ROK Drop

Avatar of GI KoreaBy on July 3rd, 2012 at 3:35 am

School In Harlem Shows Success Using Korean Educational Model

Here is an interesting story about a school in Harlem that is based on the Korean educational model to include making it mandatory for students to learn Korean as a second language:

“One of the big values I took away from Korea is that even though the Korean education system is one of the best in the world, nobody here thinks that the Korean education system is good enough and nobody is satisfied with being one of the best countries in the world,” said Seth Andrew, the 31-year-old New Yorker who founded a revolutionary school in Harlem that boosted the education level of under-privileged students in New York following a Korean model.

Andrew spoke as a guest speaker at an international education conference in Seoul on Thursday, where he was critical of the educational system in the United States, stating that there are 15 million low-income students, only half of whom graduate from high school.

And he said that “the belief that you can do better” has propelled Democracy Prep, which has lottery-based admission and free tuition and now sees over 5,000 students apply for the school in one of the poorer congressional districts in the United States.

At the conference, he was once more reunited with the educator who gave him heartfelt respect for the Korean educational model — the principal of a middle school in Cheonan, South Chungcheong, he had taught in over a decade ago.

Andrew, who was on a 10-day trip to Korea with his wife, stated that a huge inspiration for following the Korean educational model was thanks to the positive experience he had as an English teacher here, where he was moved by the hospitality of the Dong-sung Middle School principal and faculty.

“They welcomed me to their community with open arms, took me out to meals and made me feel like family,” he said, and he was awed by the environment in which teachers are treated with reverence.

He brought that experience with him to the United States, where he founded Democracy Prepatory Charter School in Harlem, New York, in 2005, which has slowly expanded to six campuses from kindergarten to the high-school level and has plans to expand the school by two campuses a year. Students in the Democracy Prep Charter High School work longer hours than the average New York student and are required to learn Korean as a second language.   [Joong Ang Ilbo]

You can read more at the link.

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  • Glans
    2:02 am on July 3rd, 2012 1

    The State of Louisiana, under Governor Bobby Jindal’s leadership, has a very fine program to support charter schools. It’s even gained the attention of Kevin Drum at the liberal MotherJones.

    I don’t know how many of them teach Korean.

  • Lemmy
    3:18 am on July 3rd, 2012 2

    The school website has greatly different information

  • Lemmy
    3:23 am on July 3rd, 2012 3

    South Korea:



    You can’t teach someone who doesn’t want to learn.

  • Dreamboat Annie
    4:17 am on July 3rd, 2012 4

    The school requires Korean classes so a bunch of Koreans probably signed up. Voila, better test scores because that’s what Korean kids do best- ace tests.

  • Seoul Guy
    4:32 am on July 3rd, 2012 5

    Black kids can be taught well. They can be taught to ace tests. With discipline, black kids can perform just as well as their white or asian peers in richer school districts. For too long Black kids in inner-city districts have been neglected.

  • Sonagi
    5:01 am on July 3rd, 2012 6

    A comment left at TMH best sums up miracle schools like this one: claim you’ve changed the kids when all you’ve done is change the kids. By this, he meant that special schools are inherently self-selective in favor of motivated students and their families, regardless of whether there is a lottery or other seemingly rblind admissions process. Parents still have to sign their kids up for the lottery. The worst parents who are substance abusers or incredibly lazy aren’t going to bother. I google the school to find out and it appears that they do engage in Lselective recruiting of students who are already successful learned..

  • Sonagi
    5:02 am on July 3rd, 2012 7

    Must remember to proof for iPad corrections before posting.

  • setnaffa
    5:02 am on July 3rd, 2012 8

    Like Seoul Guy said.

    Affirmative Action teaches everyone that certain “races” or “minorities” aren’t good enough to make it without assistance. Which places them into positions where they need government assistance instead of standing up on their own.

