Category Archives: Education

Articles about education, the education system, teachers, and students.

Thoughts On “Christian” Child Abuse

The Resurgence: Father's Don't Provoke Your ChildrenAnother couple has been found guilty of murder for the death of their child after they used the “parenting” advice found in the book “To Train Up A Child” by Mike and Debi Pearl.

The New York Times headline lumps all corporal punishment under the same roof as the abusive advice of the Pearls.

A friend of the parents most recently found guilty points out “the Pearls are not professionally trained or educated in child development.”

First off let me be clear: These parents are evil and deserve the full and just punishment for  the abuse and murder of their children. How heartless, callous, cruel, and stupid must you be to consider sending your young child naked into the cold to be reasonable punishment, a good idea?

Yes, children are sinners just like you and I, and discipline is necessary to guide them into being healthy adults, but the goal is never to break the child. These are children, not horses. Discipline is about structure, structure is about direction, direction is about purpose. The goal of discipline is to grow within the child the self-discipline necessary for them to be able to accomplish their own purposes in life. Breaking a child’s will robs them of purpose and so is not a legitimate goal or form of discipline.

Parents who consider advice such as the Pearls dispense sound are doing grave disservice to their children at best, and are harming their children immeasurably at worst.

But we have to also be clear about a few others things as well:

  • Professional training in child development does not in any way make a person a legitimate expert able to dispense advice that would be any more right or effective than the destructive trash put out by the Pearls. Experience and success, or even an honest understanding of the source of ones failures, are more likely to present advice worth reading, and even if that is read, it ought to be run past your own common sense, for what is successful with one child may not necessarily be successful with another, even one in the same family.
  • Corporal punishment, spanking, is often illustrated with extreme cases where the intent is clearly harm to the child, when there is no proof that is how it primarily exists. The very fact that these isolated cases are such big news is that they are isolated. Most parents are not beating their children with plastic tubing until they “draw into a quiet shell and obey”.
  • The Bible in no way supports the ideas of breaking children down. Instead, twice in the New Testament Paul tells fathers to not provoke their children to wrath, anger, exasperation, embitterment, or discouragement (Ephesians 6:4, Colossians 3:21).

So far as we know the Pearls have not committed any crimes themselves. Freedom of speech and of the press means that in this country at least they ought to still be free to publish their drivel and silly people are still free to follow them. Not every child raised by adherents of the Pearls folly die, and some even turn out all right I’d presume. But like the leftist Democrats in the Westboro Baptist “Church” the Pearls ought to be confronted with wisdom and truth by some, and studiously ignored by all others, and parents ought to be surrounded by their family, friends, and community with good and sound advice and help and support.

Democrats Want To Continue Failing Our Children

President Obama has failed these children

President Obama, the man figuratively chosen to lead the Democrat party, and literally chosen to lead the United States of America, wants to maintain the status quo of education in this country and, if anything, bolster the same system that is currently failing out children in record numbers in inner cities and poor neighborhoods across this country.

In a system which currently fails black children, hispanic children and other minorities not by giving them failing grades but by failing to actually educate them in a meaningful way, the President says we must not “shortchange” the children by addressing the real causes of failure in our schools.

Responding to the GOP proposals for cutting the budget and reigning in the rampant and run-away spending that is currently costing our great grandchildren their fiscal futures, President Obama shows a shocking lack of willingness to deal with reality, either economically or educationally:

“Even as we focus on speeding up our economic recovery, we also know that when it comes to jobs, opportunity, and prosperity in the 21st century, nothing is more important than the quality of your education,” the president said in his weekly address on the radio and the Internet.

If Republicans controlled Congress, the U.S. would have a harder time offering children the best education because “they’d have us cut education by 20 percent,” Obama said.

The president said “tough” choices need to be made to reduce the federal budget deficit, “but what I’m not prepared to do is shortchange our children’s education.” (Bloomberg and The Associated Press)

When education bureaucrats get 6-figure salaries while teachers have a hard time getting the supplies they need there is a real problem. And have you seen the list of stuff parents have to buy for their children before and during the school year? (This from a New York charter school or this from an Austin, TX public school.)

When the Los Angeles school district broke through the morass of union and bureaucratic opposition and attempted to stop the evil practice of “social promotion” they found one thing they couldn’t get around: over half of the children would have to be held back due to poor grades. The administrators were not willing to make this necessary and truly meaningful policy change, and so the Los Angeles school district continued failing our children.

