According to a Baltimore School Teacher it’s not Bad Teachers but Bad Students that are the Problem

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 4th, 2013

Week in Review

The left keeps saying we need to have a dialog on race.  Which means do nothing, excuse bad behavior and spend more money.  That’s their idea of dialog.  Because for them there’s nothing to talk about.  For when it comes to racial issues they have two simple rules.  Rule #1:  Whites are to blame.  Rule #2: When blacks are to blame see Rule #1.  Why?  To curry favor in the black community.  To get them to vote for them.  And that’s all they care about.  Even if they worsen the condition in the black community in the process.  Because they don’t care about the plight of black people.  They just want their votes.

In today’s society you cannot criticize blacks behaving badly without the left calling you a racist.  Even if you don’t mention race.  If you say ‘Joe is behaving badly’ and Joe is black then your comment ‘Joe is behaving badly’ reeks of racism.  Because of this people are reluctant to criticize blacks behaving badly.  Because it will bring the wrath of the left down upon you.  Stirring up trouble for you where you work and where you live.  Which is the last thing most people want.  So they don’t criticize blacks behaving badly.  Which only encourages some blacks to behave badly (see A brave Baltimore teacher speaks the truth about schools, students by GREGORY KANE posted 8/1/2013 on the Washington Examiner).

Dave Miceli doesn’t know me from a hole in the ground, but he’s my new hero.

Anyone that can dredge up the guts to teach in Baltimore’s public schools automatically becomes a candidate for hero status in my book, especially if said anyone has taught in these schools for 20 years, as Miceli has.

But it was his bold, insightful, no-punches-pulled letter to the editors of the July 15 edition of the Baltimore Sun that put Miceli on my hero’s list…

“I have taught in the Baltimore public school system for the past two decades. What we need is better students. We have many excellent teachers. I cannot count the number of students who have physically destroyed property in the schools.

“They have trashed brand new computers, destroyed exit signs, set multiple fires, destroyed many, many lockers, stolen teachers’ school supplies, written their filth on the tops of classroom desks, defecated in the bathrooms and stairwells, assaulted teachers (beyond constantly telling them to perform certain impossible acts upon themselves) and refused to do any homework or class work.

You can bet that Baltimore school honchos and some elected officials want Miceli fired so badly they can almost taste it. Oddly enough, what probably saves Miceli from being canned are two things that conservatives — rightly so, in most cases — feel are precisely what’s wrong with American education.

That would be teachers’ unions and tenure. With his two decades of teaching, Miceli has tenure. Members of the Baltimore Teachers Union — and its leaders — probably don’t know whether to love or lynch the guy.

So Miceli probably knew that he wouldn’t be fired for his letter, but he’s courageous for saying what he said in a city that’s majority black, with a school system that’s majority black, and where most of the elected officials are black Democrats.

A majority black city?  A majority black school system?  And a majority of black elected officials?  So it’s safe to say that at least some of these students behaving badly are black.  And if these predominantly black Democrat cities have a high black unemployment rate perhaps the conversation we should be having is why aren’t these students doing their homework?  Why aren’t they doing their class work?  For if they aren’t doing their school work how are they going to possess the skills an employer would expect of a high school graduate?  And if they’re not doing their work in high school how are they going to be able to go on to college.  Which is just a much harder high school?

Perhaps this is the reason for the high black unemployment rates in our big Democrat-controlled cities.  Because the left sacrifices these kids for political reasons.  So they can blame racist white Republicans for preventing these kids from doing their homework and their class work.  For remember rule number 2.  Which states, “When blacks are to blame see Rule #1.”  Which states “Whites are to blame.”  Even when it’s black teachers in a black school district in a black city run by black Democrats.

This is the dialog the left wants to have.  So the right understand these two rules.  So they, too, do nothing, excuse bad behavior and spend more money.

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Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg are taking on the Teachers Unions over Teacher Evaluations

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 2nd, 2013

Week in Review

Once upon a time Republicans ruled New York.  George Pataki was governor from January 1, 1995 – December 31, 2006.  And Rudy Giuliani was mayor of New York City from January 1, 1994 – December 31, 2001.  Sparking a renaissance in New York.  Especially in New York City.  For Giuliani cut crime and improved the quality of life for New Yorkers living in America’s greatest city.  But I don’t recall them taking on the public schools like the current Democrat leadership (see New York City’s schools could lose 2,500 teachers by next year by Hilary Russ posted 1/28/2013 on Reuters).

