My first book for sale is called "The Rotten Apple: How the Teacher's Union Destroyed our Schools" 100 pages). It explains how the teacher's union has fought any changes that would fix our schools and they do this to maintain the easy workday they have carved out for themselves. Anything that would fix our schools would require teachers to do more work and they are against that.



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Table Of  Contents (and some sample chapters)

    Introduction                                              7  

1.  Breakdown of a Teacher's Day               13  

     Workers in unions, indeed all workers, want two things - more money and an easier work day. As far as teacher's pay goes that usually has some base funding at the state level with local districts providing an add-on. This is for two reasons. First, the state gives money to the school districts to pay these salaries and second, the states want some equity regarding teacher's pay. If teacher's pay was set locally, then the wealthy school districts could pay their teachers more money and the poor school districts would pay their teachers less money for doing the same job. This would result in the rich districts getting the best teachers and the poorer districts getting what's left. (My state, Washington, limits how much money can be raised at the local level.)  

     This would result in a two tier education system and would be unfair to the taxpayer, the parents, and the kids. So at the state level there is a complicated formula that determines teacher's pay based on length of service, education credentials that the teacher has (teachers with a master's degree are paid more than teachers with a bachelor's degree.), local cost of living, and more.

      Curiously, even though there is a shortage of Math and Science teachers, they are often paid less than other teachers. This is because they often have less seniority since many leave teaching to work in industry without accumulating a lot of seniority.

      So what teachers have focused on over the years in getting an easier work day. This is why the teachers, backed up by their powerful union, oppose things like standardized lesson plans. They also oppose testing teachers to see if they know the material they are teaching.

      When I was teaching I found high school harder to teach. There were five one-hour classes with a new group of kids in each class. After I finally got control of the kids and was able to teach, the bell would ring and in came a new group of kids to get control over. This happened five times a day. (I will discuss "getting control" in a later chapter.)

      I avoided teaching elementary school thinking that there was some special training like child psychology required. But I eventually got fed up with dealing with the undisciplined kids in high school and decided to give the lower grades a try.

      I was amazed. Teaching the kids in the first, second and third grades was a complete pleasure. Indeed, it was a joy to spend a day with these little kids. They obeyed, were both eager to learn and eager to help me teach the class, telling me where the teacher kept this or that. There were days that I would have done that for no pay, just to be with these kids. They restored my faith in humanity with their smiling faces and innocence.

      But it seemed that every time I turned around, I was on break. Far different from high school where I usually taught for five hours continuously except for a 30 minute break for lunch.

      So I want to explain why I seemed to always be on break. This will vary slightly from school to school, that is, some schools may get only 45 minutes for lunch and some schools may have only 25 minutes for recesses. But in general the following is true for my school district and probably most school districts.

     First, teachers work a 7 1/2 hour day. So how much of that time are they actually delivering educational material – “teaching” as the word is used herein? Well they are required to be there 30 minutes before school starts and remain there for 30 minutes after school ends. The kids are not there. So that's 6 1/2 half hours of possible teaching. But the children get a 30 minute recess in the morning and in the afternoon. So that's 5 1/2 hours of possible teaching. But there is a one hour lunch break where the children get another recess after eating. So that's 4 1/2 hours of possible teaching. But the children take a 30 minute class in music, PE or the library each day so that leaves 4 hours of possible teaching. Then our district emphasizes reading so the children do 30 minutes of silent reading each day. (The teacher is there but not teaching). So now we are down to 3 1/2 hours each day. I take away another 30 minutes in the morning when the children are putting away their back packs and sitting down, getting organized, the teacher is taking attendance, doing the lunch count, collecting homework, the morning announcements take place, the Pledge of Allegiance and in the afternoon when the children are cleaning up the classroom, collecting their books and papers, putting on their jackets and back packs before being dismissed. Now we are down to 3 hours. Add to this the 5 minutes here and there when the kids are getting in line to go to recess, music, PE or library, and lunch and being marched to their destination by the teacher. It adds up to at least 15 minutes a day. So now we are down to 2 hours and 45 minutes of possible actual teaching time – delivering material.

