September 16, 2014

It only knock's once!

Posted by John Kranz at 11:07 AM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

LOL. What are they over there in England now, 'mericans?

Posted by: johngalt at September 16, 2014 11:53 AM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Worse - Californians. Californians who text.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at September 16, 2014 2:59 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Nah, KA. That would have been "educayshunal oppertunatees."

Her Majesty's realm has slipped, but not THAT much!

Posted by: johngalt at September 16, 2014 3:11 PM

August 28, 2014

Private Schools for the Poor

I have worn ThreeSourcers' patience threadbare with constant harangues to read "The Beautiful Tree" by James Tooley [Review Corner].

He has a lengthy column on the same topic in The Independent Review.

The accepted wisdom is that private schools serve the privileged; everyone else, especially the poor, requires public school. The poor, so this logic goes, need government assistance if they are to get a good education, which helps explain why, in the United States, many school choice enthusiasts believe that the only way the poor can get the education they deserve is through vouchers or charter schools, proxies for those better private or independent schools, paid for with public funds.

But if we reflect on these beliefs in a foreign context and observe low-income families in underprivileged and developing countries, we find these assumptions lacking: the poor have found remarkably innovative ways of helping themselves, educationally, and in some of the most destitute places on Earth have managed to nurture a large and growing industry of private schools for themselves.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:27 PM | Comments (0)

August 21, 2014

Cupcake.

Jason Riley points out that the President's poll numbers are not only sagging on big issues, but also on smaller items like his education initiatives.

The Common Core state standards being pushed by Mr. Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan are especially unpopular. In return for adopting the new standards, the administration promised states more education funding and exemptions from federal accountability provisions in place under No Child Left Behind. Forty-five states eventually signed up for the new standards, but many parents have rejected what they consider a federal intrusion into local schools that would reduce teacher flexibility. Some 81% of respondents in the poll had heard of Common Core--up from 47% last year--and 60% opposed it.

Even with the Internet Segue Machine™ set on "stun" it was easy to relate that to George Will's superb Unified Cupcake Postulate. You'll want to read all of Will's piece (free link), but the short version is that government both feels emboldened and empowered to regulate school bake sales while actual government functions are neglected or handled poorly.
Washington's response to the menace of school bake sales illustrates progressivism's ratchet: The federal government subsidizes school lunches, so it must control the lunches' contents, which validates regulation of what it calls "competitive foods," such as vending machine snacks. Hence the need to close the bake sale loophole, through which sugary cupcakes might sneak: Foods sold at fundraising bake sales must, with some exceptions, conform to federal standards.
[...]
Resistance to taxation, although normal and healthy, is today also related to the belief that government is thoroughly sunk in self-dealing, indiscriminate meddling and the lunatic spending that lards police forces with devices designed for conquering Fallujah. People know that no normal person can know one-tenth of 1 percent of what the government is doing.

Limited government. Limited corruption. Limited incompetence.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:42 PM | Comments (0)

August 19, 2014

The Humanity!

Removing an option entirely does not help teach good decision-making skills, it’s just temporarily taking something out of the equation for 6 or 7 hours a day.

Yet another argument against prohibition, but this one is not in support of legalizing recreational drugs, or alcohol, or pharmaceuticals. This lunatic nut job is very seriously suggesting the radical idea of unfettered access to ... groceries.

The recent passing of the Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act was done with the best of intentions. The act, established as a way to promote healthy eating among kids and decrease childhood obesity, which is rising at alarming rates, sets nutritional standards for school lunches and snacks available to school-age children. That means the end of the elusive vending machine and the high-calorie snacks it contains.

But don't expect kids to give up their sugar fix so easily…

As The Atlantic reports, jonesing students have turned to the junk-food black market… some as dealers, others as addicts.

That's right, kids are smuggling in junk food, risking punishment, but making bank. The Atlantic reports that some kids are making upwards of $200 per week dealing in sugar, and it’s even hit student government. Yup, a student body vice president at one Connecticut school was forced to resign after buying contraband Skittles from a student "dealer."

That's "recently passed" as of 2011, but of interest today as it is back-to-school time. This is when it is most noticeable, with flyers coming home in packets of forms to complete. We've never been called into the office for sending our kids to school with Frito Lay products in their backpacks, but one does rehearse speeches in preparation for that possibility.

"We ask you to teach our children how to think for themselves but when it comes to the foods they may eat, you teach them that thinking is forbidden."

Posted by JohnGalt at 12:02 AM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

When Cheetos® are outlawed...

Posted by: jk at August 19, 2014 11:39 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Cold, dead, orange fingers.

Posted by: johngalt at August 19, 2014 12:42 PM

August 4, 2014

All Hail Taranto!

Un petit hors d'oeuvres for those on the wrong side of Rupert's brutal paywall:

taranto140804.gif

Posted by John Kranz at 6:17 PM | Comments (0)

July 24, 2014

All Hail Harsanyi

I'm going to post this here if that is okay. For all their faults, I'd like to continue to see my family.

But ThreeSources's favorite, David Harsanyi, dares question the unchallenged truth of teachers' compensation.

Recently, the National Council on Teacher Quality found that schools are training twice as many K-5 elementary school teachers as they need every year.

With this kind of surplus, the question we really should be asking is: how are teacher salaries so high?

The second, and less obvious problem, with Vox's mechanic-teacher comparison is the snobbish suggestion -- thrown around by teachers unions and their allies all the time -- that working with your hands is less meaningful or valuable to society than working with kids.

Now, auto technicians make an average of $35,790 nationally, with 10 percent of them earning more than $59,590, according to BLS data. According to a number of experts from large car companies, there will be a serious shortage of mechanics in the near future, as demand expected to grow 17 percent from 2010 to 2020. That's 848,200 jobs, according to USA Today. And judging from the information, mechanics are asked to learn increasingly high-tech skills to be effective at their jobs. It wouldn't be surprising if their salaries soon outpaced those of teachers.


I forgot who said it (sorry!) but my favorite line is "Teachers: they demand to be treated like professionals but paid like factory workers."

Posted by John Kranz at 11:49 AM | Comments (0)

July 21, 2014

Kids these days

They aren't Obama-loving socialists because they believe in egalitarian redistribution but because, perhaps, they believe socialism means "protecting the vulnerable from the vicissitudes of capitalism" and capitalism means "government favoritism instead of a free market."

In fact, millennial support for a government-managed economy (32%) mirrors national favorability toward the word socialism (31%). Millennial preferences may not be so different from older generations once terms are defined.

Millennials’ preferred economic system becomes more pronounced when it is described precisely. Fully 64 percent favor a free market economy over an economy managed by the government (32%), whereas 52 percent favor capitalism over socialism (42%). Language about capitalism and socialism is vague, and using these terms assumes knowledge millennials may not have acquired.

Hat tip: A very good Stossel show last night.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:09 PM | Comments (0)

June 17, 2014

Two Tweets of the Day?

Two hundred eighty characters -- suck it up!

Hat-tip: Taranto

Posted by John Kranz at 4:23 PM | Comments (0)

May 21, 2014

Libertas est in lege prohibitum

In an IBD editorial Campus Intolerance Endangers America's Free Speech. Economics Hoss Walter E. Williams treads the same waters of western illiberalism that we discussed May 9th regarding Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Readers may recall I drew a simile between western "liberals" and central Africa's Boko Haram ["non-Muslim teaching is forbidden"].

Williams quotes Charles Murray to explain what the academy used to be all about, at least when it was devoted to science instead of indoctrination: "The task of the scholar is to present a case for his or her position based on evidence and logic. Another task of the scholar is to do so in a way that invites everybody into the discussion rather than demonize those who disagree."

But today, every challenge to the orthodoxy of the illiberal left is met with precisely the opposite reaction - demonization. Williams summarizes in elevator-ese:

Western values of liberty are under ruthless attack by the academic elite on college campuses across America.

So confident are they in the Righteousness or "purity" of their egalitarian socialist ideals that there is no limit - in their minds - to the legitimate infringement of the rights of others, if those others question the validity of their "pure" ideal. So damn the Constitution, damn the First Amendment, damn the free speech of the Academic Infidel.

In the example of Boko Haram we may suggest a name for the post-modern academics and the politicians, talking heads, environmental cultists and Facebook Friends who take this path. "Teaching Liberty is Forbidden."

Fortunately, Americans have never taken kindly to being told what to do.


UPDATE: Changed the title to Latin from the original, and ambiguous, French: "La liberté d'enseignement est interdit." Thanks to my father for the translation.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:54 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

I summarized this post in an email to family members and thought that was worth sharing:

To summarize the point of the article, I quote economist Walter E Williams on American college professors' hostility to the freedom of western societies. (He wrote about the war on free speech on college campuses.) I submit that that they hold their goal "egalitarian socialism on a worldwide basis" as so good and ideologically 'pure" that they are justified, in their minds, in violating rights of others - "Academic Infidels"ť I called them - in furtherance of their crusade.

In essence, the philosophical justification used by America's academic elite is the same one used by Islamic terrorists - the righteousness of their respective "pure"ť ideology. So we now must ask, who made this philosophical leap first? Who learned it from whom? Is the philosophy of our academic elite responsible for the rise of terrorism?

Posted by: johngalt at May 24, 2014 3:02 PM

May 16, 2014

Kommon Korr Too!

Ari Armstrong underscores a concern I expressed with opponents of Common Core.

My Facebook feed is filled with (well, game requests and cute cat videos, but there are also a lot of) people attacking the curriculum, most frequently the "overly complex" math. Ari and I both see the basic numeracy behind the method -- it more closely matches how people do arithmetic in their heads.

The big problem is that discussion becomes the curriculum and not local control versus centralization and potential for politicization. A lefty Facebook friend posted how swell the Common Core math was, saying she wished she had been exposed to more numeracy and less rote processing. I suspect that a foundation of traditional. place-value subtraction may be required but...

But... you see what happened? The argument changed from "what should be taught?" from "who should decide?"

Armstrong says "The broader lesson here is that, just because something is associated with Common Core, doesn't mean its bad." I suggest the broader lesson is that opponents should focus on the larger and obvious flaws of centralization.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:03 AM | Comments (0)

May 12, 2014

Kommun Korr!

A perfectly good and serviceable post on Somail Hossess Ayaan Hirsi Ali has denigrated into a discussion of Common Core in the comments.

I hereby promote it to its own post. It is tonight's topic at Liberty on the Rocks -- Flatirons and a worthy one for discussion.

I'll begin by throwing a few stones. I like Brother Johngalt very much but think he -- and many Common Core opponents is less effective than possible by arguing "in the weeds." He discusses the curriculum's provenance; many on my social media feeds challenge certain aspects: math & numeracy most frequently.

I (and I may be disabused this evening) think the rallying cry is to keep this out of Washington DC. President Santorum, I tell my lefty friends, will surely push all manner of things you find discomforting; President Chelsea Clinton the same for my righty friends.

I think the individual lessons are defensible and picture my Facebook friends saying that if Bill Ayers cured Cancer, they would not refuse treatment.

And furthermore, so's your old man...

UPDATE: Another superb presentation. I'll take a minute to shout out Blog Brother Bryan and cohort Mike Shelton on their second anniversary of Liberty on the Rocks -- Flatirons. It is difficult to choose effective efforts and I think they have hit it out of the park.

Speaking of baseball metaphors, we had Koch Brothers SWAG last night:
AFP_Baseball.jpg

The film, Building the Machine was interesting and informative without the overwrought dramatics contained even in documentaries with which I agree. I would recommend it highly.

The follow up panel had four impassioned moms relating their stories and involvement. I'm glad they do what they do, but I confess I'd have preferred more specific information. My sister, a long-term teachers' aide in parochial schools remarked that they went straight to how to fight it but little was presented as to why.

I -- and most of the liberty crowd -- had my own views, but I think it's a fair cop that the opposition requires some clear arguments -- an "Elevator Talk" as it were.

The lovely bride exclaimed "Oh great, another invasion of liberty and generally going-to-hell thing to worry about --- thanks, Bryan and Mike!" There's some truth there as well.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:33 PM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

My new strategy, unveiled just once in the liberalism/Islamism hypocrisy issue, is to challenge ideas on their "illiberalism." Not sure yet how this will work on my righty friends, but I have a few strategic ideas.

In this case, "Common Core is illiberal, because it mandates what your child is taught whether you like it or not. And if you want to complain, you must go to Washington D.C. instead of an evening meeting of your neighbors at the local school cafeteria. Still ready to sign up? Or do you prefer freedom of choice like I do?"

Or maybe this: "Common Core management of our public education is like a nationwide HOA that tells all of us what color we may paint our house. You good with that?" Duzzat work in your elevator? I think we could come up with more of these.

Posted by: johngalt at May 13, 2014 12:05 PM
But jk thinks:

I like it much. My general unease with last night's presentation is that that topic was not represented and none of the issues were presented that lucidly.

That will work on the righty friends, but my lefties will say "local control? That allows some county in Alabama to teach Creationism -- we have to have our best and brightest in Washington craft curricula."


Posted by: jk at May 13, 2014 1:09 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"If the best and brightest in Washington say that Exxon can frack in your driveway, will you complain much? Telling other people how to live is popular in some circles, at least until someone else tells you. If we have to choose one or the other, would you prefer uniformity, or liberty?"

I may have just stumbled on another pro-liberty wedge word: Replace "equality" with "uniformity." (Dude's on a roll.)

Posted by: johngalt at May 13, 2014 1:23 PM

April 24, 2014

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

The lovely bride queued up Atlas Shrugged Part 1 on the TiVo. I will admit is not "Citizen Kane," but I find the first Hank and Dagny quite endearing.

The WSJ abruptly thrusts the Part III tagline: "Now Non-fiction" into view with an editorial on President Obama's "Pay As You Earn" program.

We've warned for years about the risks of this program as Mr. Obama has worked to expand the number of eligible borrowers and sweeten its terms.

Pay As You Earn allows students under certain circumstances to borrow an unlimited amount and then cap monthly payments at 10% of their discretionary income. If they choose productive work in the private economy, the loans are forgiven after 20 years. But if they choose to work in government or for a nonprofit, Uncle Sugar forgives their loans after 10 years.

For aspiring community organizers who go to college and then grad school before moving into a job that the government defines as public service, the forgiven debt can be $150,000 or more, courtesy of the taxpayer. And unlike with some other federal programs, when the government forgives the debt of one of the exalted class of nonprofit or government workers, the do-gooder doesn't have to report it as income to the IRS. Who wouldn't want to pick up $150,000 tax-free?


I have a friend who rails on Facebook at any mention of the makers/takers distinction -- he becomes quite animated at the suggestion that any of the poor or dependent are in any way culpable for their situations. Yet each of these programs are bricks with largess mortar that wall the two groups.

[Kids, don't try these advanced metaphors at home -- these are trained and highly-caffeinated bloggers...]

Posted by John Kranz at 10:42 AM | Comments (0)

April 22, 2014

Review Corner is On!

Azuza Pacific University has postponed Charles Murray's address so as to not harm students of color.

I was scheduled to speak to you tomorrow. I was going to talk about my new book, "The Curmudgeon's Guide to Getting Ahead," and was looking forward to it. But it has been "postponed." Why? An email from your president, Jon Wallace, to my employer, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), said "Given the lateness of the semester and the full record of Dr. Murray's scholarship, I realized we needed more time to prepare for a visit and postponed Wednesday's conversation." This, about an appearance that has been planned for months. I also understand from another faculty member that he and the provost were afraid of "hurting our faculty and students of color."

Rest assured, ThreeSourcers, that Sunday's Review Corner is on. Review Corner does not back down.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:50 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

In addition to Education, file this under Politics and Dirty Hippies.

Posted by: johngalt at April 23, 2014 1:48 PM

March 7, 2014

Meet the Children!

"These are the 194 Harlem children who have been kicked out of their beloved school by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio:"

charterswork.jpg

The 194 children attend Harlem Central Middle School, a charter school in the Success Academy network of 22 high-performing New York City public schools founded by de Blasio's longtime nemesis, Eva Moskowitz, a fellow Democrat who served with him on the City Council a decade ago. The mayor last month revoked the previous administration’s approval of the school's plan to "co-locate" using excess space inside an ordinary public school on West 118th Street. The charter-school students must vacate their current building at the end of the school year and so are rendered educationally homeless by de Blasio's decision

Hat-tip: Jim, Geraghty

UPDATE: Riding to the rescue! Gov. Andrew Cuomo?

UPDATE II: The problem with those damn charter schools:

On Thursday Mr. de Blasio went on a sympathetic radio station and couldn't have been clearer about what is driving his actions. Charter schools may help the poor and those just starting out in America, they may give options to kids who've floundered elsewhere, but a lot of them are supported by rich people. There is a "strong private-sector element" in their funding, he said. The mayor agreed with host Ebro Darden that "a lot" of charter schools are funded by big business: "Oh yeah, a lot of them are funded by very wealthy Wall Street folks and others." When Mr. Darden and co-host Peter Rosenberg suggested that a "campaign" to portray the mayor as anti-charter-school was also funded by big business, Mr. de Blasio, as the New York Post noted, didn't disagree. "I think you're providing a keen political analysis there." -- Peggy Noonan

Posted by John Kranz at 11:06 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

The donations to get Comrade BlahBlahsio elected came from the New York State United Teachers union, after all, not the united parents or students. "Them charter schools done make us look bad!"

Posted by: johngalt at March 7, 2014 11:38 AM

February 23, 2014

Review Corner

Thucydides? Virgil? What great masterful work have you mastered, jk? Well.... I still plan to read capital-G Great books, but a friend recommended something that sounded little-g great. And it was.

M. Night Shyamalan, enjoying considerable box office success, tries his hand at philanthropy, directing his wealth at education in his hometown of Philadelphia. He's a Hollywood guy so he writes some checks and schedules some fancy dinners. Y'know, philanthropy.

As they shook our hands politely and left, Bhavna looked at me and saw I was shaken. I was looking to be inspired. These children needed saving, but our money wasn't going to do the trick. The system had beaten them badly enough that no amount of money could undo the scars.

I applaud his noticing that outcomes are important. Too many celebrities, and most all legislators, total up the checks and take a victory lap. Shyamalan saw on the first outing that more was needed, and resolved to try and fix the problem, not just finance it. He starts a foundation and hires a researcher to "follow the data" and take a cold hard look at what works and what does not.

I Got Schooled: The Unlikely Story of How a Moonlighting Movie Maker Learned the Five Keys to Closing America’s Education Gap is the story of his considerable involvement with experts of all backgrounds and ideologies, plus time visiting schools that are performing. Shyamalan is a storyteller, and the book is crafted like one of his screenplays. The "five keys" are withheld to where I won't provide them as a spoiler "I see the five keys, Mister Willis . . ."

The book is no less serious than The New School [Review Corner] or The Beautiful Tree [Review Corner], but it is told with a screenwriter's deft touch. He travels to Palo Alto, meets the great education professor Eric Hanushek, the Paul and Jean Hanna Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. The professor's thoughts are recorded, but so is the author's menu choice. He asks the waiter whether he should have the cheeseburger or the Stanford Club:

I do this to every waiter or waitress. I make them complicit in my bad choices. My wife finds this habit completely annoying. The professor was amused by my culinary vacillations. I settled on the club and said no to the fries reluctantly. I had told the professor about the health tenet model on the walk over, so he gave me the fist of solidarity for not choosing the fries. I dove right in with the questions. I asked him about classroom size.

Shyamalan has a doctor friend who suggests that there are five keys to good health: get enough sleep, eat well, exercise, avoid stress, drink coffee (I may have forgotten #5...) But that if one is out of whack, the others do not do that much good. He takes this insight for himself and finds five keys to education reform. When one of these is missing in a middle or upper class student, the lifestyle ameliorates. But at risk or disadvantaged students stuck with a bad teacher suffer.
Children from affluent, educated families get just as many ineffective teachers as everyone else. They just don't pay for it. Kids from poor families do.

One of the keys is more time in school, and their research suggests that the bulk of the achievement gap between races and classes happens over summer vacations. In school they remain close, but Missy and Brad summer with library and museum visits while their peers lose ground. (Curiously, both lose math, he suggests that home algebra sessions are not big in most any culture).

I applaud his objective, data-driven solutions. He quickly rejects canards like class size in opposition to "everybody knows" solutions. He is bone-crunchingly non-ideological. He mentions that he is of Hollywood and has imbued progressive politics but is not driven by them. So, ten points.

But I have to remove one and a half (points, he'll still do well in stars) because he does not follow through. He correctly shows that charter schools, statistically compared en masse to conventional schooling, show small effect. Fair cop, guv, but the same statistical ambiguity for pre-K maddeningly gets a hall pass. Well, the effect is not pronounced but we should anyway... Huh? What about the rest of the book?

And, while he turns off his ideology, I cannot (Ahem, I call mine principles). While he adds a lot to the debate, in the end he trusts the same outfit that got us where we are to implement his five keys. Four out of five are clearly at odds with the teachers' unions objectives. Charter schools are soft pedaled, but I suggest that no other structure would enable any of them.

Then -- and I am not selling the book to ThreeSourcers, am I? -- he closes with a call for more federal control of curricula and spending. Yeah, these same guys who created the planet's most dysfunctional institution will fix it when I give them the plan.

So, M Night Shayalaman provides a shocking ending. Unlike "The Sixth Sense," I didn't dig it.
But this book is a serious contribution to the education debate. His willingness to go where data leads gives credibility to those many places where we do agree. And it is entertaining and charming. Four-point-five stars.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:13 AM | Comments (4)
But johngalt thinks:

Always be suspicious when someone denies or defends without prompting:

He mentions that he is of Hollywood and has imbued progressive politics but is not driven by them.

Just because he says he is not driven by them does not mean he is not driven by them. It only means he knows either, he should not be driven by them or, it damages his credibility to admit he's a Progressive.

It does seem he is so committed to the status quo that the only solutions he can consider are evolutionary, not revolutionary. The foxes must be left in charge of the hen house because, well, just because.

Posted by: johngalt at February 24, 2014 6:46 PM
But jk thinks:

Not leaping to his defense, but my rereading of this review finds it wanting and I am compelled to at least clarify. I agree with 90% of what he says and, of course, spend the bulk of my review arguing with the other ten.

He is pretty courageous, say, in the smaller classroom debate. Neither data nor history support it. And he is certainly not a shovel-money-at-it guy. Had he a simpler, Matt Damon outlook, I would be far less disappointed.

He wants them to change their stripes, and he supplies some very non-union-friendly changes: fire more teachers, get principals more active at leading and coaching, longer days and more of them. None of these is going to win over the union teachers in my family.

Yet, at the end. you are correct that he trusts the same folks to fix it. He spent time with Michelle Rhee and speaks well of her. He must have heard of "the blob:" the immovable confluence of union and bureaucracy: uncharacteristically naive.

Posted by: jk at February 24, 2014 7:24 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes but agreement is so boring! LOL

Props on expecting kids to learn when there are others in the room. The changes you named - they would improve things at the DMV too, non? I was there this morning. 9:30 am. Took #54 from the friendly ticket dispenser as I watched the big red numbers click from 29 to 30. Sat down, sent a text message, went across the hall and phoned a friend to arrange a lunch appointment, came back to hear "thirty-three?"

The problem here is there is no competition. They get the same number of customers no matter how slow or rude they are. (And the same compensation.) I've only thought of one way to motivate them - I plan to return 30 minutes before quitting time. I'm transferring a title and renewing plates for FOUR other vehicles. Hey, they brought this upon themselves.

Posted by: johngalt at February 25, 2014 12:48 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Arrived at 4:15. 15 customers ahead of me. Left with my renewal tags 45 minutes later... 1 minute before closin' time.

Dagny suggested a scientific study of DMV service speed by time of day. Thinking about it now, I'd rather keep it a secret. (Except for sharing it with the few thousand readers of Three Sources dot com.)

Posted by: johngalt at February 26, 2014 12:40 PM

January 5, 2014

Review Corner

Heh. A blogger known for his brevity produces a substantive view of both K-12 and higher education -- in 103 pages.

I had read [and] [reviewed] both of his Broadside books. Between that and reading Instapundit, many of the ideas in The New School are familiar. But I would still highly recommend buying a copy for yourself and one to pass around to parents you know and any open minded teachers.

Reynolds is an expert on the topic as he is Beauchamp Brogan Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Tennessee, married to PhD Psychologist Dr. Helen Smith. Yet the perspective of New School is much more about his role as a consumer of education for their daughter and for the bloggers' desire to assemble elements into social and political patterns. The joy of the book is its academic cred without the academics' diffidence (or turgid prose...)

I don't think I need post a spoiler alert that there are problems in education. But it is a huge, complicated, interconnected system with the distortions of more than a hundred years of government involvement. It is easy to choose one failed facet (for me it is Teachers' Unions) to hang all the deficiencies upon. New School broadens the concerns and adds significant new concepts.

Reynolds's Instapundit writings cherish modernity, and the "New" part of the "The New School" is to rescue 21st Century students from a 19th Century Prussian model which was imported to train good 20th Century factory workers.

On his return, [Horace] Mann extolled the Prussian model in his seventh annual report. This met with some resistance, as "critics accused him of wanting to establish a 'Prussian-style tyranny' in the schools, arguing that the Prussian model was based on a presumption that the government was wiser than the citizenry, while in America the presumption was the reverse. There was considerable basis for this complaint. Prussian theorists regarded public education, and higher education as well, as an institution of 'police' and a way of making students 'useful as future tools,'" — but Mann's idea ultimately caught on for the most part. Mann wanted to remake society, and he wanted to start with children. In his turn of phrase, "men are cast-iron, but children are wax." Just as the Prussian model had as much to do with political and social ordering as with teaching and learning, so it was with Mann's Americanized Prussian model.

Reynolds helpfully points out the Mann's children were homeschooled. But sitting still, forming orderly lines, and moving with bells prepared students for factory work. How much of that transfers to your job?

Another key insight is the comparison to a financial bubble. Consumers are so certain of a return that they use easy credit to pay ever escalating prices without carefully assessing the future value of the asset. Sound like anything? A story you heard? Bueller?

The escalating prices are never spent on instruction. Climbing walls, fancy dining halls take a bite, but the real culprit is administration which is more likely to impede instruction with paperwork and regulation. As the crown jewel California University system faces severe cuts, it seems "diversity" is untouchable:

University of California system slashes programs and raises tuition, it has created a new systemwide "vice chancellor for equity, diversity, and inclusion." This is on top of the already enormous University of California diversity machine, which, as Heather Mac Donald notes, "includes the Chancellor's Diversity Office, the associate vice chancellor for faculty equity, the assistant vice chancellor for diversity, the faculty equity advisors, the graduate diversity coordinators, the staff diversity liaison, the undergraduate student diversity liaison, the graduate student diversity liaison, the chief diversity officer, the director of development for diversity initiatives, the Office of Academic Diversity and Equal Opportunity, the Committee on Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Issues, the Committee on the Status of Women, the Campus Council on Climate, Culture and Inclusion, the Diversity Council, and the directors of the Cross-Cultural Center, the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Center, and the Women's Center."

Not that my personal bête-noir comes out well:
For a long time, the providers of education at all levels have enjoyed a sort of guildlike monopoly. And as economist John Hicks notes, as quoted earlier, "The best of all monopoly profits is a quiet life." Alas, the lives of education providers are likely to be less quiet and comfortable than they have been. When education was in the hands of guilds made up of educators, as it has largely been for over a century, educators unsurprisingly took advantage of their control to arrange things to their liking. That will change significantly in the years to come.

Neither higher education nor K-12 schooling will remain in the hands of the guilds in the future, though we can expect a significant rear-guard action on their part. But the vulnerability they face is that it will become easier and easier for people to avoid the guilds entirely thanks to the new alternatives that technology (and other changes -- but mostly technology) has made possible.


Here's hoping! The New School is full of hope without discarding a serious look at difficult issues. Five Stars.

UPDATE: Good interview of Reynolds by Ed Driscoll.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:08 AM | Comments (0)

December 5, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Here' s an early gift -- or perhaps, for Haaahvy, an on -time Hanukah gift.

I just finished his "Three Felonies a Day" and a glowing Review Corner is on the way. The review will point out that all the villains happen to be Repblicans. But I agree with every word.

While you wait -- eagerly I hope -- for Review Corner, just enjoy Haaahvy and the broad he married:

Posted by John Kranz at 3:09 PM | Comments (0)

November 22, 2013

'Papas, Don't Let Yer Babies Grow Up to be Princesses'

Lifted directly from a Slate article: This Awesome Ad, Set to the Beastie Boys, Is How to Get Girls to Become Engineers

This is a stupendously awesome commercial from a toy company called GoldieBlox, which has developed a set of interactive books and games to "disrupt the pink aisle and inspire the future generation of female engineers." The CEO, Debbie Sterling, studied engineering at Stanford, where she was dismayed by the lack of women in her program. (...) As the GoldieBlox website attests, only 11 percent of the world's engineers are female. Sterling wants to light girls' inventive spark early, supplementing the usual diet of glittery princess products with construction toys "from a female perspective."

I'll let readers know my daughters' reaction to it.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:34 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Like.

Posted by: jk at November 23, 2013 2:16 PM

November 19, 2013

All Hail Harsanyi!

ThreeSources' favorite Denver Post columnist takes a lengthy and serious whack at SecEd Arne Duncan. His "white suburban moms" comment has caused a fuss, but his entire tenure is a textbook example of bureaucratic interference in the opportunity of children.

Now, it's possible that little Caleb and Riley may not be the prodigies their parents suspect, but antagonism towards Common Core is more likely propelled by a belief that centralizing education allows Washington to, over time, destroy local autonomy. Even if these fears are exaggerated, they are far from outlandish -- and hardly "fascinating" to anyone who's paying attention.

Against data, Duncan's Department of Education, again and again, chooses the ideological over the effective.
The administration isn't interested in "suburban white moms" getting in its way, and it sure doesn't want minority moms having too many choices. Duncan's recent comments weren't "clumsy," they were part of a pattern. A pattern that undermines innovation and allows the achievement gap to get worse.

One suspects Secretary Arne Duncan says "suburban white moms" with the same tone, timbre, and prosody that Elwood Blues uses for "Illinois Nazis."

UPDATE: J.D. Tuccille is not too happy with Sec Duncan's soi-disant apology.

He immediately walked it back, of course, because when politicians occasionally let slip the impatience and contempt they feel for their constituents, it's usually a good idea to fake a little contrition lest their careers suffer. But he condescendingly lashed out at "white suburban moms" for rebelling against Common Core education standards, saying it's because their feelings are hurt when their kids don't score as well as they once did. Thanks for letting the mask slip, Arne, and revealing your disdain for anybody who might insist on leeway in educating their own kids.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:37 AM | Comments (0)

September 27, 2013

"Their Appeal is More Selective"

What's Wrong With Wharton?

Applications to the University of Pennsylvania's business school have declined 12% in the past four years, with the M.B.A. program receiving just 6,036 submissions for the class that started this fall. That was fewer than Stanford Graduate School of Business, with a class half Wharton's size.

Wharton says the decline, combined with a stronger applicant pool and a higher percentage of accepted applicants who enroll, proves that the school is doing a better job targeting candidates.

But business-school experts and b-school applicants say Wharton has lost its luster as students' interests shift from finance to technology and entrepreneurship.


Pity Melissa Korn at the WSJ missed the Spinal Tap joke. It cries for it.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:43 PM | Comments (0)

August 20, 2013

Otequay of the Ayday

Aside from these personal fixes, there is a solution to put the country (including any wayward stragglers or stunted post-adolescents) back on the path of prosperity. Americans could stop supporting anti-growth politicians pushing agendas that strangle the economy, weaken the dollar, and surreptitiously erode civil liberties, but let’s be serious. 60% of those ages 18-29 reelected President Obama. So, what’s left? Keep checking feeds, going on pointless dates, and buying more gadgets? Frankl would tell the lost ones to find a will to meaning in this world, but finding purpose can be put off, even if the abyss persists and they pester the rest of the world as impotently self-involved non-starters, for lack of ever finding a self or a start.

From an excellent awesome Forbes article Millions Of Millenials Live At Home And Support The Policies That Keep Them There by millenial Maura Pennington (BA Russian, Dartmouth, 2009.)

HT: Rush Limbaugh

Posted by JohnGalt at 5:02 PM | Comments (4)
But Terri thinks:

Oh brother.
They are certainly lost, those who have no will to be on their own.
Were they coddled too much? Are there so many rules that the paradigm becomes, "I can't"? I wanted to live on own so badly as an 18 year old I shared a studio with 4 other people in order to do so. It was well worth it, and I had a great child hood home.

Posted by: Terri at August 20, 2013 6:21 PM
But Terri thinks:

Of course I also walked 5 miles up hill both ways to get to school in the mornings. :-)

Posted by: Terri at August 20, 2013 6:25 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Limbaugh riffed on this some more yesterday. He said millenials are taught they're "special" even without accomplishing anything, and that the pathway to happiness (or to be "free from want?") is to, simply, want less. Forget a car, use a bike and the bus. Forget an apartment, just hang in the 'rents basement. Wardrobe? How much do blue jeans and Che T-shirts cost, anyway?

Posted by: johngalt at August 22, 2013 3:05 PM
But jk thinks:

Does that include Kim Kardashian in an Obama Shirt?

Posted by: jk at August 22, 2013 3:43 PM

April 17, 2013

Quarter Soldiers in Your Dorm Room?

It strikes, reading Judith Grossman's Kafkaesque A Mother, a Feminist, Aghast, that to attend college is to completely suborn one's birth rights as protected in the Constitution. First Amendment rights to free speech and religion evaporated years ago -- I don't think many schools even pretend. Your concealed-carry permit is likely not valid on campus.

Due process? Trial by Jury? Not so much:

Until a month ago, I would have expressed unqualified support for Title IX and for the Violence Against Women Act.

But that was before my son, a senior at a small liberal-arts college in New England, was charged--by an ex-girlfriend--with alleged acts of "nonconsensual sex" that supposedly occurred during the course of their relationship a few years earlier.
[...]
My son was given written notice of the charges against him, in the form of a letter from the campus Title IX officer. But instead of affording him the right to be fully informed, the separately listed allegations were a barrage of vague statements, rendering any defense virtually impossible. The letter lacked even the most basic information about the acts alleged to have happened years before. Nor were the allegations supported by any evidence other than the word of the ex-girlfriend.

The hearing itself was a two-hour ordeal of unabated grilling by the school's committee, during which, my son later reported, he was expressly denied his request to be represented by counsel or even to have an attorney outside the door of the room. The questioning, he said, ran far afield even from the vaguely stated allegations contained in the so-called notice. Questions from the distant past, even about unrelated matters, were flung at him with no opportunity for him to give thoughtful answers.


I've read several such stories. Though they are horrible, one hopes they are somewhat rare -- that avoiding traditional college makes no more sense than avoiding plane travel for fear of terrorism.

But I am less sanguine. Not by Ms. Grossman's story, but by the total and complete loss of liberty on campus for four years. Why would I advise a young nephew to sign up for that? I would not stand in somebody's way if he seeks to fulfill a dream of studying French Literature in an irenic setting. But grown-ups are expected to push the value of matriculation. And this sour-grapes drop out is ready to tell young men that his example is not anomalous.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:51 PM | Comments (0)

March 24, 2013

A Man for whom 'Heh' is a Blog Post

When "Heh" is a blog post, 48 pages is a book. I'm not complaining. I am actually intrigued that these shorter works are enabled by eBook platforms.

This is the second of Professor Glenn Reynolds's "Broadsides" that I have read. Each seems long enough to discuss a topic. Yet there is not the urge to stretch an idea into book length. Much as I enjoyed Jeb Bush & Clint Bolick's Immigration Wars, Chapter Six out of six was about education with a threadbare segue that would make me blush.

Reynolds's two education broadsides are important because of his position. In The Higher Education Bubble [Review Corner], Reynolds bites the hand that feeds him: indicting a higher education system that overpromises and under-delivers.

In The K-12 Implosion, he spreads his concern to the system that feeds his. But it is more a return to Army of Davids [Review Corner]. While the flaws of K-12 education are well detailed, the thesis suggests abandoning the old model for new methods and new technologies. This model, even well executed, does not prepare workers for modern positions.

In addition, public education was seen as a key component of nation-building. As Ellsworth Cubberley wrote in 1934, the point of public education wasn’t that the student would suffer if uneducated; it was that the nation would suffer without compulsory public schools. The result was the growth of publicly financed and, and, more significantly, publicly operated school systems. As Seth Godin writes: Part of the rationale used to sell this transformation to industrialists was the idea that educated kids would actually become more compliant and productive workers.

Our current system of teaching kids to sit in straight rows and obey instructions isn't a coincidence -- it was an investment in our economic future. The plan: trade short-term child-labor wages for longer-term productivity by giving kids a head start in doing what they're told.
[...]
As Godin says, "Every year, we churn out millions of workers who are trained to do 1925-style labor." That won’t work when the kids entering school today will be on the job market in 2025.

Reynolds, Glenn (2013-01-15). The K-12 Implosion (Encounter Broadside) (Kindle Locations 97-99). Encounter Books. Kindle Edition.


Not in the book but included in many blog posts is his asking whether it is parental malpractice to send a child into a public school system where a seven year old is suspended for a pop tart gun. His daughter finished her high school degree online and interned at a local TV station.

Rueven Brenner at AEI wonders if we would not benefit from additional production from young workers currently mired in the system.

There are at least 16 million youngsters enrolled in post-secondary education, with approximately 4 million graduating every year. Assume that from now on, each year, 4 million students join the labor force a year earlier. Each generation would stay one year longer in the labor force. How much annual income and how much wealth would this generate?

Assume that after graduation the average salary would be just $20,000 and remain there. With 4 million students finishing one year earlier, this would add $80 billion to the national income during that year. Or at an average annual income of $40,000, it would add $160 billion. Assume now that the additional $80 billion in national income would be compounding at 7 percent over the next 40 years. This would then amount to an additional $1.2 trillion of wealth -- for just one generation of 4 million students joining the labor force a year earlier at a $20,000 salary. At $40,000, this would amount to $2.4 trillion by the fortieth year -- again, for just one generation of 4 million people joining the labor force a year earlier. The added wealth depends on how rosy one makes the assumptions about salaries or compounding rates. Add 10, 20, or 30 generations, each starting to work a year earlier, and the numbers run into the tens of trillions of dollars.

How frustrating to see all these opportunities for improvement and wealth unrealized. But on the optimistic side, I must close with Reynolds's open -- the Herb Stein quote "Something that can't go on forever, won't." Millenarians have the schools system so dysfunctional and damaged, there might be real opportunity to change it.

Reynolds provides several good ideas -- for $4.99 and a short afternoon read, you have nothing to lose. Four stars.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:08 AM | Comments (4)
But johngalt thinks:

Disclaimers:

1. I am not an apologist for public schools.
2. I have not clicked through any of the links.

Individualized education is great but before children can learn, regardless of student to teacher ratios, they must first be cooperative. Sitting still, whether in straight rows or random arrangements, is a prerequisite.

Human history has much to teach and the childhood years are indisputably the best time to do so. If a given student is no longer increasing his earning potential through an extra year of education, by all means excuse him to begin his career of manual labor. But the remainder are more productive as a result of that additional knowledge, assuming of course that what they learn is consistent with a rational life and not more "social science" claptrap.

Posted by: johngalt at March 24, 2013 1:38 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Great review. You've clearly read much in this subject. (How do you ever find time for Dancing with the Stars?')

Posted by: johngalt at March 25, 2013 3:03 PM
But jk thinks:

I thought Professor Reynolds did a great job on Dancing with the Stars. He's no Kurt Warner, but who is?

I'm going to push back a bit on your first comment. Yes, some structure learned in school is well taken (I received Nun Whacks® -- the best kind!) But I am going to appeal to my blog brother to reject the 12-years of Prussian conformity currently enforced. Does that comport with your work?

I don't envision kids locked in their room with Salman Khan videos until they're 18. I'd see many structured activities for group education, music, arts, and activities.

On Brenner's column, I think you misstep by assuming that is for industrial workers. A year could easily been cut out of my K-12 education. I'm jealous of the lads in history books who went off to Harvard at 15 or 16. Don't know your experience, but I was the recipient of nine years of superb educational opportunities -- jammed into twelve years!