New York City’s public schools over two years will lose $724 million in state aid and as many as 2,500 teachers through attrition, because of a labor union conflict over a teacher evaluation system, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on Monday.

The schools lost $250 million of that total earlier this month after the city and United Federation of Teachers failed to agree on a way to evaluate teacher performance.

City schools would lose that same baseline funding amount in the state’s coming fiscal year, which begins April 1, plus another $224 million under the state budget proposed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo last week, Bloomberg said at a joint legislative hearing…

City schools could lose $1 billion altogether in baseline state funding without action on the teacher evaluations, said New York City Comptroller John Liu, who testified after Bloomberg.

Bloomberg, however, said that the union tried to introduce new provisions to an agreement at the last minute that would have made the evaluation system a “fraud” because it would have expired in two years – the same amount of time required to conduct the evaluations, making the process pointless.

This is not what you expect to hear coming from Democrat governors and Democrat mayors.  For the teachers unions help these people get into office.  By funding their campaigns with union dues.  And getting out the vote with their foot soldiers.  It is doubtful that these actions will swing the teachers’ support over to the Republican cause.  But it is interesting to see these Democrats bite the hand that feeds them.

It also shows how contentious teacher evaluations are.  For the unions are willing to lose $1 billion in funding to avoid evaluating their teachers.  One has to wonder why?  Why are they so dead-set against evaluations when every industry in the private sector evaluates their employees?  The common answer is that evaluations aren’t fair.  That they just measure a student’s ability to read, write and do math.  And not more important things like helping these kids see things from a liberal point of view.

The problem is this, though.  Businesses want to hire graduates who can read, write and do math.  For these are necessary skills in the business world.  And seeing things from a liberal point of view will not allow American kids to keep up with the Chinese and Indian kids.  Who are learning how to read, write and do math.  Which is why more and more jobs are being out sourced to these countries.  Their kids score better on standardized tests than our kids.  And end up getting better jobs.

This may be why these Democrats are taking on public education.  New York has some of the highest tax rates in the country.  These high rates are causing the best and brightest to leave New York.  As more and more of their earnings are taxed away.  And who is replacing the best and brightest?  The kids graduating from the public schools.  Who apparently aren’t doing as well as they could.  As Bloomberg and Cuomo are playing hardball when it comes to these teacher evaluations.  There must be a reason for that.  And one can only assume that they want their high school graduates to be better and brighter.

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Charter Schools outperform Public Schools in America and Britain

Posted by PITHOCRATES - July 8th, 2012

Week in Review

Public education today is more about politics than education.  Which is why charter schools often outperform public schools.  Because the charter schools focus on education.  While the public schools focus on politics (see A 20-year lesson posted 7/7/2012 on The Economist).

FOR decades too many educationalists have succumbed to the tyranny of low expectations, at least when it comes to those at the bottom of the heap. The assumption has been that the poor, often black, children living in some of the world’s biggest and richest cities such as New York, Los Angeles and London face too many challenges to learn. There was little hope that school could make any difference to their future unless the problem of poverty could first be “solved”, which it couldn’t.

Such attitudes consigned whole generations to the scrapheap. But 20 years ago, in St Paul, Minnesota, the first of America’s charter schools started a revolution. There are now 5,600 of them. They are publicly funded, but largely independent of the local educational bureaucracies and the teachers’ unions that live in unhealthy symbiosis with them.

Charter schools are controversial, for three reasons. They represent an “experiment” or “privatisation”. They largely bypass the unions. And their results are mixed. In some states—Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana and Missouri—the results of charter pupils in maths and English are significantly better than those of pupils in traditional public schools. In others—Arizona and Ohio—they have done badly.

Yet the virtue of experiments is that you can learn from them; and it is now becoming clear how and where charter schools work best.  Poor pupils, those in urban environments and English-language learners fare better in charters (see article). In states that monitor them carefully and close down failing schools quickly, they work best. And one great advantage is that partly because most are free of union control, they can be closed down more easily if they are failing…

It is pretty clear now that giving schools independence—so long as it is done in the right way, with the right monitoring, regulation and safeguards from the state—works. Yet it remains politically difficult to implement. That is why it needs a strong push from national governments. Britain is giving school independence the shove it needs. In America, artificial limits on the number of charter schools must be ended, and they must get the same levels of funding as other schools.

