Friday, October 31, 2008


When universities object to ROTC because of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, isn't that a little disingenuous? After all, the military didn't create that rule, the Congress did--and it was signed by President Clinton. Shouldn't the righteous indignation of the schools be directed at the Congress and not at a program that serves both students and the country well?

Personally, I think people hide behind the "don't ask, don't tell" policy as a way to hide their dislike for the military in general.

Erin O'Connor has a great post on the topic.

No Problem, The Government Is Taking Care of My Retirement

There's a dip in the stock market and you no longer trust those "greedy Wall Street types" whose praises you were singing last year as your 401(k) was flying high? Perhaps you want something guaranteed, like a government pension?

Not so fast.

Many pensions are backed by the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation. It insures the pensions of 44 million workers. Just last week it agreed to take up the obligations of bankrupt lumber company Pope & Talbot.

But the PBGC is facing its own problems. The agency last week said it lost $5 billion dollars in stock investments and expects a deficit of $10 to $12 billion this year. It has $68 billion in assets and $83 billion in liabilities.

And there's more.

First, many Americans and politicians have an erroneous view that stocks are for “rich people” and not them. Wall Street remains a mysterious world, operated largely behind closed doors by mad scientist math wizards. The pension problem proves nothing could be farther from the truth. The teachers, cops and other government workers who trust their retirement to companies such as CalPERs may suddenly take a keen interest in equities.

The other reality is that many Americans will have to work longer than planned. Companies and governments may not have the ability to cover costs for people retiring at 62 and living another twenty years. The math of early retirement + living longer / awful stock markets simply will not add up.

And this is in addition to the ponzi scheme of increased entitlement spending.

Will California renege on its promise to me regarding retirement, will it just modify the rules a bit, or will it tap the taxpayers to make up the expected shortfall?

A Halloween Joke

This joke is courtesy of one of my pre-calculus students:

"What does a math teacher's child say on Halloween?"

"Trig or treat!"

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Perfect Circle

Math teachers always have to draw shapes. We're always graphing lines or parabolas or circles or ellipses, or perhaps drawing solids like spheres or cones or cylinders or prisms.

The Holy Grail for math teachers is to draw the perfect circle. On an overhead projector it's nigh impossible; it's not quite as impossible on a chalk/whiteboard, where you can pivot your arm around the shoulder socket and make a good, large circle, but perfection is difficult. Some teachers can go an entire career without ever achieving this pinnacle of performance.

I have achieved--and on an overhead, too:

Totally freehand. While I was talking. Students tell me I was looking at them, not even looking at the overhead. Totally in the moment.

Bow, my minions!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

How Much Is The CTA Spending On Politics Not Directly Related To Teacher Pay, Benefits, and Working Conditions?

Every cent that the CTA is spending on politics this year, that's how much. I don't see any initiatives, or any candidates for political office, that have anything to do with teacher pay, benefits, and working conditions.

Since the CTA is legally entitled to my money because California is a so-called fair share state, there should be some legal limits on how much money they're entitled to and on what they can spend it. I can't believe there could be any reasonable objection to a requirement that dues money be spent only on campaigns directly related to teacher pay, benefits, and working conditions, although I'll entertain such objections in the comments.

Here's just a small sample of how CTA is spending money during this election:

Speaking of which, the California Teachers Association is getting the biggest headlines of all for its $1.25 million in monetary contributions to the No on Prop 8 campaign (NEA has not contributed money). The irony is that the union contribution is receiving criticism from some members because gay marriage has nothing to do with education, while the union money is being spent on TV ads that directly state, "Proposition 8 has nothing to do with schools or kids."

Considering the culture war aspect of Prop 8, it's surprising that more attention hasn't been paid to the fact that CTA has also contributed $450,000 to defeat Prop 4, which would require parental notification before abortions are performed on unemancipated minors.

The one proposition on the ballot that CTA supports, the Children's Hospital Bond Act, has received a grand total of $161.77 from the union.

Bless their hearts.

Change A Grade, Go To Jail

More accurately, if you hack into a university's computer system and change grades to make people eligible for federal financial aid, you might be guilty of unauthorized computer access and fraud.

How do we know this? Because some who tried to do it have been so charged.

According to the indictment, the conspirators caused the grades of approximately 90 FAMU students to be changed, effecting changes in approximately 650 grades overall. The grade change increased the grade point averages of the majority of students whose grades were changed, which in turn, made these students eligible for financial aid in the form of grants, scholarships, and loans to which these students would not otherwise have been entitled. Approximately 114 of the grade changes at issue were failing “F” grades that were changed to “A” grades, which had the effect of awarding students thousands of dollars worth of credit hours to which they were not entitled. The indictment also alleges that the conspirators caused the residency status of certain students to be changed from out-of-state to in-state, thus reducing the amount of tuition owed to the university by thousands of dollars.

Not a smart move.

Teacher Training

Joanne has the scoop:

First-year teachers who work with mentors, receive extra training and observe experienced teachers don’t outperform other new teachers, concludes a Mathematica study. Researchers looked at two high-intensity induction models that cost considerably more than the support new teachers typically get.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Nana Is Gone

My nana died this morning. It was entirely expected, but that doesn't make it too much easier to deal with. I spent some time alone sitting with her yesterday, and even though she was unconscious the whole time, just having done that brings some comfort now.

Blogging may be light for a couple days, who knows. I have to go to work now.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

College "Politics"

Not far away is American River College, a two-year school serving students in northeast Sacramento.

A recall election for the student government was held there recently because said student government voted to support Proposition 8, the initiative that would change California's constitution so that only heterosexual marriage would be recognized by the state. Given the polarizing nature of the recall you might expect a large turnout, but only about 9% of the student body cast votes--and all the incumbents survived recall.

The nine American River College student leaders targeted for recall after the campus government voted to support a statewide ballot measure banning same-sex marriage will remain in office, campus officials announced late afternoon Thursday.

It remains to be seen whether the campus vote, which was seen by many as a referendum on Proposition 8, will be a bellwether for the state or an anomaly.

In either case, the vote is the latest victory for a group of politicized Christian fundamentalists who have gone from outsiders to power-wielders in a matter of months.

"Politicized Christian fundamentalists". That terminology may be accurate, but I wonder if the major Sacramento paper would use similar loaded words to describe "politicized Marxist activists", which describe so many other students on our area campuses. Perhaps this kind of opinion that masquerades as journalism helps explain why the paper is in such a cost-cutting mode lately, and why its parent McClatchy is bleeding jobs faster than a leech. I couldn't care less either way how this election at ARC turned out. My beef here is with the paper's incendiary language as opposed to *trying* to report objectively.

The college president said about the only thing he could say and not anger either side:

Campus President David Viar applauded the democratic process on display.

Way to play it safe, David! Very astute on your part. Say anything but that and one side or the other will be after you.

The Christian Civilization Club became active in campus politics after losing its status as an official campus organization. The majority of it's members are immigrants from the former Soviet Union who came to the United States to escape religious persecution.

How could it lose its status as a club--in such a "diverse" and "inclusive" environment? Because I'm sure that before they got political power, AR was tolerant, peaceful, welcoming place--especially for the Christian Civilization Club.

The opposition group, which collected the signatures needed to trigger the recall, was less organized.

The recall effort was supported by several organizations including the Native American Student Union, Latinos Unidos, GLBTQ (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Youth) and ARC Campus Progress.

Maybe now they will do a better job and take over in the next election, and impose their beliefs on their fellow students.

Accessorizing Sarah

Let me get this straight.

The people who have spent well over $600 million dollars to get one man elected are complaining about the people who may have spent up to $150 thousand dollars (and that number is disputed) to get a "woman of the people" dressed up for prime time?

The people who spent over $5 million for Invesco Field (home of the Greek temple) for Obama's nomination acceptance speech, to make him "look good", are complaining about the people who may have spent up to $150 thousand dollars to get a "woman of the people" dressed up for prime time?