Posted by: jk at March 25, 2013 6:02 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Fair enough. It doesn't take 12 years to teach discipline. The army does it in 6 weeks!

Posted by: johngalt at March 25, 2013 6:57 PM

February 15, 2013

What's the Big Deal?

If there are leftover seats, they will be shared with White Kids:

Hat-tip: Taranto. A little Centennial State geography: Aurora is a suburb of Denver, was if not is the second largest city in Colorado, and I lived there for several years. It is a well-integrated inner-ring suburb.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:05 PM | Comments (0)

December 10, 2012

The Unbearable Lightness of the Teachers' Union...

These people teach our kids? So many things in life make sense now.

I had heard about this, but really did not bother to see how bad it was. Ed Answer, check, California Teachers' Union, check. The animated micturition received most of the press, but I think better questions are "Why?" and "For whom?":

Posted by John Kranz at 10:52 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Finally, a believable explanation for President Obama's obsession with punishing "the rich." He clearly watched this cartoon!

"Some people weren't too sure about this so the rich people bought newspapers and TV and radio stations and internet companies and paid them to repeat over and over, "Someday you will be rich too. There is no alternative."

So repeating lies to impressionable people, over and over again is, like, bad. Right? Was this video really aired in public schools?

"Rich people got worried. They thought, if the people get mad enough at us they might take some of our money!"

"Take?" If they can take some, why don't they take it all?

I do have one question though: What does the narrator mean by, "All profits trickle up, by definition, because labor is a business expense?" He says it as though it's a short but thorough debunking of the myth that the rich "take advantage of" the poor but I'm not seeing it.

Posted by: johngalt at December 10, 2012 3:31 PM

October 25, 2012

Joda Vida Loco

Colorado has been in the national news again for the past weeks, and for another horrific reason. Ten year-old Jessica Ridgeway disappeared on her way to school October 5th and was found dead some days later. I hung on every bit of news with an uneasy combination of need to know, fear, and a simmering rage and hatred for the unhuman monster who could perpetrate such a crime. I was not surprised to learn that the confessed suspect is a maladjusted male who was teased mercilessly by classmates, including girls, and with bizarre interests such as medical examination and mortuary science. I was surprised to learn that he is but 17 years old himself.

I haven't written anything about this before now since I'm confident my thoughts and feelings are universal, particularly amongst parents. But today I want to cite a coincidence that I think is at least a partial clue into the devolution of a human mind to the level we witness here. Last weekend, while harvesting the season's final hay crop, I found a book discarded along the county road that passes our farm. I picked it up. I was mildly taken aback by the doodled word-cloud that covered the outside in half-inch tall red letters:

FEAR, PAIN, SICK BOY, Tourtcher, MADDNE$$, Die By The Sword, DEATH, suicide, I For AN Eye, Blood For Blood, F*** The World, Vengeance I Demand, War, MEth, F*** Sleep, Murder, CRip, KillER, No Mercy, Lust, NO $URENDER, HATE, Rage, REtROBution.
My Hunger, LiES, TRUE Love (garbled), -> Killa, WASTED Time, TRust no Bitch, Kill All that Snitch, F*** The PiG$, ANti Government!, Anti ChRISt, Anti All Realigion.
104% Blood BANG 104% the Punnisher. Demon.
Joda Vida Loco.

I have no idea whose this is, or how it got on the side of my road. But it seems obvious to me it is a school-aged rant. I remember my high school years. It wasn't easy trying to fit in and be myself all at the same time, particularly when I didn't even really know how to "be myself" or who I was. I scribbled kill this, kill that. But this seems beyond anything I ever thought or felt. It brings my constantly integrating mind back to one thing: The crippling of young minds.

Teach your children. Teach them well.

Posted by JohnGalt at 8:50 PM | Comments (0)

October 10, 2012

Okay, now this is cool!

Did'ja see this on Reason.tv? Alex Tabbarok and Tyler Cowen (whose name I have been mispronouncing) have a free, fast track economics course online.

Posted by John Kranz at 5:25 PM | Comments (0)

October 9, 2012

We Don't Need No Education

Jay Greene has an excellent WSJ guest editorial today on "The Imaginary Teacher Shortage."

Parents like the idea of smaller class sizes in the same way that people like the idea of having a personal chef. Parents imagine that their kids will have one of the Iron Chefs. But when you have to hire almost 3.3 million chefs, you're liable to end up with something closer to the fry-guy from the local burger joint.

Last night, blog brother jg solicited my opinion of his Randucation post. Of course I liked it, but I thought it was optimistic. Not that there were no qualifiers in the post, but Governor Romney impressed me more with style than philosophy. A few comments made me suck air between my molars. A pragmatic tour de force, for certain. But Randian?

Greene points out that Romney was too happy to play "You're going to hire a million teachers? I'm going to hire eleventy-billion teachers!" (Not, perhaps, Greene's exact words...) But Yaron Brook (sorry ThreeSourcers, you're going to be hearing about him a couple weeks at least) decried the horrid state of education. I laughed because my great-nephew, Brian, is still in high school and was told how worthless it is. But more of the same is not going to help.

There is also a trade-off between the number of teachers we have and the salary we can offer to attract better-quality people. As the teacher force has grown by almost 50% over the past four decades, average salaries for teachers (adjusted for inflation) have grown only 11%, the Department of Education reports. Imagine what kinds of teachers we might be able to recruit if those figures had been flipped and we were offering 50% more pay without having significantly changed student-teacher ratios. Having better-paid but fewer teachers could also save us an enormous amount on pension and health benefits, which have risen far more than salaries in cost per teacher over the past four decades.

Then there is the trade-off between labor and capital. Instead of hiring an army of additional teachers, we could have developed and purchased innovative educational technology. The path to productivity increases in every industry comes through the substitution of capital for labor. We use better and cheaper technology so that we don't need as many expensive people. But education has gone in the opposite direction, making little use of technology and hiring many more expensive people.


Don't rip my pragmatism badge of my sash just yet -- that's a good position and I want -- very badly -- to win. I just don't know that we can pretend we have a candidate that is true believer.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:48 AM | Comments (0)

September 13, 2012

Mayor Rahm -- Protecting the Children!

A good friend of this blog sends a link to a Nick Kristof column on the Chicago Teacher Strike.

I was pretty surprised Kristof dared to not back the union, but my blog friend points out a subtle difference in tone. I'm going to quote him without permission, shhh:

Republican mayor fighting teachers is sin against God and man, and a boon for Obama. Democrat, former chief of staff mayor fighting teachers... hmmm, that must be bad, especially if the Big O comes out looking damaged or unable to raise funds.

Jim Geraghty also points out something I missed (on Kudlow last night):
Rahm Emanuel said Tuesday that "every issue we're talking about is the core thrust of Race to the Top," President Obama's signature education reform.

Obama's former chief of staff is trying to enact Obama's reforms in Obama's home town, and the president is silent and has no comment. This is a humiliation for the president. The Chicago Teachers Union has demonstrated who calls the shots in the symbiotic relationship between the teachers' unions and the Democratic Party, and the president is proven to be unable to speak up for his own purported agenda.


Posted by John Kranz at 10:24 AM | Comments (0)

September 11, 2012

School's Out For...Ever!

I know I'm not the first to turn to Secretary of Education Alice Cooper for words on the Chicago Teachers' Strike. I hope everybody saw the Union guy on Kudlow last night spinning this. Teachers make half again what the Cops do, and are pouting because they will be evaluated. And yet, it is all about the children...and there aren't books in the Chicago Schools.

Reason.tv did a good job explaining this in "The Machine:"

UPDATE: MERIT PAY No WAY Another one for the children! (Hat-tip:@JonathanHoenig via @ariarmstrong )

UPDATE II: Here's that Kudlow clip, you can tell me if I am not fair:

Posted by John Kranz at 9:55 AM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

"Merit Pay No Way" == "Equal Pay for Unequal Work"

*sarcasm* Who could argue with that? */sarcasm*

Posted by: johngalt at September 11, 2012 5:16 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Glad I watched the Kudlow clip, and that you posted it. Despite the "Merit Pay No Way" picket sign, I don't think that is the teachers' gripe.

If only 15% of Chicago 4th graders are proficient in reading I wouldn't want my pay tied to their performance either. Then we get to the "why." Yes, a large part of the problem is 71% of the Chicago public school budget going to teacher and administrator pension funds. Teachers claim to have "no control" over that but they could vote themselves defined contribution pensions if they wanted. (And they might actually do so if union leadership was honest with them about the realities of the matter.)

But the larger, and unspoken, problem is a failed public education philosophy and curriculum. 15% reading proficiency by 4th graders in one of America's [once] greatest cities in the 21st century? Reading proficiency was higher in the post-apocolyptic dystopia of The Book of Eli (which is future review fodder when dagny and I get around to it.)

Posted by: johngalt at September 11, 2012 5:35 PM

September 6, 2012

In praise of the "dirty" jobs

I love Mike Rowe. My young daughters, I'm proud to say, also love Mike Rowe's Discovery Channel show 'Dirty Jobs.' Consequently, I'm a bit perplexed that I hadn't heard of this before today:

Dear Governor Romney,

My name is Mike Rowe and I own a small company in California called mikeroweWORKS. Currently, mikeroweWORKS is trying to close the country’s skills gap by changing the way Americans feel about Work. (I know, right? Ambitious.) Anyway, this Labor Day is our 4th anniversary, and I’m commemorating the occasion with an open letter to you. If you read the whole thing, I’ll vote for you in November.

(...)

Pig farmers, electricians, plumbers, bridge painters, jam makers, blacksmiths, brewers, coal miners, carpenters, crab fisherman, oil drillers…they all tell me the same thing over and over, again and again – our country has become emotionally disconnected from an essential part of our workforce. We are no longer impressed with cheap electricity, paved roads, and indoor plumbing. We take our infrastructure for granted, and the people who build it.

Today, we can see the consequences of this disconnect in any number of areas, but none is more obvious than the growing skills gap. Even as unemployment remains sky high, a whole category of vital occupations has fallen out of favor, and companies struggle to find workers with the necessary skills. The causes seem clear. We have embraced a ridiculously narrow view of education. Any kind of training or study that does not come with a four-year degree is now deemed “alternative.” Many viable careers once aspired to are now seen as “vocational consolation prizes,” and many of the jobs this current administration has tried to “create” over the last four years are the same jobs that parents and teachers actively discourage kids from pursuing. (I always thought there something ill-fated about the promise of three million “shovel ready jobs” made to a society that no longer encourages people to pick up a shovel.)

Solid gold, on many levels.

Posted by JohnGalt at 7:45 PM | Comments (3)
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

Solid platinum. Dittoes x 1M!

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at September 6, 2012 8:18 PM
But Jk thinks:

Holy crap,he read it!

Had to call roadside service for a blowout tire today. The young man was friendly, polite and professional. He's a big MR2 fan and we had fun talking.

I thought of this post driving home. I suggest he is happy, has little or no student debt, enjoys his work, and as a Toyota mechanic, can probably get work in any town in a day or two. Versus your newly minted French history major, I think this fine youngster is doing well.

Posted by: Jk at September 8, 2012 9:44 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I had trouble with JK's link. Here's a non-mobile one that didn't require me to login again.

Now, to see if I can get Mike to read mine. :)

Posted by: johngalt at September 12, 2012 11:36 AM

September 4, 2012

Now This is a Good Idea!

Clearly, there is not enpugh indoctrination of youth in the Public Skools. But the Colorado legislature and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are stepping up to the plate.

In addition to reading, writing, and arithmetic, the Denver public schools system are adding a fourth 'r' to the curriculum: rebellion.

According to NBC affiliate KUSA, Denver Public Schools is implementing a new system to evaluate teachers. In order to achieve a coveted "distinguished" rating, teachers at each grade level must show that they "encourage" students to "challenge and question the dominant culture" and "take social action to change/improve society or work for social justice."

The new DPS teacher assessment system, called LEAP (Leading Effective Academic Practice), stems from state legislation passed in 2010 and is overwhelmingly funded by a $10M grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.


Hat tip: The VA Viper who points out "Half of the kids in DPS aren't even reading at grade level, yet the school district wants to make them into little social activists."

Posted by John Kranz at 10:01 AM | Comments (7)
But johngalt thinks:

I saw this last week but couldn't bring myself to be the bearer of the bad news.

On the positive side, since this program effectively makes "social justice" a mainstream idea I wholeheartedly endorse encouraging students to challenge and question the dominant culture. Let's start with the popular idea that those with "less" deserve more simply because they have less, not because they've worked for it or anything. If people get stuff without working for it, and people who work for it don't get it, where will future "stuff" come from?

Pencils up!

Posted by: johngalt at September 4, 2012 11:43 AM
But jk thinks:

I think I have to go with dagny on this one. Glenn Reynolds has a line he uses from memory: "it is becoming child abuse to send your children to public schools."

Jonah Goldberg has an outstanding chapter on "Social Justice" in his Tyranny of Clichès (Review Corner). The entire concept is based on weasel words that can be twisted -- by even a blog brother -- to mean whatever the user wants.

Goldberg's case was weakened for me, however, as Robert A. Caro used the phrase to describe President Johnson's legislative successes right after his ascension to the Presidency. The term seemed strangely appropriate for that. But just as clearly inappropriate here.

Posted by: jk at September 4, 2012 12:13 PM
But AndyN thinks:

But wait... isn't the dominant culture in Denver the one that's currently encouraging students to challenge and question the dominant culture? By making it an academic expectation for students to change the dominant culture, aren't the people who implemented this new system just obtusely asking the students to protest against their own indoctrination? Will the next new public school in Denver adopt as its mascot a snake eating its own tail?

Posted by: AndyN at September 4, 2012 3:32 PM
But jk thinks:

Not THAT dominant culture!

Posted by: jk at September 4, 2012 4:52 PM
But johngalt thinks:

You're right again, jk. AndyN and I were, as usual, thinking too objectively and consistently. We'd never make it through the rigours of the public school meatgrinder.

Posted by: johngalt at September 4, 2012 5:26 PM
But dagny thinks:

From the movie the kids were enjoying last night:

"How do you explain school to higher intelligence?"

Posted by: dagny at September 4, 2012 5:42 PM

August 28, 2012

From Paul Ryans Lips to Rewriting History

I heard an interesting young blogger on the Mike Rosen Show today. Tina Trent was describing the anti-GOP protests outside the convention, including "Code Pink" activists dressed in vagina costumes. A caller asked for her blog address so I decided to check it out. I found a very involved story about three college history professors rewriting history for consumption by grade-schoolers. Allow me to condense Tina's smart but lengthy History Mystery: How Fast Can PBS and the NYT Destroy a Generation of Young Minds?

In his first campaign speech as presumptive vice-presidential nominee, Paul Ryan related advice from his late father: "I still remember a couple of things he would say that have really stuck with me. 'Son, you are either part of the problem or part of the solution.' Regrettably, President Obama has become part of the problem, and Mitt Romney is the solution."

Soon thereafter, NYT published an article by ADAM GOODHEART, PETER MANSEAU and TED WIDMER which attempted to credit a former Black Panther with coining the phrase and all sort of innuendo about what that says about Ryan.

Tina then looks further and discovers that these three "historians" are part of Washington College's "Historically Corrected" program and contribute to a PBS feature called "History Detectives."

Think of it as replacing a dull slog through facts about the Revolutionary War with a bunch of equally dull (yet far less challenging) anecdotes about the time your mom’s brother smoked a bunch of pot while watching the Washington Monument levitate (Yes, I know, it was really the Pentagon. But aren’t facts bourgeois?).

Mary Grabar and I wrote about this PBS-fuelled erosion of learning about history in a report for Accuracy in Media, titled PBS: Re-Educating America’s Schoolchildren, Thanks to Your Contributions. In it, you’ll find our take on another History Detectives lesson plan, one that curiously parallels this lunatic New York Times piece. In “Hot-Town: Pigs on the Streets” (yes, that is the title), children are led through a fun, a-historical exercise in which they “investigate” the origins of a poster denouncing the police; contemplate police brutality at the ’68 convention, and then hear from a former Black Panther “client” about all the great lunch programs the Panthers used to run.

There's more after this, including a timely expose into Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver's admission of raping white women as a revolutionary tactic. (No word yet on whether or not it was "legitimate" rape.)

Follow the link to the original article for voluminous hyperlinked sources.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:30 PM | Comments (0)

August 3, 2012

Must be August

In the Centennial State, every August brings a new scheme to increase education funding. Union front groups spend buckets of dough running commercials about our state's starving education funding. There is never a mention of any problems -- or any reforms. Always "Dear Colorado: Please send money...Love, Teachurs!"

Thankfully, they always lose, but complacency is for fools. And it must be August. Sunana Batra of Colorado News Agency is on the case.

New push for school funding lacks punchline; backers mum

Are supporters of last year's failed ballot drive to raise statewide taxes for public education back for another bite at the apple? It's hard to tell for sure; organizers of a new campaign to address school funding aren't talking.

The campaign, billed as Colorado Commits, began running primetime television commercials on Denver-area stations in early July. Sponsored by the civic group Colorado Forum, the effort also has set up a website and a Facebook page arguing that the state's school system is underfunded. And an ad posted on Craigslist seeks to recruit field workers for the campaign, paying up to $12 an hour.


Posted by John Kranz at 8:19 AM | Comments (0)

July 30, 2012

Poor Jerry Sandusky!

If he would have had a job as a NYC Union Public School Teacher, everything would have been fine.

Campbell Brown, whom I have always considered left-leaning, opens her WSJ guest editorial with the growing unease of Hollywood in defending the Union. She adds that some Union teachers are now becoming uncomfortable belonging to an organization that protects pedophiles.

In the last five years in New York City, 97 tenured teachers or school employees have been charged by the Department of Education with sexual misconduct. Among the charges substantiated by the city's special commissioner of investigation--that is, found to have sufficient merit that an arbitrator's full examination was justified--in the 2011-12 school year:

-- An assistant principal at a Brooklyn high school made explicit sexual remarks to three different girls, including asking one of them if she would perform oral sex on him.

-- A teacher in Queens had a sexual relationship with a 13-year old girl and sent her inappropriate messages through email and Facebook.

If this kind of behavior were happening in any adult workplace in America, there would be zero tolerance. Yet our public school children are defenseless.


My big-L libertarian friends will rattle off statistics of spending in the George Bush years and things Eisenhower said to claim that the 2012 election does not matter. I suggest there is a great window of opportunity for pruning back the Teachers' Unions and possibly all public sector unions. A Romney Administration -- even with a GOP Senate -- may not be a libertarian paradise, but the reforms in Wisconsin and Louisiana might spread to the entire country. Well, the entire country west of the Hudson...

Posted by John Kranz at 12:14 PM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

And your lefty Facebook Friends will claim that these cases are taken out of context or that a few bad apples don't spoil the important purpose of trade unions, if they don't assert outright that pedophilia is a "human right." Or, in keeping with the moral relativism they have been raised under, they might be so brazen as to say football coaches can't do things that other teachers can.

Posted by: johngalt at July 30, 2012 3:10 PM
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

I am intrigued by the psychology of this vis-a-vis Catholic priests. For some reason, priests were the most horrible people in history, with front-page coverage day after week after month, but the hundreds of teachers who commit the same acts each year get very modest publicity. Of course most of the priests were homosexuals, whereas my impression is that the majority of teacher-student sex is hetero.

Logically then, much of the media is anti-Catholic, anti-gay and/or just protecting members of public employee unions. I leave it to the reader and Ockham to decide which is most likely.

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at July 30, 2012 5:10 PM
But jk thinks:

I answer flippantly but not sarcastically that "the priests need a better union!"

This is a testament to the amazing power of the NEA and AFT that they can protect their members even in the face of the absolute worst crime imaginable.

Posted by: jk at July 30, 2012 6:33 PM

July 26, 2012

Rilly?

I have several nieces and a nephew matriculating at CU-Denver. But I'm going to have to call Shenanigans on their recent study:

The researchers had a stack of 55 photos of male candidates and 55 photos of female candidates that they handed out to participants. Each participant was given a list of jobs and asked to sort the previously mentioned photos according to suitability for certain positions. Researchers found that women who were attractive were ruled out for certain jobs, while men who were attractive were always at an advantage.

And Boo-Freakin'-Hoo, the hot chicks did not land in the Truck Driver pile. Inherent, atavistic discrimination!

I was expecting at least they would stage some interviews or somehow mimic an actual hiring process. Sorting a stack of photos to find the Fireman sounds like a great activity for preschool (or a bachelorette party). But it ain't research.

Hat-tip: Insty.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:09 PM | Comments (0)

July 1, 2012

Review Corner

With my company's fiscal year end and rollout of a new ERP system on adjacent days, hopes for a Sunday Review Corner were fading fast. Randall O'Toole's "American Nightmare" is superb but not really a page turner. And the RMA automation section for which I am responsible is not going that well...

How fortuitous, then, that Professor Glenn Reynolds's The Higher Education Bubble is finally out on Kindle®. I teased him a bit over email that -- of all people -- his electronic version should not have been two weeks after hardcopies were shipping. Among its many virtues, it's a quick read. ($4.99 on Kindle and the stats say 56 pages).

Regular readers of Instapundit will not be bedazzled by new concepts. But he very clearly lays out what I agree to be an important new trend. And it's short enough you might be able to get a teacher to read it (now that was just mean!) I'd pair it up with Change.edu (free borrow for Prime members) to really see some of the flaws.

He opens with Herb Stein's superb dictum of "Anything that can't go on forever won't." Then he makes a compelling case that while the utility of a liberal arts education has fallen, its cost has soared. I remain pleased that my nieces and nephews in college today have chosen less expensive institutions and generally less debt. (That said, I'll package up a NBS [Niece Backed Securities] bond and offer it to ThreeSourcers at about .03 on the dollar if anybody is in -- but I digress). Most are following the recommendations of completing the first years at community college. Even our budding MD completed her undergrad downtown.

I'm less sanguine than the Professor that government bailouts are not going to be the answer. In the fever-pitch-shadow of the Tea Parties, all of our legislators fell all over themselves to make a 3.1% college loan a new American Right; they fought only over how to fund it.

A great, quick, read. A bargain at $4.99. A Karmic indulgence for all the free use of Instapundit all these years. Four stars.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:01 AM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

Glad the nieces aren't taking the path that leads to an appearance on the Huckabee show and saying, "I have sixty thousand dollars in student-loan debt that I don't know where it came from."

One counterpoint, however, to your close. Congress didn't "fall over themselves" to pass the student loan bill. It was more of an Obamacare, Stimulus bill, sorta thing. You know, here's this mondo bill we wrote and now we're all gonna pass it. But don't worry that you haven't read it. That is so four years ago.

Posted by: johngalt at July 1, 2012 7:00 PM
But jk thinks:

WHOA! Danger -- extreme hossness at brother jg's link. Don't read it within one hour of eating.

To bring it back to topic (and the digressions were all mine) that dysfunctional Congress will not be seen as obstructing education. Both Presidents Bush prided themselves on shoveling money at education. And Democrats...well...let's say the Teachers' Unions are a core constituency and move on.

The system Reynolds describes will have to fail before it is repaired, and it is "Too Sacred To Fail" by Congressional standards.

Posted by: jk at July 2, 2012 10:30 AM

June 26, 2012

It's all about the kids!

For the children! Idaho's Superintendent of Education, Tom Luna, had his truck vandalized.

Curiously and likely completely unrelated to the story, Luna is leading school reform in The Gem State.

Come November, Idahoans will vote on three referenda aimed at repealing what may be the nation's most sweeping education reform, including new limits on collective bargaining for teachers. Think of it as the sequel to Wisconsin, where similar reforms led to a similar effort--the attempted recall of Gov. Scott Walker.

Luna doesn't even have an education degree. I'm guessing the people who trashed his truck do.
That makes Mr. Luna an outlier within the education blob that runs our public school systems. It may also explain the boldness of the reforms he helped push through the state legislature in spring 2011. Called "Students Come First," it was a package of legislation that limits collective bargaining, introduces merit pay, and takes advantage of new technology to help give more Idaho students the education they need for college.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:04 PM | Comments (0)

June 25, 2012

Look for the Union Label

Great guest editorial in the WSJ today by Deborah Kenny on why charter schools work. My favorite bit:

Talented teachers don't want to be told exactly what to do and how to do it. So our schools get clear on objectives and get out of the way, allowing teachers to come up with their own ideas and to select whichever practices they think are best.

"Here I am given the opportunity to innovate with projects I never could have done in a bureaucracy," said one of our art teachers, Mary Ann Paredes. "In my old school I had a feeling of stagnation and lost my intellectual rigor. Here I've been invited to explore and learn in a way that is making me more effective. Because the trust level is so high here, it's easy to be open to admit my frustration and ask for help."


I remain astonished that the teachers in my family, most of whom I assume are awesome, remain convinced by the Union propaganda that they would not prosper in a merit environment.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:37 AM | Comments (0)

May 8, 2012

#thankateacher

thankateacher.jpg

www.cakewrecks.com

Hat-tip: @kmanguward

Posted by John Kranz at 5:08 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

OMG

Posted by: johngalt at May 9, 2012 2:00 PM

Tweet of the Day

tweet120508.gif

Posted by John Kranz at 1:02 PM | Comments (0)

April 29, 2012

Sour Grapes

I try to be a little cautious and reserved when discussing higher education (as opposed to the DH, where I just let it fly!) A lifetime of being a dropout among the educated, it seems churlish to denigrate others' achievements. And I certainly don't mean to.

But reading Professor Reynolds's "Higher Education Bubble" posts and Andrew Rosen's excellent Change.edu (free on Kindle for Prime members today) I must conclude that -- whatever benefits I missed by travelling with dirty hippy musicians on a school bus instead of matriculating back in the day -- the current system is broken enough to warrant serious suspicion.

Today's Insty-EduBubble installment links to Walter Russell Mead's post on paying for internships.

In other words, in today’s world the non-Via Meadia type of internship is increasingly becoming a necessary part of the educational process. School no longer prepares kids to either get or keep jobs, and internships are springing up to fill the gap. This is partly an indictment of our educational system and partly a statement about how the job market is changing.

I have several nieces and nephews in this age bracket and am concerned. None are racking up monster debt or making foolish choices. Yet one just scored an internship at a law office where she is doing well, and another I am trying to guide into an outstanding (life changing) internship opportunity with a friend of mine.

I am confident that these internships are way more valuable than their schoolwork.

I suggest that a young person who is not pursuing medicine or law, or is not somehow imbued with an extreme, internal zeal for academic life should pursue one or two years of traditional college where he or she can afford it. Then come to work where I work for two years. At that point, said young person can stay, go, transfer departments, head back to school, or start a ska band. But with no debt, real experience, pragmatic skills and a better foundation for deciding what is best.

Sour grapes?

Posted by John Kranz at 11:03 AM | Comments (1)
But Bryan thinks:

Couldn't agree more!

I took a non-traditional route for my college degree, and despite a few regrets regarding by behavior in my early years, I am better for it.

Posted by: Bryan at May 1, 2012 1:07 PM

April 24, 2012

A "Right" to "Access"

President Obama will give a speech this evening a short 3-mile bike ride from my Boulder office. The Denver Post says it will "focus on preventing the doubling of subsidized student-loan [interest] rates to 6.8 percent in July" but I expect it will include a fair amount of "fairness" rhetoric. Something in the spirit of a radio promo being run on Denver's 850 KOA where a female college student says,

Student loan debt is the fastest growing debt in this country. Something has to be done. Education should be a right and I think everyone should have access to it.

This sounds like a plea for a lot more than lower interest rates. One where "access" is a code word for "I don't care who pays as long as it isn't me."

Posted by JohnGalt at 12:15 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

One piece of good news. Even the bloomin' AP recognizes this as pandering:

MORRISVILLE, N.C. (AP) -- Wooing young voters, President Barack Obama is on a blitz to keep the cost of college loans from soaring for millions of students, taking his message to three states strategically important to his re-election bid.

It gets nicer after that, but the lede screams "Obama Panders to youth"

Posted by: jk at April 24, 2012 12:50 PM

April 10, 2012

Interesting Project

Thomas Woods and Kevin R. C. Gutzman have both received favorable reviews from ThreeSources Review Corner.

Both are on the faculty of Woods's new Liberty Classroom, a very interesting looking project. Ninety-nine bucks gets a person a full year's access to all of their coursework. I think I'm in.

Certainly worth a look.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:53 AM | Comments (3)
But Bryan thinks:

Very Nice!

When I attended Dr. Woods' lecture at CU this fall he mentioned this project. I am very happy and excited that they have been able to implement it.

I may have to join as well.

Posted by: Bryan at April 10, 2012 12:47 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

I've had Woods bookmarked for a while. He's hardcore enough to never survive a confirmation hearing, but not too shrill, IMO.

Posted by: nanobrewer at April 11, 2012 9:39 AM
But jk thinks:

No he is not shrill at all. I enjoy his stuff a lot. Were he in a confirmation hearing, however, and I was advising his opponents, they'd show up with a copy of "33 Questions" and he would not get a dog catcher job. Sad but true.

Posted by: jk at April 11, 2012 10:22 AM

March 17, 2012

"Accomplishment"

Discussions such as this make it clear that none of us are quick to use the word "accomplishment" in any retrospective of the Obama Administration. But there is another opinion, perhaps best represented by the Davis Guggenheim swoon-fest named 'The Road We've Traveled.' To wit:

Filmmaker Davis Guggenheim told CNN last week his only regret was he had only 17 minutes to discuss Obama's accomplishments. He cited health care, the stimulus and other economic initiatives in the face of a tough "political climate" facing near-united Republican opposition.

"The challenge for me is I wanted to put more in there, I really did," Guggenheim said. "I'm really quite in awe of him as a leader."

Another example is currently on display in the halls of a Colorado charter school. I will take great pains here to preserve the anonymity of the 5th grade author but I am compelled to publicize the content, verbatim. [Original text was computer printer output, on three pages.] President Obama's "accomplishments" are enumerated on page 2. I will editorialize in advance: Are there no parents? Are there no teachers? Will this receive a grade or just a gold-star for "participation?" As I said, verbatim.

Barack Obama was born on August 4, 1961. Obama went to many different schools but his first school was Francisus Asissi Primary

school. Barack Obama now is our president. He has been our president for four years. He became our president on August 5, 2008.

Obama loves playing basketball and he is very good at it. I really like him as a president and hope he comes back for four more years.

Obama has lots of family. Barack Obama's parents both died but his dad died in 1982 in a car accident. His mother died in 1995 by

breast cancer. Barack was raised by a non-African American mom and since his mom died he had to be raised by his non-African
American grandparents. Obama is now raising a wonderful family a wife Michelle,a 13 year old daughter named Malia,and a 10 year old

daughter named Natasha (Sasha).

[page]

While Obama was in his office he accomplished a lot of things. He had doubled the national debt. Barack joined the country of Mexico

and sued a state in the United States. Barack Obama gave the Queen of england an iPod and it had all of Obamas speechs on it.

Barack has bowed to the King of Saudi Arabia. These are some of the things Barack Obama accomplished. Obama is a great president. I wish he could be president every single year.

Obama has done many good and important things to the United States. He is making our country safe from danger. Barck obama has

made the U.S. feel safe and happy. He changed our health care system so everyone will be happy. ["happy" crossed out by hand and replaced with "healthy."] Barack has been a very good

president. Obama has been a very good person to our country.

[page]

Barack Obama's nickname in basketball is "O-Bomber." His first name means "one who is blessed." Obama's favorite meal is his wife

Michelle's shrimp linguine. He has read every single word in the Harry Potter series. Barack owns a pair of red boxing gloves autographed

by Muhammad Ali.

Obama's favorite snack is chocolate, peanut protein bars. While he was living in Indonesia he ate dog meat, snake meat, and roasted

grasshoppers. Although he has since quit, Obama used to smoke cigarettes. When he lived in Indonesia his pet was an ape named Tata.

As a teenager obama took drugs including marijuana and cocaine.

No, I am not making this up. Not a single word.

Posted by JohnGalt at 10:30 AM | Comments (6)
But jk thinks:

A young Ezra Klein in the making...

Posted by: jk at March 17, 2012 11:33 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Was there a prior post on the Guggenheim film? I thought so but could not find it.

Posted by: johngalt at March 17, 2012 12:51 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

I can't find this on Snopes; what's the verification? (I know.... always a skeptic)

Posted by: nanobrewer at March 17, 2012 5:03 PM
But jk thinks:

Skepticism is good. Do you question the movie & quotes? It was discussed on Kudlow Friday and it sounds on track. If you question, the fifth grader's expository skills, then -- Jeff Foxworthy's friends aside -- I have sadly encountered much like it.

Posted by: jk at March 17, 2012 6:04 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The verification for the fifth grader prose is the three pictures on my Windows phone which, while tempting material to post, I'll keep private for purposes of the author's anonymity. I hope you'll understand when I explain that it was at my child's school and I don't want to prompt any ill will on the part of the student, parents or school staff.

I'm still contemplating whether to discuss it with the principal or teacher involved. Advice is invited.

Posted by: johngalt at March 17, 2012 6:32 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

"A young Ezra Klein in the making..."

You misspelled "Riefenstahl".

Posted by: Keith Arnold at March 17, 2012 10:38 PM

February 6, 2012

Wither go Jersey schools, so go Colorado's?

Last month, Denver District Judge Sheila Rappaport ruled that Colorado school funding system is not "thorough and uniform" as mandated by the state constitution. The ruling could cost Colorado taxpayers billions. To see how this movie ends, examine New Jersey.

Steven Malanga, writing in the City Journal, provides a comprehensive expose on the impact of the New Jersey Supreme Court's mandated school funding. Plot spoiler alert: New Jersey's Supreme Court makes the US Ninth Circuit look positively reticent. The piece is so long and detailed that pulled quotes would simply do it an injustice. If you live in Colorado, this is a "must read." Have your blood pressure medicine close and your firearms locked up.

The article is interesting on serveral levels, beginning with the parallel between where New Jersey was in the 1960's and Rappaport's recent ruling. The other interesting levels include:

- How easy it is for the Judicial branch to usurp Executive and Legislative authority - The dangers of a "living Constitution" - How our system of government depends heavily upon judges willing to restrain themselves

Gov. Christie declined to run for president in order to fix a "broken" New Jersey. According to Malanga, this is what he meant. The Refugee certainly does not know Christie's strategy, but he ultimately can see no remedy other than one body of government forcing a constitutional crisis. If the Executive Branch refuses to abide by a court decision, where do we go from here?

New Jersey's court activism may embolden and portend other courts to follow the same blueprint as is apparent in the case of Denver District Court. If Christie stays in New Jersey to untie this Gordian knot and saves the 50 states and the Republic from a similar fate, he may well have served a far more useful service to limited government than occupying the White House. Otherwise, the courts may do by fiat what Obama cannot through legislation. Maybe there is a silver lining.

hat tip: realclearpolitics.com

Posted by Boulder Refugee at 2:57 PM | Comments (9)
But Terri thinks:

Wow. Just wow.
To cover the disadvantages, they've ended up funding these schools at close to $30,000/pupil. They should hand the money over to the families if and only if they stay together and raise their kids. I suspect their would at least be results that way!

Posted by: Terri at February 6, 2012 6:56 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

The Refugee was hoping to stimulate a discussion among Three Sourcers about the virtues of a constitutional crisis imbroglio - thoughts?

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 6, 2012 11:29 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

I'll step up to the plate, br.

For my money, we're been building up to a Constitutional crisis for a long time - the beginnings of it going back to... well, you have to include Lincoln, I suppose, but in earnest with FDR. The issue is Federal overreach. I'm going to be uncharacteristically charitable and voice the issue that both sides of the aisle have had a hand in it.

I am NOT a supporter of a Constitutional Convention, and that may surprise some readers here. I think the Constitution we've got is fine (short of avulsing a few pesky Amendments); I'd be quite content if we went back to what that Constitution said, and abide by it. My thought is that in a Con-Con, everything is up for grabs, and do you really want Kucinich and a bunch of OWSers having a say in the next one? I sure as Hades don't.

What I think we need to see is each branch calling out the others and calling BS when they overreach. The problem I see is that none of the three branches right now are exactly faithful to that original parchment. Right now, short of taking back the Congress and using it to chasten the other two branches, it's really going to come down to the states. Various states are going to have to defy the Federal government if a real original-intent Constitutionalism is going to happen.

Jefferson famously penned that the people themselves are the final safe repository of freedom in this country. Here's the problem: I begin to think that more than 50% are either happy with government handouts or with DC ruling over us, and I wonder if those wanting that Constitutionalism will be able to muster a majority to vote it back. Hence we get back to panem et circenses; a once great nation fades and falls through addiction to welfare, distraction, and letting the government handle the rest. The fall-back plans beyond that aren't appetizing.

So, who's next?

Posted by: Keith Arnold at February 7, 2012 12:00 AM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Agree with most of what you say, KA. We have far more to lose than gain in a constitutional convention. Most issues could be solved with adherence to the doc we have, and that's where the constitutional crisis comes in.

If the judiciary demands more funds for education, say, and the Legislature refuses to approriate them, what will the courts do? They can try to hold the legislature/legistlators in contempt, but there usually rules against that. Moreover, it would require the executive branch to haul them in. (Same thing if they try to hold the exec in contempt.) If the exec says, "Sorry, we're on their side," what remedy does the court have? They can try to persuade the voters to throw the legistlators out, but that would only be in the next election when the voters can decide for themselves anyway.

Ultimately, branch over-reach can only be solved by the other branch(s) saying "Hell no." Someone will have to back down. I think it is very possible to win a showdown with the courts and if anyone can do it, it's Christie.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 7, 2012 5:05 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

One other thing: Even if 50%+ of the population likes government patronage, activists normally carry the day. During the Revolution, 1/3 of Americans were Tories, 1/3 Patriots and 1/3 didn't care. The activist Patriots carried the day over the other two-thirds.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 7, 2012 5:08 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Now THAT is the most optimistic thing I've read in the last three years! Thank you BR, from the bottom of my nuveau-activist heart. "Today is a good day to die! (Or, at least, caucus and write resolutions.)"

Posted by: johngalt at February 8, 2012 5:46 PM

December 26, 2011

That explains it!

Brother ac and I have both enjoyed successful careers without a college degree. The 2008 German General Social Survey (Allbus) conducted by the Leibniz Institute for Social Sciences has finally resolved this seeming conundrum.

The Local: Higher Ed Bubble: Being Hot is as Valuable as Having a College Degree

Hat-tip: Insty

Posted by John Kranz at 5:51 PM | Comments (0)

December 10, 2011

jk's Big Idea

I've been thinking about a new degree -- not for myself, PhD (Philosophical Dropout) suits me just fine. I think we need a new a hybrid educational vehicle to move ahead.

I'm a big fan of Professor Glenn Reynolds and consider his "higher education bubble" theory dead on. More importantly, what some now call Reynolds's Law: that the markers of a middle class lifestyle such as housing and a college degree do not produce a middle class life when handed out.

Also creeping up on Instapundit is recognition of a genuine lack of skilled labor and realization that a good plumber, electrician, roofer -- or a person with a handful of the same in his employ -- can enjoy a pretty good income and lifestyle. I painted and hung wallpaper through the frequent interstices in my music career and I saw these guys all the time. They drive a nice new truck every couple of years and live in a nice house.

Yet our educational system still bifurcates between Ralph Cramden vs. Mister Mooney, when in many cases the laborer has a similar or better income than a great hunk of the professionals. Now, with the Internet, inexpensive travel, and wide distribution of information, these folks are not impoverished intellectually either.

We need to recognize this with a new curriculum. Instead of choosing twixt Diesel Repair Academy and Harvard, I suggest a two or three year education where you learn HVAC in the morning and Poetry in the afternoon. Community Colleges and for profits might lead the way, but I want to provide a) a college experience to socialize and grow; b) real world employment skills suited to an individual's preferences and proclivities; and, c) an intellectual framework to build upon and claim a place in society that is not inferior.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:28 PM | Comments (8)
But dagny thinks:

As the accounting manager for a small manufacturing company I am all in favor of this. Despite the 8.6 percent unemployment rate, a lack of skilled labor still exists. We and other companies like ours often have trouble filling machine operator and programmer positions. Johngalt tells me there's a shortage of trained welders in Indiana. I can report the same shortage exists in the Denver metro area. If the candidates for these careers are going to four-year colleges to learn kinesiology instead it is a tremendous waste of time, talent and careers.

