Saturday, January 10, 2009

Anytime is learning time.

Anyone who has read our site knows I am a huge fan of personal responsibility and parents having the right to educate their children as they see fit. One way that can be accomplished is having a one income household. A none to popular stance I have is, why have children if you are getting leave the raising of your children in someone elses hands. I never understand people having babies and than putting them into day care when they are six weeks old.

One of the great things about being a stay at home Mom is that anytime is learning time. A while back on the way to the recreation center Anastasia said that she knows that the Sun is made of plasma and gas. She then went on to ask, What is plasma? I explained that it was made up of elements, I further explained that everything is made up from elements. I touched on the periodic chart and explained that she would learn more about that when she was older. This is not what she would learn in preschool.

One day while driving my mother commented about birds on a wire. Anastasia's (a four year old) responded, " Actually Mom, that is a flock of birds."

Today, while doing some research I ran across the following; By the spring of kindergarten, children should be able to recognize the letters of the alphabet "quickly and effortlessly," and understand the letter-sound relationship at the beginning and end of words. By the spring of first grade, most children should be recognizing words by sight and comprehending words in the context of simple sentences." This was published at the National Institute for Literacy website.

Anastasia has been able to identify her letters since 18 months, identify the phonetic sound associated with the letter at two years, identify the beginning and ending sounds of words since age two and read at age three. Now at age four she has no problems reading such stories to herself as Rumpelstiltskin, Twas the Night before Christmas, and Pinocchio. She is currently reading at least at the second grade level. The other day she picked up the Eagle Times and was able to read the front page story.

Anastasia loves learning she often does it on her own, Anastasia thinks learning time is play time. I don't want her quest for knowledge to be destroyed by public schools. When Jim was at a meeting at Newport he explained how Anastasia his four year old daughter can read. A teacher replied, "A four year old cannot read." It is no wonder that Newport schools still haven't figured out what to do since failing to achieve adequately yearly progress for a sixth year in a row.



Friday, January 9, 2009

Town Meetings and SB - 2

I received the following from the Coalition of New Hampshire Taxpayers. We need SB-2 in Croydon so we don't have a reoccurrence of last years town meeting.

The full article appears in the Bedford Journal.


January 9, 2009
Bedford Journal

It boils down to this: If you own property in New Hampshire, you can’t afford to ignore Town Meeting season.

The thousands of dollars charged on your tax bill don’t appear out of nowhere. They’re based on decisions made by residents.

In most New Hampshire communities, Town Meeting is where a vast number of decisions, from multimillion-dollar land purchases to several hundred-dollar donations to local charities, are made. And getting involved and influencing town budget decisions isn’t as complicated as it may seem.

“The local voters make the financial decisions that affect them locally,” said Barbara Robinson, the director of the Department of Revenue Administration’s municipal services division. “The voters choose their services and they choose what they want to pay for. That’s their local decision.”

The entire scope of what a town can do in a given year is decided upon at the meeting. Many of the decisions are vital to residents because they affect what services they’ll receive – new buildings, roads repaired, how many police officers are available to respond to an emergency – and how it will affect their pocketbooks.

State law gives Town Meeting – meaning the people who show up at the meeting and vote – control of the town’s purse strings.

Residents are the so-called legislative body. They act as the town’s equivalent of the House of Representatives and Senate. The selectmen basically act like the governor. They make policy decisions and present a recommended budget – although sometimes that’s a budget committee’s role – and the voters make the only vote that counts: yes or no.

For a little more than a decade, there have been two types of meetings: The “traditional” style and the official ballot, or “SB2″ style.

The traditional meeting

The budget is only one portion of the town warrant. The warrant is simply a list of items, called articles, that ask voters whether they’re in favor of certain items, most of which involve spending.

Some of the articles are voted on by secret ballot, like the primary vote, ahead of the meeting. Those include election of town officers, bond issues and zoning changes.

The rest are posed to the people who come to Town Meeting. A town official, usually a selectman or budget committee member, will present the article, and residents have a chance to ask questions or argue for or against the article.

The articles, including the operating budget, can also be changed. An article may ask if voters will approve $50,000 to buy or lease a highway truck. A resident at the meeting can suggest amending the article to ask for $100,000 for two highway trucks or for $0, making it impossible to buy any trucks.

If the suggestion, called a motion, is seconded and a majority of voters agree to change the article, the article is changed.

When discussion is over, a vote, usually a voice vote or raised hands, decides the issue. Sometimes, if the vote is too close to call, a secret ballot ensues.

The pre-meeting

Town Meeting is a voter’s last chance, not the first, to weigh in on the town’s finances.

The budget season usually begins around October of the previous year with the directors of town departments sending proposed budgets to the selectmen outlining what they need and/or want for the following year.

What follows is usually an exhaustive series of meetings and workshops of the selectmen, department heads and town manager or administrator to examine each line of the budget and often reduce those amounts as much as possible.

If the town has a budget committee, the selectmen will then send their version of the budget to the committee, which re-examines it and tries to find more savings.

The budgeting process varies from town to town, but the state has a series of deadlines and guidelines towns must follow so the process is consistent across the state and residents everywhere can learn about their town’s budget well in advance of Town Meeting.

Towns must hold at least one official public hearing on the budget by Feb. 13, 25 days before Town Meeting day, to give residents a chance to examine and discuss the budget, Robinson said.

A town report, which lists a copy of the warrant, a detailed budget and plenty of other town government-oriented reports and information, has to be made available by March 3, according to the Department of Revenue Administration Web site.

Most town meetings are held the second Tuesday in March, which in 2009 is March 10. Some are held in April – locally, Merrimack is the only such case – and those towns follow a different set of deadlines.

Town Meeting 2.0

Some New Hampshire communities, and especially school districts, have eschewed the traditional town meeting format and adopted the official ballot, or SB2, form of Town Meeting.

