Tag Archives: Education

Parents, Nothing More Than an Untapped Resorce

School has started once again and now comes the pile of forms to be signed. Every year, my child brings home something called the “student, teacher, administrator, parent compact”. This pointless exercise in political correctness has a section where the administrator, the teacher and the student basically pledge to make the school a safe, respectful learning environment. These are not bad objectives, but it is silly to have students, parents, and teachers sign a nonbinding agreement.  Here is this asinine waste of paper for your viewing pleasure.School Compact

There is a section of this compact where there is a list of things that I, as a parent of a student, pledge to do. I do not disagree with what the compact contains, but I do find it particularly insulting that the school board feels it has to remind me what my duties as a parent are.

Signing this paper is supposedly voluntary, but in the past, my child was denied a locker until he brought back the form.  When I pointed out to the teacher that it stated on the form that it was voluntary, she said that she did not have the authority to make an exception and would take it up with the guidance councilor.  Apparently the guidance councilor didn’t have the authority to apply what was written on the form either, and it took about two weeks before the principle called me and agreed that my child could have a locker.  By then, all the lockers had been assigned.

If the school district is going to  require us to sign a paper like this, it should be to explain what the school promises to do for the students and parents, rather than the emphasis being the other way around. Here’s what I would like to see this compact contain:

That the administrators promise to:
• Weigh the input of parents highly when making policy decisions, and choosing curriculum
• Recognize the parent as the final authority in decisions about what is best for a student.
• Understand that the school exists to meet the needs of the families it serves, not the other way around.
• To support teachers in their efforts to educate students by giving them the resources necessary to do the job, and by not burdening them with needless programs and procedures that may seem novel and innovative, but reduce the amount of time the teacher has to actually teach.

That the teachers promise to:
• Communicate regularly with the parents.
• Make themselves available in the classroom to answer questions.
• Suggest helpful resources for struggling students.
• Make sure that all students, who put forth the effort, understand the subject matter before moving on to the next thing.

The parents promise to:
• Communicate regularly with the student’s teachers.
• Pay attention to the educational materials and curriculum provided to the student.
• Be an advocate for their student to insure that the school system meets the individual needs of the student.
• Encourage the student to take advantage of tutoring, and other help offered by the school.

The students promise to:
• Respect the persons and property of other students.
• Respect the authority of the teachers and school officials.
• Ask questions when they don’t understand.
• Be prepared with the proper supplies.
• Discuss disagreements with school rules with their parents, then together approach school officials about it rather than simply breaking the rule in protest.

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The Real Life of Julia

Reflections of a Rational Republican has introduced me to “Julia” the cartoon solder of the fictitious Republican “War on Women”.  Both the Obama Campaign and the Heritage Foundation have differing versions about the “Life of Julia“. While the Obama Campaign’s version touts the benefits of living in a cradle to grave socialist utopia, the Heritage Foundation’s version extolls the virtues of freedom of choice. Neither version truly depicts the reality of Julia right here, right now. This is my version of the “Real Life of Julia” without the cutesy graphics. It depicts what her life would be like at each age, if she were that age today.

Age 3

Both of Julia’s parents work.  Their combined incomes put them in an income bracket too high to qualify for head start or other programs designed for underprivileged children.  After “doing the math” her parents decide that the high cost of quality day care makes it impractical for both of them to work. Julia’s mom’s income is less than her father’s so Julia’s mom decides to stay home with her.

Age 17

It was important to Julia’s parents to bring her up in as safe a neighborhood as possible. They purchased a modest home in a decent suburb.  Because she lives in a working class family her parents  cannot afford private school.  Therefore Julia has spent her youth in the public school system.  Her state uses standardized tests to measure  the performance of the teachers, schools, and students.  Because the teacher’s unions have made it difficult to weed out ineffective teachers, and because school administrators fear the loss of state and federal funding due to government programs such as race to the top, classroom time is consumed with teaching children how to pass the standardized tests instead of proficiency in basic skills.   Sports, music classes, and pay raises for competent teachers are cut due to a lack of funds, but administration costs remain high.  PE and recess are cut and replaced with programs to teach environmental awareness, anti-bullying, drug avoidance, and sexual abuse defence techniques that are of little value in real world situations.  Julia’s parents stressed the importance of doing her best and made sure she did her homework.  They communicated regularly with her teachers.  Because of this, Julia worked hard and made good grades.

