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Forum Post: Cataclysmic Education American Style ~ Class War on the Education Front

Posted 1 year ago on Feb. 7, 2013, 12:46 p.m. EST by WSmith (2091) from Cornelius, OR
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What's Wrong With America's Education System?

September 25, 2012 | Investopedia

Earlier this year, New York City hosted the first-ever International Summit of Teaching. A report emerged from that event, written by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). The report rated the U.S. as "average" when it compared America's educational system to those of other nations.

The Scores

In scores that go up to 1,000, America received an average score of around 500, with 502 in science (17th out of 34), 500 in reading (14th out of 34) and 487 in math (25th out of 34). For a country that is often recognized as one of the leading nations in the world in several areas, these scores are definitely alarming. Even more alarming, however, is how much the U.S. has been spending on education.

Spending and Performance

It's not like the U.S. hasn't been investing in education compared to other countries. In fact, America is the clear leader in educational spending, spending over $800 billion a year, five times more than the second-highest spender, Japan. When we compare this number to the expenditure of a country such as Canada, we see how bad the problem truly is.

Canada spends around $65.4 billion on education a year (not even 10% of what the U.S. spends), but Canada's 15-year-olds were found to be a year ahead of U.S. students in math, and more than a half a school year ahead in reading and science. It doesn't stop at high school levels, either. The U.S. has also seen fewer college graduates relative to other leading nations, slipping from second place in 1995 to 13th in 2008.

The Worst News

What really doesn't make sense, though, is where that money is going. At the Summit, there was also evidence of how little support American teachers have been getting. The majority of teachers in the U.S. had to go into debt in order start their careers, and on average only earn 60% of the average income of college graduates employed in other fields. Not to mention that the teachers who end up working in poorer communities are usually making less than teachers in more affluent areas, and also have to pay for many of their own supplies.

Evidence was also given that America was more willing to lower standards than to raise salaries, and many teachers have little opportunities to collaborate with one another, making sense of the fact that a third of U.S beginner teachers leave within their first five years of work.

Countries such as Singapore and Finland have an almost completely opposite attitude. In Singapore, teachers are paid very well, earning as much as beginner doctors, and work in a very collaborative environment. Finland supports its teachers by enabling them to enter master's degree programs, all while earning a salary.

The Only Good News

The only good news for America to come from this report is that the problem is now in the public eye, and the Obama administration has at least been trying to stimulate improvements. The Obama administration attempted to initiate a stimulus package by sending $100 billion to various states, but is more money really what the system needs? Although this major initiative was endorsed by President Obama and Arne Duncan (Education Secretary), it was opposed by Republicans. Experts and politicians alike agree that the Republicans will serve as a major roadblock to any Democrat-led education reform. However, more money will not not fix any underlying problems.

The Bottom Line

With the U.S. already spending at least five times more than any other country on education and steadily declining in educational performance, maybe spending more money on education is not the answer.

One thing is clear though, there is a problem with the system, and something must be done. Teachers need more support, and not only in the form of higher salaries either (although that may help). Other support in the form of more grants for those pursuing any teacher-related career, as well as a supportive environment for teacher collaboration might be a good start. In addition, with $800 billion going towards educational spending annually in the U.S., we would think that all of this could be affordable.

Read more: http://www.investopedia.com/financial-edge/0912/whats-wrong-with-americas-education-system.aspx#ixzz2KEIv33yR

26 States Cut Their Education Budgets For This School Year

By Travis Waldron on Sep 4, 2012 at 12:55 pm

States have made deep cuts to their education budgets in the years since the Great Recession, and as their budgets remained crunched by lower levels of tax revenues, more than half are spending less on education this school year than they did last year, a new analysis from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found. Overall, 26 states will spend less per pupil in fiscal year 2013 than they spent in 2012, while 35 are still spending less than they did before the recession.

As the following chart from CBPP shows, Alaska, Alabama, and Washington are leading the way in education cuts, reducing funding by at least $200 per student:

http://thinkprogress.org/education/2012/09/04/791981/study-26-states-cut-education/

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36 Comments


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[-] 4 points by WSmith (2091) from Cornelius, OR 1 year ago

Duncan Blasts Ryan Budget Plan

By Alyson Klein on March 22, 2012 9:01 AM

(A bullet dodged)

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan warned lawmakers today of potentially dire ramifications if the budget blueprint put forth earlier this week by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., were to become law.

