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An Epic Failure: Detroit Public Schools
Townhall.com ^ | February 10, 2011 | Kyle Olsen

 

 

Abolish Public Schools
Townhall.com ^ | September 29, 2010 | Terry Jeffrey

President Barack Obama said on NBC on Monday he would like American children to spend more time in public schools. Here is a better idea: American children should spend no time in public schools.

 

10/3/10 (By Travis)

Beware of Greeks Bearing Bonds

10/1/10 Vanity Fair
 The Greek public-school system is the site of breathtaking inefficiency: one of the lowest-ranked systems in Europe, it nonetheless employs four times as many teachers per pupil as the highest-ranked, Finland’s. Greeks who send their children to public schools simply assume that they will need to hire private tutors to make sure they actually learn something.

 

 

8/11/10 (By Travis)

Valedictorian Speaks Out Against Schooling in Graduation Speech

6/25/10 LewRockwell

Yet, here I stand, and I am supposed to be proud that I have completed this period of indoctrination. I will leave in the fall to go on to the next phase expected of me, in order to receive a paper document that certifies that I am capable of work. But I contend that I am a human being, a thinker, an adventurer – not a worker. A worker is someone who is trapped within repetition – a slave of the system set up before him. But now, I have successfully shown that I was the best slave. I did what I was told to the extreme. While others sat in class and doodled to later become great artists, I sat in class to take notes and become a great test-taker. While others would come to class without their homework done because they were reading about an interest of theirs, I never missed an assignment. While others were creating music and writing lyrics, I decided to do extra credit, even though I never needed it.

 

I have no clue about what I want to do with my life; I have no interests because I saw every subject of study as work, and I excelled at every subject just for the purpose of excelling, not learning.

 

 

3/23/10 (By Travis)

New standards in history class
Texas board endorses conservative-backed curriculum

3/13/10 chron

This political control of education, while generally liberally biased, is just as unsettling coming from the right. Better to leave this task to individual schools and corporations as described in 'A Charter School Tale'.

 

11/16/09 (By Travis)

California Teachers Union Says Newly-Empowered Parents = "Mob Rule"
Independent Women's Forum ^ | February 11, 2010 | Vicki E. Murray, Ph.D
 

 

 

 

11/1/09 (By Travis)

Is Public Education Necessary?
The New American ^ | 2009-10-15 | Sam Blumenfield

 

Posted 3/6/08 ( by Travis)

At Charter School, Higher Teacher Pay
The New York Times ^ | March 7, 2008 | Elissa Gootman

    The school, which will run from fifth to eighth grades, is promising to pay teachers $125,000, plus a potential bonus based on schoolwide performance. That is nearly twice as much as the average New York City public school teacher earns, roughly two and a half times the national average teacher salary and higher than the base salary of all but the most senior teachers in the most generous districts nationwide.

    The school’s creator and first principal, Zeke M. Vanderhoek, contends that high salaries will lure the best teachers. He says he wants to put into practice the conclusion reached by a growing body of research: that teacher quality — not star principals, laptop computers or abundant electives — is the crucial ingredient for success.

    “I would much rather put a phenomenal, great teacher in a field with 30 kids and nothing else than take the mediocre teacher and give them half the number of students and give them all the technology in the world,” said Mr. Vanderhoek, 31, a Yale graduate and former middle school teacher who built a test preparation company that pays its tutors far more than the competition.

    In exchange for their high salaries, teachers at the new school, the Equity Project, will work a longer day and year and assume responsibilities that usually fall to other staff members, like attendance coordinators and discipline deans. To make ends meet, the school, which will use only public money and charter school grants for all but its building, will scrimp elsewhere. <.>

 

    Ernest A. Logan, president of the city principals’ union, called the notion of paying the principal less than the teachers “the craziest thing I’ve ever heard.”

 

    Randi Weingarten, president of the United Federation of Teachers, called the hefty salaries “a good experiment.” But she said that when teachers were not unionized, and most charter school teachers are not, their performance can be hampered by a lack of power in dealing with the principal. “What happens the first time a teacher says something like, ‘I don’t agree with you?’ ”

 

    Only when teachers and the educational system is outside the control of the teachers unions can these sorts of experiments happen. This decentralized control, bottom up approach to education with the money going strait to the classroom might just work. 

 

Posted 5/28/07 (By Travis)

Faculty at Two More Campuses discuss Breakway Idea (Required Reading)

5/25/07 LA Times

    Signaling deep discontent and a possible spreading revolt among the city's public school teachers, faculty at two more Los Angeles high schools met this week with a leading charter school operator to discuss alliances aimed at breaking away from the school district.

    This is truly an amazing phenomena, especially as it attacks a central plank of the teacher's Unions arguments against charter schools: that private companies provide sub par working conditions and benefits. Even some proponents of charter schools mistakenly acquiesce the benefit of unions to teachers, and instead trumpet the gains made by students, which if one considers, is really the whole point of education anyway... However, as stated in 'A Charter School Tale', the basic human instincts of justice, fairness, and happiness stemming from quality, competence, and hard work, are both emotionally and financially beneficial. 

    The educators also responded positively to Barr's claims that the group's small central staff allows more than 90% of state funds to go directly to instruction and higher teacher salaries. Significantly less money reaches district classrooms, largely because of the L.A. school district's sizable bureaucracy. <.>

    District officials have been reluctant to grant teachers and principals the freedom to run the schools and unable to provide the support needed to carry out the transformation smoothly. <.>

    For Barr, the interest comes from two very different schools. Taft is a racially diverse school with middle-of-the-road test scores and a largely veteran, stable faculty. Santee, by contrast, serves poor minority students in one of the city's most gang-infested neighborhoods. Student performance is some of the lowest in the district, and at the end of the campus' first year, roughly 40% of its teachers left — several of them taking jobs at Green Dot schools.

In Kentucky, Toyota Faces Union Rumblings / Downtrodden UAW Makes New Push

5/26/07 Washington Post

    The United Auto Workers has launched a big new push to organize the plant, trying to capitalize on fears of lower pay, outsourcing of jobs and on Toyota's treatment of injured workers. <.>

    At a new factory being built in Mississippi, Toyota plans to pay workers about $20 an hour in a region where many people earn $12 to $13 an hour.

    If teachers are better off without public school unions, maybe autoworkers are too, and it just might save their jobs in the long run...

 

Posted 5/19/07 (By Travis)

Enviro Nonsense: So how did it become required classroom viewing?

5/19/07 National Post (Canada)

    First it was his world history class. Then he saw it in his economics class. And his world issues class. And his environment class. In total, 18-year-old McKenzie, a Northern Ontario high schooler, says he has had the film An Inconvenient Truth shown to him by four different teachers this year. <.>

    In England, the government has made the movie part of the public curriculum. In Spain, the government is buying copies of the movie for all of its schools. In Australia, private donors are buying copies for schools.

    The point is not whether this movie or this opinion is accurate or not, although from what I've read there is much in it which is very inaccurate, but whether entire populations should be 'educated' en mass shrouded in such conformity. Especially over the opposition of parents. 

    Another example
    Students at Roger Williams University in Briston, Rhode Island, were forced to watch Al Gore’s global warming schlockumentary if they wished to graduate.

 

 

 

Posted 4/22/07 (By Travis)

School row over Al Gore film

4/17/07 Telegraph

    Parents who claim that an award-winning film on climate change is inaccurate and politically motivated are threatening a legal challenge over the Government's decision to send it to every secondary school.

    The film by Al Gore, the former US vice-president, won an Oscar for the best documentary this year and Alan Johnson, the Education Secretary, says he wants teachers to use it to stimulate children into discussing climate change and global warming.

    But a group of parents in the New Forest say the circulation of the film by the Government amounts to political indoctrination and is in breach of the Education Act 2002. Derek Tipp, their spokesman, has urged Mr Johnson to stop the film being sent out.

    In my opinion, Liberalism is the ideology of default, what most school children emerge with from public school system. This story provides some reason why this occurs. 

 

Posted 2/19/07 (By Travis)

Apple CEO Jobs Attacks Teacher's Unions

2/16/06 Associated Press

    Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs lambasted teacher unions today, claiming no amount of technology in the classroom would improve public schools until principals could fire bad teachers. <.>

    "I believe that what is wrong with our schools in this nation is that they have become unionized in the worst possible way," Jobs said. "This unionization and lifetime employment of K-12 teachers is off-the-charts crazy."

    Heh heh.. great comments from Steve Jobs, who, by the way, is a Democrat.

    "Apple just lost some business in this state, I'm sure," Jobs said.

 

 

 

Posted 12/16/05

HARD LINE, TOP SCHOOL [Required Reading]

2/16/05 San Francisco Chronicle An awesome story! 

    In five years, the charter school, run in a converted church building in Oakland's Laurel neighborhood, has been transformed from one of the city's worst performers into the highest-scoring middle school in Oakland.

    "I don't care what the critics say, because the critics aren't turning schools around," Chavis said in his characteristically caustic tone.

    The 'solutions' of the Teachers Unions, the media, and the Democratic party, 'smaller classes', 'higher teacher pay', 'more money for education', and 'higher teacher qualification', have been tried for the past 50 years with horrid results.

    Critics call it scandalous.

    Sometimes it seems these 'critics' are scandalized by success in and of itself. 

    Those with good grades and perfect attendance all year are rewarded with spending money from Chavis' own pocket -- up to $100 depending on the student's age. Breaking a school rule, such as not completing homework, being tardy or breaking the dress code, means an automatic detention.

    Repeat offenders are subject to public embarrassment. Those students must stand in front of other classes as Chavis or a teacher exposes their misconduct.

    "An eighth-grader hates to be sent back to a sixth-grade class," Chavis said. "I want them to be embarrassed. I'm preparing them for the real world."

    But it's the most extreme forms of discipline that have thrown the school into the critics' line of fire.

    With parental permission, Chavis cut the hair of a student accused of stealing. A boy who admitted to calling his classmate a derogatory name was pinned with a note that read "I'm an (expletive)" in front of other students.

    Chavis said incidents of such discipline are isolated. Still, one led Monica Peoples-Brown to withdraw her sixth-grade son, who was pinned with the note after a heated conversation with Chavis that included name-calling and a threat to call the police.

    "My child was traumatized," Peoples-Brown said. "It hurt me to sign him out. My child was really learning. But I can't deal with an administration that is a dictatorship."

    Well, Boo Hoo! Then take him out of the school! If this happened in a public school you could not take your kid out of the school. If a public school fails you cannot take you kid out of the school. Parents cannot complain about how Charter Schools are run because they have the choice of being there. (Keep in mind this school was tailored by Chavis for what he termed 'ghetto kids'.)

