Search This Blog

Loading...

Thursday, December 30, 2010

American Educational Failure

Maybe you’re aware that our public educational system is malfunctioning? Some States do better than others, but overall we are lagging behind the other developed nations of the world. To address this serious concern, Federal legislation called the No Child Left Behind Act, was passed. It requires schools to comply with a system of nationally standardized testing, and holds schools accountable if their students continue to fail. Sanctions such as decreased funding would be levied against non-compliant schools. This law has faced sharp criticism from educators around the country. Teachers and school administrators say that the punitive measures taken to force a school to comply with the law will end up hurting the very students the law is meant to help. Opponents of the NCLB act also say that it is the fault of the student and the student’s parents when a student fails; it is not the teachers’ or the school’s fault.

The NCLB law was accompanied by massive additional funding for schools throughout the country. Billions of additional dollars were given to schools around the country―the lion's share to the schools found in poor neighborhoods. Schools received this money so that they could hire additional teachers and purchase new books and other study aids. With the NCLB law, teachers were promised the carrot and threatened with the stick. Problem solved, right?

Problem far from solved... G. Gage Kingsbury, a testing expert who is a director at the Northwest Evaluation Association in Portland, had this to say:
“There’s not much indication that N.C.L.B. is causing the kind of change we were all hoping for. Trends after the law took effect mimic trends we were seeing before. But in terms of watershed change, that doesn’t seem to be happening.”
Furthermore the original purpose of the law was to close the achievement gap between white students and other minorities. This hasn’t happened, as Sam Dillon of the New York Times explains:
The achievement gap between white and minority students has not narrowed in recent years, despite the focus of the No Child Left Behind law on improving the scores of blacks and Hispanics, according to results of a federal test considered to be the nation’s best measure of long-term trends in math and reading proficiency.
The empty threat of defunding noncompliant schools has failed. The storm of protest by any community hit by the defunding sanction and the concomitant media blitzkrieg that would result, completely pulls the fangs from this punitive measure. It turns out that throwing money at the problem doesn't work either. In fact, even when teachers are offered hefty bonuses for achieving higher test scores in their classrooms, teachers fail to help the students improve these scores as this article by Christopher Connell reveals:
NASHVILLE – Offering middle-school math teachers bonuses up to $15,000 did not produce gains in student test scores, Vanderbilt University researchers reported Tuesday in what they said was the first scientifically rigorous test of merit pay.
The most important person in this educational dilemma is the student. It's not possible to force a child to pay attention. We can't make a child try harder, study longer and with more diligence. We can punish if they don't, but the consequences game only takes us half-way. The other side is just important, the quid-pro-quo side...

In all of this educational brouhaha, perhaps the solution is to ask the student. What can we offer you the student that will cause you to try harder? How can we get you to take your expensive tax-payer funded educational opportunity more seriously? How can we make the curriculum more interesting? What can teachers do that would make it fun?

If I'd been asked that question as a young student, my answer would have been 'free-time.' To celebrate a great score on a test, how about a Get-Out-of-Homework-Free card? Competition can be easily created in any classroom. It's not only fun, it instantly captivates the imagination of students because everyone loves to win. Let the winners go to lunch five minutes early. They can beat everyone else to the lunch line. What hungry kid wouldn't give one-hundred percent for a reward like that?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Class War

As I sat patiently reading Robert Borosage's editorial "Obama and the CEOs" in which he wallowed with sentimental abandon in sanctimonious phrases steeped richly in the language of envy, it occurred to me that an entire demographic of the country is irretrievably insane.

I don't use the word “insane” lightly. A segment comprising perhaps as much as a fourth of our society is beset with delusions, illogic, and the same paranoia found in gibbering, foaming at the mouth, wide-eyed lunatics.

In Robert's editorial, we discover that President Obama was talking to some CEOs in a friendly fashion about a number of economic concerns. Robert Borosage, however, has only one thought on his mind: These CEOs make too much money! It's not fair! They shouldn't be able to make this much money when so many people who don't work for a living are not receiving a big enough paycheck from Uncle Sam.

Statistics are mentioned. Phrases like The richest one percent are disgustedly announced as though these “Fat Cats” were the same as depraved pedophiles who should be torn limb-from-limb by an angry mob. Clichés and memes proclaiming the fact that the rich get richer are bitterly discussed. I assume Robert Borosage would have the rich get poorer—preferably through aggressive taxation. Free enterprise be damned! Economic equality by fiat through that favorite liberal weapon of economic mass destruction known as taxation.

Off-shoring is mentioned. How dare these corporate shills make a bigger profit by cutting costs. So what if goods can be offered more cheaply to Americans. So what if the average American would be unable to afford a shirt crafted by a shop of unionized textile workers who cost $22.00 per hour to start. Instead of blaming the misguided policies that have caused off-shoring, namely greedy unions, minimum wage laws, punishing taxes of every stripe, a smothering web of regulations and red-tape, and the new behemoth on the camel's back called ObamaCare, not to mention regulatory agencies like the EEOC and Wage and Hour―once watchdogs―now attack dogs, who stifle business choke productivity, and cost businesses billions of dollars in attorney and court fees, Robert Borosage blames the "Fat Cats."

