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Category Archives: child poverty in the US

John Oliver Reveals the Absurdity and Insanity of High Stakes Testing in the United States, and what are other countries doing

American students face a ridiculous amount of testing. In the video, John Oliver explains how standardized tests impact school funding, the achievement gap, and how often kids are expected to vomit from the stress caused by these high stakes tests that can destroy a child’s life, get teachers fired and public schools closed.

Ask yourself this, who profits?

In addition, Assessment  Around the World (to read the complete article, click the link. The rest of this post is a summary of a piece published by Educational Leadership) reveals how NCLB and its high stakes testing fit in an international context. Here’s what’s happening in the rest of the world.

“Standardized testing is controversial everywhere, regardless of its purpose. Most countries use testing for tracking and for selecting students for admission into academic secondary schools or universities, but generally not for holding educators accountable. Many countries don’t even administer standardized tests until the later grades. In fact, most Canadian universities don’t require the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) or other standardized admissions tests—except for students applying with a U.S. high school diploma!” (Ghosh, 2004)

Testing Practices in Other Countries (from Educational Leadership)

The following examples from England, Turkey, Germany, Singapore, Japan, China, and Finland illustrate how these countries manage these issues.

England

Like the United States, England holds educators accountable for students’ scores on standardized tests, although major differences exist between the two countries’ accountability systems.

Only England—home to the mighty testing giant, Pearson (a profit based, private-sector corporation) that started investing heavily in the U.S. market the year before NCLB mandated the impossible—holds teachers accountable for students’ scores on standardized tests. The test-based accountability policy remains highly controversial and raises issues similar to those currently discussed in the United States. A major question is the validity of using test scores, which are strongly influenced by students’ socioeconomic status, to evaluate the quality of education. This problem is endemic in national and international test score comparisons.

In fact, “Because in every country, students at the bottom of the social class distribution perform worse than students higher in that distribution, U.S. average performance appears to be relatively low partly because we have so many more test takers from the bottom of the social class distribution.” – Economic Policy Institute (Conclusion: Teachers in the US and UK—thanks to lobbyists from Pearson influencing elected representatives—are being punished for children who live in poverty. The more high stakes tests, the more profits Pearson robs from taxpayers who support the public schools in these two English speaking countries.)

Turkey

Turkey’s heavily bureaucratic and centralized education system is modeled after the French system.

Examinations in Turkey are first administered at the end of basic education, although they influence what schools teach long before that. These exams determine admission into the prestigious Anatolian and science high schools, which accept approximately one-quarter of the students who take the exam. Students who wish to enter a university must take another nationwide exam at the end of high school; but because demand outweighs available spaces, acceptance rates are low (around 20 percent). Because of these conditions, Turkish students experience “some of the world’s worst exam anxiety” (Simsek & Yildirim, 2004, p. 165).

Germany

Germany has a highly stratified education system that tracks students, generally beginning in grade 5, into three types of schools: … Teachers and parents—not an examination—determine a child’s placement.

Singapore

In Singapore, educators are only held accountable for their students’ test scores in the sense that secondary schools and junior colleges are ranked in publicly reported “league tables”; the 40 highest-ranked secondary schools receive cash awards. But this “accountability” system bears little resemblance to NCLB in the United States.

The main purpose of testing in Singapore is to determine student placement in the education system and access to elite academic programs—not to evaluate teachers.

Japan

Japan has a highly competitive examination system, but it doesn’t hold educators accountable for students’ scores on standardized tests.

China

For many centuries, the Chinese have viewed their country’s examination system, which dates back to the Shui dynasty in 603 CE, as the main route out of poverty for a child from a low income family. However, like Singapore and Japan, China is attempting to reduce its reliance on rote learning. Realizing that examinations inevitably drive classroom practice, China has revised its highly competitive university entrance exams by requiring students to integrate knowledge from a wide range of fields.

Chinese students face a highly competitive and stressful examination system that doesn’t hold teachers accountable for student test scores.

