RSS

Category Archives: Parenting

Will the Tech Industry’s Obsession for Disruption End my Blogging

Disruption: disturbance or problems which interrupt an event, activity, or process

Last Saturday, July 18, 2020, my blogging was disrupted by WordPress, and my temper, calm for months, exploded.  Before the COVID-19 pandemic, I had lunch with friends every week and joined others in group meetups. Thanks to the virus, I have lived alone since March 13. No one has visited me, and I have visited no one. Zoom, e-mails, phone calls, and WebEx help but cannot replace face-to-face visits.

Back to July 18 when I logged onto my iLookChina.net blog to schedule three new posts for August, my first thought when I saw the new editing page for WordPress was, “What the FUCK!”

I complained to WordPress and the little help they offered did nothing to end the stress from the disruption they caused.

I learned that WordPress was changing the Classic Editor I had been using for a decade to a Block Editor (whatever that is).  From what I saw, I did not like the Block Editor and that feeling has not changed.

I was comfortable using the Classic Editor. I have better things to do than being forced to learn something new that stresses me out.

On Sunday, July 19, I wrote an angry letter expressing my frustration to Matthew Charles Mullenweg, the Founder, and CEO of WordPress.  When I write an angry letter, I never mail the rough draft. I wait a few days and then revise to filter out the worst of my anger. But that rough draft will never be revised and mailed to Mr. Mullenweg. Instead, that letter has been added to this post.

Matthew Charles Mullenweg, Founder, and CEO of WordPress

WordPress Corporate Office Headquarters Automatic, Inc.
60 29th Street #343
San Francisco, California 94110-4929

Dear Mr. Mullenweg:

This morning I attempted to start scheduling the August 2020 posts for my https://ilookchina.com/ blog [806,254 hits/visits], and ran into an “alleged” improvement to the page where bloggers like me create their posts and schedule them.   The changes to the WordPress editing page were so drastic that I couldn’t complete that task.  I did not know what to do. I was lost. All the old menus were gone. I did see how I would upload a photo from one of the files on my desktop. I am not in the mood to learn how to use the new and disruptive Block Editor that is replacing the Classic Editor.

I always write my blog posts offline and copy and paste them into the Classic Editor that I have been using for a decade for all four of my WordPress Blogs.

Here are my other three blogs:

https://lloydlofthouse.org/ [92,621 hits/visits]

https://crazynormaltheclassroomexpose.com/ [121,597 hits/visits]

https://thesoulfulveteran.com/ [238,261 hits/visits]

Why do I want the Classic Editor back?

WordPress just became the flaming straw that set off the fuse to my explosive anger. Somehow I managed to stay calm since March while billions of people around the world (including you) are struggling to avoid dying of COVID-19. Last month, when the electrical circuits in my garage blew out, I still managed to stay calm. Then last week, my HVAC system stopped cooling my house in the middle of a heatwave. That HVAC was a new system installed in 2017 for $18k, but I still did not flip my lid.

Then along came WordPress with its NEW Block Editor.

Why change something that was working? Why not set up an easy to find a button where we are allowed to keep the old design over the new one? What is wrong with you guys? Keep it simple. Do not change the old so drastically that it becomes stressful to deal with.

In the short term, stress can leave us anxious, tearful and struggling to sleep. But over time, continuously feeling frazzled could trigger heart attacks, strokes, and even suicidal thoughts. “In short, yes, stress can kill you,” – The American Institute of Stress

In case you don’t know it, change is not always good.

Sincerely (not really, I’m too angry to feel sincere),
Lloyd Lofthouse


High levels of cortisol caused by stress over a long period of time wreak havoc on your brain.

A few days after writing the letter to Matthew Charles Mullenweg, I read a piece from The San Francisco Chronicle. There’s a name for tech’s attitude problem: toxic positivity, Silicon Valley’s obsession with disruption and destruction of the existing order and evangelical embrace of the new. It’s better on the other side of the river, we promise … in recent years, that’s become its own kind of orthodoxy, where the only appropriate response to new technology, according to the insiders of Silicon Valley, is cheerleading. Criticism of technology isn’t viewed as rational skepticism by those for whom innovation has become a religion; it’s heresy.”

Forbes also published a piece on this topic. “The Myths of Disruption: How Should You Really Respond to Emerging Technologies? Disruption may be the most overused term in the business lexicon today. Every startup wants to disrupt the established order. Every incumbent is scared of being disrupted. Disruption is a rallying cry or a bogeyman, depending on where you sit. And no one is immune: if an executive dares to suggest that their industry is free from the threat of disruption, they are accused of being short-sighted or in denial, and heading the way of the Titanic or the T-Rex. I find this obsession with disruption a little disturbing. “

Years ago, I started rebelling against technology’s forced disruption.

