From the Atlantic, "Of the 1.66 million high school students in the class of 2013 who took the SAT, only 43 percent were academically prepared for college-level work, according to this year's SAT Report on College & Career Readiness. For the fifth year in a row, fewer than half of SAT-takers received scores that qualified them as "college-ready."
From Thinkprogress.org, "Because of the sequester, 70,000 children are being kicked off Head Start, a critical program providing low-income preschoolers with education, health, nutrition, and family-support services. Another 1.2 million disadvantaged students will see the funds eliminated for over 2,700 schools. Low-income families will also lose a total of $115 million in child care subsidies. These are subsidies that enable low-income families to take care of their children and work to make ends meet."
The total budget cuts to education equal $2.6 billion.
From USA Today, "The House approved a Republican plan Thursday to cut food stamps by $39 billion during the next decade, setting up a showdown with Democrats over the program used by nearly 48 million low-income Americans."
Is there a causal relationship between cuts in social welfare and education funding and poor performance on the SAT or is it just a statistical fluke?
Authors Mullainathan and Shafir, in their book, Scarcity, why having too little means so much, offer some insight, when they write, "Being poor, for example, reduces a person's cognitive capacity..."
They go on to explain when someone lives with scarcity of resources, they are using so much of their cognitive capacity to cope with basic needs, they don't have much left for other activities -- like "pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps."
So even though Tea Party Republicans like to think all poor people suffer character flaws that will be repaired by making them self-sufficient, reducing resources simply re-enforces the dynamics that make them poor.
An inability to pay the rent or buy groceries focuses the mind on those needs. In this instance, saving for the future may as well be the title of a science fiction novel. And hungry children who learn well is the main plot line.
It seems to me we have a congress full of people who are ignorant of anything other than campaigning, fund-raising and the misapplication of carefully selected Biblical verses.
Case in point from Alan Colmes, is the North Dakota Congressman Kevin Cramer, justifying his vote to "take food out of the mouths of the poor, the disabled, and the sick. So he posted a Biblical passage on his Facebook page: Thessalonians 3:10 English Standard Version (ESV) 10 For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat."
This kind of simple-minded logic based on Iron Age texts that is leading us into a disaster. A five year trend of SAT scores under 50 percent, is a frightening prospect in a global economy that moves forward on technological advances.
The causes of this failure run deep in the American psyche. I think Sam Harris said it best in his book, The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason, when he wrote, "In our next presidential election, an actor who read his Bible would almost certainly defeat a rocket scientist who does not. Could there be any clear indication that we are allowing unreason and otherworldliness to govern our affairs?"
The most frightening aspect to our continuing educational demise is that it is just another symptom of a twisted misapplication of Biblical ethics being justified as the word of God.
If there is a God, and I won't argue for or against that premise, "He, She, It" will prepare a special place in the afterlife for those who rob our children of their futures.
Robert De Filippis