    Some take issue with what they call Chavis' inappropriate use of racial stereotypes, cursing and name-calling to embarrass students at the school. Floundering students become the public targets of labels like "stupid" and "lazy Mexican."

    "I tell the students, if you don't do your work, people are going to call you a lazy Mexican. You're black, they expect you to be an idiot," said Chavis, who is Native American. "I use it to motivate the kids."

    Well! This is a new approach. A lot different from affirmative action type talk isn't it? A lot different from the rhetoric of the race hustlers and their willing accomplices in the mainstream press. Instead of throwing blame around elsewhere Chavis is saying. "To heck with the critics, the doubters, and the cynics. Don't get mad, get even. Don't get caught up in being 'offended' by racists and bigots, just beat them. Be better than them. Prove them wrong by virtue of your own actions." And they have:

    About three-quarters of American Indian Charter's students qualify for free or reduced-price meals because of low family incomes, according to school records. The vast majority of the students are minorities, though only 20 percent are American Indian, a decline from 65 percent since Chavis became the director.

    Yet state test scores rank the school on a level with middle schools in far more affluent Bay Area communities. Last year, more than 70 percent of the charter school's students scored "proficient" or higher on tests of language arts and math, compared to fewer than 30 percent of all students tested in the Oakland Unified School District. If the school continues to improve at its current rate, it will surpass top-tier schools in Lafayette and Piedmont by next year. Not surprisingly, there is a waiting list to get in.

    "They've taken kids who are not the brightest and propelled them to the top of state standards," said Patricia Gimbel, dean of admissions for the Deerfield Academy, a top college-preparatory school in Massachusetts.

    Gimbel visited an eighth-grade class at American Indian Charter last month and called the experience "inspirational."

    Why are they surprised? Why do they think these kids are not bright? Why is it surprising that poor kids and kids of color can do just as well as rich white kids? It is not surprising at all! This is the beauty of the libertarian worldview. It recognizes that, by and large, it is our own government that is to blame for differences seen in class and race. The people are equal, it is the government which is different! As we have seen (1), (2), (3), the effects of welfare are race neutral and the same principle applies to education. It is liberalism, which cannot explain why different groups perform differently and believes it is they who must further 'tweak' and 'adjust' and 'expand' the 'proper' programs so that they, the all knowing elites, can fix societal ills. 

    Their theories and policies are rotten to the core. 

    Chavis credits his rigorous academic model and the school's teachers for the success. He said his teachers are the best in Oakland. It's one area where he and his critics agree.

    Most of the seven teachers are in their 20s and are recent graduates from big-name colleges. Several don't have teaching credentials, but Chavis said they are in credentialing programs.

    Heh heh, if you have read 'A Charter School Tale' you are by now realizing that this news story is almost a perfect mirror image. What good have 'credentials' ever been? Why is Chavis even bothering with them now? What can they teach his teachers that they don't already know? 

    Oakland school board member Alice Spearman described Chavis as "brilliant" but added that his discipline and motivation methods wouldn't fly in the district's regular schools.

    California law explicitly forbids corporal punishment as a form of discipline in schools. Embarrassment and humiliation are not prohibited but are considered ineffective and inappropriate by professional standards, according to education experts. 

    LOL! Boo Hoo! Let me repost the words of Mr. Chavis: "I don't care what the critics say, because the critics aren't turning schools around."

    This is a good place to post two quotes from the neglected 'quote page':
    "I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite."

G.K. Chesterton

   "Always listen to experts. They’ll tell you what can’t be done and why. Then do it. "  

Robert Heinlein

    However, there is one difference between this story and 'A Charter School Tale':

    First-year teachers are paid $42,000 a year, with a $1,500 year-end bonus. By comparison, entry-level teachers in Oakland Unified's public schools receive $37,000.

    In 'A Charter School Tale', I assumed that because Teachers Unions work to artificially inflate the salaries of teachers, newer teachers may be hired for less than they are currently, but in the end, through hard work, diligence, and productivity, might have a higher salary than they do even under the Teachers Unions. I'll have to consider whether this would, in fact, actually be true. It may be the case that teachers would make even more to start because the bloated administrator positions will have been streamlined. For example, I previously posted: 

    [And click here (link died) for the 100 highest paid Illinois public school administrators who make from $302,746 (high end) to $194,822 (low end). Pretty amazing huh? This is just for Illinois, I'm sure other states have similar problems. I'll post any other sites I run across here.]

    Continuing from the SF Chronicle:

    Charter schools are largely exempt from the professional standards of discipline and conduct observed in other public schools.

    "They are charter schools. They operate separate from us," said Oakland school district general counsel Roy Combs. "We don't monitor, review or supervise discipline. The district has no obligation."

    Indeed, this is why they are succeeding.

    Chavis wants to open a high school in the fall, and the Oakland school district will consider awarding a charter in January.

    Chavis has a waiting list to get into his current school. Why does Chavis need the permission of the Oakland school district to open a new school or expand his old one? Because government, not the people, controls their own tax money. Will the Teachers Unions let him? Or will they shut him down and/or restrict his expansion as they have done all throughout the country? Big Government and its special interests will squash him like a bug. Especially if he continues to speak the truth:

  Society "has created a system to make minorities stupid. It's not called prison; it's called middle school," Chavis said. "If you follow our model, you'll be a winner. By the time these kids are in ninth grade, I don't have to call them idiots anymore."

 

 

 

Posted 2/17/06

Teacher Unions Are Killing the Public Schools

2/15/06 John Stossel, RCP

    This article details how the New York public school system pays 400 teachers over $20 million a year to sit in 'rubber rooms' and do nothing. They do this because these teachers the city calls incompetent, racist, or dangerous cannot be fired. Or, better said, they cannot be fired until after years and years of costly litigation and arbitration. $300,000 over 6 years was paid to a teacher who had written sexually explicit emails to a student. A 6 year holiday for a sexual harasser, courtesy of New York City taxpayers! 

    Another article states:

In the past two years, school officials got the okay to fire only four of 80,000 teachers for poor performance.

    This all reminds me of this previously posted article:

Jobs bank programs - 12,000 Paid Not To Work Big 3 and suppliers pay billions to keep downsized UAW members on payroll in decades-long deal.

(added to Unions and 'A Charter School Tale')

 

 

 

Posted 1/25/06

Some recent news regarding school choice:

No Choice
1/16/05 Editorial (The Paducah Sun) on Blackenterprise.com

    A good article on the recent decision by the (liberal) Florida Supreme Court to overturn portions of the recent Charter/Voucher education reforms passed by the Republican legislator and signed by Gov Jeb Bush (who. IMO,  is one of the best governors in the nation). I especially like this article's emphasis on race and that it was featured in an African American magazine. Since Conservative/Libertarian philosophy is race neutral, this might seem hypocritical. But this approach is necessary, as seen throughout this website, in order to refute those on the left who constantly emphasize race: 

    Florida's voucher program was challenged in court by the usual collection of school choice foes, including the state teachers' union and the NAACP.
    It's interesting that the NAACP backs the education establishment on vouchers, given that polls show most blacks favor school choice. In several states, voucher programs have been established to serve minority students in troubled inner-city school systems.

    Black parents tend to support school choice because their children are disproportionately affected by the failures of the public school system. Against that, it's curious that the Florida Supreme Court -- at the behest of the NAACP -- has ruled that poor minorities must keep their seats in the back of the public education system's bus.

    The Florida program was in its infancy, but almost 95 percent of the students who were receiving state scholarships to attend private schools were black or Hispanic. A pioneering school choice program in Milwaukee, Wisc., was championed by a black activist who battled the state education bureaucracy and its allies in a successful effort to expand educational opportunities for poor African-Americans.
   
Could you imagine the outrage if Conservatives/Libertarians abolished a program which benefited 95% minorities? Conservative/Libertarian policies nearly always result in positive outcomes for minorities, yet for some reason the debate is always diverted to center on the intentions of the proponents of these positive policies. In another article, Florida Libertarians call the ruling "bizarre, unrealistic, and a new form of Jim Crow to keep the poor out of private schools."

    A further explanation is found here:

    The court found that taxpayer support for private schools in general is unconstitutional because Florida's constitution requires "a uniform, efficient, safe, secure and high-quality system of free public schools." Private schools aren't "uniform when compared with each other or the public system," the justices wrote. They're also exempt from public standards on teacher credentials and requirements to teach about a wide range of subjects, such as civics, U.S. and world history and minorities' and women's contributions to history.

    Of course, 'uniformity' is precisely the problem in todays' public schools. A system contrived from the top down, derived by politically correct bureaucrats, not entrepreneurs and parents, has resulted only in uniform incompetence and stagnation, hurting the poorest of the poor. 
'He's Throwing Away My Dream' / Today it's liberal Democrats who stand in the schoolhouse door.

1/16/05 Opinion Journal, John Fund

    Milwaukee's innovative school choice program has become a beacon of hope for reformers everywhere. But the educational establishment has never accepted its success and is now striking back. A cap on the number of students that can attend the city's private choice schools has been reached, and starting Feb. 1, education officials will implement a rationing plan to allocate the program's available seats. That could disrupt up to 4,000 families and create such chaos among the participating schools that several could be threatened with closure.

    In 1995, then-Gov. Tommy Thompson joined with state legislators to expand choice in Milwaukee to include religious schools, but a compromise set a limit on the number of participating students at 15% of the enrollment in Milwaukee Public Schools. Today that means some 14,500 students, and demand is now higher than that for the slots which give $6,351 annual scholarships to students opting for choice schools (The public schools' per pupil spending is about 80% higher).

    "You could not design a more fiendish way to cripple Milwaukee's choice program while still claiming to keep it alive," says Father Bob Smith, who heads Messmer.

 

 

 

Posted 9/25/06 (By Travis)

Still Exploding

9/19/06 A Constrained Vision (blog) 

    Some interesting statistics on growing educational freedom:

1990: 0 charter schools
January 2004: 684,000 students in 2,996 charter schools
October 2005: 1,076,964 students in 3,625 charter schools

September 2006: 1,149,986 students in 3,977 charter schools

    Top Cities:

1. New Orleans, LA 69%
2. Dayton, OH 28%
3. Washington, DC 25%
4. Pontiac, MI 20%
5. Kansas City, MO 20%
6. Youngstown, OH 20%

    I still wonder how many of the nearly 4000 charter schools in the United States are really free. After all, it is the tendency of politicians and government to appease the people by changing the labeling of an issue. For example, fascists, in contrast to communists, appear to allow ownership of 'private property', but then the state contrives so many rules and regulations around what property owners could do with their property that, for all intents and purposes, the state owns all property in all but name. This difference of perception, brought about by psychological sleight of hand, still results in many believing there is a significant difference between fascism and communism. 

