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Tag Archives: Lloyd Lofthouse

Backwards—Again

Plan to fire all its teachers roils poor RI city
by Associated Press Writer Ray HenryWed Feb 24, 11:46 pm ET

I was a classroom teacher for thirty year, and I don’t fit the American stereotype, scapegoat image that is often used in the media and by conservative politicians with political agendas to line someone else’s pockets in the private sector.  The real problem is cultural and in the home where parents do not do their job when kids fail classes and/or do not learn. Parenting is a full-time job. It doesn’t end when a kid goes to school.

Sure, there are poor teachers. Just like any profession, a few workers don’t do their jobs efficiently. That’s not an excuse for making most teachers look bad. Teaching is a tough job. I challenge anyone who blames teachers for a child’s failings to teach for a decade in a school similar to where I taught.

There are four or five million public school teachers in the United States. There are two major teacher unions.

Henry, the Associated Press Writer, did a lazy job writing this piece about a school in Road Island that’s going to fire all of the teachers at Central Falls High School. Then hire some teachers back who don’t fail as many kids.

That’s the problem. Judging a teacher by the number of kids that fail his or her class. It wasn’t the teacher that failed. It was the kid and the parents that are not doing their part in education.  Educating children is a partnership between the teacher, parents and the children.  It doesn’t work when all the responsibility and blame belongs to teachers. Parents must take some of the blame—maybe most of it.

It seems the district wanted the teachers to work longer hours to tutor students after school who weren’t learning, but the teacher’s wanted to get paid for those extra hours.  That’s not the point.

I taught for thirty years and I gave up most lunches to help. There was a notice on a poster in the classroom that said I was available in my classroom at lunch and after school every day, and I didn’t ask for more money to do that. I also told the students verbally daily.

I can count on one hand how many students out of the thousands that I taught who took advantage of that help. The number of students who failed the classes I taught was usually in the double digits. 

Why? Most kids did not do the homework. Most kids did not ask for help. Most kids do not listen. Most kids refuse to read. Some kids are often bored and often complain about boredom. Kids and parents expect teachers to run a three-ring circus and compete with the likes of America Idol. Try to be on stage six hours a day for one-hundred-and-eighty-days and see how easy that is.

Click here to find out more about Lloyd’s teaching years –
http://www.mysplendidconcubine.com/teachingyears.htm

 

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Sparkplugs are Not Sparrows

I don’t remember the year—probably the 1990s. However, I do remember the incident. Someone in one of my English classes at Nogales High School was throwing sparkplugs inside the classroom.  If you don’t know what a sparkplug is, go to your local auto supply store and see.  They are heavy ceramic, metal objects used to fire a spark of electricity into a cylinder of gasoline. That spark ignites the gas, causing the explosions that drove pistons that moved cars. That’s the simple explanation.

You don’t want to be hit by a flying sparkplug. Sparkplugs are not sparrows.

Doesn't it remind you of a missle?

I couldn’t’ catch these kids.  Every time I turned my back, answered the phone or opened the door when someone knocked, one of those sparkplugs became a blur and whacked a wall.  There was no way I could keep both my eyes on thirty-five kids every second and teach.

To solve this problem, I decided to buy and install a surveillance system so I could record what was happening behind my back and catch the culprits on tape.

I had no idea at the time that I was going to bring Sauron out of his tower. To learn more about Sauron’s brilliant leadership, check out this post.

The next post will continue this tale of Sparkplugs are Not Sparrows

 

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The Guilty Dead

Building services eventually discovered a family of dead possums inside the wall between my room and the math class next door. It seems that a possum mother found her way into the building’s attic.

When built, the classrooms could be opened so all the rooms on one side of the building (about six) became one long noisy hall. The first dividers were double thick plastic curtains. 

Years earlier, there was a theory about open classrooms where teachers could work together cooperatively. That failed like most educational theories that work great in controlled labs or selected schools.

The noise from more than two hundred students was too much for the teachers’ sanity, so partition walls (wood and drywall) were built between the classrooms and the top of the walls were left open—no top plate to seal them.

The possum mother with a pouch full of babies fell into one of the cells at the beginning of the Winter Break and died a horrible death without food or water. Possums are marsupials and carry their young in a pouch like kangaroos do.
 
The first post for this tale of woe was Teaching is a Smelly Art.

 

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HEPA Filters Do Not Work Miracles

I brought in the first HEPA air filter on the third day.  That lonely machine chugged away keeping the air somewhat breathable while custodians and building services struggled to discover where the stench was coming from.  One man thought maybe a sewer line ran under the building and had broken.

By the end of the week, the stink was outpacing the HEPA filter. I started buying more until there was four humming away losing the battle. Now, I had a noise problem too. With the HEPA filters humming away, most of the kids couldn’t hear me, and I couldn’t hear them—maybe a blessing in disguise.

We abandoned the classroom and fled to the school library (see school libraries quietly rock) leaving the workers behind to solve the problem.

This tale of a tail will conclude with The Guilty Dead—the last post for this smelly story.
The first post for this tale of woe was Teaching is a Smelly Art.

 

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Innocent Math

On the second day, I started to suspect that the smell might be coming from the math class next door.  Since math was a “pure” subject, I didn’t think it could smell but …

Then the math teacher fled with her students.  She had immigrated from Vietnam and didn’t weigh a hundred pounds, but her students were terrified of her—accent and all, which might explain why the Vietnamese defeated the Japanese, the French and America while fighting wars with China before and after all the others. I’ll tell you some of the creative things she did to maintain classroom control another time.

When she left her room, she stuck her head in my room and stared at me with an accusing, killer look that all teachers who survive must develop. The white strip down my back grew longer.

