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Tag Archives: Education in the United States

Another educational fad invades an American school district: Part 1 of 5

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Before I comment on what a friend—who is still in the classroom teaching—wrote in a recent e-mail about the district he/she teaches in, I want to mention my own thirty years as a teacher [1975 – 2005] as a way to establish that I know what I’m talking about.

During my early years in the classroom, many of my seventh and eighth grade students won half the poetry awards in a state-wide contest in California. The award ceremonies were held on the Queen Mary in Long Beach.

The poems that won came out of a workshop I developed, and that success led me to develop a short-story writing workshop where two of my eighth-grade students one-year ended up published in a special edition of a Los Angeles Times Magazine that showcased maybe twenty or thirty short stories out of more than 10,000 submitted from schools in Los Angeles County.

That was back in the late 1970s and early 1980s. In fact, over the years, I developed most of my own curriculum to teach English and writing that I used successfully for decades.

In the 1990s, when I taught journalism and was the advisor of a high-school newspaper—in addition to teaching four periods of English—my journalism students won national and international recognition for their work.  In fact, you can read about it here. Just click on the next link to see what the Rowland Heights Highlander had to say: Extra! Nogales newspaper a five-time winner

In the late 1990’s, a vice principal told a room full of English teachers at the high school where I taught that my students outperformed—by a large margin—the students of every English teacher in the district at the same grade level when it came to writing.  At another meeting, another VP would mention that my students—year after year—always showed gains, on average, on annual standardized tests.

I was a tough, no-nonsense teacher who often created his own curriculum units and that included getting ideas from other teachers who I worked with. Some of my best teaching methods were learned from other veteran teacher like my friend.

Continued on August 20, 2013 in Another educational fad invades an American school district: Part 2

 

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Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His latest novel is the award winning Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to kill Americans.

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Not Broken! – Part 1/5

Regardless of the opinions of others or what the US media says, the facts clearly prove US public schools are not broken and most public school teachers are succeeding at the job they were hired to do, which is teaching American children each state’s mandated academic curriculum to prepare for college with more success than any country on Earth.

If anything is missing, it is vocational training (more on this later) as it exists in many other countries—something missing in American public education.

However, that is not the fault of the teachers or the teacher unions. That is the fault of politicians due to the political nature of public education in the United States and standards-based education reform.

In fact, education reform in the United States since the 1980s has been largely driven by the setting of academic standards for what students should know and be able to do.

Standards-based education reform in the US started with the publication of A Nation at Risk in 1983. Then in 1989, an education summit involving all fifty state governors and President George H. W. Bush (Republican) resulted in the adoption of national education goals for the year 2000.

For this reason, every public school teacher in America should boycott the classroom as the next school year starts in August/September of 2012, demand respect and the truth about the achievements in public education in the United States before returning to the classroom to teach.

It is time for Americans to stop using public school teachers as scapegoats to cover up the truth that if there is any failure, it belongs to Presidents George H. W. Bush, Clinton, G. W. Bush; Obama, and the 1996 National Educational Summit where 44 governors and 50 corporate CEO’s set the academic priorities of public education.


millions of jobs unfilled due to the lack of vocational training in the US public schools

Joseph Goebbels, one of Hitler’s inner circle in the Nazi Party, once said, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will come to believe it.”

The big lie I’m talking about is what I keep reading and hearing about the US public schools being broken and that teachers and the teacher unions are at fault.

You see, it all depends on how the facts are presented and what is left out.

The critics of public education have a loud voice and use language that shows the glass half empty instead of 90% full, which is more accurate. Once all the facts of high-school graduation rates or its alternatives are known, the perception changes dramatically.

To learn the truth, one must start more than a century in the past and chart the progress.

Continued on September 2, 2012 in Not Broken! – Part 2

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga.

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Revealing the Uncouth Fraud One-Step at a time among Public Education’s Critics – Part 2/2

The second of the TOP 5 REASONS MANY TEACHERS QUIT  was “unreasonable, much-too-heavy workloads”. [Source: Patty Inglish at Hub Pages]

[Note: teachers are often required to contact parents daily since most parents of failing students do not contact teachers. This seldom results in any changes among failing students because the home environment and lifestyle is usually the reason students are failing.]

