RSS

Search results for ‘literacy comparison’

Measuring the Success or Failure of Public Education in the United States through Literacy: Part 3 of 3

In Conclusion, in case you are wondering why I included Mexico in this comparison, the PEW Research Hispanic Trends Project reports that “The number of Hispanic students in the U.S. public schools nearly doubled from 1990 to 2006, accounting for 60% of the total growth in public school enrollments over that period. There are now approximately 10-million Hispanic students in the nation’s public kindergartens and its elementary and high schools; they make up about one-in-five public school students in the United States. Most if not all of these students come from the poorest population in Mexico, and they bring with them the same attitudes toward education they held before they came to the United States.

Ranking functional literacy in English speaking countries and Mexico

1st Place: In the United Kingdom, 80% read at Level 3 or above.

What explains the UK having such a low functional illiteracy rate? The Guardian.com reports that the “UK publishes more books per capita than any other country.” Does this translate into the UK being a more literate society? If this is one reason, it might be a cultural difference between the other major English speaking countries with similar cultural heritages.

2nd Place:  In the United States, 65% read Intermediate Level or above.

3rd Place: In New Zealand, 55% of adults read at level 3 or above

4th Place: In Australia, 53.6% of adults read at level 3 or above

5th Place: In Mexico, 64% of adults do not have a high school degree or its equivalent, and the The World Bank estimates that in 2012, 52.3-percent of Mexicans lived in poverty in their home country compared to 15% of the U.S. population, who live in poverty— and 25.6%, or about 12 million are Hispanic, and 35% or 6 million of the 16 million children who live in poverty in the U.S. were also Hispanic. In fact, in Mexico, over half of Mexican youth at age 15 are functionally illiterate and cannot solve simple equations or explain basic scientific phenomenon. WorldFund.org

In addition, the New York Times reports that many of these children who come from Latin America are boys between ages 15 and 17 when they arrive in the United States, and they come from some of the poorest regions in those countries. Do you think these children arrived in the U.S. functionally literate in their own language?

Return to Part 2 or Start with Part 1

View as Single Page

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

Crazy-is-Normal-a-classroom-expose-200x300

His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves

Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper right-hand column and click on “Sign me up!”

 

Tags: , , , ,

The Cultural Legacy of the British Empire on Literacy – Part 2/2

The Importance of Literacy

A Literacy at Work study, published by the Northeast Institute in 2001, found that business losses attributed to basic skill deficiencies run into billions of dollars a year due to low productivity, errors, and accidents attributed to functional illiteracy. Source: Functional Lieracy.Wiki.org

In Conclusion:  I taught in California’s public schools (1975 – 2005) and was teaching English and reading when the educational system was changed dramatically from the top down (ignoring the protests of classroom teachers at every step—teachers were not part of the decision making process) starting in Washington D.C. in 1983 with the publication of A Nation at Risk. The next step was the 1989 education summit that involved all fifty state governors and President George H.  W. Bush followed more than a decade later with the adoption of national education goals in the year 2000 under his son, President G. W. Bush.

Before these changes, most of the public schools identified students that were falling behind in literacy (mostly because the parents of these students were not part of the education process of learning to read and write) and were then moved into learning tracks and different classes with goals designed to deal with the challenge of parents not reading at home.

In the early 1990s, when the English/Reading department at the high school where I taught was told that tracking was going to be abolished and all students, no matter his or her reading abilities, would be placed in grade level classes working out of grade level textbooks (this meant students reading at second or third grade would be reading out of textbooks written at ninth, tenth, eleventh and twelfth grade), the English and reading teachers protested and managed to hold off these changes for about three years before the politicians (elected school boards and the adminstrators hired to work for the school board to run the district) forced the end of tracking.

About the same time, a program called The Whole Language Approach to Reading and Writing was implemented and again the teachers protested but were forced to comply or else.

The foundation of this program was reading for fun outside of the schools with parent support (you may already have guessed how this worked out).  Student and parents were told that children had to read a minimum of thirty minutes or more a day outside of school hours, seven days a week besides doing the school work and homework assigned by teachers. A decade later, it proved to be a total failure and was cancelled. California, where I taught, had ranked near the top in literacy when this program was launched. A decade later, California was almost dead last compared to all other states.


Parents make the difference – mine did, and I learned to enjoy reading at home.

The average functional illiteracy rate as reported by the UNDP of the six dominate English speaking countries that were once part of the British Empire and have Caucasian majorities with roots mostly to the United Kingdom was 19%.

Adjusted for errors and/or under reporting, the average percentage changes to 30.7%, more than 10% higher than the United States.  It doesn’t matter which average we use in this comparison of cultures that are fundametally the same.  The Untied States is one percent above the average reported by the UNDP but 10.7%  lower than the corrected average.

The US is either ranked fourth in literacy according to the UNDP or first after we adjust for errors and/or under reporting.

Does that sound as if the public education system in America is broken?

Return toThe Cultural Legacy of the British Empire on Literacy – Part 1

______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper right-hand column and click on “Sign me up!”

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Cultural Legacy of the British Empire on Literacy – Part 1/2

In Not Broken, a five-part series, I pointed out a number of comparisons to show that America’s public school are not broken. In Part 5, I provided evidence that culture (Asian/Pacific; White; American Indian/Alaska Native; Hispanic/Latina, and Black—the US may be one country but it has subcultures and each subculture has its own unique characteristics) influences a child’s ability to achieve functional literacy.

After Part 5 appeared, it took a few days before I realized I missed an important comparison: the English speaking nations that were all colonized and ruled by the British Empire establishing links to a common culture.

The majority in each of these countries is White. The influence of that White dominated culture has much to do with the structure of the schools in those countries today and the way teachers are treated.

Note (to establish the dominant ethnic group and/or culture of each country):

In 2009, the census in Australia reported that 92% of its citizens were identified as White.

In 2006, the census in Canada reported that 67.32% of its citizens were identified with links to the UK, France and Ireland

In 2006, the census in Ireland reported that 94.9% of its citizens were White.

In 2009, the census in New Zealand reported that 56.8% of its citizens were identified as European.

In 2001, the census in the United Kingdom reported that 92.1% of its citizens were White.

In 2007, the estimate in the United States was 79.96% of its citizens were White.

For this comparison of literacy, I focused on six of the thirty-six English speaking countries that were once ruled by the British Empire.

The following information comes from a report published for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) 1994–2003. According to this report, we may discover the number of people in each of these countries lacking functional literacy skills (% aged 16–65).

Note: In addition, I researched each country to discover any reports that confirmed the reported percentages and in several countries, the percentage of adults that were functionally illiterate may be higher.

1. Australia = 17% (the actual number may be much higher)

However, it may be much worse in Australia than the UNDP report says. Brendan Nelson, Education Minister said, “About 30 percent of Australian children who are leaving the school system in Australia are functionally illiterate.” Source: ABC.net.au

2. Canada = 14.6% (the actual number may be much higher)

According to the two following quotes, the functional illiteracy rate in Canada may be much higher than what the UNDP reported: “About 42% of young adults age 16 to 65 scored below level 3 in prose literacy, which is considered the threshold for coping in society. Source: Vivele Canada

In addition, CBC reported on Canada’s shame: “Nearly 15 percent of Candains can’t understand the writing on simple medicine labels such as on an Aspirin bottle and an additional 27% can’t figure out simple information like the warnings on a hazardous materials sheet.”

