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Tag Archives: public education in America

Learning from the world’s best in education or not

Why can’t the United States learn from the best education systems in the world?

The Huffington Post reported that Finland and South Korea top country rankings while the U.S. is rated average at 17th among the 40 developed countries compared. “While Finland and South Korea differ greatly in methods of teaching and learning, they hold the top spots because of a shared social belief in the importance of education and its underlying moral purpose.”

It is a fact, that most American parents do not share or practice those same social beliefs and moral purposes.

The truth is that too many American parents don’t want their children unhappy or depressed and in a merit based system only so many can be in the top 5 – 10% and the rest lose out leading to embarrassment and unhappiness. In addition, far too many American parents would rather spend money on video games for their children than on tutors to teach the children after school.

Besides most American kids would declare war and probably butcher their parents if they had to give up a lifestyle that comes with an average 10 hours a day of dividing up free time watching TV; listening to music; playing video games; texting/social networking, etc.

In Finland, parents start teaching their children to read by age 3, and children start school at age 7 already literate, and the teachers—supported by the parents—make the major decisions in the classroom and the schools.

In South Korea, the educational system is based on meritocracy—for teachers and students—and the competition to earn a slot in the top spot is ruthless because everyone cannot be number one.

Amanda Ripley writing for The Wall Street Journal said in The $4 Million Teacher that “In 2012, [South Korean] parents spent more than $17 billion on tutoring from private schools—more than the $15 billion spent by Americans on videogames that year.”

While in 2010, the New York Times reported that in the United States, the estimated size of the tutoring industry was $5 billion to $7 billion a year.

How does that compare? Well, in the U.S. there are about 50-million students attending K – 12, and that is equal to South Korea’s entire population where only 6 million are students.

Crunch the numbers and Korean parents spend an average of $3,000 annually for each child for private tutoring. But in the US, parents spend—on average—about $100 – 140 annually, but we know that many American parents spend nothing extra to support public education—not even time!

In America—sad to say—about the extent of support most parents are willing to give is to ask a question or two later in the day or early in the morning.

“Honey, how was school today?”

The child replies, “Okay,” as he furiously texts friends.

“Did you do your homework?” the parent asks.

The child makes a face because he is being interrupted while sending his texts, and then he grumpily replies, “Yea.” And 80% [or more] of the children lie about this. In fact, the child usually doesn’t even know if there was homework because he didn’t pay attention in class or forgot.

Studies show that the average American parent talks to his or her children less than five minutes a day, because in the US, it’s a lot cheaper and easier to just blame the teachers and their unions when children/teens are not showing progress in school.

The educational systems of South Korea and Finland are very different but these countries exhibit similar traits that are mostly missing in America. Did you notice what those similarities are?

Discover how to Avoid the Mainstream Parent Trap

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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

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.

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Not Broken! – Part 4/5

In conclusion, when do we see these types of global education comparisons from the media or critics of public education?

Never!

The reason for that NEVER answer is because four US presidents (two democrats and two republicans) along with forty-four US governors and 50 CEOs made a huge mistake starting in the 1980s when they left out vocational training as part of educational reform.

Instead of admitting the mistake, politicians and many Americans continue to use teachers and teacher unions as the scapegoat claiming that public education is broken. If you need proof, today, America has a high unemployment rate at the same time that millions of high-skilled, high-paying blue-collar jobs that do not require a college education but do require skilled vocational training go unfilled.

Recommendation: The US should seriously consider starting vocational programs, similar to Europe, that leads to graduation from its secondary schools—this means two programs that result in high-school graduation: academic and vocational. In my opinion, it is ridiculous to treat every student as if he or she is college material.


Mike Rowe testifies before the US Senate about the need for people that can fill jobs that require skilled trades. He is the host of a TV show called Dirty Jobs about the hard work done by tradesmen and skilled workers.

All we need to do is look at information from the US Census to see the truth.

In the United States by age 24, almost 90% of young adults have a high-school degree or its equivalent, a GED.

