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The making of a black underclass

By Dr. Samuel L. Blumenfeld

In a few short weeks, many thousands of black children will enter first grade in public schools all over America where, inside of a year, many of them will become full-fledged reading failures and, thereby, future members of the black underclass.

There is no reason why anyone with an education should be relegated to the underclass. But that's the rub. The system will pretend to educate, while systematically using teaching methods, such as whole language and invented spelling, that create reading disability and dyslexia, thus putting that child on the road to academic failure.

Thus, intelligent children who, with proper instruction, would otherwise become truly literate are relegated to the junk heap of our society because of a perverse elite that is hell-bent on dumbing down the nation. Inner-city black children suffer the most because their parents are least able to understand what is happening to their children in the public schools.

In America, we compel children to be subjected to wholesale educational malpractice with hardly a complaint from our intellectual establishment. The only people who genuinely care are so-called right-wing "extremists" who write books critical of the system, which are never reviewed by the academic community.

Here's what Professor Anthony Oettinger of Harvard University, a rabid advocate of dumbing down, told an audience of corporation executives in 1982:

The present "traditional" concept of literacy has to do with the ability to read and write. But the real question that confronts us today is: How do we help citizens function well in their society? How can they acquire the skills necessary to solve their problems?

Do we, for example, really want to teach people to do a lot of sums or write in "a fine round hand" when they have a $5 hand-held calculator or a word processor to work with? Or, do we really have to have everybody literate – writing and reading in the traditional sense – when we have the means through our technology to achieve a new flowering of oral communication?

Of course, the original purpose of universal compulsory education was universal literacy. However, the academic elite are now asking whether or not everybody ought to be literate. But every parent who puts a child in a public school expects that school to teach their child to read in the traditional sense. But now we are dealing with teachers who ask "do we really want to teach people to do a lot of sums or how to read?"

But make no mistake about it. Even though they have no intention of teaching those children how to do sums, or write in a fine round hand, or read and write in the traditional sense, they still want them in the classroom for 12 years. What for? To turn them into abject failures.

Regardless of whether the child will be going to a better public school outside his or her neighborhood or to a charter school, chances are very good that he or she will be trained to read by one of the whole-language programs that produce reading disability and dyslexia.

How can this be, you might ask. Hasn’t whole language been thrown out and replaced by intensive, systematic phonics? Unfortunately, not. The educators may not call the reading program whole language, but you can be sure that it will be whole language in a new disguise. The new program is generally referred to as “A Balanced Approach.” It is all part of the dumbing-down agenda, which is the basis of our dumbed-down curriculum.

The reason why the schools are not teaching reading by way of intensive systematic phonics is because there are virtually no primary teachers capable of doing so. Their training at college emphasized whole-language instruction. Therefore, even if they wanted to teach intensive systematic phonics, they would not know how to do it.

The American public-school system has become a sadistic trap for the unwary. It turns some teachers into sadists, who gain secret pleasure in the knowledge that they are destroying the intellect and spirit of millions of young Americans. And, unfortunately, there is nothing in President Bush's education reform that will change this. Thus, the only solution for parents is to get their kids out and either teach them at home or put them in a private school they can trust.

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