3. Ireland = 22.6% (the actual number may be a bit higher)

In addition, Irish Central.com reported, “The dumbing down of Ireland – 23 percent of males are illiterate. A Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) study has shown that one in six Irish students has significant reading problems while 23 percent of Irish males have lower than “functional literacy.”

Then Independent.ie reported, “The horrifying figure of 24 per cent adult illiteracy was first published in an OECD survey in 1996, and put us close to the bottom of the international league. (In Europe, only Poland scored worse than we did.)

“But in the months prior to the publishing of the survey results, government ministers were at pains to deny the figures which were already filtering through.”

4. United States = 20% (this percentage appears accurate)

The Caliteracy.org report of the National Assessment of Adult Literacy in the United States says:  “After completion, this massive assessment revealed that only thirteen percent of American adults are proficiently literate, most of whom hold a college degree, while the majority merely have intermediate literacy skills. However, the population of adults with basic or below basic skills total forty-three percent according to NAAL research, which is far higher than those with proficient skills.

“In fact, the term “functionally illiterate” is frequently used to describe the estimated twenty percent of adults in the US who cannot perform basic tasks involving printed materials. Functional illiterates may have trouble filling out a job application, using a computer, understanding written instructions, reading a contract, and many other related tasks. Many of these citizens are not able to hold a job, and those who do work regularly have difficulty with occupational tasks and career advancement.”

5. United Kingdom = 21.8% (this percentage appears accurate)

6. New Zealand = 18.4% (the actual percentage may be much higher)

Education Counts.govt.nz reported that levels three and above on the International Adult Literacy Survey  (IALS) indicate “functional literacy” while Levels 1 and 2 indicate “functional illiteracy”.  The survey found that 45% of adult New Zealanders were in levels 1 and 2 for prose literacy, 50% for document literacy and 49% for quantities literacy (the average of the three is 48%).


If Josh Harden can read to his young children as he is dying, what is your excuse?

Continued on September 11, 2012 in The Cultural Legacy of the British Empire on Literacy – Part 2

______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper right-hand column and click on “Sign me up!”

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Measuring the Success or Failure of Public Education in the United States through Literacy – (Viewed as Single Page)

There are many ways to measure the success or failure of public education in the United States, and one way is to compare functional Illiteracy in the United States to similar English speaking countries and Mexico, because culture plays an important role in children’s attitude toward education and literacy.

It’s arguable that the four MOST similar countries/cultures in the world, when compared to the United States, are Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, because they share an Anglo Saxon heritage, culture, and the same language. In addition, almost 80% of the U.S. population is white alone (in 2013, 77.7% were white), and the more than 13% who are African American, who have been in the U.S. for several generations, due to slavery, are no longer linked to an African cultural heritage. If you doubt that, consider that 78% of African Americans are Protestants and 5% are Catholics and—forced—immigration from Africa stopped and/or slowed drastically after the Civil War in 1865. What this means is that African Americans with roots that reach back 150 years or more are culturally American. If interested in this topic, I suggest you read a study out of Yale: African vs. African-American: a shared complexion does not guarantee racial solidarity

The United Nations defines illiteracy as the inability to read and write a simple sentence in any language, and it’s arguable that English is one of the most difficult languages to learn—if not the most difficult—if it is your second language. To understand this, I suggest you read 10 Reasons Why English is a Hard Language

The BBC asked, How many hours does it take to be fluent in English?

Huan Japes, deputy chief executive of English UK, a trade body for language colleges, says a rule of thumb is 360 hours—120 hours for each of three stages—to get to the standard the government expects benefit claimants to reach. …

Dr Elaine Boyd, head of English language at Trinity College London, says, “If someone is really highly motivated, they can learn really quickly. It’s common for children under the age of 11 to be very immersed and be fluent in about six months.” …

Philida Schellekens, a language consultant, says that when she researched English language learning in Australia a decade ago the figure of 1,765 hours was used. That could mean four years of classes. It signifies the standard needed to do a clerical job in an office.

In English Spelling Confuses Everyone, Professor Julius Nyikos, a linguistics expert born and raised in Hungary, learned numerous languages in his elementary school, high school, and university training. He came to the US in 1949 and, after a few years of studying English, was able to continue his profession as a linguist that he began in Europe. He spent many years as a professor at Washington & Jefferson College in Pennsylvania studying the languages of the world. In his scholarly article for the 1987 Linguistics Association of Canada and the United States Forum, titled “A Linguistic Perspective of Functional Illiteracy,” he made the statement, “It would be both ludicrous and tragic if it took lawsuits to jolt us into the realization that neither the teachers, nor the schools should be faulted as much as our orthography [spelling], which is incomparably more intricate than that of any other language (emphasis added). If English is not the absolute worst alphabetic spelling in the world, it is certainly among the most illogical, inconsistent, and confusing. This is due to the developmental history of the present.”

Literacy is the ability to read and write. In modern context, the word means reading and writing in a level adequate for written communication and generally a level that enables one to successfully function at certain levels of a society.

The standards of what level constitutes “literacy” vary between societies.

In the United States alone, one in seven persons (i.e., over 40 million people) can barely read a job offer or utility bill, which arguably makes them functionally illiterate in a developed country such as the US.

In 2003 the National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL), conducted by the US Department of Education, found that fourteen percent of American adults scored at this “below basic” level in prose literacy. More than half of these persons did not have a high-school diploma or GED. Thirty-nine percent of persons at this level were Hispanic; twenty percent were Black; and thirty-seven percent were White.

Now, to compare the five countries listed in the post to the United States.

First – Mexico: The OECD reports that 7.2 years is the average years of schooling of adults in Mexico.

Second – Canada: In 2012, Indicators of Well-being in Canada reported that 22% of adult Canadians had less than a high school education in addition to 16.5% reading at Level 1 or Below Level 1. Canada has five literacy levels. Canada’s Below Level 1 and Level 1 are equal to Below Basic in the United States. 83.9% of Canadians read at levels 2, 3, and 4/5. If Canada measures literacy the same as the United Kingdom, then 48.5% are ranked at Level 2 and below and are functionally illiterate.

Third – United KingdomThe Telegraph reported that one in five Brits is functionally illiterate—that’s 20% that read below level 2, the common definition of functional illiteracy, and the OECD reports that the UK is ranked 22nd for literacy and 21st for numeracy out of 24 countries. BBC.com

Fourth – Australia: Uses the same five level literacy skill level rating system as the UK and Canada, and in 2006, almost 46.4% of adults read at Level 2 or below and were functionally illiterate. abs.gov.au

Fifth – New Zealand: The distribution of literacy skills within the New Zealand population is similar to that of Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom. Analysis of New Zealand Data from the International Adult Literacy Survey reports that 45% of adult New Zealanders were in Levels 1 and 2 for prose literacy. EducationCounts.govt.nz 5731 and EducationCounts.govt.nz 5495

Sixth – United States: 14% or 30 million were ranked below basic on the 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL), and 49% of adults who ranked below basic had less than/some high school but did not graduate from high school or earn a GED/high school equivalency. The United States has four literacy levels compared to five for the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. 87 percent of American’s read at basic or above.  65 percent read Intermediate and above. As reported by the OECD, one in six adults (16.6%) in the United States scored below level 2, in literacy.  nces.ed.gov

In Conclusion, in case you are wondering why I included Mexico in this comparison, the PEW Research Hispanic Trends Project reports that “The number of Hispanic students in the U.S. public schools nearly doubled from 1990 to 2006, accounting for 60% of the total growth in public school enrollments over that period. There are now approximately 10-million Hispanic students in the nation’s public kindergartens and its elementary and high schools; they make up about one-in-five public school students in the United States. Most if not all of these students come from the poorest population in Mexico, and they bring with them the same attitudes toward education that they held before they came to the United States.