    And of course, they vote for the folks who give them both the chip on their shoulder and the welfare. Neat trick by the political class to recreate the Plantation without cotton…

  • Dr.Yu
    6:20 am on July 3rd, 2012 9

    For centuries education was one of the few ways available to the poor to climb the social ladder in Korea, making it a priority in the list of those willing to succeed. In the USA education is not a priority for most people so giving an opportunity to those willing to study but have not resources seems to be a good idea ….

  • tbonetylr
    7:07 am on July 3rd, 2012 10

    # 4
    “The school requires Korean classes so a bunch of Koreans probably signed up. Voila, better test scores because that’s what Korean kids do best- ace tests.”

    # 5
    “Black kids can be taught well. They can be taught to ace tests. With discipline, black kids can perform just as well as their white or asian peers in richer school districts.”

    The only thing Andrew has to do now is get Korean Ajummas to monitor the tests, BINGO!

  • Avatar of GI KoreaGI Korea
    7:50 am on July 3rd, 2012 11

    @6 – Sonagi great insight as usual. I don’t think the schools can do much about lazy and substance abusing parents. At least these these lottery driven charter schools at least give parents that want to get their kids out of failing schools an option to do so.

  • InnocentBystander
    7:51 am on July 3rd, 2012 12

    #3: Great reference.

    I can appreciate the Korean work ethic (study), but their academic philosophy is actually counter intuitive, IMO. I mean, who cares if your kid is the smartest per G.P.A? That does not equate to success as an adult – which is the primary purpose for educating the young.

    “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.” — Albert Einstein

  • Sonagi
    9:12 am on July 3rd, 2012 13

    Two problems with your conclusion, GI:

    First, what evidence is there that the achievement of most or even many indivisible students is raised through charter school education? Publicly available test score data isn’t helpful because rising scores may reflect changes in student body composition more than actual improvements in student achievement.

    Second, allowing gimmicky charter schools to coveertly pick off the better students leaves a concentration of lower achievers in public schools. Critics then use low test scores as proof that public education is a failure. Competitive magnet schools like highly respected Thomas Jefferson High School in Fairfax County do not unfairly disadvantage other public schools because the application process makes clear that the student body is not representative of the general student population.

  • Sonagi
    9:13 am on July 3rd, 2012 14

    Indivisible = individual

  • Sonagi
    11:17 am on July 3rd, 2012 15

    Read the two critical reviews carefully. . Both parents appear to present a balanced view of the school yet both make the same complaint about the school discouraging parents with concerns. Since federal education law mandates that public schools provide a “free, appropriate education for all,” my principal cannot legally tell an unhappy parent, “This school may not be right for you and your child”.

    The more I think about it, the angrier I feel about the allegation that Democracy Prep inappropriately and possibly illegally obtained student test data from other schools and misused that information to poach successful students from regular public schools. Don’t expect NYC schools to investigate, though. Meanwhile, Seth Andrew touts Korean-style education as the secret of his school’s success. Democracy Prep got busted only because an alert teacher asked about the letters and went to the trouble of matching up names with scores. Since these were her own students, she did not violate any confidentiality laws by checking them.

  • Seoul Guy
    12:06 pm on July 3rd, 2012 16

    #12, The building block to success is GPA. You need to have those basics nailed. English and Mathmatics are all important. Then comes other subjects like Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Sex Education…

  • InnocentBystander
    2:12 pm on July 3rd, 2012 17

    #16 Are you confusing GPA with something that actually matters?

    At any rate, I get your point – fundamental educational building blocks for all to have.

    There are many examples of successful individuals who stopped educating themselves, institutionally that is.

    - George Bernard Shaw, playwright, author. High school dropout.
    - Dave Thomas, billionaire founder of Wendy’s. High school dropout.
    - Harry Truman, U.S. president. Never went to college.
    - Richard Branson, billionaire founder of Virgin Music, Virgin Atlantic Airways, Virgin Mobile, and other Virgin enterprises. Left boarding school when he was 16.

    Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg…

    According to a recent report from Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research, 20% of America’s millionaires never attended college

  • Glans
    2:53 pm on July 3rd, 2012 18

    Innocent Bystander, I’m always skeptical of purported Einstein quotes. Instead of “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination,” wikiquote gives this:

    • I believe in intuition and inspiration. … At times I feel certain I am right while not knowing the reason. When the eclipse of 1919 confirmed my intuition, I was not in the least surprised. In fact I would have been astonished had it turned out otherwise. Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution. It is, strictly speaking, a real factor in scientific research.
    ◦ Cosmic Religion : With Other Opinions and Aphorisms (1931) by Albert Einstein, p. 97; also in Transformation : Arts, Communication, Environment (1950) by Harry Holtzman, p. 138. This may be an edited version of some nearly identical quotes from the 192 Viereck interview below.

    and the line from the Viereck interview is:
    I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.

    And I don’t think learning the Korean language will have any magic effects. Studying any foreign language, including Korean, is good. But there are in the world two Korean-speaking states. One is spectacularly successful, but the other is a dismal failure.

  • Avatar of USinKoreaUSinKorea
    3:26 pm on July 3rd, 2012 19

    Why do they never mention the hakwon system when they talk about how good the Korean educational system is compared to the US?

    Koreans kids that excell in school do so because their parents force them to spend long ours going from hakwon to hakwon until late in the afternoon. Much of their educational excellence comes from the work they have to do in hakwons.

    If they compared the test results of the Korean students who don’t go to hakwons, you’d see a very, very different story…

  • JoeC
    4:11 pm on July 3rd, 2012 20

    @11 GI Korea said:

    “At least these these lottery driven charter schools at least give parents that want to get their kids out of failing schools an option to do so.”

    Is it an option they are really offering or a chance? “Lottery” implies luck of the draw.

    It seems like almost every year we will see a story on 60 Minutes about the great achievements of a lottery charter school. I’ve seen a number of these “success stories” about such schools working in the inner city of New York alone. They usually involve keeping the kids in a stable, structured environment for as long as possible and removing as many distractions as possible to their task of learning. They are also given more leeway in the types of controls they can impose of the kids.

    That seems like a no-brainer (no pun intended) and has long ago been proven to work in boarding schools and boot camps. But just because something can be accomplished in controlled laboratory conditions doesn’t always extrapolate out to a practical solution for the real world.

    Besides the schools, kids have homes and communities they are part of. Those from dysfunction or distressed homes and survival of the fittest communities have a lot of distractions from their classroom academics. So yes, the more time they can be kept in those controlled laboratories and kept focused on the tasks of learning, the better.

    That extra time and attention is probably more expensive in teacher pay and what is required for the care and feeding of the students alone than a standard school. Unless the students are from well-to do families, where does that money come from?

    Some of the “success stories” have a wealthy backer or backers who pay for all those extra expenses and some even go so far as the offer a guaranteed, paid-for college tuition as a reward for those who complete primary and secondary school programs.

    Can that be practicably done for every student? If not, then it’s not really an option but a lucky opportunity some of those students will get by chance.

  • Avatar of USinKoreaUSinKorea
    5:01 pm on July 3rd, 2012 21

    JoeC and Sonagi both mention something I always throw into these conversations: Pointing the finger at the family (and by the extention the local community) when it comes to failing schools.

    But politicians dare not do that. Dare not blame parents and a whole community.

    No, they point to teachers and textbooks and the curriculum.

    And if some readers think I’m talking about inner city, minority areas, I’m not. I’m including the small town and rural areas too.

    Where I grew up, the big word on the mouths of teachers was apathy. Students could quit school and still get a job in a local factory and make a working class living. If parents didn’t promote education, kids could cake walk through school or just drop out, and most parents didn’t push the importance of education.

  • Bob
    5:58 pm on July 3rd, 2012 22

    What’s important in life is not your education but your desire to succeed.

    Family friend of ours has always had the trait and now runs a huge landscaping business.

    He got out of the Air Force as an E-9 determined to kick back and relax. He thought a life of sitting on the couch, drinking beer, and watching TV was exactly what he needed, a week and a half into his new life he was going crazy.

    So he started thinking about something to do, he didn’t want to have a boss, and he didn’t really care about money. He liked being out doors and one day when cutting his grass his neighbor commented how good it looked and if he wouldn’t mind giving him a hand with his yard.

