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Category Archives: American Public Schools

The Facebook Sucker-Berg Phenomenon and the Deliberate Destruction of Community-Based Public Ed

I read “I quit Facebook and my life is better now” at Cathy O’Neil’s Mathbabe blog, and my thoughts became a wild river about Facebook and its founder who launched Facebook by cheating two brothers and hijacking their idea. To learn more about Suckerberg’s own con, read 6 People Mark Zuckerberg Burned On His Way To The Top.

After reading O’Neil’s Mathbabe post, I was glad I was never suckered into a Facebook obsession. Yes, I do have two Facebook pages: one for my books that’s part of my internet-author’s platform, and a personal Facebook page, but all I did was set up automatic feeds from my 4 blogs to Facebook and occasionally I go there to reply to a comment.  The reason I never fell into the Facebook swamp was because it was a confusing maze to me, and I didn’t want to go through the learning curve to discover how to use all those allegedly great bells-and-whistles that Facebook offers to help destroy your life in the real world.

But the stream of thoughts that flowed between my ears as I was reading O’Neil’s Mathbabe blog post had nothing to do with Facebook. It was all about Mark Suckerberg, Facebook’s founder, and how he was conned out of a $100 million dollars to save the children of Newark, New Jersey from those horrible failing public schools that really never were failing anyone as schools. If you want to learn more (put an emphases in LEARN — because there are far too many ignorant, easy-to-fool voting citizen in the U.S., or we wouldn’t be stuck with narcissistic, psycho, serial-lying, con-man, Donald Trump for our next president — I suggest reading What Happened with the $100 million that Newark schools got from Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg? Not Much from The Hechinger Report.

You see, there’s this myth that America’s traditional public schools are failing and to save our children we have to replace those schools with an unproven, genetically-modified crop of allegedly perfect, (hell sent) corporate charter schools that just happen to make profits for a host of greedy frauds and liars similar to Donald Trump and his current pick to run the Department of Education, Betsy DeVos.

If you think America’s community based, democratic, transparent, non-profit public schools are failing and the choice of a corporate charter school is the answer to save our children, then I will roar as only a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Vet can angrily shout, “It’s the poverty, stupid, you ignorant, biased, deplorable, easy-to-fool ass!”

The fact is America’s traditional public school are not failing, and an often deliberately ignored report out of Stanford University proved that years ago in Poor ranking on international test misleading about U.S. student performance, Stanford researcher finds.

The conclusion of this report from one of the top-ranked universities in the world said, “A comprehensive analyses of international tests by Stanford and the Economic Policy Institute shows that U.S. Schools aren’t being outpaced by international competition.”

After reading that report, it was obvious to me that the results of the international test that Stanford referred to was rigged to make America’s traditional public school look bad.

Stanford reported that once the flawed data was corrected, the U.S. went from 14th in reading to SIXTH and went from 25th in math to 13th.

In addition, Stanford discovered “There is an achievement gap between more and less disadvantaged students (living in poverty) in every country; surprisingly, the gap is smaller in the United States … and not much larger than the very highest scoring countries.”  In fact, “Achievement of U.S. disadvantaged students (living in poverty) has been rising rapidly over time, while achievement of disadvantaged students (living in poverty) in countries to which the United States is frequently unfavorably compared … had been falling rapidly.”

It’s time for most voting Americans to wake up and stop being suckered like Suckerberg was in Newark, New Jersey.  It’s obvious that before the top-down reforms forced on the United States by President G. W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act and continued with President Obama’s flawed and fraudulent Race To The Top bullshit and its Common Core test-and-punish crap, the United States had (and hopefully still has) one of the best public education systems in the world, and it was on track to only get better.

And who is con-man President-Elect Donald Trump putting in charge to finish the destruction of America’s top-rated public schools?  The answer: labor union hating, billionaire Betsy DeVos, who never attended a public school in her life, and she sends her own children to very expensive private schools that only the wealthy can afford.

If you want to educate yourself about this one-woman billionaire wrecking crew, learn, learn, learn from: Betsy DeVos and the Wrong Way to Fix Schools, 5 Things to Know about Billionaire Betsy DeVos, Trump Education Choice, and What’s the worst that could happen with Betsy DeVos as education secretary? Two scenarios.

Make no mistake about this. The United States is on the verge of the total destruction of one of the best public education systems in the world, and what is waiting to replace it is the autocratic, opaque-and-secretive, often fraudulent-and-inferior, private-sector corporate charter school industry that often bullies and terrorizes children to become assembly-line drones that score high on tests or face eviction back to the cold, brutal world of underfunded and deliberately abandoned, traditional public education.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and disabled Vietnam Veteran, with a BA in journalism and an MFA in writing, who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

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What Trump and Hillary are not talking about in the Sniffling Presidential Debates

The one issue that should be on every parents mind and the presidential candidates is what’s known as the alleged “school to prison” pipeline, and how to deal with this issue instead of making it worse. While Hillary Clinton has a long, committed record advocating for women and children, all we get from Donald Trump is his famous “pussy snatch”, and that he’s not attracted to women that are ugly (according to him), fat, and over 35.

