Category Archives: Education

Education Savings Accounts and the Future of School Choice

“School choice is a catalyst for improvement in the public schools.”–Clint Bolick,V.P. for Litigation at the Goldwater Institute

Last week I attended the Phoenix School Choice Agenda put on by the Franklin Center for Government & Pub lic Integrity.franklincenter

The speakers discussed several aspects of school choice at the national level and how they are affecting the Arizona education landscape in particular.

Now while I get the objective to the overall benefits of school choice, and there are many, I think we should focus on what the biggest new thing in school choice is: Education (or Empowerment) Savings Accounts (ESA).

I am not being hyperbolic when I say that ESA’s are probably the mechanism which, we have all been looking for to get us far, far closer to money following students and allowing complete choice in education.

So what is an ESA?

Well let’s first go over some previous versions of school choice. Originally you had public and private school and if you couldn’t afford private school or afford to move to a nicer school district you were pretty much out of options (except for a few limited home schooling options). Then 25 years ago we had the beginning of charter schools (and the end of government and union monopoly…and they knew it which is why they have been fighting it every step of the way) as the first major addition to the system of choices. Now schools that were publicly funded and still had to accept everyone but could operate outside the bureaucratic nightmare that created the mess were there for parents who cared about their child’s education. And this caused some positive reaction by the public schools not just pushing magnet schools to keep students, but research has shown that the threat of losing students has caused public schools to improve their own practices which benefits the students who are not leaving for charters and magnets. Along with this you’ve had the push in the last few years for voucher programs which allow parents to have the state pay for privates schools to create even more choice in education which creates more competition and even better results overall.
But it is out of these voucher programs that the ESA’s grew. A few states had to scrap their voucher programs because their state constitutions were very clear about not funding religious schools…but while the state could not give a voucher to the school of a parent’s choice, they could give money to the parent with restrictions that the money must be spent on their child’s education, and then the parent was free as an independent contractor to spend that money on whatever they wanted, even a religious private school. This money given to the parents is the Education Savings Account. But what makes this better than just a voucher is that the money does not have to go solely to tuition. It can be spent on tutors, books, computers if your choice is to send a child to an online school, supplies for homeschooling, online programs…rather than giving parents choices of which school to send their child the field is now even wider that the parents can choose the best path for their child and not just pick from a limited list of schools!

Currently the ESA program is only active in two states, my home state of Arizona is one of them. Currently only specific students in particular subsets (students with a disability, students going to a D or F rated school, etc )  qualify for the program. If an ESA is approved the state will give 90% of what they would have given to the school now to the parent to use towards theirMilton Friedman Education_edited-1 child’s education..thus there is no financial loss to the school as the student no longer goes to school (the schools might complain about getting less money but from a normal business perspective you have to consider they aren’t educating that student anymore…no business would consider selling one less unit a loss…and if enough student leave that it hurts the bottom line, that school was doing very badly), nor is there a loss to the state fund as a student with an ESA is actually 10% cheaper.

The opportunities provided by these allow parents to escape failing schools to schools that meet their needs, but to also fund additional help through private tutors or purchasing the resources a student may need. And with the wider options than simply a voucher for tuition this will allow for more innovation and creativity in the resources offered to students.

Now this is still not having the money following the student in all cases to all places (the ultimate goal of the school choice movement) but when you think about it this is a major leap towards that goal.

As I said these are only in Arizona and Florida, but if you’re looking for a state issue to get behind, this issue probably more than any other issue facing the states (because the unions are in the hands of the courts, the brouhaha over standardized tests is just too crazy right now to have any sensible conversation) instead of the madness that are federal issues, this is the issue to work on. The more students that we can get money to follow the student the more we will the the best options for choice and this is one of the best inventions in school choice in years.

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Common Core, why I support it and you should too

 

Common Core State Standards.jpg

So it was pointed out to me that while I have repeatedly ripped apart the Anti-Common Core people showing their positions to be contradictory, baseless or just the worst in typical liberal/populist propaganda, I have never pointed out why I like the Common Core Standards. So here goes.

 

First let’s define what we mean. Common Core Standards (linked here) are a collection of standards drawn up by the National Governor’s Association (NGA). They cover reading, writing, and mathematics. They do not define what will be taught, what goes into textbooks, or do they create worksheets. It does not have anything to do with allocation of resources in the school or how teachers teach. There are some recommendations about how to make math a more pragmatic, real life application approach to math, but most of the complaints in the media have nothing to do with the Common Core math standards. These are based on the current administration and their education department interference – Race to the top.   These two different concepts should not be combined.

 

Before we get back to why I love the standards I can already tell I’ll have some objections to the above paragraph. But I heard Common Core was a federal take over…no you’re thinking of the White House’s Race to the Top program which like the list of the previous 60 years of federal education programs boils down to we’ll require schools to do random things (some stupid, some okay) and throw money at them. Race to the Top does require states to adopt Common Core, but no state is required to follow Race to the Top, just as no state has to adopt Common Core, and many states were getting ready to adopt Common Core before Obama even got into the White House. But I heard Common Core requires this or that stupid text book. No, those textbooks and those text book companies were always stupid. In fact studies have been done that the new text books that say “Common Core Compliant” are actually the pre-Common Core versions (word for word) with a new sticker slapped on. But on the news I saw this terrible worksheet a student had to do and they said it was Common Core. You must not watch the news much as those stupid worksheets have been around for decades before anyone thought of Common Core. But the teachers and school administrators are saying everything they’re doing is because of Common Core. Here’s a hint, most teachers and school administrators are either liars or incompetent (in many cases both)…there’s a reason we had to come up with bare minimum standards for them to follow, namely, they were too dumb to be trusted on their own. Repeat after me Common Core is properly only used to refer to the Common Core State Standards. It is not Race to the Top, it is not textbooks, it is not the behavior of teachers. It is only standards. They may call all these other things Common Core…but if you call a fish a bird it doesn’t mean that it’s a bird. The only thing that is actually Common Core is the Common Core State Standards. Everything else is not Common Core and you should berate anyone who says otherwise for their ignorance.

 

Okay back to the standards themselves.

 

Common Core is a set of standards created out of an initiative from the governor’s council.  It has two main parts Math Standards and English Language Standards (Reading and Writing).  Things like as a Student will be able to do X at Y grade level.

An example standard reads (this is for reading at the 11th and 12th grade level):

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.7 Analyze multiple interpretations of a story, drama, or poem (e.g., recorded or live production of a play or recorded novel or poetry); evaluating how each version interprets the source text. (Include at least one play by Shakespeare and one play by an American dramatist.)

That’s all it is as can be seen here http://www.corestandards.org . (Again please go read them).

 

It was meant to replace each state’s individual standards so there is more consistency and a higher standard throughout the US.  It also allows for states to use only one standardized test (which saves costs for the states as development costs are now shared for one test) and also allows for us to actually see which states are meeting requirements.  In most cases (but not all) the standards are higher than what the state had before.  Are the math standards high enough? No. But they’re higher than they were before in most cases and states, schools, teachers, and students can always go beyond the bare minimum of the standard.

 

Beyond suggestions of the kind of reading (as in primary sources, or analysis papers) and questioning to be done at each grade level there are no History, Government, Science or other kinds of standards.

 

There is almost no content requirements to be narrow on.  The only Common Core standards even remotely related to Social Studies and Science are the language ones that more or less boil down to “Read Primary Sources”.  It requires only a few works that HAVE to be read by students: They have to read something by Shakespeare, the Declaration, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, Gettysburg and I Have a Dream. That’s it. Other than that it’s pretty much open game for teacher selection so a bad teacher could still choose bad works to try and indoctrinate, but as the standards focus more on the higher level skills (Analysis, Evaluation, Synthesis) if they’re actually teaching the standard then they should be teaching students how to question and analyze (after that it’s up to free will of the student).

 

Why do I think this is all a good idea?

Well first of all teachers are like most people. Most of them will do the minimum required of them. As the standards before Common Core were much lower in almost all the states…this at least means that the minimum they have to do will be higher. Some might complain that this will amount to teachers only teaching to the test…but that is a problem with the teacher not the standards or test. A bad teacher will always teach to the test because that is the minimum they can get away with…and if you don’t have a test it’s not like they’ll suddenly go in great teacher mode, no, they’ll show videos and talk about their feelings all day. Great teachers will have no problem with these standards as their teaching is probably already well above the minimum. (Oh, and to the recent string of whiny teachers who thought that anyone should give a shit about their screeds about how education was becoming nothing but testing…you have no one to blame but yourselves. Even if you were among the competent teachers, which I seriously doubt, you were among the teachers who were voting for unions and supporting them when they protected your inept colleagues. Teachers are to blame for not beginning to police their own long before this.) Standards/testing have always been around to determine if everyone is getting an average amount of data from the course – whatever that is – so this statement of teaching to the test is silly.

 

I like this because it is better economics. Not only in the fact that we’ll save overhead costs in not having to have 50 different state tests…but because this will lower a bar for people who have children. If standards are equal everywhere then you never have to worry about “but if we move to this state will Sally fall behind” greater mobility in geography will translate to greater economic prosperity everywhere.

 

When and if the standards are implemented even half-way competently you’ll have a justification to fire bad teachers who can’t even teach to the test to the minimum standards. Further this will be a fair basis by which we can judge which students need to be held back.

 

Further despite bizarre claims to the contrary, these standards are a great thing for school choice movement. These people are apparently not actually paying attention to one of the biggest problems with the school choice movement: bad schools. The central claim of the school choice movement is that bad schools will go out of business …but regrettably that implies that every parent wants their child to learn. Regrettably I can tell you that some parents just want their kid to get a diploma, or worse they’re just looking for a baby sitter…whether they learn anything isn’t even a concern. And thus schools with really low standards that won’t bother them with homework or parent-teacher calls or requests to meet to discuss Johnny’s progress are very popular with this group. And these excuses for schools give liberals ammunition against the entire school choice movement. And independent testing can help separate them…but testing alone won’t do it because you also need high standards. Why? Well there are some alternative schools that are set up to cater to students who have trouble—they look for the students who have flunked out of three or four schools already…as might be expected the pass rates on tests of these schools are rather low…but they did take a group that everyone else got 0% and in turn got 30% to pass…to only look at the pass rate is say that these schools took toxic waste, turned it into water and you want to complain they didn’t turn it into wine. High standards (and the school creating curriculum to match those standards) help differentiate these schools which are seeking to help the high risk student from the paper mills which just seek to give every student a diploma and collect their funding no matter what they learned. These standards will get the terrible schools out of the market and will strengthen the school choice movement as a whole.

