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Tag Archives: Lloyd Lofthouse

The broken tooth, the coming crown, the 2014 Florida Book Festival and Writers Digest

I broke a tooth over the weekend and visited the dentist this afternoon spending a few hours in THE chair. I hate those shots that numb your jaw making it feel swollen like a puffy blimp. In a few days I will return for the fitting of the crown.

But when I returned home with that numb jaw, there was a surprise—a double dose of what I think was good news.

“”2014 Florida Book Festial and Comment by Writers Digest Judge“Crazy is Normal, a classroom expose” didn’t earn any awards from Writer’s Digest, but the judge’s comments were appreciated. :o)

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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).

Crazy-is-Normal-a-classroom-expose-200x300
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

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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Born into poverty

On November 2, in a comment for one of my Blog posts, Dienne wrote, “You also conflate [meaning ‘confuse’] being ‘poor’ with deep poverty and clearly you have no experience of the latter.” Source: The Ravitch Transformation—an educated awakening

After I read Dienne’s comment, I thought she was right.  It took a few days before the light went on inside my head, and I called my 82-year-old sister, who said we were all born in poverty—I also arrived in poor health with a severe learning disability. I knew about the poor health and the learning disability but I had forgotten about the poverty because it was my life and as a child—and even later—I never thought about being poor or disadvantaged even though we were. I just didn’t think about it.

When my mother met my dad, she was a single parent with two young children—my older brother and sister. She met my dad before World War II, and survived with the help of the federal Food Stamp Program that issued the first food stamp in 1939. Source: Snap to Health.org

My sister was born in 1931; my brother 1935, and me in 1945.

Before the Food Stamp Program, California—always a progressive state—had a welfare system that served single women and children in the 1930s, and my mother took advantage of that lifesaver too.

Due to the Great Depression [late 1929 – early 1940s], my mother and father dropped out of high school at age 14, but they left with a lifesaving skill known as literacy. Both were avid readers. My dad read westerns and mysteries. My mother read romances but without the graphic sex. The romances she read went as far as holding hands and that was about it. During the Great Depression, unemployment reached 25%.

Before World War II, my dad was unemployed most of the time, and he was an alcoholic who often vanished for weeks at a time when on a drinking binge. He worked a number of odd jobs: for instance, at Santa Anita race track mucking out horse stalls; trekking into the local LA mountains to fill huge burlap bags with oak leaves he sold to nurseries, and in an ice cream factory. At one point he was so desperate he was caught breaking and entering and charged with burglary. I found the arrest record among my mother’s papers after her death.

During the war, he worked at the Long Beach Shipyards but that job ended with the war and the curse of unemployment returned leading to more serious drinking and long absences. To survive, my mother earned what she could from housekeeping and doing laundry.

A few years after I was born, a family friend—my Catholic godfather—helped my father get a job in a concrete company where the workers belonged to labor unions. The higher pay allowed my parents to buy their first—unfinished—house.  

That house was in Azusa, California. When we moved in, it had no doors; no windows, and no finished walls. The only room in the house that offered privacy was the one bathroom that had plywood nailed to the open two by four framing. The outside of the house was wrapped in tar paper—so I lived in a tar-paper shack.

Each pay day, my dad drove home in his used, rusty pick-up truck loaded with windows and doors for the house. The furniture came last.

Then—just as it looked like we were joining the blue-collar middle class—there was a strike when the union demanded better pay and benefits followed by unemployment when my dad was fired along with others after the strike ended.

I was born into poverty and my father earned good money in construction when he worked and when he didn’t work—which was often—he collected unemployment and drank. He stopped drinking in his late 50s and died at age 79. My mother died at 89. My brother, who spent 15 years in jail, lived to be 64, was an alcoholic, a smoker and illiterate. My brother and his large family lived in poverty and bought food with the help of food stamps.

But I was the youngest, and my mother made sure I learned to read after the public schools tested me and said I was too retarded to learn to read or write.

At home, using a wire coat hanger as a painful motivator, my mother taught me to read; I graduated from high school; joined the U.S. Marines; fought in Vietnam and went to college on the G.I. Bill breaking the cycle of poverty that I was born into. Because I learned to read—against the odds—I’m hooked on books and have been learning about the world from National Geographic Magazine for as long as I can remember.

