Kansas CIty Schools: Then and Now—no difference

The local KC fish-wrap, the KC Red Star, is all atwitter.  The Kansas City School District has lost its accreditation. So what else is new?  The St. Louis School District lost theirs too.

JEFFERSON CITY | Time finally ran out for the Kansas City School District.

The state’s decision Tuesday to strip the district’s accreditation spiked a community already absorbed in saving its schools with a mixture of new fears and heightened resolve.
“Our district now faces a critical test of one of the most important lessons in life — a test of our resilience and persistence,” interim Superintendent Steve Green said. “We can, and we will, bounce back from this setback.”

Kansas City isn’t alone.

The state previously has intervened in the Wellston School District in suburban St. Louis and in St. Louis public schools. – AP 

School districts on opposite sides of the state have failed to meet state academic performance standards.  The sad fact is that the KC district met only three of fourteen areas required by the state.

The district met just three of the state’s 14 performance standards — those covering advanced courses, career education courses and career education placement. It failed to meet standards in areas such as math and communication arts, graduation rates and college placement.
Provisional accreditation calls for school districts to meet at least six performance standards and full accreditation calls for meeting nine standards. – AP
The Kansas City School District has been in turmoil for nearly fifty years.  For decades, in the last century, the district was under the control of a liberal federal judge, Russell Clark.  Over the decades, more than $6 Billion dollars was spent in the Kansas City District—money diverted by court order from the rest of the state to improve education in KC.  We now see the results of the “throw more money at it,” solution imposed by the liberals, a liberal court, and the NEA/AFT at the local, state and federal level. 
They all failed. Kansas City schools is the poster child for failed liberal policies and agendas.
For decades critics of the public schools have been saying, “You can’t solve educational problems by throwing money at them.” The education establishment and its supporters have replied, “No one’s ever tried.” In Kansas City they did try. To improve the education of black students and encourage desegregation, a federal judge invited the Kansas City, Missouri, School District to come up with a cost-is-no-object educational plan and ordered local and state taxpayers to find the money to pay for it.
Kansas City spent as much as $11,700 per pupil–more money per pupil, on a cost of living adjusted basis, than any other of the 280 largest districts in the country. The money bought higher teachers’ salaries, 15 new schools, and such amenities as an Olympic-sized swimming pool with an underwater viewing room, television and animation studios, a robotics lab, a 25-acre wildlife sanctuary, a zoo, a model United Nations with simultaneous translation capability, and field trips to Mexico and Senegal. The student-teacher ratio was 12 or 13 to 1, the lowest of any major school district in the country.
The results were dismal. Test scores did not rise; the black-white gap did not diminish; and there was less, not greater, integration.
The Kansas City experiment suggests that, indeed, educational problems can’t be solved by throwing money at them, that the structural problems of our current educational system are far more important than a lack of material resources, and that the focus on desegregation diverted attention from the real problem, low achievement.

Money And School Performance: Lessons from the Kansas City Desegregation Experiment, by Paul Ciotti

The situation in Kansas City isn’t really any different from the situation in Washington.  There, too, liberals believe that government spending controls the economy. They believe that issues can be resolved simply by throwing more money at it.  A prime example is Johnson’s Great Society and War on Poverty.  We are still throwing money at poverty and it is higher now than when Johnson was President.
When we come to the next series of elections, elections at the local, state and federal levels, let’s remember the lessons ignored by the liberals and the democrats.  The country can no longer sustain these failed policies and social theories.  They, like their supporters at all levels of government, must go.         

What’s in your pocket?

NFO, Og and others have been posting pics of their knives.  Well, to be a follower-on here’s mine.
Crucis’ Knives

It’s not the best photo—something I snapped quickly with my mobile phone.  The Buck knife on the left I’ve carried 35 years.  I have another like it stashed away.  I thought I’d lost it once and bought another just like it.  Now the spare is waiting for its day in the sun, or rather in my pocket.  

The other, a little Swiss Army mini-knife, is one I won in a raffle at Sprint.  It has my name engraved on the flip side.  Both are sharp and prepared to do their duty if called.

Way back then…

I was listening to the radio this morning.  The topic was US News’ college report. Who was best. The criteria used by US News was not based on quality of education as you’d expect but on other factors—big name teachers, amount of endowments, class size and more.

The measures fall into seven broad categories: peer assessment; graduation and retention rates; faculty resources (for example, class size); student selectivity (for example, average admissions test scores of incoming students); financial resources; alumni giving; and, only for national universities and national liberal arts colleges, graduation rate performance and high school counselor undergraduate academic reputation ratings. – US News.

As you’ll notice, all the evaluations are subjective or for non-educational factors.

