The Epoch Times is serializing a translation from the Chinese of a new book, How the Specter of Communism Is Ruling Our World, by the editorial team of the Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party.

Previous Chapter: The Specter of Communism in Western Universities

2. Communist Elements in Primary and Secondary Education

Although communism is most influential at the university level, it has also influenced primary and secondary school education. Its influence has undermined children’s intellectual development and maturity, making them more susceptible to leftist influences in college. It has caused generations of students to have less and less knowledge and less ability to reason and engage in critical thinking. This has gone over for over a hundred years. The progressive education movement led by John Dewey initiated the trend. Subsequent educational reforms generally followed in the same tradition.

In addition to instilling students with atheism, the theory of evolution, and communist ideology, primary and secondary education in the United States engages in psychological manipulation that destroys students’ traditional beliefs and morals. It instills moral relativism and modern concepts that convey a corrupt attitude toward life. This occurs across all sectors of education. The sophisticated measures used make it almost impossible for students and the public to guard against the trend.

a. Dumbing Down Students

The United States is a democratic country. From presidents to lawmakers, town mayors, and school-district committee members, all are elected by voters. Whether democratic politics can be pursued in a manner that is truly beneficial to all depends not only on the moral level of the people but also on the level of their knowledge and understanding. If voters are not well-versed in history, political and economic systems, and social issues, they will have difficulty wisely electing officials who will base their platforms on the long-term and fundamental interests of the country and society. This puts the country in a dangerous situation.

In 1983, a group of experts, commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education, wrote the report A Nation at Risk after eighteen months of research. The authors of the report said:

“For our country to function, citizens must be able to reach some common understandings on complex issues, often on short notice and on the basis of conflicting or incomplete evidence. Education helps form these common understandings, a point Thomas Jefferson made long ago in his justly famous dictum: ‘I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them but to inform their discretion.’”

Individuals with little knowledge and poor critical thinking ability are unable to recognize lies and deceptions. Education plays an enormous role, and communist elements penetrate into all levels of the education system, making students foolish and ignorant and thus vulnerable to manipulation.

A Nation at Risk makes these additional points: “The educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a Nation and a people.” “If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war.” “We have even squandered the gains in student achievement made in the wake of the Sputnik challenge. Moreover, we have dismantled essential support systems which helped make those gains possible. We have, in effect, been committing an act of unthinking, unilateral educational disarmament.” [1]

The report quoted analyst Paul Copperman: “For the first time in the history of our country, the educational skills of one generation will not surpass, will not equal, will not even approach, those of their parents.”

The report cites some shocking findings: In addition to U.S. students’ grades often being at the bottom in international exams, 23 million American adults are functionally illiterate — that is, only possessing the most basic literacy skills, unable to meet the needs of complex modern life and work. The ratio of functional illiteracy is 13 percent among 17-year-olds and may reach 40 percent among minorities. From 1963 to 1980, the grades of the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) slid down, with the average language score dropping by more than 50 points, and the average math score dropping by nearly 40 points. “Many 17-year-olds do not possess the ‘higher order’ intellectual skills we should expect of them. Nearly 40 percent cannot draw inferences from written material; only one-fifth can write a persuasive essay; and only one-third can solve a mathematics problem requiring several steps.” [2]

After the 1980s, people of insight in the American education field launched the Back to Basics campaign, but did it help stop the decline of American education? In 2008, Mark Bauerlein, a professor of English at Emory University, published The Dumbest Generation. The first chapter of the book combines the results of examinations and surveys by the Department of Education and non-governmental organizations, summarizing the knowledge gaps of American students in history, civics, math, science, technology, fine arts, and other fields. In the history exam in the 2001 National Education Progress Assessment (NEAP), 57 percent of students scored “below basic” and only 1 percent achieved “advanced.” Surprisingly, in response to the question, which country was the U.S. ally in World War II, 52 percent chose Germany, Japan, and Italy, instead of the Soviet Union. Results in other areas were equally disappointing. [3]

The decline in the quality of education in the United States is obvious to all. Since the 1990s, the term “dumbing down” has appeared in many books on American education and has become a concept American educators cannot avoid. John Taylor Gatto, a senior teacher and educational researcher in New York City, wrote: “Pick up a fifth-grade math or rhetoric textbook from 1850 and you’ll see that the texts were pitched than on what would today be considered college level.” [4]

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