 

And on a personal level I certainly won’t mind if elementary and middle School teachers are finally required to teach basic grammar so that I, in Senior English can actually focus on poetry and philosophy…and not, you know, my usual fair of “How to use a comma.”

 

Now the problem is that each state is implementing Common Core in a different way.  Some are adjusting their history and science standards, and some (usually the liberal ones) are adding PC blame America BS into the standards.  Also several companies that make teaching material, handouts, textbooks and such are also making liberal tripe and giving their product names like “Common Core History.” The implementation and the products which bear the name Common Core are in a lot of cases really dumb and should be opposed–Not because it is being called Common Core but it is bad regardless of what you call it.

 

I would compare this to trying to teach Shakespeare.  In the hands of bad teacher the high moral, hilarious comedy, and near libertarian critique of corrupt government could become a diatribe of trite feminism, bad psychoanalysis, and cheap Marxism…but it is the teacher not the Shakespeare that is to blame.  In the same way Common Core is perfectly fine…it’s the idiots trying to put it into practice that are the problem.

 

Let’s deal with a few pointed criticisms about the Standards themselves. Some critics claim that the standards aren’t high enough to get students into high end colleges…well no kidding, they’re minimum standards, they’re what every student should learn and every student isn’t going to MIT. Others, usually the same organizations that claim they’re not high enough…please make up your mind…but even if they’re still not high enough (and that is the case in some places) they are almost always well above the previous state standards and I know of no state that adopted Common Core that found their standards dropping.   Besides which you need to start at a basic minimum and then each year you can start raising the bar. This could go a long way to stopping the graduation of students who can not read, write or comprehend English or Math.

 

Some complain that the problem with the standards is that they were written in an undemocratic way without public feedback and comment at every level…yes because all the regulations we have from the government with that level of feedback are just so wonderful…and all documents that were composed without public comment (like the Declaration and Constitution, which the CCSS require students to read) are just so terrible and like Common Core should be abolished because of their anti-democratic methods of being created. Also private companies were hired to help write the standards…and as we are a good capitalist nation we hate private companies…wait, no.   The problem with this set of complaints is that it never actually asks if the standards are any good. They are. It doesn’t matter who wrote them or the process of them being written, unless you can point to me where the standards themselves are lacking this is just a demagogue tactic to whip up baseless hatred of the standards.

 

The Common Core reading list has books on it that are terrible! Yes the suggested reading list has some books on it that I would never teach. But here’s the thing, I don’t have to teach them. It’s an extensive list of suggested works that you don’t even have to follow. All it says is that the books are of the level we’re looking for at certain grade levels, when planning for your English course, try to have the books you pick to be on par with the ones listed here. Yeah the list does include some real tripe, but I hazard to think what any educational institution would have cut if they tried to make the list more restrictive…better to have the list be broad and then have parents judge the teacher’s by the books they pick (and if you don’t like the books get your kid a new teacher or new school) or a new book.   If you cut the list down to just Shakespeare and the other classics it might give truly inept teachers the appearance of knowing what they’re doing. Better to not restrict the freedom of teachers, and even suggest a few pieces of dung, and then you can easily spot the bad teachers by the ones who pick those worthless books.

common core

Yes just look at how terrible some of those suggestions are…clearly signs of how evil the Common Cores Standards are.

 

So to sum up. Just about everything you hear complaints about isn’t the actual Common Core standards. The Common Core standards themselves are fine and will, if implemented lead to some but not all of the reforms we need to make in education (while making some of those other reforms easier to implement).

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Let’s deal in fact and reality: Race to the Top: Bad. Common Core: A Step in the Right Direction.

 

And people who do not get this distinction are idiots.

You know I am having a harder and harder time taking anyone in the media seriously these days. The entire left wing of the media keeps repeating bullshit that history and economics and common sense and experience have disproved a million times over. But now the right wing is getting equally stupid. Namely in the fact of their anti-Common Core crusade to insanity.
There are so many preposterous points I don’t where to start.

But let’s start with the oh so repeated line of “One size education doesn’t fit all.” It’s the idea that having standards will destroy any and all freedom in education. Bullshit. That’s the nicest I can treat that sentiment. Bullshit. You are an absolute idiot if you believe that having a minimum standard in any way, shape or form ruins a teacher’s ability to teach. Now initially as with any raising of the bar, teachers at the high grades will have trouble getting all the standards in because their lower grade counterparts never bothered to meet any standard and that will, for a few years take up a good deal of their time…but I fail to see how that will be any different from the present when I’m having to teach Seniors how to use a comma, who Julius Caesar was, or what a platypus is (these are not random things I thought of, these are all real moments from my high school Senior English course). Yes the transition might be difficult, but it will be worth it, because at the end of the transition student will be coming into my class knowing the basics and having the skill to discuss Shakespeare and Aristotle and allowing me to teach them how to analyze a paper (or better a news article or a politician’s) to find the truth rather than how to write a simple sentence. Please tell me how that restricts my freedom as a

Common Core State Standards.jpg

Common Core has been blamed for everything short of shooting Kennedy…and essentially all of the charges against it are without any basis in reality.

teacher? Further saying that a minimum standard impedes freedom is saying that your students have a right not to learn anything. No. There should a bare minimum in reading, writing and math that students know at certain grade levels. And nothing in the Common Core standards (please actually read them) is too far ahead of the abilities of an average student, even a below average student. Or do you think that
“Conduct short research projects that build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic” is too much for a 4th grade student (if you do think that’s too much for that age, you clearly have never heard a child expound on the near graduate level knowledge they all seem to possess about dinosaurs). Or if you think that “Find a percent of a quantity as a rate per 100 (e.g., 30% of a quantity means 30/100 times the quan11tity); solve problems involving finding the whole, given a part and the percent” is too much for a 6th grader…then you clearly needed the Common Core standards when you were growing up because you never learned the basics of math. I’m sorry there is nothing in the Common Core standards that is too high for any grade level. In fact, before Jim DeMint sold the soul of the Heritage Foundation to populists, the Heritage Foundation’s complaint about Common Core wasn’t that it was too hard, or a one size fits all lie, or new math or anything like that…no back in early 2012 before Heritage’s education department became dependent on clueless pundits, Heritage complained that the standards weren’t high enough (which is still an invalid complaint because the standards are higher than what most states had before).  You can’t complain that standards aren’t high enough but that standards are bad for education at the same time without being a hypocrite…and DeMint’s Heritage (which still has not sold out on economic and foreign policy, but is beginning to lack everywhere else) is just that.

Having standards sets the lower end but any teacher is allowed and encouraged to go beyond that minimum bar in any way they feel best. Granted to meet and exceed this minimum bar we will need better teachers across the board, but we had to start somewhere because to have good teachers you need a minimum standard to judge them by, and to have a minimum standard you need good teachers. So either we could get into an endless chicken and the egg debate of which we should do first, or we could just pick on, which we did.
Then of course there are the media outlets, like the Daily Caller which quoted a study as showing that Common Core doesn’t work:

The study, conducted by the Brookings Institution, compared standardized test scores for all 50 states over the last five years. It found that states using education standards that are most dissimilar to Common Core tended to score the highest on math.

Actually the report was (A) talking about how far the state standards were from Common Core in 2009 and how they were doing now, and (B) the states with 2009 standards least like CCSS showed the most improvement over the 4 years since switching over…which would suggest that switching led to better growth. But, even that is going to far as the study actually said:

Table 3-2 reveals no systematic relationship between the states’ MSU ratings and changes in NAEP from 2009–2013. Indeed, states with standards most different from the CCSS (rated 1) gained the most on NAEP (2.25). States with standards most like the CCSS scored the next largest gains (1.94);

The report also makes the statement (in big bold letters):

States that more aggressively implemented the CCSS registered larger gains from 2009–2013.

But again, I won’t claim that this report highly endorses Common Core. It doesn’t. It claims that with very little data on hand only a minimal amount of growth can be shown or even expected. It further questions if this growth is worth all the money and effort going into putting Common Core into place. It however does not say what the Daily Caller claims. And I’ll admit that this is a high cost for minimal gains…at first. But this is the first step in having real across the board minimum standards to actually preventing students from falling behind. This is the first step of many that need to occur, the first step to culling bad teachers and bad schools from the system. The first step to making sure students are held back to ensure they understand before being promoted to the next level. The gains we see from this one single step are minimal, but they are an investment on a system of reform that will pay vast dividends. And when your opposition, as the Daily Caller as clearly put itself in the Anti-Common Core camp, has to blatantly lie about a study showed to make it’s point, you have to question whether or not the anti-Common Core line has any validity.
Oh but then there’s the new math. Common Core is teaching new math and that’s terrible (but remember thinking one size fits all is also terrible, so if you’re utterly confused on the exactly what the anti-Common Core people are arguing for, don’t worry, that only means you have a brain). So let’s first forget that there have been new math programs for decades and that this is nothing new. Let’s also forget that Common Core is just standards and does not require any of this. Now like a good anti-Common Core person we’ve forgotten reality let’s deal with the evil Common Core Math.

Now with most of the examples you see on the internet they’ll show you one worksheet where you can’t see if there were more worksheets that explained it in greater detail, or even what publisher they’re from. I’ll wager most of these evil worksheets are from minor text book publishers or that their idiocy predates Common Core…
But I was happy to see one worksheet that’s making the rounds that actually does have a copyright in the corner. The anti-Common Core people made a mistake in including the copyright information in the corner because it shows them to be a bunch of idiots and liars.

