New study: 75% of college graduates are stupid

A study (PDF) released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Education shows that only 25% of college graduates were “proficiently literate,’ that is, “using printed and written information to function in society, to achieve one’s goals, and to develop one’s knowledge and potential.’

The results show a dramatic decline from 1992, the last year surveyed prior to this study.

“This seems like another piece of hard evidence, a fairly clear indication, that the ‘value added’ that higher education gave to students didn’t improve, and maybe declined, over this period,’ said Charles Miller, the former University of Texas regent who is heading the U.S. education secretary’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education. “You have the possibility of people going through schools, getting a piece of paper for sitting in class a certain amount, and we don’t know whether they’re getting what they need. This is a fair sign that there are some problems here.’

The report, which extrapolates its findings from a survey of 19,000 Americans aged 16 and up, aims to measure what the commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, Mark Schneider, called “reading for purpose’ — how well citizens can process information to do what’s necessary to work and live (sample questions are available here).

It assesses three types of literacy: “prose literacy,’ which is the ability to comprehend continuous texts, like newspaper articles and the brochure that comes with a new microwave; “document literacy,’ the ability to understand and use documents to perform tasks, like reading a map or prescription labels; and “quantitative literacy,’ which are the skills needed to do things like balancing a checkbook or calculating the interest on a loan from an advertisement.

Based on their scores, participants in the survey were deemed to have “basic,’ “intermediate’ or “proficient’ literacy. (Whitehurst noted that a National Research Council committee that recommended the literacy levels initially called the highest level “advanced,’ but that department officials ultimately concluded that the skills required for that category — comparing viewpoints in two editorials, for instance, or calculating the cost per ounce of different grocery items — weren’t really all that advanced.) — Inside Higher Ed

A university degree was a rarity in the United States as recently as the 1940s — only 10 percent of Americans had even gone to college and 75 percent hadn’t even finished high school. And those lucky or privileged enough to attend university actually left school with real knowledge and skills.

Today, nearly a quarter of Americans have a university degree by the time they’re 25, and these college-educated dummies are confused by nearly everything they read. — Sploid

I’ve been saying for a long time that the quality of American education is in decline. We don’t need more studies to tell us there’s a problem. We need to begin addressing the problem. And the problem is the Department of Education itself. Since its creation the country has enacted laws and regulations which have chipped away at the quality of American education until by now we have three-fourths of college graduates unable to read properly.

Failing high school? This could be your fate

Tasha Henderson, of Edmond, Okla., was distressed by her 14 year old daughter’s poor grades in school, her being late for class and mouthing off the teachers, and came up with a rather unique punishment.

She made Coretha stand at a busy Oklahoma City intersection Nov. 4 with a cardboard sign that read: “I don’t do my homework and I act up in school, so my parents are preparing me for my future. Will work for food.’

“This may not work. I’m not a professional,’ said Henderson, a 34-year-old mother of three. “But I felt I owed it to my child to at least try.’

In fact, Henderson has seen a turnaround in her daughter’s behavior in the past week and a half. But the punishment prompted letters and calls to talk radio from people either praising the woman or blasting her for publicly humiliating her daughter. . . .

Tasha Henderson said her daughter’s attendance has been perfect and her behavior has been better since the incident.

Coretha, a soft-spoken girl, acknowledged the punishment was humiliating but said it got her attention. “I won’t talk back,’ she said quietly, hanging her head. — Associated Press

It’s definitely unusual, and it seems to have worked. What’s the problem? Are we too afraid to punish our children for bad behavior anymore?

Verizon awarded for promoting literacy

Verizon Communications, Inc., has received the first Quills Corporate Literacy Award for its work in promoting literacy.

The Quills Corporate Literacy Award was presented to Patrick Gaston, President, Verizon Foundation, in recognition of Verizon’s support of literacy programs. Verizon Reads, the umbrella organization for Verizon’s national literacy platform, supports programs to create awareness, raise funds, and encourage collaboration among literacy providers. Specifically, the Verizon Literacy Network connects the leading literacy organizations to serve as a resource for all literacy inquiries and link providers to the general public via the Internet.

“Verizon’s mission has been to be the leader in America’s campaign to raise literacy levels by orchestrating a national platform that will increase community awareness and support a wide diversity of literacy programs,’ said Gerry Byrne, chairman of the Quills Literacy Foundation. “Through its programs and its employees, Verizon has been a uniquely enthusiastic and committed leader that truly celebrates the written word and is making a difference. This is a well-deserved award.’ — Phone Watch

The awards program will be seen on the NBC Universal network on Saturday, Oct. 22, between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. U.S. Eastern time.

Reading is only the first step. Next comes comprehension, understanding, analysis, critical thinking, and development of judgment. Still, it’s a good first step in the fight to make stupidity history.

Playing football causes stupidity

A new study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill shows that football players suffer an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive impairments later in life as a result of repeated head injuries sustained while playing football.

“In this unique study, we had some very interesting findings,’ [Dr. Kevin] Guskiewicz [professor of exercise and sport science in the UNC College of Arts and Sciences] said. “Our data suggest that a history of recurrent concussions and probably sub-concussive contacts to the head may be risk factors for the expression of late-life memory impairment, mild cognitive impairment and earlier expression of Alzheimer’s disease. Research like this is important since more than 300,000 sport-related concussions, many of which are recurrent injuries, occur annually in the U.S. and more than 1.2 million Americans suffer head injury each year.’

The study involved surveying by mail 3,683 retired professional football players who belonged to the NFL Retired Player’s Association about their overall health and analyzing the results.

Of those, 2,552 returned questionnaires or had their spouses or other close relatives do so for about a 70 percent response rate. Players averaged almost 54 years old and had an average professional career spanning 6.6 years.