I bought two Kindle e-readers. Then a couple of years later, I returned to reading books printed on paper and my kindles have been gathering dust ever since. Old fashioned books do not have batteries that need to be recharged and do not have software to update. This is ironic since the novels I have published have sold more than 60,000 e-books through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other bookselling sites.

The new should always be easier to use than the old.

I had a smartphone once, and after a couple of years I turned it in for a dumb phone. I do not text. I do not run around taking smartphone videos and photographs of myself. My dumb phone gets used about five-minutes a month. That smartphone was a fucking pain in the ass, always demanding attention to keep working.

Fuck that shit! If you want to replace something old with something new, keep it simple!

When I bought my first tablet computer, it lasted a day before I returned it, because it wasn’t easy to set up and use.

I have an HP laptop locked in a safe. I update the laptop once a month. If my desktop gets hijacked again by ransomware, that laptop will be my backup while the desktop is in the shop being unhacked.

The last two times I bought new cars, I refused to sign the contract unless the dealers replaced the satellite-linked, streaming radio with the fancy touch screen with a CD player that was easier to use. The only new shit I liked was the backup camera and the chirping thing that warns me when another car is in one of my blind spots.

I plan to do the same thing with the next car I buy.  If the dealer wants my money, they have to replace the irritating new crap with a CD player, or I will start looking for an older, used car that predates the annoying disruptive tech.  If I can afford to buy a new car every few years, I can afford to rebuild an old one when it wears out and even have someone add batteries and turn it into a plugin hybrid. I’ve read about people that have done that on their own.

I have news for disrupters like WordPress, Microsoft, Apple, and all the other tech geniuses. I do not want anyone else disrupting my life. I do that just fine by myself, and when it comes to learning new things, I want to make that decision and not have it forced on me.

This might be my last post for all of four of my blogs if I cannot get the Classical WordPress Editor back. There is enough stress in this world without Donald Trump and Silicon Valley companies like WordPress generating disruption.

Will this be my last blog post? I do not know. I have been blogging for a decade. I have written and published 2,455 posts for iLookChina, 614 for LloydLofthouse.com, 1.444 for Crazy Normal, the classroom exposé, and 269 for The Soulful Veteran. That is a lot of writing, research, and reading. Those posts have generated more than a million reads or visits.

Ω

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam combat vet living with PTSD. He went to college on the GI Bill and earned a BA in journalism followed by an MFA in writing.

Discover his award-winning books:

My Splendid Concubine

Crazy is Normal: a classroom exposé

Running with the Enemy

The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

The Dangerous Technology Revolution to Improve Education

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

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

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

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

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

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

__________________________________

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).

Where to Buy

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

 

Tags: , , , , ,

What Tests and Teachers Cannot Fix in any Schools

We live in an era where traditional American, community based, democratic, transparent, nonprofit, publicly funded, public schools are starved of funds and even closed while professional, dedicated, hardworking teachers are punished or fired based on student test results; tests that profit the private sector corporations that produce them.

The result is that more of our children end up in autocratic, CEO controlled, opaque (secretive), often child abusing, fraudulent-and-inferior, no excuses, test centered, publicly funded, private sector corporate charter schools where management gets paid a lot more, and teachers are paid less but work longer hours. WNYC.org reports, “Charters spend $774 more per pupil on administration, and $1,140 less on instruction, than do traditional publics.”

What’s ignored is the fact that tests and teachers cannot fix the effects of: 1. Childhood poverty, 2. Depression, 3. Blood-sugar imbalances, 4. Childhood PTSD, 5.Substance abuse, and 6. Lack of sleep.

  1. Effects of Poverty, Hunger and Homelessness on Children and Youth

The American Psychological Association reports, “The nation’s economic crisis has deeply affected the lives of millions of Americans. Skyrocketing foreclosures and job layoffs have pulled the rug out from under many families, particularly those living in low-income communities. Deepening poverty is inextricably linked with rising levels of homelessness and food insecurity/hunger for many Americans and children are particularly affected by these conditions.”

 

  1. Childhood Depression

WebMD.com says, “Children who are depressed may not do well in school, may become socially isolated, and may have difficult relationships with family and friends, Fassler says. Depression in children is also associated with an increased risk for suicide. The rate of suicide among young people has nearly tripled since 1960 and is the sixth leading cause of death among children between the ages of 5 and 14, the third leading cause of death among 15- to 24-year-olds, and the second leading cause of death among college students.”

 

  1. Blood-sugar imbalances

The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics found, “Kids consume too much sugar, mostly from processed foods.”

