The Value Wastelands

Critique “The”Values” Wasteland” Charles Skyes’ work has been in seen in many prosperous newspapers throughout time, to name a few New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. Most of what Skyes writes is educational issues. Skyes has also written a number of books, ProfScam: Professors and the Demise of Higher Education (1988), The Hollow Man: Politics and Corruption in Higher Education (1990) and 50 Rules Kids Won’t Learn In School (2007).
Skyes is involved in many other things for example he is a senior fellow at the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute and he hosts a radio show in Milwaukee that is popular. Skyes addresses mostly topics that he sees as breakdown in the American culture. The following critique is from an excerpt from Skyes book Dumbing Down Our Kids: Why America’s Children Feel Good About Themselves But Can’t Read, Write or Add. Skyes addresses numerous controversial moral issues within American children today, giving statistics from many different surveys claiming that American children are not so intune as they once were.
Skyes also quotes a few different people that have done various studies and or surveys along with his own opinions on these same issues. Skyes conclusion is that we have given our children array of irrational morals and that we need to look at the ones who provide them to these children. Skyes includes all that is negative and has no mind for any of the positive with our children today. A weakness of this article, Skyes has put down children and their morals and then takes his readers with points that it is the parents, communities, the media and even the churches that society need to take a look at and settle the blame there.

Charles Skyes excerpt “The”Values” Wasteland” gives an example of a teenager who was accused of rape and the repercussions afterwards. Skyes introduces his readers with statistics and research on issues such as “it was acceptable for a man to force sex on a woman” (199). Skyes’ statistics have his readers believing that this is all teens. Skyes credibility is for his self-gain, only showing his view point. He does not tell his readers where in Rhode Island the statistics were gathered from. Were the statistics taken from only urban areas, or rural areas?
Skyes inferences are based solely on one group of students giving a sense of incomplete comparison. The article explicitly and deliberately distracts the readers to other issues that Skyes thinks will hit more at home about morals. “A write in survey of 126,000 teenagers found that 25 to 40 percent of teens see nothing wrong with cheating on exams, stealing from employers, or keeping money that wasn’t theirs”(199). Grabbing the attention of the readers with a “red herring” knowing that this issue would cause the reader to identify.
Skyes only includes from the survey that one point. Skyes hasty generalization gives his readers insufficient statistics and what the survey was based on while playing on his readers emotions. Skyes purpose for this book clearly shows how he perceives American children. He gives factual statistics on the negative influences on American children to sway his readers into believing that today’s they are need of a huge change and reform. Skyes has written continuously about the educational issues in America.
Taking a look back at his other work and what he is involved in now, TV, Radio, books, it is all about the same things: educational issues with children and how we need to act on changing it or forever be doomed. Skyes effectively gave all negative statistics, doing his research thoroughly although it was quite biased, skipping over anything that had anything to do with the positive. “More than 60 percent of high school students said they had cheated at least once on an exam”(199).
Showing the large amount of students that admitted to cheating yet there is nothing to support this statistic as the actual question and how it was worded and how Skyes actually came to have that 60 percent of students. Did it come from one school or many schools? Skyes needed to give more information about the statistics he acquired and focus less on the negative. Skyes uses the phrase “IDI’s” (I-Deserve-Its) saying that today’s kids are all about entitlement and are completely surrounded by “personal needs wants and don’t wants and rights. (199) Again where is Skyes getting all his information? In the poverty stricken areas or middle class? It really does make a difference where Skyes got his information. Then he could have added in the different neighborhoods that people need to really take a look at and change. As the reader, I don’t know. Perhaps it is an all-around assement maybe not but, Skyes is not very clear on the where’s, or how’s. His argument is valid to a point but does not give any information for the readers to make a decision.
Skyes leaves this wide open for the reader to think that it is all American kids that are IDI’s. Skyes compares American children to Asian children who are not given a choice in what they are allowed to read. “Asian children continue to read about stories of perseverance, hard work, loyalty, duty, prudence, heroism, and honesty”(200). The examples that Skyes gives that American students used to study are all white and dead; Benjamin Franklin, Florence Nightingale and Thomas Edison.
Skyes boosts that they taught lessons of “inventiveness, character, compassion, curiosity, and truthfulness”(200). I agree that all of those mentioned are very noble historical people but we do have in today’s living that carry the same lessons that children can relate with more than a bunch of dead white people. This was a very racist comment made by Skyes and his credibility went right out the window. Skyes has given a lot of statistics of negative morals with our American children of today.
He does not allow the reader to make his or her own educated decision without giving anything to go on except the negative statistics that Skyes has provided. Skyes tries to convince the readers that it is not just the schools but parents, media, and church that are to blame for the way American kids are. In addition he has proven his racism with comments he has slipped in trying to sway the reader to think that other children are better than the American child. This excerpt makes me exceptionally angry with Skyes who makes me think that he is all holier than thou.
Skyes knocks down the very country he lives in. He makes some very interesting points about the way children “may” think, but I do not agree with him. I feel that the American children are right where they are supposed to be. These issues have always been. If he really wants a change, Skyes needs to include all the good that could be going on and not leaving teachers, parent, and clergy members feeling helpless. This excerpt was poorly thought out and Skyes really needs to reevaluate his own morals and social issues.

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