What is the purpose of the piece?
The purpose of this piece is propagandistic. It argues that lack of moral education is the cause of the poor state of American education and proposes the Fundamentals project, an alternative school that would stress conservative moral values.
What is the nature of the evidence that the writer uses to back his assertions? Is it credible? Objective?
The writer backs his assertion with quotes from Newsweek, Washington Post, the Heritage Foundation (a conservative think tank), and a variety of magazines. Of the five sources listed in the magazine, only two were from scholarly journals. Bob Dole, the Republican presidential candidate in 1996, and William Bennett, the “drug czar” under Reagan, are listed as experts on America’s educational performance.
The evidence listed in the article is neither credible nor objective. There are many examples of unreferenced citations in the work, such as the quote ascribed to the Heritage Foundation and Newsweek.
There is also a great of interpretation of the evidence provided instead of letting it stand on its own. For example, in a comparison of American high schools with those in 15 nations, Howard, Fine, and Howard (2001) found that “higher test scores in every subject,” with the exception of so-called critical thinking skills, “could be directly correlated to national school movements that reinforce a country’s moral welfare” (p. 4). The article then adds the comment “The authors indicated that super-subsumed reliance on didacticism within a codified Althusserian stratagem typifies American perspectives.”
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