Number 3 was poor general working conditions.

[Note: I’ve written about working in poor conditions in several posts such as Bookies Dream, Old Faithful and Chewing Gum, Teaching With Pain, Pollution and People, Sewer Teaching is a Smelly Art, and HEPA Filters Do Not Work Miracles]

Number 4 was “Too much responsibility for accountability scores on No Child Left Behind and other standardized testing and accountability initiatives was listed as another major reason to quit.

Last, Inglish wrote, “Teaching was no longer rewarding, emotionally or fiscally, since raises in pay were denied when students’ scores were not raised high enough. Some teachers were fired for this and others quit. All this created problems regarding unfair terminations with the teachers’ labor unions and growing bad blood between teachers and their unions with administrations.

Inglish says, “One -fifth, or 20%, of public school teachers that had no previous full-time teaching experience quit in the school year 2004-2005. Overall, 65% of former public school teachers report that they are better able to balance work and personal/family life since they quit teaching. Before quitting, nearly all their time was spent on such things as rewriting lesson plans, purchasing their own supplies, and working unpaid overtime hours without additional needed training.”

[Note: as I’ve said before, my work weeks ran between 60 to 100 hours for the same monthly salary I would have earned if all I did was teach the 25 to 30 hours a week I spent with students.]

Return to Revealing Uncouth Fraud One-Step at a time among Public Education’s Critics – Part 1

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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.

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Dumping Teachers due to Standardized Test Results and Student Performance – Part 6/7

I have a few more things to say to the Sydney Morrises of the world and those that blame teachers for the so-called failure of public education in America. [The real Sydney Morris spoke against seniority as a base for teacher layoffs in the August 2011 Costco Connection.]

It is a proven fact that teachers have PTSD because of the stress that comes with the job. In addition, there is a situation known as teacher burnout, which is probably caused by the same stress that causes PTSD.

This Australian Website on Teacher Burnout goes into detail and is a resource for teachers with any of the following nine symptoms.

1. insomnia

2. extreme tiredness

3. distancing yourself from colleagues and/or students

4. no longer caring what happens as a result of your efforts

5. an attitude shift to the cynical

6. hostility

7. taking more time to get less done

8. depression

9. drug/alcohol abuse

What’s interesting is the ratio of teachers found to have PTSD and/or Burnout is about the same. A study into stress in Western Australian schools in 1987 found that 10–20% of teachers suffered from psychological distress, with a further 9% suffering severe psychological distress (Howard and Johnson).

For more information on teacher burnout, see this report on several studies on the topic.

It is a fact that half of new teachers in America quit within the first few years and never return to education due the stress and the dysfunctional nature of an education system run mostly by elected officials and not teachers.

In addition, if you read the piece in the March/April 2011 Foreign Policy magazine, you discovered the quality of American students has always been poor and it it wasn’t because of the teachers.  Most of America’s public school teachers are highly educated, very dedicated and work extremely hard.

Continued on September 10, 2011 in Dumping Teachers due to Standardized Test Results and Student Performance – Part 7 or return to Part 5

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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.

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Dumping Teachers due to Standardized Test Results and Student Performance – Part 1/7

If you believe every negative message you hear or read about public education in America, there is a strong chance you have been brainwashed by corporate and political propaganda. An example of this propaganda is the documentary “Waiting for Superman”.

In August, Costco Connection published a debate about teacher seniority between two education experts. Norm Scott, the founding member of the Grassroots Education Movement and one of the producers of “The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting For Superman”, said, “An experienced, seniority-based teaching force is essential for building a top-rated educational system,” and he was right.

The other expert, Sydney Morris, who was against seniority and looks like one of my former high school students, said, “We must send a strong message to both current and prospective teachers that performance matters. It’s only fair that we be judged on the quality of our teaching and the growth of our students, not just on our years in the system.”

However, the quality of teaching and the growth of students do not always go hand in hand. In fact, a highly qualified teacher could still have a significant number of students that do not learn. Many of the posts published in this Blog deal with a different reality than the one we often hear on the news, from special interest groups or from politicians stumping for reelection.

The reasons why many students do not learn has nothing to do with the quality of the teaching.

