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Tag Archives: No Child Left Behind

The Common Core that Navy SEALS should have with NCLB

Each year, about 1,000 men start SEAL training. Although training success rates vary per class, the dropout rate for SEALs is 80% or more.

Now, you might be thinking, how does George Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act, Obama’s Race to the Top and Bill Gates’ Common Core agenda to rank and then punish about four million teachers for children who are not college and career ready by age 17/18 have anything to do with the Navy SEALs?

G.W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act mandated that public schools and public school teachers be successful with 100% of children so they all graduate on time from high school college and career ready—and no child will be dropped or kicked out like the corporate Charters do to children who don’t measure up to the demanding standards that Bill Gates and a few other billionaire oligarchs expect every child to meet, except their own children, of course.

And when the public schools don’t graduate 100% of children from high school, college and career ready, then those teachers and public schools—thanks to Bill Gates and the other billionaires oligarchs who are funding the propaganda for this agenda—MUST be punished, and that eventually means every public school and teacher in America will be fired, their unions broken and all public schools closed to be replaced with for-profit (with a major emphasis on profit thanks to Milton Friedman thinking) corporate Charter schools that Stanford studies have already revealed are mostly worse than the public schools they are replacing.

The Stanford Credo study said, “Our national pooled analysis reveals, on the whole, a slightly negative picture of average charter school performance nationwide. On average, charter school students can expect to see their academic growth be somewhat lower than their traditional public school peers …”

The fact is that every man can’t be a Navy SEAL and every child will not grow up to be college and career ready by age 17/18.  But we shouldn’t let that stop the corporate reform movement that wants to reform education from a transparent, democratic, non-profit, public institution to an opaque, secretive, profit-driven corporate education system riddled by fraud and run by CEO’s who don’t answer to parents and who earn six to eight figures annually. For instance, Eva Moskowitz, a corporate Charter queen, who pays herself from public funds more than the president of the Untied States earns.

Imagine what would happen if the U.S. Navy punished the SEAL instructors like the U.S. Department of Education is now punishing public schools and public school teachers. How long would it take before the Navy couldn’t find any instructors to train SEALs?

But then, of course, the U.S. Navy could just hire Teach for America (TFA) recruits—with their five weeks of summer seminars—to train the SEALs, couldn’t they?

Top Ten List on Birck Wall Updated Jan 28 - 2015

In conclusion, I want to suggest that the White House seriously reconsider how Navy SEALs are trained so the success rate reaches 100% and not 20% or less, and TFA, of course, is the answer along with NCLB, RTTT, and Bill Gates Common Core agenda. To make this agenda fool-proof for even Bill Gates, Pearson will come up with a secretive, expensive, flawed, bubble test riddled with errors like Pearson has already done for the public schools, that would falsely promise a 100% success rate for everyone who wants to be SEAL ready—including all women, even transgenders in addition to paraplegics.

_______________________

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

Runner Up in Biography/Autobiogrpahy
2015 Florida Book Festival

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

Honorable Mention in Biography/Autobiography
2014 Southern California Book Festival
2014 New England Book Festival
2014 London Book Festival

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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Discovering the world’s best teachers—Smoking Gun: Part 2

To discover the world’s best teachers we have to look at children who live in poverty. Teachers who successfully teach as many of these children as possible are the world’s best teachers.

The US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health says: “It is well documented that poverty decreases a child’s readiness for school through aspects of health, home life, schooling and neighbourhoods. Six poverty-related factors are known to impact child development in general and school readiness in particular. They are:

  • The incidence of poverty
  • The depth of poverty
  • The duration of poverty
  • The timing of poverty (eg, age of child)
  • Community characteristics (eg, concentration of poverty and crime in neighborhood, and school characteristics)
  • and the impact poverty has on the child’s social network (parents, relatives and neighbors).

“A child’s home has a particularly strong impact on school readiness. Children from low-income families often do not receive the stimulation and do not learn the social skills required to prepare them for school. Typical problems are parental inconsistency (with regard to daily routines and parenting), frequent changes of primary caregivers, lack of supervision and poor role modelling. Very often, the parents of these children also lack support.”

