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The Golden Age of Education in America is Today

The United States has never had a Golden Age of Education unless it is happening today, but the media and politicians with political/religious agendas—without exception—misrepresent the truth.  The art of deception is based on picking the facts you want the public to hear, and what’s left out of the message is what leads people to believe something that is false.

For example, the Smithsonian Magazine reported on July 30, 2013 that No, You’re Probably Not Smarter Than a 1912-Era 8th Grader. I wanted to read this piece when it first came out but didn’t get a chance until August 8th.

The piece goes into detail showing the sort of questions 8th graders were expected to know in 1912. What the Smithsonian does not mention is how many children were attending 8th grade in 1912 compared to today.

In 1912, 61.3% of 5-to-19-year-old whites were enrolled in school and less than 10% would graduate from high school. That percentage was even lower for Blacks and other races.

There is a huge difference between less than 10% of children motivated to learn who have supporting parents and the ninety percent of children who did not.

In fact, in 1918, every state required children to only complete elementary school.  And a movement in 1920 to extend compulsory education to 12th grade failed and would not be revived until after World War II.

WiseGeek.org says, “Prior to the passing of compulsory school attendance laws, education was primarily localized and available only to the wealthy, and it often included religious teachings. …

“By the 1950s, compulsory education had become well established, but the K-12 education system was really still in its infancy. Schools were still primarily localized, but education was no longer available only to the wealthy. Even in the 1950s, however, segregation by race was still common practice in public schools in the US.

“Then in 1954, in the US Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional.”

The Smithsonian piece is misleading because in 1912, students attending school were there because their parents believed in the value of an education, and sending children to school was still a luxury for most Americans who could not afford to send a child to school or felt an education was a waste of time.

Back then, many poor parents even sold their children as young as age five into servitude in the coal mines or factories—those children never had a chance to go to school. In some industrial cities, half the workforce was made up of children, who were much cheaper to employ and easier to manage than teenagers or adults. In some states it was also legal for parents to sell children into prostitution.

How bad was it? For example, in 1916, President Wilson pushed the Keating-Owen Act through Congress barring interstate commerce of goods produced by child labor, but a conservative U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1918 that this law was unconstitutional because it infringed on states’ rights and denied children the freedom to contract to work. Source: Scholastic.com [recommended reading]

And in 1912, there was no parent-driven self-esteem movement that values dreams, having fun and feeling good over working hard to earn an education. There was also no TV, no video games, and no cell phones. A lot has changed in the last century.

I also compared the high school graduation rate for 17/18 year olds in 1912 with today. According to A Hundred Years Ago.com, “only 20% of youth attended high school in 1911 and less than 10% graduated.”

Today, even most high school dropouts are better educated than 90% of Americans in 1912. Since 1968, the US high school graduation rate has fluctuated in the 70% range and it has never been higher in the history of this country. In 2012, Wisconsin had the highest rate at 90% with Vermont a close 89.6%.

In 2012, The Washington Post reported, “Researchers found that graduation rates vary by race, with 91.8 percent of Asian students, 82 percent of whites, 65.9 percent of Hispanics and 63.5 percent of blacks graduating on time.”

If you are interested in the graduation rate of each state, click Governing.com, and you will discover that even the state with the lowest graduation rate today beats 1912 by a wide margin.

Do not be fooled again, because politicians, the media and critics of public education will keep telling us that the public education system in America is failing, but now you know the truth. It’s not perfect but it has never been better and it is still evolving—for better or worse.

Discover Educating Children is a Partnership

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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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The American Teacher “is not” Waiting for Superman – Part 2/2

The documentary, “Waiting for Superman”, on the other hand, argued that non-unionized charter schools would do a better job, and the public schools were failing the nation due to teacher unions protecting incompetent teachers.

However, according to Dona Goldstein writing for Slate, “Only 17 percent of charters are consistently better than traditional public schools at raising students’ math and reading scores.”

In fact, it helps to know who funded “Waiting for Superman” and the small fortune that promoted the film.

