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Tag Archives: public education in the United States

First 5-star review of “Crazy is Normal, a classroom expose”

The reason for this Blog that I launched in January of 2010 was to support this memoir. Crazy is Normal, a classroom expose is based on a daily classroom journal that I kept as a teacher in 1994-95.  I have friends who are still teaching, and I know that the work climate for public school teachers is worse today than it was back then thanks to two presidents: George W. Bush and even worse, Obama, who, like a fool, I voted for twice, because I had no idea of his agenda to destroy the public schools and replace them with corporate, for profit schools that would not be answerable to the public while the public supported them with the taxes they pay.

Why do you think President Obama partnered will the richest man on the planet to make this happen. Yes, Bill Gates is Obama’s partner in the destruction of the democratic public schools that have a 175 years of history behind them and nothing but a record of improvement that continues to this day regardless of the lies you might hear or read from the media.

The e-book came out in June 2014.  The paperback is available @ Crazy is Normal, a classroom expose

Here’s the first reader review for the e-book on Amazon:

First 5-star review on July 10-2014

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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).

99 Cent Graphic for Promomtion OCT 2015

Where to Buy

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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Let’s reverse “Those who can’t, teach”

There’s an old proverb that disparages teachers. It goes like this: “Those who can, do; those who can’t teach.” It means that people who are able to do something well can do that thing for a living, while people who are not able to do anything that well make a living by teaching.

I’ve worked in both worlds—the private sector and the public, and I can assure you that old proverb is wrong and anyone who disagrees with me, well, those will be fighting words.

I started at fifteen washing dishes in a coffee shop nights and weekends thirty hours a week for three years while I went to school days until the day the mean boss told three of us that we had to stay later than usual and do someone else’s job who didn’t show up for work, and he wasn’t going to pay us. All three of us quit. If I had done as told, I probably could’ve stayed working in restaurant jobs for the rest of my life. In that job, when I clocked out, I never took work home.

A few weeks later, I joined the U.S. Marines and went to boot camp after graduating from high school. I fought in Vietnam where snipers came close to taking me out more than once, and I decided I didn’t want to make a career out of the Marines. I could have. After all, I survived three years and earned an honorable discharge. I did bring PTSD home and still have it.

My third act was going to college on the GI Bill, and while in college, I worked a series of part-time jobs and I didn’t consider any of them jobs I’d want to work for a lifetime.

For instance, I worked on a crew that cleaned a new Sears store before it opened. In the morning, I clocked in and worked my eight hours and then clocked out. There was no stress, no challenges, and I didn’t take any work home.

In my next job, I walked door to door sixteen hours a day, seven days a week as a Fuller Brush Man where I was told three months later—after more than a thousand hours of work—that I had sold more product than anyone else in the region. I quit, because all I earned for all the door to door walking and sore feet was four hundred dollars—that wasn’t enough for even one month’s rent.

Next job, I bagged groceries in a super market for two years, and I never took any work home. It was an easy job and the people I worked for were good people. The manager of the store was also a nice guy.

After the market job, I stocked shelves and dressed manikins for window displays at a J.C. Penny, and I never took any work home. The store manager was also okay as a boss.

Then I worked one summer near Fresno at a Gallo Winery in a seasonal job during the grape crushing season and before summer ended I was offered a full-time job that came with health benefits and decent pay, but I turned it down, because I wanted to finish college. I also never took any work home while I worked for Gallo. When I clocked out, the work ended.

After graduating from college with a BA in journalism, I landed a job in middle management in a large trucking company. After several years of repetitive paperwork and long hours sitting at a desk in a glass walled office, I quit and went back to college to earn a teaching credential. While working that job, I never took any work home, and my boss was a decent guy to work for. He was fair and kind. From there, in 1975, I returned to college and earned a teaching credential.

In the early 1980s, while teaching days at a tough intermediate school, I worked for a few years at night and on weekends for a fancy nightclub/restaurant called the Red Onion in West Covina, California. At the time, there were several Red Onions in Southern California. The one where I worked had three dining rooms—one with a glass ceiling and a few full-sized palm trees—on one side of the lobby. On the other side was a three-bar nightclub that held a thousand drinkers and dancers. After a few months, I was promoted to the maître d position and put in charge of the front desk. Then the owner of the chain, who drove a white Rolls Royce, offered me a job in management, but I said no and stayed in the classroom as a teacher. The only thing I took home from that job was a few women I met at the night club and dated, and I have no complaints about that. All the managers I worked for were all decent, kind, hard working men.

