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Today, all fifty states are under fire from a well-organized effort to totally discredit public education. The efforts come in a variety of guises: No Child Left Behind followed by Race to the Top; Standardized testing with built in failure; ridiculous attacks on science education with a push for pseudo-science teaching, such as Intelligent Design; Revisionist History; elimination of Hispanic and other ethnic study courses; privatization designed to ruin education, such as we are seeing in Louisiana; sub-contracting evaluations and assessments to private companies who have a financial stake in rating failure, such as we are seeing in nearly every state; the inflated data on Charter and Private school success. Republicans and Democrats are equally at fault here. Neither party can govern in regards to education. That is clear!

I have been a professional educator for over 20 years as both a teacher and as an administrator. While I am an insider, make no mistake, I am no huge fan of the system of education we have in America. While we don’t fail as many students as pundits would have us believe, we fail too many because in most cases we operate in the same form we used in 1930, 1950, 1980 and 2000, with little more than the cosmetic changes that blow in with political movements. Sure we have on-line classes now. We have more “accountability” while we end up with less and less local control. But not much real change has occurred in the past century. The entire system needs a dramatic overhaul. But if we continue to make changes based on misleading data and false storylines we will exacerbate problems rather than fix them. There is money—huge profits—in convincing the American people that schools are doing worse than they are but there is even bigger money in not really fixing the problems.

Below, I try to shed some light on many of the popular and widespread criticisms of public education.  I have written a long diary. But there is a lot to say and a lot of misinformation out there that needs correcting.

Anyone paying any attention at all will have come across the following statements at one time or another—and most likely has heard these things repeated so often that it would be hard not to believe them.

•High school graduation rates nationwide are alarmingly low, particularly for ethnic groups.
•American students are not prepared for college and need remediation in math science to be eligible for college level courses.
•Because we aren’t doing well enough in math and science we aren’t graduating enough engineers from college to meet the current needs of American business.
•American high school students do so poorly in math and science compared to the rest of the world that they are not prepared to compete internationally.
•Overall, American public education is in decline.

What about graduation rates? The Official U.S. Dept. of Education Blog Site made this post on January 23, 2013:  

A new report from the Department of Education shows that high school graduation rates are at their highest level since 1974. According to the report, during the 2009-10 school year, 78.2 percent of high school students nationwide graduated on time, which is a substantial increase from the 73.4 percent recorded in 2005-6. The report shows that graduation rates were up for all ethnic groups in 2010, and that the rate for Hispanic students has jumped almost 10 points since 2006.
So yes, the graduation rate is alarmingly low. It always has been. That is a tragedy. However, it isn’t new. What is new is that the public education system is working to correct the problem with more success now than in the past 40 years. Graduation rates are up not down! And this is despite the dynamics of an economic crisis and two wars. If we were scoring this one I would have to give it to the schools.

But just because we are doing better doesn’t mean our work is exemplary. One out of every four students who enters American high schools still does not graduate. The rate is getting better yes, but not at a fast enough pace. The problem here is that the popular and well-funded solutions being proposed will not do any better, and may likely make things worse. But schools are not doing enough, largely because they are buying into and are being force-fed a steady diet of medicine that only makes the patient worse.

What about the charge that entering freshmen are simply not as prepared as their predecessors for the rigors of college coursework? In a report published by ASCD it seems pretty clear.

Another measure of lack of college preparation is the proportion of students who find themselves in remedial college courses, often because they fail a readiness exam after they have been accepted. According to 2004 Department of Education data, 43 percent of all students attending public two-year institutions and 29 percent of those attending public four-year colleges said they had been required to enroll in a remedial course. And these data, the report points out, do not include the approximately 1.2 million students who dropped out of college that year.
However, once again the full truth is not as clear. Yes, there are more freshmen entering college who are not fully prepared. But there are apparently more freshmen entering college who are prepared, too. And the reason is so simple one wonders why we are even discussing this. More freshmen are actually entering college. A lot more! And that growth has been pretty consistent for quite a while.
During the period of 1975 through 2010, the immediate college enrollment rate [for high school graduages] ranged from a low of 49 percent to a high of 70 percent. Specifically, this rate increased from 1975 to 1997 (51 to 67 percent), declined from 1997 to 2001 (to 62 percent), then increased from 2001 to 2009 (to 70 percent). There was no measurable difference between the rate for 2009 and that for 2010 (68 percent).
But what about ethnic groups?
During the longer period of 1975 to 2010, immediate college enrollment rates increased for White (51 vs. 70 percent) and Black high school completers (43 vs. 66 percent). After accounting for possible sampling error, there was no measurable difference in Hispanic rates over this period of time (approximately 60 percent in both years). In each year between 2003 and 2010, the immediate college enrollment rate of Asian high school completers was higher than the rates of White, Black, and Hispanic high school completers. The immediate college enrollment rate of White high school completers was also higher than the rate for Hispanic students in every year during this period and for Black students in every year from 2003 to 2009. In 2010, there was no measurable difference between the rates for Whites and for Blacks.
To summarize: More students are entering college unprepared. More students are entering college prepared. More ethnic students are entering college unprepared. More students are entering college prepared.

To summarize further: High schools are doing a pretty good job of getting their students into college.  Better than ever, in fact. Colleges are doing a pretty good job of accepting students they would not have previously accepted, and taken money from, in the past. And by the way, taking money for remedial classes is really big business on campuses.

What about high schools and colleges not producing enough scientists and engineers? Doesn’t this one sound believable? For those of us who are old enough to remember, this is reminiscent of the “missile gap” of the 50’s. Without enough scientists and engineers the United State will fall behind all of the other nations that are trying to beat us at…anything. Much of this fear comes from a 2004 warning from the National Science Foundation that there is "an emerging and critical problem of the science and engineering labor force.” (  Since that report was made public it has been echoed by publication after publication and has been mentioned in speech after speech. And America is worried. In fact we have specific national and state level initiatives designed to address this problem.