Learning Liftoff.com says, “It’s shocking to note that according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average child under 12 consumes 49 pounds of sugar annually. That’s only three pounds less than the average adult despite children being much smaller. All that sugar consumption isn’t helping their overall health, but is it impacting their academic performance? You might be surprised at the answer.”

  • Sugar Decreases Attention Span and memory
  • Chronic Sugar Consumption Might Permanently Impair Memory Function
  • Sugar Foods Crowd Out Brain Food

 

  1. Childhood PTSD

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reports, “Studies show that about 15% to 43% of girls and 14% to 43% of boys go through at least one trauma. Of those children and teens who have had a trauma, 3% to 15% of girls and 1% to 6% of boys develop PTSD. Rates of PTSD are higher for certain types of trauma survivors. … Besides PTSD, children and teens that have gone through trauma often have other types of problems. Much of what we know about the effects of trauma on children comes from the research on child sexual abuse. This research shows that sexually abused children often have problems with: fear, worry, sadness, anger, feeling alone and apart from others, feeling as if people are looking down on them, low self-worth, and not being able to trust others; behaviors such as aggression, out-of-place sexual behavior, self-harm, and abuse of drugs or alcohol.”

 

  1. Substance abuse

Alcohol Rehab.com says, “Children of parents who suffer from substance abuse problems can have problems at school as a result of the upheaval, unpredictability and violence they face at home. Some children have immense strength and can cope with their problems and still manage to maintain good school grades and relationships, but more often than not this is not the case. Bullying, fighting, bad grades, problems with attention span, fear of authority and emotional problems are all signs that a child is facing significant home problems.”

 

  1. Lack of sleep

The Douglas Institute in Quebec reports, “Reducing sleep may disrupt the ability of students to concentrate for long periods of time, and remember what they learn in class. According to a study, children with reduced sleep are more likely to struggle with verbal creativity, problem solving, inhibiting their behaviour, and generally score lower on IQ tests according to current leading research.”

Sleep Foundation.org recommends that school age children 6-13 sleep 9 to 11 hours and adolescents 14-17 should sleep 8 to 10 hours daily, but according to Sleep For Kids.org “It is clear from the poll results that we need to focus as much on the sleeping half of children’s lives as we do on the waking half.  Children are clearly not getting enough sleep,” says Jodi A. Mindell, PhD, who served as Chair of NSF’s 2004 Poll Task Force: “And a remarkable number of children have some kind of sleep problem.”

Why are billionaire oligarchs like Bill Gates, the Koch brothers, Eli Broad, and the Walton family ignoring what tests and teachers cannot fix and spending so much money to subvert democracy and destroy the publicly funded, community based, democratic, transparent, non-profit, public schools and replace them with autocratic, opaque, child abusing, often fraudulent and inferior, publicly funded, private sector corporate charter schools? If you don’t know the answers, start here: Behind Closed Doors of the Billionaire Foundations, The Plot Against Public Education, and The Billionaires’ War Against Public Education.

Discover more about why Corporate driven public education reform is destroying OUR children’s health and future

__________________________________

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).

Crazy is Normal promotional image with blurbs

Where to Buy

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

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

______________________________

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).

99 Cent Graphic for Promomtion OCT 2015 Where to Buy

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

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Where should literacy start—at home or in school?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_______________________

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

Crazy is Normal promotional image with blurbs

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

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

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

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

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

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

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

FIRST: A Stanford study found:

“There is an achievement gap between more and less disadvantaged students in every country; surprisingly, that gap is smaller in the United States than in similar post-industrial countries, and not much larger than in the very highest scoring countries.

“Achievement of U.S. disadvantaged students has been rising rapidly over time, while achievement of disadvantaged students in countries to which the United States is frequently unfavorably compared – Canada, Finland and Korea, for example – has been falling rapidly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are U.S. students receiving less instruction?

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

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

_______________________

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

Crazy is Normal promotional image with blurbs

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

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

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

The Cannibalization of General Education—Guest Post

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Works Cited

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

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

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

_______________________

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

Crazy is Normal promotional image with blurbs

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

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

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Is it possible that offering support instead of punishment leads to Better Teachers? – Part 2 of 3

View as Single Page

After eliminating China, Liechtenstein and Estonia, from the 2012 International PISA Test ranking, Singapore became #1, Chinese Taipei #2, South Korea #3, Japan #4, Switzerland #5, the Netherlands #6, Finland #7, and Canada #8

1.  Singapore

There are about 25,000 teachers in its primary and secondary schools.

Edutopia.org reports “Teaching is a highly respected and well-compensated profession in Singapore. All teachers are trained at the country’s National Institute of Education (NIE) (one training program).  All new teachers are paired with experienced teachers for mentoring, and peer feedback is built into the schedule. Teachers are entitled to 100 low or no-cost hours of professional development each year. There are approximately 522,000 students attending about 350 schools in Singapore’s education system.

