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The Oxymoron of Corporate Education Reform Exposed by the Results of the International PISA Test

The foundation of the U.S. corporate education reform movement is built on a house of cards that alleges there are too many incompetent teachers in America’s public schools, and that using standardized high stakes test to rank teachers based on student test scores will reveal who those teachers are.

But today the corporate education reformers have unwittingly provided evidence that they are totally wrong with the same data they want to use to root out these alleged incompetent teachers and then also close public schools with the worst scores.

“New York State education officials released data showing that the top-rated teachers, based on student test scores, are less likely to work in schools enrolling black and Hispanic students.” NY State Released Junk Science Ratings by Diane Ravitch

Why are the corporate education reformers wrong?

Stanford.edu reports, “There is an achievement gap between more and less disadvantaged students in every country; surprisingly, that gap is smaller in the United States than in similar post-industrial countries, and not much larger than in the very highest scoring countries.”

If the alleged claims of the corporate education reformers were correct, that means—according to the results of the international PISA tests—teachers who work with disadvantaged students in every country are also incompetent and should lose their jobs.

But … here’s the twist: “Achievement of U.S. disadvantaged students has been rising rapidly over time, while achievement of disadvantaged students in countries to which the United States is frequently unfavorably compared – Canada, Finland and Korea, for example – has been falling rapidly.”Stanford.edu

This tells us that the alleged incompetent teachers in the U.S.—who work with the most disadvantaged students—are the most competent (incompetent teachers) in the world.

How can America’s public school teachers be incompetent when the disadvantaged students they work with are outperforming the disadvantaged students in every country PISA tests—even Canada, Finland and Korea? An oxymoron if I’ve ever heard one.

The corporate education reformers have hung themselves with the same noose they intended to put around the necks of public school teachers in the United States.

_______________________

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

Crazy is Normal promotional image with blurbs

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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The American Teacher “is not” Waiting for Superman – Part 1/2

The documentary “American Teacher” focused on the low pay of teachers when compared to their peers working in the private sector with similar educational backgrounds, and the back breaking demands on most teachers (working an average 60 hours or more a week – for example, I often worked a 100 hour week often starting at 6AM when the gates to the school were unlocked and staying as late as 11:00 PM when the alarms were turned on and the gates locked).

While the film was not perfect because it didn’t mention the role of parents and other pressures teachers face, it offered a more realistic view of education in America than “Waiting for Superman” did.

Points made that many of the critical reviews of this documentary ignored were:

1. 46 percent of public school teachers leave the profession within the first five years of being in the classroom.

2. Salaries and stress are among the top reasons teachers say they leave.

3. 62 percent of our nation’s teachers must have second jobs outside of the classroom-like tutoring, mowing lawns, selling stereos, or bartending—to be able to afford to teach.

From a few positive reviews of “American Teacher” —

Mark Phillips of the Washington Post said, “A film about education that gets it exactly right… Powerful and compelling. Every policymaker should be required to see American Teacher”

Joe Neumaier of the New York Daily News said, “This heartbreaking and essential look into the lives of those who put so much into educating other people’s children ought to be seen by everyone concerned about the fate of the public school system, and the nation as a whole.” – “Sobering and powerful.” – Ernest Hardy, Village Voice

Neil Genzlinger of The New York Times said, “A heartfelt, bittersweet portrait.”

Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times said, “As we watch the individuals in American Teacher struggle with the burdens of the system places on them, it’s hard not to feel like crying, both for them…and our national culture.”

Note: I also spent thousands of dollars for educational materials over the years that I taught, and for a few years, I also worked a second job to pay the bills in addition to working summers in jobs such as construction, since I wasn’t paid as a teacher during the ten weeks of the summer break.

Continued on April 2, 2012 in The American Teacher “is not” Waiting for Superman – Part 2

____________________

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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Due Process – Part 4/4

Once a teacher has job protection and has taught more than two or three years without being found incompetent, it is reasonable to assume that a teacher may be the victim of slander or there may be another compelling reason why a teacher that was found competent for years or decades suddenly appears incompetent.

According to Personal Injury Lawyer.com, “Defamation is defined as an untrue statement which causes you to be held in contempt or ridicule and as a result causes you damages.… Truth is a very good defense. It may prove an unshakable defense if you have unlimited funds to pay lawyers to defend it.”

This is where the teachers union steps in and provides the legal protection to defend a teacher that may be innocent of incompetence.

In fact, when a veteran teacher is accused of incompetence after being in education for decades and earning positive annual reviews, he may be a victim of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which The American Society for Ethics in Education says is, “The Hidden Epidemic in our Nation’s Schools. While formal studies have yet to be undertaken, post traumatic stress disorder (or PTSD) appears to impact a significant number of teachers…”


How Does PTSD Affect Brain Function?

In addition, Heal My PTSD says there is job protection for those that are suffering from this trauma. “In many instances, time off to deal with a medical condition is covered under the government’s FMLA law. If your employer meets the criteria and you are willing to do the paperwork, the law may protect you from losing your job when you need time off.”

In the case of a teacher that appears to be incompetent while really suffering from job related stress and PTSD, it becomes a disability, which the Veteran Administration recognizes for combat veterans.

