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 American disdain for public education 
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In pages 49-51, I was suddenly struck by the verbalization and historical justification of America's lack of respect for public education. Did anyone else have an "A-ha" moment over this?

I had always thought about how America lacks the same amount of respect other developed nations have for education, but I didn't know where that came from. However, the explanation the book gave about Ben Franklin and the popular books of Horatio Alger turned on a lightbulb for me. Of course! America was the nation where you educate yourself and make it big. Who needs intellect? All you need is a back-breaking motivation. Public education was more about assimilation into the culture, not teaching you how to really succeed in life.

So why don't we hear as many stories of self-education/Cinderellas? Were the ones of the early 1900s simply propaganda? Or is it just not as possible for that to happen today because the country is a lot bigger and business and other areas of society function more on a good ol' boy referral system? What d'ya think?

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Stephanie Holt Helmer


Fri Sep 08, 2006 10:25 am
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I see what you mean, Stephanie. After I read your post I went back to look at page 51, and it seems like our history is based on work, work, work. That whole pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps type of philosophy where who needs to be formally educated if you have motivation, determination, and common sense. This is what we were taught that our country was built on.

I wonder if people in the US today have little respect for public education because we have SOL, EOG, and SAT-ed them to death (if I could think of any other testing anacronyms to stick in there I would). Because of these tests, I wonder if people don't think that our whole education system is based on nothing more than "memorize it for the test, forget it, and memorize something else" rather than anything that can actually be used in real life.

I know I got kind of off track in responding to what you asked, but that's what came to my mind after I went back and re-read that selection.

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Nicki Boyette


Fri Sep 08, 2006 1:46 pm
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