in non-credit ESL classes, often afterrnyears of “bilingual”—more accurately,rnnonlingual—education in the publicrnschools. These students do not becomernliterate but rather support an elaboraternsocial structure that has become thernbiggest (tax) money-maker in the openadmissionsrncollege world. ESL programsrnare notorious for the poor quality of theirrntexts and the blase attitude of theirrninstructors.rnAfter two years of ESL classes, studentsrngo on to at least one additionalrnyear of noncredit “basic skills” classes:rnremedial, or “developmental,” reading,rnwriting, and arithmetic. The texts forrnsuch classes are based on the premise,rndecimated by E.D. Hirsch, that thinkingrncan be taught without any facts or ideasrnand that reading can be taught withoutrnliterature or vocabulary. If students failrnat basic skills, no matter. They willrnnot flunk, but rather obtain additionalrnintensive help from peer (!) tutors in arn”skills institute.” At the community collegernlevel, once students have been certifiedrnliterate, they go on to two years ofrn”real” credit courses such as “CollegernSurvival Skills” and “Critical Thinking.”rnMany sections of courses for credit, suchrnas Sociology 101 and Macroeconomics,rnare still taught in Spanish.rnAt least until World War II, a collegerneducation was considered a privilege.rnRecently, it has gone from a privilege torna “right” and now to an “entitlement.” Itrnis no longer the education as such that isrnconsidered an entitlement, but the degree.rnA college degree—at least wherern”minority” students are concerned—hasrnattained for many progressives, liberals,rnand multiculturalists the automatic statusrnof a Social Security card. Consideringrnthat such advocates believe realityrncan be defined away, why not save billionsrnof dollars by simply redefining arnhigh school degree as adequate to enterrnpolite society?rnThe pedagogical side of entitlementrnideology is the policy of “social passing.”rnLike ESL and basic skills programs, thisrnpractice entered “higher education” viarngrade schools. The program was originallyrnsmuggled into practice under thernguise of protecting students’ self-esteem.rnIts proponents argued that holding arnfailed student back from his peers wouldrnhurt his feelings. So everyone was promoted.rnThus, the idea of merit—andrnthe self-respect that derives from truernaccomplishment—was killed off withrnthat of failure.rnPractices such as social passing involverna constant lowering of standards, so as tornaccommodate the worst students. Suchrnpolicies have ushered in a counterrevolutionrnof sinking expectations: lowerrnclassroom standards produce graduatesrnwho understand so little in the way of therncultural stock that they will read nornbooks or only the simplest kind. This, inrnturn, leads publishers to narrow whatrnthey will publish and writers to waterrndown the references and allusions inrntheir works.rnI see in the college practice of socialrnpassing yet another affirmative actionstylernentitlement program. In a worldrnwhere, regardless of their members’rneffort or competence, certain demographicrngroups must be guaranteedrnsuccess in order to make up for pastrninjustices, just showing up has becomernequated with doing the job. At anrnincreasing number of colleges rampantrnabsenteeism has become the only way tornflunk classes—unless, that is, a studentrnhas a really “good” EOF counselor.rn—Nicholas StixrnT H E CHESTERTON REVIEW isrncelebrating its 20th anniversary with arnconference to be held September 14-16rnin Toronto. The Review, if any of ourrnreaders is unfamiliar with it, is uniquernamong literary journals. The focus is onrnChesterton, of course, and on his friendsrn(like Belloc) and antagonists (such asrnShaw and Wells), but the net is spreadrnwide enough to cover writers who inspiredrnGKC (Cardinal Manning, forrnexample) and those who have beenrninspired by him (e.g., C.S. Lewis).rnChesterton was a complex figure, whosernwork included a great deal of verse andrnfiction, newspaper editorials on everyrntopic under the sun, and a good deal ofrnphilosophical and theological discussionrnnot only of what’s wrong with the worldrnbut also of how to make the worid rightrnagain. Chesterton’s social and politicalrnviews are conveniently labeled “Distributism,”rnsince he was a leading figurernin the distributist movement, and hisrnsound political wisdom, so relevant tornthe struggles of our own day, has beenrnmade the subject of a number ofrnChesterton Review issues and conferences.rnAs the darkness descends upon ourrnown time, it is the small groups—thern”little platoons” and bands of brothers—rnthat keep the light alive. Perhaps it is becausernChesterton is among the least originalrnof important writers that his legacy isrnso important today. At Chesterton conferencesrnI have run into simple peoplernwho have gained a suprising degree ofrnwisdom and shrewdness, simply fromrnreading and rereading GKC, and it isrnone of the pleasures of such conferencesrnthat they are attended by so many reallyrngood people whose imaginations arernbright and clear and uncorrupted.rnAll over the world, at this veryrnmoment, there are little groups ofrnChestertonians reading and discussingrntheir favorite author and applying hisrnwisdom to the times they live in. Muchrnof the credit for GKC’s flourishing influencernmust go to Father Ian Boyd andrnthe Chesterton Review. Subscribers tornthe review receive quarterly infusions ofrnlively prose and wholesome wisdom.rnThe subscription price is only $35 U.S.rnFor subscriptions or for information onrnthe conference, write; The ChestertonrnReview, St. Thomas More College, 1437rnCollege Drive, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan,rnCanada, S7N 0W6.rnOBITER DICTA: Florida is the nextrnstop on our list of stores that carryrnChronicles. Look for the magazine atrnJoe’s News Inc., 1559-1/2 Sunset Drive inrnMiami; Charlie’s News Inc., 1341 MainrnStreet in Sarasota; Media Play, VolusiarnSquare Shopping Center in DaytonarnBeach; and Bookstop, 2501 TyronernBoulevard in St. Petersburg.rnFor Immediate ServicernCHRONICLESrnNEW SUBSCRIBERSrnTOLL FREE NUMBERrn1-800-877-5459rn8/CHRONICLESrnrnrn