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What Counts Most in Education? Intellect or Interest? Facts or Soul?

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

In what most surely be the most famous statement by David Coleman, the architect of the Common Core standards, he said that “no one gives a s— what you think or feel.” In place of personal motivation, Coleman stresses cool intellectual analysis of text and problems in the Common Core. Fiction, which might dwell too much on emotion, takes a back seat to informational text.

But this is wrong, says blogger John Chase. Even in the world of business, employers find that their most valued workers are engaged in their work. They bring passion to doing it well. The best places to work have a “soul,” and they strive to keep their workers engaged and purposeful.

He writes:

“K-12 education programs that claim to prepare students for college and careers should be focused more on cultivating a wide array of social and emotional competencies that are transferable workforce skills…

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Posted by on July 29, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

What can the United States learn to improve public education and reduce poverty from two Fs

The two Fs I’m talking about are Finland and France.

In another forum, this comment was made about Finland’s public schools: “Comparisons with Finland are foolish – virtually no childhood poverty, income equality instead of inequality and few immigrants … and high suicide rates.”

Here’s my revised reply:

What you say about Finland is true, but the U.S. can still learn from Finland combined with what France is doing to deal with similar challenges that the United States faces. While Finland offers the best model for how to run public schools successfully, France offers methods to deal with a large immigrant population and poverty.

The French national institute of statistics INSEE estimates that foreign-born immigrants and the direct descendants of immigrants (born in France with at least one immigrant parent) represent 19 percent of the total population.

Compared to France’s immigrant population of 19 percent, less than 13 percent of the U.S population is labeled as immigrants. Therefore, France is a country to pay attention to, because we can learn from France’s successes and failures.

It’s almost impossible to find another country that compares to the U.S. among developed nations, because none of them have the rate of childhood poverty the U.S. has. To find a match, we have to look, for instance, at Turkey or Mexico. But in Turkey and Mexico only about a third of the population has earned a high school degree or its equivalent compared to more than 90 percent in the United States, while the on-time H.S. graduation rate in France is 85 percent—much closer to the U.S.

In addition, France offers a successful lesson when it comes to early childhood education programs—a national program that’s missing in the United States.

It’s arguable that France’s reduced rate of poverty from 20 percent in the 1960s to less than 7 percent today is due, in part, to its national early childhood education program that is available to all children starting as young as two.

Poverty in France has fallen by 60% over thirty years. Although it affected 15 percent of the population in 1970, in 2001 only 6.1 percent were below the poverty line.

As for using the suicide rate in Finland as an excuse to ignore the country’s public schools, it’s arguable that latitude has more to do with the suicide rate than Finland’s culture, socialist economy and/or public education.

To discover what I’m talking about, you may want to read studies that suggest a connection between suicide rates and higher latitudes.

For instance, a recent study of suicide in Alaska (21.8 per 100,000 people and 35.1 among Alaska Natives) suggests that the rate of intentional, self-inflicted death gets higher the farther north a community is located. The suicide rate in Finland is close to Alaska’s.

For every 5 degree increase in latitude—about 345 miles—the suicide rate jumps 18 percent, according to the model. Finland’s latitude is between 60 to 65 degrees North compared to Alaska’s 58 to 71 degrees North. Alaska spans almost 20 degrees of latitude.

Then there is this study: The dark side of more sunlight: Higher suicide rates

Conclusion: Why isn’t the White House and Congress doing the right thing and learning from the two Fs to improve public education and reduce poverty in the United States? Why do they listen to frauds like Michelle Rhee instead?

I think you’ll find the answer to the previous questions in the following video.

What can we learn from Finland and France?

That teacher residency programs have the best teacher retention, because these programs require a year-long residency in a mentor’s classroom, a requirement that matches the teacher training methods used in high archiving nations like Finland.

In France, teachers are recruited via two competitive examinations: the examination for school teachers and the examination for secondary and high school teachers. Those who pass the examination successfully will then enter one year of professional training. During their in-class training with students, the teachers are monitored and assisted by the qualified inspectors and the training centers.

In fact, the most successful teacher training in the United States is a one year, urban teacher residency program where student teachers are placed in a mentor teacher’s classroom. Teachers from this program have an 87-percent retention rate compared to 50-percent for teachers who go through a traditional college of education or, even worse, 33 percent for Teach For America (TFA) recruits.