Liberals would lay all the world's ills at the feet of these big corporations who on behalf of their shareholders attempt to—gasp!—turn a profit. These employers of millions of people these pillars of the economy, these foundations of millions of retirement portfolios are just not taxed enough.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

ObamaCare

The cost for health insurance is already extremely expensive and only promises to become more so. Health insurance is prohibitively expensive because of the enormous cost of providing medical care. The costs of medical care include: hospital construction, maintenance, and utilities, the wages of doctors, nurses, and therapists, plus all the equipment costs and support personnel, such as sanitation workers, mechanics and kitchen help. These upfront costs are high enough but there is also an entire army of undeserving greedy hands waiting eagerly for their own share of the payola. A short list of these include: greedy patients, greedy lawyers, greedy politicians, greedy pharmaceutical and medical equipment manufacturers, All of this greed is cheered on by our overly permissive government—the legislature, the judiciary, and the executive branches—all conspiring to raise the price of medical care to astronomical levels and in the process skim a little cream for themselves off the top.

We have a society where medical lottery winners are paid for by the rest of us. We have a society where anyone with a life-threatening emergency must be provided care even though they lack insurance. Worst of all we have a society where the threat of a malpractice lawsuit pushes doctors to perform redundant and unnecessary tests just to show that they were “duly diligent.” The cost of medical services along with frivolous lawsuits, uninsured patient care, and multiply redundant testing are all borne by those of us who pay for health insurance.

The ObamaCare plan—if properly administered—would allow hospitals to lower their costs, and ultimately allow them to charge less for medical procedures. In a perfect world, where all citizens had insurance and all medical bills were paid, collection agencies and lawyers would be unnecessary for medical practices and hospitals. Medical providers could then drastically reduce the prices they charge for providing medical service to their patients.

If properly administered
But, it won't be properly administered. It will instead fail at every level because it will be administered by an uncaring and wholly inefficient bureaucracy. That's why no one wants ObamaCare, because everyone knows how badly the Federal Government will screw it up. The proof of this is written within the 2700 pages of the law itself. Why not tort reform? Why not work on fixing Medicaid? Instead we have this monstrosity of big government which might as well have been drafted over at the Kremlin.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Illegal Immigration

Why do so many Americans hate Hispanic illegal aliens? The list of complaints is varied and long. The complaint that I’ve heard the most is that these illegals move here and then live off the welfare system just like so many Americans do. We already resent generations of perfectly healthy Americans living as parasites, taking their ease while all their wants are provided for by the taxpayer. We certainly don't want to add an ever growing number of Hispanic families to what is already an economy destroying number of unproductive lazy citizens.

However, this idea of Hispanic welfare families is just not the case. While so-called anchor babies are eligible for social services, the illegal alien parents are not eligible. The idea that the welfare available to one or two children can support a family is ridiculous. These illegals quickly accept menial jobs from employers who pay under the table. Construction, lawn care, dishwashers, general labor, etc are just a few of the many niches where an employer can hire an undocumented worker and pay him less than minimum wage. It's a good deal for the illegal. He's making more money than he could make where he migrated from, plus he has access to twenty-first century medical care. It's a good deal for the employer too. He doesn't have to waste valuable time with reams of government paperwork. He doesn't have to pay for matching social security, or unemployment insurance, or any of the beyond-the-pale red-tape hurdles that liberals have misguidedly placed in front of someone who wants to hire someone else to do some work.

If you can't get rid of a problem, find a way to work with it. Millions of handicapped workers do it every day. Illegals are not in-themselves a bad thing. Some simple changes in the law could make illegals a real boon to our economy.
1. Abandon the idea that the 14th amendment makes those born here illegally, legal citizens.
2. Get rid of minimum wage laws. They are pointless, and only serve to cause inflation.
3. Allow illegals to work here and have taxes and Social Security taken from their paychecks. They would have to work here for a set length of time, say twenty-years before they became eligible for either Social-Security payouts or Medicare.
4. Since nationalized health care is already a fait accompli, go ahead and use it. Require the illegals to pay for some kind of health insurance program.
Naysayers will say my idea is too simplistic.

Perhaps it is. But, what is the alternative? Do you want to pay for a thousand miles of concertina wire fencing? Do you want to pay for tens of thousands of border guards walking that stretch of fence everyday and do you want to pay for repairing the hundreds of holes cut through it every day? What a pointless and Sisyphean task that would be, since the illegals are now on the wrong side of it anyway.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Price of Gasoline

As of today, December 8, 2010, the price of gasoline is nearly $3.00 a gallon for regular unleaded. The price of gasoline is caused by a variety of factors, the most important being the cost of oil. Commodities traders in their daily lemming-like misson to buy whatever's hot, often drive the price of oil up beyond all rational opinions of its intrinsic value. The season of the year is a big factor to these speculators. If it’s especially cold they buy oil since they know people will need it to keep warm. If the summer is coming on nice and hot they buy oil since they know people will need it to keep cool, and to drive to summer vacation spots around the country. The price of oil is now at $90.00 a barrel, the highest it's been since 2008 when gasoline was $4.00 a gallon, and we can expect ever higher prices this summer.

