Wednesday, January 16, 2019

How Striking Los Angeles Teachers Can Save $1000

A couple of organizations have joined forces to put up billboards in Los Angeles telling teachers they can save $1000/yr by leaving the union:


Thank you, Mark Janus! And remember, I was there at the Supreme Court the day history was made!

I'm Having A Hard Time Feeling Sorry For Them

In my readings this afternoon I've encountered two groups of people that I just can't gin up a lot of sympathy for.

The first is federal workers during the government shutdown.  Yes, those who are working should get paid.  If we need them to work then they're essential, and thus should get paid.  I have sympathy for that group.  But the others, the ones who perform government tasks that don't directly affect us peons outside the beltway, they're getting time off work.  I understand they need their paychecks in order to make ends meet, but their jobs don't exist just so the workers can pay their bills.  Rather, they get paid to do a certain job, and right now (through no fault of their own) they're not doing that job.  I sympathize with their plight, but I'm not going to let poster-size pictures of temporarily-out-of-work federal workers tug at my heartstrings as if they had just been gunned down in a random drive-by.  If we're going to have candlelight vigils for federal workers who, if history is any guide, will eventually get paid for work they didn't even do, you can count me out.

As Instapundit said today, in a veiled reference to the previous US president:
Coal miners lose their jobs for good and it’s “you’re obsolete, learn to code!” Federal workers have a few paychecks delayed and the press is in heartstring-tugging mode.
There's a second group of people for whom I just can't bring myself to feel sorry for is tech workers in San Francisco:
The dream of working for one of Silicon Valley's many tech behemoths, along with the luxuries such a six-figure salary would afford, has resulted in droves of engineering degree-toting techies coming to the Bay Area.

Though, in reality, earning a tech salary is not all it's cracked up to be.

In the nation's most competitive real-estate market, it can be next to impossible to find affordable living accommodations. The housing crisis has left thousands struggling and has done nothing to help the city's homelessness epidemic...

Like the people behind the Negev, a communal-living organization that houses tech workers in San Francisco.

It's one of many communal spaces in the city designed to help techies circumvent the housing shortage and high rent. The home offers 50 rooms across three floors.

Many Negev residents sleep in bunk beds and shell out $1,900 a month to live here.
While that sucks, no one required them to take those jobs. And are they going to vote for the same socialist politicians and policies that created the housing problem in the first place?  I guess we'll never know, but...

If quality of life matters to you, and you're not filthy rich, then you don't move (your family) to San Francisco.  You just don't.

And if you're a 20-something recent college grad and you hope to strike it big some day?  Well, you pays your dues and you sees what happens.  Someday you can look back on these early years and laugh at the crappy conditions in which you lived.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

LA Unified Strike

CTEN President Larry Sand, writing for the California Policy Center, says that collective bargaining hurts teachers and students:
Using a model from the Industrial Era, teachers in Los Angeles are striking.

I have written about the subject many times, but it is worth revisiting as Los Angeles teachers are striking over a one-size-fits-all collective bargaining contract that is harmful to all concerned.

Collective bargaining, a term first introduced into the lexicon by socialist Beatrice Webb in 1891, is a process of negotiations between employers and employees aimed at reaching agreements that regulate working conditions. The term refers to the sort of collective negotiations and agreements that had existed since the rise of trade unions during the 18th century, where workers were commonly represented by a union, and the agreements reached by this arrangement set wage scales, work rules, etc.

But does this 18th Century industrial model serve teachers and students in the 21st?

No, says researcher and education policy expert Greg Forster. He writes that collective bargaining is not a good fit for k-12 teachers. “Teachers are like doctors and lawyers. Standardizing the work they do into a one-size-fits-all mold creates major headaches for them.” Collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) demand standardization, “so processes and outputs can be specified in labor-management negotiations.” He maintains that unhindered by collective bargaining, private school teachers nationally are more likely to have control over selection of textbooks and other instructional materials by 53 to 32 percent; content, topics and skills to be taught (60 to 36 percent); performance standards for students (40 to 18) curriculum (47 to 22) and discipline policy (25 to 13).
The strike has been in effect for only 2 days now.  What's happened with the students?
How many students went to school on Day One of the strike?

Of the district’s half a million students, only a third showed up...

What’s the lesson plan for students while teachers are away?

There isn’t one set plan. And what counts for a lesson varies, too.