SB2, which refers to Senate Bill 2, is the 1996 legislation that authorized the newer form of government that allows towns to follow a different way to approve spending.

Fifty-nine towns and 69 school districts adopted SB2 through 2006 (three small towns later shifted back), according to a New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies report.

They include all the larger towns and school districts in the Nashua area; Hollis is the biggest traditional holdout.

Instead of a public hearing on the town’s proposed budget and warrant followed by a meeting at which residents discuss and then vote on warrant articles individually, voters in SB2 towns vote on all warrant articles by secret ballot on Election Day.

Towns hold a deliberative session between Feb. 1 and 8 to present the operating budget and warrant articles, giving residents a chance to question, discuss and amend, according to the site.

On Town Meeting day, voters go to polls, which are open all day, and vote on each warrant article.

SB2 proponents point to the convenience of all-day voting and to turnout levels that are much higher than in towns where voters are forced to attend a long meeting held at a specific time.

But supporters of traditional Town Meeting often point out that all-day voting doesn’t require voters to attend pre-Town Meeting sessions and learn about the articles on which they’re voting.

Also, a New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies points out a “fatal flaw” in the SB2 system: A simple majority of voters at a deliberative session can force a change to any article, even reducing a spending item’s budget to zero, thereby preventing the rest of the town from voicing its opinion on the matter.

Such “zeroing out” of articles is rare, but not unknown.


CNHT stands by their support of SB2 as a superior method of allowing you to make decisions about your town or school spending. School spending is likely what takes up the greater part of your tax bill.

Related Link: How HB0072 might change your ability to vote in private on certain items where a ballot is requested on the spot. In the past, one only needed to gather 5 signatures but HB0072 - Full Text (seeks to change that in some cases to 50. You can write or call your Representatives to express dismay over this bill.

2009 Governor of the Year

Gov. Jim Douglas of Vermont earns my Governor of the Year award for 2009. Bravo for going after the sacred cow and proposing to freeze K - 12 spending The following piece appeared in the Valley News.

Lynch on the other hand gets a thumbs down from me, although he is saying "No" to a broad base tax he is touting such B. S. as proposing creating a “Green Jobs Initiative.” The good news is that "Senate President Sylvia Larsen said lawmakers have much to do, which pushes an education-funding amendment down the priority list." according to the Valley News and the Concord Monitor article titled "Lynch: Even Now, No Broad Tax in N.H."


Governor Grabs Initiative By Going After Sacred Cow
By John P. Gregg
Valley News Staff Writer
Montpelier -- Republican Gov. Jim Douglas used his bully pulpit yesterday to propose freezing per-pupil K-through-12 spending and integrating the University of Vermont and Vermont's state colleges into one system.

A day earlier, House Speaker Shap Smith had proposed a $150 million economic recovery plan based on bonding, an aggressive first step for a new Democratic leader. Smith's proposal made news; Douglas, in targeting what has long been a sacred cow in Vermont politics, is making headlines, and his focus on school spending will likely dominate talk around coffee counters at general stores throughout the state this morning.

For six years, Douglas has nudged lawmakers, narrowly won key veto fights, and maneuvered his way to a series of victories on such issues as permit reform, Catamount Health, the vote-twice school funding law and a sales tax holiday.

Yesterday, he made an uncharacteristically bold statement that the Act 60 and 68 school funding formulas -- the latter was enacted on his watch -- “are fundamentally broken and beyond repair.”

“When we consider what government, businesses and families are facing, level funding is a fair approach,” Douglas said as Senate Democrats sat, stone-faced, at his freeze proposal.

Republicans -- though there are no longer enough of them in either chamber to sustain a Douglas veto -- greeted his proposals with enthusiasm.

“I think it's long overdue to have this discussion,” state Rep. Steve Adams, a Hartland Republican, said of replacing Act 68. “My constituents have told me over and over again that it's time we got a handle on property taxes. They're killing people.”

Former Gov. Madeleine Kunin, a Democrat in the audience for the ceremony, said Douglas “made some very bold proposals,” though she said “level-funding state aid to education, I think, will be the toughest to achieve.”

Indeed, Democratic leaders claimed Douglas was offering a sleight-of-hand, proposing a freeze on new state school aid, as well, that they asserted could shift more school spending onto the local property tax.

And they also argued that Douglas offered an idea, not a solution, to the state's growing fiscal crunch.

“We will not walk away from a system that we've worked so hard to achieve, that ensures that a student in Hardwick has the same educational opportunity to resources as a student in Stratton,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Peter Shumlin, who delivered the Democratic response. “You might have noticed the governor did not come up with an idea, he came up with criticism.”

“We actually have a control on school spending. It's called voting at Town Meeting,” Smith added.

In an interview with the Valley News after his speech, Douglas maintained he was not seeking to go around legislators and appeal directly to voters, who themselves could press for level funding of school budgets at Town Meeting.

“I'm talking to legislators because I need their concurrence in moving to a new system of funding education that makes sense, that is transparent, that is explainable, that is sustainable,” he said. “They are the ones who need to work with me to accomplish that goal.”

But Senate Majority Leader John Campbell, a Quechee Democrat, said freezing state aid could violate the state's Brigham decision that said Vermont schoolchildren are entitled to equal educational opportunities.

“We know the governor is sitting up there saying all these things everyone is going to love -- it sounds like lower taxes, we're going to restructure government, that's great -- but it is all smoke and mirrors,” Campbell asserted. “There is nothing behind it.”

State Treasurer Jeb Spaulding, a Democrat who himself is mulling a gubernatorial run in 2010, said he agreed that Vermont's continued growth rate in school spending could soon prove unaffordable, but said any solution needs to be found “in a thoughtful way” that did not threaten the quality of schools throughout the state.

“I heard a lot of ideas today. I did not hear a lot about how we're going to solve our budget dilemma, and I think that's job number one,” Spaulding said.