Finland

In high-ranking Finland, the national ministry of education plays no role in teacher evaluation. Instead, broad policies are defined in the contract with the teachers’ union. Teachers are then typically appraised against the national core curriculum and the school development plan. Finland, of course, is known for having no standardized testing, obviously then making it impossible for it to be used as a tool for teacher evaluation. – NEA Today.org

Note: None of the nations surveyed by OECD use standardized tests to measure teacher effectiveness as bluntly as the United States does. Wariness over the misuse of test scores runs throughout the school systems in most nations – an acknowledgment that they cannot provide a complete picture of teaching quality and that multiple sources of evidence are required (many countries include parent and student surveys as well as classroom observations, and peer and principal assessment).

_______________________

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

Crazy is Normal promotional image with blurbs

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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The Oxymoron of Corporate Education Reform Exposed by the Results of the International PISA Test

The foundation of the U.S. corporate education reform movement is built on a house of cards that alleges there are too many incompetent teachers in America’s public schools, and that using standardized high stakes test to rank teachers based on student test scores will reveal who those teachers are.

But today the corporate education reformers have unwittingly provided evidence that they are totally wrong with the same data they want to use to root out these alleged incompetent teachers and then also close public schools with the worst scores.

“New York State education officials released data showing that the top-rated teachers, based on student test scores, are less likely to work in schools enrolling black and Hispanic students.” NY State Released Junk Science Ratings by Diane Ravitch

Why are the corporate education reformers wrong?

Stanford.edu reports, “There is an achievement gap between more and less disadvantaged students in every country; surprisingly, that gap is smaller in the United States than in similar post-industrial countries, and not much larger than in the very highest scoring countries.”

If the alleged claims of the corporate education reformers were correct, that means—according to the results of the international PISA tests—teachers who work with disadvantaged students in every country are also incompetent and should lose their jobs.

But … here’s the twist: “Achievement of U.S. disadvantaged students has been rising rapidly over time, while achievement of disadvantaged students in countries to which the United States is frequently unfavorably compared – Canada, Finland and Korea, for example – has been falling rapidly.”Stanford.edu

This tells us that the alleged incompetent teachers in the U.S.—who work with the most disadvantaged students—are the most competent (incompetent teachers) in the world.

How can America’s public school teachers be incompetent when the disadvantaged students they work with are outperforming the disadvantaged students in every country PISA tests—even Canada, Finland and Korea? An oxymoron if I’ve ever heard one.

The corporate education reformers have hung themselves with the same noose they intended to put around the necks of public school teachers in the United States.

_______________________

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

Crazy is Normal promotional image with blurbs

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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Is it possible that offering support instead of punishment leads to Better Teachers? – Part 2 of 3

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After eliminating China, Liechtenstein and Estonia, from the 2012 International PISA Test ranking, Singapore became #1, Chinese Taipei #2, South Korea #3, Japan #4, Switzerland #5, the Netherlands #6, Finland #7, and Canada #8

1.  Singapore

There are about 25,000 teachers in its primary and secondary schools.

Edutopia.org reports “Teaching is a highly respected and well-compensated profession in Singapore. All teachers are trained at the country’s National Institute of Education (NIE) (one training program).  All new teachers are paired with experienced teachers for mentoring, and peer feedback is built into the schedule. Teachers are entitled to 100 low or no-cost hours of professional development each year. There are approximately 522,000 students attending about 350 schools in Singapore’s education system.

2. Chinese Taipei

There are more than 300 thousand teachers who teach in preschool, primary school, junior high school, and senior high school (teaching about 4 million students). The teachers are trained in universities of education with teacher training programs or centers. These institutions are also responsible for providing in-service training and guidance for local education practitioners.

3. South Korea

Teaching is a highly respected profession in South Korea, and among the most popular career choices for young South Koreans. This is largely due to competitive pay, job stability, and good working conditions – for example, there is a high degree of collaboration among teachers. Elementary teachers must attend one of 13 institutions to become qualified whereas secondary school teachers have multiple pathways into teaching and often attend comprehensive universities. Teachers are paid well in South Korea. Lower secondary teachers can expect a mid-career salary of $52,699, much higher than the OECD average of $41,701. There are about 7 million K-12 students in South Korea.

4. Japan

In Japan, teaching is a respected profession, and teachers have traditionally been paid better than other civil servants. Japan’s average teacher salary for a lower secondary school teacher after 15 years of service (the number that the OECD typically uses for international comparison) is $49,408, as compared to the OECD average of $41,701. The teaching profession in Japan is also highly selective, at both the program admission and the hiring phase. About 14% of applicants are admitted into schools of education, and of those who graduate, only 30-40% find work in public schools. Eric Digests.org reports, “Many Japanese believe that the examination system is too stressful, that the schools are too rigid and don’t meet the needs of individual students, that contemporary students show little interest in studying, and that the educational system needs to produce more creative and flexible citizens for the twenty-first century.”

