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Category Archives: NCLB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continued in Part 2 on October 21, 2017

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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and disabled Vietnam Veteran, with a BA in journalism and an MFA in writing, who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

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The Facebook Sucker-Berg Phenomenon and the Deliberate Destruction of Community-Based Public Ed

I read “I quit Facebook and my life is better now” at Cathy O’Neil’s Mathbabe blog, and my thoughts became a wild river about Facebook and its founder who launched Facebook by cheating two brothers and hijacking their idea. To learn more about Suckerberg’s own con, read 6 People Mark Zuckerberg Burned On His Way To The Top.

After reading O’Neil’s Mathbabe post, I was glad I was never suckered into a Facebook obsession. Yes, I do have two Facebook pages: one for my books that’s part of my internet-author’s platform, and a personal Facebook page, but all I did was set up automatic feeds from my 4 blogs to Facebook and occasionally I go there to reply to a comment.  The reason I never fell into the Facebook swamp was because it was a confusing maze to me, and I didn’t want to go through the learning curve to discover how to use all those allegedly great bells-and-whistles that Facebook offers to help destroy your life in the real world.

But the stream of thoughts that flowed between my ears as I was reading O’Neil’s Mathbabe blog post had nothing to do with Facebook. It was all about Mark Suckerberg, Facebook’s founder, and how he was conned out of a $100 million dollars to save the children of Newark, New Jersey from those horrible failing public schools that really never were failing anyone as schools. If you want to learn more (put an emphases in LEARN — because there are far too many ignorant, easy-to-fool voting citizen in the U.S., or we wouldn’t be stuck with narcissistic, psycho, serial-lying, con-man, Donald Trump for our next president — I suggest reading What Happened with the $100 million that Newark schools got from Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg? Not Much from The Hechinger Report.

You see, there’s this myth that America’s traditional public schools are failing and to save our children we have to replace those schools with an unproven, genetically-modified crop of allegedly perfect, (hell sent) corporate charter schools that just happen to make profits for a host of greedy frauds and liars similar to Donald Trump and his current pick to run the Department of Education, Betsy DeVos.

If you think America’s community based, democratic, transparent, non-profit public schools are failing and the choice of a corporate charter school is the answer to save our children, then I will roar as only a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Vet can angrily shout, “It’s the poverty, stupid, you ignorant, biased, deplorable, easy-to-fool ass!”

The fact is America’s traditional public school are not failing, and an often deliberately ignored report out of Stanford University proved that years ago in Poor ranking on international test misleading about U.S. student performance, Stanford researcher finds.

The conclusion of this report from one of the top-ranked universities in the world said, “A comprehensive analyses of international tests by Stanford and the Economic Policy Institute shows that U.S. Schools aren’t being outpaced by international competition.”

After reading that report, it was obvious to me that the results of the international test that Stanford referred to was rigged to make America’s traditional public school look bad.

Stanford reported that once the flawed data was corrected, the U.S. went from 14th in reading to SIXTH and went from 25th in math to 13th.

In addition, Stanford discovered “There is an achievement gap between more and less disadvantaged students (living in poverty) in every country; surprisingly, the gap is smaller in the United States … and not much larger than the very highest scoring countries.”  In fact, “Achievement of U.S. disadvantaged students (living in poverty) has been rising rapidly over time, while achievement of disadvantaged students (living in poverty) in countries to which the United States is frequently unfavorably compared … had been falling rapidly.”

It’s time for most voting Americans to wake up and stop being suckered like Suckerberg was in Newark, New Jersey.  It’s obvious that before the top-down reforms forced on the United States by President G. W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act and continued with President Obama’s flawed and fraudulent Race To The Top bullshit and its Common Core test-and-punish crap, the United States had (and hopefully still has) one of the best public education systems in the world, and it was on track to only get better.

And who is con-man President-Elect Donald Trump putting in charge to finish the destruction of America’s top-rated public schools?  The answer: labor union hating, billionaire Betsy DeVos, who never attended a public school in her life, and she sends her own children to very expensive private schools that only the wealthy can afford.

If you want to educate yourself about this one-woman billionaire wrecking crew, learn, learn, learn from: Betsy DeVos and the Wrong Way to Fix Schools, 5 Things to Know about Billionaire Betsy DeVos, Trump Education Choice, and What’s the worst that could happen with Betsy DeVos as education secretary? Two scenarios.

Make no mistake about this. The United States is on the verge of the total destruction of one of the best public education systems in the world, and what is waiting to replace it is the autocratic, opaque-and-secretive, often fraudulent-and-inferior, private-sector corporate charter school industry that often bullies and terrorizes children to become assembly-line drones that score high on tests or face eviction back to the cold, brutal world of underfunded and deliberately abandoned, traditional public education.

