Tag Archives: President Obama’s Failure of Leadership

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


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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President Obama’s Failure of Leadership

Recently, the National Center for Fair & Open Testing reported on the release of a dozen years of 12th grade NAEP scores revealing the test-based accountability era of G. W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind and Obama’s Race to the Top with its seriously flawed and Machiavellian Common Core Standards has had no discernible effect on the test scores of seniors.

“How much more evidence do federal and state policy-makers need that driving schooling through standardized exams does not increase educational quality?” asked Fair Test Public Education Director Bob Schaeffer. “It is time to abandon failed test-and-punish policies and adopt assessments that have been shown to improve teaching and learning.”

Second, I read What, Me Worry? By Kristin Sainani writing for a Publication of the Stanford Alumni Association.  The Stanford piece discussed two kinds of stress:  Good Stress vs. Bad Stress, and how chronic stress shrinks the hippocampus (one of the brain’s key memory centers), impairs cognitive function and increases risk of mental illness.

Sainani quotes Kelly McGonigal, PhD, a health psychologist, author and Stanford Lecturer who says, “I’ve become even more convinced that the type of ‘stress’ that is toxic has more to do with social status, social isolation and social rejections. It’s not just having a hard life that seems to be toxic, but it’s some of the social poisons that can go alone with stigma or poverty.”

Echoing McGonigal, Robert Sapolsky—the Stanford John A. and Cynthia Fry Gunn Professor and Professor of Neurology and Neurological Sciences and of Neurosurgery—adds: “I’d say that, overall, the most corrosive type of social stress in our Western world is low socioeconomic status—i.e., poverty.”

At this point, you might be scratching your head wondering what Sainani’s Stanford piece has to do with President Obama’s “Failure of Leadership”.  For an answer, I’ll refer you to Chapter 10 in Diane Ravitch’s “Reign of Error”. The title of that chapter is: How Poverty Affects Academic Achievement.

Ravitch’s chapter starts with: “Reformers often say that poverty is an excuse for ‘bad teachers.’ If all teachers were great, then all children would score well on tests, and there would be no achievement gaps between children of different groups.”

Sainani’s Stanford piece based on highly reputable scientific studies of stress and its effects on the brain proves beyond a doubt that Ravitch was right and the fake education reformers were wrong.  Children who live in poverty are already under “Bad Stress” and long days of test prep followed by flawed and stressful Common Core testing only adds more stress to children living in poverty and there are 16 million of them in the United States.

Third: there is a popular myth—due to the hundreds of millions of dollars spent by the fake education reformers promoting the Charter school sector with (cherry picked) misleading facts—that Charter schools are superior to public schools, but the second study out of Stanford (the 1st was in 2009) proved that myth wrong. Stanford’s Credo Center for Research and Education Outcomes National Charter School Study of 2013 revealed that for reading, 19% of Charters were worse than the public schools; 56% were no different and only 25% were better. For math, 31% were worse; 40% were no different and only 29% were better. It was mentioned that this was an improvement over the 2009 study but that improvement was—in part—because of the bad Charters that were closed after the results of the 2009 Stanford study was released.

How long has this Charter movement been with us?  longer than twenty years

In addition, The Public School Advantage Why Public Schools Outperform Private Schools by Christopher A. Lubienski and Sarah Theule Lubienski published by University of Chicago Press (2013) used sophisticated analytical tools to discover that even though private school children arrive in kindergarten a little bit more academically prepared than their public school peers, public school students make up the difference over the course of elementary school.” The Lubienskis also revealed that traditional public schools hold a slight edge over the Charter sector.

Last, there’s the fact that private sector Charter schools supported by the same tax revenue used to support the public schools may be opaque with their finances while public schools must be transparent with every penny spent, and Bill Moyers and Company reported Charter Schools Gone Wild: Study Finds Widespread Fraud, Mismanagement and Waste.

Sabrina Joy Stevens, executive director of Integrity in Education, told, “Our report shows that over $100 million has been lost to fraud and abuse in the charter industry, because there is virtually no proactive oversight system in place to thwart unscrupulous or incompetent charter operators before they cheat the public.” The actual amount of fraud and abuse the report uncovered totaled $136 million, and that was just in the 15 states they studied.

In addition, an NBC4 investigation reported: “In 2013, 17 charter schools in Columbus (Ohio) closed, joining 150 other charter schools around Ohio. It’s a failure rate of 29 percent. $1.4 billion has been spent since 2005 through school year 2012-2013 on charter schools that have never gotten any higher grade than an F or a D.”

What does all this show us?  It reveals that both Presidents G. W. Bush and Barack Obama’s fake education reform movement through No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top and the Common Core Standards have failed miserably, but President Obama and his Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, continue to ignore the mountain of growing evidence while promoting the corporate, for profit Charter school sector.

In conclusion, this is more than a failure of leadership. It’s a Constitutional crime.

The oath of office of the President of the United States: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

The White House is not a platform for pushing the agenda of a few powerful and wealthy oligarchs while ignoring overwhelming evidence that proves that agenda wrong. The President’s job is to serve all the people by defending the Constitution and not ignoring it.


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

His 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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