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Tag Archives: No Child Left Behind Act

The Ravitch Transformation—an educated awakening

Until recently I had no idea who Diane Silvers Ravitch was.  After all, America has the third largest population [316 million] in the world after China and India, and I have trouble just remembering the names of all my neighbors.

But I was about to discover who Ravitch was.  My wife was on the road one morning listening to KQED, and when she got home she told me about this interview on the radio.

I went on-line and found the post and podcast at KQED.org, and read “Diane Ravitch, a former assistant secretary of education, spent years advocating for an overhaul of the American education system. She supported the No Child Left Behind Act, the charter school movement and standardized testing.

“But Ravitch recently—and very publicly—changed her mind. She looked at the data and decided that the kinds of changes she’d supported weren’t working. Now she’s a prominent critic of things like charter schools and school choice and she’s particularly opposed to privatizing schools.”

That’s when I discovered Ravitch wrote a book published  in mid-September 2013 by Knopf called “Reign of Error“.  After I read the storm of reviews on Amazon [twenty-two 5-star reviews compared to three 1-star reviews] of her book, I ordered a copy

I also Googled Ravitch to learn more about her because after reading the reviews of her work, I discovered someone who knows what’s going on with America’s public education system—and the truth might set America free so the people will support teachers instead of make them scapegoats for dysfunctional families.

For example, what does a teacher do when he or she assigns a thirty-minute reading assignment as homework and only three students out of thirty-four do it and this is what happens all the time? Where are the parents?

Diane Silvers Ravitch is a historian of education, an educational policy analyst, and a research professor at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. Previously, she was a U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education.

I was a teacher for thirty years in the public schools [1975-2005]. The schools where I taught were surrounded by a barrio where violent street gangs ruled the streets, but the schools were an oasis for students where dedicated teachers worked long, hard, frustrating hours—often sixty to one-hundred hours a week—to overcome the poverty, ignorance and violence that surrounded those schools. Just getting kids to do the homework, study and read for fun outside of the classroom was a big challenge.

I’ve been researching this same topic for years and writing about it on this Blog.  Are the public schools broken as the critics claim?

The answer is NO!

Today, America’s public schools are better than they have ever been in America’s history, and I have proven it on this Blog. And when I read Ravitch’s book, I’ll probably learn more about the misinformation, deceit and lies that has influenced millions of Americans to blame teachers and the teachers unions for problems they have no control over.

President Abraham Lincoln said it best: “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”

Maybe the time has finally come for all or most of the American people to stop being fooled about the state of public education in the United States and shift the blame to where it belongs—dysfunctional families that do not value the work it takes to earn an education.

Public teachers in the United States should get the same support that Americans give the troops that are fighting this country’s endless wars, because there is a war being waged in America’s classrooms too.

Discover It’s the parents, Stupid

_______________________

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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Blind, Deaf, and Dumber to the facts and doomed to fail — Part 3/4

To understand the lack of motivation among most Hispanic/Latino and many African-American students, all one need do is be aware of a few facts, which I have written about in several posts.

In Needs versus Education – What comes first? – Part 3, we discover that forty-four percent (44%) of youth gang membership are Hispanic/Latino while thirty-five percent (35%) are African-American, which means that combined, Hispanic/Latino and African-American youths make up almost 80% of youth-gang membership in America, and youth gangs are not pro-education.

Then in Civil Disobedience and No Child Left Behind – Part 7 we learned the dropout rate in Mexico’s schools is almost 70% compared to 8.1% in the United States.

You may question why the dropout rate in Mexico has anything to do with America’s public schools until you learn that about 3.5 million public school students in the US are here illegally from Mexico and that high dropout rate is an indication of a cultural bias toward education. When those students slipped across the US border, many brought their lack of motivation to learn with them.

