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Sunday, May 10, 2015


Why continue your education?  Simple:


Many of you had "free"  education most of your lives.  From some pre-schools through high school, most did not have to pay for education in the USA.  But college?

In Scandinavia, this free-ness extends into universities, even for foreign students, although Sweden has finally decided to begin charging a fee for non-Swedes.  Greece charges no tuition through college, one reason why, perhaps, they are going broke.  An American can go to college in Argentina, Finland, Germany and Norway for free, but not all courses are in English.  Many of these countries even provide monthly stipends or really cheap loans.  Cuba, China and France are other nations quite liberal about paying for your education as long as you're in school.

Students of mine have been on full  fellowship in Japan through the PhD.  But, mind you, 15 years of public schooling there cost parents $62,140/child, and triple that for private schools.  I thought it was  typically Japanese that grandparents are "obligated" to pay for a compulsory randoseru (know here as backpack) when the child starts elementary school, and some of them cost nearly $2,000, although these tend to be the trendy ones from Italy.  In any case, universal free education is hardly a new concept.

I began this posting intending just to report on a growing Democratic Party ploy to undercut Republicans:  FREE college tuition for all.  However, I thought I'd also review the state of education in America, and begin with a TIME magazine expose last year where the lead cover article was entitled ROTTEN APPLES, which are, more specifically, bad teachers.  They were pissed!

Is our educational system that bad?  Here, I'm an authority, for I've spent most of the past 70+ years as a student, professor and university administrator.  One of the chapters in one of my books, SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity, provides my take on education.  You don't need to buy the book, for I began serializing that chapter, TEACHING RAINBOWS, on 9 September 2009.
It was almost a third of a century ago that President Ronald Reagan's National Commission on Excellence in Education published:  A Nation at Risk--The Imperative for Educational Reform.  In short, the report said:

...the United States' educational system was failing to meet the national need for a competitive workforce. Among other things, the charter required the commission to assess the "quality of teaching and learning" at the primary, secondary, and postsecondary levels, in both the public and private spheres; and to compare "American schools and colleges with those of other advanced nations."

A quarter century later, Strong American Schools (one of those organizations funded by Melinda and Bill Gates) indicated:

While the national conversation about education would never be the same, stunningly few of the Commission’s recommendations actually have been enacted. Now is not the time for more educational research or reports or commissions. We have enough commonsense ideas, backed by decades of research, to significantly improve American schools. The missing ingredient isn’t even educational at all. It’s political. Too often, state and local leaders have tried to enact reforms of the kind recommended in A Nation at Risk only to be stymied by organized special interests and political inertia. Without vigorous national leadership to improve education, states and local school systems simply cannot overcome the obstacles to making the big changes necessary to significantly improve our nation’s K-12 schools.[7]

I can add that the family, especially parental attitudes, can also be faulted:

In Korea, moms were asked about their educational system, and the general response was that their children were too lazy and there was insufficient homework.  In the U.S., the complaint  was there was too much homework and more should be done about boosting student pride.

And more:

Daechidong (location in Seoul where the cram schools are located) moms (see photo left)spend up to 100 days before that date praying in a church for an hour and a half every afternoon, chanting for success and bowing to Buddha a thousand times with a photo of their child at their feet. You think the child will not be affected by all this effort?

You can read the details by clicking on the above, but good luck finding the USA.  Hint:  we are near the bottom.

Yet, I have long been saying that our educational system is fine.  Well, here I repeat the ending of Chapter 3 from SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity:

The Simple Solutions to Education

So is the U.S. in trouble? Is the strongest economy ever a generation or two away from mediocrity? Nope. There is one area where we still lead in education: higher education. The total expenditure per student in the U.S. is $18,570, compared to Denmark at #2 with $11,600 and Britain at #3 with $8970. [Adrian Wooldridge, 'The Class of 2006', Economist, (2007)]
o  The top three universities (Harvard, Stanford and Cal-Berkeley).
o  Eight of the best ten (Cambridge and Oxford were also here).
o  Seventeen of the top twenty (add Tokyo University at #20).
o  Thirty seven of the best 50 universities.

As a nation, we have, apparently, decided to focus on the few who will lead and produce. Who said there is no gifted children program in the U.S.? We have, it’s just that it is limited to higher education. Something is working, and this could well be the answer.
Our university system, though, can be better. We rank #13 to Sweden (#1) and Finland (#2) in college affordability, and #4 in accessibility to the Netherlands. Plus, our net cost after tax expenditures of $11,283 is next to Japan ($14,040) for developed countries.
It would be callous and careless to say that it might not matter if every citizen is perfectly educated. Certainly, educate to minimize the development of the criminal element. Of course, provide every opportunity to all children. We should, though, initiate the optimization process at the K-12 level with a more progressive program for the potentially gifted. The able should be even more outstanding in college to determine who will rule the corporate world and lead and produce in the public sector, whether it be government or academia. The finest will succeed with greater capability. The Nation and World will benefit. I just hope that the next generation will have a higher appreciation beyond profits and power. We lack a basic humanitarian trait and don’t have sufficient appreciation for the environment. The 4 R’s beyond the classical 3R’s are advocated to insure for this more responsible future.
We react to crises. Peak Oil and Global Warming loom as the next combined peril. Alas, the prevailing attitude seems to be, what crisis? Maybe that’s just the nature of human society today. Thankfully, someone, or a discerning group, some time back in our history, crafted a total educational system that has worked. The World might not this cycle react in time, and the consequences will be dreadful, but I would not be surprised if the USA subsequently rebounds to maintain our dominance.

The bottom line is that, while our students don't score as well as much of the developed world, we do incorporate creativity, include some relationship building and inspire our better students to take charge and lead.  In any society, you don't want only chiefs.  As long as our best 5-10% are enterprising and progressive, and we have a morality/governmental/economic system that is supportive, society hums along well.  Our economy is the only truly prosperous one in the world today, our military is supreme and freedom continues to ring.  I can only applaud billionaires like Bill Gates  who never graduated from college, but are trying to revolutionize our educational system.  That will only improve our domination of world activities.

Republicans are conservative and Democrats are liberal.  However, the polarization of parties and views has recently increased:

If anyone has come this far, there is a reason for the above title.  Student loan debt has now exceeded a trillion dollars, according to Sahil Kapur (left, he wrote this article).  The average debt of a college graduate is now up to $28,400.  No wonder that the Democratic Party, reeling from recent elections, has embraced "debt-free college" as a clarion call.  What a way to gain the support of the younger generation.  Two months ago President Barack Obama signed the "Student Aid Bill of Rights," which was the first step in the campaign to extend free education to secondary levels.  Republican governors have tended to reduce funding for public schools, and Democrats might have found a pathway to regain dominance.

Super Typhoon Noul at 150 MPH and gusts of 185 MPH just slammed the northeastern tip of the Philippines:

Next, Okinawa.  Tropical Storm Dolphin is only at 45 MPH, but will strengthen into a typhoon, and probably skirt south of Guam, passing just north of where Super Typhoon Noul began:


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