      Imagine that. Out of a 7 1/2 half hour day, the teacher is actually delivering material to the students for less than 3 hours. What is wrong with this picture? Actual teaching (delivery of information) has become a part time job. Then they get all national holidays off plus a few personal holidays plus a long Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Spring break and they are off for three months in the summer while receiving a nice salary and healthcare and retirement benefits, sick leave and wear casual dress to work with little or no supervision and expected to work independently. It’s hard to imagine a better job than that.

      This bodes well for home schooling. If there are only 2 hours and 45 minutes of actual delivery of material each day, then parents can easily do that in the evenings. A recent winner of the national spelling bee was home schooled.

      Now I wish to point out that teachers do work all day long. Even getting kids organized in the morning is work. Then there are papers to grade and work sheets to make up, but they do have nearly 5 hours a day for this. Here I am talking about the delivery of information. Check with your kids and do the Math for yourself. In that 2 hours and 45 minutes each day they have to teach English, Arithmetic, Spelling, Social Studies (includes History and Geography), and Art. That is about 30 minutes a day for each subject.

      On one occasion it was time for recess but it was cold and drizzling. I asked the teacher across the hall what I should do. She said send them out to recess and laughed and said we always send them out. But I could not do that. I looked out the window and there were kids huddling to the side of the building under the eve of the roof to stay dry.

      So I told my kids, if you want to go outside you can, but if you want to stay here you can draw at the board. The kids love to draw on the board, perhaps because their teacher doesn't allow it. So nearly all the kids stayed inside. They drew pictures, played tic tac toe, played hangman and generally had a great time, getting refreshed for more learning. And I enjoyed just watching them play.

      But I had to stay with them because there has to be an adult with them at all times. So that decision cost me a 30 minute break. I was happy to give up my break for that but many teachers are not. So they send the kids out in bad weather and take their break.

      By the way, this thing about having an adult with the kids at all times is a change from the past. I clearly remember our teachers giving us an assignment and leaving the room to go to the office or to the mimeograph machine to make up a test. But then we did not live in a society with sexual predators running around molesting children and the kids were well-behaved and could be trusted to be by themselves for a short time.

      So I have just explained how little the teachers teach in elementary school, a place where the foundation for future learning takes place. But there is more. Let's take homework. While teaching I discovered that some teachers give homework and some teachers don't believe in homework. Really! Don't believe in homework? Well it may be true that homework is unnecessary. We can ask the experts. But the issue is should that be up to the teacher to decide? It seems to me that if you have two teachers, say, teaching the same grade level and one assigns homework and one doesn't, there is something wrong. Either neither should assign it, if the experts say it's unnecessary, or both should assign it.

      The problem with homework is that, first, you have to make up the assignment - work - and collect it the next day - more work - then grade it - still more work. Perhaps it's easier to just say that I don't believe in homework and be done with it. That would certainly make the kids happy and make you a popular teacher and make your work day easier in the bargain.

      But suppose the principal mandates homework. The teachers would immediately go to their union and complain. Who does this guy think he is meddling in our teaching activities. We have to nip this in the bud. Next there may be standardized lesson plans that we have to follow. Next he may want to fire the playground supervisors to save money and require us to go outside with our kids (like teachers did in the 50's) and we would lose two breaks a day. He may insist that we wear professional dress to work instead of blue jeans. Next we would have to buy new clothes. No. We have to nip this is the bud.

      Of course the teachers would get the support of their union on this. That is what the union is there for. Most principals are as afraid of the teacher's union as the school boards are. So most principals go about shuffling paper around and let the teachers do what they want. More about this later.

