Tag Archives: teaching children who live in poverty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Data source: UNICEF


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

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

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

Continued with Smoking Gun Three: Linking Education Fraud from Obama to GOP or return to Smoking Gun: Part 1


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

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


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

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