One could argue that America’s transformational Cultural Revolution started in 1861 at the start of the American Civil War which ended slavery in the United States in 1865.
In addition, the way the average American parent raises his or her children today, and how the public schools operate and the character of the average American child are all affected by this continuing revolution.
Several significant changes track this Cultural Revolution and metamorphosis—some good and some bad. After all, America’s leaders and citizens are only human. To understand this ignored revolution, one should know a few facts about US history first.
Good changes are in bold print showing improvement.
If the print is gray, the change is questionable.
If in italics, it means BAD things happened!
1. In 1800, about 6% of the US population lived in cities and more 94 % lived on farms and/or small rural communities. By 1990, almost 70% of the rural population had migrated to cities. This change took place due to the US Industrial Revolution (1820 – 1870), and America needed more educated citizens.
2. In 1850, life expectancy by age in America at birth was 38.3 years. By 1900, life expectancy at birth reached 48.23. In 1990, it was 72.7, and by 2012 (according to the CIA Factbook, life expectancy for all races and both sexes had reached 78.49 (ranked #50 globally).
3. Although critics of public education harp on the so-called low high-school graduation rates in the US, in 2007 the national graduation rate was almost 70%. However, to put this into perspective, in 1870, the high school graduation rate was less than 5% and by the turn of the century in 1900, thirty years later, only 7%. Forty-five years after that at the end of World War II, the rate was up to 55%. It wouldn’t be until 1970 that we would see the highest graduation rate at 76%. After that, it leveled off and hasn’t changed much and fluctuates a few percentage points up or down.
4. The Chinese Exclusion Act was signed into law on May 6, 1882. This act was one of the most significant restrictions on immigration in U.S. history and focused on all Asians. The act also affected Asians that had already settled in the US before it became law. This Act would not be repealed until December 17, 1943—sixty-one years later.
5. The 19th Amendment was ratified on August 26, 1920 establishing a woman’s right to vote. This movement started in 1848 and took 72 years to achieve.
6. For more than one-hundred-and-sixty-two years, Children in the United States could be sold by their parents into servitude to work in coal mines and factories up until the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938, which set federal standards for child labor.
7. During World War II, 120,000 Japanese-Americans lost their homes and businesses when they were rounded up and sent to dozens of prison camps where they languished until the war ended (February 1942 – 1944; the last prison camp closed in 1945.) This act was challenged in the courts but the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the U.S. Government.
8. In 1948, President Truman signed Executive Order 9981 ending segregation in the US armed services: “”It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin.”
9. From roughly 1950 – 1954, McCarthyism was the practice of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion or treason without proper regard for evidence. During the McCarthy era, thousands of Americans were accused of being Communists or communist sympathizers and became the subject of aggressive investigations and questioning before government or private-industry panels, committees and agencies. This movement was so popular that 50% of the American public supported McCarthy’s vigilante witch hunts.
10. On July 2, 1964, President Johnson sings the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It was the most sweeping civil rights legislation since Reconstruction prohibiting discrimination of all kinds based on race, color, religion, or national origin.
11. The Spread of American Imperialism: the war with Mexico (1846-48) where the US seized New Mexico and California; the US Indian Wars (1865-1891), which cost the lives of about 19,000 white men, women and children, including those killed in individual combats, and the lives of about 30,000 Indians; in the Spanish-American War (1898) the US gained Guam, the Philippines and Puerto Rico; Philippine-American War (1899-1902); Banana Wars (1898-1935); Moro Rebellion in the southern Philippines (1899-1913); Vietnam War (1955-1975), and the Iraq War (note: this is not a complete list). In addition. to maintain this empire, according to the US Department of Defense, the US military maintains 662 foreign sites in 38 countries around the world. Other sources claim that number is more than 1,000.
Now, just as America need smarter people, the average US citizen is going in the other direction from dumb to dumber, and this change is a continuation of the American Cultural Revolution that has been taking place since 1861.
However, this revolutionary change has to do with how the average parent raises his or her children, and it had its roots with John Dewey in 1886. It would take 82 years for this negative element of America’s Cultural Revolution to reach critical mass when by the late 1960s self-esteem was a fashionable and influential idea and that movement, which spread to the schools by the 1980s led to grade inflation, an end to rote learning in addition to dummying down the curriculum.
Continued on June 5, 2012 in The Good and Bad of America’s Continuing Cultural Revolution – Part 2
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