Note that TFA’s methods to train teachers are not used in Finland, France or Shanghai, China.

What teacher training program do you think the Obama White House and Arne Duncan’s Department of Education favors and promotes?

If your answer was Michelle Rhee’s TFA, you were correct. Michelle Rhee and TFA are flawed frauds designed to destroy the public schools by flooding classrooms with incompetent teachers who are not properly and adequately trained.  TFA recruits receive five weeks of summer training compared to the proven method of one year of in-class mentored training with follow up support.


Compare this teacher residency program with the 5 weeks of summer training for TFA recruits that doesn’t include any classroom experience.

_______________________

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

His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves

lloydlofthouse_crazyisnormal_web2_5

Lofthouse’s 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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Reviewing The Teacher Wars, a History of America’s Most Embattled Profession

Reading Dana Goldstein’s book was a journey of discovery that I wished I’d taken in 1975, before I ended up teaching for thirty years in the embattled and often abused public schools.

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About the time I reached page 100, I e-mailed an old friend and told him that if I’d read this book before I went into education, I might have changed my mind. Maybe I would have even given the U.S. Marines a second chance at a career.

However, by the time I reached page 274 and finished Goldstein’s book, I changed my mind and was glad I spent thirty years in the classroom fighting the barbarians and fools who are working hard to destroy public education through politics.

On page 250 in the bound galley supplied by Amazon, Goldstein says, “The policy, one of several school turnaround strategies suggested by (President Obama’s) Race to the Top, is based on a faulty premise: that veteran teachers are to blame when schools experience many years of low test scores.”

I agree with Goldstein. Bill Gates and Obama’s Race to the Top and its Common Core crap is a faulty, untested theory that’s causing more problems and fixing none.

I read Goldstein’s book with a Hi-Liter, and tagged many pages with information I thought relevant. In this review, I’ve resisted the urge to list many of the key points in the book and rant about them, because then the review might run thirty to forty thousand words.

But there is one point I want to focus on, and that’s teacher training. On page 250, Goldstein mentions three methods of teacher training.

First is the most common path to the classroom through a traditional college of education; second is with an urban teacher residency program, and third is with Teach for America (TFA).

First, urban teacher residency programs have an 87-percent retention rate.

Second, the retention rate for teachers who go through a traditional college of education to reach the classroom is 50 percent.

Third, for a program like TFA’s with five-weeks of summer training and little or no follow up support in the classroom, retention was 33 percent.

Can you guess the teacher training program favored by the Obama administration? The correct answer is TFA.

However, the urban teacher residencies had the best teacher retention, because these programs required a year-long residency in a mentor’s classroom, a requirement that matches the teacher training methods used in high archiving nations like Finland and in Shanghai, China.

There is a profile on page 252 that describes teachers who are most often rated highly by principals. Those teachers stayed in their job for many years. They were usually thirty or older and had extensive experience in jobs outside of education. They were usually working class black, Latino or white who graduated from non-elite colleges and often started in a community college.

When I read that profile, I was shocked, because that description matched my path to teaching. I was born to poverty and my parents, both high school dropouts, were blue-collar working class. I started work at 15, and after graduating from high school served in the U.S Marines where I ended up fighting in Vietnam, and didn’t start teaching until I was 30.  In 1970, after earning an Associate of Science degree from a community college, I attended a non-elite college where I earned a BA in journalism in 1973.

Then, after working for two years in middle management in the private sector, I went through a year-long residency in a mentor teacher’s classroom.

I urge you to read Goldstein’s book when it’s released by Doubleday on September 2, 2014. Through The Teacher Wars, you will discover how U.S. politics are mostly to blame for any problems that exist in the public schools, and it’s been this way for 175 years. Today’s 3.3+ million public school teachers are not the problem, and Obama’s Race to the Top’s and the Common Core agenda of Bill Gates along with TFA—with its 66-percent teacher dropout rate—are not the solution.

There are three areas that would lead to dramatic improvement in public education, but it won’t happen overnight. Teacher training is the first area that needs attention.

Teacher pay is another. The headline in a recent piece published by Education Week.com shouted, Teacher Pay Starts Low, Grows Slowly, Is Generally Awful, Report Says.

