RSS

Category Archives: government

The Truth Behind “Waiting for Superman” and the myth of Teacher Tenure

FIRST:

Watch the trailer for the longer documentary that sets the record straight. Then if you want to learn more, please watch the full length version (scroll down to find it).

 

SECOND:

Then there’s “Fact-checking Waiting for Superman” that appeared at the Huffington Post.

Fact-checking Waiting for ‘Superman’: Documentary or Urban Myth?

“We simply cannot trust the corporate oligarchy currently making policies for our schools to create a fair evaluation system, including those who backed Waiting for ‘Superman‘, given their proclivity to misuse and distort data, as shown by the inaccurate figures cited in the film.”

“Rather than a documentary, perhaps the movie (Waiting for Superman) should be re-categorized, with an appropriate disclaimer, as an urban myth.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/leonie-haimson/factchecking-waiting-for-_b_802900.html

THIRD:

Full length version of “The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman”

 

FOURTH: Recently I had a debate with an individual, an acquaintance, who believed the schools were broken and the only way to fix them was to take away all teacher legal, due process rights so any teacher could be fired without due process. That way, the schools would be able to remove so-called incompetent teachers without the burden of proof.

That’s why I suggest you also read: The Myth of Teacher Tenure published by The Washington Post

“School districts consistently win the vast majority of the court decisions concerning the involuntary cessation of a teacher’s employment based on incompetency. In a comprehensive canvassing of court decisions based on teacher evaluation for competency, I found that the defendant districts prevailed in more than a 3-to-1 ratio, and that there was no significant difference between the outcomes for nontenured as compared to tenured teachers.”

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/answer-sheet/teachers/the-myth-of-teacher-tenure.html

_______________________

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

His 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!”

 

Tags: , , ,

The Walking Dead and their Whipping Boys

Thanks to the fake Ed reformers—for instance, Bill Gates, President Obama and his Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (there are many others)—teachers have become the 21st century’s whipping boys.

Are you familiar with the definition of “Whipping Boy”?

Merriam-Webster.com says, “Whipping boy: someone or something that often is blamed for problems caused by other people.”

In one of the internet forums I belong to, the following pull quote was posted in a discussion.

“Enrolling students of color in ‘rigorous’ academic programs that hold them to high academic standards is one way that educators attempt to close achievement gaps and disrupt the self-perpetuating nature of low expectations.”  This quote was pulled from a fake Ed reformer website.

When I read it the first time, I smiled wryly and wanted to laugh but there were too many painful memories from the thirty years I worked as a classroom teacher.

I taught mostly students of color who lived in poverty and/or belonged to violent street gangs and no matter how rigorous the academic program, too many of these kids didn’t give a rat’s ass about what some distant autocrat or billionaire expected teachers to teach.

In fact, I was often criticized by parents and kids for demanding too much of my students. Some of these kids who refused to learn called me “mean” and one or two would ask what I’d do if “they  jumped me.” Another excuse often used by some kids who did little to nothing was that I was “boring”, and because I was “boring”, they didn’t have to do the work.

However, that didn’t stop a “few” in every class from earning A’s and B’s and doing the quality of work I demanded of them.

It doesn’t matter how fantastic a teacher teaches, there is no way to force a kid to bring their book to class, pay attention, read anything, or do the work. For these kids, the results of standardized tests will always be dismal.

Those who don’t work, well, don’t—LEARN.  And the ones who don’t learn (because they didn’t do the work not because the teacher didn’t teach) are the ones who get the lower standardized test scores that will get teachers fired and schools closed.

There was a term that some veteran teachers at the high school where I taught used to describe these students who refused to learn: “the walking dead”. One teacher who had been teaching for more than forty years used this term in a staff meeting and administration criticized him severely. Every teacher at the high school signed a petition in his defense because we all knew what he said was true.

In reality, teachers are the whipping boys for the parents who didn’t support them and the kids, “the walking dead”, who refuse to cooperate, read and study. Teachers are also the whipping boys for the fake Ed reformers.

The only thing that happens to the kids who wouldn’t cooperate is that they might not earn a high school diploma by age 17/18. About twenty percent don’t but as they mature and go out into the work world and learn the value of that high school degree, the number of adults in American who have earned a high school degree or its equivalent by age 24 reaches more than 90%—we won’t hear that from the fake Ed Reformers. There’s an old saying, “Better late than never,” but that isn’t stopping the fake Ed reformers from demanding that so-called failing teachers be fired and failing schools be closed.

The failure rate in my class was based on the work and not on tests. About 5% (on average) earned A’s, because they did most or all of the work, and 30% to 50% earned F’s for not working. Instead, some warmed a seat and a few caused a lot of trouble making it challenging for me to teach the 50% to 70% (it varied from class to class) who were willing to do some, most or all of the work.