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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 Godzilla of Education uses Censorship and Threats

Pearson Education is a British-owned education publishing and assessment service to schools and corporations, as well as directly to students. Pearson owns educational media brands including Addison–Wesley, Peachpit, Prentice Hall, eCollege, Longman, Poptropica, and others. Though Pearson generates approximately 60% of its sales in North America, they operate in more than 70 countries. The company was founded in the UK in 1844 by Samuel Pearson as a building and engineering concern. Pearson didn’t enter the education industry until 1996 when it bought the education division of Harper Collins from News Corp.

Pearson is now organized into three main business groupings: Pearson School, Pearson Higher Education and Pearson Professional (includes Financial Times Group and Pearson English). In 2011 Pearson generated total revenues of £5.9 billion (about 8.5 billion US Dollars), of which £4,390 million were from Pearson Education, £1,045 million from Penguin Group, and £427 million from Financial Times Group. In 2011, 60% of Pearson’s revenues were generated in North America, 23% in Europe, 11% in Asia, and 6% in the rest of the world.

Fortune Magazine published Everybody Hates Pearson. “Legions of parents, teachers, and others (in the United States) see the new Pearson in a very different light. Many of them, particularly in North America, where the company does some 60% of its sales, think of it as the Godzilla of education. In their view, Pearson is bent on controlling every element of the process, from teacher qualifications to curriculums to the tests used to evaluate students to the grading of the tests to, increasingly, owning and operating its own learning institutions.”

“In the U.S., testing is the most searingly divisive issue. The business of assessing students through high school has grown 57% in just the past three years, to $2.5 billion, according to the Software & Information Industry Association. Some believe ‘high-stakes testing’ is the best way to create accountability; others think it measures little and incentivizes the wrong things.”

“Today analysts think Pearson controls some 60% of the North American testing market.”

Recently Pearson used its financial power to censor American activists protesting over testing with poorly designed for-profit tests from autocratic private sector corporations that can be used to close public schools, fire teachers, block students from graduating from high school and teachers from becoming teachers. Imagine spending four to six years in college learning to become a public school teacher, and then a for-profit test from Pearson, that many cannot pass even after several expensive attempts, keeps them from becoming a teacher.

Leonie Haimson says, “My tweet and many others linking to the piece (The PARCC Test: Exposed [excerpts deleted under legal threat from PARCC]) were deleted after PARCC complained to Twitter of copyright infringement. Diane Ravitch wrote a blog post about this last night that she insists was somehow deleted.”

Outrage on the Page said, “There are layers of not-so-subtle issues that need to be aired as a result of national and state testing policies that are dominating children’s lives in America. As any well prepared educator knows, curriculum planning and teaching requires knowing how you will assess your students and planning backwards from that knowledge. If teachers are unable to examine and discuss the summative assessment for their students, how can they plan their instruction?” … “right out of the gate, 4th graders are being asked to read and respond to texts that are two grade levels above the recommended benchmark. After they struggle through difficult texts with advanced vocabulary and nuanced sentence structures, they then have to answer multiple choice questions that are, by design, intended to distract students with answers that appear to be correct except for some technicality.”

Using U.S. copyright laws, it is obvious that Pearson is censoring anyone who attempts to reveal the quality and validity of these profitable tests that the Economic Policy Institute reports, “A review of the technical evidence leads us to conclude that, although standardized test scores of students are one piece of information for school leaders to use to make judgments about teacher effectiveness, such scores should be only a part of an overall comprehensive evaluation. … Based on the evidence, we consider this unwise. Any sound evaluation will necessarily involve a balancing of many factors that provide a more accurate view of what teachers in fact do in the classroom and how that contributes to student learning. … there is broad agreement among statisticians, psychometricians, and economists that student test scores alone are not sufficiently reliable and valid indicators of teacher effectiveness to be used in high-stakes personnel decisions, even when the most sophisticated statistical applications such as value-added modeling are employed.”

Front Line (PBS) reported that “Pearson is the leading scorer of standardized tests. …  The National Board on Educational Testing and Public Policy at Boston College compiled data from The Bowker Annual, a compendium of the dollar-volume in test sales each year, and reported that while test sales in 1955 were $7 million (adjusted to 1998 dollars), that figure was $263 million in 1997, an increase of more than 3,000 percent. Today, press reports put the value of the testing market anywhere from $400 million to $700 million.” NCS Measurement Service’s (testing nearly 40 million students annually, more than any other company in the U.S.) was acquired by Pearson in September 2000 for $2.5 billion. Pearson reported $629.5 million in sales in 2000 and 32% of that came from testing services.

I find it strange that President George W. Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act into law on January 8, 2002 leading to huge profits for Pearson and other for-profit corporations that publish for-profit high stakes tests. If you want to learn how much Pearson spends annually in lobbying for its corporate agenda, click OpenSecrets.org. In 2001, Pearson didn’t spend any money on lobbying. In 2002, Pearson spent $400,000, $540,000 for 2003, $336,000 in 2004, $136,000 in 2005, $70,000 in 2006, $181,250 in 2007, $710,000 in 2008, $842,072 for 2009, one million dollars in 2010, the year the Common Core high stakes tests came out, $1,040,000 in 2011, $1,020,000 in 2012, $850,000 in 2013, $500,000 in 2014, and $400,000 in 2015.