What I’m about to share with you reveals the second smoking gun that leads from the Department of Education to the  White House through Obama’s Machiavellian Race to the Top and Common Core testing.

Gerald N. Tirozzi, executive director of the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) analyzed the most resent international PISA test and his results revealed that public school teachers in America are more successful teaching children who live in poverty than any other country on the planet. He did this by comparing PISA test results with comparable schools that had the same number of children who lived in poverty.

In every comparison, the US was #1 when it came to teaching the most difficult at-risk children on the planet. For instance, for a more accurate assessment of the performance of U.S. students, Tirozzi aligns the scores of American schools with those of other countries with comparable poverty rates.

Tirozzi shows the ranking of schools in the United States with less than a 10% poverty rate compared with ten countries with similar poverty numbers, and the United States ranked #1 with a PISA score of 551, and Finland was #2 with a score of 536 for those similar schools with similar poverty rates.

Did you get that?  Teachers in the U.S. were more successful teaching children who lived in poverty than teachers in Finland who are considered some of the best teachers working in one of the best public school systems in the world—and Finland doesn’t test its children and judge teachers based on the results.

Tirozzi then matches schools with a poverty rate of 10-24.9% with ten comparable nations, and once again the United States was #1 with a PISA score of 527. Canada was #2 with a score of 524.

No other developed country tested had schools with poverty rates approaching 25%, and the U.S. Census reports: “The U.S. poverty rate in 2012 for children under age 18 was 21.8% (16,073,000).”

At this point, I want to emphasize that teaching in a classrooms with high rates of children who live in poverty offers extreme challenges that don’t exist in schools with lower rates. The behavior problems are sometimes overwhelming. Many of these children hate school, hate reading, hate teachers and often come from dysfunctional homes in gang infested communities. And some of these children are gang members.

For instance, for most of the 30 years I taught, the schools where I worked had poverty rates of 70% or more—Tirozzi found similar schools in Mexico, where only a third of its adult population has a high school degree, and if we compare U.S. schools with poverty rates over 75%, the U.S. PISA score was 446 compared to 425 for similar schools in Mexico. (NOTE: Mexico is not considered one of the 35 developed countries)

To deal with poverty in the United States, what did the Obama administration do?  Congress passed Obama’s Race to the Top and Common Core standardized testing that punishes only public school teachers. That is all President Obama’s administration has done!

There have been no early childhood education programs from the Obama White House, and even the U.S. Department of Education admits “There is a tremendous unmet need for high-quality early learning throughout the country … the importance of early learning is clear. Studies prove that children who have rich early learning experiences are better prepared to thrive in kindergarten and beyond.” (Just in case, Arne Duncan has this page revised, I took a screen shot of it.)

Map: How 35 countries compare on child poverty (the U.S. is ranked 34th)

 Data source: UNICEF

 

This Machiavellian insanity started with President G. W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind, but President Obama’s Race to the Top legally defined public school teachers and the public schools as failures to be fired and/or replaced by private sector Charter schools that don’t have to teach difficult at-risk children who live in poverty.

President Obama, Arne Duncan, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, and Bill Gates, for instance, all demand that America’s public school teachers must teach America’s children so 100% are college and career ready by age 17/18 while ignoring the needs of more than sixteen million children who live in poverty—something that no other country has demanded of their public school teachers in history.

Do you smell the smoking gun coming from the Department of Education and the White House? I hope so.

Continued with Smoking Gun Three: Linking Education Fraud from Obama to GOP or return to Smoking Gun: 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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A successful history of—and the threat to—Public Education in the United States

I’m sure you’ve heard for years—even decades—that the public schools are failing; that teachers are lazy, incompetent and their labor unions are responsible for this so-called failure.

The solution: fire the teachers, close the public schools and get rid of the labor unions. Then turn education over to private sector corporations run by CEOs who only answer to their wealthiest stock holders. For instance, Bill Gates, the Koch brothers, the Walton family, Eli Broad, Michael Bloomberg, Rupert Murdock and a flock of Hedge Fund billionaires.