The radio discussion noted that while these institutions did well creating specialists, they were very poor creating generalists.  When an adult today is expected to have a dozen or more jobs in their career, and now that people frequently change careers during their adult life, the top schools, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, are poorly preparing their graduates for the real world. A bit of generalism is needed in this current employment climate.

When I was in college, from 1964 to 1969, it was much different.  I went to Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, IL, as did my wife.  I can’t speak to all colleges and universities at that time, but in Illinois, the publicly funded schools required a basic liberal-art core of classes regardless of your major.  The first two years gave you that foundation through a series of classes known as General Studies.  Everyone wanting to graduate had to take a minimum of these classes including arriving transfer students.

I’m relying on my memory for the General Studies classes based on the classes I took.  For General Studies, you had to take six science classes, basic physics, chemistry and biology were required.  Other science electives included geology, botany, organic chemistry, meteorology, and astronomy.

General Studies also included classes in history (required) humanities and literature.  I remember I had a choice between Shakespeare and 19th Century Literature.  I chose Shakespeare. I found a new respect for Shakespeare’s plays that I didn’t have before.

Required General Studies classes were often dictated by your major if you had declared one.  I was initially a Music major, a four-year program.  The music classes I took satisfied most of my General Studies humanities requirements.  My wife took Acoustics to fill one of her requirements in that area.

When I changed majors from Music to Psychology at the end of my Sophmore year, I had to go back and take some additional General Studies classes that were required for my new major—math classes like advanced albegra, boolean algrebra, and statistics, plus some additional science classes covering organic chemistry, more biology/endoctrinolony, and human anatomy.  There was little difference at the undergraduate level in the core requirements for Psychology as there was for Pre-med.

Like one of the criteria US News uses today, we had some famous professors. R. Buckminster Fuller was a near full-time visiting professor for design and architecture.  He lived only a block off the campus in a geodesic dome he built as a class project.

I took some Senior level classes, seminars really, in Diplomacy and American Foreign Policy lead by a professor whose name I’ve now forgotten. He was an Assistant Sect’y of State for Europe under John Foster Dullas.  That same professor had been an OSS agent under Allen Dullas during WW2 in northern Europe.  He brought a wealth of insider knowledge that, at that time, was still current and relevant.

General Studies, accord to the web, still exists at SIU.  It has been greatly watered down since I attended.  Literature requirements now are more in the order of Post-WW2 Science Fiction than the more stricter requirements of nearly fifty years ago.

The professors when I attended were almost universally conservative.  Many (most?) were military veterans.

The leftist infiltration had just begun.  There were student “riots” in 1965.  In reality, that was an overreaction by the local police. Someone set off a bomb in the Ag building in May of 1968.  After I graduated and was in the Air Force, Old Main was torched and burned to the ground.

The quality of education has changed and, in my opinion, for the worse.  I’m not in favor of specialization.  Even pre-med students when I was in college had to complete a regimen of general studies classes like everyone else.

To quote a well-known writer, “Specialization is for insects.”

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
-Robert A. Heinlein

Today’s educators have lost that necessary bit of wisdom—if they ever had it.

Bad News for Obama

This last week is probably one Obama wishes he could forget.  The popularity numbers on his presidency continue to fall. About the only ones who still like him are Europeans.  Even his own party said his so-called Jobs bill was DOA.  So far, no democrat is submitted Obama’s “bill” to Congress.

Now this report from Powerline explains how Obama’s worse days are still to come.

Obama’s Last Chance

Posted on by Steven Hayward in 2012 Presidential election

Future historians are likely to look back on this week as the period Obama passed the point of no return for his presidency, and they may identify today, September 16, as the single most important day in his undoing.  I wonder if Obama has any clue that his presidency is collapsing in real time?  Dumb question: of course he doesn’t.
Yes, I was obviously playing around with my post earlier today on “Operation Chaos,” but then something deeply serious occurred here in Washington that I didn’t notice until the evening news: 36 Senators from both parties held a big press conference calling on the debt ceiling supercommittee to “go big” with sweeping pro-growth tax reform—one that would slash deductions and lower rates dramatically.  In particular, I was struck by Oregon’s Sen. Ron Wyden, a smart liberal, who cited the 1986 Reagan-tax reform that he said created millions of jobs.  He may not be correct strictly speaking about the job creation bit, but that misses the point:
This press conference was not meant for the supercommittee.  It was meant for Obama.
It is already crystal clear that Obama’s jobs bill Stimulus II can’t even pass the Democratic Senate, let alone the House.  It is such an obviously transparent play to try to set up his own re-election as Harry Truman redivivus, but the political mistake Obama has made is thinking that Democratic Senators whose own poll numbers are collapsing (78-year-old Dianne Feinstein is 60 percent closer to retiring next year according to the latest California polls) will want to be his advance guard and vote for a suicidal measure on his behalf.  The Senate press conference today was as close as you’ll get to a political intervention—they are trying to tell Obama, in the midst of his “you-love-me-pass-this-bill” tour, that he has one chance to save his presidency.
Obama is so besotted with class warfare mentality that he is unwilling to grasp the one huge bipartisan opportunity that is in front if him—an opportunity that has been in front of him for months.  He doesn’t care about economic growth; he cares only about redistribution and gaining more political control over the economy.  His dismissal of his own deficit commission last year showed his inclinations on this.
I reckon Obama has only about four days to see the light on this.  Harry Reid has said the Senate won’t take up his urgent jobs bill Stimulus bill until after their next recess.  If Democratic Senators go home without a course change from Obama, you can count on them coming back to DC with the attitude of “Obama jobs bill?  What Obama jobs bill?  Obama?  Obama who?”