Stanford.edu says, “In 2002 the Ministry of Education began to implement educational reforms that officials labeled the most significant since the end of World War II. In an attempt to stimulate students to be independent and self-directed learners, one third of the content of the national curriculum was eliminated. Japanese students in grades 3-9 are now required to take Integrated Studies classes in which they and their teachers jointly plan projects, field trips, and other ‘hands-on’ activities. Students in Integrated Studies learn about their local environment, history, and economy. … and teachers are not allowed to give tests on what students have learned.”

5. Switzerland

The goal is to impart adequate knowledge and competence for educating and teaching pupils and students at the various educational levels, as well as children and adolescents with special needs. Teacher education and training is realized within a two-tier model with Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programs.

During the 2008/09 school year there were 1.266 million students in the K-12 Swiss educational system, who were taught by more than 100,000 teachers.

But Susan Ohanian.org reports teachers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland are seeing their school ranked by the Bertelsmann Foundation (using achievement tests) comparing the school of all districts with each other—the teachers are protesting and fighting back. Because compulsory achievement tests are planned in all three countries, they are wary of school rankings that lead to a “senseless competition” among schools.

6. Netherlands

About 2.6 million children attend k-12 (European Agency.org).

In 1917, private and public schools were given equivalent financial status under the Constitution. As a result, the Netherlands is in the unique situation, compared with the rest of the world, of having 70 percent of its schools administered and governed by private school boards. The Constitution thus guarantees “freedom of education”, which embrace the freedom to set up schools, freedom to determine the principles on which they are based (freedom of conviction) and freedom of organization of teaching.

State University.com reports, There is an extensive amount of parental involvement in Dutch schools. … In addition, many schools also have a separate parents’ council or committee.

Teacher training in the Netherlands continues to undergo an overhaul. In 2008, the government, following the recommendations of an advisory council, formulated an action plan to tackle the teacher shortage and improve the position and quality of teachers. Given the high performance of its students and its teacher salaries, which, at $60,174 for a mid-career lower secondary school teacher far outpace the OECD average of $41,701, there is still a teacher shortage in the Netherlands due primarily to the aging teacher workforce.

The 2008 TALIS survey of Dutch teachers revealed that the majority of teachers participate in informal, rather than formal, professional development. This generally takes the form of informal mentorships and conversations, courses and workshops and reading professional literature. … Part of the government’s action plan is the creation of a stronger professional organization for teachers that will be able to evaluate teachers and provide teacher training grants.

7. Finland

There are 596,000 children in the k-12 compulsory education system. There are only 24 private comprehensive schools in Finland (0.5%). – ncee.org

Education has always been an integral part of Finnish culture and society, and teachers currently enjoy great respect and trust in Finland. Finns regard teaching as a noble, prestigious profession—akin to medicine, law, or economics— and one driven by moral purpose rather than material interests. Teachers also are the main reason Finland now leads the international pack in literacy, science, and math.

8. Canada

Over 5.11 million students were enrolled in public schools in 2007/08. The full-time teaching force at primary and secondary level is around 310,000. About 5.6% of students are in private schools. Private schools have historically been less common on the Canadian Prairies and were often forbidden under municipal and provincial statutes enacted to provide equality of education to students regardless of family income.

Teacher training programs are housed in Canadian universities, although separate standards for teacher qualification exist across the provinces. There are only about 50 teacher education programs in Canada, so it is easy for provincial governments to regulate quality.

For professional development, all Canadian provincial Ministries of Education support and require ongoing teacher training efforts though, like nearly everything else in the Canadian education system, this is decentralized and subject to different requirements depending on location.