Ranking functional literacy in English speaking countries and Mexico

1st Place: In the United Kingdom, 80% read at Level 3 or above.

What explains the UK having such a low functional illiteracy rate? The Guardian.com reports that the “UK publishes more books per capita than any other country.” Does this translate into the UK being a more literate society? If this is the reason, it might be a cultural difference between the other major English speaking countries with similar cultural heritages.

2nd Place:  In the United States, 65% read Intermediate Level or above.

3rd Place: In New Zealand, 55% of adults read at level 3 or above

4th Place: In Australia, 53.6% of adults read at level 3 or above

5th Place: In Canada, 51.5% of adults read at level 3 or above

6th Place: In Mexico, 64% of adults do not have a high school degree or its equivalent, and the The World Bank estimates that in 2012, 52.3-percent of Mexicans lived in poverty in their home country compared to 15-percent of the U.S. population who live in poverty—and 25.6% or about 12 million are Hispanic, and 35-percent or 6 million of the 16 million children who live in poverty in the U.S. were also Hispanic. In fact, over half of Mexican youth at age 15 are functionally illiterate and cannot solve simple equations or explain basic scientific phenomenon. WorldFund.org

In addition, the New York Times reports that many of these children from Latin America are boys between ages 15 and 17 when they arrive in the United States, and they come from some of the poorest regions in those countries. Do you think these children arrived in the U.S. functionally literate in their own language?

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

 Crazy-is-Normal-a-classroom-expose-200x300

His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves

Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper right-hand column and click on “Sign me up!”

 

Tags: , , , ,

Claims that Sky is Falling Used to Justify Economic based Reforms in U.S. Public Education

Anthony Cody left a comment on the Education Bloggers Network Central about an ETS report on education to serve the economy. “The ETS is basically Pearson Education these days,” said Paul Horton in another comment.

This means ETS is a mouthpiece for Pearson PLC, a British multinational publishing and education company headquartered in London. Pearson is the largest—for profit—education company and the largest book publisher in the world, and Pearson has been funding media propaganda and lobbying elected officials to use the unproven and flawed Common Core State Standards and Pearson’s copyrighted tests in the U.S. for those standards.

More information about Pearson may be found at PR Watch.org, Peyton Wolcott.com and 8 Things You Should Know About Corporations Like Pearson that Make Huge Profits from Standardized Tests.

Guess who gets paid every time a student takes one of those Pearson copyrighted Common Core tests that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to use as a way to rank and fire teachers while closing public schools and then turning our children over to corporate Charters that several Stanford studies report are worse or the same as the public schools they are replacing.

If you guessed Pearson, you were right. Pearson—with help from Bill Gates’s billions—is behind testing our children toward failure. Watch the video to discover what that means for our children.


“I believe in standardizing automobiles. I do not believe in standardizing human beings. Standardization is a great peril which threatens American culture.” > Albert Einstein

ETS made misleading claims in their press release that announced the (economic corporate education reform) meeting to be held in Washington D.C. on February 17, 2015, that left out many important facts about public education in the United States.

For instance:

  1. The Economic Policy Institute reports, U.S. poverty rates higher, safety net weaker than in peer countries—the U.S. is ranked dead last for percentile as a share of median worker earnings in 21 selected OECD countries.
  2. The functional literacy rate when comparing the United States to Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK—five English speaking countries that all belong to the OECD. > Literacy Comparison
  3. The college graduation ranking for the United States compared to every country on the planet as reported by World Atlas.com. The United States is ranked #4 on the top 10 most educated nations list—and there are 196 countries in the world today. The United States is in the top two percent for college graduates.
  4. More than 16 million children in the United States – 22% of all children – live in families with incomes below the federal poverty level– $23,550 a year for a family of four. Research shows that, on average, families need an income of about twice that level to cover basic expenses. Using this standard, 45%—or more than 33 million—of children live in low-income families. > nccp.org

How does that number of children living in poverty compare to 34 OECD countries? Answer: OECD.org reports that 13% of all children were poor in 2010. The only OECD countries with childhood poverty rates higher than the United States were: Chile, Mexico, Romania, Turkey and Israel.

  1. In addition, Stanford.edu reported in a study that: “Based on their analysis, the co-authors found that average U.S. scores in reading and math on the PISA are low partly because a disproportionately greater share of U.S. students comes from disadvantaged social class groups, whose performance is relatively low in every country.

“As part of the study, Carnoy and Rothstein calculated how international rankings on the most recent PISA might change if the United States had a social class composition similar to that of top-ranking nations: U.S. rankings would rise to sixth from 14th in reading and to 13th from 25th in math. The gap between U.S. students and those from the highest-achieving countries would be cut in half in reading and by at least a third in math.”

The report also found: There is an achievement gap between more and less disadvantaged students in every country; surprisingly, that gap is smaller in the United States than in similar post-industrial countries, and not much larger than in the very highest scoring countries.

Achievement of U.S. disadvantaged students has been rising rapidly over time, while achievement of disadvantaged students in countries to which the United States is frequently unfavorably compared – Canada, Finland and Korea, for example – has been falling rapidly.

Note: countries that score high on the PISA have low rates of childhood poverty. Childhood poverty in Canada is about 14%, in Finland it’s less than 5%, and in South Korea it’s less than 10%.

  1. The Global Innovation Index rankings, comparing 143 countries, lists the United States as #6 with a score of 60.09—92.7% of first place Switzerland’s index rank of 64.79. That means the U.S. was ranked higher than almost 96% of the world’s countries.
  2. Alternet.org reports that “New Data reveals our public—not private—school system is among the best in the world. In fact, except for the debilitating effects of poverty, our public school system may be the best in the world.” Paul Buchheit writes, “Perhaps most significant in the NCES reading results is that schools with less than 25% free-lunch eligibility scored higher than the average in ALL OTHER COUNTRIES. “

Maybe I should have titled this post: “The Misleading lies that Pearson and Bill Gates keep telling us” or “For Profit and Wealth, Blame it on the Teacher as Usual”.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

Runner Up in Biography/Autobiogrpahy
2015 Florida Book Festival

Crazy-is-Normal-a-classroom-expose-200x300

Honorable Mention in Biography/Autobiography
2014 Southern California Book Festival
2014 New England Book Festival
2014 London Book Festival

His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves

Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper right-hand column and click on “Sign me up!”

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Is it possible that offering support instead of punishment leads to Better Teachers? – Part 2 of 3

View as Single Page

After eliminating China, Liechtenstein and Estonia, from the 2012 International PISA Test ranking, Singapore became #1, Chinese Taipei #2, South Korea #3, Japan #4, Switzerland #5, the Netherlands #6, Finland #7, and Canada #8

1.  Singapore

There are about 25,000 teachers in its primary and secondary schools.

Edutopia.org reports “Teaching is a highly respected and well-compensated profession in Singapore. All teachers are trained at the country’s National Institute of Education (NIE) (one training program).  All new teachers are paired with experienced teachers for mentoring, and peer feedback is built into the schedule. Teachers are entitled to 100 low or no-cost hours of professional development each year. There are approximately 522,000 students attending about 350 schools in Singapore’s education system.

2. Chinese Taipei

There are more than 300 thousand teachers who teach in preschool, primary school, junior high school, and senior high school (teaching about 4 million students). The teachers are trained in universities of education with teacher training programs or centers. These institutions are also responsible for providing in-service training and guidance for local education practitioners.