    Well he did help out the neighbor saw that he really enjoyed it (the neighbor hated cutting grass) and offered to pay him, he accepted. That was the start.

    Now this guy doesn’t do anything unless it’s perfect. The result? He has one of the largest landscaping business in his region and has sales of 15 million plus a year.

    The desire to succeed is more important then the education you’ve received.

  • JoeC
    6:46 pm on July 3rd, 2012 23


    Your story seems to describe a guy who took advantage of an opportunity that came upon him even though he didn’t seek it out. Is the message you want to offer young people that that’s what they should look forward to?

    I’ll put this in caps. AN EDUCATION IS NECESSARY.

    Not everyone need a PhD or Masters but in today’s world, if you lead kids to believe they can get by on a high school diploma you will be placing then at a severe disadvantage.

    As an E-9 in the military, your friend would have acquired the equivalent of enough of a post-secondary education to prepare him to take advantage of that opportunity. Had he just been some schlup who liked to beautify his lawn but knew nothing about the planning, negotiating and financing necessary to get a business started would he have gotten far?

    Furthermore, even though we are living in an increasingly technological world, I would disagree with those who want all the attention given to the maths and science. Those lacking in the liberal arts will also find themselves disadvantaged because potential employers or investors will also assess their communication skills, their whole person social skills and their worldliness.

  • Avatar of USinKoreaUSinKorea
    6:47 pm on July 3rd, 2012 24

    22 – Unless the certificate or diploma is necessary for the career you want to have.

    I came back to the US the first time after 5 years of teaching experience, but I couldn’t teach in my homestate without getting a degree and certification in education – which did not greatly influence my teaching ability.

    I talked to a guy who had worked for some years in a well-known think tank who noted he couldn’t seem to get a job teaching college courses because he didn’t have a Phd.

    And then there is this – I checked out the think tanks related to Asia, and everyone of the people listed on the sites had degrees from Ivy League schools. Even the former generals and admirals on staff had one.

    Does that mean only Ivy League schools pump out individuals capable to doing think tank caliber work? No.

    It means they won’t look at you unless you have such a degree.

    I’ve been around several college programs now, and one of the smartest people I’ve ever known was a friend from high school who was the #1 student in our school and the county. The Ivy League schools didn’t give him a second look, because we didn’t go to a prep school or a school that had a lot of AP courses.

    So education, and where you are educated, does mean a good bit in many career areas.

    Now, if you mean “succeed” in the broadest sense, yeah, I can see it.

    That guy from high school went on to get a MA in computer science and now works for the Home Depot HQ. Not being able to go to an Ivy League school didn’t prevent him from being successful elsewhere, but without a college degree (education) many paths to success are closed off.

  • Seoul Guy
    6:51 pm on July 3rd, 2012 25

    #17, those high school drop outs you mentioned are all white people…. some were born with silver spoon in his mouth….. we’re talking about under privileged in your country.

  • Avatar of USinKoreaUSinKorea
    6:59 pm on July 3rd, 2012 26

    I’d add to #25 this: My undergrad school has been consistently ranked among the top small liberal arts colleges in the southeast (and US). But I noticed each year that the people who landed good jobs near graduation time — got the jobs through family connections.

  • InnocentBystander
    8:10 pm on July 3rd, 2012 27

    #25 …white people…silver spoon… I’ll assume you’re not making a correlation, cuz most white folk have no experience in this perception.

    #26 Don’t you think that’s human nature? You own a business, and with all things being fairly equal – who are you hiring? Family/friend or a stranger you know of from their resume? I would venture to say that most job-seeking adults do understand the value of connections – it’s probably 90% of the battle.

  • Avatar of USinKoreaUSinKorea
    12:03 am on July 4th, 2012 28

    27 – It is the way of the world, but knowing someone’s father adds no qualitative data beyond the resume of a complete stranger.

  • Seoul Guy
    3:00 am on July 4th, 2012 29

    #27, I do not disagree with you that “connections” do influence hirings. I have no data to support my assumption but I would have to say in general there are more white owned businesses in the States than there are black owned or minority owned businesses.

