Tag Archives: childhood poverty

What Tests and Teachers Cannot Fix in any Schools

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

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

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

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

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


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


  1. Blood-sugar imbalances

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

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

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


  1. Childhood PTSD

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


  1. Substance abuse

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


  1. Lack of sleep

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

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

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

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


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

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The Hostile Corporate Takeover of America’s Public Schools Opens a Pandora’s Box

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

99 Cent Graphic for Promomtion OCT 2015

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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Why the public school in the United States are NOT FAILING!

  • There are NO bad schools unless we are talking about schools that are falling apart, because they are starving for funds to repair and update the infrastructure

Americans believe a lack of financial support is the biggest problem currently facing public schools, according to the 44th annual Phil Delta Kappa International/Gallup poll of public attitudes toward public schools released Wednesday, but they also say that balancing the federal budget is more important than improving the quality of education. –

  • There are NO FAILING schools except when VAM is used to measure them and VAM has been proven to be misleading and does NOT work.

As is the case in every profession that requires complex practice and judgments, precision and perfection in the evaluation of teachers will never be possible. Evaluators may find it useful to take student test score information into account in their evaluations of teachers, provided such information is embedded in a more comprehensive approach. What is now necessary is a comprehensive system that gives teachers the guidance and feedback, supportive leadership, and working conditions to improve their performance, and that permits schools to remove persistently ineffective teachers without distorting the entire instructional program by imposing a flawed system of standardized quantification of teacher quality. – Problems with the use of student test scores to evaluate teachers from the Economic Policy Institute

  • There is poverty and very little is being done to deal with it

The negative effects of poverty on all levels of school success have been widely demonstrated and accepted; the critical question for us as a caring society is, can these effects be prevented or reversed? A variety of data are relevant to this question, and recent research gives us reason to be both positive and proactive. The impact of poverty on educational outcomes for children, U.S. National Library of Medicine

  • Some families are dysfunctional

Communities and schools are currently facing unprecedented levels of unmet mental health needs, and children with emotional or behavioral challenges are less likely to learn while at school. Dysfunctional Family Structures and Aggression in Children: A Case for School-Based, Systemic Approaches With Violent Students

  • Most public school teachers work 60+ hours a week teaching, correcting, planning, prepping and calling parents

Annual teaching hours by education level, 2010 among OECD nations. The U.S. ranked 3rd place for most hours worked by teachers behind Argentina in 1st place and Chile for 2nd place. – Figure 4.7

The average number of teaching hours in public primary schools is 782 hours per year in OECD countries but ranges from fewer than 600 hours in Greece and Poland to over 1,000 hours in Chile and the United States. … Teaching time is defined as the number of hours per year that a full-time teacher teaches a group or class of students. … Working time refers to the normal working hours of a full-time teacher and includes time directly associated with teaching as well as the hours devoted to teaching-related activities, such as preparing lessons, counselling students, correcting assignments and tests, and meeting with parents and other staff. Data are from the 2011 OECD-INES Survey on Teachers and the Curriculum and refer to the 2009-10. How much time do teachers spend teaching? OECD

  • Just because a teacher teaches, that doesn’t mean a child will make the effort to learn and the parent or parents will support the learning process so learning takes place

Researchers have evidence for the positive effects of parent involvement on children, families, and school when schools and parents continuously support and encourage the children’s learning and development. The Benefits of Parent Involvement: What Research Has to Say

  • There is an overwhelming avalanche of evidence that there are MANY crooks and liars in the corporate supported public education reform movement using VAM scores to drive their goals toward more wealth and profit that has nothing to do with the learning of the most at risk and difficult to teach children, the children who cause the low VAM scores in the first place.