3. South Korea

Teaching is a highly respected profession in South Korea, and among the most popular career choices for young South Koreans. This is largely due to competitive pay, job stability, and good working conditions – for example, there is a high degree of collaboration among teachers. Elementary teachers must attend one of 13 institutions to become qualified whereas secondary school teachers have multiple pathways into teaching and often attend comprehensive universities. Teachers are paid well in South Korea. Lower secondary teachers can expect a mid-career salary of $52,699, much higher than the OECD average of $41,701. There are about 7 million K-12 students in South Korea.

4. Japan

In Japan, teaching is a respected profession, and teachers have traditionally been paid better than other civil servants. Japan’s average teacher salary for a lower secondary school teacher after 15 years of service (the number that the OECD typically uses for international comparison) is $49,408, as compared to the OECD average of $41,701. The teaching profession in Japan is also highly selective, at both the program admission and the hiring phase. About 14% of applicants are admitted into schools of education, and of those who graduate, only 30-40% find work in public schools. Eric Digests.org reports, “Many Japanese believe that the examination system is too stressful, that the schools are too rigid and don’t meet the needs of individual students, that contemporary students show little interest in studying, and that the educational system needs to produce more creative and flexible citizens for the twenty-first century.”

Stanford.edu says, “In 2002 the Ministry of Education began to implement educational reforms that officials labeled the most significant since the end of World War II. In an attempt to stimulate students to be independent and self-directed learners, one third of the content of the national curriculum was eliminated. Japanese students in grades 3-9 are now required to take Integrated Studies classes in which they and their teachers jointly plan projects, field trips, and other ‘hands-on’ activities. Students in Integrated Studies learn about their local environment, history, and economy. … and teachers are not allowed to give tests on what students have learned.”

5. Switzerland

The goal is to impart adequate knowledge and competence for educating and teaching pupils and students at the various educational levels, as well as children and adolescents with special needs. Teacher education and training is realized within a two-tier model with Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programs.

During the 2008/09 school year there were 1.266 million students in the K-12 Swiss educational system, who were taught by more than 100,000 teachers.

But Susan Ohanian.org reports teachers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland are seeing their school ranked by the Bertelsmann Foundation (using achievement tests) comparing the school of all districts with each other—the teachers are protesting and fighting back. Because compulsory achievement tests are planned in all three countries, they are wary of school rankings that lead to a “senseless competition” among schools.

6. Netherlands

About 2.6 million children attend k-12 (European Agency.org).

In 1917, private and public schools were given equivalent financial status under the Constitution. As a result, the Netherlands is in the unique situation, compared with the rest of the world, of having 70 percent of its schools administered and governed by private school boards. The Constitution thus guarantees “freedom of education”, which embrace the freedom to set up schools, freedom to determine the principles on which they are based (freedom of conviction) and freedom of organization of teaching.

State University.com reports, There is an extensive amount of parental involvement in Dutch schools. … In addition, many schools also have a separate parents’ council or committee.

Teacher training in the Netherlands continues to undergo an overhaul. In 2008, the government, following the recommendations of an advisory council, formulated an action plan to tackle the teacher shortage and improve the position and quality of teachers. Given the high performance of its students and its teacher salaries, which, at $60,174 for a mid-career lower secondary school teacher far outpace the OECD average of $41,701, there is still a teacher shortage in the Netherlands due primarily to the aging teacher workforce.

The 2008 TALIS survey of Dutch teachers revealed that the majority of teachers participate in informal, rather than formal, professional development. This generally takes the form of informal mentorships and conversations, courses and workshops and reading professional literature. … Part of the government’s action plan is the creation of a stronger professional organization for teachers that will be able to evaluate teachers and provide teacher training grants.

7. Finland

There are 596,000 children in the k-12 compulsory education system. There are only 24 private comprehensive schools in Finland (0.5%). – ncee.org

Education has always been an integral part of Finnish culture and society, and teachers currently enjoy great respect and trust in Finland. Finns regard teaching as a noble, prestigious profession—akin to medicine, law, or economics— and one driven by moral purpose rather than material interests. Teachers also are the main reason Finland now leads the international pack in literacy, science, and math.

8. Canada

Over 5.11 million students were enrolled in public schools in 2007/08. The full-time teaching force at primary and secondary level is around 310,000. About 5.6% of students are in private schools. Private schools have historically been less common on the Canadian Prairies and were often forbidden under municipal and provincial statutes enacted to provide equality of education to students regardless of family income.

Teacher training programs are housed in Canadian universities, although separate standards for teacher qualification exist across the provinces. There are only about 50 teacher education programs in Canada, so it is easy for provincial governments to regulate quality.

For professional development, all Canadian provincial Ministries of Education support and require ongoing teacher training efforts though, like nearly everything else in the Canadian education system, this is decentralized and subject to different requirements depending on location.

Continued in Part 3 on April 10, 2015 or start with Part 1

View as Single Page

 _______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

Crazy is Normal promotional image with blurbs

Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper right-hand column and click on “Sign me up!”

 

Tags: , , , ,

Suspensions and Expulsions in the US Public Schools—what does that 3.3 million really mean?

THIRD UPDATE
(Scroll down for the Second and First updates followed by the actual post that started a Twitter storm)

This afternoon, I received an e-mail informing me that because of my racist tendencies I was being removed as a member of the TBATS. I can only assume that this is because I think poverty and single parent homes are more of a factor in the behavior of students who are suspended from school than racism.

Therefore, this update includes a new chart with more information. Using the information in this chart, we will attempt to compare the ratio of White children living in poverty and single parent homes to see if the suspensions of Blacks, Hispanics and Asian/Pacific Islander students was equal or close to the ratio of White students who were suspended.

Third Update and Exanded Chart

  • Using 22.3% of total white students living in poverty and 5.1% of total white students who were suspended as the base, then 49.5% of Black students living in poverty is 2.2 times the number of White students. This equals 11.22% of 8.4 million. If racism was a factor in the additional 3.58% of Black student who were suspended, then 300,720 Black students might have been suspended due to racist tendencies leaving 74.9% of the total students suspended due to factors that might have been related to growing up in poverty and/or single parent homes.
  • Using 25% of total White students living in single family homes and 5.1% of students who were suspended as the base, then 58.57% of Black students living in single parent homes is 2.34 times the number of White students or 11.9% instead of 14.8% of black students suspended offering evidence that racism might have been a factor in 2.9% of the suspensions of Black students. If true, then 240,400 Black students might have been suspended due to racist tendencies leaving 83.3% of the total students suspended that might have been related to growing up in poverty and/or single parent homes.
  • The ratio of Hispanic students who live in poverty is 2.15 times the number of White students and that ratio is equal to 10.97% instead of the 5.8% who were suspended offering no evidence that racism was a factor in the suspension of Hispanic students.
  • The ratio of Hispanic students who live in single family homes is 1.7 times the number of White students and this ratio is equal to 8.64% instead of the 5.8% of Hispanic students who were suspended offering no evidence that racism was a factor in the suspensions of Hispanic students.
  • The ratio of Asian/Pacific Islander students who live in poverty is 0.73 times the White students who live in poverty and this ratio is equal to 3.72% instead of the 2.2% of total Asian/Pacific Islander students who were suspended offering no evidence that racism was a factor in the suspensions of Asian/Pacific Islander students.
  • The ratio of Asian/Pacific Islander students who live in single parent homes was 0.4 times the White students and this ratio was equal to 2.42% instead of the 2.2% who were suspended offering no evidence that racism was a factor in the suspensions of Asian/Pacific Islander students.

