Schools cutting back to four days

Posted by Jason | Posted in Education | Posted on 08-03-2010

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In just another example of why public education is a horrible way to educate kids, schools, with their overblown budgets, are now cutting back to four days a week.

A small but growing number of school districts across the country are moving to a four-day week, in a shift they hope will help close gaping budget holes and stave off teacher layoffs, but that critics fear could hurt students’ education.

Budget holes? There was just a recent discussion on Mises.org forums about the cost of public education, and it was actually much higher than the national average I had in my post a while back of $9,000 per student. While it seems like no one can find an actual number (go figure), the cost seems to range from $11,000 to $30,000 per student. Can you imagine what type of education the private sector could provide for that type of money. So, what does Obama say about this?

The heightened interest in an abbreviated school week comes as the Obama administration prepares to plow $4.35 billion in extra federal funds into underperforming schools. The administration has been advocating for a stronger school system in a bid to make the U.S. more academically competitive on a global basis.

Eh boy. Go figure. He’s throwing more money at it and wants a “stronger school system”. What does “stronger” even mean.  Does he want one with even less parental involvement, where the state could completely brain wash the children? Well, what do some of the local school board people say?

“We’ve repeatedly asked our residents to pay higher taxes, cut some of our staff, and we may even close one of our schools,” she said. “What else can you really do?” Despite a “lot of opposition” from parents, she said, the district is set to adopt a four-day week for next school year.

Ok, so same old same old. Higher taxes. They cut some of their staff? I am guessing they cut the staff that would annoy parents and students the most. Government, instead of looking for real ways to cut costs, only looks for ways to annoy the tax payer, so they can complain they need more money and have a sympathetic ear. Notice the first place locally to cut services is the public library. I’m sure the schools wouldn’t do that.

In the rural Peach County, Ga., district, a four-day week this school year helped school officials save more than $200,000 last semester, trimming costs for custodial and cafeteria workers and bus drivers as well as transportation expenses and utilities, said system spokeswoman Sara Mason.

“Sorry, we can’t pick your kid up for school. You’re $11,000 to $30,000 per student just isn’t cutting it.” Well, it sucks they laid off the poorer workers. Wonder if they laid off any teachers?

The district is on track to save 39 teaching positions and $400,000 by the end of the school year, helping to narrow a $1 million shortfall in the district’s $30 million annual budget.

Teachers who still work the same number of hours over four days, instead of five, generally don’t see a reduction in salary. But staff who can’t make up the lost time, such as bus drivers and cafeteria workers, are often hard-hit, losing as much as 20% of their pay.

Guess it pays to be in a powerful union. Not only was there no cut in pay, they now only have to work four days a week. It’s too bad they had to layoff the lower income folks to save the teachers. I guess there’s always welfare.

Officials in some districts say their students and teachers make good use of their day off. In Wyoming, many schools offer Friday tutoring sessions to keep students sharp, according to Dianne Frazier, an educational consultant with the state’s department of education.

via Districts Explore Shorter School Week – WSJ.com.

I bet they do make good use of their time. Teachers get to sit on the butts another day, but this time without those annoying students. Students on the other hand now have a free day, when mom and dad have to go to work.

When can we just quit with this idiotic school system that’s only function is to feed the teachers’ union more and more money by pillaging the workers of society. There is no concern for actually educating children. Anyone who doesn’t just blindly accept that our school system is to make sure all children can get an education can see it. If you looked at the performance of our schools, on practically every measure they are absolute failures.

Think about how much money is spent. For half a dozen kids, a person could start a private education business and if the cost per student was the same have revenue of $66,000 to $180,000. Of course the private sector wouldn’t stop there. They’d take on more students, and they’d capitalize on economies of scale to drop prices. Competition would drive the cost per student down substantially.