2. Chinese Taipei

There are more than 300 thousand teachers who teach in preschool, primary school, junior high school, and senior high school (teaching about 4 million students). The teachers are trained in universities of education with teacher training programs or centers. These institutions are also responsible for providing in-service training and guidance for local education practitioners.

3. South Korea

Teaching is a highly respected profession in South Korea, and among the most popular career choices for young South Koreans. This is largely due to competitive pay, job stability, and good working conditions – for example, there is a high degree of collaboration among teachers. Elementary teachers must attend one of 13 institutions to become qualified whereas secondary school teachers have multiple pathways into teaching and often attend comprehensive universities. Teachers are paid well in South Korea. Lower secondary teachers can expect a mid-career salary of $52,699, much higher than the OECD average of $41,701. There are about 7 million K-12 students in South Korea.

4. Japan

In Japan, teaching is a respected profession, and teachers have traditionally been paid better than other civil servants. Japan’s average teacher salary for a lower secondary school teacher after 15 years of service (the number that the OECD typically uses for international comparison) is $49,408, as compared to the OECD average of $41,701. The teaching profession in Japan is also highly selective, at both the program admission and the hiring phase. About 14% of applicants are admitted into schools of education, and of those who graduate, only 30-40% find work in public schools. Eric Digests.org reports, “Many Japanese believe that the examination system is too stressful, that the schools are too rigid and don’t meet the needs of individual students, that contemporary students show little interest in studying, and that the educational system needs to produce more creative and flexible citizens for the twenty-first century.”

Stanford.edu says, “In 2002 the Ministry of Education began to implement educational reforms that officials labeled the most significant since the end of World War II. In an attempt to stimulate students to be independent and self-directed learners, one third of the content of the national curriculum was eliminated. Japanese students in grades 3-9 are now required to take Integrated Studies classes in which they and their teachers jointly plan projects, field trips, and other ‘hands-on’ activities. Students in Integrated Studies learn about their local environment, history, and economy. … and teachers are not allowed to give tests on what students have learned.”

5. Switzerland

The goal is to impart adequate knowledge and competence for educating and teaching pupils and students at the various educational levels, as well as children and adolescents with special needs. Teacher education and training is realized within a two-tier model with Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programs.

During the 2008/09 school year there were 1.266 million students in the K-12 Swiss educational system, who were taught by more than 100,000 teachers.

But Susan Ohanian.org reports teachers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland are seeing their school ranked by the Bertelsmann Foundation (using achievement tests) comparing the school of all districts with each other—the teachers are protesting and fighting back. Because compulsory achievement tests are planned in all three countries, they are wary of school rankings that lead to a “senseless competition” among schools.

6. Netherlands

About 2.6 million children attend k-12 (European Agency.org).

In 1917, private and public schools were given equivalent financial status under the Constitution. As a result, the Netherlands is in the unique situation, compared with the rest of the world, of having 70 percent of its schools administered and governed by private school boards. The Constitution thus guarantees “freedom of education”, which embrace the freedom to set up schools, freedom to determine the principles on which they are based (freedom of conviction) and freedom of organization of teaching.

State University.com reports, There is an extensive amount of parental involvement in Dutch schools. … In addition, many schools also have a separate parents’ council or committee.

Teacher training in the Netherlands continues to undergo an overhaul. In 2008, the government, following the recommendations of an advisory council, formulated an action plan to tackle the teacher shortage and improve the position and quality of teachers. Given the high performance of its students and its teacher salaries, which, at $60,174 for a mid-career lower secondary school teacher far outpace the OECD average of $41,701, there is still a teacher shortage in the Netherlands due primarily to the aging teacher workforce.

The 2008 TALIS survey of Dutch teachers revealed that the majority of teachers participate in informal, rather than formal, professional development. This generally takes the form of informal mentorships and conversations, courses and workshops and reading professional literature. … Part of the government’s action plan is the creation of a stronger professional organization for teachers that will be able to evaluate teachers and provide teacher training grants.

7. Finland

There are 596,000 children in the k-12 compulsory education system. There are only 24 private comprehensive schools in Finland (0.5%). – ncee.org

Education has always been an integral part of Finnish culture and society, and teachers currently enjoy great respect and trust in Finland. Finns regard teaching as a noble, prestigious profession—akin to medicine, law, or economics— and one driven by moral purpose rather than material interests. Teachers also are the main reason Finland now leads the international pack in literacy, science, and math.

8. Canada

Over 5.11 million students were enrolled in public schools in 2007/08. The full-time teaching force at primary and secondary level is around 310,000. About 5.6% of students are in private schools. Private schools have historically been less common on the Canadian Prairies and were often forbidden under municipal and provincial statutes enacted to provide equality of education to students regardless of family income.

