Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Why Government Run Education is Failing

Years from now, when historians look back on how our nation cratered economically, socially and literally, they will be able to point to a government run system of "education" that was far more concerned with promoting social idealism over educating students. Too many fads have flown through our schools. New Math, Open Classroom, Whole Language and now the influence of technology. All these methods are not inherently evil or wrong in and of themselves. But they are gimmicks. They are sleight of hand tricks promoted to school administrators via lush seminars. These programs cost millions to school districts and they more often than not fail to deliver their claimed goals.

Other areas that will show up down the road is how our average students-not the brightest ones, not special needs students-but the generic kid in the desk, we often ignored and allowed to twist in the wind while teachers were forced by government mandate to serve special populations first even to the detriment of the rest of the class. What began as a feelgood law to allow mainstreaming of physically impaired, but educationally capable students into classrooms has evolved into a costly behemoth that provides one on one educational handling for some students while others linger in crowded classes. Does this make any sense?

Let's take an example. Student A, emotionally charged, autistic or disabled student, is placed in a regular ed classroom. The teacher must immediately jump to honor the IEP or any other special accommodations demanded by the Special Ed department or the parents. Never mind that there are other students in class, the few and the documented get the lion's share of attention. Even students with the most outrageous behavioral patterns are often placed into classrooms with little regard for the safety of others. What student wants to stay in a room where another student may randomly attack them and get away with it?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Nation of Voyeurs

“In the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes,”-Andy Warhol

Let’s consider Warhol’s statement for a minute. Between reality television and YouTube, have we not reached this level of development? Where it used to be that talent rose to the top, now it’s notoriety and “hits” that determine levels of fame. I can point out any number of local singers better than Justin Beiber, but he’s the one who got millions of hits on his YouTube online videos. I have no idea what Kim Kardashian or Paris Hilton really do to merit their fame other than create sleazy homemade videos for public consumption. In another age the moniker “fools names and fools faces often appear in public places” has been replaced by the concept that anything goes where nothing is too silly, too vain, too vulgar or too horrid to be widely distributed to anyone who cares to do a simply online search.

Beyond this shallow existence, we’ve developed an entire industry made up of people who spend their “professional” lives hiding in bushed trying to ambush the famous and the powerful into some trumped up charge. This has played a role not just in entertainment, but in politics. Do I really need to know what a candidate’s stepdaughter thinks about anything? Do we really need to stoop to unsealing divorce decrees, custody agreements and other painful personal histories just to score political points? What sort of insight is that supposed to reveal? Likewise, it seems that a parallel universe has developed where people make up entire facts and because their voices are louder, they seem to think this justifies the lie. The Big Lie was an old Soviet trick used to quash underground uprising and to keep the working class in check. Now it seems to be used for distributing politically aimed disinformation to keep party line voters controlled while trying to stampede the opposition into making a mistake. Perhaps I am wrong, but I don’t remember it being so publicly vile and nasty in a long long time.

More than being voyeurs, we are also becoming victims to people who cannot or will not control their addictive urges to use the internet. I’ve heard cell phones going off at meetings, at church, at weddings and yes, even at a funeral. The same general demographic that accesses the internet to know end also likes to post things, often without thinking. Even the most circumspect individual can find themselves tagged and slandered without their knowledge. Now another industry has grown up just to clear up peoples’ online reputations for PR or employment purposes. I guess the bottom line is that people who act decently generally don’t have to worry about much, unless they run for public office in which case their entire history can be changed, attacked and destroyed with little forethought. And just the fact that decent people have to worry about something like that demonstrates how deeply we’ve all headed down that slippery slope.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Vetting Joe, Vetting Paul

Much has been made of the vetting process for political office. Obama was largely given a free pass  based on the media's perceptions that his ethnicity and his party affiliation exonerated him from blame. The press is now feeling the fallout as newspapers and the most strident Obama supporting networks are struggling financially.