But using his office to strike key themes, and then driving them home with voters, has always been a Douglas specialty. What happens next is up to the House and Senate.

As state Sen. Dick McCormack, a progressive Democrat from Bethel, noted, “It has always been up to the Legislature whether or not the Legislature dominates or Douglas dominates. The legislative leadership has chosen in the past to work with the governor and, unfortunately, working with the governor has kind of boiled down to giving the governor his way.”

John P. Gregg can be reached at or (603) 727-3213.

Lynch: Even Now, No Broad Tax in N.H.
By Lauren R. Dorgan
Concord Monitor
Concord -- Gov. John Lynch struck a stark tone in his third inaugural address yesterday, telling the assembled crowd of lawmakers and dignitaries that recession has brought the country to a “critical juncture” and that the state of New Hampshire now faces a “budget challenge of unprecedented dimensions.”

Although Lynch peppered his speech with praise for New Hampshire's people and expressions of optimism for the future, the tone was largely grim, as the governor underlined the growing budget crisis that veteran lawmakers have described as the worst they've seen.

Lynch, 56, a centrist Democrat and former businessman from Hopkinton who has twice been re-elected with 70 percent of the vote, repeated his promise to steer clear of an income or sales tax, a pledge he's taken during each of his three campaigns for governor.

Yesterday, the promise inspired a lopsided ovation in Representatives Hall, with Republican lawmakers on the right side of the room standing and many Democrats on the left side holding their seats.

Despite $150 million worth of cuts and late-added revenue, the state's current budget still has a $100 million hole. The 2010-11 budget is expected to be worse: If promises are kept and services maintained at current levels, analysts have estimated, lawmakers may need to find as much as $500 million in new revenue.

To address the budget crisis, Lynch said yesterday, lawmakers “will have to say ‘no' more often than we would like,” he said, and will have to defer worthy programs for better times.

Lynch took the oath of office from Supreme Court Chief Justice John Broderick, who oversees a judicial branch that, starting in mid-February, will cancel a month's worth of jury trials as a money-saving measure. Broderick told the Monitor last month that he feared that if his branch is forced to cut its budget to 97 percent of this year's trimmed budget, “I don’t think we can run the justice system.”

The speech contained few new promises or programs.

Among the bigger plans: Lynch proposed creating a “Green Jobs Initiative” using some of the $20 million to $30 million that the state already expects to get from utility companies through two new environmental programs, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and the Renewable Energy Fund. He sketched out a picture of carpenters, electricians and plumbers working to weatherize homes; of state and municipal buildings receiving energy-efficiency upgrades; and of the state training workers in new skills needed in green industries. He also proposed creating a “low-interest revolving loan fund” to help small businesses bolster their energy efficiency and convert to renewable energy.

Lynch also urged the Legislature to expand the state's job-training fund to help the unemployed, although he didn't set any targets.

Looking to Washington, Lynch urged Congress to speed along an economic stimulus package promised by President-elect Barack Obama, a roughly $800 billion effort to defibrillate the national economy that is expected to include significant aid to states, many of which are in worse straits than New Hampshire. Lynch said federal money should go to infrastructure repairs and to bolstering the nation's “safety net for America's most vulnerable citizens.”

After the address, former governor John Sununu, who is running for chairman of the state Republican Party, criticized Lynch's speech as short on solutions.

“I was a little surprised and somewhat disappointed to hear that the cornerstone of our strategy to deal with the huge deficit we're facing seems to be that we'll wait for the bailout from Washington,” Sununu said.

Sununu also criticized Democrats for their response to Lynch's tax pledge, saying he was “extremely disappointed to see a very significant number of Democrats in the House and Senate” staying in their seats.

Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley said the governor's budget address is yet to come, and he batted aside Sununu's criticism of his party on taxes, saying that while Democrats have been divided, “John Lynch has taken that issue off the table.”

Legislative Republicans were muted in response, saying they agreed generally with Lynch's call for fiscal discipline but saying, as Senate Minority Leader Peter Bragdon put it, “The proof is in the pudding.”

Bragdon, of Milford, said he feared Lynch had left the door open to tapping the state's $89 million rainy day fund to balance the budget. That, Bragdon said, would be shortsighted.

“It's drizzling now compared to what it's going to be doing in the next two years,” he said.

One issue Lynch barely touched: his old push for a constitutional amendment on education funding, an effort that has failed in the House for the past two years.

Yesterday, Lynch said he recognizes there has not been “a consensus in the Legislature.” As for an amendment, he said, “discussion will continue,” even as lawmakers push ahead with the court-appointed process to define, cost out and fund an adequate education.

Afterward, Senate President Sylvia Larsen said lawmakers have much to do, which pushes an education-funding amendment down the priority list.

“He recognized that this isn't the year we're going to do it,” the Concord Democrat said.

Stating the Obvious

Quote of the Day "That is the biggest lie in America. They waste money." Ben Chavis, Charter School Principal, response to public schools' complaints about money.

The following editorial appeared in the Union Leader. Talk about stating the obvious this is what charter school advocates, some homeschool advocates and school choice advocates have been stating for years. I should not leave out the very few great teachers who know this to be true as well. JFK should have never allowed government employees to unionize, this is when productivity declined and waste and corruption in government began to prosper.


Bureaucrats' bane: Charter schools work

How damaging to our children is the byzantine bureaucracy besetting public schools? A new study from Boston offers a disturbing answer: a lot.

The study, conducted for the Boston Foundation by Harvard and MIT scholars, found that students in Boston charter schools significantly outperformed their counterparts who were left trapped in the regular Boston public schools. Charter schools are public schools freed from bureaucratic regulations, and in which teachers are not unionized.

The study compared students who had been chosen by lottery to attend charter schools to students who applied but were not lucky enough to be selected. The charter school students scored far better in math and English than their counterparts left in the regular public schools.

