Quote of the day

Armstrong Williams weighs in on education.


Alex Koppelman
April 1, 2008 3:42AM (UTC)

It shouldn't be hard to understand why most American teenagers struggle with math and other basic subjects like science and English. Schools are overcrowded and rundown, teachers are underpaid and overworked, kids are over-stimulated and cannot focus, and administrators are forced to push testing over learning. The fact is that kids are left behind, and sadly, even when they're not, they don't always grasp what we think they do.

So if our high school math and science scores are dropping, our children are dreading these classes, and we ourselves can barely go through the times tables, then why aren't we demanding real tutelage in math and science? Why is it socially acceptable not to understand fractions, percentages, and exponents, not to mention basic science principles that don't change with time or opinion? One reason, I submit, is relativism.

Relativism allows everyone to be right, and puts our feelings ahead of everything else. We all know that it is not fun to find out that we are wrong about something, but a part of growing up is learning to cope with this negative feeling and learn from the experiences of failure. It would seem that many people today, however, would prefer to shield themselves and their children from ever being wrong or from feeling that hurt. This is true on the Little League diamond, where every player now makes the team, and in the school classrooms, where every assignment is given a modification to make sure every student can easily get by.

That's conservative pundit Armstrong Williams, writing in his latest column. (A column that includes the bone-chilling words "Surely, some of you avoid math like the plague," we might add.) We don't know about you, but we might include the Bush administration giving Armstrong Williams $240,000 to shill for No Child Left Behind in our list of problems with the American education system.

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Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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