Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Paladino Platform . . .

Virtually no campaign literature is out there from the Republicans for Paladino. In fact, it has been obvious from the day he won the primary in a landslide that the Republican party has done nothing to support its duly elected candidate ... No surprise there.

The Republican elite have never been receptive to candidates that have been selected by their members, especially candidates who think for themselves, because THEIR power over the party (and any spoils) is threatened.  Local examples of such non-support include Assemblyman Townsend (where the party elite gave him constant primaries), Mr. Longeretta's bid for DA, and Mr. Hanna's first bid for congress.

One piece of Paladino campaign literature did make it to my house, though none of my neighbors got it. It was a simple, black-and-white two-sided printed sheet. . . . It was substance, not form . . . Like the man it represents.
Here is a link to more platform information.
Don't judge a book by its cover . . . Look at what the candidates stand for . . . Then decide.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bad News for the Area: Rome Savings Bank

WKTV: After more than 150 years, Rome Savings Bank no longer local .
Rome Savings has entered into an agreement whereas they will merge with, and into, Berkshire Bancorp., Inc. The two entered into the agreement October 12, but it's subject to closing conditions and regulatory approvals by shareholders and isn't expected to be completed until the first quarter of 2011. 

This is a repeat of the demise of the Savings Bank of Utica earlier in the decade. If there are sufficient shareholders in Rome to stop this, you need to think carefully about what this will mean to Rome if this goes through.

Banks are an important part of their communities' economic well-being. Time was when loans could be reliably made on a handshake. The bankers were more likely to take risks because they personally knew their clients. That source of capital is rare these days when loans are based on metrics determined in a far-away boardroom. Bankers' not knowing their borrowers helped to contribute to the mortgage crisis.

This merger will make things that much more difficult for local businesses.

Chinese Garlic 2 . . .

The original Chinese Garlic post raised concern that "free trade" policies threaten national  security.

Today I read this article from Business Insider that did not make me feel better: 19 Facts About The Deindustrialization Of America That Will Make You Weep.  Among some of the more concerning points:

  • The United States has lost approximately 42,400 factories since 2001
  • The United States has lost a total of about 5.5 million manufacturing jobs since October 2000.
  • The United States has lost a whopping 32 percent of its manufacturing jobs since the year 2000.
  • From 1999 to 2008, employment at the foreign affiliates of US parent companies increased an astounding 30 percent to 10.1 million
  • If our trade deficit with China increases at its current rate, the U.S. economy will lose over half a million jobs this year alone.
  • As of the end of 2009, less than 12 million Americans worked in manufacturing. The last time less than 12 million Americans were employed in manufacturing was in 1941.
  • Manufacturing employment in the U.S. computer industry is actually lower in 2010 than it was in 1975.
  • The Census Bureau says 43.6 million Americans are now living in poverty, which is the highest number of poor Americans in the 51 years that records have been kept.
  • In 2008, 1.2 billion cellphones were sold worldwide. So how many of them were manufactured inside the United States? Zero.

And leaders don't consider this exportation of jobs and shuttering of factories a threat to national security?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Paladino In the Big Apple . . .

From NY1 News: Paladino Outlines Plan For "Lean" Budget

Paladino spoke at length today during a one-on-one interview with NY1's "Inside City Hall."

His appearance comes after NY1 offered both leading candidates for governor an opportunity to take part in a debate in Buffalo tomorrow. While Paladino accepted the station's invitation, Democrat Andrew Cuomo did not respond to the request.

Afterglow . . .

Peak Color may have passed . . . but the Afterglow remains . . .



2010-1027-1814pProctor Park
Valley View
and Rutger Park
Utica, New York

Not Time for Redlich . . .

Warren Redlich made an impression (a good one) when he appeared in that 7-way governor-candidate circus debate.  He was on WIBX yesterday and said all the right things.

But this is not the time to vote for Redlich.

Mr. Redlich should have given Mr. Lazio a primary for the Republican slot . . . But he did not.  (Mr. Redlich ran for Congress in '06 as a Republican).   Mr. Paladino did and fought an uphill battle against the Republican Party elites to earn his place on the ballot.  Mr. Redlich should do the same . . . next time.