Add to that, that what we teach kids is completely useless. How many of us use even 10% of what we learned before college? I get so annoyed every night as my son spends hours doing school work. He goes to school all day, and then comes home and has at least an hour’s worth of home work every night. What really ticks me off is what the homework is. It’s things like social studies. Instead of learning history, which can actually be applied to current affairs, they waste time learning dances of another culture, a culture that he’ll probably never run into. Even if he did, wouldn’t it be better and more interesting to learn the culture in person than to waste school time learning about it? I think his time would be better spent learning reading, writing, math and history.

Of course though, the government mandates that all kids learn the curriculum set by a bunch of bureaucrats, who have a bunch of special interest groups trying to push their agenda down our kids’ throats. Do the bureaucrats care? Of course not. There is no incentive to care. They have these huge budgets and all this time to fill for students. Why not waste it on some cultural dances. Who cares if the kids can’t read or thinking logically. They made donors happy.

Well, I guess one good thing about this article is that the schools who implemented the four day week have one less day a week to make students dumber.

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Public Education – A View From Outside The Matrix

Posted by Jason | Posted in Education, Government | Posted on 30-11-2009

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If you have not read my previous post, Thanksgiving, Statism and Life Outside the Matrix, you may want to do so first. This will be my first post where I will challenge the assumption of public education, which is what provides us our programming to live within the Matrix.

As I said in my previous post, both sides of the Matrix structure argue about how to best improve public education. One argues for more money. The other argues for more localized control. Neither side questions the existence of government controlled education, the results over the long term, or whether we’d be better off with no government education.

To start, why do statists claim we need a public school system? They claim that all children need an education, and only government can make sure all children regardless of race, class, and gender receive an education. That sounds reasonable, but are the children, especially the poor really getting educated? According to The Daily Beast, 7,200 students drop out every day. In some cities (usually ran by socialists), it’s even worse. In Detroit, only 25% of students graduate. According to CNN, the nationwide dropout rate is 16% or over 6 million students.

Every single school day, more than 7,200 kids, on average, drop out of high school—1.3 million each year. In many American cities, including Miami, Denver, Los Angeles, New York and Minneapolis, most public school students don’t graduate. In Detroit, the unhappy poster child for American industrial decline, a study from last year showed that a mere quarter of students earn high school diplomas.

via America’s Dropout Crisis – Page 1 – The Daily Beast.

Nearly 6.2 million students in the United States between the ages of 16 and 24 in 2007 dropped out of high school, fueling what a report released Tuesday called “a persistent high school dropout crisis.”

The total represents 16 percent of all people in the United States in that age range in 2007. Most of the dropouts were Latino or black, according to a report by the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, and the Alternative Schools Network in Chicago, Illinois.

via ‘High school dropout crisis’ continues in U.S., study says – CNN.com.

As you can see, the groups most affected by the dropout rate are the groups that socialists claim to champion. Students are dropping out left and right, which does not provide them many options for the future. Then again, why worry? We have a “safety net”. You know if you don’t go to school, you can at least live off the government dole. On top of that, you can partake in criminal activity and receive tax free income. “Cash only please for all drug and stolen good purchases”.

“Yeah, OK Prof, but literacy was horrendous.” Well, let’s take a look at the “improving” literacy. As we all know, slaves were systematically prevented from learning to read and becoming educated, so we can’t really count their literacy under slavery. We can look at how quickly they became literate after slavery ended.

Although the black literacy rate soared from 20% in 1850 to nearly 80% in 1890, blacks were still having a difficult time finding work.

via ljonespage4content.

Wow, that’s damn impressive. Black literacy reached 80% in 1890. Well, what is it now? Hmmm, under our socialized, secular government ignorance programs, it stands at about 60%.

Six decades later, at the end of the twentieth century, the National Adult Literacy Survey and the National Assessment of Educational Progress say 40 percent of blacks and 17 percent of whites can’t read at all. Put another way, black illiteracy doubled, white illiteracy quadrupled.

via Intellectual Espionage – John Taylor Gatto.

White literacy was near 100% at the beginning of the 20th century, and as you can see, it is now at about where the formers slaves were in 1890. According to John Quincy Adams, only 4/10ths of 1 percent of New Englanders were illiterate. Also, I think everyone would agree the books that were read back then were much more challenging.  Isn’t progress wonderful?