However, only 30.44% (72.56 million) of those young adults went on to earn a Bachelor’s degree, and of those that earned a BA degree, 7.94% (18.95 million) earned a Master’s degree and 3% (7.2 million) a Doctorate or professional degree.

In addition, according to the US Census, 76% of the population is age 19 or older. That means 165.7 million (70%) adult Americans did not move from the high school academic program to a college academic program.

Many of these adults may have benefited from a vocational program leading to high-school graduation and a high skilled, high paying blue-collar job, and unemployment in America today would be much lower while the economy would benefit from more Americans working, consuming and paying taxes.

Instead, those that did not go to college were tossed into the world of work, most with only an academic high-school degree, and no guidance or support from the public education system that was designed by Washington D.C.

Continued on September 5, 2012 in Not Broken! – Part 5 or return to Part 3

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

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Due Process – Part 3/4

Science Blogs.com attempted to answer how many incompetent teachers there are in the US, and reported, “You don’t see many citations of useful data about how many of these school-killing teachers there really are.”

In addition, in the UK, the Guardian says that most of the 18 teachers that lost their jobs due to incompetence were struck off the last decade by the General Teaching Council (in England), which has been operating for a decade with powers to remove failing teachers from the profession.

However, if we accept the percent quoted by the flawed and biased documentary “Waiting for Superman”, the number of public school teachers that are incompetent may be 7 percent, which means 93 percent of the more than 5 million teachers in the United States are competent.

What this means is that the critics of public education want to punish more than 4.6 million innocent teachers for the few that may be incompetent by removing due process and job protection, which may explain why in recent years the number of college students planning to teach dropped more than 25%.


Teachers have been blamed for problems outside of their control.

As is, new teachers are on probation may be fired without cause during the probation period. In California and Texas, the probationary period is two years, but the normal probationary period is three years in most states.

If school district administrators are doing their jobs, then the incompetent teachers are removed before earning job protection and due process.

New Action.com says, “Although teachers are not “guaranteed a job for life,” as critics often say, it is true that, after completing a probationary period, teachers in New York State may generally not be fired except in two instances: The first is for serious cause, defined in state law, that must be substantiated by the DOE (Department of Education) in a due process hearing before an independent arbitration panel. The second has been a “reduction in force” — layoffs because positions have been eliminated, usually due to funding cuts.”

Continued on September 21, 2011 in Due Process – Part 4 or return to Part 2

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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

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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).

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Eager to Learn or Not – Part 10/10

If you visit the 2010 API State Report for California, you will discover there are four subgroups that have achieved the goals set forth in the NCLB Act — Asian, Filipino, White/Caucasian, and a child of two or more races meaning parents from two different Ethnic/Racial groups where the mother may be African-American and the father White or the father Asian and the mother Latino.

I know from experience that for my brother, the learning equation (discussed in Part 2) was 1 + 0 + 0, which resulted in failure and an illiterate child growing up to become an illiterate adult. The teacher was there to teach but my brother was not there to learn.

When I was seven and my brother seventeen with some jail time already under his tattoos, my mother stepped in and taught me to read at home, and it was not easy for her. I fought her every inch of the way as my brother did. The difference is that my brother won that battle but lost at life.

However, to succeed with me my mother did something she did not do with Richard. She used a wire-coat hanger to spank me and motivate me to do as I was told and to learn.

Public school teachers in America are not allowed to do what a parent can do at home.

The result is that I learned to read and because of my mother’s involvement in that learning equation, I now have the ability to write things such as my novels, posts for this Blog and I enjoy reading books–lots of books.

Richard, on the other hand, died a broken man in both health and spirit at age 64, and he left behind several children mostly illiterate because he was a bad role model and was never involved in their educations, which resulted in more failure.

If you return to that NPR.org piece on the public school teachers and administrators that cheated on Atlanta’s standardized test results to make it look as if more students were making progress toward meeting the goals set forth in the NCLB Act, what caused that behavior was desperate people that did not want to lose their jobs due to the flawed opinions of fools in the federal government and of course among the Walton Wal-Mart family and talking heads such as Rush Limbaugh and my “old” NLBC  friend that believe they know what they are talking about when they don’t.