But is it true? This response comes from Sharon Begley at the Daily Beast:

Let's not exaggerate: science and engineering are not the new Comp Lit or philosophy, those undergraduate majors for which employment prospects are so dicey your parents practically beg you to go to a trade school instead. But about those claims that the nation suffers from a shortage of scientists and engineers—claims such as the National Science Foundation's warning in 2004 of "an emerging and critical problem of the science and engineering labor force"—Vivek Wadhwa, founder of Relativity Technologies and executive in residence at Duke University, has a terse response: "It's a lie."

"Science and engineering are perceived as so crucial to our economic engine and national security, it's easy to get people panicked over the possibility of a shortage," says demographer Michael Teitelbaum of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. But those who do not have a financial stake in getting more students to choose S&E (the more job hunters, the less you have to pay them) are catching on. Science magazine recently noted "the striking discrepancy between the glutted market for early-career scientists and the numerous prestigious reports [about] … a looming shortage."

A 2008 report by the RAND Corporation, requested by the office of the Secretary of Defense, concluded that "there is no evidence of a current shortage of S&E workers."

And this from In the Pipeline, reprinted on the Discover web site:
1. Companies, in most cases, are not moving R&D operations overseas because they just can’t find anyone here to do the jobs. They’re doing that for the same reason so many other employers have sent jobs abroad: because it’s cheaper that way (or appears to be; the jury’s probably still out in many instances)—people in many other countries simply do their jobs for less money. And it’s often the ordinary grunt work that’s being outsourced, which makes the “we even need mediocre scientists” line especially wrong-headed.

2. We are not, as far as I can see, facing the constant and well-known “critical shortage of scientists and engineers.” There have been headlines with that phrase in them for decades, and I wish people would think about that before writing another one. Some fields may have shortages (and these vary over time), but that’s a different story entirely.

3. And that brings up another point, as mentioned above: while the earlier stages of science and math education are a common pathway, things then branch out, and how. Saying that there are so-many-thousand “science PhDs” is a pretty useless statistic, because by that point, they’re scattered into all sorts of fields. A semiconductor firm will not be hiring me, for example.

Summary: No there is no shortage of scientists and engineers of the kind the fear mongers and school critics claim. Sources as diverse as the Rand Corp., Discover Magazine, The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, various scientists and college professors are telling us that this is simply false.

What about American high school students doing so poorly in math and science compared to the rest of the world that they are not prepared to compete internationally? It seems that every news source in America makes this claim. Is it true that American students do worse than their counterparts in other nations? Yes. Or no. It depends on who the “counterparts in other nations” are. Certainly the results of recent international tests among 4th and 8th graders  show that students in Singapore, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan and Finland outperform the US. In the Asian nations we must remember that there is a strong culture of testing and rote memorization at the expense of creative and critical thinking. Finland has virtually no poverty and, while it de-emphasizes a testing culture, it has a strong culture of respect for schools and teachers.

So when we compare ourselves to our “counterparts” in other nations what is the most important factor? It becomes clear that poverty levels are the most meaningful variable. National Association of Secondary School Principals Executive Director, Dr. Gerald N. Tirozz summarizes the data from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), one of the main organizations that does international testing:

A more accurate assessment of the performance of U.S. students would be obtained by comparing the scores of American schools with comparable poverty rates to those of other countries.

Schools in the United States with less than a 10% poverty rate had a PISA score of 551.  When compared to the ten countries with similar poverty numbers, that score ranked first.

In the next category (10-24.9%) the U.S. average of 527 placed first out of the ten comparable nations.

For the remaining U.S. schools, their poverty rates over 25% far exceed any other country tested.  However, when the U.S. average of 502 for poverty rates between 25-49.9% is compared with other countries it is still in the upper half of the scores.

Summary: When we compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges we do very well indeed! The problem is not more testing. It is poverty relief.

So, is American public education in decline? No it isn’t. We are educating more students in better ways and sending more students to post-secondary levels of education than ever before. But that is not a satisfactory answer because we can do much, much better. We won’t get better by implementing ill-conceived plans that are built on false data.

When we politicize and mislead and incentivize profits in the name of education reform, we lose sight of what we must accomplish, and we lose even more our grasp on how to make meaningful and effective changes.

Originally posted to talktothemike on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 06:47 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  this was a fucking excellent analysis (14+ / 0-)

    but don't be surprised to see the anti-teacher forces on the left rear their ugly heads here as well. Public education is under attack by both Dems and Repubs ( see Emmanuel, Rahm, Duncan, Arne,  and anyone on the right....) mainly because Wall St, in an attempt to leave no possible source of rent keeping on the table, see big profits in private schools. Wait til the whole system is voucherized; it will be means tested, and folks will be on thehook for most of the cost; they will have all kinds of riders sayin gthis book isn't covered, Ap isn't covered, Art and music aren't covered. Experience with the private market in healthcare has already shown us what it will be like.

    •  Thanks. (10+ / 0-)

      I do believe that we need to make changes in the system to meet a changing world. I suppose that diary is coming and it will probably be longer than this one. I guess the point I am hoping to say is that we can't make real change based on the wrong conclusions and "seductive arguments". And it certainly appears that the wrong conclusions are being made, if not intentionally, then at least irresponsibly. But Houghton-Mifflin, Pearson, and the other companies that are selling their "solutions" to schools will get plenty rich doing it.

      I am in Washington State where the legislature is demanding a "return on their investment" by trying to apply "market solutions" to school performance. I just decided--Market Solutions will be my next hard critical look.

      Thanks again for your comment.

      •  If you go after "market solutions" (3+ / 0-)

        I'd be interested in seeing just how the companies promoting them envision the future employment markets, and what their methodology for prediction is, assuming that they bother delineating it.  

        After all, "what will make us money in the next 10 years" isn't quite the same question as "what specialties, and in what numbers, will the economy need in 10 years".

