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%
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]:
Single Parent Households by race [Source: Kids Count.org]
American Indian: 53%
Hispanic or Latino: 42%
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.
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