When I compare all of the jobs I worked in my life, the toughest and most challenging job was teaching where I often worked sixty to one hundred hours a week. Twenty-five to thirty hours a week was teaching and the rest of the sixty to one hundred hours was planning lessons, making phone calls to parents, paperwork (grades, etc.), and correcting student work.

In fact, I took work home during the school year almost every night and weekend often working until I was too tired to keep going.

When I retired from teaching in 2005, I decided that if for any reason I ever had to go back to work, I’d rather be an old  U.S. Marine fighting in a war zone like Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan. In fact, to avoid teaching again, I’d be willing to volunteer and strap on explosives and blow myself up along with a group of al Qaeda or Taliban terrorists before I’d go back in the classroom to be demeaned and abused by students, parents, administrators and our nation’s elected leaders, who make all the decisions for the public schools but accept none of the blame for anything that goes wrong and doesn’t work. Teachers are rarely part of the decision process. They are just the scapegoats for fools who say, “Those who can, do; those who can’t teach.”

I know the public schools are not broken. The crises in public education has been manufactured by a bunch of unscrupulous fake education reformers who are mostly interested in how much money they can steal from tax payers with the approval of the Obama White House.

To find out what it’s like to be a public school teacher in the United States, I suggest that you read my memoir, Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé. You see, I kept a daily journal in 1994-95 for one of the thirty years I was a teacher and captured that job in detail. The other option is to actually go teach in a school similar to the one where I taught.

_______________________

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).

 

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The US versus the World—facts that reveal the truth about the International PISA test

On December 4, 2013, a New York Times headline shouted: “Shanghai Students Again Top Global Test”, and once again, America’s vocal critics of the U.S. Public Schools called for more reform.

Not so fast. In fact, maybe not at all.

In China, the first nine years of education is compulsory starting before age 7. Primary school takes the first six of those nine years; then there’s middle school for grades 7, 8, and 9.

Fifteen is the age of students who take the international PISA test—and in China [so-called] compulsory education ends at the age of fifteen and students who decide to stay in school have a choice between a vocational or academic senior high school track. That’s where the choice ends because in China the senior high schools pick students based on merit.

To explain how this works, the CCP has acknowledged a “9-6-3 rule”. This means that nine of ten children began primary school between the ages of 6 and 7; six complete the first five years and three graduate from sixth grade with good performance.

By the time a student reaches senior high school—grades 10, 11, and 12—most enrollment is in the cities and not in rural China. Most rural Chinese don’t value education as much as urban Chinese do. And many of the migrant urban workers from rural China still have some family back in the village where they often leave their younger children. And many migrant workers, when they retire from factory work, return to the village and the family home.

The United States, by comparison, keeps most kids in school until the end of high school at age 17/18. About 75% graduate on time and another 15% earn their high school diploma or equivalent GED by age 24—all on an academic track because there is no vocational public schools k to 12 in the U.S.

In addition, in China there is the Zhongkao, the Senior High School Entrance Examination, held annually to distinguish the top students who then are admitted to the highest performing senior high schools. This means that if the highest rated high school in Shanghai has 1,000 openings for 10th graders, the students who earn the top 1,000 scores on the Zhongkao get in and then the second highest rated high school takes the next batch of kids until the lowest rated senior high school in Shanghai gets the kids with the bottom scores on the Zhongkao.

Maybe actual numbers will help clarify what this means:

In 2010, 121 million children attended China’s primary schools with 78.4 million in junior and senior secondary schools. The total is 199.4 million kids.

According to World Education News & Reviews: “In 2010, senior high schools [in China] accommodated 46.8 million students (23.4% of the  199.5 million). But about 52 percent or only 40.8 million were enrolled in general senior high school, and 48 percent of those students were attending vocational senior high schools.”

That leaves 21.2 million enrolled in the senior high school academic track designed to prep kids for college—that’s 10.6% of the total. Then consider that Shanghai’s public schools are considered the best in China. This means that the fifteen-year-old students who take the international PISA in China are the elite of the elite attending China’s best public schools.

