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Can't We Afford to Teach Civics Any Longer? Can We Afford Not to?

"An American government exam taken by all high school students in Maryland would be eliminated next year under the proposed state budget, a surprising shift in policy that comes just three years after the test was made a graduation requirement. Gov. Martin O'Malley's proposal cuts $1.9 million from the Maryland State Department of Education budget that would pay for the test and its grading. ... Some educators expressed immediate concern that social studies would get less attention in high schools if the test is eliminated."-- Baltimore Sun

Outside the front door of my house is a hundred year old Uncle Sam. He's made of wood, and as long as he's been with us he's not had any work done on him. After reading about Maryland's intention to do away with its civics test I am making arrangements for a visit to a rehab, after an emotionally charged intervention that had Uncle Sam thin lipped with rage and denial, while the wood and paint that covered him looked so uncared for and chipped, that we've stopped waving hello, not wanting to risk some outburst of irrational anger that would make his always wooden features peel and flake even more.

He' s definitely ill, and looks like he's on something. You can't reach him anymore, and it breaks my heart because he's been with me for so long, and has been so peppy and happy until these last few years. I don't know what he's taking. It's some kind of drug---oh, I don't have any idea. All I know is that he hasn't said a simple kind thing, or taken care of his appearance, and having had some history with both Sam and bad behavior, I feel desolate that he doesn't see how damaging his behavior is. But seriously: Eliminating civics?

Of course I could tell you a million stories about how wonderful he's been, but I have to say it's harder to recall given the events through which we are living. I'm tired; I'm tired and sick of trying to get him to grow up, or be a little more honest with himself, but this latest nonsense, taking away the one thing that could help him recover his self-esteem, it's getting to me.

I'm a kiss the tarmac type, but not lately. I hear him muttering about how exceptional he is, but when I say like when, Sam? he just goes into a meltdown.

At our house we've got two Betty Boop waitresses made out of plastic. They don't talk to Sam any more.

It's more than sad; its terrifying. Horrible. Watching this noble character, with such a noble past, reduced to this excuse-making fake, and then stopping the only therapy that can heal him--civics--what does he expect to happen, that we're just going to wake up and love him again and forget all the offensive behavior that he then denies? Hanging with a bad bunch---no I'm going to say it--they're a bad bunch, and they've led him down the wrong road.

Fighting and sneering at everyone, sullen and muttering to himself, cutting himself off from anything like exercise or thoughtfulness, or thinking clearly--how does he expect to think clearly when he stops learning how to be Uncle Sam, in control and knowing right from wrong. For a long time I've made excuses for him, that he was being taken advantage of, that he'd been victimized, but no more. He's just as responsible for his childishness and self-imposed stupidity.

Eliminate civics? Can you imagine the sick, tortured, self-loathing that must have led to this decision? What does he think, that he's just going to know what's right without being taught anything? Really? Like getting an honest mortgage? Like avoiding getting his home foreclosed by crooks who don't fear getting punished? Like whining about how poor he is while guzzling all that rotgut? He's so poor, he pays sooo much in taxes, that's why his infrastructure is rotting. Yeah, Poor Uncle Sam.

I used to love seeing him standing on the porch so upright and strong and principled. Now he looks like a throw-away cheapsuit put together by con artists and phony contractors. I don't know what I'm going to tell my kids.