"Issues and Action in Education"
Thursday November 29, 2007
"Issues and Action in Education" is an e-letter produced by EdWatch, a nonprofit organization.
Fuzzy Math Faces RevoltIntegrated Math, Everyday Math
Fuzzy math has run into a bit of a buzz saw recently. When the Texas State Board of Education abandoned it this month, new controversy erupted across America. Texas curriculum sets the framework for the rest of the country.
Fuzzy math’s names are Everyday Math, Connected Math, Integrated Math, Math Expressions, Constructivist Math, NCTM Math, Standards-based Math, Chicago Math, and Investigations, to name a few. Fuzzy math means students won’t master math: addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Remind me-why are we sending them to school?
Fuzzy math teaches students to “appreciate” math, but they can’t do it. They are to come up with their own ideas about how to compute, lest they come to think there’s a single most efficient way. Lessons about racism, sexism, global warming and American imperialism are melded ("integrated") into math classes. One program calls itself “radical math” to describe its political math agenda. (See "If we really hope to improve mathematics education.")
Hear familiar ideas here? What works, what’s true, what is tested isn’t the point in education anymore, whether math, history, or literature. That’s outdated, because it implies objective knowledge larger than ourselves.
Critics dub fuzzy math an “epidemic.” If so, it’s been festering for at least twenty years. “New math” goes back farther yet, but the so-called “world class” national math standards embedded fuzzy math into the classrooms by nursing it along with generous amounts of our tax dollars beginning in the early 90’s. Now Fuzzy Math is an open, oozing canker. Armies of graduates are unprepared for college math, or for life, for that matter. (See "AN OPEN LETTER TO UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF EDUCATION, RICHARD RILEY")
Something is stinky with education “experts” and in the halls of education colleges. The sooner the public realizes that the “professionals” have bought nutty fantasy-land drivel and are undermining our children with it, the sooner we can rise to the challenge of restoring knowledge to the classroom.
Hurray for the Texas Board of Education.
Send them a thank-you.
The New York SunTexas Challenges City on Math
State Abandons the Fuzzy CurriculumBy Elizabeth GreenNovember 20, 2007 The state of Texas has dropped a math curriculum that is mandated for use in New York City schools, saying it was leaving public school graduates unprepared for college. The curriculum, called Everyday Mathematics, became the standard for elementary students in New York City when Mayor Bloomberg took control of the public schools in 2003.About three million students across the country now use the program, including students in 28 Texas school districts, and industry estimates show it holds the greatest market share of any lower-grade math textbook, nearly 20%. But Texas officials said districts from Dallas to El Paso will likely be forced to drop it altogether after the Lone Star State's Board of Education voted to stop financing the third-grade textbook, which failed to teach students even basic multiplication tables, a majority of members charged. One board member, Terri Leo, who is also a Texas public school teacher, called the textbook "the very worst book that we had submitted." This year, the board of education received 163 textbooks for consideration. Read rest of the article here...
National Review Online, 11.28.07
Superbug in the ClassroomA mathematical epidemic.By Michelle MalkinDo you know what math curriculum your child is being taught? Are you worried that your third-grader hasn’t learned simple multiplication yet? Have you been befuddled by educational jargon such as “spiraling,” which is used to explain why your kid keeps bringing home the same insipid busywork of cutting, gluing and drawing? And are you alarmed by teachers who emphasize “self-confidence” over proficiency while their students fall further and further behind? Join the club.Read rest of article here...
Letter to New York Sun
"Kudos for covering the important story of the Texas Board of Education rejecting Everyday Math, Grade 3 for its schools [Front Page, "Texas Challenges City on Math," November 20, 2007]. I have lived through Everyday Math with three children who are now in high school and beyond. In my community, students flock in huge numbers to Kumon Math or other tutoring services because of the deficiencies in Everyday Math. Everyday Math and other Reform Math or Standards Based Math curricula have done a woeful job of preparing students with a sound math education. Students who are taught by these curricula are typically calculator-dependent, and unable to perform basic math functions because they are de-emphasized. Instead greater emphasis is placed on making math fun and expecting the students to discover how to solve math problems on their own. This topic needs more exposure across the country if we are to produce well-educated students capable of competing in our global world. Thanks for drawing attention to it. MARGUERITE BLISS, St. Louis, Mo.
"The difference between the widely used math books and Singapore Math illustrates the problem. Look at the difference in the amount of material in the two. Singapore is step-by-step and to the point." http://www.hoover.org/publications/ednext/3853357.html
Dr. J. E. Stone, educational psychologist, professor in the College of Education at East Tennessee State University, and head of the Education Consumers Clearing House.
"For years educational experts have held that the only good way to engage students in schoolwork is by making it exciting, engaging, and fun. Students have been expected to study and learn but only if the subject wasn't boring. The public has been told that school facilities must be attractive, books colorful, and, above all, studies must be "intrinsically" interesting. Teachers have been expected to be stimulating but not obtrusive, challenging but not demanding of overexertion. They have been told that if their teaching is truly enthusiastic, innovative, and creative, students will learn spontaneously, if not effortlessly. "Laurence Steinberg's Beyond the Classroom, Why School Reform Has Failed and What Parents Need to Do (Simon & Schuster, 1996) takes a decidedly different view of why successful students pay attention, complete their assignments, and succeed. Distilling the results of studies carried out over ten years, Steinberg concludes that high-achieving students treat their studies as work, not fun and games. Although the central point of Steinberg's research pertains to parent and peer influences, his broader message is that successful students approach school as an important opportunity and they work hard to make the most of it. A growing number of experts agree with his observation." Read rest of the article here...
From our mailbox:
"Everyday Math was used in the our school district. My son brought home a multiplication worksheet on estimating. He had "estimated" that 9 x 9 = 81, and the teacher marked it wrong. I met with her to defend my child's answer. The teacher opened her book and read to me that the purpose of the exercise was not to get the right answer, but was to teach the kids to estimate. The correct answer was 100: kids were to round each 9 up to a 10. (The teacher did not seem to know that 81 was the product, as her answer book did not state the same.) Not long ago, a clerk at Target, a produce of this school district, and likely a "beneficiary" of years of Everyday Math, could not figure out change for $17.23, when I gave her a $20 bill, and then pulled a quarter out of my pocket after she had pressed the "amount tendered button." Even scarier, she called the manager, who could not calculate it in his head, got out a calculator, and still got it wrong the first time. I home school now.