        If I were thinking about education, I suspect I'd be looking at turning out students who could be maximally flexible in their eventual careers. Which would mean teaching thinking skills from the beginning, as well as self-guided learning techniques. Neither of which is likely to be included in any proposal by a for-profit institution.

        At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.

        by serendipityisabitch on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 11:48:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I have begun to look at 'market solutions' (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          and have yet to see a very clearly defined set of solutions tailored to education. So far I only see the generic market ideas of competition, supply and demand, return on investment, etc.

          Perhaps someone has defined something in this area but I have yet to see it. In other word, its a nice catch phrase and nothing more specific. Or...I hope to discover some great new understanding.

      •  Could you include (3+ / 0-)

        some analysis -- in your "market solutions" piece perhaps? -- of how we measure success? Better test scores are not the goal, imo. But they are too often the only measure used by anyone on either side of the arguments.

        Thanks for a new look at these issues.

        •  First solve the poverty issues (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          then we can talk. There is no need for poverty of this level in modern society. When everyone is on a level playing field, then and only then can we start to make meaningful assessments about student outcomes. otherwise the tests are just used to browbeat public schools and teachers, leading to closings and layoffs. Remember, do not try to argue facts and logic with the reformers; their goal is not to improve public education, it is to destroy it. once people understand this fact everything becomes clear and the battle lines can be drawn accordingly. People are still wasting time trynig to argue with people  who have no intention of doing anything at all to help public schools. Case in point, in most states you need a license to cut hair, do nails, perform a massage, or clean someone's teeth. None of these require four years of college. But in most states there is serious talk of doing away with  formal teacher training and licensure. Chris Christie just mentioned it the other day with regard to charter schools. And yet when King Bloomberg appointed Kathy Black to run NYC schools, the former magazine editor was so untrained she had to resign as staff found it too exhausting to try to explain everything to her. Shit, even at PetSmart you gotta be trained to train the fucking dogs, they don't just let anyone do it. But kids? Forget about it, anyone can do it right?

          •  Well, if you wait (0+ / 0-)

            until there is no poverty in this country to realize that testing is out of control, nothing will change. Bad test scores from a poverty-stricken school are not a surprise. But relying on test scores to judge teachers or students is part of the problem, poverty or no.

            Test scores are too often the bottom line used to define schools, excuse all kinds of behavior and drive everything else.

            But I can rant about this as well as the next guy and would like to hear the original poster's non-ranty take on testing.

      •  Fuck em and their "return " on investment (0+ / 0-)

        when do they ever account for the money they waste on utter bullshit? don't tax cuts and 'incentives" to business suck money from the people? Where's the ROI when a Walmart or other big box threatens a town if it doesn't get incentives? Then they hire people who are paid so little they are told to go get food stamps, and shown how to do it. They don't give a shit about kids, what they care about is getting rid of pesky unions and punishing ( mostly female ) teachers for being uppity enough to be educated and have some shred of a middle class lifestyle while the rest of the workforce has suffered under right wing "prosperity". Ed Schulz just mentioned this on the radio today about how they are turning working people against each other, and it 's a damn shame his voice isn't there each night for the workers anymore on MSNBC.

    •  And they call it 'reform' (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      West Virginia is #14 in spending for education. The people value education and see it as a way out....and they do get out! THAT'S the reason we have the least educated people in the country. It appears that the least educated are now serving in the legislature. Governor Tomblin, a poor excuse for a democrat, put forth 'education reform' that contained some of the following measures:

      1.   Teach for America
      2.   Less time for planing periods
      3.   No paid holidays for teachers
      4.   State superintendents hiring lowered to a
            master's degree in ANY field.
      5.   Taking pay cap off of state superintendent
      6.   Limit Faculty Senate Days to 1 day a year
      The bill passed the democratic controlled Senate and then went to the House where the GOP added amendments to it. One amendment included 50% of teachers' evaluations coming from test scores  and another included charter schools. It passed without the amendments.

      This bill was written with a great deal of input from the WV Chamber of Commerce. Although the unions pushed back and restored paid holidays and got Teach for America out of the bill, 2014 is crucial. The GOP is only 4 votes away from taking control of the House. Their party platform is turn WV into a right-to-work state.  

    •  Corporate vampires have their hooks in already.... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Educational experience based on non-consensual behaviorism is authoritarian mind control.

      by semioticjim on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 01:41:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great diary (6+ / 0-)

    And I'd agree with leftangler! The education troll and dupe patrol usually comes out in full force.

  •  Shortage of science-literate average citizens (10+ / 0-)

    Derek Lowe (the chemist quoted by Discover, not the baseball player) is right. There is no shortage of working scientists.

    What there is a terrible shortage of, is ordinary, typical citizens - typical voters  - who understand the basics of science. This makes it possible to sell diverse forms of snake oil to the public, such as climate denialism, anti-vaccinationism, abstinence-only sex ed, etc.

    And our education system is largely to blame for this, but it isn't the teachers' fault. Science literacy is based on critical, independent thinking, and that is a trait that many in power want suppressed, not encouraged.

    If you doubt me, pick up a Texas-approved "science" textbook.

    •  The "Middle Third" is horribly neglected (7+ / 0-)

      In policy, programs, funding, technique and emphasis, as well as reward, the Middle Third of students receives the least amount of attention in our current system.

      We have succeeded in creating a class of students whose parents are college educated, affluent and have the skill and time to find enrichment, experiences and outside skills via their family culture and connections. Good on us.

      We have succeeded in keeping thousands of students with learning disabilities, home emotional issues, stress issues, psychological needs, and counseling via the Individual Education Plan (IEP) which used to be called Special Ed. Federally and State funding pours into this sector, and we keep many in school and on track for graduation.

      What we HAVE NOT DONE is pay attention to the broad middle of students who are from working class backgrounds, have parents who are experiencing economic decline and hardship, new mobility issues, and no experience in navigating "sweet spots" and as teachers, we have not developed ways of speaking and teaching to them. We are so focused on the top third and the bottom third, academically, that the "regular" classes are overwhelmed with need, stress and lack of academic accomplishment.

