Tag Archives: public education

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


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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The Private-Sector, Jealousy-Misery Media Factor – Part 1/5

During my full-time university days on the GI Bill [1968 – 1973] before I graduated with a BA in journalism, I learned how easy it was for the media to make mistakes while practicing what is known as Yellow Journalism to boost profits.

And Yellow journalism [based upon sensationalism and crude exaggeration] is what Associated Press [AP] did when it ran Public retirement ages come under greater scrutiny by Don Thompson on December 14, 2011.

For example, how would you feel if you read, “Patrick Godwin spends his retirement days running a horse farm east of Sacramento, Calif., with his daughter? His departure from the workaday world [he worked thirty-six years in public education and was the superintendent of one of California’s 1,600 school districts] is likely to be long and relatively free of financial concerns, after he retired last July at age 59 with a pension paying $174,308 a year for the rest of his life.”

That previous quote was in the second paragraph of Thompson’s AP news piece and it is extremely misleading because of what it doesn’t say.

How many in public education do you think will earn that kind of money in retirement?

What AP doesn’t tell us is that in 2010 the average member-only benefit for retired public school educators in California was $4,256 a month before taxes [less than a third of what Godwin earns in retirement] and that only 16% of educators that retired in 2010 worked as long as Patrick Godwin did.  The median years of service was 26.6.

For example, if you were one of the educators that retired after 26.6 years of public service [the median] and was only 55 years old [the earliest you may retire and collect], using the CalSTRS retirement calculator, that person would earn about $2,130 a month before taxes—much less than the $14,525.66 that Godwin earns each month.

I calculated once that if a public school teacher in California taught for 42 years or more, his annual retirement income would equal what he earned the last year he worked.  In public education, less than 4% retire in the 100% category.

In fact, 9% retired in 2010 with 10-15 years of service in public education, 11% with 14-20 years, 15% with 20-25 years, 12% with 25-30 years, 23% with 30-35 years, and 16% with 35-40 years. Source: CalSTRS

The reason that AP’s Don Thompson ran with Patrick Godwin’s retirement income as his example is called sensationalism designed to cause an emotional response so people will talk about it. Word of mouth attracts readers and an audience.

In addition, Godwin was a school district superintendent at the top of the public education pay scale, which represents about 0.2% of the total.  That means 99.8% of public educators in California do not earn as much as Godwin did while working as a school district superintendent.

The result is that many readers may believe that most public educators in California will retire with Patrick Godwin’s annual retirement income.  However, this is far from the truth since most will not come close, but Thompson’s piece doesn’t say that.

The reason AP’s Thompson distorted the facts so much is because of audience share, which determines how much a media source [TV, newspaper, talk show, magazine, Blog, etc] may charge to advertisers, and balancing the news and telling the truth often does not achieve this goal because profits are the foundation of the private sector media.

It’s a simple formula: if you don’t make a profit you go out of business and everyone working for you loses his or her job so almost everyone plays the same Yellow Journalism game, and then there is the politics of money.

To understand why Thompson wrote such a misleading news piece, it helps to understand the trend away from private-sector pensions that were once similar to current public sector-pensions and the answers are in the numbers.

Continued on December 16, 2011 in The Private-Sector, Jealousy-Misery Media Factor – Part 2


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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