Christiana Gaudet

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More About the Dumbing Down of America

One of the news stories that caught my attention recently is the story of the recent pep rally for the undefeated Waverly Wolverines football team in Waverly, New York.

As part of the high school's tradition, students put on skits to earn the title of "Mr. Waverly."

The problem with one of the skits came to light when an alumnus of Waverly High noticed a photo on Facebook, and sent it to CNN. Three young men put on a skit mocking the domestic violence between Chris Brown and Rihanna - and they did it in blackface.

Hundreds of social media comments and news stories later, the superintendent of the Waverly School System states that he plans to hold meetings and make announcements.

Everyone has rung in on this, from ethicists to community members and fellow students.

Was this a racist act? Did it make light of the serious nature of domestic violence?

Everyone agrees that the kids did not think they were doing anything wrong, or even pushing the envelope. As one community member stated, they do skits like that on Saturday Night Live all the time.

A student pointed out that it wasn't "blackface," it was just body paint.

What shocks me is that not one reporter or commenter has brought up the real problem behind this issue.

I agree that the kids meant no harm. They really didn't know any better. I remember doing skits in high school and how much fun it was. Those high school memories are some of my best. The creativity, humor and teamwork it takes to create and present a skit is something that kids only learn through extracurricular activities such as these.

I don't blame the kids, and I don't blame the behavior of the celebs that inspired the skit.

The really culprit and the real crime struck me when I read an article about the incident by Dr. Bruce Weinstein, "The Ethics Guy." Dr. Weinstein correctly pointed out that the kids had no knowledge or understanding of the historical context of blackface.

I'm betting they haven't had much coaching about the nature of domestic violence either.

Why is this? Could it be that Waverly schools, like all other schools in our great nation, are underfunded? Could it be that there is no opportunity for kids to attend civics classes where they might learn about these topics? Maybe issues of racial history and domestic relations aren't on the standardized tests?

What has happened at Waverly High simply shines a spotlight on what we already know to be true. Our kids aren't taught critical thinking, ethics, or any history beyond the basics. We are raising a nation of test-takers who lack skills like discernment and extrapolation.

Who said that those who don't remember the past are doomed to repeat it? I'm sure the students at Waverly don't know who said it or what it means because it's not on the test.

As we struggle to change our economic future, let's not forget that kids are our future, and without their legitimate education, there is no future. There is no more patriotic act than to invest in the education of our children.