Tag Archives: education

FACTS AND FICTIONS: Who is to blame for America’s failing schools?

The most recent national study shows an education system that hasn’t improved in spite of high-level government attention and vastly increased funding. The only bright spot is the performance of charter schools. There is a message there. Increased funding and government hands-on programs and the imposition of national goals do not result in improved student performance.

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Is it the teachers’ fault? I don’t think so. Teacher ranks are not filled with stupid cast-offs who just can’t do anything but teach. Anyone who has stood in front of a class knows teaching is hard work that takes constant dedication and an ability to identify with student needs each and every day. Would more pay and benefits attract better teachers? Again, I think not. American students are quite capable of excelling in any international ranking system. Let’s rule out the problems of teachers who can’t teach and students who can’t learn.

I have heard people blame the Teacher’s Union. Why is that? I don’t remember the Teacher’s Union claiming they would improve student national scores. Like all unions, their concern was and is with the members of their union. They have improved teacher pay, working conditions, and benefits. Who does the Teacher’s Union negotiate with? No one owns our educational system. Therefore, they do not have to bargain with owners as do the steel or auto worker unions with the owners of their industry.  Like all public service unions, they do not negotiate with people who have financial skin in the game. That is a problem. But it is not central to the failure of our public education system in America.

Why do charter schools have a better record of educating our children? Are the teachers better? Do charter schools have more resources, better school building, teaching materials? Better pay and benefits for teachers? Again, the answer is no!

We, the parents of the children, are the problem. We have allowed the centralization virus to run rampant in America’s educational system. The reason, I believe, charter schools have better records is because they do not have so many regulations that govern how teachers teach in our public schools. Charter school teachers have far more flexibility in designing teaching programs that motivate students to learn. Charter schools can promote teachers based on merit, not longevity. They can also fire teachers who are not meeting their local standards.

Whether on a local, county, state, or national level, we have allowed the centralization process in our public schools to grow to the point it is unmanageable. More power must be given to local school systems, especially to the teachers. Let the teachers teach.

It is my top priority to develop captivating stories that people will want to read and talk about. But I also want my stories to give readers a deeper understanding of issues that may — and possibly already have — invaded their world. There is truth within every fiction if you know where to look. All of my stories, and the characters within them, are based on actual events and people. Like I have always said since my days in the CIA, were I permitted to talk or write about real-world intelligence activities, no one would believe the tales. I resort to fiction, hoping the readers can read between the lines.
Blog: factsandfictions.com | Twitter: @factsfictions80

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INSIGHTS 256 The Real Choice

676_3743183Do you believe the FBI has the political courage to recommend Hillary Clinton be brought up on criminal charges for her exposure of classified information and the use of her political office for financial gain via the Clinton Foundation? Remember such a charge would seriously harm the Democratic Party’s pursuit of the Presidency. Bringing charges against Hillary when it is only months away from the election would probably make it impossible for the Democratic Party to mount an effective campaign. Each passing day is critical to their campaign. I think the FBI may have the courage to recommend a Grand Jury but the Justice Department will not act to pursue the FBI’s recommendation. They will find someway to bury or nullify the charges. Remember the Justice Department is the Presidents. Attorney Generals do not indict Presidents or their primary advisors. Did President Nixon’s Justice Department seriously investigate the Watergate affair? No, it was the media and the Congress.

So who would head up the Democratic Party’s campaign for the Presidency if Hillary has to drop out, Bernie Sanders? That would be great. A real choice between Socialism and Capitalism. Trump against Sanders. America needs to have this political battle. The creeping socialism of the last few decades is more dangerous than giving people the clear choice between Capitalism and Socialism. Our entire educational system leans hard to the side of Socialism. Just ask the Teachers Union a series of questions about their treatment of free enterprise and big government in the class room. Almost everyone under 30 years of age believes in the beautiful words socialists use to describe redistribution of wealth, a fair shot for everyone, and very high taxes on the wealthy and corporations. They haven’t lived long enough or read enough history to see that the promises of Socialism lead to the ugly repression of elite government where all of life’s important choices are made for all people, except the elites. They may love Bernie but they won’t like where he is leading them. But Trump also has a problem.

