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Vouchers: My Personal Case
Townhall.com ^ | July 25, 2013 | Larry Elder

Posted on 07/25/2013 3:52:19 AM PDT by Kaslin

"I think you should check out the APEX program," my high school counselor Mrs. Workman suggested.

APEX stood for Area Program Enrichment Exchange, and involved several L.A. area high schools, including Fairfax High. Intended for "advanced" students, the program allowed them to take courses not offered at their home school.

In my case, I had exhausted all of the Spanish courses at Crenshaw High, the predominately black inner-city school I attended. But Fairfax, predominately Jewish, had higher-level courses and would accept me.

"It'll be a way for you to continue your Spanish -- where, I see from your transcript, you excel. I'd suggest you do this," she said.

"How does the program work?"

Each morning, she explained, a school bus would pick up the APEX students -- by definition a group of supposedly "high-level, college-bound kids" -- and bus them to their chosen school. We would attend two classes each morning at the APEX school, after which we would be bused back to Crenshaw.

"Where do I sign?"

Mrs. Workman laughed, "I expect you to do well."

About that I had little doubt. After all, I made mostly A's, and did particularly well in Spanish. I ranked sixth or seventh in a class of 250. Of course I would do well.

But I didn't.

I knew I was in for a ride when I walked into class that first day at Fairfax. The teacher greeted me in Spanish. But I noticed that everyone in the class spoke in Spanish. I don't mean the halting way I spoke, with iffy grammar and conjugation. These kids were fluent! I was shocked.

Despite the stack of Spanish course A's I had piled up since middle school, I never really thought achieving fluency in a class setting was possible -- unless you lived in Mexico or Spain or had Spanish-speaking parents.

But it became clear that from the time these Fairfax kids took their first Spanish course -- and, for that matter, every other course -- teachers demanded far more from students than Crenshaw teachers demanded of us. The Fairfax kids also demanded more of themselves. And they were matter-of-fact about the high expectations their parents had for them.

When I came home from that first day at Fairfax, I cried.

"These A's I'd been getting," I told my mom, "were crap. Probably C's at Fairfax. It's as if I'd been playing Little League baseball -- and now I'm playing against the Dodgers."

"You're right," she said, "it's not fair -- but do your best. You'll rise to the occasion."

I got an F on my first test. This was followed by more F's and D's. There was a lot of oral class participation, and the teacher and students were patient as I butchered the language. They felt sorry for me.

The final exam, which accounted for most of the grade, was a written book report on Don Quixote -- also to be given orally, without notes, while standing in front of the class. Holy bleep!

I busted my butt, worked my way through the book, and wrote and memorized my presentation. I checked and rechecked my report. Then I practiced it in front of the bathroom mirror. Never had I worked as hard on anything in school. I vowed not to be embarrassed.

I spoke third. After each student spoke, the no-nonsense teacher immediately critiqued the speech, corrected grammar and syntax, and offered ways to improve.

My turn. The walk to the front of the class took forever. "I'll show them," I said over and over. I cleared my throat and let it rip. I knew I had rocked when, after I finished, no one said anything, not even the teacher. Who was that fluent guy in Larry's body?

"Bien, senor Elder," the teacher finally said. "Muy bien."

I told my mom what happened. She didn't use the word "voucher," but she wondered why parents couldn't choose the school to which they send their kids, rather than the one -- good or bad -- that happens to be the closest.

"Doesn't seem right," said Mom. My Fairfax experience, she said, "shows what happens when kids are pushed. I can't do anything about this. But maybe someday you can."

Hopefully, I just did.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial
KEYWORDS: education; highschool; homeschoolingisgood; publicschool; publicschools; race; schools; vouchers
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1 posted on 07/25/2013 3:52:19 AM PDT by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin

Larry Elder and his mother both wanted him to excel. He escaped the failure mindset, but too many would be pilloried for acting white and then assaulted or killed if they didn’t run with the hoodies.


2 posted on 07/25/2013 4:03:21 AM PDT by Truth29
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To: Truth29
Larry Elder and his mother both wanted him to excel.