Teacher training programs are housed in Canadian universities, although separate standards for teacher qualification exist across the provinces. There are only about 50 teacher education programs in Canada, so it is easy for provincial governments to regulate quality.

For professional development, all Canadian provincial Ministries of Education support and require ongoing teacher training efforts though, like nearly everything else in the Canadian education system, this is decentralized and subject to different requirements depending on location.

Continued in Part 3 on April 10, 2015 or start with Part 1

View as Single Page

 _______________________

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

Crazy is Normal promotional image with blurbs

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

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

 

Tags: , , , ,

Pearson’s No profit left behind—Investigative reporting at its best from Politico

America’s transparent, non-profit, democratic public schools are being destroyed thanks, in part, to the profit motivated efforts of Pearson UK.

Stephanie Simon writing for Politico reveals that in the high-stakes world of American education, UK’s Pearson makes money even when its results don’t measure up and they often do not deliver. Instead Pearson’s mania for profits is proving to be very destructive and our teachers and children are suffering.

“The story of Pearson’s rise is very much a story about America’s obsession with education reform over the past few decades.”

“Pearson has aggressive lobbyists, top-notch marketing and a highly skilled sales team. Until the New York attorney general cracked down in late 2013, Pearson’s charitable foundation made a practice of treating school officials from across the nation to trips abroad, to conferences where the only education company represented was Pearson.”

Read the rest of this story at Politico: http://www.politico.com/story/2015/02/pearson-education-115026.html#ixzz3RMdKpfFg

Please share this post with everyone you know and people you don’t know through Twitter, Facebook, Google +, LinkedIn and/or any other social networks that you use. Thank you.

_______________________

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

Runner Up in Biography/Autobiogrpahy
2015 Florida Book Festival

Crazy-is-Normal-a-classroom-expose-200x300

Honorable Mention in Biography/Autobiography
2014 Southern California Book Festival
2014 New England Book Festival
2014 London Book Festival

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

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: , , , , , ,

Suspensions and Expulsions in the US Public Schools—what does that 3.3 million really mean?

THIRD UPDATE
(Scroll down for the Second and First updates followed by the actual post that started a Twitter storm)

This afternoon, I received an e-mail informing me that because of my racist tendencies I was being removed as a member of the TBATS. I can only assume that this is because I think poverty and single parent homes are more of a factor in the behavior of students who are suspended from school than racism.

Therefore, this update includes a new chart with more information. Using the information in this chart, we will attempt to compare the ratio of White children living in poverty and single parent homes to see if the suspensions of Blacks, Hispanics and Asian/Pacific Islander students was equal or close to the ratio of White students who were suspended.

Third Update and Exanded Chart

  • Using 22.3% of total white students living in poverty and 5.1% of total white students who were suspended as the base, then 49.5% of Black students living in poverty is 2.2 times the number of White students. This equals 11.22% of 8.4 million. If racism was a factor in the additional 3.58% of Black student who were suspended, then 300,720 Black students might have been suspended due to racist tendencies leaving 74.9% of the total students suspended due to factors that might have been related to growing up in poverty and/or single parent homes.
  • Using 25% of total White students living in single family homes and 5.1% of students who were suspended as the base, then 58.57% of Black students living in single parent homes is 2.34 times the number of White students or 11.9% instead of 14.8% of black students suspended offering evidence that racism might have been a factor in 2.9% of the suspensions of Black students. If true, then 240,400 Black students might have been suspended due to racist tendencies leaving 83.3% of the total students suspended that might have been related to growing up in poverty and/or single parent homes.
  • The ratio of Hispanic students who live in poverty is 2.15 times the number of White students and that ratio is equal to 10.97% instead of the 5.8% who were suspended offering no evidence that racism was a factor in the suspension of Hispanic students.
  • The ratio of Hispanic students who live in single family homes is 1.7 times the number of White students and this ratio is equal to 8.64% instead of the 5.8% of Hispanic students who were suspended offering no evidence that racism was a factor in the suspensions of Hispanic students.
  • The ratio of Asian/Pacific Islander students who live in poverty is 0.73 times the White students who live in poverty and this ratio is equal to 3.72% instead of the 2.2% of total Asian/Pacific Islander students who were suspended offering no evidence that racism was a factor in the suspensions of Asian/Pacific Islander students.
  • The ratio of Asian/Pacific Islander students who live in single parent homes was 0.4 times the White students and this ratio was equal to 2.42% instead of the 2.2% who were suspended offering no evidence that racism was a factor in the suspensions of Asian/Pacific Islander students.

