Skip to comments.Losing Our Kids - And Businesses - To Stupidity
Posted on 03/07/2005 5:22:14 AM PST by cinives
According to the U.S. Department of Education, in 2001 57 percent of high school seniors had a below basic reading proficiency level. Those who have analyzed the data put out by the Department of Education suggest that as many as 100 million adults in America do not possess the literary abilities to function effectively in society.
In 1988 and 2000, U.S. companies surveyed by the American Management Association said that 32 percent of job applicants lacked the reading skills required for the jobs for which they applied. All applicants interviewed nationally for a position by Motorola failed tests on seventh-grade English and fifth-grade math.
Is the problem with our economy that companies cannot create jobs? Or, is the problem that the young adults who graduate from our public schools and universities do not have the qualifications to fill jobs that can stimulate business growth?
We like to think other nations dislike us because they envy our quality of life. Really? Of all U.N. member nations, we rank 49th in literacy.
Are kids today so much worse than those of 60 years ago? Or, is the social environment we have built to raise them so much worse?
A part of the answer to this question came to me once as I sat on the runway at a major Florida airport talking with my seat partner. He was a successful, affluent businessman. He owned several television stations. He was on his way to Washington, D.C. to lobby for license renewals.
"I just attended my youngest child's graduation from college," he told me with a proud smile.
"I had two families...you know, divorced, remarried, three children by each wife," he said. Strangers on airplanes often share personal information with one another... moments of this kind truly represent two ships passing in the night.
We talked for a few more minutes as he explained how it had taken him until he was almost 35 to get his college degree. His family was poor, his father had died when he was just a child, and he was the oldest of several children.
He had to keep leaving school to go home and help support his family.
"I'm so relieved all of my children were able to complete their educations by the time they were 22 years old," he said.
We talked a few minutes more. We discussed many of todays social problems. He made several comments about children his own, and kids in general. They do not seem to have the same traditional sense of respect and commitment for family, he said. He compared their lives to his when so many years ago he kept postponing his education to ensure his loved ones had food on the table. As he spoke, an insight I never had before came to me. They were difficult words to say to a friend let alone a stranger. But I thought they might give him some insight into what was obviously troubling him.
"It seems to me what you are saying is that you made life as easy for your children as you could. You made things so easy, they had no opportunity to face challenges and develop character. Now you lack respect for them because they dont have the strength of character that overcoming challenges teaches human beings."
As I said, people on airplanes say things to one another that would normally not be socially accepted topics of conversation. In the first class section of a DC-10, it is very unlikely someone will hit you for making a statement not meant as an insult, but taken as one.
He stared at me for the longest time. His eyes reflected first the perceived insult... that I was somehow telling him he had done the wrong thing. Then his look became thoughtful, questioning, then accepting. He nodded his head.
"I believe you may be right," he concluded.
I have thought many times about that conversation. I learned a great deal from it.
I believe one major reason a lot of American kids became unmanageable brats and teenagers in the 1960s came from battle-wearied soldiers standing on Europes shores. They awaited a ship to take them home after the WWII. They were so grateful to be going home alive, so grateful for the families or future families awaiting them, they made a promise:
My kids are never going to have a tough life like the one Ive just lived. Things are going to be better for them.
Unfortunately, like my seat partner that day, they made life too easy for their children. It resulted in unchallenged kids, insecure, undisciplined youths. Kids need to be challenged. The only way to gain self-respect and a sense of self-reliance is to take a chance start with small challenges win some, lose some -- and grow from there.
I was eight when WWII ended. The generation of kids that came up right behind me were the ones protesting at UC Berkley and at Yale and Cornell... upper and upper-middle class young adults.
We were not raised thinking it was the worlds job to entertain and amuse us. During summer vacation, we took part in reading programs at the public library.
We never heard of fast food restaurants. Few of us were fat we were too active to gain weight. We did not get a weekly income for doing little or nothing. As a member of a family, we were expected to be responsible and productive members of the unit.
Our boys were allowed to be boys with all male traits. Girls were allowed to be girls. We celebrated the difference. The thought of same sex marriage never entered our minds, let alone our legislatures.
Our music was about love not hate and violence. Dancing was an artistic rather than a sexual expression. Public education was free... but was available to us only if we performed to specific expectations.
Then, we did what my seat partner did. We created a risk-free society so our kids didnt have the chance to face challenges. By doing so, we removed their opportunity to develop character and now we dont like the lack of character. We want them to be people we can trust.
It is because our kids have had the chance to develop character removed from them that a large majority believe it is okay to cheat. That is our legacy to Americas youth. How sad!
Someone ought to give the senior citizens who thought sixties escapism into drugs was cool the people who caused this problem a good spanking!
Looks like saving America's children is another task for Generation X!
Nice article - today, instead of allowing kids to fail at some endeavors and be strengthened by the experience, we tell them that they are successes even if they do nothing.
Now kids have to go to Pre-K and the Kindergarten, before they can get in the grades, These extrra two years arent doing them any good at all obviously, since we never had them and we learned to read and write. But what the heck it gives the parents two extra years to unload them into a failing school system,instead of raising them at home or more likely at a baby sitters.
That would be "all" as in 100%?
Good article...excellent points.
It may not represent the entire problem but its certainly one aspect of it.
Definitely food for thought.
There is an ad on TV for some prescription drug for rheumatoid arthritis.......and one of th scenes always strikes me the wrong way. It is an middle aged woman who says something along the lines of "I don't want to be know for great literature, I just want to teach my 3rd graders to read"
My daughter was able to read and write before kindergarten, as was I. what is this teaching 3rd graders to read? If they can't read what are they doing in 3rd grade?
All applicants interviewed nationally for a position by Motorola failed tests on seventh-grade English and fifth-grade math ...
What job were they applying for? Could have been toilet cleaner, for example, thereby screening out all those who would rather not do that and would also be able to get better jobs.
Way "back then" there wasn't a Child Protective Service that took kids from parents who spanked them, or a federal Department of Education whose liberals instructed children in the "joys" of homosexuality.
In NM the legislature just passed a bill for 3-4 year olds to go to school. It's sad.
I see the result of this every day
Between this and the mainstreaming of the Hip-Hop/Rap thug "culture", there is a class of people that have plenty of self-esteem, and no knowledge base. They respect nothing, and no one, but demand respect from everyone, individuals and institutions.
Anything less than an abject display of "respect" brings an angry response that the were "dissed". Which showes a couple other things. They have cheapened the word disrepect by using it as a verb, and they're too lazy to use all the syllables.
The human race is evolving backwards in many respcts
They do not seem to have the same traditional sense of respect and commitment for family, he said.
Could these statements be related?
Our children are also suffering from the aftermath of a generation or so of bi-lingual education. My son was in one of those classes. The teacher told all the english speaking kids to be silent she was now speaking to the spanish kids. So how much time out of the day each day did those kids lose of the chance at an education?
A simple solution, costing nothing, change the curriculiam to The 1940"s. Eliminate garbage. Enforce disapline or go to reform schools. Also get the unions out.
Check my post (#13) on the mainstreaming of rap/hip hop.
I seriously believe them to be one of the most destructive influences in todays culture, when combined with the emphasis on "self-esteem" in child-rainsing and schooling
I believe that would work.
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What they didn't mention is that this position was probably a $6/hr manufacturing position with shift work. Certainly not dishonorable work, to be sure, but less likely to attract the educated of the country.
While it may or may not have been a low-paying job, there isn't enough information given about the job to rule that out as a reason for under-qualified applicants.