The proprietor of this blogge has developed a wonderful new computer program that analyzes content beyond mere word count or reading grade level. It's called the Blask-O-Wonderful Word Meter (patent pending); aka the Bow-WOW meter. Today's content analysis of this edition of the B-Blogge:
Persuasive reasoning: A+
Right-wing bile: .02 milliliters
Alliteration and assonance: Moses, Supposes, Harmoniously
Gratuitous invective: 0
Ad hominem attacks: 0.5
Dangling participles: 0
Psychedelic flashbacks: none or wait a minute, what's happening?
Flavinoids: 20% RDA
Conservative rating: 100% Red State!
Competition comes to the public schools monopoly
Sounds like the superintendent of Green Bay's government monopoly education establishment has been fully Matthews-ized. School choice, says the school system boss, represents "the dagger in the heart of public education."
I guess it's significant that someone from Packerland would use the "dagger" byword. But think for a moment what it says. It says that public schools could not survive competition provided by charter schools. If that is true, then why can't public schools survive? Is it because students and parents are eager for alternatives? And if they can't survive, why should they?
Let us also remember that charter schools ARE public schools. The student merely takes the district's funding with him or her to the school of their choice. There, I said it: "choice." It's a lovely word, isn't it?
Further, the Left's obeisance to the public school system is upside down and, typically, statist. The system is intended to serve the student as the consumer, not the other way around.
Gov. Scott Walker and key legislative allies are intent to spread the benefits of competition in K-12 education (we already have it post-high school). Paddy Mac talks about it here.
The Democrat(ic) Party of Wisconsin is the political arm of the teachers union. The reactionary Left -- John Nichols and Fighting Ed Garvey come to min -- cynically pander to the status quo agenda of the union lobby. No one beats the Comrade's ability to employ pejorative language or spin nefarious conspiracies of wealthy billionaires pulling strings behind the scene. Here is his lede paragraph:
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker continues to court national support for an extreme agenda of attacking public employees and public services while diminishing local democracy and shifting public money to private political allies. Despite the fact that Walker's moves have been widely condemned in his home state [but not by the majority of voters -- Blaska] the hyper-ambitious career politician [Jim E. Doyle, anyone?] has repeatedly suggested that he will not moderate his positions because he wants to shift the tenor of politics and policymaking far beyond Wisconsin. [ Gov. Walker takes fight to privatize education to D.C.]
Nichols wants someone to "moderate" their positions? Of course, Comrade Nichols has always been the most pro-union cheerleader on a non-union newspaper. And, as usual, he ignores the statistics demonstrating the failure of public education and offers no solutions.
The Atlantic magazine takes up school reform
Nobody screwed Little Jim E. Doyle -- he was once our governor, a very long time ago, it seems -- worse than the teachers unions. Here comes President Barack Obama to Wright Middle School in Madison, WI, arm-in-arm with Little Jimmy to announce a major new initiative: federal "Race to the Top" education grants that reward innovation. Millions of badly needed dollars are at stake.
What is the teachers union response? They sandbagged Little Jimmy. Wisconsin got no money because the unions -- and the Legislators they elected -- would brook no reform. I've written before about how the teachers unions are wearing out their welcome even among the good soldiers of the Left. (The emperor has no clothes.)
Indeed, the forces defending the status quo -- particularly the unions -- "are well organized and well financed." So writes the eight-year chancellor of the nation's largest K-12 school system, Joel Klein of New York City Schools, in the June 2011 edition of The Atlantic magazine that just hit the Karl Rove Reading Room here at the Stately Manor.
"Teachers unions consistently rank among the top spenders on politics," Klein writes, with the result that "firing a public school teacher for non-performance is virtually impossible." Just for props, Klein is no one's coat holder. In his previous life as a prosecutor, he sued giant Microsoft Inc.
Nearly three decades after A Nation at Risk ... the gains we have made in improving our schools are negligible -- even though we have doubled our spending (in inflation-adjusted dollars) on K-12 public education.
Klein relates the familiar litany of failure: our nation's high schools graduate only 7 of every 10 students. We rank 48th among nations in math and science education, according to the World Economic Forum. Etc. etc.
Klein calls for accountability, measuring student outcomes, compensation based on performance, technology, and competition.
Public education lacks ... accountability It is essentially a government-run monopoly. Whether a school does well or poorly, it will get the students it needs to stay in business because most kids have no other choice. That, in turn, creates no incentive for better performance, greater efficiency, or more innovation.
The former NYC schools chancellor proposes that every student have at least one alternative -- "and preferably several" -- to her neighborhood school. The man walked his talk in NYC by creating more than 100 charter schools. "Tellingly, 40,000 families chose these new schools and another 40,000 are on waiting lists. The traditional schools, as well as their employees and the unions, are screaming bloody murder."
