Tag Archives: the importance of literacy

Eager to Learn or Not – Part 6/10

After turning 18 and gaining the freedom he wanted, my brother Richard worked long hours at low paying jobs to earn enough to pay the bills so his family could have a house in a barrio infested by street gangs, which was the best he could afford.

Without the education that Richard spurned, he could not afford a better place to live, since he could only work at unskilled jobs such as digging ditches and/or mixing concrete alongside men that spoke mostly Spanish that also did not read English.

By the ime Richard was in his fifties, his feet were ruined and he had pins holding the bones together so he could hobble about while surviving on disability from Social Security.

In his fifties, to stay out of jail after another DUI, a judge told Richard to enroll in a literacy class but my brother often fell off the wagon and skipped class to drink and chase women on the weekends while his wife stayed home to take care of their many children.

America’s community colleges offer literacy classes and American libraries offer free literacy programs but to take advantage of them, the individual must be willing to be there and learn what is taught.

In fact, finding a literacy program today is easy. All one has to do is use LINCS to find a program in his or her area or go to the nearest public library and ask for help to find the nearest literacy program.

My brother’s children, like their father, who was their role model, were not eager to learn either and mostly followed the father’s example, which helps explain one of the reasons many children and teens in America do not learn what teacher’s teach.

The reason my brother didn’t learn was because of his attitude toward work and fun and the fact that he had dyslexia, which meant Richard would have to work harder than most children. He chose to give up.

However, that is not an excuse. I also have dyslexia but that did not stop me from learning to read as it did him.

For Richard, schoolwork wasn’t fun, but drinking, hanging out in bars, smoking, and chasing women, even after he was married with children, was his “pursuit of happiness”.

The reason I am writing this series of posts is because that “old” stubborn friend that is an evangelical born again Christian that listens to too much conservative talk radio and reads too many conservative Blogs is also a neoconservative libertarian that firmly believes the public education system in the United States is corrupt, which is the reason children do not learn.

However, the truth is that between 93 to 99% of the teachers are teaching what they are supposed to teach, but too many students are not learning, and the reason these students don’t learn is because of choices made in the “pursuit of happiness”.

Continued on July 18, 2011 in Eager to Learn or Not – Part 7 or return to Part 5


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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Eager to Learn or Not – Part 5/10

An “old” friend (with a closed, rigid and voluntarily brainwashed mind) sent me a link to a post from Minding the Campus where Herbert London claimed there was fraud up and down our (public) education system.

To support his opinion, London quotes Charles Eliot, who was the president of Harvard (what London doesn’t say is that Eliot was born in 1834 and died in 1926 well before the birth of today’s modern public education system).

A lot has changed in America since Charles Eliot said, “the freshmen bring so much in and the seniors take so little out.”  Yes, this is the phrase London interpreted to mean public education is a fraud.

In fact, I am going to use sugar consumption as one example of how much has changed since Charles Eliot was born and died.

The New England says sugar consumption in the 19th century was about 52 pounds per person a year in the UK.  In 2003, that consumption was more than 150 pounds, and we know today that too much sugar in the blood causes havoc to the brain affecting a child’s ability to learn, which will be another subject of discussion in another post at another time.

Herbert London says in Minding the Campus, “At the elementary school level it is simply embarrassing to have a large number of students leave illiterate or semi-literate.”

My response to London is to offer up my dead brother Richard as an example of one of those illiterate students.

After you get to know my brother, you will learn why he left school illiterate and stayed illiterate his entire life.  Richard died December 1999 at 64.  If he had lived, he would be 76 today.

From an early age, Richard had no desire to do the work it took to gain an education. He fought our mother, father and his teachers from kindergarten until his last year in high school.

By the time he was in high school, he cut classes as often as possible to hang out with friends and have sex with his girlfriend of the moment. He went as far as to have a friend or girlfriend forge excuse notes or to get the girl friend of the moment to call the school and pretend to be our mother, which was easy since our parents both worked and were not home to catch him in the act.

That was what Richard wanted — to have a good time and as much sex with as many female partners as possible, which led to excessive drinking, smoking and drugs and a painful death after spending 15 of his 64 years in jails or prisons.

Richard died at 64 riddled with cancer and heart disease.  While he was 64 chronologically, his biological age was more than a hundred.

My brother never had a desire to read, to do homework or to study. In that education equation I mentioned in Part 2 of this series, Richard was a “zero”. The opportunity to learn was offered to Richard, and his teachers taught what they were required to teach, but Richard was the horse that refused to drink water.