      Now we come to another way to have an easy workday - the Xerox machine. You might think of a teacher as someone who stands up at the board at the front of the room with a piece of chalk or magic marker in their hand writing and explaining something to the kids. But think about this image. The kids are all sitting at their desks filling out worksheets while the teacher is sitting at their desk surfing the Internet.

      This later image is all too often the case thanks to the Xerox machine. Many kids fill out many worksheets while the teacher is not actually teaching. Fewer and fewer teachers want to stand at the board all day like they used to.

     Of course a worksheet is a series of questions about some subject which the kids are studying. So where does the worksheet come from? Well the teacher can make it up or the teacher can get one off the Internet. There are many, many lessons plans and associated worksheets on the Internet. So you just go there find one on, say, fraction multiplication, Xerox 20, hand them out, tell the kids to fill them out, and take a break.

      But they have to be graded and that is a lot of work. Remember, the teachers is trying to avoid work. So you can tell the kids to hand theirs to the kid behind them and let the kids grade them. It's not a real test, just a kind of practice test. So their grades don't have to be recorded.

      When I was teaching the teacher left me many worksheets to hand out. I just sat and watched the kids. I could not use the computer because I did not have the teacher's password. They were very boring days but I had no choice. The rule was that the substitute teacher followed the instructions left by the real teacher and was evaluated on how well the substitute followed the teacher's instructions.

      It's curious that sometimes the teacher called in sick and yet there was a complete set of instructions for the substitute laying on the desk as if the teacher knew that the would wake up sick the next morning.  

     Finally, we come to the last easy work day thing I will discuss. Many times I would find a set of slides in a file folder. These were today's slides. There was a overhead projector. My job that day was to sit (an easy work day) at the projector and place each slide up and discuss the information on the slide with the kids.

      The astute reader will immediately see the problem with this style of teaching - I had my back to the entire class. Yet there are teachers who have the entire year of teaching on overhead slides. This must be very boring for the kids since there is little to no personal interaction and eye contact with the teacher. Yet many teachers use this form of presentation.  

     As will be discussed later, the power of the teacher's union to minimize human meddling by keeping principals and school boards out of the class room allows the teachers to teach anyway they like. You could use personal instruction like in the old days, or use overhead slides and use worksheets or a combination of each. The combination is probably the best but how do we know that that balance is there. There could be teachers who teach totally by overhead projection and nobody would know and if they did know what do you do about it? The teacher's union makes it possible for teachers to teach anyway they like.

      We will see more about this later. Teacher independence covers everything from lesson plans, curriculum design, seating arrangement for the students, decoration of the class room, test content, reading choices (few kids today read the classics) and acceptable noise level in the classroom. Yes, some teachers allow what might be called a noisy class room. Just letting them talk a little is easier than the work involved in trying to maintain discipline.

 2.  Teacher Certification                              21  

3.  Why More Money is not the Answer       27  

4.  Federal and State Government in 
     Education                                                  35      

5.  The Achievement Gap and 
     Acting White                                          

     Not only are our schools not educating kids in general, there is now the issue of the achievement gap. This is the problem that minority kids are doing worse than the non-minority, white, kids. Standard test scores show that on the whole minority kids do worse in every subject.

      Naturally, people come forward to claim racism. They claim that the schools are racist and that is why minority kids do worse. As I have already mentioned Washington D.C. is the worse performing school district in the nation. Yet nearly all kids are black, nearly all teachers are black, nearly all principals are black and nearly all parents are black. So where is the racism there? Not only that, the per pupil spending is $22,000 per year, over double the national average. That is the largest per pupil spending in the nation. So there goes the argument that lack of money is the problem.

      Minority kids go to the same schools, have the same teachers, use the same books and take the same tests. So where is the racism?

      Now it is a fact that minority kids score lower on standardized tests than white kids so there is a problem to be solved but blaming it on racism is not the way to approach the search for the solution. Another possible facet of the problem is culture. Simple put culture is a set of values and beliefs that guide people's behavior. To be objective in our search for the essence of that problem all possibilities must be examined. This includes looking at cultural differences between minority and non-minority kids.