Yes, Dienne, I did not grow up in extreme poverty but I tasted the poverty and didn’t notice the so-called bitterness. Maybe that explains why I felt more comfortable teaching children who lived in poverty during the thirty years I taught in the public schools—I wanted to be a catalyst that might help lift some out of poverty by teaching them to read and write like my mother taught me. I just couldn’t use a coat hanger, but I could tap into the tough pit-bull discipline the Marine Corps instilled in me.

I have a problem with Dienne’s comment about me having no experience with “deep poverty”, because I doubt that many Americans have much if any experience with deep/extreme poverty like we find in India or Africa. According to a piece published in the Washington Post, “The number of [U.S.] households in extreme poverty is 613,000, or 1.6 percent of non-elderly households with children.”

But almost 50 million people in the U.S. live in poverty, and 43% of those whose literacy skills are lowest live in poverty.  Source: News With Views.com [Note: You may want to click this link and read the post to discover one of the challenges teachers in America’s public schools face—something they have little or no control over regardless of the unrealistic goals and demands that were set by Presidents Bush; Obama and Congress]

To break the poverty cycle, there must be an early intervention starting the moment a woman living in poverty discovers she is pregnant. The intervention must include proper nutrition [including health care that I would have never received if my dad had not been a member of a labor union] and by age 18 months, the child must be introduced to books, magazines and newspapers with weekly trips to the library where there are active literacy programs that could be adapted to serve these children. The intervention should include mandatory workshops for the parents to teach them how to be better parents. This intervention must include regular supervision that only relaxes its vigilance when the child is reading at or above grade level after sixth grade.

Next Sunday, December 8, 2013, I will post my review on this Blog of Diane Ravitch’sReign of Error” [already posted on Amazon]—a book that I highly recommend every literate American read and every illiterate American listen to. We must declare war on ignorance of public education in the U.S., because there is a deliberate campaign backed by billionaires who inherited their great wealth [the Koch brothers and the Walton family, for instance] or were born into the middle class and then became billionaires [Bloomberg & Bill Gates], who have one goal: destroy and strip the democratic process from public education in the U.S. These individuals have no clue what it’s like to live in poverty and how it impacts a child’s ability to earn an education and escape poverty. I was a horrible student in the public schools, but I was also an avid reader—I just didn’t read what teachers assigned as homework. Ravitch not only exposes the plot to destroy America’s public schools but she also offers a detailed road map to improve the public schools more than they have already improved in the last century.

_______________________

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

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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What parenting method works best?

  1. The self-esteem boosting, follow your dreams and be happy all the time parenting method that many white parents in America practice.
  2. The practice known as tiger parenting as seen in Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and/or Anchee Min’s The Cooked Seed—both memoirs.

Lylah M. Alphonse, Senior Editor of Yahoo! Shine reported on May 9 about “a recently released decade-long study of 444 Chinese-American families shows that the effect tiger parents have on their kids is almost exactly the opposite,” and that a controlling Chinese-style parent does not drive his or her child to success.

The conclusion was that “Tiger parenting doesn’t produce superior outcomes in kids.”

I disagree, and here’s why:

Studying 444 Chinese-American families does not provide enough information.

Instead, the study should expand in its scope and include all Asian Americans in addition to Pacific Islanders, because these cultures encourage stricter parenting methods and place a higher value on education compared to the wishy-washy style of the average White American parent who talks to his/her child less than five minutes a day and allows the child to divide his/her daily time watching about 10 hours of TV, listing to music, hanging out with friends, playing video games, spending time on sites such as Facebook, sending text messages, etc.

The results:

  • Suicide Rates by Race/Ethnicity, 1990-2010 (all ages):

In twenty years, the suicide rates of Asian/Pacific Islanders never cracked 7% and even improved from 6.63% in 1990 to 6.24% by 2010.

For American Whites, the suicide rate was 13.3% in 1990 and climbed to 14.13% by 2010—more than twice the suicide rate of Asian/Pacific Islanders.

Source: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

  • Unemployment rate by race for March 2013 (all ages):

The White American unemployment was 6.9%.

The Asian-American was 5% (the lowest employment rate among all racial groups)

Source: United States Department of Labor

  • Divorce rate by race:

Whites had the highest divorce rate in America at 27%.  African American’s were a distant second at 22% and Hispanics at 20%.

