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What happens to women’s rights if the public schools are abolished?

The title of this post was a question I wanted to ask four authors on a panel at the Los Angeles Times Book Festival held at USC, but when I walked to the mike, I did an information dump about the fake Ed reformers war on public education instead; mentioned Diane Ravitch, her book and her blog; was challenged by the moderator, but was saved by an ESL teacher in the audience I didn’t know and still don’t.

This all happened on Saturday, April 12, after my wife and I arrived at USC’s campus after walking three miles from the downtown Los Angeles hotel where we were staying. It’s amazing how much the glitz and modern polish of downtown Los Angeles changes in a few miles. It almost felt as if we were leaving the concrete and glass Garden of Eden for a desert of fast food littered with car dealerships.

My wife was scheduled to be on a panel at 3:30, “Memoir: The Places that Makes Us” in a lecture hall located in the Andrus Gerontology Center. But three hours earlier, we went to another panel called “Nonfiction: The Evolution of Feminism” from 12:30 to 1:30 held in USC’s Taper Hall.

Robin Abcarian, an LA Times columnist, was the moderator with Nancy L. Cohen, M.G. Lord, and Myra MacPherson making up the panel of feminist authors.

Nancy L. Cohen is the author of “Delirium, the Politics of Sex in America”.

M. G. Lord is the author of “The Accidental Feminist: How Elizabeth Taylor Raised Our Consciousness and We Were Too Distracted by Her Beauty to Notice”.


Lord’s segment starts at 28:00 if you don’t want to watch the entire video.

Myra MacPherson is the author of “The Scarlet Sisters: Sex, Suffrage, and Scandal in the Gilded Age”.

When we sat down shortly before the moderated conversation between the panelists started, I wasn’t planning on asking any questions. Then during the conversation, Myra MacPherson mentioned the Koch brothers funding the far-right conservative efforts that are rolling back some of the gains the equal rights movement for women achieved during the 20th century.

When I heard that, I sat straighter because these billionaires were also involved in the war against the public schools in the US. If the billionaires won, the democratically run public schools that have been around for more than a hundred years would be closed and the almost $700 billion in annual taxes that support those schools and more than four million school teachers would be turned over to CEO’s and corporations; democratically elected school boards would be abolished, parents would have no say, and these corporate-run schools paid for by the taxpayers would operate without government oversight. The transparent democratically run public schools would be flushed down the sewer of history and the opaque corporate schools would replace them—corporations run by Bill Gates, Rupert Murdock, the Koch brothers, the Walton family, Eli Broad, Michael Bloomberg along with several Hedge Fund billionaires—who are in it only for the money—among other vultures. And parents would have no say what these corporate run schools taught their children; no control over how their children would be treated or how the tax dollars were spent.

When I was standing in front of that mike talking about the war on the public schools, the moderator, Robin Abcarian, interrupted me—which was right because I was off topic—a woman sitting in the crowded lecture hall behind me leaped up and shouted, “It has everything to do with it!”

Abcarian then invited the ESL teacher to the mike and I was thankful to sit down and shut up so I could cool off. It turned out that the woman who saved me teaches in a Los Angeles Unified elementary school, and when she reached the mike she made a connection between what was happening to the public schools and the roll back on women’s rights in the US.

Later—after returning home—I discovered that “in recent years, the number of public schools segregating their students by sex has ballooned, despite mounting evidence that single-sex programs don’t improve academic performance and instead perpetuate sex stereotypes.” (aclu.org)

I still don’t have an answer to my question: What happens to women’s rights if the public schools are abolished?

What I found really interesting was the fact that there wasn’t one panel at the Los Angeles Times Book Festival about the war being waged against the public schools by the fake education reformers even though there have been several books out recently on the subject loaded with facts proving that the public schools aren’t failing and don’t need drastic reforming.

What we are hearing in the traditional media is what the fake education reformers want us to hear. Why isn’t the media reporting on this controversy? Why is the resistance against the fake education reformers mostly being ignored?

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouseis a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

His first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).

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The Walking Dead and their Whipping Boys

Thanks to the fake Ed reformers—for instance, Bill Gates, President Obama and his Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (there are many others)—teachers have become the 21st century’s whipping boys.

