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Civil Disobedience and No Child Left Behind – Part 3/9

As far as public education is concerned in the US, both political extremes believe (or manufacture belief) that public education is a failure and the reason for poverty and crime in America is that teachers supported by their unions are not educating every child equally.

On the left, we have idealists that have been struggling to rid America of poverty. After President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty failed, the focus shifted to public education to find a reason.

However, the political right may say one thing by denouncing teachers and their unions, but is pursuing another agenda, which is discrediting then dismantling public education in favor of a private system. See Vouchers: Who’s Behind It All?

For example, a few years ago, I read a quote from a republican running for the U.S. Senate that blamed public education for all criminals that went to prison, and Americans have been hearing similar messages for years to the point where those that swallowed the lies will not accept any fact that explains why this is not true.

In addition, for the political left to admit that there are challenges in this country that no one can overcome would mean admitting that they cannot engineer society to fit the ideal paradise they imagine where all children of all races prosper, have a very high sense of manufactured self-esteem and have fun every day.

This is why both sides refuse to recognize the insurmountable problems that are cultural and socio-economic in nature, which teachers (and their unions) cannot fix just because the No Child Left Behind Act says they have to or else.

The reason I am pointing out the differences between the public education systems in the United States, Finland, China and Singapore is to make a point.

If you did not watch the video in Part 2, here is a summary of Finland’s public education system.  Finland does not have the problems America has with illegal immigrants, and its population is more than 95% Caucasian with similar cultural beliefs, which includes a strong support for education that starts in the home with a parent or parents teaching their children before starting school at age 7 for shorter school days than most countries.

Critics of the teacher unions in the US will not tell you that one of the best education systems in the world (Finland) succeeds with 95% of the teachers belonging to unions and 97% of the students attending public schools in a country with one of the largest welfare systems in the world. The obvious difference is Finish parents value education and support it by starting years before their children enter the public schools.

On August 3, 2011, we will discover public education in China and why it works in Civil Disobedience and No Child Left Behind – Part 4 or return to Part 2

_______________________

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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Civil Disobedience and No Child Left Behind – Part 2/9

Mr. Morally Correct’s assumption that the unionized public school systems in America are corrupt and educators that cash their monthly checks are failing their contractual obligations comes from a conservative, idealistic bias looking for an easy scapegoat to label as a fraud to explain why 100% of American children are not graduating from high school and reading on or near grade level.

In fact, “fraud” does exist, but this “fraud” demands perfection in public education, which is impossible to attain, and the goal leads to vouchers so students will attend unregulated private schools on public money, which would increase profits for the private sector at the taxpayers’ expense. To achieve this, the political agenda is to poison the minds of most Americans through misinformation and deceit.

It is easy to state opinions without facts to support them, which is why I write long responses to short opinions such as the one easily dashed off without much thought by Mr. Morally Correct.

Some time ago, in previous e-mails with Mr. Morally Correct, Finland was mentioned since Finland has the best educational system in Europe and often ranks in the top three globally on the PISA Test. I don’t recall the context of those e-mails but usually if Mr. Morally Correct mentions Finland, he does it as another criticism of America’s public schools.

Since Finland is such a fine example when it comes to public education, it is always a good idea to understand the competition.


Watch the video to discover key differences between Finland and America.

Finland’s literacy rate is 99% and ninety-five percent of Finland’s teachers are unionized and the country’s population is 5.3 million (America’s population is more than 300 million with about 5 million unionized teachers).

Even though most schools in Finland started as private, today only 3% of students are enrolled in private schools.

Finland’s curriculum is set by the Ministry of Education and the Education Board. Education is compulsory between the ages of 7 and 16. However, in the US, education is compulsory between the ages of 5/6 to 18.

Finland also has one of the world’s most extensive welfare systems, and Finland does not have the racial/ethnic diversity and challenges with legal/illegal immigration that the United States deals with.

America’s illegal alien population is about eleven million (more than twice the population of Finland) and about 3.5 million illegal aliens are children attending America’s public schools. About one million of those illegal alien children attend public schools in California.

Although no official statistics are kept on ethnicities, statistics of the Finnish population according to language and citizenship are available, and it is safe to say that more than 95% of the population is Caucasian/White with a similar historical heritage.

