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Tag Archives: Dana Goldstein

The Industry Built around Blaming Teachers while ignoring Poverty

Dana Goldstein’s book—“The Teacher Wars: A History of America’s Most Embattled Profession”—was released today. Anyone who is passionate about what’s happening to public education in the United States today should read this book.

http://www.amazon.com/Teacher-Wars-Americas-Embattled-Profession-ebook/dp/B00IWTSK7Q/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid=

In addition, Goldstein was interviewed on September 2 [today], on the Majority Report.

“Journalist Dana Goldstein author of the new book The Teacher Wars, explains why teachers are held responsible for the American inequality crisis, if we want teachers to make a broader impact why we need structural policy solutions, the gendered dynamics of teaching, why we can’t support teaching in the age of austerity, the policy implications of merit pay, how the Obama Administration helped create the standardized test hysteria, what tests are meant for, the historical roots of the Teach For America model, what we can do to support teachers and what really harms inner city schools.”

After the interview with Dana Goldstein, the Majority Report discussed why poverty is always the [real] issue in education—[the one ignored by President Obama, Bill Gates, and Arne Duncan and a few other fake education reformers who think bubble tests will solve poverty].

_______________________

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).

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Reviewing The Teacher Wars, a History of America’s Most Embattled Profession

Reading Dana Goldstein’s book was a journey of discovery that I wished I’d taken in 1975, before I ended up teaching for thirty years in the embattled and often abused public schools.

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About the time I reached page 100, I e-mailed an old friend and told him that if I’d read this book before I went into education, I might have changed my mind. Maybe I would have even given the U.S. Marines a second chance at a career.

However, by the time I reached page 274 and finished Goldstein’s book, I changed my mind and was glad I spent thirty years in the classroom fighting the barbarians and fools who are working hard to destroy public education through politics.

On page 250 in the bound galley supplied by Amazon, Goldstein says, “The policy, one of several school turnaround strategies suggested by (President Obama’s) Race to the Top, is based on a faulty premise: that veteran teachers are to blame when schools experience many years of low test scores.”

I agree with Goldstein. Bill Gates and Obama’s Race to the Top and its Common Core crap is a faulty, untested theory that’s causing more problems and fixing none.

I read Goldstein’s book with a Hi-Liter, and tagged many pages with information I thought relevant. In this review, I’ve resisted the urge to list many of the key points in the book and rant about them, because then the review might run thirty to forty thousand words.

But there is one point I want to focus on, and that’s teacher training. On page 250, Goldstein mentions three methods of teacher training.

First is the most common path to the classroom through a traditional college of education; second is with an urban teacher residency program, and third is with Teach for America (TFA).

First, urban teacher residency programs have an 87-percent retention rate.

Second, the retention rate for teachers who go through a traditional college of education to reach the classroom is 50 percent.

Third, for a program like TFA’s with five-weeks of summer training and little or no follow up support in the classroom, retention was 33 percent.

Can you guess the teacher training program favored by the Obama administration? The correct answer is TFA.

However, the urban teacher residencies had the best teacher retention, because these programs required a year-long residency in a mentor’s classroom, a requirement that matches the teacher training methods used in high archiving nations like Finland and in Shanghai, China.

There is a profile on page 252 that describes teachers who are most often rated highly by principals. Those teachers stayed in their job for many years. They were usually thirty or older and had extensive experience in jobs outside of education. They were usually working class black, Latino or white who graduated from non-elite colleges and often started in a community college.

When I read that profile, I was shocked, because that description matched my path to teaching. I was born to poverty and my parents, both high school dropouts, were blue-collar working class. I started work at 15, and after graduating from high school served in the U.S Marines where I ended up fighting in Vietnam, and didn’t start teaching until I was 30.  In 1970, after earning an Associate of Science degree from a community college, I attended a non-elite college where I earned a BA in journalism in 1973.

Then, after working for two years in middle management in the private sector, I went through a year-long residency in a mentor teacher’s classroom.

I urge you to read Goldstein’s book when it’s released by Doubleday on September 2, 2014. Through The Teacher Wars, you will discover how U.S. politics are mostly to blame for any problems that exist in the public schools, and it’s been this way for 175 years. Today’s 3.3+ million public school teachers are not the problem, and Obama’s Race to the Top’s and the Common Core agenda of Bill Gates along with TFA—with its 66-percent teacher dropout rate—are not the solution.

