Education: Is Help On The Way?

For centuries ivory tower academics controlled education.  They decided what was taught, how it was taught, when it was taught, and to whom it was taught.  As public education evolved, politicians became their allies, and in some cases their masters.  Liberal politicians hand out money “for the kids”, and in return the academics advance their left wing objectives.  Consider some recent changes: reducing teaching civics and history, cutting reading the classics, and turning classrooms into laboratories for “innovative methods”.  How many different ways have academics experimented with to teach basic mathematics in the past 75 years or so?   Can kids figure out 2×2 any better today than they could back then?  Politicians are obsessed with being “fair”, so schools eliminate grades, homework, and give everyone an award for showing up.  Standardized tests are “dumbed down”.  Then parents wonder why colleges need remedial high school courses, employers wonder why young employees lack good communication and math skills, and many wonder why young people can’t handle real life (which is not fair).  Academics and politicians have third partner: textbook publishers.  Every time academics decide that the teaching methodology of a subject like mathematics has to change, those companies reap a windfall.  Likewise when politicians decide that a subject like history needs to be presented with a different slant, e.g., don’t love your country, hate it, because what happened 200 years ago is YOUR fault.  Technology companies have latched on to the “spend-spend-spend” profiteering of textbook publishers.  The kids must have absolutely the latest technology.  Does anyone care what it’s being used for (or isn’t)?  Do local school administrators even know what the latest technology is or are they buying into to sales pitches?  Since the Feds began their takeover of public education in the 1970’s the US has spent over one trillion dollars on education but it’s nowhere near number one in achievement internationally.

There are signs that the winds are shifting.  President Trump selected a businessperson for Secretary of Education.  In the state of New Hampshire, the Republican governor selected a businessperson for Education Commissioner.  Business people know that money is neither free nor unlimited.  They understand “return on investment”.  They know, as academics should, that one size does not fit all, so they’re more supportive of alternatives to public schools like charter schools, magnet school, private schools, and home schooling.  Common Core is a win for liberal politicians who seek to indoctrinate children with “common values” but a loss for states, parents, taxpayers,  and the kids.

 

But… sometimes the winds shift the other way too.  New York state was praised for requiring a literacy test for teaching candidates.  After all, literacy is the foundation of learning.  Well, the liberals are considering abolishing the test because minorities have more difficulty in passing it. One candidate complained about the test being given on a computer.  What does that person expect to see in a modern classroom?  Once again we see the best interests of the students being sacrificed on the altar of political correctness.

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Where’s the North Pole?

M1: “Ummm… where’s the North Pole?”

M2: “I dunno… up north I guess.”

M1: “where’s north?”

M2: “I dunno… but someone does… check Wiki.”

 

Would anyone like to draw a cartoon to go with that hypothetical exchange?  It might be funny if it didn’t reflect a truth.

A recent survey by a fellow at the Carsey School of Public Policy at UNH regarding attitudes towards climate change and science itself revealed that less than one in five Americans know that thousands of their fellow citizens live and work above the Arctic Circle (where’s Alaska?) and that less than half know where the North and South Poles are located.  Although this survey was looking at the attitudes of  different political supporters, it, along with previous studies regarding educational attainment and international testing, deliver a scathing indictment of the public school system.  The most expensive public school system in the world isn’t educating its students for that real world!  If people don’t know where Alaska or the Poles are, it’s not because of their political views, it’s because they never learned geography (even of their own nation).  If people don’t know how our government is supposed to work it’s because they never learned civics.  If, as business leaders have said, young employees can’t write a coherent sentence, it’s because they never learned English grammar.  Likewise for science, mathematics, history, and any other subject.

Sadly, liberals who demand “one-size-fits-all” Common Core schools while ignoring successful alternatives like charter and magnet schools, are putting politics ahead of the children.  If they think  that kids need to spend more time “feeling good”, or feeling guilty for the actions of people 200 years ago, or questioning their gender, they’re only contributing to the decline in learning.  Indoctrination isn’t education.

The first step in reversing this downward trend is accountability.  Start by ending tenure, a luxury that other professions don’t enjoy.  Taxpayers need to be asking what they’re paying for, e.g.,  will a shiny new school building really mean a better education or is it just a better resume for the mayor?  Parents need to demand accountability, but so do teachers.  It’s up to the parents to see that homework is done, to attend scheduled meetings, and to teach their children respect for others.  The more we expect the schools to do the jobs of parents the less time the schools will have to do their own job: educating.