In conclusion, poverty and growing up in single family homes is a much larger factor in the number of student suspensions than racism, and a transparent, public school, national, early childhood education program starting as early as age two might have a large impact that will eventually reduce poverty and increase literacy and life-long learning skills in children who grow up in poverty and/or single parent homes. Racism is another issue and other methods will be necessary to deal with this challenge. I don’t think early childhood education will have much of an impact in reducing racism.

SECOND UPDATE

Because I asked this question in my post there was an explosion on Twitter taking me to task for not focusing on racism and not admitting that it was a problem.

In the original post I wrote, “When 6.1% of the total students are suspended from public schools—or less as you will see—is that cause for a national crises and is it evidence of alleged racism?” … Later in the post, I also said, “Some critics have even alleged that the ratio of Black children being suspended is a sign of racism. I disagree, but you will have to make up your own mind after you look at all the numbers and in this post there are a lot of numbers to wrap your critical thinking around.”

Here is my response to one of the reactions that arrived as an e-mail. Too bad they couldn’t have left a comment here so we could have talked it over and explored the issue here where others could follow along.

My reply, I can see that racism is a topic you are passionate about.  I think you even prove my point with your examples.  We can’t stop racism, but we can help children who live in poverty and/or who grow up in single parent homes by implementing a public school managed national early childhood education program so those children grow up with the tools that will help them escape poverty and combat racism without anger and a sense of helplessness.

That’s why I refuse to allow the focus of my post to be hijacked by people obsessed with racism. …

What do you propose we do to stop racism—-send out mobs of vigilantes to hang anyone we suspect of racist tendencies?

I think the strongest weapon we can give victims of racism is literacy and an education and a good start, our best chance, would be a transparent publicly managed national early childhood education program that is not managed by corporations, because the evidence is strong that corporate Charters are racist because they encourage segregation and mostly refuse to work with the children who suffer the most from racism—at-risk children who grow up in poverty and/or single parent homes.

We can stay angry at racists, or we can eventually defeat racism by doing something about childhood poverty by intervening in the development of children as young as age two.  They did it in France more than thirty years ago and poverty has dropped more than 50% since.

FIRST UPDATE

It came to my attention this morning (1-7-2015) that this post was severely criticized and attacked by some of the members of a site (TBATS) that recommended the post to their members—TBATS has deleted the recommendation and apologized to those who complained. The reason for this is because one paragraph in this post quoted information for one post at the conservative Heritage Foundation.

I want to make it clear that the numbers used in the chart did not come from the Heritage Foundation. They came from other sources, and I made the mistake of listing those sources further down in the post—and for that confusion, I apologize but for nothing else. I think this post was unfairly criticized. I have now moved those links, and they may be found right below the chart.

The only information quoted from the Heritage Foundation was the quote in that one paragraph about “children raised in single-parent homes are more likely to have emotional and behavioral problems; be physically abused; smoke, drink, and use drugs; be aggressive; engage in violent, delinquent, and criminal behavior; have poor school performance; and drop out of high school.” Nowhere in that quote was race mentioned.

However, because of the criticism of my post based on that one quote in one paragraph from the Heritage Foundation—a foundation that has been linked to ALEX and support from the Koch brothers and Bill Gates—that had nothing to do with the data in the chart, I decided to go directly to the U.S. Census.gov to verify some of the data that I used in the chart and made two revisions where—if you visit the actual Census data—you will discover that the total number of Black or African American family households was (in Table 1) 8,726,419, and that 836,460 single family households were are led by a male, while  4,085,938 were led by female householders for a total of 4,922,398 or 56.4% of the total number of Black and African American households in 2011. I have corrected the chart to show 56.4% instead of the 67% quoted from a 2013 source—that was not the Heritage Foundation. In addition, about 43.6% of Black or African American family households were led by married couples.

I then turned directly to the U.S. Census for info about poverty by race and found this data from 2013. In 2013, 38% (4.158 million) of Black or African-American children under 18 years lived in families below poverty. I used the data for Black Alone on page 53, Table B-2. The previous number that was quoted in my chart from another 2013 source was much lower.

I have also included in this update the orignal source the Heritage Foundation quoted from in their post from a scholarly study out of Western Michigan University in December 2011: Academic Achievement of Children in Single Parent Homes: A Critical Review

Here is the actual pull quote from the conclusion of the study that the Heritage Foundation quoted in their piece:

“A large body of research has documented the disadvantages of children raised in single-parent homes relative to children raised in two-parent homes. Lower high school graduation rates, lower GPAs, and greater risk for drug abuse are only some of the negative outcomes associated with growing up in a single-parent home. … This paper has been a review and critique of research from the past few decades regarding single parenthood. While the economic and social costs of single parenthood have been well documented, the strengths of single parents and their children have been largely overlooked.”

I think we might be able to learn something from this—that just because information comes from a conservative source doesn’t mean that information is wrong. Just like we sometimes have to follow the money, we also have to go to the original source.

THE ORIGINAL POST STARTS NEXT

In 2006, the U.S. public schools suspended students 3.3 million times. Note that I did not say 3.3 million students, because that might be misleading as you will see if you keep reading.

There is currently a group in the United States demanding that teachers and schools be restricted when it comes to suspending children from classrooms and schools. It would be interesting to know who is funding this issue and pushing it. Is it Arne Duncan who is the Secretary of the federal Department of Education or is it Bill Gates who is funding the push for Common Core standardized testing with $5 – $7 billion—test results that will be used to rank and fire teachers in addition to close public schools and turn our children over to corporations to teach even if parents don’t want that?

Corporate education reformers love throwing around numbers like 3.3 million, because that will make the public schools look really bad, and big numbers tossed out like that look so impressive to people who are easy to fool.

I decided to dig deeper to understand what that number really means.

In this post, we will explore what is behind the suspension and expulsion rates in the United States, because the public schools have been criticized for suspending too many students. Some critics have even alleged that the ratio of Black children being suspended is a sign of racism. I disagree, but you will have to make up your own mind after you look at all the numbers and in this post there are a lot of numbers to wrap your critical thinking around. The followinSome critics have even alleged that the ratio of Black children being suspended is a sign of racism.g chart provides a powerful and revealing comparison and I’m interested in your conclusions from this data.

January 7 Updated Chart for Suspensions and Expulsions in the US Public Schools by Race

Heritage.org says “Seventy-one percent of poor families with children are headed by single parents, mostly single mothers. Compared to children raised in an intact family, children raised in single-parent homes are more likely to have emotional and behavioral problems; be physically abused; smoke, drink, and use drugs; be aggressive; engage in violent, delinquent, and criminal behavior; have poor school performance; and drop out of high school.” The Heritage Foundation reports that in the United States, marriage drops the probability of child poverty by 82 percent.

In 2006, there were 53.8 million children in the k – 12 public schools, and there were 3.3 million suspensions representing 6.1% of the total number of students. That means almost 94% (or more) of the children did not earn a suspension. Census.gov

When 6.1% of the total students are suspended from public schools—or less as you will see—is that cause for a national crises and is it evidence of alleged racism?

There were 98,793 public schools in the United States in 2006-07. National Center for Education Statistics.gov

If we average that 3.3 million suspensions per school, it means each school suspended an average of about 33.4 students during the 2006 school year, and a school year has about 180 instructional days—I suspect the ratio is higher for schools with higher levels of childhood poverty and there is a reason for that, and it isn’t unique to the United States as you will see if you keep reading.