In January 2015, the CEO of Pearson, John Fallon (should be Felon instead of Fallon) said, ““It doesn’t matter to us whether our customers are hundreds of thousands of individual students and their parents in China, or thousands of school districts in America,” says Fallon. “What we’re trying to do is the same thing—to help improve learning outcomes.”

But collaboration and final decision making must including all stakeholders—teachers, students and parents—because it is the best way to improve learning outcomes. Knowing this, please help explain why UK’s Pearson is so obsessed with all the secrecy, and why use copyright laws to censor critics?

As some of you may know, Celia Oyler of TC posted an anonymous teacher’s critique of the 4th grade PARCC exam a few days ago that identified a few texts and the questions asked.  Yesterday Celia received a threatening email from PARCC and removed the name of the text sources & the wording of the questions. She is now looking into challenging PARCC’s position legally.

The PARCC Test: Exposed

The author of this blog posting is a public school teacher who will remain anonymous.

I will not reveal my district or my role due to the intense legal ramifications for exercising my Constitutional First Amendment rights in a public forum. I was compelled to sign a security form that stated I would not be “Revealing or discussing passages or test items with anyone, including students and school staff, through verbal exchange, email, social media, or any other form of communication” as this would be considered a “Security Breach.” In response to this demand, I can only ask—whom are we protecting?

There are layers of not-so-subtle issues that need to be aired as a result of national and state testing policies that are dominating children’s lives in America. As any well prepared educator knows, curriculum planning and teaching requires knowing how you will assess your students and planning backwards from that knowledge. If teachers are unable to examine and discuss the summative assessment for their students, how can they plan their instruction? Yet, that very question assumes that this test is something worth planning for. The fact is that schools that try to plan their curriculum exclusively to prepare students for this test are ignoring the body of educational research that tells us how children learn, and how to create developmentally appropriate activities to engage students in the act of learning. This article will attempt to provide evidence for these claims as a snapshot of what is happening as a result of current policies.

The PARCC test is developmentally inappropriate

In order to discuss the claim that the PARCC test is “developmentally inappropriate,” examine three of the most recent PARCC 4th grade items.

A book leveling system, designed by Fountas and Pinnell, was made “more rigorous” in order to match the Common Core State Standards. These newly updated benchmarks state that 4th Graders should be reading at a Level S by the end of the year in order to be considered reading “on grade level.” [Celia’s note: I do not endorse leveling books or readers, nor do I think it appropriate that all 9 year olds should be reading a Level S book to be thought of as making good progress.]

The PARCC, which is supposedly a test of the Common Core State Standards, appears to have taken liberties with regard to grade level texts. For example, on the Spring 2016 PARCC for 4th Graders, students were expected to read an excerpt from Shark Life: True Stories about Sharks and the Sea by Peter Benchley and Karen Wojtyla. According to Scholastic, this text is at an interest level for Grades 9-12, and at a 7th Grade reading level. The Lexile measure is 1020L, which is most often found in texts that are written for middle school, and according to Scholastic’s own conversion chart would be equivalent to a 6th grade benchmark around W, X, or Y (using the same Fountas and Pinnell scale).

Even by the reform movement’s own standards, according to MetaMetrics’ reference material on Text Complexity Grade Bands and Lexile Bands, the newly CCSS aligned “Stretch” lexile level of 1020 falls in the 6-8 grade range. This begs the question, what is the purpose of standardizing text complexity bands if testing companies do not have to adhere to them? Also, what is the purpose of a standardized test that surpasses agreed-upon lexile levels?

So, right out of the gate, 4th graders are being asked to read and respond to texts that are two grade levels above the recommended benchmark. After they struggle through difficult texts with advanced vocabulary and nuanced sentence structures, they then have to answer multiple choice questions that are, by design, intended to distract students with answers that appear to be correct except for some technicality.

Finally, students must synthesize two or three of these advanced texts and compose an original essay. The ELA portion of the PARCC takes three days, and each day includes a new essay prompt based on multiple texts. These are the prompts from the 2016 Spring PARCC exam for 4th Graders along with my analysis of why these prompts do not reflect the true intention of the Common Core State Standards.

ELA 4th Grade Prompt #1

Refer to the passage from “Emergency on the Mountain” and the poem “Mountains.” Then answer question 7.

Think about how the structural elements in the passage from “Emergency on the Mountain” differ from the structural elements in the poem “Mountains.”

Write an essay that explains the differences in the structural elements between the passage and the poem. Be sure to include specific examples from both texts to support your response.

The above prompt probably attempts to assess the Common Core standard RL.4.5: “Explain major differences between poems, drama, and prose, and refer to the structural elements of poems (e.g., verse, rhythm, meter) and drama (e.g., casts of characters, settings, descriptions, dialogue, stage directions) when writing or speaking about a text.”