In the mean time, those holding conservative values should get behind the candidate who had to earn his place on the ballot.  He might not fit the image you had hoped for . . . but the fact that he beat the insiders should count for something.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Carl Paladino: What You See Is What You Get . . .

Last week David Andreatta wrote in the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle about a series of videos Carl Paladino had done for a Buffalo publication, Artvoice.  Paladino was asked to do them because he had long been outspoken on many issues including indian casinos, Thruway tolls, and the public schools . He could always be counted on to get a discussion going. What makes the videos interesting is that they were compiled well before Mr. Paladino started his run for governor, and, probably, well before the thought even crossed his mind.
"He didn't reinvent himself for this election," said Artvoice publisher Jamie Moses. 
Well before Paladino the Gubernatorial Candidate said he would enforce the collection of taxes from native tribes selling cigarettes to non-Indians, Paladino the Outspoken Businessman was railing against the "15 to 20 thugs" who he said run the Seneca Nation with an unfair tax advantage. 
"It isn't the common Indian that's benefiting," Paladino told Artvoice in January 2009. "It's the big thugs who run everything. ... They should tax them and make things fair, make the rule fair, play by the rules."

In March 2009, Paladino criticized a prevailing wage measure in Albany that would have required developers like him to pay higher wages on publicly financed construction projects as the work of downstate "union-minded" legislators.

"We'd like to see this nonsense of giving union labor and contractors a special edge in New York state stop," Paladino said. "It has stymied upstate development." . . .

None of the videos could be described as rants. Nor does any reveal Paladino as the erratic torch wielder that his critics and political opponents have portrayed him as to voters.

You be the judge... The Paladino videos are available on Artvoice.  Who do you believe is more likely to change the corrupt culture in Albany?

Considering Cuomo?

I wanted to write a piece about Andrew Cuomo, but Peter Landesman in American Thinker beat me to it, beginning with the exact same thought that I had been having . . .

 Andrew Cuomo the New York State Attorney General and Democratic candidate for governor last week issued one of the most preposterous statements ever:
  "I understand that the people of the state are frustrated. I'm frustrated. I'm angry. Nobody knows Albany corruption better than I do. I've been staring at the beast for three years."
What has he been doing during the last 4 years? One would think that he, as Attorney General of New York State, has been in a better position to curtail corruption than he would be as Governor. 

Bullying people on Wall Street has not helped the people on Main Street. Main Street's problem is an overgrown, intrusive, arrogant, corrupt, money-grabbing state government, and the AG has done little there.

Mr. C's tenure at HUD gives little to be enthused about, unless you were a teacher or cop who bought one of his HUD homes at half-price because he thought you were underpaid. Talk about rewarding the public employee unions. Jacob Gershman commented in the Wall St. Journal a few days ago
Andrew Cuomo points to his time as Housing and Urban Development secretary as a prime example of how he's made government more efficient and effective. But federal auditors say Mr. Cuomo oversaw a "poorly planned" overhaul of personnel that bulked up HUD's public outreach but undermined the agency's enforcement efforts.

Does anyone really believe that this career-politician candidate will change Albany for the better?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Not A Fake Candidate . . .

For a change, it looks like voters are going to have a real choice in the 116th Assembly District this year. It's Johnson v Destito, and unlike Republican challengers of the past, Johnson is no fake candidate.

Friday, October 22, 2010

DEC Commissioner Grannis Fired . . .

... apparently for warning the governor against further staff cuts.  From the Times Union:
A front-page story in Tuesday’s Times Union described one likely cause: the leak of a memo sent by DEC to the Budget Division that laid out in stark terms the possible consequences of the planned layoffs of more than 200 agency employees.
The unsigned, undated memo warned that fewer polluted sites would be cleaned up, fewer regulators would be available to oversee the potential natural gas drilling boom in the Marcellus Shale, and stocking of game fish could halt.
It's too bad that the governor feels it necessary to shoot the messenger. An agency head should not be sacked merely because he reports the natural consequences of staff cuts.  With fewer staff, enforcement must suffer.
In order to avoid cuts to programs that protect human health or address immediate environmental damage, the memo suggests the most logical places for deep cuts would be outdoor recreation and sports — including skiing, fishing, hunting, camping and hiking.
Really? Well, this raises some questions. People pay fees for skiing, camping, fishing and hunting. Why did Mr. Grannis suggest cutting these things when people pay for them? Is it because they all are almost exclusively Upstate NY activities (Grannis is from Manhattan)? Is it politics (where Downstate dominates)? Did Grannis forget that the DEC used to be the Conservation Department?