How about math and science scores? Well, according to international testing, American children are not what they used to be. The bad news is the longer they are in school, the worse they get.

At science and math, American students trail those in other advanced democracies. The longer students are in school, the worse things get. Among fourth graders, U.S. students rank high on the International Test of Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). Despite this head start, by eighth grade, American adolescents have slipped to the midpoint on the TIMSS; by age 17, their scores trail all but those in a few developing countries

via Hoover Institution – Hoover Digest – The Decline and Fall of American Education.

So as you can see, the public schools in our country have failed as all government planned goods and services do. The debate then goes straight to “how do we make them better?” This is the debate that rages inside the statist Matrix. Both sides argue back and forth about how to improve it. The cheerleaders hooray their side and boo the other side, and it’s completely incomprehensible to them that maybe the government should not be forcing people into government schools. All coercive monopolies are bad, and government is a coercive monopoly. If you do not believe so, try to “choose” to keep your children out of government approved schooling. See how long before you go to jail.

What is the solution? Well, let’s start off by agreeing that we should not stick a gun to people’s heads and tell them they are either going to send their children to government schools, or else they will go to jail. Can we agree that is the moral thing to do? I’m sure some will argue that some parents just are too stupid to make sure their kids get educated, so government must stick a gun to your head. The argument goes that because a small group isn’t responsible with their children, the government should stick a gun to everyone’s head and force their kids into public schools. Pro-government school people argue it’s child abuse to not let your child get an education, but then have no problem with the abuse government schools are inflicting on our children at increasing rates as the statistics above show. Let’s not even get into the lunch programs they inflict on children.

Next, let’s let people choose how they want their kids to be educated. If you do not want to send your child to a government school, there is no reason you should have to pay for government schools plus a private school. Do you think this has something to do with why poorer students are worse off? Their parents cannot afford to pay for public and private schools, so they suck it up and send them off the the ignorance factories. You should be able to keep your money. At the very least, you should be able to take your tax dollars to the school of your choice.

Then the government should allow the free market to deliver education options. They should not set standards, because their standards are pretty much useless. They deliver horrible results. Private schools will have to deliver to the parent’s liking, or they will automatically be punished with lost tuition. Government, on the other hand, has no accountability. If you don’t like the results, you still pay for it. If you try not to pay for it, well you know what happens.

Why is it so hard to imagine a world without public schools? It’s hard to imagine because it’s part of your programming. You were brought up in public schooling and taught that you must have public schools. It’s like most of society in the early 1800s, who couldn’t comprehend how former slaves and former slave masters could live in the same society if slavery was abolished.  Instead of admitting it was immoral, abolishing the institution, and letting free men figure their own way out of it, the government legalized slavery every step of the way. They couldn’t see outside the Matrix in which they were living. If the government had not enforced slavery through fugitive slave laws, it’s hard to believe slavery would have lasted long at all. It would have cost plantation owners too much money to chase slaves down when they escaped. They were only able to do so, because government (really the tax payer) ate the cost of chasing them down and returning them. It would have actually been cheaper for plantation owners to hire the slaves or any other workers had they not forced the cost of fugitive slave laws on the society as a whole. What I am saying here is just because you can’t imagine something other than government schools, because you have been programmed to only see it that way, doesn’t mean it’s not possible and better.  When men are free to make choices in their best interest, society progresses more quickly. It is not happenstance that the least regulated areas in our life are all the fast growing and evolving areas, and there is no reason education cannot be the same.

