Chaos Manor View, Friday, July 15, 2016
If a foreign government had imposed this system of education on the United States, we would rightfully consider it an act of war.
Glenn T. Seaborg, National Commission on Education, 1983
Long ago, before 1965 say, college was understood to be for the intelligent and academically prepared among the young, who would one day both provide leadership for the country and set the tone of society. Perhaps ten percent, but no more than twenty percent, of high-school graduates were thought to have any business on a campus.
It was elitist and deliberately so. Individuals and groups obviously differed in character and aptitude. The universities selected those students who could profit by the things done at universities.
Incoming freshmen were assumed to read with fluency and to know algebra cold. They did, because applicants were screened for these abilities by the SATs. These tests, not yet dumbed down, then measured a student’s ability to handle complex ideas expressed in complex literate English, this being what college students then did.
There were no remedial courses. If you needed them, you belonged somewhere else. The goal of college was learning, not social uplift.
Some time ago I read a column on the schooling of blacks written by Walter Williams, the black economist at George Mason University, who grew up in the black housing projects of Philadelphia in the Thirties. I have read Williams for years. He is an absolutely reliable witness. He reports that all the kids could read, and that classrooms were orderly and teachers respected. Today, by all reports, in the urban black schools the kids can’t read and chaos reigns. Black kids have not gotten stupider since the Thirties. Something is wrong somewhere.
I read similar stories about chaotic, violent, illiterate Latino kids in American schools, these things being attributed to low intelligence. I live in Mexico, and see nothing even faintly resembling these stories. The statistics agree. (Mexican literacy, CIA FactBook: 95%. American literacy, US Department of Education: 86%) Something is wrong somewhere.
In 1981, I wrote a piece for Harper’s on the overwhelmingly black Catholic schools of Washington, DC, and found them to be exactly as Williams described the schools in his projects: well-behaved, and all the kids could read. The article follows. shortly.
An obvious observation, which hardly anyone seems to make, is that blacks suffer less from racism than from poor education. Harvard does not reject black applicants because it dislikes blacks but because they are badly prepared. Blacks do not fail the federal entrance examination because it is rigged to exclude them but because they don’t know the answers. Equality of opportunity without equality of education is a cruel joke: giving an illiterate the right to apply to Yale isn’t giving him much.
The intelligent policy is to educate black children, something that the public schools of Washington manage, at great expense, not to do. In fact the prevailing (if unspoken) view seems to be that black children cannot be educated, an idea whose only defect is that it is wrong: the Catholic schools of Washington have been educating black children for years. The Catholic system has 12,170 students in the District, of whom 7,884, or 65 percent, are black.
The Color of Education
Harper’s, February 1981
“Coup” in Turkey
I intend to continue the discussion of education, bur there is news from Turkey that the Army, invoking their duty imposed on the Military brotherhood that was the Young Turkish Army, imposed by Mustapha Kemal, called Kemal Ataturk, to keep Turkey secular and prevent it from becoming an Islamic Republic.
There are conflicting reports from Turkey, and it is pointless to speculate in the absence of facts. Under Kemal’s Constitution, still so far as I know the Constitution of Turkey, the Army is the guardian of Turkey as a secular republic, and has the right and duty to enforce that secularism by any means necessary. In the past the Army has exercised that duty, going so far as to hang the existing governing powers; it has then retired to barracks and held new elections, choosing not to govern, but to remain the guardian of the Turkish Constitution.
The current Turkish Government has dismissed or compulsorily retired much of the senior officer corps of the Turkish Army, and has asserted it’s domination over the Army, in effect ending the Construction imposed by Kemal Ataturk. The new coup – if you care to call it a coup, since the Army can and does proclaim both the right and duty to take control to insure Constitutional government – appears to be led by lower grade officers. We have not heard of fighting among uniformed units. The various Islamic Republic factions are calling for jihad against the Army. It will be days before we know the outcome.
President Obama is reported to have appealed for the return of democracy.
Erdogan claims victory over a minor coup, with 700 Army casualties reported. Nothing else. If so, this will truly be the end of the astounding Ataturk constitutional legacy. It is a victory for democracy, but in Turkey democracy doesn’t mean rule of law. An Islamic Republic will implement Sharia Law if possible; that will be difficult in Turkey. Further discussion is not much better than speculation without more information.
Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.