    For black kids out of schools, they have odds against them not for them.

    In that regard, black kids from inner-city area need to focus their goals. Part of formula to aid their chances of success in still-disadvantaged social status is to get solid background on their schoolwork.

    It is the most objective data that they can offer to whomever to prove their capabilities.

    They need every support they can get to even the ground so to speak.

    I believe those from the charter schools or equivalent can sow the seed for better life of their people. I surmise that noone else but them can do the job that their people need desperately.

  • Seoul Guy
    3:24 am on July 4th, 2012 30

    I think there’s a saying in Torah – you should teach your kids how to fish instead of catching one for them.

  • InnocentBystander
    8:14 am on July 4th, 2012 31

    #29 Good points across the board. Thanks for your candid and civilized discussion. Everyone deserves a quality education.

  • setnaffa
    1:36 pm on July 4th, 2012 32

    @29 your appeal to everyone being a racist is bovine scatology. The runny, smelly kind.

    Democrats control most of the areas where blacks live. And they even steal scholarships from their constituents (eg, EB Johnson). They inflict “Affirmative Action” rules that, far from helping minorities, offer “proof” that these minorities are not able to compete on an even playing field. At least that’s how all of the kids see it.

    On the other side are the black immigrants who, like a certain auto-repair guy in South Texas, came to this country with nothing but the clothes on their back and $500 in their pocket and in ten years had multiple shops, 100 employees, and over $1,000,000 in net worth…

    I could tell you about 100 others. No one in America is poor unless he wants to be. There are all kinds of “distasteful but legal” jobs out there for folks who are willing to work. If you’re too easily bored, or if you’re hooked on weed, TV, or video-games, well, that’s your choice. But there are felons who turned around and made a lot of money.

    The only people complaining are the people who want it without working for it or politicians who want a bigger bureaucracy to control the serfs and keep ‘em in their place.

  • setnaffa
    1:43 pm on July 4th, 2012 33

    @29, there are a lot more “non-blacks” than “blacks” in America. The proportion of “blacks” in leadership roles in publicly-traded corporations may not be recorded; but it is higher than you apparently think.

    Until we do away with classifying people by external characteristics, we’re always going to have issues (remember MLKjr’s Dream). But note that racism is built into the Democrat Party. Since before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that was a Republican thing… Since before the Jim Crow laws… Since before the Ku Klux Klan… And even before Jefferson Davis got elected President of the CSA…

  • Sonagi
    4:11 pm on July 4th, 2012 34

    I could tell you about 100 others. No one in America is poor unless he wants to be. There are all kinds of “distasteful but legal” jobs out there for folks who are willing to work. If you’re too easily bored, or if you’re hooked on weed, TV, or video-games, well, that’s your choice. But there are felons who turned around and made a lot of money.

    Implicit in your statement is the assumption that a adult employed full-time in an unskilled job, as most new jobs are, earns enough to pay the bills, including health insurance, with a little left over to save for emergencies or unexpected expenses. That is SOOOO not true! A few years before journalist Barbara Ehrenreich demolished that myth in the book Nickel and Dimed, I became a member of the working poor when I dropped out of college to live with my brother and work full-time as an assistant retail manager. After two years of struggling to make ends meet with no health insurance, I quit my job, moved back home with Mom, and returned to school. The ranks of the working poor have grown since I left that demographic, thanks to a drop in real wages for unskilled workers, due in part to an increase in the number off unlawful workers, most of whom work very, very hard but do not earn enough to feed their kids, often raising them among other families crowded into single-dwelling homes.

  • JoeC
    4:31 pm on July 4th, 2012 35

    When I read it, I thought that statement sounded an awful like, “If you don’t have a job and you’re not rich, blame yourself!”

  • Seoul Guy
    4:36 pm on July 4th, 2012 36

    #35, ;-) The Korean Prez Lee Myung Bak said the same thing. Everyone under 50 years of age treats him like an old analog Gold Star alarm clock. We can’t wait for old man like him to leave our most important public office.