While Hillary is threatened by a criminal indictment, Donald Trump is being attacked by people who should be supporting him. The Republican establishment composed of career politicians and self-appointed keepers of the purity of conservatism has failed to keep faith with the people who sent them to Washington. They are far more interested in perpetuating their own positions than in solving the nation’s problems. Just look at how they have taken care of themselves. Incredible life-long pensions for very short periods of service, ability to vote themselves raises, exemption from the onerous provisions of the laws they pass but that don’t apply to members of Congress. Now these pampered members of the political class are doing all they can to end Donald Trump’s journey to winning the Republican Party’s nomination. They are frightened because they know his success will endanger their elite existence. They will not be able to control him and he owes nothing to the lobbyists who fund so many members of the Republican and Democratic career politicians. So far he has been doing a very strange thing. He has been listening to the American People and they have not. Only a very small handful of Senators or Representatives have been doing the work of the people. None of them are in positions of power, including the Speaker and the Senate Majority leader. They claim to be dedicated to the traditional principles of the conservative movement. Maybe, but I don’t believe it. They are champions of the go alone, get along group that have aided President Obama’s socialist transformation of America policies. Just look at the last budget Speaker Ryan put forward. Exciting times! Stay tuned. Stay informed.

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Filed under Barry Kelly, Capitalism, Clinton, Conservative views, democrats, Eight Decades of Insights, Intelligence & Politics, political solutions

EIGHT DECADES OF INSIGHTS 129

IS THE PRESIDENT INEPT?

President Obama, photo by the New York Daily News.

President Obama, photo by the New York Daily News.

Many people, including many political scholars and sitting elected officials, often describe the president as inept, clueless, unengaged, and a poor leader. Yet President Obama has bested them in every conflict. He lurks in a cloud of disinterest and mind-numbing bumbling.

If that is your image of President Obama, you are wrong.

Here is a man from a modest economic background. He grew up without family connections that would assure his future. Barack Hussain Obama was raised  mostly by a single mother. He was surrounded by people who leaned far to the left. Somehow this young black man with a white mother got into and graduated from prestigious American universities. His grades are not public but we have to assume he was educated well. It is hard to attend Columbia and Harvard universities without embracing a far left political ideology.

At some point in this educational journey, he found his way to the teaching of Saul Alinsky, a brilliant American revolutionary intellectual. (Read his book Rules for Radicals if you think otherwise.)  Both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton found their respective ways to Saul Alinsky’s revolutionary ideology by different paths, but both today are practicing progressives. (That term is one Alinsky thought was more acceptable in America than Socialism or Communism). Let’s agree that a stupid or inept man could not have gotten into and graduated from Columbia and Harvard with a law degree. Nor could a clueless, incompetent man make his way to the Illinois Senate, the U.S. Senate and finally become a two-term president.

The reason Republican intellectuals and elected politicians think he is inept is that they don’t understand the rules he plays by. They focus on problems and issues that need to be solved for the good of the nation or, more narrowly, their political party. President Obama does not focus on the same problems or issues. He is above that. Problems will always be with us. The proper use of problems according to Obama and Saul Alinsky is to use the issues that are associated with or come from the national problems to destroy your political opponents. Once you have destroyed the opposition and seized power, then you can fix America’s problems by establishing a one-party socialist government run by a progressive elite. The process is called Transforming America. Heard that before? Maybe from President-Elect Obama’s ordination speech in Chicago.

I believe the president must be astonished that his opposition has not yet figured out his game plan. I believe the progressive plan is so simple yet unique in American politics that lifetime politicians cannot grasp that Obama does not now care a whit about immigration, jobs, health care, education, foreign policy, terrorism, energy, military force size, debt, nor any other issue important to present and past political leaders. He or his successor will focus on those issues once they established a strong socialist state.

