“Is our children learning?” as George W. Bush so famously asked. Well, no, they is not learning, especially the history of their country, the school subject at which America’s young perform at their worst.
On history tests given to 31,000 pupils by the National Assessment of Education Progress, the “Nation’s Report Card,” most fourth-graders could not identify a picture of Abraham Lincoln or a reason why he was important.
Only 20 percent of fourth-graders attained even a “proficient” score in the test. By eighth grade, only 17 percent were judged proficient. By 12th grade, 12 percent. Only a tiny fraction was graded “advanced,” indicating a superior knowledge of American history.
“We’re raising young people who are, by and large, historically illiterate,” historian David McCullough told The Wall Street Journal.
“History textbooks,” added McCullough, “are “badly written.” Many texts have been made “so politically correct as to be comic. Very minor characters that are currently fashionable are given considerable space, whereas people of major consequence”–such as inventor Thomas Edison–“are given very little space or none at all.”
Trendies and minorities have their sensibilities massaged in the new history, which is, says McCullough, “often taught in categories–women’s history, African American history, environmental history–so that many students have no sense of chronology . . . no idea of what followed what.”
And the racial gap, 45 years after the federal and state governments undertook heroic exertions to close it, is wide open across the Empire State.
While 51 percent of white freshman in 2006 and 56 percent of Asian students were ready for college in June 2010, only 13 percent of New York state’s black students and 15 percent of Hispanics were deemed ready.
The implications of these tests are alarming, not only for New York but for the country we shall become in this century.
In 1960, there were 18 million black Americans and few Hispanics in a total population of 160 million. By 2050, African Americans and Hispanics combined will, at 200 million, roughly equal white Americans in number.
If the racial gap in academic achievement persists for the next 40 years, as it has for the last 40, virtually all of the superior positions in the New Economy and knowledge-based professions will be held by Asians and whites, with blacks and Hispanics largely relegated to the service sector.
America will then face both a racial and class crisis.
The only way to achieve equality of rewards and results then will be via relentless use of the redistributive power of government–steep tax rates on the successful, and annual wealth transfers to the less successful. It will be affirmative action, race preferences, ethnic quotas and contract set-asides, ad infinitum–not a prescription for racial peace or social tranquility.