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Category Archives: Teaching

A Conspiracy Theory that turned out to be Real

On July 4, 1776, The Declaration of Independence said, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Read Slaying Goliath, and learn that some of the wealthiest and most powerful Americans are trying to take away our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

I was a public school teacher in California from 1975 – 2005. During those thirty years, I worked 60 to 100 hours a week during the school year. I took work home seven days a week and couldn’t wait for the winter and spring breaks, not because of the time off from teaching, but because I’d have time to catch up correcting student work. After all, teachers have to sleep, too.

In 1983, President Ronald Reagan released a report that was a lie. That report was called “A Nation at Risk,” and it painted the nation’s public schools as failures.  After that misleading report, teachers were called lazy and incompetent. The public schools were blamed for the prison population in the United States that was really caused by Presidents Nixon and Reagan’s war on recreational drugs like marijuana.

The critics of the public schools even came up with a misleading term that was also a lie. It was called “The school to prison pipeline.” There has never been a school to prison pipeline in the United States.

After “A Nation at Risk,” came the Self Esteem Movement that got its start in Catholic K-12 schools and from the pulpit of evangelical Christian churches. When that failed, teachers were blamed again. However, the majority of teachers, including me, did not agree with the Self Esteem Movement that put pressure on us to stop failing students that refused to learn and inflate grades so children would feel good about themselves, even if they didn’t deserve it.

That top-down failure was followed by The Whole Language Approach to teaching. English Lit Teachers like me were told to stop teaching mechanics, grammar, and spelling because it was boring. We were told that the kids could learn that boring stuff just by reading on their own, except most kids do not read on their own.

A decade later, when that Whole Language Approach that was forced on teachers also failed, teachers were blamed again.

That is why, back in the 1980s, I started to think there was a conspiracy theory to destroy the public schools. Over the years, as one top-down movement after another to improve the public schools failed, I convinced myself that it could not be right that someone was trying to destroy our public schools.

Who could be that cruel, that greedy, that monstrous, to deliberately demonize teachers and blame them for almost every problem in the United States? The critics said teachers were lazy. The critics said we were incompetent. The critics said our labor unions were corrupt and were getting in the way of improving the public schools.

I retired from teaching in 2005 and swore that if I was forced to teach again, I’d instead rejoin the U.S. Marines and fight in Afghanistan against Islamic terrorists. Since I had already served in the Marines and fought in Vietnam before I was a teacher, I knew that being a teacher was way worse because of the way teachers are treated in this country.

When I retired, I took a 40-percent pay cut and left without medical insurance, but the critics said teachers were greedy, and our retirement systems would cause the states to go bankrupt. I live in California, and about 6% of the state’s annual budget goes to support the teacher retirement system.

If you believe that retired teachers are greedy, let me sell you a vacation home on a moon orbiting Saturn. I understand the view of Saturn’s rings are incredible.

Read Slaying Goliath, and you will learn that what I suspected back in the 1980s was real. There has been a movement in the United States for decades to replace the nation’s democratic, transparent, public schools and destroy the teaching profession. That disruptive movement wants to replace the people’s public school with a profit-driven, often corrupt, secretive, autocratic, private school system that operates without rules and oversight.

Read Slaying Goliath, and you will learn that the leaders of the publicly funded, private-sector charter school industry are mostly deceivers and liars.

Read Slaying Goliath, and you will learn that the leaders of the publicly-funded private/religious voucher school industry are also mostly deceivers and liars.

When you read Slaying Goliath, you will learn who those liars are. You will learn who is behind the disruption of our public schools and how they are subverting our Constitutional Republic to strip us of our rights. Then maybe you will be angry enough to support and even join the passionate resistance of parents, grandparents, teachers, and children that are already fighting to save America’s public schools.

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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 Not-so-Secret War against OUR Public Schools

About eight years ago my wife heard Diane Ravitch being interviewed on NPR. When Anchee got home, she told me I’d be interested, and I’ve been following Diane’s blog since and have read a few of her books on the war being waged against our public schools.

Make no mistake about this issue; it is a greed-based war of power and corruption that mostly old, white billionaires and corporations managed by old, white CEO’s launched against the people’s public schools long before I learned about Diane Ravitch.

I was a public school teacher for thirty years working in Rowland Unified School District in Southern California from 1975 to 2005. The two schools I taught at the longest were Giano Intermediate and Nogales High School in La Puente, California. After President Ronald Reagan’s flawed and misleading “A Nation at Risk” report was released in 1983, it didn’t take long for news and opinion pieces to start appearing in the media blaming public school teachers for literally everything that was allegedly wrong in the United States, including poverty and the number of Americans in Prison.