I do not blame my brother Richard’s teachers. They did their job and taught. However, Richard did not learn because he chose not to learn and our parents were not directly involved in the process when Richard needed them to be tough and say no and mean it even if it meant using a coat hanger as an enforcer.

During those 30 years teaching in the public schools (1975 – 2005), I met many students like my brother Richard and my goal was to convince and/or motivate these individuals (both boys and girls) to be an active part of the education equation. It was never easy and the successes were rare but there were a few.

Return to Eager to Learn or Not – Part 9 or start with Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Posted by on July 21, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Putting the Blame where it Belongs — Part 4/6

To make this new Academic Index work, most if not all teachers use computer grading programs.  All teachers need do is make sure there are categories for homework, class discussion, students asking questions related to the work, class work, quizzes and tests.

I taught for thirty years and kept track of all of those categories easily.  I also fed that information into a computer-grading program. I knew who wasn’t doing homework—the same goes for class work and in many cases no matter how many phone calls I made or how many failure notices I mailed home to the parents, little changed.

For example, if the parent of a failing student came to a parent conference, I could tell them that his or her son did eight of 23 homework assignments and what the average grade earned was.  I could do the same for class work, students asking questions, quizzes, tests and for class discussions.

Since most of my tests on literature in the English textbook were open book, it was easy to see who didn’t read the story or study.  After all, I handed out study guides before each quiz and test.

For class discussions and questions related to the class work, I carried a clip board with a seating chart where I kept track of who said what by putting a mark next to the name of the student that was involved.

I transferred that information into the computer-grading program and at parent conferences, I could tell parents every facet of their child’s grade.

Students that never asked questions or took part in discussions had no marks next to his or her name for those categories and I could easily tell parents that their child never asked questions or took part in discussions.

In fact, I could tell them how many classroom assignments had been turned in and the grade for every assignment or the average grade.

Continued on May 19, 2011 in Putting the Blame where it Belongs – Part 5 or return to Part 3

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

To subscribe to “Crazy Normal”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.

 

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Putting the Blame where it Belongs — Part 1/6

It is absurd and stupid to blame teachers for students that do not do class work, homework, and study for tests or read books outside class.

Washington D.C. and the president of the United States are demanding that teachers do the impossible.

We must repeal the No Child Left Behind Act and enact into law “No Student and/or Parent Ignored” (NSPI), because that is what we are doing—ignoring the students and parents.

An old friend suggested this idea, and it is how America will resolve its problems with public education.

The reason students do not show gains on the Academic Proficiency Index is NOT because of bad or boring teachers or teacher unions.  It is because most of those students are not doing homework, studying for tests or reading outside of school and many are not reading in school.

Since no one in Washington D.C. and/or the White House has placed blame where it should be, on students and parents, then why should students work?

Students must be held responsible to learn but they are not. Instead, many are encouraged to feel good and have fun and/or are ignored by parents.

After all, thanks to “No Child Left Behind”, parents are not responsible for their child’s education—only teachers have been held responsible. However, teachers cannot follow 150 to 200 students home and make sure they do homework, read and study each day.

A Kaiser Generation M2 – Kids/Youth/Media Survey (January 2010) said, “Total Media Exposure for all 8 to 18 year old’s average amount of time spend with each medium in a typical day was 10:45 hours

That average 10:45 hours was divided up with 4:29 hours spent watching TV; 2:31 hours listening to music; 1:29 hours on the computer; 1:13 hours playing video games; 30 minutes reading print media, and 25 minutes watching a movie.

If this is what the “average” child is doing daily in the US, when are they doing homework, reading or studying?

Continued on May 16, 2011 In Putting the Blame where it Belongs – Part 2, where we shall see my “old” friend’s solution to solve this problem.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

To subscribe to “Crazy Normal”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.

 

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