January 27, 2013

Robot Bartender

Guy goes into a bar in Louisiana where there’s a robot bartender! The robot says, “What will you have?” The guy says, “Whiskey.” The robot brings back his drink and says to the man, “What’s your IQ?” The guy says,” 168.” The robot then proceeds to talk about physics, space exploration and medical technology.

The guy leaves, . . . but he is curious . . . So he goes back into the bar. The robot bartender says, “What will you have?” The guy says, “Whiskey.” Again, the robot brings the man his drink and says, “What’s your IQ?” The guy says, “100.” The robot then starts to talk about Nascar, Budweiser, the Saints and LSU Tigers

The guy leaves, but finds it very interesting, so he thinks he will try it one more time. He goes back into the bar. The robot says, “What will you have?” The guy says, “Whiskey,” and the robot brings him his whiskey. The robot then says, “What’s your IQ?” The guy says, “Uh, about 50.”

The robot leans in real close and says, “SO, . . . you people . . . still happy . . . with Obama?”

The Comedian

The Comedian

January 22, 2013

School Choice for Kids? Ravitch and NEA Say No

Larry Sand President California Teachers Empowerment Network

Larry Sand President California Teachers Empowerment Network

Widely discredited ex-reformer and teachers union try to deny families a fundamental right.

Diane Ravitch has yet again exposed herself as an unserious spokesperson for the sclerotic anti-education reform movement. This crowd is made up of people – typically special interests – bureaucrats, teachers unions, etc. – who desperately cling to the ridiculous notion that children are best served if they are forced to go to the school nearest their home, no matter how lousy it may be. And Part 2 of this bad scenario is that the same folks insist that we throw endless piles of cash at that school even though tripling funds for education in the last 40 years has had no effect on improving it.

In a recent op-ed in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Ravitch did her darndest to make the case for maintaining the top-down, one-size-fits-all, centrally planned, expensive, bureaucratically bloated, failing school system that so many families in Milwaukee seek to escape. She claims that,

Milwaukee has had voucher schools since 1990, longer than any school district in the nation. Students in the voucher schools perform no better than those in the public schools.

Milwaukee has had charter schools for about 20 years. Students in the charter schools do no better than those in the public schools.

Ravitch, of course, is famous for never letting facts get in the way of her agenda. In a rebuttal in the same newspaper, researchers Patrick Wolf and John Witte say,

…students participating in the Milwaukee Parental Choice (“voucher”) Program graduated from high school and both enrolled and persisted in four-year colleges at rates that were four to seven percentage points higher than a carefully matched set of students in Milwaukee Public Schools. Using the most conservative 4% voucher advantage from our study, that means that the 801 students in ninth grade in the voucher program in 2006 included 32 extra graduates who wouldn’t have completed high school and gone to college if they had instead been required to attend MPS.

While the charter school data isn’t quite as dramatic as the voucher figures, studies show that charters also do a better job of educating kids in Milwaukee. Very importantly, Wolf and Witte point out,

Average per-pupil taxpayer costs of students in MPS were $15,969 in fiscal year 2011 compared to just $9,718 for independent charter schools and less than $6,442 per voucher student. Economist Robert Costrell determined that the operation of the voucher program alone saved the public over $52 million in fiscal year 2011.

So even if Ravitch is right, that school choice in Milwaukee makes no difference academically, isn’t it preferable to get the same results while spending a whole lot less? Maybe one day Ravitch will take a stab at answering that question, but I’m not holding my breath.

The National Education Association also needs to be taken to the woodshed. Those oh-so-clever folks at union-central have a page on their website which they call “Five Talking Points on Vouchers.” It begins,

What have you got against private school vouchers?” your brother-in-law demands over Sunday dinner. Ah, if he only knew the facts. Next time someone puts you on the spot, use these talking points to debunk the most popular voucher claims.

The “facts” according to the NEA are:

NEA: There’s no link between vouchers and gains in student achievement.

Truth: Greg Forster at the Friedman Foundation examined all available empirical studies and found that,

Ten empirical studies have used random assignment, the gold standard of social science, to examine how vouchers affect participants. Nine studies find that vouchers improve student outcomes, six that all students benefit and three that some benefit and some are not affected. One study finds no visible impact. None of these studies finds a negative impact.

NEA: Claiming that private schools have autonomy, they say that, “Vouchers undermine accountability for public funds.”