Continued in Part 3 on April 10, 2015 or start with Part 1

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 _______________________

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

Crazy is Normal promotional image with blurbs

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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Is it possible that offering support instead of punishment leads to Better Teachers? – Part 1 of 3

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To discover the answer, I turned to the top eight ranked countries on the 2012 International PISA Test. To come up with the top eight, I dropped China from the list because Shanghai, Hong Kong and Macao do not represent all of China’s 15 or 16 year old children. I’ve also dropped Liechtenstein and Estonia, because it’s ridiculous to compare the United States—with more than 316 million people and almost 50 million children in its public schools—to Liechtenstein with a total population that’s less than 37 thousand and Estonia with about 1.3 million.

To repeat, the United States has almost 50 million children attending K–12, 4 million teachers, and 1 in 4 children live in poverty—the United States is much more diverse and has challenges the top ranked countries don’t have to deal with. Liechtenstein, for instance, has one of the highest standards of living in the world with one of Europe’s most affluent communities. Estonia has 589 schools and compulsory education only goes to 9th grade.

Fair Test.org reports “The U.S. is the only economically advanced nation to rely heavily on multiple-choice tests (But Pearson is working hard to change that and add more countries. To learn more, I suggest you read No profit left behind). Other nations use performance-based assessment to evaluate students on the basis of real work such as essays, projects and activities. Ironically, because these nations do not focus on teaching to multiple-choice and short-answer tests, they score higher on international exams.”

Truth Out.org reports, “Among the most prominent members of the testocracy are some of the wealthiest people the world has ever known. Its tsars include billionaires Bill Gates, Eli Broad, and members of the Walton family (the owners of Walmart), who have used their wealth to circumvent democratic processes and impose test-and-punish policies in public education. They fund a myriad of organizations—such as Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst, Teach for America, and Stand for Children—that serve as shock troops to enforce the implantation of high-stakes testing and corporate education reform in states and cities across the nation.”

I also think it’s important to compare the racial diversity and total population of the United States with the eight top ranked PISA countries. It is also worth noting that children represent more than one-third of the 46.5 million Americans who live in poverty. In addition, blacks and Hispanics are more likely than whites to be poor and to be in poverty and deep poverty (For instance, only 10% of Whites live in poverty compared to 27% of Blacks and 24% of Hispanic/Latino – The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation). The poverty rate (the percentage of all people in the United States who were poor) also remained at high levels: 15.1% for all Americans and 21.8% for children under age 18.

  • 77.7% of Americans are White – 248 million
  • 17.1% Hispanic or Latino – 54.5 million
  • 13.2% or Black – 42 million
  • 5.3% are Asian – 16.8 million
  • 1.2% are American Indian and Alaska Native – 3.8 million

2014 population estimate = 318.8 million
http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/00000.html

Singapore – 5.4 million and 26% or 1.4 million live below poverty line compared to 46.5 million in the United States or 861% of the total population of Singapore. BBC.com reports, that in Singapore everyone is provided an education, health care and public housing if they can’t afford their own. What they pay for housing is based on what they earn. If one compares the poor in Singapore to those in countries such as India and China, or even the homeless in the US, it is indeed true that the situation here is not as dire. ”Singapore has an extensive social safety net,” said a ministry spokesman. ”Singaporeans enjoy subsidized housing, healthcare and education.”

  • 77% Chinese
  • 14.8% Malays
  • 7% Indians
  • 1.2% Other

Taiwan – 23.34 million and 1.16% or 27 thousand live below the poverty line compared to 46.5 million in the United States or 199.2% of the total population of Taiwan.

  • 84% Taiwanese (including Hakka)
  • 14% mainland Chinese
  • 2% indigenous

South Korea – 50.22 million and 15% or 7.53 million live below the poverty line compared to 46.5 million in the United States or 92% of the population of South Korea.

  • Koreans except for 20,000 Chinese

Japan – 127.3 million and 16% or 20.3 million live below the poverty line compared to 46.5 million in the United State or 36.5% of the total population of Japan.

  • 95% Japanese
  • 5% foreign citizens

Switzerland – 8 million, but only 1.93 million are permanent residents (23.8% of the total population), and 6.9% (not sure if this is based on permanent or total) live below the poverty line compared to 46.5 million in the United States or 581.25% of the total population of Switzerland.

Netherlands – 16.8 million and 10.5% or 1.764 million live below the poverty line compared to 46.5 million in the United States or 277.78% of the total population of the Netherlands.