 

 

 

Posted 10/31/07 (By Travis)

Utahns Can Vote for School Choice Tuesday

10/31/07 John Stossel (RCP)

    Next Tuesday, Utah voters go to the polls to decide if their state will become the first in the nation to offer school vouchers statewide. Referendum 1 would make all public-school kids eligible for vouchers worth from $500 to $3,000 a year, depending on family income. Parents could then use the vouchers to send their children to private schools. <.>

    But wait. Arrayed against the vouchers are the usual opponents. They call themselves Utahns for Public Schools. They include, predictably, the Utah Education Association (the teachers union), Utah School Boards Association, Utah School Employees Union, Utah School Superintendents Association, the elementary and secondary school principals associations, and the PTA. No to vouchers! they protest. Trust us. We know what's best for your kids.

 

 

 

Posted 1/24/06

    Following in the footsteps of my 12/16/05 post on American Indian Charter School, here is another profile of a successful Charter School:

America's Best Schools?

1/17/05 Washington Post Jay Mathews (education writer) is writing a book on KIPP, a charter school chain with 47 schools nationally:

    The report says in 2004-2005 more than 80 percent of the KIPP students were eligible for the federal free or reduced-price meal program -- the usual criteria for designating which students are low-income -- and more than 95 percent were African American or Hispanic.

    The achievement figures for American students who fit that profile nationally are, on average, abysmal. The achievement figures for American students who fit that profile but have been in KIPP are, again on average, quite the opposite.

    "While the average fifth-grader enters KIPP in the bottom third of test-takers nationwide (28th percentile), the average KIPP eighth-grader outperforms nearly three out of four of test-takers nationwide (74th percentile) on norm-referenced reading and math assessments," the report card says. "In the fifth-grade year, approximately 40 percent of KIPP schools outperform their respective districts on state reading exams, and just over 60 percent do so in math. By the eighth grade, 100 percent of KIPP schools outperform their districts in both subjects."

    Some other tidbits of interest:

    It is encouraging to me that in several instances KIPP principals and teachers whose students were not improving have been shown better ways to do their jobs, and if that hasn't worked, have been fired or allowed to resign.

    Two schools, the KIPP Chicago Youth Village Academy and Atlanta's KIPP Achieve Preparatory Academy, have had the right to use the KIPP name revoked effective at the end of this school year.

    Private ownership and dedication to results means that those in the system will be held accountable for their performance. As documented, public schools are hardly ever closed for poor performance and subpar teachers often cannot be fired. 

    What kind of folks established KIPP? If we are to believe the rhetoric of the Teachers Unions, media, and Democratic party, then we must assume these folks were eminently qualified, with PhDs in education and many years of experience and research. Of course, they were not:

    KIPP, a way of teaching low-income middle-school children, grades 5 through 8, was invented in 1994 by two Houston elementary school teachers in their twenties who were, they freely admit, making it up as they went along. The KIPP founders, Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin, had at the time no foundation support, no well-known advisers, only two years teaching experience each and almost no support from the various principals and school district officials they had to deal with.

    These 'average' folks who created KIP were anything but average. Without government imposed barriers, many more 'ordinary' people would rise up to fashion these storms of 'creative destruction', uplifting and educating millions and spreading prosperity, leaving behind them only the carnage of socialism.

 (Added to 'A Charter School Tale')

 

 

 

 

Posted 12/13/05

Protecting mediocre teachers

12/9/05 Chicago Tribune If anyone doubts that it's hard to fire an incompetent school teacher in Illinois, now there are statistics to prove it.
    Only two teachers a year, on average, get fired for incompetence, according to an investigative series published this week by a Downstate newspaper chain. Five more teachers get fired for misconduct.
    That's out of 95,500 tenured educators.

    Of course, unfortunately, I must make sure I mention that most teachers are hardworking, caring etc... I say 'unfortunately', because this should be implicit in any statement regarding teachers, but for some reason is sometimes taken as a personal attack on all teachers. 

    What private industry has such statistics? Where else do you have only 7 of 95,500 people fired each year? The reason is, of course, that private industry cares about the productivity and quality of their workers. Government and the Teachers Unions do not. 

    This echoes what I said in 'A Charter School Tale':

        Mrs. Jones remembered how the principal of Hillslane had blown her off when she complained about a teacher who Mary told her always gave her science class meaningless assignments and then surfed the Internet. "I'll take care of it," he told her. When nothing changed, she complained again the next week. This time he got angry, "Look lady, I talked to her. What else do you want me to do? I can't fire these people. Your daughter only has a few weeks left in class, so don't worry about it." 

    <.>
    The Unions had also acted to make it nearly impossible to fire teachers for incompetence, thus they incentivised incompetence, contributing to the failing system. These rules were soon revised and Mrs. Jones noted with some satisfaction that the science teacher whom she complained about years before was one of the first to go.

 

 

School Choice

10/4/04 Neoperspectives - Describes the similarity of the political battles between Welfare Reform and Education Reform. Focuses on Washington D.C., which is actually the area I was thinking of when writing about this hypothetical black family.

 

 

How the Unions Killed a Dream
10/26/03 Time magazine - Joe Klein details the sad story how inner city Detroit schools lost $200 million: In 1999, an unassuming Michigan road builder named Bob Thompson sold his construction company for $442 million, an amount he and his wife Ellen believed was far more than they needed for retirement. <.> After doing some research, he offered $200 million to build 15 small, independent public high schools in the inner city. A few weeks ago, Thompson withdrew his offer after the Detroit Federation of Teachers (DFT) led a furious, and scurrilous, campaign against his generosity. The philanthropist is in seclusion now—friends say he is stunned and distressed—but his is a story that deserves telling.

 

 

Public schools no place for teachers' kids

Washington Times - Nationwide, public school teachers are almost twice as likely as other parents to choose private schools for their own children, the study by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute found. More than 1 in 5 public school teachers said their children attend private schools.
    In Washington (28 percent), Baltimore (35 percent) and 16 other major cities, the figure is more than 1 in 4. In some cities, nearly half of the children of public school teachers have abandoned public schools. In Philadelphia, 44 percent of the teachers put their children in private schools; in Cincinnati, 41 percent; Chicago, 39 percent; Rochester, N.Y., 38 percent. The same trends showed up in the San Francisco-Oakland area, where 34 percent of public school teachers chose private schools for their children; 33 percent in New York City and New Jersey suburbs; and 29 percent in Milwaukee and New Orleans.
    Michael Pons, spokesman for the National Education Association, the 2.7-million-member public school union, declined a request for comment on the study's findings. The American Federation of Teachers also declined to comment.
Why do teachers pay dues to organizations that destroy the opportunities they afford their own children? "Public education in many of our large cities is broken," the surveyors conclude. "The fix? Choice, in part, to be sure."

 

 

Threatened by Success One charter school’s fight against the education establishment.

Feb 03 Reason.com A long, but great read detailing Edison Charter school's triumph and the backlash of the powerful teacher's Unions. And a follow-up

 

 

Philadelphia Shows Progress in Schools Run by Companies

11/9/05 Washington Post Philadelphia's School Reform Commission had decided to turn over 45 of the city's 265 public schools to such groups as Edison, a for-profit company, in the hope that outside managers with new ideas would succeed where a succession of school boards and superintendents had failed. Teachers union leaders predicted that the approach -- alternately known as a "partnership management model" or "diverse provider model" -- would lead to more disappointment. <.> Overall, Edison's 20 schools in Philadelphia averaged a gain of 10 percentage points in the portion of proficient students last year, compared with an average annual gain of less than half a percentage point in the previous seven years before Edison took over, company officials said.

 

 

Charter School Vouchers Target Cap

11/15/04 Boston Globe - Massachusets state legislators, beholden to the special interest teacher's Unions, have capped the number of Charter schools that can open. Charter school advocates, emboldened by a major Beacon Hill victory last summer, want the Legislature to clear the way for more students to attend the quasi-independent public schools in Boston and dozens of other Massachusetts cities where waiting lists are large and growing. Leaders of Boston's charter schools have met twice in the past month to weigh strategies for raising a state cap that limits the number of students who can attend charters in each school district. Boston reached the limit over a year ago, so existing charter schools cannot expand and no new ones can be created in the city, even though there are more than 6,000 students waiting to get into Boston's 18 charter schools.

A total of 152 communities around the state are at the ceiling. Currently, there are more than 15,000 students enrolled in 56 charter schools in Massachusetts. "Parents and students are definitely banging on our doors to get in," said Michael Duffy, executive director of Boston's City On A Hill Charter School. The school, which has roughly 250 slots, has 325 students on its waiting list. 

     The fight pits charter school supporters such as Governor Mitt Romney against opponents such as the Boston Public Schools and the teachers' unions, who are generous campaign contributors, especially to the Democrats who dominate the Legislature. <.> Backers also believe that a revised charter school financing system, designed to [permanently] shield traditional public schools from financial harm [A bad idea, but the only way to get the bribed lawmakers in the pockets of the Unions to vote for the law], will make the idea of creating additional charters more politically palatable on Beacon Hill. Earlier this year, lawmakers agreed to give school districts more money for the students they lose to nearby charter schools, and to adjust the amount of money that charter schools get to more accurately reflect the actual students they enroll. But opponents, who believe charter schools harm traditional public schools, are vowing to fight any expansion. Despite the fact that public schools currently don't even loose any money when they loose students to Charter schools (the more the public schools fail the more they will be rewarded in what they can spend per pupil), Richard Stutman, president of the Boston Teachers Union said, "But it's not a level playing field for us." No, it's not a level playing field for the Charter schools and they're still gaining students. As CA Justice Janice Rogers Brown said, "Government is the only enterprise in the world which expands in size when its failures increase." 

 

 

Posted 9/24/05

Previously I posted an important quote from Frank Chodorov:

    The more subsidized it is, the less free it is. What is known as `free education' is the least free of all, for it is a state-owned institution; it is socialized education - just like socialized medicine or the socialized post office - and cannot possibly be separated from political control.

    To provide an example of this:

Georgia Governor asks state's schools to close to save gas

9/24/05 WISI  Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue Friday asked the state's schools to take two "early snow days" and cancel classes Monday and Tuesday to help conserve gasoline as Hurricane Rita threatens the nation's fuel supply line. If all of Georgia's schools close, the governor estimated about 250,000 gallons of diesel fuel would be saved each day by keeping buses off the road. (See previous post 9/1 and story on more gas ridiculousness from 'Republican Gov Sonny Perdue', who, by the way, was rated horribly by the Cato institute.)