Instead of conducting a witch-hunt and attempting to remove job protection for teachers, the critics of public education should be offering the same support our military combat veterans receive for stress related job injuries such as PTSD.

If these religious/political critics are unwilling to do this, then we should be asking who is behind this assault on public school teachers and why?

The truth may be that incompetent parents are the reason students do not learn, but how do you fire an incompetent parent?

Return to Due Process – Part 3 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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Due Process – Part 3/4

Science Blogs.com attempted to answer how many incompetent teachers there are in the US, and reported, “You don’t see many citations of useful data about how many of these school-killing teachers there really are.”

In addition, in the UK, the Guardian says that most of the 18 teachers that lost their jobs due to incompetence were struck off the last decade by the General Teaching Council (in England), which has been operating for a decade with powers to remove failing teachers from the profession.

However, if we accept the percent quoted by the flawed and biased documentary “Waiting for Superman”, the number of public school teachers that are incompetent may be 7 percent, which means 93 percent of the more than 5 million teachers in the United States are competent.

What this means is that the critics of public education want to punish more than 4.6 million innocent teachers for the few that may be incompetent by removing due process and job protection, which may explain why in recent years the number of college students planning to teach dropped more than 25%.


Teachers have been blamed for problems outside of their control.

As is, new teachers are on probation may be fired without cause during the probation period. In California and Texas, the probationary period is two years, but the normal probationary period is three years in most states.

If school district administrators are doing their jobs, then the incompetent teachers are removed before earning job protection and due process.

New Action.com says, “Although teachers are not “guaranteed a job for life,” as critics often say, it is true that, after completing a probationary period, teachers in New York State may generally not be fired except in two instances: The first is for serious cause, defined in state law, that must be substantiated by the DOE (Department of Education) in a due process hearing before an independent arbitration panel. The second has been a “reduction in force” — layoffs because positions have been eliminated, usually due to funding cuts.”

Continued on September 21, 2011 in Due Process – Part 4 or return to 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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Due Process – Part 2/4

Lawyers are extremely expensive and even if a teacher accused of a crime or of incompetence was innocent, without the union to pay legal fees, most teachers would be helpless victims.

In addition, legal assistance from the teachers unions is not automatic.  When a teacher is accused of being incompetent, and he claims to be innocent and goes to the local branch of the teacher union seeking help, legal experts that are retained by the NEA or AFT will usually consider if the case has merit.


You Pay for what You Get!

If the union’s legal experts feel the teacher deserves a defense, then the union will stand behind that teacher. What I mean by evidence may be twenty years of satisfactory evaluations by more than one administrator, which is often the case.

However, if the union’s legal experts say there is not enough evidence to defend the teacher, the union will not defend them.

I taught in the public schools for thirty years and know of cases where teachers went to the union and were denied legal support.  I also know of cases where the union’s legal experts ruled in favor of teachers and recommended the union assist them.

To demand that teachers accused of incompetence be fired without due process is undemocratic and un-American. If Wal-Mart can have its day in court when accused of discrimination, then teachers should have the same privilege when accused of incompetence.

How many teachers are we talking about that may be incompetent? A possible answer will appear in Part 3.

Continued on September 20, 2011 in Due Process – Part 3 or return to 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).

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper right-hand column and click on “Sign me up!”

 

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Due Process – Part 1/4

If you Google “the number of teachers that are incompetent“, you will discover there are more than 4 million hits on this topic but none that I checked among the first ten pages of hits offered an answer—basically what I discovered was a lot of ranting, rumor and “bull”.

In other words, a manufactured controversy with a hidden political/religious agenda behind it.

One site, having no evidence to support how many incompetent teachers there are went as far as to say “Schools Nationwide hide Teacher Misconduct and Incompetence.” Then offers no cited evidence that substantiated this claim.

“When someone commits the most heinous of crimes against our citizens, they get a fair hearing, they go through an appellate process, they go up to the Supreme Court of the United States, if that’s required,” says presidential candidate Rick Perry, the Republican governor of Texas, during the Republican press debate held at the Reagan Library early in September 2011.

What Governor Perry says is true. The legal process he mentions is what protects the citizens of the United States when accused of a crime or if one is slandered.

In fact, recently Wal-Mart was found innocent of discrimination against women and that case went to the Supreme Court where the class-action suit against Wal-Mart seeking billions of dollars on behalf of as many as 1.5 million female workers was dismissed. Source: New York Times

Why shouldn’t teachers be allowed to have the same due process of law?

As is, teachers may be tried for the same crime twice.  This means, if a state or federal judge finds a teacher innocent of a crime she has been accused of, she may be tried again for the same crime by the teacher-credentialing board and if found guilty lose the credential to teach in that state.

From what I’ve heard, teachers are the only profession that may be punished for the same crime twice even after being found innocent the first time, which means teachers have already been denied due process once.

When critics of teachers unions accuse those unions of protecting incompetent teachers, those critics are saying that teachers are not eligible for the same protection under the law.

If a school district wants to fire a teacher that has been accused of being incompetent, that teacher should have his or her day in court to prove she is innocent of the accusation.  When teachers belong to unions, legal protection is one of the benefits.

Continued on September 19, 2011 in Due Process – 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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