And So I Go: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Archive for the ‘teachers unions in politics’ Category

The following article is from the Heritage Foundation and is a listing of studies made by various groups on the state of our government and social programs.  I found many of them informative and felt that perhaps my Readers would also.  Just check out the listings and click on the topics that interest you.   You may also wish to subscribe and have the Insider Online newsletter delivered to your home page.  sincerely, BB

 

Updated daily, InsiderOnline (insideronline.org) is a compilation of publication abstractshow-to essaysevents, news, and analysis from around the conservative movement. The current edition of The INSIDER quarterly magazine is also on the site.


June 22, 2013

Latest Studies: 38 new items, including a Manhattan Institute report on the student debt problem, and an American Legislative Exchange Council report on environmental overcriminalization

Notes on the Week: Not even low-income workers can count on benefiting from ObamaCare, things to know about the CBO’s immigration scoring, and more

To Do: Keep an eye on Russia

Latest Studies

Budget & Taxation
• Four Tenets to Less Government Spending – e21 – Economic Policies for the 21st Century
• The Municipal Government Debt Crisis – Heartland Institute
• Proposed New Farm Programs: Costly and Risky for Taxpayers – The Heritage Foundation
• Soaring National Debt Remains a Grave Threat – The Heritage Foundation
• Taxing Online Sales: Should the Taxman’s Grasp Exceed His Reach? – The Heritage Foundation
• The Big Choice for Jobs and Growth: Lower Tax Rates Versus Expensing – The Heritage Foundation
• The Many Real Dangers of Soaring National Debt – The Heritage Foundation
• The Simple Economics of Pro-Growth Tax Reform – The Heritage Foundation
• Turn Down the Heat, Switch On the Light: A Rational Analysis of Tax Havens, Tax Policy and Tax Politics – Institute of Economic Affairs
• The Best Solution from Both Budgets: “Reverse Logrolling” Shows the Best Option for Government Spending and Tax Reform – John Locke Foundation
• Creating a Fair Property Tax System: Is it Possible? – Public Interest Institute
• Kansas 2013 Tax Reform Improves on Last Year’s Efforts – Tax Foundation
• New Zealand’s Experience with Territorial Taxation – Tax Foundation
• A Review of the 83rd Session of the Texas Legislature – Texas Public Policy Foundation
• Virginia Economic Forecast 2013-2014: State to Add Jobs Despite Sequestration – Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy

Crime, Justice & the Law
• Ignorance of the Law Is No Excuse, But It Is Reality – The Heritage Foundation
• Comeback States Report: Reducing Juvenile Incarceration in the United States – Texas Public Policy Foundation
• Scientific Evidence in State Courts: Florida Reform as a Model – Washington Legal Foundation

Education
• Beyond Retrofitting: Innovation in Higher Education – Hudson Institute
• College Credit: Repairing America’s Unhealthy Relationship with Student Debt – Manhattan Institute

Foreign Policy/International Affairs
• Beyond the Border: U.S. and Canada Expand Partnership in Trade and Security – The Heritage Foundation

Health Care
• The Right Way to Fight Obesity – Hoover Institution
• An Analysis of the Proposed Medicaid Expansion in Michigan – National Center for Policy Analysis
• Veterans Affairs Fails to Curb Suicide Epidemic – National Center for Policy Analysis

Immigration
• Advancing the Immigration Nation: Heritage’s Positive Path to Immigration and Border Security Reform – The Heritage Foundation
• Senate Immigration Bill Does Not Require Payment of All Back Taxes – The Heritage Foundation

Information Technology
• FCC Must Maintain Open Eligibility for Incentive Spectrum Auction – Free State Foundation

Monetary Policy/Financial Regulation
• Rethinking the FHA – American Enterprise Institute
• Recent Arguments against the Gold Standard – Cato Institute

National Security
• Obama’s Wish to Cut Nuclear Arsenal Undermines National Security – The Heritage Foundation
• Preventing the Next “Lone Wolf” Terrorist Attack Requires Stronger Federal–State–Local Capabilities – The Heritage Foundation

Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & Science
• Efficiency Policy – American Action Forum
• Five Solutions for Addressing Environmental Overcriminalization – American Legislative Exchange Council
• Improving Incentives for Federal Land Managers: The Case for Recreation Fees – Cato Institute
• Denial of Supreme Court Review Leaves Ninth Circuit ESA Case Intact – Washington Legal Foundation
• Ohio Court Limits Localities’ Authority over Energy Exploration – Washington Legal Foundation

Transportation/Infrastructure
• Paint Is Cheaper Than Rails: Why Congress Should Abolish New Starts – Cato Institute
• Moving the Road Sector into the Market Economy – Institute of Economic Affairs

 

 

 

Notes on the Week

Rector on CBO on immigration: The Congressional Budget Office told us this week that letting large numbers of immigrants into the country and changing the status of those currently here illegally will be great for the economy and the federal budget. Robert Rector has a few things to say about the CBO’s scoring of the Gang of Eight immigration bill. Here are the highlights:

[T]he immigration coming in under this bill looks like previous immigration in the sense that its predominantly lower-skilled plus the fact that you’re taking 11 million illegal immigrants and giving them access to the welfare and entitlement states. They have an average education of 10th grade, so it’s very difficult to imagine that those households would somehow pay enough in taxes to equal their benefits […] .

The trick is the CBO 10-year budget window. […] For mysterious reasons, when an amnesty bill is written, the amnesty recipients become eligible for everything under the sun in about the 11th year. So that they pay taxes in the first 10 years and they don’t get additional benefits for some mysterious reason until you move outside the CBO budget window. […]

[T]he federal government, because of Social Security and Medicare, inherently transfers from the non-elderly to the elderly. State and local governments kind of do the opposite. If you just look at state and local governments you would find that they transfer from the elderly to the non-elderly to pay for education. The elderly pay a lot of property tax; they don’t get any education benefits any more. […] Of course immigrants are not elderly themselves. For a limited period of time they pay in but then they take out more than they have paid in. It’s important to put both flows together because the opposite process is happening down at the state and local level. […]

One of the interesting things that CBO does tell us is that the number of illegal immigrants who will enter the country over the next 20 years goes down by only 25 percent. There would have been, they estimate, 10 million illegal immigrants entering over the next 20 years. They estimate that that will drop to 7.5 million illegal immigrants entering the country […] . The net cost of those illegals alone would be about $400 billion over that period. […]

When you look at the Gang of Eight explain their bill they always say: Oh, we’re shifting from low-skill immigration to high-skill immigration. You can trust us. That’s what we do. But in fact the numbers from CBO show exactly the opposite. Roughly 80 … 85 to 90 percent of the individuals getting green card status are not skill-based. [The Foundry, June 21]

 

 

Turn on, tune in, pay up. Online learning may transform higher education someday, but right now it serves mainly as a prop in the familiar university system, say Andrew Kelly and Frederick Hess:

Many online programs generate large revenues because most colleges charge the same price (or more!) for students enrolled online as for those on campus. A survey of 199 universities by the educational technology arm of the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education found that 93 percent of universities charged the same or higher tuition for their online programs. This is bizarre, given that online courses are less costly to deliver than in-person courses. But instead of competing on price (meaning that cost savings get passed to the student), institutions have maintained in-person prices for online courses—even as the cost of delivery has fallen.

What do colleges do with that extra revenue? They cross-subsidize activities on the brick and mortar campus: unfunded research, student life, institutional aid programs, and so on. Put more genteelly, they “reinvest” it in their traditional campus.

Real innovation, as Kelly and Hess point out, is about unbundling the research-based university, and that’s not going to happen until the government regulations, subsidies, and accreditation policies that protect that model from competition are reformed. [“Beyond Retrofitting: Innovation in Higher Education,” by Andrew P. Kelly and Frederick Hess, Hudson Institute, June 2013.]

