September 2, 2008, - 1:20 pm

Comic Book “Learning”: More Dumbing Down of America’s Schools

By Debbie Schlussel
Another of the many things I don’t expect either John McCain or Barack Hussein Obama to change is the downward spiral of our publick schoolz and the all-around desperate state of education in America. American kids are stupid. Dumb. Ignorant. And it’s only getting worse.
Now, the latest is the comic book textbook. And, predictably, like most comic books, these are dumbed down, left-wing exercises in political correctness. And your federal taxes are heavily subsidizing it. . . through the EPA?!
As a kid, I loved comic books, spurred on by my father who was a big fan of Captain Marvel. And I still have my collection. But reading them was an avocation, not a vocation. They were something to read on the side during free time, not my textbook.
Well, sadly, as kids returned to school in Oregon this week, that changed. If only John McCain would have the guts to denounce this kind of BS:


Doubtful: Betty & Veronica Teaching Your Kids to Spell

Educators are bringing comics to class, and they’re using them to teach kids to get along, appreciate literature and learn more effectively.
Since Dark Horse teamed with Columbia University in New York seven years ago to create the Comic Book Project, the curriculum has spread from one after-school class in Queens to 850 schools across the United States, including at least two Oregon schools, Glenfair Elementary in Portland and Ash Creek Elementary in Monmouth.
Dark Horse says libraries and schools are among its fastest growing markets, with sales rising about 25 percent a year. Comic-book-based curricula include such topics as environmentalism, anti-bullying, teamwork, child abuse, vocabulary, grammar and understanding epilepsy.

Um, why are environmentalism, anti-bullying, teamwork, child abuse, and epilepsy part of any curriculum in elementary schools? No wonder kids can’t read, do math, or write. But they know how to be eco-friendly.

“The demand for comics in education has exploded,” said Michael Bitz, founder of the Comic Book Project at Columbia University. . . .
The Comic Book Project has a budget of $200,000, most of it grants from agencies and institutions such as the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Airways and the New York State Banking Department. . . .
Surveys and interviews with students and teachers showed comic books taught children to write, listen and speak better, he said.

Sure, they did. Puh-leeze.
Students — especially hard-to-reach students — find comic books less intimidating than textbooks, and they can frequently express themselves in comic books better than they can in traditional writing classes, he said. Plus, the visual medium can be more memorable, which means more lasting learning.
Some educators are skeptical, worrying Superman will replace Shakespeare and that comics dumb down lessons.
“If children want to read comic books, that’s their prerogative,” Diane Ravitch, a professor at New York University and a former U.S. assistant secretary of education, said in an e-mail. “But they are not good ‘tools’ for teaching reading.”
Comics use limited and superficial vocabulary, and they fail to teach children to read and think at the same time, she said.
Amen. I’ve always been a fan of Diane Ravitch. The woman is a genius . . . who never learned from comic books. Her books are must reading.

“Now that they’re being used in school, people are seeing that comics aren’t just guys in tights,” said a Dark Horse spokesman, Aaron Colter. “Yes, they’re pictures, but they’re a medium that should be respected,” he said, noting that comic books — now bound together and referred to more respectfully as graphic novels — get reviewed in The New York Times, sold at Barnes & Noble and used as study materials in colleges.

Yes, and we know what geniuses colleges now turn out. Ever see “Jaywalking” on “The Tonight Show”?

He described the acceptance of comic books in classrooms and libraries as part of a larger movement of graphic novels cementing their status as sophisticated literature and art. It’s only a matter of time before they become a standard supplement to the more traditional educational tools, Colter said.

G-d help us. Why not just have Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan reality shows to “teach” kids? Kids like those better than standard textbooks, too.

Andrea Daret used a comic-book curriculum last year with her fifth-graders at Glenfair Elementary School. The anti-bullying course she tried teaches children to resolve conflicts and consider different viewpoints.
“I really think it helped them get along better,” she said. “And best of all, they loved it.”