However, the Common Core State Standards for writing do not require students to write essays comparing the text structures of different genres. The Grade 4 CCSS for writing about reading demand that students write about characters, settings, and events in literature, or that they write about how authors support their points in informational texts. Nowhere in the standards are students asked to write comparative essays on the structures of writing. The reading standards ask students to “explain” structural elements, but not in writing. There is a huge developmental leap between explaining something and writing an analytical essay about it. [Celia’s note: The entire enterprise of analyzing text structures in elementary school – a 1940’s and 50’s college English approach called “New Criticism” — is ridiculous for 9 year olds anyway.]

The PARCC does not assess what it attempts to assess

ELA 4th Grade Prompt #2

Refer to the passages from “Great White Shark” and Face the Sharks. Then answer question 20.

Using details and images in the passages from “Great White Sharks” and Face to Face with Sharks, write an essay that describes the characteristics of white sharks.

It would be a stretch to say that this question assesses CCSS W.4.9.B: “Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text.”

In fact, this prompt assesses a student’s ability to research a topic across sources and write a research-based essay that synthesizes facts from both articles. Even CCSS W.4.7, “Conduct research projects that build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic,” does not demand that students compile information from different sources to create an essay. The closest the standards come to demanding this sort of work is in the reading standards; CCSS RI.4.9 says: “Integrate information from two texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.” Fine. One could argue that this PARCC prompt assesses CCSS RI.4.9.

However, the fact that the texts presented for students to “use” for the essay are at a middle school reading level automatically disqualifies this essay prompt from being able to assess what it attempts to assess. (It is like trying to assess children’s math computational skills by embedding them in a word problem with words that the child cannot read.)

ELA 4th Grade Prompt #3

In “Sadako’s Secret,” the narrator reveals Sadako’s thoughts and feelings while telling the story. The narrator also includes dialogue and actions between Sadako and her family. Using these details, write a story about what happens next year when Sadako tries out for the junior high track team. Include not only Sadako’s actions and feelings but also her family’s reaction and feelings in your story.

Nowhere, and I mean nowhere in the Common Core State Standards is there a demand for students to read a narrative and then use the details from that text to write a new story based on a prompt. That is a new pseudo-genre called “Prose Constructed Response” by the PARCC creators, and it is 100% not aligned to the CCSS. Not to mention, why are 4th Graders being asked to write about trying out for the junior high track team? This demand defies their experiences and asks them to imagine a scenario that is well beyond their scope.

Clearly, these questions are poorly designed assessments of 4th graders CCSS learning. (We are setting aside the disagreements we have with those standards in the first place, and simply assessing the PARCC on its utility for measuring what it was intended to measure.)

Rather than debate the CCSS we instead want to expose the tragic reality of the countless public schools organizing their entire instruction around trying to raise students’ PARCC scores.

Without naming any names, I can tell you that schools are disregarding research-proven methods of literacy learning. The “wisdom” coming “down the pipeline” is that children need to be exposed to more complex texts because that is what PARCC demands of them. So children are being denied independent and guided reading time with texts of high interest and potential access and instead are handed texts that are much too hard (frustration level) all year long without ever being given the chance to grow as readers in their Zone of Proximal Development (pardon my reference to those pesky educational researchers like Vygotsky.)

So not only are students who are reading “on grade level” going to be frustrated by these so-called “complex texts,” but newcomers to the U.S. and English Language Learners and any student reading below the proficiency line will never learn the foundational skills they need, will never know the enjoyment of reading and writing from intrinsic motivation, and will, sadly, be denied the opportunity to become a critical reader and writer of media. Critical literacies are foundational for active participation in a democracy.

We can look carefully at one sample to examine the health of the entire system– such as testing a drop of water to assess the ocean. So too, we can use these three PARCC prompts to glimpse how the high stakes accountability system has deformed teaching and warped learning in many public schools across the United States.

In this sample, the system is pathetically failing a generation of children who deserve better, and when they are adults, they may not have the skills needed to engage as citizens and problem-solvers. So it is up to us, those of us who remember a better way and can imagine a way out, to make the case for stopping standardized tests like PARCC from corrupting the educational opportunities of so many of our children.

Conclusion: secrecy, lies and opaqueness have been part of building the Testocracy Machine since the beginning in 2002, and Pearson has been involved every step of the way along with Bill Gates and other billionaire oligarchs that want control over the education of our children while theirs attend exclusive, expensive private schools. Watch the following video to discover more of the details about the secrecy behind this movement to profit off public dollars and mold the thinking of our children.

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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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Corporate driven public education reform is destroying OUR children’s health and future

I was reading the latest issue of National Geographic Magazine when I saw the following paragraph and realized that the test obsessed corporate public education reform movement is threatening the health and future of most of America’s children.