Perhaps Mr. Grannis was sacked simply because he was unwilling to deal with a state budget crisis.  Yes, he correctly concludes that less staff means less regulatory enforcement.

How about doing away with some of the regulations????

We got along just fine without the DEC Office of Climate Change and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative regulations . . . and there is absolutely no evidence that this program has any potential whatsoever to affect the climate. This was politics starting with Patacki. It can be done away with.

DEC regulates wetlands over 12.4 acres. While DEC is probably best equipped to deal with wetland protection, the Federal Army Corps of Engineers has gotten into the act, and regulates much smaller ones. There is duplication here.  It was the US EPA that discovered the Oneida County sewer violations, not the DEC.  Better enforcement from EPA? Or were DEC Staffers hands tied?

DEC is a complex agency, and it has a history of being motivated by more than environmental protection.  The firing of Grannis may be a sign of this.

Great Debate . . .

In case you missed it: DioGuardi v Gillibrand for US Senate. This was the best debate so far this season.  To me, DioGuardi came off cool, calm, knowledgeable, authentic, independent and decisive. Gillibrand sounded remarkably like Mike Arcuri with the same stock campaigning language heard on commercials - - - which makes you wonder if they have a school for this stuff somewhere. The "Lightening Round" near the end where the candidates could only give a Yes or No answer was especially telling.  Gillibrand does NOT think the Tea Party movement has been a good thing and does NOT think that Andrew Cuomo should debate 1-on-1 with Carl Paladino.  That says it all.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Throwing Money at a Problem

 Schools ponder how to use Race to the Top money.
Millions of dollars soon will flow into local school districts, courtesy of a $696 million federal Race to the Top grant the state was awarded in August. . . .
Although school districts are aware of just how much funding they will receive, officials said it’s difficult to pinpoint what the money will be used for . . . Districts have until Nov. 8 to tell the state how the money will be used.
In other words, money is simply given to local districts that have no plan. Nice.

Buying votes, perhaps?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Decent Debate . . .

Mr. Hanna and Mr. Arcuri squared off in their debate for the 24th District congressional seat at MVCC last evening . . . What a difference a lack of five superfluous candidates makes! It was much more informative than that circus Monday night at Hofstra ... although the adage that "There is no such thing as a stupid question" was disproven when someone asked "We have a Department of War, would you support creation of a Department of Peace?"

Everyone has  their own opinion of who "won" or "lost."  To me the debate was a "draw" -- both men were prepared -- both delivered their points well.  Both seemed to agree on many issues.  Both appeared capable. Where they differ is on philosophy.

The decision will come down to what the voters believe should be the size of the role of Federal Government in their lives.

If you believe in more Federal involvement, Mr. Arcuri is your man.  If you believe in less government involvement and more reliance on the private sector to satisfy needs, Mr. Hanna is your man.

It's that simple.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Dud Debate . . .

Last night voters were subjected to the most agonizing hour-and-a-half of this election season's programming . . . perhaps of any election season. That was the NY Gubernatorial "Debate" . . . and the term "debate" is used very loosely.

Paladino supporters certainly must be disappointed in their candidate's lack of performance last evening.   Per YNN: 
It was almost as if Carl Paladino, the fiery Republican, turned the fire extinguisher on himself. He also left the stage mid-debate for a bathroom break, stumbled over words and at times, confused Medicaid and Medicare.
As for his main challenger, Andrew Cuomo:
The Democrat kept stately and bland, offering few specific commitments, animated most when speaking about ethics.
Paladino clearly is not an orator and appeared uncomfortable. His wild hand gesturing was distracting.  Cuomo, on the other hand, was glib but non-substantive.