But what of the VP picks, the guys "a heartbeat away" from the presidency. While the Democrats are trying to characterize Paul Ryan as a demon, in reality he is a well educated family man, whose interest in economics goes back to college. He is married to his first wife, has three nice kids and has regular, middle class backgrounds to rely on. Bill Bennett said the following about Ryan:
"...Over time this young budget guru, who once told me he relaxes by kicking back with actuarial tables, began to master the U.S. budget in a way that few ever have. He was appointed to be a member of the president's Bowles-Simpson Commission, but, not yielding to political pressure, voted against its recommendations because it failed to adequately reform Medicare. So, together with Alice Rivlin (Bill Clinton's former OMB director), Ryan co-authored the Ryan-Rivlin plan to seriously reform Medicare (although she didn't support the version of it he included in his all-encompassing budget).

Their plan fell largely on deaf ears, but just because Washington wasn't listening, Ryan didn't stop leading. He joined forces with Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, to co-author a bipartisan plan to reform Medicare. Their plan leaves Medicare intact for existing recipients and those approaching eligibility and offers future enrollees a chance to enroll in the traditional Medicare government option or enroll in a premium support plan, where seniors can choose from a variety of competitive plans that work best for them..."

But what of Joe Biden? Joe, along with Obama, got largely a free pass. He likes to characterize himself as a blue collar guy, but he attended a prestigious prep school where his academic career was lackluster at best. He went to college where he graduated in the lower half of the class and his law school years, which he considered a bore, demonstrated him as a lower quality of student graduating near the bottom. To be fair, he's got a loud mouth. And he's got the same type of football player rah-rah appeal that attracts people who are either ideologues or are largely uninformed.  But while the hoopla over Ryan's accepting the VP nod from Romney seems to be a position for media scorn and scrutiny, I have to wonder if and when the media will dare to investigate the background of Biden-who seems far more dubious a pick to be a "heartbeat away."

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Romney, Ryan, Right now

I like Paul Ryan alot. I think he's one of the brightest stars in Congress and furthermore with his background in economics, he is one of the few people in Congress capable of understanding what is wrong with the economy and why Obama is not the person to fix it.

It didn't take long for the DNC to sic their mad dogs on Ryan. Ryan, who is generally characterized as a nice guy, a smart guy, a family man, is already being savage in the Democrat driven media. This may be because like Romney, there are no divorces to unearth. That's been a characteristic of Obama's campaigns for a long time. So they resort to scaring seniors by claiming that Ryan wants to cancel Medicare. Even Politifact, which is run by highly liberal Annenberg, said that was a lie. But it doesn't stop idiots at Kos and Mother Jones from perpetrating the lie. I don't know many seniors that read those rags, but I suppose their grandchildren can try to terrify them into compliance.

It's going to be a rough one folks. This campaign is already a dirty one and with people like Axelrod in the mix, I suspect it will get dirtier still. Romney and Ryan must stay ON ISSUES because that is the one place that Obama cannot run.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

I Haven't Posted For Awhile

There's a reason for that. First, I was at a professional seminar in Illustration in Kansas City, one of thirty teachers selected from across the nation. I did enjoy it and found their museums to be amazing. The Decorative Arts from the World's Fair Show was impressive and I hope many folks go to see it during it's time there and in other cities on the tour. The Tiffany jewelry alone is worth the price.

But more than that, I haven't written because I find myself depressed and dismayed over what is going on with our nation. The ads are appalling but the open attempts by those on the Left to seize the media for their Disinformation Campaign has led me from mere dislike to a true hatred for the administration and their members. How have we come to this? What can we say about and administration that features people who use the public trashing of their opponents as a matter of standard operating procedure? What can we say about an administration that would not have a budget for three plus years, that would cook data every single month to give the appearance of unemployment improvement and hasn't even answered one single question in a press conference, during an Election year, for over 49 days?

I listen to the media, I hear the planted disinformation talked about as if it is fact and frankly, it fills me with fear. I fear for our future, I fear for my children. I don't know how we are going to survive this. All I know is that we cannot afford four more years like the last three.