Math Coach CornerNow initially looking at this sheet you’d think someone had just gone insane and why can’t we just go back to the old way of learning math. However, if you type the name Donna Boucher (which who copyrighted this) into a search-engine you come up with her website Math Coach’s Corner where you find that worksheets like the one you see there are probably not meant as a first round of teaching but designed to help students find alternate avenues to doing the same problems if the traditional approach doesn’t work—because as the anti-Common Core folk like to correctly state one size fits all does not work for everyone, but strangely when you try not to go with one size fits all methods you get yelled at, because the hypocrisy of the anit-Common Core bunch knows no bounds. Pick a side anti-Common Core people. Now if a teacher started with Boucher’s methods that would probably be foolish, but as there is no context for the worksheet as it is shown on any site I’ve seen it on, nor any of the background of the lesson showing how to use it there is no way to tell if this is a teacher doing this on the first go around or merely showing their students another way of doing things. Further, ever since the day I taught in a lecture on Romantic poets that “The Romantic poets of early 1800’s England viewed the character of Milton’s Satan in Paradise Lost as a heroic figure” and then got accused by a parent the next day of “teaching students to worship the Devil,” I tend to take parent’s statements that no other information was offered with just a grain of salt. I’m sure there are idiot teachers out teaching math incorrectly, (but that has nothing to do with Common Core), there always have been, however I’m also sure that there are teachers out there that are using things like Boucher’s worksheets because they understand ‘not one size fits all’ and are trying to expose their students to different ways of doing things. Without context it’s hard to tell when and where this worksheet was used and if it was done in the correct context or an incorrect one. But any way you want to look at it, Common Core isn’t to blame. So just because a worksheet doesn’t seem to make much sense remember there are probably more worksheets that explain things, and there was probably a lesson to go with it.
I would also point out that some of these new math worksheets have made me going “Oh, thank God, I thought I was the only one who did it in their head that way!” While a few other of these ways that I have seen on videos get explained so fast you’re not sure if you’re watching an Abbott and Costello routine…but when I’ve listened to them I find myself thinking, “That’s genius!”* Just because it’s new doesn’t mean it’s bad. The proof will be if it actually helps students. Yeah, there are some dumb methods out there too, and quite a few of these worksheets I can’t figure out what they’re getting at. But NONE OF THIS IS REQUIRED BY COMMON CORE and some of it may be simply be a lack of context.

Then of course there are all the complaints about the fact that textbooks have been changed to meet Common Core and thus they now have terrible information. But if you actually read the standards or the very limited material that has actually been put out by the people who actually wrote the standards, the incorrect stuff doesn’t appear anywhere in the real standards. I suspect that it’s more likely the anti-common core bunch found a few idiotic textbooks and are claiming that it is representative of all of common core because Common Core has made them so terrible. Also fun fact. All those common core textbooks you hate? Did you know that a study was done comparing those new textbooks to the old pre-Common Core textbooks. Guess what, the textbook publishers just took the old textbooks and slapped Common Core stickers on it. They’re the same—same text, same problems, same answers, same process. Why didn’t you complain about them before since there was no difference? Oh that’s right, you don’t really care about education, you were just told to hate this by some pundit and dutifully and blindly followed.

Then of course there is the problem that a lot of things that are actually part of Obama’s idiotic Race to the Top program are being called Common Core. People will say “Well this teacher, or that union, or such and such school board said that this terrible plan was part of Common Core.” So? What do I care what idiots say. Morons say that the Constitution says that guns aren’t an individual right…but amazingly I don’t listen to morons I actually go and read the Constitution and see that no, the 2nd Amendment clearly states it as a “right of the people.” With Common Core I don’t care what the morons say is Common Core, I have a brain and can actually go and read the Common Core Standards and see, nope that idiocy isn’t there. And if I were talking to those teachers/unions/schools I would chide them for their complete and utter inability to read and point out that this is why we need the standards so we can see who doesn’t meet the standards as teachers…and then fire them. If you play their game here that all these things that have nothing to do with Common Core are Common Core just because idiots believe it’s Common Core, then you have to agree that Obamacare is Constitutional because 5 corrupts pieces of scum in black robes said it was when it isn’t, or that when Obama says he supports capitalism you have to agree to that because most of the country was dumb enough to buy it. You can play that game. I’ll be over here in reality where word have meaning and facts are things you should go by.

I could go on about how I am really bothered by the liberal/populist/socialist argument that because big business was involved thus it must be evil permeates every anti-Common Core debate…or how parents never seem to be complaining that schools (or parents) aren’t teaching  children how to learn from failure or how to pick themselves up, only that “Common Core made my halfwit child cry!” (Okay maybe I added the halfwit part, but it’s accurate.) I could go on on all of these things, but they all come back to there has yet to be a single valid critique of the actual Common Core standards.

And this all culminates in the problem that I’m now having trouble taking just about any problem aside from the ones I already know about seriously (the economy and foreign policy) because I just can’t trust that anyone is doing even the slightest amount of research.

*If anyone wants me to I’ll go over the video I’m thinking about and showing how the math process they show as being terrible is actually quite ingenious…however this blog was getting long as it is.

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Filed under Common Core, Education, People Are Stupid, Problems with the GOP

Movies (or TV shows) that understand Economics #3 Ducktales

 

Ducktales“You can never get something for nothing”—Scrooge McDuck

So just three days into this series on movies and TV shows that show valid economic principles here at the Conservative New Ager and the guys over at Breitbart.com run ‘SPONGEBOB’ CRITIQUES WELFARE STATE, EMBRACES SELF-SUFFICIENCY.  Stop stealing my ideas Breitbart.com, you can’t just rely on me to keep giving you good stuff.

Well we here at the Conservative New Ager can play the children’s cartoon and economics game too.  And the cartoons I pick are better.

As surprising as it may seem the show Ducktales actually understood economics fairly well…at least better than anyone in Washington D.C.

This isn’t just because one character happens to be a billionaire who prides himself on being a self-made man (duck?). But even just understanding the virtue of earning one’s way…no the cartoon actually understood inflation better than anyone at the FED.

Take a look. (Cartoons may not be your thing, but it’s only 5 minutes and it does show that everyone in D.C. is an idiot).

“That’s exactly what I’m afraid of: easy money. I don’t trust any dollar that I haven’t earned.”—Scrooge McDuck

So regrettably, even though my entire generation was given a lesson in the fact that you can’t print money without it causing inflation, no one seems to have learned this very important lesson.

(Or worse they’ve been idiotic Austrians who think that shiny metals are somehow not fiat money and also missed the more complicated point that the money supply has to grow with the economy).

And while I probably could find a few more good economic lessons in the show if I had time enough (and didn’t mind my brain turning to mush and seeping out of my ears) but I think the most important lesson (and the one I specifically remembered after all these years) is that you can’t just print money without it having massive negative consequences.

That’s right, even the writers at Disney know that Paul Krugman is a blithering idiot who is a detriment to human society.

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Filed under Capitalism, Conservative, Economics, Education, Long Term Thinking, Movies, Movies for Conservatives, Paul Krugman is an idiot, Popular Culture

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).

homeschooling

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.”

So?

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.

o-TEACHERS-UNIONS-SPENDING-570

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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Things the Government and Hollywood can do to lower ticket prices

Movie ticket prices are high…as the Entertainment Editor of Elementary Politics I regrettably know this better than most 1888635_623836521024148_812367747072020643_nhaving to pay money to go see movies I actually know will suck (Go and read some articles on Elementary Politics…if we get enough readers I can probably get a press pass into films).

But there appears to be some doom and gloom on the horizon. The first is that, as we all know the last few years have seen deeper and deeper slumps in box office turnout. It gets even worse when you look at supposedly important names like Spielberg and Lucas* telling us that we can soon expect $25 tickets. Now I think $25 may be little overblown (even with inflation under the Obama), and might be a little bit of Spielberg forgetting the studios might not want to fund him because his last six movies have all been terrible. Still the fact is movie prices are still going up. And this comes with the rather idiotic question what can the government do to stop that…yes I’ve actually heard people ask variants of this question, because there are some idiots who feel the government needs to fix all of their problems.movie tickets

But rather than asking what can the government do, I’m going to ask the more important question what can the government stop doing to help reduce movie ticket prices? There are already a horde of policies and regulations in place that are helping to drive the price of your movie ticket up (along with the price of just about everything else) and if the government stopped doing these things you would have far more reasonable prices and far less inflation.

1. First and foremost we need to ignore Senator John McCain (who never met a line of the Constitution that he felt like defending) in his call to regulate cable TV even more. And after that we need not regulate anything else to do with the entertainment industry. I’m sure there are probably a few (very few) laws that should pertain to the entertainment industry, but right now I can also guarantee you we have dozens, possibly hundreds we don’t need and that need to be scrapped before we need any new laws. At this point new laws and regulations only create new headaches and roadblocks for business, industry, innovation and creation.

There is a minimum level of laws needed in society. We are nowhere near that level and need to take a machete, a chainsaw, and possibly a nuclear weapon to the stack of laws we do have at present.

2. End all public funding at all levels for all kinds of subsidies, tax breaks, or incentives. This might seem counter intuitive for why it would raise the price of your tickets. Subsidies only ever result in getting more of something people don’t want. Movies make money when they’re good…so if the only reason you’re going to make it is because you can get a tax break or a right-off or a subsidy in creating content that is sub-par and will in the end reduce the profitability of the market…which in turn has to be made back by charging higher prices for tickets. (Not to mention it creates crap like NPR and PBS which despite its claims of being educational actually make people dumber).

3. Conversely taxes should just be lowered in general. Be it the flat tax or the fair tax, it is irrelevant, but if taxes were just lower you would find more money to invest in films, better, cheaper technology to make films, and lower costs all around for production. Tax reform always benefits everyone, without question, without exception.

