Daffyd over at The Big Lizards Blog begins an excellent post on some of the problems of Modern Leftism with a timely reprint of the opening paragraph of the Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. short story Harrison Bergeron.
THE YEAR WAS 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren't only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General.
Daffyd cites this as a framework to discuss voter fraud. The story provides an even better departure point to discuss the problems that both Liberals and Conservatives have noticed afflicting younger Americans. Perspicacious observers on both ends of the political spectrum have noticed the blindingly obvious. Children graduating from our schools now are frequently less well educated than the cohorts of Americans that have grown up in the previous 40 years.
The Left does what it always does and assumes that all problems under the sun are caused by the Iniquitous GOP and their fleet of black helicopters flying missions from a Death Star equipped with E-Coli Rays. It’s always a case where the Konservatives just won’t let government spend money because they want the rich to keep it all buried in Mason jars in Sheldon Anderson’s backyard. The fact that government spending has been almost constantly skyrocketing since 1960 (over the same period of time that young Americans have suffered a tragic reversal of fortunes) is flushed down some Orwellian memory hole.
A more compelling look at what ails American Youth would examine what happens when a society allows its standards of excellence and conduct to die in a bonfire. Heather MacDonald describes the impact of this death of standards by examining the experiences of one teacher in Minneapolis/St. Paul. The teacher, Mr. Benner, taught fifth graders and describes the following set of policies and activities initiated by his school district.
Like districts across the county, the St. Paul public school system has been on a mission to lower the black suspension rate, following complaints by local activists and black parents. A highly regarded principal lost his job because his school had “too many” suspensions of black second- and fourth-graders. The school system has sent its staff to $350,000 worth of “cultural-proficiency” training, where they learned to “examine the presence and role of ‘Whiteness.’ ” The district spent another $2 million or so to implement an anti-suspension behavioral-modification program embraced by the Obama administration.
Benner despises the impact this policy has had on his students. He describes his concerns over the impact youths have suffered from George W. Bush once termed “the soft bigotry of low expectations.”
Benner sees the consequences of this anti-discipline push nearly every day in the worsening behavior of students. He overheard a fifth-grade boy tell a girl: “B****, I’ll f*** you and s*** you.” (“I wanted to throw him against the locker,” Benner recalls.) The boy’s teacher told Benner that she felt powerless to punish the misbehavior.
The students being patronized quickly realize the cowardice of modern authority. They smell blood and go for the kill. When teachers feel powerless to enforce discipline, school becomes nothing more than a jail to keep children out of other people’s hair for a few hours every day.
Allen Zollman, a middle school remedial teacher in Pennsylvania, told an eighth-grade girl who would not stop talking over him: “You have two choices: either stop talking, or I will have you removed.” Her response: “I’m going to torture you. I’m doing this because I can’t be removed.”
The end result of these policies is the very equality that liberals quest for. Nobody is any better than anyone else. Attempting to learn in a classroom where bored young boys can walk up to any girl in the class an announce “B****, I’ll f*** you and s*** you.” is obviously impossible.
The modern American School becomes a place where the absolute worst people in the room can say “I’m going to torture you. I’m doing this because I can’t be removed.” And nothing will ever happen to them. At that point, the children are incarcerated instead of educated. The experience becomes a worthless exercise in wasting the youth of America’s children at the expense of their families via local taxation. But that’s just fine with the American Left because true equality can only occur at absolute zero.