Continued on July 17, 2011 in Eager to Learn or Not – Part 6 or return to Part 4


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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Eager to Learn or Not – Part 4/10

The first time America’s Founding Fathers used the word “equal” in the Declaration of Independence, it said, “When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

The second and last time King George read the word “equal” in the Declaration of Independence was in the second paragraph where it says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Do you know what pursuit means?  It does not guarantee that the government or parents are responsible to see that every citizen and/or child is happy all of the time.

What the word “pursuit” means in the Declaration of Independence is that the common person and/or citizen has a right to seek happiness.  However, there is no guarantee that happiness will be found, and for a fact, it is not the government’s responsiblity to provide happiness as some seem to believe.

King George’s response to the Declaration of Independence was to declare the revolutionary leaders as “rebels” and to order British military and civil agents to suppress the revolt, which led to years of war and rebellion in the thirteen colonies.

In fact, The Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution do not  define “equal” in any way to mean everyone is born with the same intelligence, health, wealth or ability or that the government should pass laws to make it so.

According to The Freeman – Ideas on Liberty, “What the Founding Fathers meant by equality is this: All men share a common human nature. The assertion that all men are created equal means that all persons are the same in some respect; it does not mean that all men are identical, or equally talented, wise, prudent, intelligent, or virtuous; rather, it means that all persons possess the inherent capacity to reason. ”

This also means that there are no guarantees that if a teacher teaches, the student will learn the skills and knowledge taught as if he or she were a sponge and had to do-nothing but sit there as many do.

Continued on July 14, 2011 in Eager to Learn or Not – Part 5 or return to Part 3


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.

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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Eager to Learn or Not – Part 3/10

After the NCLB act became law while President G. W. Bush was still in the White House, teachers had to be both teacher, parent and responsible for the student to learn, while most of the nation seemed to believe a modern fable that every child is equal and has a right by law to be happy all the time.

However, the Constitution of the United States, which offers protection for American citizens from the tyranny of government, uses the word “equal” only eight times.

Only once does the word “equal” refer to common citizens when the Constitution says the people have equal protection of the laws.

The other seven times the word “equal” deals with the process of government and has nothing to do with people outside of the federal or state systems.

In fact, studies prove that teachers are teaching while there is plenty of evidence that some students are not learning what is being taught.

If you don’t remember what your teachers taught you about the meaning of the US Constitution (Whose fault is that?), then I suggest you visit the U.S. Constitution online and search for the word “equal” and read each section where the word is used in any of its forms.

If you want to know where “equal” was used differently than the U.S. Constitution, you will have to discover that from the Declaration of Independence, which is not the law of the United States.

Instead, the Declaration of Independence was a document signed by America’s Founding Fathers and sent to the king of England as a notice that thirteen colonies in North America (except Canada) were willing to fight to be free of the British Empire.

Once the thirteen colonies earned their freedom from the British Empire, the Declaration of Independence, became history and has never been (before and after the revolution) the law that guides the US government.

Continued on July 13, 2011 in Eager to Learn or Not – Part 4 or return to 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.

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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Eager to Learn or Not – Part 2/10

After listening to the piece about the Atlanta school scandal, I concluded that the enemies of public education (that by coincidence support the school choice voucher movement that would add billions of taxpayer dollars to the profit margins of private corporations) were at it again.

After all, the next presidential election of 2012 is starting to gather steam and the alleged failure of public education will be a topic of discussion with accusations being hurled about as if they were grenades in the hands of terrorists.

The pressure that caused these teachers and administrators in Atlanta’s public schools to cheat was due to the impossible demands set by No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), which requires America’s teachers to teach as if all students are equal and eager to learn, which many are not.

An old English proverb says, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.”  This idiom means that if a teacher teaches he or she cannot force the student to learn regardless of a law written in Washington D.C. by a bunch of ignorant, elected fools.

For a child to learn, he or she must come to school motivated and ready to learn, and this is often not the case, which is the reason behind the fact that not all students are equal.

There is an equation/formula that shows what it takes for a student to learn.

This formula is as simple as 1 (teacher) + 1 (student) + 1 (parent) = 3.

1. The teacher teaches

2. The students listen/pay attention, follow directions, ask questions, study, read and learn

3, parents support both teachers and students so learning takes place

 If one or two elements of that equation are missing, the education process suffers.

Continued on July 12, 2011 in Eager to Learn or Not – Part 3 or return to Part 1


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.

