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More dumbing down of America . . .

02 Mar

Today is Tuesday, March 2, 2010.

I am noting the date in order to record the day that I peeked into the future of America, and my opinion is that our future does not shine nearly as brightly as it should, and certainly not as brightly as it did before the promulgation of certain documents by our government.

And in that vein, please know that I just signed off from a United States government web site that provides everything one needs to know in order to become a naturalized U. S. citizen. I left in haste because I was stricken with extreme nausea, a condition that developed in less than five minutes of reading the basic conditions that an applicant must meet in order to become a bona fide citizen of our country, entitled to all the rights and benefits appurtenant thereto.

Numerous inhalations and exhalations, plus several Tums tablets, plus some fifteen minutes in a supine position on the sofa (lying down face up, on my back, so to speak) enabled me to recover sufficiently enough to return to the site for further reading. My nausea returned immediately on arrival, but I managed to control it. I felt that it was the least I could do in order to understand the requirements enough to pass the basics on to my blog visitors.

I stayed at the site long enough to capsule the requirements into a few brief statements—actually,  they can be expressed in one statement, namely that an applicant wishing to become a naturalized citizen must be alive. I found no evidence that our Immigration officials would grant, or even consider granting, naturalized citizenship status to non-citizens that have departed this vale of tears for another world, regardless of whether they ascended or descended into their new world.

At this point it would perhaps be beneficial to define a naturalized U. S. citizen. Such citizens begin as resident aliens, those that hold a green card, a federal document that gives the resident every right enjoyed by U.S. citizens except for the right to vote and the right to hold public office. Under current regulations, any resident aliens that have held their green card for a certain number of years may apply for naturalization, the successful completion of which will entitle them to all the rights and benefits accorded to citizens born on U.S. soil, or born on foreign soil to parents, either one or both, that are U. S. citizens, regardless of the place of birth.

I could ramble on interminably—just as I normally am wont to do—by replicating all the requirements, but you can read them for yourself at this site, The U.S. Naturalization Test. Rather than repeating the requirements verbatim, I will compare them with the basic rules that determine whether our children will, at the close of the school year, either ascend from their present school grade to the next level or remain at their present level for another year.

While our schools may vary in some degree, most require students to attain a final grade of C, an alphabetical term corresponding to the numerical requirement of 70 points earned by students from a total of 100 points. I know of no legal exceptions to that requirement, although in the past some schools have elevated students that failed to achieve the minimum points by granting them the necessary points—70, a C. That practice was labeled a social promotion—I am very familiar with a school district in South Texas—deep in South Texas—that used the term Circle C. That district’s report cards featured a C within a circle, indicating that the student had failed to attain a passing grade but was allowed to pass to the next level—that’s the concept of social promotion in action!

No, my children never presented their parents with a circled C—had they received a report card with such, I venture to say that they would not have dared to bring it home—they would have probably claimed, wisely,  that the dog ate it!

I am not privy to statistics concerning social promotions in American schools, neither past nor present, and any prediction of future social promotions could not possibly produce accurate figures. However, I can accurately predict that social promotions—read granting U.S. citizenship—will be awarded by our U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in direct proportion to the numbers of applicants that minimally qualify for U.S. citizenship.

Unbelievable? Read on!

An applicant for citizenship must be able to read one sentence in English from a group of three sentences presented in English. Reading that one sentence correctly awards the applicant the qualifying grade of 33 percent in the quest for U.S. citizenship. Thirty-three percent is far below the 70 percent required for children in our public schools to attain in order to pass to another level. Thirty-three percent would be considered an F-minus in our schools, but it’s a passing grade for the legal resident alien on the path to citizenship.

And here’s the exact sentence, copied from the English & Civics narrative—the catcher in the rye, so to speak—Your ability to speak English is determined during your interview on your naturalization application. Well, I say good luck with that!

In this instance the official becomes the catcher in the rye—whether the applicant passes or fails the spoken English requirement is determined by that official. Based on my experiences accumulated over a period of 26 years while working in proximity to Immigration officials, I found that some lacked full literacy in at least one language—English. All such officials were bilingual, but I could neither determine, nor vouch for, their literacy in languages other than English. To apply the term catcher in the rye, I believe that in some, perhaps most, of the time the examiner will catch the examinee as the need arises (see the post script below for an explanation of the term catcher in the rye).

Wait, there’s more:

An applicant for citizenship must be able to correctly answer at least six of ten civics questions—six of ten—that’s another grade of 60 percent, an alphabetical grade of D in our schools. And guess what? An applicant that fails to attain that lofty 60 percent may test again, anywhere from 60 to 90 days after initially failing the test—the same version of the test the applicant failed. Based on my knowledge gleaned over 48 years of military and federal civil service, bootleg copies of every test will soon be available, and new tests will be developed to replace the existing bootleg copies, and soon after that bootleg copies of the new tests will be made available, etc., etc.

Other than finding that the path to citizenship for a long-time legal U.S. resident is a piece of cake, there’s lots more learning to be gained by spending some time on the citizenship site. You might consider taking the sample tests. They could prove to be an eye-opener for you concerning your knowledge of our nation and its government.

I took the tests, and yes, my eyes opened wide indeed—the tests were not the cakewalk I expected and I stumbled on several questions. Actually, I gave the wrong answers but I managed to eke out an A overall.

Try it—you’ll like it!

I have striven mightily to avoid any semblance of purposely projecting personal political preferences (how’s that for alliteration!) in this posting. I trust that I have retained my anonymity, whether I’m standing stolidly and solidly in the center, or I’m leaning toward the left or to the right of our political spectrum.

I realize that any readers will be able to satisfactorily discern for themselves which political party, if any, will benefit (if there is any benefit to be gained) from this kindergarten approach to determining qualifications for U. S. citizenship, whether Democratic, Republican, Constitutional, Green or Libertarian, or any of the plethora of third parties that infest the United States.

I must resume my supine position on the sofa now—I am sorely in need of more Tums.

Postcript:

My reference to the catcher in the rye was prompted by Holden Caulifield’s thoughts expressed in J. D. Salinger’s 1951 novel The Catcher in the Rye. Holden says he pictures children playing in a field of rye on the edge of a cliff, and in expectation of them accidentally running over the cliff he stands ready to catch them—he thus pictures himself as the catcher in the rye, and says that’s all he wants to be.

It’s one of America’s greatest novels, a read that you’ll enjoy.

I believe that—I really do!

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

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