Let’s see what you think after we go back to 1779 and walk through 235 years of history to the present. It won’t take long—a few facts and a conclusion.

  • We’ll start with Thomas Jefferson in 1779, because he thought the US should have two education systems: one for the wealthy and one for everyone else.  As Jefferson said, we’ll “rake a few geniuses from the rubbish.”
  • The first public high school opened in Boston in 1820, and by the 1830s in the southern slave states laws were passed making it illegal to teach slaves to read.
  • In 1851, Massachusetts was the first state to pass a compulsory education law.


This video shows how the public schools started in the US, but the Prussian method of teaching kids shown in this video will change—watch 2nd video.

  • In 1870, 2% of the US population graduated from high school.
  • In 1896, the Southern States pass laws requiring racial segregation in the public schools. They can’t stop blacks and other minorities from attending public schools so they make sure these children attend separate schools and have less funding.
  • By 1900, the high school graduation rate reaches 6.4% and 6.2% of whites were illiterate compared to 44.5% of blacks and other minorities.
  • By 1918, all states have passed school attendance legislation, although until the 1930s, many were unsuccessful in enforcing their compulsory schooling laws. However, as the population increased, and as the demand for well-trained labor grew, the bureaucratic machinery for enforcement was created.
  • In 1938, for the first time, minimum ages of employment and hours of work for children are regulated by federal law.
  • By 1940, the graduation rate reaches 50.8% and only 2% of whites are illiterate compared to 11.5% of blacks and other minorities.
  • In 1945, at the end of World War 2, the G.I. Bill of Rights gives thousands of working class men college scholarships for the first time in U.S. history. In fact, I went to college on the Vietnam G.I. Bill.
  • By 1954, The Supreme Court unanimously agrees in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka that segregated schools are “inherently unequal” and must be abolished. Forty years later, segregation is back and getting worse.
  • In 1955, Milton Friedman, the father of neo-liberal economics, envisions a school voucher system to slowly privatize public schools. His followers have never given up.


During the 1970s and 80s, public education evolves from the regimented Prussian model to focus on critical thinking and problem solving skills. But this will be reversed when President G. W. Bush enacts his “No Child Left Behind Act” and then under President Obama’s “Race to the Top” the process will speed up.

  • In 1979, 0.4% of whites are illiterate compared to 1.6% of blacks and other minorities.
  • After Ronald Reagan is elected president in 1980, his secretary of education William Bennett began an all-out war on teachers, teachers unions and public school districts. He calls democratically elected school boards and school districts “the blob”. Reagan also vetoed the Fairness Doctrine that for thirty-eight years required the media to offer the public an honest balanced reporting of important issues, and soon after the Fairness Doctrine was abolished conservative talk radio exploded across the country using cherry-picked facts to present biased opinions without balanced reporting.
  • In 1990, the high school dropout rate is 12 percent.
  • In 2007, 80.7% of Asians graduate from high school; 76.6% of Whites; 55.5% Hispanic/Latino; 53.7% of Black and 50.7% of American Indians.
  • In 2011, neoliberal President Obama with support from Bill Gates, Rupert Murdock (and other billionaires that include the Walton family and the Koch brothers) implement Common Core standards that leads to testing in 2014 that is designed to fail teachers and schools so the public schools may be legally labeled failures, closed, all teachers fired, and then corporations will take over teaching our children—taking all power away from parents and the democratic process, and these new private schools supported by the taxpayer will not be accountable to the people.
  • By 2011, the high school drop our rate has fallen to 7%—an improvement of 5% since 1990.
  • In 2012, for the first time in US history, a third of the nation’s 25 to 29 year olds have earned at least a bachelor’s degree, and by age 24, 90% of Americans have earned a high school degree or its equivalent.
  • In the fall of 2013, a record 21.8 million students were expected to attend American colleges and universities, an increase of about 6.5 million since fall of 2000.

