Archive for January, 2012

January 31, 2012

Jerry Brown and CTA: Testphobic Twins

Children in the Golden State will get a better education when teacher quality becomes a priority.

Larry Sand President California Teachers Empowerment Network

In perhaps the most in-depth study on the subject to date, three Ivy League economists studied how much the quality of individual teachers matters to their students over the long term. The paper, by Raj Chetty and John N. Friedman of Harvard and Jonah E. Rockoff of Columbia, tracked 2.5 million students over 20 years, and using a value added approach, found that teachers who help students raise their standardized test scores have a lasting positive effect on those students’ lives beyond academics, including lower teenage-pregnancy rates, greater college matriculation and higher adult earnings. (The authors of the study define “value added” as the average test-score gain for a teacher’s students “…adjusted for differences across classrooms in student characteristics such as prior scores.”)

The only caveat from the authors is that using test scores in teachers’ evaluations could lead to “teaching to the test or cheating.” Nothing new here. Some people, when involved in any kind of competition, will try to gain unfair advantage or cheat outright. Typically, it’s a small part of the population and those who do should lose their jobs and face criminal charges

The lesson is clear: test scores can give us a great deal of information about who the really good teachers are. But California Governor Jerry Brown, unfazed by the blockbuster study, actually called for less testing in his recent State of the State address.

No, Governor. In fact, we need more testing. In California, English and math are tested yearly starting in second grade. But history and science are tested only every few years. Tests should be given in the four core areas every year. As a former American history teacher, I could never figure out why there was no 6th or 7th grade history test. Why wait for grade 8 and throw in a few questions from the 6th and 7th grade curriculum? Never made any sense to me.

Senior Director of Education Studies at the Pacific Research Lance Izumi wrote in the Orange County Register last week,

 “Brown’s education agenda contains a mishmash of proposals, some of which are steps backward and some that are mildly positive. On the clearly negative end, the governor, who has never been a fan of student testing, wants to reduce the number of tests and increase so-called ‘qualitative assessments.’ Trouble is, the reason tests are important is because they offer objective quantifiable data to measure student progress and the effect of teachers and schools on learning.”

While Jerry Brown’s call for less testing is wrongheaded, it isn’t surprising. Testing as a tool of assessing student progress has been around since Day 1, but using student test scores as a measure of teacher effectiveness has caused a backlash in some quarters. There is subset of teachers who laments that there is “more to teaching than just test scores.” And of course they are right, to a point, but they take their case to an extreme and dismiss testing completely. The ringleaders of the anti-testing zealots are the teachers unions, and their agenda has nothing to do with kids or their education. The California Teachers Association, by far the biggest political spender in the state, is about power and ensuring that the disastrous status quo is not disturbed.

Actually, teachers unions operate under the early 20th Century industrial mentality which stipulates that everyone can stick a widget on a car equally as well. Therefore, all widget stickers are equally good and all widget stickers should make the same amount of money. Substitute education for widget, teachers for widget stickers and students for cars, and you fully understand the teachers union model. Once this antiquated notion is truly grasped, the unions may find themselves in trouble, forced to acknowledge that some teachers are better than others, and that some are so bad that they shouldn’t be in the classroom at all. Once that is accepted as truth, better teachers might demand to be paid more than mediocre ones. And the good ones may not be so compliant if they’re the ones who get laid off instead of an inferior teacher who has been on the job longer. Thus, the whole concept of teachers as interchangeable industrial workers starts to unravel. And what could be worse for a group whose main lot in life is to keep acquiring buckets of money and enormous power being exposed as pushing a model that never should have been applied to the teaching profession in the first place?

The good news is that much of the rest of the country is catching on. Teacher quality has become a major topic of discussion with educators, the media and politicians of late. From Oklahoma to New York to Louisiana to New Jersey, states are getting serious about teacher evaluation, all using the results of standardized test scores as a significant part of the equation.

Good teachers matter a lot, and bad teachers can ruin a child’s future. Test scores are very helpful in identifying those teachers and value added methods are good ways to analyze test scores. But California, essentially governed by CTA, their bought-and-paid-for legislature and their man in the governor’s mansion will be the last state to do anything meaningful in this area. That means that one-tenth of the country’s children will continue to be victimized by a cartel that cares a lot about money and power and not a whit about them.

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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January 27, 2012

Sixteen Concerned Scientists: No Need to Panic About Global Warming

Leftist Vision of the Earth

There’s no compelling scientific argument for drastic action to ‘decarbonize’ the world’s economy.

In September, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Ivar Giaever, a supporter of President Obama in the last election, publicly resigned from the American Physical Society (APS) with a letter that begins: “I did not renew [my membership] because I cannot live with the [APS policy] statement: ‘The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.’ In the APS it is OK to discuss whether the mass of the proton changes over time and how a multi-universe behaves, but the evidence of global warming is incontrovertible?”