This tale of a tail will continue in HEPA Filters Do Not Work Miracles—the next post.
The first post for this tale of woe was Teaching is a Smelly Art.

 

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Sewer Teaching is a Smelly Art

Teaching in a sewer is sort of like being in a volcano—impossible to escape the heat. Who said teaching wasn’t like a real job?

One year, I returned to Nogales High School from the Winter Break (what used to be called Christmas—this change came about due to a court case linked to political correctness) and the classroom smelled of death. In no time, it felt as if I had grown a white stripe down my back.

Industrial Pollution

When my first period arrived, the first kid in the door asked, “Mr. Lofthouse, what did you do?”

“It’s not me.”  I protested, but no one listened—nothing new there. Rumors spread and kids went out of the way to avoid me in the hallways.

In another period, a girl said, “Take a bath, Mr. Lofthouse.” She pinched her nose and went outside refusing to return. I picked up a referral and told her I would give her a tardy and send her to the office. By then, most of the students were in the room–some complaining.  A fortunate few could not smell anything—the benefit of a stuffy nose.

Any one tired of reading my tale of woe may want to visit Australia at Teacher Challenges.

This tale of a tail will continue in “Innocent Math”—the next post.

 

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Semper Fidelis—Always Faithful. The Few. The Proud.

The twelve year old girl’s father sat there looking at me as if I was something scrapped from the bottom of a slimy trashcan.

“Were you in the Marines?” I asked.

He looked suspicious and said yes.

I pulled out my old Marine Corp ID, which I still carried. The volcanic atmosphere vanished and the air-cooled. We spent the next half-hour talking about the Marines and Vietnam. Simper Fi was stronger than his daughter’s attempt to get rid of me with lies and deceit.

Before he left, he turned to her and said, “No more complaints. If Mr. Lofthouse tells you to do something, you do it.”

Just as I was starting to gain control, the regular teacher returned.  She had released herself from the hospital and demanded her job back. A month later, she left after a second breakdown. I was called again. I asked for a written guarantee that the regular teacher wouldn’t be coming back. They couldn’t give it to me. I turned the job down.

If you didn’t start reading this four part series with “It’s the Parents, Stupid“, click here.

 

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Wet Dreams and Adolescent Fantasies

This teacher had a bad case of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). The first thing I saw were Playboy centerfolds hanging from the ceiling. The walls were covered with blotches of paint and clay. Any art supplies that weren’t on the ceiling, walls or blackboard were smeared on the floor. The regular teacher often left the room to smoke cigarettes leaving the kids unsupervised.

I was offered a long-term position to the end of the school year. I accepted, and the VP gave me the room key and replaced the art supplies the kids had destroyed. I spent the weekend cleaning the mess.

After the first few days on the job, the kids started calling me “Sergeant”.  That’s because I ran the class like a Marine Corps drill instructor but without the profanity and insults. The troublemakers hated me. No student liked the discipline, and one of the girls complained to her dad that I was mean and didn’t know anything about art. He demanded a parent conference.

After school the next day, the father walked in with his daughter right behind him.  I could tell from his body language that his had convinced him that I had to go. That’s when I saw the United States Marine Corps tattoo on his right forearm.

Continued in Part 4, Semper Fidelis—Always Faithful. The Few. The Proud
If you didn’t start reading this four part series with “It’s the Parents, Stupid“, click here

 

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Some Teachers Should Earn Combat Pay

There’s more to the story of our daughter’s academic success than teaching her at home when one of her teachers was not doing an acceptable job. We also left the TV off Monday through Friday and provided a place for her to do her homework. Research shows that kids watch too much television. On weekends, we watched about two to four hours of TV—no more and we watched as a family.  She has never had a TV in her room.  No video games either.  We also took her to the library once a week and checked out books. When she was done with her homework each school night, her only form of entertainment was to read, and she did.

In 1977, Covina Valley School District wanted a tough substitute to tame an unruly art class at Las Palmas Middle School. The art teacher at Lao Palmas had a breakdown and was in the hospital under a doctor’s care. The Las Palmas’s principal called the principal at Giano Intermediate.

At the time, Giano had a reputation as the toughest school in the San Gabriel Valley due to the local street gangs. The principal was Ralph Pagan, a Korean War Veteran. He’d been hired to tame Giano.  I’d subbed at Giano many times the previous year, and Ralph recommended me for the job. I met the VP at Las Palmas after school one day, and he let me into the art room. What I saw shocked me.

Discover It’s the Parents, Stupid

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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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It’s the Parents, Stupid

I read this post on Jupdi Blogs and thought, “Bull Shit!”  It’s too easy to blame American teachers when kids don’t learn. When our daughter was a senior in a public high school, she had maybe two bad teachers in the thirteen years she’s been in school.

I heard our daughter’s complaints, so I know.

She also had many good teachers. So, explain how she managed to earn nothing but As and a 4.66 GPA then be accepted to Stanford where she’s now a student.

She was also ranked in the top 4% for her graduating class and was guaranteed acceptance at the University of California, Davis. How did she do that?

It’s the parents, stupid, and the real problem is a culture that looks for scapegoats. It’s not a few bad teachers.

In every profession, there are workers that do a poor job and teaching is no different. When there is a poor teacher, instead of complaining, do what we did—teach your child at home or hire a tutor for that subject.

Three professions suffer from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) — combat soldiers, public school teachers and airport flight controllers. The real problem is often the stress caused from parents with attitudes like the author of the post at Jupdi Blogs.

Discover Having Sex With Elephants

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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).

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).

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

 

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