Meet The Old Boss, Same As The New Boss, Same As The Last Boss…

Minneapolis School superintendant Bernardeia Johnson resigned her office yesterday

Johnson was also recently thrust into a dicey position by incendiary news stories and a legislative probe into a questionable $405,000 no-bid contract awarded to Community Standards Initiative (CSI), a politically connected group run by community activists Al Flowers and Clarence Hightower. For months, groups in the African-American community exerted enormous pressure on Johnson to take a side and say whether two Minneapolis DFLers — state Sens. Bobby Joe Champion and Jeff Hayden — strong-armed her into going forward with the CSI contract. Some of the pressure came in the form of a viral social media campaign using the hashtag #JimCrowJr.

An affidavit submitted to lawmakers in her name suggested she strove to protect the district from an untenable situation. A state Senate committee hearing into the matter proved to be more partisan theater than a quest for facts that might have supplied some much-needed context.

By all accounts I’ve read and heard, she was a perfectly capable school administrator. 

Of course, by all accounts, all of the superintendents have been capable administrators, as far as we know – and yet Minneapolis’ school district is a mess (outside some of the elite challenge programs), and the mess has largely resisted any number of bureaucratic initiatives to change the situation.

And Johnson had her share of those:

Perhaps the most symbolic of the problems that dogged her tenure was the teaching corps’ failure to consistently and enthusiastically dive into a program central to her vision, Focused Instruction. Johnson struggled to articulate the merits of the approach, and it’s believed that half or more of the district’s teachers simply ignored the initiative.

Focused Instruction is a form of data-driven teaching that is, on one level, something that works in some districts and, on another, is one of those buzzwords that translates into “one size fits all approach to teaching tens of thousands of individual kids”.  There’s more to it than that, of course – it’s not the dumbest teaching fad to hit the market.

But just as politics is the worst possible way to allocate resources or solve problems, it’s also the worst possible way to education individual children.  School districts are fundamentally political institutions, not educational ones.  Any solution they proffer will first and foremost be, necessarily, a political one, designed to be the most attractive common denominator for the student body as an aggregate (and their teachers, administrators, district stakeholders, etc etc etc).  Nowhere in that aggregation is the idea that kids are unique individuals who aren’t interchangeable cogs on an intellectual assembly line. 

So the next Minneapolis superintendent may be, like Bernardeia Johnson, a good person, a well-respected administrator, and a capable bureaucrat.  Or they might be a complete schnook.  And it probably won’t matter much, because in the end they’re all selling one-size-fits-all education that is designed to serve everyone, and therefore serves nobody.

If I Were The Dean At Harvard Law School

To:  Students of Harvard Law School
From: Mitch Berg, Angry Dean
Re:  Test Schedules

Dear Most Annoying Students in the World,

Starting at 8AM Monday morning, please line up in the front hall of the administration building in alphabetical order.  You will all be issued refund checks.  Because clearly we at HarvLaw have failed you as an institution.

The evidence – you all know that term, right? – is right here:

Those Harvard students have produced an open letter, in which they demand that their examinations be delayed. “Like many across the country,” its authors claim, students “are traumatized” and “visibly distressed” — to the extent that there is now a “palpable anguish looming over campus.”

I hope I’m long dead before I have people from big law firms writing me, chocking back their outrage at his institution for turning out such a vacuous pack of hamsters and calling them not only “lawyers”, but “Harvard Law School Grads”.

The “national crisis” that has been provoked by the cases of Garner and Brown, they argue, has left them with no choice but to “stand for justice rather than sit and prepare for exams.” And, like their brethren at Columbia, they contend that their “being asked to prepare for and take our exams in this moment” amounts to their “being asked to perform incredible acts of disassociation” — requests, which taken together, have led them “to question our place in this school community and the legal community at large.”

I can’t wait to see you vacuous children of boundless class privilege try that on a client in the real world; claim the violence inherent in the system makes it impossible for you to come into the office and work on your cases.  But at least you won’t “question your place in the legal community at large”, because by that point you’ll be transferring to the “fast food community”.

Justifiably so.

The bottom line? That students must be given “the opportunity to reschedule their exams in good faith and at their own discretion.”

And in good faith, I, your dean, will allow you and your faith and discretion to move your exams to any time another law school will let you, provided you get admitted.

Pick up your checks.  You haven’t failed. I have.

That is all.

Citizenship

I get to catch Rush Limbaugh maybe once a month, usually for about five or ten minutes as I’m going to some noon-time appointment or another. 

Yesterday, I tuned in to the sound of Limbaugh citing a story from the Jamestown Sun, the daily newspaper in my hometown, about a North Dakota legislative proposal to require high school kids to pass the same test new immigrants must pass to become Americans

 

The bill is part of the national Civics Education Initiative, an affiliate of the Joe Foss Institute. Foss, a former South Dakota governor and Marine Corps pilot who received the Congressional Medal of Honor, started the nonprofit to enlist veterans to teach young people about the value of their freedoms. He died in 2003.