In spite of a multidecade international campaign to enforce the message that increasing amounts of the “pollutant” carbon dioxide will destroy civilization, large numbers of scientists, many very prominent, share the opinions of Dr. Giaever. And the number of scientific “heretics” is growing with each passing year. The reason is a collection of stubborn scientific facts.

via Sixteen Concerned Scientists: No Need to Panic About Global Warming – WSJ.com.

January 26, 2012

11 ‘Stunning Revelations’ From a Confidential Economics Memo to President Obama

Larry Summers and Barack Obama

Columnist Ryan Lizza’s in-depth New Yorker article (“The Obama Memos”) is an in-depth examination of the Obama administration’s handling of the U.S. economy. But unlike most op-eds, his column involves more than just speculation and conjecture. Lizza uses a 2008 “sensitive and confidential” memo written by the economist Larry Summers as one of the article’s chief resources.

For those unfamiliar with the memo’s author, Larry Summers is the former Director of the United States National Economic Council for President Obama. And although he resigned from this position in November 2010, as the White House’s chief economist he “played a leading role in crafting the administration’s interventions in the economy,”

via 11 ‘Stunning Revelations’ From a Confidential Economics Memo to President Obama | TheBlaze.com.

January 25, 2012

Michigan Union Manual Instructs Teachers on How to Use Children as ‘Propaganda’

Saul Alinsky

Obama Mentor Saul Alinsky

While much of the rhetoric in this “crisis planning” handbook is unsettling (”The worst time to plan for a crisis is when you are in the middle of one, so crisis planning should commence at the same time that planning for actual bargaining begins”), perhaps the most disturbing moment occurs when one section appears to quote almost verbatim Saul Alinksy’s “Rules For Radicals.”

Alinsky instructs his followers to “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Likewise, the MEA manual instructs teachers to “Pick a target—personalize—and polarize the opposition [pg. 17].” And those are just the verbatim quotes; the entire manual is a handbook for creating, managing, and profiting from crises.

Representatives of the MEA were unavailable for comment when The Blaze contacted them for more information.

“What’s really troubling about this publication isn’t what’s inside, it’s right there on the cover. This organization has decided it is above the law that has empowered them so much in so many other ways,” said Paul Kersey, director of labor policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, according to the Michigan Capitol Confidential article.

“We have given them the authority to represent employees who individually may not support them, and to collect dues and agency fees from them and have them fired if they refuse. But the union does not feel it is bound by the law’s prohibition of government strikes,” he said.

via Revealed: Michigan Union Manual Instructs Teachers on How to Use Children as ‘Propaganda’ | TheBlaze.com.

January 24, 2012

Public employees union heaps cash into GOP ad attacks on Romney

An unlikely combatant has jumped into the big-money battle between independent groups running ads weighing in on the Republican presidential primary: a national union representing public employees. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) spent $1 million Friday on an ad accusing former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney of greed, Federal Election Commission records show.

The liberal group’s intent is to sway the outcome of the Republican primary in Florida, with ads running there before the state’s party elections Jan. 31. The strategy seems to indicate that the union views Mr. Romney as the most realistic threat to President Obama and would much prefer to see Republicans field another candidate, such as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, against Mr. Obama in the general election.

via Public employees union heaps cash into GOP ad attacks on Romney – Washington Times.

January 24, 2012

Exposing a 40 Year Education Crime: Why California Needs School Choice

Busting LAUSD and every other school district in the state for negligence should help kids, but it’s anyone’s guess as to when. In the meantime, giving families more educational options would be a great help, but don’t hold your breath, California.

President California Teachers Empowerment Network

With National School Choice Week underway, we see many positive things happening across the country. In states like New Jersey and Louisiana, governors are taking the lead in proposing ways to break the devastating monopoly that government run schools – their educrat leaders, corrupt and/or inept school boards and the powerful teachers unions — have held for far too long.

As an example of Big Education gone bad, I write in City Journal about a crime that has been perpetrated on the children of California for 40 years and the lawsuit that addresses it:

For nearly 40 years, the Los Angeles Unified School District has broken the law—and nobody seemed to notice. Now a group of parents and students are taking the district to court. On November 1, a half-dozen anonymous families working with EdVoice, a reform advocacy group in Sacramento, filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court against the LAUSD, district superintendent John Deasy, and United Teachers Los Angeles. The lawsuit in essence accuses the district and the union of a gross dereliction of duty. According to the parents’ complaint, the district and the union have violated the children’s “fundamental right to basic educational equality and opportunity” by failing to comply with a section of the California Education Code known as the Stull Act. Under the 1971 law, a school district must include student achievement as part of a teacher’s evaluation. Los Angeles Unified has never done so: the teachers union wouldn’t allow it. To continue reading “A 40-Year Shame,” go to http://www.city-journal.org/2012/cjc0119ls.html

However the above case is decided, there will undoubtedly be lawsuits, union pushback, teacher dissatisfaction and who-knows-what-else as the various special interests scramble to do what is best for themselves. And as always, children’s needs are left out of the equation.