It remains politically difficult to implement because public education has two goals.  Generate union dues that can fund the Democrat Party.  And to produce Democrat voters.  The proof of the latter is that the youth vote goes to the Democrats.  There’s a reason for that.  And it’s the same reason why school kids hold picket signs with their striking teachers.  These kids don’t understand life, politics or economics yet.  They only know what their teachers tell them.  Who are not exactly unbiased when it comes to their politics.  Or their salary and benefit packages.  Which they put before their students.  At least, based on the success of the charter schools over the public schools.

There are a lot of great teachers in the public school system.  But they aren’t all great.  And it’s all but impossible to get rid of the bad teachers.  Or to close the bad schools.  And it’s impossible to pull the politics out of the educational curriculum.  Kids today can barely name the Founding Fathers or explain what republican government is but they know everything about global warming.  And everything bad America ever did as a nation.  Which just doesn’t prepare students today for the high-tech economy.  

Even the liberal elite admit public education is a failure by the fact that most of them have their kids in private school.  And these are the people responsible for the failure of public education.  They implemented their progressive views.  Because they knew better than we did.  Knew what was best for our kids.  Yet when it comes to their own kids they don’t want anything to do with the train wreck they made of public education.  If there was ever a vote of no-confidence for public education this is it.  They don’t like.  Want nothing to do with it.  But it’s not only okay for our kids but it’s necessary to rescue our kids from our bad parenting.  Because if the public schools weren’t there to make Democrat voters how can they trust parents to do that most important job?

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LESSONS LEARNED #78: “It’s a dishonest politician that sneaks sneaky legislation into a bill.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 11th, 2011

The Obama Stimulus Bill was mostly Democrat Pork and Earmarks

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was a huge stimulus bill to create jobs.  And put people back to work.  It cost about $800 billion.  And it didn’t work.  Some say it didn’t work because it wasn’t big enough.  Others say it didn’t work because it wasn’t stimulus but rather a 40-year Democrat wish list of pet projects.  Which the Democrats could finally enact having control of the House, the Senate and the White House for the first time in a long time.  And they took control of this bill.  As Nancy Pelosi said, “We won the election. We wrote the bill.”

So what’s in the bill?  Well, President Obama said it would contain no pork.  No earmarks.  Just spending that would create ‘or save’ jobs.  Like infrastructure projects.  Rebuilding America’s roads and bridges.  But according to the Wall Street Journal, “Some $30 billion, or less than 5% of the spending in the bill, is for fixing bridges or other highway projects.”  They further note that of all the spending in the bill little would actually create jobs.  About “12 cents of every $1…even many of these projects aren’t likely to help the economy immediately.”

Take high-speed rail, for example.  The Washington Post noted the bill included “$8 billion for high-speed rail projects, for example, including money that could benefit a controversial proposal for a magnetic-levitation rail line between Disneyland, in California, and Las Vegas…”  One thing about big rail projects, they don’t stimulate.  Building railroads takes a long, long time.  The higher the speed, the longer the time.  Because high-speed trains have more costly infrastructure.  And dedicated track.  With no grade crossings.  And before you build anything you have to do environmental impact studies.  Then survey the entire route.  Then, once you have a proposed route, you can begin the engineering.  It could be years before any ground is broken. 

If any ground is broken.  Because currently high-speed rail is all pie in the sky.  Only two lines to date operate at a profit.  One in Japan (Tokyo to Osaka line).  The other in France (Paris to Lyon line).  All others require government subsidies in one form or another.  Because these are costly to build.  And costly to maintain.  So this is stimulus that won’t stimulate.  But it will set the stage for greater future government spending.  Making it more pork than stimulus.  Snuck into the bill by the Senate.  When the House bill went to the Senate.  For their turn to steal from the treasury.

Only Schools with Union Teachers did well in Stimulus Bill

The stimulus bill also included $90 billion for the Department of Education.  But language in the bill restricted the use of that money.  Quoting from the Wall Street Journal, “the House declares on page 257 that “No recipient . . . shall use such funds to provide financial assistance to students to attend private elementary or secondary schools.””

In other words, only schools with union teachers may use this money.  Dues-paying union teachers.  And the teachers unions support Democrat candidates.  Which makes this not quite stimulus.  But politics.  Profitable politics at that.  As some of this stimulus money will make it back to Democrat coffers thanks to those union dues.