National Public Radio reported, “The idea that American schools were worse just wasn’t true,” says James Guthrie, an education professor at Lynn University in Florida. Guthrie published a scholarly article in 2004 titled “A Nation At Risk Revisited: Did ‘Wrong’ Reasoning Result in ‘Right’ Results? At What Cost?” … “I looked at it every which way,” he says now. The authors in 1983 “were hell-bent on proving that schools were bad. They cooked the books to get what they wanted.”

Did you know that one of the leaders in this war against our public schools is Bill Gates? But, he isn’t alone. There are others like Eli Broad, the Wal-Mart Walton family, the Koch brothers, and Betsy DeVos. Taking a page from Hitler’s Nazi propaganda machine, these greedy, power-hungry enemies of our public education system created a misleading phrase and have relentlessly repeated it through the years. That phrase was the school to prison pipeline.

There is the Republican-Nixon-Reagan to prison pipeline, but there has never been a school to prison pipeline.  If anyone reading this doesn’t believe me, look up President Nixon’s War on Drugs (launched June 1971. Click the previous link and scroll down to find that date). Then President Reagan doubled the War on Drugs when he became president and the prison population in the United States exploded and eventually became the largest prison population in the world with China in a distant second place. Don’t forget that China has more than four times the population but several hundred thousand fewer people in its prisons.

If you are interested, you might want to read this report out of Stanford University about Nixon’s War on Drugs. “The United States has been engaged in a “war” for nearly 25 years. …  We spend $50 billion per year trying to eradicate drugs from this country. According to DEA estimates, we capture less than 10 percent of all illicit drugs. … Does $50 billion a year for a 90% failure rate seem like a good investment to you?”

If you do the math, the total spent on that war comes to more than 1.25-trillion dollars, while individuals that think like Bill Gates blame the public schools and public school teachers for the results of Republican President Nixon and Reagan’s War on Drugs.

Anyway, back to public education, there were other false claims in this war on our public schools: too many teachers are incompetent and we can’t fire them, the teachers’ unions are corrupt, test scores are too low, et al. It didn’t take me long after 1983 to start thinking that there was a conspiracy behind all of these lies demonizing public school teachers, but I convinced myself that couldn’t be true, because if the public school system in the United States was destroyed, it would be the end of our Constitutional Republic and a return to 1900 when 40-percent of Americans lived in poverty, only 7-percent graduated from high school, and 3-percent went to college.

Who were most of these high school and college graduates in 1900?
They were the children of the wealthiest, elite, white Americans like Bill Gates and his family.

After World War II, The United States became a great nation because of our public schools that have become the foundation of our modern Republic and Democracy. Once our public schools are gone, this county will return to 1900.

Then almost ten years ago, I started reading Diane Ravitch’s blog and some of her books and discovered from all the facts and evidence I was reading, that I had not been wrong. There was a deliberate conspiracy to destroy our public schools and it started back in the 1970s and went viral after 1983 thanks to the Republican Party and their President Ronald Reagan, and that war on our public schools is getting more vicious by the year and continues to escalate. The vampire corporations and extremist autocratic billionaires like Bill Gates and their paid-for-troops are not stopping, and the lies and dirty tricks they keep pulling out of their hats-from-hell seem never-ending.

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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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Really, the United States has to tear down its public schools and start over?

I do not know how I ended up on a list that keeps sending me e-mails from The Medium. Most of the time I delete those e-mails without opening them, but recently I noticed that The Medium was publishing a series of posts that attacked America’s public schools and teachers and it seems every day there was another assault.

This is one of those hatchet jobs: 20 Ways American Schools Fail Students.

Megan E. Holstein starts with, “Everyone knows the American school system is broken.”  A few sentences later, she says, “American Education is broken beyond repair. We need to scrap the entire thing and start over.”

Here is my response (revised for this post) that I left in a comment following Holstein’s alleged propaganda hack piece that I think was written to help destroy what’s left of the U.S. public education system. To be clear, the American school system is not broken. Public education is underfunded and teachers are being blamed for the results of too much useless testing that only benefits the corporations that profit from it.

If the American school system is broken, then some very wealthy and powerful individuals like Betsy DeVos, David Coleman, Arne Duncan, Bill Gates, and the Walmart Walton family are responsible.

However, the NAEP is the Nation’s Report Card, and it clearly shows improvement and progress in the nation’s public schools starting in 1969 up until NCLB in 2001. After that, the progress flattened out. The No Child Left Behind Act ushered in an era of high-stakes, rank-and-punish tests and abandoned what was working.

The NAEP report said, “As noted earlier, one of the national educational goals calls for increases in students’ academic achievement. A stated objective of this goal is that the performance distribution for minority students will more closely reflect that of the student population as a whole. In some of the subject areas assessed by NAEP, results indicated progress toward meeting this goal.” — Page xi

In addition, a study released by Stanford University offers more evidence that America’s public school are not failing: “Poor ranking on international test misleading about U.S. student performance, Stanford researcher finds”

“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.”