Then there are early childhood education programs that should be mandatory for children living in poverty in the United States and available to every child as early as age three. Early childhood education should focus on literacy and foster a passion for reading.

We must abandon President Obama’s Race to the Top and its Machiavellian Common Core agenda to “rank and yank” teachers after torturing children with too many standardized tests that are wrongheaded, flawed and meaningless.

I read a free advanced galley proof of this novel sent to me by Amazon Vine. Eventually, this 5-star review will appear on Amazon, probably revised if Amazon won’t accept it as it appears here.

_______________________

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

His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves

lloydlofthouse_crazyisnormal_web2_5

Lofthouse’s 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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In Support of Tenure

Originally posted on Movement of Rank and File Educators:

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The attacks on tenure today have nothing to do with improving teaching and learning. They are designed to undermine teacher unions with the goal of silencing educators’ voices.  We firmly believe that in order for public education to succeed, teachers must have tenure, a protection that allows educators to stand with parents, for children.

 

Tenure is nothing more than due process, fair hearings with an independent arbitrator where evidence can be presented in order to protect oneself from false accusations. This ensures experienced educators have job security and encourages academic freedom. These are protections all workers should have. Tenure not only empowers teachers to advocate for children and public education, but also prevents educators from becoming “at will” employees and therefore positively impacts retention of experienced educators, which research shows is a significant factor for improving student achievement and adult outcomes. Tenure also unapologetically protects teachers not only…

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Posted by on July 23, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

This is my PURGE post, and it isn’t a movie review

Sunday, I walked downtown to see The Purge: Anarchy, and while watching the film and walking home afterwards, I couldn’t stop thinking about the unnamed New Founding Fathers mentioned at the beginning of the film—who were in their ninth year as the leaders of the United States. In case you forgot or never knew, the U.S. Constitution limits a U.S. president to two, four-year terms. Therefore, with the current U.S. Constitution, there’s no way one president can stay in office nine years. But in this film that’s set about a decade in the future, the United States is led by a cabal that calls itself the New Founding Fathers that’s more like the Politburo of the old Soviet Union. There is no mentioned that the United States still has a Congress or Supreme Court.

Let’s get the synopsis of this film out of the way first with no spoilers. In the film, a vengeful father comes to the aid of a mother, her teenage daughter, and a defenseless young couple on the one night of the year that all crime, including murder, is legal.

We never learn who the New Founding Fathers are, but who else could they be but Bill Gates, the infamous Koch brothers, the Walton family, Eli Broad, Rupert Murdoch and a few other ruthless billionaire oligarchs who either inherited their fortunes or earned the money through crooked trickery and the corruption of elected officials.

These billionaires are the same people who are currently spending hundreds of millions of dollars to mislead America as they reinvent the United States into something that will obviously resemble the country in this film—where the agenda of the New Founding Fathers is to get rid of the so-called vermin at the bottom who were probably born into poverty through no fault of their own.

Who are the working poor? According to a January 2014 Pew Research report most poor Americans are in their prime working years. In 2012, 57 percent of poor Americans were ages 18 to 64, and only  9.1 percent were age 65 and over, while poverty among children younger than 18 was 21.8% in 2012, and is worse today.

In addition, research from the Brookings Institution says, “If you’re born into a middle-class family, there’s a 76 percent chance you’ll end up middle class or even wealthier. Born into a poor family? Only a 35 percent chance.

Brookings offers three simple rules to end up middle class, no matter how low you start out.

One: graduate from high school
Two: work full time
Three: marry before you have children

It’s easy to tell a kid who lives in poverty that they have to graduate from high school to have a chance to move up to the middle class, but to insure that this happens, all children must start kindergarten with a love of reading from day one—reaching high school with a high level of literacy is the key to being a lifelong learner.

To make this happen, we must start with a national early childhood education program for all children as young as three, and this is something that Obama plans to ask Congress to vote for during his last year in office.

What do you think the odds are that Congress will approve anything Obama asks for in 2015? Why didn’t President Obama start with a national early childhood education program when he had the votes in Congress instead of first starting with the flawed and brutal Bill Gates funded Common Core agenda?

