Thursday, January 27, 2005

A matter of education

WaPO: Blacks believe AIDS conspiracy

More than 20 years after the AIDS epidemic arrived in the United States, a significant proportion of African Americans embrace the theory that government scientists created the disease to control or wipe out their communities, according to a study released today by Rand Corp. and Oregon State University.

That belief markedly hurts efforts to prevent the spread of the disease among black Americans, the study's authors and activists said. African Americans represent 13 percent of the U.S. population, according to Census Bureau figures, yet they account for 50 percent of new HIV infections in the nation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This is yet another failure of an education system that values feelings over facts, outcomes over standards and completion over testing. Inner-city schools are failing miserably, the education mafia has a death grip on our youth, and it is literally killing them. Without the ability to think rationally, without the understanding that actions lead to consequences, there is no hope that those trapped in school will learn to think for themselves and thus save themselves:

Nearly half of the 500 African Americans surveyed said that HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is man-made.

More than one-quarter said they believed that AIDS was produced in a government laboratory, and 12 percent believed it was created and spread by the CIA.

A slight majority said they believe that a cure for AIDS is being withheld from the poor. Forty-four percent said people who take the new medicines for HIV are government guinea pigs, and 15 percent said AIDS is a form of genocide against black people.

Here's the rub: if you believe someone else is responsible for your condition, you have no incentive to do anything about it, no incentive to try to prevent it. This is true across cultures. In Iraq, those who believe that they have no hope of rebuilding their land ('it is the job of the Americans') are no help. Those who understand that it is their land to build (see the MEMRI clip below) are the ones who are putting their lives on the line. And they should be rewarded. The social security debate is about the same thing: should individuals be responsible for their own retirement, or is retirement a program that the government controls and individuals have no real ownership?

Getting back to my point: this is not an AIDS crisis, a social security crisis, or a political crisis. It is an education crisis. Until people are taught, from the beginning, that they are responsible for that 'F' or that 'A', that they cannot blame their teachers, their parents, their race or their country, how can we expect them to understand that they are responsible for the bigger things in their life?

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