Truth: What NEA doesn’t tell you is that in many places public schools have no accountability at all. If a public school fails, what happens? Typically the school doesn’t “go out of business” the way private schools do. Instead, reacting to heavy pressure from the teachers unions, state legislatures will keep the failing schools afloat and demand that taxpayers pony up more money because “we owe it to the children.

NEA: Vouchers do not reduce public education costs.

Truth: This is an outrageous lie. As shown above, charters in Milwaukee do the job for 60 cents on the dollar and vouchers for about 40 cents on the dollar. Granted these numbers are specific to Milwaukee, but there is little difference on the national level.

NEA: Vouchers do not give parents real educational choice.

Truth:  They give everyone involved a choice. The claim here is that private schools “discriminate.” Okay, so what? If a certain school won’t accept little Johnny because he has an asthmatic condition that the school doesn’t have the medical wherewithal to deal with, a parent will have to go find a private school that is more suitable. Yes, in a free system of school choice, schools and parents can pick and choose each other without coercion.

NEA: The public disapproves of vouchers.

Truth: Because of intense propaganda by teachers unions and other special interests, the public has been skeptical of vouchers, but that is changing. According to the Center for Education Reform, there are now 21 states that have voucher programs. And very importantly, once a state institutes school choice, it doesn’t change back to a non-choice policy. (Choice does well elsewhere. France and Canada have partial choice set-ups, while 90 percent of Chilean students utilize such a system. And Sweden has free choice for every child in the country.) Additionally, researcher Herbert Walberg recently wrote,

In big cities, as many as 80 percent of public school parents say they would send their children to parochial or independent schools if they could afford tuition. Scholarships for poor families are heavily oversubscribed, as are charter schools, which are government-funded but run by private boards.

As we head into National School Choice Week, it is important to listen to the voices of those families who are desperately trying to get a better education for their children. And for Ravitch and her union buddies – history will relegate them to the dustbins they so richly deserve. It can’t happen too soon.

Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues.

National School Choice Week will be celebrated Jan. 27-Feb.2 this year.

January 19, 2013

What Value Do Politicians Have In Our Society? After All, They Create the Problems.

government-corruption-By Charlie Reese

Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them.

Have you ever wondered, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are against deficits, WHY do we have deficits?

Have you ever wondered, if all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes, WHY do we have inflation and high taxes?

You and I don’t propose a federal budget. The President does.

You and I don’t have the Constitutional authority to vote on appropriations. The House of Representatives does.

You and I don’t write the tax code, Congress does.

You and I don’t set fiscal policy, Congress does.

You and I don’t control monetary policy, the Federal Reserve Bank does.

One hundred senators, 435 congressmen, one President, and nine Supreme Court justices equates to 545 human beings out of the 300 million are directly, legally, morally, and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country.

I excluded the members of the Federal Reserve Board because that problem was created by the Congress. In 1913, Congress delegated its Constitutional duty to provide a sound currency to a federally chartered, but private, central bank.

I excluded all the special interests and lobbyists for a sound reason. They have no legal authority. They have no ability to coerce a senator, a congressman, or a President to do one cotton-picking thing. I don’t care if they offer a politician $1 million dollars in cash. The politician has the power to accept or reject it. No matter what the lobbyist promises, it is the legislator’s responsibility to determine how he votes.

Those 545 human beings spend much of their energy convincing you that what they did is not their fault. They cooperate in this common con regardless of party.

What separates a politician from a normal human being is an excessive amount of gall. No normal human being would have the gall of a Speaker, who stood up and criticized the President for creating deficits.. ( The President can only propose a budget. He cannot force the Congress to accept it.)

The Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, gives sole responsibility to the House of Representatives for originating and approving appropriations and taxes. Who is the speaker of the House?( John Boehner. He is the leader of the majority party. He and fellow House members, not the President, can approve any budget they want. ) If the President vetoes it, they can pass it over his veto if they agree to. [The House has passed a budget but the Senate has not approved a budget in over three years. The President’s proposed budgets have gotten almost unanimous rejections in the Senate in that time. ]

It seems inconceivable to me that a nation of 300 million cannot replace 545 people who stand convicted — by present facts — of incompetence and irresponsibility. I can’t think of a single domestic problem that is not traceable directly to those 545 people. When you fully grasp the plain truth that 545 people exercise the power of the federal government, then it must follow that what exists is what they want to exist.

If the tax code is unfair, it’s because they want it unfair

If the budget is in the red, it’s because they want it in the red.