The second step is to get Federal government control out of education.  Over fifty years of “Fed Ed” and a trillion dollars later we haven’t gained that much.  Return control of the schools to the states, hand them a copy of my “Mission Statement for Schools”, and tell them to shape up.  If the parents care and the states want to compete economically and attract business, they’ll deliver.

The third step is to “put America first” so that business can thrive.  Make sure that trade agreements guarantee fair trade, not just “free trade”.  Put citizens first by limiting immigration to what the economy can absorb without reducing wages or seeing US workers replaced by H1B visa holders.  Reform our tax code and stop rewarding companies that move operations overseas.  We don’t have to be isolationist, just sovereign.  The future of our nation depends on it.

Hillary Tech: US STEM Students Don’t Matter

In her technology agenda (which you can read on her own web site) Hillary Clinton gives the nation’s technology moguls, hedge funds, and teacher’s unions everything they could want: billions of dollars for technology research, internet expansion, and computer science education.  Then she gives US graduate students in STEM subjects a big slap in the face.  She wants to give green cards to foreign STEM graduate students along with their diplomas.  That’s right, green cards!  These aren’t the non-immigrant H1B work visas that allow a foreign worker to work for one company; these cards grant permanent resident status with a path to citizenship.

So, how does this hurt US graduate students?  A permanent resident can apply for any job with any company, anywhere, any time.  That puts foreign graduates in direct competition for the best jobs with US graduates, and once in the job line they’ll probably get favorable treatment.  This competition is globalism at it’s worst.  It’s inherently unfair, one reason being that there’s no reciprocity with other countries.  A US student couldn’t get an MS in Computer Science in Canada, for example, and expect to be granted automatic residency.  The result will be that US students, already burdened with the heaviest debt, will be relegated to the lower paying, less challenging jobs.

How can anyone who wants to be president of the US suggest establishing a completely open global job market in the US?  Globalists like Soros must be cheering.  Hillary shouldn’t be elected, and if you’re a STEM student or have students in college you now have a good reason to not vote for her.  She’s working for Wall Street, not for you, regardless of what her signs say.

There is an alternative: the H1B visa program.  While I’m opposed to employers using the H1B visa system to replace experienced US professionals I recognize that this program has a legitimate purpose in allowing employers to fill necessary jobs that are unfilled by US citizens.  If the H1B visa regulations were strengthened to protect US citizens as I suggested in “Does STEM Matter Any More” we could balance the needs of technology employers with the right of US STEM graduates to be at the front of the employment lines.

 

A vote for Hillary is a vote against US students.

Does STEM Matter Any More?

As our progressive government and it’s subservient public school system try to steer students towards college degrees in STEM subjects the Democrats are simultaneously devaluing those degrees.  Did you see the article about STEM graduates working in Wal-Mart to pay off their huge student loans?  Want to know how this administration is undermining US citizens?  The answer is H1B visas.  Conceptually companies can only request H1B workers to do jobs for which no citizen is qualified.  Some companies are using foreign contractors to bypass the intent of the visa program.  Most recently, April 24th was the last work day for IT workers at Abbott Labs as they were replaced by contract workers, some of whom are here on H1B visas.  In some cases US workers have had to agree to train their foreign replacements and not sue the company in order to get their severance packages.  Talk about adding insult to injury.  Some companies just go the direct route.  Tech giant Intel has announced a 12,000 person layoff at the same time it has requested over 14,000 H1B visas.  Could that be a coincidence?  The whole H1B visa scam began in Silicon Valley, where cheaper foreign workers replaced US workers who were conveniently labeled “obsolete”.

So why is this happening?  One is the progressives’ obsession with globalization.  US workers must compete, even if unfairly, for US jobs.  India has an education industry created solely to teach students computer programming and minimal English so they can come to the US.  This is what I described in “Undocumented Foreign Aid”, i.e., the money these high paid workers send overseas.  Another is simply the ignorance of the public that’s more concerned with the latest reality TV show than their children’s’ futures. There’s even a bit of UN Agenda 21 as this is de facto wealth redistribution.