As most of us know, actions speak louder than words, and The Pew Hispanic Center offers more facts that indicate a lack of motivation.  Pew.org says, “Nearly nine-in-ten (89%) Latino young adults ages 16 to 25 say that a college education is important for success in life, yet only about half that number — 48% — say that they themselves plan to get a college degree… ”

In fact, In 2009, just 19.2 percent of Latinos between 25 and 34 had a university degree, while among Asians the percentage was 69.1 percent, with 48.7 percent for non-Hispanic whites and 29.4 percent for African Americans.” Source: Fox News

In addition, the largest numbers of dropouts come from Hispanic/Latino (17.6%) and African-American (9.3%) students, which is another indicator of motivation. However, only 5.2% of Whites drop out while 3.4% of Asian/Pacific Islanders do.

In Yet One More Doomed Education Reform,  Robert Weissberg defines the ‘politically correct’ head in the sand when he says, “Like the unsuccessful NCLB and every other reform of the last few decades, it speaks of transforming the ‘lowest performing schools’ as if schools, not the occupants, were the culprit.”

Weissberg then asks, “Why should a kid who hates school improve if moved to a new building?” Then he explains why Americans do not put the blame where it belongs.

“The term “bad school” is a euphemism,” Weissberg says, “a way of avoiding political trouble with grievance group leaders just waiting to exploit alleged [ethnic/racial] “insults” to rally the troops to extract material benefits.”

Continued on October 30, 2011 in Blind, Deaf and Dumber to the facts and doomed to fail – Part 4 or return to Part 2

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

To subscribe to “Crazy Normal”, look for the “E-mail Subscription” link in the top-right column.

 

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Comparing Apples to Apples Instead of Cabbages

My goal for this post was to discover how America’s public schools compared to countries with similar educational systems.  The scores used are from the 2009 global PISA rankings.

I ended up comparing the scores of nine similar countries [Western Christian cultures] with the top three [China, Finland and Singapore] and the lowest score [Kyrgystan].  The first chart lists three of the top five, the second chart includes the United States and eight similar countries, and the last chart shows the country with the lowest global score on the 2009 international PISA test.

Three of the top-five public school systems in the world as tested by PISA.

These three public school systems are very different from the United States. I’ve written about these differences in The Finland-Singapore Solution to Public Education in the U.S.

Country

Overall Reading Scale

Mathematics Scale

Science Scale

Shanghai-China 556 600 575
Finland 536 541 554
Singapore 526 562 542

Using Google and doing some research, I discovered “Nine Countries” [Western Christian cultures] that use annual standardized tests to measure student growth, which means these countries teach to the test and teachers are probably micromanaged by administration and pressured to raise test scores as is often the case in America.

The average score of Reading was 482.5 and the United States was 17.4 points higher.  Only one of the nine countries scored higher than the United States.

The average score of Mathematics was 486.7 and the United States was 0.3 points higher—three of the nine scored lower.

The average score of Science was 494.2 and the United States was 7.8 points higher. Only three of the nine scored higher.

Country

Overall Reading Scale

Mathematics Scale

Science Scale

United States

500

487

502

France 496 497 498
United Kingdom 494 492 514
Romania 424 427 428
Lithuania 468 477 491
Russian Federation 459 468 478
Netherlands 508 526 522
Germany 497 513 520
Sweden 497 494 495

The lowest-scoring public school system in the world as tested by PISA.

Country

Overall Reading Scale

Mathematics Scale

Science Scale

Kyrgystan 314 331 330

What can we learn from this?

We may learn that the political/religious critics of America’s public schools will manipulate the data to make the schools look bad and ignore the rest of the facts that say otherwise.  With this comparison, we see America from a different perspective comparing apples to apples instead of apples to cabbages.

Discover Civil Disobedience and No Child Left Behind

______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

To subscribe to “Crazy Normal”, look for the “E-mail Subscription” link in the top-right column, click it and then follow directions.

 

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Revealing the Uncouth Fraud One-Step at a time among Public Education’s Critics – Part 2/2

The second of the TOP 5 REASONS MANY TEACHERS QUIT  was “unreasonable, much-too-heavy workloads”. [Source: Patty Inglish at Hub Pages]

[Note: teachers are often required to contact parents daily since most parents of failing students do not contact teachers. This seldom results in any changes among failing students because the home environment and lifestyle is usually the reason students are failing.]

Number 3 was poor general working conditions.