Posted by: dagny at December 11, 2011 10:38 AM
But jk thinks:

My blog brother hits a nerve. I've worked with so many gifted engineers who celebrated graduation day because they would never have to read a book again. I would hope these graduates would be prepared for a lifetime of discovery and reinvention.

Yet I’m straying a bit from topic. I don't imagine I can rework the entire curricula and fix all the evils of higher education. But I think there is a hole for creating educated laborers -- and a concomitant perception that their life is inferior.

Posted by: jk at December 11, 2011 11:20 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I can suggest a book for those folks that might open their eyes.

"Take heed, however. If you have already made up your mind to reject a derivative part of her philosophy, such as laissez faire capitalism or the ethics of one's own life as the standard of value, and are unwilling to question your pre-established beliefs, then you will derive no benefit from this reading."
Posted by: johngalt at December 11, 2011 12:20 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Would it be boring if The Refugee agreed with his blog brothers and sister? His children's public high school has the motto, "Preparing every child for college," or some such BS. This is a pet peeve of The Refugee for all of the reasons already enumerated. With two degrees of his own, he believes fully in education. But a knowledge of Chaucer, calculus or biology (or God forbid, marketing) is not necessarily the best for the student.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at December 12, 2011 1:55 PM
But johngalt thinks:

To fine tune The Refugee's statement I would say a knowledge of Chaucer, calculus, biology and marketing are good for every student, although not the first priority for any of them. Every student must be taught, in order: Reading, writing, arithmetic, and the means and importance of earning a living. Then we'll commence with the history, literature and how to post a video on YouTube.

Posted by: johngalt at December 12, 2011 2:34 PM
But jk thinks:

Huh. We've never disagreed before.

Posted by: jk at December 12, 2011 3:40 PM

November 6, 2011

Quote of the Day

If education is so great, after all, why are so many educated people unemployed and camping out in public parks? -- Professor Glenn Reynolds on the failure of Colorado Prop 103
Posted by John Kranz at 11:57 AM | Comments (0)

October 31, 2011

Word of the Day

Investor's Editorial:

Yet the American Federation of Teachers has "fully endorsed" the Occupy protest and is calling for the rehiring of 1,000 laid-off teachers, presumably to include McAllister.

"We need to listen to what the individuals camped out in Liberty Plaza for Occupy Wall Street -- and those marching in the streets from Boston to Denver to Los Angeles -- have to say," declared AFT President Randi Weingarten in a statement issued after McAllister made her speech.

Fox News has reported that the fraud-plagued community-organizing group Acorn has partially recrudesced as something called New York Communities for Change, a group aligned with teachers.

The Acorn group collected funds for what it claimed was an American Federation of Teachers fundraiser to replace dangerous lightbulbs in schools. The money, according to Fox, went to Occupy protests instead.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:47 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

Onomatopoeia.

Posted by: jk at October 31, 2011 3:05 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, poetic indeed.

I'm still working on my three sentences containing 'recrudesced' that I may permanently add the word to my vocabulary.

Posted by: johngalt at October 31, 2011 4:58 PM

October 22, 2011

Not Getting It

How much longer do we have to endure government economic estimates based on static analysis of tax rate changes?

In November the mail-in ballot votes will be tallied to decide whether Colorado will lose 7,400 to 11,600 private sector jobs [you know, the ones that pay their own way and don't require a new tax every year to keep them going?] The culprit is Colorado's Proposition 103, a five-year plan to hike three different state taxes on individuals and businesses, conceived and placed on the ballot almost single handedly by Senator Rollie Heath (D-Boulder) and his personal fortune.

Voters will decide between the projected outcome voiced by one Senator Mary Hodge (D-Brighton) who said "she’s optimistic that state finances will not take a turn for the worse," or that of Barry W. Poulson, Senior Fellow in Fiscal Policy and Professor of Economics (retired), University of Colorado, Boulder and John D. Merrifield, Professor of Economics, University of Texas whose analysis resulted in the job loss estimate in the lede. To understand the magnitude of the job loss you can read the paper or just watch this video from a Jon Caldera press conference that, somehow, I haven't seen reported by Denver's Fox 31.

By the way, there weren't enough dominoes to have one for every job lost. Each domino represents TWO jobs.

Posted by JohnGalt at 10:47 AM | Comments (3)
But jk thinks:

Awesome!

For our out-of-state friends, this is about the only thing on the ballot most places. It should be very low turnout. And the Fox affiliate Brother jg torques me with runs a commercial every four minutes about "our children try so hard, but some have a four-day week, some have to pay to ride the bus, and our state is 49th in higher-education spending."

Colorado has been good in the past at rejecting these things but I think the polity is changing for the worse and fear this will pass.

Posted by: jk at October 22, 2011 11:50 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes and, setting the statistics straight, while spending may or may not be 49th as a fraction of the state's economy or some other measure it is 30th per capita.

Furthermore, educational results are not directly proportional to spending. For example, more spending on teachers and less on adminstrators would be helpful. American schools have on the order of one administrator per 3 teachers, while those in other, more successful, western nations are closer to one per 20 teachers. And there are domestic differences as well. For our below-average investmentColorado's SAT scores rank 15th in the nation.

Posted by: johngalt at October 22, 2011 2:06 PM
But jk thinks:

A friend had a bumper sicker: Colorado, 49th in education spending. I told him he should have his kids educated in Newark or Washington DC.

Posted by: jk at October 22, 2011 2:28 PM

October 4, 2011

Otequay of the Ayday

Perhaps no other sector of American society so demonstrates the failure of government spending and interference. We've destroyed individual initiative, individual innovation and personal achievement, and marginalized anyone willing to point it out. As one of my coaches used to say, "You don't get vast results with half-vast efforts!"

The results we're looking for are students learning, so we need to reward great teachers who show they can make that happen--and get rid of bad teachers who don't get the job done. It's what we do in every other profession: If you're good, you get rewarded, and if you're not, then you look for other work.

-Fran Tarkenton, NFL Hall of Fame quarterback and nouveau "anti-working class extremist."

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:12 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Awesome! On education, I think ThreeSourcers would dig Teaching America: The Case for Civic Education

It is a collection of essays/papers on the teaching of the Constitution, rights, history and government. A diverse panel is represented: Justice O'Connor, Alan Dershowitz, Insty, Juan Williams, Charter School operators, &c. Very thought provoking.

Posted by: jk at October 4, 2011 3:40 PM

September 26, 2011

This. Shall. Not. Stand.

Campus Thought Free Zones on the rise:

On September 12, 2011, Professor Miller posted on his office door an image of Nathan Fillion in Firefly and a line from an episode: "You don't know me, son, so let me explain this to you once: If I ever kill you, you'll be awake. You'll be facing me. And you'll be armed." On September 16, UWS Chief of Police Lisa A. Walter emailed Miller, notifying him that she had removed the poster and that "it is unacceptable to have postings such as this that refer to killing."

Amazed that UWS could be so shockingly heavy-handed, Miller replied by email, "Respect liberty and respect my first amendment rights." Walter responded that "the poster can be interpreted as a threat by others and/or could cause those that view it to believe that you are willing/able to carry out actions similar to what is listed." Walter also threatened Miller with criminal charges: "If you choose to repost the article or something similar to it, it will be removed and you could face charges of disorderly conduct."

Later on September 16, Miller placed a new poster on his office door in response to Walter's censorship. The poster read "Warning: Fascism" and included a cartoon image of a silhouetted police officer striking a civilian. The poster mocked, "Fascism can cause blunt head trauma and/or violent death. Keep fascism away from children and pets."


First they came for the Buffy viewers...

Hat-tip: @adamsbaldwin

Heh-tip: Insty beats me on the headline: "IN WISCONSIN, IT’S BROWNSHIRTS VS. BROWNCOATS"

Posted by John Kranz at 1:08 PM | Comments (6)
But johngalt thinks:

Good story, and a likely source in @adamsbaldwin. You still following him? He retweets too much for me. I got tired of wading through his tweets to see anyone elses. He was my first "Unfollow" victim.

Posted by: johngalt at September 26, 2011 2:01 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

For Prof. Miller's next Firefly posters, may I suggest these:

"A government is a body of people, usually, notably ungoverned." (Shepherd Book, War Stories)

"People don't like to be meddled with. We tell them what to do, what to think, don't run, don't walk. We're in their homes and in their heads and we haven't the right. We're meddlesome." (River Tam, Serenity movie)

"That's what governments are for... get in a man's way." (Mal Reynolds, Serenity pilot)

Posted by: Keith Arnold at September 26, 2011 2:43 PM
But johngalt thinks:

2nd and 3rd of these are seared in my memory. Awesome stuff that, written by a lefty I'm told? Wheedon?

Quick, send it to Elizabeth Warren!

Posted by: johngalt at September 26, 2011 2:49 PM
But jk thinks:

Good move, jg. I'm sure there will be no consequences for publicly "unfollowing" Jayne. "Did you hear something Dagny? A metallic click? Sounded like 'Gina...'"

Yup, ka, one of the sweet mysteries of life, that. Whedon wrote all those lines you artfully recall and then ran out to host a big John Kerry Fundraiser. Boggles the mind.

Posted by: jk at September 26, 2011 5:09 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I need a few more letters in that hint: "'Gina...?"

Posted by: johngalt at September 27, 2011 3:10 PM
But jk thinks:

Hah! I was thinking in this crowd that that allusion would work: Gina is the name of Jayne's favorite gun. [Simon I believe] is disturbed that he names them, and in a later episode he says "even Gina wouldn't be able to pierce that."

Posted by: jk at September 27, 2011 3:24 PM

September 16, 2011

Duuuuuuh!

Were I an 18th Century Colonial, I would craft a more astute headline. But this Freakonomics blog post hits home for me.

In 1776, one book, written in complex language, sold over 120,000 copies in Colonial America. That number does seem large on its own. However, to give it even more meaning, I like to convert it to an equivalent number today.

This conversion is a task for proportional reasoning--one of my favorite tools for finding meaning in the numbers that surround us. First convert 120,000 into a fraction of the U.S. population in 1776: compared to the population at the time of 2.5 million, 120,000 is roughly 1 in 20, or 5%. Today's U.S. population is about 300 million--of which 5% is 15 million.

Fifteen million copies today! More surprisingly, Common Sense by Thomas Paine sold this equivalent in just three months. In its first year, it sold 500,000 copies, or 20% of the colonial population.

Author Sanjoy Mahajan compares this to The Da Vinci Code: "Today's equivalent is 60 million copies. On Wikipedia's list of bestselling books, all books that have sold that many or more copies have done so over a much longer time. The shortest time is 8 years, for The Da Vinci Code; several others, such as Heidi, were published in the 19th century."

I don't think you need a Freakonomics degree to see that the readership is spread over a larger selection of books -- Chris Anderson call your office -- but Mahajan's other comparison caught my eye. He prints a few paragraphs from Common Sense to show "the sophistication of the writing and reasoning."

I recently finished John Locke's Two Treatises of Government (~1689). This year included a couple almost-hundred-year-old tracts by Mises, WH Hutt's Theory of Idle Resources and several Presidential biographies written in the Gilded Age when their bewhiskered subjects were still alive or recently passed.

None of these is "The Da Vinci Code." With respect, I read the Dan Brown thriller and liked it allright, but books from the 19th, 18th and 17th Century tend to be far more demanding in concept, vocabulary and diligence. They also assume familiarity with classics and regularly include Greek and Latin phrases without translation.

Again, we have laptops, Internet, voluminous libraries, iPads, free MIT courses online, &c. Yet nobody is graduated from Harvard with the erudition the young John Quincy Adams had when he was denied admission.

The whole short post is worth a read. To really do yourself a favor, click through to read the longer but rewarding The 7 Lesson Schoolteacher

Posted by John Kranz at 12:24 PM | Comments (0)

September 5, 2011

Reagan for kids (especially the 18-year olds)

This post legitimately spans multiple categories. I don't recall it being discussed here when it was first released, last May I believe, so I'll immortalize it in the 3Srcs/EatOurPeas archives now.

For the youth of America who don't remember the economic resurgence that came about under the policies of President Ronald Reagan Mike Huckabee offers a new animated American History series to give them the pro-America version of events they may or may not have ever heard of. Here's a clip from the Reagan Revolution episode.

Mike Huckabee calls it an unbiased telling of history, while those more inclined to a politically-correct worldview see the religion boogeyman as they quote from the video's website: "We recognize and celebrate faith, religion and the role of God in America's founding and making our country the greatest place on Earth," the site reads.

I had attributed this reflexive anti-religion attitude to a majority of the one-third of American voters who are unaffiliated with a party but I'm ready to concede it may be yet another form of extremism that's been made to appear mainstream by the Dominant Liberal Establishment Mass Media. In defense of his product Huckabee claims that, "Ninety-one percent of liberals who were shown the videos said they not only learned something they would buy them for their kids."

Posted by JohnGalt at 1:09 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Ooooooooh i dooooooon't knooooooooow maaaaaaaan....

Perhaps I have been whacking at the Gov for too long and need to better "recalculate pros and cons in real-time" but the tone of this is Reefer Madness meets Emmanuel Goldstein meets a PBS Kids' Recycling Special.

I enjoy a positive portrayal of our 40th as much as the next ThreeSourcer but there is little factual information here and the tone tries too hard to persuade to actually be persuasive.

And those Teeth! Millions of young children will grow up having Ronald Reagan nightmares! That can't be good.

Posted by: jk at September 6, 2011 10:55 AM

August 23, 2011

Stir it Up!

I've perhaps mentioned, once or twice, that while my ThreeSources friends are perhaps, slightly right-of-center, my Facebook friends are decidedly left. I've acclimated pretty well.

Twitter, however, is rather mixed. I have quite a bit of politics, leaning heavily right, and several entertainers, music stores, and musicians, (dirty hippies all) leaning left.

Buzzing down my feed I was not prepared for "Yes! We need a 30yr plan for a better food system." I assumed it was a joke from some wingnut I follow, but no, it is on the level, RT'ed by Michelle Branch. There are several ideas to combat childhood obesity at the link, but I have to pick one to excerpt, and I choose:

Savor Mealtimes: Emphasizing the importance of mealtimes teaches children to appreciate the value and taste of good food. France, which has one of the lowest rates of childhood obesity in Europe, takes lunch very seriously. School lunches are well funded, and every part of the meal is prepared on school grounds in professional-grade kitchens--a stark contrast to the heat-and-serve kitchens in U.S. schools. Kids from preschool to high school are served four- to five-course meals and are encouraged to take time eating and socializing with friends. At some schools, detailed menus even suggest what parents should serve their children for dinner. Soft drink and snack machines are banned from school premises.

Mon Dieu!

Posted by John Kranz at 5:15 PM | Comments (0)

July 23, 2011

An Honest Evaluation

I have long been dismissive of Bill Gates's philanthropic efforts. I suggested that his business efforts created far more benefit to society, spinning off thousands of millionaires (Evergreen State Ex-pat Dagny revised my initial estimates up significantly).

I also see Gates as a huge piece of the innovation creation that lets me work from home and be a productive citizen instead of an institutionalized disabled person. So, yeah, "Business Bill" is pretty high in my book. Yet, when Don Luskin compared him to Hank Reardon in his book, my impression was degraded by his philanthropy. "Giveaway Bill" looked in danger of becoming another sad emblem of anti-Capitalism -- along with some guy whose name rhymes with gore-and-fluff-it.

But Jason Riley interviews Gates about his education efforts in Was the $5 Billion Worth It? and Gates's humility and honesty have won me back. He is serious about the limitations of philanthropy in a large system with structural flaws:

"But the overall impact of the intervention, particularly the measure we care most about--whether you go to college--it didn't move the needle much," he says. "Maybe 10% more kids, but it wasn't dramatic. . . . We didn't see a path to having a big impact, so we did a mea culpa on that." Still, he adds, "we think small schools were a better deal for the kids who went to them."

The reality is that the Gates Foundation met the same resistance that other sizeable philanthropic efforts have encountered while trying to transform dysfunctional urban school systems run by powerful labor unions and a top-down government monopoly provider.


After decades of failure, the "powerful labor unions and a top-down government monopoly" schools assert every day that they are doing a swell job and should be given more money and authority. I give even "Giveaway Bill" props for a serious look at metrics and quantitative goals. (Sadly, the "..monopoly" words belong to Jason Riley and not Gates, but they are not provided without context from the subject.)

It's a great and thoughtful article -- holler if you want it mailed over Rupert's pay wall ("kick a dolly when he's down!")

Posted by John Kranz at 11:14 AM | Comments (0)

July 18, 2011

Khaaaaaan!!!!

Perhaps the final death cry of the Teachers' Unions will not be directed at Governor Scott Walker, but at that Dangnabbited Internet Thingy and those who would educate online.

Terry Moe of the Hoover Institution (we used to have one of their vacuum cleaners) has a book and a WSJ guest editorial that says they have more to fear than the GOP:

The first is that they are losing their grip on the Democratic base. With many urban schools abysmally bad and staying that way, advocates for the disadvantaged are demanding real reform and aren't afraid to criticize unions for obstructing it. Moderates and liberals in the media and even in Hollywood regularly excoriate unions for putting job interests ahead of children. Then there's Race to the Top--initiated over union protests by a Democratic president who wants real reform. This ferment within the party will only grow in the future.

Then there's a crucial dynamic outside of politics: the revolution in information technology. This tsunami is only now beginning to swell, and it will hit the American education system with full force over the next few decades. The teachers unions are trying to stop it, but it is much bigger than they are.

Online learning now allows schools to customize coursework to each child, with all kids working at their own pace, receiving instant remedial help, exploring a vast array of courses, and much more. The advantages are huge. Already some 39 states have set up virtual schools or learning initiatives that enroll students statewide, often providing advanced placement courses, remedial courses, and other offerings that students can't get in their local schools.


I think the Unions could truncate this by outlawing electricity...

Posted by John Kranz at 5:41 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

Oh wait.

Posted by: johngalt at July 18, 2011 6:33 PM
But jk thinks:

Heh, I hope they are not quite that clever...

Posted by: jk at July 18, 2011 7:11 PM

June 27, 2011

A "balanced approach" to the deficit problem

Senator Jon Kyl went on Fox News Sunday yesterday to explain why he withdrew from deficit reduction negotiations over the President's conditional requirement that government revenues be raised as part of a "balanced" solution. "But isn't one dollar of new taxes for every three dollars of spending cuts a fair deal" asked Chris Wallace?

But you don't want to pile taxes on at a time when companies don't have the ability to invest and hire people. That's the primary reason we are opposed to raising taxes right now.

Treasury Secretary Geithner explains the real reason for insisting on tax hikes.

"If you don't touch revenues," Geithner said, "you have to shrink the overall size of government programs, things like education, to levels that we could not accept as a country."

What do you mean "we" Kemosabe? Investor's Business Daily opines:

Some factions just won't accept shrinking the size of government. Most in them run in the same tight circles as Geithner. Never hearing anything other than support for increasing the size of government, they assume that's what Americans want.

But quite a few Americans have been wanting to cut government for decades, and that number is growing as the almost intractable problems created by overspending have become more obvious.

From Social Security and Medicare to housing assistance and farm subsidies to, yes, even education, federal programs need to shrink or be eliminated. There's not a single item in the budget, including defense, that can't use some judicious trimming.

No Tim, America's economy has shrunk. Americans' net worth has shrunk. It's well past time for America's government to shrink.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:28 PM | Comments (0)

June 9, 2011

You Have to Want to Know

Well-read people probably heard of David Mamet long before I did as the creator of CBS television's The Unit. A tough and realistic portrayal of life as an Army Special Forces soldier, I was convinced that its message was created by a conservative mind "behind enemy lines" in Hollywood.

With little fanfare in 2008 an article he wrote was published in the Village Voice with the title "Why I am No Longer a Brain-Dead Liberal." I don't believe I ever took the time to read the entire 3-page article when JK linked it, since it doesn't look familiar now, but the point is that he had a David Horowitz moment: He decided to stop swallowing the blue pill and became, philosophically, a free-market conservative and a warrior against anti-Americanism.

He is currently on a media tour to promote his new book, "The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture." He was interviewed this week by 850KOA's Mike Rosen and had some choice things to say in the 34-minute segment [introduction begins at 3:50.]

"There's a great quote in the Talmud: 'Who doesn't teach his son a trade teaches him to become a highway robber.' And I realized that one of the great failures of my baby boomer generation was we aren't teaching our children a trade, we're struggling and lying and scheming and scrimping and saving to get them into colleges which teach them that America is no good and that they don't have to work for a living. And it is absolutely immoral."

(...)

We've lost the capacity ... to stop government and say, you know, that just doesn't work. So we're now at the point where we need a complete revision. And that revision is a reversion to the principles of the Constitution. Which is, take care of the roads and sewers, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, provide the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity, and if you don't - guess what - I'm gonna vote you out and you can go back home."

Rosen brings the book Lost Horizon into the discussion, and Mamet draws analogy between the ruling "good people" on the mountain top in Shangri La who know better than everyone else and our liberal government overlords.

And the worst of it is they want to be shielded from intellectual discourse. That the liberal community which never heard of Thomas Sowell, let alone of Freidrich Hayek, wants to be, needs to be shielded from responding to the question, what exactly are your precepts, what are your principles, what's the historical record of playing out and how do you account for the difference between the two?"

(...)

Voltaire said Every man is satisfied with his wit; no man is satisfied with his fortune. There's no one in the world who wouldn't like to have more money, both the one who is living from hand to mouth and the multi-billionaire who is investing his money. We'd all like to have more money. There's only three ways to get money in a free society - one is to steal it, the other is to get lucky, and the third is to fulfill someone else's needs, which is the way most of us earn money.

And there's more, if you care to listen.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:21 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Good post, man! I started to listen but was called away. I will try to make it back later today. I loved the bit from his Rabbi about both sides' being able to express the other's case succinctly and fairly. That was rolling around my head all evening.

UPDATE: Rosen recommends Michael Novak's "Spirit of Democratic Capitalism" at 8:30 Woohoo!

Posted by: jk at June 10, 2011 11:04 AM

Abandon All Hope Ye Who Click

Zombie (that's a one-word sobriquet, kind of like "Cher") has a thoughtful post on education, done in photographs. He has come to accept that "we have to break education in order to save it" and publishes many photos from a San Francisco and a Los Angeles teachers' union rally.

These photos have been languishing on my hard drive for three weeks because every time I got the notion to blog about them, something stopped me. I've been making fun of protesters for over eight years now, but this time, I felt conflicted. I mean, c'mon, what have you got against poor teachers and young kids pleading for a few more pennies to keep their schools open? What are you, some kind of cruel anti-education knowledge-hating sadist?

I had some serious cogitatin' to do. And each time I pushed this report to the back burner, unbidden thoughts kept percolating, simmering in the back of my mind. And it was not until today that I figured out why these otherwise unremarkable protests were so disturbing, and why I could only grumble under my breath at what ought to have been a legitimate social complaint.

ThreeSourcers with blood pressure concerns should take their medication before perusing the philosophically disturbing photos.

Hat-tip: Instapundit

Posted by John Kranz at 10:52 AM | Comments (0)

May 27, 2011

How Will They Learn Their Calculus?

Congratulations suckers taxpayers! You just paid $500 Million (or "nothing" in gub'mintspeak) to teach five year olds to sit still in Kindergarten.

"You really need to look at the range of issues, because if a 5-year-old can't sit still, it is unlikely that they [sic] can do well in a kindergarten class, and it has to be the whole range of issues that go into healthy child development," [HHS Secretary Kathleen] Sebelius said during a telephone news conference on Wednesday to announce the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge.
And if they get behind in finger painting, how will they learn the skills required to acquire the green jobs of tomorrow?
Posted by John Kranz at 1:22 PM | Comments (3)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

In loco parentis on meth.

What do we need parents for anymore? Our schools drive the children around, feed them breakfast, feed them lunch, babysit them after class hours are over, teach them safe sex, tell them to narc out their parents for owning guns or voting for McCain, give them social values, show them how to call 911 and Child Welfare if they get sent to their rooms without dessert and MTV, dispense ritalin when they act up, and show them how to get abortions when they get knocked up - and now, they'll deal with the problem of exuberant kids between birth and five.

At some point, they'll have to create a new agency to ensure kids learn how to read, and how to add a column of figures. I'm stunned we don't already have one.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at May 27, 2011 2:14 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Green jobs of tomorrow.

[We really need a "Greendoggle" category. The prior post was under "oil and energy."]

Posted by: johngalt at May 27, 2011 4:11 PM
But jk thinks:

Huh? Think there'd be enough stories to justify it?

Posted by: jk at May 27, 2011 4:27 PM

May 20, 2011

We Don't Need No Thought Control...

This:

makes me really glad I have no children, and that they would not attend LAUSD shools if I did.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:52 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

"... START taxing the rich?" What?

Posted by: johngalt at May 20, 2011 3:58 PM

May 19, 2011

Quote of the Day

[Democrat state Sen. Judith] ZAFFIRINI: Rick Perry doesn’t understand higher education. He doesn’t have a graduate degree, and he graduated a long time ago with a major in something like agriculture. I have a PhD, so I understand the value of research and teaching. He just doesn’t understand it. In the legislature, we’re used to dealing with regents who love their universities, who bleed orange or red or whatever their colors. These new regents appointed by Perry don’t seem to have any school spirit. They seem suspicious and cynical. They haven’t taken time to understand what the status quo is; they just want to change it.
So hard to be so smart in a world of buffoons, isn't it Doctor Z?
Posted by John Kranz at 8:48 AM | Comments (0)

May 5, 2011

Hoss of the Day

Governor Mitch Daniels delivers a serious fact and policy filled talk to the AEI on education. His style differs from the big man in the Garden State, but he matches him in seriousness, moral clarity -- and is deeper into a demonstration of his programs' efficacies.

I apologize for the many links to long videos this week. I know they are not conducive to work, but I am nursing a bad cold. The first half hour is his speech, if anybody has a chance, the remainder of the 50 minutes is Q&A.

And no, he's not Mister Charisma, but the self-effacing, plainspoken Hoosier might look pretty good in contrast to an incumbent of far more style than substance. My thoughts turn to Silent Cal when Gov. Daniels speaks -- he could be our generation's Coolidge, right when he is most needed.

If you've no time to watch videos, follow the hat-tip link:

Where Sarah Palin Resigned, Mitch Daniels Rolled Up His Sleeves By Andrew Kelly

Posted by John Kranz at 3:05 PM | Comments (0)

April 21, 2011

Online Education Rocks!

This time, in history and literature.

First JK brought us the Khan Academy for math and science.

My contribution in kind is Shmoop University.

No one will be surprised that I found these guys by searching for something relevant to Atlas Shrugged.

In the brief time I've spent perusing the voluminous content they offer on this controversial and revolutionary novel I have been greatly impressed. The treatment is honest, accurate and thorough. I hope to use it to help explain some of the book's themes to others. (And to refer to other literary titles and, when time permits, move on to history topics.)

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:44 PM | Comments (0)

April 20, 2011

Please briefly explain the matrix of domination

Huh? Dominatrix? What?

Walter Williams finds an article by Candace de Russy who finds a student's exam from an introductory sociology class for which the student received 100%. I don't know that any ThreeSourcer will be completely surprised, but to read them in sequence is a shock I invite you to experience by clicking.

Average Americans, as parent, student and taxpayer, have little idea of the academic rot at so many of our colleges. Save for a tiny handful of the nation's colleges, what distinguishes one college from another is the magnitude of that rot.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:36 PM | Comments (4)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

So - indulge me for a moment on this one, my friends - we read these things:

"The majority of multigender encounters are male-dominated. (F)or example, while involved in conversation, the male is much more likely to interrupt. Most likely because the male believes the female's expressed thoughts are inferior to his own."

- and -

"For example, males are dominant over females, whites over blacks, and affluent over impoverished."

At last! Now I understand Kanye West's outburst at the VMA awards, imposing himself on Taylor Swift. Though black, he's male and established; she, though white, is female and up-and-coming. All this time, I've simply thought West was an ass. Who says you can't learn anything useful in college these days?

Posted by: Keith Arnold at April 20, 2011 2:28 PM
But jk thinks:

'scuse me, Brother Keith, I'm gonna let you finish and all but...

People are going into debt to absorb this twaddle! I used to think it was the occasional humanities elective and that nobody was really harmed, but I am constantly reminded that there is no space for an American History or Constitution class, all to provide more of this untruth.

A good friend got a Computer Science MBA five years ago and took field trips to an S&M conference. Dominant Matrix indeed.

Posted by: jk at April 20, 2011 3:51 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Question: Please briefly explain the matrix of domination-

Since the power of an individual's free will is distributed it is therefore dominated by organized or "collective" power, thus giving trade unions, special interest groups and the mainstream press the ability to overwhelm that individual free will with egaliatarian socialist claptrap that many an individual will succomb to even in spite of his innate prior knowledge of the fact that it is, indeed, false. Through this concentration of power provably false ideas repeatedly become official government policy through a mechanism we've been taught to revere called "democracy." So ended the great Roman empire and classical Greece.

Posted by: johngalt at April 20, 2011 4:03 PM
But jk thinks:

I've forwarded this to the Dean...

Posted by: jk at April 20, 2011 4:26 PM

April 18, 2011

Quote of the Day

To an ever-increasing degree -- in the academy and in the professions -- we live in a moral and intellectual atmosphere that is stifling. We live in a time in which those who want to advance in the professions must pretend to believe what we all know to be untrue. The totalitarian temptation persists. I doubt that it will ever go away. -- Paul Rahe

Hat-tip: Instapundit

Posted by John Kranz at 10:56 AM | Comments (4)
But johngalt thinks:

Yes. Rahe is, of course, correct. Call it group-think or political correctness or academic totalitarianism - the name does not matter - it is anti-survival behavior on the part of humanity.

I had to refer to the Hat-tip link to see who pulled the subject quote and gain some insight as to why no others were equally elevated, but the link is non-specific so I have no clue. Did you read the entire, fascinating essay? Were you not tempted to pull other quotes? Are you merely goading one of your loyal readers to do so?

Man, what an article you've linked here!

Posted by: johngalt at April 18, 2011 3:11 PM
But jk thinks:

So busted. I did read it and I did think it deserved a "read the whole thing" suggestion which I debated adding.

Going for the stock QOTD format, it's users' choice. Plus, I know the Sage of Knoxville is pretty well read 'round these parts. I frequently assume I am sweeping up the crumbs behind Insty.

Posted by: jk at April 18, 2011 6:17 PM
But jk thinks:

Lest you think I am withholding on tax day, the Instapundit link was the usual soul of brevity: "PAUL RAHE: Truths You Cannot Utter."

Posted by: jk at April 18, 2011 6:38 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The original link no longer works but this one leads to the same article.

Posted by: johngalt at May 9, 2011 1:45 AM

April 12, 2011

VIVA FERNANDO!

Fernando Dominguez cut the figure of a young revolutionary leader during a recent lunch period at his elementary school.

"Who thinks the lunch is not good enough?" the seventh-grader shouted to his lunch mates in Spanish and English.

Dozens of hands flew in the air and fellow students shouted along: "We should bring our own lunch! We should bring our own lunch! We should bring our own lunch!"

Fernando waved his hand over the crowd and asked a visiting reporter: "Do you see the situation?"


I saw this story on the TeeVeeNews this morning (without Master Dominguez, sadly) and could not believe my eyes. The morning anchor had the first libertarian thought of her young life and said after the clip "that will be controversial."

Stupid %^*@^* parents! Don't know what their kids should eat or what they should learn. Thanks NED the Chicago Public Schools are there to save these poor children.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:32 AM | Comments (5)
But johngalt thinks:

Any truth to the rumor that THX1138 was set in Chicago?

Posted by: johngalt at April 12, 2011 2:15 PM
But HB thinks:

Here is the best quote from the article:


But parent Miguel Medina said he thinks the "no home lunch policy" is a good one. "The school food is very healthy," he said, "and when they bring the food from home, there is no control over the food."

A parent (!) thinks that there is no control over the food that comes from the home. Is he essentially saying that he is too lazy to pack/inspect what his child is taking for lunch?

Posted by: HB at April 13, 2011 1:00 PM
But jk thinks:

Perhaps Miguelito trades Papa's delicious kale-and-quinoa-on-whole-grain sandwiches for a hot dog, Doritos® and pudding (presumably with a cash sweetener).

Mister Medina cannot control every student's lunch -- that's what we have teachers for!

Posted by: jk at April 13, 2011 1:40 PM
But jk thinks:

And, @jg, dunno about THX1138, but it struck me that a certain FLOTUS hailed from the Windy City.

Posted by: jk at April 13, 2011 1:42 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Life immitates art.

Posted by: johngalt at April 13, 2011 3:04 PM

March 28, 2011

Class Size Myopia

Teachers' Unions hit a PR gold mine with classroom size and student/teacher ratios. This allows them to masquerade teachers' and unions' needs as the students'. Brilliant!

My inner PR executive is impressed, but when I look at Salman Khan's TED talk, I wonder if we could not perhaps use technology more effectively and boost productivity -- as we have in every other aspect of American life.

James Pethokoukis links to a charter school boss who presents a different look:

At Harlem Success Academy Charter School, where we’ve gotten some of the best results in New York City, some classes are comparatively large because we believe our money is better spent elsewhere. In fifth grade, for example, every student gets a laptop and a Kindle with immediate access to an essentially unlimited supply of e-books. Every classroom has a Smart Board, a modern blackboard that is a touch-screen computer with high-speed Internet access. Every teacher has a laptop, video camera, access to a catalogue of lesson plans and videotaped lessons.

But, how could a cash-strapped institution possibly pay for all that modern technology?
Outfitting a classroom this way costs about $40,000, or $13,500 amortized over three years. That’s how much New York charter schools receive per pupil annually, so we can afford this by just increasing class size by a single student. .. In other words, a 19th-century school can be transformed into a well-managed 21st-century school by adding just two students per classroom.

Pity the Kindle, the Smart Board, and the broadband don't pay dues.
A school will pay $5 million in salaries to teachers who end up wasting time writing on blackboards because the school has run out of paper that costs a penny a page. (Don’t believe me? Ask a teacher.)

Posted by John Kranz at 5:36 PM | Comments (0)

March 27, 2011

Flip the classroom

I have decried that improvements in technology do not improve education. Me like this:

Posted by John Kranz at 5:20 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Dad sent me the link a few weeks ago with no explanation. Very cool:

http://www.khanacademy.org/#browse

Posted by: johngalt at March 29, 2011 3:08 PM

March 11, 2011

Thousand Words

williamWarren110311.jpg

A point I try to make, but I cannot draw like William Warren.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:39 PM | Comments (0)

March 10, 2011

Mister Taranto is Somewhat Serious Today

James Taranto's mixture of light fare, serious politics, and deep interest in Constitutional principles makes it my second favorite stop on the 'Net (your browser has, of course, found the first).

He's pretty serious today. And while he's touching a topic that could seem quite overwrought if union protests peacefully disperse, it is potentially serious:

But the threat of disobedience issued by that COP FOR LABOR raises a much more troubling possibility: that the police are aiding a political movement that is breaking the law in order to disrupt the legislative process. If that is the case, then what is going on in Madison is not so much anarchy as an attempted coup d'état--a challenge to Wisconsin's republican form of government by those who have been entrusted to safeguard it.

Nothing is more fundamental to the American system than republican government--in contemporary usage, please note, that's a small "r." As the New York Sun noted in a recent editorial, the U.S. Constitution provides that "the United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government."

This provision, known as the Guarantee Clause, not only confers on the federal government the power to ensure republican government in the states, but imposes an affirmative obligation to do so


That he finds no time for levity on the day "How Men Lost Their Penis Spines" is published (HT: Insty on that'n), shows the gravity of the situation.

UPDATE: Not sure this is a coup d'état, but the Badger14 blog has evidence of selective enforcement of the law.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:58 PM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

Mister T is right. The substantive defanging of the last bastions of the labor union, the undoing of automatic contribution of union dues nee DNC campaign bucks, the baby steps toward defined contribution retirement plans and self-funded health insurance - all of these things are an everyday reality to those of us in the private sector. But to the government sector and the political party of government, they are a big * effing * deal.

I don't believe we've yet seen the worst of the old-school union thuggery we read about in our youths in a (hopefully) vain effort to maintain the status quo. [Now who are the reactionaries?]

Posted by: johngalt at March 10, 2011 4:45 PM
But Lisa M thinks:

I said a couple of days ago that this was the definitive battle of our time.

Posted by: Lisa M at March 10, 2011 8:15 PM
But jk thinks:

Could not agree more, Lisa. It seems complimentary to -- yet more important than -- the spending bills in DC.

Posted by: jk at March 10, 2011 9:01 PM

Yup. That's a Death Threat

I almost did not click Instapundit's link to "Death Threats Against GOP Legislators in Wisconsin." To be honest, while there is of course a double standard, I don't want to see the forces of goodness and light adopting the victimology of the left: an African American Legislator was shouted at! Vapours!

But, umm, this I think qualifies as pretty much a death threat in most societies:

Please put your things in order because you will be killed and your familes will also be killed due to your actions in the last 8 weeks. Please explain to them that this is because if we get rid of you and your families then it will save the rights of 300,000 people and also be able to close the deficit that you have created. I hope you have a good time in hell. Rea below for more information on possible scenarios in which you will die.

WE want to make this perfectly clear. Because of your actions today and in the past couple of weeks I and the group of people that are working with me have decided that we've had enough. We feel that you and the people that support the dictator have to die.


What if a Tea Partier had...oh never mind.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:04 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

In a related story, Fox News Reporter Mike Tobin was sexually assaulted by a mob of demonstrators who were "whipped into a frenzy" on the Wisconsin State Capitol lawn last night. Tobin was rescued by a small group of Egyptian women.

Posted by: johngalt at March 10, 2011 5:01 PM

March 8, 2011

On Firing Teachers

I had to get my Virginia Postrel Review Corner done before I linked to Megan McArdle's heartless, union-busting, attack on innocent teachers.

It's a Postrellian argument: you can't have improvement without firing teachers. Trial without error leads to sclerosis.

There's an all-too-human instinct to discount marginal change, especially when it imposes substantial costs on groups we like, such as teachers. But since there is very rarely a simple and cost-effective revolutionary change on the table, this biases our responses towards only ever trying things that won't cost any of the entrenched interest groups who currently benefit from the system. It's fun to be the guy who proposes universal pre-K or smaller class sizes--the taxpayer will whine, but no one is going to scream at you for being a heartless, teacher-hating union buster.

McArdle is more generous to the teachers than I (surprise!). I return to my old gripe that John Quincy Adams was rejected admission to Harvard. He was fluent in Greek, Latin, English, French, and Russian. He had travelled the world, was obviously bright, Dad was a pillar of the community, &c. But they wanted him to work on math skills for another year. I think he was fifteen.

Two hundred thirty years later, look at the developments in transportation and communication. Look at everything which cannot be compared because it did not exist in 1775. Yet, education -- with all these other achievements accessible -- has become magnitudes worse. How many finish a Bachelor's Degree at Harvard with the erudition young John had when his admission was denied.

I'll end with an anecdote. More than half of the burned out tech people I know would like to end their career by teaching (and about all of them would be great). Even though 80% of my family are professional teachers, I question the model. I'd rather have real world folks take it up as an Nth career. (Thank NED none of my family reads ThreeSources, I'd be home for canned peas on Thanksgiving!)

Posted by John Kranz at 12:36 PM | Comments (6)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

The peas would most likely be served on the unheated back porch to boot.

The Refugee might take some exception to the idea of burnt out corporate husks teaching K-12. While some would no doubt be good, he's met many who are knowledgeable and passionate about their subjects but have no clue how to penetrate the hormone-addled brains of pubescent teens. Telling true stories from the trenches of market warfare will have kids snoozing in seconds with images of grandpa dancing in their heads.