The effort counts among its supporters former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day Sandra Day O’Connor, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Carl Bernstein and actor Joe Mantegna.

A similar legislative effort was announced in September in South Dakota with support from former U.S. Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, former Citibank president Ron Williamson and former Sioux Falls mayor Dave Munson, among others.

[NoDak governor Jack] Dalrymple said the goal nationally is to have all 50 states adopt the civics test requirement by Sept. 17, 2017, the 230th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution.

The state’s education commissioner notes that students can retake the test as many times as they need to get to 60% – which, I think, is the right idea; the point is that they learn the stuff. 

So – how would you do if you took the test?

Dear Superintendant Silva

To:  Valeria Silva, Superintendant, Saint Paul Public Schools
From: Mitch Berg, Uppity Peasant
Re:  How You Can Superintendantsplain Things To Your Black Students

Superintendant Silva,

In the immediate aftermath of the Ferguson Grand Jury release, you tweeted:

No indictment for officer Wilson!  Very sad day in America.  How do I explain this to my black students? 

I’m here to help.  You can start by explaining to them…:

  1. The reasons Saint Paul – despite spending more money per student than almost every district in the state – continues to have among the worst black student achievement gaps in the country.  Worse even than other urban toilets like Detroit or Philadelphia. 
  2. You can explain why it is you support the current school board, which – being elected city-wide rather than by ward, is thus under the complete control of the DFL vote machine, and thus represents the wishes and whims of the city’s Crocus Hill DFL elite; lots of gnashing of teeth about multiculturalism and the morality of Junior ROTC, and absolutely nothing about pulling “your black students” up.  You could explain why you aren’t actively working to return the school board to a ward-based system. 
  3. You can explain to them, maybe, that while there are bad cops, there is also nothing in the world more stupid and unpredictable than an 18 year old boy, and that even if a cop is bad (and I’m not saying Office Wilson was), provoking them is a really really bad plan. 
  4. Explain that rioting is a good way to get a good chunk of society to swing from “middling to sympathetic” to “loading up with birdshot and walking their sidewalks with their neighbors”. 
  5. Perhaps you should explain the reasons that Saint Paul shouldn’t follow New Orleans’ lead, shut down the public school system, and go all charter? Because the African-American community in NOLA – much bigger than in Saint Paull, btw – is doing much better since they did exactly that. Three reasons will do.

Let me know if you need more help.  Being a public bureaucrat, I’m sure you rarely have to deal with the actual public.

Liberal Math

A kid spends ten years in public school.  Then, less than a year as a home-school kid.  Then enrolls in a public university. 

And then kills his mother and 26 other people.   Four years after ending a year of home schooling.

Obviously it’s Home Schooling’s fault!

Under a new law proposed this week by Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy’s Sandy Hook Advisory Commission, every homeschooling parent with a child who has been labeled with a behavioral or emotional problem would be forced to submit to a host of strict, burdensome regulations.

The scheme put forth in the commission’s draft recommendations on mental health would require homeschooling parents to submit individual education plans regularly to a local education bureaucrat.

School officials could then decree whether parents may continue to educate their own children, reports the Connecticut Post. Administrators could pull the plug on any parents’ homeschooling by declaring that the child failed to make “adequate progress.”

Bear in mind that Lanza was well on his way to loopdie-land when he was in the public school system.  What good did any of them do? 

Members of the Democratic Governor’s Sandy Hook commission have conceded that the additional burdens they have recommended for homeschooling families may be controversial.

Dear Connecticut; the entire United States would be better off if the Blue States seceded – and if you want to get the ball rolling, that’d solve  problems for everyone.

Liberal Tolerance In Action

The headline is sarcastic, of course. Saint Thomas University, a Twin Cities catholic school, has never tolerated conservative opinion or action.  Under their previous president, Father “Hanoi Dennis” Dease, they disinvited conservative speakers, harassed conservative newspapers, and – in 2000, when a Cuban national team baseball player in town to play an exhibition against Saint Thomas defected at the airport, Dease forbade any Saint  Thomas students from harboring him.

Dease is gone – he apparently retired last year – but his legacy lives on.  A Saint Thomas school mascot – some sort of rodent, I think – “wiped his rear” with Republican literature on campus:

Angie Hasek, Chairman of the Minnesota College Republicans, posted a brief description of the event on Facebook.

“Tommie Mascot just wiped his rear with some GOP lit. I wouldn’t have expected someone at UST to stoop to that level.”

“Tolerance at its finest,” Hasek said.

According to the university’s website, the Tommie Mascot Team consists of up to six undergraduate students with the goal of “foster[ing] school spirit in a positive and professional manner.”

 

Pondering The Imponderable

I was at a comedy club a few weeks back.

A very angry – and not especially funny, while we’re on the subject – woman who, I kid you not, identified herself as having been a political science major, told a joke (I’ll be generous) about “science”.  She ended with something like “That’s called ‘science’.  Take that, creationists!”

But it started me thinking about the contempt that the left feels for creationists. 

