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26 March 2008


Scott Obermuller

Pretty good essay on the problems facing a citizen in the information age. The biggest problem is the school system not educating properly, and a general apathy by the public as to their own personal involvement in keeping pace with the important issues of the day. The amount of information available and what is necessary for an educated vote is daunting, but a good grounding in history, physics, and critical thinking combined with the proper attitude of a civic-minded adult should suffice for any republic. The time and money spent by our founding fathers in such pursuit would overwhelm modern folk. Today, access to knowledge and information is fast and dirt cheap by comparison to just a decade ago. Yes, we need to work at a system or standard for a reliable and relevant data stream, but the foundations are in place for the most part. I have 2 semesters of basket weaving on the books from accredited institutions of higher learning, yet I find I am far better equipped at this point in life to teach than most graduates that have a teaching certificate. I was appalled at the failure rate for California teachers when they tested the "best and brightest" a few years ago. A test that any 8th grader should have breezed through produced a failure group of close to a third of those tested. How can an education system that cranks out incompetent graduates as teachers, produce students that are any better? This may sound a bit extreme to most people, but the studies and tests have shown that the billions we spend in this state alone on schools of all grade levels are probably nothing more than a solid funding source for left wing and socialist groups. As a point of reference, I could remind the good reader that 2 decades ago the National Geographic group conducted extensive testing of geographic literacy in several areas of the world, including graduating seniors from the University of California. The N.G. folk are hardly anything resembling conservative or right wing idealogs, yet they found that the product of 4 years of study in the hallowed halls, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in funds could produce scores of no better than the mid twenties of percentile. As a counterpoint to that abysmal finding, my 5 year old son scored above 80 percent on the same test. Well, not the same test, as the photographs from the magazine clearly showed that in the field, the representatives from the magazine were showing the subjects a map that was much larger than the small one available in the issue we had to work with to show my son. Did we cheat? Yes, I had to explain what an isthmus was to my son. He missed-placed Japan for the Philippines and put Germany wayyyyyy over in Czechoslovakia. Oh, my. Sorry - only 80%. Current tests show high school graduates can't balance a check book and have no idea what compound interest is on a loan. And we wonder why the average person isn't competent to vote? I could go on and on, but the fact is that folks just don't pay attention until the feces hits them in the face. And by then, it's far too late. We can keep up with the information explosion (barely), but first we have to try. And we can make informed decisions at the ballot box, but first we must be schooled in the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. All else is just details.
Good night and God Bless

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