What I often find missing in most if not all of these debates such as this one is the responsibility of students and parents.  In Finland, one of the best unionized, public school systems in the world, the best teachers are placed with the students that need the most help and weak teachers with the best students. The philosophy is that highly motivated students that are at the top of his or her class will learn no matter how good the teacher is.

What happens when a student doesn’t perform, which means he or she does not participate in class, doesn’t ask questions when he or she is confused about a lesson [correct me if I’m wrong, but teachers cannot read minds], avoids class work, avoids homework, avoids reading assignments, will not read independently, will not study and/or misbehaves in class?

Is that the teachers fault?

Continued on September 5, 2011 in Dumping Teachers due to Standardized Test Results and Student Performance – 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 “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.

 

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The Finland-Singapore Solution to Public Education in the U.S. – Part 3/3

When it was discovered that the Whole Language approach to teaching reading failed, instead of admitting they were wrong, the idealists behind the theory blamed America’s public school teachers.

To punish those teachers, what followed was a movement for school choice designed to allow parents to select the school their children attends. Although voters have rejected this theory in many states, the fanatics behind this movement refuse to surrender.

The next debacle was when President G. W. Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act into law, which ignored reality while blaming teachers again for the failure of a theory that many teachers were against but were forced to implement.

The Singapore element to the solution of this educational fiasco in the United States may be found in Civil Disobedience and No Child Left Behind, which says, “Meritocracy is a basic political ideology and a fundamental principle in Singapore’s education system, which aims to identify and groom bright young students for positions of leadership. The system places a great emphasis on academic performance in grading students and granting their admission to special programmes and universities.

“As for discipline in Singapore’s schools, corporal punishment is legal (for male students only), and fully encouraged by the government in order to maintain strict discipline.”

In addition, Singapore has a law that makes it a criminal offense for parents of children that cut school.

To learn more of the details behind the success of Singapore’s public schools, I suggest you see SG Box.com’s post about Singapore Education.

Unless the United States is willing to trust teachers and implement some of what Finland and Singapore have done, education in the US will continue to flounder regardless of laws such as No Child Left behind or failed theories such as Whole Language.

However, implementing these changes will not be easy, because idealists are often fanatics that refuse to surrender.

One well know example of this type of idealistic movement is Al Qaeda—the fanatical Islamic terrorists responsible for 9/11.

The best way to deal with America’s fanatics is to remove the public schools from the political system and trust the teachers to do whatever it takes to teach America’s youth.

Return to The Finland-Singapore Solution to Public Education in the U.S. – Part 2 or start with Part 1

_______________________

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 Finland-Singapore Solution to Public Education in the U.S. – Part 1/3

After years of U.S. teachers and their unions being blamed for the failure of some students to learn, it is time to face reality.

American teachers did not fail the system. The system failed the teachers, and the proof may be found in Finland and Singapore where teachers are trusted and  supported.

Smithsonian Magazine’s September 2011 issue reported an A+ for Finland where “kids aren’t required to go to school until they’re 7, standardized tests are rare and yet the Nordic nation’s success in education is off the charts.”

Yet, more than 97% of Finland’s children attend public schools and the teachers belong to a strong union. If you read the piece in Smithsonian (link provided above), the elements of that success, which are missing in the US, are spelled out in detail.

There is a reason that the U.S. public education system appears to be failing (at least according to its very vocal idealistic and fanatical critics).

For decades, the public schools in the US have been run by local, state and federal politics, which resulted in decisions made by mostly ignorant elected officials that turned the schools into laboratories for one ideological fad/theory or political agenda after another.

As an example, devout Christians demand that creationism be taught instead of evolution, while scientists argue that creationism is wrong. School prayer is also a hot button issue between atheists and religions as is sex education.

LynNell Hancock of Smithsonian Magazine says, “Finland has vastly improved in reading, math and science literacy over the past decade in large part because its teachers are trusted to do whatever it takes to turn young lives around.”

The key phrase in the last sentence is “its (Finland) teachers are trusted to do whatever it takes”, which is missing in America.

Continued August 29, 2011 in The Finland-Singapore Solution to Public Education in the U.S. – Part 2

_______________________

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!”

 

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