Daniel Stone wrote, “Hard on the Eyes: Rates of myopia have increased around the world, particularly in Asia. In China about 90 percent of 17-to-19-year-old are nearsighted, up from an estimated 10 percent in the 1950s. Myopia is pandemic in the U.S. too, reports the National Eye Institute. Once thought to affect bookish children, nearsightedness is no believed to ‘arise form a lifestyle of not just too much study but of too little time outdoors,’ says researcher Ian Morgan. Glasses can clear up vision, but exposure to sunlight seems to be the best defense. A 2013 study in Taiwan found that spending school recess outside can prevent myopia’s onset.” – National Geographic Magazine, February 2016

There’s a lot more information out there that supports traditionally known methods of educating our children and little or no reputable support for the test obsessed rank-and-punish corporate system that billionaire oligarchs like Bill Gates funds with hundreds of millions and even billions of dollars to force autocratic, opaque, for profit corporate education methods on us and our children.

For instance, “Too much testing is killing recess” –  Miami Herald.com

5 Health Benefits of Playing Outside –  Care.com

  1. Improves Vision
  2. Promotes Social Skills
  3. Increases Attention Span
  4. Reduces Stress
  5. Provides Vitamin D

And there is more, a lot more:

“We are experiencing a cultural shift toward increased academics at the earliest possible age,” says Rhonda Clements, Ed.D., a professor of education at Hofstra University and president of the American Association for the Child’s Right to Play. The organization, part of the International Play Association, formed in 1973 with the mission of “protecting, preserving and promoting play as a fundamental right for all children.” Since then, it has become a leading advocate of preserving recess in schools.

Susan Ohanian was inspired to write the book What Happened to Recess and Why Are Our Children Struggling in Kindergarten? when she read a 1998 New York Times article detailing the fact that Atlanta was building a new school without a playground. Then-Superintendent of Atlanta Schools Benjamin O. Canada explained the policy this way: “We are intent on improving academic performance. You don’t do that by having kids hanging on the monkey bars.” – parenthood.com

“Reading for pleasure, which has declined among young people in recent decades, enhances thinking and engages the imagination in a way that visual media such as video games and television do not, Greenfield said.” – ucla.edu

“11 problems caused by the standardized testing obsession” –  washingtonpost.com

  1. The obsession with high-stakes standardized tests is stifling creativity and imagination in the classroom.
  2. Standardized tests are being used in high-stakes ways to evaluate and punish teachers.
  3. The obsession with standardized tests is promoting a culture of cheating in many schools.
  4. When standardized tests are the most important thing, the fostering of critical thinking in the classroom gets short shrift.
  5. Standardized tests mostly benefit companies making millions from them.

A Kindergartner’s Nightmare: Is this education? Is this what we want for our children and grandchildren? – seattleducation2010

“Today, more than a decade later, the law (that supports high stakes testing) is uniformly blamed for stripping curriculum opportunities, including art, music, physical education and more, and imposing a brutal testing regime that has forced educators to focus their time and energy on preparing for tests in a narrow range of subjects: namely, English/language arts and math. For students in low-income communities, the impact has been devastating. – neatoday.org

Positive Effects of Extra Curricular Activities on Students – dc.cod.edu

“Extracurricular activities are activities that students participate in that do not fall into the realm of normal curriculum of schools. They are found in all levels of our schools. There are many forms of extracurricular activities such as sports, clubs, governance, student newspaper, music, art, and drama. Extracurricular activities are totally voluntary so students that do not want to participate in them do not have to. Lunnenburg states in his article that “Extracurricular activities serve the same goals and functions as the required and elective courses in the curriculum. However, they provide experiences that are not included in formal courses of study. They allow students to apply the knowledge that they have learned in other classes and acquire concepts of democratic life.”(2010, 2) Extracurricular activities have many positive effects on education. The positive effects that extracurricular activities have on students are behavior, better grades, school completion, positive aspects to become successful adults, and a social aspect.”

Education Inc.: How Private Companies Profit from Public Schools – commondreams.org

“For statewide testing in Texas alone, the company (Pearson) holds a five-year contract worth nearly $500 million to create and administer exams.” … “The mingling of business and education blurs the line between learning and profit-making. Some education reformers advocating for increased reliance on testing also lobby for the large testing companies. It’s often difficult to tell if lawmakers stick with education policies because they’re effective, or because they’re attached to high-dollar contracts.

“The emphasis on testing opened the door to more for-profit companies. In addition to the big testing contracts, No Child Left Behind requires schools that fail to meet requirements three years in a row to offer free tutoring. Companies soon rushed in to fill the need. By 2008, according to a PBS documentary, tutoring for standardized tests amounted to a $4 billion industry. Charter schools can subcontract their entire operations to for-profit companies.”

In conclusion: if you have read this far, who do you think benefits from corporate driven public education reform—funded by a few billionaire oligarchs, like Bill Gates, the Walton family and the Koch brothers—our children or the corporations and names behind the systematic destruction of community based, democratic, non-profit, transparent public education?

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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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“Every child deserves a quality education and the opportunity to thrive.” – Congressman Mark DeSaulnier

This post is a copy of the letter I wrote to the Congressman.

Dear Congressman DeSaulnier:

One of your flyers arrived in our mailbox today.  The front said, “Every child deserved a quality education and the opportunity to thrive.” Your flyer than said, “Mark wants to hear from you.”

I opened the flier and read the five points you claim to fight for every day.

