Tag Archives: Ireland

U.S. adults lag behind counterparts overseas in skills

Factory town

Tesla workers cheer on the first Tesla Model S cars sold during a rally at the Tesla factory in Fremont, Calif., in 2012. The high-tech electric cars sell for more than $60,000 each. American workers sometimes lag behind their foreign counterparts in certain basic skills such as math and problem-solving.
(Photo: Paul Sakuma, AP)


No surprise here.  The Obama administration has tried to carry out programs like the National Core Standard.  Resistance from the far right has limited the program to most states but Texas and Arkansas are adamantly against the program.   Many other states run by Republican governors have also limited the program dramatically.

The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. 

U.S.A. Today

Americans trail adults in other countries in math, literacy, problem-solving.

Americans have been hearing for years that their kids are lagging behind the rest of the developed world in skills. Now it’s the adults’ turn for a reality check.

A first-ever international comparison of the labor force in 23 industrialized nations shows that Americans ages 16 to 65 fall below international averages in basic problem-solving, reading and math skills, with gaps between the more- and less-educated in the USA larger than those of many other countries.

The findings, out Tuesday from the U.S. Department of Education, could add new urgency to U.S. schools’ efforts to help students compete globally.

The new test was given to about 5,000 Americans between August 2011 and April 2012. The results show that the typical American’s literacy score falls below the international average, with adults in 12 countries scoring higher and only five (Poland, Ireland, France, Spain and Italy) scoring lower. In math, 18 countries scored higher, with only two (Italy and Spain) scoring lower. In both cases, several countries’ scores were statistically even with the USA.

States like Arkansas and Texas have consistently refused government initiatives to improve the education process in the United States.  Far Right-Wing politicians are adamantly opposed to these initiatives.  Hence, we are far below standard when  compared to other nations.  This has to change…

The new test was given to about 5,000 Americans between August 2011 and April 2012. The results show that the typical American’s literacy score falls below the international average, with adults in 12 countries scoring higher and only five (Poland, Ireland, France, Spain and Italy) scoring lower. In math, 18 countries scored higher, with only two (Italy and Spain) scoring lower. In both cases, several countries’ scores were statistically even with the USA.

TEST YOURSELF: Could you solve these problems?

The oldest Americans in the sample turned in a higher-than-average performance in reading, with 9% of test-takers between 55 and 65 years old scoring at the top proficiency level, compared to just 5% worldwide. In math, however, they were even with the 7% international average.

The problem, the new findings suggest, is with younger U.S. workers, who lag in nearly every category.

The results are “quite distressing,” says Harvard University’s Paul Peterson, co-author of Endangering Prosperity, a recent book on education and international competitiveness. “Other countries have been catching up for some time,” he says. “At one time, we had a really significant lead, but those people are disappearing from the workforce.”

“Adults who have trouble reading, doing math, solving problems and using technology will find the doors of the 21st century workforce closed to them,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan says. “We need to find ways to challenge and reach more adults to upgrade their skills.”

Other findings:

• Average literacy scores ranged from 250 in Italy to 296 in Japan. The U.S. average: 270.

• Average math scores ranged from 246 in Spain to 288 in Japan. The U.S. average: 253.

• Only 9% of U.S. adults performed at the highest proficiency level on math. Just three countries — South Korea, Italy and Spain — had a lower average.

• Overall, about one in eight Americans turned in a top performance in reading — seven countries had a higher percentage of top performers. In math, 15 countries had more top performers.

What brought the U.S. average down was a larger-than-average gap in skills between groups, such as those with or without a college degree, and between workers whose jobs do or don’t require advanced math and reading skills.

While those gaps may not show up immediately in productivity totals, Peterson says, in time they’ll have an effect. “There’s a 20-year delay between the quality of the educational system and its impact,” he says. “It’s sort of like watching a car crash in slow motion.”



Filed under Education in the U.S

Paul Krugman: We’re In Big Trouble If Romney Elected

I believe that Nobel Prize winner for economics, Paul Krugman has been right since the beginning of the Obama administration regarding this country’s path toward economic recovery.

At that time, Krugman warned Obama in an editorial, that his stimulus was too small and would only slow down the country’s economic comeback.  As it turned out, he was right and he’s right about the country being in trouble if Romney is elected.

The Huffington Post

If Mitt Romney is elected president, the U.S. will experience an economic disaster the likes of which have been recently seen in Ireland, according to Paul Krugman.