Now, I’m not one of them – if you read the biblical creation story as allegory, there is no conflict between the Bible and the record that is captured in the physical science of the world around us. 

And I wanted to stand up and ask the “comedian” something.

“So if we have to choose between…

Someone who believes the Earth is 6,000 years old, and lives their life accordingly – whatever that means?  A belief for which there may be little empirical basis, and even less empirical impact outside the faith community?  Or…

Someone who believes that:

  • raising taxes during a recession helps the economy,
  • banning firearms for the law-abiding lowers violent crime
  • jacking up regulation on market economies will stop the climate from changing like it’s been doing for between 6,000 and 20,000,000,000 years
  • Unionizing daycare providers will alleviate the scarcity of daycare
  • Raising the minimum wage will alleviate poverty
  • Pouring a bottomless bucket of money into Public Education will ever give us a better-educated populace
  • Mandating increased healthcare services without increasing the supply of caregivers won’t raise the price of healthcare
  • “Racism” is harming black Americans more than the Public Education system, a toxic “urban culture”, fatherless families and voting for Democrats who want to keep them that way are
  • Giving terrorists a “save the date” card for leaving one of their homelands isn’t going to result in an epic surge of bloodshed
  • “Anti-Poverty” programs have alleviated poverty over the past fifty years
  • Barack Obama deserved that Nobel Peace Prize,

…which does more actual harm to the world?”

It wouldn’t have made a great “heckle”, unfortunately.

The School Board Of The Future

New Rochelle New York’s school board cuts the crap and moves to elminate public input at school board meetings:

In her first act as the newly elected senior board President, Merchant waited until the last minute to unveil sweeping changes to board policy that eliminates any guarantees of public input into school board meetings as what can only be seen as a prelude to eliminating entirely any public involvement in school board meetings.

Beset by criticism over an unfolding story of corruption and incompetence on its watch, and infighting among its own members, the New Rochelle Board of Education last night proposed to “solve” that problem by severely curtailing public engagement during school board meetings.

Minneapolis and Saint Paul would never do that.

Would they?

Every Parent A Felon

When I was five years old, I walked to kindergarten every day. It was three blocks each way. For that matter, so did nearly every other five-year-old who lived within three blocks of the place.

The next year? First grade? I and all my friends walked six blocks each way to school.

My parents would probably be arrested today.

That’s the subject of Ross Douthat’s latest.

And besides the usual snickering at the overweening, overprotective helicopter parent run amok, Douthat points out something much more corrosive:

Third is an erosion of community and social trust, which has made ordinary neighborliness seem somehow unnatural or archaic, and given us instead what Gracy Olmstead’s article in The American Conservative dubs the “bad Samaritan” phenomenon — the passer-by who passes the buck to law enforcement as expeditiously as possible. (Technology accentuates this problem: Why speak to a parent when you can just snap a smartphone picture for the cops?)

20 years of watching John Walsh has turned us into a nation of Dwight Schrutes.

Except when child protective services gets involved, nobody walks away laughing.

Bring On The Bursting Of The Bubble

I got this email from one of the socialist parties whose email list I somehow got onto; it’s by one Nicole Troxell, a Sociology professor in Kentucky:

When I was 19 years old, a college professor changed my life. I took his Feminist Political Thought course and realized for the first time that I could be smart and capable. …
When I was 19 years old, a college professor changed my life. I took his Feminist Political Thought course and realized for the first time that I could be smart and capable. I decided I wanted to give students what he had given me. I talked to professors about what it was like to teach college and it seemed perfect. There would be time for artistic and intellectual work, a chance to foster curiosity and critical thinking, building community, freedom to work a flexible schedule mostly from home, good wages and benefits, and opportunities to contribute to research.

In other words, she thought she’d hit the jackpot; getting paid big money to spend very few hours per week teaching an utterly valueless discipline. 

What could go wrong?

No one ever mentioned the word “adjunct” and I didn’t know what it meant until I took my first teaching job at a community college. I thought an adjunct position was probably a trial period for a full-time post that was sure to open soon. I was still full of hope for my career.

Today I have classes that run four, five, six, 12, and 16 weeks long at three to five different schools. I work more hours than a full-time college professor, yet I get paid less than half as much. I work so many hours that I sometimes average less than the minimum wage.

That moment when practicioners of valueless trades almost, but don’t quite, realize that their trade has no value.

I am working hard and not seeing tangible fruits for my labor. I can’t afford health insurance, even under the Obama plan; and I have nothing saved for retirement. I can’t pay my student loans and barely manage to pay basic living expenses. Occasionally I get warm fuzzy compliments from students who become passionate about what they learn from me, but mostly my poor students get a tired, overworked, unenthusiastic teacher who has to try hard to “fake it until I make it.” Why do I keep doing this? Simply because it was my dream to teach college.

Sucks, doesn’t it?  I hit that same wall when I was 29; It was my dream to do major market radio, but I was making $8 an hour with two kids to feed and #3 on the way.  I had to adapt. 

