Edgar and Daley, Sittin’ in a tree

When these two are co-authoring an Op-Ed, you KNOW there is REAL MONEY to be made. Yet again, we are being sold a bill of goods under the rubric of reform. When either of these two Bozos calls for the complete de-Unionization of education, I may start taking them seriously.

Forcing public schools in Illinois to measure up

But the risk of losing new funding pales in comparison to what’s at stake if Illinois fails to change how it approaches education. Illinois has fallen behind the country on virtually all educational measures, and this at a time when the U.S. itself increasingly lags the rest of the industrialized world.

Fewer than 30 percent of Illinois students demonstrate proficiency on national tests, placing the state at or below national averages in all subjects and all grade levels.

Research by the college-testing organization ACT determined that less than a quarter of Illinois high school graduates are ready for college; that drops to 7 percent and 3 percent for Latino and African-American students respectively. Put together, the picture is bleak: For every four freshmen who enter high school, one will drop out, two will graduate unprepared for work or further education and one — just one — will graduate ready for whatever comes next.

So how do we think very, very differently in Illinois? As we gather information and hear from experts, teachers, students and families from across the state and country, a few answers emerge.

Teacher quality and performance are critical factors for student success. A 2006 paper by the Brookings Institution concluded, “If the effects were to accumulate, having a top-quartile teacher rather than a bottom-quartile teacher four years in a row would be enough to close the black-white test score gap.” At the same time, research by the Illinois Education Research Council tells us just the opposite happens in Illinois. According to the IERC, just two schools in the state with high concentrations of poor, minority children have a top-quartile teaching staff, compared with 420 schools serving a more affluent white population. It is time to get serious about recruiting, training and supporting effective teachers to ensure they are serving our most vulnerable students, then evaluating them rigorously and based on student outcomes.

In focusing on teacher quality, we should not minimize the central role played by principals. Research confirms what common sense tells us: Great teachers will not stay long at a poorly run school. If we are serious about employing the most effective teachers, then we must invest in strong leadership. That includes tougher certification, more relevant preparation and more autonomy at the school level.

Thin Gruel from 2 has beens.

The idea that any of this equals reform is laughable. Fund the Child, not the bureaucracy, break the backs of the awful unions, and abolish the school district while converting every school into an independent charter. It’s easy once you throw the greedy off the bus and put the child in the center of the equation.

GM and Chrysler now part of Mayor Obama’s patronage farm

I hope people will join me in boycotting the purchase of soon-to-be-union-owned GM and Chrysler.

Some on the conservative side of the aisle tell us that we have a patriotic duty to “buy American.” I do that where I can, but not at the expense of my own well-being. Now, with the help of Bush in his last few days in office, Barack Obama is close to realizing his dream of turning every American industry he can get his hands on into a patronage farm for his shock troops.

Here is to hoping 2010 provides a reversal to these awful trends, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t time to start looking for a “exit strategy” of some sort.

UAW to Get 55% Stake in Chrysler for Concessions

The United Auto Workers union would eventually own 55% of the stock in a restructured Chrysler LLC under the deal reached by the union and the auto maker, according to a summary of the agreement that was reviewed by the Wall Street Journal.

Fiat SpA “eventually” will own 35%, and the U.S. government and Chrysler’s secured lenders together will end up owning 10% of the company once it is reorganized, that summary said.

The summary was distributed Monday evening at a gathering of union leaders in Sterling Heights, Mich. The deal was first disclosed Sunday night. The UAW aims for Chrysler workers to vote Wednesday on the proposed agreement, which requires changes to the union’s current Chrysler contract.

According to the summary, Chrysler will also issue a $4.59 billion note to the health-care trust fund that the union will manage for retired workers. The agreement said Chrysler will pay $300 million in cash into the trust fund in 2010 and 2011, and increasing amounts up to $823 million in the years 2019 to 2023.

The trust fund will own a “significant” amount of Chrysler stock and will be allowed to appoint a representative to Chrysler’s board, the summary said.