Are liberals hypocrites? Will they try to destroy anyone who doesn't toe their line? Will they lie through their teeth to get what they want, by any means necessary?


Saturday, October 25, 2008

When Party Bosses Steal An Election

The following was sent to me by a reader whose veracity I do not question:

Here in Clarksville, Tennessee, we have as our State Senator, Rosalind Kurita, a Democrat (well, former, and you'll see why). Last year she royally pissed off the Democratic Party here in Tennessee, by doing what was best for the State, not the party, when she was the deciding vote to replace Senate Speaker John S. Wilder (D) with Ron Ramsey (R). I think Wilder has been in the Senate since the Reconstruction and he's a poster child for term limits. The man would babble on about space ships and all sorts of crazy nonsense.

This past primary season she had a challenger, Tim Barnes, who was supported heavily by the party bosses here in the State.

Kurita won by 19 votes.

The Democratic Party decided to toss out the election and put Barnes in as their candidate for the general election. Why? Because Kurita made them mad, she won't toe the party line, and they wanted things their own way.

Unfortunately the Republicans didn't have a soul running in this race (which, in itself, is a crime), so that meant that the candidate of the Democratic Party, Tim Barnes, would win by default as he's unopposed.

And he wasn't elected by the people. He was selected by the Democratic Party so he represents the party. After all, who's he beholden too?

Kurita got mad, and launched a write-in campaign. She has a good chance of winning because she'll get her original voters, plus nearly every Independent and Republican I know is writing her in because they don't want the Dem's Boy to be our Senator.

I went and early voted Thursday and ran in to her. I introduced myself and told her I was a rock solid Conservative Republican but I wrote her name in because I'd be damned if I was going to let the Democratic Party Bosses chose my senator.

She said if it made me feel in better, she's now an Independent and "I'm never going back to that party. Never. And all because I wouldn't sit there and say "yes sir", when they wanted me to."

I still can't believe they're actually trying to get away with this.

I can believe it, and it scares me.

Ahoy, Mateys! Thar Be TREASURE At That University!

Newsalert has a piece that's relatively short but so full of delicious poetic justice that I post it here in its entirety:

George Will reports:
WASHINGTON is having a Willie Sutton Moment. Such moments occur when government, finding its revenue insufficient for its agenda, glimpses some money it does not control but would like to.

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) recently convened a discussion of how colleges and universities should be spending their endowments.

Marxism or should we say Rawlsian Justice finally come home to where it started: the universities.Our universities love to promote taxation for everyone but themselves.We can't wait to hear the libertarian arguments on why they shouldn't be taxed.

That will be fun to watch.

No, I'm not for taking money from universities. However, "taxes for thee but not for me" has gone on for long enough.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Another Reason To Learn Math

You might need it to defeat Jack the Ripper.

Cheating on the SAT

How did students get the SAT a day early? The news report indicates that the tests were left unsecured at the school.

A Protest Gone Wrong

Mike Antonucci at EIA (proudly listed on my blogroll) has the story of parents who have pulled their students out of school to protest the CTA's involvement in the anti-Proposition 8 movement. The twist?

The 1,800 teachers in the district do not now belong, nor have they ever belonged, to the California Teachers Association. In fact, Clovis is the only large school district in California that has never had a teachers’ union.


Interested In Taking A Survey?

I received an email today asking that I solicit volunteers for a survey. I haven't researched this at all but I'll honor the request and assume it's legitimate:

A research team from the Psychology Department at New York University, headed by Professor Yaacov Trope and supported by the National Science Foundation, is investigating the cognitive causes of voting behavior, political preferences, and candidate evaluations throughout the course of the 2008 U.S. Presidential election. This stage of the study focuses on the information people use to inform evaluations during the last few weeks before the election. They seek respondents of all political leanings from all over the country (and from the rest of the world) to complete a 15-minute questionnaire, the responses to which will be completely anonymous.

I will disable comments for this post to avoid the bias that is likely to result when new respondents see comments about the survey before taking it.

The survey can be found here.

Why We Shouldn't Push All Kids To Go To College

It's crazy to think that every American kid should go to college. Look at the problems our colleges are having with remedial classes if you think otherwise.

Common sense should tell us that some people's talents lie in places other than school, but finally we have a data point:

I have a hard time telling such people the killer statistic: Among high-school students who graduated in the bottom 40 percent of their classes, and whose first institutions were four-year colleges, two-thirds had not earned diplomas eight and a half years later.

That's pretty telling. Now let me provide a little more information regarding that:

I have a hard time telling such people the killer statistic: Among high-school students who graduated in the bottom 40 percent of their classes, and whose first institutions were four-year colleges, two-thirds had not earned diplomas eight and a half years later. That figure is from a study cited by Clifford Adelman, a former research analyst at the U.S. Department of Education and now a senior research associate at the Institute for Higher Education Policy. Yet four-year colleges admit and take money from hundreds of thousands of such students each year!

Even worse, most of those college dropouts leave the campus having learned little of value, and with a mountain of debt and devastated self-esteem from their unsuccessful struggles. Perhaps worst of all, even those who do manage to graduate too rarely end up in careers that require a college education.

We need more vocational ed programs in our schools.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

CTA and Prop 8

Just a few posts prior to this one is one about Proposition 8, the statewide initiative that would change California's constitution to say that the state would only recognize marriages between a man and a woman. My point in that post was not to debate the merits or demerits of the initiative, but to point out that CTA has no business kicking in teachers' money on either side of the issue.

Longtime anonymous RotLC reader "Dan" is a CTA member and emailed the union to ask why they're spending teachers' money on this issue that does not relate at all to teacher pay, benefits, and working conditions. What follows is the email dialog between Dan and CTA, and Dan has given me permission to post it here.

To Whom It May Concern;

I am a full dues paying member, and I am voting no on Proposition 8 for both ethical and practical reasons.

That said, I am appalled that our association has spent a dime, let alone $1.25 million in fighting this proposition. Would someone please get back to me about how the passage or failure of this proposition affects my working conditions? Because if it doesn't, I don't want my money being spent on it.

I have no problem with CTA making endorsements, even though I disagree roughly 75% of the time. But, when it comes to spending the money, I need it going towards things that might make it easier to get a raise that at least keeps up with the rate of inflation, or class sizes that are below 36. I don't need you sticking your neck out to make sure that homosexuals can marry, even though I agree that it's right.

Would someone please get back to me with the rationale behind this spending decision?

Two minutes after sending that, Dan received the following response from CTA:

Thank you for your email. In June, the CTA State Council of Education, CTA's top governing body that is comprised of more than 800 democratically elected educators from across the state, voted to oppose Proposition 8. CTA believes that all people should be allowed equal protections under the law. CTA policy states that the legal rights and responsibilities of marriage and civil unions belong to all adults. No one group should be singled out and treated differently.

However, as with any election or initiative, CTA only makes recommendations. The final choice is always up to you.

Thank you for the work you do every day for the students of California .

Darren's commentary: I can't stand how CTA and NEA always hide behind the "democratically elected" charade. The Supreme Soviet was "democratically elected", too.

Thanks for the quick, almost form-like response. However, you did not address my concern -- I agree with the platform plank, which would lead to a "no" endorsement. However, it is not an issue we should be spending money on. Would you please address that issue specifically, letting me know why it is to my benefit as an educator that this proposition not pass? Because if it doesn't benefit me, I shouldn't be forced to pay for its defeat.

Darren's commentary: Note that Dan apparently agrees with me that if it doesn't affect teacher pay, benefits, and working conditions, then CTA shouldn't be spending teachers' money, time, and effort on it.

CTA campaigns for initiatives when they have a recommended position from the CTA State Council. In this instance the Council took the position of oppose on Proposition 8 as we have policy on non-discrimination. Many teachers will have benefit from defeat of this initiative.

