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Category Archives: Education

A growing Army of Public School teachers is fighting to save Pub-Ed

Yes, there is an army of public school teachers across the United States already fighting to save public education from greedy, autocratic billionaires like Bill Gates and Betsy DeVos.

How big is this army of public school teachers? In the U.S. military during World War II, an army was made up of 100,000 to 150,000 troops.

Since “Public school systems will employ about 3.2 million full-time-equivalent (FTE) teachers in fall 2018,” there is room for more than 32 armies made up of public school teachers, but we don’t need 32 armies. All we need is one or two — enough willing to shake the crap out of the greedy, lying, fraudulent, corporate pirates attempting to disrupt and hijack public education in the United States.

For instance, the Continental Army that George Washington led during the Revolution was estimated to number 200,000 troops at its high point. The total population of the thirteen colonies was less than 4 million, and Washington won that revolution with 5-percent of the total population willing to step up and become heroes.

In addition, it wasn’t an easy fight, because it has been estimated that there were about 400,000 loyalists to the British Crown or 16-percent of the white population during the American Revolution, and George Washington still won even with those numbers against him … with some help from France and Spain.

I think all we need is 5-percent, 160,000 or more, of the 3.2 million teachers that are willing to speak up and fight back, an army of heroes that will win this war to save traditional public education.

And … only 33% of teachers approve of charter schools. That works out to more than 2.14 million teachers that do not approve.  That many teachers add up to more than 24 armies if they all become active in the fight to save democratic, transparent, non-profit public education in the United States.

Teachers are fighting back. USA Today reports: ‘Tired of begging’: Teacher rebellion shuts down Oklahoma, Kentucky schools

Then there is this USA Today state guide of Teacher Walkouts that lists Arizona, Colorado, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and West Virginia.

That doesn’t include the recent vote in Los Angeles Unified School District, the 2nd largest school district in the United States, to authorize a strike.

We’re ready to strike if no other path forward can be found. This is about making sure every LAUSD student attends a healthy, clean and supportive school. It’s about ensuring that school workers who are devoted to student learning can provide for their own children.”

And the Democratic Party must be waking up to this growing army of teachers fighting back. Education Week reports, “In Teacher Unrest, Democrats See Election Edge. …

“As if U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ relentless championing of charter schools and vouchers weren’t enough, millions of Americans have been bombarded by the sounds and images of striking teachers and educators rallying in Arizona, Oklahoma, and West Virginia, articulating the harm of real-life classroom cuts they attribute to Republican leadership.”

Teachers say even if they don’t strike, they’ll express their rage at the polls this fall. One protestor held a sign that said, “I’m a teacher and I vote.”

It took George Washington seven years to win the Revolution. How long will it take this growing army of public school teachers to win the war to save our democratic public schools from a few greedy autocratic billionaires and their minions?

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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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Teacher v. Professor: On Why Anyone Would Be an Educator

A great comparison K-12 vs a University Professor. having taught for 30 years, the last 16 as a high school English and journalism teacher, I too worked long days as early as 6 AM to 10 PM when the high school’s alarms were turned on and we were told we had to leave. We meaning me and the student editors of the high school newspaper.

I taught about 170 students in five classes for 25 hours a week and the other 35 to 75 hours, I was planning lessons and correcting student work, and like Paul Thomas, I believed in having my students write essays and spent endless hours reading them.

I’m a former US Marine and combat vet and I can say with conviction, the Marines and fighting in Vietnam, for all the mental and physical scars that came with combat, wasn’t even close to teaching as the most difficult job I’ve ever had and I worked 45 years of my life with 12 of those years in the private sector.

This I learned the hard way, K-12 teachers are treated worse than garbage by too many of America’s elected leaders and Alt-Right billionaires. When I retired from teaching after 30-years in the classroom, I took a 40-percent pay cut and left without any medical insurance or coverage because that’s how too many in the Democratic and Republic Parties treat teachers in this country.

radical eyes for equity

While cycling with a new acquaintance, I navigated through the usual questions about how long I have been a professor, and then, after I mentioned that I was a high school English teacher for 18 years before moving to higher education, the follow up about which was easier, or which I preferred.