“While we realize the proposed sacrifices for UAW members are painful, we fought to maintain our wages, our health care and our jobs,” UAW President Ron Gettelfinger wrote in a letter with the summary. The UAW summary also said the accord would provide the union with regular updates from the company on its long-term strategy and product plans.

GM Offers U.S. a Majority Stake

General Motors Corp. outlined a new turnaround plan that would leave the U.S. government controlling the auto maker, as it set up a showdown with bondholders that could determine whether the company lands in bankruptcy court.

Under the plan, GM is asking the Treasury Department for an additional $11.6 billion in loans, on top of the $15.4 billion it has already received. It envisions giving the government at least half ownership of the company as payment for half of the loans.

At the same time, GM said it would use stock instead of cash to pay off half the $20.4 billion it owes a United Auto Workers fund to cover retiree health care. That stock would leave the union owning about 39% of GM.

The upshot would be the transformation of a troubled American icon, leaving it in the hands of the government and its main union. The situation, fraught with complications and potential conflicts, comes on top of the U.S. government taking stakes in banks and insurer American International Group Inc.

Also Monday, the UAW and Chrysler LLC disclosed that the union would own 55% of that restructured car maker, while Fiat SpA would get 35% and the U.S. and lenders would own the rest.

GM told bondholders it wants to swap up to $27 billion in unsecured debt for a 10% company stake. If bondholders tender less than 90% of the debt, GM is prepared to file for bankruptcy protection, Chief Executive Frederick “Fritz” Henderson said.

These were two horribly managed companies whose Unions and Executive leadership lead them to disaster. They should have been allowed to go under. Here is a note to all the Union Drones in the EU and the US…

…there isn’t enough money in the world to fund your insane demands!!!

You’ve bankrupted entire states, large companies once thought invincible, and corrupted the entire financial industry. You are the new “robber barons.” Anything that isn’t tied down, you steal, and anything thing you can pry loose isn’t tied down.”

Unions have become the new definition of greed.

End the “Manmade Global Warming” myth faster

I just found two great links that should help all of you beat back the AGW (anthropic global warming) dogma among your friends and relatives.

Here is a PDF to “The Skeptics Handbook.” It is an quick and enjoyable read that gives you the information necessary to take people through the process of conversion back to rationality.

If you print it, read it, and practice talking about it, you should easily blow away your child’s “ed school grad” teacher who only parrots what her master tells her to parrot. At the very least, make your kids read it.

Next, there is a fun little blog post by one of the authors. In this post, she showcases the hubris, lack of intellect, and mendacity of those who try to bully you into silence on AGW. Don’t let them.

A resolute appeal to fairness and science (as differentiated from what I call “Scientism”) will win the day. Stand up to these pikers and force them to relent or embarrass themselves.

Learn, practice, stand up, and LEAD. Your doing so is becoming our only hope.

The Vileness of Teacher’s Unions continues…

If you don’t like my language regarding Teachers’ Unions, you can stinking BILL ME!

Union Greed

I make no apologies. If there is a teacher reading this who thinks I hate them, they too can BILL ME! I don’t hate teachers, but I do admit to a seething disdain for their disgusting unions. Every teacher in America needs to ask themselves if they are professionals concerned with educating a nation’s children, or whether they are lazy, greedy union drones bent on making education more expensive and less effective.

The truth hurts, but so far, all of them have been too cowardly to debate the issue. (here or on the radio show I used to have)

So what brings on this rant? Read on.

Teach for (Some of) America

Here’s a quiz: Which of the following rejected more than 30,000 of the nation’s top college seniors this month and put hundreds more on a waitlist? a) Harvard Law School; b) Goldman Sachs; or c) Teach for America.

If you’ve spent time on university campuses lately, you probably know the answer. Teach for America — the privately funded program that sends college grads into America’s poorest school districts for two years — received 35,000 applications this year, up 42% from 2008. More than 11% of Ivy League seniors applied, including 35% of African-American seniors at Harvard. Teach for America has been gaining applicants since it was founded in 1990, but its popularity has exploded this year amid a tight job market.