At the graduate and post-graduate level, however, trench stories are what make a great instructor. The Refugee's master's program was taught mainly be instructors who had day jobs, not ivory tower PhDs. The lone expection was a professional educator who taught Entrepreneurship, of all things. Wonderful lady, entertaining lecturer - but had never started so much as a lemonade stand. There's an obvious difference between those who can present information and those who truly understand it.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at March 8, 2011 3:18 PM
But jk thinks:

Oh no, the peas are mine and I am home. I don't think any nourishment is forthcoming...

I am thinking of three examples and you know two of them very well. All were very serious about a career change and willing to take some additional instruction (though not the three years required for a person with a college degree already). I don't see it as pasture, I see it as a true second/third/fourth career.

Take one semester of "Education" credits and pass an exam to be credentialed. I'll admit you put more weight in education credits than I do, but I'll meet you part way.

I also think of my favorite teachers. A high school Physics and Chemistry teacher right out of central casting (Christopher Lloyd ripped him off for "Back to the Future") who had worked as a chemist in the private sector. A favorite English Lit guy was a construction worker before and after a brief stint bringing Sugarchuck and I up to standards.

Eleven out of 13 of my K-12 years were in parochial schools. It is likely that I saw fewer education majors than you.

Posted by: jk at March 8, 2011 4:10 PM
But dagny thinks:

Your English lit teacher brought Sugarchuck and WHO up to what??

Posted by: dagny at March 13, 2011 11:03 AM
But jk thinks:

My friend Dagny is clearly setting a trap for me with this question. I may need to consult my attorney before proceeding.

Sugarchuck and I had an English teacher who impacted both of us. He didn't get along well with administration and did not last very long in teaching. Even in a parochial school, it was an anti-innovation environment, and most of my favorite instructors were usually in trouble.

Posted by: jk at March 13, 2011 1:36 PM
But dagny thinks:

No trap,

I was just trying to find a humorous way to tell you that your grammar was wrong.

Sentence should have read, "Sugarchuck and ME..."

Seemed kinda ironic in a discussion about English teachers.

Posted by: dagny at March 13, 2011 10:19 PM
But jk thinks:

Well, we was taught by a construction worker...

Posted by: jk at March 14, 2011 11:03 AM

March 7, 2011

How are bright girls different from bright boys?

How many readers have school-aged daughters? This may be of interest.

Gender Differences in Ability vs. Achievement

Researchers have uncovered the reason for this difference in how difficulty is interpreted, and it is simply this: More often than not, Bright Girls believe that their abilities are innate and unchangeable, while bright boys believe that they can develop ability through effort and practice."

"Innate and unchangeable." Doesn't this sound an awful lot like the difference in worldviews between labor union members versus TEA Partiers?

But that's just an aside. I think this information could help me find ways to better motivate my young daughters. I have seen this "giving up" behavior at times.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:32 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

There should be a scale for this.

The gender suggestion is interesting. I consider it one of (several) ideas I carry that is completely different from my parents and upbringing. Being the youngest, I was given a list of things I would be good at and things I shouldn't try or expect much success in.

I don't want to pull an Oprah and question the two finest parents in the world, but I've always wondered about the tacit acceptance of failure. Nor were their thoughts unusual. Perhaps Sugarchuck will pipe in: whether the time or place or religion, a lot of emphasis was put on innate capacity.

Posted by: jk at March 7, 2011 4:13 PM

February 27, 2011

Where Do We Get Some Failures Like That?

With all due respect, I think some bloggers need to get out more.

Happy to read on Instapundit that the MoveOn.Org rallies were a MISERABLE FAILURE (Professor Reynolds adds a qualifying question mark before three links and an email).

MISERABLE FAILURE? Prof. Jacobson: 50-State Union Protest Falls Far Short Of Predicted Turnout.

UPDATE: Dems Left Red-Faced; Protesters Fail to Materialize at National MoveOn Rallies.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Troy Hinrichs emails: "It seems that unless government workers get a paid day off (from us) they're not too interested in taking their unpaid days off to protest."

MORE: DaTechGuy notes that it's all about maintaining the fiction.


Glad to hear. Only that does not seem to match the story I saw:
DENVER -- An estimated 1,000 teachers, students, community members and health care workers gathered Saturday at the Colorado State Capitol to protest efforts to eliminate nearly all the bargaining rights of public employees in Wisconsin.

The event was one of more than 50 planned around the country in opposition to the Republican Gov. Scott Walker's recent legislation on public workers' rights.


No video at the link and the summary does not capture the flavor of the televised story. The 1000 estimate was presented as a triumph. The Wisconsin Bill was summarized in the most unfavorable light and, for a balancing opinion, they showed one lone fruitcake with a Gadsden flag, identified him as "A Tea Partier" and pointed out that he was removed.

There's a bit of Baghdad Bob in the Blogosphere -- I'd say everybody who does not read Instapundit considers these rallies to be a huge success. No word of unions, busing, astroturfing, or MoveOn. Just a bunch of teachers (a moment of silence to praise their sainted occupation) coming out to stop Wacky Republicans from eating babies.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:43 AM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

The story you linked has a single photo. A tight shot from a couple hundred feet, at most, from the capitol steps. If some unnamed authority "estimated" 1000 protesters then where is the picture that corroborates it?

Yes, the leftists get friendly treatment in the press. (See my post below.) Yes, this fools some of the public. No, I don't agree that the blogosphere exaggerates when it judges these demonstrations "a failure." The Wisconsin sea-change represents an existential threat to the last bastion of big-time unionism - public employee unions. If this is all that the union thugs can organize in opposition, much of it coming from MOVEON and ORGANIZING FOR AMERICA instead of the unions themselves, then it is reasonable to call it a flop.

Posted by: johngalt at February 27, 2011 12:33 PM
But johngalt thinks:

On the other hand, they certainly rallied more 'demanders of the unearned' than the 200 or so who want their free solar panels.

Posted by: johngalt at February 27, 2011 12:36 PM
But jk thinks:

Well, yeah, there's a right to solar panels...

I'm slow but I may be coming around. My Facebook friends and teevee news watchers may not get it, but perhaps you're right. On your side, I'll offer this awesome piece from Walter Russell Mead. He notes that killing public sector unions is a bipartisan affair:

Blue states where citizens want activist government to take on a lot of jobs actually feel this pressure more than red states: the more government you want, the more ruthlessly efficient you have to make it. Otherwise the costs explode and the state goes into a long fiscal death spiral as taxes increase while the business climate worsens. If you are a blue state politician whose constituents demand more government, you must prune the costs of delivering services.
If you are a politician in a red state whose citizens just hate taxes, you also have to make government more efficient. In both cases you simply cannot afford either the level of pay and benefits that public sector unions want to negotiate or the work rules and level of job protection that unions want their members to have.

Posted by: jk at February 28, 2011 10:45 AM

February 22, 2011

Quote of the Day

It'e early yet (Mountain Time) but I liked this:

It would be one thing if this were just overwrought hysteria, but Ann Althouse went to the trouble of interviewing one of the sign carriers, who really does believe that Scott Walker is just like Hitler. Yeah? I would like to see her explain to elderly concentration camp survivors and people whose parents were gassed and burned by the Nazis how the horror of what happened to them was the moral equivalent of ending the automatic deduction from state workers' paychecks and making the unions collect the dues themselves. -- Eric Scheie

Posted by John Kranz at 11:57 AM | Comments (1)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Please don't tell me that the sign carrier was a history teacher.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 22, 2011 12:35 PM

February 21, 2011

Go Ahead, Let 'Em Know What you Think

The Refugee was forwarded this communique from the Wisconsin teacher's union rep, who encouraged members to send it to family and friends:


--- On Sat, 2/19/11, OEA Secretary wrote:


From: OEA Secretary
Subject: Two separate polls - please VOTE
To:
Date: Saturday, February 19, 2011, 12:24 PM


I am resending these two polls as I was shocked to see the votes currently are in Walker's favor. Vote as you see fit but it seems odd to me with so many passionate people at Madison rallying for Walker to "talk" that it would not bear out in these polls. Pass it on to everyone you can.


This is a poll to find out if you agree with Walker's proposal for removing bargaining rights:

http://www.jsonline.com/polls/116334144.html

This is a different one.

JS Online is conducting a survey about Governor Walker's

Budget Repair Bill.

Please vote: JS Online Survey

Takes 30 seconds. Keep the pressure on them -- get them out to friends, family and members..
We'll keep you posted throughout the day.

In Solidarity,


Sincerely,

Steven Cupery, Lakewood UniServ Director
Lakewood UniServ
13805 W. Burleigh Road
Brookfield, WI 53005
Phone: (262)789-6000
Fax: (262)789-6010
Member 800 number: (800)403-5843

The link does indeed point to an online poll, so The Refugee weighed in. After casting a ballot, you will see the running total. Very encouraging indeed. Go for it.

Posted by Boulder Refugee at 12:19 PM | Comments (5)
But jk thinks:

Done -- go good guys!

Does the second one have a link?

Posted by: jk at February 21, 2011 12:50 PM
But jk thinks:

-- And the WSJ asks Should state employees have collective-bargaining rights?

Posted by: jk at February 21, 2011 1:26 PM
But johngalt thinks:

As of now the link is no longer valid. I did find this poll:

Is Gov. Scott Walker trying to bust state employee unions, or is he simply trying to rein in "legacy" costs (health care and pensions)?

(Currently 12% bust unions and 88% rein in costs, with 140065 responses.)

The text of the union rep letter is priceless: "...I was shocked to see the votes currently are in Walker's favor." Guess you guys and your demands aren't as popular as you thought, eh?

Posted by: johngalt at February 22, 2011 2:40 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And another:

"Which do you think is more likely to happen first?"

67% for "the 14 senators return to Wisconsin and 33% for Gov. Walker removes language on union rights. 5222 responses.

Posted by: johngalt at February 22, 2011 2:42 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And amid the polls on the Bucks, the Brewers, and whether you eat frozen deserts in cold weather was this interesting question:

"Do you agree with the decision to return the $23 million in stimulus money aimed at expanding high-speed internet service in Wisconsin?"

36% Yes. Too many strings attached. We'll find another way to do it

64% No. We need broadband in schools now. It's another step backwards

(4456 responses)

The bad news: Yes, it is still the land of demanding the unearned.

The good news: Despite this they voted as documented in the two polls above.

Posted by: johngalt at February 22, 2011 2:54 PM

One More Time, Why Aren't the Unions a Special Interest?

The Facebook posts are going up. A former coworker shares a link to "Thank Wisconsin's courageous state senators who have joined with protesters to block the Republican attack on public employees."

Amazing. Inspiring. This is what people power can do.

When Republican Governor Scott Walker attacked state workers and threatened to call out the National Guard if they protested, it sparked a popular uprising in Wisconsin. And now the extreme proposal to take collective bargaining rights away from public employees is temporarily blocked as a result of mass protests.


Guess it wasn't "people power" when all those people went to the polls last November.

Plus my brother and two others, all on the union side -- I have not seen one supporting Gov. Walker except from the crazy-ass right wing sites I "like" like Tea Party Patriots, CATO, Heritage, &c.

But I am tempted to share this jewel from Tom Carney at The Washington Examiner:

The ferment in Wisconsin is no workers' uprising against the rich and powerful. It is instead political muscle-flexing by a well-funded special interest group, which is limbering up for President Obama's re-election bid. Obama's campaign, operating as Organizing for America, is bussing protesters to the state capitol and manning phone banks to apply pressure to state legislatures. Obama himself has called Gov. Scott Walker's bill curbing government-sector collective bargaining "an attack on unions."

While liberal writers wax romantic about a workers' uprising (former Labor Secretary Robert Reich wrote on Twitter "Wisconsin is spreading to Ohio -- America's microversion of Tunisia and Egypt. People are taking to the streets to get their rights"), what we're really seeing is the labor movement acting as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party.


People against the powerful, in-freakin'-deedy.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:05 PM | Comments (0)

February 20, 2011

Just Don't Use My Name

The Refugee's eldest sister happens to be a elementary teacher in Wisconsin. She is also a member of the teacher's union as a condition of employment. Fortunately, she shares political proclivities with The Refugee.

During a recent union meeting with hundreds of attendees, members were asked to fill out a form to indicate what they could do to help with the protests. Only four members, including The Refugee's sibling, quietly left the meeting without completing the requested forms.

"Am I happy to be paying more?" says she. "No, but I understand that the state is out of money. I also realize that we teachers really have a pretty good gig."

"You can quote me, by the way," she concluded. "Just don't use my name. I don't want my house firebombed."

And they say the Tea Party plays rough.

Posted by Boulder Refugee at 12:55 PM | Comments (3)
But AlexC thinks:

It's a shame that it's her friends and coworkers she's afraid of being fire-bombed by.

She should know she has nothing to lose but her shackles.

Posted by: AlexC at February 20, 2011 5:00 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Such sardonic humor is based on the all-too-common history of union violence. In this case, literal life-threatening violence would be unlikely. However, the possiblity of workplace retribution is very real. Co-workers can make your life miserable up to the point of ruining your career. The really sad part is that in the mores of the union sub-culture, shared by many in the media, this is not seen as horribly wrong.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at February 21, 2011 11:51 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I suppose they see it as merely run-of-the-mill wrong. Which historical dictator was it who said, "You've got to break a few eggs to make an omelette."

If I could somehow get the eldest sister's address (name not required) I'd love to comp her a COEXI$T bumper sticker. It is intentionally subtle so she might actually get away with putting it on her car and not having it keyed (an intentional feature.) But even if she's not up for the risk she can proudly own it in the privacy of her home!

Posted by: johngalt at February 22, 2011 3:47 PM

For Those Who Remain Calm

More at PunditPress and Ann Althouse.

I think a few kind words for Professor Althouse are in order. According to her posts, these reforms will cost her about $10,000 a year. Yet, she has been on the front lines and driven this story. I'm not certain it would have crossed the St Croix without her reporting. Cheers, Professor!

Posted by John Kranz at 11:22 AM | Comments (0)

February 18, 2011

But I don't Wanna Read The Nation!

The Refugee serves up a link to The Nation's view of the Wisconsin union contretemps. Blog friend Sugarchuck frequently sends me links to The Nation as well.

Dang, the things I do for you guys. With all respect to my blog brother, I'll offer an alternative that is only half bad.












Governor Howard Dean is frequently charming during his Kudlow appearances. But fear not, he is not here. State Rep Robin Vos, however, comes across very well.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:36 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Vos certainly had an answer for most of Dean's misleading or exagerrated assertions. But he didn't reply directly when Dean claimed a "right to organize" on the part of state employees. I'd have retorted with the taxpayers' right to organize in the form of democratic elections. They got together and decided they don't want to pay so much for state workers to retire.

Posted by: johngalt at February 19, 2011 1:28 AM

Fair and Balanced

ThreeSourcers have been taking some mighty whacks at the Wisconsin teacher's union these past days, so The Refugee thought they might like to hear from The Loyal Opposition. Jane McAlevey writes a piece in The Nation titled, "Labor's Last Stand." (If we were only to be so lucky.) If ThreeSourcers want insight into the union/Liberal/Progressive mindset, this is a great read. She starts out thusly:

Emboldened by November's election results, corporations and their right-wing allies have launched what they hope will be their final offensive against America's unions. Their immediate target is government workers' unions. While New Jersey's Republican Governor Chris Christie has gained national fame by beating up on public school teachers, the threat to unionized workers is playing out in all fifty states, to the drumbeat in the media about states going broke because of government workers’ wages, pensions and benefits.

Never mind that states are going broke and that the majority of their deficits are related to pensions and wage increases on autopilot. There is no such thing as economic reality to these people.

The entire house of labor and all progressives must understand that we have not had a moment as threatening as this in our lifetime. The right is making the connections--attacking public employee unions and public services at the same time in order to wage complete war on the poor, people of color, and the working and middle classes of this country.

Of course, the dispute has nothing to do with unfunded liabilities measured in trillions or the fact that some public sector union members want to live large at the expense of their taxpaying neighbors. Nope, it's those racist, homophobic, misogynistic Republicans. Nazi bastards.

It's a long read, but if you want to understand the opposition's playbook then take the time. Might want to keep a bucket handy, however. Finally, a memo to Ms. McAlevey: there was an election. We won.

Posted by Boulder Refugee at 4:13 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

My nomination for quote of the day is in BR's excerpt:

"The entire house of labor and all progressives must understand that we have not had a moment as threatening as this in our lifetime."

Finally, at long last, thanks to the overreach of Obama-Pelosi-Reed of the past two years, this is true. Just as has been the case with Global Climate Change, the public is growing wise to the game of the left. The unearned compensation of unionized state employees is finally coming under the scrutiny of voters and their representatives who, for too long, gave concession after concession to "the working class" until they are paid as much in retirement as when they actually "worked." And that excessive, unearned, compensation is under "threat" of being reclaimed by the taxpayers who *earned* it.

Posted by: johngalt at February 19, 2011 1:39 AM

Quote of the Day

"Meticulous attention should be paid to the special relations and obligations of public servants to the public itself and to the Government....The process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service." -- President Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Posted by John Kranz at 12:31 PM | Comments (0)

Badgermania, Day III

This story might actually have legs. Kudlow covered it last night. He had Wisconsin State Rep. Robin Vos, co-chair of the state's Joint Finance Committee on. Vos is an articulate voice for freedom, but I fear he was enjoying the personal threats too much. The brave State rep gets a police escort through the capitol hallways in Madison... If you're fighting tea partiers that may work, lads, but no media will cover threats by union goons. Play the hand you're dealt.

I don't link to Rush Limbaugh very often, but I'll give him "Headline of the Day:"

Wisconsin Liberals Starve Children

As Coloradans have learned recently, school is the only place poor kids can eat.

Brother jg is probably right here. Three days off school now, drumming and shouting, Gov. Walker = Hitler signs, we might be seeing the union overstep a wee bit. I'm still fuming but I assure you it's a righteous anger.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:54 AM | Comments (2)
But HB thinks:

I'm confused. I thought teachers weren't in it for the money.

Posted by: HB at February 18, 2011 1:25 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Oh no, they're not in it for the money, but they do still have to pay the mortgage after all. And the car payments. And the annual vacations. And the health club. Did I mention his and hers iPhones? You know, necessities. But not "money."

Posted by: johngalt at February 23, 2011 1:13 AM

February 17, 2011

Brave, Brave Senator Robins Caught Fleeing Wisconsin

Hiding in the Rockford, Ill Best Western, and busted by Tea Partiers if you believe everything you read on the Internets.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:22 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

The Updates and Comments over there are riotous. This comment captured my sentiment, explaining why I was pleased as punch to see the teachers' sick-out:

Plymouth Mom commented:
I have a feeling we’re going to see a lot more of this as the hammer comes down. Sorta like taking toys away from a bratty kid…. resulting in temper tantrums

This has the same feel to me as those movie endings when the bad guys are surrounded by the cavalry, or police, or citizens with pitchforks, or Aborigines.

Posted by: johngalt at February 17, 2011 7:12 PM
But jk thinks:

Sadly the good guys are surrounded:
They have been pushed around (literally), screamed at, etc. The capitol is surrounded. The signs carried by the protesters are "vicious," says Hopper. There are comparisons of Gov. Scott Walker to Hitler, of course. And there are other signs "I won't describe to you."

Hopper says, "I can't tell you how much respect I have for my colleagues," operating in an extremely hostile atmosphere.

I ask whether he is going home tonight, to sleep. He says, "We're not disclosing that. My colleagues and I are not talking about that. We're working with law enforcement" on the matter.

Posted by: jk at February 17, 2011 7:21 PM

It's All Badger All the time at ThreeSources!

Maybe this is getting a little play. WaPo (okay, blog) reports that the President has weighed in:

Obama said that while some measures, such as pay freezes for those employees, are "the right thing to do" to combat budget shortfalls, "some of what I've heard coming out of Wisconsin, where you're just making it harder for public employees to collectively bargain generally, seems like an assault on unions." He added that "it's important not to vilify" public workers.

Time to "go PATCO on their asses!" If I remain angry it is because I know no one will.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:28 PM | Comments (4)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

All Badger all the time? Then here's my message for the union goons: "Well, maybe I'm not a fancy gentleman like you, with your... very fine hat. But I do business. We're here for business."

Public employee unions are NOT. As far as I'm concerned, vilify away. It SHOULD be harder for them to collectively bargain - look where it got us (yeah, I'm looking at YOU, Jerry Brown). Any governor who is participating in what the golfer-in-chief is calling "an assault on unions" is okay in my book.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at February 17, 2011 5:14 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I think that, on the part of the G-in-C, the "assault on unions" line is a veiled reference to the charge that "the first thing Hitler did was to outlaw unions!"

Posted by: johngalt at February 17, 2011 5:38 PM
But jk thinks:

And yes, I responded to your allusion -- two doors down in the "Television" section. What a crew...

Posted by: jk at February 17, 2011 6:43 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

As I saw, and as I agree. I'm not the one who said that Whedon is the Sondheim of television series, but I'll share it here for public consideration nonetheless.

You want allusions? I've got allusions. In honor of the state and its talented new governor going all Christie on the public employee unions, I give you this one - you decide if you prefer the Humphrey Bogart picture, or the Weird Al movie:

"Badgers? Badgers! We need us some more Badgers!"

If only the battle were being joined in Michigan. Who wouldn't love the opportunity to shout "Wolverines!"?

Posted by: Keith Arnold at February 17, 2011 7:25 PM

Look For the Union Label...

It's apparently all over the Wisconsin State Capitol building.

It has been a long time since a story has angered me as much as the Wisconsin Teachers' Union protest in Madison. The worst part is that it is one of those "blog stories" that nobody else you meet will have ever heard of. Katie Couric is not going to show you any of this.

To sum up:

1) The good people of The Badger State elect a responsible Governor, and enough responsible members of the state legislature to pursue real reform of public worker contracts and pensions.

2) The teachers "call in sick" to attend a protest in sufficient numbers that school is cancelled.

3) The precious little tykes are bussed to the Capitol to "try and stop whatever this dude is doing."

4) The protests are a travelling stimulus for union trash crews.

Browse Ann Althouse's site if you can bear it for more pictures, video, chanting, drumming. All on the dime of the Wisconsin taxpayer.

Hat-tip: Insty who says It's the difference between civilized people, and looters. Amen to that.

UPDATE: Mary Katherine Ham has a decidedly more jg take on it:

A three-day-long stand-off at the Wisconsin state capitol between union supporters and those backing the Republican governor’s budget cuts just went to another level Thursday as Democratic senators apparently fled the state to prevent a vote on Gov. Scott Walker's budget-repair bill, which would cut public employee union collective bargaining rights and require them to contribute to pensions and health care.

Law enforcement has been sent to find missing Democratic lawmakers, according to a Madison, Wis. ABC affiliate. State Sen. leader Scott Fitzgerald said only one Democrat is needed for quorum to vote on the controversial bill, which is expected to pass a Republican-majority Senate. The "Sergeant of Arms is going door to door to find Democratic senators."


Yeah, that cheers me up...

Posted by John Kranz at 12:17 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

Angry? This makes you angry? As blog optimist, I'm overcome with joy! If unionized state employees are pissed it can only be good for taxpayers, and for liberty.

What are they gonna say - "You can't make teachers pay for half of their own pension or an eighth of their own healthcare... What about the children?"

Posted by: johngalt at February 17, 2011 2:33 PM
But johngalt thinks:

From the MKH story -

Earlier today, law enforcement was sent to find missing Democratic lawmakers, according to a Madison, Wis. ABC affiliate. State Sen. leader Scott Fitzgerald said only one Democrat is needed for quorum to vote on the controversial bill, which is expected to pass a Republican-majority Senate. The "Sergeant of Arms is going door to door to find Democratic senators."

Just one measly little Democrat!

Posted by: johngalt at February 17, 2011 3:47 PM

February 10, 2011

Nepotism

My nephew, Tyrone, gets a picture and some play in a Denver Post story about male elementary school teachers.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:00 PM | Comments (0)

November 16, 2010

Otequay of Esterdayay

... Since I didn't get a chance to post this yesterday, but I think it's good enough for belated honors.

A male caller to Mike Rosen's radio show in yesterday's 9 o'clock hour, who claimed to be a school teacher with over 20 years of experience, regarding the culpability of administrators for the failures of America's public education system:

"I don't think it's [administration] part of the problem, I think it's eighty-five percent of the problem."

Here's hoping he doesn't teach math. Or grammar. Or logic.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:59 PM | Comments (2)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

In fairness, he may have meant to say "I don't think it's just part of the problem..." He didn't have the advantage of a teleprompter, you know.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at November 18, 2010 10:28 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Based on the context I can tell you he had intended to say, "it's the whole problem" but realized before he said it that it wasn't true. Then he was stuck with making up some high percentage figure estimate.

You are right that this was extemporaneous speech but with the caveat that this man is a school teacher, I think this ranks up there with the teacher who asked me what "statist" means.

Posted by: johngalt at November 18, 2010 2:38 PM

October 12, 2010

Bubble? No Bubble Here

Brother jg's alma mater and program get good marks from a just-slightly-biased source:

Engineering grads receive top salary offers; CU-Boulder students high on employers' lists

Posted by John Kranz at 11:59 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

"We work really hard," she said of engineering students. "And that opens a lot of doorways."

No mention of how many engineering students have prescriptions in their names for medical marijuana.

Posted by: johngalt at October 12, 2010 2:29 PM

October 10, 2010

Headline of the Day

If Obama is so Gung-Ho About Fixing Education, Why the Hell Won't He do the Smallest Goddamn Thing to Change the Status Quo? -- Nick Gillespie
Posted by John Kranz at 1:10 PM | Comments (0)

October 5, 2010

Quote of the Day

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 [Waiting for Superman] 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. -- WSJ Ed Page
The Poetry Union Local #52: "Klein, Rhee and Duncan better switch us jobs, so we can put an end to those hedge fund hogs!"
Posted by John Kranz at 3:23 PM | Comments (0)

October 4, 2010

Go Buffaloes!

Colorado Higher Ed warrants a direct blast from the bubble-diviner:

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: CU tuition plan: 9.5% hike next year, up to 9% for four more years. At a time when inflation is reported as negligible, can the market continue to absorb increases like this? Or will people seek lower-cost alternatives?

Reader emails point out that the freshman class is the smallest since 2005 and that Colorado School of Mines is raising tuition far less. I hate to wade into almae matres but the school -- as currently run -- seems emblematic of the higher cost/lower value. Reader One:
The best part was that CU’s financial chief, Ric Porreca, told the Board of Regents it was due to glitches in the online student management system which frustrated students so they enrolled elsewhere. Certainly couldn’t have been the rapidly increasing tuition and/or tenured Professors like Ward Churchill…

Ouch.

Posted by John Kranz at 9:42 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

But hey, at least the Buffs are 3-1.

Posted by: johngalt at October 4, 2010 3:50 PM

September 23, 2010

How you like them grapes?

Prof Reynolds on the "education bubble:"

One point that I haven’t blogged, but that is worth mentioning here: The government decides to try to increase the middle class by subsidizing things that middle class people have: If middle-class people go to college and own homes, then surely if more people go to college and own homes, we’ll have more middle-class people. But homeownership and college aren’t causes of middle-class status, they’re markers for possessing the kinds of traits — self-discipline, the ability to defer gratification, etc. — that let you enter, and stay, in the middle class. Subsidizing the markers doesn’t produce the traits; if anything, it undermines them.

Awesome point. (His blog should be very popular with thoughtful content like this...)

Gub'mint intrusion plays both sides of the devaluation I discussed. Its subsidies increase the cost, sure -- but they also devalue the degree's value as "marker." The financial reward of a degree is its proclamation that the owner has the intellectual firepower to complete the coursework and the maturity to not quit and join a rock'n'roll band.

Its value as education qua education remains and I hope no one misconstrues my sour grapes as devaluing knowledge and study. But the reduced financial value at a greater financial price is worrisome and worth more consideration than it receives.

Posted by John Kranz at 8:59 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

I agree 100 percent with the conclusion that government intrusion increases the price and reduces the value of a college education. And I'll go the extra distance of asserting that the knowledge value has also been degraded - but that is due to postmodernism more than government. [And I have some "standing" to make this claim inasmuch as I did not quit college and join a rock'n'roll band!]

Posted by: johngalt at September 23, 2010 7:08 PM

September 19, 2010

Not Just Legislation. Not Just a Piece of Paper

Posted by John Kranz at 1:14 PM | Comments (0)

September 10, 2010

Sour Grapes

Instapundit readers have been absorbing a lot of "higher education bubble" talk of late.

Today, Professor Reynolds links to a WaPo story on a hedge fund manager who is not sending his two daughters to college. James Altucher is well known to Kudlow watchers as a frequent guest (in a cavalcade of bald economists, Altucher is recognizable for having the follicular density of a schoolboy).

I'm a big fan of education qua education (not enough of a fan to do it for myself...) but I watch my nieces pile up debt at state schools. My aspiring M.D. niece will be able to work for the government, but I fear the humanities and business majors are going to graduate knowing only about recycling, the voracious American hegemony, and the scary side of the compound interest equation. Call my grapes sour, but the WaPo offers quite a roll call:

But what about the lessons offered by the success stories that have unspooled along a different path? Dropouts are the toast of the dot-com world. To the non-degreed billionaires' club headed by Microsoft's Bill Gates (Harvard's most famous quitter) and Apple's Steve Jobs (left Oregon's Reed College after a single semester), add: Michael Dell (founder of Dell Computers, University of Texas dropout), Microsoft co-founder and Seattle Seahawks owner Paul Allen (quit Washington State University) and Larry Ellison (founder of Oracle Systems, gave up on the University of Illinois).

Success sans sheepskin isn't only for the technology set.

David Geffen, co-founder of DreamWorks, bowed out of several schools, including the University of Texas.

Redskins owner Daniel Snyder dropped out of the University of Maryland.

Barry Gossett, chief executive of Baltimore's Acton Mobile Industries, builders of temporary trailers, also left Maryland without a degree. (No hard feelings, apparently: In 2007, he donated $10 million to the school.)

Perhaps these are unique individuals in whom a driving entrepreneurial spirit outstripped the plodding pace of book learning.

Or perhaps they point to a new model.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:33 PM | Comments (6)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

This is like encouraging black youth in the projects to count on the NBA to escape the 'hood or anyone using the lottery as a retirement plan. For every high-profile example, there are 10,000 (or 1,000,000) faceless examples that would have been far better off reading Chaucer and learning Econ 101.

While there are those with the intelligence, circumstances and chutzpah to be successful no matter what, 99.999% of us are not their equals.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at September 10, 2010 2:08 PM
But jk thinks:

Excellent point.

I think Altucher's concern, however, is well founded. As the quality of education comes down and the price goes up, one should ensure that something more than "herd mentality" drives his pursuits.

And thanks for including me in the top .001%! I'll not forget the compliment!

Posted by: jk at September 10, 2010 3:31 PM
But Lisa M thinks:

If memory serves, another famous non-college graduate is James Taranto.

As the parent of a college age student embarking on her third year of school, we had enough saved to pay her way for three solid semesters (at a state supported school) with the understanding that after that, she would have to get student loans. Well, as I mentioned, she's beginning her third year, but probably has enough credits to qualify as a first semester sophomore, because even though she has been paying a full time tuition, she did not take advantage of that free ride at the beginning and took just enough credits to qualify as full time (and therefore health benefits under my plan). Oh yes, then she failed a couple of those classes, which she will have to take all over again.

On the other side of the coin is me, her 44 year old mother who has about as many college credits amassed as she does at this point. I returned to school last year and have been plugging away at it. The difference is that while I am going to a much more expensive school, my employer is picking up 75% of the cost of tuition.

Now, I have very mixed feelings about pursuing this degree. My schooling at Hard Knocks University has allowed me to achieve the same level of professional success that many of my peers have achieved with MBA's. And quite frankly, in my current occupation, a degree isn't going to mean any sort of advancement for me and a change of career is out of the question, unless it's to go into business for myself (which may happen anyway) I resent the amount of time I have to spend in class and the amount of time I spend on assignments. At the same, I've been carrying a rather large chip on my shoulder for most of my life because I don't have that little piece of paper that validates me as a worthwhile contributor to society.

All that being said, I've been reading Prof. Reynolds a lot lately and have taken his words to heart because they really ring tru to me. I have discussed with my daughter and she is seriously considering getting herself a full time job with her own benefits (she is a diabetic, so health insurance is a necessity) and a benefits package that will pay at least part of her tuition if she goes part time. She is already in debt $14,000 and she still has probably three years to go with no clear direction.

So long story long, I had hoped for her to avoid my course, which was full time job/part-time school (which was the only option ever presented to me) but I think this is the right course for her.

Posted by: Lisa M at September 10, 2010 9:39 PM
But jk thinks:

Thanks. We seem to be pretty well represented at ThreeSources (the sheepskinned were a minority of the blog founders).

Watching Kudlow last night, John Taylor was on. Star struck young man that I am, I started telling the lovely bride about "The Taylor Rule." She asks "why don't you go back and get a degree in Economics, you love it so much?"

Like you, it would do zero for my career advancement but it might be a good "self-esteem" buy. For the chip, I suggest telling people you are "self-educated" like "self-employed."

Or I bet we could add your credits, your daughter's and mine and get one degree. I'd like it on weekends if that's okay.

Posted by: jk at September 11, 2010 9:36 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Haven't read the link yet but...

In 1985 I spent $485 per semester for an engineering degree at at state school. In 2005 my sister-in-law spent $3000 per semester for an econ degree at the same state school. My degree has served me well but hers? She started at teacher's college this semester while working part-time at Starbucks. One wonders how she got through the entire Econ curriculum without them ever mentioning that it was a bad investment.

Worst of all is the staggering tuition inflation. That's what happens when government gets involved to make sure college is "affordable for all."

Posted by: johngalt at September 11, 2010 12:01 PM
But jk thinks:

It would be more stupid to say that education is always a waste than to say it is always a boon. I think the valid (and seemingly new) idea is that an evaluation is worthwhile.

I'd still guess an EE degree from a good in State school is still a great buy after the government decupled the price. But gender studies? An Ivy? A boutique liberal arts college? Huge investments.

Edumecators love to quote the stat that college kids make <doctor evil voice>$1 million</doctor evil voice> more over a lifetime. Altucher points out that the $200K they spent could be invested to produce $2.8 Million.

In other sour grapes moments, I've also suggested that there is selection bias on that million dollar figure as well. The top tier will do well either way, and the bottom may not light it up in academicism or the job market.

Posted by: jk at September 12, 2010 10:26 AM

May 28, 2010

Thugs. People are Starting to Notice.

Governor Christie for God!!

Insty links to a post that shows that a teacher who complained in a town hall meeting makes more than $100,000 (86K + benefits). Teachers are throwing away a few hundred years of goodwill as they choose the part of union thug over educator.NJ.com.

In an astonishing fall from grace that has taken only months, teachers have gone from respected and beloved members of the community to some of the most reviled. In a blink, they have trashed years of good will.

Once the patient darlings who nurtured our kids, teachers now look like insensitive, out-of-touch, can’t-think-for-themselves union robots who, when forced to face economic realities, clung to an insulting sense of entitlement, heartlessly sacrificed the jobs of colleagues, called the governor naughty names and used students as political pawns.

All while blaming everyone else.

At Saturday’s rally in Trenton, teachers wondered when the Earth started spinning in the other direction.


A Facebook friend highlighted several grammatical errors and misspellings in his son's first grade report card. As said son was being chided for, you got it, grammar and spelling. Another satisfied customer!

Posted by John Kranz at 10:14 AM | Comments (0)

April 29, 2010

Center for Western Civilization at CU

Few things make me proud of my alma mater these days, but this is one of them. I recently learned about the existence of the Center for Western Civilization at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

The Center for Western Civilization seeks to encourage critical reflection on the distinctive traditions, languages and issues that characterize the cultures of Western civilization, in order to help the citizens of Colorado and the United States understand and appreciate their past in itself and as the basis of a free and creative future.

Apparently they are modeled in some fashion upon Michigan's Hillsdale College. I'm also told that 100 percent of the program's funding is privately sourced. Huzzah!

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:22 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

It will be a great place for dirty hippies to meet for rock-throwing displays of indignity against globalization. Huzzah!

Posted by: jk at April 29, 2010 3:43 PM

April 27, 2010

Save Are Teacher!

We don't need no thought control...

Tim Cavenaugh brings us a gem

Terry Hoffman, a language teacher at Des Moines, Iowa's Merrill Middle School, organized a large group of students the other day to protest a spending slowdown, and to demonstrate some of the excellent results the Hawkeye state is getting for its $7,419 per pupil:

saveareteachers.jpg


For full effect, click through to the video.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:54 PM | Comments (0)

March 16, 2010

Reason Saves Cleveland

I do take my shots at Reason Magazine. But their new Reason TV series "Reason Saves Cleveland" with Drew Carey is really shaping up. Part One is a setup piece: well worth watching -- especially for the clip of the Broncos-Browns AFC Championship.

But part two gets starts to get into specifics. Fix the schools:


Posted by John Kranz at 11:39 AM | Comments (0)

March 3, 2010

Ann McElhinney, Avatar, Public School Curricula

Ann McElhinney, the director of Not Evil Just Wrong and Mine Your Own Business speaks about anti-development bias in James Cameron's blockbuster Avatar and about environmental indoctrination in public schools.

A little strident for my tastes but I am a huge fan of their films. And I love her energy.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:09 PM | Comments (5)
But johngalt thinks:

Is it strident to refer to James Cameron as an idiot if it is true?

Posted by: johngalt at March 3, 2010 3:05 PM
But jk thinks:

Yeah, you found the line that bugged me. James Cameron has created two movies in the top five grossing of all time. (Some right wing scolds have pointed that in real dollars, neither is top 20, but that's quibbling.)

So, no, I am not comfortable calling someone with that achievement under his belt an "idiot" because I disagree with his politics.

Posted by: jk at March 3, 2010 4:24 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

And on the other hand, would I be considered strident, were I to point out that Cameron benefits from capitalism, technology, and the freedom to keep a significant part of the profit derived from his labors and investment, even as his creative product is a screed against those very principles?

That would be like pointing out that Michael Moore has grown fat, dumb and happy as a recipient of corporate largess, as a direct result of railing against corporate America.

By the way, I admit this is lowbrow, but I loved "An American Carol." I can't seem to get the line "I'm the angel of freakin' death, you turdhead!" out of my mind...

Posted by: Keith Arnold at March 3, 2010 5:10 PM
But johngalt thinks:

McElhinney says you have to see it but I don't think I can bring myself to pay for the experience. I think I'm more likely to see the latest movie by Cameron's ex wife.

Posted by: johngalt at March 4, 2010 1:49 AM
But jk thinks:

I figured I'd put it on my Netflix Queue when it came out. My lovely bride informs me that I'll be watching it alone...

Posted by: jk at March 4, 2010 11:22 AM

February 1, 2010

Look for the Union Label

John Stossel has done some good reporting on the NYC "rubber room." Suspected pedophile teachers are shunted off to draw full salary, benefits and pensions (dey do got a Union contract!) without putting them in a classroom where they would likely hurt a student.

Scrivener links to a story of one guy -- just has to be read to be believed. Alan Rosenfeld "collects a $100,000 salary for doing nothing...working on his law practice and managing 12 real-estate properties worth an estimated $7.8 million..."

So Rosenfeld simply collects his $100,049 salary -- top scale for teachers -- plus full health benefits and the promise of a fat pension, about $82,000 a year if he were to retire today.

His pension will grow by $1,700 each year he remains. He could have retired at age 62, but he stays.

He has also accumulated about 435 unused sick days -- and will get paid for half of them when he retires. With city teachers trying to negotiate a 4 percent pay hike, Rosenfeld stands to get the raise.

All this largesse comes as Mayor Bloomberg threatens to cut 2,500 teachers to help close a $4 billion budget gap.


Maybe some brave politician will stand up to the Teachers' Union and demand that they repair this outrageous --- oh I do crack myself up sometime.

Posted by John Kranz at 6:32 PM | Comments (0)

October 23, 2009

Still defending Alger Hiss

Insty links to a Glenn Garvin article from April 2004's Reason, If I've read it, I've forgotten. Garvin uses a funny, irreverent tone to mock -- really crucify -- the lefties in academia and media who continue to apologize for Communism even after mountains of evidence.