It’s very easy to see how education if unleashed from government shackles could quickly skyrocket in the success it delivers. It’s not hard to envision bountiful options to meet the needs of all children. Does your child excel in math? How about a school that focuses on math, engineering, and computers? Has your child always loved being the center or attention? How about a school that focuses on the arts? Does your child love to fix things and find out how they work? How about a tech school? Do you want your child to focus on reading, writing, and math? How about an elementary school that focuses exclusively on fundamentals? Does your child have special needs? How about a school that specializes in teaching kids with the same needs as your child? Does your child have many interests? How about a school that brings in great teachers from around the country via video conferencing? Better yet, if your child goes to any of the other schools mentioned, how about those schools bringing in the best teachers in their focused area via video? How about sending your child to a school whose competitive advantage is small class sizes? How about a retired NASA scientist being able to teach students without a teaching degree? How about parents, who know their kids best, deciding what school is best for their child. It is not hard to imagine options and schools opening all over the place.

Why would so many schools open? Because there are greedy profiteers out there, and guess what. They have to deliver a quality service in the private sector. According to the 2007 census, the average cost per student in public schools was $9,000. Do you think for one second there wouldn’t be businesses competing for that $9,000 per pupil and driving the cost down? It happens in every other sector of our economy. Well, it does until the government gets jealous and decides to jump into the game.

While I’m sure the diehard statists can never imagine education without Uncle Sam forcing us into a one size fits none system, I hope some of you question your assumptions about our supposed need for public schools. Hopefully, when you hear politicians debating more funding for education, higher national standards, or any other top down school program, you will question it more deeply. You will ask why they would do that in the first place. How does that open up choices? Does not having choices provide better results? Who benefits from this?

Take the Red pill, and ask yourself, “If I could disregard all laws related to education, what would I choose for my child or for myself when I was a child? Would I send them to government schools, or would I send them to schools who must prove themselves in order to get my money?”

PS. Please ignore all spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. I learned those in public school.

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Thanksgiving, Statism And Life Outside The Matrix

Posted by Jason | Posted in Economics, Education, Government, Gun Control, Health Care, History | Posted on 28-11-2009

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Over Thanksgiving dinner, my brother and I began our normal debates of politics, war, health care, etc. This year was  a little different.

I’ve always been the typical conservative, who believes the government is a necessary evil that wants to control us more and more with healthcare, welfare, net neutrality and on and on, but we need to maintain a strong military and remain on the offense in the war on terror.

Having always considered my self a free market capitalist, I was reading pro-capitalist books, websites, etc. Eventually, I found myself in a world that challenged my own contradictions. I’ve always realized that liberalism was irrational and illogical, but I always thought conservatism was rational and logical. After reading Ron Paul’s book, End The Fed, I started a debate on Mises.org, a pro-free market site founded to spread the economic ideas of Ludwig von Mises. Like most conservatives, I liked Ron Paul’s belief in the constitution and his domestic policy beliefs, but I thought his foreign policy was isolationist and unrealistic. In the forums, I said I like Ron Paul and would vote for him, but I didn’t believe in his isolationism and questioned whether he believed in a strong military. Having always laughed at liberals and all their contradictions, it was now I who seemed to be the one with contradictions.

Not being used to people debating with logic and reason, I quickly felt like I was being presented an option. The forum users were offering me the Red Pill, leading me on a path which would challenge my assumptions and the Matrix in which we live, or the Blue Pill, in which I could ignore their arguments and stay in the comfort of what I’ve always believed and had reinforced by the Matrix. Having always believed in pursuing TRUTH in spite of fear, ostracizing, or ego, I took the Red Pill. Quickly I realized I was outside the Matrix looking in.

The first thing you realize is the Matrix is constructed of two sides who are opposites of the same contradictory, statist coin. Both believe in using government force in order to compel the populace to live by their terms. One side believes in “national greatness” while the other believes in “national virtue”. Neither fulfills their stated goal, and neither believes in individual liberty. Both sides benefit from the endless debate and the “my team is best” mentality. The Matrix was not constructed over night. It was developed over time piece by piece and quickly became the known world to those who know no alternative to life inside the Matrix. Current generations have had the programming loaded into their minds through the government schools. Even if you attend private schools, you must meet certain mandated “standards”. As an adult, your programming is reinforced with TV shows, news programs, and “educational” programs that reinforce the assumptions that were programmed into you as a child.