Further complicating the picture for oil speculators, an unexpected but inevitable new player has now entered the game. China has a burgeoning population of 1,331,460,000 citizens who promise ever higher demand for many natural resources, especially oil. Most parts of China are still backward, and agrarian, but expect that to change and change quickly. Remember that during our own industrial revolution, the USA was transformed very quickly, and that was done even though resources were very scarce at the time and even though much of the technology of today had not yet been invented. China will suffer no such hurdles to its own modernization. All the blueprints for every type of manufacturing process are available for free or for very little. The only stumbling blocks they will face will be the cost of natural resources like oil. Expect a feeding frenzy as the commodity traders go all in on oil.

In light of these facts, it seems obvious that the USA needs to drastically expand its own oil production capabilities. Where will America be when China buys up the lion's share of the mid-east's oil supply? A clarion of American voices, all screaming the same thing—Drill!—has been largely ignored by our President, Barack Hussein Obama. Not content to simply ignore Americans, Barack goes the extra mile for his eco-buddies by announcing a seven-year moratorium on all drilling in the Gulf. So, when you fork over nearly a hundred dollars to fill your tank, remember that if in 2008 you voted for “Hope and Change,” maybe—just maybe—it wasn’t the smartest thing you ever did.
“Hope and Change" I hope I get some change from that Benjamin I'm gonna be pumping in my tank.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Paradox in Freedom of Speech

Ants crawling on a Christ figure, penises, naked brothers kissing each other on the mouth, men in chains, and Ellen Degeneres―a popular media lesbian―are just a few of the degenerate images contained within a Christmas art exhibit called "A Fire in My Belly," a film by David Wojnarowicz at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery.

What do you tell your children if they happen to see this exhibit? What do you say when they ask why ants are crawling on Jesus? The liberals over at Huffington Post see this as an issue of freedom of speech. They're upset that the Smithsonian caved to popular pressure and ditched this film. To liberals and the Association of Art Museum Directors this is censorship at its worst. Paradoxically, liberals would be hysterical and foaming at the mouth at the idea of this sort of blasphemy directed at Islam or Muhammad.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, and a film is a thousand pictures one after another, then this disgusting thirty minute film is one million words of blasphemy. We don't have to wonder what would happen if someone put ants on Muhammad. Muslims―and Liberals―would go nuts! Rioting and arson would set fire to the entire world. Thousands would die, being trampled, burned, beaten, stabbed, and shot.

It's the same as shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theater—the cliché so popular when denoting exceptions to the right of freedom of speech. You are not allowed to practice freedom of speech when your careless or malicious words could incite riot or induce panic. Therefore putting ants on Muhammad would be a criminal offense not protected by the First Amendment.

Since Christians don't get so upset that they run amok, putting ants on Christ is protected by the First Amendment. Therefore the solution is simple...if Americans really object to this sort of depraved blasphemy, all they have to do is have a few riots, and start a few fires, kill a few bystanders, and beat the crap out of a few cops. Then as quick as you can say: 'As-Salāmu Alaykum', exhibits like "A Fire in my Belly" would no longer be protected.

My final thought: Liberals don't believe that Christ is the son of God or that Muhammad is the prophet of Allah. They don't believe in God or Allah. They see both religions as equally false, merely superstition and tall tales passed along as gospel from one ignorant savage to the next. So why do liberals venerate and protect Muslims, and at the same time excoriate and try to outlaw all public expressions of Christian belief? Because Christians love America and want to protect it and see it continue, while Muslims hate America and would like to destroy it. Liberals are just cozying up to those who hate America as much as they do.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

An Alien Way of Thinking

As a fiscal conservative, some might wonder why I would read any of the zany twisted thoughts that spew from the misguided minds at the Huffington Post. It's my sisyphean attempt to understand the self-destructive insanity infecting the minds of so many on the left. Much like a criminal profiler, I attempt to climb in the head of the maniac to find out what crazy caper he's got in store for us next.

Case in point an article entitled Jobs First by Richard Eskow. To paraphrase this rather long and rambling editorial: The economy needs jobs, not tax cuts for the rich. It was those filthy little hobbits―a-hem―Wall Street bankers who bankrupted our economy in the first place. Yes, jobs, that's what we need, and to get more jobs we need...more stimulus money! And bailouts to states struggling with massive debt.

In this article I find code phrases, memes which are alien to my way of thinking, jarring out-of-step concepts which upon reading cause my mouth to gape open in astonishment. Two such memes are found within this jewel by Mr. Askew―a-hem―Eskow:
...a small group of well-financed politicians and economic advisors is advising the country to abandon economic fairness, slash its most treasured programs, and expand already-massive tax giveaways to wealthy.
By 'tax giveaways to wealthy', Richard Eskow means not stealing quite as much from the most productive members of society as was done in the good old days. It's their money, Richard. You can't give someone their own money. By 'treasured programs', I'm sure this "progressive thinker" means programs which enable those who don't work for a living to continue sucking at the government tit. Or to put it another way, programs which are used to buy votes for the Democrats from those who don't really understand what that vote is worth.