Monthly Archives: October 2013

Real Education Improvement Part III


So, as we wrap this series of real things that we could be focusing on in education (as opposed to the hype about Common Core) let’s look at three of the more obvious parts that sadly don’t get pushed enough.

7.  Sane Credentialing

I mentioned in the first blog of this series that the insane amount of useless “professional development” drives away a lot of good teachers because most sane people are not going to sit through that much useless shit.

Well there is something even before professional development that drives away a lot of teachers as well—just getting the credential.

Depending on the state, getting a teaching credential can involve as little as a B.A., taking a teaching program along with student teaching, a few state tests (including a test on the state Constitution…yeah, because the article on mining rights in Arizona comes up so often in my literature class), and of course a finger print clearance.  In other states you basically have to get a Master’s degree to be allowed to have a full teaching credential.

You know what you actually need?  The B.A. in your subject area, no more than 2 semesters on developmental psychology, the finger print clearance, and experience. Teaching is an art, it has nothing to do with what you can learn in a class—it can only be learned and perfected by doing.  Best education program on the planet or worst, a teacher’s first year teaching will be such a mess that the word clusterf!@# doesn’t quite cover it (even if it appears to be a fairly good year, I promise you that teacher is running through a thousand and one mistakes they made that day and they are beating themselves up about it).

But putting all these tests and courses and hoops and useless courses in the way prevent people who would be good teachers from ever thinking about the profession.  Who in their right mind wants to jump through almost as many hoops as someone in law or the medical profession for a whopping 50K a year?

And there are the people who do get that Masters in Education (or worse their Ph.D.).  I won’t say that everyone who gets a higher degree is an idiot…but teaching is an 80 hour a week job, if you had time to get a higher degree then you probably were neglecting your students.  Tell me again how not doing your job makes you a better teacher? And I will say from experience, when it comes to education, the more degrees you have the less you actually know about teaching.

8. Allow for school choice

Here’s an obvious one.  As anyone who has seen Waiting for Superman  or you know spent even five minutes looking at the state of public schools knows school choice is a good thing.  Vouchers, charters, homeschooling, online schools, private schools…yeah not all of them are better than every public school. But on the whole alternatives offer better education to students.  All you really need to know is that the profession that sends their children to private schools in the highest portion are, you guessed it, public school teachers.  And that’s just private schools (the numbers get higher when you factor in charters, vouchers, online options and parents who were teachers but decide to home school their children).


And what is great about this is that it forces the public schools to actually get better if they want to keep their students.  Amazing, it’s as if competition is a rule of economics that always breeds better quality products for the customer.

Now, of course, there is a fairly legitimate complaint against school choice.  The fact is that some of those alternatives are worse than their public school counter parts.  I guess the easiest way to speed the death of these terrible schools would be to have some kind of standardized set of minimum goals every grade would have to meet to show whether or not a school was meeting those base level standards….but what would you call this Common set of Core skills that every student should learn….hmmmm….I’ll have to think about that.  But adopting such a set of standards would be a boon to alternative schools at it would drive the schools that can’t make the grade out of field.

Finally my last, and most outrageous suggestion

9. Parents raise your children!

Do not let the schools do it.  Read to them and make sure they can read before you ever take them to kindergarten.  Teach them math.  Discuss books, and morals, and ideas with them.  Be a parent for god’s sake.  Be their biggest cheerleader when they succeed and their harshest critic when they act recklessly. Be there for them.  RAISE THEM.  It’s not the teacher’s, or the school’s, or society’s job to raise your child, it’s yours.  YOURS.  Stop shifting that responsibility onto others.  If everyone would do this one little thing, you’d be amazed how all the problems in education wouldn’t even be relevant.

Every hour you spend on just one of these will be more effective than railing for a month about the Common Core…so please before you tell me how you’re concerned about the state of education, show me that you actually understand what the problems actually are.


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Real Education Reform: Part Two


There is a lot of screaming about Common Core Standards.  The claims seem to go somewhere along the lines that they promote communism or socialism or are Anti-American and have this or that to say about science or history…which is Common Core State Standards.jpgreally interesting since the Common Core Standards are actually only reading, writing and math.  The only required content standards for Common Core are that students have to read some Shakespeare, the Declaration, the Constitution, parts of the Federalist Papers, “Gettysburg”, and “I have a Dream.”  That’s it.  All it has to say about history or government or economics or science or anything not reading, writing, or math is that those courses should include some primary sources and not just text books.

