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Tag Archives: Race to the Top

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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Looking at 5 countries with some of the best public education systems in the world, and—SURPRISE, SURPRISE—they all have teachers’ unions

This post will prove beyond a reasonable doubt—for open minds—that the teachers’ unions in the United States are not guilty of the alleged claims made by members of the manufactured, corporate-driven, fake-education, reform movement [MCDFERM].

There is an all-out war raging in the United States against public education, public school teachers and the teachers’ unions. This war started decades ago with the ultra-conservative Walton family supporting the school voucher movement, and the war escalated under neo-conservative President G. W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind [NCLB] mandating that 100 percent of children by age 17/18 must be college/career ready in 2014-15 [this school year].

Even though this goal has never been achieved throughout history in any country in the world including today, Congress approved NCLB—both Houses of Congress had a Republican majority, but 89-percent of the House and 91-percent of the Senate voted yes.

For instance, between 2005 and 2010, the Walton Family Foundation—an alleged member of the MCDFERM—gave nearly $700 million to education reform organizations. Specifically, the family provides lavish funding for voucher programs, charter schools, and policy and advocacy groups devoted to establishing and promoting alternatives to public schooling. The WALMART 1%

Then neo-liberal President Obama’s Race to the Top and his Common Core State Standards agenda—with help from more than $200 million in funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, another alleged member of MCDFERM—made the situation worse when the federal government threatened the states with the loss of billions of dollars in federal funding through the Department of Education if the states did not use the results of standardized student tests to rank and then fire teachers in addition to closing schools classified as failing—even though the American Statistical Association says: “Most VAM studies find that teachers account for about 1 to 14-percent of the variability in test scores, and that the majority of opportunities for quality improvement are found in the system-level conditions. Ranking teachers by their VAM scores can have unintended consequences that reduce quality.”

The main talking points of the MCDFERM are that there are too many incompetent teachers and that the teacher’s unions and tenure—due process job protection that does NOT guarantee a job for life—get in the way of firing bad teachers. It doesn’t matter that there is no valid evidence to support these often repeated claims by members of the MCDFERM.

To discover the membership of MCDFERM, I strongly suggest you read A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who in the Implosion of American Public Education by Mercedes K. Schneider.

Before moving on, remember that despite great wealth, the U.S. has the highest rate of child poverty among industrialized countries—about 23-percent.

Poverty impairs all aspects of a child’s development and can have lifelong detrimental consequences. Poor children are more likely to go hungry and are less likely to be read to during their early year. Child Poverty

South Korearanked second in the 2012 OECD international PISA Tests—with a population 46 million and a childhood poverty rate of 10.2-percent. [Rankings in this post do not count the Chinese cities of Shanghai, Hong Kong, Macao, the island of Taipei, and the Principality of Liechtenstein]

In 1989, teachers in South Korea established an independent union.  According to a report in The Wall Street Journal Asia, the union claimed support from 82-percent of all teachers. The Korean Teachers Union (KTU) has demanded that the government halt standardized testing, which is used in the country to determine school budgets—those with higher test results get more money from the government. In October 2013, the South Korean government threatened to ban the teachers union—sound familiar?

Finlandranked seventh—with a population of 5.4 million and a childhood poverty rate of 4.17-percent.

More than 95-percent of teachers in Finland are unionized, paying 1.2-percent of their gross salary to support the Trade Union of Education in Finland, OAJ.

The OAJ aims to influence policies that benefit educators. The OAJ negotiates on the national level with employer groups to create 14 universally binding agreements that spell out everything from minimum salaries to working hours for teachers and the length of the school year (currently 190 days).

In addition, Finland has only one standardized exam at the end of high school, says Pasi Sahlberg, a visiting professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and an expert on testing in Finland—something we don’t see in the United States.

Canadaranked eighth—with a population 34.3 million and a childhood poverty rate of 15.06-percent.

The Canadian Teacher’s Federation was founded in 1920 and has 200,000 members who work in the public education system, most of whom have four or five years of college.

“What makes Finland and Canada’s school systems more successful, Hargreaves argues, is that both countries value teachers and professional training for them. Most importantly, perhaps, there is discretion for teachers to make their own judgments. … Education reform has failed in countries where the teacher voice is absent – and also where teacher unions are absent.”

Japanranked third—with a population of 128-million and a childhood poverty rate of 13.69-percent.

Japan Teachers Union (JTU), established in 1947, was the largest teachers union until it split in the late 1980s. The JTU has been an active force in education and politics for almost 40 years.

The membership encompasses teachers and other education personnel at all levels, including college professors and clerical and support staff, in both public and private institutions. However, JTU’s members are predominantly teachers in the public elementary and secondary schools.

Some of the education issues about which JTU continues to feel strongly include decentralization of control, school autonomy, freedom of teachers to write and chose textbooks, student centered education, greater teacher participation in decision making, and comprehensive high schools for all youths.

There is a long history of conflict between JTU and the government, with many complex political ramifications not readily apparent or easily understood by those outside Japan.

Switzerlandranked fourth—with a population of 8+ million and a childhood poverty rate of 6.8-percent

As part of the freedom of association, teachers in Switzerland are represented by trade unions and professional organizations. The representatives of the teachers’ unions are systematically included in all reform initiatives. They are very active not only in the negotiations defining teachers’ incentive structure and working conditions but also in producing proposals for policy development in a wide range of educational areas—something we don’t see in the United States.

In conclusion—15-year olds in the United States ranked fourth in problem solving on the 2012 PISA Tests—way above the OECD average, but you will not hear that from the MCDFERM.

We also won’t hear this from the MCDFERM—in mathematics performance among PISA 2012 participants, the U.S. mean score was ranked fifth.

There are many different ways to compare the countries that participated in the 2012 PISA tests, and if the MCDFERM wants to make public education in the United States look bad, all they have to do is cherry-pick select facts to make that happen. Their goal is to fool as many people as possible. To armor yourself against these false claims, I suggest that you carefully read the detailed key findings of the 2012 PISA.

After reading this post, why do you think the MCDFERM is ignoring childhood poverty?

I know that many in the middle class and those who live in poverty think it’s great to live in a capitalist country with an opportunity to get rich—all we have to do is work hard or buy a winning lottery ticket, right?

Wrong! About 50-million Americans live in poverty. That means there’s a 15.8-percent chance of landing in poverty.

But what are the odds of getting rich?

For instance, there are 492 billionaires in the United States—we’ll find the members of MCDFERM in that group—that’s 0.00015-percent of the population, and then there are 9.63 million households with a net worth of $1 million or more—that’s about 3-percent of the population. In addition, the odds of winning a lottery with one ticket are about 1 in 175-million.

_______________________

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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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

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

His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves

Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).

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