Before I move on, I want to point out that I disagree with the use of the term “School to Prison” pipeline, because that pipeline starts at birth not in kindergarten.

It’s not the school to prison pipeline. Instead, it should be called the PovertyIlliteracy to Prison Pipeline.

In addition, the zero-tolerance policy that has swept America today isn’t the cause of this pipeline, but is making the situation worse for children that live in poverty and read far below grade level.

Instead of making the poverty-illiteracy pipeline to prison worse with these zero tolerance policies, schools should be doing more to starve that pipeline by offering more than just an academic high school degree at the end of 12th grade.

But schools can’t do it alone if they aren’t supported or funded properly.

Instead of more campus police officers (CPOs), the United States must have a national early childhood literacy program starting with children as young as 2 with a mandatory focus on all children that live in poverty and/or in homes where the parents are illiterate.  These literacy programs cannot stop when children reach kindergarten at age 5.  They must continue all the way through 12th grade. In addition, the United States must offer children entering high school a choice between a vocational and/or an academic high school degree. Many countries already do this: Japan, South Korea, Germany, China, for instance.

In Japan, only 70 percent of high school students graduate from academic high schools as they plan to go to college. The rest, planning to start work out of high school, graduate from vocational high schools, and a few students double up and graduate from both high school tracks.

Without that choice, the United States is not meeting the needs of future generations. Instead, the United States has become a police state with the largest prison population in the world with China in a distant 2nd place in a country that has more than four times the population of the U.S.

US Prison Population 2.2 million vs 1.6 million in China

And most if not all of the autocratic, corporate charter schools industry is worse than the democratic traditional public schools, because they cherry pick the easiest to teach students who tend to score higher on arguably useless high stakes tests and quickly get rid of students that are a challenge to teach that slipped through their cherry-picking filter. In addition, autocratic, opaque and often fraudulent and inferior corporate charter schools continue to suspend students at much higher rates creating a true school to prison pipeline that should be called the autocratic, corporate charter school pipeline to prison.

Charter Schools Suspend Black and Disabled Students More, Study Says

CPS: Expulsion rate higher at charter schools

“Charter schools cream or cherry-pick the best students from traditional public schools.”

Unequal Discipline at Charter Schools

The only thing these corporate charter schools have to brag about is higher test scores. but only after they get rid of the most challenging and difficult students to teach.

Meanwhile, this race to privatize K-12 education and automate as many jobs as possible is only going to increase the prison population at a faster pace than at any time in the history of civilization.


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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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We can only hope this is the Beginning of the End of Corporate Education Reform

The Associated Press reported on September 6, 2016 that ITT Tech, with more than 35,000 students, will close all of its campuses after federal aid sanctions.

The AP reported, “Under President Barack Obama, the Education Department has led a crackdown on for-profit colleges that have misled students or failed to deliver the results they promise. The now-defunct Corinthian College chain agreed to sell or close more than 90 U.S. colleges in 2014 amid a fraud investigation over advertising practices. The department is also deciding whether to cut ties with the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, the group that accredited ITT and Corinthian.”

With fraud and corruption also rampant in the K-12 corporate charter school industry, will that for-profit sector be next?

Stanford’s Bill Gates funded Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) reported in 2013 in its National Charter School Study that 75 percent of these corporate charter schools were no different or significantly worse than the locally controlled, community based, democratic, transparent, non-profit, traditional, public schools. In Math, 71 percent were no different or significantly worse.

Bill Gates funded the CREDO study, but he isn’t the good guy here. It’s obvious that Gates expected different results and has ignored the results of the study. Johnathan Petro reveals, “In a stunning expose written by Adam Johnson of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), it becomes undeniably clear that Bill Gates has reached the point where his billions not only fund the myriad of corporate education reform initiatives that are sweeping the country and the world, but his investment in the media taints much of the coverage of these developments.”

It’s obvious that the corporate education reform movement funded by billionaires and hedge funds failed long ago. Diane Ravitch reported in November 2015, “The big foundations support the growth of the charter industry: the Walton Family Foundation has put more than $1 billion into charters and vouchers; the Gates Foundation and the Eli Broad Foundation also put millions into charters, often partnering with the Far-right Walton Foundation.”

Ravitch continues, “There is a long list of other foundations that fund the assault on public education, including the John Arnold Foundation (ex-Enron trader), the Dell Foundation, the Helmsley Foundation, the Fisher Family Foundation (Gap and Old Navy), the Michael Bloomberg Foundation, and many more.”

The charter school movement was hijacked by billionaires and corporations. The original concept proposed in 1974 by professional educators that belonged to teachers’ unions was to allow a few schools called charters to operate as autonomous public schools with waivers from many of the legislated procedural requirements of district public schools, and to work with the most at risk children. The original concept never meant to destroy the traditional public schools but to work within the existing system.

