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Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

“Four score and seven years ago…”

“Ask not what your country can do for you…”

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself…”

Those are two of the most memorable phrases from presidential speeches, and they have entered into the very fabric of our nation’s history.

President Obama was an excellent orator, and I believe that was one of the major contributors to his meteoric rise. Critics spent years ridiculing him for reading from a teleprompter. I don’t agree. I have personally given many a speech in my life, never with a teleprompter, and never with a deck of cards or sheet of paper. I know a bit about what it takes to give a powerful speech, and I know that Obama is one of the outstanding orators of our time. Yes, he needs a teleprompter because there are not enough hours in the day for him to memorize all these speeches. But it was always obvious to me that he knew what he was talking out. When Obama spoke, he spoke from within, and the teleprompter was there to make sure he didn’t miss his points. It never felt like Obama was reading.

President Trump, in contrast, is a completely inadequate speaker. He did not get elected for his oratorical skills. Trump cannot even form a coherent sentence on his own, let alone speak. He spouts trite soundbites, and he repeats them for effect. When Trump speaks from the teleprompter, he sounds wooden, like he is reading his material.

Trump is so bad, that the media praise him when he simply reads, in his wooden, stilted way, a speech without going off script. He is so transparent that we know immediately when he is off script, since he sprinkles in Trumpisms like “believe me” or “that I can tell you” which no speech writer would ever insert. Trump does not speak any better than an average fifth-grader even when he reads.

The bar of presidential speeches is now so low that we praise the president when he reads a statement and stays on track, like he did in response to the Las Vegas shooting. In the future, our textbook examples of presidential speeches will highlight:

“Four score and seven years ago…”

“Ask not what your country can do for you…”

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself…”

“That I can tell you….”

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One of Michelle Obama’s signature accomplishments was the institution of healthy school lunches around the country. The Trump Administration has just rolled back that initiative. Here is Michelle’s response to that.

She argues understandably that she doesn’t understand how somebody can actually say they don’t care if our children eat crap. “Who does that?” she asks.

Some of the comments under that video in YouTube are grotesque and offensive. Obviously, the cardinal rule is: Never read the comments under a political YouTube. I could not help it, here are some:

Ok, Tomahawk1775 is pointing out that the school lunches didn’t taste good. But since he can’t make a coherent argument, he tries to make his point by spouting obscenities and insulting Obama. You can say anything about Michelle Obama, but you can’t say she does not have a brain. She has a law degree from Harvard. I wonder what Tomahawk1775’s degree is?

 

Chelsea Roan resorts to a similar strategy, albeit more crass, and more offensive. No actual argument. Just crude personal attacks. But at least she uses her own name and stands behind her assault. She is not hiding behind an anonymous handle.

 

Santacruz474 just makes an observation and interpretation, which appears flawed. I don’t believe that Obama is shallow enough to be just pissed about “her program.” I truly believe Obama is concerned about the future of our country and about the nutrition of our children.

 

Here, CritterOnFire (anonymous) and Amanda Gonzalez (apparent actual name) use deflection because apparently they can’t come up with a logical answer. The deflection on abortion is not only inappropriate in this context, it is illogical and it points out a common fallacy of the so-called pro-life proponents. Pro-life is defined as “opposing abortion and euthanasia.” These two people, and many others in the pro-life circles, are using false logic by labeling the opponents of pro-life, who we call pro-choice, as people who are somehow pro-death. There is, if course, a huge difference.

Then inferring that “Democrats are saying ‘abort all the kids, abortion is great'” is an insult to all Democrats. Not all Democrats are pro-choice, not all pro-choice people think abortion is great. As a matter of fact, I know some pro-choice people, of course, and I haven’t met a single one who thinks abortion is great.

 

Finally, there are tons of statements like this. That’s why we came up with the term “deplorable.” I am sorry, Pana Sonic, but your statement is deplorable.

 

So what have we learned?

  1. Never read the comments below any political YouTube.
  2. Our country is polarized and hateful. We write and comment things about each other that we’d never openly say to each other at a backyard BBQ party.
  3. Pro-choice is not pro-abortion or pro-death.
  4. School lunch programs have serious issues.

Since this is about school lunch programs, we should discuss this in more detail.

I believe that nobody in the country would argue that we want our kids to eat crap, well almost nobody. We agree with Michelle Obama on that. The problem is that it’s not the school’s job to nourish children. It’s the parents’ job. Researching for just a few minutes lays open that the school lunch programs, as implemented by Obama, were a failure. Not because the lunches were supposed to be healthy, but because the children didn’t eat them. They went into the trash. Administrators and school officials everywhere seem to agree that the trash cans were overflowing with unopened and untouched food. Not only did we waste the money spent on the food, but we ended up not feeding the children.