If the Army & Marines are in Iraq and Afghanistan it’s because they want them in Iraq and Afghanistan ..

If they do not receive social security but are on an elite retirement plan not available to the people, it’s because they want it that way.

There are no insoluble government problems.

Do not let these 545 people shift the blame to bureaucrats, whom they hire and whose jobs they can abolish; to lobbyists, whose gifts and advice they can reject; to regulators, to whom they give the power to regulate and from whom they can take this power.

Above all, do not let them con you into the belief that there exists disembodied mystical forces like “the economy,” “inflation,” or “politics” that prevent them from doing what they take an oath to do.

Those 545 people, and they alone, are responsible. They, and they alone, have the power.

They, and they alone, should be held accountable by the people who are their bosses. Provided the voters have the gumption to manage their own employees… We should vote all of them out of office and clean up their mess!

Charlie Reese is a former columnist of the Orlando Sentinel Newspaper.

What you do with this article now that you have read it… is up to you.

This might be funny if it weren’t so true.

Be sure to read all the way to the end:

Tax his land,
Tax his bed,
Tax the table,
At which he’s fed.

Tax his tractor,
Tax his mule,
Teach him taxes
Are the rule.

Tax his work,
Tax his pay,
He works for
peanuts anyway!

Tax his cow,
Tax his goat,
Tax his pants,
Tax his coat.

Tax his ties,
Tax his shirt,
Tax his work,
Tax his dirt.

Tax his tobacco,
Tax his drink,
Tax him if he
Tries to think.

Tax his cigars,
Tax his beers,
If he cries
Tax his tears.

Tax his car,
Tax his gas,
Find other ways
To tax his ass.

Tax all he has
Then let him know
That you won’t be done
Till he has no dough.

When he screams and hollers;
Then tax him some more,
Tax him till
He’s good and sore.

Then tax his coffin,
Tax his grave,
Tax the sod in
Which he’s laid…

Put these words
Upon his tomb,
‘Taxes drove me
to my doom…’

When he’s gone,
Do not relax,
Its time to apply
The inheritance tax.

Accounts Receivable Tax
Building Permit Tax
CDL license Tax
Cigarette Tax
Corporate Income Tax
Dog License Tax
Excise Taxes
Federal Income Tax
Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA)
Fishing License Tax
Food License Tax
Fuel Permit Tax
Gasoline Tax (currently 44.75 cents per gallon)
Gross Receipts Tax
Hunting License Tax
Inheritance Tax
Inventory Tax
IRS Interest Charges IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax)
Liquor Tax
Luxury Taxes
Marriage License Tax
Medicare Tax
Personal Property Tax
Property Tax
Real Estate Tax
Service Charge Tax
Social Security Tax
Road Usage Tax
Recreational Vehicle Tax
Sales Tax
School Tax
State Income Tax
State Unemployment Tax (SUTA)
Telephone Federal Excise Tax
Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax
Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Taxes
Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax
Telephone Recurring and Nonrecurring Charges Tax
Telephone State and Local Tax
Telephone Usage Charge Tax
Utility Taxes
Vehicle License Registration Tax
Vehicle Sa les Tax
Watercraft Registration Tax
Well Permit Tax
Workers Compensation Tax


Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago, & our nation was the most prosperous in the world. We had absolutely no national debt, had the largest middle class in the world, and Mom stayed home to raise the kids.

What in the heck happened? Can you spell ‘politicians?’


January 17, 2013

Poverty and the American Dream

Written by Dick McDonald, founder of http://www.theusaplan.com

Today the people of the United States of America have an opportunity to make the world a better place. Rather than wasting time compromising the political ideologies of progressives and conservatives, Americans could use that time to employ modern economic and scientific advancements to eradicate poverty. The USA could lead the world into a new era where prosperity is the rule rather than the exception.

For example, if  Americans had enough money on which to live a decent life and a million-dollar nest egg to retire on (then pass on to their families) we wouldn’t need government to tax Americans to fund safety nets like Social Security and Medicare.  We wouldn’t have a $138 trillion debt to contend with; America would be financially solvent and countries all over the world would emulate us.

All economies throughout history have been free enterprise, free market, capitalist economies unless temporarily sidetrack by populist ideologues practicing socialism or dictators employing tyranny. Therefore in order to make a free enterprise, free market, capitalist economy like ours into one that sponsors the prosperity of the poor and lower classes it has to create the opportunity for the poor to invest in that economy and prosper in its growth.