You have to have that burning desire to do what Larry did, usually put there by your parents. A lot of kids don't because the parents taught them how to quit, blame others, and make excuses for their failure instead.

3 posted on 07/25/2013 4:19:48 AM PDT by Right Wing Assault (Dick Obama is more inexperienced now than he was before he was elected.)
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To: Kaslin
I told my mom what happened. She didn't use the word "voucher," but she wondered why parents couldn't choose the school to which they send their kids, rather than the one -- good or bad -- that happens to be the closest.

I was born into poverty, and for the most part, was raised in the poverty victimhood culture. However, my mother was concerned about my education. If I complained that a school was not challenging enough academically, she would put me in another school.

Much of my school time was spent tutoring other students. Since the teachers knew that I would grasp the material after the first explanation, they figured that I would be able to explain the concepts to the less gifted students in my class.

4 posted on 07/25/2013 4:24:27 AM PDT by exDemMom (Now that I've finally accepted that I'm living a bad hair life, I'm more at peace with the world.)
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To: Kaslin
The story of personal dedication and achievement is heartwarming and disheartening at the same time.

It breaks my heart to see someone work so, so hard to accept our unfortunate fate and give away his country's language for another whose importance has grown because so many of the illegals (illiterate in their own languages) will not assimilate.

It is further humiliatingly ironic that while we Americans are relegated to having to learn the language of our Reconquistadors, both they and we forget they speak the language of their Conquistadors of so long ago.

Pathetic.

5 posted on 07/25/2013 4:37:10 AM PDT by Gaffer
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To: exDemMom

K through 9 at public school. Applied to prep school. They made me take 9 over again. I was not pleased, but I never would have lasted the year in 10th. All Freshman had to take Latin. I hated it, and did so poorly they let me drop it. Before I quit the class, we all took a standardized test given to college freshman. My teach had to come down to the study hall, which was my replacement for Latin, and give me my award for scoring in the top 1% of college Freshman. I had learned more Latin in less than one year than my public school friends had learned in three years.
There’s just no comparison.


6 posted on 07/25/2013 4:52:22 AM PDT by Dr. Bogus Pachysandra ( Ya can't pick up a turd by the clean end!)
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To: Kaslin
First of all...Spanish is the language of poverty,illiteracy and crime.If one wants to learn a worthwhile foreign language they should try German,Japanese or Madarin.
7 posted on 07/25/2013 5:00:04 AM PDT by Gay State Conservative (If Obama Had A City It Would Look Like Detroit.)
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To: Gay State Conservative

And you should know it’s Mandarin, not Madarin


8 posted on 07/25/2013 5:08:12 AM PDT by Kaslin (He needed the ignorant to reelect him, and he got them. Now we all have to pay the consequenses)
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To: Gay State Conservative

I enjoy Free Republic a lot. Most commenters appear to share my values. However, I utterly detest the blind prejudice and ignorance that your comment displays. Please do not display your bigotry and racism.


9 posted on 07/25/2013 5:14:32 AM PDT by bjc
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To: Gay State Conservative

There is opportunity in the South. We have great trade with our southern neighbors. Knowing spanish could be of great help to your boss when dealing with Spanish speaking customers. It should not be dismissed out of hand.

I agree learning mandarin is also good

Being able to communicate beyond our border will be a major asset to an employer


10 posted on 07/25/2013 5:17:28 AM PDT by bert ((K.E. N.P. N.C. +12 ..... Travon... Felony assault and battery hate crime)
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To: Gay State Conservative

First of all...Spanish is the language of poverty,illiteracy and crime.

__________________________________

Debes aprender un poco más de historia.


11 posted on 07/25/2013 5:17:49 AM PDT by SumProVita (Cogito, ergo....Sum Pro Vita - Modified Descartes)
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To: Right Wing Assault

My cousin graduated valedictorian at his inner city school. Got a full ride to a private college. He lasted two weeks and quit because it was “too hard.”


12 posted on 07/25/2013 5:18:44 AM PDT by ReagansShinyHair
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To: SumProVita
Debes aprender un poco más de historia.