On this ride and during the conversation, I realized I am quickly approaching the tipping point in my career since I am starting my 17th year as a professor, just one year away from having been a professor for as long as I was a high school teacher—the identity I remain strongly associated with about myself professionally.

Being a writer has held both aspects of my being an educator together, but K-12 teaching and being a professor in higher education (especially my role as a teacher educator) are far more distinct than alike.

However, and most disturbing, K-12…

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The Dangerous Technology Revolution to Improve Education

The promise was that technology was going to revolutionize education and teachers would become a thing of the past, but after decades of results and many studies, the evidence says technology will not revolutionize education and removing human interaction between human teachers and students is already a disaster for learning.

The Verge.com reports, “Evidence mounts that laptops are terrible for students at lectures. Time to reconsider the notebook and pen. …Writing things by hand is becoming less common as gadgets and speech recognition software continue to replace pen and paper, but it’s long proven that handwriting improves motor skills, memory, and creativity. So even though note taking with a laptop might be faster, you might want to think about how much information you’re retaining.”

Studies at Princeton University, the University of California, York University and McMaster University and the United States Military Academy all confirmed that students who do not have access to a [technology] device performed significantly better than those who did.

In fact, Psychology Today reports, “Too Much Screen Time Damages the Brain. But what about kids who aren’t ‘addicted’ per se? Addiction aside, a much broader concern that begs awareness is the risk that screen time is creating subtle damage even in children with ‘regular’ exposure, considering that the average child clocks in more than seven hours a day (Rideout 2010). As a practitioner, I observe that many of the children I see suffer from sensory overload, lack of restorative sleep, and a hyperaroused nervous system, regardless of diagnosis—what I call electronic screen syndrome. These children are impulsive, moody, and can’t pay attention—much like the description in the quote above describing damage seen in scans.”

In addition, Dr Aric Sigman, Health Education Lecturer, Fellow of the Society of Biology, Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, writes, “Screen time has now become a medical issue. Research published in the world’s most reputable medical and scientific journals shows that the sheer amount of time children spend watching TV, DVDs, computers and the internet is linked with significant measurable biological changes in their bodies and brains that may have significant medical consequences. … Conclusion: What can be done? One may ask why the studies above are not reaching decision makers such as the European Parliament. An editorial in the American Medical Association’s Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine asked a similar question: ‘Why is it that something that is widely recognized as being so influential and potentially dangerous has resulted in so little effective action?’”

The answer is simple: it’s all about money from the many becoming profits for the few and who has control of what our children learn by teaching our children that the Earth was created in six days a little over 6,000 years ago and that the science of evolution is a lie; that climate change and global warming is also a lie.

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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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Have you heard how horrible teachers are in the United States? Part 3 of 3

Explain why teachers allegedly don’t care about the children they teach when they get paid less and even spend their own money for materials in their classroom.

How does teachers’ pay compare to other Americans with the same level of education?

The Economic Policy Institute says, “A comparison of teachers’ wages to those of workers with comparable skill requirements, including accountants, reporters, registered nurses, computer programmers, clergy, personnel officers, and vocational counselors and inspectors, shows that teachers earned $116 less per week in 2002, a wage disadvantage of 12.2%. Because teachers worked more hours per week, the hourly wage disadvantage was an even larger 14.1%.

“Teachers’ weekly wages have grown far more slowly than those for these comparable occupations; teacher wages have deteriorated about 14.8% since 1993 and by 12.0% since 1983 relative to comparable occupations.”

Conclusion: Teachers that work in community based, democratic, transparent, non-profit public schools have been criticized and attacked in the media for decades ever since President Ronald Reagan released a missleading and fraudulent study called “A Nation at Risk” in 1983. In fact, a few years later, The Sandia Report proved that Reagan’s study that was used to declare a war on America’s public schools and teachers was totally wrong.

The truth is that public school teachers work, on average, almost twice the number of hours a week than the average American does while being paid less than workers with comparable skills, and then those teachers spend their own money so America’s children have a better chance to earn an education through their hard work. Teachers teach. Children do the work that learns from that teaching. Parents are supposed to support both the teachers and the children. What has gone wrong?

My daughter is 25 and she is now earning more than I did the year I retired after teaching for thirty years, and I had an AS degree, a BA, and an MFA. All she has is a BA.

Start with Part 1 or return to Part 2

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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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Have you heard how horrible teachers are in the United States? Part 2 of 3

It’s well-documented, even by the IRS, how much U.S. public school teachers spend to buy supplies for their classrooms. This fact alone proves that most if not all teachers care about the children they teach putting another lie in its grave and again I ask, “Who is spreading these lies and why are they doing it?”

In August 2016, Time.com reported, “The Education Market Association says that virtually all teachers wind up paying out of pocket for supplies, and it’s not chump change, either. On average, most spent nearly $500 last year, and one in 10 spent $1,000 or more. All told, a total of $1.6 billion in school supply costs is shifted from parents — or, increasingly, from cash-strapped districts — onto teachers themselves.”

I spent money on my classroom too. Some years I spent several hundred. Other years I spent more than one thousand dollars.  The IRS only allowed teachers to deducted up to $500 off their net pay … not off the taxes they have to pay.  I always spent more than the maximum allowed deduction.  The average teacher pay in the United States is $56,383 annually.  Before deductions, that puts the taxpayer in a 17- percent tax bracket.  That means that most teachers see their tax go down $85 for that $500 deduction.

Return to Part 1 or continue with Part 3 on October 22, 2017.

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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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Have you heard how horrible teachers are in the United States? Part 1 of 3

If you have read or heard that U.S. public school teachers are lazy, incompetent, and don’t care about the children they teach, that was a lie. After you read this post, ask why would anyone want to lie about that and who are these liars?

The BBC reports, “What hours do teachers really work?

“Teachers’ unions have warned about excessive workloads and complained about staff being put under too much pressure. The long working week has been one of the grievances prompting teachers to go on strike. …

So how long is the working week (for teachers)?

“For secondary head teachers, it stretches to an average of 63.3 hours per week – the longest of any of the teaching jobs. Primary classroom teachers worked longer hours – 59.3 hours – than their secondary school counterparts, who worked for 55.7 hours per week. The hours in a secondary academy were slightly less, at 55.2 hours.”

The Washington Post reported, “ Teachers work 53 hours per week on avearge (the source of funding for this survey will surprise some if not many who read this post)?

“Teaching is a much talked about yet often misunderstood profession. Educators frequently hear well-meaning comments from parents and friends like “It must be so sweet to spend your days with children” or “How wonderful to be done for the day by three o’clock.” Are they serious? …

“A new report from Scholastic and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, called Primary Sources: America’s Teachers on the Teaching Profession, finally quantifies just how hard teachers work: 10 hours and 40 minutes a day on average. That’s a 53-hour work week! …

“The 7.5 hours in the classroom are just the starting point. On average, teachers are at school an additional 90 minutes beyond the school day for mentoring, providing after-school help for students, attending staff meetings and collaborating with peers. Teachers then spend another 95 minutes at home grading, preparing classroom activities, and doing other job-related tasks. The workday is even longer for teachers who advise extracurricular clubs and coach sports —11 hours and 20 minutes, on average.”

For a comparison to understand how hard teachers work, it helps to know how long the average American works in a week.

“Americans do work hard. Americans work an average of 34.4 hours a week, longer than their counterparts in the world’s largest economies. Many work even longer. Adults employed full-time report working an average of 47 hours per week, which equates to nearly six days a week, according to Gallup.”

My works weeks when I was teaching ran between 60-to-100 hours for a seven day week.I didn’t work only five days. I took work home and worked all seven days.

Continued in Part 2 on October 21, 2017

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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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Teaching Children how to Navigate today’s Confusing Media Circus

I was teaching English during the 1st Bush War against Iraq. It was called the Gulf War, and it was 1991. By then, I’d been teaching 16 years. I retired and left teaching in 2005 after 30 years. In 1991, a few of my students had brothers in the military over there, and I asked my students to write letters and send gifts to him and others in his unit. That became our link to a war.

At the time, the country was very supportive of that war, and it didn’t occur to any teachers I knew to discuss and question what was happening because it wasn’t an unpopular controversial issue. There were those that spoke out but there’s always someone that’s against all wars even if the U.S. were attacked without warning like Pearl Harbor during World War II.

The New York Times reported on January 22, 1991, “The American public’s initial soaring optimism about the war against Iraq has flattened a little, but support for the war remains broad and President Bush’s approval rating continues to stand at a record level, the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll shows.”

It also helped that the Gulf War was over before it had time to lose support. It only lasted 1 month, 1 week and 4 days. That New York Times story mentioned in the previous paragraph came out a little over month before the war ended on February 28.

Compare that to the War in Afghanistan that started in 2001 and is still raging, or the Vietnam War that started in 1955 and went to April 1975, almost 20 years that saw millions killed and maimed in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos before the United States finally left.  By 1970 only a third of American’s believed that the U.S. had not made a mistake by sending troops to fight in Vietnam.

Back then we didn’t have the Alt Right lying, conspiracy theory generating media machine that exists today. The worst we had back then was Rush Limbaugh and a few other rising stars in conservative talk radio. Let’s not forget that Fox Broadcast Television Network didn’t have its primetime launch until April 5, 1987. It was almost as if Rupert Murdock knew that the Fairness Doctrine was already doomed, and that a few months later in June of 1987, President Reagan would veto the Fairness Doctrine legislation that would have guaranteed more balance and honesty in the media, and this paved the way for the endless lies and conspiracy theories we have to live with today from the Alt-Right.


What is wrong with honest, equitable, and balanced coverage of controversial public issues?

The Washington Post reported in 2014, “About half (16) of the 32 outlets have an audience that pretty clearly leans to the left, while seven have audiences that lean conservative. The rest (including all the broadcast networks) are somewhere near the middle.”

Back in 1991 during the 1st Gulf War, we didn’t have Vote Smart (launched 1992), or Snopes (launched 1995), or FactCheck.org (launched in December 2003), or PolitiFact.com (launched 2007). These sites have become America’s antibodies fighting the Alt-Right media machine virus that’s infecting any chance at balance and truth in the news. There is a big difference between bias and lies.

Bias is prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair.

But a lie is an untruth. It is deceit. It is deception. It is dishonesty. It is trickery. It is worse than bias. Lies can be revealed by facts, but bias is harder to dig out and varies from a simple bias that cherry picks facts to an extreme bias that ignores facts that does not support that bias. Most traditional media bias is not extreme and is not easy to measure. Lies are easier to discover by a little digging using the Fact Check sites listed above.

With news supported by facts based on actual events, it’s not easy to generate conspiracy theory propaganda that is worse than vomit and diarrhea in your mouth at the same time.

The need for fact checking started soon after the 1st Bush War (ended February 1991) and then grew after the 2nd Bush War that was justified by lies of WMDs (2003 – 2010, a war that lasted 8 years, 8 months, and 28 days).

As the Alt-Right conspiracy-theory generating media machine grew and the GOP continued to move further to the right into unchartered extremist territory, the need to question everything has become necessary.

So, today, before an event or movement can become an issue, teachers must teach their students to question everything they hear and read in the traditional media and especially from the Alt-Right media machine, and teach them how to use all those fact and fact check sites listed above with links. That includes government sites that gather data and information: U.S. Census, the CDC, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, NASA, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, The CIA’s World Factbook, etc.

Of course, if Fake President Trump, who obviously only learns from Fox, and the Alt-Right Media machine, has his way, those fact-gathering government agencies that employs both registered Democrats and Republicans might not exist in a few months or years since Trump has made it clear he doesn’t trust any information that isn’t what he wants to hear or can’t control.

Contrary to the false opinions of the extreme, deplorable followers of Trump and the Alt-Right, every teacher and every government worker isn’t a liberal or a progressive, but most of them are probably not racists either. In fact, I’ve read that almost 30-percent of public school teachers are registered Republicans while the rest are independent voters and registered Democrats.

There are other terms children should learn about. For instance, confirmation bias, a perfect term to describe Fake President Donald Trump’s choices for where he tunes in to hear the news that is often wrong in so many ways.

To discover more about bias, read The 12 cognitive biases that prevent you from being rational.

And then there’s lies. Yes, there are different levels of lying too from bad to horrible. For instance Politifact.com divides its fact checking into: true, mostly true, half true, mostly false, false, and pants on fire, and on that note, here’s a list of all the Pants on Fire lies from Donald Trump.

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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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