Saturday, May 24, 2008

"First they came for the....."

The controversial history of Martin Niemoler's poem is documented in Wikepedia.

The following version of Martin Niemoller's Poem "First They Came..." appears on the New England Holocaust Memorial in Boston, MA.

"They came first for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.

Then they came for me,
and by that time no one was left to speak up."

When reading of this poem, I often think of the homeschooling situation here in New Hampshire, California and across the United States. It reminds me of what I hear from homeschoolers time and time again. To sum it up, too many homeschoolers do not want to get involved in public education issues because they do not want anyone coming after them. It is dangerous and naive to think that if we leave them alone, they'll leave us alone. Legislators will come after homeschoolers whether we speak up or not.

The NEA is a very large contributor to Democratic candidates and increasingly to Republican candidates because they have so many of our tax dollars. In turn these legislators will push the NEA's agenda. Homeschooling represents a real and direct threat to the NEA/AFT dream of educational hegemony. They have attacked and will continue to attack homeschoolers. Organized resistance, not stealth, is our only appropriate response.

What are we teaching are children if we stick our heads in the sand?

The following is the NEA's policy regarding homeschooling.

"B-75. Home Schooling

The National Education Association believes that home schooling programs based on parental choice cannot provide the student with a comprehensive education experience. When home schooling occurs, students enrolled must meet all state curricular requirements, including the taking and passing of assessments to ensure adequate academic progress. Home schooling should be limited to the children of the immediate family, with all expenses being borne by the parents/guardians. Instruction should be by persons who are licensed by the appropriate state education licensure agency, and a curriculum approved by the state department of education should be used. The Association also believes that home-schooled students should not participate in any extracurricular activities in the public schools. The Association further believes that local public school systems should have the authority to determine grade placement and/or credits earned toward graduation for students entering or re-entering the public school setting from a home school setting. (1988, 2006)"

We all need to speak up before it is too late.

Subway Says "No" to Homeschoolers.

Subway says "No" to Homeschoolers for their "Every sandwich tells a story contest." The following quote is from their contest website, "No home schools will be accepted."

The following story was sent to Subway.

The smell of fresh baked bread coming from the store was so good that…

I had to ask Mommy and Daddy to go in and look around. Baby brother smiled as he saw the fresh toppings piled high on the bread.

I thought I'd practice reading. Being only three years old, this would not be possible in public school, but my parents homeschool me because they love me so much. I've been reading for almost a year now!

Daddy suggested I read this sign about a special contest for children who love to write. It was fun to read, and I couldn't wait to enter! I'm a good writer no matter what, crayons OR markers!

But then mommy made me cry. She told me I couldn't enter because homeschoolers were not allowed. I didn't know why Subway was so mean, until I remembered that most public schooled kids don't write half as well as me.

I cried and cried, and asked Daddy if we could leave. He said "Certainly. Not only will we never visit a mean old Subway store again, we'll organize a B-O-Y-C-O-T-T of Subway stores by all your homeschooling friends!"

I sure hope Subway changes their silly policy so Mommy and Daddy can take me back for more sandwiches.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Retirement scam: A slick union trick

I really can not say it enough we are headed for a Pension Tsunami unless we reform our pension system we will continue to see a rise in our taxes and a tax burden on our children that will be insurmountable. The pensions are constitutionally protected and with retirement ages as they are, they are not sustainable without massive tax increases or reform. Legislators must work in the best interests of all Granite Staters not just the very wealthy unions they pander to time and time again. Public pensions must change to a defined contribution plan instead of the current defined benefit plan. The private sector figured out over 20 years ago that defined benefit plans do not work now it is time for the public sector employees to realize this as well. Wake up Granite Staters before it is too late. It is time to elect fiscally responsible individuals and not those who pander to special interest groups.

The following piece appeared in the Union Leader.

Retirement scam: A slick union trick

Wednesday, May. 21, 2008

NEW HAMPSHIRE'S public employee unions are trying to trick legislators into rejecting t significant public pension reform the state needs.

The unions, under the banner of the New Hampshire Retirement Security Coalition, have been arguing that two competing bills to reform the New Hampshire Retirement System carry nearly identical costs.

"The chair of the New Hampshire Retirement System Board of Trustees recently testified before the House that there is virtually no cost difference between the House and Senate versions of HB 1645," read a coalition press release issued Monday.

That statement is unquestionably misleading. The short-term costs of both bills are close. The long-term costs are not. The unions claim that the long-term costs are almost identical. But Lisa Shapiro, the retirement system chairman (the very person the unions cited as saying the bills had "virtually no cost difference") said that, in fact, there is "absolutely a difference with the long-term costs."

The House's proposal includes reforms such as raising the retirement age of police officers and firefighters and excluding car allowances from the compensation used to calculate retirement benefits. Those and other serious structural changes are not included in the Senate version. And that is the real reason the unions oppose the House version. It would make sensible reductions in the state's overly generous retirement compensation.