For more detailed information about integrated math and why it is being implemented, see:
The book: AMERICA 'S SCHOOLS: The Battleground for Freedom.
The DVD, CD, or VHS: Integrated Math and the Math Wars
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Friday, November 30, 2007
November 28, 2007, 0:00 a.m.
Superbug in the Classroom
A mathematical epidemic.
By Michelle Malkin
Do you know what math curriculum your child is being taught? Are you worried that your third-grader hasn’t learned simple multiplication yet? Have you been befuddled by educational jargon such as “spiraling,” which is used to explain why your kid keeps bringing home the same insipid busywork of cutting, gluing and drawing? And are you alarmed by teachers who emphasize “self-confidence” over proficiency while their students fall further and further behind? Join the club.
Across the country, from New York City to Seattle, parents are wising up to math fads like Everyday Math. Sounds harmless enough, right? It’s cleverly marketed as a “University of Chicago” program. Impressive! Right? But then you start to sense something’s not adding up when your kid starts second grade and comes home with the same kindergarten-level addition and subtraction problems — for the second year in a row.
And then your child keeps telling you that the teacher isn’t really teaching anything, just handing out useless worksheets — some of which make no sense to parents with business degrees, medical degrees, and Ph.D.s specializing in econometric analysis. And then you notice that it’s the University of Chicago education department, not the mathematics department, that is behind this nonsense.
And then you Google Everyday Math and discover that countless moms and dads just like you — and a few brave teachers with their heads screwed on straight — have had similarly horrifying experiences. Like the Illinois mom who found these “math” problems in the fifth-grade Everyday Math textbook:
A. If math were a color, it would be —, because —.
B. If it were a food, it would be —, because —.
C. If it were weather, it would be —, because —.
And then you realize your child has become a victim of “Fuzzy Math,” the “New New Math,” the dumbed-down, politically correct, euphemism-filled edu-folly corrupting both public and private schools nationwide.
And then you feel like the subject of Edvard Munch’s The Scream as you take on the seemingly futile task of waking up other parents and fighting the edu-cracy to restore a rigorous curriculum in your child’s classroom. New York City teacher Matthew Clavel described his frustration with Everyday Math in a 2003 article for City Journal:
The curriculum’s failure was undeniable: Not one of my students knew his or her times tables, and few had mastered even the most basic operations; knowledge of multiplication and division was abysmal....what would you do, if you discovered that none of your fourth-graders could correctly tell you the answer to four times eight?
But don’t give up and don’t give in. While New York City remains wedded to Everyday Math (which became the mandated standard in 2003), the state of Texas just voted before Thanksgiving to drop the University of Chicago textbooks for third graders. School-board members lambasted the math program for failing to prepare students for college. It’s an important salvo in the math wars because Texas is one of the biggest markets for school textbooks. As Texas goes, so goes the nation.
Meanwhile, grassroots groups such as Mathematically Correct (mathematicallycorrect.com) and Where’s The Math? (wheresthemath.com) are alerting parents to how their children are being used as educational guinea pigs. And teachers and math professionals who haven’t drunk the p.c. Kool-Aid are exposing the ruse. Nick Diaz, a Maryland educator, wrote a letter to his local paper:
As a former math teacher in Frederick County Public Schools, I have a strong interest in the recent discussion of the problems with the math curriculum in our state and county. . . . The proponents of fuzzy math claim that the new approach provides a ‘deep conceptual understanding.’ Those words, however, hide the truth. Students today are not expected to master basic addition, subtraction and multiplication. These fundamental skills are necessary for a truly deep understanding of math, but fuzzy-math advocates are masters at using vocabulary that sounds good to parents, but means something different to educators.
Members of the West Puget Sound Chapter of the Washington Society of Professional Engineers also stepped forward in their community:
For 35 years, we have been subjected to a failed experiment, ‘new math.’ Mathematics depends on individual problem-solving ability to arrive at the correct answer. Math does not lend itself to ‘fuzzy’ answers. The solution is to recognize the failure of the Constructivist Curriculum as it relates to mathematics and science, eliminate it and return to the hard core basics using texts like the Singapore Math.
If Fuzzy Math were a color, it would be neon green like those Mr. Yuk labels warning children not to ingest poisonous substances. Do not swallow!
© 2007 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.
Olentangy Math: starring Ma and Pa Kettle
Ma and Pa Kettle star as administrators in Olentangy Math. Watch how Ma and Pa apply the concepts of Everyday Mathematics to solve simple math problems.
While parents and community members will laugh at this funny short, district administrators will copy Ma and Pa's algorithm to present at the next teacher in-service.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
That's the nickname of the Boston area, a nickname that appears to be applicable once more.
Massachusetts looks to be the forefront of another revolution: the revolution to end the income tax. Last week, the Patriots over at the Center for Small Government reported that 100,000 signatures were delivered for validation and certification. This is another step in the arduous process to gain ballot access. Should the issue pass, the income tax in Massachusetts is done ... stick a fork in it.
With the income tax gone, the benefits accrue (according to the Committee for Small Government):1. Reduction in taxes by $3,600 for over 3,000,000 Massachusetts workers. $3,600 average. Each worker. Not just once. Every year.
2. It will take $11 Billion out of the hands of Massachusetts Big Government – and put it back into the hands of the men and women who earned it. Not just once. Every year.
3. In productive, private hands this $11 Billion a year will create hundreds of thousands of new jobs in Massachusetts.
4. This will force the state legislature to streamline and cut the waste out of the Massachusetts state budget.
5. This will force the state legislature to get rid of the failed, flawed government programs that don't work – and often make things worse.
6. It'll make the state legislature accountable to Massachusetts workers and taxpayers – instead of the government employees, lobbyists, and special interests who profit from high government spending.