Boston also has what are called "pilot schools." They are public schools in which some innovation is allowed, but teachers are unionized and most bureaucracy remains. Students in those schools performed worse than regular public school students.

This study shows, as others have, that bureaucracy and teacher unionization are associated with lower student performance. At this point, there really is no excuse for continuing to operate public schools the same old way. The data are in, and they show that alternative schools can do more with less.

Yet public school officials at all levels continue to resist changes that have been shown to benefit students. That is evidence enough that the bureaucracy and the unions are more interested in self-preservation than in education.

A Classic Example of How More Money Leads to Wasteful Spending.

The piece below my commentary appears in the Chicago Sun Times.

The more money public schools have to spend the more money they have to waste. The following is a classic example of irresponsible spending. The following also illustrates why I am against the so called "adequate education bill" that our legislators are trying to push on New Hampshire citizens. An adequate education bill will do nothing to improve the quality of education our students receive and do nothing to improve student performance. However the proposed bill will increase the number of educrats that are in schools and it will increase the pay educrats receive. The increased pay will lead to more power and more lobbying power to push for every increasing spending in education.

You can read more stories about corruption in education at Chris and wasteful spending in education at Spending More to Get Less.


Chicago Public Schools' cappuccino bill: $67,000
'A WASTE OF MONEY' | Report says staffers skirted rules to buy 30 coffeemakers, changed athletes' grades, falsified addresses

January 7, 2009
BY ART GOLAB Staff Reporter
Chicago public school bureaucrats skirted competitive bidding rules to buy 30 cappuccino/espresso machines for $67,000, with most of the machines going unused because the schools they were ordered for had not asked for them, according to a report by the CPS Office of Inspector General.

That was just one example of questionable CPS actions detailed in the inspector general's 2008 annual report. Others included high school staffers changing grades to pump up transcripts of student athletes and workers at a restricted-enrollment grade school falsifying addresses to get relatives admitted.

In the case of the cappuccino machines, central office administrators split the order among 21 vocational schools to avoid competitive bidding required for purchases over $10,000. As a result CPS paid about $12,000 too much, according to Inspector General James Sullivan. "We were able to find the same machines cheaper online," he said.

"We also look at it as a waste of money because the schools didn't even know they were getting the equipment, schools didn't know how to use the machines and weren't prepared to implement them into the curriculum," Sullivan said.

CPS spokesman Michael Vaughn said CPS plans to change its purchasing policy so that competitive bidding kicks in when a vendor accumulates $10,000 worth of orders, no matter how many schools are involved. One person was fired and disciplinary action is pending against three others, he said.

The grade-changing took place at an unidentified high school, where student athletes grades were boosted, then, after transcripts were issued for college admission offices, the grades were changed back. The culprits could not be identified because passwords allowing entry to the grading system were shared by a number of people, Sullivan said. A new record system has tighter security, he said.

At Carson Elementary, an overcrowded school in Gage Park where even neighborhood kids were restricted from enrolling, five lower- level employees got six relatives into the school by falsifying addresses. Sixty-nine students from outside the attendance area got in, but they didn't even bother to lie about their addresses. CPS had to spend as much as $252,000 to bus kids who live in the neighborhood to other schools, Sullivan said.

Vaughn said the employees involved have resigned, been fired or will be fired.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Interesting New Hampshire Teachers and Unions are asked to Take Pay Cuts.

At last years Town Meeting I predicted the down turn in the economy and encouraged residents to reject the budget. It appears that other towns did not foresee the problems that I had because two towns are asking their unions or teachers unions to take pay cuts. The following stories appear in the Valley News.


NEWS: Kearsarge Teachers Asked to Cut 7.5% Raise
Teachers in Kearsarge Regional School District are scheduled to receive a 7.5 percent raise this year under a three-year contract aimed at making the district more competitive. But money is tight, and the municipal budget committee wants teachers to share the burden.

Hartford Budget Set To Rise 2.3%
Town Tells Unions: Cut Raises or Face Layoffs
By John Woodrow Cox
Valley News Staff Writer
Hartford -- As many as five employees could be laid off under the Selectboard's proposed budget if the town and unions can't agree to eliminate scheduled raises or identify other cost-cutting measures.

After a budget workshop and executive session talks that lasted until almost 11 Tuesday night, Town Manager Hunter Rieseberg said yesterday that the Selectboard had settled on a budget that would increase by 2.38 percent, or about $287,000, over last year's budget.

That means, Rieseberg said, the tax rate would rise 2.35 cents per $100 in assessed value, or, for someone owning a $200,000 house, the annual payment would increase by about $47.

The Selectboard will finalize its budget at tonight's 6 p.m. meeting at the Hartford Municipal Building.

Assuming the Selectboard sticks with its Tuesday night plan, Rieseberg said, the budget would exclude the funds meant for the scheduled 2.25 percent raises for the town's 107 employees, 52 of them unionized. Those raises are on top of an estimated 3.58 percent annual cost-of-living salary hike.

If Rieseberg and union heads can reach a solution, one employee or perhaps none would be laid off, he said. If not, he said, more layoffs will be necessary. “That one or none,” he said, “is based on the presumption that they give up that (increase) or an equivalent amount.”

The major financial challenge the Selectboard has faced is a 70 percent increase -- more than $600,000 -- in town employee's health care rates over this year and in 2010.

Also, the state has told Hartford officials not to expect $65,000 and possibly $130,000 in highway aid for the last two quarters of this fiscal year.

Hartford could lose another $260,000 in funding if that state trend continues into the next fiscal year, Rieseberg said, and if the Selectboard decides to lay funds away to account for that potential loss, it could further hike up the tax rate, chop programs or force more lay offs.

“We need to present a responsible budget to the town voters,” Selectboard member Chuck Wooster said at the meeting, “and they can do with it what they will.”