To protect US workers I propose the following modifications to the H1B visa program:

  1. No employer shall terminate or coerce a US employee into leaving in order to replace that worker with a foreign worker, either directly or through the use of a contractor.  If an employee is terminated the position must be filled by a US worker or left open for one year.  The position cannot be eliminated and recreated with a different title to bypass this rule
  2. No employer can require a terminated employee to sign any agreement that would protect the employer from a lawsuit if the ex-employee learned that the position had been filled by a foreign worker within one year.
  3. No terminated employee (unless terminated for cause such as theft) shall be denied any promised severance package for any reason whatsoever.

I have also proposed inversely indexing the H1B visa quota to STEM unemployment and raising the cost of H1B visa holders to US employers.

Next time President Obama says “every child should learn to code” ask him “why?”.

Update:  Billionaire Zuckerberg wants even more H1B visas to replace US workers and foreign companies taking US jobs.  He’s starting with $24 million to help train Africans in computer programming.  Since he can thank the US for being so rich why doesn’t he fund retraining for US IT workers who have been displaced by foreign workers?  Since they already know computers they shouldn’t have any problem learning the latest coding techniques, and they actually speak English.

Update 2:  Hillary Clinton’s “Tech Agenda”, her plan for US technology should she win the 2016 election, would be to “staple” green cards (permanent residency) to diplomas of foreign STEM students.  More foreigners in Silicon Valley, more citizens flipping burgers.

Repeal the Bill of Rights?

In “The Freedom Triangle” I explained how freedom is defined by three components: democracy, rights, and responsibilities.  Our basic inalienable rights are found in the first ten amendments to the Constitution, commonly known as the Bill of Rights.  Every one of them is important.  Every one was included because the authors of the Constitution, in their wisdom, had seen how authoritarian governments had abused their subjects and sought to protect us.  In fact the Constitution doesn’t talk about “subjects”, it talks about “We the People”.

Now the Constitution can be changed by the deliberately cumbersome process of amendment.  It’s long and tedious and the outcome is uncertain, but in this case that’s a protection, not an inefficiency.  Democrats, socialists, and other progressives, however, have found ways to weaken our rights by DE FACTO means.  That term simply means “that’s how it is”.  If you don’t like a law but can’t easily change it, find ways to circumvent it.  These tactics might be unofficial, like intimidation, or official, through restrictions or taxation.   In this article I’ll look at how several amendments are being attacked.

First Amendment:

Intimidation (aka Bullying):  At this time intimidation is the primary weapon against free speech.  It began with political correctness, a crybaby concept that has grown from a minor nuisance into a state religion.  We see intimidation on college campuses where students complain about “micro-aggression”, demand “safe spaces”, and are even told to call police if they hear something “offensive”.  Now that’s intimidation.  On a larger scale, political correctness stifles communication to a point where serious issues can’t even be discussed.

Intimidation also threatens religious freedom by erasing religious equality.  When Christian churches remove exterior crosses so they don’t “offend” Muslim immigrants they’re not accommodating newcomers, they’re surrendering their right to exist as a public entity; doing exactly what is required in Muslim countries.  From a Christian point of view they’re denying Christ just as Peter did.  When a restaurant owner is bullied into removing a sign advertising bacon for breakfast his free speech is suspended.  Jews don’t eat pork either but they’ve never tried to impose their dietary rules on others.

Legal Action:  Can the USA have laws against free speech beyond the “don’t yell fire in a theater if there isn’t one” and “don’t threaten violence”?  Maybe, because it’s happening in European countries that guarantee free speech.  In Germany a comedian has been arrested for insulting the president of Turkey, and In Sweden people can be arrested for ethnic slurs.  Some in the US are saying that “climate change deniers” should be arrested and oil companies should be sued because they “knew” their products would cause climate change.

Second Amendment:

Propaganda:   No amendment is under heavier public attack than this amendment, even though self defense it a fundamental human right.  It’s in common law because historically only the un-free (prisoners, serfs, slaves) were denied the right to protect themselves and their families.  We hear anti-gun propaganda everywhere, much of it funded by billionaires who are surrounded by armed bodyguards.  Their message: “be rich or be dead”.  They blame the NRA for Chicago violence, not the gang members doing the shooting.  They make their case with bogus logic that anyone who has learned how to think can spot as invalid.  Any criminal act is the act of a person, not an object.