[Note: I’ve written about working in poor conditions in several posts such as Bookies Dream, Old Faithful and Chewing Gum, Teaching With Pain, Pollution and People, Sewer Teaching is a Smelly Art, and HEPA Filters Do Not Work Miracles]

Number 4 was “Too much responsibility for accountability scores on No Child Left Behind and other standardized testing and accountability initiatives was listed as another major reason to quit.

Last, Inglish wrote, “Teaching was no longer rewarding, emotionally or fiscally, since raises in pay were denied when students’ scores were not raised high enough. Some teachers were fired for this and others quit. All this created problems regarding unfair terminations with the teachers’ labor unions and growing bad blood between teachers and their unions with administrations.

Inglish says, “One -fifth, or 20%, of public school teachers that had no previous full-time teaching experience quit in the school year 2004-2005. Overall, 65% of former public school teachers report that they are better able to balance work and personal/family life since they quit teaching. Before quitting, nearly all their time was spent on such things as rewriting lesson plans, purchasing their own supplies, and working unpaid overtime hours without additional needed training.”

[Note: as I’ve said before, my work weeks ran between 60 to 100 hours for the same monthly salary I would have earned if all I did was teach the 25 to 30 hours a week I spent with students.]

Return to Revealing Uncouth Fraud One-Step at a time among Public Education’s Critics – Part 1

______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

To subscribe to “Crazy Normal”, look for the “E-mail Subscription” link in the top-right column, click it and then follow directions.

 

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Dumping Teachers due to Standardized Test Results and Student Performance – Part 5/7

A recent study by an expert in combat related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), studied teachers in a Texas public school district and discovered that one out of three teachers had PTSD.

If seniority is removed as the sole factor for deciding which teachers lose their jobs, then every teacher in America must be evaluated for PTSD (possibly every five years) and when a teacher is discovered to have PTSD (a job related disability), he or she should receive a disability and free counseling from the Veterans Administration, which is organized to deal with this mental disorder brought on by combat and/or repeated stress related experiences.

The question in the August 2011 Costco Connection was “Should Teacher layoffs be based on seniority?”

The results arrived in the September 2011 Costco Connection and the result reveals that more Americans have abandoned its teachers after special interests have turned them into scapegoats for the failure of students that do not study and parents that do not parent and a system that does not allow teachers to make the decisions as Finland does.

The result was 31% yes and 69% no.

I’m not surprised by the results. My wife and I saw the documentary “Waiting for Superman”, which is an indictment of the public schools and teachers in America and it was pure propaganda and extremely misleading. As usual, nowhere did it mention that students must be held responsible by parents to do homework and study when a teacher assigns work to be done at home.

“Waiting for Superman” claimed the US was once a pioneer in public education, which is a lie. Ben Wildavsky writing for the March/April 2011 Foreign Policy magazine blows that myth/lie apart, when he said “Even at the height of U.S. geopolitical dominance and economic strength, American students were never anywhere near the head of the class … the results from the first major international math test came out in 1967 … Japan took first place out of 12 countries, while the United States finished near the bottom.”

In addition, what “Waiting for Superman” doesn’t want you to discover is that in the 2009 PISA international test, America placed in the top 26% for Math, top 11% for Reading Literacy, and the top 20% for Science Literacy, which is a huge improvement from near the bottom in 1967.

In 1967, twelve countries were compared in Math, but in 2009, that number was 64 countries in three subjects.

What happens when a student doesn’t perform, which means he or she does not participate in class, doesn’t ask questions when he or she is confused about a lesson [correct me if I’m wrong, but teachers cannot read minds], avoids class work, avoids homework, avoids reading assignments, will not read independently, will not study and/or misbehaves in class?

Is that the teachers fault?

Continued on September 9, 2011 in Dumping Teachers due to Standardized Test Results and Student Performance – Part 6 or return to Part 4

____________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

To subscribe to “Crazy Normal”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.

 

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The Finland-Singapore Solution to Public Education in the U.S. – Part 3/3

When it was discovered that the Whole Language approach to teaching reading failed, instead of admitting they were wrong, the idealists behind the theory blamed America’s public school teachers.

