Education Archives

Why We’re In the Mess We’re In

So what’s the huge deal in Wisconsin? Why are teachers abandoning their posts (and students) to protest at the capitol. The Wall St. Journal explains.

Mr. Walker’s very modest proposal would take away the ability of most government employees to collectively bargain for benefits. They could still bargain for higher wages, but future wage increases would be capped at the federal Consumer Price Index, unless otherwise specified by a voter referendum. The bill would also require union members to contribute 5.8% of salary toward their pensions and chip in 12.6% of the cost of their health insurance premiums.

If those numbers don’t sound outrageous, you probably work in the private economy. The comparable nationwide employee health-care contribution is 20% for private industry, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average employee contribution from take-home pay for retirement was 7.5% in 2009, according to the Employee Benefits Research Institute.

Mr. Walker says he has no choice but to make these changes because unions refuse to negotiate any compensation changes, which is similar to the experience Chris Christie had upon taking office in New Jersey. Wisconsin is running a $137 million deficit this year and anticipates coming up another $3.6 billion short in the next two-year budget. Governor Walker’s office estimates the proposals would save the state $300 million over the next two years, and the alternative would be to lay off 5,500 public employees.

(Hat tip: Betsy Newmark, a teacher.)

In short:

  • The union refuses to be treated same as everyone else.
  • The union doesn’t care about the state’s financial problems; let someone else pay the price.
  • The union doesn’t want the governor to make the tough choices, at least if those tough choices affect the union.

This is what liberal politics has given us; teachers, and a union, that frankly don’t care about the fix we’re all in. If you want to complain that teachers aren’t paid as  much as those in the public sector, who’s fault is that? It’s the fault of those who insist on keeping their jobs, and their paychecks, in the hands of government.

Not all Wisconsin teachers approve of playing hooky for politics, nor are they all against this belt-tightening. But those that are, are doing their profession a disservice, and are exposing the problems with their union.

And here’s another entry for Civility Watch. If you thought the previous video of the lady with a Hitler sign was a one-off crackpot, check out those signs, including a very clear gun-violence message towards the governor.

Vouchers Work

Patterico highlights one woman’s success story for her child because of school vouchers. However, he notes that, far from being just one bit of anecdotal evidence, this is a trend. He points to a CATO article that highlights a new federal study.

The latest federal study of the D.C. voucher program finds that voucher students have pulled significantly ahead of their public school peers in reading and perform at least as well as public school students in math. It also reports that the average tuition at the voucher schools is $6,620. That is ONE QUARTER what the District of Columbia spends per pupil on education ($26,555), according to the District’s own fiscal year 2009 budget.

Better results at a quarter the cost. And Democrats in Congress have sunset its funding and are trying to kill it. Shame on them.

If President Obama believes his own rhetoric on the need for greater efficiency in government education spending and for improved educational opportunities, he should work with the members of his own party to continue and grow this program.

But frankly, it’s all about the unions, not about education, for Democratic politicians.

Friday Link Wrap-up

Haven’t found much to expound upon this week, or perhaps my blogging muse took an extended (if you’ll pardon the expression) Christmas vacation.  But indeed, I still have been perusing the ‘net, and have found a few interesting links.

If you’ve ever wondered why the ACLU seems to regularly side with organizations and issues that seem to oppose traditional American values, this collection of unearthed letters between the ACLU founder, Roger Baldwin and the American Communist Party should shed some light.  (Hat tip: Holy Coast)

Y’know that phrase, "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it"?  Here’s you’re chance to learn from it.  If you want to find out how ObamaCare will turn out, just look at the broken promises and escalating costs of RomneyCare in Massachusetts.

An impressive new invention from Germany; heat balls

Chavez currently has dictatorial powers in Venezuela, and is currently in a stand-off with American diplomats.  So he wants the US to change the envoy to Caracas to one of his choice of useful idiots; Sean Penn, Oliver Stone or Bill Clinton.  Talk about gall.

So many liberal blogs got this absolutely wrong, you wonder if poor civics or history classes in public school lead to liberalism.  Talking Points Memo illustrated this perfectly.  When reading the Constitution in the House chambers yesterday, Republicans read what amounted to the amended Constitution, skipping parts that were superseded by later amendments.  This included counting only 3/5ths of the slaves.  Evan McMorris-Santoro writes:

It’s fairly likely that no elected politician wants to stand up and read aloud the Founder’s vision of African Americans as equaling three-fifths of a white person, so the GOP has decided to leave that part, and others, out when the Constitution is read today.