If we take that per-school average of 33.4 suspensions, it equals one student is suspended on average every 5.4 days for each school—but was it always a different student or were there repeat offenders as I strongly suspect based on my 30 years of experience as a public school teacher.

When I say repeat, I mean the same student being suspended more than once during one school year, and some of those chronic offenders eventually end up with an expulsion hearing.

For instance, at the high school where I taught from 1989 to 2005 there was a 70% childhood poverty rate at the time (it’s higher today) based on free and/or reduced lunch, and 92% of the students were non-white. The teacher—we called him Mr. D—who ran the in-house suspension system—a separate classroom on campus where students were required to do worksheets (the students were not allowed to just sit and visit. If they didn’t do the academic worksheets, they’d end up returning the next day for another period suspension), said that about 5% of the students at the high school earned 95% of the average 20,000 annual referrals that teachers wrote. At the time, Nogales High School had a student population of about 2,600. Five percent equals 130 students who earned 95% of the 20,000 referrals written by teachers each year. That works out to 146 referrals for each one of those 130 students, and yes, we had students who earned referrals from more than one of their teachers on a daily basis. Some students would earn six referrals a day—one for each class—day after day and if the teacher didn’t write the referral and send the student to Mr. D in the in-house suspension center for a class suspension, that student would often disrupt the learning environment for the rest of the students in the class—stealing learning time from every child.

The teacher couldn’t teach and the other students couldn’t learn.

What if the 3.3 million suspensions in 2006 were not from 3.3 million individual children because many might have been repeat offenders. It would be nice to know how many students were suspended more than once but I couldn’t find that information. For instance, what if only 500-thousand students or less earned those 3.3 million suspensions? If correct, that would mean less than 1% of the total public school students were actually suspended from school—some multiple times.

But what if the 3.3 million suspended students were counted as individuals and not multiple offenders. Then there’s another way to look at this large but insignificant number.

There were about 7.2 million teachers in the United States in 2009. Almost 3 million taught at the elementary and middle school level. The remainder included those teaching at the post secondary, secondary, preschool, kindergarten levels, special education and other teachers or instructors.

Taking the total number of teachers into account, if we divided the 3.3 million suspended students up evenly among the 7.2 million teachers, that equals 0.45 or less than half a student for each teacher for an entire school year. And even if we only counted the regular k – 12 teachers it would break about even—one suspended student each school year for each teacher. Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as cited in the Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2011, Table 615 <https://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/>

And if all we do is count just the 3.7 million full-time-equivalent (FTE) elementary and secondary school teachers engaged in classroom instruction in fall 2012, then for every teacher there was 0.89% of a student suspended from a school for breaking rules and/or disrupting the educational environment so other students couldn’t learn. nces.ed.gov Do you know of any child who is only 0.89% of a child? Where did the missing 0.11% go—did that part of the suspended student stay in the classroom to cooperate and learn?

What about the 112k who were expelled from all of the public schools in 2006?

If we average that 112k, it becomes about 1.1 students for each school in the United States. Is that excessive requiring an act of Congress to control, and what happens to the Common Core standardized test scores that are being used to rank and fire teachers in only the public schools when teachers are forced to keep disruptive students in the classroom who literally rob learning time from all of our children—the 94% that don’t earn suspensions?

What about suspensions and expulsions in the other OECD nations, or is this something that Arne Duncan, Bill Gates and the other corporate education reformers don’t want America to know—because some OECD countries have higher rates of suspension and expulsion than the United States does?

The corporate reformers can avoid this information in their allegations of the US public schools, but they can’t hide it. The Stanford Graduate School of Education reported in January 2013 that Poor ranking on international tests misleading about U.S. performance and said, “There is an achievement gap between more and less disadvantaged students in every country; surprisingly, that gap is smaller in the United States than in similar post-industrial countries, and not much larger than in the very highest scoring countries. Achievement of U.S. disadvantaged students has been rising rapidly over time, while achievement of disadvantaged students in countries to which the United States is frequently unfavorably compared – Canada, Finland and Korea, for example – has been falling rapidly.”

In addition, while fewer than 3 percent of students in 13 countries—including Japan, Norway, and the United Kingdom—reported ever repeating a grade, more than 25 percent of students repeated at least once in France, Spain, Brazil, and a dozen others studied. The United States reported more than one in 10 students (10 percent) repeating a grade, higher than the OECD average, while the top-performing countries, Finland and Korea, do not allow grade retention. … The OECD found that both high rates of grade retention and transfer happened in countries in which a child’s socioeconomic status was more likely to predict that child’s academic performance. Education Week.org

What happens to teachers if the Department of Education and/or the U.S. Congress caves in to pressure from special interest groups—possibly funded by Bill Gates or the Walton family—and drafts legislation that takes away a teacher or school’s power to suspend or remove a student through expulsion—especially when teachers are being ranked and then fired based on the Common Core standardized test results of a teacher’s students?

If being ranked and fired by those test scores becomes a reality for every public school teacher, then every instructional and/or learning minute will become vitally important and forcing teachers to keep children who cause problems and disrupt the learning environment will cripple a teacher’s ability to teach.

Maybe that’s what President Obama, Arne Duncan, Bill Gates and the Walton family want to happen so they can turn our children over the corporations to brainwash.

In conclusion, if you are one of the critics of public education who thinks 3.3 million (6.1%) children suspended from the public schools in one school year is too many, then instead of passing laws restricting the public schools’ ability—because these laws will not impact the corporate Charter schools that also are not required to teach to the Common Core—to decide who gets suspended, consider looking at what causes those children to disrupt the classroom—for instance, poverty and single parents families, and do something about that instead of making a teacher’s job to teach more difficult by forcing them to keep those at-risk and difficult to teach children in the classroom. And if you think the corporate reform movement has the answer, think again.

Joseph Williams, a veteran journalist and former White House correspondent for Politico, reported, “Charter schools also lead their traditional counterparts in a more disturbing trend: the number of students who are suspended or expelled each year … charter schools are far more likely to suspend students for infractions such as dress code violations and insubordination toward teachers.”

In fact, if there are suspension restrictions imposed on the public schools, those same restrictions will not be imposed on the corporate Charters just like the Common Core agenda to rank and fire teachers is not found in private-sector Charters—proving that this latest manufactured crisis in public education is another ploy by the corporate reformers to destroy the public schools.

_____________________________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

Runner Up in Biography/Autobiography
2014 Florida Book Festival

Crazy-is-Normal-a-classroom-expose-200x300

Honorable Mentions in Biography/Autobiography
2014 Southern California Book Festival
2014 London Book Festival

His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves

Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper right-hand column and click on “Sign me up!”

 

Tags: , , , ,

Not Broken! – Part 5/5

You may want to skip this page if you prefer opinions without facts used as support (this is known as hot air or natural gas).  I tend to support my opinions, some say, with too many facts (what I consider to be six cups of coffee).

There are more comparisons we should look at, and the first is comparing literacy in America with its northern and southern neighbors in addition to the top-ten countries with the highest reported high-school graduation rates.

In fact, there is another measurement that may be more meaningful than a country’s reported high school graduation rate. That measurement is functional illiteracy.

The United States and many other countries claim high literacy rates because the definition of literacy says, “The adult literacy rate is the percentage of people age 15 and above who can, with understanding, read and write a short, simple statement on their everyday life.”

However, functional illiteracy means that reading and writing skills are inadequate “to manage daily living and employment tasks that require reading skills beyond a basic level.”