But even with all this success, in recent years, the Walton family has spent more than $1 billion toward efforts to “infuse competitive pressure into America’s K-12 education system.” Never mind that this money is mostly in states where no Walton family members live or have children in school. In addition, The Wall Street Journal reported that Bill Gates has spent $5 billion in his attempt to destroy public education with the same goal—the Walton’s and the other billionaires have—to fire public school teachers and close public schools.

In conclusion, the Common Core standards teach students what to think, not how to think. The Common Core is a return to the Prussian method of teaching children (see the 1st video) and there will be a double standard in education. There will be the underfunded public schools that end up teaching the most difficult, at risk children, as Jefferson said, “the rubbish”, and the private sector corporate schools will take students who are all on their way to college.

The billionaires listed in the first paragraph are pushing hard to achieve Jefferson’s vision.  For instance, Bill Gates has spent billions selling the lie of Common Core testing to Americans while other billionaires are pushing hard to close the transparent, democratically run public schools that are accountable to everyone and replace them with an elite, opaque private schools system that doesn’t answer to anyone but a CEO—all paid for by taxpayers.

Timeline for Crony Capitalist's War Against Public Education

Answer this question: Now that you know the brief but successful history of public education and the threats against it, tell me how the public schools are failing and prove it with more than an opinion.

_______________________

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

Crazy is Normal FREE Promotion July 2016

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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A Bloody Rain of Terror on Teachers: a book review of Diane Ravitch’s “Reign of Error”

After reading “Reign of Error” by Diane Ravitch with a highlighter and flagging pages with Post-it-Notes, I finished with a question: Why would anyone want to teach in today’s toxic public-school environment? The answer to that question is vital.

If Americans who value our freedoms; the democracy we fought and bled for, as citizens we must have a say in how our public schools operate; teach and treat our children. Every teacher, parent and future parent in America must join forces and fight to keep the public schools from being destroyed by a malignant cancer that President G. W. Bush called “No Child Left Behind” and President Obama calls “Race to the Top”. Both of these Washington D.C. based programs supported by Congress demand that teachers are successful with 100% of the children and nothing else is acceptable.

This means that if a school improves scores—for example—by even 50% from 25 to 75, that school would still be considered a failure and all of its teachers branded as failures. Then those public schools may be closed and turned over to the private-sector where profit driven vampires may be allowed to suck out the profits as if it were the blood of a victim while the law is powerless to do anything.

If you read “Reign of Error”, you will discover this is exactly what happened to public schools in Chicago and New Orleans. In a few of Chicago’s public schools, for instance—that were more successful than the private-sector for profit schools replacing them—even the angry parents of the children who attended those improving public schools couldn’t stop the closures.

You see, “No Child Left Behind” and “Race to the Top” only punishes the public schools for not achieving the impossible goals set by the President and Congress but ignores the private sector schools that are replacing them.

The situation between the public schools and the private sector that’s moving in is similar to having Woody Allen age 77 fighting a 20-year old Mike Tyson at the height of his boxing career, but Allen has to wear gloves and can’t hit below the belt while Tyson is bare fisted and can hit anywhere he wants.

Sad to say, an old former friend of mine was seduced to the dark side—he was influenced by more than thirty years of corporate; private-sector propaganda into believing the public schools were broken and now he sides with the test-students-to-death mentality and blame teachers when 100% of the kids don’t show dramatic improvement with those test scores. This former, old friend firmly believes the only way to educate our children is through private sector, assembly-line, CEO mentality, corporate schooling. He thinks this is “school choice” but once the public schools are closed, there will no choice.

Halfway through reading “Reign of Error”, I sent this former friend I have known for almost sixty years an e-mail urging him to read Ravitch’s book. A few days later he wrote that he visited Amazon; read the 1-star reviews from critics of public education [there were eight when I last looked compared to one-hundred-thirteen 5-star reviews] and that was all he needed to make his mind up—he refused to read the book.

If you know anyone with a closed mind like his and a world view that sees everything through a black-and-white filter, don’t waste your time as I did. Individuals like my old, former friend are a lost cause, but we may still have a chance to save America’s public school before it is too late.

