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Prime Example of Today’s Public Education

  • Prime Example of Today’s Public Education

  • 9 September 2007 by 0 Comments

Prime Example of Today’s Public Education
By Richard Larsen
Published – Idaho State Journal, 09/09/07

I find it disturbing that so many are mocking an answer provided by a teen beauty pageant contestant last week. In the Miss Teen USA Pageant, Lauren Caitlin Upton, Miss South Carolina Teen USA, was given a very challenging question to answer on live TV.

She was asked, “Recent polls show a fifth of Americans can’t locate the US on a world map. Why do you think this is?”

Her answer was, “I personally believe that US-Americans are unable to do so because, uh, some people out there in our nation don’t have maps, and I believe that our education, like such as South Africa and the Iraq, everywhere like such as, and I believe that they should — our education over here in the US should help the US — or should help South Africa and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries, so we will be able to build up our future for our children.”

The natural tendency for anyone with a high school diploma more than twenty years old may feel sorry for the young lady. But those who are products of contemporary public education will undoubtedly see the answer as completely cogent based on political correctness and outcome based education models for the past twenty years.

For example, she distinguishes US-Americans from Americans. In today’s politically correct culture, all Americans are hyphenated: African-Americans, Mexican-Americans, Asian-Americans. There’s no such thing as just a plain old “American.” Plus there’s the added dimension of distinguishing US-Americans from all others in the Western Hemisphere since technically we’re all Americans, whether we live in Canada, Mexico, or South America.

She’s also correct in stating that some Americans don’t have maps. And it appears obvious that many emerging from high school these days haven’t seen any in school either . But that’s actually more appropriate for today’s youth since geography is mostly a subject based on facts, and that’s difficult to fit into the outcome based education model. Her geography requirement in high school was probably filled by taking the course “Human Geography and Mental Mapping.” According to the National Geographic website, this approach to geography asserts that “We all form impressions and images of our physical surroundings—even of places we’ve never been. These impressions are what geographers call our mental maps. Geographers are interested in the concept of mental maps and how they are developed.”

So in this approach to teaching geography, the petty details of where countries are located on the map fade into insignificance in favor of how the student “feels” about different regions on the globe. This makes it easier to sort out politically incorrect concepts evidencing insensitivity to people of diversity around the globe, without getting bogged down with inconsequential details like where the U.S. is on that globe.

Her next phrase perfectly mirrors what she has been taught in her public school. She equates the wrongs of “the Iraq” and South Africa with the U.S. She’s been taught all through school that everything that’s wrong in the world is the fault of the U.S. The one thing she missed in her answer here was invoking the name of George W. Bush, for everything wrong with the world is his fault. It’s too bad she missed that important detail.

I’m not sure what she meant by the next phrase, that education in the U.S. should help the U.S. That really is a non sequitur, for education in much of today’s public system is supposed to be more about standardized “outcomes” placing all students on a level playing field, as exemplified by many districts around the country abolishing valedictorians, because that causes some to stand out above the pack and may hurt the feelings of other students who may not earn such an appellation based on performance.

But she gets the next part right when she properly states that our education should help “the Iraq” and South Africa and Asia. Because when we “feel” for the disadvantaged in other regions of the world, we really are helping them because of our emotional angst over their disadvantaged situation. It’s no good to actually do something, like fight for their freedom and their safety and protection when our “feelings” are so much more effectual.

Then she concludes with the very politically correct conclusion “so we will be able to build up our future for our children.” This shows she’s learned her lessons well, for everything in society, politics, and even economics can be qualified with that perspective, “for the children.” For example, we shouldn’t run up the Federal debt fighting evil people who want to kill us so we don’t leave a deficit “for the children.” And we shouldn’t allow our health care system to be based on the free market system, even though it’s the best in the world, but we should allow the government to run it, since it does everything so much more efficiently. Universal access to a mediocre health-care system is much better than more limited access to an excellent system. And, you guessed it, it’s “for the children.” And we shouldn’t do anything to try to fix Social Security now, because since it’s so well run it’ll be bankrupt in twenty years or so, and this is “for the children.” Well, I guess that one doesn’t work.

As further proof that she was an outstanding student, she told South Carolina’s “The State” newspaper the next day, “I didn’t do anything wrong.” Not only could her answer not be wrong in the outcome based educational system, but it perfectly reflected the lessons she’s obviously been taught for the past several years. Even her principal said she was an “excellent student” in high school.

Perhaps the biggest flaw in her answer was that she only said “like” two times. To fit the appropriate speech pattern of contemporary teenagers her response of 85 words should have included “like” at least 21 times to approximate the 1:4 ratio most youth incorporate today.

Maybe the teaching of geography in our public school system should be outsourced to Mexico, for they don’t seem to have any problem locating the U.S. on their maps.

Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, and is a graduate of Idaho State University with a BA in Political Science and History and former member of the Idaho State Journal Editorial Board. He can be reached at

About the

More than anything, I want my readers to think. We're told what to think by the education establishment, which is then parroted by politicians from the left, and then reinforced by the mainstream media. Steeped in classical liberalism, my ideological roots are based in the Constitution and our founding documents. Armed with facts, data, and correct principles, today's conservatives can see through the liberal haze and bring clarity to any political discussion.

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