To punish those teachers, what followed was a movement for school choice designed to allow parents to select the school their children attends. Although voters have rejected this theory in many states, the fanatics behind this movement refuse to surrender.

The next debacle was when President G. W. Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act into law, which ignored reality while blaming teachers again for the failure of a theory that many teachers were against but were forced to implement.

The Singapore element to the solution of this educational fiasco in the United States may be found in Civil Disobedience and No Child Left Behind, which says, “Meritocracy is a basic political ideology and a fundamental principle in Singapore’s education system, which aims to identify and groom bright young students for positions of leadership. The system places a great emphasis on academic performance in grading students and granting their admission to special programmes and universities.

“As for discipline in Singapore’s schools, corporal punishment is legal (for male students only), and fully encouraged by the government in order to maintain strict discipline.”

In addition, Singapore has a law that makes it a criminal offense for parents of children that cut school.

To learn more of the details behind the success of Singapore’s public schools, I suggest you see SG Box.com’s post about Singapore Education.

Unless the United States is willing to trust teachers and implement some of what Finland and Singapore have done, education in the US will continue to flounder regardless of laws such as No Child Left behind or failed theories such as Whole Language.

However, implementing these changes will not be easy, because idealists are often fanatics that refuse to surrender.

One well know example of this type of idealistic movement is Al Qaeda—the fanatical Islamic terrorists responsible for 9/11.

The best way to deal with America’s fanatics is to remove the public schools from the political system and trust the teachers to do whatever it takes to teach America’s youth.

Return to The Finland-Singapore Solution to Public Education in the U.S. – Part 2 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).

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

 

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Needs versus Education – What comes first? – Part 5/5

Child Help.org says, “Over 3 million reports of child abuse are made every year in the United States; however, those reports can include multiple children. In 2009, approximately 3.3 million child abuse reports and allegations were made involving an estimated 6 million children.”

Child abuse occurs at every socioeconomic level, across ethnic and cultural lines, within all religions and at all levels of education.

RAINN.org says, “Fifteen percent of sexual assault and rape victims are under age 12 and 29% are age 12 – 17. Three percent of boys grades 5 to 8 and 5% of boys in grades 9 to 12 said they have been sexually abused.

“Children that are victims of sexual assault are three times more likely to suffer from depression, six times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol, 26 times more likely to abuse drugs and 4 times more likely to contemplate suicide.”

The No Child Left Behind Act mandates (without directly saying so) that teachers are to overcome all of these challenges without any changes taking place outside the public schools when hunger, homelessness, gang and crime statistics, child abuse, etc. impact a child’s life.

However, when survival comes first in a child’s life, and other essential needs are not met, education takes a back seat and teachers in the public schools will not overcome these challenges no matter what mandate the federal government votes into law or how many critics claim America’s public school teachers are failing.

With these challenges, it is amazing that teachers have accomplished what they have.

For example, in California, 53.9% of Black or African American students in the public schools have met the English Language Arts Target while 56.3% have met the Mathematics Target.

Yet, in the United States, sixty-seven percent (67%) of Black-African American children live in single-family homes.  In addition, more than 35% live in poverty.

Among Hispanic/Latino children, more than 33% live in poverty, while less than 12% of white children do and about 13% of Asians.

The numbers of students that fail or succeed in school is easily explained by the numbers of those living in poverty, in communities dominated by youth gangs, and those that live in single parent homes.

Asking America’s public school teachers to overcome these obstacles is the same as telling someone to climb Mount Everest nude and without any climbing gear.  Only ignorant fools or people with political agendas based on greed or ideology would make such accusations.

The facts say, when a child’s basic needs are met, that child is ready to learn and not until then and the complexity of what it means to make sure every child’s basic needs are met is difficult to identify and achieve.  We cannot expect the government or teachers to solve everything for everyone. Individuals must take responsiblity for their lives and that means parents too.

Teacher’s cannot push these child to the next level in literacy or math even with the threat of lost jobs and closed schools.

Return to Needs versus Education – What comes first? – Part 4 or start with Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

To subscribe to “Crazy Normal”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.

 

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