Yep, even his own party is turning on him.  Piece by piece, so is the State Media. There are, and will be, a number of investigations on the Obama Administration.  “Fast and Furious,” the BATFE gun-running operation with Mexican drug cartels, is just the beginning.  

I predict that before the investigations end, someone is going to jail.  Even with Nixon’s Watergate scandal, no one was murdered.  The murder count with “Fast and Furious” continues to climb.

I came across a blurb on the internet that Las Vegas odds makers are betting Obama won’t complete his term—he’ll either resign like Nixon, or be impeached like Clinton—only unlike Clinton, he won’t get off.  I don’t remember the actual odds but they weren’t favorable to Obama.

The results of New York’s 9th Congressional District is like the writing on the wall (see the Book of Daniel.)  It portends hard times for democrats and liberals.

The people of this country are still smarter than the democrats and liberals think they are.

Home Insurance: Democrat style

I listened to a radio interview this morning (while in the shower) and the discussion was a variation of Obamacare that is floating around Washington and blue-states.  Instead of ruining health care, this time they’re aiming at Home and property insurance.

I have to add a caveat.  I’ve been Googling the web for confirmation of various disaster insurance proposals.  There are many from institutions, the insurance industry, and from members of Congress. I haven’t been able to confirm this specific proposal.  Many of those I did find echo some of the proposals I heard during the interview.

The basic proposal is this:  when disasters strike, insurance companies are hard pressed to pay the claims and to later recover their liquid reserves.  Most often, the insurance companies recover by increasing premiums.

Some areas of the country are always at risk, such as Florida, the Gulf Coast and the eastern seaboard, for hurricanes.  The Midwest is at risk for tornadoes and floods. In California, the western seaboard, and Alaska the risk is for earthquakes.  Tsunami risk includes Hawaii and those states frequented with earthquakes. Finally there is the near-continual volcanic eruption on Hawaii’s big island.

There are few, if any, areas in the country not at disaster risk for something.

All those disasters cost the insurance companies money.  They also makes insurance premiums high in those areas. Some people choose not to have insurance due to the cost. They accept the possibility of loss.

That’s not fair, according to liberal/democrat dogma!  Something must be done!

One proposal is to equalize premium costs across the entire country.  The problem with that is that those states/areas of the country at lesser risk, end up paying higher premiums to subsidize those in high risk states.

Another proposal is to freeze premiums.  That can’t be done because, in short order, insurance companies would soon drop disaster insurance or go out of business.

The last variation is the proposal above and have the Feds (read FEMA) under-write the losses.  Once again, the tax-payers end up subsidizing the cost of insurance for those in high risk areas.

When liberals find an issue, they will always screw it up.

This is another liberal agenda that attempts to make life an ideal that does not exist.  There is no perfect world where risk does not exist.  Life isn’t fair.

If these proposals are allowed to continue, we’ll end up with another boondoggle like Obamacare.  A solution that makes the situation worse for everyone.

It’s time for the feds to leave well enough along.  The insurance business plans work.  If you choose to live in high risk areas (I live in tornado alley), you have to live with the risk and manage that risk as best fits your circumstances.  For some folks, that means doing without insurance.

It may not be pretty, but that, is reality.

Despicable!

From a democrat representative’s mouth.

CHICAGO (WLS)A lot of reaction Wednesday morning to Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky’s interview with Don Wade and Roma.
Schakowsky said that Americans don’t deserve to keep all of their money because we need taxes to support our society.
“I’ll put it this way. You don’t deserve to keep all of it and it’s not a question of deserving because what government is, is those things that we decide to do together. And there are many things that we decide to do together like have our national security. Like have police and fire. What about the people that work at the National Institute of Health who are looking for a cure for cancer,” Schakowsky said.
Schakowsky also says one reason the 2009 stimulus bill did not succeed was because it was not large enough.