      Does this sound familiar? It parallels the American Economy. This is NOT an educational problem, it is an economic problem, and until we see it as such, we will continue to neglect those people we need to support public education, and who we need to support WITH public education.

       Where are the Democrats? Pandering to the top and the bottom, and leaving the rest to fend for themselves. And they are not fending very well.

      Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

      by OregonOak on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 07:59:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I saw another stem grad bartending the other night (6+ / 0-)

        The guys had a double degree in electrical engineering and physics.
        In discussing this with a physics professor, she suggested that many grad got by with mediocre grades and perhaps don't deserve employment in their chosen field of study.
        Well, we are talking about "kids" in their early to mid-twenties that have done nothing but study all their lives even if they are not the top of their classes.  These are the kids that could be working for industries and government while the top students could stay in academics.   Now, we have top academic students working the few industry jobs and mostly bored with no employment for the smart but, not the top in academics.
        Requirements for academic achievement far are different from a person that can figure out how to solve a real world problem in engineering. Top grades are a dim indicator of what a person is really capable of doing.
        Another thing, devotion and setting time priorities change as a person matures.  So, throwing people away early in life before they have a chance to mature is unconscionable.

        •  Of course if all the kids got top grades (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          rodentrancher, pacplate, qofdisks

          then it would mean the classes were too easy. It couldn't be that the classes were well taught and the kids motivated and capable.

          My own feeling is that the STEM kids who fall out of STEM fields are mostly just unlucky - the wrong degree at the wrong time, they needed health insurance and couldn't wait for the right job, maybe they live in the wrong city and/or want to be near a spouse or family. There's huge friction in STEM employment - it usually takes months to fill jobs and it usually takes months to get a job - and a lot of STEM these days ends up being temporary/contract type work.

          It's tempting to say they must be the "lesser grades" etc because then your physics professor friend can feel that she's in no danger, and that she's doing right by all of her graduate students, who absolutely won't be doing 3rd postdocs or struggling for work ever... unlike a substantial percentage of other people's physics Ph.D. students.

          Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

          by elfling on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 09:43:37 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks (10+ / 0-)

    ...for the well thought out dose of reality. Sure, public education needs to be improved in some areas. But, the most persistent problem is the impact of poverty among the urban and rural poor. Kids who are hungry, who do not have adequate medical care, who do not have a supportive home environment and who attend underfunded and understaffed schools are not going to be able to achieve at the level of those those in more affluent districts.

    The "reformers" certainly include some well meaning folks and desperate parents. But many have a different agenda: privatizing and profitizing education (e.g., Joel Klein, the Walton family); or weakening unions, who tend to support Democrats (e.g. Scott Walker). Many of the reformers purport to be education experts but have never taught, or taught briefly, under dubious circumstances (e.g., Michelle Rhee, who during her brief experience as a teacher taped the mouths of students to quiet them, an abusive tactic that could and like would have gotten her fired in most school districts).

    Thanks again for your sane voice, and for your service in a noble profession!

    •  You hit on something... (6+ / 0-)

      that irritates me more than anything--those who would "fix" education, but have no credentials to do so. They seem to be the ones with the ear of the governors and the power brokers. Methinks that has more to do with politics and profits than with learning.

      •  We have this problem in New Mexico with our (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        republican governor trying to appoint a person, Hanna Skandera, as state secretary of education.  Her "qualification" is that she is a Jeb Bush bureaucrat /crony from Florida  trying to gut NM education and privatizing our schools.  She has already wasted a ton of money bringing in out of state consultants for evaluating teachers and schools.  These evaluations are absolute nonsense.
        The legislature keeps denying her appointment but, she is running NM education anyway.

      •  We should not... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Elizaveta, Linda Wood voices just because they aren't a part of the Educational Establishment. After all, it's the Establishment that helped create this mess.

        Imagine trying to reform the banking system -- only to hear the Wall Street guys say, "You've never run an investment bank so you're not qualified to criticize us!"

        Imagine trying to cut the Pentagon budget -- but the generals and defense contractors say, "We only listen to people who have Military experience!"

        What bunk.

        Our education system has problems. If the critics can be shown to be wrong, then do so. But we can't dismiss them just because they are outsiders looking in. Sometimes outsiders have the sharpest vision.

        Sometimes only outsiders lack vested interests and have the incentives to make open-minded change possible.

        •  Bunk indeed: (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Imagine trying to cut the Pentagon budget -- but the generals and defense contractors say, "We only listen to people who have Military experience!"
          The military is under civilian authority, remember? No real parallel here.
          Imagine trying to reform the banking system -- only to hear the Wall Street guys say, "You've never run an investment bank so you're not qualified to criticize us!"
          Economists have no experience in these matters? If Wall Street was only in danger of harming Wall Street banks, with no significant effect on the overall economy, it would be a closer fit. As it is, the actual worry is that Wall Street will destroy the overall economy, something economists are very well equipped to deal with. As I recall, Krugman has not yet been wrong with his predictions. So again, no real parallel.

          Right now, politicians and rich guys (ALEC et al) are making decisions about our nation-wide system of education, and they demonstrably either don't have any understanding of what they are doing or they are deliberately destroying for their own purposes and profit. Here's a nice viewpoint on the subject.

          And it's nice to claim that "open-minded change" is possible, but what is happening is far from it - and you keep pushing for it all, full steam ahead.

          Why is that?

        •  I agree. That is what I have attempted to do here. (0+ / 0-)

          However, when they disregard truth and blatantly promote the lie then I call them out. If they had been in the classroom they would already know that what they claim doesn't make any sense. But they haven't been there and they keep telling the lies.

  •  This is excellent (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    qofdisks, pacplate, Nance, talktothemike, Chi

    I'll add a couple of points.