In 1991, Minnesota was the first state to pass a charter school law. California was second in 1992.

Today fraud is rampant in what has become a secretive, publicly funded, for-profit (even when called a non-profit), corporate education sector that is at war with the traditional public schools, teachers’ unions and public school teachers.

In 2015 Education Opportuniy.org reported that “Federal Funds For Charter Schools Go Into A ‘Black Hole’

PR Watch.org reported, “Feds Spent $3.3 Billion Fueling Charter Schools but No One Knows What It Really Bought

Weapons of Mass Deception.org reveals, “Why Charter Schools are Fraud Factories”.

Diane Ravitch reports, “ACLU in California Finds Many Charter Schools Break State and Federal Laws”.

Bill Moyers & Company reports on “Charter Schools Gone Wild: Study Finds Widespread Fraud, Mismanagement and Waste”.

Charter schools were never meant to be operated by secretive, publicly funded, private-sector corporations that cherry pick the easiest to teach students (stealing the best students from the traditional public schools) who score higher on faulty, secretive, high stakes standardized tests that profit other private sector corporations that produce the tests.

The children charter schools were meant to help are been locked out, and if the public schools are destroyed, the only education left for most if not all of these at-risk children will be the streets that feeds the poverty to prison pipeline.

It’s obvious that the corporate/billionaire hijacked charter school concept has had 25 years to prove itself and has failed miserably.

The corporate charter school industry continues to mislead the nation with its lies and cherry-picked information/facts and has failed to deliver on the often fraudulent and false promises made decades ago that are repeated today.

It’s time for President Obama to pull the plug on corporate education reform and defy the oligarchs: Bill Gates, the Walton family, Eli Broad, John Arnold, and all the other billionaire funded, autocratic, private sector foundations that are nothing but tax shelters that further the individual extremist goals of their billionaire founders that operate outside of the democratic process of the U.S. Republic the American Founding Fathers created with the U.S. Construction.


“What’s at stake is the future of American Public Education – one of the foundations of our democracy.”

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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and disabled Vietnam Veteran, with a BA in journalism and an MFA in writing, who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

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What Tests and Teachers Cannot Fix in any Schools

We live in an era where traditional American, community based, democratic, transparent, nonprofit, publicly funded, public schools are starved of funds and even closed while professional, dedicated, hardworking teachers are punished or fired based on student test results; tests that profit the private sector corporations that produce them.

The result is that more of our children end up in autocratic, CEO controlled, opaque (secretive), often child abusing, fraudulent-and-inferior, no excuses, test centered, publicly funded, private sector corporate charter schools where management gets paid a lot more, and teachers are paid less but work longer hours. WNYC.org reports, “Charters spend $774 more per pupil on administration, and $1,140 less on instruction, than do traditional publics.”

What’s ignored is the fact that tests and teachers cannot fix the effects of: 1. Childhood poverty, 2. Depression, 3. Blood-sugar imbalances, 4. Childhood PTSD, 5.Substance abuse, and 6. Lack of sleep.

  1. Effects of Poverty, Hunger and Homelessness on Children and Youth

The American Psychological Association reports, “The nation’s economic crisis has deeply affected the lives of millions of Americans. Skyrocketing foreclosures and job layoffs have pulled the rug out from under many families, particularly those living in low-income communities. Deepening poverty is inextricably linked with rising levels of homelessness and food insecurity/hunger for many Americans and children are particularly affected by these conditions.”

 

  1. Childhood Depression

WebMD.com says, “Children who are depressed may not do well in school, may become socially isolated, and may have difficult relationships with family and friends, Fassler says. Depression in children is also associated with an increased risk for suicide. The rate of suicide among young people has nearly tripled since 1960 and is the sixth leading cause of death among children between the ages of 5 and 14, the third leading cause of death among 15- to 24-year-olds, and the second leading cause of death among college students.”

 

  1. Blood-sugar imbalances

The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics found, “Kids consume too much sugar, mostly from processed foods.”

Learning Liftoff.com says, “It’s shocking to note that according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average child under 12 consumes 49 pounds of sugar annually. That’s only three pounds less than the average adult despite children being much smaller. All that sugar consumption isn’t helping their overall health, but is it impacting their academic performance? You might be surprised at the answer.”

  • Sugar Decreases Attention Span and memory
  • Chronic Sugar Consumption Might Permanently Impair Memory Function
  • Sugar Foods Crowd Out Brain Food

 

  1. Childhood PTSD

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reports, “Studies show that about 15% to 43% of girls and 14% to 43% of boys go through at least one trauma. Of those children and teens who have had a trauma, 3% to 15% of girls and 1% to 6% of boys develop PTSD. Rates of PTSD are higher for certain types of trauma survivors. … Besides PTSD, children and teens that have gone through trauma often have other types of problems. Much of what we know about the effects of trauma on children comes from the research on child sexual abuse. This research shows that sexually abused children often have problems with: fear, worry, sadness, anger, feeling alone and apart from others, feeling as if people are looking down on them, low self-worth, and not being able to trust others; behaviors such as aggression, out-of-place sexual behavior, self-harm, and abuse of drugs or alcohol.”

