Posted by: inforodeo | September 28, 2009

Is Obama Blaming Farmers For Lower Test Scores?

In a rambling, self-lauding speech to the black caucus on September 26th (2009), Obama made mention of his belief of the reason America’s children score worse on tests than children in some other countries:

We can no longer afford an academic calendar designed when America was a nation of farmers who needed their children at home plowing the land at the end of each day. That calendar may have once made sense, but today, it puts us at a competitive disadvantage. Our children spend over a month less in school than children in South Korea. That is no way to prepare them for a 21st-century economy.”

It shouldn’t surprise us at all that Obama is out of touch with rural America. His Change.gov website was filled with new policies to help “Urban America” when it was first launched, and he has so far been the most ignorant of all American presidents to the needs of America’s food producers. Still, even coming from the president who accused small-town America of “clinging to their Bibles and their guns” this wild theory that parts of America don’t still need their kids out of school for harvest is shocking. A quick search online let me know that a nearby town was letting kids out of school for Harvest as recently as 2006, and to my knowledge, these harvests continue nationwide even in this season.

Obama has a history of assuming small town and rural America is filled with under-educated rednecks. In addition to his infamous bibles/guns remark, one of the few rural programs he mentioned on change.gov was the following:

Improve Rural Education: Provide incentives for talented individuals to enter the teaching profession, including increased pay for teachers who work in rural areas. Create a Rural Revitalization Program to attract young people to rural America and retain them. Increase research and educational funding for Land Grant colleges.”

Coming from country stock myself, and currently residing in a “Small Town, USA”, I take great offense to this line of (non)thinking! It has been my experience that farmers and other rural people actually have a more open mind, a more analytical mind, and many more such people have contributed to modern life than city-dwellers. Philo Farnsworth, the inventor of television – one of Obama’s best weapons during the campaign – was a rural Utah/Idahoan. Despite its faddish grip on left Coast Americans, most ecological advances and ‘green technology’ have come from farms. I pulled out my giant spreadsheet of doom (SoD) after hearing his remarks, and decided to do a graduation rates vs. farming states comparison: Top 10 (and Lowest 10) Farming States and High School Graduation Rates

STATE # OF FARMS (2001) GRADUATION RATE (2000) Graduation Ranking (2000)
TEXAS 228,600 67% 34
MISSOURI 108,000 75% 19
IOWA 92,000 85% 4
KENTUCKY 88,000 71% 28
TENNESSEE 88,000 60% 45
OKLAHOMA 84,000 74% 22
CALIFORNIA 81,000 66% 35
MINNESOTA 81,000 80% 10
OHIO 78,000 76% 16
WISCONSIN 77,000 81% 9
VERMONT 6,600 77% 14
MASSACHUSSETTS 6,100 73% 25
HAWAII 5,500 69% 29
CONNECTICUT 4,200 76% 17
NEW HAMPSHIRE 3,300 69% 30
NEVADA 3,050 60% 44
DELAWARE 2,500 67% 33
RHODE ISLAND 830 71% 27
ALASKA 600 61% 43
WASHINGTON D.C. 0 58% 48

At first glance, it could be said there seems to be little correlation between farming and lower test scores. Tennessee ranks as the state with the 5th most farms as well as the state with the 45th best (or 6th worst) graduation rates in the country, while Vermont ranks as the 10th lowest number of farmers in the country, but had the 14th highest graduation rates in the nation. Looking closer, however, you can see that more of the higher-than-National-Average states are in the top 10 Farming States while more of the Lower-Than-National-Average states appear in the list of the ten states with the fewest farms. Still, even these numbers are negligible (30% of the Top 10 Farming states are also in the Top 10 Graduation states, while 30% of the Lower 10 Farming States are in the lowest 10 Graduation states). If you move the parameters a little, the division becomes a little more apparent: 60% of the Top 10 Farming states are in the upper half of states with more successful educational results, while 70% of the bottom states in farming fall within the lower half of the country’s educational failures.