According to Certification Map, education received some $90 billion in stimulus money.  And their website breaks down the spending:

  • $44.5 billion in aid to local school districts to prevent layoffs and cutbacks, with flexibility to use the funds for school modernization and repair (State Equalization Fund)
  • $15.6 billion to increase Pell Grants from $4,731 to $5,350
  • $13 billion for low-income public school children
  • $12.2 billion for IDEA special education
  • $2.1 billion for Head Start
  • $2 billion for childcare services
  • $650 million for educational technology
  • $300 million for increased teacher salaries
  • $250 million for states to analyze student performance
  • $200 million to support working college students
  • $70 million for the education of homeless children

For a bill not containing any pork or earmarks these look a lot like pork and earmarks.  I mean, they sure ain’t ‘shovel-ready let’s rebuild the infrastructure jobs’ like we were led to believe.  Sure, they may ‘invest in our future’ so we may ‘win the future’, but it doesn’t create jobs like a stimulus bill is supposed to do. 

This isn’t stimulus.  These are just Democrat pet projects.  Added to the bill in a moment of crisis.  To take advantage of the crisis.  To get the things they’ve been unable to get during the normal legislative process.

Never let a Serious Crisis go to Waste when Writing a Stimulus Bill

When you look at the bill this is what most of it is.  Just a bunch of Democrat pet projects.  Passed when they still had control of both houses of Congress and the White House.  And a delicious crisis.  For as Rahm Emanuel said, “Never let a serious crisis go to waste.  What I mean by that is it’s an opportunity to do things you couldn’t do before.” 

Sure, they’ve always hidden things in bills before.  But rarely does $800 billion of free spending come along.  They weren’t going to attach this pork to a bill.  This pork was the bill.  And it included a little bit of everything.  Including green energy.  Green Chip Stocks list this spending on their website:

  • $2.5 billion for energy efficiency and renewable energy research
  • $1 billion energy efficiency programs including energy-efficient appliances and trucks and buses that run on alternative fuel
  • $4.5 billion to boost the energy efficiency of federal buildings
  • $6.3 billion for energy efficiency and conservation grants
  • $5 billion to weatherize old buildings
  • $2.3 billion in tax credits for energy efficiency technology manufacturers

Last time I looked ‘research’ was not a ‘shovel ready’ project.  Neither are alternative fuel programs.  Or federal renovation projects.  Or the government granting process.  (It takes forever and a day for construction projects to start when there is federal money involved.)  And tax credits only help a few people work so they can build things that won’t sell at market prices.

Again, not stimulus.  But pork.  Earmarks.  Despite everything they told us. They weren’t going to create jobs and fix the economy.  They were settling their political accounts.

Democrats took Advantage of a Crisis to sneak Pet Projects into Law

This shameless Democrat spending spree (remember what Nancy Pelosi said – “We won the election. We wrote the bill”) helped to push the deficit into record territory.  Which caused S&P to downgrade our credit.  All because the Democrats took advantage of a crisis to sneak a lot of their pet projects into law.

It just goes to show you that you shouldn’t trust politicians.  And, based on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, you should especially not trust Democrats.  For they are quite sneaky.  And often don’t do as they say.  For the stimulus bill wasn’t going to have any pork or earmarks.  But in reality about 88% of the bill was nothing but pork and earmarks.  Which is a lot more than none.

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FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH #60: “Fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me. Fool me again shame on public education.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 5th, 2011

The Founding Fathers’ Experiment in Self-Government

Benjamin Franklin said when the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.  Because people tend to be greedy.  And lazy.  And they don’t understand public finance.  Especially the uneducated ones.  And there were a lot of uneducated people during our founding.  The Founding Fathers worried about this.  Because governments past have always exploited the uneducated for personal gain.  Kings and lords would give the poor some alms to make them feel good about their lives of unending toil and suffering on the feudal estates.  Should you not be lucky enough to have been born with the ‘right’ last name.  The new United States of America was going to change that.  Here it wouldn’t matter who your father was.  Here, no one would be better than you.

But only if this experiment in self-government succeeded.  So they were very careful when they wrote the Constitution.  And the type of government for the new nation would not be a democracy.  Instead, they chose a representative republic.  For the Founding Fathers all feared democracies.  Which when you come down to it is nothing more than mob rule.  If the mob is racists they’ll pass racist laws.  If the mob is sexist, they’ll pass sexist laws.  And if the mob is greedy and lazy, they’ll vote themselves money from the federal treasury.  This is the risk of democracy.  All you need is a majority.  And whatever you want is yours.  No matter how destructive it is to the country.

