Monday, May 21, 2012

21 May 2012 Macaroni and cheese for Congress

          The preparation guide on a box o macaroni and cheese, or any other pre-prepared box meal is written at about the 3rd grade level.  Two reasons for using such non-demanding language come to mind. 
          First, the packages are often designed to be reconstituted and microwaved by elementary school – aged children, who may just be acquiring language skills.  This allows a child to prepare an after-school snack.  It may also allow a child to prepare dinner for his self and perhaps siblings and/or other family members. 
          Secondly, many adults lack basic reading skills and may not be capable of reading at higher levels.  This is pathognomic of a failing educational system. 
          Given that their constituencies are often unable to hear and understand a logically presented explanation of a particular bill, as introduced for consideration by the entire body; there is no emphasis for the individual legislators to write or speak at a level anywhere above junior high school levels. 
          This lack of overall literacy for citizens of the United States is shameful.  Much of it can be laid at the feet of the recent crops of PhD educators – the people who write the books about how to teach and then sell the books with built-in philosophies of education to local school boards that fail to understand the professional jargon and statistics used in the sales pitch, and thus allow the miscarriage of education to continue. 
          Recent education theory, that used on the boomer spawn, has little to do with teaching subject matter and far too much to do with “self esteem.” 
          In many of these philosophies, the teachers are to spend the early years developing their students’ self-esteem – when they have sufficient self-esteem they will be comfortable trying to master subject matter that should have been locked into their growing brains in first grade.  Every student is treated as if all are equal in skills and abilities.  That is, quite frankly, bullshit.
          We older boomers were expected to develop our self-esteem, if we did, from our own accomplishments.  Those of us who learned basic skills quickly were placed into higher performance level classes.  Those who did not migrated to lower level classes.  We knew that we weren’t all equally capable in various subjects and skills.  We still know that.  We don’t expect all of us to be equally skilled or adept. 
          Over the last two generations we’ve watched the levels of academic competency displayed by American students, decline with respect to students in other industrialized nations.  Such a decline will continue until we return to schools that demand excellence as the minimum standard of performance. 
          Our voter base has been formed from that dumbed – down pool of academic failures with high self-esteem.  So have our legislators.   If they have no need to use higher-level language skills with the voters, then there is no need to use it among peers. 
          One of the gravest injuries to our system of government is this decrease in language skills.  It has reached the point where no legislator drafts a bill.  His or her staff contains clerical workers who have mastered the legislative jargon and translate ordinary English into Legislaturese.  In the worst cases, Congressional offices fall back upon “mac and cheese” legislation.  The lobbyists and corporations write the bills so that the legislator need only add water and microwave. Next generation, like the boxes of macaroni and cheese, we’ll see printed words replaced with pictures. 

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