Are you familiar with the definition of “Whipping Boy”?

Merriam-Webster.com says, “Whipping boy: someone or something that often is blamed for problems caused by other people.”

In one of the internet forums I belong to, the following pull quote was posted in a discussion.

“Enrolling students of color in ‘rigorous’ academic programs that hold them to high academic standards is one way that educators attempt to close achievement gaps and disrupt the self-perpetuating nature of low expectations.”  This quote was pulled from a fake Ed reformer website.

When I read it the first time, I smiled wryly and wanted to laugh but there were too many painful memories from the thirty years I worked as a classroom teacher.

I taught mostly students of color who lived in poverty and/or belonged to violent street gangs and no matter how rigorous the academic program, too many of these kids didn’t give a rat’s ass about what some distant autocrat or billionaire expected teachers to teach.

In fact, I was often criticized by parents and kids for demanding too much of my students. Some of these kids who refused to learn called me “mean” and one or two would ask what I’d do if “they  jumped me.” Another excuse often used by some kids who did little to nothing was that I was “boring”, and because I was “boring”, they didn’t have to do the work.

However, that didn’t stop a “few” in every class from earning A’s and B’s and doing the quality of work I demanded of them.

It doesn’t matter how fantastic a teacher teaches, there is no way to force a kid to bring their book to class, pay attention, read anything, or do the work. For these kids, the results of standardized tests will always be dismal.

Those who don’t work, well, don’t—LEARN.  And the ones who don’t learn (because they didn’t do the work not because the teacher didn’t teach) are the ones who get the lower standardized test scores that will get teachers fired and schools closed.

There was a term that some veteran teachers at the high school where I taught used to describe these students who refused to learn: “the walking dead”. One teacher who had been teaching for more than forty years used this term in a staff meeting and administration criticized him severely. Every teacher at the high school signed a petition in his defense because we all knew what he said was true.

In reality, teachers are the whipping boys for the parents who didn’t support them and the kids, “the walking dead”, who refuse to cooperate, read and study. Teachers are also the whipping boys for the fake Ed reformers.

The only thing that happens to the kids who wouldn’t cooperate is that they might not earn a high school diploma by age 17/18. About twenty percent don’t but as they mature and go out into the work world and learn the value of that high school degree, the number of adults in American who have earned a high school degree or its equivalent by age 24 reaches more than 90%—we won’t hear that from the fake Ed Reformers. There’s an old saying, “Better late than never,” but that isn’t stopping the fake Ed reformers from demanding that so-called failing teachers be fired and failing schools be closed.

The failure rate in my class was based on the work and not on tests. About 5% (on average) earned A’s, because they did most or all of the work, and 30% to 50% earned F’s for not working. Instead, some warmed a seat and a few caused a lot of trouble making it challenging for me to teach the 50% to 70% (it varied from class to class) who were willing to do some, most or all of the work.

I was one of those “whipping boys” for most of the thirty years I taught, but today I’m retired and angry, because I worked 60 to 100 hour weeks on average challenging my students to close that “achievement gap”.

Why is this happening? Why are teachers being used as whipping boys?

One answer may be: In a stock market prospectus uncovered by education author Jonathan Kozol, the Montgomery Securities group explains to Corporate America the lure of privatizing education. Kozol writes: “The education industry,” according to these analysts, “represents, in our opinion, the final frontier of a number of sectors once under public control” that have either voluntarily opened or, they note in pointed terms, have “been forced” to open up to private enterprise. Indeed, they write, “the education industry represents the largest market opportunity” since health-care services were privatized during the 1970’s…. From the point of view of private profit, one of these analysts enthusiastically observes, “The K–12 market is the Big Enchilada.”  (IS Review.org)

How much money are we talking about? The annual appropriation for the entire Federal Department of Education in 2012 was $64.1 Billion and the total from the fifty states for public elementary and secondary schools amounted to $638 billion in 2009-10.

Imagine the profits to be gained by a parasitic Corporate America. All they have to do is sweep aside more than four million public school teachers, their retirement plans, and their labor unions. And the hell with those brats who won’t behave and do what the corporate stooges tell them. Maybe they’ll send those kids, “the walking dead”, to prisons or concentration camps to get them out of the way.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

His first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).

