Archive for October 27th, 2011

October 27, 2011

Teachers Unions: On the Road to Extinction?

Larry Sand President California Teachers Empowerment Network

Online learning is the wave of the future, but teachers unions still have a Paleocene mentality.

In his extraordinary book Special Interest, Terry Moe writes about the massive power of the teachers unions. After much gloom and doom, in the final chapter of the book, he manages to convey some hope about the future. Emerging technology-based education, he asserts, is the “long-term trend…, and the unions cannot stop it from happening.” Online teachers from different states and countries will be much harder for the unions to corral and control.

However, according to a post on hotair.com by Tina Korbe, the University of California chapter of the American Federation of Teachers hasn’t gotten the message yet. University of California schools, which are in dire financial straits, have begun using online education programs as a way to save money. As a result, some lecturers’ jobs could be done away with.  However, their union is using its collective bargaining power to ensure that every job, no matter how unnecessary, will be saved.

“… the California lecturers, who make up nearly half of the system’s undergraduate teaching teachers, believe they have used … bargaining power to score a rare coup. The University of California last week tentatively agreed to a deal with UC-AFT that included a new provision barring the system and its campuses from creating online courses or programs that would result in ‘a change to a term or condition of employment’ of any lecturer without first dealing with the union.”

In other words, the union is determined to keep all its dues-paying members on the payroll whether they are needed or not, whether we can afford them or not. The fact that there are some excellent online classes and that their use would save the beleaguered taxpayers of California bushels of money is of no interest to UC-AFT.

Online learning is not just for college level students; it has entered into our K-12 schools. Backed by Bill Gates, Salman Khan, founder and guiding light of Khan Academy, has gained a foothold in several schools in Los Altos, a community in Silicon Valley. There, a new program using “blended learning” – a combination of computer tutorials and classroom teacher instruction – is off to an excellent start. There is much agreement in reform circles that this type of education is the wave of the future; fewer classroom teachers will be needed as much of the instruction will be done via a gifted online teacher.

What we are seeing here is an example of “creative destruction,” which is the term Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter used in 1942 to describe what happens when certain jobs and goods become obsolete and are replaced by new jobs requiring new skills. If we didn’t follow this logical progression, we would still be living in caves, clothed in loin cloths. Clayton Christensen modernized this idea with his “disruptive innovation” or “disruptive technology” concept.

From the Pope Center’s Jane Shaw

“… I have presented examples of some disruptive technologies highlighted by Christensen, such as the transistor radio, which destroyed companies like RCA and Zenith. Those companies could not absorb the disruptive technology into their business models; instead, they relied on what Christensen called “sustaining” innovations—improving existing products. As long as transistors were weak and primitive, the old companies could prosper by serving their existing customers. But over time the transistor got a lot better and ultimately snatched those customers away.”

So we see that some products become obsolete, but at the same time new opportunities arise; hence dynamic people will adapt and continue to find work and the intransigent types will fade away. This doesn’t mean that the industrial-style teachers unions will go away easily; they will spend their abundant resources to maintain the status quo and thus their power well into the foreseeable future.

But just as the horseshoe business became much less relevant with the advent of the automobile, K-16 education is slowly but surely starting to undergo a similar major transformation. The Luddite unions can stick their fingers in the dam for only so long before becoming latter-day dinosaurs. If you can’t adapt to the inevitable changes that history brings, you become a museum piece. Just ask any Brontosaurus.

Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is president of the California Teachers Empowerment Network.

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October 27, 2011

EtherNet Series – Fix Congress

Author unknown and unconfirmed 10-27-2011

Warren Buffett, in a recent interview with CNBC, offers one of the best quotes about the debt ceiling:

“I could end the deficit in 5 minutes,” he told CNBC. “You just pass a law that says that anytime there is a deficit of more than 3% of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election. The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds) took only 3 months & 8 days to be ratified! Why? Simple! The people demanded it. That was in 1971…before computers, e-mail, cell phones, etc. Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took 1 year or less to become the law of the land…all because of public pressure.

*Congressional Reform Act of 2011*

1. No Tenure / No Pension. A Congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office.

2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security. All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.

3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.

4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

5. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.

7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen are void effective 1/1/12.

The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen. Congressmen made all these contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.

October 27, 2011

Obama’s Student-Loan Order Saves the Average Grad Less Than $10 a Month.

For the average borrower, the impact would be small. In 2011, Bachelor’s degree recipients graduating with debt had an average balance of $27,204, according to an analysis done by finaid.org, based on Department of Education data. That average has ballooned from just $17,646 over the past decade.

Using these values as the high and low bounds of average student debt over the last ten years, the monthly savings for the average student loan borrower would be between $4.50 and $7.75 per month. Clearly, this isn’t going to save the economy. While borrowers with bigger balances would save more, this is the average. And even someone with $100,000 in loans would only cut their monthly payments by $28.50.

via Obama’s Student-Loan Order Saves the Average Grad Less Than $10 a Month – Daniel Indiviglio – Business – The Atlantic.

October 27, 2011

College Conspiracy – The Rise of College Tuition Fees and the Unholy Alliance Between Big Government and Teachers Unions

Vodpod videos no longer available.

By Jeffers M. Doge

Whenever the government subsidizes anything the price of those goods and services rise dramatically. Why? Because government intervention stifles competition and distorts the market. Universities take advantage of the fact that student loans are easy to get and are guaranteed not by them but by the government. Tenured professors never discus their roll in the economics of high tuition… they just leave that part out when they demand the rich pay more taxes.

Take the case of higher education and teachers Unions. The Unions know that since the tax payer is going to be guaranteeing the student loans they can keep raising the fees as high as they want. Everything in America has suffered in regards to wage and profit increases except for higher education which is exceeding all measurements of inflation.

It is a destructive collusion between the Public Teachers Union and Big Government that enables the cost of education to rise.

It is a perception with validity that Big Government’s goal is to control as much of education as possible so as to indoctrinate our children into the moral relativism of their culture of corruption & death. Have you ever wondered why 90% of all Public School Teachers are Liberal Democrats?


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