OK, so we know that in the speaking department, Cuomo is hands down the better speaker of the two. (To be honest, I thought Madam Davis won the debate over all, but she is not a viable candidate and some of her positions are just nonsense).   However, a good speaker does not automatically point to who would be a good governor.  . . .

And we, the voting audience, did not get a chance to really see what the principal two candidates stand for . . . how they think. . . because of the absolutely ridiculous spectacle of having seven candidates on the stage at once. 

I felt like I was watching a 3 ring circus. The whole "debate"  was a farce.  It should have been Paladino vs Cuomo. Then we would have seen the real issues developed.  There was simply no chance for that to be done under the format that was chosen.  

As lousy a speaker as Paladino is, I think he still would go for a one-on-one debate with Cuomo -- and Cuomo would refuse.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

He Was Only Being Honest . . .

Did Carl Paladino blow it?  The sense of most of the talking heads on O'Reilly last night was that he unnecessarily alienated a group of people when he came out against gay marriage.

Per a WCBS report . . .
Paladino tried to give out lollipops at Monday’s Columbus Day parade, but he was mobbed by reporters after he told a Brooklyn Hassidic group he didn’t want kids “brainwashed” into thinking gay marriage is a “valid” option. . . .

“I unequivocally support all gay rights, all gay rights except the right to be married. I’m a Catholic and I believe in Catholic values,” Paladino said.
Meanwhile Andrew Cuomo was marching in a "gay pride" parade with his two daughters (it was National Coming Out Day).
“Have you ever been to one? The men wear little Speedos and they grind on each other. Would you take your children there? I don’t think so,” Paladino said.
Carl has a point there. Most people would feel it inappropriate to expose their children to such behavior. . . .

The gubernatorial candidates clearly are on opposite sides in what people on Fox would call "The Culture Wars." Cuomo and a representative from GLAAD criticized Paladino's remarks . . .
“They were reckless in light of all the recent violence that we’ve had. They were divisive. They were the worst cynical politics trying to pit people against one another, trying to pit groups against one another,” Cuomo said. “It is repugnant to the content of what New York is.” . . .

“We’re sending a message to young people that it’s okay to discriminate, it’s okay to commit violent acts, that it’s okay for gay kids to kill themselves and that’s not okay, particularly in a place in a country that supposedly values all of us,” said Jarrett Barrios of The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

Actually it is Mr. Cuomo and Ms. Barrios who are pitting groups against each other. Mr. Paladino never said it is OK to discriminate, never said it is OK to commit violent acts, and never said it is OK for gay kids to kill themselves. All he said is that he did not believe that gay marriage was a "valid" option. He was only being honest about his beliefs. 

Given the fact that 6,000 years of human tradition is on Mr. Paladino's side, it is presumptuous for Mr. Cuomo, Ms. Barrios, and a number of legislating judges across the nation to say otherwise.

The discussion of "gay marriage" gets off track when it focuses on "rights."  Marriage was never intended for the purpose of conferring "rights" on individuals.  Rather, marriage was instituted to perpetuate society by injecting stability into a union because of its potential for children.  Since two people of the same sex have no potential to procreate, it makes no sense to apply the concept of "marriage" to them... i.e.  as Mr. Paladino says, it is not a "valid" option.    

It's refreshing to see a candidate being himself -- warts and all -- rather than someone who is carefully managed to always say the right things to the right people.  This will be an interesting election.

Chinese Garlic . . .

A few weeks ago I went through my annual ritual of harvesting basil from my garden to make a year's worth of pesto sauce (basil + olive oil + garlic which I blend and freeze into cubes for later use).  This year my garlic did not do well, so I went to the local grocer for the garlic.

Surprisingly, in spite of all the garlic that is grown locally, the only garlic I could find came from . . . China!