This was no "vision" of discounting African-Americans.  In fact, the "Three-Fifths Compromise" did two things when it was written into the Constitution.  It gave us a "united" states, which would have been impossible if slave states would not agree to the new Constitution, and it kept slave states from gaining too many representatives in the House (by simply importing "constituents") to keep slavery from ever being abolished.  It was a compromise, not a "vision", and it paved the way for the abolition of slavery.  A good explanation is here.

The federal debt is certainly cause for concern, but there’s also the problem of individual cities who have been financing all sorts of things with municipal bond debt.  This, too, has gotten out of control, leading us to another bailout-or-bankruptcy issue.

And finally, the roll of homeschoolers has grown to 2 million, 4% of all school-aged children.  Thanks, public schools.  Couldn’t have done it without you.

Friday Link Wrap-up

The deficit commission that President Obama convened agrees that most of ObamaCare should be kept.  Unfortunately, they believe in order to keep it fiscally sustainable is for it to include Death Panels.  They laughed at Sarah Palin for predicting this.  I don’t hear anyone laughing now.

Speaking of Sarah Palin, Richard Cohen (no conservative, he) just can stop reading about (and apparently, can’t stop writing about) the former Alaska governor.  And in writing about her and her beliefs, he includes this bit of honesty:

The left just doesn’t get America. I say this as a fellow-traveler of liberalism and as one who recognizes that many liberals fear the heartland. They see it as a dark place of primitive religions and too many guns. For such a person, Palin is the perfect personification of the unknown and feared Ugly American who will emerge from the heartland to seize Washington, turning off all the lights and casting America into darkness. The left does not merely disagree with the right; it fears it.

Hospitals closing or ridden with crime.  Doctors quitting the medical practice or leaving the country to find greener pastures in which to practice.  Shortages of medical supplies.  While these are predictions of what will come with ObamaCare, we have yet another example of where socialized medicine is failing.  Mr. Obama, call Mr. Chavez to find out how well it’s working in Venezuela.  (Hint:  It’s not.)

The Christmas song “Silver Bells” was inspired by the sound of Salvation Army bell-ringers outside department stores.  But apparently familiarity breeds contempt.

The character of Aslan in the Narnia series of books, as well established in “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”, is an allegory for Jesus Christ.  That was C. S. Lewis’ purpose.  But Liam Neeson, who provides the voice for Aslan in the movie series, has apparently been infected with the political correctness syndrome that pervades Hollywood.

Ahead of the release of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader next Thursday, Neeson said: ‘Aslan symbolises a Christ-like figure but he also symbolises for me Mohammed, Buddha and all the great spiritual leaders and prophets over the centuries.

‘That’s who Aslan stands for as well as a mentor figure for kids – that’s what he means for me.’

Mohammed and Buddha died for your sins?  Really?

Does Romans chapter 1 condemn homosexuality?  Some interpret it in such a way that it doesn’t, in spite of the words chosen.  John Stott takes apart such interpretations.

Bryan Longworth had an interesting tweet the other day.  “Comprehensive sex ed has been taught in schools 4 over 40 years. The results? Epedemic #STIs. How’s perversion working 4 U?”  Not so well, judging by the results.

And finally, Chuck Asay has some words for Democrats who are ostensibly fighting for the workers.  (Click for a larger version.)


Friday Link Wrap-up (Catch-up Edition)

More links this week since I didn’t get around to it last week.

What’s keeping this recession going for so long?  Ask James Madison.  Yes, that James Madison.

The 6th Circuit judge that upheld the health care reform individual mandate to buy insurance has really redefined terms in order to make his ruling.

With that reasoning, Judge Steeh thoroughly unmoors the commerce clause from its concern with actual economic activity that Congress can regulate to a more amorphous realm of “economic decisions” which apparently include the decision to NOT enter into commerce at all.

A better example of an activist judge you’re not likely to find soon.

Roger Ebert, in reviewing “Waiting for Superman”, acknowledges that the private school highlighted does better than public school, proclaiming “Our schools do not work”.  His solution?  (Wait for it…)  More money for public schools, for the ones that don’t work instead of encouraging what does work and at typically a lower cost per student.  Liberal education policies are now just talking points rather than reasoned arguments.