    Do you want your kid's education at the whim of some governor or some hurricane a few states over? Would you be willing to pay a bit extra to keep your kid in school when the price of gasoline is higher? But, this specific gasoline problem is not the reason I'm posting this story. It is to show the political control and power that government has over the education system. This manifests itself in many ways that don't make the news, but that all work to stagnate the education of our children and limit freedom. 

    On a side note, I couldn't help but notice this tidbit in the story:

    As prices spiraled after Hurricane Katrina, Perdue suspended the state's gas tax and the Legislature quickly approved the measure in a special session, saving motorists an estimated 15 cents per gallon. The tax is scheduled to return a week from Saturday.

    Gov Perdue, why is the tax returning?

(For more see 'Gasoline and Government')

 

 

Charter schools & choice: What is all the fuss about?

5/1/05 Town Hall - Debra England gives an overview our educational system and charter schools. 

 

 

Let's get rid of Public Schools (posted 5/18/05)

5/13/05 Los Angeles Times Opinion piece. I really just like the title of it. :)


Posted 9/20/05

Public chooses choice

9/9/05 Waternbury Republican-American Americans are opposed to school choice, declares Phi Delta Kappa, the international association for "professional educators" who believe it their mission to advocate for "publicly supported education." To bolster its position, PDK annually trots out a poll showing Americans oppose vouchers and other forms of choice in ratios approaching 3 to 2. True to its unflagging belief that the only good monopoly is the public-school monopoly, the news media annually report those biased results uncritically, even though the numbers are intuitively wrong. After all, America has witnessed in the last decade growing criticism of the performance of the public schools, as well as a groundswell of support for school choice. If Americans are so opposed to school choice, why do they keep demanding more choices?

    So how does PDK get its polls to reflect a different reality? By loading the question to provoke the response it desires. The Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation (I highly recommend Friedmen's Free to Choose), which seeks to improve the quality of education in American by giving parents of all income and social classes the economic freedom to choose where to enroll their children, notes that PDK phrases its question to produce artificial opposition to choice, especially school vouchers. The PDK poll asks, "Do you favor or oppose allowing students and parents to choose a private school to attend at public expense?"

    To test its premise about the PDK's loaded question, the foundation ran its own poll in which it asked half of those surveyed the PDK's question and the other half a question that reflects the truth about choice and vouchers:         

    "Do you favor or oppose allowing students and parents to choose any school, public or private, to attend using public funds?" Fifty-five percent of those asked the leading question opposed choice, while 37 percent favored it. Of those asked the accurate question, 60 percent supported choice and 33 percent were opposed. The wording change produced a 23-point shift.

    Their conclusion: But Americans won't get the straight scoop as long as biased polls capture the headlines and lazy, ax-grinding journalists refuse, as the foundation put it, "to look at both sides of the issue and to scrutinize all research by the prevailing standards of scientific accuracy."

An example:

Vouchers Don't make the Grade

9/20/03 CBS Most Americans oppose voucher programs and think teachers aren't paid enough, a poll finds.
    Support for a program that allows students and parents to choose a private school to attend at public expense dropped to 38 percent from 46 percent last year, according to the poll conducted by professional educational association Phi Delta Kappa International and Gallup.

    This is why Conservatives/Libertarians believe there is a bias in the media. CBS news is doing nothing more than parroting the talking points of a hurtful, liberal special interest group, and working against the education of American children. 

    This sort of polling skewing is common in the media and by politicians of both parties, but especially the Democratic party, I recall it was heavily utilized when President Bush was attempting to explain the idea of private retirement accounts. This was added to 'A Charter School Tale'.

 

Posted 10/17/05

The NEA Pyramid

October 05 Education Intelligence Agency

    Very interesting report from a great site, which was cited by numerous news reports, including the Washington Times (via the Club For Growth website). They obtained a leaked NEA survey given to its members. The NEA's own findings:

    One question asked members how involved they were in the union at either the local, state or national level. Thirty-six percent of them said "not at all." Right away, you can write off approximately 972,000 NEA members who do nothing to affect the union's direction one way or the other. Among new members, those who have been with NEA for three years or less, the "not at all" group rises to 48 percent. When these new members were asked why they joined NEA, the top answer (20 percent) was that they had "no choice."

    I highlight this because this is a figure I have been looking for a long time. Thus far, I've found varying answers in different states. Sometimes people are allowed to not join the union, but still forced to give some of their salary to it, as a condition of employment! For example, from a Chicago legal case (the Union lost):

    Approximately 95% of the employees are members of the Union. Until 1982, the members' dues financed the entire cost of the Union's collective bargaining and contract administration, and nonmembers received the benefits of the Union's representation without making any contributions to its cost. In an attempt to solve this "free rider" problem, the Union and the Board entered into an agreement requiring the Board to deduct "proportionate share payments" from nonmembers' paychecks. The Union determined that the "proportionate share" assessed on nonmembers was 95% of union dues, computed on the basis of the Union's financial records.

    Without knowing more it is difficult to do further analysis of this 20% number, such as if this represents just the number opposed to joining, those who were forced to join but would have joined anyway, or some combination thereof. 

    Still, when you consider that the NEA has given over $25 million dollars (over 90% to Democratic candidates) since 1989, the third highest of any organization (and actually even higher than this because of how campaign contributions are defined), it is apparent that somewhere in the area of $5 million dollars was conscripted from members who were, in all probability, forced into membership (not withstanding that a vast majority of Union members would opt out of the Union using their money to make political donation if they could).  

    The surveys also asked both members and local presidents to self-identify their political philosophies. This may well be the most controversial finding of the surveys, although it is consistent with previous surveys of NEA members.

Respondents were asked if they were conservative, tend conservative, liberal, tend liberal, or don't know. Fifty percent of NEA members said they were conservative or tend conservative. Only 40 percent described themselves as liberal or tend liberal.

    Watch what happens to these percentages with the NEA local presidents:

Tiny (less than 50 teachers) = 44% conservative, 49% liberal

Small (50-149 teachers) = 40% conservative, 54% liberal

Medium (150-499 teachers) = 34% conservative, 63% liberal

Large (500-999 teachers) = 26% conservative, 70% liberal

Jumbo (1,000+ teachers) = 14% conservative, 82% liberal

    Of course, local presidents are not at the top of the NEA pyramid. There are state and national representatives, and state and national executives. There is no comparable survey of their beliefs, but it isn't much of a stretch to infer that all these tendencies would continue as we moved further up.

    As you can see, from my 7/25 post containing the link: 'These are your Teachers', the NEA agenda includes many things outside of education and that would probably be opposed by their members. Or would they? What do NEA members want their union to do?:

    However, in a relative sense, their marching orders to NEA are obvious. "Improve/protect medical insurance" and "protect members against unfair actions" were deemed important by 90 percent of member respondents (local presidents agreed by 94 and 95 percent, respectively). Eighty-five percent want the Association to "provide legal protection" (local presidents agreed at 88 percent), and 84 percent want NEA to help "increase salaries" (local presidents – 93 percent). The only meaningful divergence of opinion between the two groups was on class size reduction. Seventy-five percent of members thought this should be a priority, but only 52 percent of local presidents thought so.

    Hmmm... So teachers Unions look out for the interest of teachers. This isn't a criticism, it is just what a Union is supposed to do. So why does the NEA, the Media, and the Democratic party (which are pretty much one and the same) always talk as if the Teachers Unions care about the education of students? Why are Unions a credible source when discussing Charter Schools

    Of course, individual teachers care about the education of students, and I'd think even the Union bosses personally care about the education of students, but the goal of a Union is not improving the education of students, especially if it conflicts with improving working conditions of teachers (as it frequently does). I am attempting to demonstrate why one aspect of the many feedback loops in our horrid public education system is broken. 

"When school children start paying union dues, that's when I'll start representing the interests of school children."

- Albert Shanker (Former head of American Federation of Teachers)

    So why does the 'Conservative' membership not care about the direction the Union takes politically? Well, some do care and are acting bravely on their convictions. Others are apathetic and aren't really that politically active and are so are unaware. However, from my (limited) experience, a large group of these 'Conservatives' see local benefits of the Union doing things like legal representation, good salary and benefit negotiations, and have decided that these things are in their interest and so they put up with their National Union's liberalism... Many of these teachers oppose Charter Schools and other education reforms...

    So, in conclusion, we have conclusive proof that Conservative Teachers are being forced to support the Democratic party and that parents of Conservative parents are forced to pay taxes that do the same. How do you feel about this? Is this is freedom? Why is this allowed to continue? 

    In California they are attempting to do something about it, via Prop 75, which requires that Unions obtain written permission from members to use their dues for political purposes and even the Liberal Los Angeles Times agrees:

Their Dues, Their Views

10/16/05 Los Angeles Times Editorial 

    However, the Unions have raised over $100 million to attempt to defeat this commonsense measure. They have raised at least a portion of this money by levying an involuntary 'tax' on their members (and even nonmembers), which a Federal Judge has upheld. 

    Interestingly, the editorial contains this: The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that union members cannot be forced to finance political activity. Really? I'd like to know more about his, especially considering that 20% of NEA members claim they had no choice but to join that Union.... 

    However, sadly, even if this proposition passes, I will be surprised if the corrupting Union power diminishes, as they will 'comply' with the ruling in a convoluted way that still allows them access to the money of it's members. Or maybe they won't comply and just take a slap on the wrist fine. Why would I make this prediction? History. 

NEA doesn't show up in Court, Union fined $800,000

7/1/02 Evergreen Foundation

OLYMPIA, WA - A Thurston County Superior Court judge today fined the National Education Association (NEA) $800,000 plus legal fees for “intentional” violations of a Washington state law that prohibits the unauthorized use of agency fees* for political activity. The NEA’s state affiliate, the Washington Education Association, was penalized more than $770,000 last year for breaking the same state law. The NEA’s fine bumps two earlier WEA fines to become the largest in Washington state history.

 


Preschool Program for the Poor pays off

Washington Times - By improving our education system we improve our children's lives and our society in more ways then one might think: Poor children who attended a premier preschool in the 1960s were more likely to graduate from high school, hold a job and stay out of jail than peers who didn't get an early education, says a landmark study that tracked the children for 40 years.
    "The bottom line is that high-quality early care and education programs not only raise high school graduation rates and test scores but, decades later, they lead to higher incomes and lower crime rates," said Lawrence J. Schweinhart, president of the High/Scope Educational Research Foundation, which yesterday released the study of the Perry Preschool program.

The study shows a $17 return for every tax dollar invested in high-quality early education. It also urges policy-makers to offer similar preschool programs to all low-income children.