At one school Monday, with minimal staff on hand, the principal had students watch “Black Panther” while she came up with a plan.
This didn't come out of nowhere. You'd think there'd have been better planning than that.
How many people are affected by the strike?

Nearly half a million students and their families are affected.

An estimated 400 substitutes and 2,000 staffers from central and regional offices are filling in for 31,000 teachers, nurses, librarians and counselors.
The 1989 strike lasted 9 days.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Denigrating a Dead Police Officer

The nearby city of Davis, home of our local University of California campus (which I often derisively refer to as Berkeley-lite), recently suffered its first murder of a police officer since years before I was born.  The officer was assisting at the scene of an accident when a passer-by approached and shot her several times.  The murderer was later found dead, along with his suicide note.  He was obviously mentally ill, having believed that the Davis Police Department was directing sonic waves at his dogs, or something crazy like that.

So a 22-year-old police officer is dead.  Just like that.

Officer Corona, of Hispanic descent (yes, that's important to the story), is shown here in a couple pictures:

She was a beautiful young woman with her entire life ahead of her, all snuffed out because of what she was wearing, her uniform. Her loss is senseless and tragic.

Her father, Merced Corona, served 26 years as a deputy with the Colusa County Sheriff’s Department. Only five months ago, he proudly pinned her badge on her when she was sworn in. Now, sadly, for no reason, in a week or so, he will be burying her.

No parent should ever have to bury their kid, especially one murdered for no other reason than the profession she chose.  link
And there's this one from 2 years ago:
And that's where the controversy begins at UC Davis:
However, a group of students at the University of California, Davis contend the photograph is racist and they are demanding that people cease and desist circulating the image.

“The flag is blatantly anti-Black and disrespectful,” the Associated Students, UC-Davis Ethnic and Cultural Affairs Commission wrote on its now-deleted Facebook page.

“We see it necessary to call-out all community members who continue to post and disseminate images of the Blue Lives Matter flag online,” they wrote. “We would like to directly address that this flag represents an attempt by law enforcement to undermine the Black Lives Matter movement.”

The Ethnic and Cultural Affairs Commission also offered to provide help for students “triggered by this event and the circulating images of a flag that has been popularized by the ‘Blue Lives Matter’ crowd.”

“Flashing lights, sirens and increased police presence can be triggering to many Black and Brown people,” they wrote.
At least they were shamed into removing the post.  Remember, this officer's father was also a law enforcement officer, and both of them would be considered "Brown people" by these particular students in any other context.

As I said, at least they were shamed into removing the post.  And I'm quite impressed with Davis' president of the Associated Students, which I assume is akin to a student body president:
“I wholeheartedly condemn the Ethnic and Cultural Affairs commission for this disgusting post,” wrote Michael Gofman, the president of the Associated Students, UC-Davis. “It’s easy to sit on the third floor of the Memorial Union where there are at least 100 brave men and women in blue between you and the shooter. It is easy to argue hypotheticals, politics, and ideology when you’re in safety.”

“I am ashamed that some of these same people, protected by the very officers that they are condemning, have the audacity to politicize the loss of a young officer. Her only crime was being a police officer,” Gofman wrote on his Facebook page.
I am ashamed, and disgusted, that my tax money pays for the education of idiots like those in the Ethnic and Cultural Affairs Commission.

Update, 1/15/19:  Today, the front page of the major Sacramento newspaper had the Blue Lives Matter picture at the top of its web page, along with a story about the controversy:
The ECAC’s web page describes it as a branch that recommends policies and programs for minority groups at UC Davis. It was named UC Davis’ commission of the year in 2018. The ECAC previously boycotted Gofman’s annual State of the Association address, calling him “racist,” “divisive” and “not trustworthy,” UC Davis student newspaper The California Aggie reported.

UC Davis responded to a torrent of angry commenters on Twitter Sunday morning, saying that student groups do not speak for the university and urging unity among Davis residents.

Teacher Reaches Rock Bottom, Keeps Digging

About 11 months ago I wrote about a middle school teacher whom I referred to as an idiot because of her so-called lesson about the conditions aboard slave ships.  Seriously, click on that link and I think you'll agree with me.

To borrow a phrase from General Honoré, the teacher in question is back in the news and "stuck on stupid":
A white New York City teacher plans to sue the city for $1 billion over her firing in October following claims that she abused and humiliated black students during a lesson about slavery, according to multiple reports.