So is “adaptation” in the future for Ms. Troxell? 

Adjuncts are not without hope, however. Thousands are organizing around the country in unions like Service Employees International (SEIU)…Adjuncts can shake things up and galvanize change by urging their local unions to start organizing. Better wages and benefits would take away the incentive for adjunct positions and hopefully encourage universities to employ more full-time teachers.

Er, yeah.  Hopefully. 

Or – more likely – they’d realize, as value-conscious students are, that “women’s studies” and sociology are of no real value to them (beyond, maybe, general requirement survey courses, and even there I’d be pissed at any college that required me to waste any of my hard-earned time on either), and they’ll contract those departments even further, leading non-tenure-track academics to careers in insurance, real estate, and fast food. 

Just saying.

The Revolution Will Be Nitpicked

The New Orleans school district has just shut down its last five “traditional” public schools and converted the district to 100% charter schools.

And the Educational-Industrial Complex is going to go crazy about it.

With the start of the next school year, the Recovery School District will be the first in the country made up completely of public charter schools, a milestone for New Orleans and a grand experiment in urban education for the nation.

Of course, charters started in Minnesota – and have caught on both in Minnesota and nationwide primarily among “underserved communities” – immigrant, Latino and especially African-American students.  44 of students in the District of Columbia attend charter schools.  But in New Orleans – whose city district was among the worst in the nation before Katrina forced an epic reboot – the district embarked on a radical experiment in school choice.

And it’s galling the hell out of the factory schoolmasters.

The creation of the country’s first all-charter school system has improved education for many children in New Orleans, but it also has severed ties to a community institution, the neighborhood school, and amplified concerns about racial equality and loss of parental control.

I’m not sure if it’s because the media have no idea how education really works, or they’re buying into propaganda from the educational-industrial complex – but they always seem to read their chanting points from Big Education handouts.

Facts:

  • Charter schools are in neighborhoods, too.
  • Big city public schools, on the other hand, may be in a neighborhood, but they are inevitably controlled by school boards who are beholden not to parents or neighborhoods, but to the special interests that get the board elected.  You think a parent’s voice is heard at Saint Paul’s school headquarters, locked away in their concrete fortress on Colborne street?
  • Racial equality?  Parents choose their kids schools.  Black, white, integrated - its’ voluntary!
  • Anyone who thinks parents have even the most trivial input, much less control, over big city school systems is too stupid and pathetic to even politely ignore.

More chanting points?   

Critics of the all-charter New Orleans model say it is undemocratic, because leaders of charter schools are not accountable to voters.

Another statement that can only come from the ignorant, the deluded, or the cynical.  Parents at a charter school are 1-2 votes among dozens or hundreds; in the factory system, they’re among tens of thousands or more.

“They don’t answer to anyone,” said Sean Johnson, the dean of students at [one of the ex-public schools], whose father attended the school while growing up in the Black Pearl neighborhood. “The charters have money and want to make more money. They have their own boards, make their own rules, accept who they want and put out who they want to put out.”

And Johnson is lying.  Charters follow the same rules as public schools, and get the same money.

As New Orleans continues to succeed, look for charter opponents – like the DFL – to get more and more desperate.

Hatred Of Choice

Last week in the Strib, an op-ed by Will Stancil – described as “Will Stancil is a researcher at the Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity at the University of Minnesota” – declared:

But in the Twin Cities, many of those grade-schoolers are sitting in segregated classrooms. Single-race schools have been making a comeback in Minnesota.

It’s the charter schools that are the problem. Charters are rapidly growing, but still controversial, with their effectiveness hotly debated. Despite that controversy, or perhaps because of it, a disturbing reality about charters is widely overlooked: Many boast student bodies that are entirely composed of members of one race.

Stancil concluded:

We can’t allow new ideas about education to erode civil rights progress…Charter advocates frequently insist on the need to close the equity gap and create opportunity for all students, no matter their race. But their commendable agenda cannot proceed in a segregated organization. As we celebrate Brown’s legacy, we should also remember its lessons: that integration is the grandfather of all equity issues and that racial separation is a root cause of American inequality…Charter schools should not allow themselves to become flagbearers for a divided system reminiscent of an uglier era.

I read it – and marked it down to address this week. 

But Bill Wilson – the first black Saint Paul City Councilman – and education activist Joe Nathan did it first, in the Strib, and did a fine job…

…in part by noting Stancil’s invocation of the “S” word was cheap, inflammatory and wrong (emphasis added):

Some critics don’t seem to understand the huge difference between forcing people, because of their race, to attend a school, and giving new options to people, especially those from low-income families and families of color.

This exposes the great divide in education – between:

  1. the “public” mandate that uses the school system to send society a symbolic message (however good that message may be), and maybe “educate” the kids in the bargain
  2. The “individual choice” model, which empowers families to, y’know, see to their kids’ education.