In conclusion, poverty and growing up in single family homes is a much larger factor in the number of student suspensions than racism, and a transparent, public school, national, early childhood education program starting as early as age two might have a large impact that will eventually reduce poverty and increase literacy and life-long learning skills in children who grow up in poverty and/or single parent homes. Racism is another issue and other methods will be necessary to deal with this challenge. I don’t think early childhood education will have much of an impact in reducing racism.

SECOND UPDATE

Because I asked this question in my post there was an explosion on Twitter taking me to task for not focusing on racism and not admitting that it was a problem.

In the original post I wrote, “When 6.1% of the total students are suspended from public schools—or less as you will see—is that cause for a national crises and is it evidence of alleged racism?” … Later in the post, I also said, “Some critics have even alleged that the ratio of Black children being suspended is a sign of racism. I disagree, but you will have to make up your own mind after you look at all the numbers and in this post there are a lot of numbers to wrap your critical thinking around.”

Here is my response to one of the reactions that arrived as an e-mail. Too bad they couldn’t have left a comment here so we could have talked it over and explored the issue here where others could follow along.

My reply, I can see that racism is a topic you are passionate about.  I think you even prove my point with your examples.  We can’t stop racism, but we can help children who live in poverty and/or who grow up in single parent homes by implementing a public school managed national early childhood education program so those children grow up with the tools that will help them escape poverty and combat racism without anger and a sense of helplessness.

That’s why I refuse to allow the focus of my post to be hijacked by people obsessed with racism. …

What do you propose we do to stop racism—-send out mobs of vigilantes to hang anyone we suspect of racist tendencies?

I think the strongest weapon we can give victims of racism is literacy and an education and a good start, our best chance, would be a transparent publicly managed national early childhood education program that is not managed by corporations, because the evidence is strong that corporate Charters are racist because they encourage segregation and mostly refuse to work with the children who suffer the most from racism—at-risk children who grow up in poverty and/or single parent homes.

We can stay angry at racists, or we can eventually defeat racism by doing something about childhood poverty by intervening in the development of children as young as age two.  They did it in France more than thirty years ago and poverty has dropped more than 50% since.

FIRST UPDATE

It came to my attention this morning (1-7-2015) that this post was severely criticized and attacked by some of the members of a site (TBATS) that recommended the post to their members—TBATS has deleted the recommendation and apologized to those who complained. The reason for this is because one paragraph in this post quoted information for one post at the conservative Heritage Foundation.

I want to make it clear that the numbers used in the chart did not come from the Heritage Foundation. They came from other sources, and I made the mistake of listing those sources further down in the post—and for that confusion, I apologize but for nothing else. I think this post was unfairly criticized. I have now moved those links, and they may be found right below the chart.

The only information quoted from the Heritage Foundation was the quote in that one paragraph about “children raised in single-parent homes are more likely to have emotional and behavioral problems; be physically abused; smoke, drink, and use drugs; be aggressive; engage in violent, delinquent, and criminal behavior; have poor school performance; and drop out of high school.” Nowhere in that quote was race mentioned.

However, because of the criticism of my post based on that one quote in one paragraph from the Heritage Foundation—a foundation that has been linked to ALEX and support from the Koch brothers and Bill Gates—that had nothing to do with the data in the chart, I decided to go directly to the U.S. Census.gov to verify some of the data that I used in the chart and made two revisions where—if you visit the actual Census data—you will discover that the total number of Black or African American family households was (in Table 1) 8,726,419, and that 836,460 single family households were are led by a male, while  4,085,938 were led by female householders for a total of 4,922,398 or 56.4% of the total number of Black and African American households in 2011. I have corrected the chart to show 56.4% instead of the 67% quoted from a 2013 source—that was not the Heritage Foundation. In addition, about 43.6% of Black or African American family households were led by married couples.

I then turned directly to the U.S. Census for info about poverty by race and found this data from 2013. In 2013, 38% (4.158 million) of Black or African-American children under 18 years lived in families below poverty. I used the data for Black Alone on page 53, Table B-2. The previous number that was quoted in my chart from another 2013 source was much lower.

I have also included in this update the orignal source the Heritage Foundation quoted from in their post from a scholarly study out of Western Michigan University in December 2011: Academic Achievement of Children in Single Parent Homes: A Critical Review

Here is the actual pull quote from the conclusion of the study that the Heritage Foundation quoted in their piece:

“A large body of research has documented the disadvantages of children raised in single-parent homes relative to children raised in two-parent homes. Lower high school graduation rates, lower GPAs, and greater risk for drug abuse are only some of the negative outcomes associated with growing up in a single-parent home. … This paper has been a review and critique of research from the past few decades regarding single parenthood. While the economic and social costs of single parenthood have been well documented, the strengths of single parents and their children have been largely overlooked.”