4. Another obvious one: Get rid of Obamacare. If you don’t think the production companies and the distribution companies and the theater chains don’t plan on passing their massive costs of Obamacare onto to you through ticket sales, you’re delusional. If prices do rise to $25 a ticket, then Obamacare will be to blame for at least a third of that rise.

5. Sue China for copyright infringement. China has committed billions, perhaps trillions of dollars of patent and copyright theft. Certainly they’re not the only foreign offender but they certainly are the biggest. (It’s ironic that it is very likely that all the money we have borrowed from China was only made by not paying us for use of patents and copyrights) and the entertainment industry takes billions of dollars in losses every year because of this (losses they pass off to you). Now while the Chinese government per se isn’t doing the actual pirating, they have created, fostered and in many ways encouraged the environment in which such violations run rampant and it needs to stop. While this is an issue that hardly affects only the entertainment industry, that is one of the most obvious ways it affects you and if they tightened up their system (and god forbid paid what they owe) you would see profits over here soar and prices drop in response.

 

6. Conversely America’s copyright laws are a little insane. In a push driven mostly by Disney, Congress extended copyright law to insane levels. Currently it’s life of the artist plus 70 years or 95 years from publication for works owned by corporations. That’s insane. I know Disney has a lot invested in keeping Mickey to themselves…but guys you have to let go at some point. Copyrights do help inspire creation…but when taken to an illogical extension they can also hurt innovation and creation (don’t believe me, go and read some of the insanity that has come about because of the copyrights surrounding Superman). Correcting this problem would mean that soon theaters could get their hands on good old movies at a very, very low cost and show them at almost pure profit, which means they don’t have to make the other ticket prices as high just to break even.

7. Get rid of minimum wage laws. Every usher and every person behind the counter at every theater is being paid at least $7.25 an hour. They’re not worth $7.25 an hour. Based on the service I usually get, they’re not worth $3 an hour. But regardless of what I think they’re worth, it is a simple fact of economics that minimum wage laws hurt the economy. They cause fewer people to be hired, they prevent people from getting experience, they lower service and they drive up costs.


If you got rid of minimum wage laws you would see lower ticket prices. You would also see a drop in the unemployment rate and a massive rise in the economy at all levels.
8. Get rid of ethanol. Ethanol is possibly one of the dumbest things we’ve ever done in this country. It takes 1.2 gallons of fuel to create one gallon of ethanol. So not only is it a waste that causes your gas bill to rise (and thus the cost of EVERYTHING else to rise including your movie ticket) but you’re also wasting tax dollars on this because not only is it a Ethanolwaste, but we subsidize it as well. You pay for it to be grown and then you pay to use it…and it’s worthless. Another fun fact about ethanol is that the heavy production of it has caused the worldwide cost of corn to go up, which not only exacerbates issues of global famine, but probably doesn’t help the price of the popcorn either.

9. While Congress really should get rid of all subsidies and trade barriers let’s look specifically at the ones dealing with sugar. We subsidize sugar production in the U.S. (causing the price to go up) and have stiff trade barriers that prevent cheaper sugar from getting in. This in turn leads to just about everything at concession stands costing vastly higher amounts than it otherwise would.

10. Finally let’s end the government protection of the teacher’s union. What does this have to do with the cost of your theater going experience? In terms of cost not so much, in terms of getting your money’s worth a lot. If we had an even halfway decent education system do you think movies like Grown ups 2, R.I.P.D. The Internship or White House Down would ever have been made? I doubt it, because there wouldn’t have been as much of a market for them…yes intelligent, educated people can enjoy movies like this, but an intelligent educated populace wouldn’t provide a market for as many pieces of crap to be made. And the simple fact is that there is probably no bigger threat to American education than the teacher’s union. End all of their bargaining power, disband the unions (because professionals don’t have unions), and as far as I’m concerned try the union leadership for treason and give them the maximum sentence, because they have done massive and unforgivable damage to this nation in protecting their hack union members who have no business whatsoever being in a classroom.

Now that’s what the government should stop doing…but to be fair there are some things Hollywood should do.

PrincessBride

Why has this not been re-released? This would make more money than you can imagine.

1. Release old movies. Why has there not been a re-release of The Princess Bride in the theaters? Or Casablanca? There is next to no overhead cost and you would sell tickets like crazy. Disney, you could re-release a movie every month from your vault (even if we changed the copyright laws) and it would still take years before you made a full cycle.
I think people would rather pay money to see something older and good than new and dumb.

2. Stop paying actors outrageous salaries and start paying your writers better. As the last few years have shown, people aren’t going to see movies because of their favorite actors. If actors aren’t drawing people in then they’re not good investments. Neither is CGI. In the end the most surefire way to get people in the seats is to tell a good story. Pay your writers better.

3. Hollywood, get some goddamn accountants! Real accountants, not the crazy people who have made Hollywood accounting seem more complex than the US tax code. Get some people who will pinch pennies and tell you no, that’s a bad investment, no, the actor can’t have this many riders in their contract, no, we don’t need this lavish a catering truck at the shoot, no, no, no.

4. Stop hiring directors who can’t make money. Guillermo del Toro and Paul Thomas Anderson do not make money (in fact while some of their films have made a profit I believe they are in the red for their overall careers). (I personally don’t get Scorsese, I don’t think he’s ever made a watchable film, but at least he brings in a profit, I just don’t understand how). But time and time again you see Hollywood give too much money to hacks because they’re ‘great directors.’ If you want to make vanity pieces fine, do it on your own dime; don’t do it so the studio takes the loss and passes that onto the theaters and then onto me.

5 Support a la carte purchasing in cable. It will reduce your competition and the number of channels you need to advertise on (and it’s actually the advertising budget of most films that makes them take a loss not the production costs).These are just a few of the things the government and Hollywood can do, but in the end it boils down to two things, government needs to get out of the way and Hollywood needs to be focused on giving us a higher quality product.
*I say supposedly because let’s be honest, these two schmucks have more a reputation for making good movies than an actual history of making good films. I’m sure someone will take offense to that but go look at all the movies Spielberg has actually directed and take an honest look at how some of the worst films in history are on that list.

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Detroit, liberalism at its finest

Obama Detroit

Sadly, he doesn’t have a city….he has a country.

The fall of this city reads like the story of the Twentieth Century Motor Company.  Large government spends, overregulates, gives into unions at every turn, hampers business at every opportunity, a deference to cronyism without any concern for free markets, corruption, all leading to the destruction of a city that still has all the infrastructure necessary for growth. And the worst part is that this can be easily, EASILY reversed.  Lower taxes, remove regulations, gut the bureaucracy, open up school choice, tell the unions exactly where they stick all their whiny demands.  It would be a slow growth at first, and the city would need to redirect every single cent they get to police to clean up the dangerous streets of Detroit first (although allowing open carry and remove the restrictions that allows law abiding citizens to procure weapons to protect themselves could solve that problem, criminals tend to go where the targets are easy and a well armed populace is not that) and fix the crumbling infrastructure second.  If the city did these things and let the free market and individual choice drive the way the city would be thriving again within a decade.

But we know they won’t do that.  And so the city will continue to decay.

 

But I’m sure if you asked idiots like Paul Krugman or Barry the answer would clearly be that we just didn’t spend enough money and we didn’t regulate enough.  Because that’s always the problem for liberals.  Government is never the problem and always the solution, even though they don’t have a single shred of evidence to back that claim up.




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Republican’s Slighted Reputation and How They Should Respond

“Reputation is an idle and most false imposition, oft got without merit and lost without deserving.”—William Shakespeare, Othello

 

So there is a new report out from the College Republicans on how Republicans can make new inroads with younger voters.  While some of their points are obvious* and some are just a little naïve**, one of the points being most centered on by a lot of the media is:

It is not that young voters are enamored of the Democratic Party. They simply dislike the Republican Party more. In the focus group research conducted in January 2013, the young “winnable” Obama voters were asked to say what words came to mind when they heard “Republican Party.” The responses were brutal: closed-minded, racist, rigid, old-fashioned.

[…]

The descriptions of the Democratic Party were more charitable. While some respondents viewed Democrats as “soft” or as supporting big spending, most noted that they were “tolerant,” “diverse,” and “open-minded.”

Now response to this has been two fold.  One is most on the right are looking at this with the attitude of ‘oh wow, 20 somethings who have never done anything think the Republicans are evil, shocker that naïve, inexperienced, overgrown children know shit about shit;’ the response from the other side is ‘gee you’re doing so well, don’t you think this is the time for self reflection.’

Let’s deal with those attacking the GOP and calling for self-reflection. Specifically let’s deal with the point of Republicans are “closed-minded, racist, rigid, old-fashioned” and Democrats are “’tolerant,’ ‘diverse,’ and ‘open-minded.’”  Exactly what in that statement, which seems to be the thrust of most of the argument, exactly calls for self-reflection? If I accuse Obama of eating the still beating hearts of children and it causes his poll numbers to drop, should he do some self- reflection on his behavior…no not really.  While there are many other points he should think about, dealing with bullshit accusations requires little to no self-reflection. And let’s be clear those comments are such a worthless pile of bullshit it’s not even funny. But let’s take a moment to look at a couple of them.

Republicans are close minded and Democrats open minded.

Yes, Republicans the party of fiscal conservatives, RINOS, social conservatives, neoconservatives, paleoconservatives, the Tea Party, rational libertarians, and some people I’m not even sure why they’re here is the close minded party.  The party of Chicago School economics, Austrian economics and some bizarre Neo-Keynesian economics, all tearing at each other.  The party that questions its own, attacks its own, has not one single philosophy, and every primary eats its own…yeah we’re the close minded ones.  Meanwhile the Democrats have one philosophy, Keynesianism.  They have one goal… larger government.  They march lock step behind whoever controls the party and there is little to no dissent.

Republicans are racist

Yes, this is clearly what a party of racists and bigots looks like.

