April 03, 2007

Thoughts on the School Choice movement from one of it's leaders

I like to think of the Alliance for School Choice as the Marines of the School Choice movement. They go into hostile territory, survey the field, engage the enemy, and overcome all obstacles to bring school choice to those who need, and want it, the most - parents and students.

Their leader for the past three years, and one of, if not THE, most successful School Choice lawyers in the country, is stepping down. Clint Bolick offers his "Closing Comments" over at edspresso.

On the progress of School Choice movement...

The progress made by the school choice movement over the past three years is nothing short of remarkable.  Twenty new or expanded programs.  Last year, seven of 11 new or expanded programs were in states with Democratic governors, and the other in a state with an overwhelmingly Democratic legislature.  This year, the nation's first universal voucher program in Utah, with sliding-scale value based on income.  All very positive developments.  In all, the number of kids in targeted school choice programs has grown over the past three years from 92,000 to over 134,000; the amount of targeted publicly funded school choice has grown from $270 million to $571 million.  What amazes me is the paucity of media coverage of school choice.

...one lesson is that the school choice movement needs to learn a lot more about marketing.

On the compelling evidence of School Choice...

As Jay Greene has pointed out, despite assertions that academic findings vary on school choice, the following three points are uncontestable:  (1) all gold standard studies--that is, studies that compared randomly selected kids who applied for school choice programs with those who applied but didn't get in--show academic gains for choice students; (2) all studies examining the effects of meaningful school choice competition on public schools show academic gains; and (3) all studies examining economic and racial diversity find that choice schools are better integrated.  The case for private school choice, particularly for disadvantaged children, is compelling.

On Teacher Unions...

I can understand the unions' tenacious opposition to school choice. Their entire purpose is to represent their members' economic interests.  As the American Federation of Teachers' Albert Shanker once famously said, when kids become union members, then he'd represent the interests of kids. 

On Democrats...

Indeed, were it not for its dependency on unions, school choice should be a Democratic issue.

On Republicans...

Were Republicans ever seriously to get a clue about school choice, they could trigger a crisis among Democrats by forcing them to choose between two core constituencies: special interest groups who abhor school choice, and blacks and Hispanics who desperately need it.

On the Bush Administration...

On the one hand, the Bush Administration has been the most pro-school choice in history.  On the other, when push comes to shove...rhetoric has exceeded action.

I encourage you to visit the Alliance website (here's some information about school choice in Florida), and consider supporting them. After all, it for the kids!

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March 14, 2007

A+ Education plan

Finally, conservatives are proposing an education plan that doesn't expand government and federal control.

Federal efforts to reduce the education gap have failed miserably over four decades of trying. No Child Left Behind identified whats' wrong (no standards or accountability) but can't possibly solve the problem with a broad generic reform for all schools. The solution? State and local control over reform.

Watch the video for a brief summary, it's under 2 minutes.

UNBELIEVABLE

Illinois High School requires students to attend an in-school seminar on homosexuality and forces the students to sign confidentiality agreements promising not to tell their parents.

Again, private schooling and homeschooling sound better and better.

Charlotte County School District Standing For Morals

As you've probably already read in one of the state papers a Charlotte County High School Teacher was asked to resign over his participation in a local performance of "The Full Monty" in which he disrobes for the final scene.  Private schools and homeschooling sounds better and better everyday.

The media buzz has apparently lead the school district to reconsider its options as they have offered the teacher paid leave until the details can be sorted out.

In the meantime, the scenario has brought about much discussion over whether a teacher's actions outside of school should affect their employment.

Eric Ernst of the Herald Tribune laments that the school districts decision to ask the teacher to resign makes our state look like "backwater hicks."

While he pays lip service to the position advance by the school district, that teachers are held to a higher moral standard than others because they influence children, he doesn't believe getting nude in front of a theater full of people rises to the level necessary to warrant a firing because this stems from the teacher's "private" life.

Since when did disrobing for an audience at a performance open to the public become a "private" affair?

I'll be the last person to say that we need to monitor teachers at home, but the fact of the matter is that teachers, to varying degrees, help define for their students what is, and is not, acceptable behavior.  When an issue like this from a teacher's "private" life becomes a matter of public recognition we must ask what the effect will be on the children.

Certainly, many parents simply won't care whether or not a teacher strips their clothes off for an audience after school hours.  But others of us would like to see strong moral values instilled in our children and the presence of such a teacher is counter-productive to those efforts.  When a teacher allows a "private" issue which to become public works against our efforts to raise children of character a stand must be taken.

I realize that moral standards are quickly going out of style.  I realize that there are those among us whose views of the world around us are so twisted as to label those of us defending a moral code as "backwater hicks.  But I'm thankful to know that there are at least a few out there in our public education system still willing to stand for morals and stand for our children.

March 09, 2007

You mean it doesn't work when you spoon feed them information?

Education that is remembered.

March 06, 2007

Education is a civil right?

So, says Governor Charlie Crist, aka "The People's Governor," in the state of the state address today.

I ask, is education a civil right?

Also, wants funding for "reading coaches" and "virtual tutoring" to help raise reading scores. Do underprivileged kids and families have access to "virtual" anything?

He rolled out the "children must be our first priority" rhetoric too.

December 01, 2006

Elephant in the room

I guess you could see these images and come to the same conclusions as PEER Review.

Now, read this piece from Kathleen Parker of the Orlando Sentinel (see Real Clear Politics) and convince me that PRFL isn't influencing media in Florida.

November 22, 2006

Homeschool is good for me...

...and for thee. But don't take my word for it, listen to the Fresh Prince of Bel Air -

Will Smith says he and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith homeschool their children because the most valuable things he learned he didn’t get from school. “The date of the Boston Tea Party does not matter,” Smith told Reader’s Digest. “I know how to learn anything I want to learn. I absolutely know that I could learn how to fly the space shuttle because someone else knows how to fly it, and they put it in a book. Give me the book, and I do not need somebody to stand up in front of the class.”

I like Will Smith, and I agree there is nothing you learn in shool that can't be taught at home by any parent. In fact, there are lots of things kids learn at school that they would be better off not knowing (immorality, athieism, drug use, sex, lack of respect, laziness, accomodation, excuses, etc.).

September 11, 2006

Pushing Rope Advocates Bad History

Mr. Hussey at Pushing Rope attempted yesterday to refute my observation that allegations that Thomas Jefferson sired a child with slave Sally Hemmings are based on scant, if any historical evidence.  Due to the renewed call for the rebuke of bad history made by the democrats via their outrage over ABC's 9/11 series, it was important for me to do the same.  Simply put, Mr. Hussey is wrong.  Take the jump to find out why.

Continue reading "Pushing Rope Advocates Bad History" »

September 08, 2006

For democrats, Image is Everything

Today word got out that ABC is "altering" the upcoming mini-series "The Path to 9/11" due to criticisms of inaccuracy which centered around former Clinton administration officials.

Bruce Lindsey, head of the Clinton Foundation claimed that "The content of this drama is factually and incontrovertibly inaccurate and ABC has the duty to fully correct all errors or pull the drama entirely."  He also accused ABC of bias and "fictitious rewriting of history that will be misinterpreted by millions of Americans."

Now, people who believe everything they see on TV as true are typically liberals and therefore, already confused and misinformed about the world around them, so I'm not sure how much damage could actually be done here.  However, if ABC is trying to make a series more true to life, rather than simply bending to Lindsey and Madeline Albright's complaints, I say good for them.

But I can't help but wonder, where did this outrage suddenly come from?

For the last few years there have been trumped up allegations by professors and academics at a number of universities  that 9/11 was an inside job, that Bush coordinated the or allowed the attack to happen.  There are published books arguing the same.  Where was the outrage then?  If those teaching or publishing historical accounts have a "duty," according to Lindsey, to discuss only that which is absolutely based on fact and misleading in no way, why did liberals and democrats not call for these books to be pulled off the shelves and burned and the universities to fire these professors?  Why was there no fear that these teachers and writings would be misinterpreted by millions of students and readers?

I'll tell you why, because for liberals this is not about maintaining the sanctity of true history, it is about maintaining image.  There have been all kinds of quirky claims based on faulty history in recent years, that Abraham Lincoln was a homosexual, that Jefferson had children with his slaves, and on and on.  But there was no great public outcry from liberals that these claims were based on scant, if any, historical evidence.