Wooster proposed and the Selectboard supported giving up its $6,000 annual stipend, and even though the number is nominal compared to a budget that will likely top $12.3 million, members said it would send the right message to the town.

“It's in our interest as a board to say this is serious,” Wooster said.

Also, driven by residents' requests that the Selectboard better publicize the annual town report printed before Town Meeting in March, the Selectboard discussed mailing more than 5,000 postcards to the public, explaining that people could see the document on Hartford's Web site or pick it up at public offices.

Rieseberg estimated that dispersing the postcards would cost $1,700. The town used to mail the report but stopped the $20,000-a-year practice three years ago.

One issue that could further increase the budget, though members didn't know by how much, would be a possible mid-year election of two new Selectboard members if and when the Legislature OKs Hartford's revised town charter, approved by residents on Nov. 4.

The charter stipulates a Selectboard comprising of seven members, and the current board has five. Under the new law, the town might have to hold a special election to fill the two new seats.

“My feeling is that you should have the elections,” Chairwoman Gayle Ottmann said, “as soon as you can put it together.”

In a Valley News story earlier this week, Alan Beebe, president of the firefighters union, denied Rieseberg's claim that the union refused to renegotiate its scheduled raise, but an e-mail from Beebe to Rieseberg dated Dec. 9 said “we are not willing to make any further mid-term changes to the Agreement.”

Beebe said he did not intend to lie and just made a mistake. “It must have been a mishap on my part,” Beebe said. “I'd have to take blame for that.”

What happens when a 4 year old...

is asked to keep an eye on her little brother?

Never leave a cannister of popcorn, an 18 month old and a 4 year old alone with a cannister of popcorn.


Stop Flushing Our Tax Dollars Down The Toilet

Stop flushing our tax dollars down the toilet.

Yet again an outstanding analysis by Charles M. Arlinghaus and his piece titled A Way to Fix State Education in the Union Leader.

Let us call it what it really is An Educational Spending Crisis. Anyone who does any real analysis of the system will see that spending in education outpaces inflation by double digits in some years and over time. One would also find that there is no correlation between educational spending and educational performance. It is time for our legislators to do some real research on their own. They need to stop pandering to teacher unions and educrats.

The education system has been hijacked by the teachers union and educrats who view the system as their own entitlement program. Here is where you can cut spending in education and save real many get rid of the State Department of Education it is just a bunch of educrats that provide absolutely no direct benefit to a child sitting in a classroom. School performance will not improve or decline with the elimination of said department. The State Department of Education eats tax dollars, fattens educrats wallets and serves as a lobbyist group for educrats by pushing the need for more tax dollars.

If our legislators really cared about "the kids" the money would follow the child and not the institution. Public Education (aka taxpayer funded socialist indoctrination centers) have failed millions of children for the last four decades it is time for real change, let the money follow the child and do away with the federal and state departments of education.


There is no "educational funding crisis". Even if there was, no amount of money would ever solve it since the demands of the educational establishment always exceed the capacity of the taxpaying public.

What we have is an educational spending crisis, fueled by frivolous lawsuits and activist judges who think "cherish" equals "centralize and spend like drunken sailors". There is no constitutional obligation for the state to spend one penny on education. Justices with poor reading comprehension do not change this reality.

As far as a "constitutional crisis" goes, the Supreme Court already created one by overstepping their authority granted by the NH Constitution. The Court cannot compel the Legislature to pass any laws or spend any money. A "special master" sounds scary, but has no teeth. The Legislature has a duty to avoid a constitutional crisis by enfocing the separation of powers and NOT submitting to the court's demands.

The "educational adequacy" work was a waste of time and money. Leave education to parents and the communities where it belongs. Concord does not need to become the NEA's latest government piggy bank.


A way to fix state education funding

Because of the state budget crisis, most of the efforts made on education funding over the last two years will have to be changed. The Legislature has the ability and the opportunity to craft a new plan with the potential to end the constant battle with the courts.

Every month brings news that the state's general tax revenues are not just a little behind the budgeted estimates of a few years ago but are in decline, getting worse, and contributing to a budget hole that will require hundreds of millions of dollars of spending reductions.

The education funding plan that passed last year would require state grants in the next two years of about $100 million more than we will spend in the current two-year budget. But government doesn't have an additional $100 million. On the contrary, we must cut that $100 million and more.

It is not reasonable to believe that we will cut almost every department, division and program of state government but add $100 million to one of the four major state education aid programs (even as we cut or eliminate the other three).

If the amount is to decline, and it almost surely must, then the plan must be revised in total. The necessary revision is an opportunity.

The Legislature can and should draft an education funding plan that starts with the constitution and what legislators think it allows and does not allow. It is the duty of the Legislature to do just that. If lawmakers think a sensible plan that directs aid where it's needed is permissible, they should pass such a plan with an explanation of why they believe it fully complies with their duty to "cherish all seminaries and public schools."

Many who supported some sort of a constitutional amendment did so believing they were changing not the actual constitution but merely rebutting the parts of court decisions they believed were either in error or too inflexible in their interpretation of six words. Many who don't support an amendment believe that flexibility exists within the confines of the court decision.

Without a doubt, some degree of compromise will be necessary. A good starting place for compromise is in the governor's original funding proposal from 2005.

Shortly after his election, Gov. John Lynch proposed a targeted aid plan he believed was constitutional, which eliminated the statewide property tax and sent more aid to towns universally regarded as needy and sent less aid to towns generally regarded as having less need.

The details of which criteria ought to be used and some of the nuances of construction will have to be gone through, but in its broad outlines that plan could command wide support. At the time, it had the support of most of the Democratic leadership and a good portion of the Republican leadership.

Those of us of a more conservative cast were happy to eliminate the statewide property tax. Currently, it merely renames an existing local resource and leaves the money with the local community. But a budget crisis could see the state take over a share and start using it to fund its own shortfalls.