Not having the time to shop the farm stands, I reluctantly purchased the Chinese garlic even though the possibility of contamination from poorly managed Chinese landfills crossed my mind.  Admittedly, it was good smelling garlic, and the price was right  . . .  but it got me thinking about the increasing prevalence of foreign-grown produce on local shelves . . . the inconvenience attached to finding locally grown produce . . . and the decimation of local agriculture.

Something is very very wrong when it is easier to purchase garlic grown 12,000 miles away than garlic grown 12 miles away.

Those thoughts led to thoughts about the decline in locally produced goods, such as men's suits from Joseph and Feiss, radios from General Electric, garden tools from Union Fork, and textiles from many now-closed plants.  In fact, I recently replaced my old broken Union hoe (made locally) with a new Union hoe (made in China).  It was upsetting.

"Free Trade" has been a mantra chanted by both political parties in recent decades.  Not having majored in economics, it is difficult to counter the statement in Wikipedia:
"[T]he broad consensus among members of the economics profession in the U.S. is that free trade is a large and unambiguous net gain for society."
"Consensus" is often a matter of perspective. I can accept the above statement if  "gain" is confined to getting products into the hands of consumers at the lowest possible cost, and "society" is global.

The reality, however,  is that "society" is not global. Different cultures place importance on different things, which is reflected in their countries' laws.  We have laws to protect the environment, and to protect workers, but other countries do not.  Our laws raise production costs here in relation to those elsewhere.  That causes production to move elsewhere.  While some Americans complain that other countries engage in unfair trade practices by subsidizing their agricultural production, subsidizing strategic industries such as steel production, or by manipulating their currencies, aren't we doing the reverse with our environmental and labor laws?  If we did away with our labor and environmental protections, would that not arguably be a subsidy?

To paraphrase a common saying, "Free Trade isn't Free."

The cost is to our culture and the things we consider important.  What we gain in a clean environment and decently paid workers, we lose in jobs and wealth. . . .

And ultimately lose in National Security.

It is simply amazing that national leaders seem clueless to the security implications of Free Trade.  With most of our manufacturing capacity -- and increasingly agricultural capacity -- exported offshore, what is left to protect us if we get into a war?  We survived and succeeded during WWI and WWII because we had peacetime manufacturing and agricultural capacity that could be converted to wartime use.  What is there to convert now?

Software engineers cannot feed or clothe us.

We are vulnerable and need to do something about it.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Like the Keystone Cops . . .

Only NOT FUNNY . . . . 

At least that was the thought that came to mind when reading that the much vaunted Marcy NanoCenter construction has been delayed.
More than $27 million has been committed to the development of the Marcy NanoCenter site, but construction has yet to begin because the plans are needlessly tied up in the government regulatory process, Mohawk Valley EDGE President Steven DiMeo said. 
"Needlessly," perhaps, but the blame needs to be placed squarely on Mr. DiMeo and our County level leaders (from Mr. Picente back through Mr. Eannace).
Among the delays has been the permitting process with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Buffalo District, DiMeo said.
Well, it was MV EDGE that pulled the wetlands application and put it on the shelf back in 2002, possibly costing us the Global Foundries chip plant that went to Malta.  EDGE let its application languish for four plus years and now it's an issue?
The DEC is looking into whether there would be any problems with water availability. 
Y'er darn tootin' there's an issue of not enough water. Thank Mr. Becher of the MVWA and Oneida County Leadership which has been calling the shots at MVWA for that one.  It was pointed out over two years ago that given the capacity of the filtration plant, if MVWA's plans to expand to Verona were approved, there would be NO water for the Chip-Fab site. Since then, Judge Hester's ruling limits MVWA's take from Hinckley reservoir to significantly less than the filtration plant is capable of processing... I.e., MVWA/Oneida County's bungling of obligations has created a water shortage. 
The Oneida County Sewer District is under a state consent order due to the sewer system spilling sewage into the Mohawk River during certain levels of rainfall. Because the system is already over capacity, the DEC is looking into whether the Marcy NanoCenter would add to the problems.
Oneida County sewer district officials knew for years that the illegal hookup of separated sanitary waste lines into a Combined Sewer Overflow was causing an unacceptable spillage of sewage into the Mohawk River.  Without a doubt, they looked away because the hookups permitted New Hartford and the County to grow their tax base (never mind that it was really sprawl that exacerbated Utica's financial problems and created demand for other services (at more cost) in the suburbs).  Mr. Picente exacerbated the problem by rushing into the Consent Order with DEC before giving the public a chance to have input (which may have opened his eyes to some issues -- but Mr. Picente avoids involving people who may have expertise on an issue because he cannot control them).   Oneida County and Mr. Picente's mismanagement of the sewer district and Consent Order have created another issue that the Marcy NanoCenter must deal with.