I was one of those “whipping boys” for most of the thirty years I taught, but today I’m retired and angry, because I worked 60 to 100 hour weeks on average challenging my students to close that “achievement gap”.

Why is this happening? Why are teachers being used as whipping boys?

One answer may be: In a stock market prospectus uncovered by education author Jonathan Kozol, the Montgomery Securities group explains to Corporate America the lure of privatizing education. Kozol writes: “The education industry,” according to these analysts, “represents, in our opinion, the final frontier of a number of sectors once under public control” that have either voluntarily opened or, they note in pointed terms, have “been forced” to open up to private enterprise. Indeed, they write, “the education industry represents the largest market opportunity” since health-care services were privatized during the 1970’s…. From the point of view of private profit, one of these analysts enthusiastically observes, “The K–12 market is the Big Enchilada.”  (IS Review.org)

How much money are we talking about? The annual appropriation for the entire Federal Department of Education in 2012 was $64.1 Billion and the total from the fifty states for public elementary and secondary schools amounted to $638 billion in 2009-10.

Imagine the profits to be gained by a parasitic Corporate America. All they have to do is sweep aside more than four million public school teachers, their retirement plans, and their labor unions. And the hell with those brats who won’t behave and do what the corporate stooges tell them. Maybe they’ll send those kids, “the walking dead”, to prisons or concentration camps to get them out of the way.

_______________________

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

His 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!”

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

A successful history of—and the threat to—Public Education in the United States

I’m sure you’ve heard for years—even decades—that the public schools are failing; that teachers are lazy, incompetent and their labor unions are responsible for this so-called failure.

The solution: fire the teachers, close the public schools and get rid of the labor unions. Then turn education over to private sector corporations run by CEOs who only answer to their wealthiest stock holders. For instance, Bill Gates, the Koch brothers, the Walton family, Eli Broad, Michael Bloomberg, Rupert Murdock and a flock of Hedge Fund billionaires.

Let’s see what you think after we go back to 1779 and walk through 235 years of history to the present. It won’t take long—a few facts and a conclusion.

  • We’ll start with Thomas Jefferson in 1779, because he thought the US should have two education systems: one for the wealthy and one for everyone else.  As Jefferson said, we’ll “rake a few geniuses from the rubbish.”
  • The first public high school opened in Boston in 1820, and by the 1830s in the southern slave states laws were passed making it illegal to teach slaves to read.
  • In 1851, Massachusetts was the first state to pass a compulsory education law.


This video shows how the public schools started in the US, but the Prussian method of teaching kids shown in this video will change—watch 2nd video.

  • In 1870, 2% of the US population graduated from high school.
  • In 1896, the Southern States pass laws requiring racial segregation in the public schools. They can’t stop blacks and other minorities from attending public schools so they make sure these children attend separate schools and have less funding.
  • By 1900, the high school graduation rate reaches 6.4% and 6.2% of whites were illiterate compared to 44.5% of blacks and other minorities.
  • By 1918, all states have passed school attendance legislation, although until the 1930s, many were unsuccessful in enforcing their compulsory schooling laws. However, as the population increased, and as the demand for well-trained labor grew, the bureaucratic machinery for enforcement was created.
  • In 1938, for the first time, minimum ages of employment and hours of work for children are regulated by federal law.
  • By 1940, the graduation rate reaches 50.8% and only 2% of whites are illiterate compared to 11.5% of blacks and other minorities.
  • In 1945, at the end of World War 2, the G.I. Bill of Rights gives thousands of working class men college scholarships for the first time in U.S. history. In fact, I went to college on the Vietnam G.I. Bill.
  • By 1954, The Supreme Court unanimously agrees in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka that segregated schools are “inherently unequal” and must be abolished. Forty years later, segregation is back and getting worse.
  • In 1955, Milton Friedman, the father of neo-liberal economics, envisions a school voucher system to slowly privatize public schools. His followers have never given up.


During the 1970s and 80s, public education evolves from the regimented Prussian model to focus on critical thinking and problem solving skills. But this will be reversed when President G. W. Bush enacts his “No Child Left Behind Act” and then under President Obama’s “Race to the Top” the process will speed up.

