Just say it! “Teachers Unions are morally illegitimate”

It’s nice to know that the rhetoric I’ve been using on this website for about 6 years now, which some called “extreme,” has gone mainstream.

The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page editors are dipping their toes in the water of truth. They ought to dive in head first, and start rescuing children.

Hating ‘Superman’

The new film “Waiting for ‘Superman’” is getting good reviews for its portrayal of children seeking alternatives to dreadful public schools, and to judge by the film’s opponents it is having an impact.

Witness the scene on a recent Friday night in front of a Loews multiplex in New York City, where some 50 protestors blasted the film as propaganda for charter schools. “Klein, Rhee and Duncan better switch us jobs, so we can put an end to those hedge fund hogs,” went one of their anti-charter cheers, referring to school reform chancellors Joel Klein and Michelle Rhee and Education Secretary Arne Duncan. The odd complaint is that donors to charter schools include some hedge fund managers.

Or maybe not so odd. Teachers unions and the public school monopoly have long benefitted from wielding a moral trump card. They claimed to care for children, and caring was defined solely by how much taxpayers spent on schools.

That moral claim is being turned on its head as more Americans come to understand that teachers unions and the public bureaucracy are the main obstacles to reform. Movies such as “Waiting for ‘Superman’” and “The Lottery” are exposing this to the larger American public, leaving the monopolists to the hapless recourse of suggesting that reformers are merely the tools of hedge fund philanthropists.

Teacher’s unions are on the moral defensive because people have finally started to question their moral legitimacy. (welcome to the club) Teachers Unions have none, and, as a concept, they have no right to exist.

Every dime a teachers union extracts from a tax payer for pay, benefits, pensions, etc., is a dime that can’t be used to better educate a child. It’s so obvious that it’s been staring us in the face for decades.

Just as Reagan hastened the fall of the USSR by challenging their moral legitimacy (evil empire, ash heap of history), we must openly start telling our neighbors that teachers unions have no right to one iota of say in education. Their interests, and the interests of society are diametrically opposed.

You don’t negotiate with such an entity, you abolish it. It’s that simple. Get to work.

Obama’s thin gruel v. Reagan’s Robust Stew

Skip to the 6th minute, and watch from there.

Communism had no moral legitimacy. Neither does the Iranian regime. The least Obama could do is say so.

More proof that teacher’s don’t care about Children…

If one is to follow with the metaphor below, the real “fox in the henhouse” is the Teacher’s Union (Fox) inside our public schools (henhouse). These greedy foxes have eaten richly off of our tax dollars, created an overpriced and under-performing education system, and bankrupted a couple of states in the process.

Charter Schools: Education’s Fox in the Henhouse?

Successful urban charter schools are showing that high demand, high support education works for all students—not just Jewish and Asian and upper-class kids, but all kids who commit to academic success. Some of these schools’ achievement gains are very impressive.

So why am I, a retired public school teacher of 34 years, cautious and suspicious?

Perhaps there’s a hidden agenda, one that may be revealed by the following questions:

I can’t speak for all of the proponents of charter schools, but I have no hidden agenda. I hope to see the death of teacher’s unions in my lifetime. If one’s goal is to educate the populace effectively with public money, there is no intellectually sound reason to allow teacher’s unions to exist.

How do we get the best education for the least amount of money? There is no room for the greed and laziness of the public employee union mentality in any possible answer to that question.

No hidden agenda here, Mr. Saxon. GET YOUR UNIONS OUT OF OUR SCHOOLS!!!


Here is how to do it.
If you are against the creation of more charters and other educational options for children, you are arguing from a position of moral illegitimacy.

Obama’s first decent speech…

…Sounded an awful lot like George Bush

Obama’s Nobel Remarks (Barrack Obama, 12/10/09)

We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth: We will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. There will be times when nations — acting individually or in concert — will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.

I make this statement mindful of what Martin Luther King Jr. said in this same ceremony years ago: “Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones.” As someone who stands here as a direct consequence of Dr. King’s life work, I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence. I know there’s nothing weak — nothing passive — nothing naïve — in the creed and lives of Gandhi and King.

But as a head of state sworn to protect and defend my nation, I cannot be guided by their examples alone. I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: Evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force may sometimes be necessary is not a call to cynicism — it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.

I raise this point, I begin with this point because in many countries there is a deep ambivalence about military action today, no matter what the cause. And at times, this is joined by a reflexive suspicion of America, the world’s sole military superpower.

