‘Stupid in America: How We Cheat Our Kids’

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John Stossel produced this documentary in 2006 for ABC television. Thirteen years later, our public education system still [naughty verb deleted]… Shall we say “under-performs”?

I interviewed him after viewing his documentary.


Among the highlights of the documentary was the story of an 18-year-old high school student in South Carolina who, after having been in public school for almost all his life, still couldn’t read. At all. But when his mother sent him to a Sylvan Learning Center, he learned to read in only 72 hours. He wasn’t stupid, but his schooling was.

Another eye-opener was an under-performing high school in Kansas City, where the school board tried to solve its problem by throwing more money at it. Lots more: they had to add onto the building to accommodate an indoor swimming pool. Millions of dollars later, the high school lost its accreditation.

Stossel had only an hour of air time, so he concentrated on the academics and let the rest of it go. By “the rest” I mean the increasing prevalence of crime and violence in the schools, the political indoctrination of the students, and the bored tolerance of school administrators for all sorts of bad behavior. I’ve seen it for myself, and it isn’t pretty.

Public schooling can’t be fixed. It’s too far gone for that. Homeschooling or Christian schooling are the best alternatives.

If America goes down the pipe, what we’ve long called “education” will be a big part of the reason for it.

2 comments on “‘Stupid in America: How We Cheat Our Kids’

  1. No, our children are not stupid, it’s the social environment of the public school system and its curriculum that makes them stupid. God gave children a brain that instinctively wants to learn, and wants to connect synapses in a way that makes sense of their world. Psychologists took over the education system emphasizing emotions over facts. If something is broken beyond repair, trash it and begin anew. John Stossel is a powerhouse for good most of the time – his extreme libertarianism needs to be reigned in places to be conform to God’s law.

  2. Even when I was in school, the system was lacking in many ways, but at this point it’s completely dysfunctional. As you say, it can’t be fixed.

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