But a line of dialog in  TV show that makes Clinton administration officials look like they missed the chance to prevent 9/11... well, that has to be untrue and anyone who support such an idea is irresponsible and should be censured by Congress.  Right?  Let the false allegations against Bush fly, but just don't speak ill of Bill and his posse.

Truth be told, if there really was a genuine concern for preserving history by liberals, we would have heard much, much more from them by now.  But, it is no surprise to this observer that democrats are more concerned with image than truth, which is why they will allow inaccurate history to taint our schools.

But let's assume that democrats have suddenly awakened to reason.  If that is the case, I'll join Lindsey in denouncing those who teach inaccurate history as fact.  I'll will stand beside him as he calls for universities to remove professors advocating the fact-less theory that Bush knew of, allowed, or caused 9/11.  I'll support him as he proclaims that evolution, a theory taught consistently in public schools should be removed from curriculum because of the danger that millions of students might misinterpret the theory as absolute fact.  Maybe this is the beginning of a liberal enlightenment I thought would never come.  But I won't hold my breath.

UPDATE:

Read Harry Reid's veiled threat to ABC.

Mary Katherine Ham has more examples of the ongoing liberal hypocrisy.

And excellence from Hugh Hewitt:

'I suspect the extreme reaction of the Senate Democrats is based on the sudden recogntion that the fall campaign will be waged on the single issue of which party is serious about national security.  The president's demand for action on key fronts yesterday has clearly thrown the Dems into disarray as they realize that the American electorate will not reward more fecklessness on the part of Democrats. Now arrives a major television event that exposes the specifics of Democrtaic-era "stewardship" of national security, and they are in a frenzy to do whatever it takes to keep that memory down the memory hole.

The trouble for them is that they more they struggle the more attention they call to the very record they wish to have remain obscure and distant."

July 14, 2006

Diurnal Distraction

Fold a shirt.

May 26, 2006

The benefits of the free market

Explained here in two paragraphs.

Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself.

Milton Friedman 1962

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May 19, 2006

Political news from an education site

Ok, so I have been busy with preparing for and implementing a homeschooling plan this week, but I still try to keep on top of the news.

Until this afternoon when I read this story, on the education site - Miami Gradebook (new to the PRFL Blogroll) and thought, "Why am I just reading about this now, on an Education site!?"

Then I turned to my trusty Sayfie Review and there it was top and center. How I missed it today is anybody's guess (I think I was distracted by that interview with Rubio that included moving pictures and audio), but all the more reason to note what a fantastic service Sayife provides and how thankful I am to my contributors bringing different stories and perspectives to the table.

Like this one. Or this one.

Oh yeah, Villalobos... is he done or is this going to make him stronger then ever? Is Villalobos the next Jim King?


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Home School Issues

I'm officially one school week into my home schooling experience. The "student" is techinically in 10th grade, with a nearly photographic memory and genius intellect, but with skills and training approximating the 8th grade.

I will be reviewing, quickly, some basics concepts related to grammer, composition and reading, as well as training him on effective studying and learning strategies. I also have to complete his Algebra I course which is going to require a review of the basics, and then complete course work for what would normally be accomplished in the 2nd semester. Same for Biology.

I am not too terribly concerned about the material (I have an BA in Chemistry and a MS in Political Science), but I would like some suggestions for books that help with strategy and process.

I am reading The Well Trained Mind - A Guide to Classical Education at Home, by Jessie and Susan Wise, and it's very comprehensive. It should provide excellent strategies for moving forward, but what about right now? Any suggestions for jumping into the race mid stream?

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May 18, 2006

Tom Gallagher - goal setter

Ok, so the primary objective of any campaign, especially a Primary, is to clearly establish a difference between you and the other guy(s). Yesterday, Tom Gallagher sent out his education policy paper saying he'd reinvent Florida's High Schools, and for the most part, he is just like Charlie Crist - Continue with Jeb's policies, support for vouchers, increase graduation rates, get back to basics, increase discipline and responsibility.

But Gallagher goes a step further, presumably to set himself apart, by pledging to raise the state high school graduation rate to 90% by 2020.

I respect that. I want that. I think we can and should do it. But, I also think making this policy goal a public statement is a mistake. Not because of the difficulty of it, nor because of the unlikely possibility of it actually occuring, but because most people are negative about the prospects of government being able to achieve such a thing.

Conservatives don't believe the answer lies with government to begin with, and Liberals secretely know that the likelihood of success of any of their policies - like full graduation, full employment, zero homelessness - is so unlikely that it continually gives them power to try harder, spend more, do more. Setting a goal like this leads most normal people to think you some sort of dreamer, trying to use government to fulfill some sort of pipedream that you were convinced of during college.

Most good leaders set high goals, work hard to achieve them, and recognize that failing only means succeeding at a higher level than their detractors. But most good leaders also don't set themsleves up for a fantastic crash.

I think there's a difference between actually being Governor and saying you want 90% graduation from your education commissioner, and saying you want to be Governor so you can achieve 90% graduation. The simple fact is 90% graduation is probably not possible. It's worth striving for, it's worth trying, but voters can tell a wild claim, fantastic, outrageous, unattainable, and they see it as a desperate plea. While your at it, why not strive for 100%?

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May 15, 2006

I officially started homeschooling today

Yes, I am not only an advocate of home schooling, school choice and educational competition, I am now an educational provider competing with the government. How exciting!

I can't wait for American Government and US History.


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April 21, 2006

A conservative and many liberals discuss education policy

I thought you may be interested in a little "debate" regarding education policy over at Out in Left Field. Actually, it's just me debating and them calling me names.

The debate is after the jump.

If you feel so inclined, head on over and leave a comment. Or just leave one here.

Continue reading "A conservative and many liberals discuss education policy" »

March 09, 2006

The best education idea yet

Marco Rubio is already impressing me. Vouchers for everybody? If this is the type of policy initiatives he has in store - conservative, broad, sweeping - then I can't wait.

Too bad Tom Lee will never, never, let this happen... not on Jim King's watch.


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March 03, 2006

Jeb Bush - He has no equal

In a state like Florida you need to seize the opportunity and deal with the problems and move on. This is not a static place. This is not a place for stasis thinking. This is a place for dynamic action.

Sieze it he did. Trendsetter. Policy wiz. Leader. Cost cutter. Most Floridians will not truly acknowledge or recognize the tremendous good Jeb Bush has brought to this state until he has been out of office for a couple years. Although, some may already be looking forward.

None of Bush’s likely successors at this point appears to have either the understanding of policy or the passion Bush marshaled to keep the educational boulder moving. And move it he did. While some continued to criticize the FCAT, Bush’s policies — grading schools, holding systems accountable — forced communities back into schools, narrowed achievement gaps between whites and minority groups, and stimulated significant achievement gains overall.

There's tons to read. If you admire what he has accomplished I recommend reading,not just because of the successes, but the failures and honest mistakes he accepts as the leader of this state. All in all, he was the first Governor to reverse the overall trend of growing government to solve our problems. It didn't always work, but overall, the state of Florida couldn't be in better shape and it's still moving foward.

What happens after Bush leaves will determine Florida politics for decades to come. A GOP candidate could solidify Florida as a conservative state, dedicated to accountability and prudent spending. A democrat could reverse nearly every policy initiative Bush fought for in a few short years. If you enjoy your job, the prosperity of this state, the rising standards in education and increased business opportunities Florida has to offer, then you should hope for the former. If you think Florida should be doing more to provide aid, comfort, assistance and public resources to failing schools, businesses, criminals, and illegal aliens then you should hope for the latter - and expect more of the like to join us.

However, future Governors, no matter which party they belong to, are almost certain to raise taxes. It's inevitable. Building favor in the halls of the capitol mean distributions, cash, and jobs. Some agencies reverse the decline in positions seen during the Bush tenure, some will grow again after many years of stagnation, some will receive the funding long denied by Bush (and for good reason), some privatization efforts will be returned to state oversight and some jobs left unfilled will be filled by supporters of the new administration.  Favors long ago promised to legislators for future support will be backed up. Funding for local districts and "turkeys" often vetoed will be approved. Kickbacks mean money. Higher taxes.

Let's hope nobody gets carried away.

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March 02, 2006

"I can't recommend in good conscience that an African-American family send their children to the Minneapolis public schools."

So said Louis King, black leader and former school board memebr in Minneapolis. He went on to say,

"The facts are irrefutable: These schools are not preparing our children to compete in the world." Mr. King's advice? "The best way to get attention is not to protest, but to shop somewhere else."