Those of us who asked the governor to include a constitutional amendment with his plan made clear that we thought the Constitution didn't prohibit what he wanted to do, but we were afraid the Supreme Court would say it did. We thought attaching an amendment to the plan was one of the best chances of passing an amendment.

With just five months before a plan must be in place, now is the time for bold action on the part of the governor. The piece of state aid for education that we call "adequacy" will have to be reduced. The best way to make sure that the funds we have are targeted most effectively is to go back to a plan that explicitly targets.

The plan should be sensible and constitutional. It should include a preamble or introduction that explains in detail why the supporters believe it is constitutional. The idea is to attack neither the constitution nor the court. Instead, the governor can explain how he started at a different point than the status quo and how he and the legislators who pass the bill believe it is good policy and constitutional at the same time.

Faced with such a sensible and reasonable effort, the five men and women sitting on the Supreme Court would certainly give due consideration to the argument. More important, instead of trying to figure out what the court wants, the Legislature will have done what it thinks is right.

Charles M. Arlinghaus is president of the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy, a free-market think tank in Concord.

Thought of the Day - Taxation Is An Immoral Act.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The 2008 EIA Public Education Quotes of the Year

In the picture below our four year old Anastasia is practicing addition with Jim. The first step is to solve the problem on the abacus, the second step is to check the answer on the calculator and the final step is to confirm the answer on the Lake Shore addition machine. As any competent educator understands repetition is the key to learning math.

Ten more reasons why we hope to homeschool. Thanks to the The Education Intelligence Agency for publishing these ten great quotes.


The 2008 EIA Public Education Quotes of the Year

EIA is proud to present the 2008 Public Education Quotes of the Year, in countdown order. Enjoy!

10) "I don't think we should ever lay off teachers." – Manchester, New Hampshire Alderman Mark Roy. (May 29 Manchester Union-Leader)

9) "What an a**hole." – Madison Teachers Inc. Executive Director John Matthews, offering a terse commentary on Stan Johnson, former president of the Wisconsin Education Association Council. (March 27 Isthmus Daily Page)

8) "Obama's right that the NCLB-inspired testing mania is out of control, but wrong to give teachers 'ownership over the design of better assessment tools.' That's a recipe for no assessment, because the teachers unions, for all their lip service, don't believe their members should be judged on performance. They still believe that protecting incompetents is more important than educating children." – Columnist Jonathan Alter. (July 21 Newsweek)

7) "I had an experience in the past couple of weeks that really evolved my thinking about charter schools. I used to think charters were the epitome of all evil, and just created solely to bring down public schools. After my experience, I find I need to alter that view a lot. The people I met at this charter conference, I must say, are just like me, just like you. People who were simply fed up with the status quo and were tired of hitting their head against a system that will not change." – Julie Washington, elementary vice president of United Teachers Los Angeles. (August 6 Socialist Worker)

6) "You'd think it would be a no-brainer that people who don't perform get the axe and those who do get raises. Isn't that the way it works in most nonunionized professions? But the teachers union apparently exists in some alternate universe where everyone is rewarded equally regardless of the quality of their work." - Leonard Pitts Jr. (November 16 Miami Herald)

5) "Until we really do bust the teachers unions, the next generation of kids in public schools is at risk." - Andrew Sullivan. (November 13 Daily Dish)

4) "With increasing cost of college loans and health care and the fact that the buying power of the teacher dollar is no more than what it was 20 years ago, we're pretty much back to where we were when I started teaching in the 1960s. I had to work in the summer to eat." – Cheryl Umberger of the Tennessee Education Association. (May 23 Tennessean)

3) "If this is about morality, our president-elect has admitted to doing crack, and he's our president. Does that make him a bad person?" – Louisa C. Tuck, New Jersey elementary school cafeteria and playground aide, responding to parental complaints about her past employment in the adult entertainment industry under the name Crystal Gunns. (November 21 Vineland Daily Journal)

2) "By the way, had the teachers' union been around when Sam Adams threw tea into the harbor, they would have run ads against him." - Carla Howell, whose ballot initiative to eliminate the Massachusetts income tax was defeated by a well-funded union campaign. (November 5 Standard-Times)

1) "When the scores go up, it's not just meaningless. It's worrisome." – Alfie Kohn. (October 18 Salt Lake Tribune)

Rep. Roger Wells: State has little choice but to find new revenue - We Say B.S.

The following tasty morsel appeared in the Union Leader.

As always be sure to read the comments you can always spot the tax eaters. Only a whacked out educrat could coin the phrase Slots for Tots.

Anyone looking for pawn shops, prostitutes, payday businesses and increased crime will have no problem finding them near any new casino.

Mr. Wells do us all a favor don't pretend to be a Republican switch to the Democratic party.


Want to know where to cut spending? How about all of this "Educational Adequacy" nonsense whose spending spree is only just beginning?

The NH Constitution does not authorize the state to spend one dime on education. Nor does it permit the Supreme Court to order the Legislature to spend money or pass laws.

Leave education to the towns as has been working so well for decades. Sure, a complete elimination of state education spending might raise property taxes, but it would lower state taxes even more.

Besides wasting our money, what does government do well? Not much. Why squander limited resources on inefficient state programs?
- Jim Peschke

Rep. Roger Wells: State has little choice but to find new revenue

Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2009

Now that we are starting the new year and a new legislative session, it is time to make some choices as to where our state is heading financially. While we are looking at as much as a $500 million deficit, are we willing to see our property taxes skyrocket further? Are we willing to finally accept an income or sales tax? Are we willing to look at expanded gambling as a solution?

