As time continues on its course on into infinity, society continues on its downward spiral. The metaphoric pendulum, which swings back and forth from Conservative to Liberal, the pendulum continues to the left. More and more morality is getting watered down. This effect is having disastrous results on our nation and the world. Bill Bennett, a leading Republican figure, addresses this topic. From his experience as chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Secretary of Education, and director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (“drug czar”), Mr. Bennett addresses the moral decline that this country is currently experiencing.
The main topic of Bennett’s work, The Devaluing of America, is America’s education system and how it has gone wrong. Bennett writes four chapters just discussing the American education system. As the Secretary of Education, Bennett attacks schools that do not have the right educational philosophy and the ones that try to eliminate the basic values that Conservative America holds dear. One of his first attacks is on a Chicago school that has many problems with teachers and students. Bennett, although, focuses mainly on the teachers. Some, from this Chicago school, did not teach the students enough to pass, and there were other classes that students enrolled but had no teacher. After a semester of a keyboarding class, students in that class did not even know where to put their hands on the keyboard.
Bennett shows the correct teaching environment through use of examples of successful schools. Bennett’s idea of a good teacher is summed up in three “C” words: Content, Character, and Choice. Later in the work, a teacher adds to Bennett’s “C’s” with a “D,” Discipline. Through content, he believes that the “core curriculum” should be re-established. Character is derived through proper training in the basic values of our culture. He does not support any one religion being taught but states that there are basic values which all religions share in common. He also believes that a student should be able to practice his religion in a school setting. “‘What the American people don’t understand,’ I said in a speech… ‘and I think they are right not to understand it, is that a group of students can [by] law, get together and say, “We must all advance the Marxist Revolution.” A group of students can get together and say, “I don’t like reds, I like green drugs. What kind of drug do you like?” A group of students can get together and talk about various methods of birth control. But they can’t get together and say, “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.”‘” (205)
This idea of correct character spans a long distance with Bennett. He believes that all students have potential, be they of any race. The teachers that are best suited for the job of teaching are those that can instill character, a basic sense of right and wrong, and a willingness to try their hardest to learn the most they can and beat their prejudice. He notes how certain children in the classes he taught (as guest teacher while being Secretary of Education) responded as though the teachers were their friends and not their mortal foes. During one of the times when he allowed the students to question him, one of the students has the guts enough to ask him a riddle! This impressed Bennett, for this young child had enough guts to ask the Secretary of Education, who had body guards, camera men, and all other sorts of men, a riddle, and then tell him that he did not know the answer!
Bennett also believes that parents should have their choice of which school to send their children. Schools that do things right and turn out kids with a good education and character should be rewarded by more enrollments be they public, private, or religious schools. He believes that if we were to allow parents a choice in where the kids went to school, it would force the schools to hire the best teachers and offer the best education instead of forcing the kids into one school or the other. He is tired of these public schools, who are not educating their students correctly, getting all the money, while the schools that are doing it right are suffering.
This idea of incorrect teaching does not just apply to the lower grades, but to some of the upper universities also. Bennett is a graduate from Harvard. He received his doctorate of philosophy from there. He also found many things wrong with their ideas of “core curriculum” and the way they treated race. Race, for Bennett, is also included in the character development that should be in education. The country has gone from wanting to get rid of discrimination, to wanting to discriminate. Discrimination is encouraged by the teaching that everyone should only have to learn their own cultural norms and not the American’s culture. This encourages peoples of different race to conform to the ideal jobs or education that the race is “required” to get.
Also in this book, Bennett combats the drug problem, and the uneducated press. The Press and the liberal government wanted more rehabilitation and other types of reforms to try to help people get off drugs. Bennett wanted to cure the problem before it got any worse. Bennett’s plan was to put more police on the force, visibly and invisibly, to turn away the drug dealers. He then proceeds to give examples, shattering the idea that the people do not want more police around. He also favors helping the South American governments destroy drugs where they are produced.
Bennett’s main point is education. Education is key in “Re-Valuing” America and restoring it to its once great stature of morality. We need to get the three “C’s” back into schools (along with the D).