Hey, Republicans

When you say “I am not a scientist.”, stop right there. You have just admitted you have no credibility on the subject; we really don’t care what your opinions are.

You’re a member of Congress.

You are a Republican.

We know you don’t believe in facts.

Don’t waste oxygen and increase our carbon dioxide problems by continuing.

A Parable

   The Animal School: A Fable by George Reaves

Once upon a time the animals decided they must do something heroic to meet the problems of a “new world” so they organized a school.

They had adopted an activity curriculum consisting of running, climbing, swimming and flying. To make it easier to administer the curriculum, all the animals took all the subjects.

The duck was excellent in swimming. In fact, better than his instructor. But he made only passing grades in flying and was very poor in running. Since he was slow in running, he had to stay after school and also drop swimming in order to practice running. This was kept up until his webbed feet were badly worn and he was only average in swimming. But average was acceptable in school so nobody worried about that, except the duck.

The rabbit started at the top of the class in running but had a nervous breakdown because of so much makeup work in swimming.

The squirrel was excellent in climbing until he developed frustration in the flying class where his teacher made him start from the ground up instead of the treetop down. He also developed a “charlie horse” from overexertion and then got a C in climbing and D in running.

The eagle was a problem child and was disciplined severely. In the climbing class, he beat all the others to the top of the tree but insisted on using his own way to get there.

At the end of the year, an abnormal eel that could swim exceeding well and also run, climb and fly a little had the highest average and was valedictorian.

The prairie dogs stayed out of school and fought the tax levy because the administration would not add digging and burrowing to the curriculum. They apprenticed their children to a badger and later joined the groundhogs and gophers to start a successful private school.

* * * *

This little fable completely changed my views of teaching. We all, each of us as individuals, have skills at which we excel and skills at which we, to use the vernacular, suck. And yet, all students are expected to excel in all skill areas.

Suddenly I realized why two thirds of my classes were bored or potential discipline problems.

One third were bored and potential discipline problems because they were skilled in my subject, and yet they had to wait for the other two thirds to continue.

One third were bored and potential discipline problems because they were unskilled in my subject, were always lost, and couldn’t keep up with the rest of the class.

The final third cruised along while wondering why the other two thirds were unhappy and causing problems.

The traditional solution is to give additional work to both outlying groups. No matter what you call it, additional work feels like punishment to a child/teenager. We are wasting our time and money as well as doing our children, society, and taxpayers a disservice when we try to improve our educational system in the United States.

Of Model Ts and Corvettes

Over my thirty plus years in teaching, I have seen many “fixes” forced on our educational system. You have experienced them also, whether as a parent or a student. Do you remember: phonics, new math, and new science grants? I particularly remember in high school getting new science lab equipment one year, and the school district not being able to fund the program over the long term. I loved science, and it killed me to see all that lab equipment setting idle because federal funding was gone.

Each of the programs above, and I would add the integration of technology, is like putting a Corvette engine in a Model T and expecting it to go ninety miles an hour. The car will destroy itself before it ever reached the the desired goal of ninety miles an hour. Isn’t that exactly what has happened to our educational system. The harder we have tried to reach our goals the worse the system has functioned.It’s time for an educational revolution. The system can not be improved without these basic changes.

REVOLUTION NOT EVOLUTION (A NOT SO MODEST PROPOSAL)

STEP 1

Make all education competency based; not based upon age or grade level. Currently, school is like a prison sentence      (twelve years without a chance of parole). Everyone does their twelve years, no less. I have seen schools where students have completed all the required courses and electives and still not be allowed to graduate until they have put in the whole twelve years.

Every student should take every course at his own pace until he completes the competencies required by the state or national government or employers. They may at the same time be in beginning reading, advanced math and biology. They may be taking one course at a time or they may be taking several courses at once.

There should be no age limit for people to begin or continue taking courses in public schools. If an eighty year old woman wants to study literature, she should be able to take the course.  After all, she is a taxpayer.  If a thirty year old man wants to take book keeping or accounting for his small business, he should be able to. If a six year old is interested in rocketry, he should be   able to study it.

STEP 2

The U.S. educational system is based on an agrarian society. Guess what? We haven’t been an agrarian society for decades, if not centuries. Being based upon an agrarian society, we only have school nine months out of the year. Name me a business large, small, service, manufacturing or agricultural that lays off its workers and shuts down down its facilities for three months out of the year. We need to make the school calendar be three hundred and sixty-five days a year, and we need to make the facility available twenty four hours a day. When rooms are not being used for classes, they may be used by community organizations for a small fee to cover utilities, janitorial service and security.  People who don’t have children will be more likely to support schools they can use.

Students may attend as many days a year as they want.  They could schedule their classes around outside jobs.

Teachers may teach as many days a year as they want. They would be compensated for the extra months they teach and wouldn’t need to find job(s) at minimum wage during breaks and the summer.

Parents would be able to better plan their work schedules and child care.