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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Eager to Learn or Not – Part 1/10

I woke up recently to read about “Cheating Investigation Focuses on Atlanta Schools”.  Then later in the morning, my wife and I walked to town to see Larry Crowne with Tom Hanks and Julie Roberts, which was a movie my wife and I enjoyed.

Since Larry Crowne also dealt with the value of earning an education to become more competitive in the workplace, it fits the goal of this Blog so I felt it was worth mentioning.

Last week, I read the review of Larry Crowne in The New York Times, which was extremely negative. Knowing how biased and wrong the New York Times critics often are, I was convinced the movie was worth seeing, which brings me back to the subject of this post.

After returning from viewing Larry Crowne, I searched the internet for a reliable source on the Atlanta schools cheating scandal and discovered a story on dated October 12, 2010.

You may not believe this, but studies of bias in the media have demonstrated that NPR offers the most balanced news possible, which may explain why conservative Republicans want to cut federal funding from public radio. After all, well-balanced news is not the goal of conservatives.

When I saw the date of the NPR piece, I realized this was old news, so why was it being treated as if it were new again?

Continued on July 11, 2011 in Eager to Learn or Not – 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.

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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Education’s Accountability Dilemma

In a recent March 2011, 60 Minute segment, Katie Couric reported on an experimental New York City charter school founded on the idea that paying teachers $125,000 annually would attract the best people for the job and make a difference.

The principal’s name was Zeke Venderhoek. The students were mostly African American and Hispanic and almost all came from poor families. The teachers often put in 80 to 90 hour weeks.

When the fifth graders from Venderhoek’s charter school took the New York State Math and Reading Exam, the results revealed that on average the public schools in the district scored better than the charter school.

At the conclusion of 60 Minutes, Venderhoek said one year wasn’t enough to show improvement.


Wait a minute!

I taught in public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005) in a barrio with multi-generation, Latino street gangs, and often worked 60 to 100 hour weeks. From my classroom doorway, I witnessed a drive by shooting one year. Another year, in the evening when I was working late, a student was gunned down outside my room next to the school gate as he was leaving the campus.

However, over the years, district records revealed that my students often outperformed all other student in the district at the same grade level on standardized tests with improved writing skills. District administration said the records showed this to be true year after year and I did not teach in a charter school.

In the early 1980s, one African-American mother with a seventh grade, twelve-year-old daughter came to me. The mother was upset because the previous year’s standardized test scores said her daughter was reading several years behind grade level.

I told the mother the only way that would change was for her to turn off the TV and spend time with her daughter every evening and on weekends making sure her daughter did the homework, studied for tests and quizzes and read at least one hour or more every night seven days a week with a discussion before bedtime about what had been read. If there were questions, call me.

By the end of the year, that student’s literacy level had improved five years. That mother made the difference, and my mother did the same thing for me when I was in grade school. Without my mother’s effort at home, I would not be able to read today.

Why couldn’t Venderhoek’s Charter School show similar results?

The answer may be found from a 2009 Stanford University Charter School study that discovered only 17% of almost 5,000 nationwide charter school delivered on the promise that they would succeed where public schools often failed.

Seventeen percent is a FAILING grade and many of these charter schools had smaller class sizes, longer school years and days with stricter behavior codes with school uniforms.

In fact, students that did not perform could be sent back to the public schools, which is something private school may also do.

When will the country wake up and hold parents and students responsible to turn off the TV, shut down the Internet, study, do homework and read? Teachers cannot do it alone.

Discover why Some Teachers Should Earn Combat Pay


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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What is the Matter with Parents these Days? – Viewed as Single Page

More than twenty years ago, I attended a lecture at one of the Claremont Colleges. I do not recall the speaker’s name but he was a successful journalist that wrote for major publications such as The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

He had published a memoir of raising his normal, above average daughter and a younger son with an IQ of eighty. The lecture was about how his wife and he raised the son to graduate with honors from high school and be accepted to Harvard where he earned a degree in engineering.

I wish I could remember this journalist’s name and the title of his memoir, but it has been too long. However, I have not forgotten his story. If anyone reading this post knows the title of the memoir, please tell me in a comment.

When this journalist’s son was old enough to start school at age six, the parents agonized over how to raise him so he could live a normal life and compete for jobs in the marketplace as an adult.

Job hunting and earning a living is not without its challenges and competition (on July 6, 2012, The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 12.7 million Americans were unemployed, while the number of Americans living in poverty was more than 47 million and many go hungry daily).