But the world must remember that it was not simply international institutions — not just treaties and declarations — that brought stability to a post-World War II world. Whatever mistakes we have made, the plain fact is this: The United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms. The service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform has promoted peace and prosperity from Germany to Korea, and enabled democracy to take hold in places like the Balkans. We have borne this burden not because we seek to impose our will. We have done so out of enlightened self-interest — because we seek a better future for our children and grandchildren, and we believe that their lives will be better if others’ children and grandchildren can live in freedom and prosperity.

So yes, the instruments of war do have a role to play in preserving the peace. And yet this truth must coexist with another — that no matter how justified, war promises human tragedy. The soldier’s courage and sacrifice is full of glory, expressing devotion to country, to cause, to comrades in arms. But war itself is never glorious, and we must never trumpet it as such.

So part of our challenge is reconciling these two seemingly inreconcilable truths — that war is sometimes necessary, and war at some level is an expression of human folly. Concretely, we must direct our effort to the task that President Kennedy called for long ago. “Let us focus,” he said, “on a more practical, more attainable peace, based not on a sudden revolution in human nature but on a gradual evolution in human institutions.” A gradual evolution of human institutions.

What might this evolution look like? What might these practical steps be?

To begin with, I believe that all nations — strong and weak alike — must adhere to standards that govern the use of force. I — like any head of state — reserve the right to act unilaterally if necessary to defend my nation. Nevertheless, I am convinced that adhering to standards, international standards, strengthens those who do, and isolates and weakens those who don’t.

The world rallied around America after the 9/11 attacks, and continues to support our efforts in Afghanistan, because of the horror of those senseless attacks and the recognized principle of self-defense. Likewise, the world recognized the need to confront Saddam Hussein when he invaded Kuwait — a consensus that sent a clear message to all about the cost of aggression.

Furthermore, America — in fact, no nation — can insist that others follow the rules of the road if we refuse to follow them ourselves. For when we don’t, our actions appear arbitrary and undercut the legitimacy of future interventions, no matter how justified.

And this becomes particularly important when the purpose of military action extends beyond self-defense or the defense of one nation against an aggressor. More and more, we all confront difficult questions about how to prevent the slaughter of civilians by their own government, or to stop a civil war whose violence and suffering can engulf an entire region.

I believe that force can be justified on humanitarian grounds, as it was in the Balkans, or in other places that have been scarred by war. Inaction tears at our conscience and can lead to more costly intervention later. That’s why all responsible nations must embrace the role that militaries with a clear mandate can play to keep the peace. [...]

I believe that peace is unstable where citizens are denied the right to speak freely or worship as they please; choose their own leaders or assemble without fear. Pent-up grievances fester, and the suppression of tribal and religious identity can lead to violence. We also know that the opposite is true. Only when Europe became free did it finally find peace. America has never fought a war against a democracy, and our closest friends are governments that protect the rights of their citizens. No matter how callously defined, neither America’s interests — nor the world’s — are served by the denial of human aspirations.

So even as we respect the unique culture and traditions of different countries, America will always be a voice for those aspirations that are universal. We will bear witness to the quiet dignity of reformers like Aung Sang Suu Kyi; to the bravery of Zimbabweans who cast their ballots in the face of beatings; to the hundreds of thousands who have marched silently through the streets of Iran. It is telling that the leaders of these governments fear the aspirations of their own people more than the power of any other nation. And it is the responsibility of all free people and free nations to make clear that these movements — these movements of hope and history — they have us on their side.

Today’s Education System is “morally illegitimate”

Here is yet another piece of evidence that the rapid expansion of charters is in the best interests of the America’s children.

The Harlem Miracle

That’s why I was startled when I received an e-mail message from Roland Fryer, a meticulous Harvard economist. It included this sentence: “The attached study has changed my life as a scientist.”

Fryer and his colleague Will Dobbie have just finished a rigorous assessment of the charter schools operated by the Harlem Children’s Zone. They compared students in these schools to students in New York City as a whole and to comparable students who entered the lottery to get into the Harlem Children’s Zone schools,but weren’t selected.

They found that the Harlem Children’s Zone schools produced “enormous” gains. The typical student entered the charter middle school, Promise Academy, in sixth grade and scored in the 39th percentile among New York City students in math. By the eighth grade, the typical student in the school was in the 74th percentile. The typical student entered the school scoring in the 39th percentile in English Language Arts (verbal ability). By eighth grade, the typical student was in the 53rd percentile.