  • Avatar of USinKoreaUSinKorea
    6:12 pm on July 4th, 2012 37

    34 I don’t know who to believe – so believe nobody when they talk about these topics.

    In the working class area where I’m from, I’ve seen families that said they couldn’t even buy their kids Christmas presents and relied on local churches, and I’ve seen families working the same jobs do more than just make ends meet.

    People like my aunt who thinks she has to spend any money she gets before it can hit her pocket. People who have their income tax return spent on this or that before it arrives. People who can’t buy kids Christmas but spend a good bit on alcohol and cigerrets each week.

    When I was a cop for a little while, I got used to seeing huge TVs and expensive stereo set ups in low income, government supported housing.

    When I worked summer jobs in the factories, I did see immigrants living in packs and frugal lives, but that was because they were sending the bulk of their money back home.

    And then there is my wife and me. Hawaii is supposed to be one of the most expensive places in the US to live, but my wife and I lived farily comfortably with her making $8 an hour while I concentrated on graduate school.

    A big motivation I have teaching high school is to give students the analytical and organizational skills they need to keep from being one of those families that can’t figure out why the life keeps kicking them as they waste their resources away…

  • Sonagi
    6:38 pm on July 4th, 2012 38

    I’d be interested in seeing a budget and knowing where you were living. Just the two of you and no kids to support, right?

    You are correct that there are people who are poor because they buy things they don’t need and people who are poor because their paychecks don’t cover bare necessities, including housing located in a safe neighborhood with a reasonable commute. I don’t visit homes, but I do see the vehicles that drop off our students, most of whom get free and reduced lunch, and notice clothing purchases.

  • guitard
    7:13 pm on July 4th, 2012 39

    Funny thing . . . the military used to be that one last saving grace in American society.

    Don’t have a high school diploma? No problem.
    Got a criminal record? No problem.
    Got a spouse and a bunch of kids? No problem. We’ll give you a pay check, a place big enough for your family, and free health care for all of them.

    If you had exhausted every last opportunity available . . . you could always fall back on the good ol’ US military.

    But now . . . even kids with college degrees have to wait in line to get into the Air Force. The other services are really picky also.

  • Avatar of USinKoreaUSinKorea
    7:34 pm on July 4th, 2012 40

    Right. My wife and I decided not to have kids when we couldn’t afford them (and didn’t want to get money from the government to raise them when we couldn’t afford them on our own). During my grad school days, we couldn’t put aside money for the future, and we had to work at managing out budget, but we were also in Hawaii where the beach was close by and free…

    I’ve never lived in an inner city, but I grew up among working class poor. I can’t recall anybody who had a job who couldn’t afford basic necessities that wasn’t wasting money on things they didn’t need. The people I can think of in chronic poverty were those who had trouble holding down a job — were periodically unemployed frequently and/or for long periods of time.

    I’m saying – in my experience, I don’t remember seeing any bonafide “working poor.” What set one family apart from another with similar income where personal choices.

    The most content people I’ve met were my father’s parents who lived their lives since I knew them on social security.

    You don’t have to make a million dollars to be a success in life. And making a multi-million dollar salary doesn’t guarantee a successful life…

    I do say it is significantly different for 1 person trying to go it alone – without a spouse or significant other or at least a roommate to share rent with.

    Even more difficult for a single mom, but I have to confess they don’t get much sympathy from me. That was a personal choice. I’d have to know more about their history before I’d give sympathy.

  • Avatar of USinKoreaUSinKorea
    9:00 pm on July 4th, 2012 41

    Burger flippers — This thread has reminded me of one of my pet-peeves. On the K-blogs, we read a lot of expats putting down almost all other expats as being nothing more than losers who couldn’t get better than a burger flipping job back home. — To me it is clear arrogance and stupidity.

    In high school, I worked at Wendy’s to have pocket money, and sometimes I worked the day shift where there were people for whom the job was their career.

    It wasn’t a career I thought was for me or now something I could be satisfied with, but for most of those I worked with, it worked out fine.