Legal Action:  In addition to funding propaganda campaigns, billionaire Mike Bloomberg spends millions to buy local elections for anti-gun candidates who will then enact restrictive laws.  The result is a confusing patchwork system of laws that turn honest people into criminals while doing nothing to stop crime.  Liberal San Francisco’s laws are so tough that the last legal gun shop had to close, yet they did nothing to stop an illegal immigrant with a stolen gun from murdering an innocent young woman.  Chicago’s tough gun laws can’t stop the endless gang wars that have made it the murder capital of the US. The latest effort to drive gun makers out of business is to attempt to sue them for gun violence.  No company has ever been held liable for criminal use of their products because the company has no control over the consumer.

Taxation:   Everyone has heard Chief Justice Marshall’s statement that “The power to tax is the power to destroy” and liberals know punitive taxes can be used to deny “little people” their rights while preserving “billionaire rights”.  Seattle has a $25 tax on guns, a US territory has a $1000 tax per gun, and Hillary wants a 25% tax on guns (all for more money to squander).  What part of “right” don’t they understand?

Health care:  President Obama and his British-born Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy want to draft doctors into their war on legal gun ownership.  They have decreed that “gun violence” is a public health problem (but gang violence isn’t) so doctors should question patients about gun ownership, presumably to then evaluate their mental fitness to own a firearm while simultaneously creating a national gun registry in those digitized medical records.  Since doctors don’t get “gun violence” training (they don’t get knife or fist violence training either) they’ll be fed the far left agenda and sent out on a mission to declare as many people “mentally unfit” as possible (it’s already happening at the VA).  That won’t work on doctors who are also hunters but it will on many.  The answer is “no”.

Intimidation:  I discuss the DOJ’s “Operation Choke Point” under the Fifth Amendment.

SCOTUS:  In the case “D.C. vs. Heller” the Supreme Court upheld the right of honest people to own a firearm for self defense.  Progressives would love to get this ruling overturned.  That would effectively repeal the Second Amendment.

Fourth and Fifth Amendments:

Legal Action:  The fourth Amendment protects private property from unreasonable search and seizure without due process.  The fifth Amendment protects individuals from being deprived of “life, liberty, and property” without due process.  Government departments are using often dubious tactics to deprive people of their property without adjudication.  Here are two of them.

The IRS can seize bank assets of individuals or businesses if they suspect small deposits are being “structured” to avoid reporting requirements of amounts in excess of $10,000.  They don’t need any evidence of criminal activity, indictment, trial, or conviction to proceed.  Victims are often small businesses that deposit money regularly just to avoid being a robbery target.  Even innocent people must file an expensive lawsuit to get their money released.

Police can seize property under “civil asset forfeiture” if they suspect criminal activity, and that includes “untainted” assets, i.e., those not associated with the suspected activity.  Again the word is “suspected”; no indictment, trial, or conviction required.  Asset seizure can make it difficult for an accused person to hire attorneys and prepare a defense; a right guaranteed by  the Fifth Amendment.

Eminent Domain:  Eminent domain was included in the Constitution to allow governments at all levels to take private land, with compensation, for public projects that would benefit the community.  The intent was to support construction of roads, bridges, schools, and other public facilities.  That concept has unfortunately been expanded to allow taking of private property for private developments under the guise that they will expand the local tax base.  This “public good ” is nothing but a gift for wealthy developers at the expense of the people.

Intimidation:  The DOJ has initiated a process of intimidation not supported by any law called “Choke Point” to cut off “high risk” businesses from having bank accounts and obtaining credit.  Basically banks are threatened with legal action so they cancel the accounts of many honest businesses that pay taxes and wages.,  High risk businesses include firearms dealers, short term lenders, used car dealers, and adult entertainment.  So, what constitutes “high risk” is determined by politically motivated bureaucrats, not the law.  Congress has been urged to outlaw this practice but liberals support it because it furthers their agenda of control of the people.

Ninth Amendment:

Legal Action:  This amendment protects “unenumerated rights” of the people, i.e., those not specifically guaranteed by the other nine amendments in the Bill of Rights.  The most important right that has been asserted under this amendment is the right of privacy.  As the Federal government demands more an more tracking of peoples’ lives privacy is being lost, often in the name of the “common good”.  That is collectivism, the antithesis of what the Constitution stands for.  To make the situation even worse, neither the government nor various private data collection agencies can adequately secure their data against hacking or insider misuse.

