RoJo: Education Was Better in 1830s, But Dems have "Dumbed-Down Our Population" to Get Votes | Wis.Community

RoJo: Education Was Better in 1830s, But Dems have "Dumbed-Down Our Population" to Get Votes


On February 22, U.S. Senator Ron Johnson called, "David Horowitz's West Coast Retreat." During his speech, Johnson said that the reason people vote Democratic is because liberals "control our schools" and have intentionally "dumbed down our population" as part of a strategy to control the populace: 

I don't know how many of you saw Dr. Benjamin Carson, but one of the points he made in his phenomenal speech was how, back in the 1800s, the tests they gave sixth graders upon graduation, most college graduates couldn't pass that test anymore. We've purposely dumbed down our population. As a result of that, our population is very susceptible to demagoguery and that's what you're seeing. So what we're facing now in this country is we're facing a president that is basically a demagogue.  That's... that's the problem.

Johnson is referring to an exam that was allegedly given to 6th graders in the 1830's, according to the conservative Dr. Benjamin Carson. Dr. Carson cited the exam in his .  I  looked up Carson's book and found the "test questions" he is referencing. (See the image below.)


Apparently, Carson () found these questions not in an old library, but from a chain email on the internet, that .  The questions actually are from a , in 1895, not the 1830s. The majority of kids weren't even enrolled in school at that time and of those who were, only 25% passed the test.

Putting aside the right-wing mythology surrounding this test for a moment, the larger point Johnson is making is that Americans were much more educated and knowledgeable in the 1830s than they are today.  

To consider that point, let's consider American life in the 1890s. 

This was a time when literacy rates were in the 30% range, when grade school was largely available only to upper class children, and years before the FLSA would finally put an end to child labor, which kept many kids in the 1890s out of elementary school.

Child mortality was high and the average life expancy was only 45.  Slavery was only newly illegal, and African Americans still largely excluded from the educational system.  Women wouldn't be able to vote for years to come, and only a tiny fraction attended colleges and universities. 

To suggest that Americans as a while are somehow less educated and dumber than they were in 1800s is absurd from any angle that you look at it.  One thing is for sure,  though:  If Ron Johnson continues making ridiculous statements like this, he will go down as the dumbest Senator in U.S. history.




March 6, 2013 - 10:27am