Twitter Updates

What People Say:
"I never thought I'd read the phrase Crazy Politico's Rantings in the NYT. I'll bet they never thought they'd print anything like that phrase either." TLB

Blogroll Me!

My Blog Rolls

American Flag Bloggers

American Flags

Thursday, July 12, 2007

No Merits Here

Ruth Marcus has an interesting editoral in yesterday's Washington Post concerning the NEA Convention and the candidates who spoke there, and two words that made the room go silent. Merit Pay.

Barack Obama had the audacity to use them during a Q&A session, and was booed. That really isn't unexpected, the NEA Convention isn't really a "teachers convention" it's a union gathering, and unlike teachers, the folks who run their unions (actually any unions) don't like the idea of merit pay.

Merit pay, you see, allows someone to break out from the pack, and unions don't like that. Seniority, and maybe education credits (in the teachers unions) are what they think should get someone ahead, the former more than the latter. Having someone singled out as "better" than others doesn't work in the union mold, since it's basically socialism with great fringe benefits.

Marcus makes good points about No Child Left Behind, like the lack of funding for parts of it; and the definite increased in accountability that's been seen from it. She also points out the hypocrisy of Obama and other candidates as they court the support, and money, from the teachers unions. Only a few years ago Obama blasted Democrats that wanted the whole program scrapped, but now supports that basic position, at least in front of the NEA.

Marcus also assembled an excellent reference of groups working on fixing both NCLB and the education system overall, many of them left leaning groups that aren't towing the NEA line of more money, no accountability. She suggests that the Democratic candidates read up on those proposals and get the stomach to offend the NEA by using some of the things other groups have proposed. But, she points out, this crop of Democrats is the same as the groups before:
But so far, anyway, the Democrats who would be president are happy to propose more spending on education but are reluctant to impose any demands in return -- in other words, they are happy to sound like the same old Democratic Party, permissive and beholden.

She points out that "teachers are an important Democratic constituency" but I think the truth is that teachers money is an important democratic funding source. The union support and it's associated bankroll is their real constituency.

Rank and file teachers, I'd be willing to bet, wouldn't have a problem with a merit pay system, or the idea of weeding out poor performers. There would be the bottom 10% of them that would complain, because they know they are the weeds. But the vast majority of teachers would probably welcome the idea of some competition for raises based on something other than turning gray haired.

The last paragraph is true, but slightly off base:
Yes, teachers are an important Democratic constituency, but aren't parents
Democratic voters, too -- parents who might welcome a message about accountability and expectations? If, that is, one of the candidates were willing
to deliver it.

Yes, parents are Democratic voters, but my personal experience is that very few of them are involved enough in their kids education, or fighting to reform it, to be that huge a constituency. Many of them would like to hear that message, so long as it doesn't include another missing piece of our education system, parental involvement.

Marcus' missing point is that education reform can't happen just from teachers, or politicians. Real reform of the education system has to come from the users of the system getting disgusted with the amount of money we spend on education, and results we get from it. Until the people who send their kids to the schools say "Enough!" and demand change, we'll have the NEA setting policy for education, which is more money, even though that method of fixing education has failed miserably.

Technorati tags: Education, NEA, Teachers, Parents, Reform

Labels: , , , ,

Read The Full Post!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Press One For English

The link to this was sent to me by my Mom, but the message should be for Congress, when you try again on immigration, please keep this song in mind.

Technorati Tags: Immigration, Language, English, Rivoli Revue
Read The Full Post!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Kudo's To Cohen

Kudo's go out today to Richard Cohen of the Washington Post, for his column "A Local Lesson That Democrats Fail".

His column concerns the debate the Democrats held in Washington DC last week, and their concern for education. Specifically he jabbed John Edwards for his comments on two school systems; one for the rich and one for the poor; reminding him that DC spends over $13,000 per year per student, who are largely poor.

