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Category Archives: Standardized Testing

The New York Times sent me a long e-mail asking me to subscribe

The NYT’s email follows my reply

If the New York Times is such a great newspaper, why does it support Corporate Charter Schools as better than community-based, democratic, transparent, non-profit, traditional public schools in its pages?

Test scores do NOT make a good or great school.

Honest studies based on all the facts that go beyond the hype and lies pumped out repeatedly by the billionaire supported autocratic, opaque and secretive, for-profit, often fraudulent and child abusing corporate charter school industry repeatedly prove that these for-profit (not public) schools that take public money are no better, are often worse and are riddled with fraud and corruption.

While traditional public schools are ridiculed and often closed for allegedly failing to educate ALL the students according to flawed laws and legislation, the corporate charter schools are often ignored when they fail worse than any public school has ever been accused of.

Until the New York Times reports accurately and honestly without bias about what is really happening in the United States about the county’s arguably great community-based, democratic, transparent, non-profit, traditional public schools, I will not subscribe to your newspaper even to support you financially.

I earned my BA in journalism from Fresno State Universty in California in 1973, and the New York Times inadequate and often biased coverage of the greed based autocratic war against the highly successful community based, democratic, transparent, non-profit, traditional public schools. I taught both English and journalism in California public schools for thirty years so I know what I am talking about. If you have the time; if you have an open mind, read my memoir “Crazy is Normal”. This memoir was not written with best-seller status in mind. It was written to reveal what goes on in an American classroom and it was based on a daily journal that I kept for one full school year.

I know what I am talking about when I allege that America’s traditional public schools are a great success. Test scores do not measure success. The college graduation rate does (The U.S. of ranked annually as one of the most educated countries on the planet). The high school graduation rate by age 25 does. The fact that America’s publishing industry is the largest and most profitable in the world does, because, without readers, that publishing industry would be insignificant.

And without the life-long learners, critical thinkers and problem solvers who are educated in America’s traditional, community base, democratic, transparent, non-profit (REAL) public schools, there would be no democracy.  High test scores from flawed and secretive tests that profit corporations like Pearson do not educate life-long learners, critical thinkers and problem solvers that this country needs to survive as a Constitutional Republic.

Let America’s highly educated teachers that belong to labor unions teach and get corporations, state capitals, and Washington DC out of the nation’s classrooms. Those teachers’ unions are necessary to protect teachers from frauds and bullies like Donald Trump.

Leave the teaching to the teachers and remember, the teachers do not learn for the students. Children must come to school ready and willing to learn.


It’s All About the Money!

 

A note from Cliff Levy, Deputy Managing Editor
Greetings,

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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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Does Hillary Clinton know the difference between public education in China, India and the United States?

At a recent Town Hall event in South Carolina, audience member John Loveday asked Hillary Clinton a question. He wanted to know if she would support a longer school day or school year to keep up with India and China.

Loveday introduced himself as the principal of a charter school and claimed that his charter school offered 230 instruction days versus the traditional 180 days for public schools.

But there is a BIG difference between offered and actual days children attend class as you will discover, because Karen Wolfe did her homework and learned that Loveday is the principal of a virtual charter school, and that reveals a lot. She wrote about what she learned in a February 25, 2016 post called Joe the Plumber takes on public education.

Virtual charters might be open more days but does that mean students at home on their tablet, desktop, laptop or smartphone are logged on and paying attention while doing work for several hours each day for every one of those 230 offered days?

I don’t think so, and you will find out why later in this post.

Loveday said, “If you look at countries like India and China, they offer—they require—their high school students to attend 220 days on average. That’s 40 more than our high school students.”

What Loveday didn’t say and probably doesn’t want to you or anyone else to know is that in China mandatory education ends at age 15 before senior high school begins—grades 10, 11 and 12 are not mandatory—and millions of mostly rural Chinese students have already left the academic public education system by the end of 6th grade.

In fact, to stay and attend a senior high school—that isn’t mandatory—those want-to-be high school students willing go to school more days than public school students in the U.S. must take a high-stakes, high-stress, national test and rank among the top scorers to make it into a high school.  Students who take the test and do not score high enough are offered a choice: go home or go to a vocational school and learn a trade.  And even those who do make the score and get into high school have no choice of the school they attend. The high school the winners of the high-stakes, high-stress test competition in China end up in is based on their rank on the test. Students who scored the highest are sent to the highest quality high schools, etc. The best high schools end up with the best test-taking students who usually have the most supportive parents known as autocratic tiger parents.

Compulsory education in China is grades 1 to 9 but millions of rural students who live in small villages end their education at the end of 6th grade to return to work in the fields or move to a city and work in a factory, and the government does nothing to force those young children to return to finish grades 7, 8 and 9.