It is possible that Medium.com also publishes pieces that support public education, but if those posts exist, they are not landing in my e-mail box.

The Atlantic says, “So what is Medium? Medium is a place to read articles on the Internet. Medium is a blogging platform, like WordPress or Blogger. Medium is the new project from the guys who brought you Twitter. Medium is chaotically, arrhythmically produced by a combination of top-notch editors, paid writers, PR flacks, startup bros, and hacks.”

There is always room for improvement, but if you want to see America’s public education system improve, we must turn back the clock and let teachers make most of the decisions just like teachers in Finland do … not someone like Betsy DeVos, Bill Gates or the Walmart Walton family.

Did you know that China actually learned what worked best in public education from the United States and then started rebuilding its education system in Shanghai based on what they learned?

In the 1990s, Chinese scholars visited the United States to learn what the United States was doing in its public schools.  After all, those public schools taught the generations that made the United States the most powerful and wealthiest country in the world.  In addition, the United States is one of the most educated countries in the world and is always listed in the top TEN, and there are 195 countries in the world today. No matter how great China’s 15-year-olds in Shanghai perform on the international PISA test, China hasn’t made the top TEN list yet. Canada is listed as #1, a country that does not measure success in education with high-stakes, rank-and-punish tests.

The 10 most educated countries in the world.

“What the Chinese found valuable in American education is the result of a decentralized, autonomous system that does not have standards, uses multiple criteria for judging the value of talents, and celebrates individual differences. Recognizing the negative consequences of ‘test-oriented education,’ China has launched a series of national reforms to cultivate more creative citizens.” – Reforming Chinese Education: What China is Trying to Learn from America

What happened after those Chinese scholars left the United States and went home?

With help from Bill Gates and other billionaire oligarchs that think like him, after NCLB in 2001, the Common Core standards and high stakes rank-and-punish tests were forced on the nation’s public schools literally destroying everything the country was doing right. Getting rid of those tests and that Common Core are the first steps toward fixing any damage those billionaires caused to the U.S. public schools. We do not have to tear down our public schools and start over. We only have to stop people like Bill Gates from meddling in our public education system.

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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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A growing Army of Public School teachers is fighting to save Pub-Ed

Yes, there is an army of public school teachers across the United States already fighting to save public education from greedy, autocratic billionaires like Bill Gates and Betsy DeVos.

How big is this army of public school teachers? In the U.S. military during World War II, an army was made up of 100,000 to 150,000 troops.

Since “Public school systems will employ about 3.2 million full-time-equivalent (FTE) teachers in fall 2018,” there is room for more than 32 armies made up of public school teachers, but we don’t need 32 armies. All we need is one or two — enough willing to shake the crap out of the greedy, lying, fraudulent, corporate pirates attempting to disrupt and hijack public education in the United States.

For instance, the Continental Army that George Washington led during the Revolution was estimated to number 200,000 troops at its high point. The total population of the thirteen colonies was less than 4 million, and Washington won that revolution with 5-percent of the total population willing to step up and become heroes.

In addition, it wasn’t an easy fight, because it has been estimated that there were about 400,000 loyalists to the British Crown or 16-percent of the white population during the American Revolution, and George Washington still won even with those numbers against him … with some help from France and Spain.

I think all we need is 5-percent, 160,000 or more, of the 3.2 million teachers that are willing to speak up and fight back, an army of heroes that will win this war to save traditional public education.

And … only 33% of teachers approve of charter schools. That works out to more than 2.14 million teachers that do not approve.  That many teachers add up to more than 24 armies if they all become active in the fight to save democratic, transparent, non-profit public education in the United States.

Teachers are fighting back. USA Today reports: ‘Tired of begging’: Teacher rebellion shuts down Oklahoma, Kentucky schools

Then there is this USA Today state guide of Teacher Walkouts that lists Arizona, Colorado, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and West Virginia.

That doesn’t include the recent vote in Los Angeles Unified School District, the 2nd largest school district in the United States, to authorize a strike.

We’re ready to strike if no other path forward can be found. This is about making sure every LAUSD student attends a healthy, clean and supportive school. It’s about ensuring that school workers who are devoted to student learning can provide for their own children.”

And the Democratic Party must be waking up to this growing army of teachers fighting back. Education Week reports, “In Teacher Unrest, Democrats See Election Edge. …

“As if U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ relentless championing of charter schools and vouchers weren’t enough, millions of Americans have been bombarded by the sounds and images of striking teachers and educators rallying in Arizona, Oklahoma, and West Virginia, articulating the harm of real-life classroom cuts they attribute to Republican leadership.”

Teachers say even if they don’t strike, they’ll express their rage at the polls this fall. One protestor held a sign that said, “I’m a teacher and I vote.”

