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Tag Archives: High school

What makes Education Toxic?

A comment left for a postNC Teacher: “I quit”—on Diane Ravitche’s blog made a good point, and I posted a reply:

I think you have made a great point or at least inadvertently focused a spotlight on an important issue and why it is there.  Turnover in a school or school district may be a red flag—a strong warning sign— that the school board/administration/students are not the easiest to work with or work for [another word would be dysfunctional ].

This could be extended to an entire state since each state has its own department of education that decides policy in that state as directed by the elected politicians from the governor of a state on down. Due to a need to gain votes, religious and/or political agendas tend to rule in such organizations and the winds may shift at any time.

For example, I friend sent me this about the current situation in the high school in Southern California where he now teaches.

I was a public school teacher from 1975 – 2005 and we worked together before dysfunctional administration at our high school and in our school district drove him to quit and find a job in another district that at the time was a better place to work.

But beware of the grass is greener over there syndrome because a drought will kill the green grass leaving behind sweltering heat and dust.

During my thirty years in the classroom, I worked under nine-different principals. Some were great, some good and some horrible.

The horrible ones drove teachers, counselors and VPs out of the schools where they ruled Nazi style and turnover could reach as high as fifty percent in a few years.

Good principals, who are usually a sign of good administration and a sensible school board, tend to hold on to staff.

I mean, how many people quit jobs—any job—with a boss that knows what he or she is doing; a boss that supports his workers in the best possible ways to make the work environment a place where we want to spend twenty to forty years of our lives?

My friend said of this school year (2012 – 2013):

“112 scheduling changes in the first three weeks (the classes he teaches)

“75% of the administrative team is new; a lot of chaos

“50% of the counselors are new; a lot of chaos

“We lost our department chairs, so there is no communication between the teachers and administration

[This high school, he says] “once had a top-notch academic program; however, we are falling apart at the seams; our test scores have flat-lined and they will continue to flat-line because there are just too many new faces at our school; two of our Vice Principals have never been a VP before; they’re nice people, but we have to wade through their learning curve.”

For another example: at the high school where I taught for the last sixteen of the thirty years I was in the classroom as a teacher, we had one new teacher quit at lunch on his first day on the job with two more classes to teach after lunch. During the lunch break, he walked in the principal’s office, tossed his room keys on the desk and said, “If they won’t show some respect for me and attempt to learn, then I refuse to teach them.”

I know from experience, that district did not do a good job creating a positive, supportive educational environment for its teachers because I worked in that district for thirty years. Instead, it was more of a combative environment that did not offer the support teachers wanted or needed to teach.

It is a fact that teachers teach and students learn. However, that is not always the case. Instead, teachers in a toxic educational environment often struggle to teach while too many students make no effort to learn.

Elected School Boards and the administrators they hire should support an environment where teachers may teach and students will learn, and we can learn from two of the best public educations system in the world: Finland and Singapore.

In Finland, the teachers have a strong union and the teachers make the decisions in a supportive educational environment and it works. Parents start teaching children how to read at age three but the first year of school is at age seven.

In Singapore, merit rules. Students must compete academically to earn where they are tracked and the system is heavily tracked based on performance. There is no self-esteem driven educational environment; there is corporal punishment and students may be publicly beat with a bamboo cane if caught breaking strict-rules built to support a merit based education system.

Why can’t we in the United States learn from Finland and Singapore?

Discover What is the Matter with [American] Parents these Days?

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

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A Short History of America’s Middle Class – Part 2/3

Another way to trace the rise of the modern-day-middle class may be through life expectancy (see Part One), education, and the shift in population from rural to urban settings.

In 1870, only 2% of teens (age 16 – 18) graduated from high school, but as the country’s population continued to move from rural to urban settings, that changed. In 1850, average life expectancy was 39.

By 1900, six-point-four percent (6.4%) graduated from high school.

In 1940, before World War II, 50.8% graduated.

By 1970, that number climbed to 77.1%.

It is projected that in 2011-12, three-point-two (3.2) million will graduate from high school.

In 1800, there were ten permanent colleges and universities in the US. By 1850, that number reached 131.Today, there are 4,495 colleges, universities and junior colleges in the US.

In 1869 – 70, nine-thousand-three-hundred-seventy-one (9,371) college degrees were awarded.

By 1900, that number reached 28,681.

In 1969 – 70, the number of college graduates reached 839,730.