Functional illiteracy is contrasted with illiteracy in the strict sense, meaning the inability to read or write simple sentences in any language.

For example, my older brother, (died age 64 in 1999) graduated from high school in the United States in 1953 and was considered literate due to the definition of literacy, because he could write and read at a second grade level.  However, he was functionally illiterate and never read a newspaper, magazine or book in his life. In fact, he could not fill out an employment application.

Now, let’s cast serious doubt on comparing high school graduation rates in America with other countries.

According to the United Nations Human Development Report, the United Kingdom, that reported the highest secondary (high school) graduation rate in the world, has 21.8% of its adult population age 16 – 65 considered functionally illiterate.

Switzerland, in second place for high school graduation rates has a functional illiteracy rate among adults of 15.9%.

Norway, in third place, has a 7.9% functional illiteracy rate among adults.

I could find no information on functional illiteracy in South Korea, fourth place, and Japan, fifth place.

Italy, in sixth place for high school graduation rates, has a functional illiteracy rate of 46% among adults

Seventh place Ireland has a 22.6% functional illiteracy rate.

Eighth place Germany has a functional illiteracy rate is 14.4%

Ninth place Finland’s functional illiteracy rate is 10.4%

Tenth place Denmark’s functional illiteracy rate is 9.6%

America’s functional illiteracy rate was reported as 20% among adults.

However, for a better comparison with a similar culture that has similar values and similar problems, I looked north to Canada and discovered that among adults aged 16 to 65, about 42 per cent scored below Level 3 in prose literacy, which is considered the threshold needed for coping in society. Source: Vivele Canada

In addition, the CBC reported on Canada’s shame, saying that nearly 15 percent of Canadians can’t understand the writing on simple medicine labels such as on an Aspirin bottle and an additional 27% can’t figure out simple information like the warnings on a hazardous materials sheet.

For further proof that comparing high-school graduation rates between countries as a way to judge America’s public education system was and is wrong, in 2009, Canada’s high school graduation rate was reported as 78% but the country has a functionally illiterate adult population ages 16 – 65 of forty-two percent (more than twice that of the United States). Even comparing literacy rates is not a fair comparison between countries, for example, because in Finland most parents teach his or her child/children to read before they start school at age seven showing us that culture has a lot to do with literacy too.

However, in America studies show that 80% of parents never attend a parent-teacher conference.

What about Mexico—just south of the US.  According to Mexico’s 2010 census 93.7% of Mexican males aged 15 and older were literate compared to only 91.1% of females, but what about functional illiteracy?  Mexico comes close to Canada with 43.2% of its adult population aged 16 – 65 functionally illiterate as my brother was.

Compared to America’s closest neighbors, the public-education system in the US is doing a fantastic job. Is there room for improvement? Of course, but the overall evidence shows that America’s public schools do not deserve to be condemned as broken. Instead, the facts say that most of America’s public school teachers are doing the job they were hired to do while it is politicians that are telling them what to teach.

Another factor to consider is High School graduation rates by race/ethnicity in the United States

For the 2007-08 school year, 91.4% of Asian/Pacific Islanders graduated from high school (156,687); 81% of Whites (1,853,476); 64.2% of American Indian/Alaska Native (31.707); 63.5% of Hispanic (443,238), and 61.5% of Blacks (415,111). Source: U.S. Department of Education

Most schools have all five races/ethnicities represented in the same classrooms (the schools I taught in for thirty years did) with the same teachers. However, when the numbers are averaged, critics of public education blame the teachers.

When averaged, the graduation rate in 2008 was 74.9%, which makes the public schools seem to be earning a C while they are earning an A- for the Asian/Pacific Islanders and a B- for Whites.

Really? How can the same teacher be so successful with Asian/Pacific Islanders and Whites and not with the other ethnic groups?

This is the advise I told our daughter when she was in grade school: “The only excuse to fail and not learn in school is when students do not pay attention, ask questions, read, do homework, class work, etc.  There is no excuse. Even if the teacher is incompetent, a motivated student will still learn.” And she did.

In addition, the graduation rates increase when the GED is included with traditional high-school degrees. In 2009, the completion rates of 18-through 24-year-olds was: 88.3% white, 87.1% black, and 76.8% Hispanic. Source: U.S. Department of Education

If an Asian or White student is successful with a teacher, why can’t the Hispanic or Black student have the same success with the same teacher?  After all, the teacher is responsible to teach and the student is responsible to learn (or has this been forgotten).  If the teacher wasn’t doing his or her job, then the Asians and Whites should have graduation rates similar to Hispanics and Blacks.

Return to Not Broken! – Part 4 or start with Part 1

______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper right-hand column and click on “Sign me up!”

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Civil Disobedience and No Child Left Behind – Part 2/9

Mr. Morally Correct’s assumption that the unionized public school systems in America are corrupt and educators that cash their monthly checks are failing their contractual obligations comes from a conservative, idealistic bias looking for an easy scapegoat to label as a fraud to explain why 100% of American children are not graduating from high school and reading on or near grade level.

In fact, “fraud” does exist, but this “fraud” demands perfection in public education, which is impossible to attain, and the goal leads to vouchers so students will attend unregulated private schools on public money, which would increase profits for the private sector at the taxpayers’ expense. To achieve this, the political agenda is to poison the minds of most Americans through misinformation and deceit.

It is easy to state opinions without facts to support them, which is why I write long responses to short opinions such as the one easily dashed off without much thought by Mr. Morally Correct.

Some time ago, in previous e-mails with Mr. Morally Correct, Finland was mentioned since Finland has the best educational system in Europe and often ranks in the top three globally on the PISA Test. I don’t recall the context of those e-mails but usually if Mr. Morally Correct mentions Finland, he does it as another criticism of America’s public schools.

Since Finland is such a fine example when it comes to public education, it is always a good idea to understand the competition.


Watch the video to discover key differences between Finland and America.

Finland’s literacy rate is 99% and ninety-five percent of Finland’s teachers are unionized and the country’s population is 5.3 million (America’s population is more than 300 million with about 5 million unionized teachers).

Even though most schools in Finland started as private, today only 3% of students are enrolled in private schools.

Finland’s curriculum is set by the Ministry of Education and the Education Board. Education is compulsory between the ages of 7 and 16. However, in the US, education is compulsory between the ages of 5/6 to 18.

Finland also has one of the world’s most extensive welfare systems, and Finland does not have the racial/ethnic diversity and challenges with legal/illegal immigration that the United States deals with.

America’s illegal alien population is about eleven million (more than twice the population of Finland) and about 3.5 million illegal aliens are children attending America’s public schools. About one million of those illegal alien children attend public schools in California.

Although no official statistics are kept on ethnicities, statistics of the Finnish population according to language and citizenship are available, and it is safe to say that more than 95% of the population is Caucasian/White with a similar historical heritage.

In comparison, America’s ethnic ratios are White 63.7%, Hispanic/Latino 16.3%, Black or African American 12.6%, and Asian 4.8%, etc.

On August 2, 2011, we will examine more comparisons in Civil Disobedience and No Child Left Behind – Part 3 or return to Part 1

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves

lloydlofthouse_crazyisnormal_web2_5

Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper right-hand column and click on “Sign me up!”

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Starting school at age seven—some claim—would be better [Viewed as Single Page]

The UK’s Telegraph reports, “Formal schooling should be delayed until the age of six or seven because early education is causing profound damage to children, an influential lobby of almost 130 experts warns.”