    I'm not sure if it is true in all states, but in California, the expectations for a high school diploma are substantially higher than when I was a kid. High school students must pass algebra to graduate and now are expected to complete a high school exit exam. When I was a student, a substantial percentage of my classmates never took algebra.

    The expectations are higher through the whole curriculum, starting in the primary grades.

    And on the international rankings, the United States has never been at the top of those rankings. The slacker kids who got mediocre scores on the international comparisons in the 60's and 70's were the core of our booming economy in the 1990s.

    I would add that as the disaggregation of US PISA scores show, a big part of what that test measures, and values, is equity across all the people who take it.

    I wonder, and I'm only half joking, if all American workers had 6 weeks paid vacation as is the norm in Finland, if that might do more to raise our test scores than any of the other education reforms that get proposed.

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 08:00:51 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for this. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    semioticjim, Chi

    You have provided facts which will help illustrate points I've been making to my brother-in-law who seems to be under the spell of Michelle Rhee.

    "The fears of one class of men are not the measure of the rights of another." ~ George Bancroft (1800-1891)

    by JBL55 on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 08:02:23 AM PDT

  •  If there was a shortage of stem professionals, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ManhattanMan, elfling, Chi

    I would have a job.  But, I am over 50 and took time off to raise a child.

  •  This could be a time of great innovation (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    semioticjim, Chi

    for teaching and learning but, educators are strait jacketed by standardized tests and self-important bureaucrats.  

  •  On college readiness (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pacplate, semioticjim, Chi

    Since the advent of the standards and accountability movement of the 90's, teachers have been coerced into focusing on a measurable definition of proficiency. Given that these measurements are done on the cheap through standardized testing, the emphasis in many classrooms is on the lower order skills that these tests can measure. Higher order skills  that are critical to college success, such as making an argument, using evidence and or for that matter, writing coherently, have been given short shrift.

    I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction, of the Constitution. Barbara Jordan

    by Lcohen on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 09:42:53 AM PDT

    •  Looking at the work (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Nance, talktothemike

      my daughter is required to do for college classes. She had to write a paper on how to research and write a paper for an anthro class and do a field trip to the library to learn how to find sources for the cultural part of her Spanish class. I did this in high school, and when I went to college, wrote anthro papers for anthro classes and gave cultural presentations for language classes without all the prep learning.

      She already knows how research, write and cite sources. Most of her fellow students come out of the public school system. She's never been to school until now.

      Learning is an individual experience. The variables to learning situations are numerous: parental support, family situation, family/community economics, etc, etc etc.

      Always looking for the one size fits all answer is what's not getting us anywhere.

  •  This Diary really misses the point. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Linda Wood, Chi

    Public education on the whole is pretty good. Upper-middle class kids get great educations! Middle-class kids do "ok".

    The problem is that poor kids are getting shafted. True, this has always been the case, but it is more important today than 30 years ago. Today, a good education is much more important.

    Our irrational, property-tax based, funding system creates pockets of horrible schools into which poor kids are packed.

    That is why most reformers focus on inner-cities. Charter schools seldom open in rich suburbs where the public schools are good.

    As Progressives, we need to keep the conversation focused on how The System affects the least powerful.

    What are politically-feasible options that help poor kids? That's the question we need to ask.

    Statistics showing that the "average" kid is doing OK, don't help much.

    •  But when "politically-feasible" = "private (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      semioticjim, Nance

      enterprise & private profits", which is what everything you advocate for actually amounts to, it's not a question that is worth answering.

      It's ok to cheerlead for private enterprise and profit; just doing so in front of people who actually recognize the value of a public good is kind of pointless.

      •  The most effective Charter Schools... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Linda Wood

        ...are in NYC. They are not-for-profit.

        It's not fair to accuse me of being for "privatization". It's not true.

        •  On a national level, it is fair. (0+ / 0-)

          That is what is happening, nationally.

          Pointing to a relatively small location and claiming that because it gets good results right there, in that small spot, means it is a good thing everywhere, is not defensible.

          Charters are, on the whole, detrimental to education, limited and local successes notwithstanding.

          You know this, you've had access to all the links and data.

          You are arguing for a national disaster, and you must understand that. You're too clever not to understand it.

          You may be willfully blinding yourself; that's not for me to say.

        •  You are missing the point now. (0+ / 0-)

          There truly is a concerted effort to destroy public education and replace it with "market driven" schools. Since writing this post a couple of days ago I have been doing near constant research on the idea of "market driven solutions." I went in with an open mind but discovered that the repeated refrain from the Market folks is: End Unions. I didn't expect to find that so clearly and so strongly. They want to do that because they are firm believers that teachers are overpaid and underworked. Charter schools are not the end for them. It is one of the means to do so. Now I'm not saying that every charter school is bad. I developed and ran a school that could best be described as a public charter school--though we could not call it that at the time. So I do know of what I speak.

          Without question, one of the pillars of the charter school movement is to have services provided to charter schools by for-profit and not-for-profit private enterprises. Get the charter school laws in place and then dominate the charter school opportunities with large national and international corporations. Even if you are not for privatization, the money behind the movement certainly is.

    •  We have the treasure to eradicate... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elfling, talktothemike, Chi

      ...poverty. Alleviate hunger anxiety, provide healthcare, improve and stabilize children's living environments and you will go a long way in solving your education problem. We don't need standardized tests to improve the U.S, education system.

      Educational experience based on non-consensual behaviorism is authoritarian mind control.

      by semioticjim on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 02:21:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That is why I always... (0+ / 0-)

        ...specify "politically feasible" solutions.

        Yeah, we could do all those fantastic things. They would work. It would be the best solution.

        But it will not pass the House of Representatives this year. Next year doesn't look good either.

        It is immoral to make poor kids settle for what's Bad because we cannot yet give them what's Perfect.

        •  Let's use a little subterfuge and ... (0+ / 0-)

          ... convince folks, even ones who read this diary and your comments that our inner city schools are failing, when in reality, American public educators do better at educating poverty stricken children than any other country in the World.