Step 3

Now that we are competency based and school and teachers are available all year around, lets use technology. Technology will allow students to proceed at their own pace. Teaches will be able to serve as mentors to the learning process instead of lock stepping students of varied abilities and interest through a one size fits all curriculum.

Let’s stop wasting money on textbooks which are out of date before they are published. Go digital. With the money saved provide every student with a laptop or tablet. If you are worried about getting them back, charge a fee. For those students or parents that cannot afford to either buy or rent, have a business partner step up. Don’t buy technology. Lease it. It changes too rapidly; and will be too expensive to update. Use free technology from the internet like Kahn Academy and Next Vista for Learning.

STEP 4

Get parents, grandparents, the business community and the general public involved. Get everyone involved. Get civic organizations to use the school facilities. Get adults using the gym for basketball, volleyball, community dances. Everyone should know where the schools in their community are. Encourage everyone to come to school to get involved in courses whether their eight or eighty. Find out what people want to learn and provide them with the opportunity.

Step 5

We must have two education systems.

The states can keep their state schools, but there will be federal “charter” schools which adhere to common core principals. I have long heard about how the federal government should stay out of state issues. I agree wholeheartedly.

The federal government would have the right to run federal charter schools any way it wanted. The federal government would fund their charter schools with federal tax dollars.

The states would have the right to run their state schools however they wanted. The states could fund their schools however they wanted but without federal tax dollars. No state monies would be used to fund federal charter schools and no federal funds would be used to finance individual state public, private or state chartered schools.

Parents would be able to choose whether to send their children to federal charter schools which were funded by federal tax dollars or state schools funded by state tax dollars. At last the hue and cry against big government involvement in education would be addressed.

States could have all the charter schools they wanted. States could write whatever curriculum they wanted with or without creationism. The states could teach that climate change is not backed by science. States could teach that the earth is six thousand years old by counting the begats.  States could once again manipulate who goes to what state schools because the parents would have a choice.

I am looking forward to your comments, particularly questions, suggestions, criticisms to help improve our educational system.

Orwellian Newspeak is back in 2014, or why I am not a “New Republican”

Orwellian “Newspeak” is the transformation of English so that words mean the opposite of what they actually mean.  Orwell’s 1984 takes place in what was then the future i.e. 1984. Well, here we are thirty years later and the Republican Party just launched http://www.newrepublican.org/what-we-believe/.  Here they have perfected the art of Orwellian Newspeak.  In evaluating their stated beliefs, we must ask ourselves how this belief implemented would look.  All we have to use for guidance is their contemporanious actions. Today I want to analyze first of their so called beliefs.

1. Freedom for them means freedom of only a certain group.  That group is made up of wealthy businessmen and corporations.  They have the freedom to buy politiciians with unlimited donations.  They have the freedom to disenfranchise voters.  They have the freedom to deny women equal pay for equal wages.  They have the freedom to force their religious views upon others.  They have the freedom to decide who can marry whom.  They have the freedom to deny workers the unemployment insurance they have earned.  They have the freedom to take money from hungry children.  They have the freedom to attempt 50+ times to deny people with existing conditions health insurance.  They have the freedom to block work programs on infrastructure.  They have the freedom to dismiss science.

What they fail to realize is that one’s freedom extends to the point where in infringes upon another’s freedom.

Furthermore, they fail to accept the most basic concept of democracy that in our system majority rules.  The majority must protect the rights of the minority.  The minority has a duty to follow the laws of the majority until the minority becomes the majority and can change them.  What we have had recently is tyranny of the minority through denial of the rights of the majority and obstructionism.

If this is what they mean by “freedom”, i want no part of it; for it reeks of anarchy and strangely enough from them social Darwinism.

STONED TO VOTE FOR KEYSTONE

ImageThe name tells it all.  As you can see from the image, the keystone is the central stone that holds all the other stones together in an arch. (see any dictionary definition).  In this arch you have on the left oil consumers in the rest of the world.  On the right you have Canada.  In between you have the U.S.

The keystone pipeline provides a bridge between Canada and the oil consumers in the rest of the world.

Who is not a beneficiary of the pipeline?  Answer is the U.S.

Yes, there will be temp jobs to build the pipeline.  Yes, there will be an insignificant number of permanent jobs.

It not a question of if there will be spills, it is WHEN.  Search “Oil spills in the U.S.”.  Or, search “oil pipe lines that have not had spills”.

Who pays to clean up the spills?  Ultimately it is the citizen taxpayer.  Why?  The spillers, think Exxon Valdez and the horrendous Gulf spill, ultimately settle with citizens and the government for pennies on the dollar and stop cleaning up their mess.  Spills last forever.  It is impossible to clean up all of a spill.

It is time we stop building these environmental disasters.  Yes, they are all environmental disasters, and start eliminating the existing ones.

Please write, Email, call the President and your Congressmen and tell them to vote no on the Keystone XL.