7. With less government and no income tax, Massachusetts will become a magnet to private, productive businesses and individuals. More good jobs and more good workers.
That's an issue worth voting for!
The New York Sun
Texas Challenges City on Math
State Abandons the Fuzzy Curriculum
By Elizabeth Green
Staff Reporter of the Sun
November 20, 2007
The state of Texas has dropped a math curriculum that is mandated for use in New York City schools, saying it was leaving public school graduates unprepared for college.
The curriculum, called Everyday Mathematics, became the standard for elementary students in New York City when Mayor Bloomberg took control of the public schools in 2003.
About three million students across the country now use the program, including students in 28 Texas school districts, and industry estimates show it holds the greatest market share of any lower-grade math textbook, nearly 20%. But Texas officials said districts from Dallas to El Paso will likely be forced to drop it altogether after the Lone Star State's Board of Education voted to stop financing the third-grade textbook, which failed to teach students even basic multiplication tables, a majority of members charged.
One board member, Terri Leo, who is also a Texas public school teacher, called the textbook "the very worst book that we had submitted." This year, the board of education received 163 textbooks for consideration.
The board chairman, Don McLeroy, said the vote was part of a larger effort to prepare more Texas students for college. "We're paying millions of dollars to the publishing industry," Mr. McLeroy said. "We might as well get something back."
[Continued from page 1 of 3]
The vote leaves some doors open for Everyday Math. As long as Texas districts use their own money, and none from the state, they can still purchase it, and they can still use state funds to purchase first, second, fourth, and fifth-grade Everyday Math textbooks. But state officials, including several who support Everyday Math, said they expect districts will drop it, since most use one program for all of the elementary grades and all prefer to finance their books using state funds.
A board member who voted against the ban, Mavis Knight, described what will happen as a "domino effect" across the state.
Some advocates said the effect could be even greater, reshuffling a standstill in a national fight known as the math wars. While supporters of Everyday Math applaud it and other so-called progressive programs for their emphasis on problem-solving and group work, opponents charge that the best way to teach math is still through rote memorization of facts, calling anything else "fuzzy math." A recent entry by the federal Department of Education into the debate cleared up little, judging Everyday Math more effective than some more traditional programs but calling its impact still just "potentially" positive.
Since Texas is one of the country's largest buyers of educational textbooks, the advocates said its decision could force textbook publishers and school districts to rethink their position in the battle.
"What happens in Texas has ramifications for the whole country," a longtime Texas activist for traditional curricula, Donna Garner, said. "It's a huge movement."
Texas officials said Everyday Math's publisher, McGraw Hill, began scrambling to keep its curriculum on the state's okay list the minute board members indicated they might vote it off. After concerns were first raised at a long meeting last Thursday, McGraw Hill officials arrived the next morning at 9 a.m. sharp with seven full sets of additions to the text, including new worksheets and teacher guides, state board members who attended the meeting said.
I think they were in a state of shock, like those of us who were on the non-prevailing side," Ms. Knight said. "I think they were truly mystified."
A spokeswoman for McGraw Hill, Mary Skafidas, called Everyday Math a "proven rigorous program," and pointed out that the publishing company also offers many alternative curricula districts could choose to buy instead.
New York City's Education Department also stood by the program. A spokeswoman, Maibe Gonzalez Fuentes, said the improvements for fourth-graders shown on a national math test last week testify to its success. "We continue to study developments in math education, both in this country and internationally, and we are convinced we are on the right track," she said.
But advocates who have ridiculed Everyday Math since the schools chancellor, Joel Klein, created a task force that eventually picked it said they hoped New York City could take a lesson from Texas.
"Our educators are making choices which ultimately have the consequence of barring a huge number of kids from high-paying jobs," a computer science professor at New York University, Alan Siegel, said. "It's that simple, and I applaud Texas for standing up to this."
Mr. Siegel, who has advised the city schools and a federal group on math, is one of several New York professors who have opposed Everyday Math, calling it poor preparation for the kinds of college courses they teach.
Not all New York City elementary schools follow the curriculum; some — including many schools in District 2 — have obtained waivers exempting them from the mandate to use it.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Don't forget those you will harm when fighting for a levy that is not needed. Edith is a real person living and working in the district, only her name was changed. The photo is, of course, not of her. Yet, there is a very good chance you exchange pleasantries with her on your shopping days.
Remember her as you fight for more tax dollars. Edith will have to work an additional 140 hours per year to pay for your tax increase, though, physically, she cannot.
Question those who quickly write-off her life and current circumstances. Ask them if it's all worth it? To take more tax dollars simply to placate a superintendent and his knee-jerk board. Is it worth it?
Take some time to read the district's Five-Year Forecast and most-recent audit, the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR). Best to tell the community the truth, don't you think? Your integrity is also on the line.
Forgotten at the Door
By Jim Fedako
Posted on 7/17/2007
[Subscribe or Tell Others]"There is, in fact, only one solution: the state, the government, the laws must not in any way concern themselves with schooling or education. Public funds must not be used for such purposes. The rearing and instruction of youth must be left entirely to parents and to private associations and institutions." – Ludwig von Mises
I met William Graham Sumner's Forgotten Man — actually forgotten woman in this instance — while shopping at a local supermarket a couple of months ago. With her eighty year-old legs steadily supporting stiff knees and tired feet, this woman is cheerful and ready to share a story or a laugh as she greets shoppers entering the store. This openness endears her to customers who know her by name and smile when they see her. Though her tales and goodhearted fun remain with shoppers for a long time afterwards, she is sadly forgotten by those who live to tax and spend.
There is theory, and then there is reality. To those who adhere to the Austrian School of economics, theory and reality are the same. Yet to many, the separation between theory and reality is the gulf that drowns in anonymity those such as this eighty-year-old woman.
You see, the forgetful ones — the officeholders, bureaucrats, and rent-seekers — have no concern for this woman. Sure, they pay lip service to their beloved concept of community, but they are only concerned with the community of tax recipients; the taxpayers be damned.