"We could see disastrous consequences for America's children over the next couple of years," Duncan said in remarks prepared for testimony before the House subcommittee that oversees education spending. "Passage of the Ryan budget would propel the educational success of this country backwards for years to come and that is a risk we cannot afford to take."

The Ryan budget blueprint doesn't actually propose specific cuts for K-12 education. But it does seek to significantly curtail domestic spending. Duncan's estimates were based on an 18 percent cut to education funding the department projects for 2014.

To put the cuts in perspective, Duncan said the $14.5 billion Title I program, which helps districts cover the cost of educating disadvantaged kids, could see a $2.7 billion cut. As many as 38,000 teachers aides could lose their jobs, he said.

And funding for children with disabilities could be cut by over $2.2 billion, meaning that 30,000 special education teachers, teachers' aides, and others could be cut. Special education state grants are funded at $11.6 billion this year.

And 100,000 children could lose access to the $8 billion Head Start early childhood program, which helps get disadvantaged kids ready for school. Head Start is a program near and dear to the heart of the panel's chairman, Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont.

Most folks don't expect the Ryan budget to win approval in the Democratically-controlled Senate. But the choices it makes, including the proposed squeeze on domestic spending, are sure to give both parties plenty of election year talking points.

[-] 4 points by Ache4Change (3158) 1 year ago

Effing Outrageous! Everyone should read this article! Never Give Up On The Kids!

http://www.nationofchange.org/education

Occupy The Future!

[-] 5 points by WSmith (2091) from Cornelius, OR 1 year ago

E-Mails Show Jeb Bush Foundation Lobbied For (Education) Businesses, Including One Tied To Bush (W)

Lee Fang on January 30, 2013 - 8:48 PM ET

(Jeb Bush, right, speaks to reporters after an education rally in Little Rock, Ark., on Jan. 29, 2013. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston.))

A public interest group has released the results of a multi-state Freedom of Information Act request concerning the lobbying efforts by the Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE), the nonprofit led by Jeb Bush. The e-mails confirm previous reporting showing that Bush’s policies are designed to benefit businesses seeking to privatize public education—particularly the companies that finance Bush's nonprofit.

What's new in this release, however, is the revelation that Bush could be using his education reform crusade for personal gain.

In one e-mail from last year, Bush's top aide at his foundation, Patricia Levesque, communicated with school officials to urge them to use a company called SendHub, a start-up that uses cloud computing and text messages. Bush, according to TechCrunch, has a modest "five-figure" investment in SendHub. Garrett Johnson, the founder of SendHub, previously worked for Bush and still serves on the board of Foundation for Florida's Future, another Bush-run education nonprofit.

In November of 2011, I published my first investigation with The Nation and The Nation Institute concerning the rush of for-profit education technology companies to enact radical “virtual schools” across the country. In the reporting, we uncovered that many individuals associated with the education reform universe—even those ostensibly leading major philanthropic foundations—are closely tied to the for-profit interests who stand to gain from these policies. Levesque, we reported, was quietly receiving funds directly from for-profit education tech companies while also serving as the executive director of Bush’s nonprofit.

The new round of FOIA e-mails should send shockwaves through the reform movement. In the Public Interest, the group that filed the request, summarized some of their other findings:

— In New Mexico, FEE acted as a broker to organize meetings between their corporate donors and individual Chiefs [for Change].

— Maine moved the FEE policy agenda through legislation and executive order that would remove barriers to online education and in some cases would require online classes—including eliminating class size caps and student-teacher ratios, allowing public dollars to flow to online schools and classes, eliminate ability of local school districts to limit access to virtual schools.

— In Florida, FEE helped write legislation that would increase the use of a proprietary test (FCAT) under contract to Pearson, an FEE donor.

The simmering scandal with Jeb Bush's nonprofit recalls a similar scandal with his brother, Neil Bush, who led Ignite! Learning, a company the Los Angeles Times found profiting from No Child Left Behind policies enacted by President George W. Bush.

Please support our journalism. Get a digital subscription for just $9.50!