 

  1. Substance abuse

Alcohol Rehab.com says, “Children of parents who suffer from substance abuse problems can have problems at school as a result of the upheaval, unpredictability and violence they face at home. Some children have immense strength and can cope with their problems and still manage to maintain good school grades and relationships, but more often than not this is not the case. Bullying, fighting, bad grades, problems with attention span, fear of authority and emotional problems are all signs that a child is facing significant home problems.”

 

  1. Lack of sleep

The Douglas Institute in Quebec reports, “Reducing sleep may disrupt the ability of students to concentrate for long periods of time, and remember what they learn in class. According to a study, children with reduced sleep are more likely to struggle with verbal creativity, problem solving, inhibiting their behaviour, and generally score lower on IQ tests according to current leading research.”

Sleep Foundation.org recommends that school age children 6-13 sleep 9 to 11 hours and adolescents 14-17 should sleep 8 to 10 hours daily, but according to Sleep For Kids.org “It is clear from the poll results that we need to focus as much on the sleeping half of children’s lives as we do on the waking half.  Children are clearly not getting enough sleep,” says Jodi A. Mindell, PhD, who served as Chair of NSF’s 2004 Poll Task Force: “And a remarkable number of children have some kind of sleep problem.”

Why are billionaire oligarchs like Bill Gates, the Koch brothers, Eli Broad, and the Walton family ignoring what tests and teachers cannot fix and spending so much money to subvert democracy and destroy the publicly funded, community based, democratic, transparent, non-profit, public schools and replace them with autocratic, opaque, child abusing, often fraudulent and inferior, publicly funded, private sector corporate charter schools? If you don’t know the answers, start here: Behind Closed Doors of the Billionaire Foundations, The Plot Against Public Education, and The Billionaires’ War Against Public Education.

Discover more about why Corporate driven public education reform is destroying OUR children’s health and future

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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and disabled Vietnam Veteran, with a BA in journalism and an MFA in writing, who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

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This is What K-12 School Choice Really Looks Like

Before our daughter graduated from a traditional community based, democratic, transparent, non-profit public high school where she worked, learned and earned an excellent education, she applied to several universities and was accepted by most and rejected by a few. Stanford was one of the acceptances and that’s where she went. It was her choice what colleges to apply to and the choice of the universities to accept or reject her. That’s how choice works. In the private sector, businesses have the right to reject customers and refuse to sell products and/or provide services to them.

The K-12 real public sector schools do not have that choice, because they are funded by tax payers, and the U.S. Constitution and/or state constitutions do not allow the highly successful, traditional public sector schools to do what the private sector is allowed to get away with.

But a comment left by Stephen Ronan in a post’s thread on Diane Ravitch’s Blog alleged that autocratic, opaque, often fraudulent (click Charter School Scandals to discover how much fraud) and inferior, publicly funded, private sector charter schools offer parents a choice and Ronan thinks that the choice is better than community based, democratic, transparent, non-profit, traditional public schools.  Ronan even compared K-12 corporate charter schools to Harvard and MIT.

Ronan was totally wrong and here’s why.

There is only one Harvard, one Stanford and one MIT. How many publicly funded, private sector, often fraudulent and inferior, autocratic and opaque K-12 corporate charter schools are there – thousands?

Harvard and MIT are not opaque and they are not financed with public funds from taxpayers.  Harvard also has $32.7 billion in cash on hand through its endowment.  MIT’s endowment totals about $13.5 billion. Stanford’s is $5.5 billion. How many of the 100,000, K-12 public schools in the United States have similar endowments?

Harvard admitted 2,106 undergrads from 39,041 applicants.  Applicants had a choice to apply but who decided what undergrads to accept and reject?

K-12 public schools do not operate that way. Every child who lives in the area a public school serves is accepted to that public school. There is no sifting or rejections. Public schools are not allowed to choose the students they are willing to teach, but publicly funded, private sector, corporate charter schools often reject students that apply.

The cost to attend Harvard for the average student is $60,659.


Jesse Ventura is a former professional wrestler, former Navy Seal, and former governor of Minnesota (1999-2003)

What’s the average cost to educate a K-12 public school student in the U.S.?  According to the National Council for Education Statistics: “Total expenditures for public elementary and secondary schools in the United States amounted to $620 billion in 2012–13, or $12,296 per public school student enrolled in the fall (in constant 2014–15 dollars, based on the Consumer Price Index). These expenditures include $11,011 per student in current expenditures for the operation of schools; $931 for capital outlay (i.e., expenditures for property and for buildings and alterations completed by school district staff or contractors); and $355 for interest on school debt.”