Darren's commentary: Many teachers will benefit if President Bush's tax cuts are extended--but CTA won't support that in an Obama presidency. Hmmm, I wonder why. No, actually I don't; I know why.

Please, understand . . . I agree with the association's position. What I don't understand is how "many teachers will benefit from the defeat of this initiative." How will this happen? What, precisely, will be the benefit? And again -- I support the stance -- I just don't support the funding.


Darren's commentary: no surprise they have no response. The actual reason is because they can. They entitled to all teachers' money by law, therefore they are not accountable at all for how they spend it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Snakes At A School

No, Nick (if you still read this blog), it's not Snakes On A Plane, but this real story is a little more believable:

School officials in Big Sandy said Tuesday the students were bitten by a cottonmouth snake their teacher had misidentified as non-venomous. They were taken to a hospital Monday when their hands began swelling...

Beene said the school district would revisit its policies about bringing animals on campus.

Either that, or make sure your teachers know what they're talking about.

Proposition 8

For those of you outside of California, Proposition 8 is a statewide initiative, only one sentence long, that would alter California's constitution such that only heterosexual marriages would be recognized by the state.

You might--or you might not--be surprised to learn that the California Teachers Association has spent more than $1 million to defeat Prop 8. Prop 8 clearly has nothing to do with teacher pay, benefits, or working conditions, so I don't think CTA should be involved in it at all. Of course, CTA didn't poll its membership about spending money on politics, either.

The "Yes on 8" campaign mentions in its advertising that schools would teach about (and promote) homosexuality if gay marriage remains legal, as happened in Massachusetts.

After the Mormon couple objected to having their children taught about same-sex marriage, the U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals ruled they had no right to advance notice of the instruction. Two weeks ago, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of their case.

What does California's Prop 8 have to do with education, though?

There's not a word about education in Proposition 8, but what public schools will be required to teach about same-sex marriage has emerged as the central issue in the campaign.
Again, because of the Massachusetts example.

Why is CTA so invested in ensuring this proposition fails? Couldn't be a leftie bias, could it?

I sure would like to see a "wall of separation" between unions and state--both labor unions and personal unions.


This piece made me laugh--because it's so true.

The left's unique ability to ignore reality and be guided by utopian impossibilities has reached new levels of absurdity. Adding to aromatherapy, Feng Shui and the healing power of crystals, we now have Obamaism, the belief that an inexperienced and dishonest socialist politician can somehow "change" America and the world for the good.

In addition to the YouTube videos we find of children singing the praises of the new Dear Leader, we also have this:

In San Francisco you can buy votive candles that featured Obama dressed in Monk's robes with a halo, giving a benediction while holding a cross (see a picture of it here.)

I've not seen such candles for President Bush.

Using Math To Cure Cancer

From Forbes:

In her laboratory at the University of Washington, mathematician Kristin Rae Swanson peers into the future of brain cancer patients--on her computer screen. She has created a software program that uses data from magnetic resonance imaging scans to simulate how fast a patient's brain tumor is likely to spread. She can pinpoint with uncanny precision where a tumor will grow months ahead of time and predict how long a patient is likely to live under various treatment scenarios.

She first proposed the idea ten years ago and "was laughed out of the room" by skeptical doctors who figured brain tumor growth was too erratic to predict, Swanson says. But she has developed an equation that takes into account how fast tumors divide and disperse through brain tissue and can predict their path. It takes three hours on a PC to run a patient's data through this simulation.


Carnival of Education

This week's Mole Day edition is here and includes my post about the transgender teacher.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A New Look At A Leftie View of NCLB

Whilst checking StatCounter tonight I noticed that someone viewed this post. I couldn't remember what I wrote (I've written over 3500 posts on this blog!) so I checked it out.

Not only did I like the post, I liked the ideas expressed in the comments. I recommend this year-and-a-half-old post for your review.

Nudie Pics on the Cell Phone

Judgement like this helps explain why we don't let teenagers drink, vote, smoke, rent cars, etc.

School officials have begun handing out suspensions to Pinckney High School students involved in receiving or transmitting a revealing cell phone photo a 14-year-old girl took of herself and sent to friends...

Livingston County Sheriff Bob Bezotte has said the girl took the photo, which shows her genitals and her face, over the summer and sent it to three or four friends' phones. But authorities estimate it's been received by more than 200 people since school resumed.

I have two questions. First, why is the school involved at all? Unless the sending of pictures occurs at school, this isn't a school issue. Second, why are people who receive the picture at risk for arrest? How can you prevent someone from sending you something? I'd understand arresting people who distributed or kept the picture, but not someone who received it and promptly deleted it.

Bottom line: in this entire story, there isn't one person acting with a shred of intelligence.

High Quality Correspondence From Your Alma Mater

If they were trying to appeal to younger graduates, they did so in a very condescending way.

An attempt to reach younger donors in a letter that repeats the word "blah" 137 times has left some Framingham State College alumni questioning the school's professionalism, judgment and blah, blah, blah.

I often wonder about the intellect of some university administration members.

BYU Commits Atrocious Act

A Mormon who was excommunicated has had his diploma denied by Brigham Young University.

Brigham Young University has yanked the diploma of a man who created a calendar featuring shirtless Mormon missionaries and was later excommunicated from the church.

Chad Hardy of Las Vegas attended graduation ceremonies Aug. 15 after finishing up his last four units of study online in June. But on July 13, in between completing his studies and the graduation ceremony, he was excommunicated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Plenty of non-Mormons go to BYU. Is there some contractual agreement that says that BYU can withhold the diplomas of excommunicated Mormons? If so, it's a stupid agreement. If not, I hope they get their you-know-whats handed to them on a platter.

Usually I support BYU and other private schools with a conservative bent, but this type of "punishment" goes beyond the pale. At a minimum it's unethical.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Guess Who Doesn't Support Free Speech?

From the New York Post:

It's worth noting, as Jesse Walker does in the latest Reason magazine, that Trinity Church, the controversial church Obama attended for many years, is heavily involved in the media-reform movement, having sought to restore the Fairness Doctrine, prevent media consolidation and deny licenses to stations that refuse to carry enough children's programming.
The name, Fairness Doctrine, is as Orwellian as that of the Employee Free Choice Act.

Speaking At A University Campus

If you think free speech, the free flow of ideas, and tolerance are all the rage on American university campuses, then you haven't been paying attention.

For a conservative, the hazards of speaking on a college campus are more extensive than you might think. Once the security guards are in place – as they inevitably must be – the risk of getting pied or physically attacked or having one’s speech shut down by raucous protesters is actually a lesser problem than others one regularly encounters at these events.

Far greater is the problem presented by the generally hostile environment a conservative normally encounters on any campus. This includes destruction of flyers advertising one’s event, failure of the campus newspaper to publicize it and failure of professors to recommend or even require student attendance as they regularly do for radical speakers.

I have very little experience as a university student, but I do recall that the worst professor I ever had, and one of the worst humans I've ever dealt with, offered extra credit if we'd attend a talk by liar Rigoberta Menchu--and the class involved had nothing to do with writing, with the Maya in Guatemala, or with Latin American history or politics. I don't imagine many professors offer extra credit if their students go to a talk by David Horowitz or Mike Adams.


Reader Kelvin invited me to participate in this week's synchroblogging, in which several bloggers all post on the same topic. This week's is "I'm Usually in a Good Mood or Being Myself When...."

So without further ado:

I'm usually in a good mood (or being myself) when...

1) ...I'm soaking in my hot tub. I've admitted to myself that I'm reached the point where I'm firmly middle class, not just in values but also financially, and shortly after moving into my house I bought a hot tub. I love a good soak. Now that the weather's getting cooler, it's even more of a treat--hot water enveloping me, steam rising to keep my face warm against a cool breeze. It's even better when I get to share the experience with someone.