While the education tech industry has enjoyed a recent surge thanks to the policies enacted by Jeb Bush and his allies, there's growing evidence that these privatized, proprietary charter schools are under-performing. One of the biggest beneficiaries of the virtual charter school policies peddled by FEE, the publicly-traded online charter school management company K12 Inc., has been cited in several studies for its abysmal performance. A report last year found that K12 Inc.'s students score between 14 and 36 percent lower than their non-cyber school peers. Only 27.7 percent reported meeting Adequate Yearly Progress standards in the 2011 school year, which the National Education Policy Center notes compares poorly to the 52 percent average scored by brick-and-mortar schools.

There is perhaps no better week for these e-mails to emerge. This week is "School Choice Week," a public relations blitz designed by Jeb Bush and Frank Luntz to drum up support for school privatization and teacher union-busting laws. Rather than a movement to support children, the e-mails show that many of these reforms are also about padding the profits of companies like Charter Schools USA, K12 Inc., Pearsons and Jeb's SendHub.

Lee Fang last wrote about gun companies rallying customers to fight reform.

[-] 8 points by Ache4Change (3158) 1 year ago

'Wall Street's War For Young Minds' - http://www.nationofchange.org/creepy-student-essay-contest-wall-street-s-war-young-minds-1359731557 Thanks for the above article. The very thought of actually letting The Bushes anywhere near public education should creep us all out. Never Give Up Exposing Wall Street's Greed & Corruption! Occupy The Real Issues!

[-] 5 points by WSmith (2091) from Cornelius, OR 1 year ago

Great Link!!

[-] 5 points by Ache4Change (3158) 1 year ago

Never, Ever Give Up On The Kids! - http://www.nationofchange.org/education - Occupy Solidarity!

[-] 2 points by gsw (2690) 1 year ago

Increases in US poverty is not helping the situation. Education help should be increased especially in the schools with higher percentage of lower socioeconomic students, but it need to be a wholistic answer as well. Schools have the kids 7.5 hours. What are the kids encountering the other hours of the day. Kids should not be crippled by poverty in the USA. Also, getting help to those kids when they are younger, preschool age and in summer may help.

USA tests everyone, schools everyone. Not always so in all the other countries.

More tests are not an answer.... increase their levels of background knowledge and vocabulary to the levels of higher socioeconomic families. Increase early learning and give other supports, medical, dental, etc to these kids. And homes would help too.

[-] 4 points by WSmith (2091) from Cornelius, OR 1 year ago

Absolutely!

Poverty and our giant "have and have-not" GAP skews our comparison tests with other countries. We truly have multiple countries. With a third world majority!

Class War on display.

[-] 2 points by GirlFriday (17435) 1 year ago

Gee, how much is spent yearly in your state on testing?

[-] -3 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 1 year ago

The Bottom Line

With the U.S. already spending at least five times more than any other country on education and steadily declining in educational performance, maybe spending more money on education is not the answer.

I doubt that and certainly not per capita

[-] 4 points by WSmith (2091) from Cornelius, OR 1 year ago

Like health care and the legal system: the best money can buy, lots of money.

In education it seems mixed up and conflicting, under funding in most places, adequate in others and overall inefficiency. Clearly there are efforts to sabotage Unionized Teachers, the success of the Public School System and swipe what they can.

The real bottom line is overall our kids get an inferior education compared to other countries.

[-] -2 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 1 year ago

I hear that

but I've meet no foreigner to prove it

Politicians like to create problems were there are none for distraction

[-] 3 points by grapes (2983) 1 year ago

The very fact that the U.S. is planning to retain more of the foreigner scientists and engineers that its institutions of higher learning have trained shows that the U.S. lacks the ability to train enough of its native population to handle these tasks or likelier still that the U.S. employers need new low-wage "indentured servants." Serving this corporate interest, Obama is pushing for more "indentured servants" to stay in the U.S.

The U.S. K-12 school systems are plagued by too much do-nothing "administration." The biggest culprit of all is the school superintendent who acts more like a politician than an educator. Of course, that is also the person who pulls down the highest salary in the school system as well as ridiculous amount of perquisites by playing on the fear of the school district that it is "falling behind" in "spending per student."

Note the emphasis on spending but not student achievement. That was why we spent so much with very little achievement to show. Politicians (school superintendents) can show how much money they are spending but student achievements are often still lacking. The clueless wimpy characters sitting on the school boards did not help matters much either, not to mention the teachers' unions and the lack of priorities given by students' parents to educating their children.