      It is entirely possible that minority kid's culture doesn't value having an education. Now of course this can't mean all minority kids but based on test scores it might include most minority kids. Since kids get much of their culture from their families, perhaps we should be looking at minority families.

      During the painful 60's there was a civil rights movement all laws that discriminated were struck down and Blacks and other minorities were to be integrated into general society. Then a strange thing happened. Some Blacks felt that they were losing their identity as a race and were merely being made white. They wanted to keep their separate heritage and culture. Thus the Black separatist movement was born. Blacks began giving their kids African names and began to dress in African clothing and wearing Afro haircuts.

      This was very confusing to the white community who thought that the goal was integration and not separatism which already existed in segregation.  But it happened and Blacks have their own culture. The question is how does black culture differ from white culture regarding education? We can ask the same question about Hispanics.

      Let's make sure we fully understand why we are asking this question. Racism?  Some will think so. But that is not the reason. The reason is that culture, Black, Hispanic or White, is a variable in the problem of the achievement gap. When looking for solutions to or causes of a problem, the scientific method requires that you look at every variable that could have an effect on the problem. Culture is a variable in the problem therefore if we are sincere in solving the problem, then we have to look at it. .  

     As I said earlier, culture is a set of values and beliefs. So what do Whites believe about education and what do Blacks believe about education, generally speaking. For example, if Blacks, or minorities in general, do not value having an education then they would not study very hard which is a lot of work. Then their standardized test scores would be lower. Thus, an achievement gap. If on the other hand Blacks valued having an education as much as Whites, then there is something else causing the achievement gap. How do we tell?

      Sociologists are in the business of studying cultures so surely an examination of these cultures is possible. The problem is that the study itself would look racist and the results might be called racist as well.

      But we have a clue. It turns out that black kids who behave in school, who study, who cooperate with the teacher and who make good grades are said to be "acting white" by other black kids. There have been fights at school, Black on Black, against black kids who are acting white. This seems to go back to the black separatist movement. Is there a way the Blacks act and a way that Whites act when it comes to getting an education? Remember that the term "acting white" was coined by Blacks. So it's fair to ask black kids what they mean by the term acting white. For example, we might ask them what is "acting black" when it comes to getting an education?

      This should be something that the powerful teacher's union supports. This is because the teachers are often blamed for the achievement gap. It is said that the teachers are simply not teaching the minorities. But it is hard to imagine how the teacher would teach half the class and not the other half. Yet the union remains silent of this. Why? Because they are busy pushing for more money and smaller class sizes. I think we can all assume that doubling teacher salaries and cutting class sizes in half would not eliminate the achievement gap.

      The approach seems to be to avoid anything, even a logical study, that would leave you open to charges of racism. Besides, the achievement gap becomes an issue to use to make the case for more money for education.

      But there is an achievement gap that needs to be discussed. This is the gap between the Whites and the Asians. Asian kids typically score higher on standardized test than Whites, especially in Math. Is this racism? Are the teachers teaching only to the Asians and not the rest of the kids? Again how would the teacher do that? No, I think that we can conclude that the Asian culture values education as the way to get ahead in life.

      We see this when looking world-wide. The ranking of kids in Asia is higher than in America. Japanese kids and Chinese kids simply do better on standardized tests than other kids in the world. This could not be world-wide racism.

      In conclusion, a case can be made that the achievement gap is culture based and not racism based. Assuming that is true, then how do we close that gap?  How do we, or how does the government, change culture? Having our own beliefs is guaranteed by the Constitution. It is not government's business to meddle in people's culture. So certainly more money dedicated to education will not change culture. .

      Thus, the argument that more money dedicated to education will close the achievement gap is nonsense. So why do we even talk about that? As I have said before here, if money is not the solution to a problem then government can't solve the problem. Money is the only tool in their toolbox.