One way to transcend big government-union school domination would be to develop a system of universal school choice, including vouchers and tax credits. To that end, Alan Bonsteel and I passionately make the case for choice in an op-ed published in the Los Angeles Daily News this past Friday.

As we honor National School Choice week beginning Sunday, one fact stands out: 2012 marks the year when there can be no turning back in school choice reforms.

Last July, The Wall Street Journal dubbed 2011 “The Year of School Choice” because of legislation that had been passed all over our nation. For example, North Carolina and Tennessee eliminated caps on charter schools. Maine passed its first charter school law. Twelve states either adopted new voucher programs or expanded existing ones. After first turning its back on the popular D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program, Congress reconstituted funding for it.  To continue reading “School Choice Reforms are More Vital Than Ever,” go to http://www.dailynews.com/opinions/ci_19779002

While it would undoubtedly be a boon to education and save taxpayers money, school choice at this time is an extremely tough political sell in the Golden State. The entrenched special interests in California are in control and to make the needed changes will entail a long, bloody struggle. As such, taxpayers and parents must take the lead and force change via the initiative process.

In a future post, I will examine what options families in California do have if they want to remove their children from failing schools.

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 21, 2012

Gingrich the Media, Hollywood and Late-night Liberals

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Dick McDonald

The Republicans have four remaining candidates running to be the party’s standard bearer in the Presidential election in November.   To date the voters have been focusing on who could beat Obama and their clear choice to date has been Mitt Romney.  Fortunately the debates have clearly demonstrated who could beat the media, Hollywood, late-night liberal talk show hosts as well as Barack Obama  and that is Newt Gingrich.

It’s not even close. Republicans are facing a well-financed media blitz from Obama and that has to be countered. The media will pull no punches and attack the GOP anyway they can. The Letterman’s and Stewarts will spew their nightly propaganda.  Now who is best prepared to take them on?  Romney? Santorum? Paul?  We only can dream they could but they can’t.  Newt has been the candidate that Obama, the media and late-night talk should fear.

He doesn’t get standing ovations from Americans because Americans believe they have  a free unbiased press, a capitalist in the White House or an efficient government  He gets them because  he tells the truth with unerring accuracy with uncompromising conviction.  He has demonstrated the courage to take on the left wherever they exist.

All candidates are one-thousand times better than Obama.  However Santorum is four to eight years away from a serious run.  Ron Paul is way past prime time.  Mitt Romney would probably be a great President. Unfortunately Mitt is not the warrior Newt is.  Nor has Mitt been in the Washington wars. He is of and for business and the poster boy for the 1%.  He has too much baggage.

Newt may not be perfect but we know all his warts we have been privileged to see him eviscerate the media and Democrats with his oratory in the debates.  No one even comes close.  Vote Gingriche He

January 18, 2012

Race row as Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson backs Gingrich – and says ‘blacks should be sent back to plantation’

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson

A conservative black preacher has backed Newt Gringrich after the Republican presidential candidate came under fire for saying poor black children should work as janitors.

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, who founded a Tea Party organization in South Central L.A, says that Gingrich was 100 per cent correct that blacks lack work ethic and that his own solution was to ‘send them back to the plantation’.

‘One of the things that I would do is take all black people back to the South and put them on the plantation so they would understand the ethic of working,’ Peterson told The Huffington Post’s Black Voices.

Backing: Rev Jesse Lee Peterson, left, says presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, right, was right in his comments about minority and poor children

‘I’m going to put them all on the plantation. They need a good hard education on what it is to work.’

Peterson made the comments after he was asked about Monday night’s heated exchange between moderator Juan Williams and Gingrich during the latest Republican presidential debate.

Fox News correspondent Williams had questioned Gingrich on whether he felt his comments suggesting a lack of work ethic among poor black children could be viewed as insulting.

Peterson, the founder of the Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny (BOND) said: ‘Newt was 100 percent correct, Newt said that he would have black children, minority children work as janitors at school. Working as a janitor would build character, more so than the handouts so many of them like.’

Vodpod videos no longer available.

via Race row as Rev backs Gingrich – and says ‘blacks should be sent back to plantation’ | Mail Online.

January 17, 2012

Vice President Joe Biden Set To Visit ‘On Air with Ryan Seacrest’

by Jeffers M. Dodge January 17, 2012

On Monday, January 23,  “American Idol” host and radio personality Ryan Seacrest“ will welcome special guest Vice President Joe Biden. 

Joe will  answer questions submitted by college students, according to an announcement online. The veep will be on at 7 am PST.