For the journalist’s family, to achieve their goals as responsible parents, it was decided to retire the family television to the garage and read books every night with a family hour before bedtime to discuss what each family member read.

Twelve years later, the son with the eighty IQ earned a perfect score on the SAT and the high school principal claimed he had to have cheated. The father argued that his son had not cheated, so the school made the son take the SAT again in a room without any other students, and he was monitored by three staff members. The son earned a second perfect SAT score. Soon after that, the son was accepted to Harvard

This brings me to a post I read at clotildajamcracker (a Blog) called What’s the Matter with Kids these Days?

The post is worth reading—specially the comments. However, the problem is not kids—it’s parents.

In fact, I read one comment from the Headless Coffee Guy that said, “Hey, I hope my daughter will grow up to be a super genius who will find the unified theory in physics, solve world hunger, save the whales, and write her first symphony at 4. … But alas, I think ultimately, it’s really not up to the parent to decide what their child wants to be. We can only nurture and suggest, but it’s really up to the child to make up their own minds. All I really want for my daughter is to be happy.”

Is there anything wrong with Headless Coffee Guy’s concept of parenting as expressed in that previous quote?

When I read, “All I really want for my daughter is to be happy“—that was, in my opinion, a possible excuse to shirk responsibility.

There so much more to parenting than a parent wanting his or her child to only be happy.

What does happiness mean? I’m sure that most everyone would have a different answer. I have several answers depending on the circumstances. I’m happy when my monthly CalSTRS retirement payment is deposited in my bank account, watch a good movie, read a good book, eat a tasty meal, finish daily exercising, have no pain and especially when my wife is happy since that makes life better for me.

However, many today seem to think “happy” means you have to avoid being bored even if that includes not doing homework, classwork, reading or drinking water.

“Teenagers and young adults consume more sugar drinks than other age groups (ages 2-19 years).”
Centers for Disease Control and

You might say, “What, drinking water?” Dr. Michael Dedekian, a pediatric endocrinologist at Maine Medical Center, says, “I have children who come to me, and they are being absolutely honest when they say, ‘I can’t drink water. It tastes disgusting to me.’ (They say) that water has become unpalatable.” Source: Minnesota Public


The answer comes from Track, who said, “Surveys have found that parents are major role models for their kids’ eating habits, even more so than their peers. … Almost one-third of the children surveyed drank soft drinks daily, and most drank ‘regular,’ not ‘diet,’ drinks. … Virtually all of the respondents liked or ‘strongly liked’ the taste of soft drinks.”

Like most parents, my wife and me wanted our daughter to be happy too. However, we felt it was more important that she be happier as an adult than a child and that meant making sacrifices.

Yes, my wife and me felt it was more important that our daughter be happier as an adult than during her childhood, which is why we left the TV off, no video games, no social networking (at least until her second year in high school), limited the number of school dances she attended, no mobile phone for personal use and focused on her reading books, doing homework, learning ballet, piano, how to change a flat tire, install a toilet, change a lock, install drywall, tile a floor, etc.

And last but not least, we never bought or drank any brand of soda. There was water and then there was water (sometimes there was fruit juice such as apple or orange juice).

Needless to say, many of our daughter’s peers in middle and high school felt sorry for her, because she wasn’t having as much fun as they were. However, our daughter graduated from high school with a 4.65 GPA and was accepted to Stanford University (the only student from her high school that year) where she is starting her third year majoring in biology with goals to pursue a medical degree.

Contrary to popular opinion, she’s happy and loves to dance and play the piano and enjoys reading books. She has a boyfriend at Stanford she loves too and the two share many similar interests. She might want to be happy every waking moment and have loads of fun but she learned as a child that there is a difference between work, happiness, entertainment, bring bored and depression.

To achieve a better chance at adult happiness, her mother and me had to say no to many things leading to boring hours doing homework and studying in addition to reading books to fill the empty hours.

After all, according to the law in California (it varies by state ranging from age 14 to 18), one is a child until his or her eighteenth birthday. Then the child becomes an adult with a life expectancy of at least 84.9 years (on average) if he or she has a college education and earns an above average income. You see, education and income has a significant impact on health and a higher life expectancy and the average college graduate earns much more than a high-school dropout or high-school graduate.

Science Daily reported, “New findings from Harvard Medical School and Harvard University demonstrate that individuals with more than 12 years of education have significantly longer life expectancy than those who never went beyond high school. … Overall in the groups studied, as of 2000, better educated at age 25 could expect to live to age 82; for less educated, 75.”