Again, why the heck are fifth-graders taking courses in anti-bullying? That’s fluff. Can they read? Can they add, multiply, and do division? Can they write and spell?
Say good-bye, America. I guarantee you that in China, in Japan, in India, in our most successful industrialized competitors’ countries, they are NOT learning from comic books.
And they aren’t taking dumb courses in anti-bullying and environmentalism either. They’re learning how to beat us.
They’ll be producing the best products, and we’ll be . . . reading Archie and the Green Hornet.
The movie, “Idiocracy“, comes closer and closer to prophecy, every day.
Given this, it might be a good idea to discourage your younger kids from marrying anyone from Oregon. If they have kids, it’ll dumb down your family’s future progeny.
But they’ll be experts on important things like Kryptonite and Jor-El.

14 Responses

Um, why are environmentalism, anti-bullying, teamwork, child abuse, and epilepsy part of any curriculum in elementary schools?
Whoa, teamwork? What kind of liberal schools are they going to!!!

lolwut on September 2, 2008 at 1:44 pm

I’m sure their future employers will be impressed with their comic book resumes too.

Tempus Fugit on September 2, 2008 at 3:02 pm

I suppose it is dumbing down, but I have a soft spot for comics. I remember some time ago you expressed apprehension about the change of format in Betty & Veronica Double Digest #151. As it turned out, they only had that change in one story per issue for a few issues, and it did not spread to their other publications, although the Jughead Double Digest is using it now to a small extent. I don’t think the format change was all bad; e.g. I think Ms. Grundy came across in BV #151 as a more sympathetic, human person.
Thre have always been a lot of left-wing comics; besides DC, left-wing throughout its entire history, Lev Gleason was believed by some to be a member of the Communist Party, although there were also some very patriotic comics in the late 40s and 50s, one reason, I think, for Dr. Wertham’s rage.
This is not the first time this issue has been raised. In the early 50s, as you know, Dr. Fredric Wertham, a left-wing psychiatrist emigrating from Germany in the 20s (before Hitler), wrote Seduction of the Innocent. He attacked the Classics Illustrated comics saying they were crib sheets and substitutes for reading the actual novels, which I’m sure was true to some extent. I don’t think the CI series contributed to much to dumbing down. While the motives this time are much more PC than they were in the late 40s and 50s, I can’t really see that this will do that much harm. It is an effect, rather than a cause of dumbing down, and I think it will be neutral in its impact.

c f on September 2, 2008 at 3:14 pm

Agree with everything on this topic. Our “publick schoolz” are failing miserably. But, perhaps we should view “American” comic books as a better choice (however meager that choice may be) than the garbage that is currently in our textbooks that is sympathetic to those who wish us dead.
This is a problem in our public schools of such magnitude that comic books seem ALL AMERICAN in comparison.
What is so unfortunate, is the total lack of interest by parents. Very few have any idea what their children are actually being taught, and what messages are contained in the “literature” that they read.
My humble opinion is that we don’t have to worry about our enemies terrorizing or bombing us. They will take us out by converting our children to hating their country through the messages contained in our “public” education textbooks – which they (our enemies) control more than most would suspect.
Rest assured, Anti-Americanism is alive and well in Detroit suburban school districts.

sueb on September 2, 2008 at 3:30 pm

You’re absolutely right! I mean to think that we’re teaching our children to WORK TOGETHER is just unfathomable. Next thing you know, business will put together TEAM PROJECTS or make you WORK IN A GROUP. Then the terrorists and Muslims and Socialists will have truly won!!

lolwut on September 2, 2008 at 4:40 pm

Comic books might be an improvement in Detroit Public Schools. At least they would be teaching SOMETHING! (I’m being sarcastic here)
The teachers don’t give a damn, 40+ pupils per class, not enough books or equipment, rampant racism (against whites), if you’re a girl don’t even THINK about wearing a skirt, rats, cockroaches, asbestos hanging out of the holes in the walls, how in heaven are you supposed to learn anything amidst all that?