2) son and I watch shows together. It's just the two of us, so we often eat dinner on tv trays and watch a tv show or dvd. Often we watch dvd's of long-past tv series, which can be interesting. He's in 7th grade; I'd love to watch Parker Lewis Can't Lose with him.

3) ...when I travel. For me, travel isn't just vacation time. No, it's also learning and adventure time. Search the first week of the August 2008 archives here and see how I spent my week in Cancun--it wasn't sunning at the pool or the beach, that's for sure.

4) ...I spend time with a certain friend--but that friend isn't in my life anymore, so I guess I don't get to have a #4.

Other bloggers who have participated are listed at the first link above and currently include

Smart Idea? Cowardly? Something Else?

I must admit that doing this never occurred to me:

In the competition to get into the most selective colleges, some students and their parents are resorting to a tasteless tactic: bashing other applicants.

The letters, mailed to college admissions offices, typically arrive without a signature. They say rival applicants cheated on exams or got suspended for underage drinking. Sometimes, they include an unflattering newspaper clipping or a sly suggestion to check out pictures on a student's Facebook page...

The e-mail exchange began with a simple query: "I just heard a horrific story from one of my students, and I wanted to see if there is any validity in it," Sue Moller, a high school guidance counselor on Long Island, N.Y., posted on a message board for the National Association for College Admission Counseling. She wrote that a student told her that parents were writing letters about the "bad" conduct of other students "to help the chances of their student gaining admission."

My first thought is to say that anyone who resorts to such tactics must be the lowest of the low. However, I've modified that belief to state that those who do so anonymously are the pathetic cowards. If you provide valid information to a school and sign your name to it, then I have no problem with it. I haven't put an extreme amount of thought into this, though, so I could be swayed to change this opinion if given a good argument.

Rabid Teachers Union Supporters

Why is it that some people who normally don't even think about unions--they don't look for the union label, they don't march in rallies, they don't even want to be a faculty union rep--get rabid when a fellow teacher dares question the teachers union?

I know why I think that is, but I'm curious to hear from RotLC readers before I offer my opinion on this topic.

Nebraska To Change Stupid Law

I've previously written about Nebraska's stupid child abandonment law here and here. Now it seems that under some fairly heavy national scrutiny, state lawmakers are going to change the law to make it a bit more reasonable.

Stung by the abandonments of children as old as 17 under Nebraska's brand-new safe-haven law, the governor and lawmakers agreed Monday to narrow the law's broad wording to protect only the parents of newborns from prosecution.

Forty of the Legislature's 49 senators would amend the law so it applies only to infants up to 3 days old, legislative Speaker Mike Flood said at a news conference. The age cap would change the Nebraska law from the most lenient to one of the nation's most restrictive.

That's a big pendulum-swing. I guess all children don't deserve protection after all (see first link above for reference).

And interesting that I learn about this from a Florida paper.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

What's The Point Of Retiring?

From the major Sacramento newspaper:

Last year, 26,000 of the state's retired teachers returned to the classroom – about 14 percent of the more than 180,000.

Area retired teachers say they've returned to work because they miss the kids. But many also say they need to boost their retirement income.

If the cost of living gets too high, perhaps they could try living in the building shown in the 2nd picture of this post. (I was downtown yesterday--it looks completed, at least from the outside.)

British National Health Service, A Model For All To Emulate

When the government runs health care, the patient comes first. There's no profit motive to get in the way of world class medical decisions.

Dozens of incentive schemes have been uncovered which allow GPs to profit by slashing the number of patients they refer for hospital care.

Under one scheme, GPs stand to gain £59 for every patient not referred to hospital, if they cut an average referral rate by between two and eight per cent...

A leading surgeon said that patients' cancers had already gone undiagnosed after they were denied specialist care under two such "referral management" schemes...

The average family doctor, with a patient list of about 2,000 patients, stands to make between £6,000 and £9,000 if they achieve all the targets, on top of a performance-related pay system which already gives the average GP an income of £110,000.

Why anyone would want us to have a system like this just floors me.

Crocodile Tears From The Press

Via Instapundit:

KURTZ: Mark Halperin, we learned this morning that Barack Obama in the month of September raised $150 million, the early estimates had been about $100 million. They always kind of leak a lower figure so they can exceed it.

If a Republican had not taken public financing and had raised all that money, and the Democrat was struggling financially, wouldn't we see a lot of stories about one candidate essentially trying to buy the election?

HALPERIN: We would. We'd also see a lot of stories about his going back on his word saying that he would accept the public money and would reach out to Senator McCain to try to work out a deal. So I think this is a case of a clear, unambiguous double standard, and any reporter who doesn't ask themselves, why is that, why would it be different if it's a Republican? I think is doing themselves and our profession and our democracy a disservice.

Really? Ya think?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Die Is Cast

Well, the ballot is, anyway. I'm a "permanent absentee voter", or whatever they call me, and I vote from home by mail. Tonight I filled in my ballot and sealed the envelope; tomorrow I'll walk to the mailbox and be done with it.

Press Bias and ACORN

Check out this exceedingly biased article from McClatchy:

An ACORN community organizer received a death threat and the liberal activist group's Boston and Seattle offices were vandalized Thursday, reflecting mounting tensions over its role in registering 1.3 million mostly poor and minority Americans to vote next month.

First off, I do not support vandalism and death threats. Those are illegal acts and should be not only shunned by all Americans, but punished to the fullest extent of the law.

But the "tensions" mentioned in that paragraph aren't caused by ACORN's "role in registering 1.3 million mostly poor and minority Americans to vote next month", they're caused by ACORN's fraudulently registering so many to vote.

Republicans, including presidential candidate John McCain, have verbally attacked the group repeatedly in recent days, alleging a widespread vote-fraud scheme, although they've provided little proof. It was disclosed Thursday that the FBI is examining whether thousands of fraudulent voter-registration applications submitted by some ACORN workers were part of a systematic effort or isolated incidents.

Little proof? Then why is the FBI investigating such spurious allegations? We can start here.

"I would not say that Senator McCain is inciting violence," Kettenring said, "but I would say that his statements about the role of this manufactured scandal were totally outlandish. We would call on Senator McCain to tamp down the fringe elements in his party."

Manufactured scandal? Why does McClatchy not point out all, or any, of the examples of fraud I linked to above? It looks like McClatchy might be pushing an agenda here.

Update: Hey, look! The LA Times reports that some people have been tricked into registering as Republicans. I'm sure the press will be all over this type of voter fraud. I agree with Instapundit: this might be a good thing, as it would force the press (finally) to address the subject of voter fraud.

Update #2, 10/20/08: What a shock! ACORN workers were pressured with quotas. Wonderful people, these ACORN types. Know anyone who's friendly with them?

Forced Unionism: Taxation Without Representation

From the LA Times comes this opinion piece by the president of the California Teachers Empowerment Network:

In 28 states, a teacher is essentially forced to join a costly union. A typical teacher in Southern California, where I teach, pays $922 every year to his or her local, which then sends $611 of that amount to the state affiliate, the California Teachers Assn., or CTA, and $140 to the national affiliate, the National Education Assn., or NEA. (One has to wonder, if the unions are so beneficial, why do teachers need to be forced to join and to fork over such hefty dues in most states?) ...

All of us who object to what amounts to taxation without representation must speak up. Teachers who are happy with their union should have the right to continue that affiliation. However, the rest of us -- especially those who live in states where we are forced to join a union -- would be well served to take a hard look at the organization that claims to represent our best interests and start demanding change.

If I've said it once I've said it a hundred times:

Every (non-military) American has a right to join a union. Every American has a right not to join a union. Every American should have the right not to be required to support a union financially.

(And allow me to correct Mr. Sand's piece above. No one is required to be a member of a union, we're only required to pay a union for their supposed "representation". Those of us in that position are not union members, we are "agency fee payers".)

Friday, October 17, 2008

To My Former Students Who Read This

There are a half dozen or so of you who still read this blog. Want $10,000? Start your own!