Parents report that they had to pack lunches, since the children complained about the food and went hungry.

Clearly, while Obama’s initiative was admirable, the way the program was implemented does not seem to have been successful.

I do not know what thought the Trump Administration put into the repeal of the program, but I am sure it wasn’t an initiative to start feeding kids “crap” again. It had something to do with the philosophy that it’s not the job of the public to nourish children. It’s the job of the parents. They wanted to stop spending money on food going into the trash.

That leaves us with the dilemma of what to do. Dictating a certain menu to schools nationwide, while it makes sense in concept, didn’t work in practice. Our children eat what they are taught is good at home. That’s what they expect in school. Government is not good at dictating what people eat. That has never worked before, and it’s not going to work in the future.

The problem, of course, is that for a significant portion of our children of poor families, the school lunch may be the only solid, sound and reliable meal they get in a day.

This, too, is not viewed as a government problem. It’s one of education and it’s one of parents acting responsibly. Unfortunately, this is now a generational problem. We have a generation of children whose parents and grandparents never learned the tenets of proper nutrition, who have been nourished by McDonald’s. How could they pass on good nutritional habits?

There is no easy answer to school lunches. Polarizing the issue with hate messages going in both direction is not solving the problem. And the children continue to eat poorly.

I know I have readers who are professional educators. I encourage their comments and insight.

 

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This is really cringeworthy. DeVos wearing a Masters gown, even though she has only a B.A. degree from Calvin College, a Christian university.

She reads her speech off a piece of paper. She is stiff and wooden, and the speech has no substance or inspiration whatsoever, not because the subject of the speech she chose, but because everyone knows she’s a phoney.

How did she even get invited? Who thought this was a good idea?

DeVos has no place giving a commencement speech, and she proved it here.

This is how we are making America great again!

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Here is Trump rolling back progress in keeping our federal lands protected, our air clean, and our heritage intact. And he is proud of it, telling the coal workers behind him that they’re getting their jobs back. This makes no sense to me whatsoever.

First, as the Washington Post article suggests, the action will not make any difference in the number of coal jobs. Coal production and consumption in the United States has gone from about 820 million tons in 2000 through about 2007, and have steadily declined to below 600 million tons long before Obama’s freeze on federal coal leasing in 2015. Demand has been well below supply for the last 15 years. Trump’s ceremonial undoing of Obama’s regulation will not make any difference in this trend. We’ll burn less coal, and that’s a good thing.

Trump and his cronies paid by the coal industry are reveling in the admiration of the coal workers.

COAL WORKERS, for heaven’s sake! Coal is one of the dirtiest industries. There is no such thing as clean coal. Not only does it pollute the environment, our water, our forests, coal mines are ugly and leave scars upon the land that will be there for millions of years. Coal workers get sick and die years, sometimes decades earlier than their contemporaries. Read Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence and then tell me you want to work in a coal mine! But Trump and his billionaire cronies think they are doing these coal workers a favor by sending them back into mines. And the coal workers seem to be lapping it up. This is so wrong.

The coal workers should be going to school and learn about solar power. That’s where the money is. That’s where the jobs are.

source: Forbes

This chart shows there are more than four times as many jobs in the solar industry as there are in the coal industry. Even wind energy jobs are more plentiful than coal.

When coal demand goes down to 400 million tons in the next ten years, those are the skills they will need.

Trump will ride into the sunset of his life then, much richer, living in his golden tower, and the miners will still be unemployed, dreaming about working in coal mines, and admiring their billionaire benefactor.

This makes no sense to me at all.

 

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Saw this on Facebook today:

No, I do not agree.

Contrary to what many people think, the Pledge has nothing to do with our founding fathers. It was written in August 1892 by the socialist minister Francis Bellamy (1855-1931). It was originally published in The Youth’s Companion on September 8, 1892. Bellamy had hoped that the pledge would be used by citizens in any country.

It didn’t have “the Flag of the United States of America” in it at the time. That was not added until 1923.

“Under God” was added during the Eisenhower administration in 1954 to counteract communism. Bellamy’s daughter objected to that change.

Making children recite memorized slogans in a public forum, under peer pressure, is a form of brainwashing and propaganda. Just like school prayer.

We should give our children the gift of critical thinking. When they know how to think for themselves, they can decide to what and who they should have allegiance for, based on merit, not on memorized slogans, especially if they don’t know the origins of those slogans.

Once they are adults, they should have been exposed to a number of political philosophies and different religions, and it should be an easy and obvious choice for them to decide which ones they want to subscribe to.

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Please help me understand!

The U.S. Senate just confirmed 51 – 50 the nominee Betsy DeVos for the position of Secretary of Education.

DeVos appears to have little knowledge of our educational system. She has never taught, has no education in “education” and is in fact an outspoken critic of the very system and institution she is now assigned to lead and run.

