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Tag Archives: fake Education reformers

What happens to women’s rights if the public schools are abolished?

The title of this post was a question I wanted to ask four authors on a panel at the Los Angeles Times Book Festival held at USC, but when I walked to the mike, I did an information dump about the fake Ed reformers war on public education instead; mentioned Diane Ravitch, her book and her blog; was challenged by the moderator, but was saved by an ESL teacher in the audience I didn’t know and still don’t.

This all happened on Saturday, April 12, after my wife and I arrived at USC’s campus after walking three miles from the downtown Los Angeles hotel where we were staying. It’s amazing how much the glitz and modern polish of downtown Los Angeles changes in a few miles. It almost felt as if we were leaving the concrete and glass Garden of Eden for a desert of fast food littered with car dealerships.

My wife was scheduled to be on a panel at 3:30, “Memoir: The Places that Makes Us” in a lecture hall located in the Andrus Gerontology Center. But three hours earlier, we went to another panel called “Nonfiction: The Evolution of Feminism” from 12:30 to 1:30 held in USC’s Taper Hall.

Robin Abcarian, an LA Times columnist, was the moderator with Nancy L. Cohen, M.G. Lord, and Myra MacPherson making up the panel of feminist authors.

Nancy L. Cohen is the author of “Delirium, the Politics of Sex in America”.

M. G. Lord is the author of “The Accidental Feminist: How Elizabeth Taylor Raised Our Consciousness and We Were Too Distracted by Her Beauty to Notice”.


Lord’s segment starts at 28:00 if you don’t want to watch the entire video.

Myra MacPherson is the author of “The Scarlet Sisters: Sex, Suffrage, and Scandal in the Gilded Age”.

When we sat down shortly before the moderated conversation between the panelists started, I wasn’t planning on asking any questions. Then during the conversation, Myra MacPherson mentioned the Koch brothers funding the far-right conservative efforts that are rolling back some of the gains the equal rights movement for women achieved during the 20th century.

When I heard that, I sat straighter because these billionaires were also involved in the war against the public schools in the US. If the billionaires won, the democratically run public schools that have been around for more than a hundred years would be closed and the almost $700 billion in annual taxes that support those schools and more than four million school teachers would be turned over to CEO’s and corporations; democratically elected school boards would be abolished, parents would have no say, and these corporate-run schools paid for by the taxpayers would operate without government oversight. The transparent democratically run public schools would be flushed down the sewer of history and the opaque corporate schools would replace them—corporations run by Bill Gates, Rupert Murdock, the Koch brothers, the Walton family, Eli Broad, Michael Bloomberg along with several Hedge Fund billionaires—who are in it only for the money—among other vultures. And parents would have no say what these corporate run schools taught their children; no control over how their children would be treated or how the tax dollars were spent.

When I was standing in front of that mike talking about the war on the public schools, the moderator, Robin Abcarian, interrupted me—which was right because I was off topic—a woman sitting in the crowded lecture hall behind me leaped up and shouted, “It has everything to do with it!”

Abcarian then invited the ESL teacher to the mike and I was thankful to sit down and shut up so I could cool off. It turned out that the woman who saved me teaches in a Los Angeles Unified elementary school, and when she reached the mike she made a connection between what was happening to the public schools and the roll back on women’s rights in the US.

Later—after returning home—I discovered that “in recent years, the number of public schools segregating their students by sex has ballooned, despite mounting evidence that single-sex programs don’t improve academic performance and instead perpetuate sex stereotypes.” (aclu.org)

I still don’t have an answer to my question: What happens to women’s rights if the public schools are abolished?

What I found really interesting was the fact that there wasn’t one panel at the Los Angeles Times Book Festival about the war being waged against the public schools by the fake education reformers even though there have been several books out recently on the subject loaded with facts proving that the public schools aren’t failing and don’t need drastic reforming.

What we are hearing in the traditional media is what the fake education reformers want us to hear. Why isn’t the media reporting on this controversy? Why is the resistance against the fake education reformers mostly being ignored?

_______________________

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

His 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 Walking Dead and their Whipping Boys

Thanks to the fake Ed reformers—for instance, Bill Gates, President Obama and his Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (there are many others)—teachers have become the 21st century’s whipping boys.