 

 

Not even low-income workers can count on coming out ahead under ObamaCare. Some low-income workers could end up paying a lot more for health insurance than they paid before ObamaCare became law, reports Jillian Kay Melchior. ObamaCare requires employer-provided health insurance to cover at least 60 percent of health-care costs while not costing employees more than 9.5 percent of their household incomes. Since low-income households may have multiple sources of income, it can be difficult for companies to figure out if a particular plan is sufficient to avoid penalties. The federal government has proposed “safe harbor” standards in order to provide clarity: Companies offering plans that have a $3,500 deductible, a $6,000 cap on out-of-pocket costs, and premiums of $90 or less per month would put companies in the clear of any penalties. Under those standards, says Melchior, a low-income worker not eligible Medicaid has few good options:

He could take the employer’s plan — but if it’s a safe-harbor plan, it would cost, at minimum, $1,080 a year. And that’s before the deductible is even factored in. For someone who earns $28,725 a year, falling at 250 percent of the poverty level, these costs are sizeable.

Option two: He could shop around on the health exchange for an alternative. But because his employer provides a sanctioned plan, he’s disqualified from any subsidy he might have received to help offset costs. Even a very basic plan would cost up to $2,316 a year in premiums alone.

Option three: Forgo insurance altogether and pay the steadily increasing penalty to the federal government. In 2014, for an individual, that’s $95 for the year or 1 percent of household income, whichever is greater. But by 2016, it will rise to either $695 or 2.5 percent of household income. And that’s not even factoring in whether the worker has kids. In that case, he could face an annual penalty of $2,085 or more by 2016. […]

Before, many employers who paid by the hour offered limited medical plans. These policies often got a bad rap because of their lack of catastrophic coverage. But to their credit, they were inexpensive and contributed to health-care costs immediately, without workers needing to first meet a deductible.

Now, these low-wage hourly workers would be forced to spend at least $5,300 before their coverage really begins to benefit them. [National Review, June 17]

 

 

Who elected those guys? ask teachers in Kansas. Last week, teachers in Deerfield, Kansas, did something that almost never happens, report James Sherk and Michael Cirrotti: They voted to decertify their union:

Unlike most public officials, unions do not stand for re-election, so their members cannot regularly hold them accountable. Workers can remove an unwanted union only by filing for decertification. But bureaucratic obstacles make it difficult to hold a vote on decertification. The hoops Deerfield’s teachers had to jump through illustrate this problem.

Joel McClure, the teacher who led the effort, submitted the appropriate paperwork to the Kansas Department of Labor in November 2012. But Kansas teachers can request a vote only in a two-month window every three years. KNEA officials contested the petition by claiming that the teachers missed the December 1 deadline. (The Department of Labor had misplaced the initial petition paperwork.) Then the KNEA objected that the teachers’ attorney was not certified in Kansas and that they did not have enough signatures. However, the teachers prevailed and voted out their union—in June, just eight months after the initial submission.

When asked why they went through such protracted effort, the teachers said their union ignored their concerns. They wanted instead to be actively involved in negotiations and work collaboratively with the school district. “The desire is for teachers to participate at the [bargaining] table, to have free access to information,” McClure said. “In our little school district, there’s no reason we can’t sit down at the table and work out our issues.” [The Foundry, June 18]

Did we mention that next week is National Employee Freedom Week?

 

 

The death panel is coming. Last week, a federal judge in Philadelphia blocked the enforcement of an age-limit rule on lung transplants, thus allowing a very sick 10-year-old girl to obtain a new set of lungs. Doctors had said the girl, who suffers from cystic fibrosis, would live only three to five weeks without new lungs. Earlier, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius had said she would not to intervene in the case by overturning the rule.

When the ObamaCare-created Independent Payment Advisory Board is up and running in two years, it too will make decisions on matters of life and death, but unlike Sebelius’s decision on lung rules, the decisions of the IPAB cannot be reviewed by courts. Those decisions are also protected from politics in some extraordinary ways. As David Rivkin and Elizabeth Foley explain, the IPAB set-up is certainly unconstitutional, but likely not challengeable in the short run because no one would have standing to sue:

Once the board acts, its decisions can be overruled only by Congress, and only through unprecedented and constitutionally dubious legislative procedures—featuring restricted debate, short deadlines for actions by congressional committees and other steps of the process, and supermajoritarian voting requirements. The law allows Congress to kill the otherwise inextirpable board only by a three-fifths supermajority, and only by a vote that takes place in 2017 between Jan. 1 and Aug. 15. If the board fails to implement cuts, all of its powers are to be exercised by HHS Secretary Sebelius or her successor. […]

The power given by Congress to the Independent Payment Advisory Board is breathtaking. Congress has willingly abandoned its power to make tough spending decisions (how and where to cut) to an unaccountable board that neither the legislative branch nor the president can control. The law has also entrenched the board’s decisions to an unprecedented degree.

In Mistretta v. United States (1989), the Supreme Court emphasized that, in seeking assistance to fill in details not spelled out in the law, Congress must lay down an “intelligible principle” that “confine[s] the discretion of the authorities to whom Congress has delegated power.” The “intelligible principle” test ensures accountability by demanding that Congress take responsibility for fundamental policy decisions.

The IPAB is guided by no such intelligible principle. ObamaCare mandates that the board impose deep Medicare cuts, while simultaneously forbidding it to ration care. Reducing payments to doctors, hospitals and other health-care providers may cause them to limit or stop accepting Medicare patients, or even to close shop.

These actions will limit seniors’ access to care, causing them to wait longer or forego care—the essence of rationing. ObamaCare’s commands to the board are thus inherently contradictory and, consequently, unintelligible.

Moreover, authorizing the advisory board to make rules “relating to” Medicare gives the board virtually limitless power of the kind hitherto exercised by Congress. For instance, the board could decide to make cuts beyond the statutory target. It could mandate that providers expand benefits without additional payment. It could require that insurers or gynecologists make abortion services available to all their patients as a condition of doing business with Medicare, or that drug companies set aside a certain percentage of Medicare-related revenues to fund “prescription drug affordability.” There is no limit. [Wall Street Journal, June 19]

 

 

What is candy? Depends on which state wants to tax it online. Forcing online retailers to remit sales taxes to the state where the purchaser resides, as the federal Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA) does, is not going to level the playing field between online and bricks-and-mortar retailers. Rather, as James Gattuso explains, it will tilt the playing field heavily against online retailers—especially smaller ones:

While the legislation does require states to provide retailers with free software for managing tax compliance, that software need only cover the individual state. Retailers are left on their own to get nationwide software, unless they want to integrate 46 individual software packages. No compensation is offered for recurring costs incurred by retailers, such as accounting services or online tax management services.

In addition, internal staff time would be needed for an array of tasks, including handling claims by tax-exempt customers, fielding inquiries from tax authorities, and addressing the inevitable glitches.

Even the simple act of classifying the item being sold can be problematic, with thousands of idiosyncratic distinctions and definitions through each state’s tax code. In Wisconsin, the Wisconsin flag as well as the U.S. flag is not subject to tax. All other flags are taxable. Unless they are bundled with flagpoles, in which case the rules change yet again.

Similarly, candy is defined—under the “streamlined” sales tax agreement, as “a preparation of sugar, honey, or other natural or artificial sweeteners in combination with chocolate, fruits, nuts or other ingredients in the form of bars, drops, or pieces.” But sellers beware: “‘Candy’ shall not include any preparation containing flour and shall require no refrigeration.” Thus defined, states still vary on whether the concoction is taxable or not.

The problems do not end with the sale. Each of the 46 state tax authorities with which retailers would have to deal directly require tax returns to be completed, on an annual, quarterly, or even weekly basis. To ensure that it is all done correctly, sellers would be subject to audits from each of 46 states. (If tax authorities on Indian reservations are included—as they are in the MFA as passed by the Senate—the number of tax forms and potential audits jumps to the hundreds.) [The Heritage Foundation, June 19]

 

 

Carbon taxers forget the externalities of not using cheap, abundant energy. One reason putting a tax on carbon in order to price its negative externalities is not a free-market idea:

[E]ven if SCC [social cost of carbon] estimates were not assumption-driven hocus-pocus, their use by activists, policymakers, and agencies would still be biased and misleading, because proponents of “climate action” always ignore the social costs of carbon mitigation.