Democrats have failed these boys too

School districts, the US education system, and teachers and their unions have been primarily and overwhelmingly Democrat for the last 40 years. The blame for these and many other failures have been the Democrats being beholden to special interests besides the parents and our children, and being enslaved to an ideology of social revolution based on an assumption of the inherent goodness of mankind and the inherent badness of any social system more advanced than a tribe.

It is time to break and hold of Democrats on the education system of the United States. It is time to force the bureaucracy to starve itself and go away and allow the proven successful reforms of local education control, merit pay and easy firing of failing teachers, school choice and competition between public and private schools.

Inner city school children are being overwhelmingly condemned to a life of poverty because they are being failed by an education system whose policies and people have been shaped and controlled by liberals and Democrats.

Enough is enough. You cannot have hope for the future if your future has been sold for political power.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Threat Of Tax And Regulation Is No Stimlus

Allan Meltzer calls it like it is with the sub head on this article:

Why Obamanomics Has Failed
Uncertainty about future taxes and regulation is enemy No. 1 of economic growth

Let us put our minds together and imagine for a moment, a world in which we ran businesses.

We must buy and sell and add value. We must hire and employ and sometimes even fire. We must take what we have and mix all the depths of our creativity along with every ounce of our passion and most of our effort and life into the raw materials of labor and goods to develop a product. And then we must sell that product for more than it cost us to make it.

Let us say we’ve found that point at which enough people who want it can afford it. That’s something we learned in economics years ago in college when our professors went gaga for a whole semester over these two curved lines and we spent the whole semester trying to figure out where they met.

And we’ve controlled out costs until they are just below that point where the curves of cost and demand meet. That is called a profit. We’re a small outfit and don’t spend too much effort on innovation except to encourage it when and where we can. And so with our costs mostly flat, we can’t really increase the quality or complexity of the product without making it more expensive, which would take us out of that sweet spot in pricing and we’d lose customers as a result.

This is where many small businesses are. This is also where many medium and even a few large businesses are. In fact, most companies who employ most of the people and shuffle the most money around most efficiently are in this boat, right alongside us.

Most businesses don’t operate from malicious greed, despite what Hollywood and the popular culture will try to get us to believe. Most businesses operate with the understand that they can only make money so long as they are making  sufficient numbers of other people sufficiently happy.

Some people don’t get this.

Most professors outside of business school don’t get this. And many professors inside business school don’t either. It’s a curse of our amazing educational system that it has attracted and nurtured minds that are as closed to facts of life as any that walk this earth and still remain sentient.

Most people who get into politics and become successful at it are the same, though they are for a different reason.

You get what you ask for and what you deserve. And because many people in America, average Joes and Janes alike, do not get this, politicians take what is called a populist stance, and become whatever they must in order to win a few more votes.

Sock it to ’em, the little man says on the corner. And the big Man, because he wants to keep that little man needing him and thus voting for him, echoes the cry. But when the big Man speaks, things may actually happen.

Regulation, taxation, “fair shares” and “spreading the wealth” all sound so very good to those of us living on the dole or spending too much time gazing up the tall ladder above us filled with so many other people and wishing there were an easier way than taking it one step at a time.

In hopes of making it easier to climb the ladder, and perhaps out of a little jealousy at those who have gotten higher on the ladder than you or I, we subscribe to the notion that the government ought to be the arbiter of the “fair share”, the decider of “enough”. Actually, it’s mostly out of jealousy. We don’t want to climb the ladder, we’re content in our squalor and mediocrity. We just want everybody else to roll in the same mud we are.

So there is the promise of taxation and regulation, making it harder and more expensive to make those products and to deliver those services than it was before. We hope that the extra taxes and regulation will fill the government purses and that we’ll benefit from the largesse, but we’re not expecting to buy a new house based on the unearned raise.

Or maybe we are.

The problem is, instead of helping everybody up the ladder, taxation and regulation only chop the ladder a little shorter. Sure, you’re nearer the top, but only because the top was lowered, not because you’re any higher.

So that company we’re each running in our heads right now, it has the costs balanced carefully with the price to hit that sweet spot where we can attract the most people possible. But now you have to task Sally and Harriet and Jim and Larry to filling out these forms and making sure these reports are run. Why? Because the government decided they know better how to run your company than you do. Except, instead of these forms and reports benefiting you, you’re paying 4 people just to fill out forms and run reports instead of produce goods and improve your services.

That’s dead weight.