InsightsI have written the only book I know of that explains President Obama and the progressive game plan point by point or issue by issue. President Obama is not just a worse Jimmy Carter. He is a political type we have never before seen in America. He has no love or even an identification with the greatness of America and will destroy everything Americans have fought for since we arrived on these shores.

Read: INSIGHTS: Transforming America — Is this what we fought for?

By the author of the Brandon adventure/thriller novels.

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by | July 16, 2014 · 7:30 am

EIGHT DECADES OF INSIGHTS 109

 BACK TO AMERICA

Let’s pretend it’s November 10th, 2016. Hopefully the American people elected Republican president. We do not want to hear any “them and us” rhetoric nor anything about “saving the middle class.” We want the government to get out of the way of the middle class so those people can help themselves, as they are fully capable of doing. We do not want to hear any speeches with a class warfare message. No “fair shots” or “leveling the playing field” or “income equality” or excuses for American excellence or military power. Nothing should be delegated to internationalism and no more whining about global warming nor cap and trade.

Here’s what needs and should be on his or her agenda for the first year of his or her presidency to get America back on the right track (or at least off the wrong track that Obama put us on for the past eight years):

— Focus on the economy, and part of that is dealing with Obamacare. Most of it has to be destroyed. The next president should want to make sure all Americans have access to medical care that offers things like no cancellations for pre-existing conditions and allows sons and daughters to remain on their parent’s policies until age 26. People should own their health insurance polices, so they can take them from job to job. The IRS should be removed from the health insurance field and so should HHS. Insurance companies will be allowed to trade across state lines. Tort reform will be part of the plan. States will have most of the responsibilities. Beyond a few necessary functions the national government will have no health insurance management responsibilities. The new health legislation will be series of bills passed and implemented on a step-by-step basis.

–Immigration will be dealt with in the same way. There are enough bipartisan votes to deal with immigration one piece at a time. First the border is fixed so thousands of people crossing the border illegally is stopped without being killed. Better leadership at the top level of border enforcement is a must and a new justice department is part of the fix. We will not deport millions of people who have been here for years nor are we going to break up families. However, those who break our laws, commit crimes, or belong to a violent gang are out of here.

–A new bipartisan tax structure should be ongoing in the first hundred days. The speaker and the majority leader should select a bipartisan committee of senators and representatives who are not from the no-compromise ideologue wings of either party. Spending needs to be put under control and a growth-friendly tax policy is a way to start. The tax policy will include everyone. It is not a healthy economy that has less than half of its citizens paying all the federal income tax load. Cutting out loopholes, phasing out subsidies, allowing U.S. companies to bring wealth home without penalty, abolishing death taxes, and a tax code the average citizen can understand must all be part of tax reform.

–The energy policy will get rid of the regulatory baggage that is killing the energy industry. Some oversight is required, but minimal. At the end of the president’s first term, America can be a significant energy exporter and thousands of well-paying jobs can be created.

–A bill should be introduced that prohibits bailouts of private industries. There is a process for that already and it is called bankruptcy. The Federal Reserve is one area that may need more regulation. It is essentially a system of private banks that function without sufficient oversight.

–Social welfare programs gradually need to be brought into a solid financial status. A number of incremental small changes will have enough bipartisan support to pass without a inter-party battle.

–The education system is broken but it is not the job of the federal government to manage education. That function is left to the states and localities. Charter schools or vouchers to parents will be encouraged.

–The military force needs emergency funding to build up the force level, provide new weaponry, take better care of veterans, and improve the ability now to move and support military power. Strength and peace are linked.The G.I. Bill that provides college tuition linked to years served should be reinstated. Many nations, like Putin’s Russia, respect only strength. No more wimpy rhetoric coming off teleprompters. There is a real war with terrorism going on, so we should call it that.