Patricia Cummings, who teaches in the Bronx, initially filed a $120 million lawsuit in Suffolk County, where she lives.

The incident involved Cummings having black junior high school students lie down on the floor of the classroom. She allegedly put her knee on a student's back in an effort to show how African-Americans were subjected to terrible treatment during slavery.

The school investigated and found she had used poor judgment but did not recommend corporal punishment charges. She was reassigned and later fired.

The 37-year-old teacher said Thursday she has "no career at this point" because of the publicity surrounding the incident and plans to launch a $1 billion class-action suit with other teachers who say they were discriminated against by the city.
You will not often find me supporting the government of New York City, and neither will I say that the City has never discriminated against any teachers.  However, her particular complaint is akin to something you step on in the pasture.

Most Stressed Cities In America

From Inc.:
Working from census data measuring objective factors that impact livability and stress in 306 U.S. cities, the jobs site Zippia ranked the most and least stressed urban areas. We have the whole list of the top 100 below, and the criteria included:
  • Average commute times
  • Unemployment rate
  • Average hours worked
  • Population density
  • Home price to income ratio
  • Percent of population without health insurance
California has about 1/8 of the US population, but regarding this list of "most stressed cities" it has
2 of the top 5,
3 of the top 10,
8 of the top 20, and
50 of the top 100.  Even little Sacramento makes the list at #95.
How can this be in Liberal Utopia?  Well, actually, it's exactly what you'd expect to find in a liberal utopia, but plenty of people apparently prefer this to, you know, actually being happy.

A Tale of Two Cities

I find it extremely interesting that liberal news outlets like CNN report one way on the government shutdown in Washington, and a completely different way on the government shutdown in the country's 2nd largest school district.

Just sayin'.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

When The President Lies

The media care about presidential lies only when the president has an (R) after his name:
MSM Never Questioned Airing An Obama Speech Despite These 1063 Examples Of His Lies, Mendacity, Etc.
Sometimes they even create so-called lies.  Go figure.

If Only This Could Happen To Public Schools, Too

I'm a supporter of charter schools and vouchers.  I'm also a supporter of fiscal responsibility.  Any organization that isn't a good steward of public funds should be shut down.  Why is this belief celebrated in the press only when applied to charter schools, though?
More than 100 of the 544 charter schools in Arizona are in danger of closing because of excessive debt and other financial troubles, according to a recent report.

Self-described centrist think tank Grand Canyon Institute found that 105 charter schools in the state were losing more than $400 per student, per year.

"You will see a bunch of charters folding suddenly," said Curt Cardine, the study's main author. Cardine is a former charter executive for EdKey Inc., a large Arizona charter chain that had a $7.74 million net deficit as of June 30, 2018.

Arizona State Board for Charter Schools Chairwoman Kathy Senseman disputes that so many charters will close, saying Grand Canyon Institute's estimates are "a little inflated."

More Equal Than Others

This principal is a petty little tyrant, no?
A school resource officer at an Ohio grade school was escorted off school property after he gave a parking ticket to the school principal.

Police officials in the town of Warren are peeved at the treatment of Officer Adam Chinchic, who reportedly had warned Jefferson School Principal Carrie Boyer numerous times about parking in spaces reserved for the handicapped.
Carrie should be thankful the fine was only $100.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Global Warming Apostate

Climate scientist retires, then declares ‘I am a skeptic’ – Offers to debate – Rejects ‘denier’ label: ‘We don’t live in medieval times’

“Climate is too complicated to attribute its variability to one cause. We first need to understand the natural climate variability (which we clearly don’t) Only then we can assess the magnitude and reasons of climate change.”
Who is this guy?
For the next three years I was a post-doctoral fellow at the Atmospheric Environmental Service, Cloud Physics Division, at Downsview, Ontario, an area in the north end of Toronto.

In 1985, I joined the Department of Geosciences at the University of Wisconsin -Milwaukee (UWM) as an Assistant Professor. 28 years later I am still at UWM, now as Distinguished Professor in the department of Mathematical Sciences. I currently oversee the Atmospheric Sciences program, a subdivision of the Mathematical Sciences which includes 6 other internationally recognized faculty members, and has become one of the most successful research groups at UWM.

My work has focused on the study of Atmospheric Sciences, specifically in the areas of climate dynamics and global change.