Remembering a sociopathic mass murderer, who is extolled by liberal students T-shirts everywhere.  (No, not Charles Manson. I’m talking about Che Guevara.)

The Rise of the (Conservative, Christian) Woman in American politics.

Juan Williams responds to the NPR sacking.  Ah, the tolerant Left in action.

And to close it out, two cartoons to make up for missing a week.  I just love Chuck Asay.  (Click for larger versions.)

Friday Link Wrap-up

Yes, it’s that time of the week again, where I toss out a bunch of links that I was too lazy to do a full blog post on.

Turns out the Iraq war didn’t break the bank.  It’s understandable that you might think that, but that only indicates a need to get your news from more sources.  The MSM loves to parrot DNC talking points.

(Liberal) feminism is dead.  Long live (conservative) feminism!

Jim Wallis said that Marvin Olasky (World magazine editor) “lies for a living” when Olasky noted that Wallis got $200,000 from George Soros.  When it was pointed out that he, in fact, did, then came the abject apology in sackcloth and ashes, “Well, it was so small I forgot.” UPDATE:  Wallis has issued a formal apology.
Three months ago, James Cameron was ready to “call those deniers out into the street at high noon and shoot it out with those boneheads”, speaking of those who dispute anthropogenic global warming.  At the very last minute, after changing his demands over and over for how a debate was to be run, he cancelled.  Now that takes guts.  Or something.

In England, teachers are dropping history lessons on the Holocaust and the Crusades, for fear of offending Muslims who are taught Holocaust denial and a different view of the Crusades at local mosques.  They’re afraid of challenging “anti-Semitic sentiment and Holocaust denial among some Muslim pupils”.  So much for academia being the standard bearer of truth and free speech.

A back door repeal of the First Amendment by … social workers?  Well, when liberal ideologues get ahold of professional organizations, nuttiness does ensue.  Look at most unions.

And finally, a US district judge put a temporary halt to embryonic stem cell research.  Some believe this will devastate scientific research, but  Steve Breen puts it in perspective.  (Click for a larger image.)

Vacation Link Wrap-up

I’ve been on vacation for about 10 days, so I have some catch-up to do here.  Here are some stories I noticed over the break.  Others will get their own post.

"Young Men’s Christian Association" to be renamed "Young".  This is ostensibly to remain more inclusive, but it’s not like folks have been staying away in droves or anything.  Just some more political correctness, removing even the hint of anything Christian in our culture, even if only ever referred to by its initial.

Handing out the Gospel of John is now "disturbing the peace" in Dearborn, Michigan.  Four kids from a group called Acts 17 Apologetics face jail time for handing out the text and talking to people at a Muslim festival.  The link on their name goes to their YouTube channel.  I’ve watched some of the videos, and I just don’t see "harassment" or "disturbing" going on.

Christian beliefs are now "unethical" when it comes to counseling, according to Augusta (GA) State University.  They want Jennifer Keeton to agree to a plan that includes "diversity sensitivity training" and changing her beliefs before they will allow her to graduate.  Read the article and, even if you disagree with her, tell me that this doesn’t sound like Soviet Russia.

The "JournoList" situation really blew up while I was out.  Oh, that liberal media.  Kenneth Anderson said it best, "To all you non-JournoLister reporters out there, please be aware that your credibility has just taken a big hit, because we, your faithful readers, don’t actually know who is or who isn’t.  You can thank JournoList for that, you can thank Ezra Klein, and you can thank the Washington Post, which has done its outstanding professionals absolutely no favors in any of this."

When even Democrats are poised to revolt over taxes (however temporary that might be), you know there’s a problem

And an appropriate cartoon from Chuck Asay:

Chuck Asay

Friday Link Wrap-Up

They check immigration status at traffic stops.  This can only be referring to those racists in … Rhode Island.  Do you think we’re likely to see a lawsuit from the Justice Department there?  Yea, me neither.  In fact, it’s already been upheld by the First Circuit Court of Appeals when a private citizen sued.  Yet the government is going after Arizona for this.  Can’t have anything to do with who each state voted for in the last election, right?