Man hasn’t had the tools to address poverty until recently. With the advent of the digital age, massive and flexible databases, the internet and instant communications he now has them.  He can make dramatic nation-wide moves that will eventually enable all the people to achieve the American Dream of financial independence. No political party or political think tank is even attempting to address making the poor rich. It is the time to do so; in the process most of our economic and social ills will either fade or disappear entirely.

We can’t make the poor rich without making all citizens even richer. To do that requires a simple change in the way the government does business. Instead of imposing a 15.3% payroll tax on income we propose the government send that money undiluted directly to an independent unreachable trust for all citizens to be maintained in each taxpayer’s own “USA” – universal savings account – and immediately invested weekly on the behalf and under their direction into indexed stocks for their working life.

The average American makes $50,000 a year and pays either 15.3% in payroll taxes if self-employed or shares in paying that amount with his employer if he works for somebody. The yearly $7,500 ($50,000 x 15%) investment amounts to $300,000 (40 years x $7,500) over an average 40-year working life. Invested weekly in indexed funds at the average rate of return of the S&P 500 in 40-year cycles generates a $4 million nest egg which throws off a $33,333 a month retirement check without reducing the principal. See here for the computation by year.

Today the market cap of all stocks on American exchanges is about $50 trillion. If in 40 years just 150 million Americans had a $4 million nest egg the market cap would be $600 trillion. In other words it took 236 years to get to $50 trillion. It would, under my plan, take just 40 years to add $550 trillion to that amount at today’s prices.

Given the choice of becoming a millionaire without investing a dime out of your present paycheck or staying on welfare and dependency programs most will opt for the former. In this manner the Plan, http://www.theusaplan , will wean welfare recipients off welfare and reduce the need for excess government workers.

Millions of jobs will be immediately created by the infusion of almost a trillion dollars a year into the stock market where the selling shareholders will no doubt invest much of their proceeds in new exciting ventures that will require millions of new employees.

In this manner the poor will be helping create their own new jobs and working-life income and at the same time insuring themselves of an affluent retirement and the best old-age medical care on the planet.

A rising tide lifts all boats. Unfortunately America’s boat has been in dry dock too long. Enacting my plan will be the rising tide that makes the poor rich as well as everyone else richer.  The country will then be exceptional place we claim it is.

Let’s agree poverty has no place in the 21st Century.

Read all about the Prosperity Commission’s USA Plan and its Rise Up Theory of Economics here.  Join us in our effort to make the world a better place.  You can e-mail us your thoughts at dick@theusaplan.com .

via Poverty and the American Dream | New York Daily Sun – The Trusted New York Daily Broadsheet.

January 17, 2013

Taking Care of Our Children

Larry Sand President California Teachers Empowerment Network

Larry Sand President California Teachers Empowerment Network

To have safer schools, where the interests and protection of children aren’t afterthoughts, we must demand more from the administrative-union-legislative unholy trinity. 

In light of a second school shooting last week – this one in Taft, California – we have all the usual suspects pointing to their pet causes which they claim will prevent the next tragedy.

The need for stricter gun control, more intensive anti-bullying education, fewer violent video games and more psychologists in the schools will make the rounds just as they did after the horrific mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December. While these “fixes” sound good, there is no empirical evidence that any of them would have stopped the shooters from doing their dastardly deeds.

Interestingly, that which can be done to stop hateful people from harming our children, school officials are unwilling to do. A good case in point is Eileen Blagden’s story, which I first wrote about in July of 2012 and updated in City Journal last week.

Blagden’s story begins in 2008, when a teacher named Kevin Kirby was arrested for lewd and lascivious behavior and indecent exposure, but not at school. Nevertheless, Kirby’s arrest prompted his suspension from teaching at Leal Elementary School in the Southern California city of Cerritos. The following year, while awaiting trial, Kirby pleaded guilty to an unrelated trespassing charge. A jury ultimately found him not guilty on the sex-related charges, though he was required to “stay at least 100 yards away” from schools in Long Beach. In September 2009, the ABC Unified School District transferred Kirby to Blagden’s school—Stowers Elementary in Cerritos, where he was assigned as a kindergarten teacher.

Almost immediately, Blagden told me, Kirby began showing signs of irresponsibility and instability. He was absent frequently and would often fall asleep in class. Kirby’s fellow kindergarten teachers reportedly feared him, calling him a “ticking time bomb.” On January 26, 2010, Kirby had an accident on his motorcycle on his way to work. Despite being bloody and distraught, he refused medical assistance from paramedics and showed up at the school. Blagden had kept a wary eye on Kirby. With the accident, her concern grew into alarm, especially when Kirby began talking about suicide and killing Stowers’s other two kindergarten teachers.