So poor urban and rural school districts must be rejoicing, right? Hardly. Union and bureaucratic opposition is so strong that Teach for America is allotted a mere 3,800 teaching slots nationwide, or a little more than one in 10 of this year’s applicants. Districts place a cap on the number of Teach for America teachers they will accept, typically between 10% and 30% of new hires. In the Washington area, that number is about 25% to 30%, but in Chicago, former home of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, it is an embarrassing 10%.

Unions claim the recent grads lack the proper experience and commitment to a teaching career. But the Urban Institute has studied the program and found that “TFA status more than offsets any experience effects. Disadvantaged secondary students would be better off with TFA teachers, especially in math and science, than with fully licensed in-field teachers with three or more years of experience.”

If you support teacher’s unions, you support keeping poor Black and Mexican Children (not to mention poor white kids) uneducated. You have no shame. You disgust me. You are beneath contempt.

It’s time for new thinking on Taxes

I’ve blogged in earnest about the need to scrap the income tax as it currently exists.

First, let’s review the revenue collapse that occurs because our tax structure is so top-loaded. The moment the economy slows, the government drops deeper into deficit.

Second, let’s look at the trouble the Republicans have gotten themselves into by taking so many people off the tax rolls that they no longer can play the tax card politically. Tax cuts have become “pork” for conservatives, and all the carping (at me) in the world won’t change that fact.

No matter how you look at it, our reliance on income taxes is simply has to come to an end if the nation is to prosper. Let’s hope the “stupid party” realizes this, and starts to campaign on a total tax overhaul. The “Fair Tax” is one idea (I argue it needs serious tweaking). The article below talks about another angle.

A Tax Even Libertarians Can Love.

It’s time we replaced the income tax with a tax that favors thrift.

Many object that the income tax discourages work effort. Perhaps, but that doesn’t imply it causes harm. Many parents, for example, work longer hours hoping to earn enough to buy a house in the best possible school district, only to discover that when all follow this strategy, they merely bid up housing prices in those school districts. School quality is a relative concept, and half of all students must still attend bottom-half schools. If income taxation encourages people to spend more time with friends and family, that might actually be a good thing.

It’s nice that some one still realizes that man does not live by bread alone. But then, any one with a brain knows Jesus trumps Ayn Rand any day.

This harm could be avoided by replacing the income tax with a progressive tax on spending. Taxpayers would report their income to the Internal Revenue Service as before, and also their savings, much as we now document contributions to 401(k) accounts. A family’s income minus its savings is its consumption, and that amount minus a large standard deduction–say, $30,000 a year for a family of four–would be its taxable consumption.

Rates would start low, perhaps 20%, then rise gradually with total consumption. A family that earned $60,000 and saved $10,000 would have consumption of $50,000. After subtracting the standard deduction, its taxable consumption would be $20,000, for a tax bill of $4,000, about the same as under the current income tax.

With savings tax-exempt, top marginal tax rates on consumption would have to be significantly higher than current top rates on income. But unlike high marginal tax rates on income, which discourage thrift, high rates on consumption would encourage it.

Again, I recommend the entire article. One hopes the nation is still capable of changing its tax laws. If it can’t, we are doomed to a slow decline relative to the rest of the world.

Arne Duncan’s empty rhetoric

As some one who has been saying “Fund Children, not Bureaucracies” since before 2005, it’s nice to see Arne Duncan lift some of my rhetoric.

Imitation truly IS the sincerest form of flattery.

Now if only he could make the rhetoric a reality by telling his new boss (Obama) how morally wrong he is to destroy the DC voucher plan, thus throwing 100s of disadvantaged kids back into the worst urban school system in the nation.

Unions don’t care about children, and they never did. They care about their nearly unlimited power and greed.

When Duncan says that, I may start to take him seriously. Given that he’s using my rhetoric, what ever the actual source he derived it from, I guess the day may come where they actually start believing it and acting on it…

…Assuming the Teacher’s Unions give them permission.

Arne to Illinois, “Shape Up”

So what does Duncan want?

He wants Illinois to lift its cap on charter schools. State law says there can be no more than 60 charter schools in the state, but there is demand for more than that. Why the cap? Because charter school teachers usually don’t have unions, and the teachers unions see that as a threat.

