Social engineers are forever rhapsodizing about a multi-hued paradise where peace reigns and equality of results is assured. This is not sociology; as it requires faith beyond the facts, it is religion. The belief that everyone is equal--unless it pertains to a legal or spiritual sense--is certainly not the result of accurate observation. If everyone were equal, there would be no need for competition. Competition, one of the nastier necessities of nature, happens in the nursery, in the nest, between siblings, between high schools, tribes, suitors, countries, and races. Like it or not, competition makes this little blue-green orb spin. And with competition comes friction and stratification. The inhabitants of planet earth are in a constant state of genetic warfare: This is nature. And it is questionable whether or not Washington bureaucrats or ivy league-breed sociologists possess the Solomonic wisdom needed to improve on it.
Something, societal pressure, or perhaps simply instinct, seems to happen as people grow older. Or it may be as basic as the fact that most humans gravitate toward the familiar, the known. The force of governmental policies, such as quotas and forced busing, exerts enormous pressure on American students as they are coerced into leaving neighborhoods and friends and told that what are natural and harmless inclinations--focusing on geographic, racial or ethnic identities--is wrong.
While equal opportunity is a realistic and praiseworthy goal, 'equality of results' is neither. You can not mandate ability, intelligence, nor personal resources simply by issuing legislative fiats. You can make the brightest to be the best they can be--and the less-bright be the best they can be with what they have--but you can't make everyone the best. The only way to ensure 'equality of results' is to drag everyone down to the lowest common denominator. For while you can't teach every janitor in the world to be a rocket scientist, you can teach almost any rocket scientist to push a broom. (You might have a problem with his daydreaming on the job, though.)
One leading indicator of the trouble in our educational system, with its increasing emphasis on implementing social theorems and not the fundamentals of learning, is the steady decline of Scholastic Aptitude Test scores over the past few decades. These figures indicate a decrease in overall knowledge and an imminent danger to America's brain trust. Neither massive spending nor innovative approaches to education seem to have made a dent in the problem.
And, of course, given today’s au courant social theories, requiring more attention, work, and discipline from the students is impossible: hard work might promote competition; discipline, since it only applies to those who create trouble, is unegalitarian; and forcing students to pay attention might remove their sense of empowerment, and thus damage their self-esteem.
So, with education in disarray and decline, how do you raise the SAT scores? Some genius at the College Board, the organization which officiates the SAT, figured it out: If you can't bring Mohammed to the mountain, bring the mountain to Mohammed; i.e., if you can't get the students to advance toward higher scores, you bring the higher scores to them! In mid 1990's it was announced that the College Board would begin altering the grading scale to reflect today's "diverse pool of test-takers." Though there was mention of making the grades easier to understand, in actual fact the change was designed to support the sagging scores of minorities, to assuage bruised egos and smooth ruffled self-esteem. Therefore, from the mid 1990's on, students have been led to believe that their grades are higher than their predecessors when they are in fact lower. With an average addition of fifty points on the math portion of the SAT and seventy on the verbal, even Jethro Bodine can now be perceived as a genius. Chester Finn, former assistant U.S. secretary of education, said of the decision, "The College Board is administering the largest dose of educational Prozac in the history of the country."
But at least the students will feel better about themselves.
In 1951 science fiction writer C.M. Kornbluth wrote The Marching Morons, a short story about a grim future where the less intelligent, with their proliferate birthrate, out breed the intelligent by a vast margin and water down the world's collective I.Q. to dismal double digits. The small cadre of intelligent people become slaves to the teeming masses and spend most of their time catering to and pacifying their less intelligent brothers, who are little more than peripatetic morons.
Cars, for example, have small weak motors--but loud-speakers under the hood to simulate the roar of a powerful engine and blower vents to create a wind, commensurate with high speed, that whizzes by the car's windows, thus deluding the idiot driver into believing that he's cruising along at the pace of an Indy racer while he's actually going the much safer proverbial snail's pace of 30 mph. Linguistic ability has faltered, slang rules the day. The entertainment industry caters to every base whim in a futile effort to keep the Morons preoccupied so they won't kill each other. Education for the masses becomes meaningless; in an effort to appease them, to fortify their self-esteem, there are four-year degrees in fishing and doctorates in fly-casting. It is a world of glitter and sparkle, smoke and mirrors, intent on pacification of the "lesser-abled."
Reading this story over fifty years later, one can't help but admire Mr. Kornbluth's prophetic abilities--and shudder.
America's educational mentors are, if not leading the way, doing nothing to prevent America's children from making this future scenario a bitter reality. The policy of appeasement––you don’’t have to actually be good as long as you feel good about yourself--makes underachievers feel better about themselves than they have a right to and diminishes real effort and ability; The redirection of goals away from education and toward the implementation of questionable social policies, and the effort to cater to the lowest common denominator--to the exclusion of the brightest and the best--is slowly turning America into a country of Marching Morons, who, with steadily diminishing skills, inflated egos, and useless diplomas in hand, march toward a bleak horizon.
It is exceeding ironic that the same social engineers that decry the lack of diversity in America are the same ones that are trying to eradicate competition. If you want diversity, remember: competition breeds diversity; lack of competition breeds stasis. As historian Edward Gibbon said, 'All that is human must retrograde if it is not to advance.' Stasis almost never occurs. The pendulum is in constant motion for a reason--to stir the waters of life. Thus, it is always in motion and at some point between polar extremes. Competition is the way of nature––the primary tool of evolution.
True egalitarianism may exist in shoals of fish and among worker ants but, save the imaginations of social theoreticians, it is not the natural state of man. As a fictional scientist said in the movie The Return of the Creature, echoing Gibbon’’s sentiments, "For mankind it's the jungle or the stars."