That’s why the Founding Fathers did NOT give us a democracy.  We have intermediaries between the mob and the actual law-making.  We call these people our representatives.  At the founding, these were the best of the best.  Well educated and/or experienced.  Men of great honor and integrity.  Imbued with a selfless sense of duty.  These men went out of their way NOT to prosper from their government service.  Really.  It’s nothing at all like today where government service is nothing more than a ticket to a fat pension and early retirement.  Back then such a thought was anathema to the Founding Fathers.  Which is very evident by the type of government they created.

Indirect Elections temper the Populist Tendencies

The Constitutional Convention was a hot, miserable, long summer in Philadelphia.  There was little agreement.  No one liked the final product much.  But most agreed it was the best that they could do.  Even then the U.S. was big.  Lots of different people trying to make the final product favor their state more than the others.  And few were in favor of giving the new central government much power.  They all feared that this new central power would consolidate its power.  And regulate the states to fiefdoms in a new kingdom.  Just like in the Old World.  So they took as many opportunities to restrict federal power.  And minimize the influence of the populist mob.

The new federal government was a limited government.  It was only to do the things the states couldn’t do well.  Maintain an army and navy.  Treat with other nations.  Those things that needed a singular national identity.  Everything else was to remain with the states.  And to make sure the states would not lose their sovereignty, the states’ legislators would choose their federal senators.  The House of Representatives would have direct elections.  Being the closest to true democracy, the House risked being influenced by the mob.  The Senate, then, would be wise and prudent to temper the populist tendencies of the House.  To keep the House from doing something stupid.  Like voting the people the treasury.  (Of course, the states lost a lot their sovereignty when we changed this by amendment to a popular vote like the House.)

The president was to be elected indirectly, too.  Like the senators.  The Founders were worried that the office of the president could be easily corrupted.  So they put great restrictions on its powers.  And made it as difficult as possible for any one group or interest to ‘cheat’ and get their man into office.  Hence the indirect election.  Again, to protect their sovereignty, this fell to the states.  State legislatures would choose electors who would then vote for president.  (With quite a few close elections, there have been calls to eliminate the Electoral College and replace it with a pure popular vote.  Of course, it is usually the loser in a close election who wants this change.  If the same thing happens in a subsequent close election where they win they are quite happy with the Electoral College.)

Talented People create things to trade

The reason the Founders wanted so many people between the voters and the actual law-making is to keep people from voting irresponsibly.  The federal budget is pretty big.  And people see that it is big.  They figure that because they pay taxes, there’s no reason why they can’t have stuff from the federal government.  In a true democracy, the people could vote to cut taxes and increase spending.  They could vote themselves a monthly stipend to live on and quit their jobs.  An uneducated mob can easily do this.  Who wouldn’t want to get a paycheck for doing nothing AND pay less in taxes?  It’s very attractive.  If I ran for office on such a platform a lot of people would probably vote for me.  But there’s a problem with such generosity.  You see, government can’t give money to people unless they take money from other people first.

There appears to be a popular misconception about public finance.  Many believe that government has a stash of cash that they can give out whenever they please.  And that this stash of cash has mystical power.  That it’s endless.  And when they give it away more just magically appears.  But the government has no money.  The public treasury isn’t filled with the government’s money.  It’s filled with our money.  That’s our tax dollars in there.  Or it’s borrowed money.  Borrowed money that costs interest.  Paid with our tax dollars.  Or it’s printed money.  Money created out of nothing.  Which makes our money worth less.  Which makes everything we buy more expensive.  We call this inflation.  You just can’t print money.  Because it just dilutes the purchasing power of the money already in circulation.  It’s like a bartender selling you whisky from a bottle that’s one part water and 4 parts whisky.  It not only tastes bad.  But you’ll have to pay more to get the same buzz from an honest bartender.