“Great charters make a huge difference in kids’ lives. What I loved about charters is they’re a school of choice,” Duncan said. “If kids stop showing up, we’ll take the school out. The money follows the kid.”

Duncan is absolutely right—the cap on charters just cheats children, and it has to be lifted.

Duncan wants Illinois and other states to chart the performance of children, and connect that performance to their teachers, and connect those teachers to the education schools that produced them. He’s saying: Let’s find out who’s turning out good teachers and which teachers are turning out educated kids.

If this looks like a re-run…

It’s because it is one, just with more debt, and more patronage piggery.

Clinton at Home, Bush Abroad

After nearly three months in office, the Obama presidency is no longer a heartening spectacle. It is instead a reminder that though America might be too big to fail, the problems it faces might be too big to be solved by even the cleverest, most charismatic president. Having run a well-oiled campaign machine, Obama and his team have been accused, within weeks of his inauguration on 20 January, of incompetence, not least for its consistent mishandling of high-level appointments. You will recall that ‘incompetence’ was the central charge against the very different Bush White House as well. The pervasive contempt for President Bush in the liberal intelligentsia convinced many that all the country needed was an anti-Bush: curious where Bush was close-minded, and eager to dive into the picayune details of policy debates. Thus far at least, one gets the impression that Obama really is the anti-Bush. Yet one also gets the impression that Obama’s cerebral nature makes almost no difference at all.

The fact that Bush accomplished much of what he wanted AFTER losing the House and Senate gives the lie to the notion that he was “incompetent.” You may disagree with his policies, and think them wrong, but he was highly competent at implementing them.

Obama, OTOH, is a professorial dork whose only saving grace (in terms of accomplishment) is that he will never take his eye off of the Alinsky-ite ball. He cares for nothing save using organizing for patronage, and then patronage for organizing. If he succeeds, it will be due to sheer political clout the ruthless exercise of such clout.

The idea that he is “competent” at anything else is laughable.

They aren’t all suicidal after all….

Not that any of this is going to help Romney.

GOP back to wooing Hispanics

According to TheHill.com, a congressional newspaper that publishes when Congress is in session, ”Romney believes that one way to attract more minorities to the GOP is to pass immigration reform before the next election, saying the issue becomes demagogued by both parties on the campaign trail.” The article also quotes Romney as saying, “We have a natural affinity with Hispanic-American voters, Asian-American voters.”

This could be extreme political repositioning, even for Romney.

As governor of a blue state, he once said he favored a sensible path to citizenship. Then came the 2008 presidential campaign. During primary season, Romney hammered rivals like John McCain, Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee for being soft on illegal immigrants. As a national candidate, he embraced a ship-them-back-home, tough-guy approach, even after it was reported that he employed a landscaping company that relied on illegal Guatemalan immigrants to care for his own lawn. When U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado — who made a tough stand on illegal immigrants the centerpiece of his presidential campaign — dropped out of the race, he endorsed Romney.

How Romney gets beyond the flip-flop-flips of his multiple-choice positions on immigration and other issues is a mystery only he can solve.

But any edging back to a call for immigration reform illustrates a larger point. Scapegoating immigrants was a losing strategy for Republicans in the 2008 presidential campaign; and Romney doesn’t see it as a winning strategy in 2012.

Bush 2004 – 42% of the Hispanic vote
McCain 2008 – 30%

Thank you Tom Tancredo, for helping elect Barack Obama.

It’s a start…

Now triple that in every one of Illinois 890+ bloated school districts.

Barrington Dist. 220 cuts 14 jobs for next year

Happy Easter, Everyone!

Take heart, everyone who reads this, for we know how this turns out.

John 16:30-33

Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer;
I have overcome the world.”

__________

Not only that, but I will be on Bruce Dumont’s “Beyond the Beltway” tonight from 6 PM to 8 PM. You can listen at WLS 890 AM in Chicago.

Go to http://www.beyondthebeltway.com/ to find out where it’s playing in your neighborhood.