Blagden went to her school district and local teachers union with this ominous story and was assured that they would handle it. However after no action whatsoever was taken by the bureaucrats, and worried about her teachers and students, Blagden broke protocol and went to the police. Her reward for doing the right thing was first getting demoted and then losing her job.

This administrative concern for image over children played itself out at Penn State where serial pedophile assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky damaged many young lives during a 14 year period. After this ugly series of events came to light, former FBI director Louis Freeh released a report which stated that these school leaders conspired

… to conceal child sexual abuse allegations against assistant coach Jerry Sandusky for more than a decade, choosing to preserve the university’s reputation over protecting the victims of a pedophile….

(They) showed “total disregard” for the abuse victims, concealed crucial information and failed at least twice to act on sexual assault accusations against one of their own because they feared the consequences of bad publicity on the university….

Not to be outdone, California legislators – cowed by their teacher union masters – showed they could be just as prone to turning a blind eye to evil as school administrators. After serial pedophile school teacher Mark Berndt got away with sexually abusing children for years, the Los Angeles Unified School District asked the state legislature to change existing law to speed up the process of removing such teachers. As I wrote in July,

State senator Alex Padilla, a Los Angeles Democrat and former L.A. city councilman, wrote Senate Bill 1530, which would streamline the labyrinthine “dismissal statutes” that require districts to navigate a seemingly endless maze of hearings and appeals. Padilla’s bill was actually quite narrow in scope, dealing only with credible claims that a teacher has abused a child with sex, drugs, or violence. Existing law lets local school boards immediately suspend a teacher under “specified conditions, including immoral conduct.” Padilla’s bill simply would add language allowing a school board to suspend an employee for “serious or egregious unprofessional conduct.” Garnering strong bipartisan support, Padilla’s bill sailed through the state senate in late May on a vote of 33 to 4.

The state assembly, however, is a stronghold for the California Teachers Association, which strongly opposes SB 1530. Before and during the hearings on Padilla’s legislation in the assembly education committee, union leaders and their confederates launched a propaganda effort against the bill, deploying all their standard talking points. The union maintained that SB 1530 was nothing more than a “teacher-bashing bill.” It was too cumbersome, too expensive, and would kill due-process rights. It was demoralizing and even “un-American.” Though these attacks were transparently unfair, legislators got the message. The bill needed six “yeas” from the 11-member committee to pass; it received only five, with two “nays” and four abstentions.

So while school administrators, union officials and state legislators bluster about the need for more anti-bullying programs, gun control, etc., it would behoove them to repudiate their perverse save-our-butts attitude which places image, teachers’ “rights” and protocol over the health and welfare of children.

Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues.

January 15, 2013

Who gets your Social Security when you die?

Help Personalize Social Security and Make the Poor Rich.

Help Personalize Social Security and Make the Poor Rich.

EDITORS NOTE:  The following comment is from a viral email that I received today. To find out more on our efforts to make the working poor, single and divorced women, and Black Americans wealthy while generating more revenue to the U.S. Treasury, visit the USAPlan.com. Here we outline a thorough explanation on how to achieve a massive reform of our government’s welfare and entitlement programs.


Who gets your Social Security when you die?

This is another example of what Rick Perry called “TREASON in high places” !!! Get angry and pass this on!

Remember, not only did you contribute to Social Security but your employer did too. It totaled 15% of your income before taxes. If you averaged only $30K over your working life, that’s close to $220,500.

If you calculate the future value of $4,500 per year (yours & your employer’s contribution) at a simple 5% (less than what the govt. pays on the money that it borrows), after 49 years of working you’d have $892,919.98.

If you took out only 3% per year, you’d receive $26,787.60 per year and it would last better than 30 years (until you’re 95 if you retire at age 65) and that’s with no interest paid on that final amount on deposit! If you bought an annuity and it paid 4% per year, you’d have a lifetime income of $2,976.40 per month.  The folks in Washington have pulled off a bigger Ponzi scheme than Bernie Madhoff ever had..

Entitlement, Phooey! I paid cash for my social security insurance!!!! Just because they borrowed the money, doesn’t make my benefits some kind of charity or handout!!