You have to spend resources without a corresponding benefit to you. Of course you raise prices but you can’t raise the quality, but now fewer people can afford it. Or you cut quality but keep the prices level, and now fewer people buy it because it’s not as attractive.

You have to lay people off. Now you’ve sloughed off your dead weight onto the general economy. Your taxes and everybody else’s taxes are now paying for the employees you used to pay independently.

That’s the reality of taxation and regulation.

Productive businesses don’t like taxes and regulation, and they’ll seek ways to avoid and minimize their exposure to them.

Now, what about the threat of taxes and regulation?

The threat of taxation and regulation is the same effect as the fact of taxation and regulation, except magnified.

Once the taxation and regulation are in place, there is little the business can do. If it wants to survive it does the best it can to manage costs. Quality suffers, but because it suffers for most other companies too, it’s only the consumer (you and I) who lose out in the crap we pay real money for in the stores. That’s inflation. The same dollar used to by a real sweet whiz bang that is still whiz banging away 20 years later and now that dollar just buys a whiz, and a cheap one at that. But the costs have stabilized and now we just have to keep pressing ahead if we’re going to survive as a business.

When the taxation and regulation are threatened, companies go into protection mode. Any ejectable dead weight is ejected. Any loose operations are cut. Anything that can be jettisoned is jettisoned. And real people are fired. And real lives are hurt.

Just for the threat of taxation and regulation.

It’s not that the businesses are mean and vengeful. In your mind-business you know you’re a good employer. You’re caring and you’ve got a great little family growing out of all the individuals you’ve hired. But with your costs already high and threatening to go higher, you’ve got to let someone go. If you don’t let someone go, you’ll be forced to let all of them go when you’re bankrupt. You have to cut their pay or fire them, there’s no middle ground. And even though they say they understand and are glad to still have a job even if it doesn’t pay quite as many bills as it did, you know you’ve hurt them deeply and they really are upset at you.

Were you a fool for getting into business in the first place?

Those who claim to love the most and care the most and feel the most are often guided by uneducated and ignorant feelings into callous and silly actions with effects that are not silly.

Allan Meltzer has seen silly people’s desires ignored to the benefit of entire nations:

In 1980, I had the privilege of advising Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to ignore the demands of 360 British economists who made the outrageous claim that Britain would never (yes, never) recover from her decision to reduce government spending during a severe recession. They wanted more spending. She responded with a speech promising to stay with her tight budget. She kept a sustained focus on long-term problems. Expectations about the economy’s future improved, and the recovery soon began.

That’s what the U.S. needs now. Not major cuts in current spending, but a credible plan showing that authorities will not wait for a fiscal crisis but begin to act prudently and continue until deficits disappear, and the debt is below 60% of GDP. Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wisc.) offered a plan, but the administration and Congress ignored it.

We don’t need feelers and healers at the head of this nation. We need heads, brains, experienced and opinionated people with strength of character and resolve. But mostly, experienced and sound.

When there is a strong plan there is hope. Real hope, not in change, but in the future.

For just as the threat of taxation and regulation stagnate and stifle and strangle and hurt, a sure and steady plan which shows how those in authority will not abuse their power but will shrink themselves and leave to the businesses the running of those businesses and leave to the people the living of lives and leave to the churches the telling of morals and leave to the press, the real press and not these buffoons gasping for relevancy in front of their unblinking cyclopses, the telling of the truth, will result in growth as sure as if that plan were in effect.

So throw out the buffoons who don’t know the bitter end from the over priced breadstick they had on your dime at some gala affair list night. Throw out the scoundrels who’d rather take your child’s inheritance than force their own children to work honestly. Hamstring the bums who prefer the golf course to the desk, the courts to the shoreline, make then 1st term lame ducks, the whole lot of them.

After all, we’ve got businesses to run.

The Blueberry Story: A Failure Of Analogy

I came across the Blueberry Story recently. It didn’t pass the sniff test, but I couldn’t immediately explain why.

Jamie Vollmer was the CEO of an ice cream company that made, at one time, what some considered the best ice cream in America. He was also a sharp critic of the public school system, and shared his criticisms before an assembly of teachers and educators.

I was convinced of two things.  First, public schools needed to change; they were archaic selecting and sorting mechanisms designed for the industrial age and out of step with the needs of our emerging “knowledge society”.  Second, educators were a major part of the problem: they resisted change, hunkered down in their feathered nests, protected by tenure and shielded by a bureaucratic monopoly.  They needed to look to business.  We knew how to produce quality. Zero defects! TQM! Continuous improvement!

