Meeting with the nation’s governors at the White House, Mr. Obama stressed the importance of education to America’s economic competitiveness in a tough global marketplace, a theme he has cited in recent days to undergird a number of his domestic priorities.
He said the depth of the competition was brought home to him during a visit to South Korea last year, when he was told of that country’s determination to educate its children to out-compete American children.
“That’s what we’re up against,” Mr. Obama said. “That’s what’s at stake — nothing less than our primacy in the world. As I said at the State of the Union address, I do not accept a United States of America that’s second-place.”
Alan Singer at Huffingtonpost on the We MUST COMPETE WITH SOUTH KOREA!!!! education meme:
President Obama told a meeting of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce:
'Our children spend over a month less in school than children in South Korea every year. That's no way to prepare them for a 21st-century economy. We can no longer afford an academic calendar designed for 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."
Expect Education Secretary Arne Duncan, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and New York School Chancellor Joel Klein and a long line of politicos and supposed edu-experts to make the pilgrimage to South Korea any day now, so they can view this educational miracle first hand.
Everybody is not as enamored with the Korean educational system as President Obama is. According to one Korean news source, "Obama's remarks came as a surprise to many South Koreans as the country's education system has been under constant public criticism due to its lack of creativity and heavy dependence on private tutoring." But their kids do get high scores on standardized tests and apparently that is all that counts.
One critic of the Korean educational system, Dr. Samuel Kim, a senior research scholar at the East Asian Institute of Columbia University, reported that 44% of Korean students who enter "top" American universities drop out before graduating. This is much higher than the dropout rate for students from China (25%), India (21%) and even the 34% dropout rate for American students at the same universities. Essentially, years of extra tutoring prepares Korean students for college entrance exams but not for acquiring a college education.
Clay Burell, an American high school humanities teacher, who currently lives with his family in South Korea, reports on his blog that Korean students are forced to study in "hagwons" -- private night, weekend, and summer classes where the overwhelming emphasis is on learning English. The Korean Education Ministry estimates that as a percentage of GDP, South Korean parents spend four times more on average on private education than their counterparts in any other major economy. Most of what they study is "worksheet-based, scripted, and devoted to passing college examination tests, the SAT, TOEFL, and all the other tests these classes teach to." What Burell finds ironic is that despite all of this investment and high test scores, Korean students are notoriously poor at reading, writing, and speaking English. In other words, they can't use what they are supposed to have learned and what they test well at.
There you have it - Obama wants to turn the U.S. education system into Korea's, yet the Korean system is dysfunctional.
And he's using the recession that has devastated the states and federal money as the means to do it.
By the time he is done with his one term presidency, there is going to be some serious damage done to public education.
But I can guarantee you that all the "reforms" he is forcing onto the system will make things worse, not better.