Congressional benefits —- free healthcare, outrageous retirement packages, 67 paid holidays, three weeks paid vacation, unlimited paid sick days, now that’s welfare, and they have the nerve to call my social security retirement entitlements?

We’re “broke” and can’t help our own Seniors, Veterans, Orphans, Homeless

In the last months we have provided aid to Haiti, Chile, and Turkey. And now Pakistan …….home of bin Laden. Literally, BILLIONS of DOLLARS!!!

Our retired seniors living on a ‘fixed income’ receive no aid nor do they get any breaks while our government pours Hundreds of Billions of $$$$$$’s and Tons of Food to Foreign Countries!

They call Social Security and Medicare an entitlement even though most of us have been paying for it all our working lives and now when it’s time for us to collect, the government is running out of money. Why did the government borrow from it in the first place? Imagine if the *GOVERNMENT* gave ‘US’ the same support they give to other countries.

Sad isn’t it?

January 14, 2013

‘FrackNation,’ a Documentary – NYTimes.com


A Polish retiree bemoans her utility bills in the documentary “FrackNation,” about natural gas extraction.


Directed by Phelim McAleer, Ann McElhinney and Magdalena Segieda

1 hour 17 minutes; not rated

If your only exposure to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking — the process of extracting natural gas from shale — has been Josh Fox’s alarming documentary, “Gasland,” then “FrackNation” would like your attention. Claiming that Mr. Fox’s chilling conclusions are misleading at best, Phelim McAleer and his fellow directors, Ann McElhinney and Magdalena Segieda, attempt to prove that shale gas just might be “the miracle of the 21st century.”

Narrated by Mr. McAleer, whose previous documentaries have also argued against environmental concerns, “FrackNation” is no tossed-off, pro-business pamphlet. Methodically researched and assembled (and financed by thousands of small donations from an online campaign), the film picks at Mr. Fox’s assertions and omissions with dogged persistence. Much of what it reveals is provocative, like a confrontation with Mr. Fox about the presence of methane in the water supply decades before fracking began.

What’s clear is that Mr. McAleer knows his way around the Freedom of Information Act and has done his legwork. Besides talking to carefully selected scientists and water experts, he visits pro-fracking residents of Dimock Township, Pa., who are annoyed that their community is being characterized as a toxic wasteland. And he’s not above taking a sentimental detour to Poland to commiserate with a pensioner who can’t pay her energy bills, or reveling in the odd gotcha moment, like accusing a public official of “inappropriate ties” to Mr. Fox.

More than anything, “FrackNation” underscores the sheer complexity of a process that offers a financial lifeline to struggling farmers. Whether it also brings death to their water supply is something we won’t find out by listening to only half of the debate.

via ‘FrackNation,’ a Documentary – NYTimes.com.

January 11, 2013

The Not So Merry Month of May

Larry Sand President California Teachers Empowerment Network

Larry Sand President California Teachers Empowerment Network

In California schools, the fifth month (formerly known as May) is now Labor History Month.

As Kevin Drayton pointed out in Union Watch last week, the entire month of May is now officially deemed Labor History Month in California. Courtesy of AB 2269, the state education code has been amended to read,

The month of May is hereby deemed to be Labor History Month throughout the public schools, and school districts are encouraged to commemorate this month with appropriate educational exercises that make pupils aware of the role the labor movement has played in shaping California and the United States.

Once upon a time, the private employee unions may have done some good things for their workers – they typically get credit for the 40 hour/ 5 day work week. But as John Stossel says,

Workers’ lives improved in America because of free enterprise, not because of union rules. Union contracts helped workers for a while, but then they hurt even union workers because the rigid rules prevent flexibility in response to new market conditions. They slow growth. And growth increasing productivity, which leads to higher wages and new opportunities is what is best for workers.

Whatever the truth is about the old days, let’s fast forward to the present and find out what the teachers unions – which own and operate the California legislature that gave birth to this law – have accomplished and what they have in mind to teach our kids. It probably won’t come as a shock that students will be getting a bowdlerized and glorified version of the union movement.