(Of course, I still want you to come read Right On The Left Coast!)

When Ideology Meets Practicality

But, if it was for the children, how can you cancel it?

Hawaii is dropping the only state universal child health care program in the country just seven months after it launched.

Gov. Linda Lingle's administration cited budget shortfalls and other available health care options for eliminating funding for the program.

Definitely a reason not to have government involved in providing health care--you certainly don't want health care dependent on which way the political wind blows, or on the intake of tax revenue.

What gets me, though, is this complaint, which shows either idiocy or ingenuousness:

A state official said families were dropping private coverage so their children would be eligible for the subsidized plan.

"People who were already able to afford health care began to stop paying for it so they could get it for free," said Dr. Kenny Fink, the administrator for Med-QUEST at the Department of Human Services. "I don't believe that was the intent of the program."

How could anyone think that wouldn't happen? Given a choice between paying for something out of pocket or having your fellow citizens pay for it indirectly through taxes, I'm sure most people would opt to keep money in their own pocket--especially since they're going to pay the taxes anyway.

Who was it who said that democracy can last only as long as people don't figure out they can vote themselves money from the public treasury? Yes, that Founder. He was right, I fear.

Another Reason To Learn Math

If you don't, you may have to lay off beaucoup teachers.

The Dallas, Texas, school district laid off hundreds of teachers Thursday to avoid a projected $84 million deficit...

The deficit was caused by a massive miscalculation in the budget, CNN affiliate WFAA-TV reported.

That really sucks, and I hope the person(s) responsible for the "miscalculation" are gone, too. But I liked reading this part:

The Dallas Independent School District will hold a job fair Tuesday for all employees who were given notice. More than 110 employers will attend the fair, which was put together by the district, the United Way and the Dallas Regional Chamber.

Joe The Plumber and Rigoberta Menchu

I agree with all of this.

How did three weeks before the election did everyone become obsessed with Joe the Plumber? And what does this whole episode reveal about how the left will go after someone who happens to make The One look less than swell?

Remember this guy didn't seek out Barack Obama, Obama was doing a photo op in his neighborhood and Joe came out to ask a question. And now we're at the point where journalists and liberal bloggers are swarming all over this guy's personal background with an avidity that they haven't shown about Barack Obama's record and associates. Does he have a license? Is he registered to vote? Does he have tax liens? Is he related to Charles Keating? Is he a Republican?

They even posted his address on the internet. How low will these guys go to attack anyone who says anything that makes their guy look less than awesome...

For those on the left who think that this whole story is about Joe's personal background, let me put in in terms they should understand. Think of Joe as a symbolic construct whose situation is "fake but accurate." The left always seems to like that sort of approach to what they regard as underlying truths. Think of him as the left thought of Rigoberta Menchu, the Guatemalan writer who won the Nobel Prize for literature with her autobiography of how, as an indigenous Mayan, she and her family had suffered at the hands of the Guatemalan army. Except it turns out that many of the details in her autobiography were fabrications. That didn't matter to the left or the Nobel Prize Committee because they regarded her story, true or not, as an essential expression of suffering that could have been true.

What is the real story here?

What matters is how Obama answered his question and what it revealed about his approach to redistribution of wealth. We're not about to elect Joe the Plumber.

Demonizing the Opposition

Is this the tolerance and inclusiveness we're supposed to teach in our public schools?

Jones is volunteering at the Republican Headquarters in New Smyrna Beach. The Palin t-shirt was a gift from her fellow volunteers...

“Some of the students were calling me racist because I was Caucasian,” she said. “I wanted the Caucasian man to win. And I told them that’s not true. It’s my freedom of speech, it’s my opinion.”

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Free Speech, the Election, and FIRE

Thank God for FIRE. Can you imagine how bad things would be without them?

With the presidential race between John McCain and Barack Obama the focus of national attention, political speech on our nation's campuses has come under sharp attack. In recent weeks, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has investigated open and blatant attacks on political expression at colleges and universities across the country, from a previously unreported case at Oklahoma, to better-known cases at Illinois and Texas, to cases at smaller schools across the country. This alarming trend towards silencing political expression has prompted FIRE to release a Policy Statement on Political Activity on Campus today.

At the University of Oklahoma, students and faculty were notified last month that "the forwarding of political humor/commentary" using their university e-mail accounts was prohibited. In response to a letter from FIRE, the university has modified its stance, stating that the prohibition is only applicable "to the extent discussions are attributable to the University as endorsing or opposing a political candidate." However, the university has not communicated this change to the community at large, leaving many under the impression that such private e-mail forwards are forbidden. At the University of Illinois, the university Ethics Office issued a newsletter warning faculty against engaging in political expression on campus, including attending political rallies, wearing buttons, and even placing bumper stickers on cars. After widespread criticism and a letter from FIRE, President B. Joseph White issued a clarification, assuring faculty members that the university would allow them to engage in such expression.

"Political expression is exactly the speech the First Amendment was designed to protect. Our nation's colleges and universities do their students and faculty a grave disservice when they stifle the ability to engage the crucial issues of the day," said FIRE President Greg Lukianoff. "While colleges and universities may not institutionally endorse candidates, they have a societal duty to foster and encourage debate and discussion about those issues most important to our nation. Any blanket ban on 'political speech' betrays one of the academy's most important functions."

In addition to the situations at the University of Oklahoma and the University of Illinois, FIRE has monitored bans on political expression at several other institutions in the past few weeks.

Go read the whole thing--and keep in mind that this will get worse if Democrats run the presidency and both houses of Congress.

"Undermining Democratic Principles"

USA Today on the card check legislation that will breeze through Congress and end up on a President Obama's desk:

When citizens go to the polls on Nov. 4, they will be free to vote their conscience — regardless of pressure from relatives, friends or co-workers — after having had a chance to weigh the alternatives. Campaigns and secret ballots are sacrosanct elements of American democracy.

So it's surprising and disturbing that organized labor wants to do away with both these elements when workers decide whether to form a union...

Labor has seen its role decline since the 1950s, when about a third of all private sector employees belonged to unions, compared with about 7.5% today. So it's understandably eager to find ways to expand membership, particularly at a time when workers are feeling economically vulnerable. But undermining democratic principles is not the answer. (emphasis mine--Darren)

This is what you're voting for when you vote for President Obama and a Democrat-led Congress.

Even Democrat stalwart George McGovern is opposed to card check legislation. Anyone who claims to support un-American values should be opposed.

How the American Left Operates

Because everything for them is about how they feeeeeeel, with logic being completely irrelevent, the ends justify the means. Really, tracking down and publishing Joe the Plumber's home address? Getting into Sarah Palin's personal email?

These people are sick.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Personal Stuff

My son heard me drop an F-bomb this evening.

My sister called. My 90-year-old grandmother was in the emergency room, incoherent and unresponsive.

My son understood.

I met my dad and sister at the hospital. My uncle showed up a little later.

I've posted about nana before. She has Alzheimers now, and has been in a home for over 3 years. It used to be that she didn't seem aware of her surroundings but could still speak intelligibly; now it all sounds like incoherent babble.

Apparently she was incoherent, completely out of it, when they got to the hospital today, but this evening she started babbling a little again. My sister listened and was able to make out a few words.

Bill. All died. Four of us. Baby Bill. Always had food.

My sister didn't know it, but she was translating. You see, I know those words. I know the story they belong to. What we've long thought was babbling was actually nana's continuing to tell the same stories I've heard hundreds of times growing up.

She was the second of four children. Her only brother, Bill, was the youngest. Their father died in a coal mining accident when she was young. Her mother raised them on a widow's pension, supplemented by doing seamstress work in the neighborhood. They were poor, but they always had enough food.