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The compulsory Common Core Standards and the facts behind the Controversy

“Our children are not apples, they are people.” Remember these words. You will hear them again if you watch the first video in this post.

If you think Obamacare was a mistake and a travesty, you will be doubly shocked if you take the time to watch these videos and learn about the Common Core Standards and how they are going to devastate the jobs of more than four million public school teachers, destroy public education in the United States and damage a lot of our children.

Obama’s Race to the Top and Common Core Standards mandate that every child in America must be 100% college ready by age 17/18, and if they aren’t, someone has to pay the price. Teachers will be fired by the thousands, public school closed and children will be devastated. In fact, it has already started in some states and cities.

Do you think that every child can be college ready by age 17/18?  Before you answer that question, here are a few facts from the five countries that ranked highest in the international PISA test.

Shanghai-China: The National Interest.org says, “By 2020 the Chinese government expects, perhaps unrealistically, to have a total of 195 million college graduates in the labor force.” That’s 15% of China’s total population of 1.351 billion, and they have six years left to reach that goal.

Singapore: The total population is 5.3 million; 66.6% have high school diplomas, but only 47% have college degrees.

Hong Kong-China: the total population is 7.155 million and there’s room for twenty thousand college students annually.  At that rate, it would take more than 355 years to send all those people to college.

Taiwan: Total population of 23.24 million; and 39% of that whole in 2009 had college educations.

The China Post.com says, “Taiwan’s high education population also stands lower than Canada’s 49 percent, the United States’ 41 percent and New Zealand’s 40 percent, while being higher than Germany’s 26 percent, Britain’s 37 percent, France’s 30 percent, Switzerland’s 35 percent, Norway’s 37 percent, and Sweden’s 33 percent.”

South Korea: 50 million; more than 60 percent of Koreans age 25 to 34 have college educations, but The Washington Post.com reports “Korean officials are alarmed that many graduates are not finding jobs (more than 40 percent in the past year).”

Remember this prediction? If President Obama’s Common Core standards are implemented across America as designed, he will go down in history as the most hated, worst and most dangerous president the United States has ever had.

What does Glenn Beck say?—and he’s too far right for my tastes but on this issue I agree with him for the first time.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

His first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).

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A successful history of—and the threat to—Public Education in the United States

I’m sure you’ve heard for years—even decades—that the public schools are failing; that teachers are lazy, incompetent and their labor unions are responsible for this so-called failure.

The solution: fire the teachers, close the public schools and get rid of the labor unions. Then turn education over to private sector corporations run by CEOs who only answer to their wealthiest stock holders. For instance, Bill Gates, the Koch brothers, the Walton family, Eli Broad, Michael Bloomberg, Rupert Murdock and a flock of Hedge Fund billionaires.

Let’s see what you think after we go back to 1779 and walk through 235 years of history to the present. It won’t take long—a few facts and a conclusion.

  • We’ll start with Thomas Jefferson in 1779, because he thought the US should have two education systems: one for the wealthy and one for everyone else.  As Jefferson said, we’ll “rake a few geniuses from the rubbish.”
  • The first public high school opened in Boston in 1820, and by the 1830s in the southern slave states laws were passed making it illegal to teach slaves to read.
  • In 1851, Massachusetts was the first state to pass a compulsory education law.


This video shows how the public schools started in the US, but the Prussian method of teaching kids shown in this video will change—watch 2nd video.

  • In 1870, 2% of the US population graduated from high school.
  • In 1896, the Southern States pass laws requiring racial segregation in the public schools. They can’t stop blacks and other minorities from attending public schools so they make sure these children attend separate schools and have less funding.
  • By 1900, the high school graduation rate reaches 6.4% and 6.2% of whites were illiterate compared to 44.5% of blacks and other minorities.
  • By 1918, all states have passed school attendance legislation, although until the 1930s, many were unsuccessful in enforcing their compulsory schooling laws. However, as the population increased, and as the demand for well-trained labor grew, the bureaucratic machinery for enforcement was created.
  • In 1938, for the first time, minimum ages of employment and hours of work for children are regulated by federal law.
  • By 1940, the graduation rate reaches 50.8% and only 2% of whites are illiterate compared to 11.5% of blacks and other minorities.
  • In 1945, at the end of World War 2, the G.I. Bill of Rights gives thousands of working class men college scholarships for the first time in U.S. history. In fact, I went to college on the Vietnam G.I. Bill.
  • By 1954, The Supreme Court unanimously agrees in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka that segregated schools are “inherently unequal” and must be abolished. Forty years later, segregation is back and getting worse.
  • In 1955, Milton Friedman, the father of neo-liberal economics, envisions a school voucher system to slowly privatize public schools. His followers have never given up.


