Education and Moral Bankruptcy

092712-national-schools-test-testing-taking-classroom-sat-teensIf you want to get some idea of the moral bankruptcy of our educational system, read an article in the May 4th issue of the New York Times Magazine titled, “The Tale of Two Schools.”

The article is not about moral bankruptcy. But it is itself an example of the moral bankruptcy behind the many failures of American education today.

Someone had the bright idea of pairing public high school kids from a low-income neighborhood in the Bronx with kids from a private high school that charges $43,000 a year.

When the low-income youngsters visited the posh private school, “they were just overwhelmed” by it, according to the New York Times. “One kid ran crying off campus.” Apparently others felt “so disheartened about their own circumstances.”

What earthly good did that do for these young people? Thank heaven no one was calloused enough to take me on a tour of a posh private school when I was growing up in Harlem.

No doubt those adults who believe in envy and resentment get their jollies from doing things like this — and from feeling that they are creating future envy and resentment voters to forward the ideological agenda of the big government left.

But at the expense of kids?

There was a time when common sense and common decency counted for something. Educators felt a responsibility to equip students with solid skills that could take them anywhere they wanted to go in later life — enable them to become doctors, engineers or whatever they wanted to be.

Too many of today’s “educators” see students as a captive audience for them to manipulate and propagandize.

These young people do not yet have enough experience to know that posh surroundings are neither necessary nor sufficient for a good education. Is anyone foolish enough to think that making poor kids feel disheartened is doing them a favor?

This school visit was not just an isolated event. It was part of a whole program of pairing individual youngsters from a poverty-stricken neighborhood with youngsters from families that can pay 43 grand a year for their schooling.

What do these kids do? They tell each other stories based on their young lives’ unripened judgment.

They go to a big park in the Bronx together and take part in a garden project there. They talk about issues like gun violence and race relations.

They have a whole lifetime ahead of them to talk about such issues. But poor kids, especially, have just one time, during their school years, to equip their minds with math, science and other solid skills that will give them a shot at a better life.

To squander their time on rap sessions and navel-gazing is unconscionable.

This is just one of many programs dreamed up by “educators” who seem determined to do anything except educate. They see school children as guinea pigs for their pet notions.

The New York Times is doing these youngsters no favor by publishing page after page of their photographs and snippets of things they said. More than two centuries ago, Edmund Burke lamented “everything which takes a man from his house and sets him on a stage.”

Setting adolescents on a stage is even more ill-advised, at a time of life when they do not yet have the experience to see what an inconsequential distraction such activities and such publicity are.

At a time when American youngsters are consistently outperformed on international tests by youngsters in other countries, do we have the luxury of spending our children’s time on things that will do absolutely nothing for them in the years ahead? Are children just playthings for adults?

Maybe the affluent kids can afford to waste their time this way, because they will be taken care of, one way or another, in later life.

But to squander the time of poor kids, for whom education is often their only hope of escaping poverty, is truly an irresponsible self-indulgence by adults who should know better, and it is one more sign of the moral bankruptcy of too many people in our schools.

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  • The March Hare

    “This is just one of many programs dreamed up by “educators” who seem determined to do anything except educate.”

    This seems to be the thing all management does in business as well as education. They have a need to keep progressing and coming up with new things. Everyone wants to be a mover and shaker, but sometimes moves the project off the path to success and shakes it loose from it’s grasp of understanding and then thinks of it as an accomplishment. It often ends up with change for the sake of change and benefit doesn’t seem to be in the equation.

  • CowboyUp

    “But to squander the time of poor kids, for whom education is often their only hope of escaping poverty,” -T.Sowell

    The last thing democrat politicians and bureaucrats want or need is poor kids escaping poverty. Government dependency is their stock in trade, and they need people moving down the economic ladder, not up it.

    • Libslayer

      Plus, uneducated people are reliable lifetime democrat voters.

  • aemoreira81

    The real problem is that ultimately, the students have to desire success. No school can function without desiring success, as the students in those rich schools (probably in Riverdale in the Bronx) do. That area in the Bronx is a far cry from the southern part of the borough.

  • Habbgun

    That kind of luxury is intimidating to middle class kids. Its meant to be. We are seeing the middle class getting squeezed out of everything. We are seeing the middle class getting attacked for its views while the rich move from merely rich to an entrenched elite with their own propaganda. Those kids are not being taught to hate wealth because this is the last time they will have this kind of contact. They are being taught that the middle class is the enemy because that is who they can reach. Interesting to see our rich leftists rehearsing their children in their methods.

    The left only cares about those they regard as safely inferior. Reach the point where you have the capacity to have your own unfettered life and own success and watch them lash out.

    • alericKong

      Middle class is not being squeezed. Black markets are on the rise.

  • Brian Stinson

    I wonder if the children or the parents realize that NYC spends close to $30,000 per year per student. I guess that’s the difference between proper stewardship and government bureaucracy.

  • alericKong

    I’m sure if the rich kids beat up a teacher or showed up drunk or threw garbage everywhere or spray painted everything their schools would look awful too.

    Everyone overstates environmental effects. The environment represents poor standards and a lack of commitment, which takes very little effort to turn around.

    Many times there schools have been renovated and new approaches made from the top down. They’re thought of as fools and cowards and the school ends up worse than before.

  • LoJoFo


  • mustnotsay

    righteous anger from Dr Sowell.

    make no mistake, the dumbing down of the poor and middle class is ian important part of the liberal agenda (see how well it worked with journolists!).

    liberals don’t want the poor to become educated and successful, not because that success would show the liberal programs are a scam and a failure, but because they need an enormous and permanent underclass to rule over.

  • herb benty

    Math, English, Sciences taught well and you can turn an Aborigine into a Doctor. Or a George Washington Carver, or a Dr. Ben Carson. You’ve got to stress the “hard” sciences, then if they can’t make it as a doctor, they can become a technician. Or if they can’t be a technician, they can be a great Carpenter, etc. But you have to TEACH subjects that the real world needs. Creating activists ripe for Code Pink is ridiculous.

  • Paula Douglas

    Seeing kids as guinea pigs is too benign a motive for these “educators.” They know, implicitly or explicitly, that independent men can’t be ruled. Give those poor kids an education, and the next thing you know they’ll be telling their prospective masters to pack salt.

    • Galtness

      So true…

      Yet the test should be so simple: just listen to any prophet and if you hear him speak of sacrifice – run. Run faster than from a plague. It stands to reason that where there’s sacrifice, there’s someone collecting sacrificial offerings. Where there’s service, there’s someone being served. The man who speaks to you of sacrifice, speaks of slaves and masters. And intends to be the master. But if you ever hear a man telling you that you must be happy, that it’s your natural right, that your first duty is to yourself – that will be the man who has nothing to gain from you. But let him come and you’ll scream your empty heads off, howling that he’s a selfish monster. So the racket is safe for many, many centuries.

      I could quote some Dewey to go with the Toohey, but I’m sure you are already familiar with that real-life creature…

      • Paula Douglas

        More than one real-life anti-life creature, yes.

  • cathnealon

    Well, do the $43,000 a year kids go to the “poor” schools also?
    I don’t see anything wrong with cross-cultural field trips as long as it goes both ways.
    I happen to think this isn’t a bad way to promote the American Dream.
    Didn’t Senator Rubio say when he was a kid his parents would drive through neighborhoods with very fancy houses and it made him want to achieve success?