The Austrian School, on the other hand, recognizes individuals — not averages, aggregates, or some other convenient statistical or rhetorical tool — just the individual acting at the margin. In the Austrian School, there is no such notion as a typical community member. There are simply individuals going about their own business, utilizing means to satisfy personal ends, all within some arbitrary lines on a map: the collectivist's revered political boundaries.
The Austrians readily recognize our forgotten woman. She is not some faceless automaton, some Economic Woman. She is real, so real that we will give her a name: Edith.
Now, Edith truly lives at the margin. She buried her husband of forty-some years over a decade ago. Since that time, she has struggled. Money is tight and, despite what the Feds says, inflation is running high. However, the cost of consumer goods is only one of her worries. Edith also has to find the means to pay rising property taxes; taxes that are rising at a local rate of almost three times the reported consumer price index. So, she works.
Edith does not want much; she simply wants to live out her days in the house where she and her husband raised their family. Who could possibly desire to put this woman out of house and home? Well, the forgetful ones of course.
You see, in this instance, the forgetful ones want to spend more money on failed public education. There are the locally elected officials who cheer on the efforts of the bureaucrats — the school administrators who live to conceive of new ways to spend money on programs destined for failure. And then there are the hoards of rent-seekers who want others — such as their neighbors — to share the cost of personal expenses, all in the name of the public good.
The forgetful ones base their means on the theory of aggregates and averages. They note the reported average federal adjusted gross income in the area and claim that the community is wealthy. Therefore, they state, the typical resident can afford another $700 or $800 in property tax.
But the average homeowner is a nonexistent myth: a chimera. There is no average, or typical, resident. There are the forgetful ones, plus, among others, you, me, and our dear friend Edith. And, she is certainly not average. To those who know her, Edith is something more. Yet, she cannot afford an extra $100 per year, let alone another $700 or so.
The forgetful ones ignore her plight. To most of them, her suffering does not exist. To others, her situation is a problem that has to be rationalized away. Maybe — so the line of thought goes — Edith should move to another home in a more remote area, an area with lower taxes.
Certainly, it is sad that a long-term resident must leave, but the taxes are for the kids. And, with the kids being the next generation, some eggs have to be cracked.
Whether one chooses to ignore Edith outright, or to rationalize her away, the line of reasoning is the same: the collective decides who wins and who loses. Or, more aptly, who receives, and who pays. It's this line of reasoning that is just about the only thing taught in public schools: the hammer of government creates the community that the majority of voters desires.
Students learn that might makes rights. Well, of course, it's never taught in such harsh terms. Students learn that the community (through might) decides issues of property, liberty, and freedom. This, they learn, is the American ideal.
The schools, through their unionized workforce, teach that unrestrained democracy is wonderful. The ideals of our Founding Fathers are from a time and place that no longer exists. Students can, and should, dream of anything, and attempt to have government implement it by force. Whether it’s recycling, carbon offsets, or additional coerced funding for schools, it's the vote of the majority that makes any dream ethical.
So, the schools rally their constituents — their rent-seekers — in order to influence likely voters to support the new tax. And, the schools, again through their constituents, create the impression that those who do not support the waste that is public education are not true community members — that they do not care about kids.
But Edith does care about kids. She raised three of her own, and she now enjoys regular additions of grandchildren to her growing family. She simply wants to keep her house, which leaves poor Edith in quite a fix.
Not to worry, the occasional forgetful one will finally admit Edith's existence. He will recognize her by name and take on her cause. His solution: property tax relief for seniors. And, what a solution it is! Now we can have our public school cake and eat it too. And, we can eat it without remorse or regret.
Sounds reasonable, with the exception of that ever-so-annoying Austrian concept: the margin.
Property tax relief for Edith moves the burden of taxation to a smaller pool of homeowners. While Edith is no longer the one at the margin, now it is Henry deciding whether the new tax will drive him from house and home. Theory meets reality, and the margin exposes the lie that is the average.
OK, so what do we do? How do we solve this whole mess? How do we address education within the reality of the margin? The answer is quite simple: privatize education. Remove government from the minds of our youth. Recognize the wisdom of Mises and let parents — as consumers — decide what is best for their children. For some, religious schools, for others secular schools, and for many, such as myself, homeschooling.
In all cases, the market will generate systems of education that solve the wants of individuals. Allow theory and reality to come together so that Edith keeps her home, as does Henry, and we all get to keep more money in our wallets; money that will fund the education of the next generation.
Governments have always looked askance at private property. Governments are never liberal from inclination. It is in the nature of the men handling the apparatus of compulsion and coercion to overrate its power to work, and to strive at subduing all spheres of human life to its immediate influence. Etatism is the occupational disease of rulers, warriors, and civil servants. Governments become liberal only when forced to by the citizens. From time immemorial governments have been eager to interfere with the working of the market mechanism. Their endeavors have never attained the ends sought.
Friday, November 23, 2007
I am dedicating this wonderful piece of sarcasm from The People's Cube to Cordray and his ilk. For those who do not know, Paul Krugman is the economist qua useful idiot of the DC statist crowd.
This year's secular Thanksgiving prayer was written by the People's Economist Professor Kurgman, PhD,PhD,PhD
As much as I abhor Christianity, I occasionally attend progressive churches in my community - as long as the pastor expounds on socialism and its variants like environmental causes. Our local pastor, thank Lenin, rarely talks about anything else. He even asked me, a Marxist, to compose a prayer for this week's Thanksgiving sermon. Now, everybody knows that Thanksgiving observance does nothing more than perpetuate the Holocaust of the Native American. What positive meaning could be found in such a grotesquely shameful holiday? Well, my admirable laser-sharp mind of an economist with three PhDs immediately found a brilliant, socially significant answer.
~ Blessing of the Government Taxes
Let me, Dear God, shift the paradigm on this Thanksgiving and blissfully give thanks for the gift of government, and thank the government for the gift of taxes. Bless my taxes, O God! Give me peace of mind as I rejoice in filling out forms and returning money to its rightful owner, the government. Keep me joyous, I pray, as I write out those checks. Yea, Lord, we know that there is little reason to be joyous with this Administration's imperialism and impending rape of the Iranian peaceful energy program, but the thought of a new tax year still brings to us a swelling tear of joy. And whisper to me, Lord, all the good reasons that I send my money to my government every year.