The revisionists' dominion over the domestic side of Cold War history has been even more total. That's been written as melodrama, with the U.S. Communist Party, or CPUSA -- a collection of amiable folk singers, brave anti-segregationists, and Steinbeckian labor organizers -- trying to rescue the maiden of American democracy from the railroad tracks where McCarthy, J. Edgar Hoover, and the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) had tied her down. The revisionists reluctantly gave some ground on the nature of the Soviet Union as Mikhail Gorbachev's glasnost allowed some ugly facts to bubble to the surface, but they were adamant on the U.S. side: The Communist Party was just a lefty variant of the Republicans and Democrats, and people like Alger Hiss and the Rosenbergs were innocent martyrs, the victims of a demented witch hunt.

I'm still laughing at a handful of great lines. To the historian who wants to "move on," he points out that historians can't be bothered with a lot of old stuff. The bon mots come fast and furious.

But I also weep. The revisionists have a complete hold on academia, most of entertainment, and almost all media. We still can't figure out why the West won.

Posted by John Kranz at 7:33 PM | Comments (0)

October 19, 2009

The Ultimate Public Option

I had a blog post brewing in my head when I woke up this morning. Curiously, Blogging God James Taranto has thieved it:

British health care, it seems, resembles American elementary and secondary education, in that the government has a monopoly but there is an expensive private opt-out--and many of those who run the monopoly avail themselves of the private system. If you like the public schools, you'll love ObamaCare!

Taranto is following up on a story that British Heath Care workers will be given taxpayer-financed private care. Else, socialized medicine will kill all the providers. Beautiful, isn't it?

But I had two thoughts on education (all my family members are teachers, I'm a dead man if one of them ever stumbles on ThreeSources). The first is the title: public education is the ultimate public option. No, there's no law to keep us from opening up the ThreeSources Academy of Reason and Civics and Advanced PE, but all of our students will have to pay for both public education and our inflated tuition. The government will regulate how many days are taught and have great influence on our curricula. Lastly, if we do well and attract attention, we can be denied building permits, accreditation, fire code clearances, &c.

We can swim but they completely own the pool. A serious person cannot help but see that health care would be just like that. Crappy substandard care for all, and an escape of quality and innovation that only the rich could afford. Progressive, indeed!

The other point is that innovation in a sector is frozen to the time government takes over. The highly subsidized and regulated passenger railways are frozen at WWII technology, British Health Care in 1975 all the time. And American education has not progressed an inch since Wilson was President (most would say it has fallen). In spite of communications, Internet, advances in access to books and information, and ubiquitous, inexpensive computers, schools have seen no improvement.

Medicine has made startling gains, but it might be 2009 forever. Shame

Posted by John Kranz at 3:49 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

It is no surprise that British medical providers - the creators - must be appeased else even these socially-minded Europeans would strike from the system they know to be a travesty on the public. My exhortation to them is, "Revolt brothers!"

The "reformers" even admit that medical innovation would cease under their guidance. Just listen to Reich: "But that means less innovation, and that means less new products and less new drugs on the market, which means you are probably not going to live that much longer than your parents. Thank you." [1:50]

Dear cousin writes today that she'd like to see everyone work together and "try to find a compromise on health care." Sigh. Where does one begin? The general public, as cousin writes, is "honestly just not that interested." They simply want an end to the dispute.

Posted by: johngalt at October 19, 2009 5:30 PM

October 14, 2009

White Guilt and other byproducts of modern public education

My word, what are they teaching at Berkeley these days? First from JK's morning read we have Cal Berkeley American History major Jennifer Burns writing a doctoral dissertation cum biography of Ayn Rand and next we see another Berkeley girl, this time a psychotherapist, quoting the late philosopher in her explanation of why whites voted for Obama.

Given the brainwashing of several generations, did millions of whites vote for Obama out of white guilt? Yes, but it runs deeper than this.

What's happening is not just white guilt, but white shame. Shame is a much more devastating emotion.

We feel guilty about an action, for instance, cheating on taxes or spouses. Shame makes us feel bad about who we are, as though something is wrong with us.

(...)

That is what happened with Julie, Joe, and Rose. They were dumped on so often by so many that they absorbed the shame and started detesting themselves.

Interestingly, Obama, in one of his autobiographies, reports being intrigued by Malcolm X's statement that, as a biracial man, he despised his whiteness; that he wished there was some way that he could excise his white blood.

Now we have millions of whites who are ashamed of their white blood. Coincidence?

And there's more.

Along with white guilt and shame, there's another reason why whites flocked to a leader with no experience in leading: white fear. While many liberals reside in safe towns, still there's always a threat.

Turn on the 6 o'clock news and hear about the latest cop murder or mob rampage. Rodney King riots in LA, the mayhem in Oakland, murdered police officers. Then listen to reportage that blames the victims.

Thuggery is celebrated. Bad guys are hecka cool; the innocents stupid and naive. Write a rap song about beating up a whore and killing a cop, and win a Grammy.

Think I'm exaggerating? If there isn't an atmosphere of racial fear, why did people threaten a race war if Obama lost? Why are dissenters tarred with the vile label of racist? (Translation: pure evil)

Many liberals voted for Obama in the hopes that all would be forgiven. That if whites handed over some power, finally we can move on and get along. We'll be safe.

Had someone like General Colin Powell or former Congressman Harold Ford Jr. been elected, we probably would not have a foreboding, fearful atmosphere. Though they lean left, both men are patriotic, experienced leaders who may have facilitated racial healing.

Ironically, White America envisioned forgiveness, a letting go of old wounds. Instead we have emboldened people obsessed with evil deeds carried out by citizens long dead.

If you want to see her Rand quotes you'll have to read the article. I've excerpted enough already.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:07 PM | Comments (9)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Yes, they are children. But being young(er) does not excuse them from knowing right from wrong. They are children, but they are not animals who should be allowed to run wild. Stealing is wrong. Hurting others (first) is wrong. Act honorably, especially by telling the truth. Isn't this what children should be taught from pre-K years? I was.

Children may not have a full capacity to reason, but they still have enough. If any act out of malice or "don't understand" that their actions are bad, then like adults, they should be locked away so they don't harm us. And if they simply cannot live peacably with the rest of us, then the rest of us need to put bullets through their medulla oblongatas and dispose of them like the animals they are.

You said that "both adults and children must be provided with alternatives..." But who is to "provide"? It's not my responsibility, ethically or even morally, to help others behave properly. It's their ethical and moral responsibility to not harm others.

Morality is absolute. If you find yourself in a bad situation, it does not excuse putting morality aside so you can "survive." Children never read the unedited stories of Sinbad the Sailor, who at one point was lowered into the cavern to be buried with his dead wife. He committed brutal murder to prolong his life at the end of others: a surviving spouse was given a little in the way of provisions, so Sinbad killed anyone else who was lowered with a dead spouse. This kept him alive until he found a way out.

At the risk of throwing out one personal anecdote after another, there was a punk in my 8th grade history class who delighted in walking up the aisles between desks and slapping the back of someone's head. Do you think he didn't know his behavior was wrong? After he did it to me twice, I stuck out my leg and tripped him. He fell down pretty hard but sadly was just lightly bruised at the most.

As much as the teacher wanted to get rid of him, she never could. He had "the right" to be there -- and that was the school district defending him from expulsion. His parents didn't care. So, I switched to a better class. Who knows where he is now, probably in and out of the state penitentiary.

Even in elementary school, there was one kid known as a bad seed. He went to a different junior high, and not long after, there was the story on the evening news: he walked out of class and was followed by the teacher, so he fired a shot from his concealed handgun (but thankfully missed the teacher). In 7th grade! The teacher would have never had the brush with dead if the punk had been put in juvie when he started to display violent behavior.

Another example: John Hehman was run over a few years ago when fleeing the hoodlums trying to rob him. You don't think they knew what they were doing was wrong, though they were as young as 11?

The parents may let their litters run around to destroy property and harming others, but it doesn't mean the rest of us need to put up with it. Stop the behavior early on, whether it's taking a 2x4 to their backsides or locking them up forever, and it's good odds that it will save lives in the future.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at October 16, 2009 1:05 PM
But johngalt thinks:

You and I know these things, but how many among us do not? Sure the virtues of not stealing, not hurting others and honesty should and usually are learned by kindergarten. But when did you learn, for example, that "morality is absolute?" All of the various moral codes I learned in my youth were contradictory with each other, and sometimes with themselves. The morality of altruism led to a bad decision on my part in choosing my first wife. I didn't learn a rational, consistent and unassailable morality until I was 37.

When these ideas are taught universally (and preferrably before the age of 37) then we will see true social progress.

Posted by: johngalt at October 16, 2009 2:24 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

A child does not need to understand it as "Morality is absolute" to realize the truth behind "I don't have lunch, Billy has a big lunch, but it's still not ok if I just take his lunch." This is simple reasoning that should (not always, but should) be something innate to people's thoughts and everyday behavior. You don't need to delve into more complex philosophies of individualism.

And if people are so irrational and/or malicious that they cannot behave morally, then that's just too bad -- for them, because the rest of us will deal with them accordingly. "I had a rough childhood" or "My parents never taught me right from wrong" is no excuse for sociopathy.

What "contradictory" things were you told are "moral" that you realize now are not "moral"? It's a world of difference between "It's ok to tell a little white lie" and "It's ok to shoplift and bash the cashier's head in if he tries to stop you." My father believed in some taxation and redistribution of wealth -- not regular welfare programs, but he loved Social Security and praised FDR's economic interventionism. He still taught me that it's wrong to steal and hurt other people.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at October 16, 2009 4:53 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I'm thinking of the many contradictions in the Christian Bible and how, to a rational person, they introduce doubt and distrust about the foundation of that morality. The example you give of your grandfather is a good example of how Christian morality is close enough to an objective human morality that it has credibility even among those who do not believe in the deity it is attributed to. But Christianity contains the poison pill of altruism that encourages its adherents to act inconsistently with the causes of his own prosperity.

Posted by: johngalt at October 18, 2009 1:35 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I'm unclear on how we're talking about the Bible now, but I see no contradictions, particularly in morality. You can still pray for someone's sake, yet defend yourself against the person. It says "Turn the other cheek," not "Let the person run you through."

That was my father who loved FDR, actually, not my grandfather. He was in his 50s when he met my mom, and he wasn't a Christian by any means. Yet there were basic standards of absolute morality he agreed with. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness.

But Christianity contains the poison pill of altruism that encourages its adherents to act inconsistently with the causes of his own prosperity.
Charity is a choice by a free individual. It's a person's right to give his wealth away, or to turn it into a big lump of gold and dump it in the Marianas Trench. But here you're using the specific term altruism, which is not necessarily the same as charitable giving.

This is an example taught to me as a microeconomics student. Let's say there's a hurricane, and supplies of ice are scarce. You have quite a bit of ice yourself, but you're concerned about people who really need it (e.g. stores and restaurants who need to preserve food). So, you set up an auction where it's sold to the highest bidder. That's still altruistic; that you're making a monetary profit does not matter. If you were selling purely to make a profit, it would not be altruistic. However, this shows that what appears to be greedy is not necessarily so.

Charity itself can be a powerful motivator to be more prosperous. The needy and the church can't do well unless people are prosperous enough to tithe, and there was nothing wrong with Abraham being a wealthy man. It also gives people a sense of self-satisfaction that working hard allows them to do good things with their money.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at October 21, 2009 12:27 PM
But Robin Thomas thinks:

I'm going to be leading a discussion in the African-American-themed dorm "Ujamaa" at Stanford this Thursday, October 29th, at 6 pm, on how education in the USA is making society more racist. I was very interested to read your comments. If any of you would like to be there on Thursday, shoot me an e-mail at robthom (at) stanford (dot) edu.

Posted by: Robin Thomas at October 25, 2009 11:31 PM

September 23, 2009

Otequay of the Ayday

I found today's Wikiquote 'Quote of the day' to be highly satisfying, and not just because it was accompanied by 19th century French artist Jules Joseph Lefebvre's 1870 oil on canvas work entitled "La Vérité" (Truth). [Who said nothing good ever came from France? OK, in the future I'll use the qualifier "since the 19th century.]

In an ideal University, as I conceive it, a man should be able to obtain instruction in all forms of knowledge, and discipline in the use of all the methods by which knowledge is obtained. In such a University, the force of living example should fire the student with a noble ambition to emulate the learning of learned men, and to follow in the footsteps of the explorers of new fields of knowledge. And the very air he breathes should be charged with that enthusiasm for truth, that fanaticism of veracity, which is a greater possession than much learning; a nobler gift than the power of increasing knowledge; by so much greater and nobler than these, as the moral nature of man is greater than the intellectual; for veracity is the heart of morality. ~ Thomas Henry Huxley {Emphasis from the original.]

Thomas Henry Huxley (4 May 1825 - 29 June 1895) was a British biologist and grandfather of Aldous. A brief review of his personal Wikiquote page reveals him to be nearly on par with R.A. Heinlein for quotability.

Posted by JohnGalt at 6:47 PM | Comments (6)
But T. Greer thinks:

Before Perry says it -- Bastiat was French, was he not?

Posted by: T. Greer at September 23, 2009 11:09 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Indeed Bastiat was. That's why I call him "the penultimate great Frenchman." Pasteur was the last.

And unless someone can think of someone other than Voltaire, we could call Bastiat "the second great Frenchman."

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 24, 2009 9:14 AM
But jk thinks:

Mai Non! Alexis de Tocqueville and Marquis de Lafayette must be put way up the list. Not necessarily above Frederic, but he's not as lonely as we imply.

Posted by: jk at September 24, 2009 10:46 AM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

OK, I'll accept those two, which would make de Tocqueville the penultimate great Frenchman. I also forgot Jean-Baptiste Say.

On the mathematics side, Blaise Pascal should be there. I suppose we should consider Descartes, more for his mathematics than his philosophy.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at September 24, 2009 11:11 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, and all preceded the 20th century did they not? But dare not forget the name of the 19th century French figure painter Jules Joseph Lefebvre.

"What a wonderful world it is that has girls in it!" - R.A.H.

Posted by: johngalt at September 24, 2009 12:28 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

I am a fan of French Historian and Nazi resistance fighter, Marc Bloch, most famous for "The Historian's Craft". He died in 1940, I believe.

Posted by: T. Greer at September 24, 2009 8:03 PM

August 31, 2009

More on Nicholas Mankiw's Boy

N. Gregory is surprised at the controversy and comment that his post on SAT scores and income correlation generated.

I say "surprising" because I almost did not post the piece at all, thinking that it was a bit pedantic and pedestrian. In other words, a big yawn. I did not think my point about omitted variable bias was particularly new or controversial.

I suspect he was not even counting ThreeSourcers. But I segue to a post of his today, and my suggestion of a hypereducated US Aristocracy. He is selecting 15 students out of 200 applicants for an economics seminar -- and finds it not so easy:
That means that getting into my seminar is about as hard as getting into Harvard--except that you first have to get into Harvard before you can even apply!

Having spent much of yesterday reading through the applications, I fully recognize how difficult and somewhat random such admissions processes are. I could fill almost the entire seminar with kids with perfect SAT scores (2400), but I won't, as there is more to life than test scores.


The obvious solution is to auction off the slots. The last book in his impressive reading list is Russ Roberts's "The Price of Everything." But I'm not going to be the one to mention it...

I do wonder how many of the 15 Harvard students with perfect SAT scores came out of public education, but I am willing to be surprised. By the way, he does link to a paper that he claims backs up his suggestion on adopted children that I questioned.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:48 PM | Comments (0)

May 4, 2009

Why Sir? Why?

Well, the answer is "Teachers' Unions." But the question is very much worth a watch:



Posted by John Kranz at 4:01 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Apparently Mercedes Campbell is somewhat of an aberration. According to this "National Coalition for Public Education" summary report, "Using a voucher has not improved the academic achievement of the targeted students."

For the real answer to your question: 1,700 voucher students, divided by 3,200,000 NEA members equals 0.053125 percent. Or, put another way, it is a ratio of 1882 to 1. Just ONE of those voucher students is offset by more than the total number of them with competing interests: Namely, maintaining and promoting the status quo in public education.

See how much fun math can be?

Posted by: johngalt at May 4, 2009 5:09 PM

April 10, 2009

No Hope for DC Kids

When Obama was elected, The Refugee had a hope that at least one point of common ground could be found with the new administration: school reform in the form of school choice and vouchers. Unfortunately, it is becoming increasing clear, though not surprising, that our Bower-in-Chief is kow-towing to politics, not principles.

Deroy Murdock, writing for NationalReviewOnline publishes this devastatingly effective rebuke of Obama catering to unions that fund him rather than the children he (ostensibly) serves.

With young black kids themselves begging for vouchers, why would reputedly pro-poor, pro-black Democrats kill this popular and effective school-choice program?

Follow the money: Teachers’ unions’ paid $55,794,440 in political donations between 1990 and 2008, 96 percent of it to Democrats. Senator John Ensign’s (R – Nevada) March 10 amendment to rescue DC’s vouchers failed 39-58. Among 57 Democrats voting, 54 (or 95 percent) opposed DC vouchers.

As the late Albert Shanker, former American Federation of Teachers president, once said: “When school children start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of school children.”

As long as the Democrats are a wholly-owned subsidary of the unions, and teachers specifically, only the audacious will have hope.

Hat Tip: RealClearPolitics.com

Posted by Boulder Refugee at 12:33 PM | Comments (0)

March 6, 2009

Why Politicized Science is Dangerous

Yesterday I commented that there's "another important dragon to be slain before" the next elections for congress and for president. That dragon is the myth of man-made global warming caused by our use of economical, safe and abundant energy sources. Many of us have long contended that the idea is founded upon pseudo-science. The late Michael Crighton agreed and in an appendix to his wonderfully entertaining and thought provoking novel 'State of Fear' he wrote "Why politicized science is dangerous."

Imagine that there is a new scientific theory that warns of an impending crisis, and points to a way out.

This theory quickly draws support from leading scientists, politicians and celebrities around the world. Research is funded by distinguished philanthropies, and carried out at prestigious universities. The crisis is reported frequently in the media. The science is taught in college and high-school classrooms.

I don't mean global warming. I'm talking about another theory, which rose to prominence a century ago.

Read on below-

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Posted by JohnGalt at 12:10 PM | Comments (6)
But jk thinks:

Careful, jg, TR has some strong followers around here. Sure he wanted to control capitalism from Washington, lock up his enemies and kill the enfeebled, but he displayed prodigious intellectual powers, looked good in casual clothes, and said "bully!" a lot.

Posted by: jk at March 6, 2009 2:36 PM
But johngalt thinks:

One of Crighton's points is how, after the horrors perpetrated in the name of the theory became widely known, "nobody was a eugenicist and nobody had ever been a eugenicist."

You'll recall I suggested not long ago that we start a permanent record of Global Warmists today, for the historical record.

My favorite thing about TR was "speak softly, and carry a big stick."

Posted by: johngalt at March 6, 2009 3:47 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

@Jg: I read that book and thought it sucked. (Tidal waves=result of climate change?) On the other hand, I thought the appendix you link to was quite insightful. It is rather sad to me that one's views on AGW are determined by your political affiliation. These days it seems that if you believe in "protecting the environment" then AGW is a self-evident fact not worth examining, while if you are of the free-market crowd, there is no way the climate could ever be linked to man's activities on the Earth.

This is a false dichotomy. It is perfectly acceptable to hold that warming may be influenced bu man and that free markets should not be interfered with for the environment's sake. Indeed, this is the exact position I hold.

Posted by: T. Greer at March 6, 2009 5:30 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

@Jk: Hahahha. Enough already! I think we have covered this before- Roosevelt's views on eugenics never led to anything more than a desire to make immigration laws stricter. Vilifying him for politicizing science makes no sense. Everything else you have listed is irrelevant to the subject of this post and has been discussed already.

Posted by: T. Greer at March 6, 2009 5:32 PM
But jk thinks:

Okay, I'll leave TR alone.

I enjoyed the Lomborg clip. He inspired the D in DAWG and I think his position is reasonable and defensible.

I hold that the debate was politicized by the left: those who Popper said would have us go back to the caves. Suddenly, the inefficacy of their ideas was meaningless: we had to take on the whole Nader-Kucinich platform or all of our children will die!

The DAWG advocates then claimed that "the science was settled" because a poll was taken. Popper, again, pointed out that science is not really done that way.

Yes, it is too bad that something important has devolved into childish bickering -- but, Mommy, they started it!!

Posted by: jk at March 6, 2009 7:04 PM
But johngalt thinks:

But it isn't called global warming anymore tg, it's "climate change." That way the charade can be continued whether the trend is warmer or cooler. Which is fortunate for them since now, it's cooling.

The market interference you allude to is the setting of arbitrary limits on emission of mammal breath. "First they came for the dioxins, then the beneficial pesticides, then the fluorocarbons, oxides of nitrogen and sulfur compounds, and when they came for carbon dioxide there were no pollutants left to say - you can't regulate non-pollutants!"

Posted by: johngalt at March 7, 2009 8:11 PM

December 15, 2008

Recycling as Sacrament

John Tierney of the NYTimes wonders if we are raising children to be scientists or garbage collectors. Accolades pour in for the WV Second Graders who want to keep recycling even though the school wants to abandon it. But Tierney has concerns:

My colleague Andy Revkin suggests that the West Virginia students might be learning something useful about the interplay of economics and ecology, but I fear they and their teacher have missed the lesson. The reason that public officials cut back the program, as Matt Richtel and Kate reported, is the market for recyclables has collapsed because the supply vastly exceeds the demand. This could be a valuable learning experience for the students about markets and about the long-term tendency of prices of natural resources to fall while the cost of people’s time rises.

Instead, the students are being taught that saving resources is more important than saving human time, and that recycling is such a righteous activity that it deserves to continue even when it costs money and time to do it.


Posted by John Kranz at 12:06 PM | Comments (3)
But insane modern liberal thinks:

or why not raise them to be both?

mr. tierney was troubled because one third-grade class spent “the whole period” collecting and analyzing garbage instead of learning something “more profound” in science class. if teachers are eschewing the entire year’s photosynthesis lessons in favor of trips to the garbage dump, then we might have a problem – but i doubt that this is the case. my guess is that this was one lesson among many for the year, and that the kids were able to relate what they’d learned about recycling to their other, more traditional lessons.

after all, learning about recycling actually teaches kids quite a bit about science (how different materials break down, how even something as hard as glass can be melted and reblown if you get it hot enough, how certain kinds of bacteria can actually break down a lot of the things in our garbage cans, why it takes less energy to melt recycled aluminum than to create new aluminum, and so on), not to mention history (why many governments encouraged citizens to recycle during the world wars), consumption patterns (where things come from and what happens to things when we throw them away), economics (how cities and business can actually make money by recycling, why they’re not profiting now, and why many of them have chosen to continue to recycle anyway because the cost of paying for recycling is still less than the cost of trash disposal), and even civics/government (the kids in the article learned about our legislative process when they wrote letters to their mayor and governor to keep their recycling program alive... and don’t worry about them missing that more profound photosynthesis lesson – apparently they chose to write their letters during recess).

seems like those WV students have been doing quite a few useful things with their time.

Posted by: insane modern liberal at December 15, 2008 5:14 PM
But jk thinks:

Welcome to ThreeSources! (I actually know this insane modern liberal.)

If I believed that your suggested lesson plan was followed, I would be completely on board. All the things you describe represent valuable instruction. (Not sure I agree with your municipal economics data, but maybe these second graders will elucidate me.)

Tierney's trouble -- and mine -- is students "who fought for the right to keep recycling trash even after it became so uneconomical that public officials tried to stop the program." And "their teacher was proud of them for all the time they spent campaigning to keep the recycling program alive."

I hear the whole word cheering for these plucky lads and lasses. Fight the power! Recycle or Die! (Perhaps they are training to be Community Organizers -- that can lead to important promotion prospects.)

But my favorite lesson is Tierney's: human labor is valuable and will always attain more value. Used glass and old milk bottles will rise and fall against virgin commodities but will trend lower in value.

Posted by: jk at December 15, 2008 8:23 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"It will indeed be a great day when our schools use all their money for academic needs and will have to hold a bake sale in order to fund feel-good recycling programs."

Posted by: johngalt at December 16, 2008 12:51 PM

December 11, 2008

Getting Our Asses Kicked in Piano

May I please use the childish locution "puh-leeze?" Puh-leeze.

Professor Reynolds links to a story in the Asia Times, full of gloom-and-doom. "Americans really, really don’t have a clue what is coming down the pike." Thankfully, Spengler (One name, kind of like "Cher") is here to warn us:

In another strategic dimension, though, China already holds a six-to-one advantage over the United States. Thirty-six million Chinese children study piano today, compared to only 6 million in the United States. The numbers understate the difference, for musical study in China is more demanding.

It must be a conspiracy. Chinese parents are selling plasma-screen TVs to America, and saving their wages to buy their kids pianos - making American kids stupider and Chinese kids smarter. Watch out, Americans - a generation from now, your kid is going to fetch coffee for a Chinese boss.


Kids, I think your Chinese boss might prefer tea -- I'd learn how to prepare both if you want a robust career.

Now I don't mean to downplay the sorry state of the American education system. It might well doom us if most of our future generation doesn’t know anything more than recycling and global warming. It's a tragedy, and I cannot contradict those who call it the civil rights issue of our time. But there is a cottage industry for people who extrapolate the end of American leadership based on days in school, or math classes. This is the first I've heard of the piano gap.

Inferiority in math and music will hurt the opportunities of individual American workers (and keyboard players) but some of our foul mouthed kids who play Guitar Hero will still exert their competitive advantage in marketing and entrepreneurship.

This is not a call for complacency. But the skill we should be worried about is critical thinking. We can always hire some Chinese piano players.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:01 AM | Comments (6)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

What a complete freaking MORON. This "Spengler" wouldn't be Stephen Roach, would it? It's the same tone. It's the same idiotic thinking, shared by our incoming president, that "OMG most Americans can speak only English!!!"

When we have to learn Chinese and Indian dialects, then maybe we should worry about our competitiveness. Till then, the rest of the world wants our business so much that they practically grow up learning English.

Oh, and when we peg our currency to China's, instead of the other way around, then maybe I'll worry.

If we followed certain economists' advice and (if it weren't impossible) became an export powerhouse like China, I'd certainly worry. It might sound good to save 50% of our national income, but the Chinese do that for much more than their retirement. It's forced savings because the government needs collateral: we think we're in trouble now, when the Chinese have been bailing out their corrupt banks for years!

And when you're the major nation most dependent on its exports for income, that's a problem because you're depending on everyone else's income. You're not exporting high-value goods, either: you're exporting low-cost goods to be bought by people with greater incomes. In other words, you're the national equivalent of the fruit peddler on the street. I'm not worried about the Chinese.

Supposedly music lessons improve concentration, intelligence, yadda yadda, if you want to believe the self-serving music teachers. Six points in IQ is nothing, and it's pseudo-science for merely putting out an average. Which children are taking music lessons but actually have lower IQs than those who aren't? It's all another post hoc fallacy: these studies cannot actually measure a child's intelligence before and after. So kids who are already a little bit more intelligent are the ones who get music lessons. And?

I had a couple of piano lessons when young, and one voice lesson as a teenager. I have a better voice than most, a good ear, and I'd put my intelligence up against most anyone.

Even were it were 6 million Chinese finishing college at 16, with degrees in business and science, I still wouldn't be worried. Where are they going to get jobs? I'm not moving to Shanghai, so any of them who would be my "boss" would have to move here. They'd have to compete with Americans who have a very big advantage: knowledge of American life and how to live it. Outsourcing can do only so much. Who remembers "Gung-Ho" starring Michael Keaton?

Americans as a whole are pretty goddamn stupid and callous, but in the end they still have to eat. There are too many who aren't pulling their own weight, but still enough of us who are economically productive to make this the greatest country.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at December 11, 2008 12:10 PM
But jk thinks:

I was waiting to be chastised for my complacency. I guess there's still time.

I have been spending a lot of time lately getting up early or staying up late to deal with programmers in India. India will be more competitive because they are freer; China cannot possibly be an intellectual power and not allow her citizens to read the Internet.

Indians will certainly take a lot of jobs, but we are back to Ricardo again. Americans will be able to create and market new, exciting products because the formerly scarce resource of developers' time is now abundant.

Who's bringing whom coffee? (Mmmm, coffee...)

Posted by: jk at December 11, 2008 1:02 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I've been meaning to blog about...the joy of the French press! Now that's coffee at its finest. Our Flavia coffee at work is crap, and fire marshal rules prevent us from having our own appliances, so I had to do something. I tried a French press and have never looked back.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at December 11, 2008 3:00 PM
But jk thinks:

Oh, yeah. Tocqueville, Bastiat, and the french press.

I was looking to open a coffee shop a few years ago and a friend brought me in to meet his friend Gene Kay who started Silver Canyon Coffee. As he gave me the tour, he scooped beans hot out of the roaster. We went to the conference room where he ground them coarse, let the water cool down to exactly 190F, gave it four minutes, and plunged. Mercy! I still dream about that.

At home, I like the convenience of the Senseo. It makes a good cup, one at a time so it is always fresh. But on Sunday I'll get out the press...

Posted by: jk at December 11, 2008 3:17 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Can a "French press" be openly discussed on a family-oriented blog?

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at December 11, 2008 3:45 PM
But jk thinks:

Don't know. If I come across any family-oriented blogs, I'll ask.

Posted by: jk at December 11, 2008 3:55 PM

October 26, 2008

Weather Underground: Kill the "die hard capitalists"

From LGF: Bill Ayers' Terrorist Group Discussed Genocide of Americans (includes video)

Quoting Larry Grathwohl, an FBI informant and member of the Weather Underground, in a 1982 documentary on the group:

"I want you to imagine sitting in a room with 25 people, most of which have graduate degrees, from Columbia and other well-known educational centers, and hear them figuring out the logistics for the elimination of 25 million people.

And they were dead serious."

I wonder if McPalin's last week of TV ads will include anything from this list. Though I suspect it may require pictures of Obama and Ayers building pipe bombs together to get through to some people.

Hat tip: Blog brother Cyrano

Posted by JohnGalt at 11:39 AM | Comments (1)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

Population planning, from abortion to forced sterilization, has always been part of the liberal/collectivist agenda.

"In order to stabilize world populations, we must eliminate three hundred and fifty thousand people per day. It is a horrible thing to say, but it's just as bad not to say it." No one batted an eye when Jacques Cousteau said this completely contemptuous thing.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at October 26, 2008 2:23 PM

August 18, 2008

Search for Missing Students a Lost Cause

The Refugee apologizes for the misleading headling, but is certain the reader will see the point in a moment. In a guest editorial in in yesterday's Sunday Denver Post, Susan Barnes-Gelt questions the benefits of a proposed $434 million bond issue being proposed by Denver Public Schools. Barnes-Gelt claims to be an "unrepentant urban liberal," but The Refugee is sure her credentials have been revoked by now; she presents a very coherent and skeptical questioning of the benefits that the DPS will gain from the additional money.

While The Refugee applauds a rare critical eye by a liberal toward educational funding, he was nonetheless unsurprised by the tenor of the argument. It actually followed traditional liberal orthodoxy in the school funding debate. That is, not once - not even once - did Barnes-Gelt mention the impact on students, either good or bad, from the bond issue.

And, that's the crux of the problem in our school funding debate. Even when benefits of lower class sizes and better facilities are touted, it's really about teacher convenience, not student achievement. A smaller class requires less work and who doesn't want new, modern facilities and tools? If students benefit, it's a happy coincidence.

The Refugee would like the legislature to enact a law requiring school districts to make one declarative statement when requesting funding: "If the schools receive the requested funds, test scores will increase x% and graduation rates will increase y% within z timeframe." Now that's real accountability. Which is why the teacher's union would never stand for it and liberals would oppose it. But, it's a question taxpayers should pose and demand an answer.

Posted by Boulder Refugee at 11:39 AM | Comments (0)

May 27, 2008

Wi-Fi Allergy

Stop the earth - I want off.

Seriously, didn't most people have that same reaction to the 1970's nutjobs who wanted to outlaw drilling for oil in this country because it was "dirty?" Leave the idiots alone and look what it gets you - politicians who say things like "gasoline prices are not based on supply and demand, they're being driven up by reckless speculators and obscene oil company profits" and "we can't drill our way out of this problem" when, in fact, that is the ONLY way to bring gasoline prices down. And it makes us "less dependent on foreign oil" at the same time.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:33 PM

We Don't Need No Thought Control...

As the good folks in Washington State are being sued by the teachers' union for underfunding public education, the union has forced the schools to turn down a $13.2 million grant from Bill Gates's and Michael Dell's National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI).

Earlier this month NMSI announced that a $13.2 million grant slated for Washington state was being scrapped. Why? The contract ran afoul of the union's collective bargaining agreement. NMSI wanted to compensate teachers directly and include extra pay based on how well students performed on AP exams. But under the teacher contracts, the union is the exclusive agent for negotiating teacher pay and union officials refused to compromise. They were willing to turn away free money for their teacher members rather than abide this kind of merit pay.

The WSJ Ed Page wonders if just perhaps "...union chiefs care more about protecting their monopoly than what students are learning?"

Posted by John Kranz at 1:56 PM

March 31, 2008

Times Change

Professor Mankiw links to a story in The Crimson:

When Harvard’s future dean of admissions and financial aid was applying to the College in 1962, the first two teachers he asked for letters of recommendation refused.

“They wouldn’t write for Harvard because they thought it was a bunch of Communists, a bunch of atheists, a bunch of rich snobs, and if you went there you’d flunk out and you’d lose your soul,” said William R. Fitzsimmons ’67.


Mankiw says how things have changed: "Today at Harvard, it is almost impossible to flunk out."

Posted by John Kranz at 10:56 AM

March 2, 2008

You'll Laugh, You'll Scream, You'll Cry

Not NITRO-BURNING FUNNY CARS!, sorry, but this education video from Drew Carey at ReasonTV. Some parents and a caring principal at Locke High School in Watts try to wrestle a failing school away from the teachers' union.

Vikki Reyes has had it with Locke High, the school her daughters attend in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. She walked in on class one day and recalls “the place was just like a zoo!” Students had taken control, while the teacher sat quietly with a book.

Frank Wells has also had it with Locke High. When he became principal he says gangs ruled the campus. He tried to turn things around but ran into a “brick wall” of resistance from the school district and teachers union.

Locke seemed destined to languish in high crime and low test scores until Wells, Reyes, and many reform-minded teachers joined with a maverick named Steve Barr in an attempt to break free from the status quo. Their battle is just one example of the charter school education revolt that’s erupting across the nation.


Stunning. Please watch it. I elected to link instead of embed the video viewer on the blog because I have had some trouble with their player. One extra click if you don't mind.

SIDE NOTE: I remain suspicious about the propaganda aspect of video. One watches what Michael Moore can do when he controls the editing block, or VP Al Gore, or 60 minutes. I agree with every syllable, spoken or implied on this video -- yet part of me wonders is it is fair,

The Union stooge is easy to demonize and seems to deserve it. I just wonder now that every kid with a Mac can get his inner Reni Riefenstahl on. The ReasonTV stuff is well done and carries the credibility of the magazine. I read this morning that Nick Gillespie is leaving the book for the ReasonTV site.

I have cheered the rise of blogs, the long tail, and the "Armies of Davids" but it is naive to not appreciate the polemic power of plentiful and professional-looking video.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:15 PM

January 29, 2008

Giants Walked This Earth

A good friend of mine and a good friend of this blog sends a link to an obituary in the Denver Post, with the subject "We have known giants." I took German from this man in High School. But I was an absolute idiot because he taught Russian, Latin and Classics before and after school and I did not sign up.

Martin Globocnik, 88, passed away on January 17, 2008. He is survived by his beloved wife, Vera. Born August 1, 1919 in Cerklje, Slovenia, Martin taught at various elementary and high schools in Slovenia, Italy, and Colorado. He survived Italian and German POW camps during WWII and came to marry Vera Martelanc February 2, 1954, in Trieste, Italy. In 1955 they immigrated to the US and settled in Colorado. Martin taught languages at Machebeuf H.S. from 1962-1982. His passion was Latin. Martin's students competed in national events and won numerous honors. A devoted Catholic, Martin fled his Slovenian homeland as the Communists came to power. He is also survived by various nieces and nephews in Slovenia and Italy.

He was the real deal as a scholar and as an inhabitant of this wonderful planet. A thin, small, academic-looking fellow, he had also escaped from friendly POW camps because of intelligence work. When I was in school, he was indefatigable in his efforts to teach, raise funds for the school, and impact his students. A giant.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:36 PM | Comments (1)
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

It bugs me too that I was so oblivious to the giants whose feet I pranced about as a child. Oh, the folly of youth!

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at January 30, 2008 8:47 AM

November 28, 2007

Thought Jocks

Super Guest Editorial in the Wall Street Journal today (Rupert, tear down this wall!)

Monday: After a long day at his New York City private school, Ben, 16, heads to my creative writing lab to work on his heartfelt memoir about his parents' bitter divorce. Tuesday: Alison, 15, rushes from her elite private school in the Bronx to work on her short screenplay about a gifted, mean and eccentric boy. Lily, 13, pops in whenever she can to polish her hilarious short story narrated by an insomniac owl.

Ben, Alison and Lily, along with another few dozen who attend my afterschool writing program, also attend top-notch New York private schools that cost upwards of $25,000 a year.


Sadly, their expensive private schools are so enamored with the self-esteem culture, there is no academic competition. These gifted students go to tutors for a chance to compete.
But some, and ironically those who attend some of the most desirable schools in the region, feel the reverberations in deeper, more painful ways. "Two years after my son left a school that prohibited him from entering a national math competition," says one mother, "he still writes angry essays about why the jocks in his former school were allowed to compete throughout the city while he wasn't allowed to win the same honors for his gifts." Sam, her son, felt uncool in the eyes of his peers, and undervalued (and sometimes even resented) by the administration.

I have pretty happy memories of being the first to solve a math problem (regular readers know I never won a spelling bee) -- and I have no doubt that this offset my inferior kickball skills. I value competition in all things. I think Ms. Wallace-Segall is right that we devalue thought by not supporting the opportunity to celebrate it.


Posted by John Kranz at 5:00 PM

August 27, 2007

Luskin's Back

The summer just became a little less doldrumy. Don Luskin is back from vacation.

I suspect Paul Krugman will miss his absence. He takes down a Krugman column today where Krugman makes a perfect pitch for school choice. Only it's sarcastic. The idea of government's not running schools is so foreign to the ex-Princeton prof, he finds the idea humorous.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:31 PM | Comments (1)
But Harrison Bergeron thinks:

This was simply one of those times when the big government liberal stands up and facetiously argues for the free market to work while we Hayekians simply chuckle at the preponderance of a government that would somehow be better.

The market as it currently stands (in health and education) is hardly free and thus less than ideal. However, I would never prefer a less-than-ideal government to a less-than-ideal market.

Posted by: Harrison Bergeron at August 27, 2007 12:57 PM

August 22, 2007

No Acronym Left Behind

W shill that I am, I have provided some tepid support for No Child Left Behind on this blog. I always thought that President Bush got rolled by Senator Kennedy in his "fool me once" phase of his attempts to work across the aisle. The President was seeking accountability and the Senior Senator from the briny deep was seeking more Federal dollars to hand out.

Everyday Economist links to Cato's Andrew J. Coulson's take on yet another Federal Education Acronymed Restructuring (FEAR). This time it is America COMPETES. Colson points out that it includes no competition.

Just as with the NDEA, we should not be surprised by these [disappointing NCLB] results. Measures like NCLB, America COMPETES, and their fellow alphabetic travelers are the education policy analogues of perestroika — Mikhail Gorbachev’s attempt to “fix” Soviet socialism by tinkering around its edges. Gorbachev’s efforts failed, it is now widely acknowledged, because they omitted certain crucial elements of free markets: prices that are determined by supply and demand instead of by central planners, private instead of state ownership of enterprises – that sort of thing. America’s public school monopolies are like socialist economies in small; centrally planned, uncompetitive, state-owned. Just as Gorbachev’s piece-meal reforms couldn’t fix his system, neither can such half-measures fix ours.

I supported NCLB in the context of the "ownership society" because it seeked to inject some accountability. And, laugh if you will, but anything my Union Teacher Relatives (UTRs) loathed so much had to have some redeeming qualities.