  • In 1979, 0.4% of whites are illiterate compared to 1.6% of blacks and other minorities.
  • After Ronald Reagan is elected president in 1980, his secretary of education William Bennett began an all-out war on teachers, teachers unions and public school districts. He calls democratically elected school boards and school districts “the blob”. Reagan also vetoed the Fairness Doctrine that for thirty-eight years required the media to offer the public an honest balanced reporting of important issues, and soon after the Fairness Doctrine was abolished conservative talk radio exploded across the country using cherry-picked facts to present biased opinions without balanced reporting.
  • In 1990, the high school dropout rate is 12 percent.
  • In 2007, 80.7% of Asians graduate from high school; 76.6% of Whites; 55.5% Hispanic/Latino; 53.7% of Black and 50.7% of American Indians.
  • In 2011, neoliberal President Obama with support from Bill Gates, Rupert Murdock (and other billionaires that include the Walton family and the Koch brothers) implement Common Core standards that leads to testing in 2014 that is designed to fail teachers and schools so the public schools may be legally labeled failures, closed, all teachers fired, and then corporations will take over teaching our children—taking all power away from parents and the democratic process, and these new private schools supported by the taxpayer will not be accountable to the people.
  • By 2011, the high school drop our rate has fallen to 7%—an improvement of 5% since 1990.
  • In 2012, for the first time in US history, a third of the nation’s 25 to 29 year olds have earned at least a bachelor’s degree, and by age 24, 90% of Americans have earned a high school degree or its equivalent.
  • In the fall of 2013, a record 21.8 million students were expected to attend American colleges and universities, an increase of about 6.5 million since fall of 2000.

But even with all this success, in recent years, the Walton family has spent more than $1 billion toward efforts to “infuse competitive pressure into America’s K-12 education system.” Never mind that this money is mostly in states where no Walton family members live or have children in school. In addition, The Wall Street Journal reported that Bill Gates has spent $5 billion in his attempt to destroy public education with the same goal—the Walton’s and the other billionaires have—to fire public school teachers and close public schools.

In conclusion, the Common Core standards teach students what to think, not how to think. The Common Core is a return to the Prussian method of teaching children (see the 1st video) and there will be a double standard in education. There will be the underfunded public schools that end up teaching the most difficult, at risk children, as Jefferson said, “the rubbish”, and the private sector corporate schools will take students who are all on their way to college.

The billionaires listed in the first paragraph are pushing hard to achieve Jefferson’s vision.  For instance, Bill Gates has spent billions selling the lie of Common Core testing to Americans while other billionaires are pushing hard to close the transparent, democratically run public schools that are accountable to everyone and replace them with an elite, opaque private schools system that doesn’t answer to anyone but a CEO—all paid for by taxpayers.

Timeline for Crony Capitalist's War Against Public Education

Answer this question: Now that you know the brief but successful history of public education and the threats against it, tell me how the public schools are failing and prove it with more than an opinion.

_______________________

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

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

Crazy is Normal FREE Promotion July 2016

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!”

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

The influence the average teacher has on a child’s education

Friday night our daughter came home from Stanford for the start of the spring break, and we ended up talking about what’s going on in the war between the Fake Ed Reformers and public education.

During our talk, it was obvious that someone or more than one person at Stanford got to her with the fake reformers message that incompetent teachers are the reason kids are not succeeding in school.

After sleeping on our conversation, I sent this e-mail to her.

There have been reputable, unbiased long term studies that have examined the impact an individual teacher has on a child’s education.  These studies prove without a doubt that the fake reformers—and that list includes Bill Gates—is wrong to burden teachers with 100% of the responsibility and blame for the fake reformer manufactured crises.

Bill Gates and the other Fake Ed Reformers are ignoring these studies when they blame and punish all four million+ teachers with their Draconian theories and junk science.

For instance, in 1966, there was a groundbreaking government study—the Coleman Report—that identified that the schools were only responsible for ‘one-third’ of a child’s achievement in school. “Two-thirds” came from outside factors—mostly the home environment and parental influence. The Coleman Report is still—today—the definitive study that explains variable factors that influence a child’s education.

Added Note not in the e-mail: Some of the studies done as part of a re-analysis of Coleman’s data at Harvard reached similar conclusions, suggesting that the best way to improve academic achievement was neither to integrate students nor to offer compensatory programs but, rather, to raise overall family income. … This conclusion became more and more established over time, but policies at the state and federal level nonetheless continued to focus primarily on narrow school-based reforms. (NYSEDgov)

In addition, I wrote: A more recent study focused on how much of an influence teachers have on the results of standardized tests.  This study was called The Reliability and Validity of Inferences About Teachers Based on Student Test Scores by Edward H. Haertel of Stanford University. This paper was presented at The National Press Club, Washington D.C. on March 22, 2013.

Scroll down to page five, Figure 1: How Much Variance in Student Test Score Gains is Due to Variation Among Teachers?

Haertel says, “Teachers appear to be the most critical within-school influence on student learning, but out-of-school factors have been shown to matter even more. One recent study put the influence of out of school factors at 60% of the variance in student test scores, and the influence of teachers at around 9%.”

I went on: Let’s take that one pull quote of Haertel’s Stanford study and factor in the influence of a single teacher in a child’s education K – 12.  It is arguable that a child will have as many as 50 or more teachers in those thirteen years.  If we were to divide that 9% up among 50 teachers, that means—on average—each teacher’s influence on the results of a child’s education is 0.18%. 