“Ireland is Romney economics in practice,” the Nobel-Prize winning economist and New York Times columnist said on the Colbert Report on Monday. “I think Ireland is America’s future if Romney is president.” (h/t Politico.)

“They’ve laid off a large fraction of their public workforce, they’ve slashed spending, they’ve had extreme austerity programs, they haven’t really raised taxes on corporations or the rich at all, they have 14 percent unemployment, 30 percent youth unemployment, zero economic growth,” Krugman said.

Romney, the likely Republican nominee for president, recently suggested that the government should lay off more firemen, policemen, and teachers, according to CNN.Romney’s campaign website says that if elected president, Romney would aim to slash federal spending at least 18 percent by the end of his first term.

Conservatives like Romney loved Ireland’s economic program before the country fell into a depression, in part because it had “the lowest corporate tax rates,” Krugman said on the Colbert ReportIreland fell into recession again at the end of last year.

After Krugman finished his criticism of Romney’s economic plan, there was a pause as Colbert tried to think of a good retort. “Well the Irish can handle it, OK? The Irish do very well in bleak, depressing times,” Colbert said. “They’ve got those jigs and everything that they do.”


Filed under Economy, Paul Krugman

Salon: Our first Black Irish president

It’s true, our first Black President has Irish ancestry in his bloodline.

Joan Walsh of Salon continues…

Obama’s warm words about his Irish family could help him politically at home

The cynical may dismiss it as just another campaign stop, but I found myself unexpectedly moved by President Obama’s visit to Dublin — the overwhelming adulation from the Irish as well as the president’s warm speech, claiming his own Irish heritage and praising the bonds between the two countries.

He introduced himself as “Barack Obama of the Moneygall Obamas, and I’ve come home to find the apostrophe we lost somewhere along the way.” He joked about wishing he’d known of his Irish ancestry as a young politician in Irish Chicago, where he wound up bringing up the rear at the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade, just in front of the garbage brigade. He praised the role of Irish American soldiers in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. And he spoke personally, and movingly, about his grandfather’s grandfather Falmouth Kearny, who left tiny Moneygall during “The Great Hunger” — the more common Irish term for the Famine of 1847-48 — not only praising his courage but acknowledging how “heartbreaking” it must have been to leave Ireland. For the Irish who, generations later, still see themselves as exiles, it was a knowing nod to the only partly voluntary nature of their emigration.


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Filed under Obama Ireland Trip, President Barack Obama, President Obama

Nicholas Kristof – “Message to Muslims: I’m Sorry”

Nicholas D. Kristof, Op-Ed columnist for the New York Times  recently wrote this:

Many Americans have suggested that more moderate Muslims should stand up to extremists, speak out for tolerance, and apologize for sins committed by their brethren.

That’s reasonable advice, and as a moderate myself, I’m going to take it. (Throat clearing.) I hereby apologize to Muslims for the wave of bigotry and simple nuttiness that has lately been directed at you. The venom on the airwaves, equating Muslims with terrorists, should embarrass us more than you. Muslims are one of the last minorities in the United States that it is still possible to demean openly, and I apologize for the slurs.

I’m inspired by another journalistic apology. The Portland Press Herald in Maine published an innocuous front-page article and photo a week ago about 3,000 local Muslims praying together to mark the end of Ramadan. Readers were upset, because publication coincided with the ninth anniversary of 9/11, and they deluged the paper with protests.

So the newspaper published a groveling front-page apology for being too respectful of Muslims. “We sincerely apologize,” wrote the editor and publisher, Richard Connor, and he added: “we erred by at least not offering balance to the story and its prominent position on the front page.” As a blog by James Poniewozik of Time paraphrased it: “Sorry for Portraying Muslims as Human.”

I called Mr. Connor, and he seems like a nice guy. Surely his front page isn’t reserved for stories about Bad Muslims, with articles about Good Muslims going inside. Must coverage of law-abiding Muslims be “balanced” by a discussion of Muslim terrorists?

Ah, balance — who can be against that? But should reporting of Pope Benedict’s trip to Britain be “balanced” by a discussion of Catholic terrorists in Ireland? And what about journalism itself?

I interrupt this discussion of peaceful journalism in Maine to provide some “balance.” Journalists can also be terrorists, murderers and rapists. For example, radio journalists in Rwanda promoted genocide.

I apologize to Muslims for another reason. This isn’t about them, but about us. I want to defend Muslims from intolerance, but I also want to defend America against extremists engineering a spasm of religious hatred.

Continue reading…

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Filed under Ground Zero Mosque, Islam, Islamophobia, Park 51 Islamic Center