I cannot stand up to Coulson. NCLB had a wisp of competition, but if the Feds cannot break down the union monopoly, they should stay the hell out.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:36 PM

April 27, 2007

We Don't Need No Thought Control...

I've been sitting on this post all week. Professors Gary Becker and Richard Posner have created one of the most intelligent and thoughtful (non-chocolate-bunny) blogs out there. The Economics and the Law Prof take a serious look at a single issue, generally finding some of the internecine disagreement of which I am so fond. It's on the blogroll and I recommend keeping up -- they have a new topic every week or so.

Last Sunday, Becker posted on "The Benefits of Education," wondering why even more people do not sign up for the obvious benefits and strong return on investment that higher education provides.

It is well documented that the average earnings premium from a college education in the United States increased from about 40 percent in the late 1970's to about 80 percent at present. Not everyone does well financially from going to college, or badly by not going-Bill Gates is an obvious but extreme example of a college dropout- but the average person who does go has far better prospects for earnings, employment, and occupation than the average person who stops schooling after finishing high school. The economic benefits from completing high school also went up relative to those to high school dropouts, although they did not increase as much as the benefits from college. A similar picture holds for Great Britain and many other countries, although the changes elsewhere have been smaller than in the United States.

Posner's Comment hit a theme pretty close to home, namely that "Correlation is not causation."
Suppose what are increasing are not the returns to education but the returns to intelligence, and suppose that people with high IQs both enjoy education more than other people do and are more likely to be admitted to college or a graduate or professional school because teachers prefer teaching (and learning from!) them and because good students are more likely (because they are more intelligent, not because they are good students) to be affluent, and therefore generous, alumni.

Now if this is correct, one might expect many intelligent people to bypass college, because it is so costly; but few do. However, colleges and graduate (including professional) schools provide a screening and certifying function. Someone who graduates with good grades from a good college demonstrates intelligence more convincingly than if he simply tells a potential employer that he's smart; and he also demonstrates a degree of discipline and docility, valuable to employers, that a good performance on an IQ test would not demonstrate. (This is an important point; if all colleges did was separate the smart from the less smart, college would be an inefficient alternative to simple testing.) An apprentice system would be a substitute (and there is evidence that in Germany it is a highly efficient substitute), but employers naturally prefer to shift a portion of the cost of screening potential employees to colleges and universities. Because those institutions are supported by taxpayers and alumni as well as by students, employers do not bear the full cost of screening.


I have always posited this question as: What if you traded the group of current college graduates with those without a degree (Posner says it much better, having all that education to fall back on). I do not mean to run down the benefits of education nor encourage people to drop out. I am a dropout that has lived the life of a graduate. Most of the jobs I have had since I put the old guitar down would have typically been filled by a college graduate.

I realize that there is a sour grapes element to my question, but I have often thought, like Posner, that the successes were achieved by what I call "college people" more so than college graduates.

Full disclosure: a degree would have helped me both personally and financially, and I expect I will finish up an online Economics degree someday here (You can take a course from Art Laffer at YorktownUniveristy,com)

Posted by John Kranz at 12:40 PM

April 23, 2007

Physilicious

Most physics texts are written as if they were supplementary problem books for math courses. They are heavy on the problem-solving, but light (or empty) on the cause-effect relationships, inductive thinking, and reasoning which makes science.

David Harriman is one physicist and teacher who has remedied that. He has a physics course for sale, which is described by the VanDamme Academy, where he teaches, as follows:

David Harriman, philosopher and historian of physics, is the originator of VanDamme Academy's revolutionary science curriculum. An expert both in physics and in proper pedagogy, Mr Harriman developed and taught a two-year course on the history of physics for VanDamme Academy. His unique approach is to teach physics historically, thereby teaching it inductively. From the early Greeks to Copernicus to Newton, this course presents the essential principles of physics in logical sequence, placing each in the context of the earlier discoveries that made it possible and explaining how each was discovered by reasoning from observations.

Teaching physics by this method not only renders physics thoroughly intelligible--it also makes physics an inspiring story of discovery, in which great thinkers triumph in their quest to grasp the nature of the physical universe.

He sells the CD for $495 and the DVD for $695.

He is not the first to teach physics from a historical perspective. Two others are Dr. Michael Fowler and Dr. Herbert Priestley. While Fowler and Priestley probably did not have the philosophic knowledge (e.g., of induction, deduction, and epistemology in general) of Harriman, they did have a knowledge of physics and its history. And they have some things available for less cost for those of us who cannot yet afford Harriman's work.

The homepage of Dr. Michael Fowler, at UVa, has links to his lectures for

PHYS 109: Galileo and Einstein (Lecturer) Fall

PHYS 152: Introductory Physics for Majors (Lecturer) Spring

PHYS 609: Galileo and Einstein (Lecturer) Fall

PHYS 751: Quantum Theory I (Lecturer) Fall

PHYS 752: Quantum Mechanics II (Lecturer) Spring

His also has notes available for Physics 252: Modern Physics.

On another page you can find: (1) a lecture on using history to teach physics; (2) a leture on heat which teaches physics from a historical (and hence inductive) perspective; (3) a lecture on electricity and magnetism which also teaches from a historical perspective; (4) a lecture on the development of Maxwell’s equations; (5) some quizzes, exercises, and another lecture.

Dr. Herbert Priestley wrote a book entitled Introductory Physics. You can find it on a used-book site such as Alibris or Abe Books.

Introductory Physics by Herbert Priestley (Allyn and Bacon, Inc., 1958) has the best presentation of physics I’ve ever seen. (I have not heard Harriman yet.) He presents concepts in their historical and scientific context. Priestley presents alternative viewpoints that were being used to understand phenomena such as heat or electricity, discusses why each viewpoint was held and the arguments scientists had, and describes the experiments the scientists did – especially the experiments which validated one side or the other. In showing us the development of ideas in physics, Priestley is showing us the correct view of concept-formation and the formation of generalizations, Priestley is showing us that true concepts and propositions come from applying rational, objective methods to the real world.

Priestley attended the University of Leeds, receiving a B.S. in 1933 and a Ph.D. in physics in 1935. He served in the Royal Air Force as an industrial research physicist, civilian education officer, and air intelligence officer. He came to the US as RAF liaison officer in 1942, but stayed on to teach physics at Ripton College after WWII. In 1952, he became chairman of the physics department at Knox College, where he stayed until he retired in 1980. His obituary is on Knox College Website.

A caveat. Priestley does not give Aristotle proper credit as a scientist. People have insulted Aristotle for centuries, for things that are not Aristotle’s fault – people throughout history blindly believed what was written in Aristotle’s corpus, yes, but that is not Aristotle’s fault. Aristotle, in method, was objective, and referred to experience. If he had the evidence available to him which people did who lived 1,000 years or more after he lived, he could have arrived at the conclusions we have -- even Galileo said this. He was a solid scientist in his context, as can be seen in the work he did most: philosophy, logic and biology.

Dr. James Lennox, Professor of Philosophy and the History of Science at the University of Pittsburgh, has some well-written and well-researched articles on his website regarding Aristotle as scientist and philosopher of science. An article directly relevant to some of Priestley's uninformed, unresearched accusations against Aristotle is Lennox's "Aristotle, Galileo and the Mixed Sciences," which discusses (1) Aristotle's use of mathematics as a tool in physics to explain why things happen and (2) Galileo's debt to Aristotle.

Dr. Michael Fowler, Professor of Physics at the University of Virginia also recognized Aristotle’s solid contributions to science. In a lecture on Aristotle, Dr. Fowler says:

To summarize: Aristotle's philosophy laid out an approach to the investigation of all natural phenomena, to determine form by detailed, systematic work, and thus arrive at final causes. His logical method of argument gave a framework for putting knowledge together, and deducing new results. He created what amounted to a fully-fledged professional scientific enterprise, on a scale comparable to a modern university science department. It must be admitted that some of his work - unfortunately, some of the physics - was not up to his usual high standards. He evidently found falling stones a lot less interesting than living creatures. Yet the sheer scale of his enterprise, unmatched in antiquity and for centuries to come, gave an authority to all his writings.

And on the website of the University of Dayton’s History Department, in an article about the history of science, they say:

Aristotle is the key figure in this history of ancient science and indeed one of a handful of leading thinkers and doers in the entire history of science from the dawn of man to the present. His work in virtually every scientific field--from biology to physics to chemistry to astronomy--became a cornerstone of Western Science until the Scientific Revolution. And indeed his methodology, his reliance upon close observation and interdisciplinary bent, remain with us today.

Here are some excerpts from Priestley’s book. It is impossible to grasp Priestley’s masterful and rational approach in brief excerpts, so the excerpts must be lengthy. Priestley does use math in his textbook (it is algebra-based), but these excerpts will focus on his discussions of cause and effect and the development of ideas.

I. Excerpt 1: Chp. 15, “Electricity and Chemistry,” pp. 201-205

15.1 Galvanism. Electricity and chemistry are closely inter-related. A chemical reaction can produce a supply of electricity for as long as the reaction continues. This, the first source of a continuous supply of electricity, an electric current, is the principle of the electric battery. Conversely, an electric current can produce a chemical reaction, usually the decomposition of a chemical compound into its simpler elements, the process of electrolysis. Both processes involve the conversion of energy from one form to another; in the first case, chemical energy becomes electrical energy; in the other, the reverse takes place.

Every living cell produces electricity. The functioning of living tissue today is studied through its electrical action. The study of electricity in living tissue, which began quite accidentally about one hundred and fifty years ago, led to the development of the electric battery, for many years thereafter the standard method of producing electricity

About 1750, it was noted that pieces of lead and silver placed above and below the tongue, respectively, with their outer edges in contact, produced an unpleasant and pungent taste not encountered when the metals were placed separately upon the tongue. The phenomenon was attributed to some excitation of the nerves of the tongue. By this time, various physicians and experimenters had demonstrated that electricity could be used as a muscular stimulant in man and animals. This fact had been used to distinguish between paralyzed and atrophied muscles, an electric charge producing a contraction only in a paralyzed muscle.

Before the end of the eighteenth century it was known that an electric discharge passed through the body of a freshly killed animal could cause a convulsive action in its muscles, and that the discharge of an electric eel (section 14.2) produced motion in a nearby dead fish. Identification of the origin of these effects was made by Galvani (1737-1798), a professor of anatomy at Bologna. Galvani began experimenting about 1780, using a Leyden jar [A Leyden jar was the earliest form of electric condenser, consisting of “a bottle filled with water into which was inserted a wire held in place by a cork.” p. 191] and an electrostatic machine to test the effects of the electric discharge upon the nervous system of the frog. During these experiments he made the chance observation that nearby electrical discharge caused convulsions in a freshly prepared frog’s leg in conducting contact with the earth.

[I] had dissected and prepared a frog. [While] attending to something else, I laid it on a table on which stood an electrical machine at some distance…when one of the persons present touched accidentally and lightly the inner [thigh or leg] nerves of the frog with the point of a scalpel all the muscles of the legs seemed to contract again and again as if affected by powerful cramps. [One of my assistants] thought…the action was excited when a spark was discharged from the conductor of the machine [and] called my attention to it…I was eager to test the same and to bring to light what was concealed in it. I therefore myself touched one of the other nerves with the point of the knife and at the same time one of those present drew a spark. The phenomenon was always the same. Without fail there occurred lively contractions in every muscle of the leg at the same instant as that in which the spark jumped…

[Thinking] these motions might arise from the contact with the point of the knife…rather than by the spark, I touched the same nerves again in the same way in other frogs with the point of the knife…with greater pressure [while] no one during this time drew off a spark...no motion could be detected. I [concluded] that perhaps to excite the phenomenon…needed both the contact of a body and the electric spark.

Therefore, I again pressed the blade of the knife on the nerve and kept it there at rest while the spark passed and while the machine was not in motion. The phenomenon only occurred while the sparks were passing. [In many experiments with the same knife] it was remarkable that when the spark passed the motions observed sometimes occurred and sometimes not… The scalpel had a bone handle...if this handle was held in the hand no contractions occurred when the spark passed; but they did occur if the finger rested on the metallic blade or on the iron rivet by which the blade was held in the handle…

Now to put the thing beyond all doubt we…not only touched the nerves of the leg [with a slender dry and clean glass rod] but rubbed them hard while the sparks were passing. But…the phenomenon never appeared. [It] occurred however if we even lightly touched the same nerve with an iron rod and only little sparks passed. [William F. Magie, A Source Book in Physics (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1938), p. 421.]

Galvani’s “phenomenon” occurred only when the frog’s leg was in conducting communication with the earth, first by chance contact of the scalpel with the nerve, thereafter intentionally by bringing the leg into contact with a conductor grounded by contact with the human body. He continued his researches, turning to the effect of atmospheric electricity (lightning) on muscular motion. He attached frogs by the nerves to long iron wires, the feet of the frogs being grounded by similar wires. Simultaneously with a flash of lightning the muscles were markedly convulsed.

In both these series of experiments the frog, place upon a body insulated from the ground, became charged by induction (section 14.11) from either the electrostatic machine or lightning. When a grounded metal object (scalpel or iron rod) touched the nerve, the sudden change of potential caused by grounding produced the observed convulsive action.

[I next laid one of the prepared frogs] on an iron plate and began to press the hook which was in the spinal cord against the plate. Behold, the same contractions, the same motions…other metals [gave] the same result, only that the contractions were different [for] different metals…more lively for some and more sluggish for the others. At last it occurred to us to use other [non-conducting] bodies…[dry] glass, rubber, resin, stone or wood. With these...no muscular contractions and motions could be seen. Naturally [this astonished us] and caused us to think that possibly the electricity was present in the animal itself…a very fine nervous fluid which during the occurrence of the phenomenon flows from the nerves to the muscle like the electric current….” [ibid., p. 424.]

Galvani now recognized that here was something entirely new. “to make the thing plainer” he varied the experiment by placing the frog on a glass non-conducting plate. A curved rod connected the hook which entered the spinal cord with the muscles of the leg or feet. Convulsions occurred only when the curved rod was of conducting material and only when the hook and conducting rod were of dissimilar metals.

Two possible explanations of these phenomena suggested themselves to Galvani; that there was electricity in the animal organism, or that there was involved some electrical process depending upon contact of the metals and for which the frog’s legs merely served as a sensitive detector. He leaned toward the first of these – the existence of “animal electricity,” for which the nerves had the greatest affinity and were the repository. His theory further assumed that the inner substance of the nerve served as the conductor of this electricity, while the outer layer of the nerve prevented its dispersal. The muscles were the receivers of the animal electricity, and were charged negatively on the outside and positively on the inside. The mechanism of motion was a discharge of the electric fluid from the inside to the outside of the muscle by way of the nerve (like the discharge of a Leyden jar), and this discharge provided a muscular contractional stimulus to the muscle fibers.

15.2 Volta disagrees with Galvani. Galvani’s experiments and his interpretation of the results aroused considerable interest. Among the physicists, physiologists, and medical men who obtained frogs and pieces of dissimilar metals to repeat the experiments for themselves was Volta (1745-1827), a countryman of Galvani’s and professor of physics at Paris.

Volta, greatly impressed by Galvani’s work, referred to it as “one of those splendid major discoveries which…serve to usher in new epochs, not only because it is new and wonderful but also because it opens up a broad field of experiments that are especially and outstandingly capable of the application. “ [ibid., p. 443.] Volta’s original belief in the correctness of the “animal electricity” theory was weakened when he found that a muscular contraction could be produced simply by allowing a very weak electrical discharge to traverse a nerve without the discharge in anyway passing through the muscles. To produce a contraction required only stimulation of “the nerves that control the motions of the voluntary muscles concerned.”

A physicist rather than a physiologist, Volta now shifted his emphasis to the function of the metallic rods used. Repeating the experiment of placing on the tongue two dissimilar metals, he “covered the point of the tongue...with a strip of tin…With the bowl of a spoon, I touched the tongue further back; then I inclined the handle of the spoon to touch the tin. I expected…a twitching of the tongue…. The expected sensation, however, I did not perceive at all; but instead, a rather strong acid taste at the tip of the tongue…this taste lasts as long as the tin and sliver are in contact with each other. …This shows that the flow of electricity from one place to another is continuing without interruption.” It was “not less remarkable” that reversing the experiment so that the silver touched the tip of the tongue and the tin its middle gave “a very different taste...no longer sour but more alkaline, sharp, and approaching bitter.” [ibid., p. 444.] Bringing together the free ends of strips of dissimilar metal which touched, respectively, the forehead and palate produced, at the instant of contact, a bring flash clearly visible to the eye.

Investigations such as these gradually convinced Volta that the metals not only served as conductors but actually generated the electricity themselves. He accordingly modified his views to the belief that the nerves were merely stimulated by a cause to be found in the metals themselves, which were “in a real sense the exciters of electricity.” By 1794 he declared his opposition to the idea of animal electricity and substituted the term “metallic electricity.” The entire effect arose from the electricity set into circulation when metals were brought into contact with any moist body. This circulation through nerves caused stimulation of associate muscles. He found that the results depended upon the nature of the substances used and drew up a series of substances (metals, graphite, an charcoal) such that the magnitude of the effect produced using any two of the substances increased with the separation of the substances in this series.

Volta now dispensed entirely with the use of nerves and muscles in his investigations, and brought pairs of metals into contact with various moist substances, such as paper, cloth, etc. With a sensitive electrometer which he had previously developed, he was able to show the existence of “contact potential” – that the momentary contact of two dissimilar metals caused them to become oppositely charged, even without any moist substance present. A zinc and a copper disc after being placed in contact were both found to be charged, the zinc positively and the copper negatively. Copper also became negatively charged after contact with iron or tin, although less strongly than after contact with zinc. On the other hand, contact with gold or silver gave copper a positive charge and the gold or silver a negative charge. By numerous experiments along these lines, Volta constructed a series for the metals such that upon bringing any two of them into contact, the earlier in the list became positively charged, the later one negatively charged:

Zinc copper
Lead silver
Tin gold
Iron graphite

Furthermore, the more widely separated the substances in the series, the greater was the contact charge developed between them.

On the basis of his investigations, Volta originally assumed that the exciting electricity was located only at the points of contact of the metals and that the animal or other fluid served only as a conductor. But further experiments showed that an electric charge can be produced not only between metals in contact, but also between a metal and certain fluids. For instance, an insulated disc of silver or other metal brought into contact with moist wood or paper and then removed was found to be negatively charged. Experimenting further with liquids and metals, Volta found that the best results were obtained from two dissimilar metals with a moist conductor between them, a combination called a galvanic element. The effect of such a single element was multiplied by combining a large number of them to form a “pile.”

In 1800, Volta described a pile which produced a constant flow of electricity. By comparison with a Leyden jar, it was “equal only to a [Leyden jar] very feebly charged; but infinitely surpasses the power of these [jars] in that it does not need, as they do, to be charged in advance by means of an outside source; and in that It can give the disturbance every time that it is properly touched no matter how often.” [ibid., p. 428]

The pile consisted of small, clean and dry discs of zinc and silver and discs of a spongy material capable of absorbing and retaining a liquid. On a table or base is placed a sliver plate, then a

plate of zinc; on this…one of the moistened discs; then another silver [plate], followed immediately by another of zinc, [then another] moistened disc…continue in the same way coupling a plate of sliver with one of zinc, always [in the same order] and inserting between these couples a moistened disc. [ibid.]

Such a pile produced a slight shock when the hands were placed in contact with the top and bottom of the pile, and also the previously experienced effect upon the nerves of taste, sight, and hearing. One drawback was that the moist material between the metal discs dried out, decreasing the electric current generated. To overcome this, Volta devised his “crown of cups,” consisting of a row of beakers of non-metallic material filled with brine into which were placed alternate strips of sliver and zinc. Each silver strip in one cup was joined to the zinc strip in the next cup by a metallic jumper. “A train of 30, 40, 60 of these goblets joined up in this manner…in substance is the same as the [pile] tried before; the essential feature, of the immediate connection of the different metals which form each pair and the mediate connection of one couple with another by the intermediary of a damp conductor, appears in this apparatus as well as in the other.” [ibid., p. 431.] This crown of cups was subsequently improved by substituting copper for silver and dilute sulphuric acid for brine.

Volta reported that the “tension” (potential difference) produced by the pile or cups “is less according as they are nearer in the following series…sliver, copper, iron, tin, lead, zinc, a scale in which the first [is positive with respect] to the second, the second to the third, etc.”

The importance of Volta’s discovery of a means of producing a continuous supply of electricity cannot be overemphasized. Sarton, the distinguished historian of science, compares it with the development of the telescope and microscope, with the fundamental difference that the telescope and microscope “were only means of magnifying our vision. They enabled us to see things which we could not see before, but which existed nevertheless… On the contrary, the electric cell was really a creative instrument; it opened to man a new and incomparable source of energy.” [Bern Dibner, Galvani-Volta (Norwalk: Burndy Library, Inc., 1952), p. 40.]

15.3 The simple voltaic cell. Volta’s identification of the true origin of “animal electricity” led to the familiar batteries now used in radios, automobiles, etc. In every case, production of electricity results from the conversion of chemical into electrical energy. To understand the mechanism involved, consider the simple or voltaic cell, consisting of two dissimilar metals immersed in a liquid, and in essence an element of Volta’s pile.


Genius. Thank you Dr. Priestley.

Priestley then goes on to discuss the work of Michael Faraday in discovering the laws of electrolysis, which led to the development of practical cells, i.e., the batteries we now have in everyday life, and which we take for granted.

But what we have in this excerpt is the scientific history of the development of the modern battery – which came out of experiments which changed fundamentally how we view man, as well. The observation that we had different sensations when metals touched our tongue in different places would have gone nowhere and could have been interpreted in all kinds of ways, without the knowledge that frogs’ nerves and muscles are affected by electricity.

This knowledge was the first step in our modern science of neurology, in understanding how the brain works, and in developing some of the drugs we have today (which have neurological effects because of their chemistry and electrical effects).

And if not for the foundational work of Michael Faraday arising from the research of Volta and Galvani, we would not know what we do today about nutrition and the operation of the cell. What does something so everyday as Gatorade have in it? Electrolytes. Thank Michael Faraday next time you drink some.

Priestley is a genius in taking us from the observation that we had certain sensations when metals touched our tongues, to the modern battery. He presents a missing side of modern scientific texts: causality. Science is about discovering cause-effect relationships. Most modern texts present physics as an exercise in mathematics – the texts could be addenda to math texts, providing word problems and applications of math. They fail miserably in presenting cause-effect relationships, and showing how scientific knowledge really develops. They fail to present the important experiments that led to modern understanding of the material world, and that make physics what it is.

II. Excerpt 2: Chp. 10, “The Nature of Heat,” pp. 135-139

10.6 The measurement of heat. The development of the thermometer opened the doorway to a new science – that of heat measurements – in which the pioneer was Joseph Black (1727-1799), professor of medicine and chemistry at the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh. Prior to Black’s work, no clear distinction had been drawn between “quantity of heat” and “degree of hotness (temperature).” While something clearly passed from a hot body to one at a lower temperature, whether that something was heat or temperature was not known. Black was the first to conceive clearly of heat as a measurably physical quantity, distinct from, although related to, temperature as indicated by a thermometer.

He began to investigate the general belief that the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of any body by a given amount was proportional to the density of the body. Fahrenheit, by mixing together water and mercury at different temperatures, had found that despite its much greater density, the heating and cooling effect of a given volume of mercury was only two-thirds that of the same volume of water. From these results Black concluded that “the quantities of heat which different kinds of matter must receive to reduce them to equilibrium with one another, or to raise their temperatures by an equal number of degrees, are not in proportion to the quantity of matter in each, by in proportions widely different from this.” [Abraham Wolf, A History of Science, Technology, and Philosophy in the 18th Century (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1939), p. 178.] Fahrenheit’s experiments led Back to compare the heating and cooling effects of other substances with corresponding effects of an equal bulk of water, obtaining for the different substances values he called their “capacities for heat.”

He went on to observe that the sensation of cold in a hand applied to a piece of ice indicates that the ice receives heat very rapidly. But a thermometer applied to the water dripping from the melting ice show it to be at the same temperature as the ice. “A great quantity, therefore, of the heat…which enters into the melting ice produces no other effect but to give it fluidity, without augmenting its sensible heat; it appears to be absorbed and concealed within the water, so as not to be discoverable by the application of a thermometer.” [ibid, p. 180.] Back now demonstrated that during the melting of ice, and similar changes of state (solid to liquid, liquid to vapor), large quantities of heat were “rendered latent,” absorbed with no change in temperature, and explained these and similar facts by assuming a union of the matter of heat with ice to form water and with water to form steam; i.e.,

Ice + matter of heat = water,
Water+ matter of heat = steam.

10.7 The caloric theory of heat. The more obvious phenomena of heat – combustion, melting, freezing, evaporation, etc. – have been familiar from early times, and ideas concerning the nature of heat go far back in history. Aristotle conceived of fire as one of the four material elements (section 4.2), while the Platonic view was that heat was some kind of motion: “For heat and fire…are themselves begotten by impact and friction: but this is motion.” But throughout the centuries little or no distinction was made between heat and flame.

Various people, including Francis Bacon, Huygens, and Boyle, advanced the idea that heat is a form of motion of the “parts” of a body. Boyle drew attention to the heat generated during the boring of guns and to the fact that “when a smith does hastily hammer a nail,…the hammered metal will grow exceedingly hot, and yet there appears not anything to make it so, save the forcible motion of the hammer.” [ibid, p. 276.] But there was no direct experimental support of these speculations.

Following his work on thermal capacities and latent heats, Black was led to consider the nature of heat. This he did with some reservations, as may be seen from the following extract from his lectures: “Heat is plainly something extraneous to matter. …Having arrived at this conclusion, it may perhaps be required of me to express more distinctly this something – to give a full description, or definition, of what I mean by the word ‘heat’ in matter. This, however, is a demand that I cannot satisfy entirely…. Our knowledge of heat is not brought to that state of perfection that might enable us to propose with confidence a theory of heat of to assign an immediate cause for it.” [Duane Roller, The Early Development of the Concepts of Temperature and Heat, (Cambridge; Harvard University Press, 1950), p. 42.]

Black continued with a review of the theories previously advanced as to the nature of heat, theories which fall into two basic categories – that heat is either motion or a material substance. Reviewing the motion theory, Black say that he “cannot form a conception of this internal (vibration) which has any tendency to explain even the more simple effects of heat.” He then goes on to point out that:

…the greater number of French and German philosophers have held that the motion of which they suppose heat to consist is not a tremor, or vibration, of the particles of the hot body itself, but of the particles of a subtle, highly elastic, and penetrating fluid matter, which is contained in the pores of hot bodies, or interposed among their particles…. But interposed among their particles…. But neither of these suppositions has been fully and accurately considered by their authors, or applied to explain the whole of the facts and phenomena relating to heat. They have not, therefore, supplied us with a proper theory or explication of the nature of heat.

A more ingenious attempt has lately been…given by the late Dr. Cleghorn…. He supposed that heat depends on the abundance of that subtle elastic fluid which had been imagined before by other philosophers to be present in every part of the universe and to be the cause of heat…. he supposed that the ordinary kinds of matter consist of particles having strong [gravitational] attraction both for one another and for the matter of heat; whereas the…matter of heat is self-repelling, its particles having a strong repulsion for one another while they are attracted by other kids of matter.

Such an idea of the nature of heat is the most probable of any that I know.… It is, however, altogether a supposition. [ibid., p. 45.]

In 1779, Cleghorn extended the material theory of heat to include Black’s discoveries of thermal capacity and latent heat. The main properties assigned by Cleghorn to the “matter of heat’ or “caloric,” may be summarized in the following postulates of the caloric theory:

1. Caloric is an elastic fluid, composed of particles which strongly repel each other.
2. Particles of caloric are attracted by particles of ordinary matter.
3. Caloric can be neither destroyed nor created.
4. Caloric can be either sensible caloric, which increases the temperature of body to which it is added and forms an “atmosphere” around the particles of the body, or latent caloric, which is combed with the particles of the body in a manner similar to the chemical combinations of the particles themselves, producing as a new compound the liquid or vapor form of the substance.
5. Caloric may or may not have appreciable weight.

When two bodies at different temperatures were placed in contact, it was supposed that caloric flowed from the hotter to the colder body until equilibrium was established. Expansion was attributed to the mutual repulsion of the caloric which entered the heated body. Development of heat by friction or compression was explained as due either to the fact that the particles of a body rubbed by friction lost some of their “capacity” for caloric, which was thus “liberated,” raising the temperature of the body, or to the fact that friction and pressure squeezed out some of the caloric latent in the pressed body, which thereby became sensibly hot. The caloric theory dominated the science of heat until the middle of the nineteenth century.

It should be noted that toward the end of the eighteenth century the “motion theory” of heat was nothing more than pure speculation, a working hypothesis without any decisive experimental evidence in its favor. By contrast the caloric theory offered a satisfactory and semiquantitative explantion of the known thermal phenomena. Furthermore, the motion theory dealt only with the origin of heat and said nothing about its behavior.

10.8 Does heat have weight? Black pointed out that the fact that bodies expanded when heated had led to the supposition that a heated body increased in weight. Various eighteenth-century experiments to test this supposition had produced conflicting results, none of them proving “that the weight of bodies is increased by their being heated, or by the presence of heat in them.” Some observers found that an increase in the temperature of a body was accompanied by slight increase in weight; some observed a slight loss in weight; others could detect no variation in weight with variation in temperature. The most carefully executed experiments were those of Runford, whose results were negative.

Although Rumford was an able administrator, and an authority on military problems, experimenting on heat was one of his “most agreeable employments.” He believed the mode-of-motion theory to be the sounder view of the nature of heat, even though in his time the caloric theory was well established and generally accepted. The primary purpose of his experiments was to attack the caloric theory from as many different points of view as possible.

Identical glass flasks containing equal weights of water, alcohol, and mercury showed equal temperatures and weights after having been exposed to room temperature (61ş F) for 24 hours, after 48 hours at a cooler temperature (30ş F), and upon being restored to room temperature after the cooler period. Repeated several times, the experiment gave consistent results. Rumford was convinced that “if heat be, in fact, a substance or matter…it must be something so infinitely rare, even in its most condensed state, as to baffle all our attempts to discover its [weight]… I think we may very safely conclude that all attempts to discover any effect of heat upon the apparent weights of bodies will be fruitless.” [Wolf, op. cit., p. 196.]

Rumford’s experiments showed heat had no detectable weight. So caloric must be imponderable, an opinion which Black had considered to be one of the chief objections to the caloric theory. But to many eighteenth-century scientists and philosophers this was not a serious objection. At that time full acceptance was given to a small class of “imponderable” fluids – including light, electricity, and magnetism – which, unlike ordinary matter, were not subject to gravitational attraction to any observable extent. By attributing to these “imponderables” certain other familiar properties of ordinary matter, the various known phenomena could be fairly satisfactorily explained, and new phenomena often successfully predicted Thus the problem of the weight of heat was not critical in resolving the conflict between the caloric and motion theories of heat. Much more critical was the conservation principle, that caloric could be neither created nor destroyed. Here also Rumford performed certain vital experiments as part of his general attack on the caloric theory.

The caloric theory had been particularly useful in explaining and predicting phenomena in mixing liquids or heating a substance over a fire, in which it is reasonable to conclude that there is no creation or destruction of heat during its conduction from object to object or from fire to object. But where did the heat come from when an object was warmed by rubbing it or hammering it? While the calorists believed they could answer this question and still retain the principle of conservation of caloric, other investigators believed the mode-of-motion theory to be a much more satisfactory explanation.

While engaged in boring cannon at Munich, Rumford observed with surprise “the very considerable degree of heat that a brass gun acquires in a short time in being bored, and with the still higher temperature of the metallic chips separated from it by the borer. The more I meditated on these phenomena, the more they appeared to me to be curious and interesting. A thorough investigation of them seemed even to bid fair to give a farther insight into the hidden nature of heat; and to enable us to form some reasonable conjectures respecting the existence, or nonexistence, of [caloric]….From whence comes the heat actually produced in the mechanical operations? Is it furnished by the metallic chips which are separated by the borer from the solid mass of metal?” [Roller, op. cit., p. 63.] In one experiment, for example, a 113-lb metal blank was heated from 60ş F to 130ş F while less than two ounces of metallic dust was produced by the borer.

A brass cylinder, placed in a wooden box containing 18 ľ lbs of water, was made to rotate against a steel borer. The amount of heat produced could be determined by observing the rise in temperature of the water, which was brought from 60 F to the boiling point (212 F) in 2 ľ hours. As Rumford stated: “It would be difficult to describe the surprise and astonishment expressed in the countenance of the by-standers on seeing so large a quantity of water heated, and actually made to boil without any fire…. We must not forget to consider that most remarkable circumstance, that the source of the heat generated by friction in these experiments, appeared evidently to be inexhaustible….anything which any insulated body, or system of bodies, can continue to furnish without limitation, cannot possibly be a material substance. It appears to me to be extremely difficult, if not quite impossible, to form any distinct idea of anything capable of being excited and communicated in the manner in which the heat was excited and communicated in these experiments, except it be motion. “ [Wolf, op. cit., p. 197.]

Here Rumford emphasizes what he considers the chief result of his experiments, the apparently inexhaustible source of heat generated by friction. The calorists claimed heat is rubbed out of an object by friction. Ultimately, then, all the heat in the object should be exhausted. But this was never observed. Furthermore, in Rumford’s experiments heat apparently was created by friction, refuting the conservation principle which is the foundation of the caloric theory, and denying the material nature of heat, the basis of that conservation principle.

Rumford published the results of his experiments in 1798. One year later Humphrey Davy (1778-1829) published an essay directed against the caloric theory and which dealt in part with the production of heat by friction. The best-known of Davy’s experiments is that in which he rubbed together two blocks of ice fastened by wires to two bars of iron.

Some forty years after the experiments of Rumford and Davy, the problem of heat produced by friction was again investigated, this time on a quantitative basis, by Mayer (in Germany) and Joule (in England). By 1850 these investigators had established beyond little doubt that heat is not a separate substance, but is a form of energy, the kinetic energy of the atoms and molecules of ordinary matter.

Again: genius. The interplay between theory, observation, reasoning and experiment is masterfully presented by Priestley.

Priestley goes on to discuss the work of J.B. Mayer and James Joule in determining the relationship between mechanical energy and heat and in discovering the principle of the conservation of energy.

Introductory Physics I highly recommend to anyone who wants a conceptual, rational understanding of the physical world we live in.

Posted by Cyrano at 10:25 PM

April 15, 2007

Tax Day Coffee Smelling

Officially, tax day isn't until Tuesday (due to the 15th being on a Sunday and the 16th being an official holiday in D.C.) but the well known and lamented date of April 15th mustn't go by without some discussion of the state of taxation in America.

"Work hard. Be faithful. You'll get your just reward."

Those words appear on a statuette my father was given on the occasion of the closing of the College of Engineering at the University of Denver, where he had tenure. (The statuette was of a conscientious gentleman with a giant blue screw through his torso.) They can just as well be applied to American taxpayers who have earned a high school diploma or better in their educational career.

sr12_chart7-lg.gif

The preceeding chart comes from a fascinating April 4, 2007 study report by Robert Rector et. al. of The Heritage Foundation entitled, 'The Fiscal Cost of Low-Skill Households to the U.S. Taxpayer.' The report summarizes the chart this way:

Chart 7 com­pares households headed by persons without a high school diploma to households headed by persons with a high school diploma or better. Whereas the dropout-headed household paid only $9,689 in taxes in FY 2004, the higher-skill households paid $34,629— more than three times as much. While dropout-headed households received from $32,138 to $43,084 in benefits, high-skill households received less: $21,520 to $30,819. The difference in government benefits was due largely to the greater amount of means-tested aid received by low-skill households.

Households headed by dropouts received $22,449 more in immediate benefits (i.e., direct and means-tested aid, education, and population-based services) than they paid in taxes. Higher-skill households paid $13,109 more in taxes than they received in imme­diate benefits.

OK, so you're probably wondering, what's new? What's new is the trend in dropout households in the U.S. According to the World Net Daily article that cites the study:

About two-thirds of illegal alien households are headed by someone without a high school degree. Only 10 percent of native-born Americans fit into that category.

I have advocated on these pages (and stand by it today) that immigration should be free and unlimited to non-criminal aliens, provided that citizenship (and voting rights) must still be earned and that entitlement programs that make immigrants a burden on the taxpayer are first reduced or eliminated.

The Rector report explains the realities we face.

Politically feasible changes in government policy will have little effect on the level of fiscal deficit generated by most low-skill households for decades. For example, to make the average low-skill household fiscally neutral (taxes paid equaling immediate benefits received plus interest on government debt), it would be necessary to eliminate Social Security, Medicare, all 60 means-tested aid programs and cut the cost of public education in half. It seems certain that, on average, low-skill households will generate deep fiscal deficits for the foreseeable future.

Hat tip: The Canadian Sentinel

Click continue reading to see the report's conclusion in its entirety.

Conclusion

Households headed by persons without a high school diploma are roughly 15 percent of all U.S. households. Overall, these households impose a significant fiscal burden on other taxpayers: The cost of the government benefits they consume greatly exceeds the taxes they pay to government. Before government undertakes to transfer even more economic resources to these households, it should have a very clear account of the magnitude of the economic transfers that already occur.

The substantial net tax burden imposed by low-skill U.S. households also suggests lessons for immigration pol­icy. Recently proposed immigration legislation would greatly increase the number of poorly educated immigrants entering and living in the United States.[12] Before this policy is adopted, Congress should examine carefully the potential negative fiscal effects of low-skill immigrant households receiving services.

Politically feasible changes in government policy will have little effect on the level of fiscal deficit generated by most low-skill households for decades. For example, to make the average low-skill household fiscally neutral (taxes paid equaling immediate benefits received plus interest on government debt), it would be necessary to eliminate Social Security, Medicare, all 60 means-tested aid programs and cut the cost of public education in half. It seems certain that, on average, low-skill households will generate deep fiscal deficits for the foreseeable future. Policies that reduce the future number of high school dropouts and other policies affecting future generations could reduce long-term costs.

Future government policies that would expand entitlement programs such as Medicaid would increase future deficits at the margin. Policies that reduced the out-of-wedlock childbearing rate or which increased the real educa­tional attainments and wages of future low-skill workers could reduce deficits somewhat in the long run.

Changes to immigration policy could have a much larger effect on the fiscal deficits generated by low-skill fam­ilies. Policies which would substantially increase the inflow of low-skill immigrant workers receiving services would dramatically increase the fiscal deficits described in this paper and impose substantial costs on U.S. taxpayers.

Posted by JohnGalt at 12:57 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Mmmm coffee.

Bastiat talks about "the seen and the unseen." With all due respect, you -- and my brother in law -- and a lot of other people whom I highly respect -- love to point to a datum in the "seen" category and say "See?"

Lower income households provide less revenue and use more government services. Who is surprised? Those without a diploma will earn less than those with; illegal immigrants tend to be less educated than native born citizens, yup.

I contend, still, that the "unseen" value that these workers and consumers bring to the economy more than compensates for the increased use of public services. The educated in your table are able to earn what they do, in large part, because there is a less educated work force (stop him before he says "comparative advantage" -- too late!).

To allow the educated (or ambitious dropouts like me and AlexC) to get ahead and innovate frequently requires allowing them to leverage less-educated labor. As Ricardo showed, both will be wealthier.

Posted by: jk at April 15, 2007 2:06 PM

March 28, 2007

Betting on the Lottery

Not powerball. More and more parents are forced to pin their hopes of their children's future on a charter school lottery.

John Stossel showed some footage of one of these on his TV special, "Stupid in America." I found it to be one of the singularly saddest things I have ever seen on television. People who cannot afford to move to another district or attend private schools show up for a government lottery to award the scarce seats in a public charter school.

The Wall Street Journal Ed page today suggests that New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver attend one of these lotteries. Silver opposes raising the caps that New York places on such schools.

The public charter school, which opened last year, is holding an admissions lottery at 6 p.m. to fill 105 kindergarten slots for next year from the 500 or so families who've applied for them. Harlem Success was founded by Eva Moskowitz, a reform-minded Democrat who formerly served as a New York City Councilwoman specializing in education issues.