The Asian-American divorce rate was 8%—less than a third of the White divorce rate.

Source: Assisted Divorce.com

  • Drug use by race (all ages):

“Of the major racial/ethnic groups, the rate of drug use is highest among the American Indian/Native American population (10.6%) and those reporting mixed race (11.2%), followed by African Americans (7.7%), Hispanics (6.8%), and whites at (6.6%).

The lowest rates were found among the Asian population at 3.2%—less than half that of whites.

Source: pbs.org

  • Money Income of Households—Percent Distribution by Income Level, Race, in Constant (2009) Dollars: 1990 to 2009:

1990 White = $49,686 (Medium income in dollars)
2009 white = $51,861

1990 Asian = $61,170
2009 Asian = $65,469

Source: US Census, Table 690

  • STD Health Equity – Rates by Race or Ethnicity:

In 2011, Whites had 1.7 times the reported gonorrhea rates of Asian/Pacific Islanders

In 2011, Whites had 1.4 times the reported chlamydia rates of Asians/Pacific Islanders

In 2011, whites had 1.4 times the reported syphilis rates of Asian/Pacific Islanders

Source:  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

  • Life Expectancy by Race:

The average life expectancy of an Asian-America in the United States is 84.56 years, but for White Americans it is only 78.74 years.

Source: World Life Expectancy.com

  • Birth Rates (Live Births) per 1,000 Females Aged 15–19 Years, by Race … 2000–2011:

White = 22 per 1,000

Asian/Pacific Islander = 10 per 1,000—less than half that of white females aged 15-19.

Source: cdc.gov

  • Education:

50 percent of Asian Americans in comparison to 31 percent of the total U.S. population had earned at least a bachelor’s degree, and about 48 percent of Asian Americans were employed in management, professional and related occupations, compared with 40 percent of the white population

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

In Conclusion: “Asian Americans are the highest-income, best-educated and fastest-growing racial group in the United States. They are more satisfied than the general public with their lives, finances and the direction of the country, and they place more value than other Americans on marriage, parenthood, hard work and career success, according to a comprehensive nationwide survey by the Pew Research Center.”

In addition, the Pew Research Center says, “Their living arrangements align with these values. They are more likely than all American adults to be married (59% vs. 51%); their newborns are less likely than all U.S. newborns to have an unmarried mother (16% vs. 41%); and their children are more likely than all U.S. children to be raised in a household with two married parents (80% vs. 63%).”

The average White parent is obsessed with his/her child’s self-esteem and happiness, while the average Asian-American parent practices a parenting philosophy known as tiger parenting that most whites detest.

Considering the information in this post, what parenting method has the best long-term results for a longer, healthier better quality of life? Please leave a comment with your answer.

Discover The Truth about American Education

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Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition].

His latest novel is 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 hate and kill Americans.

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The Uphill Battle for Many of America’s Teachers

You cannot educate a child who is not healthy and you cannot keep a child healthy who is not educated,” says Dr. Jocelyn Elders, the former U.S. Surgeon General. Source: Nemours.org

To have a better understanding of what Dr. Elders is talking about and what this means for America’s teachers, keep reading.

Nearly 16 million children in the United States—22% of all children—live in families with incomes below the federal poverty level ($23,021 a year for a family of four). Research shows that, on average, families need an income of about twice that level to cover basic expenses. Using this standard, 45% of children live in low-income families. … And poverty can impede children’s ability to learn and contribute to social, emotional, and behavioral problems. Source: The National Center for Children in Poverty

Poverty isn’t the only challenge many of America’s teachers face daily—lifestyle choices, poor parenting and even paint fumes get in the way of education.

Yes, you heard right—paint fumes!

The March 21, 2013, issue of The New York Review of Books says lead house paint is “still on the walls of some 30 million American homes today,” and “studies have found that even infinitesimally low levels—down to one or two micrograms per deciliter—can reduce a child’s IQ and impair her self-control and ability to organize thoughts.”

“Black children, the survey found, were six times more likely to have elevated lead than white.” Source: Lead Poisoning: The Ignored Scandal by Helen Epstein

If paint fumes weren’t enough of a challenge, Live Strong.com says, “It is almost certain that if you eat a diet comprised of primarily fast food, you won’t be functioning at your optimum capacity—physically or mentally. Fast food consumption can cause an array of mental effects, ranging from depression to hyperactivity. It’s not just one ingredient at fault, either. Fast food meals contain a toxic mixture of unhealthy fats, preservatives, coloring and refined carbohydrates that can create imbalances in your brain.”