Forgive some academic jargon, but the most common education reform ideas — reducing class size, raising teacher pay, enrolling kids in Head Start — produce gains of about 0.1 or 0.2 or 0.3 standard deviations. If you study policy, those are the sorts of improvements you live with every day. Promise Academy produced gains of 1.3 and 1.4 standard deviations. That’s off the charts. In math, Promise Academy eliminated the achievement gap between its black students and the city average for white students.

Let me repeat that. It eliminated the black-white achievement gap. “The results changed my life as a researcher because I am no longer interested in marginal changes,” Fryer wrote in a subsequent e-mail. What Geoffrey Canada, Harlem Children’s Zone’s founder and president, has done is “the equivalent of curing cancer for these kids. It’s amazing. It should be celebrated. But it almost doesn’t matter if we stop there. We don’t have a way to replicate his cure, and we need one since so many of our kids are dying — literally and figuratively.”

Every legislator who votes for a charter cap is morally illegitimate. They are corrupt, and they are voting for corrupt interests when they cap charters. These people lack moral legitimacy, and they need to be told this to their face.

When you read the study referenced above, you start to realize that busting the cap on charters is a moral imperative on the order of the civil rights movement. Let me take that one step further, to stand in the way of more charters is immoral, and it is time to start to calling into question the moral legitimacy of any politician standing in the way of rapid charterization.

That goes double and triple for the organizations whose interests they are defending. The politicians, unions, and entities that are lobbying and voting for capping charters are the moral equivalent of Birmingham police sicking dogs and using water cannons on civil rights marchers, and it is time some one told them so.

Whatever Gore is Selling, it isn’t Science.

O Gore, deliver us from evil

It is hard to ignore the high moral tone of Gore’s missives. In his own words, he has a ‘compelling moral purpose’. He never misses an opportunity to spread his aura of sanctimony. And yet, curiously, his moral crusade depends for its legitimacy on the authority of science. There is very little that is transcendental about Gore. Revelation for him comes through science rather than supernaturally revealed truths. His crusade, he says, is aimed at preventing a catastrophe that is foretold by Scientific Truths. In his dogmatic worldview, today’s categories of good and evil, of virtuous behaviour and improper behaviour, are rooted in truths revealed by science.

However, it would be wrong to see Gore as a man who is fervently committed to science. Rather, he is in the business of politicising science, or more accurately, moralising it. In Gore’s world, science is not so much about testing out hypotheses and carrying out experiments; instead, under the Gore narrative, scientific evidence gives way to scientific (inconvenient) truths. Such science has more in common with the art of divination than of experimentation. That is why the science is always seen as having a fixed and unyielding, and thus unquestionable quality. Frequently, Gore and others will prefix the term science with the definite article ‘the’. So Sir David Read, vice-president of the Royal Society, recently said that ‘the science very clearly points towards the need for us all – nations, businesses and individuals – to do as much as possible, as soon as possible, to avoid the worst consequences of climate change’ (4).

Read the whole thing. Spiked seems to be a “debunking” site that leans (l)ibertarian, but I haven’t had the chance to read much of what is there. They have the bloviating Gore pegged though – a high priest of another silly eco-religion.

The War on Radical Islam isn’t only Winnable…

…It’s already won.

I’ve stated many times that the key to “winning” the war on terror (which is arguably a stupid name) is to destabilize the dangerous and unsustainable status quo of pretending that Dictators can keep a lid on the troubles in the Middle East. It was bound to fail, and 9/11 was a clear indication that the failure was imminent.

Standing alone, there were better targets than Iraq in going after enemies of the US. But nothing stands alone. The key to a long term solution to Islamic Radicalism (as practiced by both Wahabbi and Shiite radicals in Saudi Arabia and Iran) was to destabilize, and eventually restabilize, the Middle East on an entirely different paradigm.

That was pretty much accomplished once the Iraqis voted for a Constitution. The question remains as to why we are still there.

Though there are tertiary reasons such as avoiding the bloodbath (argualby good) or preventing partition of Iraq (arguably silly, given that Iraq was a fake construct to begin with), I think we are still there mainly because we are clearly waging a “flypaper” campaign.

My view of the “surge” therefore, is that the plan is to kill a few 1000 more potential terrorists, declare trouble spots “pacified,” declare “victory” and go home. (The Vietnam Strategy). All of this will be phenomenally successful if the Iraqi regime can either maintain order or manage a partition after we leave (defined as fewer than 10-20,000 ‘advisors’).

But that’s all gravy. The meat has already been served, and is happily being digested. Observe…

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