For many kids, school is hard enough without having to solve all the social problems their parents kicked down the road to them.  And so their families choose – choose! – schools that actually work, on the assumption that it’s better for their kids to compete on a more level intellectual playing field later than to serve as some bureaucrat’s statistical incentive today. 

Read the Wilson/Nathan piece.  Compare it with Stancil’s tone-deaf vapidity.

And then remember which party has always fought against school choice.

Somebody Notify MPR

Twenty years of warnings that one of their janitors was an alleged pedophile weren’t enough to spur the Saint Paul Police…

Yesterday, Ramsey County officials announced they’ve hit [former SPPS janitor Walter] Happel with a smorgasboard of new charges, including first-degree criminal sexual conduct, three counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, one count of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct, one count of fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct, and five counts of surreptitious invasion of privacy.

The new charging documents don’t exactly bathe the St. Paul police or Linwood Monroe in glory, as both allegedly ignored credible warnings Happel was a pedophile.

The allegations now facing Happel are Sandusky-esque — there are too many alleged victims to share each and every one of their stories in one report. But with regard to the 1991 case, after news of the initial charge against Happel broke a couple months ago, Happel’s son, identified as “AH” in charging documents, came forward to tell police his father sexually abused him from the time he was four until he was 14 or 15.

…or Saint Paul Public Schools…

As far as the Linwood Monroe allegations are concerned, yet another charging document says that when a parent (“AB”) talked to a school social worker this past winter to share concerns about Happel brandishing his penis in a school bathroom to their child, the social worker said Happel “had been there forever and wouldn’t hurt anyone.”

“AB later called the school and spoke with a woman about the incident, but she never got a return call from anyone with the school,” the charging document continues. “AB finally reported the incident to the police.”

Yet another charging document says school officials didn’t tell police about a January 17, 2014 incident where Happel allegedly “lightly slapped a student’s behind” and said, “I told you I was going to do that if you sagged your pants,” even though just a week earlier, the school principal received an email from a parent who was concerned about Happel giving candy to two students who didn’t have father figures in their lives.

…into action.

The story – by the City Pages Aaron Rupar – gets worse.  Much worse. 

So – will local journos start poring over the SPPS’ records, looking to elevate incompetence and institutionalism into a cover-up? 

Or are they too exhausted from all the time they’ve spent going after the Archdiocese of Saint Paul?

The STEM Scam

As anyone who’s done hiring for web designers, Java programmers or network techs knows, there’s no shortage of technical workers; wages throughout most of the IT sector have been worse than stagnant for quite some time.

And yet not only do our kids constantly have “Take STEM courses!” beaten into their heads, but the government and business want more tech workers immigrating to the US.

Now, a survey shows there isn’t a shortage:

In looking at the latest government data available, my co-author and I found the following: In 2012, there were more than twice as many people with STEM degrees (immigrants and native-born) as there were STEM jobs — 5.3 million STEM jobs vs. 12.1 million people with STEM degrees. Only one-third of natives who have a STEM degree and have a job work in a STEM occupation. There are 1.5 million native-born Americans with engineering degrees not working as engineers, as well as half a million with technology degrees, 400,000 with math degrees, and 2.6 million with science degrees working outside their field. In addition, there are 1.2 million natives with STEM degrees who are not working.

Meanwhile, less than half of immigrants with STEM degrees work in STEM jobs. In particular, just 23 percent of all immigrants with engineering degrees work as engineers. Of the 700,000 immigrant STEM workers allowed into the country between 2007 and 2012, only one-third got a STEM job, about one-third got a non-STEM job, and about one-third are not working.

But enough about the statisticians – what is the market saying?

Wage trends are one of the best measures of labor demand. If STEM workers were in short supply, wages would be increasing rapidly. But wage data from multiple sources show little growth over the last 12 years. We found that real hourly wages (adjusted for inflation) grew on average just 0.7 percent a year from 2000 to 2012 for STEM workers, and annual wages grew even less — 0.4 percent a year. Wage growth is very modest for almost every category of STEM worker as well

The drive to jam kids – especially girls – into STEM classes is just a long-term plan to drive down tech costs.

Protocols Of The Elders Of Middle School

On the one hand, it’s almost a good thing that a school district, somewhere, is trying to teach some kind of critical thinking.  Kids today seem to get virtually none of it.

On the other hand…:

The Rialto school district in California is under fire over a stunning eighth-grade assignment that asked students to write an argumentative essay about the Holocaust and “whether or not you believe this was an actual event in history, or merely a political scheme created to influence public emotion and gain wealth.”

Now, this story is only from the mainstream media – the San Bernardino Sun and KTLA TV – so take it with a block of salt. 

But still…

[the assignment] gives students three sources to use to write their essays. One of the sources reportedly alleges the gassings in concentration camps were a “hoax” and there is no evidence Jews actually died in gas chambers.

The source, traced to a webpage on biblebelievers.org.au, states: “With all this money at stake for Israel, it is easy to comprehend why this Holocaust hoax is so secretly guarded. In whatever way you can, please help shatter this profitable myth. It is time we stop sacrificing America’s welfare for the sake of Israel and spend our hard-earned dollars on Americans.”