As Cato Institute scholar Indur Goklany explains in a recent study, fossil fuels are the chief energy source of a “cycle of progress” responsible for the amazing improvements of the past 250 years in life expectancy, health, nutrition, safety, comfort, human capital formation, and per capita income. The cycle of progress is to no small extent a “positive externality” of fossil fuels. Thus, policies that suppress the extraction, delivery, and consumption of fossil fuels, or that make fossil energy less affordable, have social costs in addition to whatever compliance burdens and economic losses the policies entail.

For example, the more stringent the carbon mitigation scheme, the more severe the impacts on household income and job creationNumerous studies find that poverty and unemployment increase the risk of sickness and death. Carbon tax advocates never acknowledge this side of the ledger.

Given the continuing importance of fossil fuels to human flourishing and the undeniable connection between livelihoods, living standards, and life expectancy, carbon taxes can easily do more harm than good to public health—even if one accepts the IPCC’s version of the science.

That’s from Marlo Lewis’s excellent summary of the recent R Street-Heartland Institute debate on the carbon tax. [GlobalWarming.org, June 16]

 

 

Progressives make use of rights that progressives think should not exist. It’s a good thing for progressives—and everybody else—that one particular progressive idea hasn’t been adopted, observes Wendy Kaminer:

If progressives had their way, the ACLU’s latest challenge to the NSA’s domestic surveillance would easily be dismissed.ACLU v Clapper, filed in the wake of the Snowden revelations, is based on the ACLU’s First and Fourth Amendment rights, which, according to progressives, ACLU should not possess. It is, after all, a corporation, and constitutional amendments aggressively promoted by progressives would limit constitutional rights to “natural persons.”

“The words people, person, or citizen as used in this Constitution do not include corporations, limited liability companies or other corporate entities,” the popular People’s Rights Amendment declares. [The Atlantic, June 17]

Arthur Koestler’s protagonist in Darkness at Noon referred to the first-person singular as a “grammatical fiction” because it conflicted with the logic of self sacrifice demanded by the party. Today’s real progressives are now trying to subvert the plural form. By insisting that only individuals, not corporations, have rights, they elide the fact that corporations are made up of individual people. Individuals can’t fully exercise their rights if the things they choose to do cooperatively with others do not have the same protections as the things they choose to do alone. Maybe the American Civil Liberties Union can spread the word.

 

 

To Do: Keep an Eye on Russia

• Find out what Russia is up to with its efforts to construct a Eurasian Union. The Heritage Foundation will host a half-day conference on June 27 in Washington, D.C.

• Reflect on the Battle of Gettysburg and its meaning for the nation, which happened 150 years ago this July. Allen Guelzo of Gettysburg College will make remarks at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., at 4:30 p.m. on June 26.

• If you are a young, professional, conservative woman, come meet other young, professional, conservative women at the Network of enlightened Women’s National Conference. The conference will be held June 27 – June 28 at The Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. Christina Hoff Summers will deliver a keynote address.

• Request a free copy of the movie Amazing Grace, which tells the true story of William Wilberforce’s fight to abolish slavery. The offer is part of the Foundation for Economic Education’s Blinking Lights Project, which educates about the importance of personal character as a vital element of free society. Be sure to check that out, too.

• Don’t forget that next week is National Employee Freedom Week, “a national effort to inform union employees of the freedom they have regarding opting out of union membership and making the decision about union membership that’s best for them.”

• Save the dates! These events are no longer classified, are they?
—The annual IEA Hayek Memorial Lecture, delivered this year by Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, talking on “The Leave Us Alone Coalition vs. The Takings Coalition: The On-going Struggle” at 6:30 p.m. in London;
—The 42nd National Fourth of July Soiree, featuring barbeque, blue grass, balloon artists, and more at Bull Run Regional Park in Centreville, Va., on July 4 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.;
—The Heritage Foundation’s annual Scholars & Scribes review of the Supreme Court’s 2012-2013 term, July 11, in Washington, D.C.;
Freedom Fest, the largest gathering of free minds, July 10 – July 13 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas;
—and Cato University, July 28 – August 3 at the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C.

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Americans were told in the early 1960’s by a funny looking short chubby Russian leader named Khrushchev that America would be defeated by Communism and not a shot would be fired.  If you care to go to my right side column   you will find a series of videos made in the 1980’s by a former KGB (Russia’s top spy agency) agent explaining exactly how the Communist planned to overthrow America  (Subverting America by Uri Bezmenov).    I am 72 years old and I watched it happen exactly as Bezmenov    said it would happen and exactly as Khrushchev claimed as he banged his shoe on the podium.  Many laughed and said it would never happen but  here we are fifty years later and it is happening.  the last brick in the wall of our American prison is being put in place with the federal CORE Curriculum that the government is forcing on states.  The text books of the CORE Curriculum have completely rewritten history!  Beware!

 

Do read carefully this article from the Cato Instutute.  Then check carefuylllly and keep an eye on your own schools and what is being fed to your children.   BB

May 4, 2013

The Great Education Power-Grab

By E. Jeffrey Ludwig

Did you know that reformers intent on implementing the Core Curriculum (National Standards) have invaded public education?  They do not care about kids or about individuals.  Armed with statistics and vast software systems, their intent is to establish one-size-fits-all curricula and success parameters in public education nationwide.  The scope of their ambitions leads this educator to the conclusion that their underlying impulse is totalitarian.

 

These reformers are driving toward the six- or seven-class-a-day high school teaching load, the 9-5 schedule for the schools (or longer), school provided free and compulsory for ages 2 to 22 (or 26), the six- or seven-day school week, and the 12-month school year (with two- or three-week vacation breaks scattered throughout the school year), all controlled by a vast bureaucracy nationwide and justified by the implementation of “national standards.”  A database of answers to 400 questions by all U.S. students K-20 will be compiled and maintained at a tremendous cost to the public.  Forty-six states are already on board.  This 20-plus years of control and indoctrination will, if implemented, become a cornerstone of statist control.mic

 

Who’s doing it?  These reforms are led by Bill Ayers, Michelle Rhee, Arne Duncan, and Mayor Mike Bloomberg of New York City.  They are also led by educational publishers such as Cengage, Pearson, McGraw Hill, and McDougal Littel.  They have a host of supporters including, but not limited to, the Coalition of Essential Schools, New Visions, the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and other NGOs that want to bring equality and progress [sic] to institutions supposedly failing to their very core.  These “reformers” are being abetted by their so-called adversaries, the education unions: UFT, AFT, NEA, and NYSUT.  Claiming to object to some of the teacher hostility expressed by the “reformers,” these unions actually are 100% in tune with the political and social agenda of those reformers.  Why?  Because the movement toward “national standards” by these reformers means increased membership and dues for the unions, consolidation of power, and national promotion of their left-wing agenda.  The education unions become junior partners in one of the greatest power plays in the history of this country.

 

The key to their vision, if one can call this Brave New World and 1984 nightmare a “vision,” is to bring in a whole new class of school administrators.  These administrators do not have teaching experience.  Teaching experience tends to breed respect for the individual.  Instead, the drive of national standards is to collectivize, to standardize, and to establish one-size-fits-all educational benchmarks, goals, and curricula.  The new mandarins of education are people in their twenties or early thirties who are to come in and uproot the supposed garbage of the past.  Likewise, pressures are being brought to bear on older teachers and experienced administrators to get out of the way of the “agenda of change.”

 

A few years ago, this writer attended a meeting to recruit teachers into the New York City Department of Education Leadership Academy for prospective principals, and the sophisticated and attractive hostess of the program was asked, “When reviewing applications to the program, do you take into account whether the applicant has written and published any articles of books?”  Without hesitation, the woman answered firmly that she does not.  Connection with the world of books is not part of leadership in education.  On another occasion, this writer even heard one principal in the New York City Department of Education say that he is not interested in having libraries where books just gather a lot of dust; rather, he wants to replace all books with much cheaper and less space-consuming CDs.  He added that students do not need literature in high school; they need only skill-sets for proper English usage.  Under the Common Core, literature is being de-emphasized in favor of nonfiction, and excerpts will replace the reading of entire texts.