During the 2012–13 school year, colleges and universities are expected to award 937,000 associate’s degrees; 1.8 million bachelor’s degrees; 756,000 master’s degrees; and 174,700 doctor’s degrees. For the educated, the average life expectancy is age 82.

Most college graduates attended the public schools alongside students that dropped out of high school or only earned a high school degree. To learn is a choice influenced by the family and environment a child grows up in—not so-called incompetent teachers.

Continued on September 28, 2012 in A Short History of America’s Middle Class – Part 3  or return to Part 1

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

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Not Broken! – Part 4/5

In conclusion, when do we see these types of global education comparisons from the media or critics of public education?

Never!

The reason for that NEVER answer is because four US presidents (two democrats and two republicans) along with forty-four US governors and 50 CEOs made a huge mistake starting in the 1980s when they left out vocational training as part of educational reform.

Instead of admitting the mistake, politicians and many Americans continue to use teachers and teacher unions as the scapegoat claiming that public education is broken. If you need proof, today, America has a high unemployment rate at the same time that millions of high-skilled, high-paying blue-collar jobs that do not require a college education but do require skilled vocational training go unfilled.

Recommendation: The US should seriously consider starting vocational programs, similar to Europe, that leads to graduation from its secondary schools—this means two programs that result in high-school graduation: academic and vocational. In my opinion, it is ridiculous to treat every student as if he or she is college material.


Mike Rowe testifies before the US Senate about the need for people that can fill jobs that require skilled trades. He is the host of a TV show called Dirty Jobs about the hard work done by tradesmen and skilled workers.

All we need to do is look at information from the US Census to see the truth.

In the United States by age 24, almost 90% of young adults have a high-school degree or its equivalent, a GED.

However, only 30.44% (72.56 million) of those young adults went on to earn a Bachelor’s degree, and of those that earned a BA degree, 7.94% (18.95 million) earned a Master’s degree and 3% (7.2 million) a Doctorate or professional degree.

In addition, according to the US Census, 76% of the population is age 19 or older. That means 165.7 million (70%) adult Americans did not move from the high school academic program to a college academic program.

Many of these adults may have benefited from a vocational program leading to high-school graduation and a high skilled, high paying blue-collar job, and unemployment in America today would be much lower while the economy would benefit from more Americans working, consuming and paying taxes.

Instead, those that did not go to college were tossed into the world of work, most with only an academic high-school degree, and no guidance or support from the public education system that was designed by Washington D.C.

Continued on September 5, 2012 in Not Broken! – Part 5 or return to Part 3

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

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Not Broken! – Part 2/5

I’ll start with 1900 when the total number of high-school graduates in the US numbered 16,000 of 815,000 seventeen-year olds.

In 1920, 311,000 graduated from high school or 16.8% of the total which was 1,855,000

In 1940, 1,221,000 or 50,8% of 2,403,000 graduated.

In 1960, 1,858,000 or 69.5% of 2,672,000 graduated.

In 1980, 3,043,000 or 71.4% of 4,262,000 graduated.

Source: nces.ed.gov

After 1970, high school graduation rates for 17/18 year olds level off and fluctuated but not by much.

In fact, in 2009, 75.5% of high school students that started ninth grade as freshman graduated from high school at age 17/18.

Furthermore, in 2009, eighty-nine-point-eight (89.8%) percent of 18 through 24-year-olds not enrolled in high school had earned a high school degree or earned a high-school diploma or a GED after leaving high school.

A GED is a 7 hour test on five-subject areas. Every few years a number of graduating high-school students is selected to take the GED. In order to be awarded a GED, a candidate must do better on the test than 60% of the graduating high-school seniors who took the test.

Take another look at the two numbers that represent graduation from US secondary schools before we compare public education in the United States to other countries:

A. 75.5% (age 17/18)

B. 89.9% (ages 18 – 24)

In 2008, the media reported that the US high school graduation rate was lower than ten countries but this was misleading as you will discover: Source: This list comes from a CNN Blog called Global Public Square. However, I have added more information from other reputable sources.

Note: the first number is the reported total graduation rate but it is often misleading once the facts are known. In addition, remember this: the US public schools do not offer vocational programs that lead to a secondary-school diploma (high school). In the US, programs that lead to graduation from high school are mostly academic—not vocational.


