So, so sad

An editorial from the NYTimes tells me that today's kids are stupider than they were over a decade ago. Standardized testing apparently shows that only 35% of today's 12th graders are proficient at reading, 23% at math. I'm sure that these kids are proficient at a lot of other things that aren't being captured by these tests. But it doesn't matter! Because if you can't read or do math, then you're pretty much screwed going forward.

This actually has profound implications for our country. Supposing that future generations are all this stupid, than I'm going to have to seriously question their ability to accurately pick out a good Gubernatorial/Congressional/Presidential candidate. Instead, they're probably going to gravitate to the type of people that they would have picked to be high school class president. While those people were sometimes highly qualified, other times, they got the position just because they were popular.

Of course, this assumes that the current population is actually intelligent. Fox's new television show, "Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?" provides strong (if anecdotal) evidence to the contrary. The name of the show is actually a bit misleading - as far as I can tell, the (fake) 5th graders are actually on the same team as the contestant. That said, everything else is about what you'd expect. It's a trivia show where they ask you questions that you should have learned sometime in grade school (some of it in middle school, depending on your school board).

I will readily admit that the show is not as straightforward as it seems. A lot of it is trivia that doesn't necessarily carry forward, e.g. "What constellation is the Big Dipper in?," and "What is the largest species of bear?" But many of the other questions are incredibly easy. Such questions include, "How many E's are there in the phrase, 'Pledge of allegiance?'" and "What country has the longest border along the United States?" Sadly enough, the contestant answering the first question (who went to college and got a GPA of 3.3) required multiple hints from the host. The contestant answering the second question said, "Mexico" because she'd heard a lot about that border.

The cynical, asshole-ish part of me wants to be in the audience, so I can mercilessly heckle these people. At first, I thought that this was an incredibly petty/snotty thing to want. But then I realized that the "5th graders" were actually thinking the same thing. In fact, if you watch footage of them, they are frequently laughing at the contestants, or blatantly rolling their eyes at their blatant stupidity.

The part of me that's not an asshole just wants to get on the show, so I can win a million dollars.



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