If two of those teachers were incompetent, they are responsible for 0.36%.  However, the parents of the average child are responsible for two-thirds or 60% of the influence on a child’s education.

Yet, the Fake Ed Reformers—including Bill Gates—are putting all the responsibility of a child’s education on teachers and punishing every teacher and child with their Draconian methods of reforming education in the United states while ignoring all other factors.

If we were to compute the odds that Bill Gates and his billionaire allies are right and all of those studies for decades are wrong, the odds would be less than 1% that they are right and more than 99% that they are wrong. Are you willing to gamble with those odds?

And Bill Gates has spent about $2.3 Billion dollars promoting his agenda for the Common Core and the testing regime that will benefit Apple Computers and Pearson Publishing, for instance, with billions in profits. How is Bill Gates doing this: by spreading his money from the Gates Foundation far and wide to buy as much political support as possible—even corrupting the presidents of the teacher unions, Congress and the White House. One of the Hedge Fund billionaires even bribed PBS with $3.6 million to produce a report that was favorable to the fake reformers. When that news broke, PBS gave the money back to this Hedge Fund billionaire, but the report had already aired so it was too late to undo the damage to the public’s perception of this issue.

And the Fake Ed Reformers have been blaming teachers for so-called failures in public education (with no valid study to prove this crisis actually exists) for more than thirty years spending billions on PR and false ads. The Walton family started back in the 1970s with the voucher movement, and the Waltons have never stopped their bombardment of public education. They will do anything; say anything to achieve their agenda to privatize education in the United States taking it out of the hands of parents and the 13,600 democratically elected school boards that run the public schools.

To learn more, I suggest you read Diane Ravitch’s “Reign of Error“.  Another book to read by David C. Berliner, Gene V Glass, Associates is “50 Myths and Lies That Threaten America’s Public Schools: The Real Crisis in Education“.

_______________________

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

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

lloydlofthouse_crazyisnormal_web2_5

Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).

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

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

If we are going to change the schools, we are going to change America

Rise Above the Mark is a documentary that focuses on the damage being caused by the “corporate takeover” of America’s public schools.

The purpose of Rise Above the Mark, narrated by Peter Coyote, is to educate the general public about the “corporate takeover” of Indiana public schools and what parents, community members and educators can do to protect their local public schools. Legislators are calling the shots and putting public schools in an ever-shrinking box. WLCSC Board of School Trustees and Superintendent of Schools, Rocky Killion, want to secure resources and legislative relief necessary to achieve the school district’s mission of creating a world-class educational system for all children. The school district’s strategic plan will introduce a model of education that puts decision making back into the hands of local communities and public school teachers, rather than leaving it in the hands of legislators and ultimately lining the pockets of corporations. (http://riseabovethemark.com/about)

Who do you want in charge of how America changes its schools?

President Obama (D)

President G. W. Bush (R)

Bill Gates (billionaire)

Andrew Cuomo  (D)

Chris Christie (R)

The Koch brothers (billionaires)

The Walton Family (the wealthiest family on the planet)

Michael Bloomberg (billionaire)

Eli Broad (billionaire)

Rupert Murdock (billionaire)

Hedge Fund CEOs on Wall Street

The Republican Party

The Democratic Party

Or public school teachers (more than four million working for democratically elected school boards in 13,600 public school districts in America) teaching more than 50 million children. A third of public school teachers are registered republicans, half are registered Democrats and the rest are registered as independent voters. And if you’ve heard bad things about the two major teacher unions, consider this: AFT and NEA are both democratic organizations with elected representative and leaders at the local, state and national levels.  The millions who belong to these two labor unions are all college educated middle class Americans. You won’t find many politicians or billionaires teaching our children as a career.

Make a choice, because if you do nothing, someone else will choose for you.

_______________________

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

His 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!”

 

Tags: , , , ,

How the WORSHIP of Reaganism threatens democracy and America’s public schools

The Robber Barons of Public Education and the Wolves of Sesame Street are launching a major voucher battle in Congress through Lamar Alexander (R) of Tennessee; Luke Messier (R) of Indiana and Tim Scott (R) of South Carolina.  If these bills are successful in the US Congress, 63 percent of federal education funds would flow into private schools owned/supported by corporate CEO’s like the Walton Family, Bill Gates, Rupert Murdock and a few other billionaires.

The titles of the bills (wolves wearing sheep skin) disguise their real purposes: For instance, the Scholarship for Kids Act and the CHOICE Act.

Yes! Magazine, A UTNE Media Awards 2013 Winner, recently ran an expose, The Myth Behind Public School Failure, revealing the almost fifty-year plot that started with President Reagan’s policies that kicked off  a privately funded, public relations campaign that would be the envy of dictators like Hitler, Stalin and Mao Zedong—to demonize public education; scapegoat teachers and destroy the teachers unions (the one collective voice representing more than four million teachers that has the money to fight back)—the primary goal has nothing to do with teaching our kids. It has everything to do with turning over America’s democratically run public schools; our government and tax payer money to corporations whose only interest is profit and power.