I think we might be able to learn something from this—that just because information comes from a conservative source doesn’t mean that information is wrong. Just like we sometimes have to follow the money, we also have to go to the original source.

THE ORIGINAL POST STARTS NEXT

In 2006, the U.S. public schools suspended students 3.3 million times. Note that I did not say 3.3 million students, because that might be misleading as you will see if you keep reading.

There is currently a group in the United States demanding that teachers and schools be restricted when it comes to suspending children from classrooms and schools. It would be interesting to know who is funding this issue and pushing it. Is it Arne Duncan who is the Secretary of the federal Department of Education or is it Bill Gates who is funding the push for Common Core standardized testing with $5 – $7 billion—test results that will be used to rank and fire teachers in addition to close public schools and turn our children over to corporations to teach even if parents don’t want that?

Corporate education reformers love throwing around numbers like 3.3 million, because that will make the public schools look really bad, and big numbers tossed out like that look so impressive to people who are easy to fool.

I decided to dig deeper to understand what that number really means.

In this post, we will explore what is behind the suspension and expulsion rates in the United States, because the public schools have been criticized for suspending too many students. Some critics have even alleged that the ratio of Black children being suspended is a sign of racism. I disagree, but you will have to make up your own mind after you look at all the numbers and in this post there are a lot of numbers to wrap your critical thinking around. The followinSome critics have even alleged that the ratio of Black children being suspended is a sign of racism.g chart provides a powerful and revealing comparison and I’m interested in your conclusions from this data.

January 7 Updated Chart for Suspensions and Expulsions in the US Public Schools by Race

Heritage.org says “Seventy-one percent of poor families with children are headed by single parents, mostly single mothers. Compared to children raised in an intact family, children raised in single-parent homes are more likely to have emotional and behavioral problems; be physically abused; smoke, drink, and use drugs; be aggressive; engage in violent, delinquent, and criminal behavior; have poor school performance; and drop out of high school.” The Heritage Foundation reports that in the United States, marriage drops the probability of child poverty by 82 percent.

In 2006, there were 53.8 million children in the k – 12 public schools, and there were 3.3 million suspensions representing 6.1% of the total number of students. That means almost 94% (or more) of the children did not earn a suspension. Census.gov

When 6.1% of the total students are suspended from public schools—or less as you will see—is that cause for a national crises and is it evidence of alleged racism?

There were 98,793 public schools in the United States in 2006-07. National Center for Education Statistics.gov

If we average that 3.3 million suspensions per school, it means each school suspended an average of about 33.4 students during the 2006 school year, and a school year has about 180 instructional days—I suspect the ratio is higher for schools with higher levels of childhood poverty and there is a reason for that, and it isn’t unique to the United States as you will see if you keep reading.

If we take that per-school average of 33.4 suspensions, it equals one student is suspended on average every 5.4 days for each school—but was it always a different student or were there repeat offenders as I strongly suspect based on my 30 years of experience as a public school teacher.

When I say repeat, I mean the same student being suspended more than once during one school year, and some of those chronic offenders eventually end up with an expulsion hearing.

For instance, at the high school where I taught from 1989 to 2005 there was a 70% childhood poverty rate at the time (it’s higher today) based on free and/or reduced lunch, and 92% of the students were non-white. The teacher—we called him Mr. D—who ran the in-house suspension system—a separate classroom on campus where students were required to do worksheets (the students were not allowed to just sit and visit. If they didn’t do the academic worksheets, they’d end up returning the next day for another period suspension), said that about 5% of the students at the high school earned 95% of the average 20,000 annual referrals that teachers wrote. At the time, Nogales High School had a student population of about 2,600. Five percent equals 130 students who earned 95% of the 20,000 referrals written by teachers each year. That works out to 146 referrals for each one of those 130 students, and yes, we had students who earned referrals from more than one of their teachers on a daily basis. Some students would earn six referrals a day—one for each class—day after day and if the teacher didn’t write the referral and send the student to Mr. D in the in-house suspension center for a class suspension, that student would often disrupt the learning environment for the rest of the students in the class—stealing learning time from every child.

The teacher couldn’t teach and the other students couldn’t learn.

What if the 3.3 million suspensions in 2006 were not from 3.3 million individual children because many might have been repeat offenders. It would be nice to know how many students were suspended more than once but I couldn’t find that information. For instance, what if only 500-thousand students or less earned those 3.3 million suspensions? If correct, that would mean less than 1% of the total public school students were actually suspended from school—some multiple times.

But what if the 3.3 million suspended students were counted as individuals and not multiple offenders. Then there’s another way to look at this large but insignificant number.