“But, but, but…my school said that the new curriculum they were putting with XXXXXXX that is just evil curriculum is part of Common Core.”


The Supreme Court said Obamacare is Constitutional.  Big government idiots like Santorum say they’re conservative.  They call it the AFFORDABLE Healthcare Act.  Certain idiots say some very conceivable things are inconceivable.

Common Core does not mean what your idiot school district/state thinks it means.

Words have meaning.  Common Core refers to the Common Core Standards and anyone who doesn’t use it in that very limited way, is, well, an idiot who doesn’t know how to read (I blame a lack of standards when they were going to school).

But the fact that all this whining over what is and what isn’t Common Core isn’t what we really need in education.

I’ve already covered 3 main issues that could help reform education better than any discussion of Common Core…and here are 3 more…


4.  Change Tenure. (Or just get rid of it).

Tenure was originally a concept for college professors; so that they could be free to study or say whatever they wanted without fear of reprisal from administration…it was supposed to foster academic freedom (feel free to laugh).  For some reason it was brought to schools (because elementary teachers need academic freedom???).  Part of me would be just thrilled if tenure was completely eliminated….but I do understand that occasionally you get an administrator who is quite frankly psychotic and feels that to hold onto their little fiefdom they have to fire competent teachers (long time readers of this blog will know I have a very low opinion of this type of person who becomes a principal) …and if you want to go with that argument then may I suggest that “tenure” (or whatever term we want to replace it with) merely means that when an administrator wants to fire a teacher, those with this coveted position (which should be a lot more difficult to get) will get an automatic appeal to the school board. From there the board (and one assumes community input) will be the deciding factor…but the idea that teachers who can just manage to stay in a position for five years are after that secure in their job for life no matter how bad their performance, is quite frankly idiotic.  Bad teachers, a lot of whom have tenure, need to be fired.

5.  And that brings up another point.  Communities need to pay attention to who is on their school boards. 

All too often a school board is made up of five hacks who have the financial backing of the teacher’s unions to agree to rubber stamp anything the teachers unions want.


And that’s nothing compared to what they put up to control state legislatures and school boards.

These people should never be allowed near any kind of government office, let alone one that has any form of control over children.

Here is a simple rule: If they support the teachers union, they don’t support your child—vote them out.  No exceptions.


6. End Unions 

This is because the teachers union, all of them, has only one purpose:  Protect its members.  It doesn’t matter how bad they are, it doesn’t matter what they’ve done, it doesn’t matter how much their very existence hurts children.

Every single thing the Teacher’s Unions do is in the worst interest of the child. Be it the laws they demand. The deals they cut. The politicians they fund. The terrible teacher’s they protect. The Teacher’s unions are by far the worst organization that exists in all of modern America because they do the most damage by destroying that which should make this country great. And they’re morons to boot. Why are they morons? Because if they weren’t morons they would have to see the damage they were doing, which would at best be depraved indifference to destroying education of the nation, which by extension means they are destroying the economy…and willfully destroying the economy wouldteacher-union mean destroying the country…is it just me or is this beginning to sound more and more like treason.


And let’s not forget it is often the teacher’s union that is the source of the push for all the progressive values in education that should be opposed.

The teachers unions need to be broken, their power obliterated, and the hacks they defend fired. This is one of those key things that has to happen if you ever want real reform in education…because the teachers unions will stop at nothing to ensure the status quo of failure and low standards.

And if you want to come back to the beginning of this article I would just point out that the American Federation of Teachers (otherwise known as the people who wouldn’t even allow D.C. school teachers to even vote on the possibility of merit pay, otherwise known as evil incarnate) also opposes the Common Core Standards (yes heaven forbid we should ever require teachers to do anything but collect a check).Can’t think of a better endorsement for Common Core than that.