mplumb on September 2, 2008 at 9:12 pm

I can post this issue from experience: I grew up reading comic books – Marvel, DC, the Disney and the Archie series, EC comics, you name it, I read it. From one good thing, reading comic books actually helped me to improve my reading and comprehension, as because I had a learning disability, in addition to my speech and hearing impairments (since age of 2). Before you slam comic books and praise Diane Ravitch, bear in mind that not all comic books are created and published equally; aside from creativity and visual richness of the medium, comic books are not to meant to supplant published works of literature nor it would truly help people improve their reading/comprehension skills overall. It depends on people’s cognitive ability with the stories and arts of the comic books, it is not always for everyone and I believe that school-children shouldn’t be made to read any comic book as part of curriculum in the school systems. However, it is very important to teach children the fundamental basics of reading and comprehension, and it’s the parents’ job to make sure of that, not the teachers or the school systems.
I “graduated” from reading comic books to reading the works of literature, subjects of history, politics, people and so on. I stopped collecting and reading comic books monthly over a decade ago and now, I have more books than comic books or graphic novels. If I have children, I wouldn’t wanted them to read comic books from young age right away – they may do that when they get older and intellectually matured, be able to differentiate fantasy from reality and just appreciate the creative and visual medium of comic books for pleasant reading, not as part of curriculum requirements.
Sometimes, I wish some comic book writers (and artists) in the past and today would just stop trying to “indoctrinate” the young minds with incredibly naive, left-leaning and progressive ideas.

Bobby's Brain on September 2, 2008 at 11:28 pm

Years back the Army produced a comic book to teach the care and feeding of the M-16. It seems silly but it worked.
What we is the Cliff Note problem where the content is so scant that nothing useful will come of it.
Reread “To Kill and Mockingbird” for a hilarious description of post phonics teaching.

taffy on September 3, 2008 at 6:46 am

The idiotic left wing lunatics here wanted to instill this program here. Thankfully it was shot down. I have arguments here all the time with things they want to force my kids into like Al Gore’s propaganda film on global whining. Last year my kids had more classes on civics and foreign cultures than on Math, science, and English.
The other big problem is they want my children to take a foreign language yet they ONLY offer Spanish. Last I checked there WERE other languages out there. My middle daughter wanted to learn Arabic (kind of know thy enemy) but we were told they were not allowed to offer it because it could cause sensitivity issues.
I am so tired of this crap, my wife is a Lib (Voting Republican 🙂 ) and was a teacher until a brain aneurysm left her unable to. She is tired of it. Between the moronic left wingers and Bush and his “No child gets an education” Our children are screwed.
Now I realize that NO child has a RIGHT to an education as it is NOT in the Constitution but damn-it IF we are going to do it lets at least give them the education that AMERICA, The Greatest Nation on Earth is capable of giving. If we are not going to do that then lets go back to only those who WANT an education get one. No more classrooms filled with drug dealing wanna be “gangsta’s” who are there ONLY because their parents want them out of the house so they can smoke crack in private.
I am tired of my kids suffering because some wanna be sociology Professor from UCLA or NYU thinks they have the right to force my kids into mediocrity by forcing them into a learning environment driven by Ideology instead of Education
Martin Fee

mfee01 on September 3, 2008 at 8:09 am

    Hmmm I wasn’t offended at all. But then I’m an old lady, so it might be a gntaraeionel thing. Comics have evolved a bit and there are more women comic creators than ever before. As a result, I think this has helped young girls and women become more interested in comics. What brought me to the comics table were graphic novels, zines, and Lynda Barry all things that were unavailable to me growing up in the early ’60s. Even though I watched the Batman TV series with Adam West, I NEVER read Batman comic books, and I doubt my mother would have let me buy them because of the way most popular comics objectified women. (The Archie comics were the WORST in that regard, IMHO, yet most parents thought that comic was silly and harmless.) While it’s never fair to generalize people, the fact remains that ONE women laughed at your interest in comics and perhaps unfairly characterized you because of said interest. That is your reality. And frankly, when I was a teenager I thought boys who read comics were SO NOT COOL unless of course, they were checking out the R. Crumb comic on the cover of the Cheap Thrills album, because, well that was different. Unfortunately, we teach our children what we know and all these stereotypes get handed down to the next generation. Sorry about that Anyway, perhaps a little re-wording of this comic might have been all you needed to avoid raising someone’s feminist sensibilities. Communication with people is tricky and filled with landmines. And women are full of all sorts of surprises. It’s best not to underestimate ANYONE these days, young man. (she says with a grin )