Not prepared.

Black parents in 2003 gave the Minneapolis school system significantly more negative ratings than other parents, the two major beefs being poor quality academic programs and lack of discipline.

Poor academics and lack of discipline. Instead of sex education, life management and the liberal sciences maybe we should be teaching reading, writing and math with some actual American history and civics included.

February 17, 2006

Incentives in PE

Money talks in Escambia County Middle School PE...


A former Ward Middle School gym teacher is accused of soliciting $1 per
day from students who did not want to dress for gym class -- but still
receive a 100 percent grade.
I'm sure Bush is to blame for this. He must be. It's his fault for everything else.

The faculty was shocked when the allegations surfaced.

I bet.

"We as a faculty are putting our best foot forward and put our faith in
the judicial system," she said. "We're really focusing all our energy
on the FCAT."
They better.

February 14, 2006

Teachers want higher salary but oppose performance based increases

So, you want higher pay? We want higher scores.

We want kids who can read, write, add, subtract, multiply and divide. It's that simple. We've been saying it for years. It's why private schools, charter schools, home schools, vouchers and opportunity scholarships have been growing in popularity over the past ten years. We are tired of sending our kids to public schools to learn more about sex, drugs and rock-n-roll (or hip hop) instead of reading, writing and math.

In recent years the state and federal governments have passed legislation requiring testing and accountability standards. The Governor has promised money for results. This year the Florida Department of Education has issued a new ruling earmarking money (the governor provided $53 million in his budget) for bonuses up to 5% of salary for teachers who show gains in the top 10% on the FCAT. The state average pay is $41,578 so the average bonus would be $2,078. Teachers earning more would naturally have a bigger bonus, teachers earning less would have a smaller bonus.

At this time the bonus is only earmarked for teachers of FCAT subjects, which are presumably in FCAT testing grades. The ruling directs local school districts to decide how to measure and reward teachers making gains in non-FCAT courses (think PE, history, art). It's officially called the "E-Comp" plan but I call it the "No Teacher Left Behind" plan. Not everybody deserves bonuses or pay increases.

Naturally, the Florida Education Association (FEA) and the Teachers Association of Lee County filed a formal challenge to the plan seeking to invalidate the rule change. Tell me again who's fighting against teacher pay increases?

The FEA and other interested individuals (who by the way doesn't see any benefit to union membership and is not a union member herself) argue the same tired argument that the FCAT is too subjective and only measures what the student knows at that time on that day placing way too much pressure on teachers, administrators and schools - but won't offer an alternative - and to which I answer, that is our goal. If your biggest complaint is our policies are placing too much pressure on teachers and schools to show performance gains every year, then I say we must be doing something right.

If the FEA, NEA, and school districts would do what parents, legislators, colleges and, most importantly, employers wanted them to do then we wouldn't need to pressure them by taking our kids out of their schools, grading them on a A-F scale, tying money to students and offering bonuses to teachers who show the most improvement. (In all honesty my preference would be to double the bonuses for teachers with the highest gains and increase their class size and pay by 10-20 percent every year they show gains.)

Good leaders always strive to improve. The teachers unions only seek to retard improvement and incentives for gains because it segregates good teachers from bad teachers. It validates how competition works and how touchy-feely-goody-goody teaching methods have been corrupting our children and leaving our workforce ill equipped to compete in a global marketplace. It's also likely to show teachers with the least amount of "education" will show the most gains and only further disprove another tired maxim that better educated teachers make better educators themselves. To quote my liberal friend,

This is just another joke to distract from real ways to benefit educators.

And that, in a nutshell, is the problem. They just don't get it. We aren't trying to benefit educators - we are trying to benefit the children, tomorrow's workers and tomorrow's college students. Teachers and educators who do that will be amply rewarded.

But, teachers unions and those who support them are not in this fight to produce smarter, more intelligent children better prepared to enter a highly competitive workforce and global marketplace. They are in it for themselves.

It's no wonder the liberals fight so hard to raise the minimum wage, their education unions are fighting hard to mass produce minimum wage earners.

The No Teacher Left Behind plan (E-comp) is a good first step anad should be implemented regardless of what crazy scheme local districts come up with to provided bonuses for drama and shop. Bring on bonuses for gains but rememebr it's not the total answer. There's still more to do.

January 27, 2006

When your education policy comes from Out in Left Field

I estimate there are basically two problems with education, at all levels, and the current political climate including the basic guiding proclivities of each side are blocking real reform, real progress.

  1. Lack of rigorous academic subject expectations and, most importantly, enforcement.
  2. Lack of support for the process of "educating" children, as opposed to support for educators.

We can all agree education policy, and the resulting practice of educating children, needs reform. The problem is nobody seems to agree on how that reform should come. But when your education policy and reform ideas come from Out in Left Field, then nobody is being serious about educating children.

The bottom line - in the current politically charged climate where the left attacks and denigrates every reform effort, and the right refuses to support the people (teachers) they need to support for change, then nothing is going to get done.

Take this classic statement from those on the left, 

Smaller classroom sizes, especially in elementary schools, are essential to a good education for all our kids, especially students who struggle. Talk to some teachers - there is universal agreement on this issue! They know a thing or two about how to help our kids and were able to convey that when voters approved the law. Now reallocate some funds and get it accomplished. Enough excuses.

Of course teachers want smaller class sizes. I wish I could get paid to do less. It makes their job much easier to cope with, but class size supposedly having an effect on educating the vast majority of children is a complete myth. It has only been shown to help some minorities, namely the seriously underprivileged and those students seriously behind in their studies. It has zero effect on the vast majority of students either short term or long term. This is a talking point propagated by the teachers and teachers unions with scant, if any, supporting data. Targeted class size reduction can, and should be, an option. But this current idea of mandating class reduction statewide is complete lunacy and irresponsibility.

Secondly, take a look at some "failing" schools. Are they overcrowded? Especially, are they overcrowded with underprivileged (economically and intellectually) students? If so, then the solution isn't to pull some kids out at taxpayer expense and to hell with the rest. There are few students with parents who can place them in private schools - with or without taxpayers' help.

If a school is overcrowded and overcrowding leads to failure, then how can any solution to reduce the number of students be discounted or discarded? Why are vouchers, charter schools, home schooling or private education options not viable alternatives to building more public schools? According to this argument the problem isn't with the educational process or the abilities of educators, the problem lies solely with the number of children per district, school or class. Vouchers, charter schools, home schooling and private education provide four solutions to the "number" problem but they are not acceptable. Why?

They aren't being serious about reform. The only possible answer is because the debate on the left is not about providing education - of which all these alternatives provide - but about providing the education that produces the most jobs and funding for the educational establishment. This, not coincidently, is the responsibility of a union.

So, I suspect most people are genuinely concerned about educating children and most teachers have the best intentions. They are given their talking points and they believe in the people who fight for them everyday. Sadly they are just plain wrong most of the time. But does that mean those on the political right have all the answers? Will vouchers, charter schools, home schooling and private education solve our problems? I say no. Not for everybody. We need something different.

-

Everybody has a story when they were young about getting disciplined at school, only to go home and get beat by mom... and then dad. It wasn't the beatings that kept us in line, it was the knowledge that we were being beat every step of the way. It was the knowledge that teachers, principals, parents and communities were working together as agents, watching us, expecting of us, and enforcing upon us the rigid codes of behavior we needed to conform to.

When I long for days past, I don't long for more beatings. I long for the support, the team, the mutual expectation. I wish just once a school principal would call and ask to beat my child. I can decline the offer, but at least I know they are trying, that they expect something to happen, that they are taking steps.

Of course, what I am talking about has nothing to do with the science of educating children. When did it become a science anyway? Educating children is a process that is more about process than discovery. But more importantly, it's an alternative.

In centuries past education was the alternative to farming, working, sewing, cooking. There was a price to pay for children leaving the home during daylight hours and they were expected to progress in knowledge, ability and value to society. The same idea should be returned to the educational process. We value our advanced and civilized society that discredits child labor and stay at home moms, but what price is there to pay for children who fail in the class and have no life skills to fall back on? What value to society is an ignorant child, teenager or adult?

Is failure harsh to think about? Yes. But I believe our best efforts should be put towards expectations, enforcement, and competition. I believe success rises with expectation, and failure follows without enforcement. Should public schools be closed down for other alternatives? No. Should other alternatives be shut off because of public mandates? No.