Tienez usted dolor en la cabesa?

13 posted on 07/25/2013 5:19:20 AM PDT by Gay State Conservative (If Obama Had A City It Would Look Like Detroit.)
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To: Gay State Conservative
First of all...Spanish is the language of poverty,illiteracy and crime.

...and all this time, I thought it was Ebonics.

14 posted on 07/25/2013 5:21:07 AM PDT by TADSLOS (The Event Horizon has come and gone. Buckle up and hang on.)
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To: Gay State Conservative
First of all...Spanish is the language of poverty,illiteracy and crime.If one wants to learn a worthwhile foreign language they should try German,Japanese or Madarin.

This remark is collapsing star dense. Were you a breech birth?
15 posted on 07/25/2013 5:21:26 AM PDT by PA Engineer (Liberate America from the Occupation Media.)
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To: Gay State Conservative

Learning a foreign language, ANY language, is a wonderful skill and provides a great educational basis. If you can learn Spanish, you can move onto Italian, French etc... Heck, if you can master Mandarin, as you suggest, you can more easily learn any other foreign language.


16 posted on 07/25/2013 5:25:48 AM PDT by clarissaexplainsitall
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To: Gay State Conservative
First of all...Spanish is the language of poverty,illiteracy and crime.If one wants to learn a worthwhile foreign language they should try German,Japanese or Madarin.

I work with quite a few white-collar professionals in the pharma industry, Puerto Ricans, who would disagree with you.

17 posted on 07/25/2013 5:52:23 AM PDT by Oberon (Big Brutha Be Watchin'.)
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To: Gay State Conservative

I have no desire to attack you, but I think it is important to clearly document a general disagreement with your apparent attitudes.


18 posted on 07/25/2013 5:53:56 AM PDT by conejo99
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To: bjc
However, I utterly detest the blind prejudice and ignorance that your comment displays.

OK,a quick summary.According to IMF stats for 2010-2012 Mexico had a per capita GDP that was lower than that of the Seychelles and Gabon (among many others).Guatemala's was lower that that of Mongolia,Namibia and East Timor.Bolivia's was lower than Guatemala's.Argentina's was lower than Equatorial Guinea's.And within Western/Central Europe Spain's was about 75% of that of Ireland,Austria,Switzerland and Germany.And it was close to half of Norway's.

So show me where I'm wrong regarding the "poverty" part of it.

And after we cover the "poverty" question we'll move on to "crime".Can you say "human heads displayed from lamp posts"?

19 posted on 07/25/2013 5:55:06 AM PDT by Gay State Conservative (If Obama Had A City It Would Look Like Detroit.)
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To: PA Engineer

Post #19


20 posted on 07/25/2013 5:58:24 AM PDT by Gay State Conservative (If Obama Had A City It Would Look Like Detroit.)
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To: conejo99

Post #19


21 posted on 07/25/2013 5:59:57 AM PDT by Gay State Conservative (If Obama Had A City It Would Look Like Detroit.)
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To: Oberon
I work with quite a few white-collar professionals in the pharma industry, Puerto Ricans, who would disagree with you.

I saw a thing on the tube the other day...a documentary on the drug trade there...that said that somewhere around two thirds of Puerto Ricans are on food stamps.If that's even *close* to being accurate that would tend to show your white collar co-workers to be the exception to the rule.Hell,I visited Tanzania some years back as the guest of a physician I worked with in Boston.After that visit I can assure you that although he received medical training in Europe and the US and looked very much like his fellow Tanzanians he didn't live like them...if you catch my drift.

22 posted on 07/25/2013 6:09:53 AM PDT by Gay State Conservative (If Obama Had A City It Would Look Like Detroit.)
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To: Gay State Conservative

Yes but learning a language should not be a major course of study unless you are going to be a translator. We are far behind in STEM fields, fund that study.


23 posted on 07/25/2013 6:14:55 AM PDT by Resolute Conservative
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To: bert

No, they should speak English in this country.