Tenth Amendment:

Congress:  This amendment says that all responsibilities not specifically assigned to the Federal government by the Constitution remain with the states or the people.  Congress has been more than happy to de facto repeal this amendment with “one-size-fits-all” programs.  Nothing in the Constitution allows the Federal government to control public schools yet Congress created the Department of Education and has given it unlimited power over the states and parents.  This has allowed billionaire Bill Gates to fund development of Common Core, his vision of an ideal system, and coax the government to enforce it.  Nothing in the Constitution allows the Federal government to use the IRS to enforce health insurance yet it approved the ACA.  All the promises associated with this program were lies: costs will go down, you can keep your doctor, etc.  Even the insurers are losing money on this one.  Rising health care costs are a problem but the ACA does nothing to solve it.

Intimidation:  The Department of Education uses threats of withholding education money from school districts that refuse to comply with it’s directives.  Simply put, it uses our tax dollars against us.

So, that’s the picture, and it isn’t a good one if you value freedom because without rights you are not free.  Can the Bill of Rights be saved?  Yes, but time is running out.  The 2016 elections will pretty much determine whether your children will stand in freedom or kneel in servitude.

 

If you like your rights you can keep them… NOT.

Oh No, I’m Marginalized!

What happened to the days when people went to college to acquire an education and hopefully prepare for a good job?  Now we have campus clowns who are complaining about being “marginalized”.  They want safe spaces, segregated seating, faculty changes, and even free money.  They want buildings renamed and statues torn down to erase all traces of history that “offends” them.  Isn’t ISIS doing that too?

These crybabies don’t get it.  The fact that they’re in college at all means they’re privileged, not marginalized.  There are plenty of capable young people in this country who would love to be in their seats, and would probably take advantage of the opportunity instead of disrupting the campus.

So, crybabies, let’s look at who’s really marginalized.

The thousands of veterans who died waiting for medical care from the dysfunctional VA certainly were marginalized.  So are the thousands of homeless veterans and those still waiting to see a doctor.  Every day 22 heroes who served their nation honorably commit suicide because our government has marginalized them.

Things get worse outside our borders.  Around the world millions of people suffer from oppression, starvation, and illness.  Are they marginalized?

Slavery is still practiced in some parts of the world.  Would you call people in chains marginalized?

Around the world millions of young girls are denied even a basic education and future opportunities because of their gender.  Would you call these girls marginalized?

In India remnants of the caste system still isolate people and sometimes lead to violence.  Are the lower castes marginalized?

No kiddies, you’re not marginalized; you’re spoiled brats; pawns of a president who has divided the nation; and products of a public school system that creates an illusion that the world is “fair” by awarding everyone for showing up, so here’s a reality check:

No one “owes” you anything.  You already have more opportunity than most of your peers.  If you don’t take advantage of it you have no one to blame but yourselves.

You may “owe” if your actions incur costs to the school or it’s students.  If you really believe in your agenda, take responsibility for it’s consequences.

Your right to whine doesn’t suspend the right of serious students to get the education they’re paying for.

If people ignore you it’s because you’re experiencing equality.  As I said in a previous article, the US will have achieved equality when no one talks about it any more.  Special treatment isn’t equality.

College isn’t a prison and no one is forcing you to be there.  If you hate it that much you’re free to leave.  Maybe you should.

A Common Core Math Lesson: Right Is Wrong

A third grade student was asked to solve the multiplication problem 5×3 by repeated addition. The student responded with 5+5+5=15 and was told that’s wrong. It was supposed to be 3+3+3+3+3=15.
Now Common Core advocates claim that it’s math is cumbersome in order to teach basic math principles. The fact that AxB=BxA is a basic principle called the commutative property. So, what’s really going on?
What’s going on is teaching obedience to authority. It’s “my way or the highway”. It’s “you’re wrong because I say so”. It’s what political correctness demonstrates every day: that speaking the truth is wrong if anyone is “offended” enough to protest. It’s better to deny the truth than stray from the party line.
As I mentioned in “Common Core: Teach the Test!” this is the system that J. S. Mill warned against in 1859; a system to turn out obedient workers for the state. It’s also being used to undermine our cultural heritage.
Since the Federal government got involved in education costs have skyrocketed while achievement has not, and Common Core represents the final Federal takeover of public schools. Their next step will be to use money to gain control of public colleges and impose “Common Core 2.0” on them.
There is only one solution. Abolish the unconstitutional Department of Education, move their fund distribution function to Health and Human Services, give the schools a simple mandate like my “Mission Statement for Schools”, and return control to the states, the cities, and the parents.

Competition breeds excellence, control breeds mediocrity.