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As you may know, I read a lot of news articles. While I don’t often write about the participants in the GOP Clown Car, when I saw this article at the LA Times this afternoon, I was moved to respond:
In the nation’s past, he said, “Most presidents homeschooled their children in the White House.… Parents educated their children because it was their responsibility.”
“Yes, the government can help,” he continued, “but the idea that the federal government should be running schools, frankly much less that the state government should be running schools, is anachronistic.”
He said it is an artifact of the Industrial Revolution, “when people came off the farms where they did homeschool or had a little neighborhood school, and into these big factories … called public schools.”
Let me state for the record that my mother was an English teacher and a librarian. She taught in both public and private schools. Her sister was an elementary school teacher. My father’s sister taught math at the local high school in my hometown. I have numerous cousins on both sides of my family who were and are teachers. All of this is irrelevant to Little Ricky’s Revisionist history.
A quick check of der Google for “literacy rates in the US over time” brought these results with the very first item being a “National Assessment of Adult Literacy” report from the National Center for Education Statistics. This link goes to a section on Illiteracy from 1870 to 1979 including a table broken out at least partially by race.
The data in this table for the years 1870 to 1930 come from direct questions from the decennial censuses of 1870 to 1930, and are therefore self-reported results. The data for 1947, 1952, 1959, 1969, and 1979 were obtained from sample surveys; they exclude the Armed Forces and inmates of institutions. The statistics for the census years 1940 and 1950 were derived by estimating procedures.
According to that table, in 1870, 20 percent of the overall population was illiterate (11.5 per cent of Whites and 79.9 percent of Blacks and other races). In 1952 (the year I was born) the figures were 2.5 percent overall with 1.8 percent of Whites and 10.2 percent of Blacks and other races. In 1979, those figures were .6 percent of the total population with .4 percent of Whites and 1.6 percent of Blacks and other races. It is directly because of public school education that those figures improved so dramatically over the years.
About a year ago, I wrote a post titled Teachers Are Not the Enemy. In reality, neither are public schools. But public schools are being used as scapegoats for the failings of politicians who refuse to raise taxes for any reasons and who try to force teachers to become miracle workers.
Oh and Ricky? If you dislike public education so very much, you might want to refund the school fees you scammed out of the public school district in Pennsylvania while you were “homeschooling” your children in Virginia.
And because I can:
Cross posted from Just A Small Town Country Boy by Richard Taylor