      But culture can be changed. Culture, beliefs, are changed by the leaders in the culture. Churches, community organizations, etc. can change the culture in their minority group. And the good news is that this does not require money. But that is the bad news also. Bad news because the system loves to spend money. They are not interested in solutions that are free. These solutions does not help the bureaucracy grow. Free solutions do not create jobs.

      The fact is that the achievement gap is not a problem to be solved by the government, it is a problem to be solved by the leaders of the minority groups. 

 6.  Charter Schools                                       47  

7.  The Classroom Atmosphere                     51  

8.  The Teacher/Student Relationship           57  

9.  Standardized Lesson Plans                       61  

10. The Social Promotion                              63  

     When I went to school in the 50's, when the schools worked, it was possible for a student to be held back and forced to repeat a grade. Indeed, that was a motivation to study and learn something. It was also a motivation for the parents to take an interest in their children's education because it was very embarrassing for the parents when their kid got held back.

      But today we have something called the "social promotion". In this scheme they go ahead and promote a kid to the next grade even though the kid has failed to do the work at the current grade. It is claimed that being held back would be harmful to the kid's self-esteem and perhaps affect him or her for life. So they are promoted with their peer group to the next grade. Now if the kid can't do 5th grade work, for example, then the kid will not be able to do 6th grade work. And if socially promoted to the 7th grade, the kids can't do that work either.

      Apparently it is not considered detrimental to a kid's self-esteem to be seen as the dumbest kid in the class. As this social promotion continues eventually the teacher might as well be speaking in Chinese for all the sense that it makes to the kids who are socially promoted. Then, unless school is fun, the kid drops out. So, social promotion leads to a higher dropout rate. We can also be sure that the socially promoted kids tend to be discipline problems since they will tend to show off by disrupting class to show how cool they are with an attitude of "I may be stupid but I'm cool."

       There is another angle to this. Since standardized tests show that minority students perform more poorly that non-minority students, then we would expect they minority kids would be held back more if there was no social promotion going on. So once again, there would be claims of racism.

      Teachers would not like the idea because any kids held back would look like a failure on the teacher's part. It would cause many confrontations with parents who would see their kid as getting a year behind in life. So society takes the easy way out and simply promotes the kid. This then creates a pipeline through kids are passed. Twelve years in the pipeline and you are out.

      Fortunately, there is still the requirement that a kid passes a certain number of courses to graduate. That will be the next domino to fall. As more and more it's the minority kids who don't graduate, it will look like racism.

      In our district the kids who do not graduate are allowed to put on a cap and gown and walk with their class at graduation. I have asked and asked but nobody will explain the logic in that. Nobody seems to care that this is not fair to the other kids who did their work and earned their graduation. Apparently they are celebrating the fact that they have reached the end of the pipeline and not the fact that they have acquired an education.

 11. The School Boards                                 65  

12. How Do We Fix This?                             67  

13. Eye Contact                                             73  

14. Bad Teachers                                           75  

     So what is a bad teacher and where do they come from? I can tell you why we can't get rid of them - the teacher's union protects them.

      There are many reasons that there are bad teachers. Some simply do not know how to deliver material effectively. It takes a special personality to be an effective speaker. Some have that skill and some do not. A teacher that does not have the skill will deliver boring lessons and will fail to get the student's attention and interest. The kids will then do poorly in school.

      This cannot be tested for but can be observed. Just step into the class and listen to the teacher. Watch the kids. Do they look bored? And this can be fixed to some degree. Send the teacher to speaking classes of have them enroll in Toastmasters International. This can be learned but the bad teacher has to want to learn it.