    In short, their lifestyle matched their personality and they made their budget work for them.

    There are plenty of people — across the income brackets — for whom that is not true.

    I personally could never make it as a small business owner. The couple I’ve known seemed to be owned by their business rather than the other way around. If it is something you love doing, then dedicating so much of your life to it, even taking time away from your family, can make sense for that you, but it wouldn’t be for me — no matter how much income it generated — and it wouldn’t fit me any more than being a grillman at Wendy’s. But I have seen people for whom that worked out pretty well.

    To each his own…

  • someotherguy
    1:32 am on July 5th, 2012 42


    IDK the Army is still recruiting, always need fresh blood, just might not be in the MOS you want. The pickiest thing about the Army is their medical standards. They tend not to want to recruit people with chronic medical conditions.

    My parents were poor when I was younger. Seven children (four dads previous marriage), mom as a LPN and dad unable to hold a long term job (Vietnam PTSD before the big settlement). They made huge sacrifices to ensure us kids always had clothes on our backs (even if they were hand me downs or from salvation army / donations), food on the table (leftovers / macaroni / ect) and a roof over our head (dad was constantly fixing the house). Mother was so busy working night shift hours (slightly more money) that we were raised by our dad, who would often go off at loud noises (after VA settlement he got counseling). My parents always had strict rules regarding school, we must maintain high grades or face grounding, or worse. My dad would sit at the table at night with me and help with homework. Spelling was my worst subject, nearly failing it, dad would sit down and force me to write the words out 10 times each then show them to him. Basically my parents created their own homework to ensure we did good in school.

    Thing eventually got better, after the big settlement dad got counseling and disability, mom was able to cut back on the hours and finish her degree to become a RN. The older kids graduated and went on to join the military or move away, no money for college so they had to make their way. Which goes on to something my parents would force into our heads, that we must rely on ourselves one we’re adults, they can’t help us then. All of us kids (except my youngest sister, different story) moves away from the home after high-school and lived our own lives, no help expected from parents.

    What’s missing from youth these days is the parents teaching and guiding them, providing a positive role model and enforcing the idea of self reliance early on. Children just do not care about learning, to them school is something their forced to do, it’s free daycare for older kids. If the kids do not desire to learn, then no amount of money nor quality teachers will change that. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.

  • Seoul Guy
    1:36 am on July 5th, 2012 43

    I see many Westerners on the streets of Seoul. Asia seems to be still exploding in terms of economic development.

    You can always come out to Asia and teach English. There is huge demand out there. As Asian economies matures, they would all be like Hong Kong or Singapore.
    Jobs may not be relegated to teaching English.

    This where it is happening. I think teaching American kids an Asian language or two might provide them with ample opportunities down the road.

  • Seoul Guy
    1:45 am on July 5th, 2012 44

    #42, thanks for sharing that… much like many Korean families way back when… nowadays, many parents in dire conditions just commit mass suicide.. i.e. take lives of their children and themselves… strange phenomenon unique to Korea.

  • Sonagi
    8:59 am on July 5th, 2012 45

    Bona-fide working poor? My family for part of my childhood. My dad was a gas station manager whose company decided to offer a franchise option. My dad and some others took the chance and saw their incomes grow as they increased their take-home pay by selling extra goods and services, thus benefitting directly from their own salesmanship and initiative, the way capitalism is supposed to work. The company got greedy and startd upping its wholesale prices. My dad was the last holdout, relying on food stamps to feed us when he brought home very little before he finally caved in. We also spent a chilly Michigan November without heat during the oil embargo because my parents couldn’t afford to,fill the tank. We kept our coats on all the time, even sleeping in them and sat around the electric oven with the door,open to warm our hands in the morning before school. Oh, and after my dad died, my mom went back to school to brush up on her secretarial skills to get a decent full-time job with benefits. During that time, she avoided food stamps but did get a reduction on her government-backed mortgage payments and visited the local food bank.

