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Old December 3rd, 2013, 11:13 PM
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Default RIP American Dream

We've all heard it million times, the core precept of the "American Dream." It says that anyone who is willing to work hard should be able to live in relative comfort, support a family and, essentially, "find happiness."

Forget it. It's gone.

The richest Americans are seeing to it that the poorest Americans never come close to such a way of life, no matter how hard they work, or are willing to work. And what used to be called the "middle class" has a harder and harder time of it too.

There are lots of reasons, from pure greed at the top, to a pathetically low minimum wage, to the inexorable shift away from decent jobs that required only marginal skills.

Which of course brings us to education. You may have seen the stories over the last few days about how poorly 15-year-old American students placed on a battery of tests that were given to students in some 65 countries around the world.

Some scholars warned that the lagging performance of American students would eventually lead to economic torpor. “Our economy has still been strong because we have a very good economic system that is able to overcome the deficiencies of our education system,” said Eric A. Hanushek, an economist at Stanford University. “But increasingly, we have to rely on the skills of our work force, and if we don’t improve that, we’re going to be slipping.”

The United States’ underperformance was particularly striking in math, where 29 countries or education systems had higher test scores. In science, students in 22 countries did better than Americans, and in reading, 19 countries.

So let's see, we're the greatest country on earth, except that our education system is mediocre at best, our government is dysfunctional, and far from the "socialism" that so many worry about, the evidence is that a smaller and smaller group of the very rich are controlling larger and larger portions of our national wealth, and through their political contributions our national policy, at the expense of the poor and middle class. Unemployment and underemployment are stubborn and pernicious, for reasons that are all to obvious. And a fair number of citizens--and especially legislators--are advocating the continuance of an old and broken health care system that is financially draining and cruel to the least among us.

The nations of the world, including many of the social democracies whose students are running rings around us, look at the greatest country on earth in disbelief.

I do too.
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Old December 4th, 2013, 02:20 PM
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I have to ask a similar point made by Jack Kennedy. "Ask not ..." So what are you going to do? Are you going to help educate the downtrodden masses? Are you going to give your money to charitable groups rather than giving it to a government that pours it into unsuccessful programs? The points you make are good but I was once told if you don't have a solution just shut up until you come up with one.
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Old December 4th, 2013, 04:24 PM
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While education systems in many states and cities need to be drastically changed this report is somewhat of a "sky is falling" report.

Some of the facts about the U.S. ranking.

1. The score was based on three states. Florida, Massachusetts and Connecticut not on a Nationwide average. Florida's wonderful "education model" dragged down the score. Florida is below the national average. So much for Jeb's, Florida Miracle.

2. The U.S. has NEVER been at the top, or even near the the top, in International testing. In the last 50 years we have been near or below the median. The "Number One" myth has been around for a long time and has been propagated by many to receive more money for education.

3. Many of the countries included may have scored well on tests but the majority of their population have little, or substandard, public schooling. i.e. China, where many areas have inadequate schooling. Shanghai scored number 1 on the current PISA testing but that is reflective of the city and not of the entire country. The results would have been very different if Florida had been removed and North Dakota or Minnesota taken Florida's place.

In most cases it's not how well you score on a test but what you do with the knowledge you have.

One thing that the PISA has done is show that "No Child Left Behind" is not doing what it was supposed to do.

Take care,
Mike
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Last edited by Mike M; December 6th, 2013 at 10:27 AM.
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Old December 6th, 2013, 01:56 AM
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The only thing American about the American Dream is the name.

Democracy was not invented here, capitalism was not invented here, hard work was not invented here and so on.

It is, however, increasingly difficult to find hard workers among those who were brought up in America. Of any race, color, creed, religion, and especially social and/or wealth status. Nothing breeds laziness like nepotism.
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Old December 6th, 2013, 02:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bonnyprincecharlie View Post
I have to ask a similar point made by Jack Kennedy. "Ask not ..." So what are you going to do? Are you going to help educate the downtrodden masses? Are you going to give your money to charitable groups rather than giving it to a government that pours it into unsuccessful programs? The points you make are good but I was once told if you don't have a solution just shut up until you come up with one.
Help educate the downtrodden masses? I actually participate in doing that.

Give money to charity rather than government? I must give to the government; I do give to charity.

Shut up until I have solutions? This is very funny, considering the time, energy and waste the right has devoted to undermining the Affordable Care Act, with no concrete proposals of any kind for something better. Maybe you should be reminding the GOP of what you were "once told."

That said, there are a number of "solutions," none of which are unique to me, but all of which would help. Just a few off the top of my head:

1. Raise the minimum wage.
2. Enact immigration reform along the lines of the Dream Act.
3. Enact strict campaign finance regulation.
4. Clamp down on Wall Street excesses, specifically, enact the Volcker Rule.
5. Much higher taxes on the extremely rich.
6. Replace corporate income tax with a gross receipts tax.
7. Eliminate the Electoral College. One man (or woman), one vote. Period.
8. Constitutional amendment to eliminate gerrymandering.
9. A House rule that would force any bill with 200 supporters or more to the floor, regardless of the will of the Speaker.
10. Further revisions to Senate rules re filibuster.

and on, and on.

Don't say there are no solutions; say instead that there are no solutions that our elected representatives are willing to support.
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Old December 6th, 2013, 02:25 PM
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Mike--

I pretty much agree with what you say, but I think I read that the Massachusetts numbers more than offset the Florida disaster, and that if Mass were counted separately, it'd be #6 in the world.

But sure, all these things have crazy variables. But it doesn't change the bottom line that we're nowhere close to where we should be in education.

No child left behind? Don't get me started. . .
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