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Category Archives: Journalism

The Private-Sector, Jealousy-Misery Media Factor – Part 1/5

During my full-time university days on the GI Bill [1968 – 1973] before I graduated with a BA in journalism, I learned how easy it was for the media to make mistakes while practicing what is known as Yellow Journalism to boost profits.

And Yellow journalism [based upon sensationalism and crude exaggeration] is what Associated Press [AP] did when it ran Public retirement ages come under greater scrutiny by Don Thompson on December 14, 2011.

For example, how would you feel if you read, “Patrick Godwin spends his retirement days running a horse farm east of Sacramento, Calif., with his daughter? His departure from the workaday world [he worked thirty-six years in public education and was the superintendent of one of California’s 1,600 school districts] is likely to be long and relatively free of financial concerns, after he retired last July at age 59 with a pension paying $174,308 a year for the rest of his life.”

That previous quote was in the second paragraph of Thompson’s AP news piece and it is extremely misleading because of what it doesn’t say.

How many in public education do you think will earn that kind of money in retirement?

What AP doesn’t tell us is that in 2010 the average member-only benefit for retired public school educators in California was $4,256 a month before taxes [less than a third of what Godwin earns in retirement] and that only 16% of educators that retired in 2010 worked as long as Patrick Godwin did.  The median years of service was 26.6.

For example, if you were one of the educators that retired after 26.6 years of public service [the median] and was only 55 years old [the earliest you may retire and collect], using the CalSTRS retirement calculator, that person would earn about $2,130 a month before taxes—much less than the $14,525.66 that Godwin earns each month.

I calculated once that if a public school teacher in California taught for 42 years or more, his annual retirement income would equal what he earned the last year he worked.  In public education, less than 4% retire in the 100% category.

In fact, 9% retired in 2010 with 10-15 years of service in public education, 11% with 14-20 years, 15% with 20-25 years, 12% with 25-30 years, 23% with 30-35 years, and 16% with 35-40 years. Source: CalSTRS

The reason that AP’s Don Thompson ran with Patrick Godwin’s retirement income as his example is called sensationalism designed to cause an emotional response so people will talk about it. Word of mouth attracts readers and an audience.

In addition, Godwin was a school district superintendent at the top of the public education pay scale, which represents about 0.2% of the total.  That means 99.8% of public educators in California do not earn as much as Godwin did while working as a school district superintendent.

The result is that many readers may believe that most public educators in California will retire with Patrick Godwin’s annual retirement income.  However, this is far from the truth since most will not come close, but Thompson’s piece doesn’t say that.

The reason AP’s Thompson distorted the facts so much is because of audience share, which determines how much a media source [TV, newspaper, talk show, magazine, Blog, etc] may charge to advertisers, and balancing the news and telling the truth often does not achieve this goal because profits are the foundation of the private sector media.

It’s a simple formula: if you don’t make a profit you go out of business and everyone working for you loses his or her job so almost everyone plays the same Yellow Journalism game, and then there is the politics of money.

To understand why Thompson wrote such a misleading news piece, it helps to understand the trend away from private-sector pensions that were once similar to current public sector-pensions and the answers are in the numbers.

Continued on December 16, 2011 in The Private-Sector, Jealousy-Misery Media Factor – Part 2

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Bookie’s Dream, Old Faithful and Chewing Gum – Part 2/4

I couldn’t stand teaching on a field of gooey, carpeted dirt. After a few weeks, the place started to look like fallout from a nuclear blast. I wanted Old Faithful back.

When I asked Old Faithful for a few cans of the spray that removed gum by freezing it, he told me he missed the free goodies.

As he handed me a half-dozen cans, he said, “Don’t let the spray touch your fingers. You’ll get frostbite. Try wearing protective gloves.”


Do you know how much gum 200 students can leave stuck in a classroom carpet?

Great! I earned combat pay in Vietnam for being shot at. I wondered if I should put in a request for hazardous-duty pay.

For the next few weeks, I crawled around scraping gum off the carpet. I also bought a vacuum and used it daily.

I now had two jobs—teacher and custodian while Bookie’s Dream was paid to sleep and place bets.

Some readers might wonder why I let the kids chew gum. Easy answer—I didn’t have x-ray vision and most kids make sure they weren’t chewing when I was looking. Lucky for them too.

If I had superman’s talents, I would have sizzled a few along with Bookie’s Dream.

Discover What is San Bernardino Saying about Vandalism?

Continued in Bookie’s Dream, Old Faithful and Chewing Gum – Part 3 or return to Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

To subscribe to “Crazy Normal”, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.

 

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Bookie’s Dream, Old Faithful and Chewing Gum – Part 1/4

Custodians are guys that clean classrooms and schools. They come in two models—those that do a great job and those that check in then as soon as the boss is gone, read a book, sleep, or call a bookie to place bets on long shots at the track.

Lucky for teachers, the second model is in the minority and should be recalled. Over the years, I had both.

When I became the high school journalism advisor in the early 90s and started working fourteen hour days, my night custodian, Old Faithful (although I was older), did a great job. As a reward, the student editors often left him food: candy, cookies, cake and pizza slices.

Old Faithful used to say we were making him fat and his girlfriend didn’t like that.


How they keep schools clean in Japan.

Then Old Faithful was replaced by Bookie’s Dream, who only emptied the classroom trashcan and the floor slowly grew a crop of dirt. The carpet was brown, so Bookie’s Dream thought it wouldn’t be noticed.

However, the chewing gum ratted him out.

Even though the school district had a rule  against chewing gum, that didn’t stop the students from chewing it. Discover one example of the cost of graffiti.

Continued in Bookie’s Dream, Old Faithful and Chewing Gum – Part 2

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

To subscribe to “Crazy Normal”, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.

 

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A Square Peg in a Round Hole

I am the square peg that fit in a round hole. I’m the last guy anyone would expect to teach poetry, grammar, writing and literature.

In fact, I did not enjoy kindergarten through twelfth grade. In grade school, I was the puny guy bullies lined up to terrorize. In high school, I was six-foot four and weighed one-hundred-and-twenty-five pounds. If I turned sideways, I disappeared—a good way to hide.

In high school, I read an average of two paperbacks a day. During lectures, I sat in the back dressed in black wearing shades reading Andre Norton or Isaac Asimov or Ray Bradbury. I read a series of books about the Civil War while my history teacher talked about the Revolutionary War.  When other kids played baseball, football or basketball, I was reading about Alexander the Great or Genghis Khan.

When I graduated, my GPA had a decimal in front of it. After high school, I joined the Marine Corps.

Then LBJ lied about the Tonkin Gulf incident and became George W. Bush’s role model for the future invasion of Iraq. What irony, a Democrat teaching a Republican how to use false evidence to start a war. That might be the only time a Republican learned anything from a Democrat.

I came back from Vietnam with a dose of Post Traumatic Stress and almost drowned in booze. When I was honorably discharged from the Marines in 1968, I had no idea what was causing me to wake up sweaty seeing Vietcong in the room.

I slept with an eight-inch blade.

In Vietnam, a sniper came within an inch of killing me. The round caressed an ear, and I thought, “God, get me home alive in one piece, and I will go to college like my parents wanted.”

In 1973, I graduated with honors with a BA in journalism from FSU. In 1975, at thirty, I earned a teaching credential at Cal Poly Pomona.  The MFA arrived later.

From 1975 to 2005, I taught English, reading and journalism in the public schools, and I didn’t torture or shoot anyone.

Discover why Substitute Teaching is not a “Tea Party”

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Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition].

His latest novel is 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 hate and kill Americans.

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