There are about 121 million children in China’s K – 6 public education system, but only 11.6 million will make it to college out of the voluntary senior high schools, because there is another competitive high-stakes test in 12th grade that is used to rank students that make it to college—or not.

As for India’s longer school year allegedly making India’s educational system more competitive than public schools in the United States, a few numbers tell the fact-based truth of India’s economic and education systems.

  1. The average Indian child spends only FIVE years in school, according to the World Bank.
  2. According to India’s 2001 Census, as many as 560,687,797 persons in the country are literate.There are more than 1.2 billion Indians. To discover how many Indians are illiterate, do the math, that is if you paid attention in math and know how to subtract.
  3. According to NBC news, “India’s hunger ‘shame’: 3,000 children die every day, despite economic growth.”

Do you think starving children are in any position to learn when they are in school—what are they thinking about, their school books or their hunger?

NBC news reported that, “A government-supported survey last month (in India) said 42 percent of children under five are underweight – almost double that of sub-Saharan Africa – compared to 43 percent five years ago.

“The statistic – which means 3,000 children dying daily due to illnesses related to poor diets – led Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to admit malnutrition was ‘a national shame’ and was putting the health of the nation in jeopardy.

“It is a national shame. Child nutrition is a marker of the many things that are not going right for the poor of India,” said Purnima Menon, research fellow on poverty, health and nutrition at the Institute of Food Policy Research Institute.

“India’s efforts to reduce the number of undernourished kids have been largely hampered by blighting poverty where many cannot afford the amount and types of food they need.”

Instead of comparing India and China’s public schools to public education in the United States, I suggest we compare the success of education in China and India to the virtual charter school industry where Loveday works.

Public Schools First says, “The vast majority of students who attend online schools are failing. According to a National Education Policy Center report, only 27.4 percent of virtual schools met federal adequate yearly progress (AYP) standards. Graduation rates are astoundingly low. K12, Inc.’s Ohio Virtual Academy reported an overall 30.4% four-year on time graduation rate with a 12.2% rate for African American students and a 24.2% rate for economically disadvantaged students (versus a statewide rate of 78%). K12, Inc.’s Colorado Virtual Academy reported a 12% four-year on time graduation rate (versus a statewide rate of 72%). There is also deep concern about the ability of these virtual charters to effectively educate at-risk or special needs students. Other concerns about virtual instruction that directly impact student achievement include.”

In conclusion, it would seem that China and India’s public education systems are much better than the for-profit—anyway you look at it—virtual charter school industry that Loveday is part of. I think Loveday was a plant and his question was scripted. The fact that Hillary Clinton did not respond with the facts in this post is enough for me to think she was in on it. I allege that Loveday’s question was planned and approved by Clinton before the event and her answer was on that same script.

Do we really want a U.S. President who doesn’t know these facts or does know them and deliberately ignored those facts during an alleged scripted question and answer session in a town hall meeting?

One thing I do know, John Loveday is a profit-mongering fraud.

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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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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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Do NOT be fooled by the Pearson-Powell Alliance Promise

Pearson Awards $600,000 in Grants to Increase High School Graduation Rates in the United States through America’s Promise Alliance, a right-wing corporate organization founded by former four-star general and U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell—the American who went on TV and said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction leading to the long war in Iraq, but no weapons of mass destruction were ever found in Iraq after the war former President G. W. Bush started there in 2003.

Most Americans know who Colin Powell is but do they know what Pearson is? To discover this infamous UK corporation, I suggest reading Alan Singer’s Huffington Post piece, Pearson and Partners Pay in L.A.

Singer writes, “Los Angeles is only the latest Pearson disaster and is only the most recent time the company will pay for its misguided business practices.”

Will the grant money from America’s Promise Alliance go to the classroom or to more high stakes testing with the agenda of punishment designed to fire teachers and close public school?

To discover the possible answer, all we have to do is look at what happened to the $100 million that Mark Zuckerberg—should we change his last name to Suckerberg—donated as a gift to New Jersey’s Newark schools to help them improve.  The Washington Post offers the answer in The real story: Why Mark Zuckerberg’s $100 million gift to Newark schools was announced on Oprah’s show – “Russakoff details what happened with the money and how, in the end, students wound up the big losers in the school reform philanthropy game.”

The burning question here is if the high school graduation rate in the United States is really that horrible that it’s being targeted, again, by the Corporate Education Reform Movement (CERM) as another smear campaign aimed at the U.S. public schools, public school teachers and teachers’ unions.

For instance, high school graduation rates have improved steadily for more than a century. For several decades the 17/18 year old on-time graduation rate was stuck but the overall graduation rate for 25 year olds and up was about 90% because many young people, for whatever reason—usually poverty, that isn’t the fault of public school teachers and their unions—couldn’t graduate on time on the k-12 education assembly line that was created by the state and federal governments and not by teachers or their unions.

