SACO – U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is the latest in a long line of muddle-brained politicians who want to blame teachers for the ills in our education system.

There are two flaws in his position. The first is that instead of politicians, school administrators, teachers and parents combining their efforts and cooperating to give our children the very best education, they engage in turf battles and finger-pointing and blaming teachers for all of the problems in education.

The second flaw is that teachers do not educate children in a vacuum. I have said before that parents are a child’s first and best teacher.

I have not done the math precisely, but in a calendar year, children clearly spend more time with their parents than they spend in school. The teacher has an average of 25 students in a classroom; parents have nowhere near that many children at home.

I have experience as a student-teacher, mentor and Boy Scout leader. I have concluded that too many parents do not care about their children and are not invested in their children’s education.

It is very likely that if anyone asked any teacher how many parents respond to warning slips that teachers send home requesting a conference, I am secure in the knowledge that the number is woefully small.

May I suggest that parents unplug the television and turn off the computer and actually spend time with their children.

It is a fact that students do better in school when they see their parents reading books at home. It is a fact that children do much better in school when their parents have read to them at home.

Parents would be pleasantly surprised when they find out what interesting people their children are. Children love their parents and want their parents to be interested in their lives.

I wonder exactly how much Secretary Duncan expects out of a teacher who has to try to educate children who come to school from parents who are not invested, children who have not had a good breakfast and probably not had a good night’s sleep.

In addition, many of the children have very poor attendance. How can the teacher play “catch up” with children who have missed school? Teachers are college-educated educators. They are not psychologists, policemen, clergymen, jailers or baby sitters.

I also wonder exactly how much experience Secretary Duncan has as a classroom teacher. I am guessing that the only experience he has is as a student probably in good schools and was sent there by parents who supported his education. Is Duncan aware how much time teachers spend after school preparing lessons for the next day? Does he know of any other organization where the employees spend their own money on supplies or decorations?

I think that we all know that Cape Elizabeth has one of the best school systems in the state and that many of its seniors go on to college. We also know that Cape Elizabeth is one of the higher-income towns in Maine and that many of the residents are professionals. Therefore, it is easy to conclude that the parents value an education.

The state of Utah spends $5,645 per student per year in grades K-12. This is the lowest amount in America.

However, the students in Utah rank somewhere between the 10th and 20th percentile in any standard of student performance. If you are curious how that can be, the reason is that Utah has a significant Mormon population and they have strong family values.

You can bet that Mormon parents are not glued to the idiot box or surfing the Web every night. Mormon parents actually value their children and consider them to be a gift from God.

I am sending a copy of this to Secretary Duncan and am asking him what he is going to do about getting all of the responsible parties involved in improving our education system and giving our children the very best education we can — instead of blaming teachers.

As for me, I am taking out nomination papers for the school board in Saco.