Education is a multi-party collaborative process involving students, parents, and teachers mostly. Parents cannot just naively "outsource" their children's education to the school system. Day in and day out, parents need to enforce priority one given to their children's education, cutting away that summer vacation, movie, t.v. time, social media, etc. if they interfere.

[-] 2 points by grapes (2983) 2 weeks ago

What are you getting at, that austerity is bad because EU did not fare well with it? I do not really care how it is labeled. What matters to me is where the effort, time, money, prestige, glory, incentives, punishments, etc. are allocated to.

Many developed countries have educational outcomes superior to ours. We can do comparison tests and tweak the allocation. I honestly believe that the aggregate genetic stock of the U.S. is NOT inferior to the rest of the world's (although we might have self-selected somewhat to be more adventurous) so we can improve our educational outcome by reforming our institutions: schools (improve daylight lighting, rethink the flow patterns of people, work, material, etc.), unions (loosen seniority rules to fire senile teachers who retire in situ), administration (fire the do-nothing school superintendent and give that towards teachers' pay), teachers (fire the ones perennially producing inferior student achievements), parents (schedule more time for student/teacher/parent conferences, check over student readiness for school: homework, stationery, library fines paid), dead-wood cleansing of the school boards, etc.

[-] 4 points by 99nproud (2409) 2 weeks ago

I agree we must address several important elements to the education problems in the US.

In the end we must consider this problem in the context of the underserved poor communities that represent the 'worst' educated areas.

It can't be a coincidence that higher income communities students do better than poor communities.

And just for the record: Austerity is bad for obvious reasons, here and in the EU.

[-] 2 points by grapes (2983) 2 weeks ago

It is also NOT a necessity that poor communities perform worse than the richer communities in their children's education. There is but a mild correlation of student performance with income of the community. The culture of the educational environment and the attitude of the community towards education make huge differences. I think that the U.S. experienced self-sorting out of the families by educational attitudes ("Families of the same ilk flock together." and "No family can make blood out of a rock - teachers' union, superintendent, and school board Anschluss makes good education impossible but for the mafiosos.") so differing performance is expected.

[-] 0 points by 99nproud (2409) 2 weeks ago

All stake holders (fr parents/community, - teachers/admins & pols) require analysis/improvement.

I submit also, that the lack of resources/concern in poor communities represent a foundational problem that contributes to the hopelessness that aggravates all our weaknesses in education.

Solidarity

[-] 2 points by grapes (2983) 2 weeks ago

The Anschluss must be destroyed for any headway to be made in U.S. education. The problem is not resources. The problem is SYSTEMIC. With mafiosos in charge of the school systems, the only way out may well be FBI raids on the local schools and their police - a bit like what has to happen for Ferguson.

[-] 1 points by 99nproud (2409) 2 weeks ago

Agreed, problem (aggravated poverty), is Systemic, inadequate resources is just one symptom, element of our self destructive 'system'

[-] 2 points by grapes (2983) 2 weeks ago

The system IS the problem. The solution must come from outside of it. There are money-rich private schools that CANNOT reform because of their being locked in the same labor market as the public schools. Money (and the resources that it can buy) is not the solution.

[-] 1 points by 99nproud (2409) 2 weeks ago

Unfair distribution of taxpayer resources is absolutely an important & devastating element of our 'systemic' exploitation, & inequity.

[-] -2 points by flip (6755) 2 weeks ago

students in the the richest areas of the u.s. perform as well as any in the world. almost all of the kids i teach have private tutors. some info about finland - one of the best educational systems in the world - Finnish children don't start school until they are 7.......Compared with other systems, they rarely take exams or do homework until they are well into their teens............The children are not measured at all for the first six years of their education..............All children, clever or not, are taught in the same classrooms.......... 30 percent of children receive extra help during their first nine years of school..................The difference between weakest and strongest students is the smallest in the World.................Science classes are capped at 16 students so that they may perform practical experiments every class.................Teachers only spend 4 hours a day in the classroom, and take 2 hours a week for "professional development"...............Finland has the same amount of teachers as New York City, but far fewer students...............The school system is 100% state funded.

[-] 1 points by grapes (2983) 2 weeks ago

Whoa! Finland sounds so socialist. I am appalled! Actually, I don't give a damn if we are called socialists if we can get our children educated. If that is what it takes, so be it.

