Friday, April 13, 2012

great post

Stole this from the Commical because the writer really states the issue facing our dumbing down of the society

Marjorie Smith: Anti-intellectualism a threat to social fabric
Posted: Tuesday, March 20, 2012 11:14 am
If someone asked you to name Montana’s most important problem, what would you say? My first response when I was asked the other day was education. And then I puzzled over that answer.
Judging by test scores and graduation rates, Montana does a better job on education than many states in this nation. Yet there are nagging concerns. While Bozeman provides its children one of the best educations in the state, and Bozeman voters regularly demonstrate the priority they place on schools with support of bond issues, Montana as a state has not been so supportive recently. Facing a legislative session next year, to be conducted by many legislators yet to be elected this fall, it’s hard to feel entirely confident although perhaps Bozeman’s pro-education stance can be spread statewide as our school superintendent leaves us to work for education on a statewide basis.
Just this week in Washington, D.C., college students delivered more than 130,000 letters to congressional leaders asking them to stop the interest rates on federally subsidized Stafford student loans from increasing from 3.4 to 6.8 percent, due to happen this summer if Congress doesn’t do something about it. Budget hawks warn that keeping interest rates low could cost the federal treasury as much as $6 billion. Supporters of education argue the problem arises from treating higher education as a personal commodity rather than a public good.
At least one Republican presidential candidate certainly takes that view. Rick Santorum’s accusation that President Obama is a snob for wanting everyone to aspire to higher education completely ignores the fact that having an educated populace benefits our society as a whole.
Thinking back to horrors like China’s Cultural Revolution, which forced the most highly educated to labor in the fields, resonates for some of us as Santorum’s anti-intellectualism rears its head in the public square. Perhaps that’s what led to my response to the “most important problem” question. I heard the same thing privately a few months ago when someone I know grumbled to his friend that while his wife’s relatives were really smart, they needed to realize that it wasn’t the educated people who built this country.
From what I know of this man’s life, I think he used the word “built” literally, as in built the railroads and cut the timber to make the railroad ties. He’s probably right that not many of those builders had college degrees, and I don’t think he’d be impressed if I said, “What about the engineers who laid out the railroads?” I suspect he thinks he, with his GED, could have done it himself by scuffing his heel in the dirt and telling his crew, “Let’s build it here.” The way he sees it, he’s done just fine, he owns his home, pays his bills, and he didn’t need some high falutin’ college degree. So why would anyone else?
But what’s Rick Santorum’s excuse? He has one more college degree than Barack Obama, but apparently considers aspirations to make higher education more widely available in this country to be elitist.
Of course, the point is that without a well-educated populace, we can’t hope to compete and succeed in this rapidly changing world, either as a state or as a nation. And while Montana does pretty well educating it kids, that guy over there – the one complaining about his wife’s over-educated family – is a product of Montana’s education systems, a half century ago. Let’s hope he’s not a harbinger of our future.
Marjorie Smith is a Bozeman writer, editor and former member of U.S. Foreign Service. She can be reached at
© 2012 The Bozeman Daily Chronicle. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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