 

 

Court Panel Says New York Schools Need Billions More

12/1/04 New York Times The courts in New York have tyrannically and unconstitutionally usurped the power to tax. It is not up to the legislators or the people to determine what should be spent on Education, but an elitist judge. The report is a major turning point in a lawsuit that could reshape the way education is financed in the state, and is being watched closely by politicians and educators around the nation. <.> The report is a significant step toward a court takeover of what has traditionally been a legislative role: deciding exactly how much money should be spent on schools. <.> The figure the panel recommended - a 43 percent increase to the city's $12.9 billion school budget - came very close to what the city said it needed. It was almost identical to the amount sought by the plaintiffs [I wonder how the Lawyers made out...] in the case and nearly tripled what Gov. George E. Pataki's lawyers had proposed in court. But how much of the money should come from the state or from the city itself the panel did not say, leaving unanswered one of the most daunting and contentious questions facing the lawmakers responsible for coming up with the money. <.> On virtually every major issue, the panel - which sought dozens of opinions during three months of public hearings - sided with the plaintiffs and dismissed the state's arguments. On the question of running the schools, the state argued that an extra $1.93 billion would suffice, but the panel chose a figure that exceeded what either the plaintiffs or the city demanded. Amazing, how the heck do they come up with these numbers! And the court doesn't even care how the money is spent: And while the state argued that more layers of oversight would be necessary to ensure that any additional money was well spent, the panel rejected the state's idea to set up a new statewide office that would monitor spending and wield the power to shut down failing schools. The governor's office called that aspect a particular failure of the report. "We are particularly concerned that the recommendations appear to reject any type of real reform and fail to overhaul the current accountability system, while recommending a substantial infusion of new spending," said Kevin Quinn, a spokesman for Governor Pataki. 

 

 

Schools Prevail Court: Funding is Millions short (posted 6/7/05)

6/4/05 Witchita Eagle The Kansas Supreme Court ordered the state Friday to spend $285 million more on schools this year --twice the increase lawmakers approved. That would boost education spending to about $3 billion, a 10 percent increase. We already saw a similar situation develop in New York: Court Panel Says New York Schools Need Billions More. What can one do when unelected officials usurp the power to tax? Sen. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, said there has even been talk about impeaching justices. "This is not a case of judicial activism. This is a case of judges out of control," Huelskamp said. "We're facing a constitutional crisis that's been forced on us." He is right. What will the courts do if the elected legislators ignore them or take action against them? The state, a defendant, is also the owner of substantial assets, he said. "Those are subject to seizure and distribution. Putting their hands on money is not an impossible task for courts," he said. So, unelected officials demand to thieve other people's money  to spend at their whim and then threaten to seize the property of citizens if they don't comply? Are these the actions of a  Representative form of government, or a property respecting Republic - or a Tyrannical Dictatorship? 

 

Posted 7/15/05 

For $10,000, Woman Tattoos Ad on Forehead

6/30/05 Associated Press For $10,000, Kari Smith has gone ahead and had her forehead tattooed with the Web address of a gambling site. Why does this women need this money so bad? Does she have a:

A) Drug problem

B) Gambling problem

C) Teachers Union problem

Answer: C

Bountiful, 30, who sold her unusual advertising space on eBay, said the money will give her 11-year-old son a private education, which she believes he needs after falling behind in school.

"For the all the sacrifices everyone makes, this is a very small one," she said. "It's a small sacrifice to build a better future for my son," she said.

    You see, the government decided that Kari is too stupid to spend her own money on her school of choice so, under threat of imprisonment, Kari's tax money is stolen from her and conscripted to be wasted at her local, bloated, and failing, public school. In fact, even as her son now goes to a private school, her money will still be forcibly taken from her and squandered at her local public school. I say 'squandered' because teachers and administrative salaries are ridiculously inflated (per productivity) at the failing public schools and, since poor parents are forced to send their kids to the failing public schools, the public schools cannot be hurt by their abject failures and thus remain totally unaccountable. 

    Now, it might be the case that Kari is so poor that she pays no significant taxes (besides the taxes the government takes from her, wastes a good portion, and then returns to her in the form of shoddy health and shoddy retirement). If this is the case, then wealthier individuals are having their money confiscated and given to the failing school, which Kari's son is forced to attend. So, instead of forcing her to shoot herself in the foot, the government forces the better off citizens to do it.  

     Kari has a 'Teachers Union problem' because local and national teachers unions fight desperately to keep the educational status quo and donate huge sums of union dues to politicians, mostly Democratic, to sabotage any attempt at reform

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Posted 7/26/05

<SNIP>

    Speaking of which, the NEA, the nation's largest Union (composed of public school teachers), recently passed a resolution stating:

The NEA shall research the possibility of offering, as part of the existing training program, either regional or national levels of training that would support the significant history of labor unions. The training will have a focus that emphasizes delivery of age appropriate curriculum to students.

    But, of course, the NEA is a nonpartisan, tax-exempt organization, which is only interested in the education of our children. Right. And North Korea is a workers paradise

NEA challenged on Political Outlays

4/7/05 Washington Times As much as one-third of the tax-exempt National Education Association's yearly $271 million income (92% to the Democratic party) goes toward politically related activities, according to union documents filed with the Internal Revenue Service. The documents show that the 2.7 million-member teacher's union spends millions annually to field what one critic calls an "army of campaign workers," while maintaining that it spends nothing on politics.

     Our tax dollars are currently going to pay the bloated salaries of teachers and administrators at our public schools, who in turn have their money confiscated by the NEA. Many Americans, like me, to put it mildly, dislike the policies of the NEA and the propaganda they are publicly advocating for our children. Don't like it? Tough. What can you do? Well, you could take your kids out of public school, but you'd still be forced to support the public schools, hence the unions. You could refuse to pay taxes, but then you would probably end in jail. See why I don't have respect for the law

    But, I'm not alone, neither does the NEA:

NEA doesn’t show up in court; union fined $800,000 for “intentional” violations of state law

7/1/02 Evergreen Foundation A Thurston County Superior Court judge today fined the National Education Association (NEA) $800,000 plus legal fees for “intentional” violations of a Washington state law that prohibits the unauthorized use of agency fees* for political activity.

    The NEA’s state affiliate, the Washington Education Association, was penalized more than $770,000 last year for breaking the same state law. The NEA’s fine bumps two earlier WEA fines to become the largest in Washington state history.

* Teachers who give up their union membership, often for political and ideological reasons, become “agency fee payers.” Washington state law strictly prohibits the use of any agency fees for political activity without first obtaining permission from each individual fee-payer.

    Washington is one of only 5 states to pass a law like this. California Unions are terrified that a similar Schwarzenegger backed initiative will become law. So, of course, they accuse Schwarzenegger of being against teachers, against children, against education etc... What sort of society allows thieves to rail against the righteous?

Big Labor Taking a Beating

7/9/05 Fox News

    This worries union officials because they know that workers, when given a choice, overwhelmingly refuse to support union political activity.

    After Washington state passed paycheck protection, contributions to the Washington Education Association political committee dropped from over 80 percent of teachers down to 6 percent. Utah adopted paycheck protection in 2001 and now nearly 95 percent of Utah Education Association members refuse to contribute to the union’s political fund.

    Workers refuse to support their union’s politicking because the spending is usually at odds with individual member preferences. For example, although at least 30 percent of California Teachers Association members are Republican, the CTA just approved a $60 per-member dues increase in order to raise $50 million to fight paycheck protection and a Republican governor’s education proposals.

    This spending discrepancy is consistent with a national trend. The AFL-CIO and affiliate SEIU spent a combined $100 million to mobilize union household voters against President Bush in 2004, but surveys indicate that at least one-third of union voters cast their vote for Bush in the last election.

    Forcing a politically diverse workforce to fund organized labor’s single-party devotion is fundamentally unfair. Paycheck protection is a common sense measure that requires unions to raise political capital one individual at a time—just like any other political player—but union officials can be expected to fight the encroachment on their monopoly over California public employees for all they’re worth.

    A storm is brewing, given the unrest within organized labor’s leadership and the dissatisfaction among rank-and-file members.

    It may be time for Big Labor to invest in umbrellas. 

 

 

 

Posted 12/17/06 (By Travis)

U.S. Schools Overhaul Sought, Using Private Control

12/14/06 Associated Press

    U.S. public schools should be run by private contractors who would graduate most students by 10th grade, concluded an expert commission sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

    While I've been critical, perhaps unfairly because after all it's their money, of aspects of the Gates' charitable foundation in the past here at neoperspectives.com (as they don't seem to place heavy focus on the underlying political and economic roots of poverty, disease, and suffering), this recent proposal is quite interesting. The seriousness with which this analysis and proposal  is being taken says volumes about the shifting debate and sentiment towards public 'education' and, if we're lucky, 'public' institutions in general. :)

    The plan faces opposition from teacher unions, which expressed concern about the proposal to hand operations over to private contractors, and to shift the structure of teacher retirement pay.

    No surprises here, nor their method of attack:

    The nation's largest teachers union, the 3.2 million-member National Education Association, said that recommendations such as state funding and private control of schools ``could potentially disenfranchise poorer communities and eliminate community voices.'' 

    Of course, the opposite is true, and feel free to extrapolate this contradiction to policy areas beyond education:

    The Education Trust, a Washington-based research and advocacy group, released a state-by-state analysis yesterday concluding that U.S. school funding policies leave poor and minority students with the worst schools, including less- qualified teachers and less-demanding curriculum.

    However, I thought this was the most interesting part of the article:

    The plan also calls for state funding to replace local property taxes, free pre-kindergarten and higher teacher pay on a merit-based system. The Gates Foundation and other sponsoring groups may pay states to help implement it, organizers said.

    This is interesting because in the United States conditions exist that enable a private entity to create enough wealth, through rugged free market capitalism, or something close to it, to influence and shoulder massive costs normally paid by taxpayers. How much more productive is the genius of creative and caring individuals than that of government? Think of all the taxes government has taken from Gates and Microsoft over his lifetime. And for what? What does government actually accomplish with our tax money? Well, they do a good job supporting the Unions whose members have their dues forcibly returned to the very politicians that orchestrated the original theft. Gates and Co and the rest of us are plenty capable of running day to day functions we somehow believe can only be suited to government. In fact, we could easily perform the current (unconstitutional) 'jobs' of government and still have spending money leftover; provided they'd let us keep our own $$$, abolish existing institutions, and keep the heck outta our way! 

 

 

 

 

Posted 3/6/06

Black Flight The exodus to charter schools.

3/2/06 WSJ opinionjournal.com 

    MINNEAPOLIS--Something momentous is happening here in the home of prairie populism: black flight. African-American families from the poorest neighborhoods are rapidly abandoning the district public schools, going to charter schools, and taking advantage of open enrollment at suburban public schools. Today, just around half of students who live in the city attend its district public schools.