  • Make college more affordable
  • Improve Head Start programs
  • Create safe environments for children
  • Provide healthy meals for students
  • Protect the health and well-being of student athletes

Flyer from Congressman Mark DeSaulnier

While I agree with your five points, what wasn’t there is why I have decided to stop supporting most it not all Democratic Party candidates. The GOP lost me when Reagan was governor of California. The Democrats are losing me because of the Obama administration, and its support of the corporate education reform movement that declared war on the public schools back with the fraudulent and flawed A Nation at Risk report that came out of the Reagan White House in 1983. Have you ever read the Sandia Report of 1990? If not, you should.

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=389×7847271

The public schools are under attack by special interests: for instance, the Bill Gates billionaire cabal, the Koch brothers cabal (ALEC), the Walton family, Eli Broad, hedge fund billionaires, etc. Arne Duncan is the worst Secretary of Education in U.S. History.

Too many democrats support opaque, for profit (no matter how you look at it) often fraudulent and inferior corporate Charter schools literally stealing money from community based, democratic, transparent public education.  For instance, Eli Broad wants to spend almost a half billion dollars to take over half of the children in the Los Angeles Unified School District and put them in the hands of often corrupt and autocratic corporate education deformers.

Where is your support for the community based democratic public schools? I didn’t see that in your flyer.

I was a public school teacher for thirty years (1975-2005) in Southern California. During those years, I often worked 60 – 100 hour weeks and so did many of my fellow public school teachers.

I was born into a family living in poverty. As a child I had severe dyslexia and also had a life threatening health challenge. Out of high school, I joined the U.S. Marines and ended up fighting in Vietnam. In 1968, I went to college on the GI Bill and five years later graduated with a BA in journalism—the first in my family to go to college and graduate.

Today, I’m the author of three award winning novels and one award winning memoir. My wife is Anchee Min, the author of two memoirs and six novels. Her first memoir was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and won the Carl Sandburg Award. One of her novels was a finalist for the British Book Awards. Many of her books have been national bestsellers, and her work has been translated into more than 30 languages and has sold more than a million copies in English alone. When we were dating back in 1999, she sat in my classroom to watch me teach, and she knows the challenge teachers really face to get all the children to make an effort to learn.

Yes, I agree that every child deserves a quality education and the public schools have always offered that opportunity for students who arrive ready to learn. Teachers teach but what they teach must be learned by the students, and the parents/guardians must support both the teachers and the children for learning to take place. Public school teachers cannot do the learning for the children.

Most if not all of the opaque, for-profit and nonprofit corporate Charters schools are not offering a quality education for EVERY child. The evidence is overwhelming that these charters are cherry picking students and suspending many at-risk students that need the most help until those children leave and hopefully return to the public schools that are now challenged to offer adequate resources to educate these children because frauds and charlatans like KIPP, the Success Academes in New York and the New Orleans Corporate Recovery School District are legally being allowed to rob from the poor/middle class and give to the wealthy.

I suggest strongly that you match your actions in Congress to what your flyer says and fight to fully fund and supportthe community based democratic public schools and close the door to psychopaths like Eva Moskowitz and Michele Rhee. You should also start reading Diane Ravitch’s Blog and her books in addition to my award winning “Crazy is Normal” teacher’s memoir to discover what it means to be a teacher. No more NCLB. No more RTTT. No more Common Core high stakes testing that ranks teachers, fires them and then closes public schools.

In the next presidential election, I plan to vote for the Green Party candidate for president unless I hear from the Democratic Party candidate that they support the public schools and offer the country a written pledge that they will resign from the office of president if they go back on their word. It is obvious that Hillary Clinton is not that candidate, because she has close ties to Eli Broad, who is waging an all-out war to destroy community based, transparent, democratic public education.  If this means the GOP takes the White House and both Houses of Congress, well, I’m 70 and only have a few years left. I’d hate to die knowing that the democracy I fought for in Vietnam is now an oligarchy ruled over by the Walton family, Koch brothers, Eli Broad and the Bill Gates cabal.

If you believe in the Republic of the United States and its democracy, then fight for it in Congress and prove what you think with your actions and not your words. If you fear the wealth of the oligarchs and the power that wealth buys, then what you do in Congress will reveal that too.

Have you read the January 15, 2013 Stanford Report on U.S. student performance?  If you haven’t you should.

http://news.stanford.edu/news/2013/january/test-scores-ranking-011513.html

Sincerely,
Lloyd Lofthouse

PS: Our daughter graduated from Stanford in June 2014, and she attended California public schools k – 12.  I told her when she was in third grade that learning was her responsibly and not her teachers. Her teachers were responsible to teach, and if she didn’t learn, even from incompetent teachers, it was her fault and not the teachers. When she was in her second year at Stanford, I asked her how many of the almost 50 public school teachers she had k – 12 had been incompetent. She thought about it and eventually said TWO. The five public school districts she attended k – 12 did their job and she did hers. I think that anyone who blames public school teachers for children who don’t learn is fools and/or frauds.