There’s been a flood of local news stories in recent months about FBI raids on charter schools all over the country.  FBI Tracks Charter Schools

In Ohio, “$1.4 billion has been spent since 2005 through school year 2012-2013 on charter schools that have never gotten any higher grade than an F or a D,” Collins said. NBC4 Investigates: Taxpayers Left Holding Bill for Charter Schools

A compilation of news articles about charter schools which have been charged with, or are highly suspected of, tampering with admissions, grades, attendance and testing; misuse of funds and embezzlement; engaging in nepotism and conflicts of interest; engaging in complicated and shady real estate deals; and/or have been engaging in other questionable, unethical, borderline-legal, or illegal activities. This is also a record of charter school instability and other unsavory tidbits. Charter School Scandals

  • In conclusion, the case for public school success in the United States:

The average high school graduation rate, ages 24 – 65, for all OECD countries—including the United States—is 75%.

The high school graduation rate for the United States, by itself, ages 24 – 65, is 90%

The 4-year+ average graduation rate among all OECD countries—including the United States—is 37.7%.

The 4-year+ college graduation rate in the United States is 42%—the 4th highest in the world, but the U.S. has about 3 college graduates for every job that requires a college degree.

Among major English speaking countries, the United States is ranked 2nd for functional literacy.

  1. In the United Kingdom, the child poverty rate is 17% and the adult functional literacy rate is 80%
  2. In the United States, the child poverty rate is 22%, and the adult functional literacy rate is 65%
  3. In New Zealand, the child poverty rate is 22%, and the adult functional literacy rate is 55%
  4. In Australia, the child poverty rate is 10.9%, and the adult functional literacy rate is 53.6%
  5. In Canada, the child poverty rate is 14.3%, and the adult functional literacy rate is 51.5%


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

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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Looking at 5 countries with some of the best public education systems in the world, and—SURPRISE, SURPRISE—they all have teachers’ unions

This post will prove beyond a reasonable doubt—for open minds—that the teachers’ unions in the United States are not guilty of the alleged claims made by members of the manufactured, corporate-driven, fake-education, reform movement [MCDFERM].

There is an all-out war raging in the United States against public education, public school teachers and the teachers’ unions. This war started decades ago with the ultra-conservative Walton family supporting the school voucher movement, and the war escalated under neo-conservative President G. W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind [NCLB] mandating that 100 percent of children by age 17/18 must be college/career ready in 2014-15 [this school year].

Even though this goal has never been achieved throughout history in any country in the world including today, Congress approved NCLB—both Houses of Congress had a Republican majority, but 89-percent of the House and 91-percent of the Senate voted yes.

For instance, between 2005 and 2010, the Walton Family Foundation—an alleged member of the MCDFERM—gave nearly $700 million to education reform organizations. Specifically, the family provides lavish funding for voucher programs, charter schools, and policy and advocacy groups devoted to establishing and promoting alternatives to public schooling. The WALMART 1%

Then neo-liberal President Obama’s Race to the Top and his Common Core State Standards agenda—with help from more than $200 million in funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, another alleged member of MCDFERM—made the situation worse when the federal government threatened the states with the loss of billions of dollars in federal funding through the Department of Education if the states did not use the results of standardized student tests to rank and then fire teachers in addition to closing schools classified as failing—even though the American Statistical Association says: “Most VAM studies find that teachers account for about 1 to 14-percent of the variability in test scores, and that the majority of opportunities for quality improvement are found in the system-level conditions. Ranking teachers by their VAM scores can have unintended consequences that reduce quality.”

The main talking points of the MCDFERM are that there are too many incompetent teachers and that the teacher’s unions and tenure—due process job protection that does NOT guarantee a job for life—get in the way of firing bad teachers. It doesn’t matter that there is no valid evidence to support these often repeated claims by members of the MCDFERM.

To discover the membership of MCDFERM, I strongly suggest you read A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who in the Implosion of American Public Education by Mercedes K. Schneider.

Before moving on, remember that despite great wealth, the U.S. has the highest rate of child poverty among industrialized countries—about 23-percent.

