David K. Shipler, The Working Poor: Invisible in America (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004), p. 139:
Some 37 percent of American adults cannot figure a 10 percent discount on a price, even using a calculator. (Emphasis added.) The same percentage cannot read a bus schedule or write a letter about a credit card error. According to the National Adult Literacy Survey, last taken in 1992 by the Department of Education, 14 percent cannot total a deposit slip, locate an intersection on a map, understand an appliance warranty, or determine the correct dosage of a medicine.
This is astonishing, if true. One thing that struck my conservative eye was 'Department of Education.' One wonders what the percentage of incompetents was before the inauguration of this behemoth agency. I'll bet it was less.
What goes on in the schools that the 37 percent attend? Without exaggerating, I can say that I have completely mastered and assimilated the reading, writing, and mathematics I was taught in grades 1-8. And it was not a watered-down curriculum. For example, we learned hard-core grammar, including all the terminology: adjective, adverb, gerund, participle, etc. We drilled in the diagramming of sentences a practice which, in the sequel, has turned out to be an excellent logical propaedeutic. We memorized the multiplication tables, as well as units of measure and fraction/percentage conversions, and not just the obvious ones like 1/2, 1/4 and 1/5. So to this day I know that 1/6 = 16 2/3 % and 1/7 = 14 2/7 %. If you, dear reader, do not have facts like this at your mental finger tips, then you were cheated — by liberals. We learned all the algorithms including long division — and I still use them. When I calculated logic grades at the end of a semester I always did it 'by hand and brain' — no calculator — just to keep those algorithms 'in gear and at the ready.'
In my day, there was no liberal bullshit about 'being creative' in a discipline before one had learned its rudiments. No talk of set theory or number-theoretic properties such as associativity, commutativity, distributivity before one knew how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide.
Of course, I went to a Catholic school run by nuns in a modest lower-to-middle middle class area. There was discipline in the classroom and the occasional screw-up was expelled. No 'social promotion' — an idea so stupid that only a liberal could embrace and promote it. The physical plant was quite limited and the school received no Federal monies. It is a liberal conceit, and one of the looniest, that one educates people by throwing money at them. Actually, education is very cheap. All it takes is a teacher who knows something, students who are teachable (docile if you want it in Latin), a piece of chalk and a blackboard. Or a stick and a piece of smooth dirt. I exaggerate, but to make a serious point.
Liberals, benighted as they are, think that students need computers to learn. That's obvious nonsense; and if you can't read, what good is a computer?
You didn't get fed at the schools I attended. You brought your lunch in a paper bag or a lunch box. I could go on, as I am quite obviously warming to my theme. But the long and short of it is, that if you want to improve education in these United States, you must do your bit to get liberals out of it.
Does Shipler's book support the Right or the Left? Here is a review that touches on the question. It is in a liberal publication, so Caveat lector!