"A federal district court judge in Boston today struck down the 1996 federal law that defines marriage as a union exclusively between a man and a woman."  I’ve read portions of the ruling, and I can actually see the judge’s point.  However, I think the 10th Amendment’s "equal protection" clause is being misused a bit to now refer to things like health benefits, which doesn’t really strike me as "protection" from a government’s viewpoint.  And Jack Balkin, a supporter of same-sex marriage incidentally, wonders (among other things) if liberals really want to go down this path with the 10th Amendment.  "As much as liberals might applaud the result, they should be aware that the logic of his arguments, taken seriously, would undermine the constitutionality of wide swaths of federal regulatory programs and seriously constrict federal regulatory power."

The "biggest revolution in the NHS [Britain’s National Health System] for 60 years" is … giving doctors responsibility for overseeing patient care!  Yes folks, it took 60 years of socialized medicine for them to realize that.  Do you want to lose those 60 years of common sense here?

Much of the media is saying that the report that was commissioned by the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia to investigate the ClimateGate document dump exonerated the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia.  Except there’s the issue of the biggest thing critics have been harping on; the "hide the decline" suggestion that inconvenient data has been reworked to be consistent with the conclusion already drawn.  Buried in the report is this gem:

On the allegation that the references in a specific e-mail to a “trick” and to “hide the decline” in respect of a 1999 WMO report figure show evidence of intent to paint a misleading picture, we find that, given its subsequent iconic significance (not least the use of a similar figure in the IPCC Third Assessment Report), the figure supplied for the WMO Report was Misleading.

Terry Miller explains:

The researchers were not trying to hide evidence of a decline in global temperatures over the last decade—we have plenty of actual thermometer readings to show temperatures in recent years. What they were trying to hide was the discrepancy between actual temperature readings and the temperatures suggested by tree ring data. They have relied on tree ring data to show that the earth was cooler in the past. If the tree ring data is not reliable (as the discrepancy in recent years would suggest), then maybe the earth was actually hotter in the past than these researchers would have us believe—and perhaps the hot temperatures of recent years do not represent unprecedented global warming but just natural variation in climate.

So the big issue that critics latched on to is, indeed, still a big issue.

A Silver Lining to Katrina

Four years after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, the schools there have made an impressive turnaround.  How this was done was with rebuilding the system with school choice and competition.  It’s working.

Friday Link Wrap Up

Two weeks of links to catch up!

Closing Guantanamo; big priority during the campaign, not so much now.  (Well, especially since even Democrats don’t even want to do it.)

The Obama administration turned down using Dutch oil skimmers because they couldn’t meet our stringent government environmental regulations on how pure the decontaminated water was that they dumped back into the Gulf of Mexico, right on-sight of the spill.  Instead, we transport the oily water to facilities and decontaminate it there.  Huge efficiency drop during a major catastrophe because, ironically, of environmental regulationsRead the whole article for more things we turned down that could have averted a lot of this problem.

Our own Treasury Secretary is ignorant of economic history.  Timothy Geithner said this at the latest G-20 summit:  “One of the mistakes made in the 1930s was that countries pulled back their recovery efforts too soon, prolonging the Great Depression.”  However, precisely the opposite happened.  Recovery efforts failed, lasted too long, and that’s what prolonged the Great Depression.  NewsBusters has the charts.

School vouchers improve graduation rates.  Now we have a government study to prove what common sense already told us.

Sharia Law in the UK:  Dogs barred from buses so as not to offend Muslims.

Democrats have decided that there will be no budget this year.  Hey, at least (this time) they’re being honest about it.  I guess they’ll just spend until it doesn’t feel good anymore.  Or until they’re voted out.  Whichever comes first.

In Venezuela’s socialist paradise, the government’s Food Ministry rounds up 120 tons of rice because it might be sold above regulated prices.  At the same time, 80,000 tons of food was found rotting in government warehouses.  Government efficiency at its finest.

Another example of bait-and-switch in the passage of ObamaCare.  Obama rejected the idea that the individual mandate was a tax increase, but in defending it from state lawsuits, the administration does classify it as a tax increase.  This way, the mandate falls under a law that forbids the states from interfering in tax collections.  In addition, “an early draft of an administration regulation estimates … a majority of workers—51 percent—will be in plans subject to new federal requirements….”

If your 11-year-old asks a particular Massachusetts school for a condom, they’ll get it, no questions asked.  Also, parents objections will not be taken into consideration.  Actually, there’s no real age limit on the policy; any kid can get one.  Only in Massachusetts.  For now.

And finally, all that hard work pays off, but not the way you thought it would.  (From Chuck Asay.  Click for a larger version.)

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