Travis Rowley: Liberalism: The Source of Societal Rot
Saturday, February 16, 2013
While widely discussed throughout the media, something went largely unreported when it came to Dr. Benjamin Carson’s conservative speech at the annual National Prayer Breakfast. During the opening minutes of his remarks, Carson offered a scathing – and seemingly out-of-place – rebuke of political correctness. Carson called political correctness “a horrible thing” and warned that “the PC police are out in force at all times.” “We’ve reached a point where people are afraid to actually talk about what they want to say because somebody might be offended…We’ve got to get over this sensitivity.”
Confirming that political correctness is largely a left-wing phenomenon, a week later Rhode Islanders could find executive director of Marriage Equality RI Ray Sullivan objecting to putting the question of gay marriage before the voters because it “would be divisive and hurtful.” Sullivan explained, “If you ask someone how they would feel about, for example, sitting down to dinner watching the news or listening to the radio and seeing or hearing a commercial that was essentially attacking their family, I think they would tell you that that’s not something that they would want to see.”
A Liberal Education
At its core, political correctness is anti-intellectual, one of its central components being a willingness and tendency to hide reality in the name of soft-bellied sensitivity and/or hard-core political agendas – to create a society of silence that can only lead to serious academic error.
The notable irony is that political correctness is an obvious enemy of academia, yet has managed to conquer the culture of our educational system.
So it is simply no wonder to witness union apologists and progressive activists resisting the light that has recently been shone on the failure of the Providence school system, and the tough reforms that have been proposed.
As GoLocalProv reported, during recent years the RI Dept. of Education “has increased its emphasis on improving test scores in the annual New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP), so much so that beginning next year students will have to show that they are at least ‘partially proficient’ in both the math and reading portions of the exam to graduate with their classmates.”
This is what amounts to a nightmare for government programs: Being “partially proficient.”
What Is “Educated”?
While more and more people are becoming aware that NECAP standards place the large majority of Providence students “at risk of not graduating,” progressive activists are doing their best to publicize their top excuses for urban educational failure (i.e. “these kids are poor”), and also sound as sophisticated as possible when they propose their most obvious argument: There’s more to being a student than the knowledge one attains.
“Test scores are just one indication of where students are,” explained Representative Edith Ajello (D). “They don’t tell the whole story…I just think that when you look at test scores, it’s important to consider the demographics.”
Robert Walsh of NEA-RI said that his union is “opposed to reliance on a single test for determining a student’s future.” Steven Brown of the ACLU argued, “It is unfortunate to see time and resources wasted teaching to a test, rather than teaching what should be taught.” Carole Marshall, a Providence school teacher, agreed: “Standardized testing is not good teaching; in fact it's depriving Providence students of the education they could be getting.”
Oh, yes. Right up until the point of the enforcement of NECAP standards, Providence students were just dominating within the realm of educational intangibles.
Educational complexity has long been recognized. That’s why we have things called “extracurriculars,” “teacher recommendations,” and “oral interviews.” And that’s why graduating seniors are only required to be “partially proficient” when it comes to standardized testing.
All of this left-wing waffling serves only to blur another plain reality – Certain levels of knowledge and know-how are necessary before students can progress toward subsequent educational phases.
As another progressive structure begins to crumble, we see liberals making the less measurable claim that Providence pupils just may be fantastic – even superior – in other ways. And are thereby college-ready and deserving of a diploma.
But are we supposed to accept the word of the self-interested? That is, students who want to graduate. That is, teachers who want to keep their jobs. That is, unionists with a shameful history of shielding themselves from competition, scrutiny, and evaluation.
And isn’t it notable that, even before the “increased pressure” that began five years ago with the announcement of approaching NECAP standards, college students from urban school districts had depressingly low graduation rates? Numerous studies reflect the same discovery: “Students who are low-income, minority, or first-generation are the most likely to drop out [of college].” And “the graduation rates for blacks, Latinos, and Native Americans lag far behind the graduation rates for whites and Asians.”
Only pigheaded progressives deny that the Left’s culture of political correctness has greatly contributed to the tragedy that Dr. Carson mentioned within his speech, his discovery of a “6th grade exit exam from the 1800s, a test you had to pass to get your 6th grade certificate.” Carson said, “I doubt most college graduates today could pass that test. We have dumbed things down to that level.”
Nevertheless, progressives remain persistent in their efforts to thrust unqualified students into the college system – convinced that such action will be inconsequential; convinced that such students won’t be a drag on the standards of the institutions they ascend to; convinced that they aren’t setting these students up for failure and the elimination of all that self-esteem they built up years ago when they banned red ink and kickball.
The Price of Spanish
When it was revealed by the New York Times several years ago that only “7 percent of students [were] proficient in mathematics by 11th grade” at Central Falls High School, the Left was quick to blame this failure on the fact that many of the students were ESL – English as a Second Language.
Here we discover the Left informing the taxpayers of another simple observation – the near impossible task of an English-speaking teacher to instruct a Spanish-speaking teenager.
But we should remember exactly who has always demanded that immigrants be able to speak English – the “language of success” – before being granted American citizenship; and warned that the immersion of the Spanish language into American society would be costly for everyone.
Likewise, we should remember who precisely was defying such standards with charges of “racism” and “xenophobia” – resulting in the voices of sound public policy being silenced throughout the nation for decades.
Within this current controversy, we discover the whole of the Rhode Island Left agreeing with Rep. Ajello, when she points to Providence’s “large population of students living in poverty and large percentage of students who are English-language learners as two of the challenges Providence faces.”
Once again, we find that the benefactors of political correctness are often the most harmed. Thousands of uneducated and illiterate Hispanic children each year are thrust into lives of poverty and despair.
If you can’t read this, thank a liberal!
Ignoring The Root Cause
The failure of urban school systems is the educational equivalent of the financial collapse of Central Falls, a city that truly crumbled over 20 years ago when statewide taxpayers were forced to pick up the city’s entire educational tab – only to delay the inevitable flop of a community built upon a collectivist foundation.
Ultimately, this is why many conservatives hesitate to support calls to have the State’s non-profits begin contributing to Providence’s tax base. While sympathetic to the concept of tax fairness and the city’s financial conditions, no more Rhode Islanders should be forced to support the socialism that finances the Left’s failures and unsustainable projects.
No more additions should be added to this building until the progressive termites have been exterminated.
Citizens of every city and town need to begin to relearn how to educate themselves and their children, and how to create their own wealth – rather than have wealth redistributed from communities that employ a superior culture.
But this can only occur once we choose to reject political correctness, stop treating people like infants, start telling people the truth, and force them to grow up.
Travis Rowley (TravisRowley.com) is the author of The RI Republican: An Indictment of the Rhode Island Left.
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