Raise my awareness to the fact that I could not write this prayer, and would be a barely-functioning illiterate living in the gutter, if I had not received a free tax-subsidized education; my parents could not have afforded both my tuition and their own tax payments, so my tuition was supplied, at no expense to anyone, by the government. Remind me of how my mind has been so wondrously calibrated by our free public schools!
Gently show me that the Internet, through which I send this prayer to others, was created by committees of civil servants. Help me to recall that my freedom to pray as I wish was purchased with tax dollars that paid for dairy price supports. Quietly kiss me as you raise my awareness that the only deserving people, the most noble among us, are those who subsist on government programs -- paid for with our taxes. My Lord my God, fondle me as you energize me with the hopefulness of higher taxes that can pay for an even more effective Internal Revenue service, which in turn can collect even more taxes for an even more effective Internal Revenue Service, which will culminate in an ecstatic spiral of an all-encompassing tax-collecting mechanism that will be accountable to no one except to the spirit of economic justice.
Reveal to me, Lord, in my mind's eye, the public health workers, the regulators of the environment and of commerce, the employees of the Department of Energy, and the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Education, and the Administration for Children and Families, and the Minerals Management Service, and the Rural Business-Cooperative Service, and the Minority Business Development Agency , and the Japan-United States Friendship Commission , and the Government National Mortgage Association, and the Housing and Urban Development Department, and the Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements, and the Institute of Peace, and the Bureau of International Labor Affairs, and the Tennessee Valley Authority, and the Small Business Administration, and the Superfund Basic Research Program , and the President's Commission on Moon, Mars and Beyond, and the Office of Refugee Resettlement, and the Office of Thrift Supervision, and the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission , and the Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee , and the Susquehanna River Basin Commission, and the Stennis Center for Public Service, and the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation , and the Peace Corps, and the Office of Public and Indian Housing, and the President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency, and the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare, and the National Interagency Fire Center, and the Northwest Power Planning Council, and the Multifamily Housing Office , and the Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer, and especially the Internal Revenue Service, and all the other things that my taxes and your taxes make possible.
And please, Lord, remind my brothers and sisters that they should liquidate their savings accounts and mutual funds, bonds and CDs, so that they too can be forced to turn it over to the greatest bargain of all that is Social Security. Educate me, Dear One, of how difficult life was for the sick and elderly before they paid throughout their entire careers, with threat of imprisonment, 14% of their wages for the iron-clad guarantees of Social Security. Please, Lord, make everyone realize that there is no investment more secure, and none that gives such a generous return, as Social Security.
Tax the rich. Sicken the healthy. Scar the beautiful. Destroy the "successful". Drown the bankers. Blind the stock traders. Cripple the athletes and sever the hands of the musicians.
Take me out of my selfishness and give me a spirit of gratitude as I write those tax checks! Remind me of my own virtue as I inform the IRS of cheaters. Inspire me to see that my sacred duty is to serve those who are unable to provide "value" to others, or are unwilling to provide anything for themselves. And that my highest calling is to ensure that others return whatever they have to the Government that You have created.
O Dear One, there are so many ways I wish my taxes could be spent! I'm willing, O Lord, to pay even more in taxes if it would work for the common good: We need a strong government to take back from the rich few and generously give to the many! Lord my God, please put the brakes on commerce, remove all profits from the pigs who "produced" it, and turn it all over to those who deserve it. So, more than ever, dear God, give me the strength and the vision to rise up and press my government to unapologetically take back what is ours. My sacred duty as a spokesperson for the working class can only be fulfilled if we organize, advocate, protest, resist, agitate, and speak truth to power by writing tax checks. I ask for your guidance, God, as I join with others to change the priorities and values of our government, so that they reflect more of our collective will, and my struggle, as expressed through your will.
Lord, you have created all men and women as equals. Any disparity from your plan is an affront to decency. And so I pray, my Dear Lord, that you fulfill your vision for true equality, and remove all excess. In service to you, my Lord, we will not rest until everyone is truly equal. Tax the rich. Sicken the healthy. Scar the beautiful. Destroy the "successful". Drown the bankers. Blind the stock traders. Cripple the athletes and sever the hands of the musicians. Plant carnivorous bacteria in the brains of those who score high on racist "IQ" tests. Deliver wasting diseases to the strong. Starve and stone the executives and managers. Show no mercy to the blood-sucking merchants as they suffer merciless deaths in the searing flames of gargantuan infernos. Smash capitalism and deliver us, Dear One, to our deserved socialist paradise.
May your blessing rest on my Form 1040, dear Lord, and may my taxes well serve you and my fellow citizens! Amen.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
In her Thanksgiving Day column, "Simple gratitude is best perspective to view this nation on Thanksgiving," Froma Harrop missed the true message of the Pilgrims.Or, she chose to ignore the message for obvious reasons. The message? That the concept of common ownership -- and, hence, equalized wealth -- leads to destruction.
The Pilgrims started their colony based on the concept of common ownership but abandoned that failed ideal after Gov. William Bradford noted that healthy men refused to work in the common fields -- just as would occur in the Soviet Union some 300 years later. After this experience, Bradford recognized that only those who believe themselves wiser than God would advocate the taking away of private property.
Had the Pilgrims continued with a system of equalized wealth -- the path that Harrop advocates in her article, there would be no Thanksgiving story to tell.
Harrop should be thankful that Bradford recognized that the Harropian utopia is the quickest way to extinguish a colony, or a modern nation.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, the day reserved for giving thanks and feasting. In Ohio, at least, another day may be reserved in the future: a day for apologizing to the state.
In 2006, an Ohio hunter shot a deer out-of-season. It doesn't matter whose property the deer was on, all deer in Ohio are the assumed property of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Nor does it matter that the deer population in the state is exploding as fewer hunters choose to pay the ever-increasing fee for a hunting license.
Just this week, the hunter was sentenced. Besides 20 days, a $3400 fine, and 150 hours of community service, this man has to write a letter of apology to the department.
I am certain that we all have offended the ideals and sensibilities of some state department during the past year. We, therefore, need to apologize for our actions. It's the right thing to do.