Make no mistake, ever since President Reagan, there has been a systemic campaign in the United States funded by a handful of billionaires and corporations to privatize as much of our government as possible until what’s left is a puppet Congress and President—if successful, the Constitution and Bill of Rights would be worth less than used toilet paper.

Contact your local Congressmen and State Senators through USA.gov and demand that they vote no on these bills.  E-mail them, call them, or send snail-mail letters.

Do you really want someone like Bill Gates, Rupert Murdock, the Koch brothers, Hedge fund managers on Wall Street, or the Walton family in charge of your child’s education where parents have no say?

For more information on this war against democracy and America’s public schools, I suggest you also read: Reign of Error by Diane Ravitch and 50 Myths and Lies That Threaten America’s Public Schools: The Real Crises in Education by David C. Berliner, Gene V. Glass, Associates.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His latest novel is the award winning Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to kill Americans.

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

 

Tags: , , , ,

Democracy versus the Corporate Oligarchs

In a republic and/or democracy where eligible adults vote, the majority of voters decides who wins seats in Congress, and when elected—representing the people—Congress votes on bills/laws; the majority wins.

This is how it works in Congress. This is even how it works in the Electoral College during presidential elections—the presidential candidate who wins the majority of votes in the Electoral College becomes president. It doesn’t matter who wins the popular vote.

For instance, when President G. W. Bush was 1st elected, everyone didn’t vote for him. In the 2000 presidential election Bush had 271 electoral votes to Al Gore’s 266; more than 51 million Americans voted for Gore but their candidate lost and those voters had to live with President Bush for four years—the man they didn’t vote for.

Then in 2004, Bush won the White House a second time with 286 electoral votes to John Kerry’s 251; more than 59 million Americans voted for Kerry; they didn’t get the president they wanted.

That’s the way a democracy works, but that’s not what’s happening in the United States today when it comes to public school reform.

Teachers Union Exposed, an anti-teacher website, thinks it’s wrong that the two teacher unions should pay for lobbyists to represent the majority of their union members in Washington D.C.  Their reason: a minority of teachers don’t agree with political activity of the two unions.

Teachers Union Exposed claims “Unions don’t reflect members’ politics. … Over the last 20 years, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) has given more than $28 million in campaign contributions; the National Education Association (NEA) has given almost $31 million.”

Teachers Union Exposed (I wonder who is behind this Website) points out that looking at polling data from the 2003 National Education Study, only 51 percent of teachers who are also union members identify as Democrats. The rest identify as Republicans (25 percent) or Independents (24 percent)” … and the “Harris Interactive poll from 2003 showed that 83 percent of Republican teacher union members felt that the union was more liberal than they were.”

How many Republican teachers are there? The NEA has 3.2 million members and the AFT 1.5 million. Do the math and that means 970 thousand (20.6%) of the 4.7 million teachers felt the union was more liberal than they were.

Big deal! How many Americans felt that President G. W. Bush was more conservative than they were? The same question could be asked about President Obama: how many Americans feel that he isn’t as conservative as they are?

It’s an established fact that in a democracy elected leaders can’t please everyone. But what happens when someone who isn’t elected spends money to influence the government and elections?

I’m talking about corporate oligarchs. Throughout history, oligarchies have been tyrannical (relying on public obedience and/or oppression to exist) or relatively benign, and corporations are run by CEOs who are not democratically elected.

For instance, Diane Ravitch posted Researchers Reveal Funding Network for Washington Charter Law and exposed the undue influence of oligarchs in an election. Ravitch says, “a small number of very wealthy individuals and organizations bought a policy of their choosing. This subverts democracy. It subverts the principle of one man, one vote. These are not reformers. They are plutocrats who use their vast wealth to buy what they want.”

The Ravitch post is long but worth reading. To keep it short, the plutocrats Ravitch writes about spent more than $35 million on one campaign in Washington State to support a YES vote on proposition 1240 in 2012—legislation that would benefit private sector charter schools paid for by taxpayers. Voters in Washington state had defeated similar propositions three times in the past, but the oligarchs refused to give up.

For a comparison, the leaders of the democratically run teacher unions spent $59 million over twenty years representing the majority of their members—who elected them to run the unions—in Washington D.C. That breaks down to $2.95 million annually, but the oligarchs spent more than $35 million for one proposition in one state.

Therefore, why is it okay for these alleged tyrants to spend fortunes to influence and manipulate voters but if the democratically elected labor unions that represents millions of teachers do it with a lot less money, it’s wrong?