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Real Change in Education: Part I


There is a lot of brouhaha over Common Core right now. Education Personally I am tired of idiots blaming every stupid Obama Administration policy, every idiotic Dept. of Education directive, every factually incorrect statement made by a book publisher, and every dumbass move by an individual state on the Common Core.  The Common Core is minimum standards dealing with math, reading and writing and a nation wide test that comes with those standards.  Is it as high as we really need?  No, but it is higher than what most states used to have. …but guess what, any state that adopts Common Core can put in standards that exceed it.  Also the Common Core standards were a state pushed initiative, not a federal one, so stop saying this is overreach by the federal government—it isn’t.

We are conservatives, we’re supposed to be the informed and educated people…but if we keep stupidly blaming things that have nothing to do with the Common Core on the Common Core then we appear uninformed.

This link above goes to the actual Common Core standard.  Read them before you attack them. 

We don’t blame science because liberals shout their BS religion of global warming.

We don’t blame the Constitution for the fact that liberals violate our rights in the name of the Constitution.

Common Core State Standards.jpg

Common Core Standards are good..the problem is that any idiot publisher can put the words “Common Core aligned”

Then why should we blame the Common Core standards, read them there is nothing wrong in them because some idiot liberal states are doing a lot of things that aren’t in the Common Core (but using its name).

The standards are fine.  Read them and tell me if you find anything objectionable…it’s certain that liberal states and the way they’re implementing them/adding to them that is the problem.

If we don’t attack the right thing, if we don’t understand who the enemy is, then we won’t win.

But since some people need to attack something in education let me suggest 9 other things we could focus on that would actually lead to better schools.


1.Get Rid of Useless Professional Development

Tied to a lot of complaints about Common Core is the whining about it will cause teachers to teach to the test.  This (A) assume that one on can only teach the standards and nothing else and (B) that teachers can only teach in one way.  In reality there is a simple truth—Bad teachers will only ever teach to the test, good teachers will always teach what is on the test and go beyond. The reason you have standards is that you’re trying to limit the damage done by bad teachers.  I know everyone likes to point out all the terrible points of No Child Left Behind (and there are many) but the fact is that putting in testing put in a lower bar that even bad teachers had to meet.  This was a great thing because you at least had a standard, any standard, in some parts of the country finally and not just bad teachers skating students without any concern for whether or not they learn anything.  And teaching to the test is teaching the minimum standards which is what we want if the standards are high enough.  Tests are supposed to reflect the items learned – duh!

If you actually want teachers to not teach to the test then get better teachers, don’t get rid of the test.

And how do you get better teachers?  Well the first thing you need to do is get rid of the things that drive good teachers out.

One of those things is professional development.  What is professional development, you ask?  Standards vary from state to state, but professional development is a requirement that to keep your teaching credential you have to take so many hours of professional development or courses so that you can continue to improve as a teacher.  It sounds like a good idea, that teachers should continue to refine their craft.  But while it sounds really nice, it isn’t.  What it turns into is taking state approved courses on teaching strategies that no competent teacher would ever use or lectures on information that has no discernable use in education.

For instance I had to take a two week professional development course last year on “Structured English Immersion” to keep my Arizona teaching credential.  Structured English Immersion is fancy teacher speak for “how to teach English to kids who don’t speak English.”  It cost me several hundred dollars to take this course.  I teach high school and not a single thing discussed in this waste of my time and money could ever even theoretically be used in a high school course. Professional development is supposedly there so we can learn the most up to date research on child development and teaching practices…but strangely enough the most recent study listed in the course material was published during the Bush Administration (no…I don’t mean W.). Yeah real cutting edge right there.  Not to mention the entire tone of the course was that you have to coddle children who don’t speak English and not encourage them to actually learn English, speak in English, read English and use English in every aspect of their life (you know, what actually works).

All other professional development is like this.  For instance I’m also going to have to take a few college courses between now and then (again out of pocket) to keep my credential up.  Now while I’m going to try and pick courses that relate to my field, most teachers pick college courses that relate to Education…Education courses are a lot like the above described Structured English Immersion…outdated bullshit that will never help you reach students.

And we charge teachers for this…because teachers make so much money that they can just easily drop money on things like this without any worry.

Or maybe a lot of good teachers realize they can get jobs in other fields that don’t attempt to fleece them at every turn (you don’t want to see my fees that I also have to pay to keep up my teaching credential).