24 posted on 07/25/2013 6:15:31 AM PDT by Resolute Conservative
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To: Resolute Conservative

There is opportunity for those willing to look over the top of their rut and see a great world beyond that wants American products


25 posted on 07/25/2013 6:27:29 AM PDT by bert ((K.E. N.P. N.C. +12 ..... Travon... Felony assault and battery hate crime)
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To: Resolute Conservative

At least partly to be argumentative I’ll present this theory.

I think studying anything with great vigor is helpful. I imagine that a tradition of Talmudic studies in the Jewish subculture encouraged a set of attitudes and abilities that predisposed those immigrants to excel in fields that require academic credentials.
I have often been of the opinion that the education provided in my field (programming or computer science) was of very limited direct help to new employees. Most of what they need to know is taught on the job after they are hired. An intelligent hard working person with no prior experience would be a better new hire than a slow and lazy person with a university degree in IT.
Except for the self selection and lack of objective standards perhaps even Woman’s studies or Ethnic studies would serve.


26 posted on 07/25/2013 6:32:50 AM PDT by conejo99
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To: conejo99

You are correct but speaking in terms of making you focus of studies on something that will not assist you in gaining a profitable career is a losing proposition at best. I am a supporter of study more things than less, but make sure you concentrate your effort on the one that will afford you to study the others.


27 posted on 07/25/2013 7:02:00 AM PDT by Resolute Conservative
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To: Gay State Conservative
...the exception to the rule.

I don't think there's a rule, but I'll ask around. Maybe our Executive VP in charge of Manufacturing for North America, one Mr. Corchero, will have an opinion...

28 posted on 07/25/2013 7:02:20 AM PDT by Oberon (Big Brutha Be Watchin'.)
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To: ReagansShinyHair
"My cousin graduated valedictorian at his inner city school. Got a full ride to a private college. He lasted two weeks and quit because it was “too hard.”"

I taught science in the inner city for a semester last year. I found out very quickly that the school admin wouldn't back me up if I held the kids to a high standard of learning. Unfortunately, they were coming in at such a low level of literacy, numeracy, and work ethic, that high-school level science was beyond the reach of most of them. The only way for me to survive was to give them a lot of homework for which they received credit. They could pass on 'effort' while failing most of their tests. After a couple of months of beating my head against the wall I realized that the veteran teachers were surviving by giving kids tests a day in advance, by dramatically curving the test results, and by assigning generously graded projects. It's just the academic version of the old Iron Curtain workplace - kids pretend to work and teachers pretend that they're learning.

The problems of these poorly performing schools are very deep. The cumulative damage done by the time kids are in high school is very difficult to address once the youngsters are in the upper grades. With motivation, students can make up a lot of ground, but there has to be a drive and desire to make it happen. Few of them have that drive.

There is a crying need to strengthen the pre-school and early elementary education of our students. That requires stronger home literacy, parents who hold their kids to a high standard, and high-caliber elementary teachers. Not easy. Until people believe that they need an education in order to survive and take care of their families, many of them will be satisfied to coast along in school. Our welfare state is a big part of what is undermining education. I'm not sure that many of our citizens are willing to prune it back enough to re-establish a society with a strong education and work ethic. They would have to watch people struggle with failure and the consequences of irresponsibility. A financial collapse of the welfare state would be painful, but might be the start of re-building our educational system from the ground up.

29 posted on 07/25/2013 7:31:06 AM PDT by Think free or die
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To: Oberon
I don't think there's a rule, but I'll ask around.

According to a September 2012 US Census Bureau report,as reported by Wikipedia (a link to which I've included): "in 2010 the median income in Puerto Rico was $19,370, which is just over half that of the poorest state (Mississippi, $37,838) and 37% of the nationwide average ($51,144)".And when considering *those* stats,ask your self "what percentage of Puerto Rico's "national" comes in the form of EBT cards,medicaid,SSDI,Section 8,WIC,etc?"

Maybe our Executive VP in charge of Manufacturing for North America, one Mr. Corchero, will have an opinion...

See above...and below.