During the 1970s and 80s, public education evolves from the regimented Prussian model to focus on critical thinking and problem solving skills. But this will be reversed when President G. W. Bush enacts his “No Child Left Behind Act” and then under President Obama’s “Race to the Top” the process will speed up.

  • In 1979, 0.4% of whites are illiterate compared to 1.6% of blacks and other minorities.
  • After Ronald Reagan is elected president in 1980, his secretary of education William Bennett began an all-out war on teachers, teachers unions and public school districts. He calls democratically elected school boards and school districts “the blob”. Reagan also vetoed the Fairness Doctrine that for thirty-eight years required the media to offer the public an honest balanced reporting of important issues, and soon after the Fairness Doctrine was abolished conservative talk radio exploded across the country using cherry-picked facts to present biased opinions without balanced reporting.
  • In 1990, the high school dropout rate is 12 percent.
  • In 2007, 80.7% of Asians graduate from high school; 76.6% of Whites; 55.5% Hispanic/Latino; 53.7% of Black and 50.7% of American Indians.
  • In 2011, neoliberal President Obama with support from Bill Gates, Rupert Murdock (and other billionaires that include the Walton family and the Koch brothers) implement Common Core standards that leads to testing in 2014 that is designed to fail teachers and schools so the public schools may be legally labeled failures, closed, all teachers fired, and then corporations will take over teaching our children—taking all power away from parents and the democratic process, and these new private schools supported by the taxpayer will not be accountable to the people.
  • By 2011, the high school drop our rate has fallen to 7%—an improvement of 5% since 1990.
  • In 2012, for the first time in US history, a third of the nation’s 25 to 29 year olds have earned at least a bachelor’s degree, and by age 24, 90% of Americans have earned a high school degree or its equivalent.
  • In the fall of 2013, a record 21.8 million students were expected to attend American colleges and universities, an increase of about 6.5 million since fall of 2000.

But even with all this success, in recent years, the Walton family has spent more than $1 billion toward efforts to “infuse competitive pressure into America’s K-12 education system.” Never mind that this money is mostly in states where no Walton family members live or have children in school. In addition, The Wall Street Journal reported that Bill Gates has spent $5 billion in his attempt to destroy public education with the same goal—the Walton’s and the other billionaires have—to fire public school teachers and close public schools.

In conclusion, the Common Core standards teach students what to think, not how to think. The Common Core is a return to the Prussian method of teaching children (see the 1st video) and there will be a double standard in education. There will be the underfunded public schools that end up teaching the most difficult, at risk children, as Jefferson said, “the rubbish”, and the private sector corporate schools will take students who are all on their way to college.

The billionaires listed in the first paragraph are pushing hard to achieve Jefferson’s vision.  For instance, Bill Gates has spent billions selling the lie of Common Core testing to Americans while other billionaires are pushing hard to close the transparent, democratically run public schools that are accountable to everyone and replace them with an elite, opaque private schools system that doesn’t answer to anyone but a CEO—all paid for by taxpayers.

Answer this question: Now that you know the brief but successful history of public education and the threats against it, tell me how the public schools are failing and prove it with more than an opinion.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

His first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).

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TEDx

Originally posted on We Are More:

For those teachers assigned to the task of finding resources supporting  Common Core State Standards , TED ( T echnology, E ntertainment, D esign) is a resource that is spreading rapidly on a global scale:

• TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less).
• TED Talks —  1700+ talks to stir your curiosity
• TED covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages.
• TED-Ed — lessons and videos that introduce new topics to learners in an exiting, curiosity-inspiring way.
• TED Books —  little books about big ideas, shorter than a novel, but longer than a magazine article
• TED Blog —  Follow TED on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinerest, Instagram, YouTube, and TED Blog

As Education Chair of the Education Association…

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Posted by on April 6, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

A Teacher Offers Sound Advice to Tom Friedman

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

John Ogozalek teaches in upstate Néw York. He read Tom Friedman’s column in the Néw York Times on Sunday and had a strong reaction of cognitive dissonance, as in, why can’t Tom be consistent?