–Foreign policy should be a function of the people assigned to the Cabinet. It should support democracy everywhere and resist totalitarian governments of all kinds, including those run by extremist clerics. It should be clear that unless Muslim nations accept Israel as a nation, they can not count America as an ally.

–Environmental policies should be based on strong scientific evidence, not on the ideology of bureaucrats.

–A bipartisan group of politicians, industry people, and academics should be called upon to validate or cancel current regulations.

–Judges should be nominated to our national courts who have demonstrated they adhere to Constitutional and existing laws when making decisions.

What do you think?

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EIGHT DECADES OF INSIGHTS 100

EDUCATION: BETTER OR WORSE?

Teaching is a wonderful vocation. My mother taught in a small, rural school in Western Pennsylvania. My brother, his wife and two children taught in

schoolhallway

 the public school system. One is still teaching. All of them are wonderful people. With them the kids always came first. I believe the great majority of American teachers are good people, interested in educating the nation’s children. If that’s true, what then is the problem with the public schools? Something has to be. Probably more than one thing. A recent study I read made a convincing case that our kids compete well with children around the world up to the fourth grade. After four years in the public schools, American children rank lower every year after. The longer they attend public schools, the lower they rank on the international scale. No improvements are in sight.

The breakdown of the family, the violence we tolerate in our inner-city schools, the emasculation of intra-school discipline, and the sweep of political correctness across America all contribute to the state of education as it exists today. A lack of money is not the problem. Washington, D.C., has one of the highest spending rates per student in the nation and its public school system does not serve its children well. I blame two major elements. The first is the growth and power of the teacher’s union. It is now near the top ranking of unions in the wielding of political power. Look at the recent conflict between Governor Scott Walker and the teachers’ union in Wisconsin.

The teacher’s union predominately supports Democratic candidates and policies. So what! That shouldn’t result in the failure of the public schools to serve the nation’s children. Education is the primary pathway to improving social and financial status. If the teacher’s union was primarily made up of Republicans would that improve our public schools? Certainly the failure of the public school system is not because of the political orientation of its membership.

More likely, the failure is the centralization of education and the management of the union that has put political bureaucrats in charge of the nation’s education. The union now exists to grow its power and protect its members. Its number one goal is not to educate our children nor to ensure that the best teachers get rewarded for their work. The states and local school boards are supposed to be in charge of the public schools in their respective states. Schools and universities should not be pushing a political viewpoint. The school’s job is to teach students how to think, not what to think. If, like the unions believe, our public schools are successfully educating our youth, why should they be so adamant against ‘school choice’ and charter schools? This country became great because it valued education and allowed the growth of great universities. Why won’t the Democrats and the union allow the best pre-college schools to flourish? Parents and the children will exercise their freedom to chose the best schools. The result will be the education system our children deserve.

In the meantime, we have a Progressive administration led by a president who does not support school choice. The elite left never does. It goes against their basic ideology. The elite Progressive leadership knows better than you do what education your children should have. It’s a progressive nightmare to try and control a free market system of user’s choice in the field of education. School choice is not in the cards for those focused on transforming America into a socialist totalitarian society.

By the author of the Brandon novels. Like me on Facebook at facebook.com/factsandfictions.

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Eight Decades of Insights – 8

I’ve noticed my ability to pontificate has increased with age. Since, at the same time, I believe I have some things to say, I’ll ignore this dangerous combination.  Pushing on through the twin perils of giving birth to boring text and unproven assertions, I decided to use my new skills to probe the next decade. No matter where I begin, the probe hits the barrier of political polarization just under the surface. The sharp divide along class lines and ideology that has arisen with Obama’s reign is not as dangerous to our way of life as the fissures leading to the Civil War or the War Between the States. Nomenclature is the responsibility of the reader.