 

The thrust during Bloomberg’s years as mayor of New York City has been to recruit people with little or no experience in education to teach and to run the schools.  This supposedly is to refresh a profession that has been too insulated from accountability and new ideas for too long. We saw this in Chicago, when Arne Duncan was the head of the schools.  He had only had a little tutoring experience, but his goal was to renovate and revamp the failing system.  As far as anyone knows, the system there is still failing.

 

What, then, do we find?  From top to bottom, the NYC Dept. of Education is replete with administrators with little  teaching experience.  Often selected because they are inexperienced and willing to be as insensitive as a cactus in order to please their superiors, they come to impose themselves as “leaders” on those who are already making great sacrifices as teachers.

 

Then there are teaching fellows and other “career change” types who have decided they want to begin a new career path in education.  They soon learn the realities of life in the schools, and many leave.  Many teaching fellows are also brilliant and idealistic, and they come into education to make a difference in the lives of individuals and society as a whole.  However, they find that they not only have to deal with incredibly complex and difficult classroom and building situations, but many times are being badgered by clueless administrators who are the “new breed” as described above.  This author recently heard a highly regarded principal of a New York City high school say that he considered “classroom management” overestimated in importance.  Right.  Who needs an attentive, orderly classroom?  Let students have a watered down curriculum, let them talk during class, and then give them inflated grades to support their self-esteem.  This is to be the new formula for national “progress.”

 

We find people coming into education from facilities management, the petroleum industry, pharmaceutical sales, and lobster wholesaling and delivery backgrounds.  This writer has met these people, and the likelihood that they read even one book a year is remote.  Are non-readers and non-teachers suited to be educational leaders?

 

Many, be it for money, security, ideals, or some combination of the above seek administrative positions that they are not ready for.  Why aren’t they ready?  They are not ready because they have not been mentored and inculcated with core educational values that include, but are not limited to, focus on service and on educational values such as curricular innovation, creativity, knowledge, teacher morale, school tone, the family of man, student character-building, and caring/love of all for all (said list can be summed up as “the pursuit of happiness”).

 

The above changes are gradually (and sometimes not so gradually) being implemented in various school districts throughout the country, but  national standards (Core Curriculum) are the connecting mechanism whereby the philosophy of education outlined above can be managed at the federal level.  The rationale for this is that students in China, Japan, and Singapore regularly do better than U.S. students on international tests of math and science.  Therefore, a more comprehensive approach (standards) needs to be taken if we are to remain competitive in the world economy.

 

Even accepting the highly dubious assumption that we are falling behind those countries, should our schools become as authoritarian as those schools?  Are not the Judeo-Christian ideals of love and compassion still valid?  Do we want the drones we find in these other cultures?

 

About 46 states have already signed onto “national standards.”  There is movement in that direction.  There are not many articles in the conservative media and blogs challenging this direction.  Nevertheless, the danger to culture, to rationality (substituting what to think for how to think), to individuality, and to the tried and true is palpable.

 

My question to the reader: Do you want American public education to become even more of an ideological monolith than it is at present?

Read more: http://www.americanthinker.com/2013/05/the_great_education_power_grab.html#ixzz2SME2uDEr
Follow us: @AmericanThinker on Twitter | AmericanThinker on Facebook

As an educator i watched our schools decline over the past half century until now we are graduating more illiterates than ever.  Things were so bad when I was teaching that the really good teachers simply threw their hands up and left the profession rather than continue trying to teach children around and thru the stupid edicts that were being handed down by administrators and school boards.  History being replaced by “Social Studies”  where now people even in college have no idea when the Civil War ended  let alone what it was about.  “New math” where children were expected to learn arithmetic thru osmosis during the elementary years so that by high school the math teachers had to demand that they memorize the times tables the way we old timers  all had to do in third grade.

More and more students entering college , but having to take remedial reading and math courses their Freshman year!  And graduating five or six years later with degrees  that will get them a job behind the counter at the local burger joint!  AND, still not aware of the date the Civil War ended or what it was all about.

 

I am happy to see that some sanity and  changes are finally  being proposed.  Heck, in some places in the country some of these things are actually being done.  This latest newsletter  from The Heritage Foundation is enlightening.  BB

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of a New School Year

As of today, the vast majority of American students have begun a new school year. As lunches are packed and carpool lines grow, Heritage reviews the good, bad, and ugly in education.

The Good

Support for school choice is at an all-time high. In a poll released in August, school choice favorability jumped 10 percentage points since last year, a sign that the proliferation of options such as vouchers, education savings accounts, and online learning is creating a welcome choice for families across the country.

Options like the education savings accounts implemented in Arizona, statewide vouchers in effect in Louisiana, and tuition tax credits benefitting children in Florida provide families with greater control over education—something more and more parents are expressing they want.

Social promotion is becoming less popular.In North Carolina, legislators approved a measure toend social promotion. Rather than automatically passing students on to the next grade, all third-grade students will be required to read at grade level before advancing to the fourth grade. Other states that have implemented this policy suggest that it is helpful in boosting student achievement.

Online, customized learning is on the rise. Individualized online learning options allow more emphasis on areas where students are struggling, without holding back their peers who may be ready for the next level.

Teachers union membership is declining.The National Education Association is projecting a loss of 308,000 members since 2010. One of the union’s top officials, treasurer Becky Pringle, blames “stupid” education reform: “We’re living with a recession that just won’t end, political attacks that have turned brutal, and societal changes that are impacting us—from stupid education ‘reform’ to an explosion of technology—all coming together to impact us in ways that we had never anticipated.”

The Bad

The Administration is singling out minority students for government “help” instead of raising them up through increased options.Over the summer, President Obama signed an executive order to form the new White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans. According to the White House, the new initiative, which will work across federal agencies, “aims to ensure that all African American students receive an education that fully prepares them for high school graduation, college completion, and productive careers.”

Parents and taxpayers would be correct to be skeptical of a new Washington initiative to improve student outcomes. A new evaluation by Matthew Chingos of the Brookings Institution and Paul Peterson of Harvard shows a far more promising route to improving academic opportunity for the students the President’s initiative aims to help: school vouchers. The study of low-income students in New York City found a 24 percent increase in college enrollment among African-American students who were awarded and used vouchers to attend private schools.

This success has already proven the vital role of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program. Students who have used vouchers to attend private schools in the nation’s capital have a 91 percent graduation rate, while graduation rates in D.C. public schools hover around 60 percent.

The Ugly 

Average per-pupil spending in public schools is reaching historic highs. Nationally, average per-pupil spending exceeds $11,400 this year, meaning a child entering kindergarten today can expect to have no less than $148,000 spent on his or her education by the time the child graduates high school. In all, more than $570 billion will be spent on public K-12 education this year.

Continual increases in the money spent per child and in overall spending haven’t led to increases in academic achievement. Heritage’s Lindsey Burke notes:

We continue to fund institutions—sending that money to schools—instead of actually funding children. Imagine if a child could put those dollars in a funding “backpack” and take that $11,400 to any school—public, private, or virtual. As in every other sector of American life, we would likely see outcomes improve as a result of competitive pressure placed on the government school system.

Despite the successes of more individualized learning and school choice, the Obama Administration wants to further centralize education in Washington through national standards and tests. It has been trying to entice states with waivers from the onerous No Child Left Behind law, which it gives to states that agree to adopt the Administration’s standards instead.

Implementing Washington-controlled education standards means that states, local school boards, and ultimately parents will have less say in their children’s education. This year’s homework assignment for conservatives: continue the fight for increased parental control, individualized options for students, and decreased government interference in education.

I have been receiving the newsletter from ACT!   for some time and really do recommend it to you.  Today the special is a report on how our children are being brainwashed thru changes in their text books.    I am sure parents have been aware for sometime that our schools are dummying down the education of of children and  than crying that it is a lack of money that is causing the problem.  NO!  The problem has been and is the brainwashed  educators!  (See Uri Brezmenov in the Subverting of America in my special pages in the side bar) .  this report is a follow up and c placing in one report just how bad the problem is.