In fact, one of the oligarchs, Bill Gates, has spent about $200 million to turn public schools over to corporations—private sector schools the taxpayers support.

That means one day the13,600 public school districts in the United States with more than 90,000 school teaching over 50 million children run by democratically elected school boards might vanish and America’s children would be turned over to billionaire oligarchs who run/own corporations. To discover how much Gates and his billionaire oligarch partners stand to gain from privatization of the public schools, click Big data and schools: Education nirvana or privacy nightmare?

In her post Ravitch listed about 20 oligarchs who donated money directly—or through nonprofit foundations the oligarchs financially support—to insure proposition 1240 passed and it did by a slim margin of 50.69% to 49.31%.

Who do you really think represents the interests of most Americans and their children: 4.7 million teachers—willing to die to protect children—who elect their union leaders, or 20 (alleged tyrants) billionaire oligarchs—protected by private security?

Discover more on this topic @ New Yorkers Denounce Cuomo’s Stacked panel to “Review” Common Core

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His latest novel is the award winning Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to kill Americans.

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

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Arne Duncan, the US Secretary of Education, (seriously) needs Tutoring

On her Blog, Diane Ravitch reports: “According to Duncan, our kids are dumb. Their parents spoil them. The kids don’t work hard enough. Furthermore, our culture stinks: No one takes education seriously, except Duncan, of course.”

How does Arne Duncan—with President Obama’s obvious support—want to fix this problem?

The answer: close the public schools and turn America’s children over to CEOs and corporations cutting parents out of the k – 12 education process. For instance, the Walton family of Wal-Mart infamy. Do you really want Wal-Mart teaching your kids?

Ravitch says Duncan was a basketball player, and we know that Obama loves this game. We now know that Duncan and President Obama have several things in common: For instance, they are both from Chicago (the University of Chicago was the birthplace of neo-conservatism in the United States and both Duncan and President Obama attended this university); President Obama is 52 and Duncan is 49; they both enjoy basketball and want to destroy America’s democratically run public school districts—all 13,600 of them (a goal of the neoconservative movement in the US: See Capitalizing on Disaster: Taking and Breaking Public Schools by Tara M. Stamm)

“President Obama chose Arne Duncan, who, previous to becoming CEO of the Chicago Public Schools, had little experience in education. Together they have promoted policies that are the antithesis of his campaign promises. Rather than supporting teachers as professionals, he has attacked teachers as the central problem, and along with Duncan, applauded the mass firing of teachers in Falls River, Rhode Island.” (Zezima, 2010, Buffalo State.edu, digital commons)

Arne Duncan should learn a few facts, and I volunteer to be his teacher. Send him to my house, and I will tutor him as only a former U.S. Marine can; I have a multiple-subject life credential and successfully taught in the public schools 1975 – 2005.

If Mr. Duncan accepts my offer, I won’t let him go home until he proves that he’s learned what I’ll teach him.

For instance, he will learn that the public schools have done and are still doing their job, and I will do this by mostly focusing on American adults 18 and over.

After all, more than 92% of Americans attend or attended public schools.

The U.S. Census reported that in 2010 there were 308,746,538 Americans and 234,565,071 were 18 and over. Eighteen is the legal age of an adult. For the rest of this post, I’ll use 234.6 million to represent all adults in the U.S.

Reading Worldwide.com says, “62% of all adults (145.452 million) in the United States own a public library ticket, no matter if they use it for borrowing poems, cookery books, or DVDs, consult legal references or use the public computer for filing online job applications. This figure was issued by the American Library Association (ALA) located in Chicago.”

Bookweb.org reported that approximately 62 million Americans are avid readers (age 18 and over). That’s 26% of adults.

In 2003, 29% of adults read at the basic prose level (68 million); 44% at an Intermediate prose level (103.2 million) and 13% at the proficient level (30.5 million).

Only 14% of American adults read below basic (32.8 million). If those numbers are similar to 2013, that means those adults are functionally illiterate, leaving 201.8 million adults reading at basic or higher.

If you think—like Arne Duncan and President Obama—that the majority of parents and public schools in the United States aren’t doing what they’re supposed to be doing (parenting and teaching), here are a few mind blowing facts:

There are more than 80,000 book publishers in the United States that generate revenues of $23.7 to $28.5 billion, and in 2001, for instance, consumers purchased 1.6 billion books—this does not count used book sales. In 2004, Americans bought 150 million old books. In addition, 90% of the 15,000 public libraries in the US spend more than $444 million on books annually (parapublishing.com).

In fact, 80% of Americans 16 and older say they read at least for pleasure; … [only] a fifth of Americans (18%) said they had not read a book in the past year (pew internet.org—the general reading habits of Americans).

Paid newspaper circulation for 1,387 newspapers in 2010 was about 43 – 45 million; (State of the Media.org); in 2012, there were 7,390 print magazines with a combined paid and verified average circulation per issue of more than 312.4 million subscribers (statista.com).

