Class Warfare Blog

January 29, 2014

Republicans Conflicted Over American Exceptionalism

Republicans react angrily to any suggestion that the U.S. of A. isn’t exceptional, isn’t Number 1 in any ranking system. During the Health Care Debate, Republicans insisted that our health care system was #1 in the world, when fact-based rankings had it listed closer to #19. More recently, Republicans are upset that American students score so poorly on international tests, blaming teachers for doing a poor job of teaching our young and when they run out of steam on blaming teachers, they blame students for being lazy. (The GOP is also directly attacking teacher’s unions and working to saddle students with massive amounts of debt to stifle the political activities of both, so they are at least being consistent.)

Setting aside the facts that the U.S. never does particularly well on international tests (I remember one such scandal a while back in which the U.S. was way down the ranks in math, yet a team of young U.S. students won the global Math Olympiad the same year.) and that the U.S. does poorly on such tests for the same reasons that many U.S. states do poorly on national tests (hint: poverty and heterogeneous populations) one has to be surprised that Republicans are also pushing strongly to make it more possible to teach creationism in our schools. Republican governors across the land are getting laws passed creating charter schools which need not conform to existing education laws, many of those charter schools being church-affiliated schools which go on to teach creationism and that “Evolution is a lie straight from the pit of Hell!” (Sorry I could resist quoting the Republican Member from Georgia sitting on the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee.) Now that ought to help those international science test scores: all of our students looking for the multiple choice response: “God did it.”

American exceptionalism is a ridiculous notion, but if one accepts it, it certainly is based upon a solid core of scientific and technological learning. Whining about the decay of American exceptionalism when the GOP is actively undermining the education system that helped create it is a major problem for Republicans.

Advertisements

5 Comments »

  1. The biggest offense of this is that these charter schools receive public funds from taxpayers of all faiths. Texas is one of the worst

    “Texas: The state’s largest charter program, Responsive Ed, receives $82 million in taxpayer money each year, but that hasn’t stopped its schools from adopting a creationist curriculum that seriously misrepresents the science of evolution. These materials wrongly portray the fossil record and the age of Earth as scientifically controversial, assert that there is a lack of “transitional fossils,” and claim evolution is untestable.” SOURCE</a.

    Comment by lbwoodgate — January 29, 2014 @ 10:35 am | Reply

  2. It really doesn’t help when you have such nonsense being pushed on kids by allegedly “sane” adults.

    Comment by john zande — January 29, 2014 @ 10:41 am | Reply

  3. American Exceptionalism is a term used to denote the fact that the United States is the first country in human history based on the following proposition:

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

    In all other societies human rights are endowed by the government, not God.

    That means that the ruling class is better, or more rights advantaged, than the common man.

    In the atheist society or the Big Government society, justice is always to the advantage of the stronger (see Plato’s Republic).

    And that’s the way it was for all of mankind until the Founders designed and built the American government.

    That’s why America is exceptional.

    Comment by silenceofmind — January 29, 2014 @ 1:16 pm | Reply

  4. “I remember one such scandal a while back in which the U.S. was way down the ranks in math, yet a team of young U.S. students won the global Math Olympiad the same year.”

    A boyfriend who was a mathematician used to like to muse that the high school level math that is usually tested in such tests is to real math the way grammar and spelling is to literature. I once told him that I learned to love literature despite teachers, and he said it was the same way with math. A Korean woman I knew told me that her parents wanted her to go to high school in the U.S. because they felt that we valued creativity more than performing on tests. (I’m in my late forties, so this was a while ago.) I’ve heard similar things from people from Taiwan. Admittedly, these were people from families that could already be considered middle class or upper middle class, so what they wanted for their children was an education beyond just survival skills. It is interesting that they actually sent their kids to public, not private, schools.One of those children became an artist who exhibits globally in some pretty prestigious environments.

    “American exceptionalism is a ridiculous notion, but if one accepts it, it certainly is based upon a solid core of scientific and technological learning. Whining about the decay of American exceptionalism when the GOP is actively undermining the education system that helped create it is a major problem for Republicans.”

    I couldn’t agree more. I’m drawing from memory, so pardon me if I’m totally off base, but didn’t Tocqueville note that the average American was fairly well educated and interested in new technological advances. Historically, we have not been the credulous dolts that seems to be popularly associated with “the Average American” today. (I have the New York Review of Books article, “The Age of Ignorance”, loaded in another page in my browser, but I haven’t had the heart to read it.)

    Comment by fojap — February 2, 2014 @ 12:21 am | Reply

    • You are spot on about the Korean educational system (and most of the rest of the Asian systems). Regarding de Tocqueville: what “fairly well educated” meant in his time is debatable, when 80% of all people were farmers and probably wouldn’t have come into contact with him (plus the millions of slaves for whom to be educated was a capital crime and who were probably invisible).

      One of the experiments wrapped in our grand experiment in self-governance was the idea of universal public education. We were the first to put that idea into action and the benefits were large at first (although resisted by the anti-tax, anti-government crowd). Currently we are doing our best to tear that system apart in a mis-guided attempt to “fix” it. The first step was to demonize the system, then to apply their “fixes” (vouchers, charter schools, Common Core, etc.). Yet, nobody took a step back and asked the simple question: what do the rich people do? None of what is being recommended for sure. What is being recommended is “good enough” for the drones, the hoi polloi, the vast unwashed majority and is very, very troubling.

      Comment by stephenpruis — February 2, 2014 @ 7:56 am | Reply


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: