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Category Archives: family values

A Conspiracy Theory that turned out to be Real

On July 4, 1776, The Declaration of Independence said, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Read Slaying Goliath, and learn that some of the wealthiest and most powerful Americans are trying to take away our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

I was a public school teacher in California from 1975 – 2005. During those thirty years, I worked 60 to 100 hours a week during the school year. I took work home seven days a week and couldn’t wait for the winter and spring breaks, not because of the time off from teaching, but because I’d have time to catch up correcting student work. After all, teachers have to sleep, too.

In 1983, President Ronald Reagan released a report that was a lie. That report was called “A Nation at Risk,” and it painted the nation’s public schools as failures.  After that misleading report, teachers were called lazy and incompetent. The public schools were blamed for the prison population in the United States that was really caused by Presidents Nixon and Reagan’s war on recreational drugs like marijuana.

The critics of the public schools even came up with a misleading term that was also a lie. It was called “The school to prison pipeline.” There has never been a school to prison pipeline in the United States.

After “A Nation at Risk,” came the Self Esteem Movement that got its start in Catholic K-12 schools and from the pulpit of evangelical Christian churches. When that failed, teachers were blamed again. However, the majority of teachers, including me, did not agree with the Self Esteem Movement that put pressure on us to stop failing students that refused to learn and inflate grades so children would feel good about themselves, even if they didn’t deserve it.

That top-down failure was followed by The Whole Language Approach to teaching. English Lit Teachers like me were told to stop teaching mechanics, grammar, and spelling because it was boring. We were told that the kids could learn that boring stuff just by reading on their own, except most kids do not read on their own.

A decade later, when that Whole Language Approach that was forced on teachers also failed, teachers were blamed again.

That is why, back in the 1980s, I started to think there was a conspiracy theory to destroy the public schools. Over the years, as one top-down movement after another to improve the public schools failed, I convinced myself that it could not be right that someone was trying to destroy our public schools.

Who could be that cruel, that greedy, that monstrous, to deliberately demonize teachers and blame them for almost every problem in the United States? The critics said teachers were lazy. The critics said we were incompetent. The critics said our labor unions were corrupt and were getting in the way of improving the public schools.

I retired from teaching in 2005 and swore that if I was forced to teach again, I’d instead rejoin the U.S. Marines and fight in Afghanistan against Islamic terrorists. Since I had already served in the Marines and fought in Vietnam before I was a teacher, I knew that being a teacher was way worse because of the way teachers are treated in this country.

When I retired, I took a 40-percent pay cut and left without medical insurance, but the critics said teachers were greedy, and our retirement systems would cause the states to go bankrupt. I live in California, and about 6% of the state’s annual budget goes to support the teacher retirement system.

If you believe that retired teachers are greedy, let me sell you a vacation home on a moon orbiting Saturn. I understand the view of Saturn’s rings are incredible.

Read Slaying Goliath, and you will learn that what I suspected back in the 1980s was real. There has been a movement in the United States for decades to replace the nation’s democratic, transparent, public schools and destroy the teaching profession. That disruptive movement wants to replace the people’s public school with a profit-driven, often corrupt, secretive, autocratic, private school system that operates without rules and oversight.

Read Slaying Goliath, and you will learn that the leaders of the publicly funded, private-sector charter school industry are mostly deceivers and liars.

Read Slaying Goliath, and you will learn that the leaders of the publicly-funded private/religious voucher school industry are also mostly deceivers and liars.

When you read Slaying Goliath, you will learn who those liars are. You will learn who is behind the disruption of our public schools and how they are subverting our Constitutional Republic to strip us of our rights. Then maybe you will be angry enough to support and even join the passionate resistance of parents, grandparents, teachers, and children that are already fighting to save America’s public schools.

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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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The Shocking 50 State Report Card on Support for Public Education in the U.S.

State Grades from NPE Report Card of US  public education

 

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Who do you think should pick the elected leaders of the United States?

Lloyd Lofthouse

My old friend did it again. He’s a good bellwether for far-right conservative thinking, because he is a born-again fundamentalist Christian, far-right libertarian who thinks abortion is murder and that women should be ruled by men because, well, women are women, and the Bible supports what he thinks.  He reads far-right writers, and he watches and listens to far-right media. If he thinks something, you can easily guess where he is getting his ideas.

Anyway, he recently wrote in an e-mail: “You’ve probably heard Churchill’s comment on democracy – ‘It’s the worse form of government except for all the others.’ This can be said about money and elections also – ‘The rich are the worse ones to choose our leaders except for all others.’ Society can be looked at as composed of various groups – rich, poor, artists, criminals, theologians, those living on welfare, students, men, and woman – a…

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Stop writing your name in Cursive. You have had Several Warnings.

Megan Zander at She Knows wrote a post with this headline: Teacher’s aggressive note on 7-year-old’s homework goes viral, and many of the comments are critical of teachers and schools for what the alleged teacher wrote in red ink – the title of this post.

First, I was a public school teacher for thirty years, and I required my students to write their first and last name on every written assignment in addition to the period they were in and the date. When they didn’t write all that information, I wrote in aggressive red ink explaining to them why they lost some points from what the assignment was worth.

How can I justify being so aggressive? Well, I worked with almost 200 students in five or six classes often working 60 to 100 hours a week—25 hours teaching and the rest correcting work and planning lessons (not counting all the usually useless meetings teachers have to attend). All the work had to also be done in blue or black ink. Why would I have an aggressive rule like that? Well, the English department voted on it, and it was unanimous, because it made our jobs easier. Work written in pencil was more difficult to read and correct and teachers are correcting papers every night for several hours a night and on the weekends.  To make sure my students knew this aggressive rule, there were large posters on the walls in my classroom reminding them that the work had to be done in blue or black ink, and I reminded them daily at the start of every written assignment.

For those reasons, when my students turned in work written in pencil, I wrote in aggressive red ink that if they wanted to earn credit for that assignment, they’d have to do it over in blue or black ink and turn it in the next school day.

Oh, and there were always kids who didn’t even bother to write their name on an assignment. Guess what happened to that work.

Without knowing all the details I will NOT condemn the ONE teacher who wrote that note in aggressive red ink or—for that matter—the entire education system in the United States.

Why am I refusing to rush in where so many fools have already gone?

The answer is simple—in the United States there are more than 3.5 million public school teachers, more than 15,000 public school districts in 50 states (the states are supposed to be responsible for public education—not the US Congress, the White House, a corporation or a CEO) teaching 50+ million children (not counting the territories), and to use this one incident to condemn everyone else in the public school systems that are not a monopoly is wrong on so many counts.

In fact, corporations build monopolies. Public schools with community based democratic school boards that are state controlled by 50 states are not monopolies. The public school system is made up of more than 15,000 individual school districts that are controlled by the local communities through elected democratic school boards that answer to the voters/parents.

  • What kind of school did this teacher work for?
  • What kind of teacher training did this teacher have—TFA, traditional or a full-time, yearlong urban residency?
  • Was this teacher under contract or a substitute teacher with no teacher training?
  • How many years has this teacher been in the classroom?
  • Was the school an underfunded, transparent, community-based, democratic, non-profit public school, a private school, or an autocratic, opaque, boot-camp like (see Success Academy), for profit (no matter what you call the school) corporate Charter school paid for by taxpayers but allowed to do whatever the CEO/manager of the school wants behind closed doors, and if a parent complains, the child is often kicked out of the school?
  • What state was it in—was it in Florida, Ohio or one of the other states where the public schools are under threat of a hostile takeover by corporate America?

If this teacher worked in a community based, democratic school, then there should be an elected school board and if those elected representatives, who are mostly parents from the same community, want to do something about the eleven words this teacher wrote in aggressive red ink, then they will, because that is the democratic process when it comes to public schools.

But if this child was in a corporate Charter school there is very little that can be done, because parents have no rights in those schools, teachers live in fear because they have no job protection, and these schools have no elected school boards to complain to.  In corporate Charters if a parent doesn’t like the school, their child will often quickly find themselves out on the streets or back in an underfunded public school if there are any left.

A Brenda Hatcher seems to have spread this note on Facebook, and she alleges that the mother is a military veteran.  I am also a military veteran. I served in the U.S. Marines and fought in Vietnam before I went to college on the GI Bill and eventually became a public school teacher for 30 years. I’d like to talk to this alleged military mother.

Megan Zander’s conclusion said, “After all, a child who’s willing to bend the rules in school could grow up to be the one who makes the rules.”

I shuddered at the thought that children who bend the rules will end up being our leaders.

I hope Megan might want to know why I shuddered at that thought.  Megan, did you know that the professions with the most psychopaths in them are the ones who make the rules?

Which Professions Have the Most Psychopaths? The Fewest? – Time.com

  • CEOs and lawyers belong to the profession with the most psychopaths alongside journalists and police officers.
  • Teachers are on the list for the professions with the least number of psychopaths alongside nurses, doctors and charity workers.

Megan Zander is a former divorce attorney—a lawyer—turned SAHM to twin boys. She’s written for The Stir, Scary Mommy, Rare.us, Mommyish and Bustle.

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BLAME IT ON THE TEACHER AS USUAL

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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Where should literacy start—at home or in school?

According to Zero to Three.org, “Literacy often begins early, long before children encounter formal school instruction in writing and reading. … Many young children begin to learn about writing and reading well before they start elementary school. ”

In addition, Parents.com says, “Reading is an addiction that parents should encourage well before their baby’s first birthday. … When you read to children, they’re getting your full attention, and that’s what they just love. Nothing—no TV show or toy—is better than that. Reading to babies is also a great way to immerse them in the sounds and rhythms of speech, which is crucial for language development.”

We also hear a lot in the media about Finland’s PISA ranking, and how great their public schools are, but where does literacy start in Finland for most children? Stuff4Educators.com says, “Finland has a completely transparent alphabet code and most parents teach their children to read pre-school, as it’s easy to do.”

In addition, Stanford University psychologist Brian Wandell said, “Historically, people have assumed that all children’s brains come adequately equipped and ready to learn to read,” just as with learning to speak, which occurs naturally without much training.  But, he said, “Sometimes, there is a natural distribution of capabilities. Reading is probably the hardest thing we teach people to do in the education system.  There are some kids who are just going to have a hard time.” – The DANA Foundation.org – Your gateway to responsible information about the brain.

But, surprise, surprise: “People who read ‘lots’ and fiction ‘lots’ outscore those who read ‘lots’ but fiction only ‘somewhat’ or ‘not much’. This is because a wider range of vocabulary is typically used in fiction than in non-fiction writing.”  – Economist.com

However, the mandated Common Core language arts and literacy standards puts more emphasis on reading nonfiction even though we know that fiction uses a wider range of vocabulary and leads to a higher level of literacy and a higher level of literacy equal college and career readiness.

And that is why I have a problem with the term “school to prison pipeline”, and the corporate education reform movement that blames only teachers for children who are not college and career ready starting as early as kindergarten and the impossible NCLB mandate that 100% of 17-18 year olds be college and career ready before high school graduation—no country in the world has achieved this at any time, even Finland.

If there is a prison pipeline, it starts in the home and not in the schools and it is linked to literacy, because “75% of prison inmates are illiterate.” – Invisible Children.org

The BBC reports, “that falling behind at the very beginning of school can be the starting point for permanent disadvantage.”

Therefore, parents and/or guardians, if you want to help your child to be college and career ready and have a better chance to stay out of prison, start reading to your children early and don’t wait until kindergarten for teachers to do your job for you. Parenting is more than just giving birth, feeding the child and providing a TV to entertain the kids in addition to a place to sleep. Instead of letting your children become addicted to TV and texting, get them hooked on books before they start kindergarten. In fact, reading is a healthy addiction that every child should have starting at an early age.

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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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What would happen to the Corporate RheeForm War against Public Education in the U.S. if every American knew the few facts in this post?

Value Added Measurement (VAM) uses the results of student tests linked to the flawed Common Core Standards that are being forced on the nation’s public schools to punish teachers for students who–-for a variety of reasons that seldom if ever have anything to do with the actual teaching—are not learning.

In fact, VAM totally ignores the student learning factor and places ALL the blame on teachers when reputable studies have repeatedly proven that time spent in the classroom and teaching represents less than 30% of the factors that lead to a child’s learning.  The other factors that make up two-thirds of what causes a child to learn takes place outside of school in the home/family environment, and poverty DOES play a vital role when it comes to a child learning what is taught by a teacher in the classroom.

Even the results of the International PISA tests prove that poverty is a major factor, and to make my point, I’m using several different reputable sources.

FIRST: A Stanford study found:

“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.

“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.

“U.S. PISA scores are depressed partly because of a sampling flaw resulting in a disproportionate number of students from high-poverty schools among the test-takers. About 40 percent of the PISA sample in the United States was drawn from schools where half or more of the students are eligible for the free lunch program, though only 32 percent of students nationwide attend such schools.”

SECOND: The Economic Policy Institute validated that the Stanford report was correct.

THIRD: Mel Riddle, the Associate Director for High School Services at NASSP (National Association of Secondary School Principals), compared the results of the PISA and focused on children who lived in poverty to discover that children living in poverty in the United States are improving and doing better than their socioeconomic peers in the other OECD countries.

Mel reported: “PISA results have provided ample fodder for public school bashers and doomsayers who further their own philosophies and agendas by painting all public schools as failing. For whatever reason, the pundits, many of whom have had little or no actual exposure to public schools, refuse to paint an accurate picture of the state of education.

“A closer look at the data tells a different story. Most notable is the relationship between PISA scores in terms of individual American schools and poverty.  While the overall PISA rankings ignore such differences in the tested schools, when groupings based on the rate of free and reduced lunch are created, a direct relationship is established.”

FOURTH: The Center for Public Education looked closely at the time American children spent in school compared to other countries and asked and answered several questions.

For instance: Are students in India and China required to go to school longer than U.S. students?

According to data from the OECD and the World Data on Education, students in China and India are not required to spend more time in school than most U.S. students.

Do other countries require more instructional hours for students than the U.S.?

According to the OECD, the hours of compulsory instruction per year in these countries range from 608 hours in Finland (a top performer) to 926 hours in France (an average performer) at the elementary level, compared to the over 900 hours required in California, New York, Texas, and Massachusetts.

Are U.S. students receiving less instruction?

The data clearly shows that most U.S. schools require at least as much or more instructional time as other countries, even high-performing countries like Finland, Japan, and Korea.

In conclusion, I ask again: What would happen to the Corporate RheeForm War against Public Education in the U.S. if every American knew the few facts in this post?

_______________________

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 Cannibalization of General Education—Guest Post

Before I address the topic of Integrated Collaborative Teaching (ICT), which is the combining of special education and general education students in the same class, I want to thank Mr. Lofthouse for publishing my anonymous guest post on his Crazy Normal blog.  I have read many of Mr. Lofthouse’s blog posts that covered charter schools, Common Core curriculum and other pertinent educational issues, and I appreciate Mr. Lofthouse creating his Crazynormal blog so that teachers can educate the public.

Before I address Integrated Collaborative Classrooms (ICT), here is a brief bio about me.  I am currently teaching at a comprehensive high school in California, and I have been teaching for 26 years.  The reason why I am publishing this post anonymously has to do with the often hostile and combative environment that our public schools have become as reformers attempt to silence teachers through fear of losing their jobs.

Returning to the issue of ICT classrooms: ICT has become a highly charged educational issue.  With Special Education cannibalizing the budgets of school districts, ICT classes seem like a true knight in shining armor for financially strapped school districts.

Why do school districts across the nation need a financial knight in shining armor? They are being bled dry financially.  Unscrupulous advocates and lawyers, who are lining their own pockets, are helping parents obtain expensive accommodations for their special education children. For example, “One southern California school district pays for a severely brain-damaged boy to attend a specialized school in Massachusetts, and to fly his parents and sister out for regular visits, at an annual cost of roughly $254,000.  The superintendent only balked when the family demanded extra visits for the boy’s sister” (Worth).  In the Gilroy Unified School District, district spokesperson Deborah Toups explained how her district’s unfunded annual special education costs rose from $170,000 in 2002 to $3,200,000 in 2010 (Melendez).


The special education teacher in the video makes valid points about how the old Special Education model was ineffective.  However, full inclusion is not the answer either.

  • Special education students can be successfully included in physical education, art and music classes, but it is more difficult to include them in core academic subjects, such as English, Math, or Science.
  • The special education teacher also talked about how she could “jump in” and assist with a lesson, but most of the time this does not occur at the high school level because most special education teachers are not trained in a core subject.  Hence, they are not able to co-teach a Geometry lesson, a lesson over rhetoric in English, etc.
  • What tends to happen is the special education teacher ends up sitting in the back of the classroom and observes the lesson or assists individual students.
  • A final point made in the video was co-teaching takes a lot of time. In addition, most general education teachers do not share a common prep period with their special education counterpart; hence, planning does not occur.

In 1975, the Federal government promised it would fund 40% of special education costs, but the current reality is the Feds cover only 10% (Worth).  The states do not make up the difference, so school districts have to rob their other programs to pay for special education.  In addition, a recent ABC news report stated that the increase in the number of lawsuits has grown substantially due to the parents of autistic children (Shah).  School districts are not fully addressing the accommodations for autistic children because “… scientists and researchers and families still have a lot to learn about [autism]” (Shah).  Autism is a complex neurological disorder, and there is still yet a lot to be learned about it.  Unfortunately, school districts are unrealistically expected to have complete knowledge about how to meet the needs of their autistic children.  It doesn’t help that the spike in the number of autistic children has been dramatic.  In 1990, nine in 10,000 kids were diagnosed with autism; in 2000, forty-four in 10,000 were diagnosed (Melendez).  School districts know that their spending for special education is going to increase due to the spike in the number of autistic children.

Hence, Integrated Collaborative Teaching.  ICT classrooms utilize two teachers:  a general education teacher and a special education teacher.  ICT classrooms can place up to 12 special education students in an ICT classroom.  Theoretically, special education and general education teachers are supposed to plan their lessons together, examine pre and post testing data of their students, discuss student behavior, plan for IEP meetings, work out differences in teaching style, etc.  On paper, ICT classrooms represent a knight in shining armor for school districts.  Special education students are being mainstreamed and school districts are also saving money, because they do not have to hire as many special education teachers due to general education teachers becoming de facto special education teachers.

Unfortunately, many ICT classrooms are not serving the needs of their general education students.  In fact, most ICT teachers report that they don’t share a common planning period.  Hence, special education teachers and general education teachers are not able to plan lessons together, coordinate disciplinary actions, examine testing data, etc.  The most negative outcome of ICT classrooms is that the course pacing slows dramatically.  General education teachers have to spend more time over discipline issues stemming from the special education students, which hurts the overall learning environment.  Moreover, many general education teachers report that they neglect their general education students because they are hyper- focused on their special education students.  Many times special education teachers are not in the classroom because they are attending IEP meetings for other special education students on their caseload.  Also, many school districts only have their special education teacher in the ICT classroom two to three times a week. That leaves the general education teachers with 30-plus students of which 12 are Special Ed.

What school districts must do is to legally challenge excessive IEP accommodations that they are being forced to implement.  Currently, the legal teams of special education parents represent the A-team.  Most school districts do not have A-team type lawyers, so they cave into the unreasonable requests that some special education parents demand.  Also, school districts need to come together and sue the Federal government.  When the Supreme Court ruled that special education students were to have their academic needs met, the Federal government promised that it would cover 40% of the costs (Worth).  School districts must force the Federal government to cover the 30% that it’s not paying.

The costs for special education can be reeled in; however, school districts across the nation are going to have to work together to challenge excessive IEP accommodations and also force the Federal government to honor its financial obligations.

More information on this latest fad in public education comes from: Canadian Teachers’ Associations and the Inclusive Movement for Students with Special Neds

“This study shows that when inclusive schooling for students with special needs appeared on the education reform horizon in the mid-1980s, Canadian teachers’ associations were wary and unconvinced.

“In general, they viewed the concepts and implementation as replete with unsustainable assumptions and prescriptions – an imposed government initiative that severely compromised the working conditions of their members. They undertook penetrating, comprehensive, and extensive data collection that examined the impact of inclusive schooling and provided feedback on the conditions of learning and teaching.

“Common views criticized governments for not offering systematic support for schools as they attempted to implement inclusive policies and chided that the process was often effected without systematic modification to a school‘s organization, due regard to teachers‘ instructional expertise, or any guarantee of continuing resource provision.”

Works Cited

Melendez, Lyanne. “Special Ed Students Could Bankrupt Districts.” abc7news.com. 12 Nov. 2010. Web. 11 April 2015.

Shah, Nirvi. “Do Parents of Children With Autism File More Lawsuits?” edweek.org. 21 Nov. 2011. Web. 11 April 2015.

Worth, Robert. “The Scandal of Special-Ed.” washingtonmonthly.com. June 1999. Web. 11 April 2015.

_______________________

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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