My sister would say the few words she could understand, and I'd tell her what part of the story nana was telling. My sister would repeat it to nana, who would say, "Yeah." I augmented what she was saying, telling my sister the stories nana used to tell me about growing up in England during the Depression. My sister would ask about certain details, and nana would reply, "Yeah."

I've heard that with Alzheimers, you eventually regress back to childhood. Maybe that's where nana is now, back in England as a happy, young, fatherless girl.

Just in case, I was composing a eulogy on my way to the hospital. I'm thankful that right now it seems that I won't have to use it for awhile.

The Reality of Paying For College

Teenagers, think the current economy doesn't affect you at all? Let's talk college.

An increasing number of college-bound students who had favored private colleges are applying to public institutions in California and across the nation this fall as the faltering economy shrinks family savings and makes loans harder to find, experts say.

Many parents and children who might not have considered state schools, where tuition is typically a fraction of private schools, are re-evaluating their college options, college counselors say.

Something to consider.

Vote Fraud

Instapundit links to GayPatriot's list of recent voter fraud activities.

Remove Connecticut and Texas and the list above reads like a list of the swing states in this election. Will the media notice how widespread is this fraud?

Sure they notice. And they hush it up, because doing so helps their guy.

Transgender Teacher

From a local television station:

A music teacher at Foxboro Elementary School, who was formerly a woman, returned to school as a man at the beginning of the school year...

Some parents told Travis Unified School District that they feel like their rights to know were violated.

"All the information came straight from our kids and didn't come from the school board or the teachers ... this has all been second-hand information," parent Melissa Oiland said...

(Superintendent) Gavlak said the district consulted with lawyers and determined that legally, it could not disclose any information about the teacher's gender change...

So far, 23 students from 15 different families have transferred their children out of the music class and into a physical education class.

Honestly, this shouldn't be a big deal. Had the operation occurred during the school year, when students would be forced to address the sex change issue head-on, that would be a different story. But this occurred over the summer; the person who started school at the end of summer wasn't the same person who left in spring. Yes, it's a music class, so perhaps some of the students had previously had this teacher--but this still seems like a pretty weak reason to remove your kid from a class.

My opinion would change instantly if the teacher were talking about the operation, why she/he had the operation, etc. Absent that, the parents mentioned are, IMNSHO, overreacting.

It's opinions like this which cause conservatives in other states to think I'm a crazy California leftie wacko, while the liberals here in California assume my stance is the "duh" position so give me no "moderate" points for holding it.

In closing, let me be clear: I'm not saying the parents don't have a "right" to remove their kids from the class, I'm saying this is a weak reason to exercise that right.

Carnival of Education

This week's "debate edition" is over at Eduwonkette and includes my post about last week's staff meeting.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Politics In The Classroom, A Free Speech Issue

EIA has what I consider an extremely reasonable view about "politics in the classroom" (third point in this week's Communique):

The United Federation of Teachers filed a federal lawsuit after the New York City Department of Education directed principals to enforce a ban on political buttons or signs in the classroom.

It might surprise some of you to know that I support the union's position. Free speech should never be limited without evidence of direct, serious and negative consequences arising from its exercise. Knowing that a teacher supports Obama might make a student annoyed or uncomfortable, but I think that's a small price to pay.

I wonder, though, how quickly UFT would have defended free speech if the buttons in question read, "Abortion Is Murder," or "Decertify the UFT." Is all speech free or only speech with which the union agrees?
I have added the boldface above for emphasis.

I Must Be A Freakin' Genius...

...according to this BBC story.

For middle aged and older people at least, using the internet helps boost brain power, research suggests.

Update on JROTC in San Francisco

Joanne has penned a piece at Pajamas Media about the JROTC situation in San Francisco. The citizens there will get to vote on an advisory measure recommending that the district keep the program; the measure is not binding on the school board, however.

I found this comment on Joanne's article to be especially worthwhile:

JROTC, Civil Air Patrol, Police Explorers, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Sea Cadets (MY group) and other in and out of school related youth activities are primarily citizenship endeavors, promoting a love of country and teaching self-discipline and a sense of belonging. That some may (as in my case) lead to enlistment an/or a career in the military is not a bad thing. It doesn’t promote militarism (most of us don’t WANT to go to war - it’s our lives on the line after all!) but it does instill a love of country and a willingness to support and defend it not found in many other areas of our culture.

Obama the Socialist

I heard this clip on Hugh Hewitt's show yesterday. I saw the clip on ABC News last night, but they didn't show Obama's answer to the plumber who asked the question--rather, they cut the clip off and the anchor said something like, "His answer didn't satisfy that questioner."

It didn't? Really? I wonder why. The man owns (or is about to own) a plumbing business and asked the senator about his plans to raise taxes, which would certainly hurt this man and his business. Obama's response?

"It's not that I want to punish your success. I just want to make sure that everybody that is behind you, that they have a chance for success too." He went on to talk about "spread(ing) the wealth around".

Don't take my word for it. Go watch for yourself.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Clearly Predictable Consequences of a Stupid Law

Let's review this post from less than 2 months ago:

Nebraska has recently passed a law that allows parents to drop off "unwanted" children at local "safe havens", such as hospitals. Many states have such laws for newborns, but Nebraska's law includes all minors--up to age 19.

I follow that opening with a statement from an idiot politician who says that all children deserve the protection of the state.

OK, so let's assume you know nothing else about that law than what you read above. What do you think would be a reasonable guess about what might happen? What might be some strange consequences of that law? These, of course:

A Michigan mother drove roughly 12 hours to Omaha, so she could abandon her 13-year-old son at a hospital under the state's unique safe-haven law, Nebraska officials said Monday.

The boy from the Detroit area is the second teenager from outside Nebraska and 18th child overall abandoned in the state since the law took effect in July...

Last week, a 14-year-old girl from Iowa was left at an Omaha hospital by her grandparents. The girl has since been returned to her family...

An out-of-work widower who left nine of his 10 children said he simply felt overwhelmed by his responsibilities. That man, Gary Staton, has asked a judge to allow him to visit his children...

Lawmakers have spoken about the need to re-examine the law, but the Legislature doesn't reconvene until January.

Really? No one foresaw any these types of problems when the law lets anyone drop off any child under age 19? Really?

Yes, maybe they should re-examine that law. And their heads.

Gotta Love Seattle

Joanne Jacobs points out that eight years after trying some warm-and-fuzzy molly-coddling on students, Seattle schools have gone from a "no credit" designation back to one everyone understands: F.

Only in a place as divorced from reality as Seattle, and in a school district as dysfunctional (and loopy) as Seattle's, could the original change ever have occurred in the first place. Who in their right mind could possibly think it was a good idea?

Update, 10/14/08: Joanne gets a two-fer as far as Seattle goes, adding this post to the one above.

Ted Nutting, a calculus teacher in Seattle, blames “reform math” for students’ low achievement. Specifically, he blames Terry Bergeson, superintendent of public instruction in Washington state, for overseeing the development of “weak, vague math standards” based on a reform model.

Are The Dems Being Hypocrites?

Does the sun rise in the east?

Mark Foley's replacement pays hush money in lieu of a sexual harassment lawsuit

Rahm Emmanuel, who howled about Foley's indiscretions, "have been working with Mahoney to keep the matter from hurting his re-election campaign".

So much for that "ethics" thing.

No Income Tax?

There are more than a few states that do not have a state income tax, deriving their operating funds from other sources. Nevada comes to mind.

The fine citizens of Massachusetts, a state in love with taxes despite the history of the Boston Tea Party, are about to vote on a proposition that would phase out the personal income tax.

What would this mean for public higher education in Massachusetts?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Republicans Are Being So Mean And Nasty This Election Cycle

I hear this over and over, and having a few elections under my belt, I have to wonder how anyone could still believe that canard.

Are you going to excuse such behavior, and claim that these people are downtrodden or disgusted with the way things are, or perhaps that this is to be expected during an election season and they're really wonderful people? Then check out this photoessay from January 2006, before the current election season even began, on a topic not related to this election, and try to tell me that with a straight face.