-

The right, me included, believes completely in self reliance, personal responsibility, discipline and respect for authority, moral authority, competition, traditional values and the free marketplace of ideas and policies. We value data, and we seek results oriented change. We value success and implicitly discredit failure.

Our values are both strength and a weakness in the education reform arena. We know what works because we've seen it work - competition (among providers and recipients), a focus on traditional liberal education (math, reading, history, civics and science), respect for parents and respect for authority - all contribute to better educated children, workers and researchers. But our efforts to tie education reform to broader policy areas - like free markets and government funding alternatives to taxes (bonds, lotteries, fees, tuition, scholarship, vouchers, etc.) - often lead us into debates over bottom lines, and education reform morphs into economic development. I think they should be kept separate.

The left has separate and completely different problems. The good is they value individuality, support for the underprivileged and depressed. They believe they can do more and often they refuse to give up. But they believe the problem with failing children and schools is with the system and not with the teachers, administrators, children, family or parents. Their focus on the system leads them to overlook the hard truths about their failures and their pursuit of funding, and environmental reform (class size, busing, length of school year, teacher pay, teacher credentials, etc.) over the past 50 years have not lead to the success they had hoped.

On the contrary, learning gaps still exist, dropout rates have neither raised nor dropped and the general reading, writing and mathematical skill of students graduating high school are comparatively  worse, to say nothing of the abysmal ignorance of civics or history (American or otherwise). I think many of these "reforms" championed by the left should be abandoned completely.

I want to support teachers and educators. I want to pay them above average salaries with bonuses and benefits comparable to those in management. Teachers are good people. They sacrifice pay, and sometimes alternative careers, to leave a mark in children’s lives. In many underserved communities teachers are often the only good some students see in their daily lives. But, self sacrificing well meaning teachers are not who I want teaching my child. God love them, but they are the worst types of people to be in middle and high schools teaching children with discipline, authority and legal problems.

Sadly, teachers today need more of a drill sergeant mentality. You will succeed because failure is not an option. You will learn because you can. You will progress because you must. It's not what they are called to do, but in most schools it is what is needed. Our country needs better educated students, smarter students, prepared students. It's not just a matter of personal survival, it's a matter of national survival.

Besides, good teachers are more than well educated, well trained or willing. A good teacher is an amalgam of experience, not experts in their fields, but experts with kids, one person tyrants with a mini fiefdom supported by parents and neighborhoods, and they rule with the authority that comes from support structures.

Teacher pay and targeted smaller class size is a start (particularly in super-failure situations), but without expectations why bother? Without enforcement, how successful can they be?

-

I would prefer not to saddle the state with funding for construction of mythical class size measurements that have absolutely no empirical evidence of success. I would prefer not to reward existing teachers who are failing students, and I would prefer not to recruit poor teachers with the lure of higher pay to this state, my neighborhood or my school.

I would prefer to offer payouts to bad teachers to get rid of them, using the salary money to double the salary of good teachers. I would prefer to drop the certification requirements for most teaching and focus on dedicated professionals, homemakers and disciplinarians that expect results. Some background in subject matter would be nice, but what expert knowledge does a teacher need to teach 7 year olds how to add, subtract, multiply and divide. It's not calculus for crying out loud.

With some exceptions we generally aren't in need of more teachers, more schools and more laptops. The expectations are what's lacking. It's ok to fail, because you aren't an idiot. It's ok to be functionally illiterate if you come from a bad neighborhood. It's ok to graduate without basic abilities, because if we deny you a degree then you can't get a job. We will pass you on to the next grade, because we don't want to be responsible for your failure. It’s too late. With thinking like this educators are failing children before they even step into the classroom.

Just this week in a Senate Committee on Education Senator Frederica Wilson was trying to lay the blame for falling minority enrollment at universities at the feet of FCAT testing. Her thinking was along these lines - If we weren’t so strict on FCAT testing more minorities would graduate high school and enter universities. How sad is this soft bigotry? How ignorant is it to deny opportunity in the name of political gain?

The FCAT is the bare minimum. A student who can’t pass the FCAT should not be attending a university, they should be thinking of a trade or alternative lifestyle that does not require education. They have already been failed by the educational system, not by testing. They should be suing their parents and their teachers for allowing them to get so far with so little.

-

I want to reform education, but the reformers keep getting in the way. Those on the left should quit protecting failure in the face of good intentions and those on the right should pay above average for above average results. If the left would quit debating about how money flows from state coffers into classrooms then the right would quit arguing about how much to give.

Educators should identify children who are truly in need and find them dedicated help, but we must expect the remaining children to progress. When they don't, they must fail. And the price paid must be on the parents, not the state. This is why vouchers and school choice work so well, they are the antithesis of paying the price - vouchers are reaping the rewards of responsibilities. Parents want to be recognized for taking the responsibility and vouchers provide that opportunity.

Parents will, and want to, take the responsibility of finding and providing quality education for their children. They will seek out results and they will imply your failure when they leave your school. We need to increase our expectations, increase our enforcement, and support the process in whatever form it takes be it through traditional schools, charter schools, homeschools, private schools or public competition through vouchers and scholarship.

Schools and unions should quit denying their failures. They must go first because they have been steering the educational boat for more than half a century. They must accept we are on the shoals of failure and it wasn't the passengers who got us there.

January 24, 2006

Exchange in the Senate Committe on Education

Today's Senate Committee on Education - John Winn explains the reason our state ranks 50 in graduation rates is because of how we report/publish information regarding retention policy of 9th graders. It goes something like this (this is not terribly accurate but it reflects the sentiment of the comments)-

Winn - We aren't really that bad. We look bad because we report 9th graders who don't receive all the credits for promotion as 9th graders. They move on to 10th grade, but they are still classified as 9th graders. When grauation rates are calculated they are measured against the original numbers of 9th graders. Other states aren't capable of reporting that information so they don't get stuck with it.

Senator King - WTF?

Winn - What?

King - Why don't we report information that reflects better? If its a reporting technicality then why don't we report information that will make us look better?

Winn - The counties report the information.

King - and?

Winn - We just publish it, we don't report it.

King - ....

Winn - ....

Chairman - Lets move on

UPDATE: More from Senator Bullard

Chairman - Senator Bullard

Senator Bullard - Thank You. Senator Wilson, nice hat.

Bullard - Are we doing things the legal way or the right way?

Winn - The legal way is always the right way.

....

Bullard - when I hear the legal way versus the right way regarding education I get concerned for the children. I want to be sure we are doing things the RIGHT way.

Winn - The legal way is the minimum we should do, the right way is the maximum we can do. We are trying to do the right thing.

Nice save John. Nice save.

UPDATE: More from Senator Wilson

Wilson - are you looking at the impact of reduced enrollment of minorities at universities becauase of the role of FCAT failure diminishing graduation rates among minorities?

Winn - enrollment in universities requires much more than passage of FCAT, so enrollment in collegees is not affected by reduced graduation due to FCAT failure. You and I just have to disagree on that.

Why does that even need to be said? How do these people get elected?

MORE: On state by state graduation rates from Jay Greene during his time at the Manhattan Institute. Green is now at the University of Arkansas and is in Tallahassee today for an education summit hosted by the James Madison Institute.

January 23, 2006

Monday Debate

Over at Out in Left Field, Kate and I (and various anonymous readers) are discussing the proper use of budget surpluses. Come watch as I relieve her of her policy parasols and shine sunlight on the fallacies of the left.

January 13, 2006

I'd like to see schools try this in Florida

At least the money would be tied to performance, results and progress.

Designed to attract strong teachers to Houston classrooms and increase
academic achievement, the program will pay annual bonuses topping
$3,000 in some cases to teachers whose students show strong gains on
state and national standardized tests.

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January 11, 2006

Public schools are cheating the children

That's the title of John Stossels latest piece found at RCP.

Last week, Florida's supreme court ruled that public money can't be spent on private schools because the state constitution commands the funding of only "uniform . . . high-quality" schools. How absurd. As if government schools are uniformly high quality. Or even mostly decent.

January 05, 2006

Fl Supreme Court to minority parents - You have no choice.

The Florida Supreme Court handed down it's decision on vouchers today - Opportunity Scholarships, used by 700 students (64% black and 30% hispanic) are unconstitutional because the private schools they use their scholarships at at are not accountable in the same way public schools are.

Yeah, you read that right accountable.

Chief Justice Barbara Pariente, writing for the majority, said the program "diverts public dollars into separate private systems parallel to and in competition with the free public schools," which are the sole means set out in the state constitution for educating Florida children.