If you honestly love the United States and what it is supposed to stand for, please share copies of this letter with the members of both Houses of Congress.

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HEY, LET’S BLAME IT ON THE TEACHERS 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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Discovering the Real U.S. Prison Pipeline

I understand that Arne Duncan, the worst Secretary of Education in U.S. history, is talking about the alleged school-to-prison pipeline on Sirius talk radio today (Sunday, October 11, 2015).

For decades there has been a myth that a school-to-prison pipeline exists in the United States, and that the public schools are responsible for the exploding prison population.

This is a lie supported by propaganda paid for by the for-profit, autocratic, often fraudulent and inferior corporate education reform movement.

The U.S. had compulsory public education in every state by 1917, but the Prison Pipeline wasn’t built until the Nixon (1969 – 1974) and then Reagan (1981 – 1989) administrations.

Image for Prison and Jail Population from 1920 to 2013

  • In 1920, the population of the U.S. was 106 million with about 100 thousand in prison and jail (0.09% of the population).
  • In 1940, the population had reached 132 million with about 250,000 in prison and jail (0.18%)
  • In 1960, the population was up to 180.7 million and the prison population ratio was lower than 1940 (0.13%)
  • In 1970, Republican President Nixon declared war on drugs.
  • In 1980, the populated was 226.5 million and the prison population had just passed 500 thousand (0.22%).
  • By 2000, the population had reached 282.2 million, and the prison population hit 2 million (0.7%).

What caused the growth of the U.S. prison population after 1983 has nothing to do with America’s public schools and everything to do with the fraudulent, corrupt, autocratic, for-profit corporate education reform movement that parallels the growth of the private-sector for-profit prison movement in the U.S. that spends millions annually to lobby government to increase the length of prison sentences and increase the number of crimes that leads citizens, who mostly live in poverty and are illiterate, to prison.

In addition, the The Washington Post reported how for-profit prisons have become the biggest lobby no one is talking about

Federal and state governments have a long history of contracting out specific services to private firms, including medical services, food preparation, vocational training, and inmate transportation. The 1980s, though, ushered in a new era of prison privatization. With a burgeoning prison population resulting from the War on Drugs (In June 1970, President Nixon, another Republican like Reagan, declared this war on drugs) and increased use of incarceration, prison overcrowding and rising costs became increasingly problematic for local, state, and federal governments.

In response to this expanding criminal justice system, private business interests saw an opportunity for expansion, and consequently, private-sector involvement in prisons moved from the simple contracting of services to contracting for the complete management and operation of entire prisons.

The modern private prison business first emerged and established itself publicly in 1984 when the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) was awarded a contract to take over a facility in Hamilton County, Tennessee. This marked the first time that any government in the country had contracted out the complete operation of a jail to a private operator. The following year, CCA gained further public attention when it offered to take over the entire state prison system of Tennessee for $200 million. The bid was ultimately defeated due to strong opposition from public employees and the skepticism of the state legislature. Despite that initial defeat, CCA since then has successfully expanded, as have other for-profit prison companies. – Private Prisons in the United States

The real title of this prison pipeline should be ALL of the following options:

  • The Arne Duncan to Prison Pipeline
  • The David Coleman to Prison Pipeline
  • The Pearson to Prison Pipeline
  • The Walton family to Prison Pipeline
  • The Bill Gates to Prison Pipeline
  • The Eli Broad to Prison Pipeline
  • The Koch brothers to Prison Pipeline
  • The President Reagan to Prison Pipeline
  • The A Nation at Risk to Prison Pipeline
  • The G. W. Bush to Prison Pipeline
  • The Bill Clinton to Prison Pipeline
  • The President Obama to Prison Pipeline
  • The for-profit, autocratic often fraudulent and inferior corporate education reform movement to Prison Pipeline.
  • The for-profit war to privatize the public sector to Prison Pipeline.

To read more about what the autocratic, for-profit corporate education reform movement has done to build this pipeline to prison, I suggest you read the ACLU’s What is the School-to-Prison Pipeline?

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HEY, LET’S 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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The Hostile Corporate Takeover of America’s Public Schools Opens a Pandora’s Box

Unless you live in a closet or cave without electricity and the internet, it’s no secret that the hostile for-profit corporate takeover of America’s democratic public schools has led to billions of tax dollars lost to white collar fraud and crime with a lot more to come. > Despite Big Problems Charters Attract Hedge Fund Support and Presidential Candidates Hungry for Dollars

One of those attempted hostile takeovers is happening in Los Angeles, I read about this at John Thompson: Dare Anyone Say No to Eli Broad on Diane Ravitch’s Blog.

Thompson wrote, “It (Broad) produces a multicolored map of clusters of low-performing schools (in the city of Los Angeles), while pretending that it doesn’t undermine their case. The graphic supposedly shows, ‘These areas are especially ripe for charter expansion.’”

The Broad report doesn’t mention the poverty in those same areas of low-performing schools, but, and this is a BIG but, there is more than just poverty in Los Angeles. With that poverty comes extremely dangerous street gangs, and Los Angeles is home to the largest population of street gangs in the United States.

