Thursday, January 12, 2006

16. School's Out Forever

I meant to comment on this article a bit earlier. It seems that the public school system in America is failing the older generations. Well...no shit. Look at it. It's horrible. Americans seem to be under the assumption that America will continue to be competitive in world economics. Our school system is lacking in so many ways compared to countries like Japan, or India. That's where all the jobs are going these days anyway. But there's a fact that I'd like to explore in the article.

"The bottom line is that this nation cannot rightfully expect to lead the 21st century's information and technology-driven global economy when we have upwards of 30 percent of our young people not even graduating from high school," [U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom] Donohue told a news conference called to announce the chamber's agenda for 2006.

In some minority areas, the number of students failing to get a high school diploma is closer to 50 percent. "This is a travesty," Donohue said.


And later:
The chamber is already working with other business organizations to double the number of U.S. math, science and engineering college graduates by the year 2015.


Types of Dropouts:




Beauty School Dropout













American Idol Dropout
















Butterfly Dropout













30 percent seems like a lot, right? And it is, I've seen it myself. I spent 4 years in Denver, and last year's public high school graduating rate was absolutely frightening. Check this out:

• 5,633 — The number of students who began eighth grade in Denver Public Schools cla
ssrooms in the fall of 1999.

• 1,884 — The number of those students who graduated from a DPS high school five years later.

That's a dropout rate of 67%. Only 33% of the kids who started there graduated. Now, there's surely some methodology to take into account here. Some kids moved out of the district (20%), some kids were still in school for a 2nd senior year (7%), so it's all in all about 41%. Who's to blame for this?

Parents: Maybe it's not spending enough time with their kids, or instilling them with the values necessary to continue their education and contribute as a citizen of the U.S.A.

Society: Maybe it's everything teenagers are exposed to through television, or the arts, or video games, that makes them become apathetic or unwilling to take an interest in themselves.

Teachers: Shouldn't they be able to make the material interesting enough to get kids to stay? Shouldn't they present the material in such a way as to make it seem necessary and obvious that they stay? Dangerous Minds-style?

Teenagers: Shouldn't we (and I use we because I am only 22, and there's not much difference in age here) have the initiative and take it upon ourselves to at least graduate high school? Think of all the jobs that require a high school diploma.

Well, that last comment probably wouldn't convince me, considering that most of those jobs are going overseas anyways at this point.

What do you think? Who's to blame and what suggestions could be made? Leave a comment.

Free To Be You And Me

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

15.5 Better Than...Freedom Fighter?

This is a response I got in relation to my last post, 15. Better Than Ezra. I wanted to post it (at the approval and anonymity of the author) because I wanted to show everyone that I am open to new ideas, always looking for the right answer. Please feel free to email me anytime, for questions, suggestions, comments, etc.


Freedom Fighter,

After reading your last post "15. Better Than Ezra" I must write in to express my views on what the authors of the L.A. Weekly must have been thinking when they wrote this article. I have read it, so I'm thoroughly prepared.

First of all, Ezra Klein and Joshuah Bearman wrote this article in jest. Since it is a left-tinged weekly reader with an entire issue devoted to top 10 lists, it only made sense to have one dedicated to this idea.

Bush HAS failed as a leader, and he should be held accountable for his actions and should pay the price (a lasting image of him as a failed President would do fine by me). I don't think what Klein and Bearman thought they were doing was taking pleasure in the misfortunes of others like Hurricane Katrina victims, I suspect they were merely taking pleasure in watching the President squirm. Everyone in this country feels for Hurricane Katrina victims and everyone else hit with hardship this year. We ARE all in "this" together (as you yourself say in your profile) so it's important not to jump to the conclusion that the authors don't care. They think that the Democrats can fix the problems that Bush has created, so they presume that everything will be alright and it is safe to criticize the President.

Criticism is good for a country. At the very least, it shows interest in the subject and a willingness to learn some of the facts. If people can learn some of the facts, surely getting more information won't be hard, right? People can have criticism but still support the country and the President. I have many reservations about him and his supporting staffers, but I will continue to support his decisions with the best of intentions and well wishes. When he succeeds, the country can begin to grow. And at time like this, the growth of the U.S. is important.