I understand that not everything our president does is going to be popular with everyone. But DeVos for this position is just so very wrong. How can 50 senators not recognize that? Are all 50 senators willing to sacrifice the education of an entire generation of children just to gain political favors?

It is baffling to me.

Can somebody, please, explain to me why Betsy DeVos should be Secretary of Education?

Please!

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throwing-up-over-devos

Betsy DeVos Confirmed as Education Secretary

We now have placed the lives and futures of all the country’s teachers and students into the hands of a dimwit religious rich woman under the leadership of a buffoon.

The Dumbing Down of America is Well Underway and the Oligarchy is Solidified.

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The billionaire philanthropist whom Donald Trump has tapped to lead the Education Department once compared her work in education reform to a biblical battleground where she wants to “advance God’s Kingdom.”

Trump’s pick, Betsy DeVos, a national leader of the school choice movement, has pursued that work in large part by spending millions to promote the use of taxpayer dollars on private and religious schools.

— Politico

What a bright outlook.

We are going to use our taxpayer money for “America to become great again” by systematically dumbing down our children so in future generations they will continue to vote for more trickle-down economics, corporate welfare and tax cuts for billionaires.

  • Anthropogenic global warming is a hoax.
  • Evolution is an evil delusion.
  • Human life begins at conception, except when the life is Muslim, an illegal alien in America, black, or homosexual.
  • Science is bad unless it’s studying fossil fuel advancement.

Ok, enough from my soap box today.

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Check out this video and PLEASE tell me that this is a parody!

Then read down into the YouTube comments below (which I have often warned here never to do) and see how many people support these idiotic statement made in this video. Even if the person posting this video does it as a parody, these people commenting certainly don’t get it.

How can there be people in the United States, moving a mouse causing movement of cursor on a computer screen hosted by YouTube, sent to their house via satellite from some data center in Sweden, that do not believe the earth is a sphere? Do these same people use GPS in their cars?

I don’t think there is anyone outside of the United States that would buy into such batshit crazy nonsense. Europeans certainly aren’t. They are too busy building BMWs, and particle accelerators, and watches. The Chinese certainly aren’t. They are too busy building EVERYTHING.

I was at Home Depot yesterday, buying a replacement rod for blinds (made in China) and a few washers (made in China). Everything at Home Depot is made in China. Everything at WalMart. Everything at Sears. EVERYTHING. It’s because Chinese kids go to school 260 days a year and they’re not wasting time debunking science. The Chinese are busy teaching science.

Then there is our friend the dumbing-down-America in chief, Donald Trump. He is going to make America great again. Just trust him. He’s gonna do it. And he’s gonna build a wall, and Mexico is gonna pay for it. Because he’s a business man. He knows how to build great buildings.

Go vote for Trump. Make America dumber yet!

And then tell me this video is a parody, so I can rest again.

 

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Illinois Republican representatives John D Cavaletto and Keith Wheeler sponsored a bill that would amend the state’s Vital Records Act:

‘…provides that if the unmarried mother cannot or refuses to name the child’s father, either a father must be conclusively established by DNA evidence or, within 30 days after birth, another family member who will financially provide for the child must be named, in court, on the birth certificate.’

‘Provides that absent DNA evidence or a family member’s name, a birth certificate will not be issued and the mother will be ineligible for financial aid from the State for support of the child.’

As if single mothers were not already victimized enough in our society! Now let’s victimize the children, too!

I agree, it should not be the responsibility of the public to take care of the children fathered by irresponsible men and their victimized women. It is not acceptable to father children and then not take responsibility for them. Young women should evaluate whether they can afford children before they have them. Society should not have to pay for the children of deadbeat fathers.

But denying them birth certificates is outright bizarre. How exactly does that solve any problem, but create even more hardships for the most exposed and vulnerable people in our society?

It is education that solves this problem. Teaching young men a sense of responsibility. Making birth control available to young women. Subsidizing birth control (by funding organizations like Planned Parenthood) is a huge preventative measure and immensely cheaper than welfare for the victims. Family planning should be part of every curriculum in high school. Condoms should be readily available to girls.

It’s all about education folks!

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Here is a Facebook post worth reading.

Free Education Controversy

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School Lunches in Japan

A fascinating look at school lunches in Japan.

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I have been vocal about my opposition to raising of the minimum wage in these pages. Type “Minimum Wage” in the search box above for more links.

Here is an example from the real world. I happen to work in the subsidized childcare business. In California, as cited in this example, and all around the country, low-income families receive assistance for their childcare costs if their income is below a given threshold as it relates to family size. These programs have been in place since welfare reform under the Clinton administration in the mid 1990s. Overall, the programs have been very successful, as they benefit the children, who are not at fault that their parents are poor, or irresponsible, or didn’t plan well. Money put into education is many times more effective than money put into the correctional system later – if education failed. But that is a subject for another article.