So yeah, to sum it up, Obama has it backwards. States with a lot of farmers score higher than states with less farmers. Based on this and other data, I think he probably knows what we cow-poop sniffing country folk already knew: the real problems with America – poor education, violence, abortion, disease, poverty – are ALL problems that are overwhelmingly the domain of urban America … places like Obama’s Chicago. As I’ve said before, it is NOT a “race problem”, but a “culture problem”. Parents who are absent or too busy pursuing a materialistic lifestyle and parents who foolishly raise their children to disrespect local authority (school teachers, police) and their peers are to blame … because they keep the fuel going to fan the flames of violent disobedient self-serving youth. Politicians who create “something for nothing” programs, like welfare checks, free health care, free education, and laws that make it easier to obtain credit and live in debt are to blame. Hollywood and its immoral and violent films are to blame. Rural America may not be perfect, but we are a different nation than the urban slime Mr. Obama panders to. Aside from failing parents, what else is to blame for our failing educational system? Our schools have become propaganda mills and indoctrination camps for our youth, drilling all sorts of progressive/liberal agendas into their tiny little heads. They waste valuable education time teaching kids to participate in immoral behavior in “sex ed” classes. They send them on field trips to gay weddings. Our kids are molested by their female teachers. They are suspended for ridiculous reasons. Oh, and you can’t forget the new threat: Our children are forced to worship Obama through drills and song. With all these points of (and consequences of) the liberal agenda being pushed in schools, I don’t see how our children have time to study math or reading. And then there’s the whole problem with what used to be “science” … now founded more on theory (aka “faith”) than fact (see: carbon dating, evolution, climate change).

I think instead of blaming the failure of public education on tradition (harvest schedule), Mr. Obama and the OA would do well t0o examine the damage that has been done by pushing their liberal/progressive agenda (and the consequences of their godless and unamerican ideals) on our children. Education needs to get back to basics; our children cannot survive all these additional burdens of college-level thinking when they are struggling to understand the basics. Mr. Obama pointed to South Korea as a goal for our educational system.  Mayber he ought to examine what is taught there, rather than how it is taught:

In (South) Korean schools, math, science, Korean, social studies and English are core subjects.There is little or no emphasis placed on physical education (PE). Korean students also learn fine arts, practical arts, music, home economics, technology, computers and (gasp!) moral education and ethics. Their high-schools are specialized, so you could go to “Science High School” or “Arts High School” or “Agriculture High School”.

“Moral Education” is popular among most Asian countries. In many, this centers around Confucian Traditions. Considering that Asian countries have some of the highest educational success rates, perhaps there is something to be learned from this idea of including religious education in public schools.  Moral Education also includes instilling respect for one’s elders (something I have frequently pointed to as an essential piece to reducing crime and violence in our own nation).

In a 1996 paper entitled “Moral Education: The Korean Experience“, I found the following break-down by grade of what the curriculum teaches (highlights are my own emphasis):