US Census Bureau Report (September 2012)

30 posted on 07/25/2013 7:47:23 AM PDT by Gay State Conservative (If Obama Had A City It Would Look Like Detroit.)
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To: Oberon

what percentage of Puerto Rico’s “national” = what percentage of Puerto Rico’s “national” income


31 posted on 07/25/2013 7:49:59 AM PDT by Gay State Conservative (If Obama Had A City It Would Look Like Detroit.)
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To: Gay State Conservative
...and that makes Spanish the language of poverty?

You're making a number of logical leaps in this whole thought process, but since you've decided to double down on your position I'll let it go.

32 posted on 07/25/2013 8:03:21 AM PDT by Oberon (Big Brutha Be Watchin'.)
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To: Gay State Conservative

Thanks for hanging in there and so ably defending your original point.


33 posted on 07/25/2013 8:23:24 AM PDT by Balding_Eagle (When America falls, darkness will cover the face of the earth for a thousand years.)
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To: Oberon
...and that makes Spanish the language of poverty?

That's a good question.

Or could it be the culture, and they just happen to use Spanish as their langauge? What is your theory?

34 posted on 07/25/2013 8:26:21 AM PDT by Balding_Eagle (When America falls, darkness will cover the face of the earth for a thousand years.)
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To: Balding_Eagle

I don’t have a theory, but it appears that Gay State Conservative does.


35 posted on 07/25/2013 8:32:49 AM PDT by Oberon (Big Brutha Be Watchin'.)
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To: Gay State Conservative

You also need to learn how to spell simple words.

(No me duele la cabeza para nada.)


36 posted on 07/25/2013 8:39:06 AM PDT by SumProVita (Cogito, ergo....Sum Pro Vita - Modified Descartes)
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To: Gay State Conservative

Utter nonsense. You display an alarming lack of logic and critical reasoning skills. I do not question for one moment that there is a level of barbarity in Mexico. Or that there is a huge crime problem in the large cities throughout Latin America not to mention the US and the UK. It is also true that a large number illegal immigrants who are Spanish speaking are involved in violent crimes in the US. Your offensive statement was with respect to the learning of a language per se. It remains a dumb and offensive statement.

Your use of statistics is also totally misleading and the comparisons are silly and naïve. Spain’s GDP per person is higher than New Zealand’s and about the same as Israel. Norway’s GDP is 25% higher that the US (according to the World Bank). Not that it will mean much to someone as prejudiced as you appear to be but they speak Spanish in both Guatemala and Equatorial Guinea!


37 posted on 07/25/2013 8:50:08 AM PDT by bjc
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To: Oberon

So far Gay State has only made observations of the current situation.


38 posted on 07/25/2013 8:52:49 AM PDT by Balding_Eagle (When America falls, darkness will cover the face of the earth for a thousand years.)
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To: Balding_Eagle

He positively stated “Spanish is the language of poverty,illiteracy and crime.” If you want to know what he meant by that you’ll have to ask him, not me.


39 posted on 07/25/2013 9:24:23 AM PDT by Oberon (Big Brutha Be Watchin'.)
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To: Gay State Conservative
Argentina's was lower than Equatorial Guinea's

That is amazing, although I would pick living in Argentina any day over Equatorial Guinea. That miserable country's per capita earnings position comes from off shore oil production almost totally run by and operated by European and North American labor. Still, it is an amazing comedown for Argentina, which in the period of 1900 to 1910 was generally thought to have the highest per capita income in the world. The picture of the opulence of Argentina at this time in Hiram Bingham’s ‘Across South America; an account of a journey from Buenos Aires to Lima by way of Potosí, with notes on Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, and Peru’ published in 1910 is a stark reminder of what can befall nations whose political and social systems have deeply embedded flaws.

40 posted on 07/25/2013 10:03:53 AM PDT by robowombat
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To: robowombat

In 1910 it was thought that Argentina was on the brink of world leadership & was the country of the future.


41 posted on 07/25/2013 10:12:04 AM PDT by LongWayHome
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To: Kaslin

Today, he would be immersed in Spanish just walking outside


42 posted on 07/25/2013 10:16:41 AM PDT by GeronL
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To: Dr. Bogus Pachysandra

Rachel Jeantel will have a rude awakening the first day of Law School.