The need for Vocational Education Funding in the public schools

Top Ten List as it was reported in the media:

1. The United Kingdom (92%—In the UK, compulsory education for all children goes from their fifth birthday to the year they turn 16. In addition, one-half of British universities have lost confidence in A grades that are awarded by secondary schools and require many applicants to sit for a competitive entrance examination, and one out of five English adults [20%] are functionally illiterate telling us that graduation rates in the UK mean little to nothing in a comparison of this type—yet the United Kingdom boasts the highest secondary-school graduation rate without any mention of vocational programs)

2. Switzerland (90%, but only 30% completed the general academic program while 71% completed a vocational program toward secondary school graduation—there must be some overlap where students that complete the academic path complete a vocational program too)

3. Norway (78% below age 25 and 92% above age 25, but only 60% completed the academic program, while 38% completed a vocational program toward secondary school graduation)

4. South Korea (89%, but only 66% completed the academic program, while 23% completed a vocational program)

5. Japan (95%, but only 72% completed the academic program, while 23% completed a vocational program toward secondary graduation)

6. Italy (80%, but only 35% completed the academic program, while 59% completed a vocational program)

7. Ireland (90% before age 25 and 91% after age 25, but only 70% completed the academic program, while 62% completed a vocational program with some students completing both)

8. Germany (84%, but only 39% completed the academic program, while 45% completed a vocational program)

9. Finland (84% before age 25 and 95% after age 25, but only 48% complete the academic program, while 94% completed a vocational program with some students completing both)

10. Denmark (75% before age 25 and 85% after age 25, but only 55% complete the general academic program, while 47% complete a vocational program). Source: oecd.org

Continued on September 3, 2012 in Not Broken! – Part 3 or return to Part 1

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

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Yes, Finland is a great example of how to educate children and there is a wide gap between Finland and America’s cultures.

However, in the US, every public school teacher should walk out and demand respect and the truth about the achievements in Education in this country before returning to the classroom.
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.”

You see, it all depends on how the facts are presented. The critics of public education have a loud voice and use language that shows the glass half empty instead of about 90% full, which is more accurate. Once all the facts about high-school graduation rates, the perception changes dramatically.
To achieve this, one must start more than a century back and chart the progress

.
I’ll start with 1900 when the total number of high school graduates in the US numbered 16,000 of 815,000 seventeen-year olds.
In 1920, 311,000 graduated from high school or 16.8% of the total which was 1,855,000
In 1940, 1,221,000 or 50,8% of 2,403,000 graduated.
In 1960, 1,858,000 or 69.5% of 2,672,00 graduated.
In 1980, 3,043,000 or 71.4% of 4,262,00 graduated.
Source: http://nces.ed.gov/pubs93/93442.pdf
After 1970, high school graduation rates level off and fluctuated but stayed pretty close.
in 2009, 75.5% of high school students that started as freshman graduated.
In addition, In 2009, some 89.8 percent of 18- through 24-year-olds not enrolled in high school had received a high school diploma or alternative credential.
How does this compare with other countries?
In 2008, the U.S. high school graduation rate was lower than the rates of ten countries: The United Kingdom, Switzerland, Norway, South Korea, Japan, Italy, Ireland, Germany, Finland and Denmark.
Source: http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2011/11/03/how-u-s-graduation-rates-compare-with-the-rest-of-the-world/
However, there are 193 countries represented in the UN, putting the United States High School graduation rate in the top 5.69% of all the nations that are members of the UN. That means 94.31% of the Earth’s countries have lower high school graduation rates.
When do we see these types of comparison from the American media or critics of public education in the US? Never

The next question is, “What is the political and economic agenda of these critics and a media that seems controlled by the critics?”

 

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What is the Matter with Parents these Days? – Part 3/4

Yes, my wife and me felt it was more important that our daughter be happier as an adult than during her childhood, which is why we left the TV off, no video games, no social networking (at least until her second year in high school), limited the number of school dances she attended, no mobile phone for personal use and focused on her reading books, doing homework, learning ballet, piano, how to change a flat tire, install a toilet, change a lock, install drywall, tile a floor, etc.

And last but not least, we never bought or drank any brand of soda. There was water and then there was water (sometimes there was fruit juice such as apple or orange juice).

Needless to say, many of our daughter’s peers in middle and high school felt sorry for her, because she wasn’t having as much fun as they were. However, our daughter graduated from high school with a 4.65 GPA and was accepted to Stanford University (the only student from her high school that year) where she is starting her third year majoring in biology with goals to pursue a medical degree.