    <.>

    Black parents have good reasons to look elsewhere. Last year, only 28% of black eighth-graders in the Minneapolis public schools passed the state's basic skills math test; 47% passed the reading test. The black graduation rate hovers around 50%, and the district's racial achievement gap remains distressingly wide. Louis King, a black leader who served on the Minneapolis School Board from 1996 to 2000, puts it bluntly: "Today, I can't recommend in good conscience that an African-American family send their children to the Minneapolis public schools. The facts are irrefutable: These schools are not preparing our children to compete in the world."

    <.>

    The school board has promised to address parent concerns, but few observers expect real reform. Minneapolis is a one-party town, dominated by Democrats, and is currently reeling from leadership shake-ups that have resulted in three superintendents in the last few years.

    The school board has promised to address parent concerns, but few observers expect real reform. Minneapolis is a one-party town, dominated by Democrats, and is currently reeling from leadership shake-ups that have resulted in three superintendents in the last few years. The district has handled budget cutbacks and school closings ineptly, leading some parents to joke bitterly about its tendency to penalize success and reward failure.

    <.>

    Parents are particularly angry about seniority policies, which often lead to the least experienced teachers being placed in the most challenging school environments. Nevertheless, a few weeks ago the Minneapolis school board approved a teacher contract that largely continues this policy, along with other union-driven practices that perpetuate the status quo.

    <.>

    Minneapolis families seeking to escape troubled schools are fortunate to have the options they do. That's not the case in many other states, where artificial barriers--from enrollment caps to severe underfunding--have stymied the growth of charter schools.

    The city's experience should lead such states to reconsider the benefits of expansive school choice. Conventional wisdom holds that middle-class parents take an interest in their children's education, while low-income and minority parents lack the drive and savvy necessary. Who defined this conventional wisdom? The usual 'experts'? In discussions with opponents of charter schools, this argument is frequently cited. 

    The black exodus here demonstrates that, when the walls are torn down, poor, black parents will do what it takes to find the best schools for their kids.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted 7/25/05

 These are Your Teachers

7/14/05 World Net Daily 

The National Education Association recently concluded its annual meeting in Los Angeles - and you might be surprised what the largest teachers' union in America talked about and decided.

    I mean, let's face it. The state of public education in American today is not exactly state of the art. You might think falling test scores, higher drop-out rates, and functional illiteracy of graduates - despite ever increasing taxpayer commitments - would be causes for concern and debate at a forum like this.

    You would be wrong. Here are some resolutions adopted by the representative assembly of the professional association responsible for educating your kids:

    That's a fair synopsis of the actions taken by the largest "education" association in America - the only union and lobby group that is actually tax-exempt by an act of Congress. What is peculiar about this list? Well, nothing if you are familiar with this thoroughly destructive organization. But, most people are not. Most Americans probably still think the National Education Association has something to do with education. It does not. It is a thoroughly politicized agit-prop group with a radical agenda. Of the nearly 70 resolutions acted upon affirmatively by the group, no more than a half-dozen had anything remotely to do with classroom education. The first 14 resolutions voted on had nothing whatsoever to do with education in the traditional sense. However, one NEA resolution adopted this year did perform a real service to the public. It's the one requiring the organization to make its resolutions more accessible to the public on its website. Check it out for yourself. Do I exaggerate? Is it time to review this activist organization's tax-exempt status? Is it time to start paying attention to the kind of indoctrination to which its members submit your children?  

    I checked the NEA website for accuracy. From a comment on the thead: The union is funded mostly by dues, which are taken out of our pay - even if we don't join the union, they get 2/3 of the dues cost out of our check anyway. We're talking almost $1000 per year per teacher! So we might as well pay the full dues and get a few benefits.

    In conclusion, this is a validation of the point I made in 'Welfare; History, Results and Reform':

<SNIP>

     Let's do a review; we have N.O.W, the Children's Defense fund, NGLTF, liberal Democratic Senators, and African American leaders all opposing Welfare Reform. The worst part isn't that they opposed Welfare Reform, it's that they all purport to represent the groups that were most helped by it! We have a group representing women, a group representing children, a group representing African Americans, and a group that 'supposedly' represents all of these - and all are fighting to hurt their constituents as much as possible! If we were to expand the scene to encompass all the political issues of the day, we will find that all these groups support each other in everything they do, regardless of the interests of their members.

<SNIP>

    The Democratic party and a small group of liberal black and other minority leaders consider their primary goal, not the advancement and progress of African Americans, minorities, and the poor, but the advancement and progress of liberalism. In their minds the two goals are completely compatible. The idea that they are destroying their own people is alien to their very way of thinking.  

<SNIP>

    Recall the incestuous nature of the NAACP, Children's Defense Fund, N.O.W, other liberals black leaders and Democratic lawmakers who fought against Welfare Reform? Usanewswire:

A group of national leaders in education today announced the largest-ever grassroots mobilization for public education on a conference call with reporters. The National Education Association, MoveOn.org, Campaign for America's Future, ACORN, NAACP Voter Fund and U.S. Hispanic Leadership Institute joined forces to drive the National Mobilization for Great Public Schools. (224)

<SNIP>

 

Posted 1/6/07 (By Travis)

A Year full of school sex raps

1/5/07 New York Daily News

    Condon recommended 121 firings last year, most of which are still pending due to union procedures. Only 41 of those firings have taken effect.

    Let us not get caught up in the fearmongering that kids at public schools are getting molested or at any great risk beyond the standard brain rot experienced from a public education. The point here is that only 41 firings of 121 have taken effect due to union policies. 

    What are these teachers doing? This previously posted story tells us:

    It's almost impossible because of the rules in the New York schools' 200-page contract with their teachers. There are so many rules that principals rarely even try to jump through all the hoops to fire a bad teacher. It took six years of expensive litigation before the teacher who wrote Cutee101 was fired. During those six years, he received more than $300,000 in salary.

    "Up, down, around, we've paid him," said the chancellor. "He hasn't taught, but we've had to pay him, because that is what is required under the contract."

    Hundreds of teachers the city calls incompetent, racist, or dangerous have been paid millions.

    And what do they do while they get paid? They sit in rubber rooms.

    They're not really made of rubber, of course. They are big, empty rooms where they store the teachers they are afraid to let near the kids. The teachers go there and sit, hang around, read magazines, and waste time. The city pays $20 million a year to house teachers in rubber rooms.

    The same thing takes place in the auto industry, and is why unions will drive it to bankruptcy (unlike public schools the auto industry actually has competition)...

 

 

 

Federal Judge Declares Pledge Unconstitutional

9/14/05 CNN  U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton ruled that the pledge's reference to one nation "under God" violates school children's right to be "free from a coercive requirement to affirm God."

    Karlton said he was bound by precedent of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which in 2002 ruled in favor of Sacramento atheist Michael Newdow that the pledge is unconstitutional when recited in public schools.

    There has been a torrent of outrage from the Right about this, in fact, I bet most Democrats also think this judge has gone over the line. Why do they think this and why are they angry? Because they like the Pledge how it is. But popular opinion should not dictate judicial philosophy. One of the most important characteristics of a Republic, as opposed to a runway, majority rules, democracy, is that the rights of the minority are protected. Socialism never protects the rights of the minority and this is nowhere more apparent than in our socialistic public education system.

    Socialism has spawned the problem because, under the Constitution, Newdow and the parents he is representing have a right to raise their children in ways consistent with their own values and should be allowed to do so free of government coercion. His point, that he is forced to pay tax money to an institution that flagrantly defies his values, is completely valid. After all, it was Thomas Jefferson who said:
    "To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical."
    Now, on the other side, we have the vast majority of Americans who don't have a problem with 'Under God' and don't mind it being in public schools. Yet, some of these parents have problems with evolution being taught in school and sex/ed etc.. etc.. Their rights are being violated in the same way as Newdow's - opinions they abhor are being taught to their own children with their own tax money. Both of these aberrations are equally repulsive.
    To profess an opinion, or develop legal arguments, one way or the other in regards to either of these issues is besides the point and counterproductive as it misses the bigger picture: socialism of public schools. If charter schools/school choice existed (or government was completely removed from education), then no one could complain about the happenings in the school their kids attend because no one is forced to send their kids to any particular school.
    But our public schools are not run by parents, or businessmen seeking customers, they are run by the government: local, state, and increasingly and most unfortunately, Federal, and so they are not free from political control. Thus, these problem exists. Both Newdow and other parents who disagree with any aspect of the public education forced on their kids should join forces to destroy educational socialism. Yet, because of superficial differing ideology, an alliance of this nature appears to be most difficult. (see 'Secondary Problems of Socialism' for more)

 

 

Census: Nation's Public Schools in the Red

3/28/05 AFP via yahoo - It's a mix of a sob story about the plight of our 'underfunded' public schools and a hit piece on President Bush. The nation's public school systems are sinking further into debt, the Census Bureau reported Thursday. They were saddled with over $250 billion in red ink in the 2002-03 school year, up 11 percent from the previous year. <.> Democratic leaders angry with the first go-round of the education law say schools have not received enough money and that Bush's latest budget proposal would make it worse by cutting overall spending. <.> The data, the latest available, also reflect the first full school year after the No Child Left Behind Act was signed into law in January 2002. <.> The sweeping reforms aimed at upgrading school performance are a cornerstone of President Bush's education policy. Recall that, unfortunately, under President Bush education spending has risen by over 40%. By trying to slow his own massive and foolish increases, Bush gets labeled as 'cutting overall spending' on Education.  

 

Considering the above sob story, wouldn't you think it's worth mentioning that the 100 highest salaried public school teachers in Illinois have a pay grade ranging from $173,077 (high end) to $132,940 (low end)? Check out this site, they list every one.  And click here for the 100 highest paid Illinois public school administrators who make from $302,746 (high end) to $194,822 (low end). Pretty amazing huh? This is just for Illinois, I'm sure other states have similar problems. I'll post any other sites I run across here. 

 

Here's a story from New Jersey detailing how teacher employment differs from regular employment and how pay is broken down in a wealthy suburban district. 

 

Posted 7/25/05

Voucher: Solution or Flawed Compromise?

6/30/05 FEE In creating valid Charter or Voucher legislation, many of the current anti-discrimination laws will need to be revised or eliminated. I see no reason why parents should be prohibited from sending their children to an all male, all female, or a selective cultural/ethnic school, if they so choose. The article ends with this truism:

Like it or not, it should never be forgotten that every government dollar comes with strings attached. Schools dependent on government money can never become the basis of an actual market-based educational system. To develop such a competitive system, we must allow and require schools to operate according to the rules of the market, where consumers—in this case parents—spend their own money. Reminds me of Frank Chodorov, who said:

The more subsidized it is, the less free it is. What is known as `free education' is the least free of all, for it is a state-owned institution; it is socialized education - just like socialized medicine or the socialized post office - and cannot possibly be separated from political control.