Private schools also are not uniform when compared with each other or the public system and they are exempt from many standards imposed by law on public schools, such as mandatory testing, she added.

The ruling was a victory for public schools across the state and nation, said Ron Meyer, lead attorney for a coalition, including a statewide teachers union, that challenged the voucher program.

"It means that Florida's taxpayers will not be forced to pay for schools which are unaccountable," Meyer said. The public schools of Florida will welcome the return of these voucher students at the end of the school year."

Essentially they acknowledge the Opportunity Scholarships create competition between public and private schools AND are saying parents can not be expected to decide when a private school is doing an appropriate better job of educating their children because private schools are not held to the same standards as public schools.

And you know, they're right. In private schools they actually expect kids to read and write English, perform basic math skills, and maintain some decent amount of responsibility and respect towards authority. Schools that don't do those things go out of business.

If that's not accountability then what is?

 

So far, I think A Stitch in Haste has said it best,

Equal education is now more important than quality education.

I have plenty to say on this subject regarding school choice, the subject of the ruling, the power grab this represents for the Supreme Court, how the legislature or the next governor might, could or should respond, the complete lack of understanding on what accoutnability is and how markets work. etc. etc. etc. More to come in the coming days and weeks. Much more.

I can't wait to see which GOP candidate for governor jumps on this one first. If Crist's fledgling team is on the ball, it will be him. Likely Gallagher has a statement in waiting but wants to wait and see what Bush will say. Let's watch shall we?

Mr. C

December 19, 2005

Knotty!

I saw this at Evangelical Outpost and I couldn't pass up posting it here. Learn something.

December 05, 2005

School Choice

If democrats can vote for it in NJ, why not in your town?

December 02, 2005

Evolution shmevolution

More on the evolution/ID debate and good reading in the comments section. (via David Boyd)

November 30, 2005

Note to readers

Posting will resume this afternoon. In the meantime check out

John in Carolina
O'blog
Don Surber
David Boyd
Out in Left Field
and The Original Gobbleblog

Also, Home School Buzz
Cigars and Theology
and my favorite article of the day so far, from the Opinion Journal. After reading it try to imagine yourself a GOP voter just after the 06 elections looking towards 08. Sanford is looking pretty good isn't he?

November 21, 2005

VA: Schools spend money to keep kids out

What is this world coming to when we are paying school administrators to keep kids OUT of school instead of in them?

This story from Hampton Roads, VA about "reverse truancy officers" who stake out students homes to find out if they live outside the district is infuriating.

This is what happens with government run systems - eventually, some "pigs are more important than other pigs" and are protected.

A market system would have said, look at all these kids from out of the district, let's see what we are doing right to attract them and either 1) try to get more or 2) open a new school where they came from to win that market too.

Parents need more choice, not less.

November 18, 2005

Intelligent Design a la Dilbert

Interesting read. Part 1. Part 2.

His basic point - both sides could be right for all he knows, but there isn't an advocate on either side who can be trusted.

Good point me thinks.

November 17, 2005

Give schools an exra billion and they still suck

That's the findings of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation who gave a billion dollars to small high schools across the country. (HT Joanne Jacobs)

Results - some improvement in reading and language arts, but nothing in math.

"[W]e concluded that the quality of student work in all of the schools we studied is alarmingly low," the evaluation says. "This is not surprising, however, because students cannot demonstrate high-quality work if they have not been given assignments that require deep understanding" and higher-order thinking skills.

There's a saying that finishes with "Sherlock." Insert here.

In the future, instead of giving money away to failing schools, why don't we spend a billion on private schools, home schools, charter schools. Providing laptops and/or home computers to families who home school would do more than providing computers to public schools where a student might spend 40 minutes a day on the computer... sharing with other students.

November 10, 2005

Still think a private education is out of reach for the poor

Then tell me how these people did it?

November 09, 2005

Intelligent Design

If it's not science

And it's not religion

Then what is it? comments work well, try them.

November 02, 2005

Political Arithmetik

Where numbers and politics meet.

An interesting site from a poli sci professor at University of Wisconsin. Anyone who likes, numbers, graphs, trends will love this site.

October 31, 2005

Wealth and Educational Outcome

An excellent post this weekend over at Guarino.

Let's think about the issue of educational outcome systematically. What are the factors that influence how well a child is educated?  I will attempt to derive a list, in no particular order:

1. Family socioeconomic class
2. Teacher quality
3. Quality of educational administration
4. Curriculum quality
5. Resources expended on education
6. The intelligence level of the student
7. The motivational level of the student
8. The behavioral/emotional status of the student
9. The ability of the school to maintain order and discipline
10. Family characteristics, which include:

                a. the existence of one or two parents in the home
              b. the availability of at least one parent for external provision of structure, motivation,    support,  supervision and discipline during after-school and evening hours
                c. family attitudes toward the value of education
               d. family attitudes toward the overall concept of deferred gratification
               e. overall expectations set by parents

I may have missed some factors, but you get the point.  Clearly there are many factors that influence educational outcome.  I do not pretend to know, based on research, which of these factors have the strongest effect.

Here is the problem as I see it.  I think that the concept of family wealth, or socioeconomic status, is largely a proxy measure for some of the other variables listed above that more directly influence outcome.  Yes, families with more income and more assets can purchase certain goods and services that will place their children at an advantage.  And the ability to free up at least one parent to provide direct intervention, small and large,  on a daily basis is very helpful. 

But I doubt that family wealth or socioeconomic status alone are nearly determinative or dispositive.  That would suggest that no social  mobility can occur in our nation, but this is clearly not the case.  In fact, the American immigrant experience is a major source of refutation that family wealth is the clincher.  The fact that immigrants with virtually nothing have been able to come to this country,  have their kids educated, and arrive in the middle or upper classes within one, two or three generations proves that much more is at work.

He's right. But what do we do when we realize socioeconomic status has as little (or as much) influence over outcome as a hundred other factors? We should return to teaching the basics, requiring high standards, and get rid of trying to level the playing field. In a word, competition.

Life isn't fair. It's time we start teaching our kids that too.

October 20, 2005

Ignoring Facts Is a Failing Tactic

By Lindalyn Kakadelis

The recent release of North Carolina's ABCs testing data is already generating ripples of criticism and controversy. Hailed as one of the first comprehensive accountability programs in the nation, the ABCs system has measured student proficiency and school growth since 1996-97.

Unfortunately, ABCs results for 2004-05 show only 69 percent of state schools meeting expected or high growth, a drop of 6 percentage points from the year before. While state bureaucrats admit student performance is faltering, they ignore the program's obvious design flaws and the fact that its reward system is fundamentally misguided. What's the problem? For starters, current policies hamstring teachers, preventing them from tailoring methods to the actual students in their classroom.

Continue reading "Ignoring Facts Is a Failing Tactic" »

October 13, 2005

Two out of three?

Regardless of how you come down on this, 84% say God played a role. How did evolution make so many people think the same thing?

Econ 101 in an afternoon

Don't know much about economics? Want to know why capitalism and free trade are superior to socialism and central planning? This is a good place to start. (Via Hispanic Pundit)

It's not exactly Father Guido Sarducci's 5 Minute University, but it is just as easy.

September 30, 2005

FL: Out in Left Field is stepping up to the plate

I'm not sure if this is what you call bandwith piracy, but go read this opinion piece by Kate from Out in Left Field, one of my favorite FL blogs. And not my favorite because we agree on hardly anything.

Only when we begin holding parents accountable will we see a world of difference - in our students, our schools and our society.

Pigs must be flying somewhere. She probably thinks its freezing at my house.

Mr. C

September 27, 2005

A fine example of a human being

This story warms the heart. Kudos to you Jason. This will probably be one of the most important things you have ever done in your life.

It reminds me of the story of another important man trying to help someone in trouble, "I came to you for help and you turned me away." It's good to see not everybody turns away.

September 23, 2005

NC: Lottery proceeds not helping out as expected?

Shut your mouth! One of our future NC Lottery (for Education) Commission members, former Charlotte City Councilor Malachi Greene, had this to say in the Charlotte Observer yesterday,

"We have to be real careful about it," Greene said Wednesday of managing the lottery. Many states channel their lottery proceeds to education, as North Carolina plans to do, but have not seen a net gain in education funding, he said.

September 22, 2005

FL: Memo to Candidates

Education is important. Talk about it. Alot.

