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The Crony Capitalist War of greed against U.S. Public Education

There are several forms of Capitalism in use throughout the world. Economics Help.org defines them and reports that Crony Capitalism is what’s used in the United States. The Age of Crony Capitalism says, “For most of US history, crony capitalism has been in a struggle with free-market capitalism for the heart and soul of the American economy.  For the past half century, crony capitalism has been gaining the upper hand.”

In addition, Dr. Gary G. Kohls of Global Resaerch.ca says, “The 12 years of unrestrained crony capitalism during the anti-democracy mis-leadership of Republican presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush tricked most of us into naively believing in their fraudulent ‘Trickle-down Economics’.”

Crony Capitalism is a term used to refer to the situation where business success is related to strategic influences with civil servants, politicians and those in authority. It could be used to refer to situations in early twentieth century U.S. where business leaders had to buy off politicians in return for favors (e.g. in popular media: Citizen Kane). Arguably a degree of crony capitalism occurs in countries like China, South Korea and Latin America. The power of the Mafia in Italy is also an example of crony capitalism.

The other forms of capitalism mentioned by Economics Help.org are: Turbo Capitalism (also known as unrestrained capitalism or free market capitalism), Responsible Capitalism, Popular Capitalism, Advanced Capitalism and State Capitalism. Visit the site to learn about the differences. I read them all and I think the two that are highlighted in this paragraph are the best choices for the most people.

Timeline for Crony Capitalist's War Against Public Education

In the corporate war against public education—known also as education reform leading to school choice, corporate charter schools and school vouchers—what reports do not support the Crony Capitalist reform movement?

The 1966 Coleman Report—Instead of proving that the quality of schools is the most important factor in a student’s academic success—as its sponsors had expected—the report written by the sociologist James S. Coleman of Johns Hopkins University found that a child’s family background and the school’s socioeconomic makeup are the best predictors. … A better summary of the findings, from Gordon M. Ambach’s perspective, is: Family and socioeconomic backgrounds are so important that it’s difficult for schools to overcome them.


In 1966, the Coleman Report highlighted the impact of poverty on student achievement. In this installment of the Mini-Moments with Big Thinkers series, policy faculty member Jeffrey Henig argues that it’s time to recognize that schools alone cannot ensure that all students succeed equally.

The 1983 report under the Reagan Administration known as A Nation at Risk was characterized by its authors as “an open letter to the American people.” The report called for elected officials, educators, parents, and students to reform a public school system it described as “in urgent need of improvement.” That need for improvement was based on numerous statistics listed in the report that the commission said showed the inadequate quality of American education. The authors ominously cautioned that the data showed the nation was at risk and expressed grave concern that our “once unchallenged pre-eminence in commerce, industry, science, and technological innovation is being overtaken by competitors throughout the world.

The 1990 Sandia Report proves that A Nation at Risk was wrong and reveals what was actually happening:

  • Between 1975 and 1988, average SAT scores went up or held steady for every student subgroup.
  • Between 1977 and 1988, math proficiency among seventeen-year-olds improved slightly for whites, notably for minorities.
  • Between 1971 and 1988, reading skills among all student subgroups held steady or improved.
  • Between 1977 and 1988, in science, the number of seventeen-year-olds at or above basic competency levels stayed the same or improved slightly.
  • Between 1970 and 1988, the number of twenty-two-year-old Americans with bachelor degrees increased every year; the United States led all developed nations in 1988.

Then in 2000, Pearson, the British publishing giant, spends $2.5 billion on an American testing company while spending millions aggressively lobbying the states and the U.S. Congress to make testing a vital element of school reform in the United States. – POLITICO Pro: No profit left behind

One year later, The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), based on the fraud of A Nation at Risk, and ignoring the results of the Coleman and Sandia Reports, becomes law.

NCLB required states, school districts, and schools to ensure all students (something that no country on the earth has ever achieved to this day) are proficient in grade-level math and reading by 2014. States define grade-level performance. Schools must make “adequate yearly progress” toward this goal, whereby proficiency rates increase in the years leading up to 2014. The rate of increase required is chosen by each state. In order for a school to make adequate yearly progress (AYP), it must meet its targets for student reading and math proficiency each year. A state’s total student proficiency rate and the rate achieved by student subgroups are all considered in the AYP determination.

Schools that fail to make adequate yearly progress for two consecutive years are identified for “school improvement,” and must draft a school improvement plan, devote at least 10 percent of federal funds provided under Title I of NCLB to teacher professional development. Schools that fail to make AYP for a third year are identified for corrective action, and must institute interventions designed to improve school performance from a list specified in the legislation. Schools that fail to make AYP for a fourth year are identified for restructuring, which requires more significant interventions. If schools fail to make AYP for a fifth year, they much implement a restructuring plan that includes reconstituting school staff and/or leadership, changing the school’s governance arrangement, converting the school to a charter, turning it over to a private management company, or some other major change.

School districts in which a high percentage of schools fail to make AYP for multiple years can also be identified for school improvement, corrective action, and restructuring.

The 2009 Race to the Top is a $4.35 billion United States Department of Education competitive grant created to spur and reward innovation and reforms in state and local district K-12 education. … Race to the Top is one contributing factor to 48 states that have adopted common standards for K-12. … Although the vast majority of states have competed to win the grants, Race to the Top has also been criticized by politicians, policy analysts, thought leaders and educators. Teachers’ unions argued that state tests are an inaccurate way to measure teacher impact, despite the fact that learning gains on assessments is only one component of the evaluation systems. Conservatives complained that it imposes federal overreach on state schools, and others argued that charter schools weaken public education.

From A Nation at Risk, No Child Left Behind and Race to the Topstill ignoring the 1966 Coleman Report and the 1990 Sandia Report, and the fact that no country has ever been successful with all children—comes the 2010 Common Core State Standards and the CCSS punishment based standardized testing used to rank teachers by student test scores and then fire teachers and close public schools turning our children over to the for profit, mostly corporate Charter private sector where Crony Capitalists profit off of our children.

You may find a Summary of the Common Core State Standards at Advocates for Academic Freedom.org

Who are the biggest financial supporters of the Common Core State Standards and the agenda to use standardized test results to rank, fire public school teachers and then close public schools while opening the door to Crony Capitalists who own the corporate Charters?

The Washington Post reveals How Bill Gates pulled off the swift Common Core revolution. “The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation didn’t just bankroll the development of what became known as the Common Core State Standards. With more than $200 million, the foundation also built political support across the country, persuading state governments to make systemic and costly changes.”

Dissent Magazine.org reported that “hundreds of private philanthropies together spend almost $4 billion annually to support or transform K–12 education, most of it directed to schools that serve low-income children (only religious organizations receive more money). But three funders—the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Eli and Edythe Broad (rhymes with road) Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation—working in sync, command the field.

One last thought—The Economic Policy Institute (I urge you to click the link and read the rest) reported that “there is broad agreement among statisticians, psychometricians, and economists that student test scores alone are not sufficiently reliable and valid indicators of teacher effectiveness to be used in high-stakes personnel decisions, even when the most sophisticated statistical applications such as value-added modeling are employed.”

Who benefits? Who loses?

_______________________

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

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Honorable Mention in Biography/Autobiography
2015 Los Angeles Book Festival
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).

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

 

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