The rest of the newsletter gives  some thought provoking issues voice.  Read and be aware then ACT!  Watch carefully what is  happening on the national level,  but also keep up with the local level of government because it is the local level where the elections in November will be held and therefore where all the fraud and thuggery is going to take place.  I hope the Tea Party people will make themselves very apparent in November especially at the poling places.   Now is the time to start getting out the vote then on election day provide cars and car pooling and especially to just watch and be aware of everything that is happening.

In relation to the corruption of our textbooks did you see the 18 year old who was elected by 88% to the school board in a city in New Jersey?    Schools can’t do a whole lot to harm the really bright children, but it is the rest that we have to worry about because they are the majority and our true future.  BB

Welcome to ACT! for America Education

(formerly known as American Congress for Truth)

A message from the President, Brigitte Gabriel

Welcome! Thank you for taking the time to visit the website of ACT! for America Education, formerly known as American Congress for Truth, your definitive source for information, education and research on issues and topics related to the threat of radical Islam. Here you will find easy access to thousands of articles, videos, books and websites, conveniently organized under the topic headings located in the navigation bar above.

September 11th was a wake-up call for America. For me, it was reliving a nightmare.

read more…

NYC subway plotter: We wanted to spread panic

TOM HAYS, Associated Press4/23/12NEW YORK (AP) — An admitted al-Qaida recruit testified Wednesday that he and two friends were determined to “weaken America” by strapping on suicide bombs and attacking New York City subways around the eighth anniversary of 9/11, but now hopes for redemption.

“I believe my crimes are very bad,” Najibullah Zazi said on cross-examination. “If God gave me a second chance, I would appreciate it and will be a very good human being.”

Earlier, Zazi told a federal jury at his alleged accomplice’s trial that he slipped detonator ingredients into the city on Sept. 10, 2009, after the chemicals extracted from beauty supplies passed a test run.

Using code words, he then frantically emailed one of his al-Qaida handlers to get the exact formula for building homemade bombs to go with detonators.

read more…

Israel marks Holocaust Remembrance Day

The Jerusalem Post4/19/2012By: JPost.com Staff

Siren to be sounded to remember the 6m. Jews murdered in Holocaust; Knesset to hold “every person has a name” ceremony.

Memorial services and events throughout the country were due to continue Thursday to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day, which began on Wednesday evening. At 10:00 a.m. a two-minute siren was scheduled to be sounded to remember the six millions Jews murdered at the hands of Nazis during the Holocaust.

Following the sounding of the siren, various ceremonies and events were due to commence immediately.

read more…

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You may want to read this article from Glenn Beck’s The Blaze.  OWS is planning a big 2012 summer and Fall and it will be hot I promise you.  We will see the riots on our streets with these characters out there.  This may very well give Obama  the excuse he needs to declare marshall law which could  even prevent the elections in November.  Refer to Uri Bezmenov  videos ( see side bar categories and videos)  on how the dictators will take over.  If you have never viewed the Bezmenov videos this is the time to do it!    Are we there?  Is OWS the group that will bring it on?  Be aware and beware Friends!  BB

OCCUPY MASTERMIND STEPHEN LERNER REVEALS NEXT STEPS: STUDENT LOAN STRIKES & CRASH SHAREHOLDER MTGS

Stephen Lerner Reveals Next Steps, Goals of the Occupy Movement

Stephen Lerner (Photo: Rod Leon)

Regular readers of this site will know the name Stephen Lerner. For those who don’t, here’s a quick refresher: he’s the SEIU organizer who The Blaze revealed almost a year to the day as the man behind the early stages of the Occupy movement. Back then, he admitted to wanting to bring down financial institutions and collapse the system. Now he’s back with an op-ed in the liberal magazine The Nation, and he‘s outlining what’s coming next.

“Occupy has cracked open the door that lets us imagine that another world is possible,” Lerner writes, before bragging about the countless arrests of those within the movement. “Thousands of arrests, months of protest and acts of incredible personal risk and sacrifice have put inequality and Wall Street’s out-of-control political and economic power on center stage. As activity ratchets up this spring, the challenge is to get more people pushing that door open ever wider.”

So what does “pushing that door open wider” look like? How about organizing massive student loan strikes and crashing annual shareholder meetings.

Student loan strikes

Lerner justifies the strike idea like this:

Students and their families now have nearly a trillion dollars of debt, with average debt totaling over $25,000. The explosion in student debt is a direct outgrowth of the defunding of education in state after state. Unlike corporate and other debt, student debt is excluded from bankruptcy relief, strangling students for life. Reducing student debt load and the interest rates applied to it would save hundreds of billions of dollars in debt payments. It’s a first step to creating equal access to education and giving students a fair start without a lifetime burden.  (I totally agree with the horrid outcome of student loans but very much disagree with this demons use of students for his own ends.  The huge students loans are directly related to the government getting into the business of education.  Just like the insurance companies and medical businesses went wild when the government got into health care with Johnson’s Medicare the banking business  cheered as colleges and universities put on the greedy pig stance and  went hog wild raising their prices.  Bankers of course gave out  student loans with both hands  because the federal government guaranteed these loans.  FACT: Any time the government gets its nose into the pie costs skyrocket!    What can be done about student loans now?  I don’t know but I do know that if government would stop guaranteeing these loans the bankers would close their doors to student loans.  Students would then start thinking more carefully about where they go to school and what they study, which certainly isn’t the case now or we would have the workers our companies are begging for.  Colleges and Universities would also take the hit they justly deserve and change their ways and go back to competing for students like they did before the government got involved.  There are only two government programs that are great for our country:  The GI BILL  and the P{ELL GRANT.  BB)

 

Then he plants the seed:

There is growing interest in Occupy and student groups in a student debt strike. The banks can’t foreclose on a brain or a degree. If a critical mass of student debtors—a million or more—pledged to refuse to pay, it would create a collection crisis that could force negotiations about reducing student debt.

Key phrase: “it would create a collection crisis.”

Stephen Lerner Reveals Next Steps, Goals of the Occupy Movement

Occupy Protesters bang drums in Zuccotti Park in November. (Photo: AP)

Crashing shareholder meetings

Student debt strikes are just the beginning, however. Lerner wants more, and that “more,” not surprisingly, involves greater collaboration with the unions.

“Starting with GE on April 25 in Detroit and moving on to Wells Fargo, Bank of America and dozens of other corporations in May and June, tens of thousands of people from Occupy, community organizations, unions and environmental groups will show up at the annual shareholder meetings of major corporations,” he explains. “Some people will be on the inside with proxies, and others will be massed in the streets, all delivering the message that it is no longer acceptable for giant, unaccountable corporations to decide the political and economic fate of the country.”

Key points: It’s starting April 25; it involves “tens of thousands” from unions and even environmental groups; and it will even involve people “on the inside.”

Stephen Lerner Reveals Next Steps, Goals of the Occupy Movement

A member of the Occupy San Diego movement protests in front of the California Democrats State Convention Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012, in San Diego. (AP)

A movement in need of direction?

Lerner’s direction comes as the movement is awakening with fury — 73 were arrested at the movement‘s epicenter in New York City’s Zucotti Park over the weekend. And top-down direction seems to be what the willing Occupy foot soldiers are in need of. Consider that after the weekend fracas, the same problems of blurry vision and a lack of uniformity that plagued the movement in the fall sprang up once again.

“I’m really grateful to be part of a generation that wants change, ’cause we should all want change,” said Jennifer Campbell, a graduate student in documentary filmmaking at Hofstra University. “But I’m not sure what that change is, or if they know what that change is.”

“We’re going to keep going,” said Christopher Guerra, who has spent many nights at Zuccotti since the movement started last Sept. 17. He added, “It’s going to get interesting during the election cycle. We’re going to be more of a presence in the political world. I know we have a couple of people running for office.”