I don't entirely but I largely agree with the richest areas of the U.S. being world class in education. There are other wealth-anomalous pockets of high educational performance, too. I think the school culture is extremely important. Esprit de corps makes a big difference. Meritocracy is important. Parental drive and parental/teacher/student collaboration help greatly.

[-] -3 points by flip (6755) 2 weeks ago

well public schools are by definition socialist - no? like libraries and fire departments. finland is very much capitalist by the way - think nokia

[-] 1 points by grapes (2983) 2 weeks ago

Finland can have the best of both economic systems because they can see both nearby and can pick and choose wisely. We can probably find other countries that are or were on the fault lines between the communist and capitalist economies which do very well in education.

In the U.S., we should make sure that we call public schools, libraries, and fire departments civic infrastructures lest they attract the attention of the Retardicans hunting for socialist preys.

Finland's keeping the students of different levels together allows the ones who are faster to help the slower. The fasters can learn from teaching as well as the slowers can emulate the methods of the fasters.

[-] 1 points by flip (6755) 2 weeks ago

you are certainly right about republicans (and democrats sadly) going after public schools etc. they are doing it as we speak. charters schools and for profit education is everywhere. look at obama's bipartisan commission on the deficit and see their plan for social security! schools, prisons and factories all look the same to some extent - not a coincidence if you ask me. the reasons for finland's (and most of europe) better social system has nothing to do with the soviet union from my understanding. here is a bit about the dems who support for profit charter schools from diane ravitch - she is talking about rahm emanuel and his buddies -

"The take away from this piece is that many of the people who provided the funds to transform Mr. Obama into a viable national candidate after he passed the litmus test of Iowa are associated with the Commercial Club of Chicago were heavily invested in real estate speculation and building charter schools as a way to increase the value of property purchased by investors. All of this is couched in the language of making Chicago a global city and creating school choice for parents.

At the national level, Democrats for Education Reform stepped into the discussion over schools in exchange for raising money for Democratic campaigns that was needed to counteract the impact of the Citizens United decision.

The reason why those closest to the President are strong supporters of RTTT and charters is because they are connected to south and west side real estate investment in Chicago and bad press for public schools in the form of low test scores will create the pretext and legitimation for more investment and funding of charter schools that will lead to rising condo sales, condo values, and land values. Once values rise and more middle class professionals move into these areas, commercial shopping and retail investment will do its work to increase the value of real estate.

That the President’s best buddy, should attempt to capitalize on on charter school investment after playing a role in the shaping of the President’s education policy, is either the hallmark of a “free enterprise system” or more grease to the wheels of yet another episode of crony capitalism excreted by the proximity to power of buddies helping each other out.

I taught Mr. Nesbitt’s two oldest children and I have communicated my disappointments about the Obama administrations education policies to him.

I told Mr. Nesbitt several times that the Democratic party would pay a price for creating education policies that did not serve the interests of the majority of parents, students, teachers, and administrators.

He told me that “teachers do not deserve the amount of money that they make,” “that their salaries should be reduced,” and that they deserve no respect for sacrificing other career paths to answer the calling of teaching.

He seemed more concerned about reducing teacher’s salaries to create a profit margin for investors than about the impact the disruptive policies of school closings would have on human communities."

[-] 1 points by grapes (2983) 2 weeks ago

It is the same age-old racket of using public money to further private ends. Rahm Emanuel et al got the part right though about excellent schools bootstrapping the economy and property values. I have no problem if they become fabulously wealthy if they truly succeed in greatly improving our children's education.

I suspect that after all the desired charter schools have been created and public schools destroyed, we will rediscover the age-old truth that new schools can do nothing to improve education if the larger culture does not change. There is only mild correlation of how good the facilities of a school are to the educational attainment of its students. The scale of the school does matter in allowing specialized subjects to be taught increasing opportunities for its students. It is a bit like being in a big city like NYC allowing many niche jobs to be sustained. When all is said and done, Chicago will probably be back at square one educationally for the current residents there. Gentrification improves education but those people are DIFFERENT people!

I do see the point that during the transition there may be an opportunity for the different cultures of the gentry and the locals to emulate or teach each other but I am pessimistic because physical proximity enables but does not guarantee cultural exchange. The blacks have been in the U.S. nearly as long as the whites, we continue to have many "racial" problems even after centuries of being together. Blacks and whites largely live in different cultural universes.