After examining Seacrest’s website I noticed he leans a little to the Left however, Seacrest tweeted on Tuesday: “Throughout 2012, I’m welcoming political leaders from all points of the spectrum.”

Here are my hard core Real American Idol questions:

Ask him why tuition is so high? Ask him about the relationship between the college administer using the knowledge that Big Government guarantees any increase in tuition that it gets from student loans as long as the college tows the line in regards to the Liberal ideology. Have you ever wondered why teachers, professors and administrators are mostly Liberal and less than 5% are Conservative? Tuition is high because wages and benefits are paid indirectly through the government and no set by Free Market competition.

Ask him who is more likely to vote to reelect he and Obama: Private sector employees or government workers? Ask him the relationship between Big Government and Poverty? Or in other words, who is most likely to vote for he and Obama, the poor, who are dependent on Big Government welfare, or workers who are sick and tired of being taxed too much? Ask him why there are less jobs when he and Obama came into office and contrast that to when Bush was president during most of his term the country was ‘fully employed”? (Until the Democrats took over congress.)

Ask Joe about the 12 million illegal immigrants that live in the shadow economy and how they contribute to the income disparity that is the cause célèbre. Ask him how many government services they receive and who they would vote for and why. He will drop the word ‘illegal’ and tell you that Republicans hate immigrants not ‘illegal’.

Ask him about the Public Employee Union Bosses who after “taxing” the rank and file contributes their money to the ‘Democrat in the race’ knowing that once in office the Donkey will do anything for the Unions including legislating pay hikes despite the fact that the wages and perks are higher than the average private sector equivalent and they have bankrupted the treasury of many municipalities run by Democrats.

Before you interview him, research solutions given by the Republican candidates and ask him to contrast Obama’s solutions to the same issues. Listen carefully to his answer. He will not address the question directly; he will instead besmirch the Republican Party as a whole or personally attack the front-runner in particular. He will never argue the merits of their ideas and he will never give you an alternative solution unless it is a solution that the Republicans have already introduced. This is because Obama does not have solutions that make sense to the average person. I am talking common sense solutions that don’t take extreme verbal acrobatics and 1000 words to explain. No, Biden will only tell you about how Republicans are going to end Medicare, food stamps and all the programs designed by the Left to enslave the poor, instead of telling you how the Republicans ended slavery in America and more recently ended slavery in Iraq and Afghanistan. Or how Republicans are the ‘conservers’ of the Constitution, defenders of the Free Market and define greed as when politicians vote to take money and property from a working successful citizen and gives it to another to buy their votes.

Listen carefully how Joe describes Americans. He will describe them in groups that are being unfairly treated by the rich, and when he talks about jobs he is really talking about government jobs, and when he says “Most Americans believe” this or that, he is really talking about those that are dependent on Big Government or the Liberal Elite not those that are independent of Big Government like myself and you, Mr. Seacrest.

Just remember the story of the Cycle of Marx: In order for Big Government to pay for the needs of the poor it needs to tax those that are successful. The more the successful are taxed the less money they have to spend at the local business. The more businesses are taxed the less money they have to hire employees. The result is not only higher unemployment but more dependency on Big Government and the more money it needs to pay for the needs of the unemployed poor. Eventually, Big Government cannot tax anymore so they borrow money from other countries adding interest charges to the cost of paying for the needs of the poor. Eventually, Big Government can no longer afford to borrow any longer because interest payments are to high so they deiced to print money to pay for the needs of the poor. However, printing money causes a devaluation of the dollar, which in turn cause prices to rise. Higher prices in rent, food and energy causes more people to slip below the poverty line making them eligible for government assistance.  So the “Cycle of Marx” starts all over again all because you voted for the American Idol that has great charisma, looks and speaks well.

via Vice President Joe Biden Set To Visit ‘On Air with Ryan Seacrest’ 

January 16, 2012

Obama’s disregard for Separation between Church and State.

On the Sunday before the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett visited Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta to give a political speech, in support of her boss (Barack Obama) and congressional Democrats:

“Teachers, and firefighters, and policemen, whose jobs are now in jeopardy because Congress–well let me be specific–because the Republicans in Congress,” Jarrett told the crowd. According to the CBS affiliate in Atlanta, at this point, “Before she could finish her sentence, people in the congregation were laughing, and applauding.”

At the Sunday service, Jarrett also brought up Osama bin Laden’s death in order to praise the president. “We all sleep a little better at night knowing Osama Bin Laden and his lieutenants are not plotting a terrorist attack against the United States,” Jarrett said. Then she pivoted to Iraq: “I saw so many soldiers returning home from their last tour of duty in Iraq, in time for the Christmas holidays.”

At the end of Sunday’s sermon, after Jarrett had delivered her remarks to the congregation, the church held a voter registration drive.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

via Valerie Jarrett Blasts Republicans from the Pulpit | The Weekly Standard.

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