Republicans are racist and Democrats tolerant.  Republican, the party of those who marched for civil rights like George Romney, Charleton Heston, and Martin Luther King Jr., versus the Democrats who were turning hoses and dogs on the Civil Rights marches.  The Republicans who voted for Civil Rights when the Democrats didn’t.  The Republicans who have at every turn opposed the welfare state that is destructive to the growth of the middle class for all groups.  But the Democrats who blindly support Planned Parenthood, a racist eugenics group designed to destroy minority groups, are the tolerant ones…even I who am very pro-choice find Planned Parenthood a disgusting organization.

MLKJr RepublicanRepublicans are old-fashioned and Democrats are new and hip and want change.  Republicans go with what is true and what works.  Just because something is new doesn’t make it good.  And also Republicans believe in real change (in the 80’s we were for amnesty but when we saw that didn’t work at all we’ve dropped that idea) whereas Democrats are still peddling the same big government line they always have, they just keep giving it a new coat of paint to make it seem new and exciting, when it’s the same damn failed idea it’s always been.

I could go on, I have time and time again, but let’s face it  Democrats look only only look at people based on what minority they’re in, they don’t see people they see groups.  They don’t seek solutions, they seek the same solution they always have: control. They tolerate difference, open-mindedness or dissension.  They embrace “diversity” only as a tool to divide and conquer. They are the most racist group out there, the most close-minded, the most vicious, the most rigid and the most despicable.

Young people and idiot liberals believe this not because of facts, but because of propaganda and a lack of actually being open-minded enough.  There is no factual basis for these claims against Republicans, thus no amount of soul searching will help us fix it.  You can’t respond to slander through logic—it’s why individuals are allowed to sue for damages, because nothing will ever get you back your good name even if the charges aren’t true.

Now someone out there is probably going to point out idiots like Todd Akin.  Yes, yes that man was stupid beyond the War on Womentelling of it. He also got the nomination because liberals in the state’s open primary put him as the winner of the primary because he was easier to defeat—they weren’t wrong.  But you know what.  I don’t care if you can point out examples of this racist that misogynist or some such homophobe.  Why?  Because the Westboro Baptist Church is a bunch of registered Democrats (if they were Republicans it would be the lead story every day, but as they’re liberal the story gets buried), because liberals kept electing a man who killed a woman in cold blood (Teddy Kennedy) and a rapist (Bill Clinton) and also kept re-electing a member of the KKK (Robert Bryd…also don’t forget the Klan was an invention of the Democratic Party).   Yeah we have some screwed up people, but at least we don’t have idiots too dumb to understand ‘tweeting a picture of my !@#$% might not be the brightest idea’.  If the media were honest, on every point the Democratic Party would come behind every time.

As the quote that began this blog points out, reputations often have nothing to do with reality.  The reputation of the good is often maligned by the vile without a factual basis for the claims.

Democrats are the racist ones

Yeah, the Democrats are just a bastion of tolerance.

Now should this study be completely ignored?  Not entirely.  But when you consider that they tried to get a sense of how 20-somethings and small business owners felt about government regulation, their genius move was to ask 20-somethings if they had dreams of starting a business…yes this is the group I should listen to, to understand how the law and economics should be set up, people in their 20’s who want to be their own boss…while I’m at it why don’t I go ask a quarterback on a high school J.V. team how to manage a pro football team at the Super Bowl, both think they’ll one day be in charge and both know nothing about anything…what I’m most surprised at is that they found people in their 20’s who didn’t dream of being their own boss and starting their own business one day (that’s sad when you think about it). So perhaps the study’s methodology was a bit off.

But flaws of the College Republican poll aside,

the fact does remain that conservatives have a problem with young people. Because young people are ignorant and stupid.  The human brain doesn’t stop developing until 25 or 26 and we were dumb enough to give every 18 year old the vote. Short of doing the intelligent thing and raising the voting age to 30 (which would pretty much guarantee perpetual defeat of leftist ideology)…no really I’m serious, we need at some point to overturn the 26th Amendment…and the 17th while we’re at it…what can we do for now.  Well one of the reasons young people are so unbelievably dumb is the propaganda machine the left has going.  I’ve already gone over ways we can get the free market to help put the kibosh on that font of bile.  The next point would be education, educated people tend to be less liberal…but since homeschooling and charters are up, so I’m not terribly worried there either, if someone learns to think early on, they’re less likely to be indoctrinated in the later years of formal education that mistakes letters after your name for real knowledge.

Honestly, besides actually just growing a spine, continuing the growth of new media, challenging liberal lies, and convincing one person at a time through reason I don’t see much else we can do.  Yes we need to do a better job of getting our message out, but that is something we need to work on at a media and personal level, not at a RNC level.   And certainly we could do a better job at keeping idiots like Akin and Santorum out of the public eye…but again the Democrats have worse than we do, and it’s just the media protecting them that makes this appear to be a problem in our favor. Young voters aren’t some special interest group we should change our tactics for, that’s the liberal way of divide and conquer…either we hold to the truth of our principles or they mean nothing.

*1) Focus on the economic issues that affect young people today: education, the cost of health care, unemployment.

2) Capture the brand attributes of intelligence, hard work, and responsibility.

3) Don’t concede “caring” and “open-minded” to the left.

** 4) Fix the debt and cut spending, but recognize that messages about principle and “big government” are the least effective way to win this battle of ideas with young voters.

5) Go where young voters are and give them something to share.

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Filed under Conservative, Education, Evils of Liberalism, GOP, Government is useless, liberal arrogance, People Are Stupid, politics

Ron Paul is championing home schooling…God help us all…

I think we are all very happy that Rand has not inherited his father's raving lunacy.

I think we are all very happy that Rand has not inherited his father’s raving lunacy.

I believe so strongly in the homeschooling movement that I have just announced my own curriculum for homeschooling families. Please visit this revolutionary new project at http://www.ronpaulcurriculum.com.–Ron Paul on the-free-foundation.org

Ron Paul is championing home schooling.

 

Usually I would say this is a good thing.  Homeschooling can be one of the most rewarding forms of education around (so long as the parents are involved and also willing to put in the time and effort needed).  For instance I always recommend The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home by Susan Wise Bauer for anyone considering homeschooling… it is a reasoned, balanced, and in depth curriculum for homeschooling that stresses critical thinking and reading primary sources.

And at first glance the program Ron Paul is pushing seems to be that…what with things like:

  • It should be an academically rigorous curriculum that is tied to primary source documents — not textbooks. Textbooks are screened by committees. They dumb down the material.

  • If your child completes the entire curriculum — which runs from K through 12 — here is what he or she should be able to do, again quoting.

  • Speak in public and speak confidently

  • Write effectively

But then you see things like:

“It should provide a thorough understanding of Austrian school economics.”

And I think as a Chicago school monetarist, isn’t that just as bad as Keynesian indoctrination…maybe teach them Keynesian, Chicago, and Austrian principles and trust that reason will work…(and then I remember that if we’re trusting reason, that would lead them to the Chicago school, and those Austrians can’t have any of that).

But it gets worse….

  • It should teach the Biblical principle of self-government and personal responsibility, which is also the foundation of the free market economy.

Ummm… am I the only one that remembers the self-government things can more be traced to Athens, and Aristotle, and the Enlightenment?  Certainly many of the ethics of the Bible lead to the ethics or capitalist democratic-republics…but the Bible wasn’t enough for republican limited government—there were other parts involved.

So this leads one to take a closer look at the person actually in charge of the project that Ron Paul is championing?  Well on the page of instructors is this guy named Gary North.

And this is where it gets fun.  And by “fun,” I mean unspeakably terrifying.  I pulled this quote off of Gary North’s own web side, garynorth.com

So let us be blunt about it: we must use the doctrine of religious liberty to gain independence for Christian schools until we trak up a generation of people who know that there is no religious neutrality, no neutral law, no neutral education, and no neutral civil government. Then they will get busy in constructing a Bible-based social, political, and religious order which finally denies the religious liberty of the enemies of God. Murder, abortion, and pornography will be illegal. God’s law will be enforced. It will take time. A minority religion cannot do this. Theocracy must flow from the hearts of a majority of citizens, just as compulsory education came only after most people had their children in schools of some sort. But religious anarchy, like  “democratic freedom” in ancient Greece, is a temporary phenomenon; it lasts only as long as no single group gets sufficient power and accepted authority to abandon the principle.

I’m going to give you a few seconds to re-read that.  Several times.  Because I’m sure you’re thinking he can’t actually be advocating a complete theocracy that will destroy all opposing religions.  But yes, yes he is. This guy wants a Christian Caliphate to wipe out all the non-Christians.  This guy makes Sarah Palin and Rick Santorum’s rhetoric look stable (I’m not sure if Ricky is stable, I suspect he may be in favor of this, but at least he has the good sense not to say it aloud).  Gary North is the psycho-Christian that the entire left thinks all Republicans are.  This is the Taliban of Christianity.

And this is the guy Ron Paul wants to create a home schooling system for the next generation.

Take a moment to think about this.  If the Paulbots had had their way, Gary North might have been Secretary of Education.  Even though Ron Paul never stood a serious chance, that he even came as close as he did, that should scare the shit out of you.

Now what is more frightening is when you consider how many Paulbots there are who follow the word of their master blindly (I mean they overlooked the racism and the anti-Semitism).  We have enough issues in this nation trying to fight the left without also having to fight blindly following groups of libertarian-theocrats (yes I know, those terms should be opposed to each other just on the face of it, but let’s be honest here, in real life, people are a mass of contradiction).  Think of it Paulbots, but now they’re also motivated by religious fervor—if this gets any traction, it is possible it could be more insane than Westboro.

I’m not saying everything this man is going to put out is wrong, nor should homeschooling not be considered if you have the time and resources…but I don’t think anyone should blindly follow whatever program Ron Paul and Gary North put out.