The founding institution of the Matrix, the State, is formed by competing parties, which you are encouraged to cheer one as your team and boo the others as the enemy no matter what the topic. Debates rage with differing opinions, but never involve root causes or underlying assumptions. Both sides debate particular wars, but never discuss what caused the war or whether foreign intervention is just and in our best interest (ex: Should our military is deployed in 150 countries). We debate how to best raise the standards of public schools, but no one questions the existence of the public schools or the historical failure of them(ex: Black Americans went from 20% literacy rate in 1860 to 80% by 1890. Now, black Americans have a 60% literacy rate). They debate how to best handle retirement savings, but neither questions whether the government should be handling it at all or the consequences of their mishandling (ex: Inflating Wall Street pay via 401ks and IRAs). Currently, we’re debating health care. One side argues for national health care, and the other argues against it. Neither side debates government involvement and it’s effect on skyrocketing prices in the first place.

It’s not hard to understand why the Matrix is so hard to break free from. It’s all we’ve known. We haven’t experienced schooling without public schools, health care without insurance, a world without US policing, or life without so called “safety nets”. During the debate with my brother, who always argued with my beliefs on foreign policy when I was inside the Matrix, agreed Americans were not looking at the issue properly because they are surrounded by re-enforcing factors such as the media. The media never gives a historical perspective. They only ask what should be done about terrorism or which war we should fight. They never ask why is there terrorism or if we think punishing civilians via embargoes will help them overthrow tyranny. They never ask if we believe it creates less responsibility for Wall Street executives when the Fed drops interest rates to zero and promises to prevent bank failures. They are only asked whether we should have bailouts or not.

The funny thing was as soon as the debate turned to public education, my brother was back in the Matrix. I asked the question of why there should even be public schools, and immediately his programming took hold. “You have to have government schools. How would people get schooling? I don’t think the schools are bad. It’s our culture. Teacher unions aren’t to blame, it’s the parents. You can’t teach a child who’s parent is a drug addict. What about the poor?” On and on the debate raged, but he could not get his head around the fact that the government has created the disastrous system in the first place. He could not comprehend a world without the government. It was if nothing comes about without the government. It’s understandable. Can you imagine arguing what life would be like without slavery in the early 1800s? Surely, you would have been nuts. They were living inside their Matrix, created by generations that came before.

Over the coming months, I will attempt to touch on some of these topics. While I am not an expert, I will present you with Red and Blue pills. The Red pill will question whether our lives our better with government involvement in all aspects of our lives. Is the government really protecting us? Could we live without government? You will have to open your mind and challenge your assumptions if you take the Red pill. On the other hand, you can take the Blue pill. You can stay in your comfort zone, fight the same old fights, assume the government is there for your protection, and live out the consequences of those beliefs. The choice is yours, but you must make a choice.

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Race To The Top?

Posted by Jason | Posted in Education, Government | Posted on 25-11-2009

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There has been a lot of buzz about Obama’s Race to the Top program to improve public education. Currently, the Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Newt Gingrich and Rev. Al Sharpton are traveling the country together to promote the program.In this morning’s Wall Street Journal, former congressman Harold E. Ford Jr, a former IBM Chairman and a founder of The Broad Foundations wrote an article calling for accountability for President Obama.

By HAROLD E. FORD JR., LOUIS V. GERSTNER JR. AND ELI BROAD

For decades, policy makers have talked about significantly improving public education. The problem has been clear: one-third of public school children fail to graduate, there are embarrassing achievement gaps between middle-class children and poor and minority children, and the gap between our students and those in other countries threatens to undermine our economic competitiveness. Yet for the better part of a quarter century, urgent calls for change have seldom translated into improved public schools.

Now, however, President Barack Obama has launched “Race to the Top,” a competition that is parceling out $4.35 billion in new education funding to states that are committed to real reform. This program offers us an opportunity to finally move the ball forward.

