Thursday, January 27, 2011

U.S. students falling short in science:

From The Wichita Eagle:

Very few students have the advanced skills that could lead to careers in science and technology, according to results of a national exam released Tuesday that education leaders called alarming.

Only 1 percent of fourth-grade and 12th-grade students, and 2 percent of eighth-graders scored in the highest group on the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress, a federal test known as the Nation's Report Card. Less than half were considered proficient, with many more showing minimal science knowledge.

"It's very disappointing for all educators to see students performing below the level we'd like them to be," said Bonnie Embry, an elementary school science lab teacher in Lexington, Ky. "These low scores should send a message to educators across our nation that we're not spending enough time teaching science."

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said the results mean students aren't learning at a rate that will maintain the nation's role as an international leader in the sciences. He and others expressed concern that more students aren't prepared for careers as inventors, doctors and engineers in a world increasingly driven by technology.

"Our ability to create the next generation of U.S. leaders in science and technology is seriously in danger," said Alan Friedman, former director of the New York Hall of Science and a member of the board that oversees the test.

The results also show a stark achievement gap, with only 10 percent of black students proficient in science in the fourth grade, compared to 46 percent of whites. At the high school level, results were even more bleak, with 71 percent of black students scoring below the basic knowledge level, and just 4 percent proficient.

Fifty-eight percent of Hispanic 12th-graders scored below basic, as did 21 percent of whites.

"These are really stunning and concerning numbers," said Amy Wilkins, vice president for government affairs and communications at the Education Trust. She noted that minority and low-income students are the fastest growing parts of the youth population, making the need to increase their achievement levels all the more urgent.

This sad and sobering news shouldn’t come as a surprise to any of us – back in the 1970s, when the Republican strategists began looking for new voters to recruit , they discovered that there were a fairly large group of potential voters, who were simply not that interested in the political process – these mostly evangelical and the fundamentalist Christians, who were so consumed with all of their “issues” like the “rapture,” “everlasting life,” “heaven” and “hell’ that they didn’t even concern themselves with such worldly issues as politics. Republican strategists like the great Karl Rove, looked upon these ignorant Christians as the key to gaining control of the White House, and furthering the neoconservative agenda. So they began pandering their support of the issues which they knew these evangelical and fundamentalist Christians were the most concerned about -- like ending abortion, and the institutionalizing of Christian prayer in the public schools, and “returning” the Nation back to its “Christian-roots” - and then they created almost out of thin air, the other issues that they knew would generate fear in the minds of these ignorant and deluded morons as a way of exciting this large group of potential voters – the next step was simply to gain the support of these purveyors of Christian ignorance.

Within the next few years, the fundamentalist Christian preachers had started endorsing the candidates who projected most of their same “values,” and encouraging their ignorant flock to support those candidates as well – hence, the Christian family “values” candidates, and the Christian “value” voters were born (hell, even Pat Robertson, threw his cross into the rink, in a failed attempt at winning the 1988 Republican primary) However, in reality, none of these family values candidates gave a flying fuck about the family; they are only concerned about cutting domestic spending, and cutting the taxes for the rich, and increasing the profits of the big corporations – and the so called Christian value voters, are about as anti-education and anti-science, as the members of The Flat Earth Society are in their resistant to reality and reason – and neither are concerned with the future of our children, or the wellbeing of our nation – and as a consequence of allowing this Christian cult mentality of death, that doesn’t value anything other than dying and going to heaven run ramped for so long, that now, most can’t even conceive of the importance of children learning math and science, and when both math and science conflict with their deluded beliefs.

Our children’s lack of understanding in math and science, are simply a reflection of the things that we deem the most important in our society today - and. the way that we are currently funding our public education systems, are a direct reflection of the value, or lack thereof, that we place on our children’s education. Even as far back as the mid-1980s, I could see where we as a nation were headed, and even back then, I was much, much more afraid of our nation becoming a cesspool of Christian ignorance, than I was afraid of a nuclear war. What I feared the most back then, and what I fear even more today, is us reaching a point in this nation, where the even more ignorant, are simply teaching the young and ignorant, and teaching them just plain ignorance and stupidity – and just like what we see going on in most churches today.

You might agree on just how we got here, but the fact is, we are here – today its math and science, tomorrow it will be history and the arts. I personally believe that there’s no better way of teaching children critical thinking skills, than by teaching them math and science – and I believe that what is currently going on in our public schools, should be declared a crisis – we have declared war on the other issues which we have deemed a crisis, like the war on drugs and the war on crime that we are currently wasting billions of dollars on each year – Let’s end this stupid “war” on drugs, and then use those billions of dollars for declaring a new war on ignorance and stupidity, and then fixing the other social-ills, which lead to drug use and crime in the first fucking place?