There were about 7.2 million teachers in the United States in 2009. Almost 3 million taught at the elementary and middle school level. The remainder included those teaching at the post secondary, secondary, preschool, kindergarten levels, special education and other teachers or instructors.

Taking the total number of teachers into account, if we divided the 3.3 million suspended students up evenly among the 7.2 million teachers, that equals 0.45 or less than half a student for each teacher for an entire school year. And even if we only counted the regular k – 12 teachers it would break about even—one suspended student each school year for each teacher. Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as cited in the Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2011, Table 615 <https://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/>

And if all we do is count just the 3.7 million full-time-equivalent (FTE) elementary and secondary school teachers engaged in classroom instruction in fall 2012, then for every teacher there was 0.89% of a student suspended from a school for breaking rules and/or disrupting the educational environment so other students couldn’t learn. nces.ed.gov Do you know of any child who is only 0.89% of a child? Where did the missing 0.11% go—did that part of the suspended student stay in the classroom to cooperate and learn?

What about the 112k who were expelled from all of the public schools in 2006?

If we average that 112k, it becomes about 1.1 students for each school in the United States. Is that excessive requiring an act of Congress to control, and what happens to the Common Core standardized test scores that are being used to rank and fire teachers in only the public schools when teachers are forced to keep disruptive students in the classroom who literally rob learning time from all of our children—the 94% that don’t earn suspensions?

What about suspensions and expulsions in the other OECD nations, or is this something that Arne Duncan, Bill Gates and the other corporate education reformers don’t want America to know—because some OECD countries have higher rates of suspension and expulsion than the United States does?

The corporate reformers can avoid this information in their allegations of the US public schools, but they can’t hide it. The Stanford Graduate School of Education reported in January 2013 that Poor ranking on international tests misleading about U.S. performance and said, “There is an achievement gap between more and less disadvantaged students in every country; surprisingly, that gap is smaller in the United States than in similar post-industrial countries, and not much larger than in the very highest scoring countries. Achievement of U.S. disadvantaged students has been rising rapidly over time, while achievement of disadvantaged students in countries to which the United States is frequently unfavorably compared – Canada, Finland and Korea, for example – has been falling rapidly.”

In addition, while fewer than 3 percent of students in 13 countries—including Japan, Norway, and the United Kingdom—reported ever repeating a grade, more than 25 percent of students repeated at least once in France, Spain, Brazil, and a dozen others studied. The United States reported more than one in 10 students (10 percent) repeating a grade, higher than the OECD average, while the top-performing countries, Finland and Korea, do not allow grade retention. … The OECD found that both high rates of grade retention and transfer happened in countries in which a child’s socioeconomic status was more likely to predict that child’s academic performance. Education Week.org

What happens to teachers if the Department of Education and/or the U.S. Congress caves in to pressure from special interest groups—possibly funded by Bill Gates or the Walton family—and drafts legislation that takes away a teacher or school’s power to suspend or remove a student through expulsion—especially when teachers are being ranked and then fired based on the Common Core standardized test results of a teacher’s students?

If being ranked and fired by those test scores becomes a reality for every public school teacher, then every instructional and/or learning minute will become vitally important and forcing teachers to keep children who cause problems and disrupt the learning environment will cripple a teacher’s ability to teach.

Maybe that’s what President Obama, Arne Duncan, Bill Gates and the Walton family want to happen so they can turn our children over the corporations to brainwash.

In conclusion, if you are one of the critics of public education who thinks 3.3 million (6.1%) children suspended from the public schools in one school year is too many, then instead of passing laws restricting the public schools’ ability—because these laws will not impact the corporate Charter schools that also are not required to teach to the Common Core—to decide who gets suspended, consider looking at what causes those children to disrupt the classroom—for instance, poverty and single parents families, and do something about that instead of making a teacher’s job to teach more difficult by forcing them to keep those at-risk and difficult to teach children in the classroom. And if you think the corporate reform movement has the answer, think again.

Joseph Williams, a veteran journalist and former White House correspondent for Politico, reported, “Charter schools also lead their traditional counterparts in a more disturbing trend: the number of students who are suspended or expelled each year … charter schools are far more likely to suspend students for infractions such as dress code violations and insubordination toward teachers.”

In fact, if there are suspension restrictions imposed on the public schools, those same restrictions will not be imposed on the corporate Charters just like the Common Core agenda to rank and fire teachers is not found in private-sector Charters—proving that this latest manufactured crisis in public education is another ploy by the corporate reformers to destroy the public schools.

_____________________________________

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

Runner Up in Biography/Autobiography
2014 Florida Book Festival

Crazy-is-Normal-a-classroom-expose-200x300

Honorable Mentions in Biography/Autobiography
2014 Southern California Book Festival
2014 London Book Festival

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

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: , , , ,