A high school classmate and friend, who spent her entire adult working life as a teacher, today shared on Facebook a link to an article on “AddictingInfo.org” by one Wendy Gittleson. The article, titled “Almost Half of Americans Think Humans and Dinosaurs Lived Together”, is here:
And the AddictingInfo.org Facebook page is here:
The author’s apparent primary purpose is to criticize those who are “anti-science”, as well as those who are religiously inclined, suggesting as she does that they are the primary cause of “stupidity like this” and that this is “… also a side effect of a free-market educational system, where people can pick and choose whether to have their children learn scientific facts or the Bible or anything in between.”
When my own kids were in school, my wife & I were big supporters of the public schools they attended. Sandy was often a class mother, was always active in parent teacher organizations (president one year), and frequently volunteered to work at other school events. Eventually, she returned to school herself, earned her bachelor’s degree in education, as well as her teaching certificate, and taught high school even while fighting the cancer which ultimately took her life.
I was a parent escort on field trips, worked the sidelines on football Saturdays, was attorney coach of the high school mock trial team for 4 years, was a volunteer for a school bond measure (serving as absentee ballot coordinator, precinct captain and election day headquarters coordinator), once ran for the K-8 school board (unsuccessfully) and once, when no one else would do it, filled in myself as a class “mother” for a semester. I have a whole series of framed class photos of the two elementary school classes that I “adopted” each year by making direct cash donations.
However, the last of my kids graduated from high school in 1997 and, from what I have seen since, our public school systems across the country have gone seriously downhill in the last 18 years. If I had a school-aged child today, there is no way I would send him or her to a public school … it would be a private school or home-schooling.
The idiocy (sorry, but no other word suffices) of so many of the people running our public schools today is frustrating and intolerable. I have been compiling a host of examples of what I refer to as “Zero Intelligence” being exhibited by American school officials and will eventually write a major blog on the subject. I did write about one brief example awhile back, which is here:
So, to get to my point today: the fact that a significant percentage of Americans think that humans and dinosaurs lived or “probably lived” at the same time IS both sad and distressing (albeit the headline on the article is, in my opinion, misleading, 41% not being “almost half”). What motivated me to comment, however, is the suggestion that, “This is a side effect of a free-market educational system”.
First, according to the Council for American Private Education (CAPE) and as of the 2011-2012 school year, only 10% of all K-12 students in the U.S. attended private schools. See the full CAPE report here:
Almost 43% — 42.9% to be exact, which makes use of the qualifier “almost” correct in this instance — of private school students attended Catholic schools. Only 14% attended conservative Christian schools. Which means that at most only 1.4% of all students attended born again Christian schools.
So, even if every single one of them … as well as every single other private school student in the country … is among the 41% who are misinformed about people and dinosaurs, that still means that 31% of that misinformed portion of the population attends (or attended) public schools. This problem most assuredly cannot be blamed on the “free-market educational system”. It is primarily a function of a public school system which is seriously broken.
And second (here I find myself in the unusual position of speaking up on behalf of conservative Christians, of whom I am usually more likely to be critical), I also think the comment in the article that born again Christians are more likely to believe that “people rode dinosaurs like horses”, is both intellectually dishonest and inaccurately disparaging.
There is nothing in the actual study … linked in the article and available here:
… which indicates that born again Christians are more likely to believe that “people road dinosaurs like horses”. That characterization is a gratuitous and factually unsupportable slap at a relatively small group of people, apparently thrown into the article with no better motivation than personal animus against persons of a presumably different religious persuasion than the author’s.
In my opinion, personally insulting comments like this are both needlessly offensive and ultimately counter-productive.
I submit that the author of the article and others of a like mind would be more helpful in addressing and ultimately solving our country’s educational issues by concentrating on improving their own public schools, rather than worrying about what is going on at someone else’s private school.