There is a huge difference between $60k and $12k.

Harvard’s acceptance rate is 5.2%. That means Harvard made a choice not to accept 94.8% of applicants. That is a lot of disappointed students who wanted to attend Harvard, but traditional public schools accept 100% of the students that live in the area they serve.

Stanford University’s acceptance rate is 4.7% (annual cost to average student is almost $60k)

MIT’s is 9% (annual cost to average student is $58,240)

This is what Ronan means by choice.

What are we getting with those autocratic, opaque, often fraudulent and inferior, publicly funded, private sector, corporate charter schools that have a choice to accept or reject children, a choice the traditional public schools do not have?

Figure 26: Academic Growth of Charter Schools Compared to Their Local Markets, Page 57, credo.stanford.edu

READING:
No Significant Difference – 56 percent
Significantly worse – 19 percent
Significantly Better – 25 percent

Translated: 75 percent are the same or worse than the public schools. What happens when a student takes a high-stakes test and gets 25 percent of the questions right? A 25 percent score is a failing grade.

How many years have the corporate charter schools had to achieve this level of failure?

MATH:
No Significant Difference – 40 percent
Significantly worse – 31 percent
Significantly Better – 29 percent

Translated: 71 percent of publicly funded, private sector corporate charters are the same or worse than the public schools. What happens when a student takes a high stakes test and gets 29 percent of the questions right? A 29 percent score is a failing grade.

How many years have the corporate charter schools had to achieve this level of failure?

Most if not all autocratic, opaque, often fraudulent and inferior, publicly funded, private sector, corporate charter schools are not Harvard, Stanford or MIT or even close, and those three private sector universities are not publicly funded.

In addition, let’s not forget the child abuse taking place in autocratic, publicly funded, private sector corporate charter schools. Jonathan Pelto reports Child Abuse in the form of the “No Excuses” education model and says, “the term ‘No Excuses’ is really a placeholder for a militaristic, highly disciplined, autocratic system in which children are forced to understand that discipline, conformity and following rules is the fundamental cornerstone that leads to academic achievement.”

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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and disabled Vietnam Veteran, with a BA in journalism and an MFA in writing, who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

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How to punish and bully children into hating education and books

Over on Gadfly On the Wall, I read how some of Pennsylvania’s Legislators  want the people of that state to foot the bill for unimpeded corporate charter school growth with little to no accountably but with almost unlimited opportunities to cheat and steal from the public.

If this legislation passes, this will be a legislated license to make theft legal – a perfect storm for frauds, cheats and thieves. And to think, to create this perfect-profit storm, the elected corrupt are willing to throw OUR children under a tank and let the tank roll over them crushing their spirits and any chances that they will grow up loving to learn and read.

Be warned publishers and colleges, in a decade or two the sales of books will plummet into an abyss and so will enrollment in the nation’s colleges.  And contrary to popular rumors that no one reads anymore, the publishing industry is not dying, yet, but under the autocratic corporate education industry’s rank and punish system, I think those sales will start falling soon as children learn to hate education and reading.


“Being yelled at by a teacher made me not want to learn.”

If you live under a rock and haven’t heard about this for profit, private-sector rank-and-punish system for OUR children and not theirs, read all about it here:

Schools Matter: A Former KIPP Teacher Shares Her Story

The New York Times: At Success Academy Charter Schools, High (useless test) Scores and Polarizing (bully) Tactics

Charter School Scandals: Gulen Charter schools 101 + webinar video

Currently “The United States has the largest publishing industry in the world – in 2012 the U.S. market was worth just under 30 billion euro and represented around 26 percent of the total global publishing market. The book publishing industry claimed the lion’s share of that amount, with revenues totaling almost 29.5 billion dollars in the same year, a number which has since decreased to only 29 billion dollars. The market currently appears to be relatively stagnant, as both revenue and unit sales have failed to show significant changes in recent years.” For more information see U.S. Publishing Industry’s Annual Survey Reveals $28 Billion in Revenue in 2014.

The odds are that another U.S. ranking will soon fall as children learn to hate learning as they are punished and mentally tortured and bullied repeatedly.

The U.S. is currently ranked the 4th most educated country in the world thanks to the traditional, community based, democratic, transparent, non-profit public schools with a long history of success regardless of the lies and misconceptions supported by the likes of Arne Duncan, David Coleman, Bill Gates; the union busting, poverty wage paying Walmart Waltons, and Eli Broad, etc.

You do not teach children to love learning and reading by embarrassing them in front of their peers. If you aren’t sure what bully behavior looks like read it from All Nurses.com: A short list about bully behaviors. For instance: fault-finding, nit-picking, nagging, isolation, breach of confidence, social exclusions, lack of credit for efforts, yelling, treated in a rude-disrespectful manner, giving little or no feedback about performance, prevention from expressing self, dirty looks, etc.