We have a system in place where low-income people get assistance with their childcare. If such a low-income worker gets an “artificial raise” due to an increased minimum wage, that raise can easily move the person out of the current income threshold for free childcare and now the parent has to contribute to the childcare cost.

This could mean that in the end, the parent may actually end up with less money in her pocket than before. The only difference is: The state does not pay anymore, it’s the employer that does. The state saves the expense, and in pretty much all cases the money will be used to sponsor another needy family and child, one that was on the waiting list for funds and care slots.

Artificial tinkering with a balanced system does not work in nature, and usually it does not work in economics, and the side-effects of artificially inflating somebody’s pay go much further and have more ripple-effect than meets the eye. This was just one example.

P.S:

The article has some inaccuracies, one of which I thought I should point out:

Alerna Capiro is now paying the child care fee. She hires her mother, Etelvina Capiro, to babysit her 2-year-old. The state pays Etelvina a nominal amount for that care. Why does grandma do it? She said because it is her granddaughter.

The grandmother that takes care of the child is considered by the state a “license-exempt provider.” In some states those providers are also called “informal providers.” There is a regional market rate at which the state reimburses such providers, and it is not at all “nominal.” It can be significant. There is an entire sizable childcare provider community based on informal providers around the country, and in some states more funds go to informals than formal providers.

 

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A Well-Deserved Spanking

I saw this today in my Facebook feed.

Well Deserved Spanking

Yes, some of us grew up in environments where spanking was practiced. I received a spanking or two when I was a child. But I must say that I always thought they were ridiculous. My parents did not score points when they spanked me. They looked progressively weaker. Fortunately, I can’t remember more than three of four occasions. On one, it was my grandfather. But all that is anecdotal.

My question to those who agree with this slogan and share it: Who decides what a well-deserved spanking is? The child? The parent? Who decides?

And who protects the children?

Having been around social workers, childcare providers, educators and child advocates for most of my career, I believe that there are too many stark raving batshit crazy parents out there beating up their helpless children because they — well, they deserved a good spanking.

If a parent has to resort to beating, that parent likely has never learned how to properly educate, and the well-deserved spanking today just needs to be followed up by another one tomorrow — because the damn kid never learns.

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In 2013, the average Pizza Hut restaurant had revenue of $861,000. I just went to a Pizza Hut restaurant in New York State a few weeks ago, and my bill was about $24, tip not included. So if that restaurant served 100 people like me a day, it would add up to about $861,000 for the year. It all sounds reasonable.

A Pizza Hut restaurant is not much different from a McDonalds, or a Subway, or any other fast food restaurant. If they do more than a million dollars a year, it’s phenomenal. Most are struggling along. Many barely make it.

Having government raise the minimum wage from say $8 to $15, almost doubling the payroll, will surely put many restaurants out of business. Many are starting to add kiosks now so customers can order on a screen, without a human assisting. I have seen kiosks on tables at Olive Garden, I have ordered at a kiosk at Panera, and I recently saw that McDonalds is adding kiosks for customers.

Raising the minimum wage on restaurants for low-skilled or unskilled laborers is not solving the problem. We like to talk about everyone “deserving a living wage.” Those rich employers just have to make it work. Tell that to the owner of the Pizza Hut, who barely makes ends meet, and sometimes has loss years because he can’t get enough customers every day (remember, he needs a 100 every day of the year).

There are people with college degrees working as paramedics, firemen, teachers and yes, soldiers, who start out making $16 an hour. That’s what these jobs pay at the entry level. Compare that to the skill you need to flip a burger – something you can learn in a few days, and tell me again that everyone “deserves” $15 an hour.

It just does not work that way.

Forcing employers to pay higher wages to low-skilled employees inflates their costs and ends up with one of two results:

  1. They go out of business since they can’t make ends meet.
  2. They lay off staff or shorten their hours and bring in kiosks or other automation.

Both result in job loss. Fewer service jobs. More unemployment for low-skilled workers. More dependency on government handouts. Fewer jobs in the country. Higher prices for basic goods and services.

Raising the minimum wage for low-skilled workers sounds like a noble thing. After all, everyone “deserves a living wage.”

Nonsense.

Those that obtain an education and plan a career where workers are needed and therefore the pay is high will get that higher pay.

We have a terrible shortage of doctors, nurses, engineers, computer programmers, and many other professional careers that pay six figures each. Nobody deserves a living wage. The economy, the collective “all of us” are willing to pay doctors, nurses, engineers and computer programmers a lot of money because those jobs are hard, they are stressful, they have long hours, and they require many years of education.

The solution to our economic problems are not government subsidies, or regulatory interference. That never works. The solution to our problems is education.

But education is hard work.

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