  • 78.5% Dutch
  • 5% EU
  • 2.2% Indonesian
  • 2.3% Turkish
  • 2% Surinamese
  • 2% Moroccan
  • 6% other

Finland – 5.4 million. Finland has one of the lowest poverty rates in the world compared to 46.5 million in the United States or 861% the total population of Finland.

  • 89.33% Finish
  • 5.34% Swedish
  • 5.33% 35 Other Ethnic groups

Canada – 35.1 million and 9.4% or 3.3 million live below the poverty line compared to 46.5 million in the United States or 132.5% the total population of Canada.

  • 86% White (European Canadian)
  • 8% Aboriginal
  • 5% East Asian
  • 4% South Asian
  • 2% Black
  • 4% Southeast Asian
  • 9% Other

Continued in Part 2 on April 9, 2015

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_______________________

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

Crazy is Normal promotional image with blurbs

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).

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

 

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A cultural war in the United States is being financed by billionaire oligarchs and corporations

In 1965, China’s Mao Zedong launched a cultural war against the excesses of capitalism, and this was led by the people, the workers and their children, and the capitalists in China and anyone who was accused of supporting the lifestyle of the rich and famous was targeted leading to millions of suicides.

For the last few decades, millions of people in the United States have been victims of its own cultural war, but this one is the reverse of the one that was led by Mao in China. America’s cultural war is being led by a handful of billionaire oligarchs who are transforming American into a money making paradise for those who have the most wealth and power.

This morning I read a piece in the Huffington Post that reported Kansas welfare recipients will be unable to get more than $25 per day in benefits under a new law sent this week to Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s desk by the state legislature. To make life worse for people who live in poverty, the state also issues that welfare in the form of a government-issued debit card and required that they take the money out of debit machines that charge 85 cents for each withdrawal after the first one in a month—a windfall for banks and whoever owns those ATM machines but less money to buy food. The number of Kansans receiving benefits has also declined from 38,000 in 2011 to 15,000 last year, state data show.

It is no secret that Republicans (GOP) have waged war on people who live in poverty for decades—and recently GOP representatives have blamed poverty on the poor. Many in the GOP hate Social Security, Medicare, Obamacare, unemployment insurance, food stamps, abortion, marijuana, women, and even sexual orientation.

In addition, the GOP and the Democrats also have no problem handing out money to private sector corporations. For instance, the U.S. auto industry, banks, and Wall Street firms. In fact, there are elements in both parties who are handing our children to corporate Charters supported by hedge fund billionaires, the Walton family and the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation so those few individuals grow wealthier off taxes that were originally intended to support the transparent, nonprofit, democratic public schools.

How much does the state and federal government give away to corporations? The answer is more than the country spends on food stamps for people living in poverty, who are far from being lazy, because Recent studies show that 49% of all food stamp participants are children (age 18 or younger), and about 50% of the adults have jobs that pay mostly poverty wages, and, in 2013, for instance, the average SNAP client received a monthly benefit of $133.07, and the average household received $274.98 monthly—compare that number with the money corporations are getting from their state and federal welfare programs.

The New York Times spent 10 months investigating business incentives awarded by hundreds of cities, counties and states. Since there is no nationwide accounting of these incentives, The Times put together a database and found that local governments give up $80.4 billion in incentives each year compared to about $75 billion in food stamps to people who live in poverty, so they have enough money to eat and not starve.

Don’t forget, when the GOP blames the poor for their poverty and cuts food stamps to families, as Arkansas is doing, the GOP is waging a war against almost 20 million children living in poverty who can’t work to feed themselves.

However, according to The Times, the number of corporate welfare programs is 1,874. Have you heard Republicans or Democrats call for cuts to corporate welfare?

You might want to click on this link from the New York Times that leads to an interactive map and discover how much corporations are earning off federal and state welfare programs that tax payers are financing.

The New York Times identified 48 companies that have received more than $100 million in state grants since 2007. Some 5,000 other companies have received more than $1 million in recent years.

In fact, Politifact.com reports that it’s mostly true that 9 of the 10 poorest states are ruled by the GOP. PolitiFact.com also reports that it is mostly true that 97 of the country’s 100 poorest counties are in GOP ruled states.

The Washington Post reports, “Republican states have pursued economic and fiscal strategies built around lower taxes, deeper spending cuts and less regulation. They have declined to set up state health-insurance exchanges to implement President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. They have clashed with labor unions. On social issues, they have moved to restrict abortion rights or to enact voter-identification laws, in the name of ballot integrity, that critics say hamper access to voting for the poor and minorities.”

