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Tag Archives: Associated Press

The Private-Sector, Jealousy-Misery Media Factor – Part 3/5

Another example of how misleading Don Thompson’s AP piece, Public retirement ages come under greater scrutiny, was: “With Americans increasingly likely to live well into their 80s, critics question whether paying lifetime pensions to retirees from age 55 or 60 is financially sustainable. An Associated Press survey earlier this year found the 50 states have a combined $690 billion in unfunded pension liabilities and $418 billion in retiree health care obligations.”

What Thompson doesn’t mention is that some states managed their pension funds better than others did.

A March 2011 report on the Best and Worst State Funded Pensions by Adam Corey Ross of The Fiscal Times offers a more balanced picture.

Ross writes, “State pension programs across the country have undergone a major transformation, as more and more of them are cutting back the amount of money they set aside for retired workers, gambling that they can meet their obligations through investments instead of savings…”

In fact, Ross lists the best fully-funded state pensions, which are: New York, Wisconsin, Delaware, North Carolina, Washington, South Dakota, Tennessee, Wyoming, Florida and Georgia. He also lists the worst state pensions where the gamble did not pay off.

California falls between the two lists and is struggling to fill the funding gap. The following video explains why.

In addition, nowhere does Ross or Thompson mention that California has two state pension plans.  There is CalPERS and then there is CalSTRS.

The California State Teachers’ Retirement System [CalSTRS], with a portfolio valued at $148.2 billion as of October 31, 2011, is the largest teacher pension fund and second largest public pension fund in the United States. CalSTRS administers a hybrid retirement system, consisting of a traditional defined benefit, cash balance and defined contribution plan, as well as disability and survivor benefits. CalSTRS serves California’s 852,000 public school educators and their families from the state’s 1,600 school districts, county offices of education and community college districts.

How well funded is CalSTRS to meet its future obligations?

CalSTRS makes it clear that “It’s important to understand that the risk of facing depleted assets exists approximately 30 years from now versus actually facing insolvency today.”

Note: Due to losses from investments during the 2008 global financial crises, the CalSTRS retirement “fund took an enormous hit to its stock portfolio when the market plunged during the heart of the recession, losing nearly $43 billion — roughly 25 percent of its value — from June 2008 to June 2009.”

Continued on December 18, 2011 in The Private-Sector, Jealousy-Misery Media Factor – Part 4 or return to Part 2

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

To subscribe to “Crazy Normal”, look for the “E-mail Subscription” link in the top-right column.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To subscribe to “Crazy Normal”, look for the “E-mail Subscription” link in the top-right column.

 

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Civil Disobedience and No Child Left Behind – Part 6/9

The first sign of nonviolent “civil disobedience” was when the media reported teachers either changing answers on standardized tests or helping students select the correct answers to raise scores.

The reason for this “civil disobedience” is that the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Law set a goal of having 100 percent of students proficient (according to each state’s standards) in math and reading by 2014.

However, the teachers/educators that helped change answers are not alone in their nonviolent “civil disobedience”.

Another example, according to Christine Armario and Jessie L. Bonner of The Associated Press (July 2011), reported that three states plan to defy the No Child Left Behind benchmarks.

AP said, “Idaho will no longer raise the benchmarks that public schools have to meet under No Child Left Behind, nor will it punish the schools that do not meet these higher testing goals, said Tom Luna, the state’s superintendent of public schools.”

“Montana and South Dakota are also rejecting the latest No Child Left Behind targets,” AP said, “while Kentucky is seeking a waiver that would allow the state to use a different method to measure whether students are making Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) under the program.

“And more states could follow in seeking relief from the federal requirements,” the AP reported.

Mr. Morally Correct (quoted in Part 1 of this series) wrote, “Every teacher working in a substandard school should have quit after discovering they could not educate students for whatever reason including the students’ refusal to learn.”