After a 16-month study by a subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee, the full committee voted to recommend the introduction of future legislation for the use of video lottery terminals. Though the 9-8 vote was close, had all members been present the outcome would have been three votes more for the majority opinion. In other words, after hearing the information presented, the vote would have been 12-8 for opening a serious debate on whether gambling should be considered as a revenue source for our state.

While gambling is an easy target for some well-intentioned people, the facts do not support the perceived evils. The bill that was studied would have provided $5 million for treatment programs for addictive behavior, including treatment not only for gambling problems but also for drug, tobacco and alcohol addiction. The committee learned that many of these problems are co-occurring; that is, those who are likely to have a problem with one type of abuse are also vulnerable to gambling.

While it is obvious that many New Hampshire citizens already struggle with addiction problems, the services needed to treat such problems are woefully underfunded. Unfortunately, these people, many of whom already have gambling problems, will continue to be underserved until the state finds the revenue sources to fill this gap. The current budget crisis only deepens the hole.

The committee found that the incidence of pathological gambling problems ranged between 1 to 2 percent, far lower than addiction rates for alcohol and tobacco. Information provided by Dr. Clyde Barrow from the Center for Policy Analysis at the University of Massachusetts showed that most people who gamble at casinos or racinos do so responsibly as a form of entertainment. By contrast, those who play the lottery or buy scratch tickets forego the entertainment component (how long does it take to scratch a ticket?) and make their purchase solely with the unlikely chance of coming out of the gas station or variety store with more money than they had when they went in.

The many polls taken in New Hampshire consistently show that the public favors this as a revenue source by numbers between 70 to 80 percent.

The data also showed that "social costs" of casino gambling were much lower than perceived by opponents. Our state is experiencing significant "social costs" right now as property tax increases squeeze a growing number of people out of their homes.

Based on data from states with similar programs, the revenue New Hampshire would realize was estimated at $250 million to $319 million per year. If most of that state revenue were directed to education funding, local property taxes in most towns could be reduced significantly, by about one third.

The report also showed that if the casinos were located at the racetracks in Salem, Hampton, Loudon and Hinsdale, approximately 80 percent of the revenue produced would come from out-of-state residents within a 100-mile radius.

The outspoken opponents of gambling often talk of corruption that may be associated with gambling. Most often the corruption is the vast amount of money sent by gambling interests from surrounding states to politicians in the states considering gambling. The speaker of the house in Massachusetts is a prime example. He has received money from gambling interests and has single-handedly blocked legislation from going to the floor.

Soon the Legislature and the citizens will be faced with a choice: Cut many of our existing services or look for new revenue. The only choices are to increase property taxes, institute an income tax or sales tax, or introduce expanded legal gambling at those facilities where gambling already exists and maybe consider other possible locations.

My property tax this year will represent approximately 30 percent of my total income. I cannot afford to continue to live in the state without relief. I am not alone in this situation.

The choices are increasing the property tax or instituting an income tax, a sales tax or gambling. "None of the above" is not one of the choices.

Rep. Roger G. Wells, R-H

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Teachers asked to give back pay raises.

I really doubt that the teachers or any school employee would take a pay cut the teachers I have met in recent years are just to greedy they also have an entitlement mentality and feel they do not have to actually be responsible for educating their students. Over the next couple years school boards in New Hampshire may be asking the same of their teachers. For the last two decades private sector employees have seen a decrease in benefits and down sizing the same does not hold true for the public education system.

I found the survey results interesting. A number of people have been told that raises would not be received in 2009 and that 401K plans would no longer be matched by employers. In turn these employees are grateful to still have jobs. Why would anyone reject a pay cut* with the expected down turn in the economy and risk losing their job.

The comments on the site are a must read as well.


*Typing correction 01/07/2009

The following piece appeared in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Fayette furlough request would have to be unanimous
If all county employees don’t agree to return raises, county wouldn’t ask it

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Monday, January 05, 2009
Fayette County school officials insisted Tuesday that any talk of asking employees to voluntarily give back their raises is just that.

And any such plan would have to get unanimous approval from all the county’s employees, not just teachers, in a survey to soon be distributed.

In these economic times, would you be willing to return a raise to keep your employer afloat?
Yes, sacrifices are called for. 37.59% 2506
No, I'm struggling too. 62.41% 4161

Fayette: All would have to agree on raise give-backs

“In order for it to be even considered, we would have to have 100 percent of all of our employees agree on the survey,” said school spokeswoman Melinda Berry-Dreisbach. “We feel like we owe it to our employees to let them tell us. If we don’t get 100 percent, it wouldn’t be fair to look at it.”

The county’s roughly 1,800 teachers were abuzz with talk during Tuesday’s first teaching day of the new year.

Several felt blindsided by the news, but declined to be interviewed for this story.

On Monday night, school board members discussed asking teachers to give back the 2.5 percent pay raises they would receive for the second half of this school year. That giveback, members said, would help the cash-strapped school system stay solvent through the current 2008-09 school year and avoid layoffs.

The raises totaled $4 million from school coffers. The state had been scheduled to pay for half, but reneged after slashing state education budgets.

The voluntary contributions would not be retroactive to the start of the school year, Berry-Dreisbach said.

If county employees choose to donate their pending raise money, the county would recoup $2 million. Current projections estimate Fayette County schools are en route to a budget deficit of roughly $1.8 million. State law requires each school system to have a balanced budget.

In return for giving up their raises, employees would take furloughed days. No employee would pony up any cash.

The request highlights the severe difficulties facing the Fayette County school system in the wake of unexpected state budget cuts and diminished property tax revenues in a struggling economy.

“Something has to be done,” superintendent John DeCotis said at the board meeting. “It’s a matter of what has the least impact on students.”

Board members Bob Todd and Marion Key sounded confident that county employees, including the teachers, would embrace the idea of returning their raises in the interest of community.

Both board members cited the number of calls they’d received from teachers saying they’d prefer to take a small hit than to see any colleagues lose their jobs.