In an interview this week, Ms. Moskowitz described the naked emotions on display at such lotteries, which are a common method for deciding who gets to attend these independently run public schools. "I thought I knew a lot about school choice and ed reform," she said. "But until I'd done the lottery last year I didn't understand the desperation.

"Unlike their middle-class counterparts who can use real estate to determine where their kid is going to school, my exclusively black and Latino parents' only option is to go through this process. And literally, people are praying and shaking and hoping to get into a school."


You lose the Colorado State Lottery, you're out a buck. You lose this lottery, you've lost a chance at getting a good education for your child. This is unconscionable.

Posted by John Kranz at 2:43 PM

February 21, 2007

Secular Schools

Arnold Kling has an excellent piece today in TCS. The man who brought us the superb coinage "Folk Marxism" now chooses to be called a "Civil Societarian" rather than a libertarian.

To excerpt the article too heavily is to risk reducing it to a few of its parts. I encourage people to read the whole thing.

A recurring theme is the "religiosity" of progressivism.

As far as I can tell, there is no way to draw the line between church and state in public schools. To me, the only way to separate church and state in schooling is to have private schools. Getting government out of the schooling business would return schooling to the realm of civil society, where values and ethics may be taught without inhibition.

The religion of the public school system tends to be a mixture of environmentalism, political correctness, and worship of big government. Many private schools preach the same thing, so perhaps little would change if we had a system of all private education. However, if there is any chance that students might delve more deeply into issues of ethics and social problems, it would be in a setting that is not constrained by government bureaucracy.
[...]
Liberals worry that religious conservatives will impose a Christian theocracy. That threat is both obvious and far-fetched. Instead, I wish that liberals could recognize the dangers that their own religion poses to civil society. Price controls on pharmaceuticals would represent a much more serious war on science than denial of funds for embryonic stem cell research (although I personally would not oppose such government funding).


There's more in there, including what I think is a reasonable claim about our propensity to tie our beliefs into a larger picture.
We need to love something larger than ourselves. Many people love God. Perhaps civil societarians can love our ideal of a civil society. I am happy to love the flag and the republic for which it stands. Just not in public schools.


Posted by John Kranz at 1:53 PM

February 2, 2007

Government Accounting

Here's a story that's hard to believe...

    A recent audit of cash-strapped Camden, N.J. school district's finances found it was paying an employee $130,000 annually — and he's been dead for more than three decades.

    City officials were shocked by the discovery.


No!! Not as shocked as the poor f*cker is going to be who's been cashing those checks....
    Camden has been plagued with scandal and is known as the nation's poorest city.

    The audit also found outside vendors have been overpaid more than $17 million. In one case the district forked over $953,000 for copy equipment even though the purchase order was for only $55,000.


So who got the $900K?

This is criminal.

A lot of people need to be hauled into a courtroom. Outrageous.

Posted by AlexC at 11:09 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

Come on, ac, you worry too much. The dead teacher probably did a lot less damage to the children than his living peers, didn't overuse the health care benefit -- don't always look on the dark side.

Posted by: jk at February 3, 2007 11:14 AM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

It isn't criminal, Alex,..its ops-normal in Camden ( and probably in Philly, too, if we ever get a chance to dig a little).

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at February 3, 2007 12:05 PM

Gettin' By on $47/hour

A new study of public school teacher compensation has been published this week, and its authors publish a summary in the Wall Street Journal (free link).

Who, on average, is better paid--public school teachers or architects? How about teachers or economists? You might be surprised to learn that public school teachers are better paid than these and many other professionals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, public school teachers earned $34.06 per hour in 2005, 36% more than the hourly wage of the average white-collar worker and 11% more than the average professional specialty or technical worker.
[...]
It would also be beneficial if the debate touched on the correlation between teacher pay and actual results. To wit, higher teacher pay seems to have no effect on raising student achievement. Metropolitan areas with higher teacher pay do not graduate a higher percentage of their students than areas with lower teacher pay.

In fact, the urban areas with the highest teacher pay are famous for their abysmal outcomes. Metro Detroit leads the nation, paying its public school teachers, on average, $47.28 per hour. That's 61% more than the average white-collar worker in the Detroit area and 36% more than the average professional worker. In metro New York, public school teachers make $45.79 per hour, 20% more than the average professional worker in that area. And in Los Angeles teachers earn $44.03 per hour, 23% higher than other professionals in the area.

Yes, it would be nice if legislation were based on real data instead of public sentiment. Who believes that is going to happen?

Posted by John Kranz at 10:47 AM

January 31, 2007

Modern Math "Education"

There is a good video on YouTube which shows how math is "taught" in some modern schools: the anti-conceptual way.

Watch the video, then just imagine the fun and cognitive clarity which must ensue when students get to algebra, and work on quadratics or cubics. (OK, it's really "pain and cognitive dissonance.")

Imagine trying to solve the equation x^2 + 14x + 40 = 0 by the methods shown in the video.

"OK, I have to add some numbers to get 0. Let's see...um...since I didn't learn that x^2 is always positive -- necessity is such an old-fashioned, oppressive idea!! it causes global warming!! -- anway...since I can't use an oppressive concept like "always," I can't reason that 14x must be negative, to cancel out the 40 and the x^2. So I have to guess and check, like I was taught. Let's see...10^2 is (pause to use calculator) 100. Um...now what?...oh, yeah, put 10 in for x in 14x. That gives me (pause to "construct" the answer or to use a calculator) 140.
So let me tabulate:
100
140
That adds to 240. Then, uh, 240 + 40 = 280. No, that didn't work... So let me try 11."

Ick. I used to actually have kids -- back when I tried teaching in public schools -- who would do something like try 11 after 10. They never learned the "number sense" to try a lower number!! (But that was not in solving quadratics as illustrated above; the lack of "number sense" would show up in everything.)

Here's how I (and probably you) learned to solve this. Factor it out:
(x + _)(x + _) = 0. What factors of 40 add to 14? It's obvious at this point, but kids could list them:
1, 40
2, 20
4, 10
5, 8

It's 4 and 10. So our factorization is:
(x + 4)(x + 10) = 0. Solving this gives x = -4 and x = -10.

But of course, this method depends on TELLING the kids about the "zero product property," instead of letting them "discover" it, as some educators want the students to do.

Or, worse, try x^2 + 7x + 11 = 0. This quadratic is not factorable!! The solution has the square root of 5 in it!!

There are other anti-conceptual methods used specially for "teaching" algebra and geometry.

Posted by Cyrano at 12:15 AM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

I have heard so many horror stories about math curricula, Cyrano, that I truly expected to be horrified. I read about a test question "if math were a color, what color would it be?"

The terc (sp?) method codifies how I would solve any of those problems. If I have to grab paper, I'll grab a calculator. That method lends itself to solving 133/6 in your head.

I'll agree that teaching traditional long division and multiplication is valuable. What separates people who "do math" from those that don't is the more abstract relationship with numbers. I don't know that this would teach it, but I can't say I'm horrified. (The lattice was pretty cool.)

I think it's much worse that they leave this Math class and go to a science class where they're taught recycling, then onto social studies where they learn how cruel white settlers were to the indigenous peoples.

Posted by: jk at January 31, 2007 10:25 AM

November 27, 2006

The School Year

Charlie on the Pa Turnpike looks at his kids' school calendar and it leaves him with a few questions.

    Why are these "essential" Staff Development Days always at the beginning or end of a weekend?

    Why do teachers routinely complain about their work schedule, when they are typically scheduled to work just 185 (or so) days per year? And they are paid a full years salary!

    Why is the national holiday of Labor Day recognized, but not the national holiday for Veteran's Day?


... among others.

Posted by AlexC at 11:30 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

Many many teachers in my and my wife's family. They all seem genuinely surprised every year that I don't get two weeks off for Christmas.

Say what you want about teachers' salaries (I think they're way too low because of a lack of merit pay), but any look that does not take 15+ weeks of vacation into account is not valid.

Posted by: jk at November 28, 2006 4:34 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Hear hear, a good teacher making $100K wouldn't break my heart.

Posted by: AlexC at November 28, 2006 4:57 PM

November 17, 2006

Keep Friedman Spirit Alive

Stephen Moore relates a recent lunch with the late, great, economist Milton Friedman in today’s WSJ Political Diary.

I had lunch not long ago with Milton Friedman, the most influential economist of the past half-century or more, who died yesterday at 94. I asked him the three economic policy changes he would recommend to President Bush to achieve a high rate of economic growth. His first prescription was free trade: "I think that free trade is the most important single way to promote growth. The Bush administration has protected three industries: steel, timber, and agriculture. Those should all be repealed," he advised.

No. 2 was cutting government spending "as much as you possibly can." Friedman long maintained that resources contribute more to human betterment and happiness in private hands than government hands.

But it was on school vouchers, a cause he had championed for 50 years, that his passion for improving the lot of humanity through sound economics shined most brightly. "The third policy, which really should be the first, is to move however quickly you can to get to a competitive educational system. One of the most negative features in our society is the national educational system. There is no other branch of government, no other branch of the economy, let alone the government, which is so technologically backward. We teach kids the way we did two centuries ago. That's because 90% of our kids go to government schools. And most of the other 10% go to privately subsidized non-profit, mostly religious, schools. All should go to a form of free market school. There would be a revolution in schooling if you could get a competitive educational system with parents deciding where their children should go, with parents paying for them either from their own pocket or through a government subsidy which they right now get but cannot control."


The civil rights issue of our time: rescue poor, inner-city kids from union-ruined public education. Continuing to fight will keep Milton & Rose's dream alive.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:59 PM

September 30, 2006

"Cawwy the Wun"

I recently commented that American adults are poor citizens, poor parents and poor teachers. This is a geometric problem since their children will one day have those same responsibilities and, like their parents, will be ill prepared to exercise them, making their own children even less capable. I posited that this cycle has been playing out for at least 20 or 30 years and perhaps longer. (It's genesis likely coincides with the advent of the Dewey Decimal System - not because that system is bad, but because the rest of Dewey's educational ideas were bad: New Math, Creative Spelling and Esteem-based teaching plans all derived from Dewey.)

Now there's a positive, if not altogether flattering to the American psyche, trend in American education. Reuters - 'U.S. homework outsourced as "e-tutoring" grows.'

"I like to tell people I did private tutoring every day for the cost of a fast-food meal or a Starbucks' coffee," Robison said. "We did our own form of summer school all summer."

The outsourcing trend that fueled a boom in Asian call centers staffed by educated, low-paid workers manning phones around the clock for U.S. banks and other industries is moving fast into an area at the heart of U.S. culture: education.

It comes at a difficult time for the U.S. education system: only two-thirds of teenagers graduate from high school, a proportion that slides to 50 percent for black Americans and Hispanics, according to government statistics.

China and India, meanwhile, are producing the world's largest number of science and engineering graduates -- at least five times as many as in the United States, where the number has fallen since the early 1980s.

Parents using schools like Taylor's say they are doing whatever they can to give children an edge that can lead to better marks, better colleges and a better future, even if it comes with an Indian accent about 9,000 miles away.

Yes, it is truly embarrasing that Americans can't help their own children learn, but the positives are many: Parents investing in their children's future on the free market, technological enabling of a new paradigm, and most importantly, smarter kids. (Well, within the limitations of the public schools to challenge them.)

One way to judge the worth of an educational initiative is by the reaction to it by the NEA:

A New Delhi tutoring company, Educomp Solutions Ltd., estimates the U.S. tutoring market at $8 billion and growing. Online companies, both from the United States and India, are looking to tap millions of dollars available to firms under the U.S. No Child Left Behind Act for remedial tutoring.

Teachers unions hope to stop that from happening.

"Tutoring providers must keep in frequent touch with not only parents but classroom teachers and we believe there is greater difficulty in an offshore tutor doing that," said Nancy Van Meter, a director at the American Federation of Teachers.

But No Child Left Behind, a signature Bush administration policy, encourages competition among tutoring agencies and leaves the door open for offshore tutors, said Diane Stark Rentner of the Center on Education Policy in Washington.

UPDATE: I should have given a hat-tip on this one... to dagny's "article of the day" email on Friday. (It's a private subscription service with a membership of one.)

Posted by JohnGalt at 10:15 AM | Comments (3)
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Shameful.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at September 30, 2006 10:59 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Shameful yes, that parents are incapable of understanding the school work of 13 year olds (or too "busy" to help them.) But those who engage tutors to help their children exhibit the classic American desire for their children to achieve as much or more as themselves. For this they are to be commended.

And remember their educational shortfalls resulted from that same attitude by their parents. Educational "innovations" were sold to parents as improvements upon outdated "brute-force" methods. That these parents were sold a bill of goods brings shame primarily to those who championed the "innovations."

Posted by: johngalt at October 1, 2006 11:22 AM
But jk thinks:

Wait a minute. What is shameful?

1) Parents want the best for their kids, check.
2) Parents see education as important, check.
3) Parents see benefits in private tutoring which results seem to certify, check.
4) Parents look for the best value for their money, check.
5) Comparative advantage in a global free economy creates the best value in the Democratic nation of India, an ally of the United States, check.

I liked your post and agreed with all of your assessments, jg. I cannot say that I grasped the path from "parents cannot" to "parents choose another option." Perhaps a parent would rather work or spend family time in other pursuits, or simply feels an outside source would be most effective.

India does not equal "bad." Protectionism and foolishly parochial capitalism is bad. This is great in every way. I'm going to write a song about it...

Posted by: jk at October 1, 2006 2:53 PM

September 1, 2006

Must See Tv

I blogged before about John Stossel's education special, "Stupid in America." Set your TiVo, stay home, do whatever, but don't miss its reprise on 20/20 tonight.

In the show school officials complain they need more money, but that's a myth. American schools spend about $10,000 per student, totaling about $250,000 per class. Think about how many good teachers you could hire for $250,000! Yet the schools say they still need more. I ask South Carolina school official Dolores Wright, "How much money would be right?" Wright answers, "Oooh. Millions. And it would really make it right. ... The more, the better."

The more the better? That's another myth. Most of the countries that outperform us spend less per student than we do. American high school students fizzle in international comparisons, placing well behind much poorer countries, like Poland, the Czech Republic and South Korea. American kids do pretty well when they enter public school. A recent study claimed public school fourth-graders outperform kids in charter schools, but as time goes on, they do worse. By high school, they are well behind.

Why? Foremost, it's because of the government's monopoly over the school system, which gives parents no choice in where to send their children. In other countries, choice fosters competition, and competition improves performance. I question government officials, union leaders, parents and students and show some of the innovations that have occurred when choice is allowed.


They will rerun the original show and update it with the union's reaction and a contretemps with Stossel. They waved signs and beat drums and yelled outside of ABC Headquarters, demanding Stossel try teaching a week so he knows what it's like. When he said "yes," they backed down and could not find him a slot.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:50 AM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

And check out Stossel's column in this month's "Reason" magazine, where he details the "How to fire an Incompetent teacher" flowchart he displays in the TV show.

Posted by: jk at September 2, 2006 5:41 PM

August 5, 2006

Multiculturalism Shrugs II

Two days ago I blogged about Tony Blair's newfound respect for the western cultural values of freedom, tolerance, and respect for the rights of others. Today I was reminded of a radio interview around the same time as Blair's comments, wherein former Colorado governor Richard Lamm proclaimed black and hispanic cultural values as inferior to white and asian values. The message was documented in a Denver Post op ed by the former gov:

"How do we lovingly, yet honestly, diagnose the large economic, education and success gap between black/Hispanic America and white/Asian America?

[...]

We need to think about these problems with a new sophistication. Increasingly, scholars are saying "culture matters."

[...]

I suggest that those groups whose culture and values stress education, hard work and success are those groups that succeed in America - regardless of discrimination. I further suggest that, even if discrimination was removed, other groups would still have massive problems until they developed the traits that lead to success."

The sentiment Lamm attributes to scholars that "culture matters" is in direct conflict with the prevailing multiculturalist status quo in academia that says there are no "right" or "wrong" cultural values. Serious academics, few though there may be, are slowly recognizing that the emperor has no clothes.

Posted by JohnGalt at 12:50 AM | Comments (2)
But dagny thinks:

What jg neglects to add is that ex-governor Lamm was thoroughly excoriated in the media for daring to make such suggestions.

Posted by: dagny at August 5, 2006 12:27 PM
But jk thinks:

Huzzah! I've had many disagreements with "the man who walked the state but couldn't run it" most notably his Malthusian population concerns. But this is good.

Earlier today, in contrast, I read an essay about how the character Charles Gunn in "Angel" lost his authenticity and "became white" as the show progressed, losing his street lingo and ultimately (gasp!) becoming an educated lawyer!

Posted by: jk at August 5, 2006 4:44 PM

July 11, 2006

$66 Billion in Unearned Guilt

I've been thinking about how to blog this story since it broke: Megabillionaire Warren Buffet recently donated (evading the estate tax in the process) $37 billion of his $44 billion in personal wealth to a charitable foundation established by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda. Combined with the $29 billion already under foundation control the resulting $66 billion is five times the wealth of the next largest, the Ford foundation.

I won't belabor the contradictions of Buffet praising the estate tax as an "equitable tax...in keeping with the idea of equality of opportunity in this country, not giving incredible head starts to certain people who were very selective about the womb from which they emerged." Or of his criticism of "dynastic wealth" coupled with the likely, though I haven't been able to document it, multi-million dollar inheritances he'll leave his own children.

I'm most interested in the issue raised by John J. Miller on the Opinion Journal page of July 7th. "The Microsoft mogul and his wife should not leave their foundation to posterity," he writes.

I fully agree with many points made in this editorial. For example:

"Surely there are better reasons to embark upon the world's biggest grant-making program than to salve the conscience of a guy who has no business feeling guilty in the first place."

And, "If Mr. Gates views his foundation as a vehicle for guilt riddance, chances are his grants will fail often and spectacularly. Yet if he views it as a way of furthering his already enormous contribution to society through nonprofit rather than for-profit means, then perhaps he will make a positive difference in the areas where he is focusing his efforts: global health and American education."

But Mr. Miller's principal point is not just that a charitable foundation should be used to further the values of its benefactor(s), but that it must necessarily be constrained to shut itself down after some arbitrary number of years for fear of the "harmful trend" of "an organization that exists in perpetuity, clinging tightly to its assets and ever further removed from its benefactors and their intentions."

It seems to me that if you want your wealth to live on and contribute in your image after your passing, you'd want it to do so for as long as possible. The trick here is to build something that can't be highjacked by others for their own purposes after your passing. This is exactly the problem that faced the founders of the United States government. So here we have another instance of resignation that nothing can retain its original nature and purpose against the pressure of revisionism.

The irony here is that the Gates Foundation, which has chosen to make a positive difference in the areas of global health and American education, has an opportunity to counteract such pressures. The reason the American Constitution, the American government and the American way of life are under threat today is precisely because of revisionist pressures endemic to modern American education. If the Gates Foundation threw even a fraction of its weight behind a return to accurate and objective teaching of American history and civics it could single handedly save the nation from apathetic disintegration.

Alas, such an effort is unlikely from a man who says, "We really owe it to society to give the wealth back."

Posted by JohnGalt at 4:13 PM | Comments (4)
But jk thinks:

Well said.

It strikes me that this giveaway is the world’s largest Rorschach test. Folk Marxists can either coo in delight that the Gateses have discovered "what's really important" or more likely think "damn well time those robber barons gave some back!"

I'm guessing a rare moment of unity for ThreeSourcers believing this will end very badly. I suggested when it happened that they clearly would do less good for society giving it away than they did when they earned it. Now I fear O'Sullivan's law will kick in [Every non-Conservative organization becomes more liberal over time] and that this money could become a colossus of unintended consequences, doing far more harm.

Posted by: jk at July 12, 2006 9:04 AM
But howard thinks:

"Or of his criticism of 'dynastic wealth' coupled with the likely, though I haven't been able to document it, multi-million dollar inheritances he'll leave his own children."

-as far as I've heard in previous interviews with, and statements from, Buffet, he has no intention of leaving millions to his own heirs. And his beliefs against dynastic wealth are purportedly based on the idea that inheriting abstract sums of material wealth begets more laziness than not. I don't believe his support for the estate tax is any more elaborate than that.

Agree or disagree, there's very little hypocrisy in his position on this - unless you know something about his motives that I don't know. But then it seems like a lot of people are in the business of questioning what others do with their money, and here I thought that was a liberal tendency.

Posted by: howard at July 12, 2006 11:32 PM
But jk thinks:

Howard, I said in my post on this topic that "Mr. Buffett can do what he chooses, indeed that's the best benefit of having billions, is it not?"
http://www.threesources.com/archives/003037.html

Two concerns you'll hear around here are, one, that the foundation will devolve into something that doesn't match its founders' wishes, and that its gifts will do more harm than good. And, two, there is a distinct disconnect between his objection to dynastic wealth and his use of tax shelters for his own estate. The WSJ says:

"In explaining his charitable motivations this week, Mr. Buffett also went out of his way to say that he is "not an enthusiast for dynastic wealth." This is fair enough, and is also one of Mr. Buffett's arguments for so vocally defending federal death tax rates of 50% or more. But we can't help but point out that Mr. Buffett's gift will itself be shielded from Uncle Sam because it is going to a foundation. So in practice he is in favor of death taxes only for those whose estates are too small to hide in foundation tax shelters.

In addition to his Gates Foundation gift, Mr. Buffett also said he will give major donations well north of $1 billion each to separate foundations run by his three children and another in the name of his late wife. These gifts, too, will be shielded from taxation and will allow his heirs to wield power and influence long after the 75-year-old has gone to his just reward."

Gates and Buffet did a lot of good for people as they assembled their fortunes. I doubt they'll do half as much good giving them away, but that it sheer speculation.

Posted by: jk at July 13, 2006 9:43 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Thank you Howard for the eloquent comment. I did try to learn what Buffet has or will leave to his children but was unable to find even the $1B donations to his children's foundations that JK informs us of by way of the WSJ.

So even if they don't receive direct cash inheritance, each will certainly award himself a salary as full-time director of the foundation. (Hey, a guy's gotta eat, right?)

I also wanted to clarify: The liberal tendency is not to question what others do with their money, but to control it. (Or prevent it altogether.)

Posted by: johngalt at July 13, 2006 3:56 PM

June 6, 2006

Modern Sexism

In this post at Phi Beta Cons Blog, the last line says it all.

CNN reports that federal statistics released last week reveal that the gender gap is widening — with women in the lead. "Women now earn the majority of diplomas in fields men used to dominate — from biology to business — and have caught up in pursuit of law, medicine and other advanced degrees."

This is not news. It makes perfect sense, since women also outnumber men in college and dominate the rankings in elementary and secondary school. Why are the boys failing?

In January, Newsweek ran an interesting cover story investigating "The Trouble With Boys." In "Sexism in the Classroom," my analysis of the article, I quoted a stunning statistic that underlies the root of the problem. The statistic, "In elementary school, boys are two times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with learning disabilities and twice as likely to be placed in special-education classes," lends credence to a quote from Lindalyn Kakadelis of the North Carolina Education Alliance: "[Blame it on] 30 years of a politicized attempt to remediate societal unfairness to girls." The boys aren't broken, but maybe the system is.

Even the Newsweek article admits, boys are being treated "like defective girls."

Thanks to Kant, here we have another application of attacking the law of identity. (As well as the technique -- followed by Seattle Public Schools in "defining" racism -- of attacking something by defining it out of existence.)

Posted by Cyrano at 10:47 AM

Modern Education's Results

Phi Beta Cons has another good post about the self-hatred being inculcated in out public schools and our modern society, leading to self-abuse.

AP:

CHICAGO - Nearly 1 in 5 students at two Ivy League schools say they have purposely injured themselves by cutting, burning or other methods, a disturbing phenomenon that psychologists say they are hearing about more often.

For some young people, self-abuse is an extreme coping mechanism that seems to help relieve stress; for others it's a way to make deep emotional wounds more visible.

The results of the survey at Cornell and Princeton are similar to other estimates on this frightening behavior. Counselors say it's happening at colleges, high schools and middle schools across the country.

Remember what SPS said about "racism?" They defined it to be a universal characteristic of "whites," inherent in their very being. Teaching children that they are racist by nature is teaching them that they are guilty of sin and evil by nature. Guilt leads to punishment.

Besides that, individual thought is stamped out in modern education; belonging to a group is taught as normal and natural. Individuality is abnormal. That breed self-distrust and self-hatred. The "be yourself" crap taught in schools goes only skin deep. "Love yourself" is a euphemism for accepting and valuing your psychological problems.

Besides that, reasoning is stamped out, too. There is a major absence of method and hierarchy in schools. Education occurs on a perceptual level, but when it rises to the conceptual level, it is only to the level of an arrested, stunted mind. Teaching is compartmentalized, lacking in connections, and does not build upon itself systematically.

Children are drugged up because of alleged "learning difficulties." Many "learning difficulties," are in fact, system-generated: students are so damn bored and have their minds so systematically attacked, they cannot learn. And so they turn against education and become problem students. Been there, seen that.

Posted by Cyrano at 10:27 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

This self-abuse thing is completely foreign to me, although I have known children who resorted to it. Cyrano's analysis of the cause is, I think, exactly right.

Human beings, as rational animals, are born with the innate ability and need to reconcile all they know. When they are taught ideas that contradict their knowledge of reality, something's gotta give. Without dependable rational adults to help resolve the error the resulting conflict often renders the child's brain into the same state as that of the android "Norman" in the famous Star Trek episode "I, Mudd." (The logically contradictory loop initiated by the statement, "Everything I say is a lie" causes Norman's "brain" to overload and fail.) http://www.ericweisstein.com/fun/startrek/IMudd.html

Cyrano has revealed the single most important factor in the continued excellence of western thought, or even it's very survival: Our children must be taught to reason and to discern balderdash from reality.

Al Gore serves as an excellent contemporary case study.

Posted by: johngalt at June 6, 2006 2:58 PM

June 3, 2006

Update: Marxist Racism

Nicholas Provenzo at Rule of Reason Blog has some excellent commentary on SPS's racist definition of racism:

In response to the mountain of criticism it received for its definition of racism which included having “a future time orientation” and “emphasizing individualism as opposed to a more collective ideology” [blogged about at ROR here], the Seattle Public Schools has issued the following statement [on their Website]:
In response to the numerous concerns voiced regarding definitions posted on the Equity & Race website, we have decided to revise our website in a way that will hopefully provide more context to readers around the work that Seattle Public Schools is doing to address institutional racism. The intended purpose of our work in the area of race and social justice is to bring communities together through open dialogue and honest reflection around what is meant by racism and the impact is has on our society and more specifically, our students. Our intention is not to put up additional barriers or develop an “us against them” mindset, nor is it to continue to hold onto unsuccessful concepts such as a melting pot or colorblind mentality. It is our hope that we can explore the work of leading scholars in the areas of race and social justice issues to help us understand the dynamics and realities of how racism permeate throughout our society and use their knowledge to help us create meaningful change. This difficult work is vital to the success of our students and families. Thank you for sharing your concerns.

Warm regards,

Caprice D. Hollins, Psy.D.
Director of Equity & Race Relations
Seattle Public Schools

I love how the Hollins’ apology still manages to make a muck of it, this time attacking the “unsuccessful concept” of the “colorblind mentality.” Yeah, you know, that old chestnut that leads one to actually believe that race is immaterial to what one thinks or does. And I also love the ode to “open dialogue” and the desire to avoid an “us against them” mindset. Sure, your mentality may be failed, but we still can talk about it.

I take the above as proof that one can be an utterly flaming idiot who attracts national attention through their buffoonery and still not get fired from the government’s public school system.

Notice also how they are not backing down from their position: "we have decided to revise our website in a way that will hopefully provide more context to readers around the work that Seattle Public Schools is doing to address institutional racism." In other words, we just don't get it. They are going to try to explain better -- or hide better -- the fact that they are racists, and that they are seeking to punish and flagelate "Whites" for their "inherent evil."

They also say "It is our hope that we can explore the work of leading scholars in the areas of race and social justice issues to help us understand the dynamics and realities of how racism permeate throughout our society and use their knowledge to help us create meaningful change." Well, it's those very "leading scholars" who informed SPS's defintions of racism, in the first place!!

If SPS had said they were getting new, rational scholars, there'd be some hope. However, SPS shows their continued irrationality and support of the overthrow of the "White establishment" (ain't no such thing!!) -- which will be violent, as Marxism -- in any form you choose it -- always is.

Posted by Cyrano at 10:37 AM | Comments (3)
But jake thinks:

"you know, that old chestnut that leads one to actually believe that race is immaterial to what one thinks or does"

It IS an old chestnut and it IS an unsuccessful concept. Race is NOT immaterial to what one thinks or does. That's the point exactley (among others) that the Seatle board is making. The dynamics of race do indeed "permeate throughout our society". The best way to understand how this works (and therfore change it's effects) is through dialogue, which again is exactley what the Seattle board are trying to foster.

And incedently, there was nothing in that statement that led me to believe it was an "apology". I personally don't think the Seattle board have anything to apologise for. It's unfortunate that most people misread the section on cultural racism in their original definition, hence the revision, but their's certainly no reason for the board to have to apologise.

Posted by: jake at June 4, 2006 1:56 PM
But jk thinks:

I would concede that race affects our outlook, actions, and impacts American life significantly.

The original post referred to an assertion by the Director of Equity & Race Relations that individualism (the glue that binds the factious, fractious voices of ThreeSources together) was intrinsically racist, and that collectivism was some sort of antidote.

The idea that a child would be taught by the government that individual achievement is racist is appalling.

Posted by: jk at June 4, 2006 8:40 PM
But dagny thinks:

The fact that dynamics of race, “permeate our society,” does not excuse the severe inaccuracies in the SPS definitions of racism.

Additionally, conversations on race should not overshadow the appropriate purpose of any school which is to teach children, among other things, to reason, write, and spell. Invariably, when you encounter someone who doesn’t do two of these things properly, he also neglects the third.

Posted by: dagny at June 5, 2006 1:41 AM

May 26, 2006

Islamic Textbooks

We have heard about the "cleaned-up" Saudi textbooks; now here is a claim about Malaysian textbooks, from Jihad Watch. I don't know about the validity of this story, but it is credible -- it is fully consistent with what Saudi textbooks say, with what some students in London are taught, with what students are taught in Palestine, with the Quran and Shari'a, with current events in Afghanistan, etc.

Malaysian textbooks advocate the death penalty for apostasy -- which should not really come as a surprise to anyone who knows how mainstream this idea is in the Islamic world. "School textbooks advocating murder," a letter from "Very Concerned Mother," in Malaysiakini, with thanks to Nicolei:

I wonder if the present government is aware that violence and murder is being preached through its own curricula and textbooks. This is not an exaggeration. I urge the government to seriously consider if its curriculum for Islamic Education is what it wants to feed young minds.

I was shocked and disturbed to find out that the secondary school syllabus for Islamic Education (Pendidikan Islam) includes learning how to deal with apostates and that one of the prescriptions is to kill them off.

In many widely-used Pendidikan Islam workbooks (which base their texts on the Ministry of Education’s syllabus), imposing a death sentence on apostates is offered as a religious duty. Allow me to extract some of what is written (and the original Malay version for readers to check on context and accuracy).

For example, under the heading ‘Ways of Dealing with Apostates’ (Cara menangani orang murtad), the following precepts are given:

1. Advise and persuade the offender to repent and return to Islam (menasihati dan memintanya supaya bertaubat dan kembali kepada Islam)

2. To impose a death sentence (melaksanakan hukuman bunuh)

The text also has a heading which reads: ‘The death sentence against an apostate who refuses to repent and return to Islam has several virtues’. (Hukuman bunuh terhadap orang murtad yang tidak mahu kembali kepada ajaran Islam mempunyai beberapa hikmah).

Among which are:

1. To show to others at large that Islam is not a religion to be mocked at will (menunjukkan kepada orang ramai bahawa Islam bukanlah agama yang boleh dipersenda dengan sewenang-wenangnya).

2. So that no one will dare to denigrate the Islamic religion (supaya tidak ada orang yang berani memburuk-burukkan agama Islam).

Posted by Cyrano at 9:34 AM

May 21, 2006

Marxist Racism

Nicholas Provenzo has a good post on his Rule of Reason blog.

According to the Seattle Public Schools, if you’re an individualist, you’re a racist (HT: Volokh Conspiracy). On a web page that lists various forms and definitions of racism, the school system defines “Cultural Racism” as:
Those aspects of society that overtly and covertly attribute value and normality to white people and Whiteness, and devalue, stereotype, and label people of color as “other”, different, less than, or render them invisible. Examples of these norms include defining white skin tones as nude or flesh colored, having a future time orientation, emphasizing individualism as opposed to a more collective ideology, defining one form of English as standard, and identifying only Whites as great writers or composers. [Emphasis added].
This definition is racist itself; it ascribes racist thinking to white people only—if one “overtly and covertly attribute[s] value and normality” to black or Asian races, one falls outside its definition of racism. More fundamentally [however], this definition attacks the very notion of treating individuals as individuals. In her 1963 essay Racism, Ayn Rand observed that
Racism is the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism. It is the notion of ascribing moral, social or political significance to a man's genetic lineage—the notion that a man's intellectual and characterological traits are produced and transmitted by his internal body chemistry. Which means, in practice, that a man is to be judged, not by his own character and actions, but by the characters and actions of a collective of ancestors.

Racism claims that the content of a man's mind (not his cognitive apparatus, but its content) is inherited; that a man's convictions, values and character are determined before he is born, by physical factors beyond his control. This is the caveman's version of the doctrine of innate ideas—or of inherited knowledge—which has been thoroughly refuted by philosophy and science. Racism is a doctrine of, by and for brutes. It is a barnyard or stock-farm version of collectivism, appropriate to a mentality that differentiates between various breeds of animals, but not between animals and men.

So why then are the Seattle Public Schools smearing the antidote to collectivism as racist? At root is the Marxist theory that history is nothing more than group struggle, and according to such a theory, we are always defined by the group.

You can see the Marxist interpretation of racism in the Seattle Public Schools “definition” of racism:

The systematic subordination of members of targeted racial groups who have relatively little social power in the United States (Blacks, Latino/as, Native Americans, and Asians), by the members of the agent racial group who have relatively more social power (Whites). The subordination is supported by the actions of individuals, cultural norms and values, and the institutional structures and practices of society.

Contrast this again with Ayn Rand’s definition of racism:

The notion of ascribing moral, social or political significance to a man's genetic lineage—the notion that a man's intellectual and characterological traits are produced and transmitted by his internal body chemistry.

Or the World Book Dictionary (c. 1987) definition:

The belief that a particular race, especially one’s own race, is superior to other races. (Where race is defined as “any one of the major divisions of mankind, each having distinctive physical characteristics and a common ancestry.”)

Rand and the World Book give valid definitions of racism, defining it, logically enough, in terms of race. It is the belief that an individual has significance in virtue of his race – whether or not the race has any “social power."

But the SPS defines racism in terms of “social power” and “systematic subordination.”

That’s the Marxism in their thinking. As Mr. Provenzo pointed out, according to Marx, history was a clash of classes: the rich vs the poor, the bourgeois vs the proletariat, the “haves” vs the “have nots.” It was a clash over economic power. The SPS variant of that idea is to look at things as a clash over “social power” – but it’s still a power struggle between the “haves” and “have nots.” The group with the most “social power” is the one who is “racist.” (Well, only if you are a White living in the US.)

So the SPS says you are a racist in virtue of the fact that you are white -- not in terms of any decision you might make or any point of view you might hold. And because of the SPS’s inherent Marxist thinking, they fail to see the gross, blatant contradiction in saying that only white people are racist.

A black or Asian supremacist is not – according to the SPS -- racist. (I challenge the SPS to show a black or Asian supremacist, by their definistions, IS racist -- because they can't do it. They would have to change their definitions to reflect reality.) A person “of color” who disparages whites as pigs and filth, who makes jokes about them, even who kills or robs whites, the SPS would not call racist. Would such a person be called a “freedom fighter” by the SPS? They would be fighting the supposed “White Power Structure,” after all.

There were plenty of “fighters” like that in Marxist societies, too. No wonder, since Marx had claimed that the power struggle between “have” and “have not” was a metaphysical fact and an item of faith; that the only hope of salvation for the “have nots” was to wipe the earth clean of the “haves,” in order to achieve a “worker’s paradise” on earth.

That’s why millions of innocent people died in Russia, millions of innocent people died in China, and millions of innocents died in Cambodia.

Marxism let the murders loose, just as what the SPS is seeking would let the murderers out amongst us. How else could we have a “racial group paradise” on earth? As night follows day, Marxism in practice always has and always will result in widespread death amongst the “haves” (and “have nots”) – it won’t be any different if the SPS has their way.

In grouping society into “Whites” and “other,” and assigning a collective guilt upon “Whites,” the SPS has declared their support for and advocacy of racial conflict.

Their only out could have been to advocate the only antidote to racism: individualism, judging people by the content of their character, not by their race or sex or nationality or other deterministic character of genetics or birth.

Looking on the contact page for the Seattle Public Schools, there are some people you can write to about this issue. The addresses are all in the public record.

The person who, by her position, seems most responsible:
Equity & Race Relations Caprice Hollins cdhollins1@seattleschools.org

And others who might be of some influence in this matter (?):
Chief Academic Officer Carla Santorn cjsantorno@seattleschools.org
Elementary Ed Director Pat Sander psander@seattleschools.org
Elementary Ed Director Pauline Hill phill@seattlschools.org
Elementary Ed Director Walter Trotter wtrotter@seattleschools.org
High School Director Ammon McWashington mcwashington@seattleschools.org
Superintendent Raj Manhas rsmanhas@seattleschools.org

Posted by Cyrano at 11:00 PM | Comments (5)
But jk thinks:

Much to Dagny's dismay, I gave up on Seattle a long time ago. The city that empowers garbage collectors to assess fines for failure to recycle and continues to send Jim McDermot to the House every two years is likely beyond the salvation of an email campaign.

I love the city as a tourist. But when you leave, Macho Duck, bring the flag...

Posted by: jk at May 22, 2006 9:30 AM
But Cyrano thinks:

I'd agree, jk, Seattle is a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there. When I was there five or so years ago, I dropped into the original Starbucks and got some coffee. That part of town was interesting; there were lots of shops with lots of color. I loved how some of the shops had fruit and vegetables laid out: reds, copper, yellows, orange, shades of green. Beautiful.

No, I don't expect salvation from an email campaign. The people at SPS are too irrational for salvation. They just need to know that they can't get away with their vicious, immoral attacks. And they need to be told that there will be blood on their hands when their "solution" to racism adds fuel to the fire.

Posted by: Cyrano at May 22, 2006 12:04 PM
But dagny thinks:

OK, I'll rise to the bait. I do not dispute that my hometown has been lost to the moonbats and I would be happy to have Macho Duck here to make Colorado a little more red. Many parts of western Washington are still great places to live though I don't recommend the city of Seattle.

But, people who live in Boulder County Colorado should not throw political stones.

Posted by: dagny at May 23, 2006 11:31 AM
But jk thinks:

It's a fair cop, guv! Ny only defense is that I would not take the bait in a beat-up-on-Boulder session, I'd join in!

Posted by: jk at May 23, 2006 12:40 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I think Dagny's point is that the suburbs of Seattle proper have a lot to offer, as do the suburbs of Boulder proper (or Denver for that matter.)

Name the city: If you earn your own living you don't want to live IN it, but only as close as you have to.

And Cyrano's point is well taken too. There's a world of difference between a well reasoned email and a full-blown reform campaign. And there's as much difference in the other direction between sending that email versus doing nothing. They must not be allowed the luxury of believing that "everyone" agrees with their lunacy.

Just one more lasting lesson from the amazing Ayn Rand.

Posted by: johngalt at May 24, 2006 3:47 PM

March 13, 2006

America's Achilles' Heel: Modern Education

Little Manchurian Candidates by Matt James is a good essay about the bulk of modern education -- both public and private -- worth reading in whole. The common denominator, that which unites all schools this applies to, being the philosophy of John Dewey. His ideas, such as 'truth is a social product' and 'there are no timless, universal absolutes' cause the dumbing down of America and cause what you read in this essay.