 

 

 

Posted 11/11/06 (By Travis)

Parents risking jail

11/9/06 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    Shaye Carter and Janie Lewis each risked a $300 fine yesterday because they had refused to withdraw their children from Career Connections Charter Middle School and enroll them in Pittsburgh Public Schools.

    They couldn't have cared less.

    "I'm more concerned about my child's education," Ms. Carter said of daughter, Ria, a seventh-grader.

    "I'll go to jail," she said. <.>

    Pittsburgh parents said they're standing their ground because they've found a good thing. They said the school's curriculum, small class sizes and welcoming environment are improvements over regular Pittsburgh schools.

 

 

 

6-Figure Salaries? To Many Teachers, a Matter of Course (6/7/05)

6/5/05 New York Times In Scarsdale, 166 teachers - nearly half - have base salaries exceeding $100,000; for more than a dozen, base pay tops $120,000. Notice that there is some semblance of competition among these wealthier school districts because wealthier people can afford to not only move to a better school district, but their choice of where they can move expands the more they earn. This is why school choice, via charter legislation, aids the poorest communities the most. It is stunning that those who live in poorer communities elect leaders who will not stand up for their rights. This is most likely because they are constantly fed false information and ensnared in the elaborate and deceptive waves of cognitive dissonance generated by the mainstream media and our public education system and have difficulty coming to believe the initially counterintuitive truths of Conservative/Libertarian thought. Why would the Club For Growth, an outstanding political organization founded by a bunch of rich white guys, support school choice, while the NAACP and the Black Caucus are opposed to it?

 

 

CPS [Chicago Public School] teachers to get mortgage help

3/8/05 ChicagoBusiness.com More on perks for some of the aforementioned Chicago Public School teachers. 

This headline should read: 'Thieving teachers Unions in corrupt deal with mayor to steal more taxpayer money'. Some highlights: Chicago public school teachers would be eligible to receive up to $7,500 toward a housing mortgage under a new program announced Tuesday. Mayor Richard Daley said he will ask the City Council to appropriate $250,000 for the program. Chicago Public Schools is expected to match that amount. <.> The grants could be used in conjunction with existing housing incentives for teachers. For the past couple of years, the Teacher Housing Resource Center – a joint effort between the school system and the city – has offered discounts on housing costs, including rents. More than 600 teachers have saved money through the program, according to officials. Oh? There are existing programs on top of this? HUD, a bloated wasteful government agency whose primary function was/is concentrating welfare recipients, has a program called 'Teacher Next Door': The Teacher Next Door program was established by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to offer single-family houses, townhouses and condominiums for sale to teachers at a 50 percent discount. <.> For example, if a HUD home is listed for $100,000, a teacher can buy it for $50,000. To make a HUD home even more affordable, you may apply for an FHA-insured mortgage with a downpayment of only $100 and you may finance all closing costs.

 

Public Interest Lawyers Cash in on Classroom suits

1/17/05 San Francisco Chronicle - Lawyers who recently won a very big public-interest lawsuit to make San Francisco schools more accessible to the disabled apparently hope that the case will produce some very big benefits for themselves as well -- like $9 million in fees. And some of the hourly billings are pretty eye-popping. Jose Allen, a partner at the San Francisco firm Skadden Arps, is asking for $810 an hour. Mary Gillespie of the San Francisco Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center, is seeking $588 an hour. And her public-interest firm colleague, Patricia Shiu, is asking for $552 an hour. The other lead attorney, Guy Wallace of Schneider & Wallace, is requesting $522 an hour. "It's a travesty,'' says school district spokeswoman Lorna Ho. "Here they are said to be representing the kids, and yet the money is going to come straight out of the kids in the classroom.'' <.> After more than five years, the district, facing the prospect of a costly trial, agreed recently to a settlement. The deal calls on the district to shell out $300 million over the next 10 years to make classrooms fully accessible to the disabled and blind -- and that doesn't include all the legal costs of the case.<.> Allen is a local partner of the giant, New York-based Skadden Arps firm - - whose Web site touts its commitment to pro bono law work. "I have never known of any pro bono lawyer doing work at $800-plus an hour,'' Renne said. "To me, it's the height of hypocrisy.'' <.> Looks like the city hasn't heard the last of Wallace and his attorney friends. Wallace recently filed another, potentially much bigger claim -- this one alleging disability problems citywide, ranging from inadequate pedestrian traffic signals to noncompliant office buildings. And you can bet the meter on this monster claim is already running.

 

 

Back to School, Bitterly

9/29/1967 Time magazine archives - Some 11,000 Detroit teachers, including 6,400 members of the American Federation of Teachers, will get raises of $850 annually for two years, work one week less a year, enjoy a bigger voice in textbook selection and curriculum changes. They also won a 30-child limit on class size in the first three grades of ghetto schools and a 39-student limit in all other classes. Unhappy school-board members could only shrug their shoulders when asked where most of the $18.7 million for pay raises will come from, nod hopefully toward the state legislature. So, apparently teachers Unions, not elected officials, decide what taxes you will pay. Taxation without representation?

 

 

Pay Raises Prompt Veto of School Funds

9/2/04 Washington Post Maryland School districts try to sneak a raise for Administrators and got busted: Owens was upset that the money included about $625,000 for what she considered "excessive" and "improvident" salary increases for many school administrators. Matt Diehl, a county spokesman, said the raises ranged from $4,000 to $16,000 and in many cases were going to administrators who already make more than $70,000. <.> In an interview, he said the council felt blindsided by the raises. "It was never communicated that this was going on," he said. "We've been trying to put money back into the classrooms," Middlebrooks said. "Then along comes these administrators, a lot of whom are making $90,000 or $100,000, and you give them off-the-chart raises. It just sends the wrong message." Owens, too, voiced frustration with the school system, saying in a statement that the raises came about "in a manner that was not explained to the county budget officer, to the county executive or to the County Council." <.> The money for the raises was part of the $3.5 million appropriation, which would have paid for a school summer program, a program for gifted students and library materials. Owens called on the school system to submit a new proposal to fund those programs. I hope you don't mind that I didn't even bother posting the rebuttal for the other side. 

 

 

Oakland Teachers And Students Protest Charter School Plan
1/13/05 KTVU 2 - More protests on school choice from the teachers Unions: OAKLAND, Calif. -- A large group of Oakland public school teachers and students is attending a school board meeting at Oakland High School tonight to protest plans to turn 13 schools into charter schools. At a news conference before the school board meeting began, Ben Visnick, the president of the Oakland Education Association, the union that represents school teachers, said teachers oppose the proposed move to charter schools because recent studies show such schools don't increase student achievement. <.> Ward has said change is needed because there is "a culture of failure" in Oakland schools, but Visnick said Ward is merely engaging in "teacher bashing." This is a typical ploy, character assassination, name calling, and demagauging. The same thing happened with Welfare Reform. Teri Hudson, a teacher at Sobrante Park Elementary School, one of the schools slated to become a charter school, said test scores at her school have increased 34 points a year for the last four years. "We don't promote a culture of failure - we have a culture of success.", Hudson said. <.> Katrina Scott-George, the school district's spokeswoman, said the 13 schools slated for reform "definitely are not succeeding" so change is needed. Ok, who is right then, Hudson or George? Again, this reporter doesn't tell us. Carla Farrell, a teacher at Hawthorne Elementary School, another school slated for charter conversion, charged that Ward's decisions "are based on economics, not on providing a better education for students." Translation: teacher salaries are more important then education. 

 

 

We're not Free to Ignore the Constitution (Posted 5/25/05) 

5/25/05 Associated Press Added to the article collection in 'A Charter School Tale': The Constitution long has ensured that Congress can't tell schools what to teach. But that's no longer the case for at least one topic -- the Constitution itself. The Education Department outlined yesterday how it plans to enforce a little-known provision that Congress passed in 2004: Every school and college that receives federal money must teach about the Constitution on Sept. 17, the day the document was adopted in 1787.

    Now, given all of my lamentations about how little people understand the Constitution, my belief that many of our public schools propogandize liberalism (the Constitution is a very conservative document), and my deep respect for the Constitution, some of you might suspect I would have a very positive reaction to this story. Wrong. I have a very, very negative reaction.

    [Democratic Senator] Byrd inserted the Constitution lesson mandate into a massive spending bill in 2004, frustrated by what he called a huge ignorance on the part of many Americans about history.

    First, it is humorous to see Sen Byrd talk about ignorance of history and respect for the Constitution. Second, if Byrd can insert this sort of thing into a spending bill, then what's to stop someone else from sticking in something delegating, say, April 22nd, to lament about global warming and how greedy and reckless America is causing it and insinuating that more environmental regulations are needed and.... Oh, whoops! We already do that (Earth Day)? Well, you get my point... In 10 years how many school days will be totally controlled by the Federal Government? 5, 10, 30, 50? Third, notice how a faceless and un-elected government agency, which is unconstitutional in its existence, is charged with enforcing, according to their whims, an unconstitutional law! Our founding fathers must be rolling in their graves. Fourth, notice how this must have passed the 'Republican' house and senate and escaped veto by the Big Government Education 'Republican' President. Another pattern, these 'Republicans' always try and 'tweak' and 'adjust' and 'reform' government and often support expanding its powers when Big Government works to further their own agenda. 

    The Federal department of Education should be abolished, the Unions which stagnate our public school system should be stripped of their power, Sen Robert Byrd should be educated, and true Conservatives should run against the Republicans that acquiesced to the passage of this act. In a perfect world...

    At every hour of every day, I can tell you on which page of which book each school child in Italy is studying.
- Benito Mussolini

    Cool! On Sept. 17th, so can the Federal Department of Education!

 

 

Posted 8/17/06 (By Travis)

Against School / How public education cripples our kids and why

Sept 2003 John Gatto Harper's Magazine

    A rather interesting article. In some instances it verges on conspiratorial, inferring that corporations want a dumbed-down labor force to do their work and buy their products. It traces the founding of compulsory schooling, and it is true, and a little known fact, that many of the architects, viewed the system under the auspices of statism and collectivism, with the following goals:

    1) The adjustive or adaptive function. Schools are to establish fixed habits of reaction to authority. This, of course, precludes critical judgment completely. It also pretty much destroys the idea that useful or interesting material should be taught, because you can't test for reflexive obedience until you know whether you can make kids learn, and do, foolish and boring things.