They think we’re fools.

Observations: Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Fall arrives a week from today.  Where did summer go?  It seems only like last week that Vacation Bible School started and the local pools and playgrounds were filled.  The adage that time accelerates as you get older is obviously true.

***

Earlier this week I wrote about “Signs and Portents”, referring to the upcoming special election in New York to fill the Weiner’s House seat.  The polls at that time indicated the ‘Pub, Turner, was ahead.  The polls were right. Turner beat democrat Weprin.  It is the first time a non-dem will  hold that seat in over a hundred years.  More amazing is that the district is 40% Jewish and Weprin is also Jewish.  Jewish voters turned against one of their own.

Yep. Signs and portents.

Perhaps Obama’s policies against Israel have made a few voters understand just who are their allies.  Evangelical Christians are uniformly strong supporters of Israel.  I submit that Jews and Christians have more in common than Jews and liberals.

***

As I’ve written before, I have no preference in the ‘Pub herd for President.  I have eliminated a few.  Romney, Ron Paul, Huntsman were never in the running as far as I’m concerned.  

I’m reluctantly eliminating another, Michele Bachmann. She attacked Perry about his executive order to provide HPV immunizations in Texas.  It was a mistake and he’s admitted it should have gone to the legislature instead of him issuing an Executive Order.

That’s the facts.

What is not true is the statement it would force all girls to be immunized.  Contrary to Bachmann’s claims, there was an opt-out option.  It should have been an opt-in option but the fact is that no girl would be forced to be immunized without parental consent.  Bachmann knows that and lied.

Strike one, Bachmann.

If Bachmann had stopped there, I would continue to look at her as a viable candidate. But she didn’t.  After the debates she spoke with Greta Van Susteren’s on Fox. She continued her claim that girls would be forced to be immunized, implied that Perry had been bribed by Merch, the company that produced the vaccine, and that the drug caused mental retardation.

There are no facts indicating any retardation after the immunizations.  Bachmann claims a mother after the debate said the immunization caused retardation in her teen-aged daughter. Bachmann spread that claim without bothering to investigate the facts. 

Strike two, Bachmann. 

The claim that Merch influenced Perry is untenable.  The information is publicly available to prove those claims false. If Merch had bribed Perry, that would be a crime.  Where are the facts.  True, Merch donated $5000 to Perry’s campaign.  They also donated similar amounts to other candidates.  Did they “bribe” those candidates too?

Unlikely. This is another variation of “Governor have you quit beating your wife?” strawman argument.

Strike three, Bachmann!  You’re out!

***

I have to confess, I’m a people watcher.  And, listener.  I like to go to various greasy spoons for lunch and observe people and listen to their conversations.  You hear the wildest things that way. 

You also pick up trends and how the social and political winds are blowing.  The winds in New York’s 9th Congressional District are blowing here too.

Many of the patrons of the greasy spoons are blue-collar workers.  Landscapers, construction workers, plumbers, electricians, retirees, and minor politicians.

Most of these people have been democrats.  They grew up in democrat households. They belong to unions. They’ve played petty party politics for generations.  They now have to face the reality of that history.

They don’t like it.

When you hear union members being in favor of Right-to-Work, the unions are in danger.  When you hear blue-collar, self-employed tradesmen complain about taxes, licenses and fees, state and federal regulations, the burden of sustaining a family business, a core constituency of the democrats is in danger.  When you hear democrat pols talk about cutting spending and taxes, the democrat party is in danger.

I think the elections next year will be worse for the democrats than they have ever envisioned.

***

The Census released the yearly poverty statistics this week.  What a joke.  The income levels for poverty does NOT include income from welfare, WIC, food-stamps, the Earned-Income-Tax credit (the negative income tax.)  That flaw makes the entire report false.

It comes down to: If you don’t like the figures and they don’t support your agenda, change the rules.

If it works for unemployment figures, it can work elsewhere too.

More governmental lies.

***

Overhead at lunch this last weekend.

Man with union hat: “You watch Obama the other night?”

Companion: “Nah.  Watched the game.”

Man with union hat: “Me, too. Didn’t miss anything.”

Companion: “Yeah. Can’t believe anything from those turds.”

Man with union hat: “Yeah, he’s toast.”

***

Fall has arrived a few days early. The highs today will only reach the mid-60s and that will continue until the weekend.  The long-range forecast has temps only in the mid 70s at the highest.  Summer  is over.

Stone Soup, September 13, 2011

I can understand, Alix.