In addition, The Economic Policy Institute discovered “While life expectancy has grown across the United States between 1980 and 2000, the degree to which people live longer has become increasingly connected to their socio-economic status.” The average life expectancy of the least well-off in 2000 was 74.7 years while it was 79.2 years for those that were most well off—meaning they had more money and usually a better education.

However, if left up to most children in the average family that does not live in poverty, happiness means not exercising, eating lots of sugary foods swallowed with gallons of sugary sodas, watching TV, listening to music, social networking, playing video games, hanging out with friends after school and on weekends, sending daily text messages by the dozens—and according to surveys and studies that is what the average child in America is doing ten hours a day.

Where are the parents?

Then there is this thing about parents blindly encouraging kids to follow their dreams without a realistic backup plan.

Kids are immature, lack knowledge and a sense of reality—at least those American children that are sheltered from the harsh realities of life and competition.

Therefore, many childish dreams are totally unrealistic, such as becoming President of the United States. My wife and me know a family where the oldest son, now a graduate student at Stanford University, dreams of becoming the governor of California one day, yet he hasn’t joined a political party yet.

Anyway, for children dreaming of becoming president of the United States, the odds are almost impossible. After all, there is only one position for that job and since April 30, 1789, when George Washington took the oath of office as the first President of the United States, there have only been forty-four presidents counting President Obama.

Then there is the requirement that one be at least 35 years of age to qualify. With 310 million Americans and two major political parties, competing to become the president of the United States is a long shot with a tough road to follow.

How about professional sports (another popular dream job)? Over the years, while I was still teaching, many of my high school students, mostly boys, told me that it was a waste of time for them to study because they were going to be pro athletes and did not need an education.

However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are only 16,500 jobs in competitive sports and the median pay is $43,740. Most professional athletes do not earn tens of millions of dollars. Only a few earn that kind of money, but those few are all we hear about in the media. From 2010 – 2020, only 3,600 new positions will open up in pro sports or 360 a year (on average). The competition to land one of these positions in pro sports is fierce but not as fierce as president of the US.

How many plumbers are there in the United States? According to the BLS, in 2010, there were 419,000 plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters working in the US with medium annual pay of $46,660 per year. Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters install and repair pipes that carry water, steam, air, or other liquids or gases to and in businesses, homes, and factories.

Using the BLS Website, we may quickly discover that the number of jobs held by accountants in 2010 was 1,216,900 and there would be 190,700 new jobs coming available between 2010-20 or about 19,000 a year, while the average medium pay for actors (another popular dream job) is $17.44 per hour with new openings numbering 260 per year (on average)—a ratio of 73 accountants to each actor.

I read once that about 40,000 aspiring actors flood into Hollywood each year to compete for those 260 potential positions that pay $17.44 per hour (on average).

Another popular dream job, mostly for girls, is to become a fashion model. According to the BLS, the annual medium pay in 2010 was $32,920 with about 200 openings per year (on average). On the other hand , median pay for barbers, hairdressers and cosmetologists (beauticians) is $22,500 per year and there are 10,000 new positions opening annually (on average)—a ratio of 50 barbers or hairdressers for each fashion model.

My son, who is currently in his thirties, refused to have a backup plan. Last I heard he was a waiter/bartender. The median pay for waiters/bartenders is $18,130/18,680 annually. He wanted to be an actor/singer.

I was a public school teacher for thirty years and the median pay in 2010 was $53,230. In 2004-2005, my last year in the classroom, I earned more than $80,000. There are 3,380,000 teachers working in the US public schools. Teaching was my back up plan. My dream was to become an author and there are about 145,900 working writers and authors in the United States and the median pay in 2010 was $55,420—a ratio of 23 teachers for each writer/author.

The odds favored teaching.

Just because you can dream, that does not guarantee that the dream will come true. I never gave up on my dream and after I retired from teaching in 2005, my dream became reality in 2008 with the first of three novels of “The Concubine Saga”. My dream was born in 1968 and became reality in 2008—it took forty years.

I’m glad I had a backup plan.

However, I can still hear the average American parent telling his or her child how proud they are that he or she is going to be president of the United States or a famous pro athlete, or actor, or fashion model one day, and then the TV is turned on to watch a popular reality show such as American Idol where the odds of winning are sixty-thousand to one but no one tells us that.

Discover Brainwashing American Style or Avoid the Mainstream Parenting Trap


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

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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

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:]
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 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

Regarding Latin America and the Caribbean, 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]

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

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

The National Association for the Education of Young Children [] 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, 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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