For a fair comparison—not what we’ll hear from the critics of public education in the United States—the Economic Policy Institute reports: “The U.S. administration of the most recent international (PISA) test resulted in students from the most disadvantaged schools being over-represented in the overall U.S. test-taker sample. This error further depressed the reported average U.S. test score. … But U.S. students from advantaged social class backgrounds perform better relative to their social class peers in the top-scoring countries [Canada, Finland, South Korea, France, Germany and the U.K.]” and “U.S. students from disadvantaged social class backgrounds perform better relative to their social class peers in the three similar post-industrial countries.”

In fact, “U.S. students from advantaged social class backgrounds perform better relative to their social class peers in the top-scoring countries of Finland and Canada. … and—on average—for almost every social class group, U.S. students do relatively better in reading than in math, compared to students in both the top-scoring and the similar post-industrial countries.”

_______________________

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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What makes Education Toxic?

A comment left for a postNC Teacher: “I quit”—on Diane Ravitche’s blog made a good point, and I posted a reply:

I think you have made a great point or at least inadvertently focused a spotlight on an important issue and why it is there.  Turnover in a school or school district may be a red flag—a strong warning sign— that the school board/administration/students are not the easiest to work with or work for [another word would be dysfunctional ].

This could be extended to an entire state since each state has its own department of education that decides policy in that state as directed by the elected politicians from the governor of a state on down. Due to a need to gain votes, religious and/or political agendas tend to rule in such organizations and the winds may shift at any time.

For example, I friend sent me this about the current situation in the high school in Southern California where he now teaches.

I was a public school teacher from 1975 – 2005 and we worked together before dysfunctional administration at our high school and in our school district drove him to quit and find a job in another district that at the time was a better place to work.

But beware of the grass is greener over there syndrome because a drought will kill the green grass leaving behind sweltering heat and dust.

During my thirty years in the classroom, I worked under nine-different principals. Some were great, some good and some horrible.

The horrible ones drove teachers, counselors and VPs out of the schools where they ruled Nazi style and turnover could reach as high as fifty percent in a few years.

Good principals, who are usually a sign of good administration and a sensible school board, tend to hold on to staff.

I mean, how many people quit jobs—any job—with a boss that knows what he or she is doing; a boss that supports his workers in the best possible ways to make the work environment a place where we want to spend twenty to forty years of our lives?

My friend said of this school year (2012 – 2013):

“112 scheduling changes in the first three weeks (the classes he teaches)

“75% of the administrative team is new; a lot of chaos

“50% of the counselors are new; a lot of chaos

“We lost our department chairs, so there is no communication between the teachers and administration

[This high school, he says] “once had a top-notch academic program; however, we are falling apart at the seams; our test scores have flat-lined and they will continue to flat-line because there are just too many new faces at our school; two of our Vice Principals have never been a VP before; they’re nice people, but we have to wade through their learning curve.”

For another example: at the high school where I taught for the last sixteen of the thirty years I was in the classroom as a teacher, we had one new teacher quit at lunch on his first day on the job with two more classes to teach after lunch. During the lunch break, he walked in the principal’s office, tossed his room keys on the desk and said, “If they won’t show some respect for me and attempt to learn, then I refuse to teach them.”

I know from experience, that district did not do a good job creating a positive, supportive educational environment for its teachers because I worked in that district for thirty years. Instead, it was more of a combative environment that did not offer the support teachers wanted or needed to teach.

It is a fact that teachers teach and students learn. However, that is not always the case. Instead, teachers in a toxic educational environment often struggle to teach while too many students make no effort to learn.

Elected School Boards and the administrators they hire should support an environment where teachers may teach and students will learn, and we can learn from two of the best public educations system in the world: Finland and Singapore.

In Finland, the teachers have a strong union and the teachers make the decisions in a supportive educational environment and it works. Parents start teaching children how to read at age three but the first year of school is at age seven.

In Singapore, merit rules. Students must compete academically to earn where they are tracked and the system is heavily tracked based on performance. There is no self-esteem driven educational environment; there is corporal punishment and students may be publicly beat with a bamboo cane if caught breaking strict-rules built to support a merit based education system.

Why can’t we in the United States learn from Finland and Singapore?

Discover What is the Matter with [American] Parents these Days?

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

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

 

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Not Broken! – Part 1/5

Regardless of the opinions of others or what the US media says, the facts clearly prove US public schools are not broken and most public school teachers are succeeding at the job they were hired to do, which is teaching American children each state’s mandated academic curriculum to prepare for college with more success than any country on Earth.

If anything is missing, it is vocational training (more on this later) as it exists in many other countries—something missing in American public education.