Dewey was an explicit disciple of the philosopher Immanuel Kant, who's spiritual children gave us communism, modern racism, modern feminism, environmentalism, male-bashing, and America's current impotence in the face of barbarians. That's the power of philosophy, a view on the whole of existence: reality, man, thought and emotion, morality, politics, art.

I don't know the validity of the essay, but from my experiences and that of reliable sources I've read and talked to, I find this essay credible. Here's an excerpt:

"One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them,
One ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them."
--Tolkien


Our six-year-old daughter was so excited to start school. At our first parent-teacher conference, Barb and I expected to hear the usual compliments and heartwarming anecdotes about our bright little angel. From our experiences with activities like T-ball and soccer, or dance and music recitals, we had learned that parents always say nice things about the children of others. If the compliments are sometimes unrealistic or excessive, well, parenting is tough work. We can all use the encouragement.

I guess we had been spoiled. Jenny's teacher got right to the point. She had some negatives to address. For one thing, Jenny was struggling with her reading. The teacher confessed that one of the most difficult parts of her job was deflating parents with the news that their children were simply not exceptional. Jenny was, at best, an average reader. She was not an Eagle; she was a Pony. Our job was to learn to enjoy her as a 40-watt bulb rather than a bright light. Was it my imagination, or did this middle-aged matron's sweet smile contain a trace of malice as she related these tidings?

I was confused by this assessment of Jenny's reading abilities because it simply didn't fit in with her prior history. She had a love affair with books for her entire childhood. We have a photograph of her at 11 months of age staring earnestly at the contents of an open book. I remember reading to her when she was three. I stopped for some reason, but she continued the narration. She knew her stories by heart. Like many other children, Jenny had learned to read at home. She was a bookworm, and she was an experienced and passionate reader before she ever started first grade.

The teacher went on to explain that Jenny cried too much at school and that we needed to correct this problem with the appropriate discipline. Barb and I exchanged glances but didn't argue. We were in shock.

I was curious about the crying. Jenny was such a happy child. I asked her that night what made her sad at school. Expecting to hear about something on the playground, I was surprised by her answer. The listening-hour stories made her sad:

Once upon a time there was a daddy duck with seven ducklings. They ranged in age down to the youngest (who reminded Jenny of a first grader). The daddy was mean. One day he demanded that all his children learn three tasks, such as running, swimming, and diving. If a duckling was unable to master all of the tasks, he would be banished from the family to live with the chickens. The youngsters struggled under the cruel eye of their father. When it came to diving, the first grader floundered and was sent away to live with the chickens.

This was the story Jenny related, in her own words, as an example. I heard it told a second time several years later, by my cousin Nancy, as a sample of objectionable curriculum. We were impressed with the coincidence, since our families resided in different states.

...What in the name of heaven was going on at this school?

I was determined to get to the bottom of things. Since they didn't send books home with students in the younger grades, I went to the school the following day and spent a couple of hours reviewing the elementary readers. As I read, my eyes opened wider and wider. I had assumed the purpose of the reading curriculum was to stimulate the juvenile imagination and teach reading skills. Instead, I saw material saturated with, to borrow another parent's language, "an unadvertised agenda promoting parental alienation, loss of identity and self-confidence, group-dependence, passivity, and anti-intellectualism."

...

When a child-figure in the stories split away from his group, for example, he would get rained on, his toes would get cold in the snow, or he would experience some other form of discomfort or torment. Similar material was repeated ad infinitum. Through their reading, our students would feel the stinging rain and the pain of freezing toes. They would learn the lesson like one of Pavlov's dogs: avoid the pain, stay with the group.


But, yes, there are some good schools out there such as The Van Damme Academy, The Academy of Classical Education, and Montessori schools (if real Montessori); and some good books such as "The Well-Trained Mind." I don't know how the Thomas Aquinas College is, but I love their curriculum.

Unfortunately, the good schools are small in number compared to the others. The question is whether they and homeschooling -- and new schools which teach reasoning skills to independent human minds -- can have a positive effect before the current tide takes us into a new Dark Ages...

Posted by Cyrano at 10:39 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

Interesting article. The anti-individualism and anti-intellectualism are as scary as the banality of the works.

I would not send a child into the standard public schools around here, though I suspect they are pretty good compared to other public schools. A few blocks from my house is a bilingual school: "Training tomorrow’s Burger King staff, today!"

The author wants to change the curricula in his local school, but the other stuff will come back. As John Stossel and Milton Friedman say, tie the money to the student and empower the parents with choice. That's the only way I can see to get American education back on track.

Posted by: jk at March 14, 2006 9:45 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Even when you know this kind of stuff is going on in the schools all taxpayers make possible, it's still shocking to read the individual examples. This one reminds me of Castro's "Young Pioneers."

The implications of this example also dwarf the destructive power of something like that filthy little beast Jay Bennish. His attempts at mind control are crude, in your face, and only impact a few dozen minds at a time. The manipulative powers of grade school readers are astronomically greater and more sublime.

For those who don't know, John Dewey (yes, the Dewey Decimal System Dewey) was one of the three founders of the philosophy of Pragmatism.

Posted by: johngalt at March 14, 2006 3:52 PM

March 1, 2006

Rights vs Pop Culture

Good news for the Fox Network.

    Americans apparently know more about "The Simpsons" than they do about the First Amendment.

    A new survey shows more than one in five Americans could name all five Simpson family members -- but, only one in 1,000 people could name all five First Amendment freedoms.

    And, more people could name the three "American Idol" judges than identify three First Amendment rights.


If only those rights, through an aggressive syndication program, were on TV 5 times a day for nigh 20 years.

... oh, being funnier would help too.

Posted by AlexC at 2:20 PM | Comments (3)
But jk thinks:

They will never let Senator McCain take away Lisa -- but free speech? Who cares?

Posted by: jk at March 1, 2006 3:32 PM
But johngalt thinks:

But it's not just about being "funnier." Pop culture values vapidity and escapism. The Constitution is only for "dead historical dudes" in the minds of those like "Bill and Ted."

Posted by: johngalt at March 1, 2006 3:33 PM
But jk thinks:

I'll confess, I got all the Simpsons and only four freedoms. I had to look up "to petition the government for a redress of grievances." To be fair, five seems hard.

I get extra points for knowing zero American Idol judges.

Posted by: jk at March 1, 2006 3:46 PM

February 27, 2006

Harvard as GM

I have posted before about Professor William Stuntz of Harvard and his articles in The New Republic. He is on fire again. In What Summers's fall says about the future of higher education he takes the educational establishment square on with a prescient metaphor about Harvard as GM: on top, yet unable to see the problems on the horizon.

Harvard is the General Motors of American universities: rich, bureaucratic, and confident--a deadly combination. Fifty years from now, Larry Summers's resignation will be known as the moment when Harvard embraced GM's fate. From now on, the decline will likely be steep. And not only at Harvard: Among research universities as in the car market of generations past, other American institutions will follow the market leaders, straight to the bottom. The only question is who gets to play the role of Toyota in this metaphor.

At the end he suggests that Chinese or Indian Universities might take over, or that Bill Gates might start a University from scratch. Of course, he admits the current universities might wisen up, but it does not seem likely.
Problem is, university faculty don't want to talk back to their bosses; they don't want to have bosses. And their preferences matter. The past 40 years have seen faculty take near-total control of leading universities. These institutions are democracies of a peculiar sort: Only a part of one constituency gets to vote. Two kinds of people teach in universities: those who invest in some combination of teaching students and writing scholarship (the best people invest in both), and those who go through the motions. Which group do you suppose is more likely to attend the meetings and write the memos and vote on the motions of no confidence? The correlation isn't perfect: There are great teachers and scholars who do invest in institutional governance, and thank God for them. Over time, though, general tendencies swamp individual variations, and the general tendency here is disastrous. It is as if you took the bottom half of GM's factory workers a half-century ago and told them to run the corporation, promising that whatever they did, their jobs were guaranteed and their pay could only rise. It's a great gig while it lasts.

In between, he makes a serious defense of Summers as a man of ideas and a true reformer. This has exposed the seriousness of the problem to a few more people. A competitor for traditional higher education would have a great opportunity; sadly, none exist now.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:47 PM

February 16, 2006

Pro-Union.... Pro-worker...

... but pro-Parent? or pro-Student?

    Bosses, have I got an idea for you: Don't pay your best employees more, don't ease out your least productive workers, and for crying out loud, never fire anyone, not even for the most blatant misconduct on the job.

    It works for the public schools, doesn't it?

    Actually, it doesn't, but since they're government monopolies, they don't care. They never go out of business. They just keep doing what they're doing, year after year, churning out class after class of students handicapped by a poor education.

Posted by AlexC at 1:23 PM | Comments (3)
But jk thinks:

My favorite line is "The Teachers' Unions insist that their members be treated like professionals but paid like factory workers." Sorry, I cannot attribute.

Larry Kudlow is asking "Where are the government plant closings?" It's a great point. Ford and GM have to shut down ostensibly good plants to stay competitive but government never has to trim at all.

Posted by: jk at February 16, 2006 1:30 PM
But mdmhvonpa thinks:

Funny, as a software consultant, I'm treated like a factory worker and paid like a professional. Dammit, wrong choice AGAIN.

Posted by: mdmhvonpa at February 16, 2006 1:45 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Heh. That's funny. I get paid like a professional, but act like 12 year old.

Posted by: AlexC at February 16, 2006 1:52 PM

February 6, 2006

Taxation By State

Ever wonder how your state compares to another tax wise?
Now you can check.

I think I find myself taxed higher than my Colorado friends.

Damn it!

I also include Alaska for comparison to a low tax state. But keep in mind it gets quite a lot of it's government revenue from oil taxation as well as having Ted Stevens representing them in the Senate.

See below for details.

Some quick comparisions.
Alaska
State Sales Tax: None; Local municipalities collect a sales tax that ranges between 1% and 6%.
Gasoline Tax: 8 cents/gallon
Diesel Fuel Tax: 8 cents/gallon
Gasohol Tax: None
Cigarette Tax: $1.60/pack of 20
No state income tax
Retirement Income: Not taxed.
Property taxes are assessed in 25 of 161 municipalities. Homeowners 65 and older (or surviving spouses 60 and older) are exempt from municipal taxes on the first $150,000 of the assessed value of their property. This also applies to disabled veterans. Intangible personal property is exempt from taxation.
There is no inheritance tax and the estate tax is limited to federal estate tax collection.

COLORADO
State Sales Tax: 2.9% (food and prescription drugs exempt); many cities and counties have their own rates which are added to the state rate. Total could be as high as 9.9%.
Gasoline Tax: 22 cents/gallon
Diesel Fuel Tax: 20.5 cents/gallon
Gasohol Tax: 22 cents/gallon
Cigarette Tax: 84 cents/pack of 20

Personal Income Taxes
All taxpayers: 4.63% of Federal taxable income
Personal Exemptions/Credits: Federal amounts are automatically adopted.
Standard Deduction: None
Medical/Dental Deduction: Federal amount
Federal Income Tax Deduction: None
Retirement Income Taxes: Taxpayers 55-64 years old can exclude a total of $20,000 for Social Security and qualified retirement income. Those 65 and over can exclude up to $24,000. All out-of-state government pensions qualify for the pension exemption.
Retired Military Pay: Same as above.
Military Disability Retired Pay: Disability Portion - Length of Service Pay; Member on September 24, 1975 - No tax; Not Member on September 24, 1975 - Taxed, unless combat incurred. Retired Pay - Based solely on disability: Member on September 24, 1975 - No tax; Not Member on September 24, 1975 - Taxed, unless all pay based on disability and disability resulted from armed conflict, extra-hazardous service, simulated war, or an instrumentality of war.
VA Disability Dependency and Indemnity Compensation: Not subject to federal or state taxes
Military SBP/SSBP/RCSBP/RSFPP: Generally subject to state taxes for those states with income tax. Check with state department of revenue office.

Property Taxes
The county assessor determines the value of property using a market, cost or income approach. Property taxes are assessed on a percentage of the property's actual value. You can determine your property tax bill by multiplying the assessed value by the local tax rate.

A homestead exemption for qualifying seniors and the surviving spouse of a senior who previously qualified is available. Seniors must be at least age 65. It allows 50% (up to a maximum reduction of $100,00) in actual value of a primary residence to be exempt. The state pays the tax on the exempted value. The person must have owned and lived in the home for at least 10 years. The senior property tax exemption was suspended for 2003-2005 and will be available again beginning in 2006. Call 303-866-2371 for details or visit http://www.dola.state.co.us/.

Inheritance and Estate Taxes
There is no inheritance tax and the Colorado estate tax is limited to federal estate tax collection.

PENNSYLVANIA
Sales Taxes
State Sales Tax: 6% (food; clothing, text books, heating fuels, prescription and non-prescription drugs exempt) Other taxing entities may add up to 1%.
Gasoline Tax: 32.2 cents/gallon
Diesel Fuel Tax: 34.0 cents/gallon
Gasohol Tax: 32.2 cents/gallon
Cigarette Tax: $1.35/pack of 20

Personal Income Taxes
Tax Rate Range: Flat rate of 3.07%
Personal Tax Exemptions: None
Standard Deduction: None
Medical/Dental Deduction: None
Federal Income Tax Deduction: None
Retirement Income Taxes: At 59½, Social Security, civil service, state/local government, and private pensions are exempt. IRAs are exempt as are out-of-state government pensions.
Retired Military Pay: Not taxed after age 59 1/2.
Military Disability Retired Pay:
Disability Portion - Length of Service Pay; Member on September 24, 1975 - No tax; Not Member on September 24, 1975 - Taxed, unless combat incurred. Retired Pay - Based solely on disability: Member on September 24, 1975 - No tax; Not Member on September 24, 1975 - Taxed, unless all pay based on disability and disability resulted from armed conflict, extra-hazardous service, simulated war, or an instrumentality of war.
VA Disability Dependency and Indemnity Compensation: Not subject to federal or state taxes
Military SBP/SSBP/RCSBP/RSFPP: Generally subject to state taxes for those states with income tax. Check with state department of revenue office.

Property Taxes
Property taxes are levied by local governments (counties, municipalities and school districts). The tax cannot exceed 30 mills on the assessed valuation of the property without special permission from the courts. Households with claimants or spouses 65 years of age or older, widows or widowers 50 years of age or older and the permanently disabled 18 years of age or older meeting income eligibility requirements may qualify for this program. Rebates of paid property tax or rent, up to a maximum of $500 per year, are available. To qualify, annual household eligibility income must not exceed $15,000. Act 30-1999 expanded the Property Tax/Rent Rebate program by excluding 50% of Social Security payments and 50% of Railroad Retirement benefit payments from eligibility income. Call 717-787-8201 for details. Counties may levy an intangible personal property tax, which taxes stocks, bonds and other personal property taxpayers may own. Not all counties levy this tax.

Inheritance and Estate Taxes
The Pennsylvania inheritance tax is calculated at a percentage of the value of the assets transferred which is determined by the relationship of the heir to the decedent and the decedent's date of death. The tax rate is 4.5% for transfers to direct descendants (lineal heirs), 12% for transfers to siblings, and 15% for transfers to other heirs (except charitable organizations, exempt institutions, and government entities). Property owned jointly between husband and wife is exempt from the tax, while property inherited from a spouse, or from a child 21 or younger by a parent is exempt. The estate tax is related to federal estate tax collection.

Posted by AlexC at 5:05 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

We elected Democratic majorities in both State houses in 2004 and only Gov. Owens veto pen keeps us from insanity. We also voted to "temporarily" suspend the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights (TaBOR). I fear we'll be catching you soon enough

Posted by: jk at February 6, 2006 5:38 PM

January 3, 2006

Do Teachers Object?

The lead WSJ Editorial today (free site) suggests that the new accountability rules will hurt the Teachers' Unions. When members see how their dues are spent, they will demand reform.

If we told you that an organization gave away more than $65 million last year to Jesse Jackson's Rainbow PUSH Coalition, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, Amnesty International, AIDS Walk Washington and dozens of other such advocacy groups, you'd probably assume we were describing a liberal philanthropy. In fact, those expenditures have all turned up on the financial disclosure report of the National Education Association, the country's largest teachers union.

I am all for transparency and I am all for anything that might harm a Teachers Union.

But I spent time over Christmas with some of my family members who are public school teachers. I don't know if it's a good sample or not. The people I am referring to are not "political" like I am. They don't read books, contribute, participate in GOTV drives. What they are -- frighteningly to me -- are complete Marxists. "How can we spend billions in Iraq and not provide a free ride to any kid at any college?" and "I am owed health care for life with no personal contribution because I've done a good job for my employer."

These people are kind and decent and intelligent. I cannot see any of them complaining about millions for Jesse Jackson and they will all applaud the donations to AIDS Walk and Transgender education.

The public unions do not require subterfuge -- they have successfully inculcated all private market instincts out of their members.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:56 AM

December 2, 2005

Life Imitates Art

For those you who have seen the movie "Team America" by the creators of South Park, you will remember the catchy Broadway song, "Everyone Has AIDS".

It was an upbeat musical type number, including the following lyrics.

    Everyone has AIDS!
    AIDS AIDS AIDS!
    AIDS AIDS AIDS AIDS AIDS AIDS!
    Everyone has AIDS!

It turns out, that wasn't as crazy as we thought.

It's an actual campaign.


    More than two decades into the worst healthcare crisis the world has ever known, STIGMA still challenges efforts to prevent, to treat and to ultimately cure HIV/AIDS. The awareness of such STIGMA is a necessary step towards the prevention, containment and eventual eradication, and is fortunately something we can all effect.

    Because if one of us has AIDS, we all have it.

    The WE ALL HAVE AIDS Campaign is a show of solidarity among, and an acknowledgment of, many of the world’s most accomplished, devoted and inspiring AIDS activists and scientists of the last 20 years.


No one is going to disagree with the need for AIDS awareness. Afterall, it will kill you.

But isn't this idea a little over the top? Not all of us have AIDS. Not all of us will get it. It's not like the plague, or the pending Avian Flu outbreak (potentially) or the cold.

It's just not that readily communicable.

Outside of a freakishly rare blood transfusion, or getting it from your mother, getting AIDS is pretty much a personal decision or a consequence of an individual's lifestyle selection.

Hat tip to (ALa)

But jk thinks:

You guys all have MS as well!

Posted by: jk at December 2, 2005 6:02 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Well, that song kind of breaks down on that one JK. ;)

Posted by: AlexC at December 2, 2005 9:18 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Not me, man. I'M A LEPER

Posted by: johngalt at December 3, 2005 10:41 AM

November 4, 2005

No Competition, No R&D

I have one observation about education that I can never get out of my mind. When John Quincy Adams, one of our smartest Presidents, was a lad (fifteen years old I think) he applied to Harvard. He spoke Latin, Russian, French, and Dutch in addition to English. He had read the classics of the day and studied geometry.

I know this because of David McCullough's biography of his dad. John Adams was in Europe when he received his son's letter detailing his disappointment at not being admitted to Harvard.

I couldn’t help but wonder how many kids leave Harvard today knowing as much as JQA did when he was rejected. In the intervening 200+ years, transportation has progressed from the horse buggy to the 2006 Lexus, today's youth have easy access to inexpensive books, computers and the Internet. Medicine has gone from leeches and bleedings to MRIs and gene therapy.

All these aspects of life have made mind-boggling improvements. Show President Adams a GPS-equipped motorcar, an airplane, any aspect of modern life and he'd probably faint. Take him in a classroom and the only surprise would be the lack of respect.

Readers of this blog will accept that the lack of competition is what allows an industry to not progress, we can argue about which elements of Dewey and his modern acolytes have caused it to regress. But Chris Whittle, CEO of Edison Schools, narrows it further in a Guest Editorial in the WSJ today, "SOS Save Our Schools."(paid site, sorry!)

What if Ford announced tomorrow that it was eliminating all research and development in order to add $7.4 billion to its annual bottom line? Readers of these pages would instantly recognize the absurdity of such an action because only through R&D can a company maintain its competitiveness and value. That an organization with more than twice the annual revenues of Ford has virtually no R&D budget will surely be surprising. But R&D was not stopped. Rather R&D was never seriously begun.

The entity with virtually no R&D? American public education. The revenue for K-12 schooling in the U.S. is around $400 billion per year. Our spending on K-12 education in just two school days equals the entire revenue of an entry-level Fortune 500 company. Yet despite spending so much to operate our schools, our investment in advancing their design and updating their systems is negligible.


Why do you "waste" money on R&D? To keep ahead of competitors. No competition, no R&D; No R&D, no improvement.

Whittle goes on to suggest that this might be a good place for the Federal government to put its budget.

This seems like a perfect example of where the federal government could and should step in to fill a breach. Certainly it has the required scale. Certainly such involvement seems appropriate, if the prerequisite for federal action is the inability of local or state entities to act. Federal engagement in innovation in other categories critical to our national well-being provides ample precedent. Consider the $27 billion of R&D money pumped into the National Institutes of Health every year to help bring our citizens one of the finest health-care systems on the globe. How about the $9 billion that went into just one Department of Defense project: the design and development of the Joint Strike Fighter?

I know most of this blog's readers (both?...) would lean toward zero fed involvement in schools -- as would I. Whittle makes a compelling case about scale. Our schools are thankfully decentralized. And I would confess that politicians will spend money on education to get votes. They should perhaps pick something with efficacy.

How do you keep the unions out, Mr. Whittle? Won't they just drive the train through their influence and kill any real reform? Mr. Whittle bats .500 against the unions (the only person in the country over .000), maybe he has a plan.

Posted by John Kranz at 11:14 AM | Comments (2)
But Silence Dogood thinks:

I have been extremely happy with our charter school. It is a great concept, public school, non-union teachers, parent populated board of directors, parent volunteer time required, planned curriculum from Kindergarten to 6th grade. The key to me is parent involvement from that fact that you have to sign up on a waiting list (now advisable to be done on the way home from the hospital with the new baby due to the length of the list) and volunteer time to help out with running the school. You get a book which tells you what your child will learn in each grade, and how that knowledge will be built upon during their tenure. It is grade based, homework starts in 1st grade with a small amount due once a week and becomes nightly homework in 3rd grade. Again, parent involvement is stressed, which if you think about it is the ultimate in small class size, you and your kids. I suspect the young Mr. Adams was not dropped off at school with the expectation that it was entirely someone else's job to educate him. Sadly that is rather normal in our current public schools. Like health care which we have discussed, I think many of the problems stem from the lack of direct interaction between consumer and service provider. We pay for schools, but only indirectly through taxes and strict accountability in such a system always suffers.

I will also put in a small aside about grades, or performance oriented systems. If we continue to not expect much out of our schools we will continue to find that expectations will not be exceeded. My daughters are in Girl Scouts where they earn not badges, but (I am not making this up) "Try-Its" for trying new activities. Again I am not kidding this is the official Girl Scout name, the term "badge" is nowhere to be found. Her troop (again active parents from the charter school) does expect some proficiency or goal to be met for the activity, but just the name itself indicates that showing mastery, proficiency, or skill in a task is no longer required, just the willingness to participate. The world is a competitive place (perhaps increasingly so) and shielding our children from this does them no favors.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at November 4, 2005 2:22 PM
But jk thinks:

Try-Its. I fear for the Republic...I am reminded of Michael Barone's "Hard America, Soft America" (one of the best books I read last year, If not the best). We ask nothing of our youth and turn out he world's most incompetent 18 year olds; yet we ask a lot from young workers and turn out the most competent 30 year olds. Which one provides self-esteem again?

You make a point about parental involvement. I thought the same when my wife was teaching day care and certainly agree.

Yet I contend that your charter school would be a 2006 Lexus with GPS if we had had 200 years of competition and innovation in education. What might we have learned?

Posted by: jk at November 4, 2005 4:25 PM

May 11, 2005

Academentia

Wow. When you've got 15 minutes for some serious contemplation I submit Roger Kimball's ascerbic dissertation on the self-destructive virus that has infected American academia. It's got it all, from gender studies to Ward Churchill, concluding with advice to reform (or abolish) academic tenure and to cut off the capitalist life-blood from these dysfunctional institutions.

I offer a few morsels:

With a few notable exceptions, our most prestigious liberal arts colleges and universities have installed the entire radical menu at the center of their humanities curriculum at both the undergraduate and the graduate levels. Every special interest--women's studies, black studies, gay studies, and the like --and every modish interpretative gambit--deconstruction, post-structuralism, new historicism, and other postmodernist varieties of what the literary critic Frederick Crews aptly dubbed "Left Eclecticism"--has found a welcome roost in the academy, while the traditional curriculum [mathematics, history, literature, science] and modes of intellectual inquiry [logic and the scientific method] are excoriated as sexist, racist, or just plain reactionary. (Examples mine.)

(...)

Ms.--or is it Mr.?--Currah is quite right to conjure up Herbert Marcuse. The German-born radical, who died in 1979, was indeed an important '60s guru. But he was more than that. In his "protests against the repressive order of procreative sexuality" and insistence that genuine liberation requires a return to a state of "primary narcissism," Marcuse sounds a very contemporary note. Such a "change in the value and scope of libidinal relations," he wrote in "Eros and Civilization," "would lead to a disintegration of the institutions in which the private interpersonal relations have been organized, particularly the monogamic and patriarchal family."

Said disintigration of the private interpersonal organization called the monogamic and patriarchal family is precisely the goal of the present-day "gay marriage" movement, and is precisely why that movement must be firmly opposed. "Civil unions" are just fine, but the "gay marriage" "right" they insist upon has no purpose but to destroy traditional marriage as an institution.

John Silber, the former president of Boston University, summed up the fate of academic freedom in his essay "Poisoning the Wells of Academe." Originally, Mr. Silber observed, academic freedom "entailed an immunity for what is said and done by dedicated, thoughtful, conscientious scholars in pursuit of truth or the truest account":

Now it came to entail, rather, an immunity for whatever is said and done, responsibly or carelessly, within or without the walls of academia, by persons unconcerned for the truth; who, reckless, incompetent, frivolous or even malevolent, promulgate ideas for which they can claim no expertise, or even commit deeds for which they can claim no sanction of law.

This is what Mr. Silber referred to as "the absolute concept of academic freedom," according to which "the academic can say whatever he pleases about whatever he pleases, whenever and wherever he pleases, and be fully immune from unpleasant consequences." The case of Ward Churchill--and this is a bit of good news to emerge from this sorry scenario--suggests that that may be about to change.

(...)

One corollary of society's natural obedience to the unenforceable is the tendency to assume that those institutions in which we have invested great trust are inherently trustworthy. "Academic institutions are expensive, socially respected bodies whose imprimatur is a powerful door-opener and tool of accreditation, ergo they must be doing a good job." Some such sentiment is the prevailing one, so when someone like Ward Churchill comes along to remove the scab, the shock is great--and unwelcome. One of the chief tasks for critics of what has happened to academic life in this country is to show the extent to which Ward Churchill, the Kirkland Project, the transgender follies at Smith College and elsewhere, and similar deformations are not exceptions but the predictable result of institutions that have gradually abandoned their commitment to education for the sake of radical posturing. The prime difficulty facing the aspirant diagnostician is not the elusiveness of symptoms--they are florid and ubiquitous--but the patience required to set forth chapter and verse repeatedly and in language that effectively conveys the depredations on view.

Amen, NED, amen.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:43 PM | Comments (4)
But jk thinks:

Good post, jg. I enjoyed the Kimball article.

I thought that the three strikes of Ward Churchill, Larry Summers, and Charlotte Simmons might end the inning for traditional Universities.

I"m glad I don't have college age children (I've been married 21 years). I would NOT pony up 30 grand a year to fund this experience.

-- Or would I? The alternatives (substitution to an economist) are few, and some have baggage of their own (But, honey, you'll love Bob Jones U!!!)

They have spent many years entrenching and inculcating -- they will not be defeated by a novel, a couple scandals, and some cable pundits. You're a CU alumnus, jg, what's the chance that *anything* will change?

Posted by: jk at May 12, 2005 12:30 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The problem is it's a package deal. You know, a "well-rounded" education, as I said earlier on these pages.

Parents need to prepare their children (and for this must become aware themselves first) that there are good ideas on campus and bad ones. When those parents/alumni/philanthropists who have successfully accumulated wealth finally understand that the bad ideas on campus are actually hostile to the very notion of individual accumulation of wealth, and stop making million dollar grants to the universities (one was announced by CSU just this week)... THEN, something will change.

Posted by: johngalt at May 13, 2005 2:31 PM
But jk thinks:

So I really shouldn't wait, then...this might take a while.

You're probably, sadly, right. But this is a decades-long solution without a high chance at success. "The 60's" will live on until 2060.

Posted by: jk at May 13, 2005 4:53 PM
But johngalt thinks:

No, I don't think so. I'm far more optimistic.

When the Berlin wall fell it took everyone by surprise. We should not expect fair warning of the popular repudiation of "Left Eclecticism" and all the other radical anti-reality theories and philosophies in our universities.

Posted by: johngalt at May 15, 2005 11:01 AM

March 11, 2005

The Union Label...

Chester Finn makes an astonishing observation on the WSJ Ed Page today, in a guest column entitled Teacher Can't Teach.

Over the past half-century, the number of pupils in U.S. schools grew by about 50% while the number of teachers nearly tripled. Spending per student rose threefold, too. If the teaching force had simply kept pace with enrollments, school budgets had risen as they did, and nothing else changed, today's average teacher would earn nearly $100,000, plus generous benefits. We'd have a radically different view of the job and it would attract different sorts of people.

Yes, classes would be larger -- about what they were when I was in school. True, there'd be fewer specialists and supervisors. And we wouldn't have as many instructors for youngsters with "special needs." But teachers would earn twice what they do today (less than $50,000, on average) and talented college graduates would vie for the relatively few openings in those ranks.

What America has done, these past 50 years, is invest in more teachers rather than better ones, even as countless appealing and lucrative options have opened up for the able women who once poured into public schooling. No wonder teaching salaries have just kept pace with inflation, despite huge increases in education budgets. No wonder the teaching occupation, with blessed exceptions, draws people from the lower ranks of our lesser universities. No wonder there are shortages in key branches of this sprawling profession. When you employ three million people and you don't pay very well, it's hard to keep a field fully staffed, especially in locales (rural communities, tough urban schools) that aren't too enticing and in subjects such as math and science where well-qualified individuals can earn big bucks doing something else.


He then lists three reasons for this, but I'll collapse them into one: Teachers' Unions.

They have not only destroyed the education system -- as a byproduct they have prevented teachers from making six-figure salaries.

(As it's on the paid site, I am going to purloin the entire article. Click "Continue reading..." for the rest of the piece.)

Why did we triple the size of the teaching work force instead of paying more to a smaller number of stronger people? Three reasons.

First, the seductiveness of smaller classes. Teachers want fewer kids in their classrooms and parents think their children will be better off, despite scant evidence that students learn more in smaller classes, particularly from less able instructors. Second, the institutional interests that benefit from a larger teaching force, above all dues-collecting (and influence-seeking) unions, and colleges of education whose revenues (tuition, state subsidies) and size (all those faculty slots) depend on their enrollments. Third, the social forces pushing schools to treat children differently from one another, creating one set of classes for the gifted, others for children with handicaps, those who want to learn Japanese, who seek full-day kindergarten or who crave more community-service opportunities.

Nobody has resisted. It was not in anyone's interest to keep the teaching ranks sparse, while many interests were served by helping them to swell. Today, we pay the price: lots of money spent on schooling, nearly all of it for salaries, but schooling that, at the end of the day, depends on the knowledge, skills and commitment of teachers who don't earn much and cannot see that they ever will.

Compounding that problem, we make multiple policy blunders. We restrict entry to people "certified" by state bureaucracies, normally after passing through quasi-monopolistic training programs that add little value. Thus an ill-paid vocation also has daunting, yet pointless, barriers to entry. We pay mediocre instructors the same as super-teachers. Though tiny cracks are appearing in the "uniform salary schedule," in general an energized and highly-effective classroom practitioner earns no more than a feckless time-server. We pay no more to high-school physics or math teachers than middle-school gym teachers, though the latter are easy to find while people capable of the former posts are scarce and have plentiful options. We pay no more to those who take on daunting assignments in tough schools than to those who work with easy kids in leafy suburbs. In fact, we often pay them less.

Instead of recognizing that today's 20-somethings commonly try multiple occupations before settling down (if they ever do), then making imaginative use of those who are game to teach for a few years, we still assume that teaching is a lifelong vocation and lament anyone who exits the classroom for other pursuits. Instead of deploying technology so that gifted teachers reach hundreds of kids while others function more like tutors or aides, we assume that every classroom needs its own Socrates.

Despite all that, and to their great credit, most teachers are decent folks who care about kids and want to help them learn. But turning around U.S. schools and "leaving no child behind" calls for more. It also requires passion, brains, knowledge and technique. Federal law now demands subject-matter mastery. Such qualities are hard to find in vast numbers, however, especially when the job doesn't pay very well. Yet fat across-the-board raises for three million people are a pipe dream. (Adding $10,000 plus benefits to their pay would add some $40 billion to school budgets.)

Maybe we can't turn back the clock on the numbers, but surely we can reverse the policy errors. With hundreds of thousands of teaching jobs now turning over each year, at minimum we should insist that new entrants play by different rules that reward effectiveness, deploy smart incentives and suitable technology, compensate them sensibly, and make skillful use of short-termers instead of just wishing they'd stay longer. And this time let's watch what we're doing.

Mr. Finn is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and president and trustee of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation.

Posted by John Kranz at 4:51 PM | Comments (9)
But A.M. thinks:

What about the highly skilled professionals who go into the profession for the right reason (the OUTcome rather than the INcome)? I am a 23 year old teacher who has been in the work force for 2 years teaching a special needs class. I am deemed "highly qualified" according to state law and am dual certified in two states...not to mention, I have spent countless hours taking and passing 8 different tests for certification. The article did a good job making teachers look like we are motivated by the amount of money we make. True teachers know what they are getting into when they go into the field. We know it is not a high-paying job, we know it is going to be tough, we know our own teaching philosophies are going to have to take second seat to school budgets and state law, but more importantly, we know why we continue teaching...the children. Someone once asked me (on an interview actually) why I wanted to teach. I didn't say "because I like kids" or "because I want to help people". I simply replied, "It is my calling." True teachers, empty wallets and all, have a gift. I chose to use my gift to benefit students with special needs. My reward at the end of the day is not whether my prescription gets paid for, or whether I can visit a specialist with only $10.00 in my pocket. It is not being able to pay my rent on time or have a few extra dollars to get take-out. My reward is seeing one of my students succeed in something. I do agree with the article when it states that more people would be attracted to the profession if it paid better. However, it would not attract the right teachers; those who we may not want our own children to have as a teacher...those who are motivated by the income instead of the outcome.

Posted by: A.M. at March 13, 2005 4:26 PM
But A.M. thinks:

Just one more thing...in case any of you were wondering. My $42.00 prescription is not included in my health insurance. My co-pay is sometimes more than $10.00, and my rent is not always on time.

Posted by: A.M. at March 13, 2005 4:32 PM
But jk thinks:

AM:

Thanks for the comment.

I think it is great that you have found your calling and that you work in an important field and that it gives you satisfaction.

I make the assumption that you are a very good teacher -- why shouldn't you make good money? Would you rather manage a little larger class and get paid more and have access to better equipment?

I am also curious whether you feel the certifications you have worked so hard for are valuable or "just something you have to do."

Many of my relatives are teachers and I have nothing but respect for you and them. I just feel that the good teachers could have a better satisfaction without the union involvement.

Posted by: jk at March 14, 2005 1:52 PM
But AM thinks:

JK,

First off, thank you for the positive comments.

To be honest with you, in my field of working with students with special needs, I think smaller class sizes are more beneficial. With a class of 4-6 students I am able to direct my attention to the students that need it most. I am happy with my small class. To better prove my point, let me share a personal experience with you (and others who read this). When I was student teaching, I was assigned to a special education class in Philadelphia. The class had one teacher, no assistants, and 11-16 students at a time in grades K through 3. Let's assume that the teacher got paid a salary of 35,000 per year. One may think that is too little for a class as challenging as that. However, if the class size was cut in half, the salary would be well worth it. The teacher would be able to teach each individual student better and really hone in on the children's specific needs. With large classes, general ed or special, students often slip through the cracks.

In response to my certifications, I do not feel they were something I "had" to do. Pennsylvania is one of the most difficult states in which to obtain certification, with 6 or more tests to pass. New Jersey only requires one test for general ed., and no test for special ed. Besides having the certifications make my resume look good, I feel that they have not only boosted MY pride and confidence, but also that of my district for having hired me.

I hope this has answered some of your questions.

-AM

Posted by: AM at March 14, 2005 8:10 PM
But Silence Dogood thinks:

True teachers do have a gift, but I see their empty wallets as an effect, not a cause. Must a teacher suffer for their craft, and is this a prerequisite for being a good teacher? Private industry has thrived on the concept that compensation is a motivating factor, not a bribe to sell out. I worry that we cannot continue to fill our schools with teachers motivated by a calling. The level of education and expertise required to be a teacher, to say nothing of the importance of the work should command a better salary.

But then again, the growth in salaries in industry for the past few decades has been mostly due to increased productivity, a rather technical way to say doing more work with fewer people. The law of economics would indicate that teaching needs to see the same productivity increase to see the same salary increase. Harsh, but reality. I certainly do not have all the answers, or perhaps even any good ones, but what about using some of the methods of industry? Utilize technology - teleconference a language arts teacher for example into many classrooms simultaneously. Yes, something is lost without the human touch but which is better, a dynamic energetic teacher on video or bored downtrodden one in person? Use double shifts - half the class size for 5 intensive hours a day and each teacher teaches two 5 hour shifts to get the same number of students through the class. Outsource - take some of the drudgery of paper grading and assign it to part time assistants - stay at home parents with some ability and aptitude perhaps? Then meet with those assistants to communicate pupil progress. I suspect most teachers can assess a student's performance and identify areas for improvement without slogging through grading each and every assignment.

I wish basically AM that we could provide you more than just our gratitude. Being paid well for your work does not diminish its importance.

Posted by: Silence Dogood at March 15, 2005 2:05 PM
But AM thinks:

Silence,

You sound like a very educated person in the field of economics. I am curious...where did you get all this knowledge about the economy and industry? Where do your solution theories come from? Was all this from a dynamic energetic teacher or a downtrodden one? How many kids were in the class?

I would like to address your idea of having the assistants take home paperwork and do the grading. That may work, IF the only method of measuring students' successes were from pencil and paper tests and papers (and even with those, teachers have their own way of evaluating). Teachers take advantage of the many methods of assessment. When they assess their own students, they are better able to pinpoint the area of difficulty and help fix the problem. It would be like standing in a courtroom for six hours presenting your case to a judge, but having the stenographer decide if you are guilty or not guilty. One more question for you...what economic theory states that one should get paid more for doing less work?

With regards to your idea of teleconferencing classrooms instead of having a live teacher, I would like to know what you would do with students with behavior problems. Hire a babysitter to sit there? Let me share my knowledge with you about elementary education philosophies. If you look at the developmental theories of psychologists in the field, you will find that at the elementary level students are motivated by pleasing others. They thrive on getting personal attention and creating positive relationships with their role models. They search for approval from adults, thus developing their self esteem, and later, their character and personality.

Five intensive hours a day? I assume you mean one hour for each subject...reading, math, science, social studies...and one for lunch? Where does character education fit in? Social development? Creative writing? Library? Computer class? Recess? Physical education? Art? Music? Are you thinking kids should go to school for 10 hours a day to fit it all in? Should kids start adopting early the 10-12 hour work day like parents often do? Have you thought about attention span? ADD or not, it is difficult for kids to be productive for more than an hour without some kind of break...snack, lunch, recess, choice-time, sustained silent reading, etc.

What's your next outlandish idea..paying teachers commission according to the letter grades students get on tests??? Before you say that is a good idea, consider students with special needs in regular ed classrooms that do not test well or students who are just bright enough to figure out that if they fail a test from a teacher they dislike, they can really screw her/him over with their paycheck...

Do more research in education rather than economics. Maybe that will change your solution ideas...

AM

Posted by: AM at March 17, 2005 8:14 PM