This means that the majority of adults had supportive parents when they were children and as children they learned what the public school teachers taught them.

Regardless of the parenting methods used, it’s obvious that a majority of American parents are doing a much better job of parenting than Mr. Duncan and President Obama think. But how do we discover who the parents and children are who are not succeeding and the reasons.

In a nationwide study of American kindergarten children, 36% of parents in the lowest-income quintile read to their children on a daily basis, compared with 62% of parents from the highest-income quintile (Coley, 2002).

Children from low-SES environments acquire language skills more slowly, exhibit delayed letter recognition and phonological awareness, and are at risk for reading difficulties (Aikens & Barbarin, 2008).

Students from low-SES schools entered high school 3.3 grade levels behind students from higher SES schools. In addition, students from the low-SES groups learned less over 4 years than children from higher SES groups, graduating 4.3 grade levels behind those of higher SES groups (Palardy, 2008).

In 2007, the high school dropout rate among persons 16- 24 years old was highest in low-income families (16.7%) as compared to high-income families (3.2%) [National Center for Education Statistics, 2008].

Children from lower SES households are about twice as likely as those from high-SES households to display learning-related behavior problems. A mother’s SES was also related to her child’s inattention, disinterest, and lack of cooperation in school (Morgan et al., 2009).

“Many factors were found to predict at-risk status that were independent of the student’s sex, race-ethnicity, and socioeconomic background.

Controlling for basic demographic characteristics, the following groups of students were found to be more likely to have poor basic skills in the eighth grade and to have dropped out between the 8th and the 10th grades:

  • Students from single-parent families,
  • students who were overage for their peer group, or students who had frequently changed schools;
  • eighth-grade students whose parents were not actively involved in the student’s school, students whose parents never talked to them about school-related matters, or students whose parents held low expectations for their child’s future educational attainment;
  • students who repeated an earlier grade, students who had histories of poor grades in mathematics and English, or students who did little homework;
  • eighth-graders who often came to school unprepared for classwork, students who frequently cut class, or students who were otherwise frequently tardy or absent from school;
  • eighth-graders who teachers thought were passive, frequently disruptive, inattentive, or students who teachers thought were underachievers; and students from urban schools or from schools with large minority populations.” (nces.ed.gov)

There’s an old Chinese Proverb that says, “Teachers open the door, but you (the student) must enter by yourself.”

Mr. Duncan, if you and/or President Obama don’t understand what this ancient Chinese proverb means maybe what we told our daughter when she was seven will help: “It doesn’t matter if your teachers are incompetent, boring or incredible and amazing, it’s your responsibility to learn”, and our daughter earned straight A’s in the public schools from 3rd to 12th grade graduating with a 4.65 GPA. She will earn her bachelor’s degree from Stanford June 14, 2014.

When she needed help, public school teachers were always available and she often took advantage of that help.

Mr. Duncan and President Obama are you wolves pretending to be sheep—are you closet neoconservatives with a goal to destroy public education in the United States? If the answer is yes, then teaching you the facts in this post will be a waste of time because you already have your agenda.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His latest novel is the award winning Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to kill Americans.

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

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Comparing public school performance in the United States: Part 3 of 3

Now that you have a better idea of what’s going on—with facts instead of just opinions—you may want to know who some of the players are behind the privatization movement for public education in the United States.

For instance: the Koch brothers (combined net worth $72 Billion); the Walton Family (combined net worth $103 Billion), the Bill and Melinda Gates ($72 Billion); Bloomberg ($31 Billion); William Ackman, who made his wealth from hedge funds ($1.2 Billion), and Rupert Murdock ($13.4 billion) etc.

The money behind the critics of public education comes from the families and individuals listed in the previous paragraph in addition to other wealthy Americans, who have spent millions of their own money to influence voters and elected representatives regarding the privatization of public education at the state and national level.


The voices of teachers and parents must be louder than the money of billionaires!

On the other side of this issue, millions of teachers have democratically elected union leaders to speak for them, but the billionaires have done all they can—for more than thirty years—to make the teachers’ unions look bad—unions that are funded by monthly member dues.

Teachers Union Exposed.comevidently a critic of public education—reported that over the last 20 years, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) has given more than $28 million in campaign contributions [on average, $1.4 million annually]; the National Education Association (NEA) has given almost $31 million [$1.55 million annually].

But Teachers Union Exposed.com doesn’t bother to mention how much the billionaires are spending to privatize public education in the United States. To read about one billionaire’s impact on higher education, I suggest reading “The Gates Effect”.

Bill Gates has spent $5 billion in his attempt to reform public education in the US. The Wall Street Journal says, “The Gates Foundation met the same resistance that other sizeable philanthropic efforts have encountered while trying to transform dysfunctional urban school systems run by powerful labor unions and a top-down government monopoly provider.”