Ron Paul is brining his insanity to education

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Filed under Anti-Semitism, Education, God, Long Term Thinking, Teaching

Drop the meaningless phrase “Judeo-Christian Values” and other ways for Conservatives to win

Okay so several times I have asked what the phrase “Judeo-Christian Values” means and how it is different from the values of other beliefs and religions.  I haven’t received many good answers.  Yes there are certainly differences between them in the nature of God or in the rituals and the structure of the community…but in terms of values there is little difference…everyone regards the soul as divine in some way* and proper understanding of any of these religions lends one to a virtue based ethics in line with the Classical Realism of Aristotle and Plato.  In fact, when you look at most religions there are some pretty strong parallels in all the virtues—some may be more detailed than others in some areas and less in others, but they seem to focus on the same general virtues.

virtue

Granted there is not a point for point comparison between the virtues that I am showing here, and there are shades of difference and meaning, often caused more by culture and period of time they were written in, but in terms of broad swaths, every religion believes in the same general set of virtues. Also this chart could be much more inclusive of a variety of religions and still hold true…but I think you get the point.

So the term Judeo-Christian values, which supposedly would mean the virtues and ethics this group holds to be good and right and true is just the same as the virtues of every other religion, then it’s not that meaningful a phrase.  Yes there are differences between Judeo-Christian beliefs and other religions, but none of these differences have anything to do with the political context of how the phrase “Judeo-Christian values” is used.

The phrase is meant to draw a contrast between spiritual/religious values and those of the secular, progressive, fascist, fanatical sections of society that actually don’t share either a belief in virtue based ethics or have some very radically different values.

So why is this an important point to bring up?

Well because it makes a pretty clear distinction between those who follow Judeo-Christianity and everyone else.  Including people of lots of different faiths who were not intended to be alienated.  Is this relevant?

Well first off I think it’s a fair statement that the term Judeo-Christian values is primarily used by conservatives.  Second I would assume we want to win.  We lost the last election by 3.9% points.  A 3% shift of the vote would have given Romney the popular and Electoral College vote and about 6 Senate seats (i.e., complete Republican control).  So it then becomes a question, is there 3% of the electorate who is religious and spiritual, not already voting Republican, that is not in the Judeo-Christian bracket?

Let’s look at the polls.

Trends in Religion PewPew does a major poll every year looking at the trends in religion in America.  It’s a sample of 17,000 people so it’s fairly accurate as polls go.

So of the “other” religion we have 6% of the nation and of the “nothing in particular” group we have 13.9% of the population.  Together they make 19.9% of the population.  Common sense alone says that if you have 20% of the country, two-thirds of whom are voting against your party, then maybe if you stopped alienating them with an us vs. them term (or at least picked a new term) you could pick up a few…maybe?

So let’s look at the 19.9% a little more closely.  Okay so we can discount about 1% of the “other” group as they are the “religion of peace” and their fairly fascist beliefs are moderately antithetical to conservative principles and the values/ethics being promoted.  So we’re down to 18.9% up for grabs.

Now the let’s look at how the remaining 5% of the “Other” and the 13.9% of “nothing in particular.”  Now a flaw of this report is that they lump the ““nothing in particular” in with Atheists and Agnostics under the heading of Unaffiliated (but for Trend in Religion by party Pewthe purpose of this let’s just assume the numbers are about the same throughout all the unaffiliated, it doesn’t make a terribly large difference anyway).  From the data we can see that only about 57% of the Other group and 69% of the unaffiliated are voting for Democrats (trust me the math works).  So give or take (you know there are some independents we’re not taking into account) that’s about 12%.  12% that probably share the values of the Christian voters who lean toward voting Republican, but for some reason aren’t voting Republican.  Do you think that term “Judeo-Christianity” might have something, even a small part, to do with it?

Isn’t this just a call for political correctness?  No.  The idiocy of political correctness is saying you have to watch everything you say because it might hurt someone’s feelings.   And it is for all levels of life, from the public and political to the personal.  I am not saying you have to adjust your personal language or beliefs.  This is merely a political reality.  We as conservatives have certain values and policies we know will work and better the lives of everyone.  Politics is as much about emotion and perception as it is about facts and plans, probably more so. Political Correctness has nothing to do with practical ends, which is why it has to be enforced by the left so viciously else reason would drive most people to that end anyway; what I am talking about is something very different than being PC, I’m talking about selling an idea with very real consequences.  A term like “Judeo-Christian values” is loaded from the get go, it creates an us vs. them mentality, at a time when we need more of the people in the “them” category to vote for us.  If we switched to using the term “spiritual value” or “God centered” more often, it would mean the exact same thing in terms of everything relevant to politics and ethics, and it wouldn’t emotionally alienate those we are trying to win over.  You can still use “Judeo-Christian” if you really feel strongly about it, but do it knowing you’re hurting the chance to actually see your goals accomplished.

Is this stupid?  Yeah.  It’s silly and ridiculous to think we should have to be this nitpicky about our language and terms to win people to our side.  But, the last time I checked we already had reason, logic, facts, truth, plans, and vision on our side.  Didn’t notice that doing us any good.  Oh, wait this is politics. Stupid thing like word choice do matter.  Is it stupid?  Yeah, but it’s something you have to do.

New Age beliefsBut should we end our discussion of this group of “nothing in particular” with just this term?  Well that might work towards making in-roads with maybe 1% of those 12%, in-roads that would allow the rest of our arguments to make a difference, and that 1% we get to follow reason would be a third of the way we need to go, but it’s still not enough.

Let’s take a look at some of the actual beliefs of this group.  Namely that 25% of them believe in reincarnation (If you assume that all the atheists and agnostics do not believe in reincarnation then it’s actually about 35% of the “nothing in particular” group…or about 4% of the general public.)  Further while there is nothing in this year’s report, previous year’s reports showed that a belief in reincarnation was more popular with women, minorities, the young, Democrats, liberals, moderates, independents, and Christians who attend church less often (i.e., the people we need to win over).

So it is safe to assume that most of those in that 4% are not voting Republican.

But they should.

A belief in reincarnation by its very nature lends to long term thinking—the policies I put in place today won’t just affect my children and grandchildren, they’ll affect me over and over and over again.  Thus anyone who believes in reincarnation has to believe in plans that aren’t as concerned with momentary problems, but with building long term systems that self-perpetuate and offer prosperity to the most people for the longest time with most chance of growth…that would be the capitalism and republicanism officered by real conservative belief.  This is an argument I’ve made before, extensively in Republicans & Reincarnation, and one that we should all make to anyone who holds this article of faith in reincarnation.  If you actually approach them on their own terms, and showed that the logical consequence of their beliefs is conservatism, we could get another 1% of that group…which means of the 49% left we only have to convince another 1% and given the abysmal failure of a second Obama term, that should be easy.

You don’t have to agree with people on faith. But you’re not going to convince them on politics if your stance is mine is the only religion worth following by using terms like “Judeo-Christian value.”  Say “spiritual values” instead, it means the same thing, it still separates you from the secular liberal base you are trying to show a contrast with, and it may pick up a few votes. And if you’re arguing with someone who doesn’t agree with your religion or your politics, you’ll never convince them to give up a faith because of reason, it just doesn’t work (even if you do show contradictions and put them on the path to agreeing with you spiritually, it will initially only dig in their heels more on every other topic against you)…but if you approach them on their terms spiritually and show them how their beliefs do dictate a conservative point of view, then you at least get something.

*The only two exceptions to this are followers of the religion of peace (Sufis excluded) and atheists.

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Filed under A Course in Miracles, Aristotle, Atheism, Bhagavad Gita, Capitalism, Conservative, Economics, Education, Evils of Liberalism, Faith, Free Will, God, Individualism, Long Term Thinking, New Age, philosophy, politics, Problems with the GOP, Religion, Spirituality, virtue

In Defense of the Common Core Standards for Education

There is a move on the right to hate the upcoming common core standards.  And it’s not without justification.  No Child Left Behind partly due to the additions liberal Ted Kennedy made to the bill, and partly due to ineptitude on implementation by the Bush administration left a foul taste in a lot of people’s mouths over any federal reach into the education field.  Also there is understandable mistrust with the Obama administration trying to take the lead in the common core.  And there is the fact that the standards aren’t high enough.

That being said, the Common Core,  which are being adopted by the majority of the states in the union are a step in the right direction.

Why?

Well let’s deal with them in terms of their more common complaints.

Inaccuracy 1: The first is that this is a move by the federal government.

That is not entirely true.  The Common Core was originally endorsed by the National Governors Association.  It was originally a move by states in coordination with one other, without a great deal of help by the federal government.  The NGA may have announced the implementation of the Common Core in 2009  but most of its development occurred in 2008 before Obama was even elected.

Now the Obama administration has made adoption of the Common Core a requirement for certain grants.  And I’m sure that Obama would love to rewrite them in his own image. But that does not change the fact that these standards were not a move by the federal government, but rather by the states working together (i.e. that federalism we conservatives love so much) and if the states continue to drive this and not let the federal government dictate their wording this federal overreach will be halted.

Inaccuracy 2: That it will cut literature out of the curriculum, changing it all to non- fiction technical documents.

This probably is the most egregious claim.   The claim goes “A new school curriculum which will affect 46 out of 50 states will make it compulsory for at least 70 percent of books studied to be non-fiction, in an effort to ready pupils for the workplace.”

Now very technically this is true.  However what you’re probably thinking it means is that 70% of the things read in an English course are to be non-fiction.  This is not correct.  The Common Core calls for 70% of all of student’s reading in a year to be non-fiction.  Ignoring electives courses, every student should probably be taking an English, a Social Studies, a Math and a Science course in a year.  That means that the English course only takes up 25% of year…so actually the assumption here is that somewhere in the Math, Science, and Social Studies courses is where you would find that extra 5% of literature (probably mostly in Social Studies where literature helps illustrate a time period).  That’s not even mentioning good English courses do include at least some non-fiction reading.

Or in the dense wording on the Common Core Website:

The percentages on the table reflect the sum of student reading, not just reading in ELA settings. Teachers of senior English classes, for example, are not required to devote 70 percent of reading to informational texts. Rather, 70 percent of student reading across the grade should be informational.  