Live By The Sword, Die By The Sword

Instead of calling them social justice warriors, we would be more accurate if we called them social justice bullies:
I drive food delivery for an online app to make rent and support myself and my young family. This is my new life. I once had a well paid job in what might be described as the social justice industry. Then I upset the wrong person, and within a short window of time, I was considered too toxic for my employer’s taste. I was publicly shamed, mobbed, and reduced to a symbol of male privilege. I was cast out of my career and my professional community. Writing anything under my own byline now would invite a renewal of this mobbing—which is why, with my editor’s permission, I am writing this under a pseudonym. He knows who I am.

In my previous life, I was a self-righteous social justice crusader. I would use my mid-sized Twitter and Facebook platforms to signal my wokeness on topics such as LGBT rights, rape culture, and racial injustice. Many of the opinions I held then are still opinions that I hold today. But I now realize that my social-media hyperactivity was, in reality, doing more harm than good...

Then one day, suddenly, I was accused of some of the very transgressions I’d called out in others. I was guilty, of course: There’s no such thing as due process in this world. And once judgment has been rendered against you, the mob starts combing through your past, looking for similar transgressions that might have been missed at the time. I was now told that I’d been creating a toxic environment for years at my workplace; that I’d been making the space around me unsafe through microaggressions and macroaggressions alike.

Social justice is a surveillance culture, a snitch culture. The constant vigilance on the part of my colleagues and friends did me in. That’s why I’m delivering sushi and pizza. Not that I’m complaining. It’s honest work, and it’s led me to rediscover how to interact with people in the real world. I am a kinder and more respectful person now that I’m not regularly on social media attacking people for not being “kind” and “respectful.”
A "surveillance culture, a snitch culture."
Aggressive online virtue signaling is a fundamentally two-dimensional act. It has no human depth. It’s only when we snap out of it, see the world as it really is, and people as they really are, that we appreciate the destruction and human suffering we caused when we were trapped inside.
There's an old saying that a conservative is a liberal who's been mugged.  The author is still no conservative, but he's certainly learned a lesson about today's leftists, their ideology, and their hatred.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Some of My Favorite Music

Motown.

Paved With Good Intentions

I can't imagine that there's anyone who thinks that the motives behind the Americans With Disabilities Act are bad, that the intent wasn't a good one.  We must always remember, though, that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, and good intentions aren't sufficient to make good law:
Is it Beyoncé’s fault that some of her fans are blind? Is the performer a “public accommodation,” like a hotel, restaurant, or department store? Is it society’s obligation to rectify all misfortunes in life’s lottery? These questions may seem silly, but they lie at the heart of a cottage industry of abusive class-action litigation against websites pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act, a well-intentioned but poorly conceived—and horribly drafted—law that continues to generate unintended consequences decades following its passage in 1990. Computer users afflicted with various disabilities—blind consumers seem especially litigious—regularly sue companies hosting websites that allegedly aren’t sufficiently “accommodating” of their condition. Beyoncé and her website (beyonce.com), through her management company, became their latest target.

The federal court complaint naming Beyoncé, as is typical of this predatory genre, is a cookie-cutter document. Both the plaintiff and her lawyer are serial ADA litigants, sometimes referred to as “ADA trolls.” Given the lack of any fixed legal standard for “web accessibility,” almost any grievance involving the technical features of a website is litigable, and there is no shortage of contingent-fee lawyers eager to file suit. The principal requirement: a defendant with deep pockets. With 22 Grammy awards to her credit, the phenomenally successful Beyoncé qualifies. She and her husband, rapper Jay-Z, reportedly have a net worth over $1 billion.

Such lawsuits plague merchants engaged in e-commerce, even though the ADA was enacted before the advent of the Internet.

One-Party State

A long-time friend of mine is from New Orleans, where, he used to say, they had the best politicians money could buy.

There's also the adage, "Vote early, vote often."

How much of this is sheer incompetence, and how much is malice?  Neither should make any fair-minded Californian feel good:
Judicial Watch announced today that it signed a settlement agreement with the State of California and County of Los Angeles under which they will begin the process of removing from their voter registration rolls as many as 1.5 million inactive registered names that may be invalid. These removals are required by the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA).

The NVRA is a federal law requiring the removal of inactive registrations from the voter rolls after two general federal elections (encompassing from 2 to 4 years). Inactive voter registrations belong, for the most part, to voters who have moved to another county or state or have passed away...