In addition, soda consumption (liquid sugar) is linked to violence in teens. Wellness Resources.com reported, “These chemicals also cause brain inflammation. High levels of sweeteners cause fluctuating blood sugar levels and that will disrupt brain function as well. Thus, there are several clear mechanisms by which soda drinks can cause irritated and impaired brain function, leading to increased risk for the use of violence as a problem solving strategy.”

In fact, Forbes.com says, “Overeating, poor memory formation, learning disorders, depression—all have been linked in recent research to the over-consumption of sugar.” … “Research indicates that a diet high in added sugar reduces the production of a brain chemical known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Without BDNF, our brains can’t form new memories and we can’t learn (or remember) much of anything.”

For a better understanding of the challenge America’s teachers face, I recommend watching Winter’s Bone and/or reading J. K Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy. This film and novel offer snapshots into the world of poverty for those who have never been there.

In the film Winter’s Bone (2010), Jennifer Lawrence plays 17 year-old Ree Dolly who keeps her family together in a dirt-poor rural area of the Ozark Mountains. And in J. K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy (2012), we meet Krystal Weedon who was raised in poverty by a heroin-addicted mother and often acts as sole caregiver to younger brother Robbie.

For thirty years I had an up-close and personal open-door to this world, because I taught students that were often like Ree Dolly or Krystal Weedon in schools surrounded by graffiti scarred barrios, street gangs and drive by shootings.

Even lack of adequate sleep causes learning problems. Children need about 10-12 hours a sleep while teens need at least nine hours per night. But many American children and teens only sleep five-six hours a night.

A recent study reveals that inadequate sleep can result in lower math and literacy scores. Research also shows that getting a good night’s sleep may be the single most powerful predictor of a child’s academic performance in school. Source: ABC News

What do you think happens in a classroom when a child or teen lives in poverty, has a poor diet, drinks too many sodas and does not get enough sleep? Do we blame teachers for that too?

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition].

His latest novel is 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 hate and kill Americans.

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What is the Matter with Parents these Days? – Part 2/4

When I read, “All I really want for my daughter is to be happy“—that was, in my opinion, a possible excuse to shirk responsibility.

There so much more to parenting than a parent wanting his or her child to only be happy.

What does happiness mean? I’m sure that most everyone would have a different answer.  I have several answers depending on the circumstances. I’m happy when my monthly CalSTRS retirement payment is deposited in my bank account, watch a good movie, read a good book, eat a tasty meal, finish daily exercising, have no pain and especially when my wife is happy since that makes life better for me.

However, many today seem to think “happy” means you have to avoid being bored even if that includes not doing homework, classwork, reading or drinking water.


“Teenagers and young adults consume more sugar drinks than other age groups (ages 2-19 years).”
Source:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.org

You might say, “What, drinking water?” Dr. Michael Dedekian, a pediatric endocrinologist at Maine Medical Center, says, “I have children who come to me, and they are being absolutely honest when they say, ‘I can’t drink water. It tastes disgusting to me.’ (They say) that water has become unpalatable.” Source: Minnesota Public Radio.org

Why?

The answer comes from Track Mom.com, who said, “Surveys have found that parents are major role models for their kids’ eating habits, even more so than their peers. … Almost one-third of the children surveyed drank soft drinks daily, and most drank ‘regular,’ not ‘diet,’ drinks. … Virtually all of the respondents liked or ‘strongly liked’ the taste of soft drinks.”

Like most parents, my wife and me wanted our daughter to be happy too.  However, we felt it was more important that she be happier as an adult than a child and that meant making sacrifices.

Continued on July 25, 2012 in What is the Matter with Parents these Days? – 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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What is the Matter with Parents these Days? – Part 1/4

More than twenty years ago, I attended a lecture at one of the Claremont Colleges. I do not recall the speaker’s name but he was a successful journalist that wrote for major publications such as The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

He had published a memoir of raising his normal, above average daughter and a younger son with an IQ of eighty.  The lecture was about how his wife and he raised the son to graduate with honors from high school and be accepted to Harvard where he earned a degree in engineering.