It would be nice to compare the Broad map to two other maps—the Los Angeles Street Gang map and a second map—if I could find one—that reveals where the most poverty is in Los Angeles, because in 2012, 29.9% of the children in Los Angeles lived in poverty.
Child Poverty in California

In addition, Los Angeles is home to more street gangs than any city in the United States. Will Broad’s opaque, authoritarian, for-profit corporate Charter school scheme identify all the gang members and make sure none of them get in to his charters—I think this is unlikely?

I taught for thirty years in an area of Los Angeles County where the local street gangs pretty much ruled the streets around the schools—even the local police didn’t risk patrolling some of those streets at night.  In fact, I witnessed with my own eyes a drive by shooting from my classroom doorway in the street beside the high school where I taught as school was letting out.

Hardly a week went by without one of our students being gunned down due to rival street gang violence. For instance, one night while working late with the editors of the high school newspaper, a hard core teenage gang member was gunned down and murdered with a shotgun blast to his guts on campus at 7:00 p.m. right outside of that classroom where I was working late with the seven female student editors of the high school newspaper. The poverty rate in that community was and still is higher than 90%.

“Gang presence in U.S. schools is a formidable obstacle for educators, law enforcement, and other youth-service professionals. Street gangs are linked to crime in elementary, secondary, and high schools, and on select college campuses. Schools provide fertile grounds for recruitment and many public schools are rife with gang activity such as assaults, robberies, threats and intimidation, drug distribution, and weapons offenses. Gang presence on college campuses is a growing concern as more gang members are gravitating toward colleges to escape gang life, join college athletic programs, or to acquire advanced skill sets for their gang.”
> FBI’s 2013 National Gang Report

Approximately 1.4 million people were gang members as of 2011, and more than 33,000 gangs were active in the United States. Los Angeles has been nicknamed the Gang Capital of America, with an estimated 120,000 gang members as of 2007 (11.6% of the nation’s total). According to a May 2001 Drug Threat Assessment by the National Drug Intelligence Center, Los Angeles was home to 1,350 gangs.

But the Los Angeles police department only has 9,843 officers, who were outnumbered more than 12 to 1.

I wonder if Eli Broad plans to privatize the police force in Los Angeles too, so he can wage war against these gangs to clean up the streets and keep their members out of his corporate Charters. Imagine what that will cost the tax payers when the police work for an autocratic, opaque, for-profit corporation that doesn’t have to answer to the same rules and regulations that the public police must follow or else. And if Broad ends up buying the Los Angeles Times newspaper as he wants, he’d also control the media in Los Angeles so his corporate police crimes would probably not appear in his newspaper.

Street gangs are expanding in Los Angeles, and Eli Broad—even if he doesn’t know it yet—is going to end up competing with them, because Eli Broad is an autocratic billionaire at war with democracy, but so are the street gangs in Los Angeles.

“Various Crip and Blood factions have shown an inclination to cooperate with one another based on drug trafficking. They have established funds from drug money to provide for bail and lawyers. The traditional ‘dope lawyers’ are showing up on non-drug gang cases. These lawyers are not local attorneys but are from Beverly Hills and Los Angeles. This illustrates the growing wealth and sophistication of these gangs. Some of the older and more successful street gang members in Los Angeles County have purchased legitimate businesses to launder drug money. Some of these businesses are car washes, auto painting/body and fender shops, motels, auto dealerships, and liquor stores. The next step could be respectability in the community for these drug-trafficking gang members, as well as involvement in politics. The wealth and sophistication of the gangs, coupled with their penchant for violence gives them the potential for becoming one of the largest and most dangerous crime problems in the region if not the Nation.”

Eli Broad wants to replace the transparent, democratic, public schools in Los Angeles with his own opaque, autocratic, for-profit, corporate charters. The street gangs already have a strong presence in the public schools to recruit new members, so Broad’s charters will be in competition with the gangs as they attempt to infiltrate his corporate schools. This means Broad will soon be at war with the largest and most dangerous crime problems in the region if not the Nation.

In fact, the gangs might even take advantage of the opportunity Broad wants to create and open their own corporate charters through front organizations.

Eli Broad had better tread carefully with his hostile goal to grab the public schools in Los Angeles. He and his entire family might not wake up one morning to discover that he has been eliminated by the Crips and/or Bloods because he dared to invade their turf.

Before the hostile corporate takeover of public schools started with NCLB and Obama’s RTTT, the gangs couldn’t buy the public schools and own and manage them but now they can.  The door is wide open. If one secretive Islamic Turkish Cleric can own 120 American Charter Schools, what’s going to stop the gangs from doing the same thing? > The Atlantic

Then again, maybe the Sinaloa drug cartel already owns Eli Broad, and he is allegedly their legitimate but corrupt front. After all, the feds say that Los Angeles is the epicenter of cartel money laundering, and what better business to launder money than an opaque corporate charter school chain that doesn’t have to make its money transactions public like the public school?

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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).

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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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