Age 18

Because she has made good grades Julia has qualified for a modest state sponsored scholarship.  She barely qualifies for a Pell grant because her parent’s income is almost to high even though they do not make enough to pay any of her college expenses.  She chooses a community college because it is the most cost-effective option, allowing her to live at home and commute to class.  Her scholarship and grant still are not enough to completely cover her school and expenses so she works part-time to fill the gap.  Her public school education has left her unprepared for college level work, she takes advantage of the resources the college offers, but in spite of her efforts to study hard, she fails her math and english courses.  Because the state sponsored scholarship pays some of the costs of trade school, Julia decides to drop out of college and attend cosmetology school.

Age 22

Julia has to undergo emergency surgery for an appendicitis.  The recent passage of Obama care mandates that she is covered under her parents care until age 26, however, before the passage of Obama care, she still would have been covered under her parents’ policy until her 23rd birthday because she is a student.

Age 23-25

Julia finishes cosmetology school and begins her career as a hair stylist. At first she lives with her parents, but through hard work and dedication to her career she lands a job at a prestigious salon and moves into her own apartment.  Among the benefits provided are health insurance and the opportunity to participate in a 401K program.   This particular salon offered such benefits even before Obama care was passed. Her insurance pays for mammograms, pap smears, yearly exams, and maternity care. Her copay for prescription birth control is fifty percent of the cost, but because she is focusing on establishing herself in this business and building a clientele, she has little time for a relationship or casual sex.

Age 29-31

Julia meets Ethan a local electrician.  They begin a relationship.  Julia explains to Ethan that since he would assume half the responsibility for raising a child, he should share half the responsibility for the cost of birth control. Ethan agrees. (He’s a keeper).  Since her insurance pays for half of the fifty dollar cost of birth control pills* and Ethan pays half of her half, her cost for the pill is a manageable $12.50 a month.  Julia and Ethan marry and decide to have a child.  Her maternity and child-birth costs are covered minus the $25.00 office copays and a $500.00 deductable. Because she and Ethan planned ahead for this child, money was saved and these expenses prove to be little problem for them.  Even though money is tight, they still make too much for Zachary to qualify for head start or other daycare options for underprivileged children.  Because neither of them can afford to quit their jobs, Julia’s mother agrees to watch little Zachary.

Age 37

Zachary starts preschool.   His parents make too much money for Zachary to qualify for school vouchers designed to give underprivileged children a chance at a better education, but they do not make enough to place him in private school.  His parents depend on both incomes to get by, so having Julia quit her job to home school Zachary is out of the question.  Julia has no other option but to place Zachary into the inferior public school system.

Age 42

Julia is a well-known stylist around town and has built up a loyal clientele.  She decides to open her own salon.  She qualifies for a small business  administration loan and purchases equipment.  She rents chair space to beginning hair stylists and teaches them the latest techniques.  In spite of a loyal and growing customer base, she is barely breaking even. The regulatory costs of the required insurances and licenses are high and the time required to keep up with the paperwork keeps her from her customers.  When the ADA fines her $25,000.00 for failure to install a wheelchair accessible styling chair even though she has no disabled customers or employees, she realizes she can no longer keep up.  Julia sadly informs her stylists and customers she must close.  She sells her salon equipment to pay off the fine and the remainder of her SBA loan. She then takes a job as an instructor at the local beauty college.

Age 65

Julia enrolls in medicare.  She has difficulty finding a competent doctor that accepts the plan.  She must pay out-of-pocket for a medicare supplement insurance plan to cover the gaps.  Ethan dies suddenly of a heart attack leaving her without his income. Fortunately he had the foresight to purchase life insurance even though paying the premiums was sometimes a struggle.  This allows Julia to pay off the mortgage and Ethan’s funeral expenses.

Age 67

Julia applies for Social Security.  The amount is nowhere near enough to cover her monthly expenses.  She rolled over her 401K into an IRA but was not always able to contribute to it when her business was struggling.  She realizes that her available cash flow is not enough to live on so she continues to work part-time at the beauty school as a receptionist so she doesn’t have to spend hours on her feet.

The truth is, neither scenario, whether it is Obama’s or the Heritage Foundations’s is going to help working class Julia.  Making her dependent on the government for her cradle to grave care will eventually backfire like it did in Greece.  Once the producers have been bled dry and robbed of any incentive to create wealth, the money will run out and untold misery will ensue.  On the other hand, unbridled capitalism will not reduce the cost of healthcare and education to the point where they will be within reach of working class families.  While it will create more freedom of choice, those choices mean nothing if you can’t afford them.

* Information on the cost of birth control pills was obtained from the Planned Parenthood website.