I wish I could remember this journalist’s name and the title of his memoir, but it has been too long. However, I have not forgotten his story.  If anyone reading this post knows the title of the memoir, please tell me in a comment.

When this journalist’s son was old enough to start school at age six, the parents agonized over how to raise him so he could live a normal life and compete for jobs in the marketplace as an adult.

Job hunting and earning a living is not without its challenges and competition (on July 6, 2012, The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 12.7 million Americans were unemployed, while the number of Americans living in poverty was more than 47 million and many go hungry daily).

For the journalist’s family, to achieve their goals as responsible parents, it was decided to retire the family television to the garage and read books every night with a family hour before bedtime to discuss what each family member read.

Twelve years later, the son with the eighty IQ earned a perfect score on the SAT and the high school principal claimed he had to have cheated. The father argued that his son had not cheated, so the school made the son take the SAT again in a room without any other students, and he was monitored by three staff members. The  son earned a second perfect SAT score. Soon after that, the son was accepted to Harvard

This brings me to a post I read at clotildajamcracker (a Blog) called What’s the Matter with Kids these Days?

The post is worth reading—specially the comments. However, the problem is not kids—it’s parents.

In fact, I read one comment from the Headless Coffee Guy that said, “Hey, I hope my daughter will grow up to be a super genius who will find the unified theory in physics, solve world hunger, save the whales, and write her first symphony at 4. … But alas, I think ultimately, it’s really not up to the parent to decide what their child wants to be. We can only nurture and suggest, but it’s really up to the child to make up their own minds. All I really want for my daughter is to be happy.”

Is there anything wrong with Headless Coffee Guy’s concept of parenting as expressed in that previous quote?

Continued on July 24, 2012 in What is the Matter with Parents these Days? – Part 2

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

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Brainwashing American Style

Top home-school texts dismiss Darwin, evolution. Source: Fox News.com

I suspected the truth long ago.

Home schooling and the voucher movement both have the same goal—to control what children learn and think. That is called brainwashing. The Communist Chinese did it during Mao’s reign in China.  The Communists in Russia did it too. So did the Nazi’s when Hitler ruled Germany.

A “liberal” education in the public schools and many private colleges teaches evolution and a wide range of subjects, which might be another reason to explain why the conservative media machine has spent decades turning the word “liberal” into an evil thing so people will start to distrust a nonbiased education. I’m not saying the American public education system is perfect, but it is better than having it controlled by the private sector.

Consider this.  Conservatives claim that liberal teachers in the schools are biased and are teaching kids to be evil liberals, but at the same time they claim the majority of Americans are conservative.

I am conservative in most of my beliefs. How can that be if I had a liberal education? When I take one of those multiple choice tests to see where I stand on political issues, I always end up right of center but nowhere near the far right. I suspect most Americans are the same.

And that leads me to Wal-Mart.”The Walton Family’s support of the school voucher and charter schools movement is unparalleled in the United States. According to the 2006 Walton Family Foundation 990, the family gave over $48 million to individual charter schools and supporting institutions. Sam Walton once said, “I’d like to see an all-out revolution in education.” He proudly supported school-choice movements along with his son John.” Source:   Walton Family Influence  Take a look.

However, a study released in 2007 by the Center on Education Policy (CEP) found that students in public urban high schools perform, on average, just as well as those in private high schools.

When the report’s authors compared students of similar socioeconomic status at private, public and parochial high schools, they found that:

  • Achievement scores on reading, math, science and history were the same;
  • Students were equally likely to attend college whether they had graduated from a public or private school;
  • Young adults at age 26 were equally likely to report being satisfied with their jobs whether they had graduated from a public or private school;
  • Young adults at age 26 were equally likely to engage in civic activity whether they had graduated from a public or private school.  Source: Education Portal.com

In another comparison from the 2003 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), otherwise known as the Nation’s Report Card., we discover that Christopher and Sarah Theule Lubienski, a husband-and-wife team at the University of Illinois, compared more than 340,000 students using math scores from the 2003 NAEP. The study found that after adjusting for socioeconomic factors, there is little difference between private and public school scores. Source: Great Schools.org

Administered by the U.S. Department of Education, the NAEP is given to students in grades 4, 8 and 12 in both private and public schools.

It seems that there are conservative like most of us, and then there are CONSERVATIVES like the Walton family.

Learn more from Not Broken

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

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