Tom Friedman’s describes a thrilling ride on a nuclear submarine, where there is no room for error. At one point, an admiral says, “There is no multiple-choice exam for running the sub’s nuclear reactor.” If you want to be certified to run any major system on this ship, he added, “everything is an oral and written exam to demonstrate competency.”

John hopes that Tom will remember that when he returns to land.

John writes:

So, Tom Friedman gets a free ride on the U.S.S. New Mexico under the Arctic ice, leading him to gush warmly in today’s Sunday Times. “My strongest impression… was experiencing something you see too little of these days on land: ‘excellence’”, he…

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Posted by on April 5, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

The power of academic competitions for students who want to learn

During a Facebook conversation, an internet friend mentioned how nice it would be if there were academic competitions as popular as sports.

I replied that there are popular academic competitions for those students who are interested and who usually have supportive parents that value an academic education.

The public schools may not hold academic competitions with cheerleaders and bleachers full of shouting, screaming fans but there are competitions and they’re recognized and the winners are honored by the school districts and schools the students attend.

In fact, the media often reports the results.

Most if not all students in many public schools probably hear about the chance to compete in these competitions in home room where teachers read announcements or from science and math teachers. Most kids will soon forget what they heard but those kids who are called “school boys” or “school girls” often stop at the teacher’s desk to pick up the information. These kids are dedicated and hungry to cooperate and learn what the teacher teaches.

Here’s what I know. There’s the Science Olympiad; Academic Decathlon and The journalism Education Association (JEA) that conducts journalism competitions that includes competing in news, sports, feature, opinion, editorial cartoons, photography and page layout. The JEA calls them write-offs because they are timed competitions just like most sports and the judges are editors and reporters who work in the traditional media.

In fact, these academic competitions—although quieter and not as celebrated as a league title in one of the three major sports or even golf or tennis—are recognized and honored. The winners of these academic competitions are recognized at school board meetings where the children who win are called on stage to shake hands with the school board president and the superintendent of the school district. For families that value an education, entire families usually turn out and some dress as if they are attending the Academy Awards. Those school board meetings are usually packed with standing room only.

The United States Academic Decathlon was founded in 1968 in Orange County, California.

The Science Olympiad is an American elementary, middle, and high school team competition in which students compete in ‘events’ pertaining to various scientific disciplines, including earth science, biology, chemistry, physics, and engineering. Over 6,700 teams from 50 U.S. states compete each year.

The Journalism Education Association was founded in 1924. When I was advisor/journalism teacher for a high school newspaper, I took a team every year to this competition.

When our daughter was in high school, we encourage her to make friends with students who competed in one or more of these academic competitions. We also encouraged her to go out for a sport. She joined Academic Decathlon where she picked up a gold medal in debate and Pole Vault where at 16 she was ranked in the top five in California for her sex and age.  She graduates from Stanford this year and already has a lucrative job offer.

What’s distrubing is that in every class our daughter took in high school, there were kids who did little or nothing and some who caused problems. No matter what her teachers did, they couldn’t get those kids to work or gain support from the parents of those children.

And when standardized tests are given, the same teachers could be judged as failures and face losing their jobs because the scores of the students who didn’t cooperate dragged the average down—the same teachers who taught our daughter who earned that gold medal in Academic Decathlon could lose their jobs and the public high school our daughter attended before she was accepted to Stanford could be closed and replaced by a private sector Charter school owned by a corporation that would profit off tax payers.

And if you think only kids from the best schools in wealthy communities compete in these academic competitions, you’d be wrong. The high school where I taught had more than 70% of its students on free and/or reduced lunch/breakfast. That means they lived in poverty, but there were still kids who competed in these academic competitions and won medals making the school proud. There were kids at that school who had supportive parents.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

His first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper right-hand column and click on “Sign me up!”

 

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