Klein locks arms with fellow reformer Michelle Rhee in rejecting the mantra of collaboration.
That's bad advice. Collaboration is the elixir of the status-quo crowd. Consider one of the most cherished mantras in public education today -- "We'll never fix education until we fix poverty." This lets the school system off the hook.
Klein notes that Texas spends less on education than California but outperforms California on all four national tests, across demographic groups. Klein also rebuts Diane Ravitch's knocks on charter schools. Memo to the University of Wisconsin -- you invited Ravitch to a major seminar on campus; now invite Joel Klein.
Fred Milverstedt is a straight shooter
Your Squire has been admitted to membership at the Stoughton Conservation Club. It's a gun and archery shooting range. No, that's not his target results. It is the work of one Fred Milverstedt, the co-founder of TheDailyPage's parent, Isthmus. Fred achieved these results with his U.S./AK chambered in .308. ("If you think that AR-15 is loud ...," Fred comments, referring to the weapon witnessed at the Yellowstone Lake range. I relate that tale here.)
"Fired 18 rounds of two ammo brands, two different mags, and came up with this," says Milverstedt, referring to the scorched target depicted above.
Fred has been encouraging the Squire's newfound hobby of shooting off guns. Now a resident of Minnesota, he details his state's concealed carry rules:
Whereas "constitutional carry" may be the purest of initiatives behind the bill, I believe it is preferable for matters of practicality -- and the relative comfort level of those opposed to concealed carry -- that permitapplicants MUST demonstrate a prescribed degree of proficiency with the firearm before they bring it to the "training" course. This is presumed by the state-certified instructors. The "training" course, of two to four hours duration, is all about the laws, the responsibility of the permit holder to adhere to them and how they may be impacted if they should not. Lastly, either they shoot well on the course range or they don't; if they don't, they don't get their permit.
Minnesota, when you take the CC course, it is presumed that you are familiar with firearms, safety and that you are competent. Otherwise you shouldn't be taking the course. The course itself, taught by instructors certified by the state, is predominantly about the laws andthe greatresponsibility one undertakes inqualifying fora permit. I've taken the course twice--here, it's required that you renew your permit every five years and with that, you have to take the course again. On the average it's from two to four hours with the last third or so on the range. There, you have to show your proficiency. You shoot at varying ranges (now purty much limited to 25 feet or less, which is what the law is now figuring ought to be the distance in which you are defending yourself within reasonable parameters or conversely if you're chasing some asshole down the street, shooting at his back at 50 yards. You have to shoot at a reasonable standard; if you don't, you fail the course.
You can look it up, but since the Minnie law was enacted, circa '04, there have been less death ascribed to someone here violating a permit than there have been deaths ascribed to the Twin Cities light rail system. It's 4-1, I think. The one violation was a drunk at a bar in St. Paul who went and got his gun from his car after he'd been thrown out and came back and shot the bouncer. This guy is cooling his heels.
For you, find yourself a good gun instructor. Do you know Larry Gleasman? [Blaska: sure do!] Ask him who he might know. Tell him I sent you.
Once you have instruction, get some practice at the range, you can decide then if you want the CC permit or not.
Explain that to people in your blog. It's not just every asshole who applies can get one. They run a background check; if you're a bad guy, you can't own a gun anyway. You take an instructional course, and at the end of it you either shoot well at the target or you don't.
This is what prosperity looks like
If you don't think taxes matter, Sears is thinking of pulling its 6,000 employees out of Hoffman Estates and heavy equipment maker Caterpillar is casting eyes elsewhere. Illinois elected Democrats to control the legislature and the governor's office. They do what Democrats do: raise taxes. Meanwhile, Wisconsin chose Republicans. The haters on the Left can rail all they want against corporations, Wall Street, Fox News and whatever other hobgoblins go bump in the night. But people got to work and a poor man never offered me a job.
The Wall Street Journal reports today that Chief Executive magazine recently completed its annual survey of CEOs on the best and worst states for business. The 500 CEOs graded the states on taxes and regulation, the quality of the work force and living environment, among other categories. Wisconsin made the biggest jump of any state, and one of the largest in the history of the survey, rising to 24th from 41st in 2010 and 43rd in 2009.
Illinois has dropped 40 places in five years and, as the magazine puts it, "is now in a death spiral."
Too many of my former colleagues in the public sector think because they pay taxes on their generous salaries and benefits they don't need a private sector to support the services they provide -- that an economy can be sustained by selling each other memberships in the Sierra Club. Please, schools, teach practical economics to our young people!