In a 2009 study of students in developing and developed countries, the United States ranked lower than most countries in educational performance regardless that we spend more per pupil than any other country except Luxembourg. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said, “This is an absolute wake-up call for America,” and that, “We have to face the brutal truth. We have to get much more serious about investment in education.” It is true that America invests heavily in education, but there are factors that are not directly related to funding, and certainly not related to race.
However, without doing any research, Pat Buchanan cited a racist who claims that the statistics of the Paris-based OECDs Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests in reading, math and science skills of 15-year-olds in over 30 countries suggest that America’s low standing is because of the diminished learning ability of Hispanic and Black students. In other words, Buchanan believes that Black and Hispanic students have lower IQs than white and Asian students and are responsible for the decline in performance on standardized tests.
American students ranked 14th in reading, 17th in science, and 25th in math; China ranked highest in the PISA tests. Buchanan cited Robert Weissberg’s assessment that the reason America ranks so low is because Hispanic and Black students do not have the intelligence to learn and are a drag on the educational system.
Weissberg’s claims are unfounded and nothing more than racist views that without Hispanic and Black students, America’s white students would score on par with any other country in the world. Weissberg writes:
“America’s educational woes reflect our demographic mix of students. Today’s schools are filled with millions of youngsters, many of whom are Hispanic immigrants struggling with English plus millions of others of mediocre intellectual ability disdaining academic achievement.” He continues his racist rhetoric when he says, “To be grossly politically incorrect, most of America’s educational woes vanish if these indifferent, troublesome students left when they had absorbed as much as they were going to learn and were replaced by learning-hungry students.”
Weissberg’s comments may sound convincing to white Americans who are looking for reasons to disparage minorities *and immigrants, but he is speaking from a point of view that contradicts studies that say school success depends on one factor unrelated to race or any other demographic. Interestingly, Weissberg’s contention that 80% of a school’s success is dependent on two factors: the cognitive ability of the student and the disposition they bring to the classroom – is partially correct according to the Harvard Family Research Project.
The 2005 Harvard study cites family involvement as the overriding factor in a student’s success, and their continuing research has confirmed their findings in a 2009 study. The Harvard study’s results say that if families value education and reinforce the importance of learning at home, students excel in school and standardized tests. The results show that success is assured across all demographics regardless of low-performing schools or inadequately trained teachers. In short, performance has nothing to do with a student’s race or contrived cognitive ability.
Buchanan’s reference to VDARE, a White Nationalist group that bemoans the “darkening of America” shows his overtly racist bent, and is meant to play to the anti-immigrant crowd looking for any reason to rail against Hispanics and Blacks. In citing VDARE and Weissberg, Buchanan’s commentary points out that African and Latin American countries are the lowest scoring nations on the PISA tests and that immigrants from those countries continue to be cognitively challenged in the American educational system. Buchanan cites Weissberg’s claims that white students in America score as well as their counterparts in Europe, and that there is a serious disparity between white students and students of color.
It is nothing new that many people in America still cling to the notion that racial minorities are cognitively challenged and inferior to the white race. Racism is a vile disease that reared its ugly head with the election of Barack Obama, and one just needs to look at the makeup and rise of militia groups and the Tea Party to understand that America is filled with racists and there seems no end in sight.
As America becomes more homogenized into a racially diverse population, the white supremacist mindset that devalues people of color is desperately clinging to the idea that god has anointed white America as his chosen people. The fact that there are still people who believe minorities are inferior and damaging America’s standing in the world is disgraceful, and remains a divisive force that can only end badly.
After President Obama’s election, gun sales skyrocketed and have continued unabated with no end in sight, and racist politicians in the South are contributing to the problem on a daily basis. Buchanan’s commentary on education is nothing more than an overt attack on racial equality and his citing racist organizations as legitimate sources shows his true beliefs. There are numerous credible institutions and studies that contradict Weissberg and VDARE’s assertions that students of color are inferior, but Buchanan conveniently ignores them because they do not go along with his white supremacist rhetoric.
America is at the tipping point where there is not a racial majority and it frightens many Americans. Buchanan’s commentary on the education system serves no useful purpose except to stir up animosity toward people of color, and accusing them of hurting the education system in America is a ploy to engender more hatred for immigrants leading up to the incoming Congress that is bent on eliminating birthright citizenship guaranteed in the 14th Amendment.
Fortunately, the Hispanic voting bloc will remember the slights from people like Buchanan, and like they did in California and Nevada, will reject the racial hatred and vitriol that is rampant in the Republican Party at the ballot box. It may take another election cycle, but Buchanan and his Republican cohorts will find that as America becomes less white, their anti-immigrant, anti-minority mindset will be swept away like the garbage it is, and they will learn that Hispanics and Blacks are intelligent enough to see white supremacists and wipe them off the political landscape for generations to come, and America will be the better for it.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.