At the end of this particular talk he took questions from the audience.

As soon as I finished, a woman’s hand shot up.  She appeared polite, pleasant – she was, in fact, a razor-edged, veteran, high school English teacher who had been waiting to unload.

She began quietly, “We are told, sir, that you manage a company that makes good ice cream.”

I smugly replied, “Best ice cream in America, Ma’am.”

“How nice,” she said. “Is it rich and smooth?”

“Sixteen percent butterfat,” I crowed.

“Premium ingredients?” she inquired.

“Super-premium! Nothing but triple A.”  I was on a roll.  I never saw the next line coming.

“Mr. Vollmer,” she said, leaning forward with a wicked eyebrow raised to the sky, “when you are standing on your receiving dock and you see an inferior shipment of blueberries arrive, what do you do?”

In the silence of that room, I could hear the trap snap….  I was dead meat, but I wasn’t going to lie.

“I send them back.”

“That’s right!” she barked, “and we can never send back our blueberries.  We take them big, small, rich, poor, gifted, exceptional, abused, frightened, confident, homeless, rude, and brilliant.  We take them with ADHD, junior rheumatoid arthritis, and English as their second language. We take them all!  Every one! And that, Mr. Vollmer, is why it’s not a business.  It’s school!”

He was unable to reply to such ideas. And it took me a day to realize what was wrong with this teachers argument.

First, there is truth in both what Mr. Vollmer said and in what this teacher said. Neither of them are completely correct, and neither of them are completely wrong.

The big hole in this educators argument is that children are not the only resource in a school.

When you’re building a product commercially you gather all sorts of raw materials and assemble them and process them to create a finished product. Businesses are primarily rewarded by doing this more efficiently and with more quality than other companies. However, simple physical raw materials are never the entire picture.

You can take blueberries and cream and sugar and eggs and ice and salt and throw them together all day and it will not turn into ice cream. You must have a goal, a guiding principle, a primary idea which directs the process from beginning to end. This idea begins before any raw materials are assembled and achieves fruition and is born into reality in the end product.

In a school children are both a raw material and eventually the fruition and reality of this idea. A healthy, intelligent, wise, productive and strong member of society is the hoped-for result of any school. When children are the raw material (as small children first coming into the school) they indeed cannot be turned away. The school must take any and all. The teacher is right about this.

However, there are many other raw materials which may (and indeed should) be turned away at the loading dock for insufficient quality. Teachers are one of the raw materials of our education system. Those who can’t do, teach, is a sad but true tale of many who comprise the front lines of education in America. Low academic standards does not attract the best and the brightest to this profession. Many of the best teachers teach because they love to. Many others do it because they cannot find so secure a position with as healthy a payroll or extensive benefits in the private sector.

Education philosophies are another raw material that can and should be examined in light of reality and not in light of the establishment’s preconceived notions of the state of the world.

Specific subjects that do not pertain directly to healthy functioning in society also ought to be turned away at the door.

The lesson that schools should take from business, first and foremost, is that competition is good for everybody involved.

The only people who will be hurt by school vouchers, charter schools, more local control of education, and less federal nannying are teachers who aren’t up to snuff and entrenched and ensconced administrators who cannot really justify their silly existence.

The teacher was right, they can’t turn away children from school. Every child can and will benefit from learning truth. But learning and truth are not necessarily the same, and to fail to see the difference and to support a system that is so obviously and painfully failing yet another generation of children is to fail to see yet another blade laid to the neck of our great nation.

The Beneficent Free Market: Answering Questions

A small village in Nepal

Barb posted a letter written to a grandson explaining and illustrating the principles of the free market and the benefits of that system over systems more concerned with equality of outcome rather than equality of potential. She got the original article from the Free Market Foundation of South Africa.

More people need to read and understand this.

April 1942

Mr dear grandson:

I will answer your question as simply as I can. Profit is the result of enterprise which builds for others as well as for the enterpriser. Let us consider the operation of this fact in a primitive community, say of one hundred persons who are non-intelligent beyond the point of obtaining the mere necessities of living by working hard all day long.

Our primitive community, dwelling at the foot of a mountain, must have water. There is no water except at a spring near the top of the mountain: therefore, every day all the hundred persons climb to the top of the mountain. It takes them one hour to go up and back. They do this day in and day out, until at last one of them notices that the water from the spring runs down inside the mountain in the same direction that he goes when he comes down. He conceives the idea of digging a trough in the mountainside all the way down to the place where he has his habitation. He goes to work to build a trough. The other ninety-nine people are not even curious as to what he is doing.