    My parents had several children because my devout Catholic mother would not use birth control. As kids, we understood the cause-effect link between large families and poverty. Today my still devout mother wonders why none of her Catholic school and CCD-educated kids is a practicing Catholic. When I think about the poor women in the Phillipines and elsewhere who lack birth control choices because of the political and cultural influence of the Catholic Church, I get angry, then I get happy that I threw off the shackles, liberated myself, and evolved into an atheist.

    I am grateful that my family had a safety net and sad to see some turn it into a hammock.

  • setnaffa
    12:55 pm on July 5th, 2012 46

    Ultimately it’s a series of choices. Sonagi talks about making ends meet; but “poor” folks these days don’t have to feed their kids powdered milk.

    We ate a lot of “tuna and noodles” (to the point I don’t eat tuna any more); but we never went hungry. My folks didn’t have a color TV until I was in high school. And we only had one car, too. But we never thought of ourselves as poor.

    Able-bodied folks who don’t work but collect government checks while complaining about how few channels they get on their subsidized cable or satellite just have my contempt. They’re parasites.

    The Government handles the charity business poorly.

  • Seoul Guy
    3:51 pm on July 5th, 2012 47

    ;-) #46, there are too many of those “parasites” in your country who would vote for Mr. Obama. I bet white folks can’t wait until they take their country back from no good colored foreigners. My observation: America’s biggest problem is apathy. It is deeply shrouded under so called individualism and white suburbs.

  • someotherguy
    6:32 pm on July 5th, 2012 48

    Oh lord, tuna and noodles …. I remember that. Or “Goulash”, canned stewed tomatoes with macaroni noodles. Shepard’s pie (I kinda liked this one) made from a weeks worth of leftovers. The things you learn to make from a bag of beans. Cereal (generic from the big bags) with a 50/50 mix of milk/water. And … yuck I hated powdered milk.

    Many of today’s kids have no idea how good they have it. They expect everything right now, the way they want it and with an attitude to boot.

    Sonagi, my parents were from the other “big family” church, the Latter Day Saints.

  • setnaffa
    7:06 pm on July 5th, 2012 49

    Seoul Guy, are you really that intellectually shallow? White, suburban racists? I was talking about non-working folks stealing from workers. My family is not “white”, so you’re way off there, too.

    And who mentioned Obama?

    You should get professional counseling…

  • setnaffa
    7:08 pm on July 5th, 2012 50

    @48, someotherguy, I forgot about goulash!! I loved that stuff…

  • Lemmy
    7:24 pm on July 5th, 2012 51

    An idiot can graduate from Harvard and he’s still an idiot.

  • Tom
    7:35 pm on July 5th, 2012 52

    Americans ripping off the Korean education system.

  • Seoul Guy
    10:26 pm on July 5th, 2012 53

    #49, :mrgreen: Sorry, that was a sucker punch… Anyhow… Things ought to get better

  • Denny
    8:52 pm on July 8th, 2012 54

    Chris Rock blasts White People for celebrating Independence Day

    Comedian Chris Rock has infuriated millions with his “White People’s Day” tweet posted on July 4.

    Ever the controversial figure, the actor is not one to hold back spewing out politically incorrect statements.

    On Independence Day, this what Chris tweeted:

    “Happy white peoples independence day the slaves weren’t free but I’m sure they enjoyed fireworks.”

    Conservatives are reportedly digging up dirt on the extremely outspoken comedian. Rock hasn’t apologized for his bash against white people, which decidedly would be incredibly uncharacteristic.

    Many feel Chris Rock’s July 4 comment was unpatriotic and many are planning to boycott his films. The comedian hasn’t released an official statement about why he tweeted such a post he knew would spark some sort of public outcry.

  • JoeC
    12:36 am on July 9th, 2012 55


    He should have googled Crispus Attucks first. :!:

  • Kam
    1:46 am on August 16th, 2012 56

    @ 54 It’s not unpatriotic at all.
    Read “What to the slave is the Fourth of July” by Frederick Douglass. We really need to stop having this sugar coated version of American history and false patriotism. It insults the intelligence. Any true lover of American history would be able to understand what Rock is saying even though it might make them uncomfortable. We have an uncomfortable history. Period.


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