The other two sources were from About.com and History.com, KTLA-TV reports.

Teaching the youngsters to deny the deniers?  Plausible.

But how much do you want to bet the kids have gotten to eighth grade without really knowing what the Holocaust is?

“…And I’m Here To Help…”

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

College costs too much so students take loans. But there are no jobs so graduates can’t repay the loans. But the federal government made the loans so they cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.

An alternative is for private investors to offer to pay your college in return for your promise to work for them in the future. Some already are doing this.

Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla) wants national legislation to legitimize the program and add safeguards.

Cripes, you can’t even trust Republicans to keep their greasy mitts to themselves. Look, Marco, you’re a US Senator. The US Government student loan system is busted. You are one of 534 people in the world who can do anything about it. But no, you’ve got your eye on “helping” private investors and students use an alternative arrangement. They wouldn’t need an alternative arrangement in the first place, if you were doing your job and fixing the busted system.

Joe Doakes

The idea – investors “investing” in students in exchange for future earnings – is a fascinating one.

The Fed’s involvement will quickly make it a hopeless mess.

Everyone’s Protected!

Well, we now have a statewide “bullying law”.   Mazel Tov.

Of course, we had a bullying law before.  As noted in this Channel 5 interview with lawyer Christa Groshek,. it was 37 words long, and basically required school districts to have a bullying policy.   Now, it’s 14 pages long.

Everyone Can Be A Victim!:  The law specifies so many different “protected” classes that it’s really not specific at all; in addition to affectional orientation, religion, affectional orientation, race, affectional orientation, gender and affectional orientation, the bill “protects” people from bullying based on academic status, marital status, socioeconomic status, and…

…appearance?

Where was this law when I was a greasy-haired, acne-ridden, athletically-inept 14 year old?  Oh, the fellow students – and not a few teachers – whose lives I could have ruined!

Intent Is In The Eye Of The Beholder:  And it seems to do for “bullying” what sexual harassment laws did for sexual harassment; define “bullying” as “anything that makes anyone upset in any way.

And yes, I know bullying happens, and sometimes it’s incredibly serious, and in extreme circumstances kids kill themselves over it.

But combine this with the law’s anonymous notification provisions – which are necessary in some cases, obviously, but are an open invitation to abuse as well – with the fact that parental recourse is limited to the point of absurdity, and if you know anything about how public schools work these days, the “unintended consequences” will swerve quickly into absurdity.

Or litigation.  Which, given the support the DFL gets from trial lawyers, can not in the least bit be an “unintended” consequence.

Make-Work:  Along those lines; the previous bullying law left the mechanics of the policy to the individual districts.

The new law?  It creates three levels of state bureaucracy above the districts to deal with “bullying”:

A Task Force, a Council and a “Center”.

I asked a gay activist on Twitter – who was clearly happy about the bill being signed into law, although he clearly understood little but Big Gay’s chanting points about the bill or its consequences – why he supported the new law.  ”Because we now have one policy for the whole state” was his main answer.

Liberals never realize – this is a bug, not a feature.

The further you remove policy from its implementation, the worse your policy will get.  It’s true of healthcare, taxes – and in few areas more than education.  It’s why charter schools (as a general model) are succeeding while the larger, urban and centralized-rural public systems are failing.

Parents Last:  Another problem – and this may be the big one – is that if you’re a parent concerned about an accusation against your child, your rights are pretty much nonexistant.

Now, let’s be realistic; your rights are pretty much nonexistent in the public system, especially in the major urban districts, today; as I found out in my own Kafkaesque struggle with Saint Paul’s idiot administration, your “rights” as a parent are pretty much written to fit around the convenience and protection of the sitting Administration.  If you think your child has been wrongly accused, or even just want to find out facts about this episode that is going on your child’s permanent record beyond “your child has been accused, convicted and sentenced; have a nice day”, the “process” is a passive-aggressive, sisyphean ordeal that pretty much requires you be a freaking amateur lawyer.  Or, naturally, hire a professional one.

On the Upside:  On the other hand, I can think of one upside to the new law; it’s excellent preparation for today’s modern university experience; it trains students to check their First Amendment rights at the schoolhouse door (or before interacting in any way with anyone that might go through that door with them); it’s excellent training for dealing with today’s speech codes.

So there’s that.

The Clinker, As Always:  As I’ve noted in this space before, bullying has tended to go up after these laws are passed.  Now, chalk it up to more-thorough reporting if you’d like – but anyone who expects a statewide policy and bureaucracy to “solve bullying” is in for a major disappointment.

Because setting policy – whether in a 37 word statement or a 14 page bill – is the easy part.  Any idiot can do it, and the DFL majority proved it.

But here’s the bad news.  Ask yourself this; who’s going to be carrying out the policy?

School Administrators.

And while many school administrators mean well (and I’m talking about all of you out there that are friends of mine,  whom I jointly and severally except from the following statement), a disturbing number of them are idiots, or worse.

