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I Don’t Give a Damn About Teachers

Yet another piece describing the woefully inadequate class of teachers produced by the iron triangle of Teacher’s Unions, “Education” Schools, and the absurd regulatory structure of “Public Education.”

Most of the article highlights the utter vacuity of the “education curriculum.” However, the real problem lies with editorial’s inability to get out of the current corrupt and unproductive paradigm.

See the excerpt and comment below.

No Teacher Left Behind

“Yet there’s one idea that seems more important and urgent than the others. That is the recommendation that all states begin collecting information about how much their schoolchildren have learned from kindergarten through high school so it can be correlated with information about how their teachers were trained. Until this fundamental question is explored and answered–what kind of training produces teachers who get the best results from their children–we’ll be holding classes in the dark.”

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We don’t need any such “data collection” to solve the “education problem.”

In a rational world, we would fund children directly and let the family choose the best way to educate their kids. We need to stop focusing on the intentional misdirection of “studies” on teacher pay, teacher training, computers, school construction and other such detritus.

We’ve been doing that for decades, spending obscene amounts of money, and getting flat or declining results. Empower parents to decide on how they want their child educated by giving them a fully funded scholarship, and the best education solution(s) will beat a path to their door.

District School Board charades, referendum battles, construction bonds, and the web of corruption that has metastized in the education industry will become a thing of the past.

It is time to think about the children and the taxpayers, and forget about the teachers and adminsitrators. They’ve had their ride on the gravy train.

Teaching Religion in Schools

I’ve been predicting the eventual collapse of the “Anthropological Global Warming” myth for a while now.

I wonder if we can get this classified as a “pagan” belief, and have it taken out of schools as example of “teaching religion” in schools.

Global cooling effect

The New Scientist report, along with other scientific assessments warning of global cooling, also come as a blow to the campaign — led by David Suzuki and one of the directors of his foundation — to portray all who raise doubts about climate change theory — so-called skeptics — as pawns of corporate PR thugs manipulating opinion. If the Suzuki claim is true, then the tentacles of Exxon-Mobil reach deeper into science than anyone has so far imagined.

Dramatic global temperature fluctuations, as New Scientist reports, are the norm. A Little Ice Age struck Europe in the 17th century. New Yorkers once walked from Manhattan to Staten Island across a frozen harbour. About 200 years earlier, New Scientist reminds us, a sharp downturn in temperatures turned fertile Greenland into Arctic wasteland.

These and other temperature swings corresponded with changing solar activity. “It’s a boom-bust system, and I expect a crash soon,” says Nigel Weiss, a solar physicist at the University of Cambridge. Scientists cannot say precisely how big the coming cooling will be, but it could at minimum be enough to offset the current theoretical impact of man-made global warming. Sam Solanki, of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany, says declining solar activity could drop global temperatures by 0.2 degrees Celsius. “It might not sound like much,” says New Scientist writer Stuart Clark, “but this temperature reversal would be as big as the most optimistic estimate of the results of restricting greenhouse-gas emissions until 2050 in line with the Kyoto protocol.”

Another Black Leader calls for School Choice

With Juan Williams (NPR, Fox News Sundays) writing books agreeing with Bill Cosby, and his son running for the D.C. Council as a Republican, perhaps the ice is starting to crack on Black America’s reflexive support of the Liberal Plantation.

Now Clarence Page, hardly a rock-ribbed conservative icon, is calling for more school choice. We welcome his support wholeheartedly.
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Give Parents a Chance to Choose Schools

But the school ends sadly. Terrorist uprisings in Kenya force Baraka to close in the summer of 2003 before the boys featured in the film can begin their second year. Their parents are distraught and outraged. Their sons’ performance has blossomed from mediocre to outstanding. Now, as one mom says, “If you send them to Baltimore, you’re sending them to jail.”

And there’s another, more controversial lesson the Baraka story offers: a powerful argument for more school choice, even if that means vouchers for private schools.

The earnest parents in this movie, mostly moms and grandparents, fighting hard to get their kids a better chance at life, illustrate why polls show growing support for private school vouchers among African-American parents, as long as they do not take money from the public schools.

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Sadly, the last sentence betrays the absurd ideology of far too many people. “Taking the money from public school” bureacracy is the whole idea.

You can fund public education bureaucracies, or you can fund childrens’ education, Mr. Page. You can’t do both, as the recent obscene run-up in public education spending easily proves.

Is American Brainwashed by Media on Economy?

There has been extensive commentary on the blogosphere re: the Economy, and how the polls don’t reflect how strong the economy actually is.

Much of this is due to the slanted reporting. For evidence, follow the numerous links that highlight the mendacity of the New York Times, et. al.
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The Wages and Productivity Hoax

Americans Hate Their Fabulous Economy

The Economic Debate of our Time

Audio Reply to NW – The Sequel

If you are familiar with Illinois Reveiw, you know that I post there once in a while.

Today, I've replied to the many comment that have been submitted to that post. I apologize that the comments here aren’t working, but I need to get something fixed in Movable Type first.

To comment on this post, go here.

Some background…

NW (a Progressive Troll over at Illinois Review) and others have posted extensive commentary on my reply to same over at Illinois Review.

This time, I decided to reply in audio, so you could listen while doing other work. (My bet is that you have to keep this window open to keep listening.)

Once again, all comments and critiques are appreciated, but they will have to by e-mail, or by way of Illinois Review.