Then will she throw a fit about how unfair it is.


43 posted on 07/25/2013 10:18:11 AM PDT by GeronL
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To: Gay State Conservative

I would rather learn Korean!


44 posted on 07/25/2013 10:18:47 AM PDT by GeronL
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To: bjc
Utter nonsense. You display an alarming lack of logic and critical reasoning skills.

Just out of curiosity how much practical,"hands-on" experience do you have with various regions of the world? I have seen,up close and personal,poverty of several shapes and sizes.That includes "Latin" poverty.Not Spanish,mind you,Portuguese.I've seen slums ("favelas") of Rio and Sao Paulo into which the Brazilian *Army* dares not enter *during daylight hours*.Let me know what *you've* seen...what *you've* experienced.

Your offensive statement was with respect to the learning of a language per se. It remains a dumb and offensive statement.

I was challenging the usefulness of learning a *particular* language,one language.Learning Japanese? Not a bad idea.German....Dutch....French...Mandarin...Cantonese,ditto.Spanish? Great,maybe you can get a gig on Sabado Gigante or as a translator in a hospital ER.

Your use of statistics is also totally misleading and the comparisons are silly and naïve. Spain’s GDP per person is higher than New Zealand’s

Over the last 30 years Spain has enjoyed a *huge* inflow of EU cash courtesy of the taxpayers of Germany,Britain,the Netherlands,Ireland,Sweden and Finland.New Zealand has no such sugar daddy to whom she can turn.

..and about the same as Israel.

Israel being a nation that's been on a war footing since the day it was founded.Spain hasn't been on a war footing since the 1930's.

To sum up,let's engage in a grand challenge.You move to Mexico,or Spain,become fluent in Spanish.I'll move to Germany and learn German.Let's see who benefits more...financially...in our efforts.And no fair working for a company whose world headquarters is located in an English speaking country.

45 posted on 07/25/2013 10:21:01 AM PDT by Gay State Conservative (If Obama Had A City It Would Look Like Detroit.)
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To: robowombat

Argentina could have been great but they seem to prefer socialism, and that will crimp any style


46 posted on 07/25/2013 10:23:58 AM PDT by GeronL
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To: robowombat
That's always been my understanding as well.In school we were taught that Argentina was a prosperous,stable country that was basically the breadbasket of the Americas (along with the US and Canada).I guess Che Guevera’s social and economic attitudes won out over civilization.
47 posted on 07/25/2013 10:28:54 AM PDT by Gay State Conservative (If Obama Had A City It Would Look Like Detroit.)
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To: GeronL
Argentina could have been great but they seem to prefer socialism,

From about 1860 classical liberalism with its support of the private sector and encouragement of investment and wealth creation was the dominant political force in Argentina. The commercial values of Buenos Aires and its merchant elite won out over the armed agrarians gaucho forces. The massive immigration from Europe and the rise of the packing house economy generated the first wave of European marxist and syndicalist groups organizing the new industrial proletariat. After World war 1 the Army began to look for a new mission since the era of border wars, internal fighting and Indian fighting was over,and discovered fascism and corporatism with its rightwing neo socialist ideas. Unfortunately these two trends became dominant in Argentina and are to some degree linked to the traditional statist/authoritarian attitudes of Latin culture.

48 posted on 07/25/2013 10:31:47 AM PDT by robowombat
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To: GeronL
I would rather learn Korean!

A good point.South Korea is also among the world's most prosperous,most advanced nations.And being fluent in Korean just might qualify one to be helpful in talking sense into those medieval clowns north of the 38th Parallel.

49 posted on 07/25/2013 10:40:28 AM PDT by Gay State Conservative (If Obama Had A City It Would Look Like Detroit.)
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To: Gay State Conservative

Plus a country that went from dire poverty to G20 in one generation must have been doing something right along the way. hint: It wasn’t even a democracy for most of that time.


50 posted on 07/25/2013 10:43:55 AM PDT by GeronL
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