For example, today's coverage of FCAT being released online. (Via Sayfie Review)

AP AP Herald Post Tribune News-Press Today Ledger DBNJ Daily News Democrat Times-Union

Imagine how much they would write if you actually promoted a strong education agenda.

September 14, 2005

FL: "Self appointed" Education Commission not unique

I know what you're thinking, "A self appointed commission? What is that? That's pretty unique!"

Their recommendation for Florida Schools trying to meet high quality? We need to spend more money.

I hope they mailed it in instead of going to all the effort of having an actual meeting. I mean really, what's the point of meeting? Does anybody have any new ideas that might actually work? This guy does. Thanks for the laughs guys.

Oh, and for anybody interested, I am forming a commission to study government waste with some guys on the block. We are going to look at how the state spends money, if it spends it effectively, and what it can do to be a high quality government of the people....



This just in - The Government Waste Self Appointed Commission, or Goverment Waste SAC for short, since it was already aware of what it's findings would be, has decided to forego actually meeting and release those findings now.

The Government Waste SAC has found goverment at all local, state and federal levels wastes too much money, doesn't manage resources, time or people effectively and could be drastically improved by cutting 20-30% of total positions, cutting the overall state budget by 30-50% and reducing taxes by matching amounts.

Furthermore, the SAC wants to be clear that it doesn't expect these changes will improve the management of resources at any of the levels of government mentioned, it only expects these changes, when implemented, will reduce waste by similar amounts cut and will free capital, people and time to pursue constructive activities that actually contribute to the growth and health of an economy.

Since the commission was self appointed and holds a similar amount of authority as the recent self appointed commission set up to study high quality education, the Government Waste SAC is expecting all Florida Newspapers, and the Naples Daily News in particular, to pick up these findings and publish them as official findings which should be implemented immediately upon printing them.

For more information on background or professional experience of the self appointed members from around my block, email me here.

HT Florida Politics

UPDATE: House Majority Leader Tom Delay, a sort of commission unto himself, disagrees. And I, I will respectfully disagree with the Majority Leader. I seem to remember a bloated beached humpback whale of a transportation bill that recently passed. Nothing to see here folks. Move along.

HT Paul Chesser at The Locker Room.

Mr. C

September 09, 2005

FL: Pre-K program can't fill slots, turns to Katrina for help

After much ballyhoo regarding funding and space for Florida Pre-K program, it looks as though the Agency for Workforce Innovation has figured out how to start filling unused slots - Katrina victims. (HT Sayfie Review)

Florida has expanded its free voluntary prekindergarten program to serve any 4-year-old displaced by Katrina. And the state has suspended some of its documentation requirements for student enrollment.

here's why,

Polk [County] has 983 kids enrolled in the program, which operates through 65 preschool providers. She said the program has a capacity for 1,750 kids.

It's the same all across Florida. Can anybody point me to a county that is anywhere near capacity? Anybody want to lay odds that Polk County won't fill those spots either?

September 08, 2005

FL: Still no decision

FL Supreme Court still has not submitted it's decision on vouchers. Maybe next week.

In the mean time, read this from HispanicPundit on how to improve public schools.

September 07, 2005

FL: Will we get back the salaries already paid?

Before it was uncovering the scam, but now the credits have been revoked.

A college has revoked nearly 10,000 credits given to teachers after discovering they may not have had proper training from a Florida education program.

and,

In all, 657 teachers, many in the Miami-Dade area, received Otterbein [College] credit through MOTET [Move On Toward Education and Training], allowing them to bump up their salaries, teach new courses or meet Florida's continuing education requirements. MOTET offered certification courses in such subjects as driver's education and physical education.

Will we also revoke the salary increased based on those credits?

Will the state ask for their money back?

Will the state demand teachers immediately enroll in local community colleges to replace the credits that have been revoked?

What will become of those poor teachers who chose the easy, illegal route to increase their salary?

Probably, unfortunately,  nothing will happen. Just another reason to home-school or go private.

Mr. C

September 02, 2005

FL: Some Fl universities accepting student victims of Katrina

Some Florida universities, including Florida State University, are accepeting students displaced by Katrina at in-state tuition.

Statement from the National Association for College Admission Counseling.

September 01, 2005

FL: Still waiting for a school choice decision from the FL Supreme Court

Now that school has started and the FL SC has been on recess for over a month, you would think they could get their decision out. But, alas, no. Maybe next week.

August 29, 2005

Unbroken Circle

Merely to complete the circle, Hispanic Pundit links to this story in the Tallahassee Democrat, found at AConstrainedVision, who is linked to said story at PEER Review.

Thanks peeps.

BTW, lots of good reading at both sites. Stay a spell.

August 19, 2005

Who Knew? GOP and NAACP

A Republican, James Weldon Johnson, wrote the anthem for the NAACP [Hip Hop Republican]. Boy have times changed.

And when I say times have changed, I mean wow, why does the NAACP vote Democrat?

Take 3 MARIA.

Mr. C

August 17, 2005

Whose to blame for failing students?

How about students and parents? I can't blame the St. Pete Times for this story, but I can blame the trial lawyers. I despise trial lawyers. They aren't helping anybody. [Hat Tip Florida Politics]

[Tampa Trial Attorney Guy] Burns likened the education system to a cafeteria where each student gets a scoop of "educational hash." Black students, he argued, don't digest it "in the same way as white students," and it's up to the school system to find out why.

No, it's not up to the school system to find out why. Wait, is he suggesting only black people eat hash? I'm offended... where is the number for my local trial lawyer...

August 15, 2005

Fl Pre-K program not going as planned

Having been out of town for almost two weeks I understand there is a lot of problems with the implementation of Pre-K, and lots of articles I don't have the time to track down. But there is this article and astute observation that I will provide.

The state of Fl (or any state for that matter) can either be interested in improving childcare, education, or efficiently using state money. You can do two of these things at once, but not all three.

I propose leaving childcare to parents, and focus on improving education through improving schools with more choice, more vouchers, more scholarships, and less intrusion. Schools hold parents responsible for preparation, homework and discipline. Unruly and unprepared students are really irresponsible parents. Hold schools (and teachers) accountable for real learning, real advancement. Failing teachers are really failing students.

If the state is going to offer pre-K (and it shouldn't) here are the best options:
1 - Offer a tax credit instead
2 - OR Give parents a voucher for $2500 (or whatever amount) to be deducted from the total tuition cost
3 - OR Offer full day care

Mr. C

Higher education not a sign of liberal philosophy

Laziness is though.

South of the Suwannee
posted almost two weeks ago (you know I have been gone for a while) about the correlation between higher education and liberal philosophies saying,

Perhaps this is because the more knowledgeable you are, the more untenable it is to hold many of the conservative positions.

In fact, it becomes more difficult to refute them. True knowledge, and education, arrives through truth and the search for truth through factual observation. For instance, Socialism and redistributive economic programs such as those evolved from Keynesian and Marxist economics lead to high unemployment, poverty, poor health care, protectionism, isolationism and nationalism, which ultimately produce tyrannical leaders and systems such as Stalinism, Communism and Nazism. History has proven this.

The fact that every socialist idea or dogma ever conceived and implemented by leftist liberals (as opposed to classical liberals) has led to utter failure and mass murder does not dissuade more liberals from advocating the implementation of more liberal programs to save the first failed programs. This is a sure sign of the abject poverty of the idea that higher education leads to more liberal philosophies.

Rather, it is more likely that the higher education one receives the tighter the indoctrination into liberal dogma one receives. Among liberal philosophies it is easier to blame and accuse than to research and account for actual observations in the world. The truth is attainable, but laziness often gets in the way.

Most graduate students learn over time it is easier to follow the advice of ones advisor than to fight the system and languish in research hell for years at a time.

Economics. Chemistry. Physics. Math. Law. Medicine. All disciplines that form the foundations of society and civilized culture. All sciences that ultimately encompass one single idea, Action equals Reaction.Econ: Adjust tax rates, watch unemployment move. Chem: Add heat, see explosion. Phy: Push rock to the top of the hill, roll down for stored energy release. Math: Subtract from one side of an equation and add to the other. Law: Crime is met with punishment. Medicine: Remove the brain and the result is death. If more liberals used their brains then higher education wouldn't create so many liberals.

Mr. C

August 05, 2005

America is "Grateful to Almighty God"

I have been researching the history of American liberty, and what I have found about our nation's Christian history has been enlightening. For example, taking a look at the constitutions of all the states, I found that about 40 of the documents started with an acknowledgment that the people of those states were "grateful to Almighty God," or words to that effect.

