It’s growing increasingly clear that America’s students aren’t the little geniuses we’ve always thought them to be. School after school in states across the country produce abysmally poor results. In fact, many schools are lucky if their students achieve more than 50% proficiency in the basics of reading, math, and science.
Such a scenario calls for drastic action. But not the type of intensive academic intervention one would expect.
No, instead of seeking to boost test scores, some schools are trying to hide the evidence altogether, as a recent article from Epoch Times explains:
“Oregon high school students are exempt from showcasing fundamental competence in reading, writing, or math until 2029, as per the state Board of Education’s unanimous vote on Thursday,” Epoch Times reported. “This decision aims to support students from marginalized communities and those with a history of poor academic performance.”
“Do you see terrible test scores? I don’t see terrible test scores! Nothing to see here!” seems to be the gist of this move.
When pressed further on such a move, supporters said “that the state’s proficiency requirements pose an unnecessary challenge for non-native English speakers or students with disabilities, robbing them of the opportunity to take an elective.”
Put differently, Oregon schools are putting the words of C.S. Lewis’s demon creation, Screwtape, into practice.
Those familiar with “Screwtape Proposes a Toast” will recall that the demon Screwtape praised democracy for its ability to pull down the bright, high-achieving students to the level of those at the bottom, all in the name of equality. Such moves, Screwtape explained, were simply tyranny that would eventually take out education altogether:
In a word, we may reasonably hope for the virtual abolition of education when ‘I’m as good as you’ has fully had its way. All incentives to learn and all penalties for not learning will vanish. The few who might want to learn will be prevented–who are they to overtop their fellows? We shall no longer have to plan and toil to spread imperturbable conceit and incurable ignorance among men. The little vermin themselves will do it for us.
According to Screwtape, such an accomplishment needed one element for demons like him to succeed, namely, public education.
That demonic admission, combined with this recent news out of Oregon, should get us to consider the need for school choice even more. If we genuinely care for children–indeed, care about our nation and its future wellbeing–we will flee the state schools which Screwtape praised for making all students equally dumb, choosing instead schools that demand academic excellence, that teach character, and that will advance truth even when it’s hard to take.
If you’re pro-tyranny, then by all means, stick with the public schools, for they will eventually lead to “the virtual abolition of education.” But if you’re not for tyranny, then it’s time to seek a new way to lead today’s students out of this present mess.
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