Bureaucratic “policy” is, at its worst, an excuse for the not-bright, the stupid, the corrupt and the depraved to shrug their shoulders at things that would make any human with a living soul and any common sense leap to their feet in horror.  Anti-violence “policy” routinely sweeps up the non-violent.  Anti-sexual harassment policy, enforced by idiots, has results like this.   “Zero Tolerance for Weapons” “policy” gives us this, and – on a more personal level, this (Part One and Part Two), in the hands of “administrators” who are, notwithstanding their PhDs are too stupid, in a just world, to hold any job at all.  Even something as benign as a “pedagogical model” can be turned into an instrument of, dare I say, bullying - of students and their parents – by teachers and administrators who are focused on “policy” rather than “children”.

Which, increasingly, they – especially adminstrators – are.

Just saying – with today’s generation of toxic administrators, it’s smart to expect the unintended.

This law “solves” a problem that can’t be solved (beyond the extent to which previous law already did), by giving even more power to people who should have much, much less than they already do, from a bureacracy that makes sure they mis-use it with gusto!

Oceania Has Never Bullied Eastasia, Winston

The bill that the Metrocrats chose to call the “Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act” passed the Senate. 

Let’s look at what’s in a name.  Because the name “Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act” is intensely misleading – almost to a geometric fault.

There are so many names for this bill that are more appropriate:

The Redundant Feel-Good Act:  Every school district already has a bullying policy.  It’s the law. 

The PC Payoff Act:  This bill - probably soon to be a law – is a chit being paid back to the DFL’s supporters by the party currently in power, creating not only a protected class of students, but a super-di-duper protected class. 

The Full Employment For Bureaucrats Act:  This bill – which creates a huge unfunded mandate on top of all the others foisted on our school systems, to the point where many districts are nothing but mandate delivery systems with occasional spurts of “education” – will create a whole new class of administrators.  And they’ll belong to unions, who donate their dues money to the DFL. 

The Full Employment For Trial Lawyers Act:  The bill makes the entire process of dealing with “bullying” even more legalistic than it already is.  Legalistic means “designed to be controlled, and especially litigated (at an exquisitely expensive hourly rate) by lawyers”. 

The Type-Cast Your Child For Life Act:  Everything related to everything that can be defined as “bullying”, no matter how torturously, will become part of a child’s permanent academic record.  Which will affect childrens’ future chances at higher education, jobs, the military, jobs requiring security clearances and the like, long after the child has grown out of whatever phase they were in when they were bullies (and that’s assume they were rightly and justly accused of “bullying”, since the bill is also…)

“Stasi Had The Right Idea!” Act:   Anonymous informants?  Giving those who accuse others of bullying complete immunity from consequences if it turns out that the accusations were fabricated? 

The “Further Proof That North Dakotans Are Smarter Than Minnesotans” Act:  Other states – including our grown-up neighbor, my home state of North Dakota – address bullying by addressing bullying, passing laws that address actual behavior rather than creating the infrastructure for a network of secret denunciations and…

The Ideology Police Act:  …making all beliefs that don’t toe the PC line, especially personal religious beliefs, however manifested or stated, a form of behavior that needs to be watched and suppressed, overtly or subtly, “for the good of the children”.       

The “Let’s Have More Bullying, Not Less!” Act:  Bullying tends to go up, rather than down, in places with bullying bills.   

The Metrocrat Power Grab Of 2014 Act:  The bill – which does nothing to address bullying of children that isn’t already covered by existing policies – does coalesce more power to indoctrinate, to punish dissent from the state-sanctioned social views, and to extort more from the taxpayer in the bargain.  And it does it during the last session during which the DFL is guaranteed absolute power.                 

Could someone in the legislature please see to this?

De Blasio: The Left’s Id

NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio launched his first salvo in his war on charter schools – which is, essentially, an extended payoff to the unions and the condo pinks that put him in office in the first place (occasional emphasis added by me):

While running for New York City mayor, Bill de Blasio could count on applause for attacking unpopular charter school co-locations, where charters that need space are squeezed into public school buildings alongside other schools.

Instead of extolling the promise of the charters, de Blasio provided a spine-stiffening defense of the “common” school, and his base ate it up: The unions loved it, parents whose kids were not in charters loved it, and many of de Blasio’s fellow Park Slope progressives loved it.

That’s been one of the charter opponents’ most galling tactics; they’ve made charters the subject of a class war, with charters as “the enemy”, notwithstanding that (especially in the city) they are the lifeboat for the underserved minority, and the students that the “common” schools have given up on.

So the new mayor must be feeling whiplash after the outcry that met him as he began to carry out a popular campaign pledge: slow down the charter co-locations and shift more money to traditional public schools. That the charter community opposed the mayor wasn’t a surprise. It was their political strength, organization, and popularity that caught de Blasio off guard.

From the rhetoric, you’d think de Blasio had personally bounced kids out of charter schools across all five boroughs.