In 1900, about a third of Americans age 25 to 64 earned a high school degree and 8 % earned a BA in college.  In June 2015, the on-time high school assembly-line graduation rate was 81%.

US HS graduatoin and BA rate 1900 to 1990

Chart from Russell Sage.org (click on the link and scroll through the charts)

While the above chart only goes to 1990, in 2014, the number of Americans age 25 to 64 who had earned  a high school degree was more than 90% for both men and women, and anyone—even an ignorant fool that supports the CERM—who looked at the following chart should see that both high school and college graduation rates have been literally on a dramatic upward trend since 1900. Does that chart paint a picture of failure for the community based, democratic U.S. public schools?

In addition, the U.S. is ranked 4th or 5th in the world for the ratio of citizens who have earned a college degree.

And then there is this from Time.com, And the World’s Most Educated Country Is… (Keep in mind that there are 196 countries in the world)

  1. Canada
  2. Israel
  3. Japan
  4. United States
  5. New Zealand
  6. South Korea
  7. United Kingdom
  8. Finland
  9. Australia
  10. Ireland

This top TEN list from Time Magazine puts the U.S. in the top 2.55% when ranked with 196 countries.

I wonder if Canada, Israel and Japan have allowed Pearson and other far-right conservatives from the U.S. to buy their way in with a flawed curriculum and high-stakes test agenda that will rank and punish their public school teachers and close their public schools while turning their children over to private sector, for profit corporations so alleged frauds and psychopaths like Eva Moskowitz are allowed to pay themselves more than $500k annually as they abuse and manipulate OUR children to achieve their obvious greed-and-power driven agendas?

There is always room for improvement, but declaring war against the U.S. public schools, its teachers and the teachers’ unions with this track record of nothing but improvement is a ridiculous, tragic crime.

__________________________________

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).

Graphic OCT 2015

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Randi Weingarten is an Ignorant Fraud, and she doesn’t know it

When I was a public school teacher I never belonged to the AFT, one of the two largest teachers’ unions in the United States. I paid union dues to REA/CTA/NEA—the other, larger teachers’ union.

So when I received one of AFT’s regular e-mails signed by Randi Weingarten, the AFT president, that said, “I remember my heart pounding as I walked into Clara Barton High School my first day as a teacher. Will I be able to do it? Do I have what it takes to connect and teach and make a difference in the lives of these kids?”

As I read her e-mail welcoming teachers back to a new school year, I thought where are her words of support for the teachers, parents and children who are fighting to save our democratic, transparent, nonprofit public schools from the fraudulent, greedy corporate vultures—supported by a neo-liberal President of the United States—who are circling the carcass of public education.

Nowhere in that e-mail did Weingarten mention the war being waged on public education and how the Common Core Crap and high stakes standardized testing are being deliberately used by hucksters and charlatans to destroy the lives of teachers, and crush parents and children.

I didn’t expect anyone to read my reply but I replied anyway, “This does not make you a veteran teacher, I wrote. “Try teaching at least ten years or more to earn that title.”

Why did I say Weingarten wasn’t a veteran teacher?

“From 1991 until 1997 Randi Weingarten taught at Clara Barton High School in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. The classes she taught included Law, Ethical Issues in Medicine, AP Political Science, and US History and Government. Her political science students competed in the We the People civics competition, winning the state championship in 1993-94 and 1994–95 and placing fourth in the national championship in 1994-95. In 1995, Weingarten was elected Assistant Secretary of the UFT. She continued teaching per diem from 1995 to 1997.”

Go back and click on the link for Clara Barton High School to discover an elite school and not one that teaches impoverished, at-risk children—children who are difficult to teach—like the ones I taught for thirty years.

Randi Weingarten might have been a full time classroom teacher for four years and a per diem teacher for another two years ( I wonder how many of those per diem days she worked), but her resume doesn’t reveal that she taught the most at-risk children like I did for thirty years. I don’t think she understands the challenges that teachers face who teach classrooms filled with the most difficult children to reach who live in poverty in dangerous communities where street crime is the norm to them.

That’s why Randi Weingarten will have to publicly stands up to the corporate education reform movement and condemn Arne Duncan, Bill Gates, the Walton family, Eli Broad, a flock of Hedge Fund vultures, the Common Core Crap and the results of high stakes student tests being used to judge teachers, fire them and close public schools, and then maybe she will earn some respect from this retired teacher who spent 30 years in the classroom teaching in schools where the childhood poverty rate was more than 70%, and violent adolescent street gangs were an ever present danger. I know from firsthand experience what it’s like to work with both highly motivated students who learned even if their teachers were brain dead, and teaching children to learn, who are at risk—the gulf between these two extremes is vast and what teachers experience working with at risk children is not the same as what Weingarten’s resume reveals from her limited teaching experience.

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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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