In comparison, America’s ethnic ratios are White 63.7%, Hispanic/Latino 16.3%, Black or African American 12.6%, and Asian 4.8%, etc.

On August 2, 2011, we will examine more comparisons in Civil Disobedience and No Child Left Behind – Part 3 or return to 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).

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Civil Disobedience and No Child Left Behind – Part 1/9

This post supports “civil disobedience” among teachers when the situation warrants it, which is why I feel it may be right for teachers to help students cheat on standardized tests that are mandated by The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).

One individual I will call Mr. Morally Correct, sent me an e-mail on this topic. He wrote, “There (are) instances where it is morally right to lie for the greater good such as to save a life, to save another person from violence, etc.

“However, when a person voluntarily puts himself into an untenable situation and then attempts to claim a lie is justified for the greater good that is immoral and not excusable.”

Mr. Morally Correct then wrote, “Teachers working in the unionized public school system voluntarily put themselves into a corrupt system. The state faithfully paid administrators and teachers to educate children, and these individuals faithfully cashed their checks knowing they (were) failing their contractual obligation. When the state implemented tests to insure they were receiving what was paid for, teachers cheated to conceal their ongoing decades old fraud.”

Mr. Morally Correct ignores facts that prove about 80% of children (mostly White and Asian-American) are succeeding in the public schools according to the NCLB Act, and he bases his claim that the public schools are failing on the minority of students that are not showing gains.


I recommend watching this half-hour video since it points out several factors why failing students fail, which the NCLB Act does not address. For example, one reason scores are not improving in poor performing schools is due partially to the high student mobility-turnover rate

Mr. Morally Correct says, “Then the teachers (Mr. Morally Correct included me in his indictment), claimed they were justified because of self-esteem issues (implausible) and fear of losing their jobs. I find this excuse morally indefensible because every teacher working in a substandard school should have quit after discovering they could not educate students for whatever reason including the students’ refusal to learn.”

Well, Mr. Morally Correct, my response is that there wouldn’t be anyone teaching in the public schools, and when those teachers quit, they would be abandoning the 80% of the students that are succeeding and improving scores, which includes most White and Asian-American students and significant numbers of African-American and Hispanic/Latino students.

In an ideal world, it might be possible to expect all students to be teachable but we do not live in an ideal world and not all students are teachable. Public education is mandatory to age 18 from kindergarten to twelfth grade. Many of the most difficult students to teach would not be in a school setting if education was voluntary.

Mr. Morally Correct is saying is that if a teacher cannot be successful with “all” of his or her students, he or she should quit.

There is a reason why some students are not teachable, which I will provide more details of in Civil Disobedience and No Child Left Behind – Part 2 on September 1, 2011.

_______________________

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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Blind Obedience – Part 4/4

After a volley of e-mails with the “e-mail critic”, he wrote, “What you’re attempting to say is that these teachers were put in an untenable position. Well, you are right. The public school system cannot educate America’s children and the NCLB act’s failure simply points that out. But don’t you realize these cheating teachers were hiding the fact that the NCLB act is a colossal failure? Instead of defending them, you should be castigating them.”

My response to, “The public school system cannot educate America’s children” is to point out at that more than 80% (more than 34 million) of those American children succeeded in the public schools. However, the NCLB Act demands 100% success (an A+) from America’s teachers.

The “e-mail critic” and the NCLB Act measures the failure of the American public schools by the portion of the glass that is empty and ignores the part that is full, which is close to the top.

How would you like to be measured against perfection every day or face being declared a failure?

Have we forgotten that humans, including teachers, students and parents, are not perfect?

According to studies, bad teachers represent between 1 to 7 percent of all teachers. If the average public school student has about 50 teachers from K to 12, that means .5 to 3.5 teachers were bad and the other 46.5 to 49.5 taught well.

Eighty percent of students succeeded because public school teachers were doing their jobs, which was teaching, and those students were doing what was required of them to learn.

In addition, I am going to go one step further and suggest that all American public school teachers during the 2011 – 2012 school year reject “blind obedience” and instruct their students to mark “C” for every answer on the annual standardized tests.

Let this protest show the nation that teachers are tired of being the scapegoat for poor parenting and the unrealistic demands of the NCLB Act, which was designed for teachers and public education to fail.