They also noted the Montgomery County, Md., teachers who took note of the struggling economic times and agreed in early December to forego a 5.3 percent raise promised to them.

“They did it to protect the jobs of everybody,” Todd said.

Only the money they sacrificed wasn’t expected until the 2010 fiscal year. Fayette County’s employees could be asked to take money immediately.

The gesture of the Maryland teachers allowed that state’s largest school system to balance its budget by saving $89 million, said Dan Kaufman, a spokesman for the Maryland State Teachers Association.

The Maryland teachers were represented by a union and took home some big concessions in health care benefits and other promises in exchange for their sacrifice, Kaufman said. Fayette teachers are not represented by a union.

The decision to turn to Fayette teachers and other employees followed a lengthy meeting in which the board had discussed a number of other cost-saving measures, both for the current school year and beyond.

Those options included the furloughing of some contracted employees, such as principals, starting next month and the slashing of pre-kindergarten para-pro salaries, all in the hopes of avoiding layoffs.

Other measures considered include a reduction in county contributions to employee life and long-term disability insurance plans and a possible reduction of the 180-day school year.

The board will reconvene on Jan. 27.

What a Great Idea

We stopped having the Eagle Times delivered right about the time of the first snowfall. We live on a pretty steep hill and our driveway can also be pretty slippery in the winter. I have fallen a number of times getting the mail. In fact the mailbox was difficult even for the mailman to get to so the mailman requested our mailbox be moved into our driveway because the road we live on is steep and the edge of the road changes so dramatically with the weather. But I digress, because it was difficult to get to the newspaper delivery box, I cancelled the Eagle Times for the winter. Initially we received the Argus Champion but sadly that ceased publication. Again I digress.

So for the first time in a long time this morning I went to the Eagle Times and saw the following article. What joy a delicious cup of coffee and officials actually using their brains. Our Founding Fathers would be happy to see this turn of events. I have to admit it was a shocker especially since it came from Claremont home of those dreadful people who sued over an "adequate education." Anyone with a lick of sense knows it was about getting more money for the tax-eaters who refuse to be accountable for actually educating our children.


Volunteer tax credit proposed

Would reduce property taxes for some

By BEN BULKELEY, Staff Writer
Monday, January 05, 2009 7:59 PM

CLAREMONT -- Mirroring what some towns in Massachusetts have done to get more volunteers in city departments, State representative John Cloutier, D-Claremont, wants to propose legislation that would allow senior citizens to get a credit for their property tax bills if they volunteer their time in the city.

The bill is currently a Legislative Service Request (LSR), which is a request to draft a bill.

"I submitted this proposed legislation after doing some research on the idea, which was first proposed to me by Mayor Deborah Cutts a year ago," said Cloutier. "Mayor Cutts said she heard of a program in Mass. that gave senior citizens some property tax relief in exchange for community service."

If it becomes law, it would allow seniors over the age of 60 to receive a credit up to $750 if they volunteered for one of the city departments.

"I requested that the legislature's research division check out the program, and they confirmed that there was such a program in Mass.," said Cloutier. "Over the past year I became more interested in this program, and believed it was worth serious consideration in New Hampshire."

Mayor Cutts said that by using the tax credit in exchange for volunteers, Claremont would ultimately benefit.

"This is a win-win opportunity. I believe we have a segment of our population that frequently volunteers-- typically parents or folks very dedicated to culture or arts," said Cutts. "Volunteering for these groups comes easy-- it's part of our daily life and culture and it satisfies some of our needs."

Cloutier said that the towns that wished to participate in the program would be able to decide how it would be implemented.

"If the program were to become law it would be up to local communities to decide whether to participate," Cloutier said. "The city council would have to vote to participate in the case of Claremont, and town meetings would vote on whether communities like Unity and Lempster would participate, in my district's case."

Cutts said that the program could target members of the community who wouldn't normally volunteer.

"I also believe we have a segment of our population that isn't as involved in community activities as they could be," said Cutts, referring to senior citizens. "Reasons include lack of transportation, limited belief that they could really make a difference, belief they are of the old school and that nobody really wants them, fear, lack of incentive.

"I hear this when I visit and talk with folks around town and I hear it when I talk with younger folks about their parents, aunts and uncles," said Cutts. "The biggest sore point in Claremont is property taxes-- if we can offer an opportunity to reduce your taxes and help share your value in your community-- what a great mix."

Cloutier said that the program could be used in a different number of ways.

"Ideally I envision the local communities having broad leeway within certain established limits (such as the legislation's proposed maximum amount of tax relief of $750 for citizens over age 60) on which municipal departments would use volunteers, for which jobs, and for what amount of time," said Cloutier.

"As a Claremont citizen I think we might be able to use volunteers in such areas as transfer station and recycling center, Fiske Library, Goodwin Community Center, and the Visitors Center, among other examples," he said.

The visitor center was one of the locations Cutts described as having a need for volunteers.

"I'm not positive at this point but one opportunity that came to mind was our visitor center," said Cutts. "We would love to staff the visitor center but staffing won't allow that right now. I think there are Claremont senior citizens that would love an opportunity to volunteer staffing our visitor center simply because it would be fun. If they could get a tax break, even better."

No time or date has been scheduled for the LSR, Cloutier said.

Cutts added that the program could have other benefits.

"I do believe that many of our senior citizens would become more involved and share their help and expertise because that is one of the ways we teach them to stay healthy," said Cutts, adding that the incentive of a tax credit would entice more people to participate.

"We are really trying to get enabling legislation versus implementing this right away in Claremont," said Cutts. "We are trying to make the opportunity available. As I always say... build it and they will come."

Ben Bulkeley can be reached at (603) 543-3100 ext. 105, or by e-mail at

Thought of the day - Liberal Fascism at its best. NBC cuts Coulter; Keeps Perez. Gee I thought this was America.