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

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The Godzilla of Education uses Censorship and Threats

Pearson Education is a British-owned education publishing and assessment service to schools and corporations, as well as directly to students. Pearson owns educational media brands including Addison–Wesley, Peachpit, Prentice Hall, eCollege, Longman, Poptropica, and others. Though Pearson generates approximately 60% of its sales in North America, they operate in more than 70 countries. The company was founded in the UK in 1844 by Samuel Pearson as a building and engineering concern. Pearson didn’t enter the education industry until 1996 when it bought the education division of Harper Collins from News Corp.

Pearson is now organized into three main business groupings: Pearson School, Pearson Higher Education and Pearson Professional (includes Financial Times Group and Pearson English). In 2011 Pearson generated total revenues of £5.9 billion (about 8.5 billion US Dollars), of which £4,390 million were from Pearson Education, £1,045 million from Penguin Group, and £427 million from Financial Times Group. In 2011, 60% of Pearson’s revenues were generated in North America, 23% in Europe, 11% in Asia, and 6% in the rest of the world.

Fortune Magazine published Everybody Hates Pearson. “Legions of parents, teachers, and others (in the United States) see the new Pearson in a very different light. Many of them, particularly in North America, where the company does some 60% of its sales, think of it as the Godzilla of education. In their view, Pearson is bent on controlling every element of the process, from teacher qualifications to curriculums to the tests used to evaluate students to the grading of the tests to, increasingly, owning and operating its own learning institutions.”

“In the U.S., testing is the most searingly divisive issue. The business of assessing students through high school has grown 57% in just the past three years, to $2.5 billion, according to the Software & Information Industry Association. Some believe ‘high-stakes testing’ is the best way to create accountability; others think it measures little and incentivizes the wrong things.”

“Today analysts think Pearson controls some 60% of the North American testing market.”

Recently Pearson used its financial power to censor American activists protesting over testing with poorly designed for-profit tests from autocratic private sector corporations that can be used to close public schools, fire teachers, block students from graduating from high school and teachers from becoming teachers. Imagine spending four to six years in college learning to become a public school teacher, and then a for-profit test from Pearson, that many cannot pass even after several expensive attempts, keeps them from becoming a teacher.

Leonie Haimson says, “My tweet and many others linking to the piece (The PARCC Test: Exposed [excerpts deleted under legal threat from PARCC]) were deleted after PARCC complained to Twitter of copyright infringement. Diane Ravitch wrote a blog post about this last night that she insists was somehow deleted.”

Outrage on the Page said, “There are layers of not-so-subtle issues that need to be aired as a result of national and state testing policies that are dominating children’s lives in America. As any well prepared educator knows, curriculum planning and teaching requires knowing how you will assess your students and planning backwards from that knowledge. If teachers are unable to examine and discuss the summative assessment for their students, how can they plan their instruction?” … “right out of the gate, 4th graders are being asked to read and respond to texts that are two grade levels above the recommended benchmark. After they struggle through difficult texts with advanced vocabulary and nuanced sentence structures, they then have to answer multiple choice questions that are, by design, intended to distract students with answers that appear to be correct except for some technicality.”

Using U.S. copyright laws, it is obvious that Pearson is censoring anyone who attempts to reveal the quality and validity of these profitable tests that the Economic Policy Institute reports, “A review of the technical evidence leads us to conclude that, although standardized test scores of students are one piece of information for school leaders to use to make judgments about teacher effectiveness, such scores should be only a part of an overall comprehensive evaluation. … Based on the evidence, we consider this unwise. Any sound evaluation will necessarily involve a balancing of many factors that provide a more accurate view of what teachers in fact do in the classroom and how that contributes to student learning. … there is broad agreement among statisticians, psychometricians, and economists that student test scores alone are not sufficiently reliable and valid indicators of teacher effectiveness to be used in high-stakes personnel decisions, even when the most sophisticated statistical applications such as value-added modeling are employed.”

Front Line (PBS) reported that “Pearson is the leading scorer of standardized tests. …  The National Board on Educational Testing and Public Policy at Boston College compiled data from The Bowker Annual, a compendium of the dollar-volume in test sales each year, and reported that while test sales in 1955 were $7 million (adjusted to 1998 dollars), that figure was $263 million in 1997, an increase of more than 3,000 percent. Today, press reports put the value of the testing market anywhere from $400 million to $700 million.” NCS Measurement Service’s (testing nearly 40 million students annually, more than any other company in the U.S.) was acquired by Pearson in September 2000 for $2.5 billion. Pearson reported $629.5 million in sales in 2000 and 32% of that came from testing services.