Contrary to popular opinion, she’s happy and loves to dance and play the piano and enjoys reading books. She has a boyfriend at Stanford she loves too and the two share many similar interests. She might want to be happy every waking moment and have loads of fun but she learned as a child that there is a difference between work, happiness, entertainment, bring bored and depression.

To achieve a better chance at adult happiness, her mother and me had to say no to many things leading to boring hours doing homework and studying in addition to reading books to fill the empty hours.

After all, according to the law in California (it varies by state ranging from age 14 to 18), one is a child until his or her eighteenth birthday. Then the child becomes an adult with a life expectancy of at least 84.9 years (on average) if he or she has a college education and earns an above average income. You see, education and income has a significant impact on health and a higher life expectancy and the average college graduate earns much more than a high-school dropout or high-school graduate.

Science Daily reported, “New findings from Harvard Medical School and Harvard University demonstrate that individuals with more than 12 years of education have significantly longer life expectancy than those who never went beyond high school. … Overall in the groups studied, as of 2000, better educated at age 25 could expect to live to age 82; for less educated, 75.”

In addition, The Economic Policy Institute discovered “While life expectancy has grown across the United States between 1980 and 2000, the degree to which people live longer has become increasingly connected to their socio-economic status.” The average life expectancy of the least well-off in 2000 was 74.7 years while it was 79.2 years for those that were most well off—meaning they had more money and usually a better education.

However, if left up to most children in the average family that does not live in poverty, happiness means not exercising, eating lots of sugary foods swallowed with gallons of sugary sodas, watching TV, listening to music, social networking, playing video games, hanging out with friends after school and on weekends, sending daily text messages by the dozens—and according to surveys and studies that is what the average child in America is doing ten hours a day.

Where are the parents?

Then there is this thing about parents blindly encouraging kids to follow their dreams without a realistic backup plan.

Continued on July 26, 2012 in What is the Matter with Parents these Days? – Part 4 or return to Part 2

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

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Modern-Day Witch Hunts and Vigilantes — the politically-correct Mob’s (sex) War against Teachers – Part 3/6

According to About.com, eighteen is a magic birthday, a milestone into adulthood accompanied by great privileges as well as serious legal implications. At 18, a teen can vote, buy a house or wed his high school sweetheart (however, if Jordan Powers’ mother has her way, that list will not include former teachers). Once one is eighteen, he or she can also go to jail, get sued, gamble away his or her tuition via online poker, and make terrible stock market investments – just like anyone else that is the same age or older. That’s because an 18-year-old is considered an adult in nearly every state in the union (except for the mother of Jordan Powers).


Young Women – Older Men

To prove the fact that teachers are discriminated against, on Snopes.com message board you will discover comments that provide evidence of this double standard that has plagued teachers in the United States for more than a century.

It isn’t as bad as it was a century ago, but the discrimination against teachers still exists and may be getting worse.

For example at Snopes.com (find the link in a previous paragraph), you will read: “When my grandmother married my grandfather in 1928, she resigned her position because ‘married women could not teach school'” … “A schoolteacher must never be seen patronizing a tavern or ale house.” … “Some of the articles I dug up quoted people who maintained that they had female relatives who, as late as the 1950s, had to resign their teaching positions when they got married.” Source: Snopes.com

In fact, when I first started teaching in 1975, the Southern California school district where I worked did not allow dating between teachers that worked at the same school, and if two teachers working at the same school did marry, one of them had to transfer to another school in the district. Later, in the 1980s, that rule was abolished.


Older women looking for younger men.

In the first half of the 20th century, the Lewis Country Board of Education in West Virginia adopted the following policy: “That no married woman will be employed by the Board to teach during the school year 1934-35, and if it is discovered that any lady teacher was married at the time of her appointment or gets married at any time during the school term, her position will immediately be declared vacant.” Source: wvculture.org

These examples prove that America has always had a double standard where teachers are concerned, and it is obvious that James Hooker is a victim of this discrimination, which is similar to how many loving gay/lesbian couples are often treated by many mainstream, average Americans (according to the latest US Census data, about 132,000 same-sex couples are married in the United States, while 515,000 are unmarried but live together).

Continued on April 14, 2012 in Part 4 of  the Mob’s War Against Teachers or return to Part 2

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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).

lloydlofthouse_crazyisnormal_web2_5His 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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