Dear Dirty America


Poor Kids Screwing Up America’s International Test Scores

Poor Kids Screwing Up America’s International Test Scores
December 03
15:00 2013


There is some dismay about the latest scores from the set of international exams that show American students squat around the mid to low-mid range in intelligence and intellect, but if you want to feel better about that, you might consider that the testing crews might have sampled too many poor kids in America, and that’s why the scores are down in the first place.

What the world doesn’t understand is that most Americans pride themselves on not being book smart. Reading, writing, math, arithmetic, science. If you know too much of that in America, there’s good reason to believe you aren’t normal. Possibly even dangerous. A Communist in the making. You might be hatching a plan of dissent. You might be guilty of consuming ideas rather than cheap goods from the shelves of desperate retailers.

There’s a satisfying level of arrogance in this country about being stupid. Very few of us actually think we’re stupid, but when it comes to being out-shined in matters of history, literature, science, and math, there’s a certain delight in many an American’s smile that clings to the idea that America still, for at least a little while longer, has the money and guns. So you can shove them math scores up the same hole you shat them out of.

You can witness that beaming, dim-witted satisfaction in the nervous smile of George Bush Jr, the 43rd president of the United States of America. A man who disregarded George Orwell’s Animal Farm because, really, everybody knows animals can’t talk. But what did talk was his full access to the most extensive array of intercontinental ballistic missiles on earth, and a terrifying terrorist attack with which to justify any invasion imaginable.

So we might be living through the Century of Dumb here in America, but we’ve still got that weapons system that should hold off the world for another decade, if we’re lucky. And if predator drones keep ratcheting up the fear in places like Pakistan and Somalia, those kids shouldn’t be able to advance into threatening levels of knowledge.

For those who do really care about the stagnant and, in some cases, plummeting test scores in America, there’s some reason to not be too upset. Poor kids are mucking up the scores and it’s bringing all of us down. Or so says the Economic Policy Institute:

As policymakers sought to make sense of the results, others urged caution about taking them too seriously. On Monday, the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, published a blog post warning officials against drawing conclusions from a “horse race examination of these scores.” EPI has argued that PISA oversampled students from low-income households in the U.S. in a way that has dinged American scores…

It makes sense. They may have oversampled kids from poor households, which may not be an oversampling issue at all, but rather an accurate analysis that reflects the dwindling households left in this country that aren’t struggling with some sort of financial crisis and anxiety over a deteriorated economic future.

And, countries like Vietnam scored higher than America’s impoverished students, as if Vietnam’s children don’t come from low-income households.

I’ll leave you with a positive note. Football jersey sales are up. Video games are sold out. Flat screen TVs are moving off the shelves. There’s plenty of good programming available online. And the president said, after his recent trip to Hollywood, where he took a knee beside the palm tree on Highland Avenue where Michael Hastings’ car was blown up, that Hollywood continues to fuel America and the world.

“Entertainment is one of the bright spots of our economy,” he said to a bunch of Dreamworks executives who sat, breathing through their mouths, speechless before the president.

I can’t help but be reminded of something Hubert Humdinger, the exiled and long forgotten cultural philosopher, told me years ago. When he was in his early twenties and going through an existential crisis so deep and so dark that, he admitted, “wacking off was one of the bright spots in my life.”

A few years later, Humdinger found true spiritual and mental nourishment. Thankfully, he’d ascended out of that valueless, lone bright spot in his sick, tormented existence. “But many did not,” he shouted to me over our shaky Skype connection. “Most do not!”

[photo by U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Chris Lussier]

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  1. Dude1883
    Dude1883 April 23, 17:33

    First time I’ve seen an article not blaming teachers! Haha.

    Reply to this comment

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