But, some schools pay for their teacher’s professional development, so it’s not like every teacher is getting fleeced (they’re just losing time).  A lot of public schools have in-service days every year to ensure their teachers get their hours.  On average they’ll hold about 5 of these days a year…now let’s say your school of 700 students has 20 teachers, each teacher making $52,000 a year on average (over the course of about 190 contract days, or about $273.68 a day), so to have those teachers take out 5 days out of the year for this sort of in-service professional development costs the taxpayer $27,368.42 a year for a school of only 20 teachers (plus of course the costs of time it took to set this up, to bring in someone to do the training or have a teacher trained to do the training, and the costs that administrators will also participate in this stuff…so let’s round it up to $30,000).  $30K a year for each school in America paid with taxpayer dollars (2009/2010 – 98,817 total public schools = $2,964,510) wasted on irrelevant information that won’t help you be a better teacher.

How about this, let’s just require every teacher to get a subscription to the Journal of Higher Education and Kaplan which will actually keep them abreast of research in education and save about $29,000 a year by not having this bullshit.

The fact is this is a scam.  It’s a scam for states to make money off approving the courses, off of charging teachers over and over again, for the colleges that make money after forcing teachers to participate.  In all my years teaching I have had nearly a month of my life taken up in professional development…not one iota of it was worth a damn.  Teachers get better by teaching, by observing other teachers, by talking with their colleagues and by self-reflection.  THEY DO NOT LEARN BY SITTING IN STUPID COURSES HEARING OUTDATED MATERIAL THAT IS NOT RELEVANT TO THEM.  This is a scam for states and colleges to make money and nothing more.  It wastes taxpayer money and drives out competent people from the field who have better things to do than deal with this stupidity.*


2.  Fire Administration.

Administrators are something that schools tend to pile on.  Superintendents. Assistant Superintendents.  Principals.  Vice Principals. Deans. Counselors.  This list could go on for a very long time.  In fact since 1970 non-teaching staff has grown by 138% while student enrollments have grown only by about 8%.  Any test standard you want to look at for quality of education has remained about the same in that time.  So all those paper pushers seem to do nothing…but they do get paid. And if you think teachers getting paid 52K a year is high, you should see what administrator’s charge.

I think it is safe to say that 90% of school administrators and non-teaching staff are there only to fill out federal/state/local red tape.  Get rid of the red tape and get rid of most of the administrators.  They serve no real purpose.  And the few that do serve a purpose are grossly overpaid.

And more often than not they serve as a hindrance to good teachers rather than help.  The fewer administrators you have I promise you, you will see an improvement in the quality of education.

At the very least the next time your local school tries to pass a bond or tax ask them how many administrators have been axed and how many have taken major pay cuts.  If everyone doesn’t fall into one of those categories then vote anything they want down until they make serious cuts of useless people.  Do it for the children.


3.  Hold Back Students Who Aren’t Making the Grade

This year Arizona is making a lot of news by saying they are probably going to hold back a whole 1,500 third graders who aren’t ready to move onto 4th grade. 

Lots of people are whining about how this hurts the poor students who are already struggling…What people should be bitching about is that we’re not holding students back in grades K-2 and 4-11 as well—and in all 50 states and all U.S. territories.  If children don’t understand something they need to be held back in the grade they were having problems in until they get the needed understanding.  I don’t care about complaints of self-esteem…trust me students will feel much better about themselves if they aren’t constantly behind and constantly feeling like they’re too stupid to get it.  And holding them back a grade can help in preventing this.  Not everyone progresses at the same rate mentally and some students (a lot of them in fact) need to be held back.

And the added bonus is that teachers in higher grades will now no longer be wasting time going over concepts from previous grades because half the class should have been held back at some point or having to waste half their day on the kid who should have been held back two or three times.  This means all the students will get more out of every single course.

Coming tomorrow suggestions 4-6


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GOP, Let’s ask what worked and what didn’t…

Do you ever wonder…

If Republicans would spend as much energy and time on attacking Democrats as they do their own party, if they might actually get somewhere?