Poverty impairs all aspects of a child’s development and can have lifelong detrimental consequences. Poor children are more likely to go hungry and are less likely to be read to during their early year. Child Poverty

South Korearanked second in the 2012 OECD international PISA Tests—with a population 46 million and a childhood poverty rate of 10.2-percent. [Rankings in this post do not count the Chinese cities of Shanghai, Hong Kong, Macao, the island of Taipei, and the Principality of Liechtenstein]

In 1989, teachers in South Korea established an independent union.  According to a report in The Wall Street Journal Asia, the union claimed support from 82-percent of all teachers. The Korean Teachers Union (KTU) has demanded that the government halt standardized testing, which is used in the country to determine school budgets—those with higher test results get more money from the government. In October 2013, the South Korean government threatened to ban the teachers union—sound familiar?

Finlandranked seventh—with a population of 5.4 million and a childhood poverty rate of 4.17-percent.

More than 95-percent of teachers in Finland are unionized, paying 1.2-percent of their gross salary to support the Trade Union of Education in Finland, OAJ.

The OAJ aims to influence policies that benefit educators. The OAJ negotiates on the national level with employer groups to create 14 universally binding agreements that spell out everything from minimum salaries to working hours for teachers and the length of the school year (currently 190 days).

In addition, Finland has only one standardized exam at the end of high school, says Pasi Sahlberg, a visiting professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and an expert on testing in Finland—something we don’t see in the United States.

Canadaranked eighth—with a population 34.3 million and a childhood poverty rate of 15.06-percent.

The Canadian Teacher’s Federation was founded in 1920 and has 200,000 members who work in the public education system, most of whom have four or five years of college.

“What makes Finland and Canada’s school systems more successful, Hargreaves argues, is that both countries value teachers and professional training for them. Most importantly, perhaps, there is discretion for teachers to make their own judgments. … Education reform has failed in countries where the teacher voice is absent – and also where teacher unions are absent.”

Japanranked third—with a population of 128-million and a childhood poverty rate of 13.69-percent.

Japan Teachers Union (JTU), established in 1947, was the largest teachers union until it split in the late 1980s. The JTU has been an active force in education and politics for almost 40 years.

The membership encompasses teachers and other education personnel at all levels, including college professors and clerical and support staff, in both public and private institutions. However, JTU’s members are predominantly teachers in the public elementary and secondary schools.

Some of the education issues about which JTU continues to feel strongly include decentralization of control, school autonomy, freedom of teachers to write and chose textbooks, student centered education, greater teacher participation in decision making, and comprehensive high schools for all youths.

There is a long history of conflict between JTU and the government, with many complex political ramifications not readily apparent or easily understood by those outside Japan.

Switzerlandranked fourth—with a population of 8+ million and a childhood poverty rate of 6.8-percent

As part of the freedom of association, teachers in Switzerland are represented by trade unions and professional organizations. The representatives of the teachers’ unions are systematically included in all reform initiatives. They are very active not only in the negotiations defining teachers’ incentive structure and working conditions but also in producing proposals for policy development in a wide range of educational areas—something we don’t see in the United States.

In conclusion—15-year olds in the United States ranked fourth in problem solving on the 2012 PISA Tests—way above the OECD average, but you will not hear that from the MCDFERM.

We also won’t hear this from the MCDFERM—in mathematics performance among PISA 2012 participants, the U.S. mean score was ranked fifth.

There are many different ways to compare the countries that participated in the 2012 PISA tests, and if the MCDFERM wants to make public education in the United States look bad, all they have to do is cherry-pick select facts to make that happen. Their goal is to fool as many people as possible. To armor yourself against these false claims, I suggest that you carefully read the detailed key findings of the 2012 PISA.

After reading this post, why do you think the MCDFERM is ignoring childhood poverty?

I know that many in the middle class and those who live in poverty think it’s great to live in a capitalist country with an opportunity to get rich—all we have to do is work hard or buy a winning lottery ticket, right?

Wrong! About 50-million Americans live in poverty. That means there’s a 15.8-percent chance of landing in poverty.

But what are the odds of getting rich?

For instance, there are 492 billionaires in the United States—we’ll find the members of MCDFERM in that group—that’s 0.00015-percent of the population, and then there are 9.63 million households with a net worth of $1 million or more—that’s about 3-percent of the population. In addition, the odds of winning a lottery with one ticket are about 1 in 175-million.


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


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!”


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