According to an April 28, 2011 report by the Center on Education Policy (CEP), 38% of U.S. public schools failed to make AYP in 2010. There are more than 132 thousand public schools in the US, which means 50,000 are failing according to the NCLB law. Since there are about 5 million teachers that means about 2 million should quit according to Mr. Morally Correct and abandon the students in their school that are meeting the goals of the NCLB Act since some students in every school make the effort to learn and keep up.

In addition, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies found that only 32 percent of the general population rates the NCLB law positively, which makes Mr. Morally Correct a member of the minority opinion with almost 70% of Americans disagreeing with him.

President George W. Bush brought us the NCLB Act when he signed it into law.  He also brought us the Iraq War based on false claims of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) hidden in Iraq.

American military casualties (physical wounds) number more than 33,000 with another 320,000 veterans with brain injuries in addition to several thousand killed in action.  Iraqi civilian deaths, which are difficult to track, range from estimates of 100,000 to more than a million depending on the source, and about 3.4 million have been displaced from their homes

Then there was the 2008 global financial crises President G. W. Bush brought the US, which is estimated to have cost $40 trillion in global losses ($20 trillion in the US) and tens of millions of lost jobs around the world (for example – 9 million in the US and 20 million in China).

President G. W. Bush also doubled the National Debt from about $5 trillion to more than $10 trillion.

Continued on August 6, 2011, in Civil Disobedience and No Child Left Behind – Part 7 or return to Part 5

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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).

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

lloydlofthouse_crazyisnormal_web2_5

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!”

Will the NCLB Act go down in history as President George W. Bush’s fourth major failure in judgement?

Continued on August 6, 2011, in Civil Disobedience and No Child Left Behind – Part 7 or return to Part 5

 

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Backwards—Again

Plan to fire all its teachers roils poor RI city
by Associated Press Writer Ray HenryWed Feb 24, 11:46 pm ET

I was a classroom teacher for thirty year, and I don’t fit the American stereotype, scapegoat image that is often used in the media and by conservative politicians with political agendas to line someone else’s pockets in the private sector.  The real problem is cultural and in the home where parents do not do their job when kids fail classes and/or do not learn. Parenting is a full-time job. It doesn’t end when a kid goes to school.

Sure, there are poor teachers. Just like any profession, a few workers don’t do their jobs efficiently. That’s not an excuse for making most teachers look bad. Teaching is a tough job. I challenge anyone who blames teachers for a child’s failings to teach for a decade in a school similar to where I taught.

There are four or five million public school teachers in the United States. There are two major teacher unions.

Henry, the Associated Press Writer, did a lazy job writing this piece about a school in Road Island that’s going to fire all of the teachers at Central Falls High School. Then hire some teachers back who don’t fail as many kids.

That’s the problem. Judging a teacher by the number of kids that fail his or her class. It wasn’t the teacher that failed. It was the kid and the parents that are not doing their part in education.  Educating children is a partnership between the teacher, parents and the children.  It doesn’t work when all the responsibility and blame belongs to teachers. Parents must take some of the blame—maybe most of it.

It seems the district wanted the teachers to work longer hours to tutor students after school who weren’t learning, but the teacher’s wanted to get paid for those extra hours.  That’s not the point.

I taught for thirty years and I gave up most lunches to help. There was a notice on a poster in the classroom that said I was available in my classroom at lunch and after school every day, and I didn’t ask for more money to do that. I also told the students verbally daily.

I can count on one hand how many students out of the thousands that I taught who took advantage of that help. The number of students who failed the classes I taught was usually in the double digits. 

Why? Most kids did not do the homework. Most kids did not ask for help. Most kids do not listen. Most kids refuse to read. Some kids are often bored and often complain about boredom. Kids and parents expect teachers to run a three-ring circus and compete with the likes of America Idol. Try to be on stage six hours a day for one-hundred-and-eighty-days and see how easy that is.

Click here to find out more about Lloyd’s teaching years –
http://www.mysplendidconcubine.com/teachingyears.htm

 

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