          Educational experience based on non-consensual behaviorism is authoritarian mind control.

          by semioticjim on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 02:53:28 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That study is a SCAM. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Linda Wood

            Did you read it?

            They base their conclusions on six countries. But they eliminate half their sample (Canada, Finland, and Korea) because these countries are "high-scoring".

            Of course, these are the countries whose poor kids beat our poor kids on tests. (see Table 5 in the link).

            That's like saying "ManhattanMan is the handsomest guy in America except for Brad Pitt, Denzel Washington, Robert Redford, George Clooney..."
            In Canada, the country that is sociographically most similar to us, every single one of their social classes outperforms every single one of ours.

            Did you even read the study? Did you even look at the graphs in The Atlantic article you linked?  Nearly all of the light blue dotted lines are above the dark blue dotted lines.

            The only improvement is shown in the past few years, when (the Establishment apologists tell us) everything supposedly went south due to testing.

            •  Finland's education strategy (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              is to not have disadvantaged kids.

              It's a powerful, and quite different philosophy than we seem to be interested in in the US.

              Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

              by elfling on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 05:27:07 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  elfling, I agree with you (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                that we in the United States don't seem to be as interested ending poverty as the do the people of Finland. But one of the strongest moves they have made in order to end the crushing poverty they came out of was to provide a high standard of education, including a national core curriculum, to all Finnish children.


                When the student lacks a firm command of the nuances of the core subjects in the curriculum, project- and problem-based curricula often result in very shallow knowledge gained in the classroom. What makes it work in Finland is the fact that these pedagogies and learning methods rest on top of solid mastery of the core subjects in the curriculum, acquired by Finnish students in the lower grades...

                Would you not agree that the high standard and quality of the Finnish education system has had some effect on the economic, social, health and equal justice standards they have achieved during this period?
                •  All their kids have food and health care (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Linda Wood, ManhattanMan

                  Kids who do not have food, health care, and a safe place to live are substantially hindered - in a biological sense - from having the attention span to learn abstract, complex material.

                  In the US, there is a study that shows you can see the test scores drop if there is a murder within two miles of the school.

                  It does not matter if there is a high quality curriculum in place if the kids spend their nights in fear or their days worrying over a painful tooth... and it especially does not matter if the kids don't get to school because the family is constantly moving or couch-surfing.

                  In California, we have a high standard of learning and we have a strong state curriculum. We also have thousands and thousands of well trained teachers who really care about kids. It's not sufficient.

                  Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                  by elfling on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 10:34:53 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  It's chicken-and-egg. (0+ / 0-)

                  1) Reduce poverty and we get better education.

                  2) Improve education and we reduce poverty.

                  What I've been saying is that #1 requires massive political capital and the defeat of incredibly powerful entrenched economic interests.

                  #2 only requires getting the Teacher's Union to allow a few charter schools in a few neighborhoods, some spending on smaller class sizes, and free breakfasts for kids we are supposed to be feeding anyway.

                  Go for #2. Get some gains. Then circle back and take a bite out of #1. But do the easy thing first, otherwise we'll get bogged down and do nothing.

                  (But getting bogged down and doing nothing is what the Entrenched Educational Establishment wants...)

                  •  We have a few charter schools in a few (0+ / 0-)

                    neighborhoods, we have smaller class sizes than when I was a student, and we have free breakfasts for low income kids.

                    It hasn't raised test scores to 100% proficient.

                    We are not doing nothing. And there have been substantial gains.

                    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                    by elfling on Tue Mar 26, 2013 at 10:15:37 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

            •  You are making some big errors here. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              cassidy3, Abelia

              I will repeat what I posted (using a more detailed set of data from PISA that on the link above).

              In any school tested with poverty rates at 10% or lower the US scores are highest.

              In any school tested with poverty rates at 25% or lower the US scores are highest.

              No other tested nations even have schools with poverty rates higher than the US. Do you get it yet? We educate more students in poverty than any other nation in the world.

              It's not test scores. It's not better teachers. It's not more charter schools or private schools. It's not more money in the classroom. It's poverty that matters.

              You are arguing for a cause that you cannot support because the factual data--and I think I went to pretty great lengths to document my post--show that the major criticisms of public ed are largely bogus. There are lots of other valid criticisms that public ed deserves, but they won't bring about the kinds of changes the privatizers want so they hang onto the false narrative and hope the folks like you are so pounded by falsehoods that you can't see the facts when they are presented.

              •  No. (0+ / 0-)

                We are not doing a better job at educating poor kids.

                Poor kids in Canada, Korea, and Finland do better. Check Table #5 of the EPI study.

                We may be doing better at running schools with high concentrations of poor kids. I'll give you that.

                But why do we have schools with high concentrations of poor kids? Because whenever anyone tries to give a poor family the choice to leave, the proposal is slapped down by the Entrenched Educational Establishment.

                Our public schools are financed by local city boundaries. These boundaries are segregated by income. By locking kids within these boundaries we create segregation by income.

                1) We don't want vouchers, so the poor kids can't get to private schools.

                2) We don't want charters, so the poor kids can't switch to other public schools.

                3) Busing within the district is politically impossible.

                4) We then whine, wail and complain that (OMG) the school has a high concentration of poor kids!

                5) Rinse and repeat.

                •  We have schools with high concentrations of poor (0+ / 0-)

                  kids because we have too many poor kids.

                  One quarter of American kids live below the poverty line. The poverty line! That's cardboard box and couch-surfing money in most places.

                  It is mathematically impossible to create American schools where at most 10% of kids live below the poverty line. The best we could possibly do is 25%.

                  Over half of all American kids qualify for free or reduced lunch.

                  It is mathematically impossible to create a situation where all American schools have less than half FRL with busing.

                  We have whole districts in California, large ones, where 90%+ of the kids qualify for free and reduced lunch.

                  If we can get every child to a school with less than 10% of kids in financial stress, we will have the best schools in the world. But the only way to do that is to make more "rich" kids and fewer poor kids.