The reason why printing money doesn’t work?  Because it isn’t the money we want.  It’s the things that money can buy that we want.  Who sits in an empty room and enjoys looking at big piles of cash?  No one.  Take the cash out of your wallet or purse and see how long you can stare at it.  Probably not long.  Why?  Because it’s boring.  We don’t enjoy the cash.  We enjoy the things in the room we trade that cash for.  And this is key.  We trade.  We are traders.  Always have been.  And always will be.  We started out bartering for things.  You traded something you built (this is important) for something someone else built (equally important).  Talented people who created things met to trade.  And we still do this today.  The money just makes it easier to trade.  But this would not be possible if we all lived on a government stipend and nobody worked.  Because if no one worked, there would be no things to buy.  We would be sitting in an empty room staring at piles of useless money.

A Public Educational System that doesn’t Educate but Indoctrinates

The Founding Fathers understood all of this.  And they framed the Constitution accordingly.  They limited the powers of the federal government.  Minimized the amount of actual democracy/mob rule.  And minimized the amount of money in the federal treasury.  For they were capitalists.  They knew money left in the private sector stimulated local economies.  People created useful things.  Brought them to market.  And traded these useful things for other useful things.  That’s the way things were.  It’s not how they are now.  Politicians today are in politics for personal gain.  They pander to the voters.  Buy and sell favors.  Enrich themselves in the process.  And leave a swath of destruction in their wake.  And how are they able to do this?  Because the government has become more of a democracy than a representative republic.

Along the way the educational system failed.  Probably starting in the Sixties.  With the hippies in college.  Who went on to teach in the Seventies.  We spent less time on reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic.  And more on American white guilt for what happened to the Native Americans and a slave economy.  We learned less about the Founding Fathers.  And more about the people they wronged.  We learned less about American culture and more about diversity and multiculturalism.  We learned less about American Exceptionalism and more about American Imperialism.  We learned less about Western Civilization and more about ‘enlightened’ oppressive socialism.  We learned less about capitalism and more about the ‘fair’ redistribution of wealth.  Let’s face it.  Kids in school didn’t have a chance.  Their teachers were no longer teaching how America got to be exceptional.  They were teaching that America was anything but exceptional.  That we were guilty of every crime and injustice you could think of.  That America needed to change.  And that they, the young, our future, could make that change happen.

So the dumbing down of America began.  For those unable to escape the indoctrination of the new public education.  And the growth of government took off.  In fact, you can say that as society became ‘less American’ they became more dependent on government.  Where once rugged individualists dominated the land their numbers are thinning.  As slick politicians lure more people by the siren song of an easy life provided by government benefits.  And these politicians find the lie easier to sell with a public educational system that doesn’t educate but indoctrinates.  In fact, it’s quite an incestuous relationship.  The politicians spend more and more money on education.  The money goes to the teachers.  The teachers belong to unions.  The teachers’ unions support and donate to Democrat candidates.  So some of that tax money spent on education goes right back to the politicians that just increased educational spending.  And the teachers, eager to keep a good thing going, teach their students to become good Democrat voters.  Instead of teaching them about the three Rs, the Founding Fathers, American culture, American Exceptionalism, Western Civilization and capitalism.  As the standardized test scores show.  And does their irresponsible voting.

A Rising Sun or a Setting Sun 

America is fast approaching a crossroads.  People have learned that they can vote themselves money.  And have.  Politicians are pandering to these people for personal gain.  Offering to spend more and more money that we just don’t have.  Bringing us closer and closer to the end of the republic. 

Ben Franklin sat through that insufferable summer in Philadelphia.  Swatted at the giant horseflies in the hall.  He was old and his time was short.  He sat quietly during much of the debates.  Often staring at the sun carved into George Washington‘s chair.  He wondered if it was a rising sun.  Or a setting sun.  He saw it as symbolic of their little experiment in self-government and the work they were doing in that hall.  Was this already the end of their noble experiment?  Or was it just the beginning?  After the delegates voted to send the new Constitution to the states for ratification he breathed a sigh of relief.  For it was a rising sun.

I guess that question is once again open to debate.

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LESSONS LEARNED #26: “If we need Big Government to protect us from ourselves, then our public schools can’t be the best place to learn.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 12th, 2010

WE ARE WHAT they teach us.  And here is a little of what our teachers taught us.  And a little of what we learned by observation.

WHEN I WAS in grade school, our teachers went on strike.  It was great.  Another week or so of summer vacation.  But I saw a curious thing.  Some of my classmates were carrying picket signs.  And there they were, walking with the teachers.  I could not understand why anyone would want to help to end an extended summer vacation.  That’s all I knew about a teacher’s strike.  I had no idea why they didn’t want to go back to work.  I just knew it meant I didn’t have to go back to school yet.

