On my latest economic project to predict where your money is safest from the now closing clutches of socialism in the US, I came across some education statistics at the OECD. Now of course we know that education is broken here in the US with no hope whatsoever of it ever being repaired as education is primarily used as a means to employ people and not educate children, and dare you ever suggest or demand some semblance of improvement or efficiency or fiscal austerity, you are immediately branded as hating children. Regardless, it doesn't change the fact that in the end our children, despite the US being a first would country, are woefully and inadequately educated when compared to our international peers.
But what stood out to me the most was another country; Korea. Korea is one of the highest scoring countries on the PISA tests (the international standardized test scores put out by the OECD). But it's not so much that Korea scored well, but two other things that stood out.
One, they spend barely half the amount per student we do in the US (again confirming something we've always known; that more money does not equal better students, just richer teacher union members)
Two, and perhaps even more interesting, is that in Korea the teachers spend the least amount of time actually teaching their kids. Again, just half the amount of time as what is spent here in the US;
It was this statistic, that got me thinking and more or less corroborated something I already knew;
The problem of poor education results in America is not so much the teachers, as much as it is the parents.
Oooooo! He didn't just say that, did he?
Yes, he did.
You see, culture plays an immense role in these figures on many different levels. First, if the children are only being taught with half the time as in the US, it suggests to me Korean parents are quite adamant AND A PRESENT FORCE in the education of their children. They make sure they do their studies, finish their homework, attend school and behave. Based on my experiences substitute teaching as well as seeing my generation starting to have kids, I realized an unacceptably high percentage of American parents treat the schools as a massive baby sitting program where they can dump off the kids and outsource the education to the public schools and take no further interest in their childrens' education. They think that there's no parental responsibility in their childrens' education aside from hounding them occasionally about doing their homework. Ergo, mom and dad make sure junior gets C's and D's, and doesn't really bother sitting the kid down and explaining to him the importance of not only doing well, but behaving as well.
Second, by the sheer level of efficiency where Koreans can outscore their American counterparts with HALF the budget and HALF the teaching time, suggests to me there are very little "problem students" in the class. ie-the kids show up and they actually are there to study and take their education seriously. The teacher does not have to constantly discipline, stop lecture, stop writing, etc. to deal with class clowns, disobedient children and other interruptions that not only take away from the serious students' education, but takes more time and resources to accomplish the same amount of teaching. In other words, in Korea the children go to school, in America they go to a large day care facility with the half-hearted guise of it being a school or a place of learning and treat it as such.
Of course, I could be wrong. There could be other factors as I am not an expert on the Korean education system. All I know is that as a single guy with no kids, but still having to pay property taxes to fund the schools, I'm getting mighty sick and tired of being asked for more money for what without fail always guarantees to be more failure and a slightly larger day care operation. And perhaps if spending more results in no better or worse results, then maybe we should cut the public schools' budgets in half and start to emulate a more Korean style of education.