What were those folks grateful for in their states' founding documents? 

Continue reading "America is "Grateful to Almighty God"" »

August 03, 2005

State funded PreK not meeting enrollement expectations

No surprise (HT Florida Politics). This was a bad idea to begin with. When the seats remain empty can we get our money back in the form of a tax cut?

Mr. C

August 02, 2005

Intelligent Design

First, I'd like to say many thanks to Mr. C for the invitation to post here. Thanks, Mr. C!

Today President Bush caused a stir when he told some Texas reporters that he thinks schools ought to teach "Intelligent Design" alongside evolution. At this point, I am unwilling to guess whether this comment will become more controversial than John Robert's ties to the if-we-sound-worried-enough-maybe-the-viewers-will-think-it's-extremist Federalist Society, but we'll see. The president's remark that "You're asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, the answer is yes" sounds sensible enough.

But if it is so decided that Intelligent Design must not be taught after all, on account of if might run afoul of the "liberals" and their pet misinterpretation of the Establishment Clause, then surely we should also lock out of the classroom Aristotle and his Physics. Did you know that joker actually reasoned that there had to be a "Prime Mover," something unmoveable that set everything else in the universe in motion? (No wonder Cleese & Co. referred to him as a "bugger for the bottle," eh?)

Quoth he: "Since everything that is in motion must be moved by something, let us suppose there is a thing in motion which was moved by something else in motion, and that by something else, and so on. but this series cannot go on to infinity, so there must be some first mover."

Aristotle didn't go far enough to identify this Mover exactly (certainly not enough to settle religious questions), but then, neither do Intelligent Design theorists. They do address, however, a keen deficiency in Darwinistic theory.

I'll quote from a letter in The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscriber site) by Stephen C. Meyer, Professor of the Conceptual Foundations of Science at Palm Beach Atlantic University and the director of the Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute: "If all living systems look as though they were designed for a purpose, as neo-Darwinists have long acknowledged, and if neither neo-Darwinism nor any other materialistic evolutionary theory accounts for the most striking appearances of design in living systems (such as the cellular information-processing system), then perhaps living systems look designed because they really were."

August 01, 2005

More bad news for Pre K

It seems everyday I read an article criticizing VPK and it's implementation. Today I want to point you to this article, Pre-K Program Still Hitting Obstacles - Lack of space in public schools and low enrollment hurt the new initiative.

Can I ask, how can you have a lack of space AND low enrollment? It's really either or.

I don't mind criticizing the VPK program, not to mention the entire flawed idea behind it, but let's get our criticisms straight.

The Porn Generation

An article at Townhall by UNCW professor Mike Adams entitled Generation P summarizes the book Porn Generation by Ben Shapiro. Anybody under 40 (45?) knows exactly what he's talking about.

Ben observes that “(t)he ‘have sex as soon as you’re ready’ logic also means that having sex becomes a mark of maturity. Those who are more mature and mentally prepared will have sex younger. Those who wait until marriage to have sex, conversely, must be immature social outcasts or for some reason unprepared.”

Regarding colleges and Universities, Ben correctly puts a fair share of the blame for college students’ increasing sexual deviance upon college professors and administrators. He talks about college classes where students take pictures of their own genitals and others that challenge the notion that “voyeurism, bestiality, sadism, and masochism” are perverse. Were this book to end after the third chapter, it would already be a wise investment for the parents of college-bound high school students.

He goes on to say, Shapiro is also dead-on when he states that: “Rappers need to get over their obsession with their own genitals, and start working on changing their perverse views of women, or there’s no end to the damage this destructive culture can create.”

But this is my favorite, and Adams's too,

“Paris Hilton is famous for one reason, and one reason only: She’s a fabulously rich slut.”

I should've used that for the title to this post.
Mr. C

July 28, 2005

School choice decision from Supreme Court should come soon

It's more than possible the Florida Supreme Court will render it's opinion on the constitutionality of vouchers very soon, maybe today very soon [see update at bottom of post] (see more here, and here and also this contribution from the James Madison Institute). In light of that I have some articles for you, not background per say, more like adjunct information to consider regardless of the ruling.

First, the opinions of Black and Hispanic leaders in Florida, who support school choice,

School choice is not about public vs. private or religious vs. secular. It is most fundamentally about empowering minority and low-income parents to provide a high-quality education for their children. It's about leveling the playing field for people of lesser financial means, but high aspirations.

Next we have information about the way the press covers education and why the real issues (improper curricula, poor teaching, low standards, etc.) are deflected, not to mention some of the policies that encourage them.

[Tennessee Republican Senator Lamar] Alexander said, "Our children don't know American history because they are not being taught it," adding that the Florida Legislature had recently passed a bill permitting students to graduate from high school without taking a single U.S. history course.

I didn't know that. Send me a link to that story if anybody has it.

And I want to leave you with a glimmer of hope and a story of positive change, W's School Reform pays off. The news,

Reading competency for 9-year-olds has reached its highest level since NAEP [National Assessment of Educational Progress] began measuring progress in 1971.              

What is more, the achievement gap is narrowing.

and concludes with this,

And so the educrats are left with weak criticisms. They complain that No Child Left Behind is underfunded -- even as [President George W.] Bush budgets money for the Department of Education. They argue that students have no motivation to apply themselves when they take tests -- and still the NAEP numbers are up. They note that NAEP high-school scores are flat without acknowledging that they opposed reforms that are helping more of today's 9-year-olds read.

Look, school choice and vouchers work. They provide opportunities to parents and children that wouldn't otherwise have them. If the FL SC finds the Opportunity Scholarships to be unconstitutional, then it should be the number one priority for the next Governor of Florida to find a way to institute school choice constitutionally.

Reducing class sizes and offering pre-k "super babysitting' is a waste of taxpayer dollars. Empowering parents with the responsibility, and the opportunity, to make a better life for their children is the only thing, the most important thing, school choice has to offer. Our next Governor should feel the same way.

Update: Thanks Mike, here's the notice from the FL SC website (that I have been checking all day and somehow overlooked). So it looks like Sept 1 will probably be the day. I can't imagine why it would take longer than that. NOTICE: The Court will go into summer recess from the close of business on July 8 until the start of business on August 22. The last regular Thursday opinion release will be July 7, and the next regular release will be September 1.

July 22, 2005

And people wonder why Homeschooling is on the rise

I can give you 100 reasons.

When James Majors applied for a teaching job at Miami-Dade County Public Schools in 2002, school district officials took little notice of a remarkable achievement: three degrees in only three months.

Without scrutiny from school officials, no one noticed that Majors, 26, provided fake teaching credentials to the district, and he went on to teach 300 students, according to a Miami-Dade grand jury report issued Monday.


The report raised serious questions about the Miami-Dade school district, where 99 other teachers also found work after providing fake credentials. Neither state education officials nor school district officials conducted a review of the job applicants, the grand jury noted in the report.

further,

The program, which charged teachers $774 for three credits, allowed four teachers to improperly receive more than $345,000 in salaries, officials said.

and goes on to say,

Teachers learned about the program through word of mouth, and showed up at Palmetto Sr. High School on Saturdays to enroll.

While
[
William] McCoggle, who recently retired after 22 years with the district, claimed to have a number of "adjunct professors," teachers received credits without attending classes, completing homework nor taking a test, authorities said.

"Teachers simply paid money and later received a transcript," the grand jury's report said.

They even scam their way into Drivers Ed.

The Oklahoma report said 190 people paid $175 per credit hour -- a total of $286,825 -- to take classes at Palmetto Senior High, Carver Middle and Jan Mann Opportunity School. The university received $75 per credit hour and MOTET [Moving On Toward Education and Training] kept $100.

A MOTET flier attached to the Oklahoma report states the classes cannot be used to earn a degree, but suggests they can be used for continuing education or to acquire a new subject-area certification, such as driver's ed.

Somebody was paying attention. This is rich,

A former Miami-Dade high school teacher was indicted Monday, charged with running a company that sold worthless continuing-education classes that helped about 100 teachers renew their state licenses or qualify to teach additional subjects.

In a separate case, illustrating similar problems, another teacher was indicted on charges he brazenly falsified his qualifications by claiming to earn bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees -- all within three months.

Three months? It only takes three seconds to know you can't recieve three degrees in three months.