The signs my fellow students carried said something about making our schools better.  As kids typically don’t like being in school, I couldn’t imagine they thought much about improving the educational system.  Other than greatly shortening the school day.  And school year.  But giving a pay raise to our teachers?  Giving them more benefits?  How, exactly, was that going to make school better?  I mean, if they got more pay and benefits, our education would get worse, not better.  They would just transfer money from the classroom to the teachers.  Unless the city raised property taxes to replace the classroom money that was given to the teachers.  And that would only increase the household costs of these kids’ parents.  Meaning less presents at Christmas.  Couldn’t these kids see the folly of their ways?

Of course they couldn’t.  They were just useful pawns.  They hadn’t the foggiest idea why teachers go on strike.  The teachers told them what to say.  What to think.  And they lied to these kids.  They weren’t striking because they wanted more money and better benefits.  Which they were.  No.  They told these innocent children that they were striking so they could have a better art department.  A better music department.  Better field trips.  That’s why these teachers were on the picket lines.  For the children.  And that every time there were cuts in the classroom, it was because of the greed of their parents who didn’t approve a millage.  Or who bitched about rising property taxes.  It was never their OWN greed.  Never that.

WE HAD A mock election when I was in 7th grade.  It was an ‘exercise in democracy’.  I remember voting for the Democrat candidate.  I don’t know why.  I knew nothing about politics.  I had only recently quit playing with my toy cars.  I was still reading The Hardy Boys mystery novels.  And thinking about the pretty girls in class.  What I don’t remember was spending much time thinking about the presidential election.  But there I was, voting for the Democrat candidate.  Who won in our little mock election.  But how did I, as well as my fellow students, know enough about politics to vote for the Democrat candidate?

Obviously, they taught us what to think.  That the Democrat candidate was the better candidate.  Because he was for the working man.  And cared about the little people.  That the Democrats cared about education.  Not profits.  All these touchy feely things.  Which was about all a kid could understand.  A kid can’t understand monetary or fiscal policy.  The intricacies of foreign policy.  They don’t have a clue about those things.  But kids do know that they should play nice.  And that’s what the Democrats are all about.  Playing nice.  And providing political muscle for the teachers’ unions in exchange for votes.  And obedient little minds of mush that will one day become voters.

I HAD A speech/debate class in high school.  Our teacher used the latest in progressive teaching methods.  A lot of touchy feely stuff.  Feel more than think.  We often did these exercises where the class as a whole debated the pros and cons of a particular position.  One day we went through a list of five or so.  I found the last one interesting.  It was about a ‘death ray’.

I had recently watched a program about nuclear weapons.  I learned that the size of their warheads was a function of the accuracy of the weapons.  They needed a big radius of destruction to guarantee the destruction of the target.  This is true for all weapon systems, conventional or nuclear.  The less accurate they are, the bigger the destructive force required.  (Whereas smart weapons today can have smaller warheads because they can be steered onto target.)  The more accurate the weapon, the less destructive it can be.  The less collateral damage there would be.  Less civilian dead.  The lesson described the ‘death ray’ as a weapon of pinpoint accuracy.  Based on what I just recently learned, I thought that it would be very interesting to discuss the pros of such a weapon.

When we finished discussing the position before the ‘death ray’, he said something like it was obvious that no one would argue for such a weapon system.  So there was no point in discussing it.  And then, as an afterthought, he said “unless someone does” with a condescending smirk.  I raised my hand.  I began to make some positive points.  He cut me off.  There was to be no discussion in favor of any weapon system in his class.  Turns out he was anti-war.  Free speech was one thing but not when you disagree with the program.

TWO BOOKS THAT that stand out from high school that were required reading are The Grapes of Wrath and Johnny Got His Gun.  You couldn’t find a couple of more depressing books if you tried.  The Grapes of Wrath was about the plight of a family who lost the farm during the dust bowl of the Great Depression.  In it you learned that bankers were evil.  Rich people were evil.  That Big Business was evil and exploited the poor.  Whereas poor people were virtuous.  And only poor people helped other poor people.  That Big Government was good and helped the poor people.  That FDR’s New Deal was good and helped the poor people.  That unions are good and protect those who Big Business exploits.  You get the picture?  Democrats good.  Republicans bad.  Because the Democrats take care of the little guy.  And evil bankers and fat cats are all Republicans.  Or so we were taught.