In its lawsuit, Judicial Watch alleged:
Los Angeles County has more voter registrations on its voter rolls than it has citizens who are old enough to register. Specifically, according to data provided to and published by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, Los Angeles County has a registration rate of 112 percent of its adult citizen population.
The entire State of California has a registration rate of about 101 percent of its age-eligible citizenry.
Eleven of California’s 58 counties have registration rates exceeding 100 percent of the age-eligible citizenry.
The lawsuit confirmed that Los Angeles County has on its rolls more than 1.5 million potentially ineligible voters. This means that more than one out of every five LA County registrations likely belongs to a voter who has moved or is deceased. Judicial Watch notes that “Los Angeles County has the highest number of inactive registrations of any single county in the country.”

The Judicial Watch lawsuit also uncovered that neither the State of California nor Los Angeles County had been removing inactive voters from the voter registration rolls for the past 20 years. The Supreme Court affirmed last year in Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Inst., 138 S. Ct. 1833 (2018) that the NVRA “makes this removal mandatory.”
The dead always vote Democratic. Always.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Arming Teachers

I used to be against the idea of arming teachers but now support it under what I consider to be eminently reasonable conditions.  Clearly I'm not the only one who thinks armed teachers aren't a bad idea:
The question is no longer "should we arm teachers?" Now, it's "how many armed teachers are already out there?" We flew down to Ohio to embed with the men and women behind FASTER Saves Lives, a group that has trained thousands of teachers from all across the country how to shoot to kill.

Ew, Who Would Want This?

If I had to list the top 5 things I'd enjoy doing naked, dining wouldn't be on that list.  Even further down that list would be dining with a bunch of other naked people.  Perhaps that's why this restaurant is closing:
A little over a year after it opened, Paris’ first nudist restaurant is set to close its doors in February due to a lack of business.

O’Naturel opened in November 2017 in the city of lights’ 12 arrondissement, a testament to the rising popularity of naturism in France.

But unfortunately it didn’t prove as popular as expected, as the owners just announced the final date to dine coming up next month.
They will be open on Valentine's Day, if that's your idea of romance.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

That's A Lot Of Inflation

Remember the first Presidential $1 coins that had edge lettering?  Remember the brouhaha after a few were found without the edge lettering?  Mistakes sometimes happen in our US mint facilities, and sometimes those errors are released to the public.  A big error happened during WW2:
A penny that a Massachusetts teenager found in his change from lunch money could be worth as much as $1.65 million (£1.3 million) when it is auctioned off.

The 1943 Lincoln penny is made up of copper and has been described as the "most famous" coin made in error, according to Heritage Auctions, which is auctioning off the coin. Only 20 were ever made and for years the U.S. government denied its existence, but one coin was found by Don Lutes Jr. in his school cafeteria in March 1947...

In the 1940s, copper was considered a strategic metal, largely because of World War II, as it was used to make shell casings, telephone wire and other wartime necessities. To preserve the metal, 1943 Lincoln pennies were made of zinc-coated steel, but a tiny fraction of the pennies put into circulation wound up using copper.
The 1943 pennies are gray-colored "steel cents".  This kid's cent is made of copper.

Who Runs Our Hypermasculine War Machine?

According to MSNBC:
The CEOs of four of the five biggest defense contractors are women. Watch Ali Velshi break down who is running Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Boeing’s defense wing, and weapons negotiations for the U.S.
Video at the link.

Monday, January 07, 2019

Back To Work Today

For the first time in two weeks I went back to work.  There were things I had to get done as well as things I wanted to get done.  It was a teacher work day--students return tomorrow--so I had time.

I got my last two classes of final exams graded today.  Got the grades entered into the computer, determined semester grades, and sent them to the registrar.  Those were what I was required to do.

I administered a final exam to a student who missed taking it in December.  I worked with my student teacher on some teaching skills and classroom management techniques.

What I didn't do was start my essays.  I'm applying to be a Fulbright Specialist and, as part of the application process, must write not one but two essays.  Granted, they're relatively short (no more than 10,000 characters/1500 words each), but I must submit them by next Monday.  And I didn't get to them at all today.

After taking a nap when I got home--I'm not used to getting up so early in the morning!--I started each of them tonight.  Sure, I wrote only about 100-150 words on each of them, but now I have ideas swirling around in my mind. As coherent thoughts occur to me I'll make a note of them, add them to the appropriate essay, and supplement with supporting commentary.  Using this method I'll have them done by next Monday.

That was my day.