It took George Washington seven years to win the Revolution. How long will it take this growing army of public school teachers to win the war to save our democratic public schools from a few greedy autocratic billionaires and their minions?

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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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Teacher v. Professor: On Why Anyone Would Be an Educator

A great comparison K-12 vs a University Professor. having taught for 30 years, the last 16 as a high school English and journalism teacher, I too worked long days as early as 6 AM to 10 PM when the high school’s alarms were turned on and we were told we had to leave. We meaning me and the student editors of the high school newspaper.

I taught about 170 students in five classes for 25 hours a week and the other 35 to 75 hours, I was planning lessons and correcting student work, and like Paul Thomas, I believed in having my students write essays and spent endless hours reading them.

I’m a former US Marine and combat vet and I can say with conviction, the Marines and fighting in Vietnam, for all the mental and physical scars that came with combat, wasn’t even close to teaching as the most difficult job I’ve ever had and I worked 45 years of my life with 12 of those years in the private sector.

This I learned the hard way, K-12 teachers are treated worse than garbage by too many of America’s elected leaders and Alt-Right billionaires. When I retired from teaching after 30-years in the classroom, I took a 40-percent pay cut and left without any medical insurance or coverage because that’s how too many in the Democratic and Republic Parties treat teachers in this country.

radical eyes for equity

While cycling with a new acquaintance, I navigated through the usual questions about how long I have been a professor, and then, after I mentioned that I was a high school English teacher for 18 years before moving to higher education, the follow up about which was easier, or which I preferred.

On this ride and during the conversation, I realized I am quickly approaching the tipping point in my career since I am starting my 17th year as a professor, just one year away from having been a professor for as long as I was a high school teacher—the identity I remain strongly associated with about myself professionally.

Being a writer has held both aspects of my being an educator together, but K-12 teaching and being a professor in higher education (especially my role as a teacher educator) are far more distinct than alike.

However, and most disturbing, K-12…

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

Explain why teachers allegedly don’t care about the children they teach when they get paid less and even spend their own money for materials in their classroom.

How does teachers’ pay compare to other Americans with the same level of education?

The Economic Policy Institute says, “A comparison of teachers’ wages to those of workers with comparable skill requirements, including accountants, reporters, registered nurses, computer programmers, clergy, personnel officers, and vocational counselors and inspectors, shows that teachers earned $116 less per week in 2002, a wage disadvantage of 12.2%. Because teachers worked more hours per week, the hourly wage disadvantage was an even larger 14.1%.

“Teachers’ weekly wages have grown far more slowly than those for these comparable occupations; teacher wages have deteriorated about 14.8% since 1993 and by 12.0% since 1983 relative to comparable occupations.”

Conclusion: Teachers that work in community based, democratic, transparent, non-profit public schools have been criticized and attacked in the media for decades ever since President Ronald Reagan released a missleading and fraudulent study called “A Nation at Risk” in 1983. In fact, a few years later, The Sandia Report proved that Reagan’s study that was used to declare a war on America’s public schools and teachers was totally wrong.

The truth is that public school teachers work, on average, almost twice the number of hours a week than the average American does while being paid less than workers with comparable skills, and then those teachers spend their own money so America’s children have a better chance to earn an education through their hard work. Teachers teach. Children do the work that learns from that teaching. Parents are supposed to support both the teachers and the children. What has gone wrong?

My daughter is 25 and she is now earning more than I did the year I retired after teaching for thirty years, and I had an AS degree, a BA, and an MFA. All she has is a BA.

Start with Part 1 or return to Part 2

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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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Have you heard how horrible teachers are in the United States? Part 2 of 3

It’s well-documented, even by the IRS, how much U.S. public school teachers spend to buy supplies for their classrooms. This fact alone proves that most if not all teachers care about the children they teach putting another lie in its grave and again I ask, “Who is spreading these lies and why are they doing it?”

In August 2016, Time.com reported, “The Education Market Association says that virtually all teachers wind up paying out of pocket for supplies, and it’s not chump change, either. On average, most spent nearly $500 last year, and one in 10 spent $1,000 or more. All told, a total of $1.6 billion in school supply costs is shifted from parents — or, increasingly, from cash-strapped districts — onto teachers themselves.”

I spent money on my classroom too. Some years I spent several hundred. Other years I spent more than one thousand dollars.  The IRS only allowed teachers to deducted up to $500 off their net pay … not off the taxes they have to pay.  I always spent more than the maximum allowed deduction.  The average teacher pay in the United States is $56,383 annually.  Before deductions, that puts the taxpayer in a 17- percent tax bracket.  That means that most teachers see their tax go down $85 for that $500 deduction.

Return to Part 1 or continue with Part 3 on October 22, 2017.

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

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