According to Mother Jones magazine, 10 candidates for House and Senate seats in the November elections have made Occupy part of their campaigns. They include Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren and Hakeem Jeffries, who is running for Congress in Brooklyn. But some Occupy supporters consider themselves anarchists who abjure electoral politics.

Sandra Nurse, a member of Occupy’s direct action working group, said she expects college students will have “a huge role to play this summer organizing around student debt.” She noted that the issue resonates both with students and with their parents and has the potential to broaden the movement. It‘s straight out of Lerner’s playbook.

But Ted Schulman, an Occupy protester who lives near Zuccotti, said his focus is the upcoming United Nation Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. He said he wants to “challenge the U.N. on what their vision of a green economy is.”

Harlem resident Kanene Holder said the movement is broader than any one issue. “This is not a beauty pageant,” she said. “We cannot homogenize this movement into one streamlined vision.”

“I understand the Occupy movement,” observer Brian Cummings of Iowa said. “I understand a lot of people’s frustration. I’m not sure how effective it is. … Nothing seems to be being accomplished.”

And that’s where Lerner comes in. In his conclusion, he embraced the confusion: “Emerging movements are complicated, exciting, messy, confusing and wonderful things to be a part of.”

Government Stupidity – Gov’t insanity: You won’t believe whatthis former Obama economic advisor just said.

From Economic Policy Journal:

Greg Mankiw points to this Larry Summers comment on the Charlie Rose Show:

Never forget, never forget, and I think it’s very important for Democrats especially to remember this, that if Hitler had not come along, Franklin Roosevelt would have left office in 1941 with an unemployment rate in excess of 15 percent and an economic recovery strategy that had basically failed.

Economist Robert Higgs has ripped apart the notion that war is good for an economy. And in particular, he has focused on World War II. On release of Higgs’ book, Depression, War, and Cold War: Challenging the Myths of Conflict and Prosperity, the publisher wrote:

[Higgs] provides clear evidence FDR’’ New Deal actually prolonged the Great Depression and that World War II did nothing to create prosperity…

Go to the site and read the entire article.  This is an eye opener.  Sometimes I am just too upset to read an article all at once and this was one of those times.  BB

 

» Kids Win: Colorado School Board Sets Students and Families Free with Voucher Program – Big Government.

YES!  There are still some intelligent men and women in politics in this country.  They won’t be found in Washington because except for a very small handful of newly elected Congress men in 2010 there simply isn’t a brain left in our federal government.  If we are to save ourselves and our nation and our very way of life it will have to be at the grass roots.  That is, if we have the time to do this. ( I heard on FOXNEWS this morning that Obama is planning to share our nuclear missile technology with Russia.)

 

We have turned our children over to what this School Board member in the video calls ‘special interests groups” but I am not so charitable because I call the leaders of our schools who are allowing the brain washing and dumbing down of education evil criminals.  After viewing the first videos please make sure to see the last one where the School Board is actually threatened by a union backed newly form group of  “mother, fathers, sisters, brothers, neighbors.” only concerned with the good of the children and absolutely nothing to do with union dues or tenure of incompetents.    BB

Kids Win: Colorado School Board Sets Students and Families Free with Voucher Program

by Kyle Olson

It’s not every day you will see a governmental body, in this case a school board, create competition for itself.  But that’s precisely what the Douglas County, Colorado school board did.

It created a unique, if not unprecedented, voucher program, allowing tax dollars to follow Douglas County students to the school of their choice.

Every single school system in America should adopt this model.  Sadly, parents who need school choice the most tend to live in troubled urban school districts that fight to keep children trapped within geographic boundaries.

But in Douglas County, leaders understand students have a right to the education of their choice, even if it is not within the public system.

John Carson, president of the school board, said recently at a National School Choice Week event celebrating the move: “We all realize that we’ve made two big mistakes in public education.  There’s no choice – or limited choice – there’s not enough competition, and we’ve ceded so much of our children’s education to special interest groups.  And that needs to end.”

Bravo.  If only we had more governmental leaders like Carson, just imagine the improved impression that Americans would have of public education today.

See EAGtv’s coverage of the program here.

Dr. Elizabeth Carson, the district superintendentm said, “We know when we match students to opportunities to learn that are most appropriate for their strengths and interests, we know that they’re going to be more successful.

“ And when we try to do this sort of batch processing model where we take all of these children according to their date of birth and put them through a process – a one-size-fits-all process – we know there are going to be fewer successes.  We want to make sure that parents have the ultimate choice in making sure that their child is matched with their learning environment.”

Parents and community leaders should demand that every single school district follow in the footsteps of Douglas County and be willing to let kids off the assembly line so they can find the school that best fits their needs.

The changes didn’t come easy and there is a big fight ahead to change teachers pay to excellence based and get rid of the dead wood tenured unionist  baloney.  BB

If you want to see more of what went on with the School Board’s decision to make parents responsible for and in charge of their children’s education check out the  other videos. BB

» Gov. Scott Walker Fights Republicans, Unions in Mission to Expand School Choice – Big Government.

Governor Scott Walker like Cristie of New Jersey is another governor to watch and hopefully learn from.  Walker is a fighter like Christie but lacks the new Jersey in your face attitude.  In fact, he is a gentleman at all times; a gentleman who stands firm for his beliefs.   He battled the teachers unions over their contracts and  so- called “right” to bargain (read that riot and strike and clutter up state buildings while calling in sick from their jobs).  With that issue working it’s way thru the courts he has now taken on the teachers unions and failing public schools over the  school choice issue.  He will win I have no doubt.

Is he perhaps the “sleeper” Republican who will come out for the Presidential run at the last minute?  Pair him up with Bachmann and I think we have a winning team.   Both are fighters who will stand firm for their beliefs but both are  professionals in their dealing with opponents regardless of what they are subjected to.  BB

Gov. Scott Walker Fights Republicans, Unions in Mission to Expand School Choice

by Kyle Olson

School choice is on the move in Wisconsin, at least in

Milwaukee County.

The state Assembly has approved a bill that will increase the number of voucher students in Milwaukee, and increase the number of private schools they can choose from.

But an idea recently suggested by Gov. Scott Walker, to spread voucher opportunities beyond Milwaukee to Green Bay, Racine and Beloit, received a cool reception from Senate President Mike Ellis, as well as several other Republicans.

Ellis also questioned a reform, embedded in the governor’s budget proposal, that would lift income restrictions from voucher programs so all families would be eligible to participate.

That leads me to wonder if some Republicans, once committed to the concept of public school reform, have lost their nerve in the face of obnoxious union rallies and recall efforts.

I also wonder if Walker might have received a more positive response if he had targeted the entire state for voucher eligibility, in the same manner as Indiana. Only expanding to three cities may not sit well with legislators from areas that would not benefit.

School choice is best for all families and students. Every child is unique, and parents are best equipped to choose a school that fits their needs.

The state of Wisconsin provides a certain amount of money for every K-12 student in the state. What’s wrong with letting parents spend that money at the school of their choice?

Walker sought to build momentum for school choice expansion with his keynote address to the National Policy Summit of the American Federation for Children in Washington, D.C. last week.

He focused on the idea that all students have the right to equal access to a quality education.

“Every kid, no matter where they live, no matter what their background, no matter what their parents do for a living … deserves the opportunity to have a great education because they each have limitless potential,” Walker told his audience.

“We have 100,000 kids that we serve in the city of Milwaukee. Roughly 20,000 go to choice schools but that means that 80 percent of our families are looking at some other option and the majority of which are (using) public schools … many of which fail to live up to the standard we expect for each and every child in that community and in our state.

“We fail as a country, we fail as a nation, we fail as a society if any of our kids slip through the cracks. We have to make sure every single one of them have the same opportunities we’d want for our children and grandchildren.”

Walker referred to studies that show Milwaukee children in the voucher program are 17 times more likely to graduate from high school than their counterparts in Milwaukee public schools.