[-] 1 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 1 year ago

parents of children must work more often just to get by these days

student achievement cannot be scaled on a linear variable to compare to money

[-] 1 points by grapes (2983) 1 year ago

What do parents really want to leave as their legacy to their children? A big balance in a bank account due to their incessant lifetime hard work while ignoring their children's education? Or is it excellent education and character instilled in their children over a lifetime so the children will have both the means and ends for a successful life?

I believe that sending children into their future badly equipped without their experiencing undue future hardships requires lifetimes of trust funds which are mostly out of reach of most parents even if the parents worked their whole lifetimes to build up the trust funds.

Parents have to vote out the wimpy school board members who refuse to fire any do-nothing obscenely paid school superintendent, coordinate and partner with the teachers to make sure their children are being well educated, and enforce any and all rules necessary to give their children's education topmost priority. Education takes time and effort so after prominently announcing the rules, if facebook is eating into their children's study/homework time, close out their facebook accounts. If the children talk too much on their cell phones, confiscate their cell phones. Parents must stick to the priorities and do whatever is necessary. This could mean chasing away the "rats," plugging up the "gopher holes," biting the tail off of that "cutesy squirrel," barking up the "tree," and if that still does not do it, heap "fagot" to surround it and set a "bonfire" to it.

[-] 1 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 1 year ago

education is no guarantee of money

social media is an education

[-] 1 points by grapes (2983) 1 year ago

I have just realized that I may have a different definition of education from yours. Perhaps you mean what I may call "formal education" such as what we get from schools. Yes, "formal education" may not guarantee money any more.

I tend to use "education" in a much broader sense. Maybe I should have used "meta-education" instead. An excellent "formal education" definitely helps in achieving "meta-education" because it exposes the mind to many subjects and exercises intellectual depth but meta-education requires intellectual breadth as well as understanding and knowing how to control the contextual connections of all. Hence, I would definitely include social media as an integral part of "meta-education" but without the intellectual depth first, building up the contextual connections of all through social media can run into "head in the clouds" problem that I am somewhat familiar with and possibly afflicted by.

[-] 1 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 1 year ago

thanks

food for thought

[-] 1 points by grapes (2983) 1 year ago

Our children are much better prepared for life with an excellent education than a gob of money. Money comes and money goes. We came without it (yes, some of us were dropped into it but not everyone!) and we should go without it. Money can only be a means but an excellent education can be an end that is far superior to money.

Social media has its place but if it gets out of hand, it shall be accorded its proper and just "education." Parents should take data about where their children's time goes because social media can be a great detractor from the children's studies.

The U.S. is raiding some of the best and brightest minds of the other countries when it "steals" them to solve its problem of an inferior educational system. Other countries were often impeded in their developments by this move of the U.S. because by and large these trained-in-the-U.S. minds know English and technologies well so they can become bridges in their own countries to help connect their countries to the global systems because they know what the very open U.S. was like.

Yes, student achievement is not a linear function of monetary input to the school system. There is also an element of resolve, esteem, reputation, and prestige involved. In short, "say what we do and do what we say" can boost the morale of our teachers, students, and parents, and improve the quality of our school systems greatly.

[-] 1 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 1 year ago

the US doesn't have an inferior education system

Education is more important than wealth

[-] 1 points by grapes (2983) 1 year ago

Our K-12 school systems are mostly inferior to a number of East Asian and Nordic countries'. I think though that our school systems, perhaps more because of our more informal culture, breed a certain "disrespect" for traditions and authorities. That is good for creativity later on in life. Those who do not travel the beaten paths tend to discover more gems on their paths than the ones who stay on the beaten paths.

In the post-Sputnik decade, the U.S. had built up its scientific and technological education to meet the challenges of the Cold War so yes, at that time, I believe that the U.S. did not have an inferior educational system but the U.S. has languished in the luxury of Pax Americana for too long so our educational muscles have atrophied. We basically hired many Silicon Valleys' worth of foreigner geek legions to fight our scientific and technological battles by dangling a U.S. residency visa before them while the employers reap the benefits of owning "indentured servants." In the 1970s, there was a surplus of scientific and technological personnel in the U.S. because of the excessive Cold War buildup so there were a lot of people's education and lives squandered such as physics PhD's having to drive taxis to make a living. Isn't that exactly the nature of wars, regardless of whether hot or cold?

Yes, education, or more aptly "meta-education," is more important than wealth.