Do you know who owns the Wall Street Journal? Rupert Murdock (who, according to Mother Jones.com, wants to teach your kids (for a profit of course). This may explain why The Wall Street Journal claims that urban public schools are dysfunctional without any valid proof that this is true.

Do you really want Bill Gates—the man behind Microsoft and its endless software updates fixing what should have been fixed long ago—in charge of deciding how our kids learn, or having a multinational corporation [News Corp, the 2nd largest media corporation in the world] in charge of assessing kids’ reading skills?

 

Another example: Koch Brothers Exposed.com reported that the Koch brothers have donated more than $196 million to dozens of free-market and advocacy organizations. In 2008, the three main Koch family foundations contributed to 34 political and policy organizations, three of which they founded, and several of which they direct.

What about a few of the other billionaires?

In 2010 (not the last twenty years), the Walton family contributed almost $5 million and Bloomberg contributed almost $3 million (outspending the teacher unions by a large margin). (Seattle Post Globe.org)

In other words, what Teachers Union Exposed.com says is that if teacher unions spend some of the money that comes from millions of teachers to defend the interests of the teachers and the public schools—that are not failing—that’s wrong, but it’s okay for billionaires to attack the public schools; claim whatever they want and spend whatever they want.

Without the unions more than 3 million teachers would have no voice and we’d only hear what a few billionaires want us to believe—that our public schools are broken when the facts say this is far from the truth. There are other studies but every study, pro or con, has critics who point out flaws.

In fact, there is no definitive proof that the public schools are broken and there have been no studies to identify how many teachers are incompetent or burned out. What we have are critics of public education—mostly private-sector billionaires—who pay PR people to cherry pick facts while spending millions spreading lies and misinformation while promoting unproven programs and theories.

Return to Comparing public school performance in the United States: Part 2 or start with Part 1

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His latest novel is the award winning Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to kill Americans.

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

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Comparing public school performance in the United States: Part 2 of 3

If only 17% of the Charter schools performed better than the public schools, what does that mean?

It means that 901 Charter schools outperformed, on average, 98,800 public schools—but at the same time 1,967 Charter schools performed worse than the average public school.

And if 83% of the public schools performed the same or better than Charter schools that means 82,004 public schools did not fail in teaching America’s children.

To have a better understanding of what the studies revealed it may help to know the numbers for Elementary and Secondary Education in the United States.

In 2010–11, there were about 13,600 different public school districts with over 98,800 public schools—including about 5,300 charter schools. In fall 2013, about 50.1 million students attended public elementary and secondary schools. Of these, 35.3 million were in prekindergarten through 8th grade and 14.8 million were in grades 9 through 12.

Today, the public schools employ about 3.3 million full-time-equivalent (FTE) teachers.

In the private sector there are about 30,900 private schools offering kindergarten or higher grades, and an additional 5.2 million students attended these private schools, and a projected 400,000 FTE teachers worked in this education sector. (nces.ed.gov)

Note: The public school districts are nonprofit and are run by democratically elected school boards that are usually made up of concerned parents whose children attend or attended the schools in the same district. Common sense says that these parents, who are in charge, have a vested interest that the schools do the best job possible under the circumstances. Public schools must hire qualified and trained teachers.

A public charter school is a publicly funded school that is typically governed by a group or organization under a legislative contract or charter with the state or jurisdiction. The charter exempts the school from selected state or local rules and regulations. In return for funding and autonomy, the charter school must meet the accountability standards articulated in its charter.

Private sector schools are not run by democratically elected school boards. If these schools are religious, they are run by the religions that own them. If the schools are secular, they are run by the CEO of a corporation or business that is profit based and the CEO answers to no one but the richest stock holders and investors. The only way a CEO usually loses his job is to die, retire or lose money. If the private schools are operated as a non-profit, the manager is usually paid several-hundred-thousand dollars annually and the costs are higher than public schools. Private schools may hire anyone to teach.

You may be surprised to learn that the charter school concept originated with educators who started in the classroom as teachers. Starting in 1974, Albert Shanker (1928 – 1997) and then Ray Budde (1923 – 2005) had the idea for charter schools and helped launch this concept as a way to meet the needs of the most difficult to teach students. Charter schools were not meant to be an option for every student. The concept was an alternative designed to deal with children who were at risk and difficult to teach.

Albert Shanker, who started out as a substitute teacher; then went on to teach math in East Harlem for eight years, became the president of the United Federation of Teachers in 1964. Ray Budde started as a 7th grade English teacher. (Education Evolving.org)

Continued on January 4, 2014 in Comparing public school performance in the United States: Part 3 or return to Part 1

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His latest novel is the award winning Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to kill Americans.

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

 

Tags: , , , ,