Ironically, the coalition alleges that the House version "is designed to strip away the state's promise of retirement security" to public employees. In reality, only by making such changes can the promise of retirement security be kept. Without them, the retirement system continues on a rapid road to insolvency and future public employees will have to swallow even bigger benefit reductions. Legislators need to pass the House version (Senate Bill 463) to make sure that doesn't happen.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The High Cost of Education

I believe I went to one of my first school board meetings with my now 10 month old son before the school year started or the first month of school. At that time someone bought up the fact that a number of students who do not live in Croydon were attending Croydon schools. With two school board members volunteering for the fire department you would think they would know the boundaries of Croydon. The fact that the issue was not addressed for so many months is disturbing. It is also a waste of Croydon taxpayer's hard earned dollars. During the next election I hope the people of Croydon will elect people who are more responsible with our tax dollars I also hope more fiscally responsible people will run for the school board.


The following piece appeared in the Argus Champion.

Croydon News
The High Cost of Education
Anyone who ever attended an Annual School Meeting knows that the cost of a public education is going sky high. Last year Croydon paid for 93 student's education, for a total of $1,303,225.00. Problem is up to four of the students live in other towns. At the Annual School Meeting, Beth Campbell reported to the Croydon School Board and SAU that several of the kids listed as students in Croydon, actually lived in Grantham and Springfield NH.

Nothing happened with it until the April meeting of the Croydon School Board, when the SAU said it would investigate it. An investigation revealed that two families were sending their children to Newport Schools on Croydon's budget when the families live in Springfield and Grantham NH. To add insult to injury, one of the students is a special education student and uses the Special Ed. van.

The Croydon School Board is at a disadvantage, since parents can register children at the schools in Newport and give a Croydon address, and since most of the board members work full time it is hard to keep track of who is moving in and out of Croydon particularly if the students are in the 4-12 grades.

Currently the tuition rates per student to attend Newport are as follows: Elementary $10,691. 44 (grades 4-5) Middle School $10,197.20 (grades 6-8) High School $9,634.93 (grades 9-12). Tuition for Special Education was $55,000.00.

Now what? Pursuing a new amendment

The editorial below poses the question, "Now what?" regarding education funding. First we have a spending problem and not a funding problem. The Union Leader hits the nail on the head it is about an income tax. For those readers who believe an income tax will solve the problem I have a bridge to sell you. By no means will an income tax permanently solve the property tax burden. Because our school systems will continue to spend at a rate above inflation so an income tax will not cover their spending so your school districts will come begging for more money because "its for the kids." Check it out yourselves it happens everywhere. Second those pushing an income tax will have a direct financial gain from a passage of said tax. It is much easier to lobby the legislators for more money because they are spending other people's money not their own. Educrats know this that is why they do not want local control. They are hoping local taxpayers are foolish enough to fall for the income tax scheme. A tax is a tax which pocket it comes from will effect the control you have over how it is spent.


We don't need an amendment. We need a Legislature with enough backbone to stand up to the court and defy their unconstitutional mandate.

The amendments proposed so far are dangerous and do nothing to prevent more frivolous lawsuits.

Strike the "cherish" clause if you think an amendment is necessary. All these other amendment plans simply strengthen Claremont by writing into the Constitution a responsibility which doesn't presently exist.
- Jim Peschke

Now what? Pursuing a new amendment

Sunday, May. 18, 2008

WHAT WAS billed as the state's best chance at getting a constitutional amendment on education funding failed miserably last week. The compromise amendment worked out by Democrat and Republican leaders could not even draw the support of a simple majority in the House, never mind the 60 percent it needed to pass. So the question is: Now what?

Opponents of an amendment are thrilled. Their quest to shift all responsibility for public school funding to the state has passed another hurdle. Their talking points don't even need to be rewritten. Just updated: "Legislators have yet again rejected the idea that the state can and should shirk its duty to provide our children with an adequate education."

However, supporters of reasonably splitting public education's costs between localities and the state need not lose hope. There is broad support among the left and the right for letting the state target aid to school districts that need it most. An amendment that most legislators would back can be written. The challenge is not so much wording an amendment as it is electing the right legislators.

Until the Claremont rulings, the State of New Hampshire had never fully funded public education. It was understood that local communities were responsible for their own schools, and the state would chip in with additional dollars. There are plenty of people in New Hampshire who believe strongly -- and correctly -- that this is the best arrangement, not only for our children, but for the taxpayers. We need to elect them to the Legislature.

Mandating that the state pay for 100 percent of basic public education costs has nothing to do with "fairness." It isn't fair to collect money from property-poor communities and send it to property-rich ones. That is what the Claremont mandate does.

It also has nothing to do with the "right" to an adequate education. Were that the case, legislators would be busy trying to figure out why some students in middle-income communities perform so much better than those in communities that spend more money on education.

Instead, they focus on money. That's because this debate is and has always been all about taxes. Amendment opponents want a broadbased state tax. They know that their only chance of getting one is to tie it to school funding. It's a tested scheme. If you want a tax increase, make sure it is "for the children."

This tax increase will not make our schools better or our children smarter. If money were the answer, the District of Columbia would have the best schools in the country instead of the worst.

Granite Staters can stop this tax-hike scheme only by electing more legislators who believe that the state has a duty to supplement local school budgets, not to entirely relieve local communities of the responsibility for funding their own schools.

To do that, we'll have to throw out many of the current lot this fall. Be sure to ask your representatives and senator whether they support an amendment to restore the state's proper role in education funding. If they don't, you should be looking for new representation.