Are you familiar with the definition of “Whipping Boy”?

Merriam-Webster.com says, “Whipping boy: someone or something that often is blamed for problems caused by other people.”

In one of the internet forums I belong to, the following pull quote was posted in a discussion.

“Enrolling students of color in ‘rigorous’ academic programs that hold them to high academic standards is one way that educators attempt to close achievement gaps and disrupt the self-perpetuating nature of low expectations.”  This quote was pulled from a fake Ed reformer website.

When I read it the first time, I smiled wryly and wanted to laugh but there were too many painful memories from the thirty years I worked as a classroom teacher.

I taught mostly students of color who lived in poverty and/or belonged to violent street gangs and no matter how rigorous the academic program, too many of these kids didn’t give a rat’s ass about what some distant autocrat or billionaire expected teachers to teach.

In fact, I was often criticized by parents and kids for demanding too much of my students. Some of these kids who refused to learn called me “mean” and one or two would ask what I’d do if “they  jumped me.” Another excuse often used by some kids who did little to nothing was that I was “boring”, and because I was “boring”, they didn’t have to do the work.

However, that didn’t stop a “few” in every class from earning A’s and B’s and doing the quality of work I demanded of them.

It doesn’t matter how fantastic a teacher teaches, there is no way to force a kid to bring their book to class, pay attention, read anything, or do the work. For these kids, the results of standardized tests will always be dismal.

Those who don’t work, well, don’t—LEARN.  And the ones who don’t learn (because they didn’t do the work not because the teacher didn’t teach) are the ones who get the lower standardized test scores that will get teachers fired and schools closed.

There was a term that some veteran teachers at the high school where I taught used to describe these students who refused to learn: “the walking dead”. One teacher who had been teaching for more than forty years used this term in a staff meeting and administration criticized him severely. Every teacher at the high school signed a petition in his defense because we all knew what he said was true.

In reality, teachers are the whipping boys for the parents who didn’t support them and the kids, “the walking dead”, who refuse to cooperate, read and study. Teachers are also the whipping boys for the fake Ed reformers.

The only thing that happens to the kids who wouldn’t cooperate is that they might not earn a high school diploma by age 17/18. About twenty percent don’t but as they mature and go out into the work world and learn the value of that high school degree, the number of adults in American who have earned a high school degree or its equivalent by age 24 reaches more than 90%—we won’t hear that from the fake Ed Reformers. There’s an old saying, “Better late than never,” but that isn’t stopping the fake Ed reformers from demanding that so-called failing teachers be fired and failing schools be closed.

The failure rate in my class was based on the work and not on tests. About 5% (on average) earned A’s, because they did most or all of the work, and 30% to 50% earned F’s for not working. Instead, some warmed a seat and a few caused a lot of trouble making it challenging for me to teach the 50% to 70% (it varied from class to class) who were willing to do some, most or all of the work.

I was one of those “whipping boys” for most of the thirty years I taught, but today I’m retired and angry, because I worked 60 to 100 hour weeks on average challenging my students to close that “achievement gap”.

Why is this happening? Why are teachers being used as whipping boys?

One answer may be: In a stock market prospectus uncovered by education author Jonathan Kozol, the Montgomery Securities group explains to Corporate America the lure of privatizing education. Kozol writes: “The education industry,” according to these analysts, “represents, in our opinion, the final frontier of a number of sectors once under public control” that have either voluntarily opened or, they note in pointed terms, have “been forced” to open up to private enterprise. Indeed, they write, “the education industry represents the largest market opportunity” since health-care services were privatized during the 1970’s…. From the point of view of private profit, one of these analysts enthusiastically observes, “The K–12 market is the Big Enchilada.”  (IS Review.org)

How much money are we talking about? The annual appropriation for the entire Federal Department of Education in 2012 was $64.1 Billion and the total from the fifty states for public elementary and secondary schools amounted to $638 billion in 2009-10.

Imagine the profits to be gained by a parasitic Corporate America. All they have to do is sweep aside more than four million public school teachers, their retirement plans, and their labor unions. And the hell with those brats who won’t behave and do what the corporate stooges tell them. Maybe they’ll send those kids, “the walking dead”, to prisons or concentration camps to get them out of the way.

_______________________

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

His 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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