However, that is not the fault of the teachers or the teacher unions. That is the fault of politicians due to the political nature of public education in the United States and standards-based education reform.

In fact, education reform in the United States since the 1980s has been largely driven by the setting of academic standards for what students should know and be able to do.

Standards-based education reform in the US started with the publication of A Nation at Risk in 1983. Then in 1989, an education summit involving all fifty state governors and President George H. W. Bush (Republican) resulted in the adoption of national education goals for the year 2000.

For this reason, every public school teacher in America should boycott the classroom as the next school year starts in August/September of 2012, demand respect and the truth about the achievements in public education in the United States before returning to the classroom to teach.

It is time for Americans to stop using public school teachers as scapegoats to cover up the truth that if there is any failure, it belongs to Presidents George H. W. Bush, Clinton, G. W. Bush; Obama, and the 1996 National Educational Summit where 44 governors and 50 corporate CEO’s set the academic priorities of public education.


millions of jobs unfilled due to the lack of vocational training in the US public schools

Joseph Goebbels, one of Hitler’s inner circle in the Nazi Party, once said, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will come to believe it.”

The big lie I’m talking about is what I keep reading and hearing about the US public schools being broken and that teachers and the teacher unions are at fault.

You see, it all depends on how the facts are presented and what is left out.

The critics of public education have a loud voice and use language that shows the glass half empty instead of 90% full, which is more accurate. Once all the facts of high-school graduation rates or its alternatives are known, the perception changes dramatically.

To learn the truth, one must start more than a century in the past and chart the progress.

Continued on September 2, 2012 in Not Broken! – Part 2

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

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 1/4

There are at least three ‘false’ truths in America. There is the liberal/progressive truth, the conservative truth, and a moderate truth and then there are the politically incorrect but true facts many ignore for fear of being criticized by one or more of the politically correct mobs.

To define these mobs, we pin them with terms such as liberal/progressive or conservative and even these terms may be broken into smaller mobs such as hard-core liberals and conservatives. As for moderates, they seem to be spread all over the political spectrum.

For example, in August 2011, Gallup reported, “41% of Americans interviewed in national Gallup Poll surveys describe their political views as conservative, 36% as moderate, and 21% as liberal.”

In addition, hard-right Republicans outnumbered hard-left Democrats two to one.

If you are curious which way the majority leans on a number of hot-button issues such as abortion, Gallup reported May 2011 that 49% of Americans are “pro-choice” while 45% are “pro-life”.

However, “pro-life” is politically correct to conservatives while “pro-choice” is politically correct to liberals but only 21% of Americans are considered liberal.

It appears few moderates support “pro-life” but when it comes to handguns, on October 26, 2011 Gallup reported, “A record-low 26% of Americans favor a legal ban on the possession of handguns in the United States…,” which tells us that when it comes to handguns most moderates support the conservative politically correct agenda on this hot-button issue.

However, when it comes to public education, the issue gets confusing. Gallup reported in August 2010 that, “Americans continue to believe their local schools are performing well, but the nation’s schools are performing poorly. More than three-quarters of public school parents [77%, which has to include at least 20% of the conservatives] give their child’s school an “A” or “B,” while 18% of all Americans grade the nation’s public schools that well.”

In other words, almost 80% of American parents [including almost half of all conservatives] believe the public school his or her child attends performs well but all other schools in the nation suck unless you are the parent of a child at one of those other public schools.

This is the opposite of the “grass is greener on the other side of the hill” attitude and more a belief that the grass is dead and failing where I never visit.

In addition, looking closer, we discover 67% of respondents say the amount of money spent on a public school student’s education affects the quality of his or her education “a great deal” or “quite a lot”, while 34% [Note—this probably represents the audience that regularly listens to conservative talk radio] respond that to earn an “A”, the public schools have to improve the quality of teaching.

How can that be when almost 80% of parents are satisfied with the public school [which would include the teachers] his or her child attends?

Improving the quality of teachers to solve so-called public school problems tends to be a conservative politically correct belief while spending more money on public schools leans toward the liberal/progressive aisle—another switch for most moderates and some conservatives.

After learning the confusing facts of public opinion in the United States, we hear from Robert Weissberg writing for “the American Thinker”, who complains of Yet One More Doomed Education Reform, a post that smashes many politically correct toes of all types.

Continued on October 28, 2011 in Blind, Deaf and Dumber to the facts and doomed to fail – 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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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

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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, click it and then follow directions.

 

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