The wetlands permit, water, and sewer issues were all avoidable and should never have happened. 

That they were allowed to develop and fester demonstrates the utter cluelessness of  Oneida County leadership when it comes to dealing with environmental issues. Marketing Marcy NanoCenter without first coming to grips with the environmental issues not only wastes the taxpayers' money, it will cause ill will toward the County by prospective NanoCenter tenants because their time is being wasted.

There is no legislative quick fix to all this (although the County is trying).  Any attempt to take a shortcut through state-level legislation will only make the situation more complicated and expensive than it already is. THERE ARE NO SHORT CUTS.

Its time to admit that mistakes were made, correct them, and move on. . . . and just maybe some heads should roll, too . . .

Friday, October 08, 2010

Ignorance By Design 4 . . .

From the American Thinker: Do American History Teachers Value Feelings over Knowledge?
Nearly half of American history teachers believe it is less important that their students understand the common history, ideas, rights, and responsibilities that tie the country together as Americans than that they learn to celebrate the unique identities and experiences of its different ethnic, religious, and immigrant groups. . . .

Given that feelings trump facts in so many classrooms, is it any wonder that there has been such a precipitous decline in Americans' knowledge of their own country's history?

Think about it.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

OIN Anti-Townsend Mailer . . . Backfires . . .

At least with this voter.

Per the Utica Daily News, the Oneida Indian Nation has acknowledged sending the mailing that complains that Oneida County Sheriff Candidate Mr. Townsend voted "Against Protecting Students from Bullying and Harassment" not once -- but twice -- while he was Assemblyman.

Politically, the proponent of the mailing is seriously out of touch. Mr. Townsend's rejection of Assembly Bill A03661 is exactly the type of action that kept getting him re-elected time after time after time.

The law Mr. Townsend voted against is called the "Dignity for All Students Act" and supposedly would prevent bullying and harassment. The act defines several characteristics of students as being protected (race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender, and sex); requires state regulations, school district policies, sensitivity training of school personnel, student curriculum in "tolerance" etc. in each grade K through 12, and minimum suspensions for student transgressors; would create an "incident reporting" system; and, of course, provide grants to school districts. The law may be well intended, BUT . . .

"You can't legislate morality."

Human behavior and interactions are very complex and every situation is unique. We already have the Ten Commandments, the Golden Rule, and numerous statutes on the books that already inform us parents, students, and those who run our schools, of what is acceptable and not acceptable behavior. Adding twenty more pages of regulations will not improve the situation. Trying to regulate all activities in all situations with special rules is not only a futile exercise, but counter productive. It's like the "zero tolerance" ("zero brains" I call them) policies on "weapons" that require suspension of a kid who might innocently forget his cub scout jack knife in his pocket.

This law will not prevent bullying . . . but it WILL create a bureaucratic nightmare and a lot more spending.

Laws do not prevent bullying. Capable teachers and administrators do.

Administrators that need to cling to a rule book to enforce proper behavior frankly have no business running our schools.

Cheers to Mr. Townsend for rejecting another prescriptive, intrusive, "feel good," but ultimately ineffective, expensive and counterproductive law.

Meanwhile, OIN needs to stick to running its world class casino, golf courses, and other wonderful venues, and to stay out of politics . . . or it runs the risk of becoming another Barbra Streisand -- who should just shut up and sing.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

HUD Throwing Good Money After Bad . . .

This is unbelievable. Mr. Arcuri announces that Utica will receive a HUD grant for over $4.2 million . . . in spite of $Millions of HUD monies having allegedly been misspent by Gro-West. Obviously corruption is not a problem for Mr. Arcuri nor for HUD -- as long as the political connections are correct -- otherwise why is more money being doled out?