What would happen to our students if teachers demanded “A’s” on every assignment or be considered a FAILURE?

If most of the teachers can be successful with more than 80% of the students, then they have proven they are capable of teaching and the public schools are capable of success when students and parents do  their job.

There is something wrong when critics condemn public school teachers due to the twenty percent of students that fail to meet the NCIBA Act’s mandate and those students are mostly found among African-American and Hispanic/Latino students.

It is time to hold poor parenting and “other inequalities” responsible for failing students, and then find ways to deal with those challenges without blaming the teachers.

Maybe the parents of those failing students should wear dunce caps and signs whenever they are in public that say, “I am a poor parent. I do not support my child’s teachers and my child’s education.”

Return to  Blind Obedience – Part 3 or start with Part 1

_______________________

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

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

lloydlofthouse_crazyisnormal_web2_5

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

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

 

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Blind Obedience – Part 2/4

Were the educators in Atlanta, Georgia – that changed the answers on standardized tests – wrong?

According to our laws, yes, and many may be punished by losing their jobs. Some may even go to jail. That does not mean that the law is just.

However, I understand why they did it.

This is an example of how one morally wrong act leads to another. The NCLB Act signed into law (January 2002) by President G. W. Bush was flawed, and changing the answers on standardized tests was also wrong. Two wrongs do not make a right.

…underlying NCLB is the assumption that schools by themselves can achieve dramatic, totally unprecedented levels of educational achievement for all racial ethnic groups as well as for children with disabilities, low-income children, and children who lack English fluency-all in a short time and without changing any of the other inequalities in their lives.” Source:Christopher Knaus, Ph.D.

Taking into account the Knaus quote, the NCLB Act made victims of teachers by holding them responsible for inequalities, such as poor parenting, that are impossible to change or control.

Teachers are responsible to teach, students to learn and parents to support. The facts indicate that teachers are doing their job and so are many students. The credit for any failure to achieve the goals of the NCLB Act belongs to poor parenting among other inequalities.

Continued on July 26, 2010 in Blind Obedience – Part 3 or return to 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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Eager to Learn or Not – Part 2/10

After listening to the NPR.org piece about the Atlanta school scandal, I concluded that the enemies of public education (that by coincidence support the school choice voucher movement that would add billions of taxpayer dollars to the profit margins of private corporations) were at it again.

After all, the next presidential election of 2012 is starting to gather steam and the alleged failure of public education will be a topic of discussion with accusations being hurled about as if they were grenades in the hands of terrorists.

The pressure that caused these teachers and administrators in Atlanta’s public schools to cheat was due to the impossible demands set by No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), which requires America’s teachers to teach as if all students are equal and eager to learn, which many are not.

An old English proverb says, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.”  This idiom means that if a teacher teaches he or she cannot force the student to learn regardless of a law written in Washington D.C. by a bunch of ignorant, elected fools.

For a child to learn, he or she must come to school motivated and ready to learn, and this is often not the case, which is the reason behind the fact that not all students are equal.

There is an equation/formula that shows what it takes for a student to learn.

This formula is as simple as 1 (teacher) + 1 (student) + 1 (parent) = 3.

1. The teacher teaches

2. The students listen/pay attention, follow directions, ask questions, study, read and learn

3, parents support both teachers and students so learning takes place

 If one or two elements of that equation are missing, the education process suffers.

Continued on July 12, 2011 in Eager to Learn or Not – Part 3 or return to Part 1

______________

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

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

 

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Making Positive Impacts on Education – Part 1/2

I have more to share from the Costco Connection. This time it is the Cover Story by Steve Fisher in the May 2011 issue, about pro-active professional athletes making a positive impact for individuals and education proving once again if the will is there, students will learn and succeed.

I must have taught more than 6,000 students during the thirty years I was in the classroom, and it is a fact that in every class there were willing students that wanted to learn and did.  The students that earned A’s, B’s and C’s were not the exception—they just applied themselves.

What made the difference in students that listened, read, asked questions, took part in discussions and worked was someone that instilled at an early age the importance of an education.

Unfortunately, students that disrupted the learning environment and/or did not study or do the work outnumbered those that cooperated.