To discover that answer, Alan Singer, writing for Huffington Post, says, “The real question for me is where the money came from to make the pseudo-documentary and who is paying to promote a movie that no one apparently wants to see. The answer, of course, is from “Big Bill” Gates and a gaggle of hedge fund investors who smell mega-profits if government financed private for profit McSchools are allowed to muscle in on public school dollars.

“The film is executive produced and financed by Participant Media, which was founded by former eBayist Jeffrey Skoll.

“Participant Media’s current CEO is Jim Berk. When Berk was Chairman and CEO of Gryphon Colleges Corporation, he was responsible for the formation of a private company operating for-profit schools…

“The Denver-based Charter School Growth Fund, a nonprofit venture capital fund, recently announced it had secured $80 million in initial commitments with big donations coming from among others the Walton Family Foundation. Wal-Mart is also a big supporter of the Waiting for “Superman” social action campaign and seems primed to provide us with Wal-Mart Academies modeled on big box stores that destroy communities and small businesses, drive down wages, and provide us with endless quantities of junk.”


– a Conversation on “Waiting for Superman” held at Stanford University –

In addition, Dana Goldstein, writing for The Nation, says, “Here’s what you don’t see in “Waiting for Superman”:

“You don’t see teen moms, households without an adult English speaker or headed by a drug addict, or any of the millions of children who never have a chance to enter a charter school lottery (or get help with their homework or a nice breakfast) because adults simply aren’t engaged in their education. These children, of course, are often the ones who are most difficult to educate, and the ones neighborhood public schools can’t turn away.”

“You also don’t learn that in the Finnish education system, much cited in the film as the best in the world, teachers are—gasp!—unionized and granted tenure, and families benefit from a cradle-to-grave social welfare system that includes universal daycare, preschool and healthcare, all of which are proven to help children achieve better results at school.”

Note from Blog host: America’s public school teachers are expected to create miracles as if they have super powers by overcoming many almost impossible obstacles and when they don’t, they are often crucified by public education’s enemies and critics.

I know what I am talking about because I worked as a public school teacher in Southern California for thirty years and my average work week was sixty to hundred hours a week and the challenges that I faced daily were daunting to say the least.

What is a teacher to do when parents do not supervise homework at home or provide reading time?  In fact, over the years, I heard parents tell their child that if the child didn’t want to do the work the teacher assigned, they didn’t have to.

Conspiracy theories abound but in the case of America’s schools, the war being waged on teachers and their unions and the accusations that the reason the average America’s school child is mediocre is the fault of incompetent teachers that cannot be fired has all the earmarks of a conspiracy of dunces based on lies and myths that have no foundation in truth/facts.

Where is the evidence that there are so many failing teachers that it is the reason America’s students are not measuring up?  There is none.  Although there are incompetent teachers in the public schools (I knew a few – less than 5 out of hundreds), there are not enough of them.

Return to The American Teacher “is not” Waiting for Superman – Part 1

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

Graphic OCT 2015

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Where It Started – Part 2/2

My first year, I interned full time in a fifth-grade class at Yorbita Elementary in Rowland Unified School District in La Puente, California.

I had a great master teacher, who is retired now. Her name was Adele Stepp, and I became friends with her husband Mario.

At the time, he was the art teacher at Giano Intermediate, where I started teaching full time in 1978. Maybe making friends with Mario and Adele were two of the reasons I stayed in education the next thirty years.


See a Middle School Art Teacher in Action

Foresight is a great blessing. I don’t have it. If I did, I might have left the classroom instead of sticking with it and teaching more than six-thousand students.

Many classrooms in America are like war zones. I know of one teacher who lasted three hours before he quit. He taught his first three classes and stormed into the principal’s office at lunch, tossed the keys on the desk and said, “I will not teach children who will not give me the respect I deserve.”

I heard that he returned to the private school where he’d been working before accepting the job at Nogales High School for higher pay. Most private school teachers are not paid well.

Return to Where It Started – Part 1

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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.

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