    Asep on November 19, 2012 at 4:34 pm

I taught Jr. High and High School for seven years and my considered opinion is that we should og back to what worked when I was in school. The teachers had the responsibility to present the information in such a way that the students could understand it, and the students had the responsibility to study and learn that material. We seem to have goten away from the idea that the students have any responsibility at all. No amount of money will fix this. We have to change the way we regard the students’ role in the learning process.

mcrider on September 3, 2008 at 2:06 pm

In the early 60’s, my dad was concerned about us reading comic books, and banned them from our house for a time. He later relented, and we all (there were ten of us, a good Catholic family at the time)were good readers and most of us were good students. Eight bachelor’s and two advanced degrees among us.
But, teaching to comic books is something else, entirely. For attention-grabbing reading that still stretches the vocabulary, teachers need look no farther than the ‘Harry Potter’ series. There are other such examples. The comic-book idea sure seems like the ‘lowest common denominator’ approach.

DearbornMan on September 4, 2008 at 1:28 pm

Oh Debbie . . . why the hatred?
Do you have children who have trouble reading? Are you an educator working in the trenches of our public schools on a daily basis?
Then how can you attempt to say, without examples or facts, that comic books are a bad learning tool?
Well, you can’t.
While more and more children are reading less and less, it is necessary to meet these youngsters half way and present them with material that is challenging, fun, and educational.
Comics will never replace traditional novels. They are simply a different medium.
Comics have helped us understand our relationship to our government, to wars, to basic interaction, and yes, many are there only to provide entertainment.
Pictures and text have been used in harmony to express points since the dawn of man.
Cutting down comics so ignorantly is like telling people to never read a paper back book because you find trashy romance novels inappropriate. Just because there are examples of comics that aren’t educational or kid-friendly, doesn’t mean the entire field is worthless.
You’re a water-downed Anne Coulter at best, Debbie.
Of course, you may not care for my opinion, me being the product of inner city public schools and an avid comic book reader. All those comics must have corrupted my brain. I’ll never understand how I managed to become an award-winning writer and a graduate of Purdue University.
Unless . . . comics are an appropriate addition to other reading material and actually helped develop my cognitive functions. Hmmm . . .
I suggest a researching a topic before writing next time, Deb.

Aaron Colter on December 11, 2008 at 2:01 pm

Ok first and formost
1)-Comicbooks are with out adoubt part of this country in history and moral during the first and second world wars and veientnam they passed out to the troops to lift them up.
2)-All books wether they are comics or not have an impact of the world around them for example letters to the editor. These tell how and what people where feeling at that time and comics also deal with social issues such as aids and hate now if you are a smart person then you should know that schools are not for lning up righties or lefties just people it should be the childs right to chose what he or she belives in not the parents for as you all know childen are people to and they have that right to read what ever the hell they want not you or anybody has a right to put down any teacher or student who learns from reading comics I know many lawyers and doctors aswell as cops who grew up reading comics one such person is sheriff hear in upstate ny.
He became a cop be cause of the likes of batman and superman his heroes when he was growing up they are what inspired him to be all he could be to honest and loving to be true to his heart to protect the weak and small to up hold justice and truth and the american way of life.
3)-Also in closing I think people dont like comicbooks because they can reflect on real life so much that most people dont like what they see I mean here you have a guy running around stopping crime and he has no superhuman powers just all heart. That is what a true heroe is its a person with no wants from those he or she helps which forces people to look at them selves and see greed hatetred lies and whatever unmoral crap they got so once again in closing if you your self do not like comics fine but no body has a right to put down any teacher or student who is learning after all some kids do learn better with comics and hey today marvel and dc tomarrow faulkner and milton nothing wrong with teaching them to think for them selves after all mommy and daddy wont be there forever

logun77 on March 10, 2009 at 4:24 pm

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