Burt Prelutsky
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There are new studies and new polls that strongly suggest that we are breeding increasingly stupid kids here in America. Like our tasteless tomatoes, they merely look good and healthy.

But of course there is more than one way to test intelligence. So, while only 43% of our 17-year-olds know that the Civil War took place between 1850 and 1900, as opposed to, say, 1750-1800 or after 1950, they are very good at text-messaging. They also probably know the names of Britney Spears’ kids, which is more than Ms. Spears does at any given moment, but they have no idea why December 7, 1941, was a day of infamy. They also don’t know what “infamy” means.

What makes the situation even more pathetic is that these kids, for the most part, have a terrifically high opinion of themselves. To be fair, nothing much has ever been asked of them, let alone demanded, and yet they are constantly being told how special they are. Hardly any of them are expected to do chores, and as teachers have been ordered by craven school boards to pass along any student who’s breathing, D’s are frowned upon and F’s are verboten. As a result, 18-year-olds, who can barely count up to 18 without taking off their shoes, automatically get their high school diplomas.

Part of the problem is that far too many parents don’t place any particular emphasis on education. They worry plenty if their kids aren’t popular, but hardly at all if they can’t write a coherent sentence or identify Tom Sawyer’s best friend or name the inventor of the electric light bulb.

The fact is, you can’t fault the kids when it’s the parents who decide whether or not to contribute to the college alumni fund on no other basis than whether or not their alma mater fields winning football and basketball teams.

On top of that, you can hardly blame the youngsters for preferring to spend all their time exchanging confidences with their classmates than with the likes of Shakespeare, Dickens, Tolstoy and Dumas, when they see their adult role models vegetating most weeknights in the company of Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Ryan Seacrest.

This is not to say or even suggest that there are no brilliant young people out there who will grow up, in spite of everything, to design beautiful bridges, compose and perform gorgeous music, reach distant planets and, if we’re lucky, even cure the diseases the space explorers will inevitably bring back with them.

However, the greatest danger of this backsliding into the abyss of ignorance, this 21st century version of the Dark Ages, where emotions and self-satisfaction constantly trump logic and intelligence, is that Democrats may never again lose a presidential election.

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