Why do I disagree with these so-called experts?

The last time fools [my opinion]—like these—sparked a revolution in raising children, it led to the average American parent boosting a false sense of self-esteem in his or her children raising a generation of narcissists and/or sociopaths as recent studies have pointed out.

The self-esteem hot-air bubble also led to inflating grades and dumbing down the curriculum in the public schools so children would feel better about themselves. [See New Study Reveals Most Children Unrepentant Sociopaths and We are raising a generation of deluded narcissists]

I’m sure some of these so-called experts will argue that in Finland children start school at age seven, and Finland has one of the most successful public school systems in the world.

But what you will probably not hear is that most parents in Finland start teaching their children a love of reading as early as age three—at home; are very supportive of education and teachers and that Finland’s teachers, who are in charge in the classroom, belong to a very strong teachers union.

Parents in Finland do not wait for teachers to do their job for them—a job made difficult for teachers in the United States where many children who have not been exposed to books at an early age have no love of reading when they enter the classroom for the first time [at any age].

Why can’t America just copy what Finland does in its public education system?

Because Finland’s population of 5.2 million is almost 100% white and 79% belong to the same religion, the Lutheran Church—and I’m sure that this has something to do with family values being similar and not as diverse as in the United States. [Note: In America there are more than 310 different religions and denominations and almost 30 million do not belong to any religion]

For a fair comparison of Finland to the United States [with a population of 316.7 million], we should turn to Wisconsin where the population is 88.2% white.

Why did I pick Wisconsin? Because its on-time high school graduation rate is 90.7% compared to the national average of 77.9%.

There are also other states that compare to Finland. For a few examples:

Vermont’s population is 95.4% white and it has an on-time high school graduation rate of 89.6%.

Minnesota is 86.5% white and it has an on-time high school graduation rate of 87.4%

North Dakota is 90.1% white, and it also has an on-time high school graduation rate of 87.4%

Iowa is 92.8% white and it has an on-time high school graduation rate of 85.7%

Now let’s look at the state with the lowest on-time high school graduation rate in America—Nevada has a white population of 77.1% [below the national average of 77.9%]. Hispanics/Latinos make up 27.3% of Nevada’s population and 8.9% are Black or African American.  And Nevada’s on-time high school graduation rate was 56.3%. Source: America’s Health Rankings.org

How about comparing the on-time high school graduation rate by race for the entire United States?

Comparing the on-time high school graduation rate by race for the entire United States shows a truth many may not want to admit.  And before you blame it on racism and discrimination consider that Asian-Americans are a minority with a history of brutal discrimination in the United States, but that discrimination has not held them back from achieving academic success.

The Asian-American on-time high school graduation rate was 93.5% in 2010 [Source: Bloomberg.com]
For Whites: 83%
Hispanics: 71.4%
Blacks: 66.1%

Next, a look at the Hispanic/Latino culture:

If we look closer it is easy to discover the cultural differences between the average family values of Hispanic and Blacks in America when it comes to literacy and education, and it has nothing to do with racism or discrimination.


Only parents can make sure that the TV is turned off and homework gets done.

 For example, Inside Schools.org reports that Mexican youth have the highest dropout rate in New York City. “Mexicans are both the fastest growing and youngest major ethnic group in New York City, with nearly half under the age of 25. Yet only 37 percent of the city’s Mexican population, ages 16-24, are enrolled in school…”

Why the high dropout rate among Mexican students in NYC?  All we have to do is look at Mexico for a powerful example that demonstrates how the average family values an education in this culture. “High-school graduation rates therefore provide a good indication of whether a country is preparing its students to meet the minimum requirements of the job market. In Mexico, 36% of adults aged 25-64 have earned the equivalent of a high-school degree, much lower than the OECD average of 74%.” Source: oecd better life index.org

Regarding Latin America and the Caribbean, usaid.gov says, “By the time these students reach the 6th grade, 20% will still be functionally illiterate. … Many factors contribute to the low literacy rates, but primarily disorganized schools and poorly trained teachers. … When children cannot read, it limits their ability to learn other subjects such as math or science and also impacts their ability to participate in society in the long run.”

If people are not taught to value education in their home countries before they immigrate to the United States, why should that attitude change after they arrive in America?

What factors in America’s Black community/subculture play an important role that makes it difficult to achieve functional literacy?

Poverty Rate by Race/Ethnicity [Source: Kaiser Family Foundation]:

Black: 35%
Hispanic: 33%
Other: 23%
White: 13%

Single Parent Households by race [Source: Kids Count.org]

Black: 67%
American Indian: 53%
Hispanic or Latino: 42%
White: 25%
Asian or Pacific Islander: 17%

The National Center for Fair and Open Testing says, “The powerful impact of poverty on literacy development has been well documented. Children of poverty, in addition to the obvious problems they face, have very little access to reading material ; they have fewer books in the home, inferior public libraries, inferior school libraries, and inferior classroom libraries, (e.g. Duke, 2000; Neuman and Celano, 2001). This means, of course, that they have fewer opportunities to read, and therefore make less progress in developing literacy.”

 “Children from broken families [meaning one-parent families. I understand from my research that the term broken families is not politically correct in the United States at this time] are nearly five times more likely to suffer damaging mental troubles than those whose parents stay together, Government research has found. It also showed that two parents are much better than one if children are to avoid slipping into emotional distress and anti-social behaviour. The findings say that children’s family backgrounds are as important—if not more so—than whether their home is poor, workless, has bad health, or has no one with any educational qualifications.” Source: Daily Mail.co.uk

America is a complex multicultural, multiracial country with the world’s third largest population behind China and India. Finland doesn’t compare.

 If you are still not convinced, then let’s look at literacy levels by race in the United States There are four literacy levels: below basic, basic, intermediate and proficient. We are going to compare Intermediate and proficient—the two highest literacy levels—by race.

Sixty-eight percent of whites read at the two higher literacy levels; 54% of Asians; 33% Blacks, and 27% Hispanics. Source: National Center for Education Statistics at nces.ed.gov

The National Association for the Education of Young Children [naeyc.org] says, “Children take their first critical steps toward learning to read and write very early in life. … But the ability to read and write does not develop naturally, without careful planning and instruction. Children need regular and active interactions with print. …

“The single most important activity for building these under- standings and skills essential for reading success appears to be reading aloud to children (Wells 1985; Bus, Van Ijzendoorn, & Pellegrini 1995). High-quality book reading occurs when children feel emotionally secure (Bus & Van Ijzendoorn 1995; Bus et al. 1997) and are active participants in reading (Whitehurst et al. 1994).”

In addition, naeyc.org says that parents and family members should read daily [in front of and with their children]; read to children and encourage them to read to you; encourage children to use and enjoy print for many purposes; continue to support children’s learning and interest by visiting the library and bookstores with them on a regular basis.

This latest nonsense that children should just have fun and play to age seven before starting school and then start learning to read is a recipe for a disaster of biblical proportions. Learning to love reading [and books] should be a fun activity that starts in the home at an early age as it does in Finland.

However, because the evidence suggests that too many American parents—especially among Blacks and Hispanics—do not make reading/literacy important at home; early education programs that start at a young age and focus on literacy must not be abandoned.

Another way to look at this issue is to study the family values of Black and Hispanic/Latino students who are successful in school and are reading at or above grade level. What is the difference between successful families and those who are not succeeding?

I’m sure we don’t need a study to answer that question.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran who taught in the public schools for thirty years.

His latest novel is the award winning Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper right-hand column and click on “Sign me up!”

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,