There are three areas that would lead to dramatic improvement in public education, but it won’t happen overnight. Teacher training is the first area that needs attention.

Teacher pay is another. The headline in a recent piece published by Education Week.com shouted, Teacher Pay Starts Low, Grows Slowly, Is Generally Awful, Report Says.

Then there are early childhood education programs that should be mandatory for children living in poverty in the United States and available to every child as early as age three. Early childhood education should focus on literacy and foster a passion for reading.

We must abandon President Obama’s Race to the Top and its Machiavellian Common Core agenda to “rank and yank” teachers after torturing children with too many standardized tests that are wrongheaded, flawed and meaningless.

I read a free advanced galley proof of this novel sent to me by Amazon Vine. Eventually, this 5-star review will appear on Amazon, probably revised if Amazon won’t accept it as it appears here.

_______________________

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).

 

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The American Teacher “is not” Waiting for Superman – Part 2/2

The documentary, “Waiting for Superman”, on the other hand, argued that non-unionized charter schools would do a better job, and the public schools were failing the nation due to teacher unions protecting incompetent teachers.

However, according to Dona Goldstein writing for Slate, “Only 17 percent of charters are consistently better than traditional public schools at raising students’ math and reading scores.”

In fact, it helps to know who funded “Waiting for Superman” and the small fortune that promoted the film.

To discover that answer, Alan Singer, writing for Huffington Post, says, “The real question for me is where the money came from to make the pseudo-documentary and who is paying to promote a movie that no one apparently wants to see. The answer, of course, is from “Big Bill” Gates and a gaggle of hedge fund investors who smell mega-profits if government financed private for profit McSchools are allowed to muscle in on public school dollars.

“The film is executive produced and financed by Participant Media, which was founded by former eBayist Jeffrey Skoll.

“Participant Media’s current CEO is Jim Berk. When Berk was Chairman and CEO of Gryphon Colleges Corporation, he was responsible for the formation of a private company operating for-profit schools…

“The Denver-based Charter School Growth Fund, a nonprofit venture capital fund, recently announced it had secured $80 million in initial commitments with big donations coming from among others the Walton Family Foundation. Wal-Mart is also a big supporter of the Waiting for “Superman” social action campaign and seems primed to provide us with Wal-Mart Academies modeled on big box stores that destroy communities and small businesses, drive down wages, and provide us with endless quantities of junk.”


– a Conversation on “Waiting for Superman” held at Stanford University –

In addition, Dana Goldstein, writing for The Nation, says, “Here’s what you don’t see in “Waiting for Superman”:

“You don’t see teen moms, households without an adult English speaker or headed by a drug addict, or any of the millions of children who never have a chance to enter a charter school lottery (or get help with their homework or a nice breakfast) because adults simply aren’t engaged in their education. These children, of course, are often the ones who are most difficult to educate, and the ones neighborhood public schools can’t turn away.”

“You also don’t learn that in the Finnish education system, much cited in the film as the best in the world, teachers are—gasp!—unionized and granted tenure, and families benefit from a cradle-to-grave social welfare system that includes universal daycare, preschool and healthcare, all of which are proven to help children achieve better results at school.”

Note from Blog host: America’s public school teachers are expected to create miracles as if they have super powers by overcoming many almost impossible obstacles and when they don’t, they are often crucified by public education’s enemies and critics.

I know what I am talking about because I worked as a public school teacher in Southern California for thirty years and my average work week was sixty to hundred hours a week and the challenges that I faced daily were daunting to say the least.

What is a teacher to do when parents do not supervise homework at home or provide reading time?  In fact, over the years, I heard parents tell their child that if the child didn’t want to do the work the teacher assigned, they didn’t have to.

Conspiracy theories abound but in the case of America’s schools, the war being waged on teachers and their unions and the accusations that the reason the average America’s school child is mediocre is the fault of incompetent teachers that cannot be fired has all the earmarks of a conspiracy of dunces based on lies and myths that have no foundation in truth/facts.

Where is the evidence that there are so many failing teachers that it is the reason America’s students are not measuring up?  There is none.  Although there are incompetent teachers in the public schools (I knew a few – less than 5 out of hundreds), there are not enough of them.

Return to The American Teacher “is not” Waiting for Superman – Part 1

____________________

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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