When Green Day’s song “American Idiot” came out in 2004 it made a splash. It became popular worldwide and charted in 26 countries, of which it reached number one in 19 of those countries. Since the release, American Idiot sold over 14 million copies worldwide and won numerous awards. And then in 2004 Michael Moore was also successful with his essay “Idiot Nation.” In the essay he explains that “There are forty-four million Americans who cannot read and write above a fourth-grade level – in other words, who are functional illiterates.”

But the fact remains that there are a lot of idiots located within the borders of the U.S. But why is that? It’s because Americans have rights and if people want to drop out of school or don’t attend, there really isn’t much that can be done. Freedom allows individuals to do whatever they want and the culture within the U.S. doesn’t plug education as much as other countries. In South Korea for example, parents begin stressing the importance of school at a very early age and spend thousands of dollars annually on educational expenses for their children such as tutors.

However, in the U.S. this isn’t the case and there are a lot of different factors which influence education. For one, a lot of parents don’t really stress the importance of education, and many of them didn’t graduate themselves or go onto college so they don’t expect much from their children. Another factor is also the American Dream. Americans firmly believe that if they work hard enough they will be successful and so to many graduation doesn’t matter.

american idiot, idiot nation, dropout rates, american illiteracyThe U.S. has one of the highest dropout rates compared to other industrialized nations. One obstacle is that in Korea everyone is the same ethnicity but America is known as the melting pot for a reason. There are lots of individuals from different ethnic backgrounds and with that comes a different culture and not all of them stress education. Instead of improving their education, sometimes the primary concern is paying the rent and putting food on the table. And the lowest graduation rates typically occur in big-city schools, where large percentages of students live in poverty.

South Korea has come a long ways and they now have 93 percent of students graduate from high school, whereas only 70 percent of students graduate every year in the U.S. And as time goes on Korea becomes more educated and the education level in America decreases. The U.S. ranks eighteenth among 36 nations and it used to rank first. The U.S. is one of only two countries where the percentage of high school graduates is lower among younger workers than among their parents.

Graduation rates and skill sets are important but one other major factor needs to be addressed and that’s the cost of an education in America. The costs of going to college have risen so much that many students don’t have the opportunity to go. And with the national and state governments cutting budgets going toward education, plus fewer and smaller endowments,  plus a tough economy many parents and students are unable to pay rising tuition costs. So if the government is serious about more American’s graduating from high school and college, there needs to be greater support for education and that means money.

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