For no reason at all, let's designate December 1 as Mea Culpa: the day of state apology. Please write at least one letter of apology, I'll even start you off:
Dear Department of ___________:
In recognition of Mea Culpa, please forgive me for _________. I sincerely apologize that my actions have offended you.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
The Texans can stand proud as they are ending the grip of Everyday Math and constructivist garbage. Meanwhile, Olentangy Local Schools is still under the spell, as is neighboring Dublin City Schools. Both districts are captives of Progressive educationists who refuse to make education the goal. These folks would rather lead another generation down the rabbit hole of nonsense than admit constructivist pedagogy is nothing more than indoctrination.
Parents, the revolution in Texas can spread to your district. You really have nothing to lose other than the constructivist chains that stunt your children's education.
Read my previous post where I discuss local educators' responses to failing US scores on international math and science tests. Even though Singapore leads the world and uses traditional methods, the educationists call for more fluff. They refuse to see the effects of their education choices. Or, possible, they revel in the fact that US students are suffering.
Math Education: An Inconvenient Truth
Everyday Math and Olentangy: This is a great YouTube.com video on the differences between traditional math and the current flavor of the constructivist, Progressive education in vogue at districts such as Olentangy. In fifteen minutes, you will understand why district students struggle through math.
You will also find yourself wondering why the administration adopted such a mess. Simply ask Olentangy's Executive Director of Elementary Learning why the district continues to embrace failed programs such as Everyday Math. I can only imagine his response.
The video's M.J. McDermott is able to effectively explain the issue since she has not been inculcated into the current education mess. She is a successful user of math; not some educationist with an alternate agenda.
Constructive Education and Olentangy: The constructivist education philosophy is centered on teachers and students being co-equals in the discovery of knowledge.1 The teacher holds no special place since knowledge is relative. Therefore, the simple understanding of a third grader is equal to the supposed learned knowledge of the professional teacher.2
Constructivism is an application of Progressive education, the pedagogy - philosophy - that has permeated public schools for over to a century. As these ideas have taken greater hold of education - most notably since the Sixties, student achievement has gone downhill - this despite a tremendous influx of dollars and technology.
Even though constructivist math - fuzzy math - had been a failure for years, Olentangy decided to adopt the Everyday Mathematics program for its students. Well, the district will not say they have adopted Everyday Mathematics. Instead, the district will use doublespeak to say that they have adopted their curriculum maps, and not any single math program. But that simply confounds means with ends.
The maps are the ends, the definition of what is to be learned - the equivalent of architectural blueprints. The textbooks are the means to achieve the ends - the building tools and materials. Funny, your tax dollars pay for Everyday Mathematics textbooks yet the district staff do not even claim that they use the textbooks to teach math. Staff members say the books are simply a resource, similar to putting a child's plastic hammer in the toolbox instead of the steel hammer.
Go ahead and ask your administrators about Everyday Mathematics, you will hear them spin a tale of educationist gobbledygook. Hold on to your own head so that it doesn't counter spin in response.
 Check out rantings of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development and The Teachers College Record from Columbia University's prestigious Teachers College.
 Administrators and teachers who buy into this philosophy may actually be the overpaid, co-equals of their students.
Monday, November 19, 2007
Embracing Creative Destruction
By Jim Fedako
Posted on 11/16/2007
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Creative destruction (Joseph Schumpeter's phrase) occurs when innovations — new technologies or business models — demolish the capital structures of well-established industries, industries that have lost the ability to satisfy the urgent wants of consumers.
This process can happen almost over night, such as when the vinyl record industry collapsed in the wake of digital music. Or, the process can slowly run its course, similar to the decades-long crumbling of a building's foundation. Here the process is akin to the way moss attaches to surface imperfections and degrades — over decades — the strength and resilience of concrete.
Just a few weeks ago, I saw a possible crack develop in an established capital structure. I found some moss on the massive concrete structure that is the lawn-care business.
The lawns of central Ohio suffered this summer due to heat and drought. Lawns were dry and brown by the end of August. Cooler, wetter weather did not arrive in September as usual; the warmth and clear skies prevailed.
To help lawns return to health, many residents hired lawn-care services to aerate their lawns. Aeration is an interesting process; a machine — the size of a stand-up, professional lawn mower — pulls plugs of turf and soil from the yard. The resulting holes reduce soil compaction and thatch, allowing water and nutrients to get to the roots of lawns that suffered for months.
In my area, there is a host of established lawn-care providers. These full-service companies have large capital investments in machines, fleets of vehicles, etc. The companies provide quality services at a price that beats my real costs plus the alternative cost associated with my free time. Being frugal — what some call cheap — I always look for the best deal in aeration.
A month or so ago, someone left a simple flyer on my mailbox advertising an inexpensive aeration service. Though I had never heard of the company before, I knew that aeration is a simple process where almost nothing can go wrong. So, I called and scheduled an appointment.
A couple of weekends later, two young men pulled up in a truck and trailer, dropped the gate, and backed two aeration machines onto the ground. They quickly started the motors and began their work. Not a moment wasted.
From the comfort of my home, cup of espresso in hand, I watched these two perform their task. After a while, I noticed that the machines and trailer had stickers that advertised a local rental store. Then it hit me: These machines were rented, as was the trailer. Rented?! I thought about for a bit, and then concluded that I just might be witnessing creative destruction firsthand.
When one of the men came to the door to be paid, I asked him about his business model. Turns out that he and his friend advertise their service, and, only when they can schedule a full day's worth of customers, they rent a trailer and aeration machines. For this, they each clear $800 per day (less taxes of course).
Beautiful. No risk and no capital investment — other than paper for flyers and a couple of bucks in gas. And, since they aerate only on weekends, they are able to keep their day jobs and associated incomes.
The men are looking to expand their business and provide additional services. As with aerating, the model they plan to use is based on renting equipment only when they have a full schedule. With a stripped-down delivery system and no real overhead, the men will be able to undercut the big players in the lawn-care market. I fully expect their business to take off, challenging the big boys and stealing their market share.