''He had the audacity to fail 22 students''

I think his audacity began to surface long before he failed anybody. Unfortunately, common sense had called in sick to work the day he applied for the job.. and interviewed for said job, and switched schools, and ... well you get the picture.

July 14, 2005

We refuse to stop failing children

"I don't want to close any school that is serving the needs of a group of students," [Superintendent Art] Johnson said.

What cajones! Are you kidding me? What needs are you serving Art? Are you helping your students read and write? Uh no. Are you helping them learn how to balance a checkbook? uh no. Are you at least teaching your "at risk" students to respect authority and be accountable, responsible for their own actions? uh...

That was a trick question Art. Sometimes you find those on the SAT. But none of your students need to worry about that. Thanks for the link Sayfie.

July 07, 2005

Carnival of Education

Can be found here. Be sure to scroll all the way down for all previous carnival links.

Dangerous Consequences of Politically Correct Math

Dangerous Consequences of Politically Correct Math
by Dr. Karen Palasek

As the parent of a child about to enter college, and a college instructor myself, I am horrified to read the latest from Diane Ravitch, education historian, on the politicization of mathematics. Granted, the humanities have long been in the wasteland of the politically correct and left-indoctrinating university faculties. With the partial exception of economics, the social sciences are generally devoid of thinking, reasoning faculties as well, leaving the hard sciences and math as the last bastions of logic and clarity in the university. No more.

Continue reading "Dangerous Consequences of Politically Correct Math" »

June 29, 2005

Wolfpack Baller, economy, more harris bashing, new link, Religion, and wrestling

Challenge Day 4

Congrats to Wolfpack baller Julius Hodge, 20th pick to the Denver Nuggets in last night's NBA Draft.

I missed the speech last night, and I am sure you have already read all about, but if you haven't here's a roundup of coverage in the major media provided by Outdside the Beltway.

US Economy still improving. Thank the Bush Tax Cuts. More would be better.

Looking for more reasons to doubt Katherine Harris? Then carry your liberal backside over to this post - NEW QUINNIPIAC POLL CONFIRMS NELSON LEAD OVER HARRIS IN HEAD TO HEAD SENATE BATTLE - at I4Jamming

White Trash Wednesday at Pirates Cove. It's not as bad as it sounds.

Are testing agencies in it for the buck or for the educational improvement of the children? Go from that to the difference between parents and teachers expectations for children and some historical links to educational expectations of children by the institution.

Level 4 Morality, Idealism and Individualism at the Partial Observer.

Presidents and Religion through SOS.

Staying with religion and seguing to the Supreme Court is this interesting post about the Ten Commandments and the Beatitutdes. I definitely see his point. However, I think the foundations of law and society are based on old school rules. The foundations of morality and relationships, love and forgiveness, are based on new school teachings. Think of it this way,

  • Old school rules are for the group, the impersonal
  • New school rules are for the individual, the personal

God doesn't care about the group, he cares about you personally. At least I think so anyway.

SCOTUS and China? Read this opinion on the Kelo decision from Matt Warner of the James Madison Institute in today's Democrat. My favorite part -

Totalitarian governments with a socialist bent are experts when it comes to trampling on individual rights in the name of benefiting the masses.

How easy would it be to replace Totalitarian governments with the Democratic Party and nobody would even notice? 

From SCOTUS Blog, Will there be a resignation?

And finally, Did you know Hulk Hogan lived in Florida? Did you know he has a TV show?

June 21, 2005

News before it's News

Not everyone pays attention to news before it's news, so here's a primer on the upcoming Supreme Court battle from RCP.

OR the election after next, like Patrick Ruffini's 2008 Presidential Wire or, the Future Losers News Wire as like to call it.

And hardly anybody I know stay's up to date on what's happening in space, the actual outer space, but there is some cool stuff going on appropriately named Deep Impact. I think it's apparent NASA has cleared out the old stuffy heads and replaced them with a more appropriate group. This sounds like a job for Harry and AJ now.

An excellent speech, "Why limited government?," by Lawrence Reed.

You thought the FCAT was bad? Well, I didn't but I know I have a lot of liberal readers who do. Check these two links out on testing in North Carolina and New York then tell me which you would prefer, ours or theirs?

And this on a "different" kind of charter school coming soon to St. Lucie County, Florida. Sounds like fun, or another way for liberal educators to tweek their 10-year-old brainwashing skills.

Finally, in the "ya think?" file from the Democrat.

This should get you through lunch, but more later. I will now seek out illuminating liberal commentary to shut the door on. Have a great morning!

Mr. C

June 20, 2005

A little bit of everything

More suggestions  from the Miami Herald for how the GOP can supplant Speaker Bense for Rep. Harris in the '06 Senate race. Yeah, because the Miami Herald is oh so concerned about the GOP saving face in case Harris is the nominee. See my thoughts.

Book Review of The Bottomless Well - the follies of environmentalism, energy and conservation at TCS.

The HOT Tax? - if only they would.

Paul Chesser describes how to turn government into a cash cow.

Found this through Townhall, Presbyterian Church... encouraging Christian parents to remove their children from the public schools.

Over at Dynamist blog, info about the all powerful sugar lobby losing it's grip.

More hurricanes for Florida?

Have a great day. If I see anything else interesting, or if you find something you want me to post on, send it over and I will post on it.

Probably.

Mr. C

June 17, 2005

What Harvard Study?

I received a comment regarding Clark Neily's education piece and I recognize that not everyone visiting reads comments to every post. He asked for a link to a study referenced in the piece and in writing the reply I thought it better to simply post my findings for everyone.

And I want to clarify that in the future, as a rule, I will not be editing or adding links to editorials I recieve from the James Madison Institute or other organizational contributors. I will, whenever appropriate, take responsibility for pieces posted on this site that are not of my own hand and search for links to questions such as this. If I can not find supporting evidence myself, then I will pull a piece from the post until support can be provided by the author.

These are my findings - A quick Google Search turned up the following...

From the Heartland Institute, from the Brookings Institute, from the Lexington Institute (this is from April 2005 and specifically about Florida).

C'mon people. One of these links is to the Brookings Institute! For those who don't know, the BI is one of the more liberal think tanks out there. Just read the material.

If you follow and read the links I think you will see Harvard researchers have been following vouchers for several years now and the conclusions for almost every study I have seen (serious studies that is, teachers union audit reports showing a loss in revenue do not count) is vouchers have a positive impact on students, schools and states educational goals. Here's a link to the Harvard Kennedy School of Government's Program on Education Policy and Governance where you can find more research, opinions and publications dealing with Education policy. I haven't read everything there so if you henpeck a study that shows something contrary to what I just said then congratulations, you found one.

It doesn't lessen the importance of every other study finding exactly the opposite.

Now back to my regularly schedule posting.

Mr. C

New Education link

I found another education based blog that covers just about everything education related. Joanne Jacobs is a former columnist turned freelance writer focusing on education issues. The most recent posts are all interesting reads.

- Students demanding higher grades
- Myth busting in Japan (this is a riot)
- Alpha moms
- Universal preschool is not all it's cracked up to be
- Pass/fail experiment in France

Take 5 MARIA

Mr. C

June 16, 2005

Showdown on School Vouchers

This article, originally published May 31, 2005, is relevant until the Florida Supreme Court releases it's opinion. In the future we will publish closer, or before, publication dates.

Be sure to check our other school choice article from the James Madison Institute, School Choice: The Civil Rights Issue of the 21st Century.

Mr. C

Update and New Feature

No posts yesterday. Issues with security on Mr. C's machine. More this afternoon.

I am very excited to announce a new feature on PEER Review -

Original and published editorials, essays and commentary from the James Madison Institute will be published here each month. I am beginning today with two pieces on School Choice and the current case before the Florida Supreme Court. The first is from Clark Neily, adjunct scholar to JMI and attorney for the Institute for Justice, the organization fighting to save school vouchers in Florida (and the US). He is representing the Opportunity Scholarships in the current case. It was published in the past two weeks but you may have missed it, so I have it in it's original form.

Look for a second piece this afternoon from Robert McClure, President and CEO of the James Madison Institute.

Be sure to leave comments. I will post this afternoon with a roundup of recent posts from our liberal friends in the blogosphere.

Thanks for reading!

Mr. C

School Choice: The Civil Rights Issue of the 21st Century

Clark Neily

On June 7, the Florida Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case that could decide whether Florida continues to lead the nation in true education reform or joins the ranks of states where “reform” means business as usual.

Continue reading "School Choice: The Civil Rights Issue of the 21st Century" »

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