Further this claim goes that the Common Core calls for the elimination of classic works of literature.  Again wrong on two points.  The first is that all of the articles I’ve seen include that classic titles like Catcher in the Rye and To Kill A Mockingbird will be eliminated from the curriculumOn page 107 of the suggested literature title list you see, low and behold To Kill A Mockingbird (also keep in mind it says suggested, not required titles, the reading list makes it quite clear it is only a suggested to list to give an idea of where the quality of each year’s reading should be). Also I have issues with calling Catcher, a story of a self important whiny teenager bitching about how terrible life is, a classic.

 common core

Also take a look at some of the information texts suggested by the Common Core.

My god, what a collection of liberal tripe!  Common Sense! The Declaration and the Bill of Rights!  How dare we suggest students should read those!

Go and actually look at the reading list.  There are speeches by Reagan, plays by Shakespeare, novels by Hawthorne and Bronte, poetry by Whitman and Eliot.  It’s183 pages of suggestions!  It’s not exactly a limited list.  And by no means does the Common Core not suggest you should go off list.  Teachers are encouraged to, just so long it is on par or superior to the suggestions.

Keep in mind there are teachers out there who think Lovely Bones and Twilight are acceptable reading for high school courses! They’re not. This at least puts in writing a nation wide bare minimum.

Inaccuracy 3: This will only encourage teaching to the test.

Inaccuracy 4: The standards are not high enough.  

These two are tied together.  There has been for years the idiotic statement that teaching to the test hurts education.  Bullshit.  Good teachers teach.  And if you’re teaching appropriately then high quality education, in any subject area, will teach a student how to pass a test—especially low end tests like the ones that all states give.  If you teach them to read, to think, and to know the subject matter they’ll pass the test.  It’s people who only teach to the test that have their students fail.

“But,” teachers complain, “testing takes up time in class.”  Well, to do your job, and teach you need to test to see if students are learning the material.  You need to test. The complaint is that now you’re taking up time with two tests, the test for the state and the test for your class.  Trust me, there is overlap between those two, a good teacher uses the state testing to see how their students are doing in their own class and not retesting them on the same material.  But you know that would require actually looking at the test, and test results and actually doing your job of taking the time to see how best to teach your students.  And, sadly, so many teachers nowadays aren’t really there for teaching, they’re there for a job that pays them for 12 months but only requires that they work 8 and a half.  A good teacher teaches above the test, and their students pass.  A bad teacher complains about teaching to the test because that’s a bar they usually don’t try to reach, and their students don’t do as well.*

The other complaint is that the standards are not high enough.  This is partly correct.  However it ignores that standards in this sense are supposed to be a bare minimum bar—a point that should be met by even the worst teacher.  States can have standards above the common core, and teachers should go beyond that.  These standards are there to correct for the fact that a high school diploma is only worth what the bare minimum that it takes to get it.  And yes these standards are low.  But guess what a lot of the previous state standards were EVEN LOWER.  I live in Arizona where the previous state standard for High School English is more or less the standards for Middle School English under the Common Core.  There are numerous examples in other places.  This does nothing but raise the low end of the bar.  Good teachers must still go above that bar; anyone who just remains at that bar is a terrible teacher.

Would I like to see the Common Core standards be higher?  Yes.  Would I like to see less federal and more state input?  Yes. Would I like a lot of things that the Common Core doesn’t do?  Of course.  But it raises the minimum bar from where it currently stands and if states hold the line (as many seem to be doing in a lot of other aspects) and don’t allow the federal government to take over then this is a step in the right direction.  It doesn’t solve all the problems we face, but it does solve a couple of them.

What everyone needs to remember is that standards and testing exist in this field because there are bad teachers.  If teachers wanted to mercilessly purge their own ranks of inept teachers, if they wanted to act like professionals and not rely on unions to protect the incompetent, if they wanted to work in such a way as to be worth more than 40K a year, then maybe we wouldn’t need to bicker about standards and testing.  But teachers do not police their own.  They protect and defend the worst. They make the issues about money and benefits rather than address their failings.

*This in no way negates the importance of the student in this.  Responsible students who care about their education will pass even with the worst teachers.  However, strangely most students are children, it’s odd how that works, and it is the requirement of good teachers to drag immature people across the finish line.  That does not negate the responsibility of the students to choose to succeed.  And of course there is parental responsibility in all this as well.

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Filed under Education, Long Term Thinking, politics, Teacher's Union, Teaching

Reflections on the Election: Why I was wrong, Why Obama Won, and what the GOP needs to do. Part III

It’s been a month since the election…and as you can tell from the limited number of posts, I’m still kind of depressed Obama won, America Lostabout this (and overworked at work, but that’s another story).  I’m still shell-shocked that people could be that stupid—even I, who believe the masses are idiots, can’t fully comprehend that people are so fucking stupid as to vote in a tyrant not once but twice.  It baffles the mind.  If you care about only what you can get you should have voted for the guy who would guarantee a higher chance at raises and better jobs: Romney.  If you cared about other people you should have cared about the guy who would have done the most to improve the middle class: Mitt.  If you care about character it would be the guy who personally does charity whenever he can: Willard Mitt Romney. Intelligence, that would be the guy who got his J.D. and MBA in the same 4 years: The Governor.  Experience, class, vision, leadership, surrounding himself with qualified people.  On every criteria you can come up with it’s a no brainer, but, but, but…

People are really fucking short sighted, envious and dumb.

But are we just powerless to do anything? Are we at the mercy of party leadership to pull us out of this tailspin the country has voted itself in (dear god that’s a depressing thought)?  Luckily no.  Unfortunately I’m not promising anything easy either.

So what can we as individuals do?

Well first I would like to turn back to the exit polls.  Now looking at ethnicity or gender or even age is pointless because there is nothing we can do to change that.   People are what they are.  (Yes, age changes, but it’s not like we have any actual control over it).

2012 exit polls education

Now education can change (complete shocker that Obama the no intelligence/no high school bracket and the no real world experience/postgraduate bracket) but unless you’re a parent most of us can’t really affect people’s education.  If you are a parent, I might suggest that you state you’re not paying for any kind of college education unless they get a degree in the Math/Science area and thus have marketable skills (if they want to get a dual major and have a liberal art as well, well you can negotiate) but parents do not pay for Sociology degrees they are worthless and breed dumb liberals.

2012 exit polls single

Next we turn to gender and marriage status.  A lot of to do was made about women in this election, but as you see it wasn’t really women so much as single women.  And I have seen conservative writers talk about how the single women pose a threat to liberty as they seem to look to the government for the security nets…but it if you look at the data single men are also pretty dumb. The conclusion I’m drawing here isn’t that women are liberal, it’s that single people on the whole are liberal and need to be stopped.  (Yes, I as a bachelor, may not want to throw stones in a glass house, but I’m not as dumb as my fellow singles who voted for Barry…but if you are or know any single, intelligent, conservative, spiritually open women in the Phoenix area…well…my email address is posted…).  Now does this mean we should all go out and get married without standards or relationships, that marriage is an end unto itself. No.  One of the reasons we have a high divorce rate is that people don’t take the time to plan and make sure they’re making a right choice.  So really unless you want to start playing matchmaker which some of us are more qualified than others (this would certainly not be a skill of mine).

2012 exit polls religion

And then we see that Obama did well with the non-religious crowd* and Romney did well with the religious crowd.  Let me put these last two points in context. It doesn’t have as much to do with faith or companionship.  For a lot of people it is an issue of safety.  If you have a spouse, if you have an active church community you have someone you know you can fall back on if things go bad, if you don’t have these things, then the psychology of most people is to seek something you can fall back on: the government.  Now I would rather people evolve and see themselves as their fallback (or at least maybe God) but if we’re going to get there we first have to have an economic system that allows people to take care of themselves (i.e. we need to get rid of liberals and progressives at every level).

So what does this have to do with religion?  Well it means that if you’re a member of a church you need to encourage, push for, and if necessary demand, that your church be more active in the community—charity, public works and improvement projects, fundraisers not for the church but those honestly in need. This should have nothing to do with demonization or dogma.  Only about helping the community and strengthening the bonds of community.

If you’re not in a church, say a New Ager, it couldn’t hurt to find a non-pushy church out there and see if they would like help with those charity projects.

If you’re in a church that does do these kinds of charity projects then see if you can invite people you know to help, don’t proselytize, don’t make it about belief, only about helping others.  (Also may I suggest making your charity functions known to the local middle and high schools—students, especially college bound students, are more and more looking for community service on their resumes—and let them know their parents are invited as well).

This has nothing to do with dogma, it has to with a core tenet in every religion I can think of, charity, community, compassion.

Show people that government isn’t the only source that they can fall back on.  Look at it this way, the way people talk about others often shows how they themselves think.  I call it the “I am the world” fallacy, and I’m guilty of it myself sometimes, we all are.  We tend to make assumptions about the way people act based on our own habits and thoughts.  Conservatives naturally tend to think that the government isn’t needed because we ourselves are more generous and just assume everybody does the right thing.  Liberals assume others are avaricious, cruel, irrationally selfish, and miserly not because they’re saints and know everyone else is stingy, but because they themselves are not compassionate at their heart—they fear they will have no one to fall back on because in their heart of heart they know they won’t help other either.  (Liberals give to charity less than conservatives and they volunteer a hell of a lot less than conservatives, see Who Really Cares by Arthur C. Brooks).

But if we get people who might not usually attend church to come to charity events we can show them that people do care for people and that we don’t need government to care for us…and maybe we can even show them there is personal joy in compassion and charity.  Trust me, a person who does charity out of the joy it brings them never votes liberal, liberals give out of guilt not joy.

So get your church (or any other group that has the resources) involved in the community (if you’re not doing at least 3 events a month, it’s not enough), invite people to come just for the charity aspect, and watch their belief that the government is the only one looking out for them disappear (also with more human contact and larger social circles we might fix that single problem listed above).

Also this process will help destroy that one thing that Obama did well in “He cares about people like me.”