However, according to many American politicos and even US Presidents, failures in the American public education system is due to bad teaching.

In fact, the real reason is that there are about three million public school teachers in the US compared to more than sixty million parents. Why tell the truth and lose the votes of parents, which outnumber the votes of teachers?

When I Googled “How many bad teachers are there?” 45 million hits came back. Most that I looked at were opinions, but I discovered the results from one reputable study that said, “fewer than 1% of teachers are rated unsatisfactory”. Source: Ed Policy Thoughts.com

I then learned there are about 3.2 million public school teachers in the US (K to 12), which means about 32,000 teachers are doing an unsatisfactory job with more than three million doing a good job with students that cooperate.

If a few bad teachers are the problem, whom do we give credit to for the successes? Alan Page, Edgar Martinez, or Oprah Winfrey are a few besides the more than 3 million public school teachers doing an adequate or outstanding job with students that cooperate.

I will share more about what I learned from the Costco Connection in addition to what I have learned Oprah Winfrey has done for education in Part 2.

Continued on June 1, 2011 in Making Positive Impacts on Education – Part 2 or discover Costco Connection’s “Is College Worth It?”

_______________________

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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Avoid the Mainstream Parent Trap – Part 5/9

Parents are a vital element of a child and teen’s education. Parents must be involved even if the children are attending public or private schools.

Teachers cannot do it all.

Students must read daily at home, do classwork, homework, and study for tests.  The job of a parent is to make sure the student does that work.  If a student fails a class while attending school, the main reason is he or she was not doing the work or studying while in class or at home and the parent failed in his or her job.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, there are about 64 million students in primary through secondary schools in America, while It has been estimated that 1.5 million students were homeschooled in the United States in 2007 (with a confidence interval of 1.3 to 1.7 million), constituting 2.9% of students.

It’s obvious that if a parent is teaching his or her children at home, the family is spending quality time together instead of watching too much TV, playing video games, sending text messages, or social networking on the Internet (see Recognizing Good Parenting – Part 2 for the average breakdown of time for each activity).

Instead, home taught students talk several hours a day with parents, and it pays off.

Academic statistics for home-taught students is impressive.

In 1997, a study of 5,402 home school students from 1,657 families was released. It was entitled, Strengths of Their Own: Home Schoolers Across America. The study demonstrated that homeschoolers, on average, out-performed their counterparts in the public schools by 30 to 37 percentile points in all subjects.

This was confirmed in another study by Dr. Lawrence Rudner of 20,760 homeschooled students, which found the homeschoolers who have been home taught their entire mandatory school years had the highest academic achievement.

Another important finding of Strengths of Their Own was that the race of the student does not make any difference. There was no significant difference between minority and white homeschooled students. For example, in grades K-12, both white and minority students scored, on the average, in the 87th percentile.

The motivations for home schooling are based on a concern about the school environment (85% of parents that teach at home); a desire to provide religious or moral instruction (72% of parents); and a dissatisfaction with academic instruction at schools 68%.

There are other reasons but these three areas make up the majority.

In addition, Ordination.org reports, “For the third consecutive year, ACT college admissions test scores are higher for homeschoolers than for other students. Homeschoolers’ average composite score was 22.8, compared to the national average of 21, out of a possible 36. On the SAT, homeschoolers, who comprise less than 1 percent of test takers, earned 568 verbal and 532 in math. The national average…was 505 verbal and 514 math.”

A few more facts from Home School Resources Guide.com may clarify the picture more.

– 71% of homeschoolers actively participate in the community. Traditionally schooled students averaged only 37%.

– 76% of homeschoolers were more likely to be involved in civic affairs, compared to only 36% of their public-schooled counterparts.

– 58.9% of the homeschoolers surveyed reported they were “very happy” with life, in contrast to 27.6% of traditional students.

If you are a parent that is home teaching your children, breathe a sigh of relief, because the odds are that you do not fit the definition of the American “average” or “norm” for a parent.

Another factor that plays an important role in being a parent is peer pressure among teens, which I will deal with in Part 6.

Continued on May 9, 2011 in Avoid the Mainstream Parent Trap – Part 6 or return to Part 4

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran.

His latest novel is the award winning Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to kill Americans.

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