I shall post videos, graphs, news stories, and other material there. We shall use some of this material in class, and you may review the rest at your convenience. You will all receive invitations to post to the blog. (Please let me know if you do not get such an invitation.) I encourage you to use the blog in these ways:
To post questions or comments about the readings before we discuss them in class;
To follow up on class discussions with additional comments or questions.
To post relevant news items or videos.

There are only two major limitations: no coarse language, and no derogatory comments about people at the Claremont Colleges.

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

“Overentertained and distracted — that’s right,” - Sen. Harkin

Andreas Schleicher, a senior education official at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris, testified before the Senate education committee regarding the United States' declining educational advantage relative to other developed nations. Schleicher informed the committee that even Canada, where their 15 year olds remain a year ahead in school compared to the 15 year olds in the United States. Among the 30 OECD countries, "only New Zealand, Spain, Turkey and Mexico now have lower high school completion rates than the U.S.,” Schleicher stated.

Charles Butt, chief executive of a supermarket chain in Texas, also testified concerning employers who faced increasing difficulties in hiring qualified young workers. Although Butt's expertise remains in management and not sociology, he claimed that America's culture undervalues education, saying " “Schools are inheriting an overentertained, distracted student." Rumors are circulating among Washington interest groups that he will make an appearance in Claremont, California in coming weeks to expand on his testimony.

Senator Tom Harkin agreed with Butt's cultural criticism, contending " “Overentertained and distracted — that’s right. The problem lies with many kids before they get to school, and if we don’t crack that nut, we’re going to continue to patch and fill.” Harkin has not specified how to "crack that nut," but early childhood education programs seem to have potential.

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