Slate goes on to defend De Blasio.

But charter proponents know that it’s a short jump from “slowing down co-location” (in real-estate-starved NYC they put charter schools in the same buildings as public schools) to shutting down schools.  The left hates charters, and the slippery slope is very, very real.

The “Stasi Bill” Vs. “The Bullying Bill”, Part 2

Senator Roger Chamberlain has been leading the push to try to replace Senator Dibble’s “bullying bill”, HF 826, with a bill that addresses bullying rather than serves as a bludgeon of indoctrination.

He wrote a piece on Facebook (among, I’m sure, other places) earlier this week that I think sums things up well.  I’m going to excerpt it below, with a few bits of emphasis added by me:

———-

I need to be blunt. HF 826 will turn our schools into indoctrination camps; it will create a climate of fear. Our children will be stripped of their innocence and humanity; HF 826 looks at children as nothing more than programmable machinery. Parents will lose more control, school districts lose control, and communities will lose control.
Another sad and disturbing fact is some elected officials and lobbyists do not care about the larger issue, the overall harm the bill will cause to children and parents. They will work to cut deals with the bill’s author and when they achieve their specific objective, and then they will walk away. One lobbyist said they will simply live with the results of the session.

What happened to the idea of doing what is right? Unfortunately it’s a fairly rare concept in government.

There is an alternative, senate file 2411 (SF 2411) it is based on North Dakota law, which, in 2011, was endorsed by our Attorney General Lori Swanson. It is short, 4 pages not 20 pages, clarifies the issue but most importantly it protects all kids equally, retains parental rights and local control.

HF 826 is not just another law people will learn to live with, it’s not MNSure, and these are children, your children and not some abstraction. People have no idea the damage this will cause; they have no idea what they are asking for.

———-

If you take action on no other issue this session (and I know this blog’s audience is prone to taking action on political issues), do it for this one.

 

The “Stasi Bill” Versus The “Anti-Bullying Bill”

The DFL’s “bullying bill” is a special interest sop; it creates protected classes against whom bullying is double dog bad.   It’s a type of bill that seems, elsewhere in the country, to have the effect of increasing bullying of the kids they’re intended to protect – not to mention increasing the official “bullying” and censorship of dissent.    It might be better called the “Stasi Bill”.

Of course, the real reason the DFL supports it is that it creates yet another well-paid, unionized bureaucracy to staff with members of the political class.

The GOP, thankfully, is offering an alternative – a bill that offers to-the-point protection of actual victims, rather than a generalized snitching system that can be used as a cudgel against pretty much anyone doing anything:

Republican senators Monday afternoon announced the “Stamp Out Bullying” bill, which is modeled after legislation that’s been successful in other states and receives a top rating from a national anti-bullying group…State Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes, a leading critic of Dibble’s bill, said in a news release that he expects the alternative anti-bullying bill to receive bipartisan support. He said his legislation will protect students while allowing school districts to maintain local control.

“This proposal keeps school resources in the classroom where they belong, and doesn’t place an added burden on school districts already struggling with tight budgets. It protects all students, keeps parents informed, and gives school districts a solid framework to develop solutions that work for their communities,” Chamberlain said.

Being realistic?  I’d say the GOP’s best hope is to get Republicans and not-insane DFLers to push either for Chamberlain’s bill, or to amend Dibble’s ‘bill to strip out the objectionable stuff like the Stasi provisions and the protected classes…

…which is the stuff that the Metro DFL wants, which makes them poison pills.

Such is politics in the minority.

Elections have consequences.

Let’s Try A “Thought” Experiment

Find one of your children.

Wait for when it’s super cold out – like, below zero.

Soak them with a super-soaker.  Then force them outside, and don’t let them back in the house, or any cars, or into the neighbors’ houses.

When (hopefully) someone calls the cops, you’ll be thrown into jail for child endangerment.  And you should be.

Because “idiot” wouldn’t describe it – but “evil” pretty much would.

Most of you have no doubt seen this story; a Saint Paul middle school forced a junior high kid to wait outside, in a swimsuit and towel, in -2 weather and -25 wind chill.   There’d been a fire drill while she was in the pool, and the teachers didn’t let her go to her locker, grab a coat, or anything but a towel (emphasis added):

[The girl] asked to wait inside an employee’s car, or at the elementary school across the street. But administrators believed that this would violate official policy, and could get the school in trouble, so they opted to simply let the girl freeze.

Let’s try to go through the “minds” of these hamsters:  Given a choice to “violate policy” and “endanger a child’s health and safety”, the kid got chucked under a bus.

What does it say that a bunch of junior high kids are smarter, and have more moral clarity, than their administrators?

Her fellow classmates, at least, huddled around her to try to keep her warm. And one teacher did eventually lend her a coat.

There should be arrests.  Idiot school administrators should be frog-walked out of their building in handcuffs.   Their mug shots should be splashed all over the TV, so parents can keep their children away.   Licenses should be slowly torn into long, thin strips.

But that’ll never happen.