Answering some Questions about the Extreme Wisdom Plan

Those of you familiar with IllinoisReview are probably aware of many of the debates I’ve have with a certain NW Burbs – the local “progressive” troll. (That’s a term of endearment, BTW)

Furthermore, those of you familiar with my views (or my web site) are probably aware that I’m promoting a workable — but admittedly aggressive — tax and education reform for Illinois. The first version is here, and the second version will be shorter on heated rhetoric and longer on the features, benefits, and numerous details – like transition issues.

Regardless, in a recent comment on one of the posts on Illinois Review, NW asked some substantive questions that deserve answers. Rather than post an extensive comment, I thought it was simply be better to answer in a separate post. This is a re-posting of that post.

Let’s start with a review of the general outline of The Extreme Wisdom Plan. (Incidentally, I’d love it if the plan was the “Republican Plan,” The Fritchey Plan, or even the Topinka Plan, but even the best people in the legislature suffer from a failure of imagination. They are all too afraid to question the absurd notion that we need to increase `education spending.’

Any one familiar with the 153% increase in spending – with only a 13% increase in enrollment – over the last 20 or so years knows that schools have money out the wazoo. It just getting to any kids.

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1. Zero out property taxes for education.

2. Pass HB 750 tax increases (broaden sales tax services, income tax goes to from 3% to 5%).

Both of these together represent a $2.5 to $3.5 billion tax cut for Illinois individuals and businesses.

3. Abolish all school districts as entities. (892 Bureaucracies disappear)

4. Convert every IL public school to a charter school managed by the parents who choose it.

5. Combine increased state revenues with existing education spending to fund every Illinois child equally with a “fully funded” scholarship redeemable at any Illinois school.

6. Repeal all mandates (and the entire existing school code) and replace them with a rational testing regime that features sequenced, objective content standards. Testing should take place at the end of every student year, and it should be administered by an entity 100% independent of the school. Simply require that any participating school has a 90-95% “pass rate”, along with a “remediation plan” for those who fail.

The education reform portion creates 100% “local control” (not the current illusory local control) while abolishing the horrific education apartheid created by this awful property tax system.

As I’ve discussed this with numerous people, including some legislators, I’ve been forced (thankfully so) to think about some of the more difficult issues involved in such a dramatic reform. I remain convinced that this plan is workable. (Yes, I’m ignoring the political realities at the moment – abolishing slavery was once thought impossible too.)

The hard work will be in the transition from the current system to the new one. With that in mind, let’s get to NW’s questions (in bold).
[Read more...]

About that New York Times Story on Wages…

I’ve had a some fascinating discussions with listeners about the state of the economy.

I argue that the poor PR of the Bush Adminstration, combined with a media that basically making things up, is the reason why most people have no idea how good the economy is doing.

Many of them harp on the fact that Joe Sixpack isn’t keeping pace, and they use articles like the recent New York Times piece as evidence.

Well, TCS (Tech Central Station) has posted a great response. I recommend reading the whole thing.
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Got Admit it’s Getting Better…

Greenhouse and Leonhardt are aware that they need to consider employee compensation — wages plus benefits — and not just wages alone. So they do. Wages plus benefits, they write, were 56.1 percent in the first quarter of 2006. Actually, that’s wrong. Wages plus benefits were 56.9 percent of first-quarter GDP. Moreover, there’s an obvious next comparison. Greenhouse and Leonhardt thought it was important to tell their readers how wages changed as a percent of GDP between the first quarter of 2001 and the first quarter of 2006. Isn’t it as important, therefore, to show how wages plus benefits changed over that same time period? But they don’t. So let’s do so. In the first quarter of 2001, their comparison quarter for wages alone, wages plus benefits were 59.3 percent of GDP. In other words, wages plus benefits dropped by 2.4 percentage points, only half the drop that they lead readers to believe was the drop in wages alone.

The Washington Post’s “Devaluing Labor” by Harold Meyerson, credulously quotes the New York Times piece to buttress his case. And what is Meyerson’s case? He hearkens back an America from 1947 to 1973 when “More Americans bought homes and new cars and sent their kids to college than ever before” and writes, “That America is as dead as a dodo.” He doesn’t present data to make his case, which is understandable because the America of today is even in better economic shape than the America of his golden era. Let’s take his own criteria — home ownership, car ownership, and the percent of the population with college degrees. In focusing on these data, I’m assuming that Meyerson cares about whether Americans own homes, own cars, and have college degrees, not whether they bought houses, bought cars, and went to college last year.

Take home ownership. In the first quarter of 1965, the first date I could find quickly, 62.9 percent of American households owned their homes. That was during Meyerson’s golden era. In the second quarter of this year, the “dead middle-class era,” it was 68.7 percent, an all-time high. Cars? What’s relevant, as with homeownership, is the percent of the population that owns cars. And this has boomed. In 1970, presumably near the peak of Meyerson’s golden era, there were 108.4 million vehicles registered in the United States; by 2003, this had soared to 231.4 million, an increase of 113.5 percent, while the population had risen by only 42.4 percent. And note that Meyerson doesn’t even mention air travel, which, due to deregulation and technological improvement, has become so much cheaper that even poor Americans, let alone middle-class ones, can now afford to fly. How about college? In 1970, only 10.7 percent of the population 25 years old or more had a college degree; by 2004, this was up to an all-time high of 27.7 percent.