                  Firing teachers, merit pay... none of that will get those kids safe, secure housing and a quiet place to read and study.

                  Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                  by elfling on Tue Mar 26, 2013 at 10:22:22 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  I have tried to be polite. (0+ / 0-)

                  But you really make it hard. The best example I have is that in Washington state all students have choice on what school they wish to attend. We aren't the only state with that law. So stop making things up about "whenever anyone tries to give a poor family the choice to leave, the proposal is slapped down by the Entrenched Educational Establishment." That's BS. Pure BS.

                  And by the way. We aren't complaining that the schools have a high concentration of poor kids. We are complaining that ignorant people such as yourself don't see that we work harder to protect, feed, mentor, and educate these children than anyone while you and your ilk attack us as not doing enough.

                  Frankly we are complaining--not that schools have too many poor kids. We are complaining that there are too many poor kids period. You just don't get it.

            •  Of course I read it! (0+ / 0-)

              The authors are expert analysts from the Economic Policy Institute.

              Their conclusion?...disadvantaged students in high-poverty schools will tend to achieve at lower levels than similarly disadvantaged students who are dispersed in more heterogeneous schools.

              One in four American children live in poverty in the United States. Our standardized high stakes test prep education system was designed by the same edushysters who are responsible for the crash of '08.

              Talk about a failure of imagination....

              Educational experience based on non-consensual behaviorism is authoritarian mind control.

              by semioticjim on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 07:52:01 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  The problem you have MM ... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Abelia, talktothemike

     a data processing system predicated on objectivism. Objectivism assumes that learners are all equally motivated to participate in a state mandated curriculum, the common core (written by David "people don't give a shit what you feel or what you think," Coleman), is a top down mandate that does nothing for children in terms of optimizing learning experience, but is a helluva good tool for judging the nations classroom teachers based on high stakes standardized tests of which test publishing companies are raking in the dough.

              When I think of the educational naïveté of policy makers who designed an educational system based on Pavlovian behaviorism, I have to conclude, it wasn't naïveté, but a concerted effort to destroy public education .

              Educational experience based on non-consensual behaviorism is authoritarian mind control.

              by semioticjim on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 08:47:51 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  But the point of my article is... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          The political powers are telling a false narrative about what is wrong with public ed. Solutions built on a false narrative will not fix the problem and will likely make them worse.

    •  Like I was saying... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Nance, talktothemike, Chi

      Educational experience based on non-consensual behaviorism is authoritarian mind control.

      by semioticjim on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 02:25:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  But are poor kids are shafted by educators? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Elizaveta, Chi, talktothemike

      Or are they shafted by society before they even get to school?

      Some of these kids live under constant high stress - a situation that will remodel their brains in a way that makes it harder for them to learn.

      Some of these kids have no quiet, safe place to read, or play, or keep things that are dear to them, let alone to do homework.

      Some of these kids don't know where their next meal is coming from or where they will sleep tomorrow.

      Some of these kids barely see their parents because they are working 2 or 3 jobs to pay the rent.

      Some of these kids are regularly kept home from school to watch a younger brother or sister.

      Some of these kids have friends or relatives being mowed down by gunfire.

      Some of these kids don't have access to dentistry or don't have the inhaler they need to be able to breathe.

      None of these kinds of problems are caused by, or solvable by, a typical public school teacher. Firing teachers will not solve these kinds of problems. Changing the curriculum or tests won't do it, either. These are problems that need to be solved at the community level, or with wrap-around services.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 05:23:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I agree with you. Mostly. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      That wasn't what this post was about.

    •  Proof in the pudding - lying yuppie scum of deform (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      are skilled at:

      1. getting credentials,
      2. getting titles,
      3. getting fat paychecks,
      4. getting fancy soundbites,
      5. getting attention focused on school workers INSTEAD of the incompetents running the systems into the ground,


      6. deflecting attention from the REAL outcome$ of the lying yuppie scum of ed deform. (Arne, Rhee, Stand On Children, DFER, the KOPP-KIPP Kryme syndicate....)

      Unless YOU are 1 of the top lie masters, or aspiring to be a lie master, you're 1 of their dupes.

      good luck.


      Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous

      by seabos84 on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 07:41:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  A student perspective - long (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    semioticjim, Linda Wood

    I would like to lend my support to many of your points. I don't think public education is in decline generally, and I think we very much overrate the education of the past. When you think about it, our parents are pretty stupid compared to us! I also think our schools have done a heck of a lot to promote math and science, magnet schools are just sprouting up everywhere, and people in today's society are passionate enough about the arts due to huge money being made in Hollywood, etc. that those are still developing despite a lack of structured promotion from governments.

    I would also like to verify for you the BS about a lack of engineers. I see articles like that every day in my local paper and I live in a city with a huge number of engineering firms. I have three degrees, including an MS in Math and a BS in Civil Engineering, and I'm getting ten form letters a day saying I am not as qualified as their referral group for entry-level internships. It's a joke. The practice of putting quotas on in-house hires is corrupt in my view, and hopefully you are aware that HR professionals are the scum of the earth, drains on society, universally idiotic and unprofessional, promote degenerate views in the workplace, and should basically be rounded up and shot to cleanse the human race of them. All of that is one reason I'm considering TFA next year.

    That said, I have a hell of a lot of problems with the public education system, especially high school. I am gifted. My IQ is north of 170 and I learned to read before I was two. I am in Omaha, NE and have lived here my whole life. My family was middle class until 2004 (my HS grad year) and then my dad got nailed  (it was BS that made Martha look like a badass) by Bush's min-sentencing law and we've been broke ever since. Education for the gifted sucks. Here, it's non-existent after elementary school. I get that there are diminishing returns after early childhood education in terms of investment on the macro-economic scale. But at least in NE they systematically drive gifted kids to despair. The teachers have a mindset of taking them down a peg. If you challenge them, they dock your grade. It sucks even more for those with low incomes, because you can't get involved in the subsidiary activities that plug resumes for, well let's be honest, rich white girls.