It isn’t as if I wasn’t aware of what was going on in the public school. After all, I successfully taught in the public schools for thirty years alongside many other hardworking teachers, and I have stayed in touch with colleagues and friends who are still in the classroom—they say it’s getting worse and not better. When I talk to them, I hear the stress; the pressure; the depression, and the sense of defeat. It doesn’t matter how great or hard working a teacher might be, they are all painted with the critic’s corporate-funded brush that says we must get rid of incompetent teachers [but not one study had indicated how many teachers in America are incompetent], and to do this we must strip all teachers of job protection; we must get rid of the unions who might fight for a [good] teacher’s rights; we must turn the schools over to corporations and non-profit organizations with highly paid CEOs who will make all the decisions and who have the power to fire teachers and administrators for any reason at any time—all without government oversight and supervision.

After reading “Reign of Error” I now have a complete picture of what has been going on for more than thirty years, and I taught in the public schools through most of that era, but I had no idea it was this bad.

We must fight to stop the special interests that are directed by billionaires and religions driven by idealistic beliefs that stem from racism; libertarianism; conservatism; neo-conservatism; progressive agendas, and fundamentalist Christian beliefs. Thirty years ago these wealthy individuals and organizations were critics of the public schools but they were not working together and the voters defeated them at the ballot box repeatedly.

That all changed starting with President G. W. Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” and then even worse, President Obama’s “Race to the Top”. The critics found another way to achieve their goals; bypassed the voters and bought presidents, members of Congress, governors, mayors, and state legislatures, and to win elections outspent the candidates they couldn’t buy.

Today those groups and individuals in the private sector have a common goal and that goal is to strip democracy from the public schools and turn those schools over to “them” so they can teach the kids any way they want without any rules, oversight or restrictions.

The American people must fight and resist—for example: the Koch brothers; the Walton family and the Gates Foundation—to preserve America’s freedoms from a corporate CEO mentality; an autocratic and dictatorial thought process. How would you like Wal-Mart teaching your kids—a corporation that teaches its lowly paid workers how to apply for welfare/food stamps?

To learn more about the Walton family’s campaign against the public school in America, I suggest reading this post about Education that appeared on Walmart1percent.org.

Do you want America’s schools run by someone like the libertarian Koch brothers; the conservative Walton family; the progressive Gates family, or neoconservative Rupert Murdock who owns and controls Media Corp, the second largest media empire in the world?

Or do you want America’s 13,600 public school districts teaching more than 50-million kids to be managed by democratically elected school boards who answer to parents/voters as they have for more than a hundred years?

Ravitch’s book proves beyond a doubt for any open-minded person that our public schools have been slowly and steadily improving and are not failing, but that there’s still room for improvement. In fact, Ravitch closes her book with several chapters with suggestions to improve the public schools more than they have already improved in the last century. I agree with Ravitch’s recommendations.

When we look at more than a century of progress in the country’s public schools starting in 1900, there is nothing but progress as the high school graduation rate climbed from 3% to reach 90% in 2012.

Be aware that the numbers the critics report are the ones they want you to know—like the on-time graduation rates for 17/18 year olds which is also at its highest point in the history of this country, but they won’t tell you that last fact.

The critics don’t bother to mention that 15% of the 25%, who did not graduate on time, went on to graduate by age 24—most of them within a year.

What this proves is that the public schools are not social promotion factories as critics claim. High schools have minimum standards for high school graduation. Students must take and pass a given list of classes; earn enough credits in addition to passing a competency exam to prove they have the right to earn a high school diploma. And many of the students who did not qualify to graduate on time meet those requirements and graduate a year or more later. That additional 15% adds up to 7.65 million more high school graduates, who didn’t graduate on time but did graduate.

But “No Child Left Behind” and “Race to the Top” demands that every child finishes first and on time—something that has never happened in the history of any country in the world. These two Washington DC programs supported by the critics of public education are impossible to achieve and are nothing more than a bloody path to guaranteed failure.

