Forgetting What Made America the Greatest Nation on Earth

Forgetting What Made America the Greatest Nation on Earth

© David Burton 2021

Dumbing Down America

     There once was an America when nearly everyone believed that, if able, people should work for what one received. There once was an America, where the best and the brightest were rewarded and encouraged to put their abilities to good use, uses which contributed toward the goal of making America the greatest nation on earth.

     There were other countries around the world that marched down a different path. In those countries, many held out their hands and accepted the dole. There were and are countries that tried to make all people equal – a path that rewarded the least competent and held back the best and the brightest. After all – equality could only be achieved when everyone was equal to the least competent. These countries sank into mediocrity and failed to experience the achievement and success that became characteristic of America. America became the envy of the world with what it achieved and accomplished during the nearly two-and-a-half centuries since its founding.

     But today, America appears to be slipping into mediocrity! Americans are being told that hard work is no longer an ideal or even a basic requirement. Americans are being told that they are under no obligation to earn what they receive – ‘the government’ will give Americans everything they need without its citizens having to work for this largesse. Americans are told that the new objective is “making everyone equal” which can only be achieved when everyone is only as intelligent and as competent as the least intelligent and the least competent.

     America’s education system, both public and private, has long been one major contributor to making America the greatest nation on earth. Our public schools, our colleges and our universities have turned out the best and the brightest in the world. But in today’s “liberal” and “Progressive” atmosphere, the threat of gutting this best educational system is persistent. We are today witnessing a concerted effort to “dumb down America” in order to make everyone “equal”, i.e., make everyone as dumb as the dumbest!

     Toward this goal of “dumbing down America”, that left-wing state on the left coast of America is considering eliminating college entrance exams. Dumping college entrance exams would be a big mistake!

     The SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test) and ACT (American College Testing) exams may have problems in their current form, but they are helpful predictors of whether or not students will succeed in college.
     But now the University of California (UC) has foolishly decided it will not use any entrance exam. Not the state’s standardized test for 11th graders. Not an exam that UC designs itself. University officials concluded any test would be prone to bias and the state’s Smarter Balanced exam would provide only modest additional useful information.
     This nonetheless is a problematic decision, especially after a committee of faculty leaders concluded in 2020, after expansive study, that the SAT and ACT were worth keeping and could help diversify the student population.
     Grade inflation is widespread at affluent high schools, creating an inequitable situation. But the holistic review UC uses for admission that can count any number of factors that the admissions officers happen to find appealing is even more subjective than course grades.
     A test score can be an important check against straight-A report cards or a more lackluster transcript — which is what the faculty committee concluded three years ago. If a student has glowing grades but flubs a test badly time after time, that raises legitimate questions about how earned those grades were. And a student who performs well on the test but has weak grades might have had teachers who were tougher graders. Likewise, the student might be the sort of independent soul who would make a brilliant university student but doesn’t do well with the regimented rules and limited course offerings of high school.
     A 2019 study found that colleges that adopted a test-optional admissions policy (which isn’t what UC is doing; it will not look at students’ scores on any entrance exam) did not increase the diversity of their student populations and that the main effect was to increase the number of applicants, which helps colleges look good in some ranking lists. Entrance exams should be used to confirm that students have mastered what they need to know in order to tackle university courses.
     While it’s true more affluent parents can afford tutors for their children and pay for multiple test-taking, entrance exams at least give students the chance to demonstrate their ability, on top of grade history, essay and letters of recommendation. To help level the playing field for low income families, test-taking fees should be on a sliding scale, based on financial need.
     If there’s one thing the ‘Varsity Blues’ scandal has taught us, it’s that there will always be those looking to game the system and give their children massively unfair advantages. We need more ways to level the playing field. Entrance exams are one way to achieve this goal.[1]

     In the past I have written in objection to the proposal in Massachusetts that entrance tests to Boston’s prestigious exam schools be abolished and replaced with an admittance criterion based upon one’s zip code.[2]

     This was being proposed in order to admit more students from areas of the city in which minorities - primarily Blacks and Latinos – constituted a larger portion of the population than elsewhere in the city. The proposal would have done away with the concept of pushing America’s “best and brightest” forward and replacing it with the socialist goal of rewarding the mediocre in order to give the appearance of “everyone being equal.”