Johnny Got His Gun is an anti-war book.  It’s about a U.S. veteran of World War I.  Joe Bonham.  He lost about every part of the human body you could.  And yet they kept him alive.  I read it in the 10th grade.  Young and impressionable, I saw the folly of war.  War hurt good, young men like poor Joe Bonham.  (Incidentally, the name ‘Bonham’?  It’s from the French ‘bon homme’, good man.)  A pity only the anti-war crowd read it.  Apparently no one read it in Germany or Italy or the Soviet Union.  Maybe if their citizens did read it World War II would not have broken out.  Thankfully for the free world, though, men did serve in the armed forces despite what happened to poor Joe Bonham.  And they saved liberty.  And the burning of books did not spread further.  And books like this, because of men who did pick up a gun, remain in the public school curriculum.

Of course, you know why they (the public school teachers) are anti-war, don’t you?  It’s simple.  Any money spent on the military is money not spent on them.

I HAD AN electronics teacher in high school who was really cool.  He let us drink coffee in class (or, should I say, cream and sugar with some coffee).  He’d send a student across the street to buy donuts to eat with our coffee.  And he taught us how to build little black boxes that could unscramble scrambled television.  He was also a pretty good teacher.  A PNP transistor symbol?  The arrow was P-N (peein’) on the base.  (An NPN transistor symbol pointed away from the base.)  The resistor color code?  Bad boys rape our young girls but Violet gives willingly.  The whore.  (Hey, this stuff was funny when you’re only 16 years old.)  He even set up an interview for me at an electronic repair shop.  He liked being a teacher.  But he enjoyed doing concrete flatwork, too.  One of those things he did to pay the bills while in college.  And kept doing after college.  And that’s what he did during the summer, the peak of the construction season.  And made good money doing it.

MY MOM WORKED as a volunteer at my grade school.  She got to know the teachers pretty well.  She even went to their homes.  One lived not too far away from us.  I went with her once or twice.  Talk about surreal.  Seeing your teacher outside the school.  Acting so un-teacher-like.  Wearing something she doesn’t wear to school.  Having fun.  Laughing and joking.  And seeing her being a mom to her own kids.  That was weird.  We treated her politely and with respect in school.  Her kids whined “maaaa” at home just like I did when I was at home.  My teacher was just a normal person.  Human, almost.

But what really struck me then was that though they lived in the same general area as we did, they had more.  Bigger house.  With nicer stuff.  A newer car in the driveway.  More presents under their Christmas tree.  And in bigger boxes.  It was a ‘blue-collar’ neighborhood.  Her husband was a ‘blue-collar’ worker.  Just like my dad.  But my mom volunteered.  My teacher was, well, a teacher.  The ultimate second income in a two income family.  Good pay and benefits.  And no child care to worry about.  Teachers are off when their kids are off.  Holidays.  Breaks.  Snow days.  And, of course, summer vacation.  It just didn’t get better for a working mom.

IT IS INTERESTING that people become more conservative with age.  They may start out Democrat.  But after working awhile or raising a family, they often become Republican.  Not all of them.  But a lot.  The net number of people changing from Democrat to Republican far exceeds those changing from Republican to Democrat.  If there are any.  Other than for political reasons (in a desperate attempt to get reelected by switching parties).  That’s why the Democrats depend on the youth vote.  Because the youth vote is an uninformed voted.  They haven’t been deprogrammed yet.  They still toe the party line.  Because they don’t know any better.  Yet.

As we work and live in the real world, though, away from the insulated life of home or the college campus, things change.  We get older.  And wiser.  Less naive.  Less idealistic.  Less ignorant.  That’s why there is a net change from Democrat to Republican.  We grow up.  And start thinking for ourselves.  And try as they might during our public school indoctrination, we stop being sheep.  Eventually.  We strop bleating their mantra.  ‘Big Government good.  Private sector bad’.  Why?  Because we see that public school teachers and government workers live a lot better than we do.  This privileged few, this ruling elite, continue to take from us and respond with condescending arrogance when we complain.  Angry that we don’t mind our place in the lower strata of society.  Where we belong.

And they are nervous.  They can only maintain their elite status as long as we pay for it.  The more we learn, though, the less we are willing to support this aristocracy.  And they know it.  So they try to keep us dumbed down.  For an educated constituency is the greatest threat to Big Government.  And the public school system.  This self-proclaimed aristocracy.

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