Behold, your betters. If only they could direct as much anger to our country's enemies.

Update: HotAir has a few more examples that should put this lie to rest.

Update #2, 10/13/08: Women especially should enjoy this picture (be forewarned about the language). Lefties, these are your "peeps".


I came across this comment on a Roger Kimball post and thought it of sufficient insight to post here:

We tend in this country, to overcompensate away the deficiencies of the last guy in office. Nixon was sort of brooding and had dark corners, Ford was affable and light. But Ford was portrayed as a clumsy oaf, so Carter was the nuclear engineer. But Carter was limp and cowardly, and Reagan was brave and heroic. But Reagan was sleepy, cowboyish and dim, Bush Sr. was erudite and gentler. But Bush, Sr. was a wimp married to his grandma, and Clinton was dashing and bold. But Clinton often ruled by polls and plebiscites and spent time chasing his tail literally and figuratively, (some of which he put on the payroll), so we closed the last chapter with the current President Bush, married to a sweet librarian and not leading by watching polls but rather, destroyed by them. Going it alone was a mantra, a badge of honor. Perhaps, most importantly, this President Bush, in a war of words…most often fought on a battlefield between his brain and his tongue.

So, the most eloquent speaker, who appeals to the “world court of opinion” and prodded on by a media in his pocket and not on his watch…will “cure” the ills that have befallen us.

What Christopher chooses to ignore, are all the signs of what we will have to cure in the next election. He glosses over them as if they are invisible. That is what surprises most, that is what deadens the heart and chips away at the soul.

Christopher is clearly brilliant enough to see and chooses instead to avert his gaze. The thuggery and mean-spririted henchmen who do the dirty work, keep clean the hands and the image of “first class” comportment. The abject slander heaped upon opponents, comes not from the mouth of the candidate…but from the bellowing rage of his campaign.

The crushing of dissent by teams of lawyers, calls to action and “in your face” aggression come not from written directive, but from the planning committee seeking to choke off relevant inquiry. Clearly, Christopher cannot be so mesmerized as to wash this grime away with a simple wave of the hand. He has fallen for the image and he has been distracted by the persona.

I love liberals, Roger…as I suspect you do. Many of them surround my daily life. But I despise leftists. A liberal is ruled by compassion, a leftist by deceit.

A liberal wants to try a different approach, a leftist wants to replace the system.

A liberal believes in fair play and honest disagreement, a leftist believes in hiding the truth and crushing dissent.

A liberal believes you may have a point, a leftist believes there are no points other than his.

A liberal says this country is great, but can be greater through dialogue. A leftist believes some other country is great and this country makes him puke.

A liberal wants equality for all persons regardless of gender, color or creed, a leftist wants class and racial warfare.

A liberal wants to take the poor and give them a chance to be rich, a leftist wants to take the rich and make them poor.

The liberals are gone, Roger. The leftists have consumed them.

Do You Trust Democrats With Your Retirement?

You may have to, unless you vote against them.

Powerful House Democrats are eyeing proposals to overhaul the nation's $3 trillion 401(k) system, including the elimination of most of the $80 billion in annual tax breaks that 401(k) investors receive.

House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Calif., and Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee's Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support, are looking at redirecting those tax breaks to a new system of guaranteed retirement accounts to which all workers would be obliged to contribute...

Under Ms. Ghilarducci's plan, all workers would receive a $600 annual inflation-adjusted subsidy from the U.S. government but would be required to invest 5% of their pay into a guaranteed retirement account administered by the Social Security Administration. The money in turn would be invested in special government bonds that would pay 3% a year, adjusted for inflation.

The current system of providing tax breaks on 401(k) contributions and earnings would be eliminated...

Higher-income employers provide matching funds to employee plans so that they can qualify for tax benefits for their own defined contribution plans, he said.

"If the tax deferral goes away, the employers have no reason to do the matches, which primarily help people in the lower income brackets," Mr. Belluardo said.

"This is a battle between liberalism and conservatism," said Christopher Van Slyke, a partner in the La Jolla, Calif., advisory firm Trovena LLC, which manages $400 million. "People are afraid because their accounts are seeing some volatility, so Democrats will seize on the opportunity to attack a program where investors control their own destiny," he said.

When you vote for a Democrat, you vote for a state-managed economy.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

No More Bake Sales

I don't know how students can tolerate some of the ridiculous rules my generation foists on them sometimes.
But at Davis Senior High School, the old-fashioned bake sale is a thing of the past.

School officials have forbidden students from selling homemade cookies and cupcakes to raise money for their campus clubs or favorite charities.

Food prepared in home kitchens violates federal health laws, according to school rules handed down last month.

"If you wish to violate this order, your club will be disbanded," reads one provision.

Also banned are club meetings without a teacher present. "NO exceptions," say the rules.

And students can no longer accept cash at charity fundraisers – only checks – to avoid accounting irregularities...

The requirement that students write checks for a slice of pizza or a carwash was absurd, she (a student) said.
The people who crafted these rules are the same people who tell us we're supposed to teach critical thinking skills to students.

Math Is For Nerds

That's apparently true only in the US.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Food Shortages In Cuba

One comment entertained me:

Good point about Michael Moore. Maybe somebody should do a documentary and dissect the timeline.

No food shortage.
Michael Moore visits.
Food shortage.

Food shortages. Score another victory for the workers' paradise with the great health care system and full literacy!

Fuzzy Math--It's Not Dead Yet

I came across the following on an email list of which I am a member, and received permission from the author to repost it here.

"Mathematicians Fault Fuzzy Math Report"
by Donna Garner
October 10, 2008

Jo Boaler, an education professor, has published a report on constructivist math (often referred to as reform math, fuzzy math, "Rain Forest Algebra," etc.). Constructivist math means the student "constructs his/her own understanding. " Most parents simply want their students to know that 2 + 2 = 4 without trying to construct their own understanding. Parents also want their children to learn how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide with quickness and accuracy. Boaler and those who support constructivist math have a different view. She presented her report at the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) meeting in Anaheim, California, where she received enthusiastic applause.

The problem is that Boaler's report has holes in it. This report deliberately misleads the American public into thinking that reform math has raised students' academic achievement.

People such as Boaler want to institutionalize reform math and play down the importance of students learning basic math functions even though parents all over the country are worried sick because their children cannot function in the higher-level math classes without knowing their basic algorithms.

Jim Milgram, Wayne Bishop, Paul Clopton (three brilliant and well-known mathematicians) have taken Boaler's report and shown where her data is faulty. Not only is much of Boaler's data in error, but the questions she used as part of her testing instrument demonstrate lack of math facility on her own part.

It will be very important for the public to retain the website link to Milgram/Bishop/ Clopton's report entitled "A Close Examination of Jo Boaler's Railside Report." [Railside is a pseudonym for a make-believe elementary school to which Boaler refers in her study.] Whenever Boaler's less-than-factual report is referenced in the press and is acclaimed by constructivist math advocates, the public can now pull out the work of Milgram/Bishop/ Clopton to counter Boaler's claims.

Below is the Internet link and an excerpt from the Milgram/Bishop/ Clopton abstract: evaluations-version3.pdf

This, together with a careful review of the test items used in the [Boaler] study , makes one extremely skeptical of the value of the Railside study’s tests for assessing achievement in mathematics. The Railside students show through AP, SAT, and state assessments that they do not have a good understanding of mathematics. This phenomenon speaks more to the flawed nature of the tests used in the study than it does to any claim of adequacy or inadequacy in the reform approach at Railside.

Update, 10/11/08: Link is fixed now.

How To Cheat Using the Internet

Online instructional videos on YouTube, showing kids how to cheat in class, show some serious brazenness. After all, they can't be afraid of the consequences if they're making the information (and their faces) public.

Via ABCNews.