     Some of the more Liberal residents in the People’s Democratic Commonwealth of Massachusetts also proposed the elimination of the state’s MCAS (Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System.) exams which are used to evaluate the performance of students, schools, teachers, and administrations and compare their performance quantitatively with schools state-wise and nation-wise. Heaven forbid that there be even a hint that all students weren’t somehow “equal”, that maybe some teachers weren’t doing as good a job as other teachers, or that there might be some quantitative, meaningful and useful way of measuring performance – by students, teachers and administrators.
     State employees don’t relish being evaluated - least of all many teachers and their teachers’ unions. As with any standard that gives minority students lower marks than Asian and white ones, MCAS has been continually opposed by groups who labeled it racially biased.
     But, as Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker said, “People can say they don’t like MCAS one way or another, but the simple truth is MCAS ... was an enormous success. It gave Massachusetts what most people consider to be some of the best schools in the country and had a positive and significant impact on kids in underperforming school districts.”[3] It was also one piece of the structure that has made America the greatest success story in the history of the world. Today, that is all changing – and arguably not for the better!

     This dumbing down of America is threatening to create an America based upon mediocrity. In January of 2021, the College Board announced it would eliminate the essay portion of the SAT, as well as all of the separate SAT subject tests. Their stated purpose was “reducing and simplifying demands on students.” Such a burden!
     When the University of California system did away with racial preferences in 1996, it moved to holistic admissions. Grades were to be only a suggestion - and SAT scores were unreliable since they were supposedly biased.
     Virtually all universities now have D&I (Diversity and Inclusion) departments to ensure the schools are paying proper attention to diversity and inclusion. Sounds worthy. But as far as one can tell, the number 1 job of a D&I department is to hire more people into the D&I department. No one ever bothers to even mention excellence.
     Many schools, like Hampshire College, Antioch University and Reed College, don’t even bother with meaningful grades – after all, G-d forbid, some feelings might get hurt by a low score on a test.
     The holy grail of “Diversity and Inclusion” even extends into the highest offices in the land. The Biden administration constantly points out the “firsts” it is achieving - its gender and racially diverse cabinet, vice president and other appointments. Great, but whatever happened to the original American goal of “best” rather than “first”? After all, the “first” could also be the “worst”.
     A few politically incorrect points worth noting include the following:

  • Eliminating the essay portion of the SAT will not improve reading ability.
  • Eliminating grades does not make people smarter, nor does giving everyone an A, nor does letting students grade themselves.
  • Diversity for diversity's sake does not benefit anyone – and that includes blacks or anyone else.
  • In America, it should not be and must not be just Black lives that matter.
  • Sheltering kids from reality does not prepare them for the real world that they will eventually have to face when they grow up.[4]
     Being as good as anyone else did not make America great – being better than everyone else did! Mediocre was never good enough for America – being the best was! America should never lose sight of the qualities that made America what it became – the greatest nation on earth! Dumbing this country down by encouraging everyone to be equal, that is by being as good as the least capable and the least qualified will not keep America in the lead! Instead, being the best and the brightest must be the holy grail for America's young! Just being good enough should never be enough for America's best and brightest.

  1. Dumping college entrance exams a big mistake, Boston Herald: Page 15, 6 December 2021.
  2. Whites Are Now the Victims of Racial Discrimination, David Burton, Son of Eliyahu: Article 497, 14 October 2021.
  3. Ignorance is Popular with Some in Massachusetts, David Burton, Son of Eliyahu: Article 502, 18 November 2021.
  4. The Dumbing Down of America is Poised to Accelerate, Mish, MISH TALK, 8 February 2021.

  30 December 2021 {Article 508; Suggestions?_64}    
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