Putting Prayer Back in Public Schools

On Thursday, March 1st, the Florida State legislature passed SB, 98 www.flsenate.gov /Session/Bill/2012/0098/BillText/Filed/PDFwhich gives individual school districts the freedom to allow student led “inspirational messages” during mandatory assemblies and other school sponsored events. The bill was sponsored by a Democrat,

Florida State Capitol

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State Senator Gary Siplin, and was overwhelmingly passed with bi-partisan support.  A fact that might surprise many conservatives and Evangelicals.  The bill now awaits the probable signing from Governor Rick Scott.  Other states are taking notice and waiting to see how this law will play out in the practical application of public school policy.

As a Christian and a mother, I should be elated about this.  Over the past few decades we have seen the First Amendment being twisted and perverted into an instrument to deny Christians the right to freely practice our beliefs in public. Activities that are actually a positive influence on campus such as the annual See You At The Pole or groups such as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes are routinely banned from school property even though these activities are completely voluntary and take place outside of regular class hours.  Teachers are forbidden to acknowledge their Christian beliefs on their school website bios and are reprimanded for publicly expressing their beliefs even when they are outside of the school setting. This is wrong and is in opposition to the true intent of the First Amendment.

This bill, however, is a bad idea.  The bill’s only strongpoint is that it puts the authority for implementation in the hands of the individual school boards.  This is right because the boards are better able to determine the needs and beliefs of their communities better than the state government can.  The bill seeks to protect the schools from First Amendment litigation by giving the responsibility for choosing, who delivers the message and its content, to the discretion of the students.  School officials and employees are forbidden to interfere in any way with the students’ decisions. There is absolutely no way a school board can define what constitutes an “inspirational message” without violating the rights of one group or another. These messages could be anything from a prayer or devotional to an anarchist rant, or hate group rhetoric. Any student who has an ax to grind or just simply enjoys stirring up trouble will now have a platform.  Time and precious school resources would be wasted on the litigation that is sure to ensue if any school board tries to implement rules to curb the chaos.

The school system in Florida has many challenges.  Fixing a broken system of accountability is one. Though it is a well-intentioned attempt at restoring morality in the school system, this law will not work.  The only way to improve the quality of education in Florida or anywhere else in this country is to remind the schools that their purpose is to serve their students, parents and taxpayer supporters, not the other way around.  The only way to accomplish  what this bill is trying to do, is to implement school choice.

Full Civic Literacy Exam

several small American flags

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Today on the Neal Boortz show, he was talking about this test from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. It is scary that the test average for college professors was 55%. And yet, they keep increasing tuition costs. Go figure.Here’s the link. give it a try you will find it interesting.
By the way, in case you’re interested I scored 84.85%.

http://www.isi.org/quiz.aspx?q=FE5C3B47-9675-41E0-9CF3-072BB31E2692

Good Thing I Have My Boots On (I Just Stepped Into the Primordial Ooze)

William Blake's etching/watercolour "Anci...

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I have been thinking about the controversy behind the teaching of intelligent design in the public school system. My opinion is that the classroom should be a place where the free exchange of ideas can take place. That cannot happen in an environment of political indoctrination. That being said lets examine some of the reasons for the controversy.

We are told that intelligent design is not taught because it promotes a religious viewpoint. To determine if that is true we first have to define what constitutes a religion. My Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary’s fourth definition of a religion is, ” A cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.” This same dictionary’s second definition of faith is, ” A belief in something for which there is no proof.” The third definition is, “Something that is believed esp. with strong convictions.”

There is nothing in the Bible, no sermon, no theological study that can prove concretely, without the shadow of a doubt that God does in fact exist.  My belief in God is the result of my faith, based on my study of the Bible, my observations of the world around me and the sum of my experiences. That element of faith is what makes my belief a religion.

On the other hand, there is nothing that science can produce, no controlled experiment, no theory, that can prove concretely, without the shadow of a doubt that God in fact does not exist.  People choose to believe there is no God based on their study of scientific theories, their observations of the world around them and the sum of their experiences.  Without proof of the non-existence of God their believe is also based on faith.  This defines Atheism as a religion.

I do not disagree that the theory of intelligent design leaves open a door to the theory of Creationism, but Evolution by its implied indorsement of Atheism also promotes a religious belief.  The public education system cannot use the Constitution to allow one belief but not another.

Let’s take a look at the first amendment. It states” Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”.

According to this principle, Public schools cannot compel nor forbid the teachings of evolution or intelligent design.  I say let out teachers truly educate our children by giving them a well thought out lesson on both theories, then teach them how to have a civilized debate on the subject and then draw their own conclusions.

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