I find it strange that President George W. Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act into law on January 8, 2002 leading to huge profits for Pearson and other for-profit corporations that publish for-profit high stakes tests. If you want to learn how much Pearson spends annually in lobbying for its corporate agenda, click OpenSecrets.org. In 2001, Pearson didn’t spend any money on lobbying. In 2002, Pearson spent $400,000, $540,000 for 2003, $336,000 in 2004, $136,000 in 2005, $70,000 in 2006, $181,250 in 2007, $710,000 in 2008, $842,072 for 2009, one million dollars in 2010, the year the Common Core high stakes tests came out, $1,040,000 in 2011, $1,020,000 in 2012, $850,000 in 2013, $500,000 in 2014, and $400,000 in 2015.

In January 2015, the CEO of Pearson, John Fallon (should be Felon instead of Fallon) said, ““It doesn’t matter to us whether our customers are hundreds of thousands of individual students and their parents in China, or thousands of school districts in America,” says Fallon. “What we’re trying to do is the same thing—to help improve learning outcomes.”

But collaboration and final decision making must including all stakeholders—teachers, students and parents—because it is the best way to improve learning outcomes. Knowing this, please help explain why UK’s Pearson is so obsessed with all the secrecy, and why use copyright laws to censor critics?

As some of you may know, Celia Oyler of TC posted an anonymous teacher’s critique of the 4th grade PARCC exam a few days ago that identified a few texts and the questions asked.  Yesterday Celia received a threatening email from PARCC and removed the name of the text sources & the wording of the questions. She is now looking into challenging PARCC’s position legally.

The PARCC Test: Exposed

The author of this blog posting is a public school teacher who will remain anonymous.

I will not reveal my district or my role due to the intense legal ramifications for exercising my Constitutional First Amendment rights in a public forum. I was compelled to sign a security form that stated I would not be “Revealing or discussing passages or test items with anyone, including students and school staff, through verbal exchange, email, social media, or any other form of communication” as this would be considered a “Security Breach.” In response to this demand, I can only ask—whom are we protecting?

There are layers of not-so-subtle issues that need to be aired as a result of national and state testing policies that are dominating children’s lives in America. As any well prepared educator knows, curriculum planning and teaching requires knowing how you will assess your students and planning backwards from that knowledge. If teachers are unable to examine and discuss the summative assessment for their students, how can they plan their instruction? Yet, that very question assumes that this test is something worth planning for. The fact is that schools that try to plan their curriculum exclusively to prepare students for this test are ignoring the body of educational research that tells us how children learn, and how to create developmentally appropriate activities to engage students in the act of learning. This article will attempt to provide evidence for these claims as a snapshot of what is happening as a result of current policies.

The PARCC test is developmentally inappropriate

In order to discuss the claim that the PARCC test is “developmentally inappropriate,” examine three of the most recent PARCC 4th grade items.

A book leveling system, designed by Fountas and Pinnell, was made “more rigorous” in order to match the Common Core State Standards. These newly updated benchmarks state that 4th Graders should be reading at a Level S by the end of the year in order to be considered reading “on grade level.” [Celia’s note: I do not endorse leveling books or readers, nor do I think it appropriate that all 9 year olds should be reading a Level S book to be thought of as making good progress.]

The PARCC, which is supposedly a test of the Common Core State Standards, appears to have taken liberties with regard to grade level texts. For example, on the Spring 2016 PARCC for 4th Graders, students were expected to read an excerpt from Shark Life: True Stories about Sharks and the Sea by Peter Benchley and Karen Wojtyla. According to Scholastic, this text is at an interest level for Grades 9-12, and at a 7th Grade reading level. The Lexile measure is 1020L, which is most often found in texts that are written for middle school, and according to Scholastic’s own conversion chart would be equivalent to a 6th grade benchmark around W, X, or Y (using the same Fountas and Pinnell scale).

Even by the reform movement’s own standards, according to MetaMetrics’ reference material on Text Complexity Grade Bands and Lexile Bands, the newly CCSS aligned “Stretch” lexile level of 1020 falls in the 6-8 grade range. This begs the question, what is the purpose of standardizing text complexity bands if testing companies do not have to adhere to them? Also, what is the purpose of a standardized test that surpasses agreed-upon lexile levels?

So, right out of the gate, 4th graders are being asked to read and respond to texts that are two grade levels above the recommended benchmark. After they struggle through difficult texts with advanced vocabulary and nuanced sentence structures, they then have to answer multiple choice questions that are, by design, intended to distract students with answers that appear to be correct except for some technicality.

Finally, students must synthesize two or three of these advanced texts and compose an original essay. The ELA portion of the PARCC takes three days, and each day includes a new essay prompt based on multiple texts. These are the prompts from the 2016 Spring PARCC exam for 4th Graders along with my analysis of why these prompts do not reflect the true intention of the Common Core State Standards.

ELA 4th Grade Prompt #1

Refer to the passage from “Emergency on the Mountain” and the poem “Mountains.” Then answer question 7.

Think about how the structural elements in the passage from “Emergency on the Mountain” differ from the structural elements in the poem “Mountains.”

Write an essay that explains the differences in the structural elements between the passage and the poem. Be sure to include specific examples from both texts to support your response.