Then one day this hundredth man turns a small part of the water from the spring into his trough and it runs down the mountain into a basin he has fashioned at the bottom. Whereupon he says to the ninety-nine others, who each spend an hour a day fetching their water, that if they will each give him the daily production of ten minutes of their time, he will give them water from his basin. He will then receive nine hundred and ninety minutes of the time of the other men each day, which will make it unnecessary for him to work sixteen hours a day in order to provide for his necessities. He is making a tremendous profit but his enterprise has given each of the ninety-nine other people fifty additional minutes each day for himself.

The enterpriser, now having sixteen hours a day at his disposal and being naturally curious, spends part of his time watching the water run down the mountain. He sees that it pushes along stones and pieces of wood. So he develops a water wheel; then he notices that it has power and, finally, after many hours of contemplation and work, makes the water wheel run a mill to grind his corn.

This hundredth man then realises that he has sufficient power to grind corn for the other ninety-nine . He says to them, I will allow you to grind your corn in my mill if you will give me one tenth of the time you save. They agree, and so the enterpriser now makes an additional profit. He uses the time paid by the ninety-nine others to build a better house for himself, to increase his conveniences of living through new benches, openings in his house for light, and better protection from the cold. So it goes on, as this hundredth man constantly finds ways to save the ninety-nine the total expenditure of their time one tenth of which he asks of them in payment, for his enterprising.

This hundredth mans time finally becomes all his own to use as he sees fit. He does not have to work unless he chooses to. His food and shelter and clothing are provided by others. His mind, however, is ever working and the other ninety-nine are constantly having more time to themselves because of his thinking and planning.

For instance, he notices that one of the ninety-nine makes better shoes than the others. He arranges for this man to spend all his time making shoes, because he can feed and clothe him and arrange for his shelter from profits.

The other ninety-eight do not now have to make their own shoes. They are charged one tenth the time they save. The ninety-ninth man is also able to work shorter hours because some of the time that is paid by each of the ninety-eight is allowed to him by the hundredth man.

As the days pass, another individual is seen by the hundredth man to be making better clothes than any of the others, and it is arranged that his time shall be given entirely to his speciality. And so on.

Due to the foresight of the hundredth man, a division of labour is created that results in more and more of those in the community doing the things for which they are best fitted. Everyone has a greater amount of time at his disposal. Each becomes interested, except the dullest, in what others are doing and wonders how he can better his own position. The final result is that each person begins to find his proper place in an intelligent community.

But suppose that, when the hundredth man had completed his trough down the mountain and said to the other ninety-nine, If you will give me what it takes you ten minutes to produce, I will let you get water from my basin, they had turned on him and said, We are ninety-nine and you are only one. We will take what water we want. You cannot prevent us and we will give you nothing. What would have happened then? The incentive of the most curious mind to build upon his enterprising thoughts would have been taken away. He would have seen that he could gain nothing by solving problems if he still had to use every waking hour to provide his living. There could have been no advancement in the community. The same stupidity that first existed would have remained. Life would have continued to be a drudge to everyone, with opportunity to do no more than work all day long just for a bare living.

But we will say the ninety-nine did not prevent the hundredth man from going on with his thinking, and the community prospered. And we will suppose that there were soon one hundred families. As the children grew up, it was realised that they should be taught the ways of life. There was now sufficient production so that it was possible to take others away from the work of providing for themselves, pay them, and set them to teaching the young.

Similarly, as intelligence grew the beauties of nature became apparent. Men tried to fix scenery and animals in drawings and art was born. From the sounds heard in natures studio and in the voices of the people, music developed. And it became possible for those who were proficient in drawing and music to spend all their time at their art, giving of their creations to others in return for a portion of the communitys production.

As these developments continued, each member of the community, while giving something from his own accomplishments, became more and more dependent upon the efforts of others. And, unless envy and jealousy and unfair laws intervened to restrict honest enterprisers who benefited all, progress promised to be constant.

Need we say more to prove that there can be profit from enterprise without taking anything from others, that such enterprise adds to the ease of living for everyone?

These principles are as active in a great nation such as the United States as in our imaginary community. Laws that kill incentive and cripple the honest enterpriser hold back progress. True profit is not something to be feared, because it works to the benefit of all.

We must endeavour to build, instead of tearing down what others have built. We must be fair to other men, or the world cannot be fair to us.

Sincerely,

Grandfather