As I was reading “Reign of Error”, at first I wanted to go into greater detail sharing what I had learned.  But there is so much information from mostly primary sources supported by charts and a chapter by chapter detailed index, that there was no way I could do the book justice. All I can suggest is that if you love America; if you are a true patriot who supports the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, you must read this book with an open mind. But be warned, the politicians that belong to the private-sector critics; billionaires and corporations calling for school reform, will do all they can to discredit this book to achieve their goals. They already achieved that goal with one former, old friend of mine, and I’m sure there are many more closed-minded fools just like him.

Ravitch is not against charter schools that teach at-risk kids. In fact, in “Reign of Error” Ravitch points out that the concept of charter schools came from Albert Shanker, who was the founding father of the charter-school movement, and the president of the American Federation of Teachers from 1974 to 1997 [AFT is one of America’s two largest teacher unions with about 900-thousand members]. However, once the private -sector reformers and vultures arrived, the charter school concept was hijacked and changed. Now, as Ravitch points out in Chapter 16, [the 5,000] charter school run the gamut from excellent to awful and are, on average no more innovative or successful than public schools.

Shanker’s basic concept was that the charter schools would have a charter for a set period of time while still being part of a public school district; would work with the students who were at high risk of failure, and at some point its work would be done.

Discover Born into Poverty

_______________________

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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Why does the GOP and the Tea Party want to abolish the Department of Education?

Under President George W. Bush, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLBA) increased the Department of Education’s (DOE) budget from $46 Billion to $60 Billion (In 2012, the budget reached $68.1 Billion). For a comparison, under Bush, the Department of Defense (DOD) budget went from $308.9 Billion in 2001 to $729.6 Billion in 2008—an increase of $420.7 Billion compared to the $14 Billion increase for the DOE.

Meanwhile, in 2012, the federal deficit was $1.327 Trillion and the Interest on the debt was $224.8 Billion.

But the GOP wants to save money by abolishing the DOE while increasing the budget for the DOD. I’m confused because this makes no sense, and I wonder what the real reason is. What are they not telling us?

The NCLBA was enacted due to an act of Congress, and Congress represents the fifty states. The NCLBA gave the DOE more responsibilities to monitor public education in all fifty states.

When congress voted and authorized the NCLBA that gave the DOE more responsibility and more funding on May 23, 2001, the House of Representatives voted 384 – 45,  and the Senate voted 91 – 8 in favor of the act.

In 2001, the 107th Congress had a Senate that was split 50-50 and the House of Representatives had 221 Republicans to 212 Democrats.

In truth, it was an imperfect bill incapable of solving the challenges of public education in part because it put the blame and responsibility on the shoulders of teachers and none on parents and students.

In 2001, the Republican Party held majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate with a GOP president in the White House.

If you were to read the history of the DOE, you would discover it was created in 1867 to collect information on schools and teaching that would help the States establish effective school systems. Over the last 145 years, this goal of gathering information on what works in education continues. Source: ed.gov

In fact, in 1867, in the 40th Congress, the GOP held a vast majority in both Houses: 42 to 11 in the Senate and 143 to 49 in the House.

As you have now learned, the GOP, as the majority, created the DOE in 1867, and played a crucial role increasing its responsibility in 2001, so why has the Republican Party in recent years set a goal to abolish the DOE?

Think Progress.org reported, “As recently as 1996, the Republican Party platform declared, ‘The Federal government has no constitutional authority to be involved in school curricula or to control jobs in the market place. This is why we will abolish the Department of Education.’ … Now, a new wave of Republicans (along with many old hard-line conservatives) are trying to number its days once again.” …

“A comprehensive review of the voting records and statements of Republican incumbents and candidates finds that there are 111 GOPers (Republicans) who support shutting down the Department of Education,” Think Progress said.

Yet, in 145 years, the Supreme Court of the United States has never questioned the Constitutionality of the DOE and the mandate it was given by more than one act of Congress.