It is nowhere close. Calls for class warfare and the redistribution of wealth will not lead to a clash of arms. The more reasonable and largest segment of our political spectrum is the Center. Who are tired of the ideological cries that ‘the sky is falling’ from the extreme left and right wings. President Obama is not an evil entity. He is merely an inept man clinging to a discarded ideology. With different life experiences, he might have made a fair to middling President. So far he has not done irreparable harm. Any pragmatic experienced leader/manager can get us back on track for his replacement will have a great force to assist him or her govern in 2012 or 2016.

The Center, consisting of moderates and pragmatists, can rally all Americans in the name of national survival. The financial crisis will focus our attention on the need to drastically cut spending and balance the national budget, leading to a much smaller national government. The Center knows the lessons of history. Keynesian economics, that believes government spending, even of borrowed money, can stimulate the national economy has never worked. Not for FDR and not for Obama. Americans have always been willing to make sacrifices in the name of national security and the well-being of the next generation. No fear, in the next four to eight years, the threat from irresponsible spending and borrowing will be clear to all. Well, maybe the ideologues on the far left will still debate using their own facts. But they will truly be voices in the wilderness.

Along with fiscal responsibility, an overhaul of the tax budget is necessary. A tax code that is understandable, progressive in nature, and drastically reduces the over 40% who pay no income taxes will alleviate the impact of the strident calls for class warfare and the anti-business rhetoric emanating from the Administration. Term limits on Congress are necessary to improve their responsiveness to the people they represent. Three terms for a Senator and five for House members seems both fair and pragmatic.

The next decade will bring a crisis in national defense. Probably very early in the decade. Again the citizens will rally behind the need for a strong military. The conflict with Islam militants will not go away until moderate followers of Islam put their own house in order. Their past record does not lead to much hope. Again the Center knows that peace comes through strength. Respect is a stronger force for influence in world politics than striving to be liked. The dangers of a nuclear Iran, a rogue Pakistan, an unmistakable growing militarism in China, a probable increasing radicalization of Islam, especially in the Middle East and a democracy killing leadership in Russia will motivate us to make the sacrifices necessary to defend our country and our friends. These threats will clearly expose The UN for what is has become, a forum for discussion of popular causes. At times nice to have, but not worth the disproportionate share of American dollars.

The next decade will see the United States become a major supplier of oil and natural gas and their derivative products. We are moving that way now. As soon as the fossil fuel hating bureaucracy is changed for a less ideological and more pragmatic regime our production of fuel will jump ahead. At the same time responsible investment in alternative sources of energy will be market driven with seed money from the national budget when necessary.

The free wheeling days of the Federal Reserve will come to an end. The printing of money and the unnatural  fixing of interest rates will require more than the deliberations of a group of experts meeting in secrecy. Another experiment that will run its course in the next ten years is the national control of education. It has not worked. The result has been a dumbing down of the educational system and the creation of the self-serving Teachers Union that has made a sham out of collective bargaining and failed to teach the nation’s children. The Department of Education will be abolished and replaced by a very small Presidential Advisory Council. The primary role of educating our children will be delegated to the States.

Two more important changes will occur.  A centrist government and those who elected it, will wonder if the government having more union members than the private sector is a good thing. The government union members have no skin in the game and really no  one with whom to conduct collective bargaining. Certainly the government bureaucrats on the other side of the table have no skin in the  game. In the private sector where real collective bargaining takes place as long as the government stays out of it are moving toward having a real stake in the company they work for. That’s a good thing. My last look into the future is in the area of medical care. Any government elected by the Center has to take on medical care of the people. There are pragmatic solutions. Using the forces of the market place to the extent possible is a starting point. Any system that allows patients to deal with their doctors and to have a say in the cost of their treatment will have an impact on pricing.

Obviously you cannot do justice to the next decade in a thousand words. But we all need to think about this coming election and concentrate on the real issues at stake. If not now, it will get harder and more dangerous later. It is time to begin.

Thank you to those who have read this.

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