To a point …
Just like bleach to moss, government regulations can destroy new ideas before they can begin to crack the foundation. You see, the two men aerating my lawn are currently only a minor annoyance to existing firms. Yes, they capture a small share of the market, but never enough to cause concern — that is, until they grow in size and become real market players.
At some point, these guys will cross a line, and at that point, government will step in.
Are governmental regulations in place to serve the consumer? Hardly. You see, the consumer already has a big stick: the almighty dollar. As Mises stated decades ago, the consumer is sovereign. Moreover, the consumer can quickly remove capital from the hands of the entrepreneur who produces subjectively inferior products and place that capital in the hands of the entrepreneur ready to serve. No need for regulatory agencies and their shelves of codes.
Governmental regulations are typically created through the political pressure of existing companies, companies that want to protect themselves from the impertinent upstart. As always, as if on cue, the useful idiots stand alongside the government regulators, becoming the public face for regulation while crying for the need for government in all things. The useful idiots whine, and the regulators step in to protect, while the established businesses snicker in the background.
Our lawn-care friends cannot incrementally grow their business. At certain thresholds, regulatory and legal roadblocks appear. Once the lawn guys hire their first employee, they will enter the world of red tape. In essence, their company and capital will no longer be exclusively theirs; it becomes the property of the collective we.
I witnessed the strong arm of government firsthand as a neighbor tried to grow her casual baking business one small step at a time. You see, she produced excellent goods, and people desired them. However, once some agent of the state spotted too many cars in her driveway, the hammer of zoning came crashing down. So, she moved to a small shop in a local strip mall, going from a freewheeling baker of wedding cakes and other goodies to a regulated place of public convenience.
No longer was she the nimble entrepreneur. She was now burdened with licenses, compliance, and mall-sized rent. It was no wonder that her business failed in the end — not because her product was undesired, but because she could not make the leap from casual sales to established business in one bound. Maybe she could have grown her business over time in an unregulated environment, but the government-created hurdles are set much too high to be leaped in one bound.
So we will never again enjoy those cakes and assorted goodies, except, just maybe, every now and again on the sly.
And, most likely, we will never see if a business model based on rented equipment is able to crack the existing foundation of the lawn-care business, not because the idea is known ex ante to be inefficient, but because government stands ready to squash creativity and protect existing capital structures, all to the detriment of the consumer.
Creative destruction is required for a vibrant economy. Allowing government to stop change and innovations through regulations hurts the consumer and squashes both new products and improvements. Embrace creative destruction; with it, we will all be much better off, lawns and taste buds included.
Jim Fedako, a homeschooling father of five who lives in Lewis Center, OH, maintains a blog: Anti-Positivist. Send him mail. See his archive. Comment on the blog.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Remember that the British government permitted its soldiers to execute self-written search warrants. They called them “writs of assistance,” and they were one of the last straws that caused American colonist to rebel. It’s bitterly ironic that 230 years later a popularly elected government would authorize its own agents to do the same thing that when a monarchy did it, we fought a war of rebellion in reaction—which we won!
How many people has the DOJ convicted in a jury trial for terrorism based on evidence obtained from the Patriot Act? Zero. They’ve gotten people to plead guilty, to fold, and convicted many on drug trafficking, white slavery, prostitution, gambling, and political corruption, but haven’t gotten a single [terror] case where they presented evidence in a public court before a judge and jury and the jury found a defendant guilty under evidence obtained under Patriot Act.
Read his latest book A Nation of Sheep to see where WE have allowed government to erode our God-given rights. Keep in mind that even FDR -- the statist, socialist president -- always talked about victory and peace.
Today, Bush and his cronies, presidential candidates other than Ron Paul, and Congress continue to spread fear and anxiety. Why? To corral the sheep into a pen where the Bill of Rights is a dead letter.
They've almost finished the job.
The self-styled data-driven superintendent and administration are really agenda-drive. And, it's not the agenda of improved performance.
I have previously written about the failings of Everyday Math, including recent comments on academic outcomes in Singapore versus those in Olentangy and throughout the US. Two things of note:
1. The district is looking to continue to spend your tax dollars on this failed program. Note the current Five-Year Forecast to see that, besides being a waste, Everyday Math is expensive.
2. Texas just banned purchases of Everyday Math. So, Texas bans, Singapore achieves with traditional math programs, yet Olentangy stays the Progressive course. What in the world do district leaders do besides spend our money?
From Donna Garner in Texas:
The Texas State Board of Education voted today not to place Everyday Math (Grade 3) on the conforming list or the non-conforming list. Then the SBOE voted to reject the book completely. This means that school districts in Texas cannot buy Everyday Math with a penny of state funding.
Many math teachers at the secondary level blame Everyday Math for the fact that so many of their students do not know their four math functions to the automaticity level; and these teachers believe it is Everyday Math which has led to widespread failure among math students at the secondary level, thus contributing to increasing numbers of dropouts.
I am very proud of the Texas State Board of Education members who had the courage today to begin the process of taking our public schools back from the brink.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
As surely as lifting money from his wallet, we have stolen from Jack (below). It's time that we start looking inside our heart to see what causes us to covet the property of others.
Dear Mr Fedako,
As has been said, a political compromise is halfway between two bad ideas. Can you imagine a political compromise on a wheel? Result may be a triangular “wheel “ or some such thing.
Yesterday I went to my local county courthouse. I am an old guy and it’s time I started distributing some of my property to my loved ones. Anyway, I wanted to break off 6.5 acres, property that is detached from the rest of my 40 acres by a road. I want to sell/give the land to one of my dear relatives.
Luckily, I was able to convince the county surveyor to use his computer and prepare a description of the piece. He was reluctant, telling me it should be surveyed independently at my expense but I finally got him to do it (all the info was in his computer, all he had to do was find it and get it out).
Then to the Zoning Office, why I have no idea, except my 40 is zoned Agriculture. I pointed out that in this township there is not one farm, not even a cow. It consists of forest, sand and gravel. Why am I zoned Ag? Of course she gave me some bureaucratic explanation, to pretend that zoning by the experts is really important.