So the last couple of weeks have once again revealed that the Republican Party’s perpetual need to shoot itself in the foot.   This of course is a side effect of who is in the Republican Party.  Unlike the Democrats (and people who voted Santorum, and Paulbots) most Republicans (both the conservatives and libertarians in the party) tend to be free thinkers…which means we don’t march lock step with the commands of the party and/or our chosen savior to blindly follow.  Unfortunately, while usually a good thing, this does lead to a little bit of a problem when trying to organize. We are all going our separate ways while our opposition, while idiotic and wrong, marches to the beat of a single drummer and provides a single, constant, well defended wall that we cannot break by not working together.

Does this mean that we should all just march lockstep just like they do?  No.  But it does mean we should try to think more long term than they do and work toward our long term goals rather than doing what feels good at the moment.

The shutdown is a good example. We should have never made this about Obamacare because even just a bit of forethought would tell us that if we did that then the only way to win was to hold a shutdown all the way through until the new congress is sworn in in 2015 (because we know damn well that Obama and Reid are too damn stupid to admit that their law is a horrific nightmare), and this only works if (A) Republicans hold firm (which we know isn’t going to happen) and (B) that the American people see that it’s the Democrats who are at fault and the House is doing what it’s supposed to in using the power of the purse (these are the people who voted for Obama, do you really think they’re going to see that?).  If we want to get rid of Obamacare then the first, thing we need to do is get rid of the Senate.  Nothing happens until then.  Nothing.  But we had short sighted fools going their own way saying we can stop this here and now (exactly how when we don’t hold the Senate, White House or Supreme Court is a bit beyond me… I actually saw a conservative commentator complain that the GOP is giving in even though the GOP “is in a stronger position than it was during the partial government shutdown in 1995/96.”  Yes right now with control of one house we’re in such a better position than in 1995/96 when we controlled both the House and the Senate and had Dick Morris screaming in the White House to give into the GOP.  We’re in such a stronger position now than we were then.  (What the hell are some conservative pundits smoking?)

But no, some genius thought that Obamacare was the line in the sand to draw—to hell if Ryan’s work on saving the budget would actually lead to more long term good, to hell that letting Obamacare go forward would be its own worst enemy, no let’s draw a line in the sand on this silly item.  So we shut down everything over Obamacare, and thus we killed all our other options.  Good call.  But once we were in the shutdown we should have not budged an inch.  Yeah getting there was dumb, but, a lot like getting your girlfriend pregnant, it may have been a series of shortsighted choices that got you into this situation, but now for the sake of intelligence and character you only have one option.  Did we hold firm? No.  Why?  Because again we can’t hold a united front.   When we were holding firm we had people insulting Republicans that they were RINOs and were going to get primaries out (so if you’re a Republican who really does believe that you will hold the line better than the Democrat who would trounce your Tea Party replacement, if you really believe that you’re doing what is best for the country you have to make a deal to ensure you keep your seat and that a Democrat doesn’t take it…not saying everyone was this noble but I’m sure one or two were).

Then we were even more stupid.  We had Republicans vote for the damn compromise (that gave us nothing).  This I don’t quite understand. It could pass the Senate without a single Republican vote, and it could pass the House with only a few Republicans voting for it (or just staying home and not voting at all).  Did we organize anything like this to at least be able to say that ‘We did not vote for this crap, this is the Democrats and all the Democrats.”  Nope, we didn’t even organize that well.

And as I hinted above, it’s not just the elected officials.  We attack our own, shout everyone down as RINOs at the drop of a hat.   Now some will say that I’m attacking the Tea Party…actually I’m only attacking part of it.  I’m beginning to notice there are two parts to the Tea Party. One is the “let’s shrink government in power, size and expenditure” let’s call this the Values Tea Party…then there seems to a second side, the “Everyone who does not agree with me 100% is a goddamn RINO and must be purged from the party.”  Let’s call this the Ideological Tea Party.  One side wants to win and is willing to make logical concessions if they need to but is just tired of the GOP ALWAYS making concessions even when they don’t need to…the other side wants the goddamn Spanish Inquisition (which I really wasn’t expecting) and purge all non-believers from the ranks of the Republican party (of course as it’s a constantly shifting set of values it’s hard to say what is and isn’t real conservatism to these people…but if you don’t perform a miracle right now and end Obamacare, overturn a hundred years of bad court decisions, revoke 200 years of bad executive decisions, clean the tax code, impeach Obama, destroy all terrorists, and turn water into wine you won’t vote for them…and anything short must be because you’re a filthy RINO and not, oh I don’t know, because you’re only in control of one half of one branch of the government.)