“If you look at the kids who come into the Milwaukee parental choice program, they more often than not come in (with lower learning levels) than kids in the Milwaukee public school system. But in the end, one of the most important outcomes is that they’re 17 percent more likely to graduate by the time they’re done.

“One of our greatest challenges is keeping kids in the system all the way to graduation … It used to be that just graduating was enough to get a job, but these days you’ve got to have a two-year or four-year post-secondary education component just to get a job in our society. If you’re not making it through graduation you’re going to be another statistic.”

Wisconsin Education Association Council, the state’s largest teachers’ union, is trying to recall several Republican senators from office and destroy the GOP majority in the chamber.

The union’s president, Mary Bell told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that research “does not support broadening choice.”

I believe the only research that matters is the research conducted by the parents of every individual student in Wisconsin and America.

If they find a school that fits their child’s needs – be it public, public charter, private or religious – they should have a right to use their share of state money to enroll their child in that school.

Somehow our society has been blinded into thinking that government-run schools have an exclusive right to K-12 students. State constitutions mandate that governments provide an education to every student in their jurisdiction. That does not mean those students have to attend government-run schools.

By providing the means for students to finance an education, the state has met its constitutional responsibility. At that point the state should step aside and let parents decide where that education will take place.

As far as I can tell, the only reason for enforcing geographic school boundaries is to provide a guaranteed clientele, and guaranteed jobs, for unionized teachers. That’s not a very good reason to keep any kid trapped in any school that’s not meeting his or her needs.

Scott Walker seems to understand that.  The union doesn’t and it’s unrealistic for us to hope otherwise.  Will legislative Republicans?

Leaders should be going bold in their attempts to save children from failing public schools.  This is not the time to be pussyfooting around, making sure the adults aren’t offended by reforms that put the interests of children first.

A+ For School Choice

by Rebekah Rast

Upon learning that average per pupil spending in the public education system is $9,000, recent Rasmussen poll takers overwhelming stated their dissatisfaction with the return on their investment.

It’s hard to blame them.  Per pupil spending on education has tripled since the 1960s and increased 138 percent since 1985, but test scores and academic achievements remain stagnant and unchanged.

Noticing this trend, taxpayers and parents have found other options—an alternative to the status quo.  Americans are used to variety and choice and thought the education system should offer nothing less.

“In our society choice is something we’ve all been used to,” says Jeff Sands, senior manager of school development for Northeastern and Central California for the California Charter Schools Association.  “Now you can find schools that fit your needs and styles.”

The charter school movement has grown to 4,600 schools serving more than 1.4 million students nationally.

Charter schools have been a welcomed change for taxpayers, parents, students and those states and local governments who have adopted them.

What makes charter school different than public schools?

For one, it gives parents more options of where to send their child.  Also, charter schools have more freedom from the many regulations of public schools.  Charter schools allow students and teachers more authority to make decisions.  Instead of being accountable to rules and regulations like public schools are, charter schools are focused on the students and academic achievement and upholding their charter.  (One big reason for Charter Schools being free from all the rules and regulations is the lack of administration pencil pushers who make up all this nonsense in order to justify their jobs!   Every school system in the country could cut their administration staff by 50% and never miss them! BB)

“Charter schools are much more flexible in their spending and methods,” Sands says.  “They can go with longer days and weekends.  You could have a school with a strong focus on languages or arts or agriculture.  You can use methods and interactions where the main focus is not on the results, but the results happen anyways.”

If charter schools are such a welcomed change, then why are 10 states still opposed and fight against letting them in?

When parents do not have a choice of where to send their child to school, they can become stuck in a union-run, public school monopoly that has no incentive to better itself.  The only group that benefits from this design is the teachers unions.

“About 95 percent of charter schools are non-union,” says Mike Antonucci, director of the Education Intelligence Agency (EIA).  This causes a lot of opposition from teachers unions.

“Unions lose members,” says Antonucci, whenever a new charter schools opens.  “Every teacher in a charter school means one less union member and unions want more money.  This can put a dent in union’s bottom line.”

Sands agrees and adds, “Charter schools have lots of resistance from unions and school boards.

Despite the strong opposition from unions and school boards, many charters are doing very well and opening new schools each year.

Since California approved a charter school law in 1992, it has seen a steady increase of new charters opening.  Sands says last year more than 100 new charter schools opened their doors to new students and teachers.

As new charter schools open around the country providing new opportunities for students and parents, teachers also benefit from school choice.

“As testing becomes so core to school districts, teachers end up having to all teach the same thing at the same time—the whole objective is good scores,” states Sands.  “This puts undue pressure on educators and removes them from the decision-making, professionalism of teaching.  It is becoming very scripted.”

Charter schools give teachers opportunities to think outside the box, try new learning techniques and cater to children’s individual needs and wants.  It would seem that this kind of freedom would be a welcome change for an educator—especially at a time when states are forced to trim their budgets often cutting programs and pulling funds from school districts.

If a charter does not live up to expectation or meet its requirements, then like all businesses, the charter would cease to exist.  “Offering the best products and customer interaction is at the core of any charter school,” Sands comments.  “Many of them understand that they are a nonprofit and have to do smart business.”

Charter schools face more responsibility and accountability than the public counterparts, but they also offer much greater opportunity.

In a free-market, choice fuels competition and produces quality and distinctive products.  A growing dissatisfaction with public schools does not mean all public schools are bad and that all parents and students are ready to up and leave for a charter school.  It means there is a need for choice and competition.

“Charters are not intended to replace public schools, they apply pressure and competition,” Sands concludes.  “The objective is not to privatize education but to compete to make all schools better.”

“Anarchist” Idiocy | Cato @ Liberty.

I have been watching Europe closely the past few years as the governments try to wean their pampered people off of welfare.  A welfare the governments actually rather forced on the people in  the beginning  in the politicians avid search for power and more power.  Now the “spreading of the wealth around” (Obama) has had it’s ultimate end: the end of all wealth, or NOTHING left to spread around!  Or, as Margaret Thatcher the former Prime Minister of Great Britain once warmed : “The trouble with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.”!  The citizens of these European countries of course gave up their  souls for these safety net social programs and now have little left within themselves to again take control of their own lives.  They need Nanny State to think and act for them from cradle to grave.  The irony is the citizens are now fighting against the very hand that has fed them all these decades. The people who have become dependent on “other people’s money” are now morally and emotionally lacking the will to rely upon themselves for their livelihoods.  They also find themselves lacking a  morally acceptable argument for continuing to steal from other people’s labor so they have become  mobs rioting in the streets.  It reminds me of stories my mother tells of weaning me.  It was the habit of some in the dark ages to nurse their children well into the child’s second year of life so I was not weaned until I was 18 months old.  Naturally since I had become so dependent on “mother’s milk” long past the time when  I was able to survive well on my own  I protested long and hard and very loud against having the easy food supply removed.  If my mother had stopped nursing me when I was able to  survive well on nourishment taken from the regular food supplied me then the trauma would not have been nearly as violent to me or her when she did finally stop nursing me.  So this is the  case with the “children ” of Europe today.   Will it be Americans a couple generations from now after the Democrats and Obama have sucked up our souls for power and depleted our ability to survive well on our own?   I pray not. BB

Anarchist” Idiocy

Posted by David Boaz

The Washington Post splashes a story about “anarchists” in Greece across the front page today. The print headline is “Into the arms of anarchy,” and a photo-essay online is titled “In Greece, austerity kindles the flames of anarchy.” And what do these anarchists demand? Well, reporter Anthony Faiola doesn’t find out much about what they’re for, but they seem to be against, you know, what the establishment is doing, man:

The protests are an emblem of social discontent spreading across Europe in response to a new age of austerity. At a time when the United States is just beginning to consider deep spending cuts, countries such as Greece are coping with a fallout that has extended well beyond ordinary civil disobedience.

Perhaps most alarming, analysts here say, has been the resurgence of an anarchist movement, one with a long history in Europe. While militants have been disrupting life in Greece for years, authorities say that anger against the government has now given rise to dozens of new “amateur anarchist” groups.