There are resources galore available for teachers to help them indoctrinate their students. Here are but a few:

That the teachers unions are playing an important role in this brainwashing is particularly ironic given the damage they have done as part of the blob that runs education in the Golden State. They may be able to brag that they have gotten higher salaries and more perks for teachers, but I have a sneaking suspicion that they will not be posting labor history lessons with the following information:

Though they claim to be everyman, national teacher union bosses are really part of the reviled one percent. In 2011, the two national teacher union presidents made a bundle in total compensation:

  • Dennis Van Roekel, NEA: $460,060
  • Randi Weingarten, AFT: $493,859

The other union officers aren’t exactly scraping by either. Salaries for the elite at the National Education Association:

  • John Stocks, Executive Director: $379,260
  • Becky Pringle, Secretary-Treasurer: $332,539
  • Lily Eskelsen, Vice President: $332,390

Will the teachers unions tell the kids that in California, they have done everything within their abusive power to maintain the failing status quo by trying and mostly succeeding to kill every effort at education reform that would have benefited students?

Will they tell the kids that they regularly buy and sell school board members? And that if a prospective member doesn’t toe the party line, the union will support his/her opponent with vast sums of cash?

Will they tell the kids that they consider the California State Assembly “their house?” Most legislators there fall into line like obedient ducks as witnessed by the shameful death of SB 1530, which would have simplified the process to get rid of pedophile teachers.

Will they tell the kids that they insist on maintaining a seniority system whereby teachers-of-the-year are routinely laid off before a mediocre or worse teacher just because the former was hired the day after the latter?

Will they tell the kids that they fight to keep a tenure system in place whereby the most mediocre teacher essentially has a job for life after just two years in a classroom?

Will they tell the kids that they do their best to try to kill (mostly non-unionized) charter school growth every chance they get?

Will they tell the kids that in 2000, they spent millions to defeat Prop. 38 – a voucher bill that would have enabled some poor kids to escape their failing schools?

Will they tell the kids that this past fall, they lobbied for and succeeded in passing Prop. 30 – a ballot initiative that raised taxes on most Californians without getting any reform for their money? (Hence, the status quo is maintained with more than one in four students never graduating high school – and a majority of those who do graduate and go on to college are not prepared for it and need remediation.)

Will they tell the kids anything about the National Right to Work Foundation, an organization that fights for a worker’s right not to join a union?

The answer to every one of these questions is, of course, “No.” As such, I would encourage all parents to find out just what their school plans for Labor History Month. If it is planning lessons espousing only the unionista party line, I suggest keeping your kids home when these activities are planned and using that time to tell them the truth about what the teachers unions really stand for, and what their “accomplishments” over the past decades have wrought.

Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues.

January 10, 2013



Ann Coulter

Ann Coulter

In Sunday’s New York Times, Elisabeth Rosenthal claimed, as the title of her article put it, “More Guns = More Killing.” She based this on evidence that would never be permitted in any other context at the Times: (1) anecdotal observations; and (2) bald assertions of an activist, blandly repeated with absolutely no independent fact-checking by the Times.

There is an academic, peer-reviewed, long-term study of the effect of various public policies on public, multiple shootings in all 50 states over a 20-year period performed by renowned economists at the University of Chicago and Yale, William Landes and John Lott. It concluded that the only policy to reduce the incidence of, and casualties from, mass shootings are concealed-carry laws. The Times will never mention this study.

Instead, Rosenthal’s column proclaimed that armed guards do not reduce crime because: “I recently visited some Latin American countries … where guards with guns grace every office lobby, storefront, ATM, restaurant and gas station. It has not made those countries safer or saner.”

So there you have it: The cock crowed, then the sun came up. Therefore, the cock’s crowing caused the sun to come up. Rosenthal went to Harvard Medical School.

Here’s a tip: High-crime areas are often bristling with bulletproof glass, heavy-duty locks, gated windows and armed guards. The bulletproof glass doesn’t cause the crime; it’s a response to crime. On Rosenthal’s logic, hospitals kill people because more people die in hospitals than outside of them.

(In any event, the Lott-Landes study didn’t recommend armed guards, but armed citizens.)

Rosenthal also produces a demonstrably false statistic about Australia’s gun laws, as if it’s a fact that has been carefully vetted by the Newspaper of Record, throwing in the true source only at the tail-end of the paragraph:

“After a gruesome mass murder in 1996 provoked public outrage, Australia enacted stricter gun laws, including a 28-day waiting period before purchase and a ban on semiautomatic weapons. … Since, rates of both homicide and suicide have dropped 50 percent …,” said Ms. Peters, who lobbied for the legislation.” [READ FULL ARTICLE HERE]

via Ann Coulter – Official Home Page.

January 8, 2013

Head Start or Dead End?