Two Interesting Posts (from other sites) About The World Financial Situation

The short one


the long one....

So who, exactly, is responsible for the US portion of this mess? To be blunt, there's no one person. There are lots of people involved, and several bureaucracies and agencies and organizations. There are people at the head of those groups, but no one person is responsible. Some groups are more responsible than other groups, but that's about as close to finger-pointing as I can get.

But you might imagine which groups I would list as "more responsible than other groups" :-)

CTA Dues Rebate

Within the next three weeks I'll receive a check from the CTA. If you're a California teacher, or a union member in any other non-right-to-work state, you could get one, too--read on to learn how.

First off, you must resign from the union. Then you must request a rebate of all dues money not spent for representation purposes; detailed information on how to do so, along with sample letters, can be found at the web site of the California Teachers Empowerment Network, here.

You need only resign once but you must request the rebate each year. If you do so by September 30th, CTA will refund your money by October 31st. If you do so by November 15th, CTA will refund your money before Christmas. My rebate checks amount to about 1/3 of my annual union dues--it's nice to get a check for over $300 right before Christmas. And it's sad to think that they're spending that much of dues money on things unrelated to worker representation.

Update, 11/4/09: Here's an updated link to replace the one above.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Today's Staff Meeting

Today's staff meeting was painful. Let me share just one storyline with you, so you can get even the smallest idea of how painful it was.

Today we talked about student progress reports. Pretty innocuous stuff, right? Oh, don't be naive.

See, in the past, we filled out progress reports at 6 and 12 weeks into the semester. Some parents complained that they didn't get the progress reports until the 7th week (out of 18), by which time it was too late for them to motivate their kids to dig their way out of any hole in which their grades might inhabit. So we were directed to send out progress reports after 4-1/2 weeks.

The union and the district misunderstood each other. The district thought they negotiated to have progress reports every 4-1/2 weeks, whereas the union thought that the 6-week progress report has been moved forward 1-1/2 weeks but the 12-week progress report would stay where it was. The union's contention was that they didn't bargain for us to do an extra progress report each semester, which is what the district thought they had bargained.

Fair enough. But instead of resolving it, each school was seemingly given the option of choosing how it wanted to proceed.

So we spent the next 30 min or so arguing/discussing whether we should do progress reports at 9 and 13-1/2 weeks or just at 12 weeks. But wait, there's more. Due to athletic eligibility issues, our athletes/cheerleaders will need some kind of grade check at 9 weeks.

So now our choices are to do progress reports for just athletes/cheerleaders at 9 weeks and for everyone at 12 weeks, or to do progress reports for all students at both 9 weeks and 13-1/2 weeks.

Clearly this is a major issue.

We spent over a half an hour on this. Some wanted to know who mandated the 9 week report for athletes--is the union aware of this, was it negotiated? Others had other concerns.

Given the small difference between the two proposals to choose from, we spent more time discussing, arguing, and questioning, than it would take to fill out that "extra" grade report the district thought they negotiated in the first place.

That was just one topic addressed at the meeting today.

"Strip"-searched For Stolen Money

My question is: did they find the money?

DETROIT — Three seventh-grade girls at a school in Monroe were ordered to strip to their underwear while a teacher investigated the alleged theft of $42, their parents charge.

The principal of Trinity Lutheran School was placed on two-week leave and the investigation into the female teacher's alleged actions was continuing, Senior Pastor Stanley AuBuchon said Wednesday.

It's important to note that this did not happen at a public school.

Carnival of Education

This week's is here, and includes my post about teaching about dating violence.

"Political" Teachers

This is certainly an interesting view about politics in the classroom.

Pride High

Is there a "separate but equal" issue here?

Chicago school officials plan to recommend opening a gay-friendly campus,citing studies that homosexual high school students have greater dropout rates than heterosexual teens.

The School for Social Justice Pride Campus, if approved, would be the city's first school for gay, lesbian and transgenderstudents, The Chicago Tribune reported.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

"Honor System" For College Admissions?

This sounds OK, but I'm still somewhat suspicious.

Starting with those applying this fall for admission to all three Rutgers campuses, high schools will no longer be asked to submit applicants’ transcripts. Instead, applicants will themselves enter all of their grades and high school courses in an online application form. An official transcript will eventually be reviewed for every applicant who is admitted and indicates a plan to enroll...

There is evidence that some combination of honesty and fear can in fact work to keep the self-reported transcripts accurate. The University of California, the pioneer in this type of admissions system, reports extremely low rates of transcript errors.

If it works, there's nothing wrong with such a system, I guess. I can imagine it would save time for high school registrars.

More "Genius" at the University of Illinois

The ban on political demonstrations of any kind has been completely lifted. While I support that, I also recognize that it will be a boon only to lefties.

So will keeping a "capitalism academy" off the campus:

Also Monday, the university’s flagship campus, at Urbana-Champaign, announced that it was calling off negotiations to create a research and education center that many professors feared would amount to a program with a single point of view and without regular academic oversight...

The other controversy at Illinois that was resolved Monday involved the Academy on Capitalism and Limited Government, which was set up with funds from alumni with the goal of promoting the study of free markets and principles of Western civilization — and which will now operate but not as part of the university.

In recent years, alumni of a number of colleges and universities have donated funds to colleges to endow programs to promote the study of American institutions or capitalism or other parts of society that the alumni feel deserve more attention on campus. At institutions such as Princeton University, such programs have won support both within and outside the academy, but in other cases, disputes have broken out over whether these centers were seeking more autonomy than is appropriate. And that was the case at Illinois.

We wouldn't want the university to be associated with anything like free markets, capitalism, or Western civilization, would we?

An Interesting View of the New Deal

From the UCLA Newsroom:

Two UCLA economists say they have figured out why the Great Depression dragged on for almost 15 years, and they blame a suspect previously thought to be beyond reproach: President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

After scrutinizing Roosevelt's record for four years, Harold L. Cole and Lee E. Ohanian conclude in a new study that New Deal policies signed into law 71 years ago thwarted economic recovery for seven long years...

"President Roosevelt believed that excessive competition was responsible for the Depression by reducing prices and wages, and by extension reducing employment and demand for goods and services," said Cole, also a UCLA professor of economics. "So he came up with a recovery package that would be unimaginable today, allowing businesses in every industry to collude without the threat of antitrust prosecution and workers to demand salaries about 25 percent above where they ought to have been, given market forces. The economy was poised for a beautiful recovery, but that recovery was stalled by these misguided policies."

We should be wary of such policies, especially today.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Bill Ayers, School Reformer

School reformer?

Calling Bill Ayers a school reformer is a bit like calling Joseph Stalin an agricultural reformer. (If you find the metaphor strained, consider that Walter Duranty, the infamous New York Times reporter covering the Soviet Union in the 1930s, did, in fact, depict Stalin as a great land reformer who created happy, productive collective farms.) For instance, at a November 2006 education forum in Caracas, Venezuela, with President Hugo Chávez at his side, Ayers proclaimed his support for “the profound educational reforms under way here in Venezuela under the leadership of President Chávez. We share the belief that education is the motor-force of revolution. . . . I look forward to seeing how you continue to overcome the failings of capitalist education as you seek to create something truly new and deeply humane.” Ayers concluded his speech by declaring that “Venezuela is poised to offer the world a new model of education—a humanizing and revolutionary model whose twin missions are enlightenment and liberation,” and then, as in days of old, raised his fist and chanted: “Viva Presidente Chávez! Viva la Revolucion Bolivariana! Hasta la Victoria Siempre!”

And this is a guy Barack Obama worked with, worked for, and in whose house Obama launched his political career. And Obama claims not to know about Ayers' terrorist past.

So even if Obama is never queried on whether he was the only adult in Chicago unaware of Ayers’s Weather Underground background, shouldn’t someone ask why he was working for and helping to fund an organization which supported this type of curriculum?

Yes, someone should.