Researchers then surveyed a subset of 758 players aged 50 and older and asked more detailed questions about concussions and diagnosed dementia-related impairments. Spouses and close relatives also participated and assisted in confirming responses provided by the retired players. — Science Blog

Oh, and this little gem suggests the results may be understated: “The study’s chief limitation was that it was based on self-reported answers to the health questions, and the accuracy of remembering memory problems could not be verified completely.’

One-fifth of California high schoolers fail graduation exam

Nearly 100,000 California high school students in the class of 2006 have failed the state’s graduation exam, according to researchers at the Human Resources Research Organization.

The group conducted a review of the test results as part of a report ordered by the California Legislature when it instituted the exit exam several years ago.

Among its findings: 63% of African Americans students, and 68% of Latinos in the class of 2006 have passed both parts of the exam.

By comparison, 89% of Asian students, and 90% of whites, have passed.

Despite remedial classes, after-school tutoring and other academic help, tens of thousands of students — particularly those in special education and others who speak English as a second language — may still fail the test by the end of their senior year, the group said.

The report recommended that the state keep the exam in place but consider several alternatives for students who can’t pass.

“Clearly, we need to have some options for these students,’ said Lauress L. Wise, the firm’s president, in a telephone interview with reporters.

Seniors could be allowed to submit portfolios of work that demonstrate mastery of English and math, the report’s authors suggested. Or, schools could allow students to spend an extra year in high school, or earn diplomas for completing special summer school programs in lieu of the exam, the report proposed.

The state also could establish alternate diplomas or graduation certificates for students who pass part of the exit exam, the group offered.

But California Supt. of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell said he opposed any change that would diminish the worth of a high school diploma.

“It’s important to keep one core principal front and center: awarding a student a diploma without the skills and knowledge to back it up does the student a disservice’ said O’Connell, who added that his staff would study the options spelled out in the new report. — Los Angeles Times

Now the stupid part is that the test covers mastery of an eighth grade level of math and a ninth to tenth grade level of English. Twenty percent of students can’t demonstrate mastery of these basic levels, in their senior year of high school!

But this is not news. Public schools aren’t designed to give children an education. Instead, they’re designed to make them dumb. Anyone managing to get an education in public school has done so despite the best efforts of the school system to prevent them from getting one.

American quality of education declining

A report released by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development shows that Americans are getting dumber compared to their counterparts in other countries.

Among adults age 25 to 34, the U.S. is ninth among industrialized nations in the share of its population that has at least a high school degree. In the same age group, the United States ranks seventh, with Belgium, in the share of people who hold a college degree.

By both measures, the United States was first in the world as recently as 20 years ago, said Barry McGaw, director of education for the Paris-based Organization for [Economic] Cooperation and Development. The 30-nation organization develops the yearly rankings as a way for countries to evaluate their education systems and determine whether to change their policies.

McGaw said that the United States remains atop the “knowledge economy,’ one that uses information to produce economic benefits. But, he said, “education’s contribution to that economy is weakening, and you ought to be worrying.’

The report, released Tuesday, bases its conclusions about achievement mainly on international test scores released last December. They show that compared with their peers in Europe, Asia and elsewhere, 15-year-olds in the United States are below average in applying math skills to real-life tasks.

Top performers included Finland, Korea, the Netherlands, Japan, Canada and Belgium. — Associated Press

Back in July, we let you know that the dumbing down of America’s children is a result of deliberate changes in the education system.

August 22 is National Punctuation Day

Write It Right: The Ground Rules for Self-Editing Like the Pros

In order to promote their new book, Write It Right: The Ground Rules for Self-Editing Like the Pros, authors Dawn Josephson and Lauren Hidden have declared their support for August 22 as National Punctuation Day. According to the authors, “Most people know when to use periods, exclamation marks, and questions marks, but semicolons, colons, and quotations pose greater challenges.’

While self-editing can be troublesome, Write It Right breaks it down into five easy steps and includes examples, so readers can learn exactly what their strengths and weaknesses are. The book also goes into detail about the correct way to use punctuation marks like the serial comma, semicolon, colon and quotation marks so that you’ll always know how to write it right! — Press release

Being able to communicate properly sets you apart as having greater intelligence than those who cannot. We here at Make Stupidity History will support anyone who wants to learn to improve their writing and communication skills.

Before you send your child back to public school, there’s something you should know

The American public education system is dumbing down your kids and preparing them for a life of mediocrity.

That’s the startling, but perhaps not surprising, premise behind John Taylor Gatto‘s book, The Underground History of American Education, which is available to read free online. (Hint: Try the printer-friendly links in each chapter.)

Gatto is a former New York State Teacher of the Year who taught for 30 years before finally quitting in disgust at the things the education system asked him to do to children. If you want to understand how America’s educational system works and what its true goals are, this book is required reading.

He argues that the system is designed to suppress in children the abilities of critical thinking and judgment needed to accomplish great things, and to psychologically warp children so as to be docile, apathetic, uncomplaining employees and consumers when they grow up.

Thanks to Liberty for Sale for bringing this very important work on American education to light. I can tell you no child of mine will ever attend a public school. Now go read the book, and come back here in a week or two when you’re finished, and let me know what you think.

Today’s Stupid Person of the Day is anyone who leaves their children in public school after learning what’s really going on in those classrooms.

Eliminating stupidity: Your thoughts

We see examples of stupidity all around us every day. From the driver who turns right from the left lane, to the waitress who can’t add or subtract, we are surrounded by it.

As the premise of this site is to eradicate stupidity, I’d like to hear from you on how that might best be accomplished.

If you have an idea on how to reduce or eliminate stupidity, post it below.