Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Tom Friedman, Arne Duncan Miss This Part Of The South Korea Story

Tom Friedman wrote another doozy of a column this morning, blaming lazy American children and parents for the so-called education crisis in American schools.

He used an Arne Duncan speech from 2009 to drive his point home - American students and parents are lazy, American schools are bad.

Unlike, say, schools, parents and students in South Korea:

“In 2009, President Obama met with President Lee of South Korea and asked him about his biggest challenge in education. President Lee answered without hesitation: parents in South Korea were ‘too demanding.’ Even his poorest parents demanded a world-class education for their children, and he was having to spend millions of dollars each year to teach English to students in first grade, because his parents won’t let him wait until second grade. ... I [wish] our biggest challenge here in the U.S. was too many parents demanding excellent schools.

“I want to pose one simple question to you: Does a child in South Korea deserve a better education than your child?” Duncan continued. “If your answer is no ... then your work is cut out for you. Because right now, South Korea — and quite a few other countries — are offering students more, and demanding more, than many American districts and schools do. And the results are showing, in our kids’ learning and in their opportunities to succeed, and in staggeringly large achievement gaps in this country. Doing something about our underperformance will mean raising your voice — and encouraging parents who aren’t as engaged as you to speak up. Parents have the power to challenge educational complacency here at home. Parents have the power to ask more of their leaders — and to ask more of their kids.”

Here's that world class South Korean school system in a nutshell:

SEOUL: Nearly 140 South Korean school students killed themselves in 2012, according to a new government report that cited family problems, depression and exam stress as the main triggers.
The report, published this week by the Education Ministry, covered all students from elementary to high school.

The figure of 139 suicides recorded last year was the lowest for three years, but still worryingly high in a country with one of the world’s highest overall suicide rates.

Of the total, 88 were high school students, 48 from middle school and just three from elementary school.

About 40 percent were motivated by family-related problems, while 16 percent were triggered by depression and 11.5 percent by exam-related stress.

Dozens of teenagers kill themselves every year around the time of South Korea’s hyper-competitive college entrance exam, unable to cope with the intense scholastic and parental pressure to secure a place in a top university.

Last year’s student suicide figure compared with 202 suicides in 2009, 146 in 2010 and 150 in 2011.
South Korea has the highest suicide rate among members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, with an average of 33.5 people per 100,000 taking their lives in 2010, far higher than Hungary (23.3) and Japan (21.2) which ranked second and third.

The figure for South Korea equates to nearly 50 suicides a day and shows a steep increase from 2000 when the average incidence of suicide was 13.6 people per 100,000.

The capital Seoul has installed anti-suicide monitoring devices on bridges over the Han river after 196 people jumped to their deaths last year.

South Korea - a country that leads in international test score competitions, child and teen suicides and overall rates of people killing themselves.

Hell, so many people were killing themselves, they had to put up anti-suicide monitoring devices on the freaking bridges.

And this is the school system and school culture Duncan and Friedman want to bring here?


  1. Good Headline for Friedman Post:
    Call for more Suicides of American students to keep us competetive

    1. We must stay competitive in the world suicide rankings...