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14 responses to “Feedback from fans”
I’ve been reading “Crazy is Normal…” and getting more frustrated with each page. Recognizing you are describing events from 20 years ago, I have to assume you realize how drastically the landscape has changed in today’s urban classrooms.
I teach in such a school with 4500 students on 2 campuses. We have typical problems with gangs, racism (student on student), disrespect that your experience at Nogales doesn’t begin to compare with, and administrators who simply blame the teachers for not engaging our students. We have one police officer for each campus, and security officers who are family members, friends, and neighbors of our students and more frequently excuse misbehavior than correct or report it. We do not have a BIC – we are expected to handle all but the most egregious behavior in the classroom as part of classroom management. We can write referrals, but I can assure you anyone who would write as many as you did in a day, let alone a week, as described in your book, would be hounded by administrators for lacking control. More importantly, we had better have documentation to indicate the interventions we have previously tried with the student when writing referrals for anything less than the student being a danger too himself or brothers. Oh, and a student like Ramon cannot be suspended for a week because of not working and being disruptive, nor would he be expelled based on an excessive number of referrals.
We don’t have working phone numbers for parents of our students, not do we have working phones in our classrooms to call parents during the day. Often when we do have numbers for students, calls are screened and boot answered when a school number appears, or messages are not returned. Because 70%+ of our students are from Latino families, we are unable to communicate directly with many of them due to language barriers. The next 20% of our population is African American, and parents expect us to “enable” students to pass classes by allowing them to make up assignments whenever they want to, or by providing alternative assignments to make up points. If we don’t, then the blame is on us for being unreasonable. And did I mention that most teachers at my school teach multiple subjects in multiple classrooms? That’s a truly exciting work environment!
My colleagues and I work long hours far beyond the school day, just as you did. But with the advent of Charlotte Danielson’s “Framework for Teaching” (the new model for many states’ evaluation tools, you cannot be an excellent teacher unless you participate in students’ community activities, visit homes, share meals with families, and volunteer for many activities involving students at school – and that doesn’t begin to cover the professional collaboration and development expected of us outside our classes. In addition, this year begins the new adventure of VAM, which is now 25% of our evaluation.
Your description of your year at Nogales obviously showed the hard work required of you and that you overcame many difficulties to be successful. I admire your dedication and resourcefulness. But the picture is outdated and doesn’t begin to describe the frustrations of working with students who have no reason to work, no respect for their teachers, and nit even a minimal respect for each other. Please teach a year at my school, then revise your book. “Crazy is Normal” no longer describes the upside down, inside out reality that is an urban public school today.
I’m well aware that it’s worse today, but I didn’t retire in 1994-95, the year that I kept the daily journal. I retired in 2005 after NCLB started to wreck havoc in the public schools and make teachers’ jobs impossible and utterly miserable. I was there in the beginning. And no, I’d rather go back in the Marines and fight in the Middle East than go back in the classroom to experience how horrible it has become. I have friends who are still in the classroom and they tell me how bad it has become.
When I left teaching, about 30% of the public school teaching workforce was men. The last I looked, that number was down to 16%. I think the men are jumping ship faster than the women.
My only advice for all public school teachers who work with children like I worked you work with is to leave teaching and find another profession. The United States that Bill Gates, the Walton family, the Koch brothers, Eli Broad and a few others are creating with their wealth, power and meddling does not deserve dedicated teachers, and if the people won’t rise up and put a stop to this, even if it means open and bloody rebellion, then the people deserve what they are getting. In fact, depending on the next election, if some sane and honest people are not elected to public office, we may be leaving the U.S. Especially if an idiot like Trump is elected president—in fact anyone on the GOP ticket. The Democratic candidates for president aren’t very impressive either.
After I sent the first reply, I thought of this. In New York State Governor Cuomo forced VAM to count as 50% of a teacher’s evaluation, but there is a current case in court where a public school teachers husband, who is a lawyer is taking the state to task and attainment to invalidate the use of VAM to evaluate teachers..
And in California, the court case to overturn the Vegara decision is underway.
If you want to focus your anger on someone, then look at this list of names (and this is not the complete list): David Coleman, Michele Rhee, Arne Duncan, Bill Gates, the Walton family, the Koch brothers, Eli Broad, Scott Walker, Jeb Bush, etc.
About judging your covers for Running With The Enemy: I choose “B” cover because title, graphics, and your name are balanced. The scene of the soldiers is clearer as a consequence. I found the large, thin red-lettered title for “C” not as aesthetically pleasing.
For “Crazy is Normal: a classroom expose”
As a writer myself, I was totally impressed that Lloyd Lofthouse could have kept such a complete and detailed journal as to be able to recreate this fabulous memoir of such length and complexity many years after the fact. His portrayal of life in the class room is stunning, realistic, and even a little scary. You really get the feeling you are that little “fly on the wall” – put sitting on his shoulder witnessing exactly what he experienced, day by day, in that classroom.
Some readers my find this memoir tedious reading. But, if you really want to get into the situation and understand his experience in depth, you will be enthralled by his pace and descriptions of students, administrators, and the school environment.