2012 exit polls key points

Charity and a strong community teach us that we are capable of caring for people who aren’t like ourselves.

But that can’t be all we have to do.  Liberals have done a great job with controlling the media.  News, movies, TV shows, you name it there are liberal messages.  But we cannot give in on this.

So there are a few things we can do.  The first is that we can try to pull their funding.  Here at the Conservative New Ager we’re going after that Goebbels style propaganda wing MSNBC.  We encourage people to write to their advertisers and pull their ads.  It works.  If a company just gets a hundred letters asking them to make sure the shows they are advertising on are only reporting the truth, they will either pull the ads or they will use the power their money buys them to get results.  We have already heard from P&G and UPS.

The next thing is that we need to expose people to the truth.  I would recommend everyone use all the social media they have to expose their friends to the truth.  Now you don’t have to repost a thousand articles every day, but don’t be afraid to share something for fear of losing a friend.  For everyone you lose you’ll likely help push a two or three that much closer to the truth.  (And if you’re like me you don’t have many liberal friends left anyway, it’s the middle we’re trying to win, not the ones beyond hope).

Also if you get a real newspaper (there aren’t many left: The Wall Street Journal, the Washington Times…if it uses AP articles don’t bother) take it to work and leave it in the break room every day.  It can only help expose people to the truth.

But on that note we need to share the media that is conservative we need to focus on the stuff that isn’t the news and isn’t explicitly political.  Liberals have tried to infect every book, every movie, every show with liberal messages and just habituate people into thinking in liberal terms.  The problem is that most good literature is more conservative in its themes.  Self sufficiency, rational thought, ethical behavior, connection to God.  These subtle themes are in literature everywhere, even when it’s written by artists who are liberal themselves.  George Orwell was a socialist, but 1984 and Animal Farm are scathing critiques of the very state Orwell would likely have supported.   Given time, the truth will out, as a conservative writer once put it. What conservatives make the mistake of doing is trying to give people Atlas Shrugged and Ann Coulter and Thomas Sowell.  It doesn’t matter that we enjoy those, those books only preach to the choir.  If someone isn’t open to those ideas, if they’ve been indoctrinated to think conservatives are evil, Rand was psychotic, Coulter is vicious and Sowell is an Uncle Tom, it doesn’t matter if the facts are there, their emotional reaction to those works will prevent them from seeing the facts.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t share books and TV shows with friends, family, acquaintances. I’m sure we know lots of people who are not conservative but if they were introduced to those ideas the logic and reason of it would come out.  That is why I am putting together a list of books, movies and TV shows that depict the conservative themes and that we agree with, without being explicitly conservative.   The Individual, reason, ethical behavior, long term thinking, the truth.  These are things that bring people close to conservatism.  I would take a look at this list (and keep coming back as I hope to keep adding to it).  Lend these works out to people who you think might be open to them.  Give them as gifts for any holiday and any excuse you can.  And then discuss them with the person after they’ve read or watched it (never give out something you’re not familiar with already!  You don’t want to get caught where they make some silly liberal interpretation and don’t have a comeback for it).  It seems silly but ideas have power, and once they’re in a person’s mind they spread not just to affecting the other ideas of that mind but in the way they behave to others and the way they influence the ideas of others.  And if they get more conservative in their thoughts introduce them to the more explicitly conservative works…but don’t start with those, they’ll just shut people down.

Finally it’s the old stand-bys.  Write a blog or letters to editors.  Donate to organizations that promote your beliefs (right now I would focus on Heritage and Freedomwork because they do not seem overly obsessed with the social issues which are dragging this party down and giving the left too many easy targets), volunteer for campaigns, get involved.  We have four years where we can do next to nothing to save the economy or well being of our allies across the sea.  Nothing.  We have this idiot tyrant in charge and he will wreck the place as much as he can through a combination of stupidity and malice.  Focusing too much on that will be somewhat fruitless for us as individuals—but as individuals we do have the power to influence those around us and help bring them to our side.

*Also Obama did exceedingly well with people who aren’t not affiliated with any religion but are spiritual  you know, the kind of people the Republicans and Reincarnation was written specifically for.  If you know some of these people, could it hurt to give them a copy?

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Reflections on the Election: Why I was wrong, Why Obama Won, and what the GOP needs to do. Part I

Okay so I needed to reflect on the election for some time before I wrote anything meaningful on this.  Quick statements just to fill air time have over the past couple of weeks mainly been ignorant, self-serving or just stupid.

Why I was wrong

I was wrong because I made the incorrect assumption to trust that polls like Rasmussen would continue to be the most accurate.
I was wrong because I made the incorrect assumption to trust equally respected polls that showed huge Republican enthusiasm which would usually mean that the Rasmussen polls were off in favor of Republicans.

I was wrong because I simply assumed PPP polls would continue to hack partisan polls that were never all that close.

I was wrong because I assumed Democratic cheating wouldn’t be as effective as it was.
I was wrong because I, even I who have a very low opinion of people, couldn’t possibly conceive of people being so fucking dumb that they would reelect this idiotic wanna-be-despot.  I really couldn’t believe America could be that dumb.

Why We Lost

First off, between counties that had over 100% turnout, military ballots being sent out at wrong times and then going missing, programmers saying every electronic machine was rigged, and buses of immigrants showing up to vote out of the blue, the fact is that there appears to be a heavy amount of cheating going on by the Democratic party.  I’d say I’m shocked but I’m not.  This is what democrats do.  Now is every accusation of cheating real, doubt it, and fewer still are provable, but you’re living in la-la land if you think elections have been on the up and up when it comes to Democratic votes…it’s how they’ve won elections ever since Joe Kennedy bought the election back in 1960.

But I was expecting cheating and fraud…which means either the Democrats have gotten even better at it, or, as I’m more afraid is the truth, people were kind of dumb on November 6th.  The fact that cheating was enough to sway the election means that we have problems because this shouldn’t have even been close, this should have been a landslide against Obama and yet it wasn’t.  So that can’t be the only problem.  What else went wrong?

We can also blame the media.  Almost every reporter on the Romney trail and most of the major outlets were trying to find gaffes and slip ups.  They were actively trying to portray him in the worst possible light.  And they were conveniently ignoring everything about Obama and his record, including, low and behold that Obama let 4 Americans die through his depraved indifference because he thought going in might be bad for his reelection.  But we can’t lay full blame on the media, because as annoying and biased as they are, there’s Drudge, there’s FOXNews, there’s Breitbart and the Blaze and Twitter and NewsBusted and the Washington Times and the Heritage Foundation and a 101 other sources.  The information was there if people just listened.

Well apparently the ground game was abysmal from the GOP and great from Obama’s side.  Now part of this is that Obama used his obscene huge data mine to play his usual game of divisive politics (more on this later) Part of the problem is also that Romney’s system  which was supposed to help make sure all GOP voters got to the polls, ORCA, failed on election day—hmmm, an online system to help conservatives failed…I’m going to offer 50/50 odds that the terrorists known as Anonymous might have had something to with this.  But whether they did or not, I have to ask where was the ground game for the GOP House, for the GOP Senate, from local state parties?  As usual the entire party disappoints me.  We had a terrible ground game and did not do enough to get people to the polls.

Now many idiots (Santorum, Gingrich, Levin, etc) want to blame Romney.  This is beyond wrong because Romney didn’t do anything wrong.  As Ann Coulter points out Romney wasn’t the problem.  Romney was a conservative’s conservative.  Now I think Romney was not as much of a fighter as he could have been…but I don’t think that would have made a difference because every time he tried to hit the worthless jackass hard the media spun it as Romney was a terrible person…so is it Romney wasn’t a fighter or is it that Romney just knew to avoid a fight he couldn’t win?

But even with all of that why did we lose?  Well because Romney was right.  There is a portion of this country that thinks they’re entitled to shit and Obama targeted specific groups and pandering to them by giving them gifts.

Oh before you dare complain about that statement, let’s look at a few facts.

According to the exit polls here are the groups Obama did really well with (I’m defining really as over 10%) Women, those under 30, non-white voters, those with a high school diploma or less (he was +29 with those with no diploma), the LGBT crowd, those people who never get out of academia known as the post graduate crowd, those making under 50K, people who do not go to church very often.

Hmmm let’s look at those groups again.

Women…pandered to with the fake war on women and Fluke’s endlessly whining.

Under 30…pandered to with promises of more college money (by the way you do know he’s cutting Pell grants right?)

Those without education and making less than 50K pandered to food stamps and welfare and a whole lot of other entitlements.  As Dennis Miller points out you can make close to 45K just by living off the dole these days.

And those with Post Graduate degrees (already being fairly clueless of how the real world works) he pandered to with promises of more teaching jobs.

The LGBT crowd with promises of gay marriage (then turned around and said it wouldn’t be a priority for him).

And the largest group with the non Caucasian crowd, Latinos, he gave that Dream Act amnesty with the implication more was on the way.

Of course the difference between Obama and Santa is that, worst case, Santa will give you a piece of coal, whereas Barry is not only not going to give anyone what they promised, but he’s going to outlaw coal as well.

Yes how terrible of Romney to point out that that Obama’s giving out things and making promises to specific groups was giving out things and making promises to specific groups.  How dare he pay attention to the man behind the curtain and not just fall in line with the typical intentional ignorance of what is going on?

Obama divided people into groups, played on the most base impulses and fears of any individual and treated them as he sees them, only as groups.  And this worked for him because education, media and the government have treated people only as groups for years.  And we lost because of that.
Now the knee jerk reaction might be to start playing their game of identify politics, as some have suggested.  But this is a losing strategy.  The only way to win identify politics, to say that this group values things that other group don’t, is Obama’s way to give out gifts.  We are conservatives, we believe in ideas, in values and in individuals, and to treat people as only members of groups is to betray our values and forget everything that makes America, America.  Now there are things we need to do, and I’m going to go into more detail on that soon, but we must realize we lost because for years they have been playing this game of divisiveness and hatred and that we haven’t confronted it head on is the reason we lost.

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