The above prompt probably attempts to assess the Common Core standard RL.4.5: “Explain major differences between poems, drama, and prose, and refer to the structural elements of poems (e.g., verse, rhythm, meter) and drama (e.g., casts of characters, settings, descriptions, dialogue, stage directions) when writing or speaking about a text.”

However, the Common Core State Standards for writing do not require students to write essays comparing the text structures of different genres. The Grade 4 CCSS for writing about reading demand that students write about characters, settings, and events in literature, or that they write about how authors support their points in informational texts. Nowhere in the standards are students asked to write comparative essays on the structures of writing. The reading standards ask students to “explain” structural elements, but not in writing. There is a huge developmental leap between explaining something and writing an analytical essay about it. [Celia’s note: The entire enterprise of analyzing text structures in elementary school – a 1940’s and 50’s college English approach called “New Criticism” — is ridiculous for 9 year olds anyway.]

The PARCC does not assess what it attempts to assess

ELA 4th Grade Prompt #2

Refer to the passages from “Great White Shark” and Face the Sharks. Then answer question 20.

Using details and images in the passages from “Great White Sharks” and Face to Face with Sharks, write an essay that describes the characteristics of white sharks.

It would be a stretch to say that this question assesses CCSS W.4.9.B: “Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text.”

In fact, this prompt assesses a student’s ability to research a topic across sources and write a research-based essay that synthesizes facts from both articles. Even CCSS W.4.7, “Conduct research projects that build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic,” does not demand that students compile information from different sources to create an essay. The closest the standards come to demanding this sort of work is in the reading standards; CCSS RI.4.9 says: “Integrate information from two texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.” Fine. One could argue that this PARCC prompt assesses CCSS RI.4.9.

However, the fact that the texts presented for students to “use” for the essay are at a middle school reading level automatically disqualifies this essay prompt from being able to assess what it attempts to assess. (It is like trying to assess children’s math computational skills by embedding them in a word problem with words that the child cannot read.)

ELA 4th Grade Prompt #3

In “Sadako’s Secret,” the narrator reveals Sadako’s thoughts and feelings while telling the story. The narrator also includes dialogue and actions between Sadako and her family. Using these details, write a story about what happens next year when Sadako tries out for the junior high track team. Include not only Sadako’s actions and feelings but also her family’s reaction and feelings in your story.

Nowhere, and I mean nowhere in the Common Core State Standards is there a demand for students to read a narrative and then use the details from that text to write a new story based on a prompt. That is a new pseudo-genre called “Prose Constructed Response” by the PARCC creators, and it is 100% not aligned to the CCSS. Not to mention, why are 4th Graders being asked to write about trying out for the junior high track team? This demand defies their experiences and asks them to imagine a scenario that is well beyond their scope.

Clearly, these questions are poorly designed assessments of 4th graders CCSS learning. (We are setting aside the disagreements we have with those standards in the first place, and simply assessing the PARCC on its utility for measuring what it was intended to measure.)

Rather than debate the CCSS we instead want to expose the tragic reality of the countless public schools organizing their entire instruction around trying to raise students’ PARCC scores.

Without naming any names, I can tell you that schools are disregarding research-proven methods of literacy learning. The “wisdom” coming “down the pipeline” is that children need to be exposed to more complex texts because that is what PARCC demands of them. So children are being denied independent and guided reading time with texts of high interest and potential access and instead are handed texts that are much too hard (frustration level) all year long without ever being given the chance to grow as readers in their Zone of Proximal Development (pardon my reference to those pesky educational researchers like Vygotsky.)

So not only are students who are reading “on grade level” going to be frustrated by these so-called “complex texts,” but newcomers to the U.S. and English Language Learners and any student reading below the proficiency line will never learn the foundational skills they need, will never know the enjoyment of reading and writing from intrinsic motivation, and will, sadly, be denied the opportunity to become a critical reader and writer of media. Critical literacies are foundational for active participation in a democracy.

We can look carefully at one sample to examine the health of the entire system– such as testing a drop of water to assess the ocean. So too, we can use these three PARCC prompts to glimpse how the high stakes accountability system has deformed teaching and warped learning in many public schools across the United States.

In this sample, the system is pathetically failing a generation of children who deserve better, and when they are adults, they may not have the skills needed to engage as citizens and problem-solvers. So it is up to us, those of us who remember a better way and can imagine a way out, to make the case for stopping standardized tests like PARCC from corrupting the educational opportunities of so many of our children.

Conclusion: secrecy, lies and opaqueness have been part of building the Testocracy Machine since the beginning in 2002, and Pearson has been involved every step of the way along with Bill Gates and other billionaire oligarchs that want control over the education of our children while theirs attend exclusive, expensive private schools. Watch the following video to discover more of the details about the secrecy behind this movement to profit off public dollars and mold the thinking of our children.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and disabled Vietnam Veteran, with a BA in journalism and an MFA in writing, who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

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