Lofthouse came away from this experience with very strong feelings about how education in this environment should be handled versus how it is handled in most situations.
– Dr. Bill
For “Running with the Enemy”
Lloyd Lofthouse describes his book Running with the Enemy as a memoir that evolved into fiction. As a Vietnam veteran who had seen and experienced enough to leave him with post traumatic stress disorder, he wrote this book it seems to come to terms with all he experienced in Vietnam. The book became fiction, an action novel with a strong romance component.
Overall it rings true of war and what it was like to serve in Vietnam. Much of the book details the fighting, the casualties and the heartbreak and the trauma experienced by the soldiers. The book also takes you on a dizzying journey when the lovers Tuyen and Ethan flee to other countries in Southeast Asia – Laos, Cambodia, Bangkok, Thailand ,and Burma (Myanmar).
For those who would like to get a sense of what combat was really like, this is an excellent book, which began as a memoir of Vietnam.
– Harvee L. a Vine Voice
For “My Splendid Concubine”:
A fictional of account of a real person, Robert Hart. He was was a British consular official in China, who served as the second Inspector General of China’s Imperial Maritime Custom Service from 1863 to 1911. He was born in Ireland but left in disgrace as a young man. He evidently was a very sexual young man and was unable to control his desires, according to his religious upbringing he went to China after he was awarded the position of student interpreter in the China consular service. Not long after he arrived he met the woman, Ayaou who was to become his concubine and with whom he would have three children. According to this story he also had Ayaou’s sister come into the household as he didn’t want her to be sold to cruel people and he had feelings for her also even though he was in love with Ayaou. Because of Robert’s ability to handle delicate negotiations with the Chinese, he was able to move up the ranks to become a respectable and trusted man in China. In his personal life he was still at odds with his religion and his lifestyle as having concubines was not accepted in polite society.
To further his understanding of the Chinese he learned “how to think like a Chinese” and learn all that he could learn about his adopted country and their customs and languages. This all helped him and because of his diplomatic skills he was able to work effectively with the Chinese and be the go between, if you will, for China and China’s trading deals with other countries such as America, France and Germany. He was also very instrumental in establishing custom houses, railroads and various other programs to aid the Chinese. Because of his communication skills, patience, good judgement and good relations with the Chinese he earned himself the nickname of “our Hart”.
When I started reading this story I was a little intimidated as, one: I had never heard of Sir Robert Hart and two: I knew very little about China. The author’s depiction of Hart’s life in China and with his relationships with Ayaou and her sister was told in descriptive detail and such beauty of the Chinese culture that I did not want it the story to end. A very well written and impeccably researched story that I highly recommend to the historical fiction fan. A lot of history but not written like a history book. This book does have a lot of sexual content in it but told in a very tasteful way. I really enjoyed this book.
– Kathleen Kelly
I would like to get in touch with your wife, Anchee Min. I was born and raised in Taiwan and came to America in ’78. I’m interested in possibly publishing my own autobiography and have questions that I feel Anchee could help me answer. Thank you for your time.
What are your questions? I see that you work or are a student at Brandman University in Walnut Creek, California, and Brandman caters to U.S. military vets who want to earn a BA or Graduate degree.
I was wondering if she can possibly write my life story? I was married to a military man for 35 years until he recently passed away from cancer. I have two boys and a girl. I feel my life experience can make for a very compelling story or memoir, the only problem is that I’m not capable of writing it myself. In fact, my son is actually helping me write this right now.
Thank you for replying. My question is, I was wondering if she can possibly write my life story? I was married to a military man for 35 years until he recently passed away from cancer. I have two boys and a girl. I feel my life experience can make for a very compelling story or memoir, the only problem is that I’m not capable of writing it myself. In fact, my son is actually helping me write this right now. Also, the information you found is incorrect.
Anchee doesn’t work that way. She only works on her own ideas/concepts. Over the years, she’s been approached by other people who have asked her to write their story and she has always said no. Too bad the info I found about you is incorrect. I was going to suggest that you join the California Writer’s Club for support. If you had lived in Walnut Creek or near it, you could join the Diablo Branch. I think they offer memoir workshops to help writers with their stories.
“California Writers Club, founded in 1909, is one of the nation’s oldest professional clubs for writers. We are a 501c3 nonprofit educational corporation with eighteen branches in California. Our organization is dedicated to educating writers of all levels and disciplines in the craft of writing and in the marketing of their work. The Club has more than 1,300 members.
“Our branches hold regular meetings with informative speakers and opportunities for networking with your fellow writers and publishing industry pros through our workshops, contests, seminars, and conferences. Join us and improve your writing and build your career.”
Purchased on Amazon for my Kindle and the 2013 version was ‘outstanding’. I couldn’t put it down. So glad you spent all that time researching about Hart and told his story. Thanks again. I also love the quilt on the cover. Fantastic art work. Are you still going on speaking tours?
Thank you for your kind words. No speaking tours planned. Thanks for asking.