For a comparison, the federal government only had 2.8 million civilian employees in 2010 and 25.6% of federal civilian employees worked for the DOD while only about two tenths of one percent (0.17%) work for the DOE. In addition, the DOE’s share of the federal budget is 5%, while the DOD’s budget has increased to about 55% of the federal pie.

If the DOE were abolished, public education in the US would lose its eyes and ears, and abolishing the DOE would do nothing to stem the tide of the national debt. It would literally be a drop in the ocean.

In addition, public education in the US is often compared as inferior to Finland’s schools that are ranked as one of the best public educational systems in the world. Compared to the top thirty-three ranked countries for 2009, Finland was 2nd in Reading, 1st in Math, and 1st in Science. The US was ranked 33rd, 27th, and 22nd respectively.

If we want to learn something from Finland, it helps to know that in the Finnish Government, the Ministry of Education and Culture is responsible for developing educational, science, sport and youth policies and international cooperation in these fields. The Ministry also allows the teachers’ union a role in decision making on duties, conditions of work, salary scales and instruction time. However, in the US, teachers are often not part of the decision making process and teachers’ unions are under constant attack and criticism.

It is obvious that as long as the US has fifty different educational systems each based on conflicting political and religious agendas, then the US educational system will never compete equally with countries such as Finland. If we are to compete with Finland, we must learn from what they do–not just compare rankings and blame our teachers and teachers’ unions.

Therefore, why are hard-line conservative types taking aim at the DOE in the US? (For example: think of the Tea Party that was founded and supported in large part by two of the four Koch brothers and the Wal-Mart, Walton family that has pushed hard for voucher schools. This list also includes fundamentalist, evangelical, born again Christians that want the schools to teach creationism instead of evolution and science.)

What is the political agenda of these factions of the Republican Party? Why do these factions in the GOP want to cripple and blind the public education system in the United States leaving it fractured in fifty different pieces? What will these hard-line conservatives and capitalists gain if they succeed?

The answer may be found, in part, from these facts: In the US, there are about 16,000 school districts and approximately 49 million students attending more than 98,000 public schools and 28,000 private schools. To pay for this, the fifty states raise (mostly through local and state taxes) and spend almost one trillion dollars annually for public and private funded education. The budget of the DOE represents about 6.8% of that total. The DOE is the guard dog that gathers information on education in all fifty states and reports to Congress and the president what it learns. If any states or school districts are found to be in violation of laws enacted by the Congress, then the President of the United States is duty bound by his or her oath of office to protect and defend those laws.

Discover the National Debt info-graphic by president 1945 – 2012

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

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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

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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.

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Putting the Blame where it Belongs — Part 5/6

The last step to input this data into the new API index would be easy.  Teachers would make a digital copy of the grades on a CD or a thumb drive or attached to an e-mail sent to an administrative site where the information was fed into a database.

If the law says we cannot reveal student names, then we use student ID numbers, which are kept confidential at the school site.

The district has information on ethnicity, age and sex for every student so that information is merged using the student ID numbers.

The result would be an index that reveals which students are working and those that aren’t. Teachers would only be responsible to teach, correct student assignments and record grades, while students and their parents would be responsible to see that the work and reading is completed.

To make sure that students are learning, there would still be the standardized test to measure growth but with students actually involved instead of watching TV, playing video games or sending the average 1500 text messages a month, there would be reading outside of class, doing homework and studying instead.

This puts the responsibility where it belongs—on students and parents. If a teacher is not doing a good job teaching, students are going to complain and administration is going to observe.

Every few weeks, I printed out a progress report for each of my students that told them everything I’ve mentioned in this series of posts and I required those students to take those reports home and have their parents sign them.

However, if our society is unwilling to hold students and parents responsible to cooperate in their education and we keep placing “ALL” the blame on teachers, America has failed and nothing will solve this problem.

On May 20, 2011, in Solving the API Dilemma – Part 6, we shall see a comparison between the actual API scores in California and my friend’s suggestion of how to show results on standardized tests without being racist when showing who is responsible for the results.

Continued on May 20, 2011 in Putting the Blame where it Belongs – Part 6 or return to Part 4

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

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