All of us have heard the generational references to the various age groups with the associated personal attributes. The Greatest Generation who lived through the Great Depression and World War II. The Baby Boomers, children of the Greatest Generation. The Gen X'ers with their pop culture. The Millennials with their laissez faire attitude.
Will the current generation of our youth be known as the "Lost Generation?" Will their poor health and education be the characteristics defining them? Are we abandoning our youth?
USA Today reports on a recent Pentagon study that determined 71% of today's youth between the ages of 17 and 24 are not eligible for military service. The study cited poor health, obesity, lack of high school education, drug use and criminal records as the reasons.
The Los Angeles Times reported the in the first few weeks that Los Angeles high schools went "online" one third of all the students were not in daily contact with their teachers. Another 15,000 students had "failed to do any schoolwork."
The Wall Street Journal, citing an NWEA study, predicted that students were returning this "fall with only 70% of learning gains in reading compared to a typical school year." They will also only have gained less than 50% in math!
Michael Austin, writing for the Western Journal, tells us that only 25,000 students out of about 55,000 registered in the Seattle Public School system logged into their first week of classes. That is less than 50%.
Unfortunately, these statistics were only harbingers of a continued descending performance spiral. As the reports start to come in, the effects are starting to show up in the latest depressing statistics.
Richard Knapp reported for AP in October that one third of the students in New Mexico are "not engaging in their classwork." While 20% of the students are failing at least one class, students are missing four months to one year of education due to the remote learning.
On November 17, Emani Payne reported for CBS that in Wake County N.C., which includes Raleigh, that between 24% and 25% of high schoolers and 28% of middle school students failed at least one class in the first quarter, an increase of 15% over last year. And absentees increased 50% from 5.8% to 8.8%.
Two days later, on November 19, Jessie Pounds disappointingly reported darker results in Guilford County, N.C. The number rose distressingly as 40% of the students failed at least one course, a 38% increase from last year.
These were followed a week later with an alarming report by Tisha Lewis that Fairfax County, Va., reported a 38% increase in middle and high school students that failed not just one, but two or more classes.
These statistics, alarming to every parent, should also be alarming to every citizen. They are not limited to just one section of the country. The reports are from across the country with no real geographical boundaries: Los Angeles, Seattle, New Mexico, North Carolina and Northern Virginia.
Clearly, we have a crisis as we raise a generation that is becoming less concerned with education. What does the future hold for this generation that will be lost without an education?
The Department of Labor data reflects the lower the level of education the lower the level of income and the higher the level of unemployment. With students falling further and further behind are we raising a generation of future adults where the gap between rich and poor will only widen. Are we creating a Lost Generation with an ever increasing gap between Rich and Poor?
In my article "'Bread and circuses' could strike down America like it did Rome" for The Hill, I cited the "…yawning gulf between rich and poor" as a factor in the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. Is this current decline of the education of our youth another indicator of our politicians' policies pushing us further and further down the same rabbit hole of "Bread and Circus," which foreshadowed the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, foreshadowing the decline and fall of modern society?
The above is the opinion of the author and is not meant to reflect the opinion of the U.S. Navy or the U.S. Government.
John M. DeMaggio retired after 30 years of service as a Captain from the U.S. Naval Reserve Intelligence Program. He holds a Bachelor's of Science in Forensic Science from John Jay College and a Master's of Science from Whiting School of Engineering, Johns Hopkins University. Privately consulting in counterterrorism, forensic science, and investigations, he also conducts international counterterrorism training, having retired as a Special Agent in Charge and serving as Co-chairman, Investigative Support and Forensic Subgroup, TSWG, developing interagency counterterrorism technology. He is also an op-ed contributor for The Hill. He previously published "Mitigation of Terrorist Effects on Victims' Motivation" in U.S. Army Counterinsurgency Center Colloquium. Read John M. DeMaggio's Reports — More Here.
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