selling “necterines” and “cantulopes.” Just so, I thought, completely indicative of a society that is swirling down the drain.
The United States doesn’t smelt steel, make televisions or grow enough food to feed the world anymore, so we’ve smugly assumed that we will lead the world with our highly educated, technically proficient, creative, brilliant workforce that constantly produces innovative technologies.
In June the Denver Post ran a front-page story about the Denver Public Schools, whose administrators got a wild hair and decided to actually test 9th-graders to see how they were doing. The results were appalling ” only 13 percent of the newly minted high school sophomores could demonstrate basic proficiency in 9th-grade algebra. Of the 2,933 students tested, 1,800 got an “F.” Only 13 scored an “A.”
We’ve always prided ourselves in being the world’s leader, whether politically, militarily or economically. One indisputable measure of a nation’s capability is an educated citizenry. While we might argue how to assess a student’s reading ability in Finnish versus German versus British English, math has no cultural bias. Math is math is math. The answer is either right or wrong, and one must take logical steps to arrive at the proper conclusion. There’s no gray area. And we rank 18th among wealthy countries.
The Denver Public Schools (DPS) are primarily inner-city schools heavily populated by black and Latino students. Almost half the kids taking the assessment test did not speak English as their native language. The more affluent areas of metro Denver, such as Cherry Creek, scored much higher in the annual Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP) tests. While only 19 percent of the DPS 9th-graders scored proficient or advanced in math, the rich kids at Cherry Creek blew them away with 46 percent of 9th-graders scoring proficient or advanced. But wait a minute ” fewer than half of kids from Denver upper-class neighborhoods are proficient in math? That cannot be a good omen for our future prosperity as a nation. Take comfort, though, because 56 percent of Aspen 9th-graders scored proficient or advanced. Isn’t it great that more than half of our privileged rich kids understand basic logic?
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Aha. Therein lies the rub ” logic. I just had an epiphany. This explains why our entire society is screwed up. The great majority of people don’t understand rational thinking, and it is easily proven by our children’s test scores. If, on average, only 25 percent of 9th-graders understand rational thinking (math), then three-quarters of the unwashed masses doesn’t. By the time a person is 15 years old, they either get the concept or they don’t. Rational thinking is a learned trait, not an inherent trait, and studies show again and again that involvement from educated parents is the greatest predictor of academic success in all subjects. In adulthood, people don’t get more logical, as a rule. They get more opinionated, more superstitious, more biased, more emotional ” but very few people get more rational as they go along, unless they’re educating themselves.
Let me ask you this: How many of the adults you know could pass a basic algebra test?
That’s why we have $400 billion prescription drug entitlement programs for senior citizens, with a special mandate that the government cannot engage in quantity discount purchasing practices. It’s not logical; it’s not rational.
That’s why we chose to ship our manufacturing jobs overseas, proudly proclaiming that we’ll lead the world in technology and innovation, when our grown children aren’t capable of balancing the day’s receipts at a Subway franchise or writing a letter to the editor. That’s why we’re shoveling $700 billion a year in oil money to a bunch of maniacal Muslims who want to wipe us off the face of the earth, while we tool around in 10-mpg SUVs.
That’s why our government forbid lending institutions from determining the legal immigration status of homebuyers, while allowing Wall Street to package sub-prime “NINJA” (No Income, No Job, No Assets) loans as AAA investments. The losses in the mortgage scandal are now estimated to be $1.3 trillion and mounting, and your neighborhood bank could go under as a result. Is that logical or rational?
Another good one is our transition to a “service economy.” It goes like this: We quit making tangible items like toasters and automobiles, on the premise that our workforce is too well-educated and capable to be bothered with making such basic items that any Korean or Mexican or Chinese worker can make. We’re going to make computer systems and movies. We’ll entertain and enlighten the world. Yet somehow all the tech support jobs got outsourced to India because, well, they’re better at math than we are.
So we bring in hordes of practically illiterate illegal aliens to wash dishes, mow lawns, pour concrete and pluck chickens, because it’s somehow too much to ask our youth to get a job that they might find difficult and tedious. It’s easier to just hand them some cash. The price we pay for our indolence and laziness is schools clogged with struggling children, emergency rooms jammed with indigent patients and jails filled with alien criminals that we have to feed and house.
In the meanwhile, an entire generation of youth sits around in dark rooms gobbling up 60 percent of the world’s computer programming capacity to play computer games, frantically jab at joysticks, slurp high-fructose corn syrup and become so obese that we declare them disabled and pay them a monthly stipend. This doesn’t add up.
We need a major renovation of our educational system, and we need it fast. Do the math.