Tag Archives: The public schools in the United States are working

Arne Duncan, the US Secretary of Education, (seriously) needs Tutoring

On her Blog, Diane Ravitch reports: “According to Duncan, our kids are dumb. Their parents spoil them. The kids don’t work hard enough. Furthermore, our culture stinks: No one takes education seriously, except Duncan, of course.”

How does Arne Duncan—with President Obama’s obvious support—want to fix this problem?

The answer: close the public schools and turn America’s children over to CEOs and corporations cutting parents out of the k – 12 education process. For instance, the Walton family of Wal-Mart infamy. Do you really want Wal-Mart teaching your kids?

Ravitch says Duncan was a basketball player, and we know that Obama loves this game. We now know that Duncan and President Obama have several things in common: For instance, they are both from Chicago (the University of Chicago was the birthplace of neo-conservatism in the United States and both Duncan and President Obama attended this university); President Obama is 52 and Duncan is 49; they both enjoy basketball and want to destroy America’s democratically run public school districts—all 13,600 of them (a goal of the neoconservative movement in the US: See Capitalizing on Disaster: Taking and Breaking Public Schools by Tara M. Stamm)

“President Obama chose Arne Duncan, who, previous to becoming CEO of the Chicago Public Schools, had little experience in education. Together they have promoted policies that are the antithesis of his campaign promises. Rather than supporting teachers as professionals, he has attacked teachers as the central problem, and along with Duncan, applauded the mass firing of teachers in Falls River, Rhode Island.” (Zezima, 2010, Buffalo, digital commons)

Arne Duncan should learn a few facts, and I volunteer to be his teacher. Send him to my house, and I will tutor him as only a former U.S. Marine can; I have a multiple-subject life credential and successfully taught in the public schools 1975 – 2005.

If Mr. Duncan accepts my offer, I won’t let him go home until he proves that he’s learned what I’ll teach him.

For instance, he will learn that the public schools have done and are still doing their job, and I will do this by mostly focusing on American adults 18 and over.

After all, more than 92% of Americans attend or attended public schools.

The U.S. Census reported that in 2010 there were 308,746,538 Americans and 234,565,071 were 18 and over. Eighteen is the legal age of an adult. For the rest of this post, I’ll use 234.6 million to represent all adults in the U.S.

Reading says, “62% of all adults (145.452 million) in the United States own a public library ticket, no matter if they use it for borrowing poems, cookery books, or DVDs, consult legal references or use the public computer for filing online job applications. This figure was issued by the American Library Association (ALA) located in Chicago.” reported that approximately 62 million Americans are avid readers (age 18 and over). That’s 26% of adults.

In 2003, 29% of adults read at the basic prose level (68 million); 44% at an Intermediate prose level (103.2 million) and 13% at the proficient level (30.5 million).

Only 14% of American adults read below basic (32.8 million). If those numbers are similar to 2013, that means those adults are functionally illiterate, leaving 201.8 million adults reading at basic or higher.

If you think—like Arne Duncan and President Obama—that the majority of parents and public schools in the United States aren’t doing what they’re supposed to be doing (parenting and teaching), here are a few mind blowing facts:

There are more than 80,000 book publishers in the United States that generate revenues of $23.7 to $28.5 billion, and in 2001, for instance, consumers purchased 1.6 billion books—this does not count used book sales. In 2004, Americans bought 150 million old books. In addition, 90% of the 15,000 public libraries in the US spend more than $444 million on books annually (

In fact, 80% of Americans 16 and older say they read at least for pleasure; … [only] a fifth of Americans (18%) said they had not read a book in the past year (pew—the general reading habits of Americans).

Paid newspaper circulation for 1,387 newspapers in 2010 was about 43 – 45 million; (State of the; in 2012, there were 7,390 print magazines with a combined paid and verified average circulation per issue of more than 312.4 million subscribers (

This means that the majority of adults had supportive parents when they were children and as children they learned what the public school teachers taught them.

Regardless of the parenting methods used, it’s obvious that a majority of American parents are doing a much better job of parenting than Mr. Duncan and President Obama think. But how do we discover who the parents and children are who are not succeeding and the reasons.

In a nationwide study of American kindergarten children, 36% of parents in the lowest-income quintile read to their children on a daily basis, compared with 62% of parents from the highest-income quintile (Coley, 2002).

Children from low-SES environments acquire language skills more slowly, exhibit delayed letter recognition and phonological awareness, and are at risk for reading difficulties (Aikens & Barbarin, 2008).

Students from low-SES schools entered high school 3.3 grade levels behind students from higher SES schools. In addition, students from the low-SES groups learned less over 4 years than children from higher SES groups, graduating 4.3 grade levels behind those of higher SES groups (Palardy, 2008).

In 2007, the high school dropout rate among persons 16- 24 years old was highest in low-income families (16.7%) as compared to high-income families (3.2%) [National Center for Education Statistics, 2008].

Children from lower SES households are about twice as likely as those from high-SES households to display learning-related behavior problems. A mother’s SES was also related to her child’s inattention, disinterest, and lack of cooperation in school (Morgan et al., 2009).

“Many factors were found to predict at-risk status that were independent of the student’s sex, race-ethnicity, and socioeconomic background.

Controlling for basic demographic characteristics, the following groups of students were found to be more likely to have poor basic skills in the eighth grade and to have dropped out between the 8th and the 10th grades:

  • Students from single-parent families,
  • students who were overage for their peer group, or students who had frequently changed schools;
  • eighth-grade students whose parents were not actively involved in the student’s school, students whose parents never talked to them about school-related matters, or students whose parents held low expectations for their child’s future educational attainment;
  • students who repeated an earlier grade, students who had histories of poor grades in mathematics and English, or students who did little homework;
  • eighth-graders who often came to school unprepared for classwork, students who frequently cut class, or students who were otherwise frequently tardy or absent from school;
  • eighth-graders who teachers thought were passive, frequently disruptive, inattentive, or students who teachers thought were underachievers; and students from urban schools or from schools with large minority populations.” (

There’s an old Chinese Proverb that says, “Teachers open the door, but you (the student) must enter by yourself.”

Mr. Duncan, if you and/or President Obama don’t understand what this ancient Chinese proverb means maybe what we told our daughter when she was seven will help: “It doesn’t matter if your teachers are incompetent, boring or incredible and amazing, it’s your responsibility to learn”, and our daughter earned straight A’s in the public schools from 3rd to 12th grade graduating with a 4.65 GPA. She will earn her bachelor’s degree from Stanford June 14, 2014.

When she needed help, public school teachers were always available and she often took advantage of that help.

Mr. Duncan and President Obama are you wolves pretending to be sheep—are you closet neoconservatives with a goal to destroy public education in the United States? If the answer is yes, then teaching you the facts in this post will be a waste of time because you already have your agenda.


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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