To be rezoned to Rural Residential requires 5 acres so I was OK there. Now though I had to pay $500.00, non refundable, to have the Zoning Board concur, which they may not, and then to the County Commissioners (Lord Gods of the County) for final approval. I asked the young lady where the science was in the 5 acre rule, the zoning rules, and the authority of outsiders to determine my use of my property. She said there is a science but of course didn’t elaborate. I live 30 miles from the county seat.
Now before any building can take place a survey must be done before building permits can be issued. Building permits require the presentation of an approved site plan, prepared by a contractor, at a cost of about $300 or more. The “free” land will cost about 10 K or more before the first shovelful of dirt is turned, with permits, surveys, septic tank and approved well in. Our youngsters are destined to live in apartments for the rest of their lives.
My wife made me promise to behave myself, since she really wanted this done. I gritted my teeth, kept my mouth shut, for a change. I explained that I had to sell the land to pay my taxes, since the county believes my property is highly taxable. The clerk laughed at my humor. I wasn’t joking, however.
Good article, keep up the good work. Jack
by Jim Fedako
Git'er done. We got'er done. Got what done? Well, my wife and I hung an interior door. Yep, we got'er done.
You see, we both wanted the door hung. Sure, we disagreed on certain aspects of the process – the means, but we both had the same end in mind. And, we are both satisfied with the outcome.
I bring this up in context of a political endorsement meeting I recently attended where candidates for county and state offices were seeking the support of the local party elite. Part of the process included an open mike so supporters could speak on behalf of their favored candidate.
There was a common theme throughout the meeting, and it went something like this: I am here to support candidate X. Though he and I disagreed on many issues, we were always able to compromise and get the job done.
That's right, they got'er done.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Two people can read the same data and arrive at different conclusions. But, it's truly ironic when the correct conclusion is obvious, yet some miss it.
Or, maybe they simply choose to ignore the obvious in an attempt to push an agenda.
The article has local educators stating that the "old-school ways" are the cause of US failures. So, local public schools are playing education games -- fluff -- when it is the "old-school ways" that actually produce knowledgeable students. You see, the top country in math is Singapore, yet Singapore Math provides only basic math and none of the Progressive nonsense that infects US public schools.
Wouldn't you think that public schools would be adopting Singapore Math instead of adding fluff and nonsense? They aren't since their adopted programs -- such as Everyday Mathematics -- are aligned with their agenda.
Given the article and the public school response, it is obvious that the product of K-12 education is indoctrination. Graduating another generation of students without knowledge is just fine for the NEA members and their administrative counterparts. They have greater goals to attain.
note: Olentangy, of course, uses Everyday Mathematics. Read the Wikipedia article on Singapore Math -- "Most U.S. parents are likely to be familiar with the traditional mathematics presented in a typical Singapore math book."
Isn't it ironic that a grown man or woman cannot smoke though the superintendent and board can say anything they choose; they can spin and lie with abandon.
"So, kids, don't smoke, but say whatever fits so that you get what you want." There is a lesson there, and it's not a positive one.
To do: Finish the Five-Year Forecast review and explain the spin -- lies -- regarding cuts, especially transportation. Coming soon ...
Thursday, November 15, 2007
So, according to Davis, the district HAS to cut $10.4 million in order to offset a $2 million deficit in fiscal year 2009.
Add in the interest income money being squirreled away on a different set of books, and there is no deficit until fiscal year 2010. Yet Davis states that the district must make $10.4 million in cuts if the voters do not approve his levy. Huh.
Davis, Lying can only get you so far; district residents are much too smart for your shenanigans.
Have you and the board no shame?
"I'm not talking about reading media accounts. I'm talking about getting down to the basic research papers," he explains. "And the more I read them, the more doubt I had -- and eventually the whole case just collapsed, when you really study the documents. And it became very clear that it was a manufactured crisis."
read more ...
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Monday, November 12, 2007
Wherever is found what is called a paternal government, there is found state education. It has been discovered that the best way to insure implicit obedience is to commence tyranny in the nursery.
— Benjamin Disraeli, Speech in the House of Commons [June 15, 1874]
Monday, November 12, 2007
$9.4 million is the cost over the forecast to implement the district's new staffing ratio. What's up with that?
Never heard of the big change? That's because these things are never discussed at board meetings. Not that it would matter, the current board would simply cheer the additional expenses. They really can't spend enough of your money.
Regardless, the board needs to make their plans public. Otherwise I have to ask when these plans are being discussed? Where and when is the work of the board being done? In the sunshine, or somewhere less visible to the public eye?
Staffing ratios have been decreasing over time, and the district is looking to drive the ratio of students to certified staff to an all-time low. Instead of allowing staffing ratios to be 15 students to each certified staff, the change in staffing is going to cost a lot of taxpayer dollars.
And, you can be certain that outcomes will not improve.
The winners: the staff who have less and less to do year after year.
$9.4 million. And this is a board and administration that claims to be reducing costs. Hmmm.
Remember the $9.4 million this Spring at a levy time.
stay tuned ... more to come ...
H.R. 1955 is an absolute attack on the freedom of speech. Not only does it assault my right to question government, it also assaults the right of ardent Marxists to speak their minds. So, I am at a loss at both ends.
You see, I value the ability to speak as much as the ability to read nonsense from those such as the writers and curators over at Marxists.org. Should H.R. 1955 become law, no longer will I be able to read articles like "Trotsky or Deutscher? On the New Revisionism and Its Theoretical Source" from James P. Cannon, Fourth International, Winter 1954. The logical gymnastics of such articles will be gone from the web. A very sad day indeed.
I do not fear the idiocy of Cannon and his fellow travelers. But I do fear the agenda of those who proudly strut the halls of DC, American flag pin displayed loudly on lapel or blouse.
These folks aren't simply debating historical and epistemological positions, they are conspiring to subvert the remaining vestiges of Liberty and Property. They are not some group of fanatic windbags. No, they are modern day Brownshirts fighting over whose match ignites the Reichstag -- the Constitution.
The freedom of speech is about to be turned on its head. Fight H.R. 1955 as if it's your life. For without Liberty, your life is no longer yours anyway.