The cultural revolution in China that took place between 1965–1976, and the one being waged in the United States today have one thing in come: the public schools and the teachers who taught in them were attacked in China back then (but not today—after Mao died in 1976, China, under new leadership, started rebuilding its public schools and supporting its teachers), because a transparent, non-profit, public education system where teachers have the freedom to express, without fear, what they think about current issues to the children they teach, who then talk to their parents, is a threat to the few who want to control the destructive cultural changes taking place in America, and it doesn’t matter if the cultural war is being led, for instance, by America’s Bill Gates, the Walton family, the Koch brothers or Mao Zedong in China. To drastically alter a culture, the few in power, who are behind the changes, must silence their critics and create an environment of punishment and fear, and this means silencing the teachers.

“The reasons for the deconstruction of the teaching profession is simple: teachers are too active in politics; they vote, they advocate, they are a potent political force if properly motivated. Three million teachers and their families, residing in every political precinct in the nation can elect representatives and senators and presidents.” – Ed In The Apple

_______________________

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

Crazy is Normal promotional image with blurbs

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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Finland is changing its education system AGAIN, and that change STILL doesn’t include standardized testing

While the United States and a few other countries have allowed UK’s Pearson—the largest private-sector, for profit education publisher and test generator in the world—greater influence in their countries, Finland is going in the opposite direction.

“Finland making drastic changes to an already successful education system. Why now? And will this model change the way other countries go about educating their children?” The Christian Science Monitor asks.

Despite having an education system that doesn’t rely on standardized test scores, Finnish students perform extremely well on exams that are given to students all over the developed world.

But now Finland is looking to overhaul its education system and will now focus more on “topics” and less on subjects, according to Alexander LaCasse for The Christian Science Monitor.

The Finns are calling this “phenomena” teaching while in the United States, teaching is called “TESTING”.

I ran into trouble embedding this vimeo video in the post so here’s the link or click Watch on Vimeo above:
https://vimeo.com/122720631

Alexander LaCasse, who wrote the piece for The Christian Science Monitor said, “Finland’s deviation on educational standards may come as a surprise to some – because Finland trails only Singapore and China in performance on the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), a standardized test given to 15 year olds in 65 of the world’s most developed countries.”

What the corporate reformers don’t want anyone to know is that poverty is the  problem—a challenge totally ignored by the rank and punish Common Core Standardized Testing culture promoted heavily by the Bill and Melinda Gates and Walton Family Foundations (in addition to a few other billionaires)—and not teachers or public schools.

If you watch the video that comes with this post, starting at 30:00, you will discover that when we compare U.S. Schools internationally, U.S. schools with less than 10% student poverty are ranked #1 in the world on the PISA test.

For instance, Finland has less than 4% childhood poverty compared to the U.S. that has at least 24% of its children living in poverty. In fact, high achieving countries that score high on international tests all have less than 10% of their children living in poverty.

Even U.S. schools with 25% childhood poverty rates rank #3 in the world on international tests and even schools that have 50% student poverty levels rank above international averages in reading.  In addition, 1 in 5 schools in the United States have 75% of children, or more, living in poverty.

The schools I taught in for 27 years of the 30 I spent in classrooms as a teacher had 70% – 80% childhood poverty rates.

Timeline for Crony Capitalist's War Against Public Education

More information on this issue:

Common Core-Aligned Test Publisher Pearson Using Personal Data to Spy on Students Online

Pearson is expanding its brand into the United Kingdom, Australia, Italy, South Africa, Brazil, India and Saudi Arabia. Pearson earns over $8 billion in annual global sales, with much more to come if countries continue to use standardized tests to rate students, teachers and schools.

For Pearson, Common Core is private profit

Among the likely benefactors of the extra funds were the four companies that dominate the testing market — three test publishers and one scoring firm.

Those four companies are Harcourt Educational Measurement, CTB McGraw-Hill, Riverside Publishing (a Houghton Mifflin company), and NCS Pearson. According to an October 2001 report in the industry newsletter Educational Marketer, Harcourt, CTB McGraw-Hill, and Riverside Publishing write 96 percent of the exams administered at the state level. NCS Pearson, meanwhile, is the leading scorer of standardized tests.

