Sunday, July 27, 2008

Stupid in America

"Stupid in America" is a nasty title for a program about public education, but some nasty things are going on in America's public schools and it's about time we face up to it.

Kids at New York's Abraham Lincoln High School told me their teachers are so dull students fall asleep in class. One student said, "You see kids all the time walking in the school smoking weed, you know. It's a normal thing here."

We tried to bring "20/20" cameras into New York City schools to see for ourselves and show you what's going on in the schools, but officials wouldn't allow it.

Washington, D.C., officials steered us to the best classrooms in their district.

We wanted to tape typical classrooms but were turned down in state after state.

Finally, school officials in Washington, D.C., allowed "20/20" to give cameras to a few students who were handpicked at two schools they'd handpicked. One was Woodrow Wilson High. Newsweek says it's one of the best schools in America. Yet what the students taped didn't inspire confidence.

One teacher didn't have control over the kids. Another "20/20" student cameraman videotaped a boy dancing wildly with his shirt off, in front of his teacher.

Watch this free online documentary and make up your own the American school system producing stupid citizens?

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Own this documentary on DVD...


Anonymous said...

I hope American presidential candidates and the whole administration will someday search the web to see that a lot of (not all!!!) Americans are stupid indeed, but even worse, boast-about it, e.g., on impudent and stupid web sites. Most recent, outrageous, and impudent example is urging Americans to blow as much money as possible in order to become famous. And probably millions will join someday. This is what I hate so much, that mass media is combining stupidity with fame and coolness, and this is why young Americans are mad about behaving stupid by purpose publicly. They say: “Its cool to be a fool!”, or “I´m a fool. I´m cool. I rule.” Coming president, McCain or Obama, ought to forbid such media strategies, but they certainly will not. It doesn´t matter if Bush is current president, or if Obama or McCain wins the current race for presidency. Main issue is that America wins and stays world´s No. 1 country, and this is only possible with smart American men and women. From my point of view, it was wise to make America´s system of education as well as the mass media´s power, program (Internet porn, sitcoms, talk shows, etc.), and propaganda to dumb down the American people, kids especially, the main topic of race for presidency. If the top dogs of US politics don´t, and if the coming president doesn´t change anything, all the world will laugh at America´s voluntarily proven stupidity.

Michiel said...

As a Belgian student, I am of course very pleased to see that the Belgian education system gets so much attention in this program. Still, the makers of this documentary might have taken more time to do their research. Indeed, Belgian education offers parents the choice between a state-run school, or any other type of school they prefer. On the other hand, the Catholic ( and other) schools mentioned in the documentary are NOT private schools: they also get funds from the government, and even though a student in a state-run school gets more money than a student in (for example) a catholic one, this difference is not all that dramatic anymore. Also, Belgian education - just like Belgian life, for that matter- up to this day has been very politicised, with different confessional and non-confessional groups, linked to politial organisations, setting up their own schooling networks. The firmly established Catholic education network is just one example thereof. In the past, this has led to fierce debates between the Catholic school network and the supposedly non-confessional public education network, which resulted in today's more or less uniform treatment of the different educational networks.

Concerning unions: in Belgium, they also have a firm grip on the educational legislation, but that does not mean they keep teachers from taking initiatives to improve their teaching. Furthermore, the Ministry of education is aware of Belgium's current high ranking in educational stats, so many efforts are being made to maintain this position.

To conclude, I want to express my sympathy with those students and their parents who are simply not allowed to choose what they think is best for themselves or their children, and also for those teachers who want to make a difference, but are stuck in an educational system which needs a lot of changes. A president-elect who built his campaign upon "change" knows where to start working.

Anonymous said...

I didn't know american children don't have the choice to go to the school of their choice. The school systems of my home are so much better because they get to choose. If student has gun or makes the school a bad place they get the boot and have to goto another school with that note that the student caused a disruption.

Also when student gets a degree it is like a college or uni. if a student goes to a very low rated school in america and manages to pass they get the same document as someone who is in very good school but schools of my home are like a Uni in that the school itself carries weight like if a community college A student and a Yale C- student comes to a job and the Yale student will get the work.

corneilius said...

If you are REALLY interested in the Nature of Education, then you ought to read "The Underground History of American Education" which covers the genesis of Compulsory State Education, reveals the agenda hidden within, from the private archives of those who set it up. This book was written by John Taylor Gatto.

There is also the work of John Holt, "How Children Fail" and "How Children Learn"....

And to corroborate all these look at the life and work of Eward Bernays, who first coined the phrase "Public Relations"... and then you might understand why so many people 'appear' to be 'stupid' or 'gullible'.

Nature does not do stupidity. All children are born intelligent and imbued with natural creativity. That nature is seen as a threat by certain groups of people. Make sure YOU are not one of them.

Anonymous said...