Bill Gates—who I’m sure would be one of the New Founding Fathers if this film were to become reality—seems to be doing all he can to make sure children who are born to poverty stay in poverty.

I’m almost done reading “The Teacher Wars, A History of America’s Most Embattled Profession” by Dana Goldstein, and it was Bill Gates who derailed any meaningful improvement in the public schools by spending hundreds of millions of dollars to implement a Machiavellian “rank and yank” system called Common Core designed to punish children and teachers.

The tragedy is that there are proven, positive methods to improve public education, but President Obama and Bill Gates are all but ignoring those solutions for something malignant.

The programs I’m talking about are already being used in most developed countries with dramatic success. They’re known as Continuous Quality Improvement programs where teachers are mentored to become the best they can be instead of being ranked by annual student standardized tests and then yanked out of the classroom based on the results.

In fact, high-achieving nations like Finland and Shanghai, China already require that every teacher must go through a year-long residency in a mentor teacher’s classroom.  Teacher programs that do this already exist in the United States but they are only turning out a few hundred teachers annually and aren’t getting the funding they should have.

Research from Urban Teacher Residency United, a national network of nineteen programs, reveals that principals consistently rate urban teacher residency graduates as more effective than other first-year teachers and nationwide, urban teacher residencies have an 87 percent retention rate at four years, compared to the loss of nearly half of all new urban teachers over a similar period of time, and two thirds (66 percent) of Teach for America (TFA) recruits, who only have five weeks of summer training before being tossed in urban classrooms to sink or swim. (The Teacher Wars, A History of America’s Most Embattled Profession by Dana Goldstein)

By the way, in 1975-76, I was fortunate enough to go through a paid, year-long residency in a mentor teacher’s fifth-grade classroom, and I went from there to teach until August 2005 in public schools with a childhood poverty rate higher than 70 percent along with violent street gangs that dominated the streets around those schools, including the elementary school where I was an intern.

In conclusion, I think we should purge from all political power those who would most likely become the New Founding Fathers of the United States, before they get a chance to create the nightmare world we see in this film. After all, the billionaire oligarchs mentioned earlier in this post already seem to be working hard toward that goal.


If we don’t invest in early childhood education, we pay the price as a nation. Sesame Street can’t do it alone.

_______________________

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

His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves

lloydlofthouse_crazyisnormal_web2_5

Lofthouse’s 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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Common Core and the Fight for the NYS Senate: How the Failure to Comprehend the Emotional Power of Parents/Teachers/Voters Derailed the Common Core

Originally posted on Ed In The Apple:

Fifteen weeks before the November election and Governor Cuomo has a 37 point lead over his Republican opponent Rob Astorino as well as a huge advantage in dollars. Cuomo’s support of charter schools cut off a major source of funding for Astorino and the national Republican funding operation views him as a loser and has not committed dollars to his campaign. Whether we like it or not dollars decide elections, if you can’t reach the voters with your ideas, and besmirch your opponent, you’re left on the sidelines.

Cuomo’s campaign is taking nothing for granted, they are well aware in the race for Westchester County Executive, Astorino was polling behind the Democrat and won by 10% – Cuomo will be charging as hard as he can up until election day.

While the gubernatorial election will grab the headlines the key races in New York State are for control of the…

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Posted by on July 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

WHY PARENTS SHOULD NOT FEAR TEACHER TENURE

Originally posted on DCGEducator: Doing The Right Thing:

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Co-authored by: Glen Dalgleish: Parent, Education Advocate, co-Founder “Stop Common Core in New York State”.

David Greene: Teacher, Parent, Author: Doing The Right Thing: A Teacher Speaks, Public Education Advocate. Treasurer Save Our Schools March, Program Consultant WISE Services.

Since the Vergara ruling in California, there has been a lot of discussion about “tenure” but there has also been a lot of different interpretations what it actually means and unfortunately there has also been a lot of misinformation. Glen and I will try and put some more clarity around the subject with this brief description and explanation. We also hope to try and demonstrate its significance in a teacher’s professional life.

What Tenure is:

“Tenure is legal protection granted to some teachers that requires the school district to prove just cause before a termination. Tenure is obtained through a multi-year evaluation process of a teacher in a probationary track position…

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Posted by on July 19, 2014 in Uncategorized

 
 
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