Now the "Affordable Housing"  requirements of the new Utica Master Plan suddenly make sense.  They're the excuse to keep the pipeline of corruption flowing with federal taxpayers' money.

All the more reason why State officials need to be brought in to investigate the situation . . . but then again, do you really think Attorney General Andrew Cuomo wants to make his Utica and Washington friends look bad?

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

No Pressure . . .

What the Global Warming/Climate Change/Climate Disruption Alarmists have in store for us "Deniers" and Skeptics. . .

N o t . F u n n y . a t . A l l

Ignorance By Design 3 . . .

From Today's OD: Utica school staff and students ride for a healthy lifetyle .
The Healthy Bike Ride for Kids is an annual bicycle event in which teachers, staff and students cycle through Utica to raise awareness of the benefits of a healthy lifestyle . . .
Your tax dollars hard at work. Instead of diagramming sentences, the kids get to watch teacher ride a bike  . . .

Monday, October 04, 2010

Ignorance By Design 2 . . .

The US Department of Education started about 30 years ago during the Carter Administration.  Until then, education policy was completely left up to the states. . . . and properly so because the US Constitution gives no role to the Federal Government. Since then, the national government has used the "power of the purse" and states' addiction to federal money to gain ever more control over our schools.

While the intent of federal involvement may have been good, the results have not. For example, federal rules requiring education of special-ed students in the "least restrictive environment" properly kept the handicapped with their classes whenever possible -- but often resulted in more adults being added to the classrooms creating distractions.  Federal funds for handicapped students encouraged school districts to find more "handicapped" students to generate more money for themselves -- students who were only "handicapped" by schools failing to educate them in the first place.  Federal rules on student privacy have become barriers to police agencies trying to maintain the public order and to tuition-paying parents trying to get information on their older students' performance. However, free access is given to selected not-for-profit social agencies pushing their services.  

And then there are the academic results.  Students coming out of the "system" these days knowing less substantive knowledge than their parents should be proof enough that Federal involvement has worsened education, not improved it.

Now, the Department of Education is planning even more control. From EducationNews.Org ..
Eye-popping power grab: Licensing of U.S. colleges

Under the proposed federal rule change, institutions of higher education "would be required to have a document of state approval … to operate an educational program, including programs leading to a degree or certificate," explained an analysis by Shapri D. LoMaglio for the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities.

People should be free to pay for the higher education that they want. If an institution gives the public what they pay for, it will be rewarded by the public. If the institution fails to do so, it will fail to attract students. Simple as that.

If the government is going to involve itself in dictating curriculum to adults, then it is dictating what knowledge people will be able to acquire for themselves.

. . . and you thought all these moves were not a conspiracy.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Ignorance By Design . . .

Professor Nassar's guest OD editorial, "We need to pave the way for good teachers," is a good read.

I agree with Mr. Nassar. Except for courses on how to do lesson plans and and use materials in the classroom, most of the education courses I took years ago were a waste of time.

What Mr. Nassar does not realize is that the education establishment does not value subject matter "knowledge" as it did 40-50 years ago. In fact, it devalues it. Now the emphasis is on "performance" often judged by subjective rubrics. Students now often work with each other to "construct" their own knowledge, the teacher's role having been reduced to mere facilitator.  That explains why teachers receive no respect and classrooms have become unruly.

This does three things that are of benefit to those running the Government:
  1. The flow of knowledge from one generation to the next is cut, leaving students ignorant. That makes them easy to manipulate both in the workplace and politically later in life. 
  2. They are trained to work with each other -- good preparation for the workplace of tomorrow where they will be expected to perform but not question what they are doing. 
  3. A need is created to vastly expand the numbers of workers in the classroom. Emphasis on "performance" requires smaller classrooms and numerous aides so that student activities may be properly supervised. This gives those controlling the school system political leverage in their communities because so many paychecks depend on them.
The fact that students often graduate knowing less than their parents -- but have attitudes that they know more -- is by design.