What I think some people don’t realize is that we need Republicans from all parts of the country to win (even blue states) which means that those Republicans have to be more moderate than say a Republican from a completely red state.  There are Republicans who are moderate on some things (mainly social issues).  There are Republicans who come from very blue states but believe they should honor their constituents beliefs on certain things (I don’t particularly like people who feel this way, but I find the people who bitch the most about these Republicans are the same ones who use “the will of the people” as justification for why legislatures should do this or that…pick one and only one, should legislatures use their own judgment (a republic) or should they be beholden to the will of the people (a democracy).

Goldwater Reagan Buckley RINO

RINOs as defined by some in the Tea Party right now.

By the standards that the pundits are now setting up William F. Buckley Jr., Ronald Reagan, Barry Goldwater would be considered RINOS (let me remind you that Reagan as governor passed more liberal laws than Romney, for much the same reason, because he was dealing with a very liberal legislature, and as president he cut LOTS of deals with the Democrats).

Do you think perhaps, that as a voting block we’re beginning to get a little strange?

Yes there are few very legitimate RINOs who will sell the party out at the drop of a hat.  McCain, Graham, Christie.  I’m probably forgetting a couple more.  BUT THE VAST MAJORITY OF GOP actually do believe in what they are doing, they may be wrong in that belief, they might get a better deal if they held out, but just because they are wrong in a tactical belief doesn’t make them liberal.

Establishment vs Tea Party

This picture should not even exist. We have bigger problems, namely liberals. Until they’re gone we should not be attacking each other.

So first off to anyone talking about putting up a primary challenger to any Republican they disagree with I want you to ask two questions.


Will the Tea Party candidate you’re supporting win in an election against the Democratic challenger in that state/district?

And you need to be very, very honest here.  I liked Sharon Angel and Christie O’Donnell…but they were bad calls for Nevada and Delaware…and if you don’t think it would have been better to run a more moderate Republican and remove Harry Reid from office, you’re crazy.  Absolutely crazy.  This is the old Buckley Rule: Vote for the most conservative candidate who can win.  Because even the most moderate Republican is better than scum that is Harry Reid.

Now this may not be enough.  Because let’s be honest there are scum that jump ship when the Senate gets to that 50/50 mark.  And again you need to be honest here when you ask:

Will this the elected official you’re trying to get rid of jump ship if given a chance?

For people like Lindsey Graham and John McCain, yeah vote them out.  They’ll backstab the Republican Party every chance they get and will switch to Democrats if they’re offered enough if the it ever gets that close (As say when Jim Jeffords back stabbed the Republicans, changed parties and gave the Senate to the Democrats in 2001). They’re Democrats already for all intents and purpose because they have no character (oh, I would like to thank Sarah Palin for supporting McCain over the Tea Party candidate…thanks Sarah, you really helped the Republic with that move.)

So if it’s yes to both answers, sure get a primary going.  Even if it’s yes to just the second answer, get rid of the idiot. But if they’re just a moderate Republican who doesn’t always vote with the party but will give us control of the Senate or let us keep control of the House, they’re better than a Democrat. As we have learned, who controls the houses of Congress has massive authority and it is better that we dethrone Harry Reid even if we have to have every seat go to a moderate. Standing on principal when it will only hurt your cause in the long and short run isn’t standing on principal—it’s idiocy.

So just as a little reminder

There’s an election about a year away.  We need to hold onto ALL of our seats in the Senate (which means it might not be bright to primary out a moderate if that means the libs will pick it up…even a moderate Republican can still give us control of the Senate, which we’ve learned can be a very powerful thing) and we need to pick up at least 6 more seats.

Now might be the time to remember that as much as we hate some in our party we hate the Democrats even more.  We can purge the party when we’re in a position to…in the mean time I might actually like to not have to see Harry Reid’s stupid face for another few years…

Schmuck in Cheif

This man and all he represents is what we should be working against…not each other.

Or did you want to have Harry Reid in charge of the Senate if, god help us, another Supreme Court Justice needs to be replaced?

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Atheists* Are Basically Giant Babies

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