Beebo Brink posted a story on SLU called “1 in 4 Americans unaware that Earth circles Sun.” In the manner news is presented, it’s pretty easy to come to the conclusion that Americans are dumb. But I think when we look at certain factors, it’s more apparent that Americans aren’t learning.
Where we come from makes all the difference. For instance, in smaller towns there is a better sense of community. You can’t go to a grocery store without knowing someone, or having a brief conversation. It is for this reason that you’ll find fewer murders and lower high school drop out rates in these towns. Classes and schools have smaller populations, so students are familiar with most of the kids on campus. They also have opportunity to reach out to teachers as classes are smaller, and teachers teach fewer students.
In larger, urban cities it’s a different story. Throughout history, as communities grew into larger, populated cities, the gap between the rich and the poor grew. It is around this stage that gangs and mobs begin to flourish. This form of comradery promoted crime and murder to survive– a mission statement that rings true today for gangs. We still see this trend in urban cities that are economically and racially segregated. There is a pattern of truancy, delinquency, and apathy for education in these cities. It should be no surprise that the schools with the most high school drop outs are in these type of cities. And how can we teach those students when they aren’t showing up to class or being expelled as a disciplinary action for not showing up. Those uneducated students living in urban cities grow up to be uneducated adults living in those cities.
The average population of a U.S. city is around 6500 (and that’s by dividing population by total amount of cities). So when you consider the population of the city with the lowest graduation rate, Cleveland, is nearly 400,000 or Chicago which is nearly 3 mill, it’s obvious why the United States is seemingly “dumb.” A 34% graduation rate in a city with 400,000 people would account for more students than it would from a city with only 10,000 people.
So if those involved in the discussion are so concerned about a dumb United States, perhaps they should use their free time to educate and mentor those who don’t have what they have. Volunteer Match has over 12,000 mentor opportunities and it’s how I found my program.