1.  “Right Life” in Elementary schools
1. Objectives:
* “The formation of basic etiquette and courtesy”
* “The formation of moral habits”
2. Content: “Five life areas”
* Personal Life: Correct posture, respecting parents and the elderly, daily reflection, cleanup, keeping time and promise, safety, savings, self- esteem, and independence.
* Family & Neighborhood Life: Caring for brothers and sisters, etiquette for eating, filial piety, etiquette for visitors, relatives, and neighbors, and etiquette for visiting.
* School Life: Courtesy for teachers, adaptation to schools, respecting one’s friends, making good friends, respecting school regulations, correct usage of school facilities, and love of one’s school.
* Social Life: Law-observance, correct usage of public facilities, cooperation, environmental preservation, helping poor people, doing one’s duty, and keeping one’s order.
* National Life: Love of nation & state, patriotism, correct postures toward the national flag & the national anthem, desire for unification, brotherly love, and heartfelt thanks to the patriots of old.
2. “Morals” in elementary schools
1. Objectives
* “Building basic etiquette & moral habits”
* “Internalizing basic moral virtues”
* “Increasing moral reasoning ability”
2. Content: “Four life area”
* Personal life:
o 3rd grade: Protecting animals & plants, practicing good conducts, valuing & telling the truth, and conserving things.
o 4th grade: Healthy life, thinking & acting independently, keeping promises, and saving time.
o 5th grade: Importance of human life, creative attitudes, diligent life, and planning & reflecting.
o 6th grade: Planning one’s future, doing one’s best, material values versus spiritual values, and belief & practice.
* Family, neighborhood, & school life:
o 3rd grade: Showing respectful behaviors in family, moral reflection on school life, friendship and confidence, and being thankful for others who give us help.
o 4th grade: Comity for relatives, taking pride in one’s school, forgiveness, and empathy.
o 5th grade: Traditional comity, respecting neighbors, kindness and concession, helping people who are in trouble.
o 6th grade: Spirits & forms of comity, cooperation for community development, love and charity, and love and respect.
* Social life:
o 3rd grade: Observing public morality, participating in service activities, assisting others, do not discriminating against other people, and respecting other’s viewpoints.
o 4th grade: Respecting other’s interests, competition & cooperation, environmental preservation, justice and bravery, and proper attitudes in meetings.
o 5th grade: Law-observance, cooperation in civil society, ethics in economy, respecting other’s rights, and rational problem solving.
o 6th grade: Comprehending spirits of laws, sense of community & participation, private interests versus public interests, making just society, and due process & respect for the results.
* National life:
o 3rd grade: patriotism, keeping cultural heritage, comprehension of the divided conditions and the need for eventual unification, friendly attitudes toward foreigners.
o 4th grade: cooperation for national development, proper attitudes for national cultures, the future of unified Korea, and people who contributed to the world peace.
o 5th grade: Country and the individual, Korean people who are living abroad & their patriotism, the methods of peaceful unification, and international exchange of cultures.
o 6th grade: Good country, national pride & duties, efforts for unification, and world peace and mutual prosperity.
3. “Morals” in middle schools
1. Objectives
* “Comprehending moral norms, courtesy, and etiquette”
* “Increasing moral judgment ability”
* “Forming moral dispositions for practicing moral behaviors”
2. Content: “Four Life Areas” 3
* Personal life:
o 7th grade: Human life and morality, moral man and immoral man, conscience and morality, and a study on moral persons (Weonhyo, Buddha).
o 8th grade: Aims & values of human life, diversity & conflict in human life, values choice and moral judgment, a study on moral persons (Byoung-yeon Kim, Lao-tzu).
o 9th grade: Joys of life & planned life, personality development & character building, humanistic attitudes, and a study on moral persons (Chang- ho Ahn, Helen Keller).
* Family, neighborhood, and school life:
o 7th grade: Family life & school life, courtesy in family, relatives, and neighborhood, courtesy in school, and a study on moral persons (Yi-hwang, Confucius).
o 8th grade: Family and moral problems, neighborhood and moral problems, school and moral problems, and a study on moral persons (King Youngjo, Rousseau).
o 9th grade: Desirable pictures of family, correct relationships among relatives and neighbors, desirable school life & career search, a study on moral persons (Saimdang Shin, Pestalozzi).
* Social life:
o 7th grade: Modern society and public morality, modern society and traditional morality, modern society and civic ethics, and a study on moral persons (Yi-Yi, Jesus Christ).
o 8th grade: Environmental problems in modern society, juvenile problems in modern society, the solution for sociomoral problems, and a study on moral persons (Ha-eung Lee, Nobel).
o 9th grade: Democratic society and human dignity, democratic attitudes and ways of life, welfare society and ethics in economy, a study on moral persons (Yak-yong Chung, Franklin).
* National community life:
o 7th grade: National development & cultural development, patriotism and love of one’s nation, correct ways of life as a member of the Korean national community, and a study on moral persons (Il-yeon, Gandhi).
o 8th grade: The causes and backgrounds of the divided Korea, realities of North Korea, various efforts for the unification of Korea & problems, and a study on moral persons (Gaesomun Yeon, Napoleon).
o 9th grade: Prosperity of Korean national community, realization of the unified Korea, Korean people in the world, and a study on moral persons (Sun- sin Lee, Son Mun).
4. “Ethics” in high schools
1. Objectives
* “Developing desirable ethical and ideological senses”
* “Forming autonomous moral character traits”
* “Forming a sound value system”
2. Content: “Five areas”
* Human beings and ethics: Human life and ethics, self- realization and character building, and characteristics of Adolescence.
* Society and ethics: Ethical situations in modern society, modern society and life ethics, and current social problems and ethics.
* Nation and ethics: National ideology and development, nationalism and democracy, and global ethics.
* Ethical thoughts: Oriental ethical thoughts, Western ethical thoughts, and Korean ethical thoughts.
* Tasks for national unification: problems facing national unification, conditions and processes for the realization of the Korean unification, and the expected pictures after the unification (Chung, Chu, Cha, Kim, & Lee, 1994).

Isn’t it amazing that a country that has a long non-Christian history actually teaches its students about Jesus Christ? And that, despite this mixing of various religions and philosophies, their education system is one of the strongest and most effective in the world?

If Obama wants to change our public education for the better, he ought to stop witch-hunting “outdated traditions”  and instead look at removing atheist doctrine and anti-americanism from our schools.

UPDATE: A condensed version of this post now available on iReport.

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