Very Best,
XXXXX

Free To Be You And Me

Monday, January 09, 2006

15. Better Than Ezra

I usually sit at a Quizno's on Thursday, reading the new L.A. Weekly. I've only recently started reading the articles that come before the music section, because I've never much cared for reading. But this week they had their big "Zeitlist," their "annual compendium of 1. Politics, 2. Culture and 3. Ephemera" and I found one list in particular rather ridiculous. It was called "4 Reasons to be Glad Bush Is Still President". I'll let you take a second and read it over before I dissect it.

Now then, let's dive in. (Aside: I usually like the work Boing Boing does, and enjoyed his article in the L.A. Weekly, but I don't like his opinion on this article.

The thing I find interesting by this article is the fact that it is no way supporting him. This isn't that new to me, considering L.A. Weekly is a complete left-wing paper. The reasons you should be glad Bush is still President have to do with his failure as a leader and decision-maker, and the authors, Ezra Klein and Joshuah Bearman, assert that he's so screwed now that you should be glad it's not a Democrat in office (Kerry, specifically.) In it, they write,

"The fact is that there's no good solution to Bush's disaster, and that's why it should stay his and his alone. Bush built the SS Fuck Up single-handedly, so he can sit in the bridge, snap a crisp salute and go down with it all by himself."

ZING! They continue on this destructive point, emphasizing that he made his bed, not he'll lie in it. Later, they write,

"Soon, someone will either have to 1) raise taxes, 2) cut programs or 3) preside over the recission that will result from foreign governments refusing to bankroll our debt. He's the Accountability President; let him bask in all the blame."

Or how about this juicy quotation,

"Now they'll emerge, in all their glorious criminality, and the country will really get to see Dorian Gray's portrait."

It IS bad to form to gloat, and certainly not necessary. I'm not one of the people who believe in rubbing facts in people's faces, but I also don't mind pointing out the obvious. But I'm still not sure this whole situation is obvious. If I remember correctly, the recession they speak of was a result of the last few years of Clinton's office term and the increasing pressure and leverage put on the tech market (or "bubble"), which inevitably crumbled under the weight of its' own superiority and therefore, inferiority. The stock market too crashed as a result of this bubble burst, which was something that could have stopped in Clinton's reign, but it was too late in Bush's. Certainly 9/11 didn't help the country's economy either. I don't think many people wanted to ride on a plane after that. I don't think many people wanted to go to work in a high-rise and concentrate. I think the country was grieving. Probably a few months too long, but what are you going to do?!

Schadenfreude. This is an interesting topic. And leave it up to the Germans to create this one. I first heard this term on Boston Legal, and mainly because it was a scene in which Heather Locklear took pleasure in watching her husband die.






SCHADENFREUDE!!!!






The L.A. Weekly article is supposed to be criticizing the Bush administration, but I think there is a fine line between criticism and Schadenfreude, and I don't think they quite understand it. Schadenfreude implies that the joy you are getting is from watching someone ELSE's misfortunes. When the President of the United States fails, the United States of America fails. Since we are part of the U.S.A., we fail, too. And that's not Schadenfreude. When Bush failed at operating with functionality during Hurricane Katrina, the country as a whole failed. Many people died as a result of his administration failing to react to the situation and situations before and after the hurricane hit. I do not take pleasure in watching that unfold. When Bush's national debt grew by 40 percent, signaling that even more people will have to go under the poverty level after taxes will inevitably have to be raised in compensation, the whole country failed. Many people will lose their jobs because of the slowing economy, or because of the need to raise taxes in essence to pay off the national debt increase. I agree that certain things about the Bush administration need public exposure, but they do not need gloating and they certainly don't need schadenfreude.

You may ask: Is criticism bad for a country? No. CONSTRUCTIVE criticism isn't bad either. I think it's preferred, even if it's not accepted as viable. Constructive criticism implies that you care about the situation to WANT to work through it and help everyone involved. Cricitism does nothing for a country. It just points out the apathy in the American way of life. It should be noted, though, that criticism with an admission of no good solution IS okay. If you think something is bad, but you admit you don't know how to fix it, I think that is okay, and honorable. As long as you're working towards a decision within yourself.

This article is neither constructive or criticism at all. It's merely a piece showing the failure of the AUTHORS to grasp the whole concept at hand. That is, the destructive work of their article on the American psyche. Thankfully, I doubt many people read it anyway.

I don't take pleasure in watching the destruction of my country. Do you Ezra Klein and Joshuah Bearman?

Free To Be You And Me