WASHINGTON — It’s long been known that America’s school kids haven’t measured well compared with international peers. Now, there’s a new twist: Adults don’t either.
In math, reading and problem-solving using technology – all skills considered critical for global competitiveness and economic strength – American adults scored below the international average on a global test, according to results released Tuesday.
Adults in Japan, Canada, Australia, Finland and multiple other countries scored significantly higher than the United States in all three areas on the test. Beyond basic reading and math, respondents were tested on activities such as calculating mileage reimbursement due to a salesman, sorting email and comparing food expiration dates on grocery store tags.
Is this really a surprise to anyone? When you can confuse a store clerk virtually to the point of tears by handing her a quarter to accompany the $5.00 bill you had already given her after she'd wrung up up the sale for $4.25, you know you are deep into stupid territory. This actually happened. A sales clerk had taken my $5.00 for a $4.25 purchase and entered the amount into her cash register. When I belatedly fished out my quarter from the depths of my Mary Poppins bag and handed it to her, she froze. A confused look came over her. She bit her lip, staring at the five dollar bill and the quarter.
"You gave me too much money."
"No, I gave you the quarter so you could give me back a dollar bill."
"But I only owe you 75 cents."
"Not if you add the quarter to it."
"But I don't need the quarter! That's too much."
I took back the quarter. I then took the additional three quarters she handed me. I paused for effect and to give her brain a chance to have closure on that transaction. Then I put all four quarters in one hand and asked, "Can I have a dollar for these four quarters?"
That's when she almost started crying.
And I almost started laughing.
But I'm not that mean. Almost. Not quite.
Americans are stupid. We are stupid and we are uninformed. But thankfully we score high marks on self-esteem. Yes, that means we are arrogant. This is important because if you aren't arrogant when you're stupid, you might just learn something. Like how to make change.
But wait. All this stupidity is easily explained. It is not, in fact, a result of lowering standards and expectations of performance; nor is it the result of the increasing political power of the teachers' union and the federalization of education through the Department of Education. No. That's just silly talk.
It is all about the inequality.
However, my retarded reptilian brain remembers this little video from 2008, and I wonder whether it can be reconciled with the pronouncement that stupidity is simply an expression of inequality.
It would appear from this video, that at the very least, some of our fellow citizens' stupidity results from listening to NPR and reading the NY Times.