To that end Mr. Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan are pushing states toward meaningful change. Mr. Duncan has even stumped for reform alongside former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Yet the administration must continue to hang tough on two critical issues: performance standards and competition.

First, I must say Newt Gingrich in pursuit of trying to be bipartisan has become a stooge of the left. If he thinks giving his support is going to get any real reforms, he’s become Charlie Brown hoping Lucy won’t move the ball this time. What’s worse is no one will no if he doesn’t agree with the ultimate outcome, but his name will be used for what will be called a “bipartisan effort”.

Already the administration is being pressured to dilute the program’s requirement that states adopt performance pay for teachers and to weaken its support for charter schools. If the president does not remain firm on standards, the whole endeavor will be just another example of great rhetoric and poor reform.

Competition among the states is also vital to reform. The administration is resisting the temptation to award funds to as many states as possible. And that’s good. To be effective, Race to the Top funds cannot become a democratic handout. Competition brings out the best performance. That’s true in athletics and in business, and it’s true in education.

Wow, all the sudden liberals realize competition among states is vital to reform, and competition is what brings out the best results? Who said progress isn’t being made. If they now realize this, can we make more moves back towards federalism, in which we had states competiting? Better yet, how about we get the federal government out of education altogether? How can you have competition when the government always promotes one size fits all policy on all states? Can we remove much of the federal laws and allow states to compete for the best standards of living? Citizens can then again vote with their feet. When the federal government creates national laws, citizens cannot hold states accountable. It doesn’t matter where you go, you still have to deal with the federal law. Your only choice is to leave the country, which ultimately harms our country.

The old way of doing business would be to spread around the money so no one could be held accountable. The new approach is to give governors authority and responsibility, and then hold them accountable for results.

For decades, adult interests have been at the forefront of public education. Reform has been derailed by adults who wanted to protect the status quo and enjoy lifelong benefits. This time the focus will be on learning in the classroom. What’s important is that the administration is demanding that every child receive an education that prepares him or her for college or for work. Without that we will continue to be sidetracked by insignificant issues.

Again wow, some truth from these guys. Ok, so now I must ask if we know this, then why aren’t we redoing all the federal dollars? Why are we continuing to spread money around?  According to the Department of Education’s website here is how much money they are spreading around with no accountability.

ED currently administers a budget of $62.6 billion in regular FY 2009 discretionary appropriations and $96.8 billion in discretionary funding provided under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

via U.S. Department of Education Budget Office.

Wow, imagine what we could do if we actually focused over $150 billion on the classroom? Instead you have teacher’s unions setting up life long cushy jobs and retirement plans that private sector workers could only dream about.

States that have the track record and leadership in place to implement Mr. Obama’s aggressive reform menu—of enforcing rigorous academic standards, creating data systems that track individual student performance, ensuring teacher quality and effectiveness, and turning around failing schools—deserve the funds to show that our public schools can again lead the world.

We have yet to prove, on a systemic basis, that we can dramatically improve America’s public schools. Race to the Top is a chance to start small, hold states accountable, and expand proven reforms to the rest of the country.

via Harold E. Ford Jr., Louis V. Gerstner Jr.,And Eli Broad: Race to the Top in Education – WSJ.com.

Ok, here is the root of the problem. You are rewarded based on your record of implementing “Mr. Obama’s agressive reform menu”. The problem is the whole damn thing is captive to politics. Assume this policy improves results. After Obama is replaced, you then have to worry about who’s menu is next? I’m not saying Obama’s menu is good, because I don’t know what it is. The problem is you hold the carrots way above where the work actually takes place. The further you get away from the end participants, the harder it is for you to dictate good policy and the harder it is to know what’s working.

If you want real reform, the federal government should get out of education. Governors should then open education to all providers public and private. Parents should be able to take either their own taxes or their allocation of taxes per student to any school they want. This would generate massive competition and a massive improvement in the education of children in this country. Even the writers of this article admit that competition is what generates results. Are they advocating only a little competition? Don’t they want spectacular results, or are they too afraid they’d loss their political power?

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