Even without the impetus of the No Child Left Behind Act, testing is a burgeoning industry. 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.

The Testing Industry’s Big Four

The British publishing giant Pearson had made few inroads in the United States — aside from distributing the TV game show “Family Feud” — when it announced plans in the summer of 2000 to spend $2.5 billion on an American testing company.

No profit left behind

The controversy over Common Core hasn’t stopped companies from cashing in on the education standards program.

States have already awarded hundreds of millions of dollars in Common Core-related contracts to businesses including Pearson, McGraw-Hill Education CTB, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Apple since 2012. And, despite some legal challenges and boycotts, more contracts potentially worth billions of dollars for testing, instructional materials and teacher training are on the way.

Companies cash in on Common Core despite controversy

What can we do? The answer is to refuse high stakes testing

UNITED POT OUT: The movement to End Corporate Education Reform

The National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest) works to end the misuses and flaws of standardized testing and to ensure that evaluation of students, teachers and schools is fair, open, valid and educationally beneficial.

Fair Test: The National Center for Fair and Open Testing

_______________________

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

Crazy is Normal promotional image with blurbs

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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The Crony Capitalist War of greed against U.S. Public Education

There are several forms of Capitalism in use throughout the world. Economics Help.org defines them and reports that Crony Capitalism is what’s used in the United States. The Age of Crony Capitalism says, “For most of US history, crony capitalism has been in a struggle with free-market capitalism for the heart and soul of the American economy.  For the past half century, crony capitalism has been gaining the upper hand.”

In addition, Dr. Gary G. Kohls of Global Resaerch.ca says, “The 12 years of unrestrained crony capitalism during the anti-democracy mis-leadership of Republican presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush tricked most of us into naively believing in their fraudulent ‘Trickle-down Economics’.”

Crony Capitalism is a term used to refer to the situation where business success is related to strategic influences with civil servants, politicians and those in authority. It could be used to refer to situations in early twentieth century U.S. where business leaders had to buy off politicians in return for favors (e.g. in popular media: Citizen Kane). Arguably a degree of crony capitalism occurs in countries like China, South Korea and Latin America. The power of the Mafia in Italy is also an example of crony capitalism.

The other forms of capitalism mentioned by Economics Help.org are: Turbo Capitalism (also known as unrestrained capitalism or free market capitalism), Responsible Capitalism, Popular Capitalism, Advanced Capitalism and State Capitalism. Visit the site to learn about the differences. I read them all and I think the two that are highlighted in this paragraph are the best choices for the most people.

Timeline for Crony Capitalist's War Against Public Education

In the corporate war against public education—known also as education reform leading to school choice, corporate charter schools and school vouchers—what reports do not support the Crony Capitalist reform movement?

The 1966 Coleman Report—Instead of proving that the quality of schools is the most important factor in a student’s academic success—as its sponsors had expected—the report written by the sociologist James S. Coleman of Johns Hopkins University found that a child’s family background and the school’s socioeconomic makeup are the best predictors. … A better summary of the findings, from Gordon M. Ambach’s perspective, is: Family and socioeconomic backgrounds are so important that it’s difficult for schools to overcome them.


In 1966, the Coleman Report highlighted the impact of poverty on student achievement. In this installment of the Mini-Moments with Big Thinkers series, policy faculty member Jeffrey Henig argues that it’s time to recognize that schools alone cannot ensure that all students succeed equally.

The 1983 report under the Reagan Administration known as A Nation at Risk was characterized by its authors as “an open letter to the American people.” The report called for elected officials, educators, parents, and students to reform a public school system it described as “in urgent need of improvement.” That need for improvement was based on numerous statistics listed in the report that the commission said showed the inadequate quality of American education. The authors ominously cautioned that the data showed the nation was at risk and expressed grave concern that our “once unchallenged pre-eminence in commerce, industry, science, and technological innovation is being overtaken by competitors throughout the world.

