As I’ve written elsewhere the present crisis is one of information. Society is increasingly unable to solve its pressing problems not for lack of a solution or resources, but primarily from an unshakable determination not to face politically inconvenient facts. Take for example, Chicago’s new crime-fighting strategy. “Chicago police are going to hand deliver letters to people suspected of committing or being victims of gun crimes in an effort to stem violence in the city, according to a new report. ”
This is a triumph of PR over policy, fiction over reality and madness over sanity. Yet all the same everyone will sign up to the letter scheme like it might actually work even though they know it hasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell. One minor, yet telling defect in the plan is the unreasonable assumption that the criminals or victims can read the letters they are sent. Why would you think they could?
The Washington Post says that “fewer than half of D.C. children are proficient in reading, according to standardized tests, and more than a third of all city residents are functionally illiterate, according to a 2007 report.” This despite the availability of “public education” which by rights should have made illiteracy a thing of the past.
But public education’s achievements — or lack thereof — can be gauged by the Post’s further reporting that in certain DC schools districts lagging children are no longer invited to remedial summer classes because they “are too far behind.” They can’t even be included in remediation for fear they will prove an anchor round the necks of any students who might actually have a chance to escape the government-funded shipwreck. Money is apparently not the problem. The DC school district is already spending nearly more per capita than Harvard.
American taxpayers already spend some $600 billion per year on public elementary and secondary schools, with average per-pupil expenditures nationwide currently at an all-time high of about $11,000—a nearly fourfold increase (in constant present-day dollars) since 1961. But even this figure is dwarfed by the $29,400 per-pupil cost of a public elementary and high-school education in Washington, DC. That astounding sum is nearly as much as the yearly cost of an undergraduate education at Harvard.
And all to produce students who cannot even be remediated. The Post article naturally concludes with the heart rending appeal of a mother to include her failing son in the summer lessons, just as he did in the previous three summers without apparent result.
Yet how can you teach nothing year after year?
Well Detroit, which recently went bankrupt, can show everyone the way. It also has the distinction of registering the worst NAEP scores on record. Their math scores are so dismal that Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council on Great City Schools, a Washington, D.C.-based coalition of urban school districts concluded they “are barely above what one would expect simply by chance, as if the kids simply guessed at the answers.” It is almost pure noise, something which might well have been the result of a random-number generator. There’s nobody home.
Mark Steyn argues that the greatest devastation inflicted by political corruption on America has not been the destruction of buildings. It has been the annihilation of minds.
In my book After America, I observe that the physical decay of Detroit — the vacant and derelict lots for block after block after block — is as nothing compared to the decay of the city’s human capital. Forty-seven percent of adults are functionally illiterate, which is about the same rate as the Central African Republic, which at least has the excuse that it was ruled throughout the Seventies by a cannibal emperor. Why would any genuine innovator open a business in a Detroit “innovation hub”? Whom would you employ? The illiterates include a recent president of the school board, Otis Mathis, which doesn’t bode well for the potential work force a decade hence.
For more on Otis Mathis, see this recorded newscast on YouTube: “Illiterate school chief charged with sex crime”.
Detroit is broke, but it can’t even admit it is bust. Steyn continues, “late on Friday, some genius jurist struck down the bankruptcy filing. Judge Rosemarie Aquilina declared Detroit’s bankruptcy ‘unconstitutional’ because, according to the Detroit Free Press, ‘the Michigan Constitution prohibits actions that will lessen the pension benefits of public employees.’ Which means that, in Michigan, reality is unconstitutional.”
The facts are now illegal. Note to self: You can always beat arithmetic. Math always lies. At least that’s how the story goes.
Under the current system, given a choice between the Narrative and reality, it’s the Narrative all the way. Things are so bad they’re drinking their own hootch. Recently, Eleanor Clift praised President Obama’s handling of the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin circus. “The President’s remarks on Friday are going to be read by future generations. They’re beautiful, they’re eloquent.”
Clift’s remarks underscored the key problem that has to be fixed. No one’s interested in fixing anything. It’s more lucrative to lie, cheat and steal. But not until the public rediscovers the truth and the facts once again can the slightest progress be made made towards fixing anything. Yes, money is short. But far more importantly, sanity is in even shorter supply. Romany Malco, a black actor writing in the Huffington Post risked the wrath of the media gods by stating the obvious. The poor are being taken for a ride:
To be brutally honest, the only reason people are even aware of Trayvon Martin is because it became a topic within mainstream news and pop culture. Meaning: News directors saw it as a profitable, sensational story. …
Our “government” continues to wreak havoc on our civil liberties and there is little to no protest from the black community because of media diversion tactics that keep such pertinent issues out of mainstream media. But if Jay-Z or Rihanna were to make mention of it, we’d suddenly be jolted out of our sugar comas and protesting on freeways.
My point being, people are up in arms about Trayvon based on regurgitated pundits and manipulated facts aired to elicit emotion while fueling America’s anger and division. That’s how you boost ratings. No different from Piers Morgan’s desperate rant over gun control when he knew his ratings were in the dumps….
I believe we lost that trial for Trayvon long before he was killed. Trayvon was doomed the moment ignorance became synonymous with young black America . We lost that case by using media outlets (music, movies, social media, etc.) as vehicles to perpetuate the same negative images and social issues that destroyed the black community in the first place. When we went on record glorifying violent crime and when we voted for a president we never thought to hold accountable. When we signed on to do reality shows that fed into the media’s stereotypes of black men, we ingrained an image of Trayvon Martin so overwhelming that who he actually may have been didn’t matter anymore.
No he didn’t matter any more. Because Trayvon Martin the fact was never of any interest to anybody. The facts never mattered; reality is unconstitutional. All the system cared about was Trayvon Martin the fiction; the meal ticket, the product, the Narrative. Nobody gave a damn about the actual man. In this respect he was exactly what all those illiterate multitudes in the crashing cities are: just meal tickets for a system that uses them as window-dressing to justify scams and job programs meant to benefit only political hacks.
Maybe one day people will wake up to the fact, if they can still count to one.
Did you know that you can purchase some of these books and pamphlets by Richard Fernandez and share them with you friends? They will receive a link in their email and it will automatically give them access to a Kindle reader on their smartphone, computer or even as a web-readable document.
The War of the Words for $3.99, Understanding the crisis of the early 21st century in terms of information corruption in the financial, security and political spheres
Rebranding Christianity for $3.99, or why the truth shall make you free
The Three Conjectures at Amazon Kindle for $1.99, reflections on terrorism and the nuclear age
Storming the Castle at Amazon Kindle for $3.99, why government should get small
No Way In, a novel at Amazon Kindle $8.95, print $9.99
Storm Over the South China Sea $0.99, how China is restarting history in the Pacific
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