For the third highest amount of money spent per student, one would think you'd get performance, since the vast majority of Democrats claim that more money is the solution. The problem is for that 13 grand a child you get one of the lowest performing school systems in the country, which leads the country only in administrative costs.

Cohen lays the blame for the "more money" mentality squarely where it belongs:
The litany of more and more when it comes to money often has little to do with what, in the military, are called facts on the ground: kids and parents. It does have a lot to do with teachers unions, which are strong supporters of the Democratic Party.

He even praises Barack Obama for vocalizing the fact, that too many who want more money ignore, parental involvement is as important as more money in getting students to achieve. I'll give Obama kudo's on that one too, it's something I've been screaming since I was a PTA President a dozen years ago; to the six parents who would show up for the meetings.

Our local high school system is a prime example, with an average teacher salary of about $65,000 and with nearly three times as many people in the school making over $90k per year as under $40K we should probably have some pretty good results. Instead, we have a school where students are generally in the bottom quartile of all test scorers in the state, and has been on the State "schools for improvement list" for the last 3 years.

Cohen lays it out correctly in his last paragrah:
Insofar as the Democratic presidential candidates talked about public school education and insofar as they mentioned the Supreme Court decision, they
largely mouthed Democratic orthodoxy. It must have sounded reassuring to
big-city education unions and politicians with a gift for exacerbating racial paranoia. But to the kid in the classroom, to a parent bucking the bureaucracy,
the rhetoric must have sounded as unreal as the hot air that comes from Baghdad's Green Zone -- a "surge" of money instead of men or, as we used to say,
throwing good money after bad.

The question is will any of the Democrats who read his column actually get it, and make a play for real education reform, or will they continue to do whatever the NEA tells them is the right thing to keep the money flowing? As he points out, more money hasn't fixed the DC schools, maybe a different idea is in order.

(If you live in Illinois the Champion Foundation and Chicago Sun Times make it easy to figure out what you are spending on education, and what you are getting)

Techorati Tags: Richard Cohen, Schools, Democrats, Education Reform, NEA, PTA, Zion Benton
Read The Full Post!

Monday, July 02, 2007

The Great Commutator

Ronald Reagan was the Great Communicator, George Bush will be known as the Great Commutator after commuting Lewis "Scooter" Libby's prison term today.

John Conyers (D-Mi) immediately immediately blasted the President saying:
"until now, it appeared that the President merely turned a blind eye to a high ranking administration official leaking classified information. The President's action today makes it clear that he condones such activity. This decision is inconsistent with the rule of law and sends a horrible signal to the American people and our intelligence operatives who place their lives at risk everyday."

I hate to correct John, but Libby wasn't convicted of any such thing. In fact, if Johnny would check the record, Richard Armitage confessed to being the person who informed media folks of Plame's identity, before Libby ever testified at the Grand Jury.

Also, if Mr. Conyers would like to check, Libby is still a convincted felon, still on probation, and still liable for a $250,000 fine, pending appeal. Hardly a slap on the wrist for a perjury conviction.

Contrast that to Carlos Vignali, convicted of conspiracy to sell cocaine and sentenced to 15 years in federal prison, he's on the street thanks to the last President, who commuted his sentence to "time served".

Or Marc Rich, convicted of 51 counts of tax evasion, fraud, and bypassing an embargo with Iran, who never turned himself over to authorities, in fact he fled the country. He's now a free man thanks to his full and unconditional pardon by the last president.

Oddly, Rich's wife and Vignali's father are both huge donors to the Democratic Party.

No, Bush did the right thing by letting the conviction stand, and commuting the jail time for Libby. In a less politically charged atmosphere probably would never have even seen the Grand Jury after Armitage's confession to Patrick Fitzgerald, but Fitzgerald knew someone had to get convicted of something in "Plamegate" to shut up Conyers and his friends.

Technorati Tags: Scooter Libby, George Bush, Valerie Plame, Plamegate, Richard Armitage, John Conyers, Marc Rich, Bill Clinton
Read The Full Post!