The 1990 Sandia Report proves that A Nation at Risk was wrong and reveals what was actually happening:

  • Between 1975 and 1988, average SAT scores went up or held steady for every student subgroup.
  • Between 1977 and 1988, math proficiency among seventeen-year-olds improved slightly for whites, notably for minorities.
  • Between 1971 and 1988, reading skills among all student subgroups held steady or improved.
  • Between 1977 and 1988, in science, the number of seventeen-year-olds at or above basic competency levels stayed the same or improved slightly.
  • Between 1970 and 1988, the number of twenty-two-year-old Americans with bachelor degrees increased every year; the United States led all developed nations in 1988.

Then in 2000, Pearson, the British publishing giant, spends $2.5 billion on an American testing company while spending millions aggressively lobbying the states and the U.S. Congress to make testing a vital element of school reform in the United States. – POLITICO Pro: No profit left behind

One year later, The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), based on the fraud of A Nation at Risk, and ignoring the results of the Coleman and Sandia Reports, becomes law.

NCLB required states, school districts, and schools to ensure all students (something that no country on the earth has ever achieved to this day) are proficient in grade-level math and reading by 2014. States define grade-level performance. Schools must make “adequate yearly progress” toward this goal, whereby proficiency rates increase in the years leading up to 2014. The rate of increase required is chosen by each state. In order for a school to make adequate yearly progress (AYP), it must meet its targets for student reading and math proficiency each year. A state’s total student proficiency rate and the rate achieved by student subgroups are all considered in the AYP determination.

Schools that fail to make adequate yearly progress for two consecutive years are identified for “school improvement,” and must draft a school improvement plan, devote at least 10 percent of federal funds provided under Title I of NCLB to teacher professional development. Schools that fail to make AYP for a third year are identified for corrective action, and must institute interventions designed to improve school performance from a list specified in the legislation. Schools that fail to make AYP for a fourth year are identified for restructuring, which requires more significant interventions. If schools fail to make AYP for a fifth year, they much implement a restructuring plan that includes reconstituting school staff and/or leadership, changing the school’s governance arrangement, converting the school to a charter, turning it over to a private management company, or some other major change.

School districts in which a high percentage of schools fail to make AYP for multiple years can also be identified for school improvement, corrective action, and restructuring.

The 2009 Race to the Top is a $4.35 billion United States Department of Education competitive grant created to spur and reward innovation and reforms in state and local district K-12 education. … Race to the Top is one contributing factor to 48 states that have adopted common standards for K-12. … Although the vast majority of states have competed to win the grants, Race to the Top has also been criticized by politicians, policy analysts, thought leaders and educators. Teachers’ unions argued that state tests are an inaccurate way to measure teacher impact, despite the fact that learning gains on assessments is only one component of the evaluation systems. Conservatives complained that it imposes federal overreach on state schools, and others argued that charter schools weaken public education.

From A Nation at Risk, No Child Left Behind and Race to the Topstill ignoring the 1966 Coleman Report and the 1990 Sandia Report, and the fact that no country has ever been successful with all children—comes the 2010 Common Core State Standards and the CCSS punishment based standardized testing used to rank teachers by student test scores and then fire teachers and close public schools turning our children over to the for profit, mostly corporate Charter private sector where Crony Capitalists profit off of our children.

You may find a Summary of the Common Core State Standards at Advocates for Academic Freedom.org

Who are the biggest financial supporters of the Common Core State Standards and the agenda to use standardized test results to rank, fire public school teachers and then close public schools while opening the door to Crony Capitalists who own the corporate Charters?

The Washington Post reveals How Bill Gates pulled off the swift Common Core revolution. “The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation didn’t just bankroll the development of what became known as the Common Core State Standards. With more than $200 million, the foundation also built political support across the country, persuading state governments to make systemic and costly changes.”

Dissent Magazine.org reported that “hundreds of private philanthropies together spend almost $4 billion annually to support or transform K–12 education, most of it directed to schools that serve low-income children (only religious organizations receive more money). But three funders—the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Eli and Edythe Broad (rhymes with road) Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation—working in sync, command the field.

One last thought—The Economic Policy Institute (I urge you to click the link and read the rest) reported that “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.”

Who benefits? Who loses?

_______________________

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

Runner Up in Biography/Autobiogrpahy
2015 Florida Book Festival

Crazy-is-Normal-a-classroom-expose-200x300

Honorable Mention in Biography/Autobiography
2015 Los Angeles Book Festival
2014 Southern California Book Festival
2014 New England Book Festival
2014 London Book Festival

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

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).

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

 

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