    So much of the way we evaluate students is based on assumptions of merit that are just all about money and other non-merit based criteria. For example, we de-emphasize test scores because of bias, okay, whatever. I sympathize because I'm on the far side of the bell curve where SAT scores drop back to 1400 for IQs north of 145. When I took the ACT reading portion it was like the questions were written by third graders and you could justify every choice. Still, a lot of test scores are money. Prep classes and the like. In my high school, we never did  test prep or anything like that.

    So then we talk about grades. I had bad grades in HS, better in college. Not surprisingly I feel grades have nothing to do with intelligence. What will surprise some is that in my experience, they have nothing to do with work ethic either. The difficulty of the classes had nothing to do with my grades. Neither did how hard I worked. It was all about how much I sucked up to the teacher's whims. Every part of evaluation is becoming extremely subjective now. I don't know if it's rampant cheating or what, but liberal arts professors will only do essay tests in my experience, and that's evaluated highly subjectively. And they want you to be as dumb and unimaginative in your writing as possible, because they are operating on a factory system and have 200 essays for their grad students to read. And of course you only get 45 minutes and are supposed to write six pages after being taught almost nothing.

    All the professors today seem to refuse to give you data, and just give you their BS, inefficient framework of how they learned the information, and let you find the data. Surely this works for some people, but for me, just give me the freaking data and I'll create my own pedagogy. When I get taught about the philosophy of java coding without learning any actual syntax, this method seems to have jumped the shark. One time I saw Zakaria on CNN say that the US system was the best education because it taught you how to think. I disagree with him completely and frankly find his view slightly disturbing. Don't tell me how to think, just fill my head with information. I can sort it out better than you can. It's also very transparent that teachers don't know what they're talking about when they get very dense, if you were wondering.

    Another thing about high school and college. Quit framing education to me as just a way to get a better job. That's insulting to me. Do you not think I believe in knowledge for it's own sake? All the same, I'm still telling my kid that liberal arts is something he can do on the side as a hobby.

    As someone who is gifted and from a low-income family, I can't cater to educators. First of all, I don't have the resources to forge connections with the teachers and participate in activities, and frankly I don't want to. You see, to me, getting an A gives me zero pride whatsoever, because any idiot can get an A. Which sucks because now I have to watch idiots with impeccable academic records get jobs over me (and there are a LOT of idiots with impeccable academic records). I don't believe in sucking up to people I barely respect to get ahead. I couldn't live with myself for doing so. And forgive me, but I do think all of my teachers are idiots and their requirements for getting into the profession are pathetic. It's so depressing when you see that education majors have the lowest test scores and you look at the joke that is the M. Ed. curriculum for any subject. That's why I like what they do in Scandanavia. Make teachers much smarter, make it harder to be one, make it a much more noble profession. The rest takes care of itself. Make me feel proud of my education instead of making it seem like something meant to impede me.

    Even though I just bashed public education, there is no chance I would ever send my kid to a private school. Private means Christian. Christian means deficient in science and history. No thanks. So I want my politicians to support public education and education funding. At the same time, I don't want them to glorify teachers, or substitute building renovations for real improvement. Lastly, I want them to say something about the high school gifted. I mean, anything at all. I hope that, as an educator, you find value in my ridiculously long testimony.

    •  Quite a mouthful! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I think that you're right that what we expect of kids today is far more than our parents had to do, and that there is no golden age when education was better.

      I'm sorry you were so frustrated by your school experience. It seems like you never found a school that really matched your needs - which is really common among gifted kids, sadly.

      One gentle thing though - there is an explicit rule on this site that calls to violence, even as a joke, are expressly forbidden. So despite your frustration with HR professionals and how they fill STEM type jobs - it's not okay to talk about shooting them.

      Education is pretty uneven in this country; the rules in every state are different, and even within states, the opportunities and the options can be quite different from region to region. In some places, it really works, and in some it doesn't, and it's not always easy to guess which is which without going inside the school.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 05:10:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I concur. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The affects of Skinnerian behaviorism on students and teachers within American public education has devastated the system and consequently have sucked the joy out of learning within vast numbers of American classrooms. You are correct. Finnish educators view the human mind as an organic organ and are using constructivist and other humanistic approaches to learning that would benefit not just gifted and talented learners but all learners. After 12 years of NCLB and RttT, education systems designed primarily to extract numerical test data from children, the pressure to perform on tests affects not just learners well being but also teachers. Teachers cannot waste time on constructivist forms of learning because preparing children for tests, and memorizing vast quantities of data is required. It does not surprise me that you were treated as a cog in the machine.  
      I'm so very sorry your teachers did not provide you with meaningful learning  experiences. Could you share with us how large your class sizes were?

      Educational experience based on non-consensual behaviorism is authoritarian mind control.

      by semioticjim on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 05:35:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm sorry to hear you had such a bad experience. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elfling, Chi

      I suppose my only caution to your argument is to consider how you paint so many things with such a broad brush of animosity. In every area there are good and bad people and good and bad programs. Keep looking. I hope you find some satisfaction.

  •  Join Diane Ravitch's Group - Network FOR Public (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:


    oh yeah - read my response to ManhattanMan at 07:41:12 p.m. PDT. My interest in engagement with the lying yuppie scum* of ed deform is ZERO.


    *Wendy Kopp, Her Kipp Krook Hubby, Arne, Rahm, Cory Booker, Michelle Rhee, ...

    Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous

    by seabos84 on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 07:45:43 PM PDT

  •  Poverty. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    semioticjim, talktothemike
    So when we compare ourselves to our “counterparts” in other nations what is the most important factor? It becomes clear that poverty levels are the most meaningful variable.
    No one will make that connection openly, because that would entail addressing poverty in this country.

    "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." -- JC, Matthew 6:24

    by Chi on Tue Mar 26, 2013 at 07:44:47 AM PDT

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