      Another reason for bad teachers is that they get burned out after several years of teaching. They were all fired up at the beginning but when the new wears off and it's just a job, the fire goes out of their presentations and then they become a boring teacher. This burn out is often because of the misbehaving of the kids. Some of the kids today are wild and making them behave is difficult. At some point the kids can wear you out and burn you out. This could easily be fixed if we had a rule that misbehaving kids were sent to the office and the parents called. This too would not cost money.

      But the office does not want to be bothered with that and expect the teacher to handle discipline problems and not send them to the office. We could simply do an anonymous survey and ask teachers if they think that they get support from the office. I suspect that most would say no. The teacher's union would not object to such a survey but the principals would.

      Also, there are teachers who simply don't understand the material that they are teaching. Remember I mentioned earlier that teachers majored in Education and minored in the subject they are going to teach. Unfortunately, they are not teaching Education. If the teacher is teaching high school Math, they should love Math and try to get the kids to love Math also. But if the teacher really loved Math they would have majored in Math in college.

      So the system is set up completely backwards. The teacher should major in the subject they want to teach and minor in Education. So who would object to that? Those planning to teach would not. But the industry that trains future teachers would. The teacher training industry would lose customers and thus money if only a minor degree in Education was required.

      So the kids are not learning while the teacher training industry is making money. In this case the poor performing schools in America and hence the future of America is all about making money. That is truly a sad state of affairs.

      But testing teachers to see if they know what they are supposed to be teaching is possible. We simply give the teachers a test. But, you guessed it, the teacher's union is against that completely. Their problem is that this would identify bad teachers and so what do we do next? Obviously fire them but the whole point of the teacher's union is to protect teachers, even the bad teachers. So testing teachers is out until we have such public pressure, that the public pressure is greater than the pressure brought on by the teacher's union, then we can have change. But the parents do not seem ready for that. To them the schools work, especially as day care centers. The school bus picks the kids up and brings them home. They get fed at school and have a fun day at school. What more could you want from a day care center?

       But whether it's boring presentations, burned out teachers or unqualified teachers, there are bad teachers and they should not be teaching. However, there are special interests at work like the teacher training industry and the teacher's union who want to maintain the status quo combined with a lack of public support for change.  

 15. Daycare Centers                                    79  

16. Homework                                               83  

17. Elementary School PE                            85  

18. Discipline                                                 87  

19. War Stories                                             91  

20. Epilogue                                                   97

This is a book entitled Explaining the New America in Plain English (273 pages). You are invited to read the sample chapters below There are 29 chapters (see below) covering many aspects of the American society and culture.



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1          The Two Americas

3          The Body Politic

4          Lawyers and the Court System 

5          Our Education System                                           

6          The Fifth Estate  

21        Religion in America                                                           

22        The Great Religious War                               


                    Chapter Titles

        Prologue                                                           9

       Forward                                                          11

   1   The Two Americas                                          17     

   2   Conservatism vs. Liberalism                             23

   3   The Body Politic                                              33

   4   Lawyers and the Court System                        53

   5   Our Education System                                     61

   6   The 5th Estate                                                 81

   7   The Boomer Effect                                          85

   8   Colleges, the Road to Wealth
         and Thus Happiness                                        95

   9   Jobs Above All Else                                      103

   10 The New American Culture                           117

   11 The New Plantation                                       127

    12 The Women’s Movement                              143

   13 Class Warfare                                               147                 

    14 The Wimpification of America.                       155

   15 The Softening Military                                    161

   16 Why Racism is Alive and Well and
         the Race Card                                               171

    17 Foreign Policy                                               181

   18 The United Nations                                        187

   19 The Healthcare System                                   191

   20 Raising Children Today                                   197

   21 Religion in America                                         207

    22 The Great Religious War                                  215

   23 America’s Energy Policy and
         Global Warming                                               223

   24 The Stock Market                                            233

   25 The Minimum Wage                                         243

    26 The Line Item Veto                                           247

   27 The National Debt                                            253

   28 Illegal Immigration                                             261

      Epilogue                                                              265