Larry Sand President California Teachers Empowerment Network

Larry Sand President California Teachers Empowerment Network

The only “lasting impact” of the Head Start program is on taxpayers’ wallets.

Those too-clever-for-words folks over at the Department of Health and Human Services have yet again tried to put one over on us. Using the oldest PR trick in the book, they released information to the media that they hoped no one would notice — on a Friday when people are too busy thinking about and planning their weekends. And because the report is very politically embarrassing, DHHS doubled down and went public on a Friday before a long holiday weekend.

So right before Christmas, on Friday, December 21st, we were hit with the results of the third and final phase of the federal government’s Head Start study. (Established by Lyndon Johnson in 1965, Head Start is the pet project of the early education crowd, which consists of spendaholic types aided, abetted and financed by the teachers unions, which love nothing more than expanding their roster of dues paying members. And President Obama is complicit member of this unholy alliance.)

The problem with the latest results is that they match those of the second phase of the study published in 2010, which revealed that basically Head Start has been a $180 billion (and counting) boondoggle. Lesli Maxwell in Education Week explains,

In the first phase of the evaluation, a group of children who entered Head Start at age 4 saw benefits from spending one year in the program, including learning vocabulary, letter-word recognition, spelling, color identification, and letter-naming, compared with children of the same age in a control group who didn’t attend Head Start. For children who entered Head Start at age 3, the gains were even greater, demonstrated by their language and literacy skills, as well their skills in learning math, prewriting, and perceptual motor skills.

The second phase of the study showed that those gains had faded considerably by the end of 1st grade, with Head Start children showing an edge only in learning vocabulary over their peers in the control group who had not participated in Head Start.

And now, in this final phase of the study, “there was little evidence of systematic differences in children’s elementary school experiences through 3rd grade, between children provided access to Head Start and their counterparts in the control group,” the researchers wrote in an executive summary.(Emphasis added.)

After the second phase results came out, Reason Foundation’s Lisa Snell blogged,

The just-released large-scale random assignment study of Head Start confirms once again that the $7 billion a year federal preschool program provides meager benefits to children at huge costs to taxpayers.

In other words, it’s a very expensive and wasteful federal babysitting program. The Heritage Foundation’s Lindsey Burke elaborates:

… This federal evaluation, which effectively shows no lasting impact on children after first grade and no difference between those children who attended Head Start and those who did not, should call into question the merits of increasing funding for the program, which the Obama administration recently did as part of the so-called “stimulus” bill.

Snell continues,

In the past the Obama administration has been criticized for sitting on a study and releasing it on a Friday when it showed solid evidence that the DC Opportunity Scholarship program worked. The administration did not release a study that might have influenced policy decisions about reauthorizing and funding the DC school choice program. On the other hand, the Obama administration also sat on a study by the Department of Health and Human Services that showed meager impact for children in Head Start. The study was complete and the information was available, but the Obama Administration went ahead and significantly increased Head Start funding through the stimulus act to the tune of more than $2 billion. The hypocrisy cuts both ways. (Emphasis added.)

Snell also quotes Douglas Bresharov in the New York Times,

…to keep a child in Head Start full-time, year-round, costs about $22,600, as opposed to an average cost of $9,500 in a day care center.

In a rare moment of candor, the mainstream media joined the naysayers when in 2011, Time Magazine’s Joe Klein weighed in,

You take the million or so poorest 3- and 4-year-old children and give them a leg up on socialization and education by providing preschool for them; if it works, it saves money in the long run by producing fewer criminals and welfare recipients…it is now 45 years later. We spend more than $7 billion providing Head Start to nearly 1 million children each year. And finally there is indisputable evidence about the program’s effectiveness, provided by the Department of Health and Human Services: Head Start simply does not work.

Undaunted by a mountain of data, the National Education Association still proclaims its support for Head Start because

it maintains high quality classrooms and teachers, and effectively prepares our nation’s most at-risk children for school.

No better is the American Federation of Teachers. On their website, it crows that it

is gratified to see the Obama administration’s continued focus on the quality of early childhood education. As the president said during a recent visit to a Pennsylvania Head Start center, early education is “one of our best investments in America’s future.”

In any event, it is time to say no to the unions and any other special interests that only care about their selfish agendas. And for the rest the Head Start true believers, apparently all they have is evidence based on what Stanford’s Caroline Hoxby refers to as the “cardiac test.”

We just know in our heart that this is right.

Whatever their feelings may be, this shameful, wasteful spending must stop immediately.

Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues.

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