Faiola does acknowledge that the term is used pretty loosely:

The anarchist movement in Europe has a long, storied past, embracing an anti-establishment universe influenced by a broad range of thinkers from French politician and philosopher Pierre-Joseph Proudhon to Karl Marx to Oscar Wilde.

So that’s, let’s see, a self-styled anarchist who was anti-state and anti-private property, the father of totalitarianism, and a witty playwright jailed for his homosexuality.

Defined narrowly, the movement includes groups of urban guerillas, radical youths and militant unionists. More broadly, it encompasses everything from punk rock to WikiLeaks.

And what are these various disgruntled groups opposed to?

The rolling back of social safety nets in Europe began more than a year ago, as countries from Britain to France to Greece moved to cut social benefits and slash public payrolls, to address mounting public debt. At least in the short term, the cuts have held back economic growth and job creation, exacerbating the social pain.

And Greece is not the only place in which segments of society are pushing back.

So these “anarchists” object that the state might cut back on its income transfers and payrolls. That is, they object to the state reducing its size, scope, and power. Odd anarchists, as George Will told the crowd at the 2010 Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty dinner:

It leads to the streets of Athens, where we had what the media described as “anti-government mobs.” Anti-government mobs composed almost entirely of government employees going berserk about threats to their entitlements!

Lots of talk in the Post article about anarchists:

“They are taking everything away from us,” [19-year-old law student Nikolas] Ganiaris said. “What will happen when I finish law school? Will I only find a job making copies in a shop? Will I then need to work until I’m 70 before I retire? Will I only get a few hundred euros as pension? What future have I got now?”  (I see this argument for keeping his dole from “other people’s” work and effort as pathetic!  I sincerely hope you do too.  BB)

A radical minority is energizing the anarchist movement, a loose network of anti-establishment groups….

Since then, experts say, the economic crisis has helped the movement thrive, with anarchists positioning themselves as society’s new avengers. Long a den of anarchists, the graffiti-blanketed Exarchia neighborhood is alive anew with dissent. Nihilist youths are patrolling the local park, preventing police from entering and blocking authorities from building a parking lot on the site. On one evening at a local cafe, an anarchist group was broadcasting anti-government messages via a clandestine radio station using a laptop and a few young recruits.

The last vignette in the story is about 20-year-old Nikos Galanos, who has joined the anarchist movement in anger over his mother’s losing her government job and his father’s being the victim of a 15 percent salary cut in his own government job.

“I don’t support violence for violence’s sake, but violence is a response to the violence the government is committing against society,” Galanos said. He later added, “It is now hard for any of us to see a future here. I feel it’s my duty to fight against the system.”  (People who are on the dole never seem to understand the simple fact:  there is NO MORE MONEY.  Have you noticed this?  In fact they don’t even allow the thought of just where the money comes from to support them.  Remember the flap over “Obama money”  where the mobs were lining up for their share?  BB)

In fact, the government has been committing violence against society for decades, by taxing people, overregulating business, and spending money it didn’t have. No wonder youth unemployment is 35 percent. And what is the actual “system” that Mr. Galanos wants to fight? Greek journalist Takis Michas described it at a Cato Forum:

In Greece, the fundamental principle that has been dictating economic and political development since the creation of the Greek state in the 19th century is political clientelism.

This is a system in which political support is provided in exchange for benefits.

In this situation, rent-seeking — the attempt by various groups and individuals to influence the location of political benefits — becomes paramount. The origins of political clientelism can be traced back to the origins of the Greek state in the 1830s. As a left-wing political historian puts it, “The fundamental structure of Greece has never been civil society. Ever since the middle of the 19th century, nothing could be done in Greece without its necessarily passing through the machinery of the state.”…

The largest part of public expenditure was directed, not to public works or infrastructure, but to the wages of public service workers and civil servants….

What makes the case of Greece interesting is that Greece can be said, in a certain sense, to provide the perfect realization of the left’s vision of putting people above markets.

Greek politicians have always placed people (their clients) above markets, with results we can all see today.

Real anarchists, of either the anarcho-capitalist or mutualist variety,  might have something useful to say to Greeks in their current predicament. But disgruntled young people, lashing out at the end of an unsustainable welfare state, are not anarchists in any serious sense. They’re just angry children not ready to deal with reality. But reality has a way of happening whether you’re ready to deal with it or not.

National Curriculum Battle Joined | Cato @ Liberty.

The Progressives are pushing hard for their take over of our schools and our children’s minds.   Education of children is rightly a  parents  duty and right.  This is why education MUST BE LOCAL!  When the Texas Text Book Selection committee outed the Progressives in determining what  content  would be in Texas text books it was a loud and clear call for the Progressives to become more aggressive (read this: underhanded!). (You may want to look this battle up because the video was a fun watch as the Progressives finally just left the meeting.)

The following article gives background on what is happening now and some push back.    Be sure to read carefully the Related Articles also.  these are your kids and our future.  Please don’t allow them to be lot any more than they have already been compromised and brain-washed.   It is up to ALL parents to demand the right to choose the schools their children attend and not to be herded into what the bureaucracy either national or local dictates to us.   School choice and vouchers are the answer to a free and good education.  BB

National Curriculum Battle Joined

Posted by Neal McCluskey

Remember several weeks ago, when the Albert Shanker Institute released a manifesto calling for the creation of detailed curriculum guides to go with the national standards and tests being pushed and pulled through the back doors of states across the country? Apparently, that was the last straw for a lot of education analysts and policymakers, especially folks like Williamson Evers of the Hoover Institution (and Bush II Education Department); one-time Fordham Institute state-standards evaluator Sandra Stotsky; and Foundation for Education Choice senior fellow Greg Forster. Those three, along with a few others, organized a counter-manifesto being released today, a 100-plus signatory reply which, according to the group’s press release, declares that:

  • These efforts are against federal law and undermine the constitutional balance between national and state authority.
  • The evidence doesn’t show a need for national curriculum or a national test for all students.
  • U.S. Department of Education is basing its initiative on inadequate content standards.
  • There is no research-based consensus on what is the best curricular approach to each subject.
  • There is not even consensus on whether a single “best curricular approach” for all students exists.

These points certainly sum up many of the major problems with the national standards drive, a drive that has been shrouded in half-truths about “voluntary” standards adoption; shorthand pleas for federal coercion; and what appears to be a camel’s-nose-under-the-tent strategy to ultimately impose a detailed, de facto federal curriculum. There is more to the problem than the summary points above cover — for instance, the Constitution gives the federal government no authority whatsoever to meddle in school curricula — but for a consensus-driven document, this new and desperately needed cannon blast against national standards is very welcome.

For a great explanation of why the anti-manifesto ringleaders did what they did, check out Greg Forster’s entry on the Witherspoon Institute’s blog. He hits lots of important points — especially that nationalizing curricula is a surefire way to fuel all-encompassing social strife — and I would quibble with only one thing:

My own view is that the root of the problem is the government monopoly on schools. Governmental monopolization of the education of children guarantees that all our religious and moral differences will be constantly politicized. School choice, in addition to delivering better academic performance, seems to me to be the only way to end the scorpions-in-a-bottle cultural dynamic and create space for shared citizenship across diverse religious and moral views.

But that’s an argument for another day.

Here’s where I think Greg is incorrect: Choice is not an argument for another day. It is the argument for this day.

Until all parents have real, full choice they will have no option but to demand that higher levels of government force intractable lower levels to provide good education. It won’t work thanks to concentrated benefits and diffuse costs all levels of government are dominated by teachers’ unions and administrators’ associations that will never let tough accountability and high standards rein – but it is all that parents can do absent the ability to take their children, and tax dollars, somewhere else. That means choice is essential right now, because it is the only way to take power away from special-interest dominated government and give it to the people the schools are supposed to serve. In other words, it is the only option that will actually work, obliterating the special-interest hammerlock, imposing accountability to customers, and when coupled with freedom for educators unleashing competition, specialization, innovation, and constant upward pressure on standards. In other words, it will do all those things that national standardizers emptily and illogically promise that their reform will do, and much, much more.


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