    2) The integrating function. This might well be called "the conformity function," because its intention is to make children as alike as possible. People who conform are predictable, and this is of great use to those who wish to harness and manipulate a large labor force.

    3) The diagnostic and directive function. School is meant to determine each student's proper social role. This is done by logging evidence mathematically and anecdotally on cumulative records. As in "your permanent record." Yes, you do have one.

    4) The differentiating function. Once their social role has been "diagnosed," children are to be sorted by role and trained only so far as their destination in the social machine merits - and not one step further. So much for making kids their personal best.

    5) The selective function. This refers not to human choice at all but to Darwin's theory of natural selection as applied to what he called "the favored races." In short, the idea is to help things along by consciously attempting to improve the breeding stock. Schools are meant to tag the unfit - with poor grades, remedial placement, and other punishments - clearly enough that their peers will accept them as inferior and effectively bar them from the reproductive sweepstakes. That's what all those little humiliations from first grade onward were intended to do: wash the dirt down the drain.

    6) The propaedeutic function. The societal system implied by these rules will require an elite group of caretakers. To that end, a small fraction of the kids will quietly be taught how to manage this continuing project, how to watch over and control a population deliberately dumbed down and declawed in order that government might proceed unchallenged and corporations might never want for obedient labor.

    What this misses is that the vast majority of the Americans did not view education this way. In fact, parents often created their own schools in the absence of government. But the generally principles and theories of national education ensconced above were and are in the minds of many of the governing elite and even among some of our fellow citizens. However, they most often describe it differently, using terms like "good citizen" and the benefits of "having a common experience", "starting from the same page", and of course, "equality". 

    It is well known that babies and young children develop and learn, in part, by 'modeling', imitating the parents or older persons. In public school, we are all forced into environments with persons our same age.

    If children could be cloistered with other children, stripped of responsibility and independence, encouraged to develop only the trivializing emotions of greed, envy, jealousy, and fear, they would grow older but never truly grow up. <.> In fact, until pretty recently people who reached the age of thirteen weren't looked upon as children at all.

    This essay contains a few other gems:

    One afternoon when I was seven I complained to him of boredom, and he batted me hard on the head. He told me that I was never to use that term in his presence again, that if I was bored it was my fault and no one else's. The obligation to amuse and instruct myself was entirely my own, and people who didn't know that were childish people, to be avoided if possible. Certainty not to be trusted. That episode cured me of boredom forever. <.>

    Well-schooled people are conditioned to dread being alone, and they seek constant companionship through the TV, the computer, the cell phone, and through shallow friendships quickly acquired and quickly abandoned. Your children should have a more meaningful life, and they can.

    Finally:

    I've concluded that genius is as common as dirt. We suppress our genius only because we haven't yet figured out how to manage a population of educated men and women. The solution, I think, is simple and glorious. Let them manage themselves.

 

 

 

Teachers who fail: A survey of certification-test scores yields alarming results

1/23/05 Herald Tribune A survey of certification-test scores yields alarming results More than half a million Florida students sat in classrooms last year in front of teachers who failed the state's basic skills tests for teachers. Here's a question, how many of those who weren't allowed to teach because they didn't meet 'certification requirements' would have passed these tests? The Department of Education study, the first of its kind, found that students learn less under teachers who had failed more than three times, said DOE spokesman MacKay Jimeson. Nine percent of teachers failed portions of the tests at least four times, according to the Herald-Tribune study. bearing on a teacher's abilities. The state report, which wasn't released Friday, led DOE officials to reverse statements they had made last spring. The officials said then that they hadn't reviewed teacher scores because the tests have no bearing bearing on a teacher's abilities.<.> Like most states, Florida requires teachers to pass three kinds of tests to earn professional certification. <.> But the Herald-Tribune found teachers who struggled for years to pass the test. Some were never able to pass and received a waiver that awarded them certification anyway.

    So, what's the point in even having them? My point isn't that these tests are or aren't a good idea, but that they are a pointless bureaucratic mess because no one even knows if they work and the results have no meaning! Look how much time they waste on it: Hundreds of teachers, principals and university professors get involved in each test. Overall, thousands of people have a hand in writing the questions for all the exams. Is it any wonder they don't want reporters snoooping around?: In fact, the Department of Education refused to cooperate with the Herald-Tribune's investigation, and the newspaper eventually sued the department for failing to comply with a public records request. <.> Many teachers had a horror story about someone down the hall whose teaching skills or enthusiasm for the job were sub-par. This is a long article and goes on to describe how more money is needed etc... Recently Florida, under the excellent leadership of Governor Jeb Bush, passed some of the most extensive Charter school legislation in the nation. So there is hope. We'll see how it pans out. 

 

Cyber Schools Spring Up in State (Posted 6/1/05)

5/8/05 Pittsburgh Post Gazette Added to 'A Charter School Tale'. Details the success that Pennsylvania Cyber Charter schools are having. Pennsylvania now has 11 cyber charter schools -- and a 12th has applied for a state charter -- with more than 10,000 students enrolled statewide, an increase of 50 percent over the last school year. <.> But the impact of the schools is felt in other ways, from the choices available to parents and students to the effect on traditional public schools, which have to pay for the charters and are gearing up more cyber offerings of their own to compete. Lol! 'Public schools, which have to pay for the Charters..'! This is the mindset that gave us our failing public education system. Public schools do not pay for Charters! Parents pay for good education, wherever they can find it. Notice how the public schools are now offering cyber applications of their own? Do you think this would have happened without competition?   The number of cyber charter schools nationwide has nearly tripled in two years, said Anna Varghese of the Center for Education Reform, a pro-charter school reform group based in Washington, D.C. Nationwide, about 31,000 students are in 86 cyber charter schools, according to the center. <.> "There's always going to be demand for new alternatives. It's the same with McDonald's and Burger King," Varghese said. No, it is not the same. If Burger King lobbied politicians to close McDonalds while serving rotting food, THEN it would be the same. I'd be willing to bet every last nickel that the teachers Unions in Pennsylvania lobbied against these new Charter schools. This reporter doesn't state this once in the entire story. However, Popular Cyber Charter Schools BEWARE: A state law passed in 2002 requires any new cyber charter applications as well as any renewals to be decided by the state Department of Education. If you can't beat 'em, regulate 'em to death. I'd also bet every last nickel that this is what the Teacher's Unions are trying to do right now in Pennsylvania. You Pennsylvanians better fight for your freedom - it never comes easy. 

 

 

Feds Urge States to Start Spending School Money

6/29/04 AP - With all the whining about how underfunded out bloated public schools are, this story might catch you by surprise: The Education Department has found that all the states, the District of Columbia and eight territories have high cash balances left from 2002, including money meant for poor children, disabled students and limited-English learners. <.> More than $2.1 billion is unspent from 2002, or about 8 percent of the money allocated for five broad areas, including special education and adult education. <.> That money must be obligated — not spent, but at least legally earmarked toward a specific expense — by Sept. 30, which is 27 months after it was released to states. <.> States then have two final years to spend the money. Ultimately, school money not committed or spent returns to the federal treasury, as happened with $155 million last year. <.> House Republicans said Tuesday that states have $16.8 billion in unspent school money dating from the former Clinton administration, a figure that the Education Department confirmed but state school officials called misleading without context about how school financing works. <.> School officials say there are several legitimate reasons why money is in the bank, from the government's own 27-month timeline for incurring expenses to federal delays in approving the programs that the money is meant for. So, why can't this reporter straighten this out for us? The department issued its reminder, Jones said, to ensure that states don't miss their chances to use the money. But it's their money in the first place! It's our money - being stolen and wasted by pandering politicians when it often isn't even needed! 

 

 

No Teacher Left Behind

1/13/05 Opinion piece by Terry Moe of the Wall Street Journal. 

    The teachers unions have more influence over the public schools than any other group in American society. They influence schools from the bottom up, through collective bargaining activities that shape virtually every aspect of school organization. And they influence schools from the top down, through political activities that shape government policy. They are the 500-pound gorillas of public education. Yet the American public is largely unaware of how influential they are--and how much they impede efforts to improve public schools.The problem is not that the unions are somehow bad or ill-intentioned. They aren't. The problem is that when they simply do what all organizations do--pursue their own interests--they are inevitably led to do things that are not in the best interests of children. <.> 

    These interests drive their behavior, and this is not going to change. Ever. If the teachers unions won't voluntarily give up their power, then it has to be taken away from them--through new laws that, among other things, drastically limit (or prohibit) collective bargaining in public education, link teachers' pay to their performance, make it easy to get rid of mediocre teachers, give administrators control over the assignment of teachers to schools and classrooms, and prohibit unions from spending a member's dues on political activities unless that member gives explicit prior consent.

    These reforms won't come easily because the unions will use their existing power, which is tremendous, to defeat most attempts to take it away. There is, however, one ray of hope: that the American public will become informed about the unions' iron grip on the public schools and demand that something be done. Only when the public speaks out will politicians have the courage--and the electoral incentive--to do the right thing. And only then will the interests of children be given true priority.

 

Here is the WSJ response to the American Federation of Teachers 'outrage' at Terry's article. 

 

 

Paige calls NEA 'terrorist organization'

2/23/05 CNN Education Secretary Rod Paige called the National Education Association a "terrorist organization" Monday as he argued that the country's largest teachers union often acts at odds with the wishes of rank-and-file teachers regarding school standards and accountability.  An administration official said the secretary was "clearly joking" but he should not have used the "terrorist" label in taking issue with the NEA -- which is not only the largest teachers union but also a major player in Democratic Party politics. <.> It was an inappropriate choice of words to describe the obstructionist scare tactics the NEA's Washington lobbyists have employed against No Child Left Behind's historic education reforms. "I also said, as I have repeatedly, that our nation's teachers, who have dedicated their lives to service in the classroom, are the real soldiers of democracy, whereas the NEA's high-priced Washington lobbyists have made no secret that they will fight against bringing real, rock-solid improvements in the way we educate all our children regardless of skin color, accent or where they live. <.> The NEA is headquartered in Washington where every year the organization spends about $1 million lobbying, according to The Associated Press. The NEA and its political action committee donated $3.1 million to federal candidates and the two political parties in the last presidential election cycle, the AP reported. About 90 percent of those donations went to Democrats. These dues are, in many cases, required and used involuntarily by the Unions without the consent of their members. Obviously a 'terrorist organization' is not an accurate description of the NEA. But it would be accurate to say they are terrorizing Education Reform in this country. 

 

 

No Name-Calling an Ambitious Goal for Teachers’ Union

1/28/05 Evergreen Freedom Foundation Details attacks by teachers Unions in the state of Washington when the Foundation tried to expose fraudulent dealings by the Unions.

 

 

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