Saturday, May 2, 2009

Reason number 2498 to not send your children to public schools - BULLYING!

Teachers unions survive and exist because of bullying. How do you expect teachers to regulate bullying in schools when they condone bullying? Because they do not see themselves as big bullies they will never be able to regulate bullying in schools to the degree it should be regulated. Children learn by example if they see teachers and administrators as bullies they may become bullies themselves.

If you have ever sat at town hall meeting when the town is discussing the school budget you know what I mean because you have received the nasty glances from school administrators and teachers because you opposed excess education spending. If you have ever received pro-referendum or pro-tax warrant propaganda from your school district you know what I mean. If you ever had to deal with a school strike you know what I mean. Nothing like a group of bullies holding your child's education hostage. Been denied school choice? This is just another form of bullying by the unions. Unions actively fight school choice with massive abuse of your hard earned tax dollars and lobbying. Public schools exist because of the massive bullying by the teachers unions and other education special interests groups. If the dollar followed the child and not the institution there would be less waste of public education dollars and less bullying in public schools.

Spelling and grammar errors as well as typos are left as an exercise for my readers.

The following story appeared on

My bullied son's last day on Earth

By Mallory Simon

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Eleven-year-old Jaheem Herrera woke up on April 16 acting strangely. He wasn't hungry and he didn't want to go to school.

Jaheem Herrera's mother thinks he hanged himself because he was perpetually bullied at school.

But the outgoing fifth grader packed his bag and went to school at Dunaire Elementary School in DeKalb County, Georgia.

He came home much happier than when he left in the morning, smiling as he handed his mother, Masika Bermudez, a glowing report card full of A's and B's. She gave him a high-five and he went upstairs to his room as she prepared dinner.

A little later, when his younger sister called him to come down to eat, Jaheem didn't answer.

So mother and daughter climbed the stairs to Jaheem's room and opened the door.

Jaheem was hanging by his belt in the closet.

"I always used to see these things on TV, dead people on the news," says Bermudez. "I saw somebody die and to see this dead person is your son, hanging there, a young boy. ... To hang yourself like that, you've got to really be tired of something."

Bermudez says bullies at school pushed Jaheem over the edge. He complained about being called gay, ugly and "the virgin" because he was from the Virgin Islands, she said.

"He used to say Mom they keep telling me this ... this gay word, this gay, gay, gay. I'm tired of hearing it, they're telling me the same thing over and over," she told CNN, as she wiped away tears from her face.

But while she says her son complained about the bullying, she had no idea how bad it had gotten.

"He told me, but he just got to the point where he didn't want me to get involved anymore because nothing was done," she said.

Bermudez said she complained to the school about bullying seven or eight times, but it wasn't enough to save him.

"It [apparently] just got worse and worse and worse until Thursday," she said. "Just to walk up to that room and see your baby hanging there. My daughter saw this, my baby saw this, my kids are traumatized."

She said Jaheem was a shy boy just trying to get a good education and make friends. Watch what experts say about bullying in schools »

"He was a nice little boy," Bermudez said through her tears. "He loved to dance. He loved to have fun. He loved to make friends. And all he made [at school] were enemies."

Bermudez said she thinks her son felt like nobody wanted to help him, that nobody stood up and stopped the bullies.

"Maybe he said 'You know what -- I'm tired of telling my mom, she's been trying so hard, but nobody wants to help me,' " says Bermudez.

To read the rest of the story go to

Friday, May 1, 2009

Reason 3487 Not to Send your Children to Public Schools

I don't remember watching much news as a child but I do remember reading the Sunday paper after church as a young child. After 14 I started working and I don't remember getting into watching news and reading the papers until I entered college. When I went to high school we did not have computers in our school and no one I knew was into the news. As an adult and a capitalist/libertarian/Reagan Republican I read both right, left and neutral news sources. Most people I know who watch Fox News do the same that is not to say that the boy in the story below does not but his teacher was way out of line for scolding him for reading Fox News online. The teacher should be grateful that he was not playing online games or on a social networking site he was actually getting informed about what was going on in the world around him.

As a parent I do not want my children to be educated by people with such narrow views.

Spelling and grammar errors as well as typos are left as an exercise for my readers.

Quote of the Day - "You can never get all the facts from just one newspaper, and unless you have all the facts, you cannot make proper judgements about what is going on."
Harry S. Truman

The below story appears at Fox

Student Says Teacher Scolded Him for Viewing
Friday, May 01, 2009

A Michigan high school is investigating allegations that one of its teachers berated and belittled a student for taking part in what the teacher considered an unacceptable activity: reading

A young man who identified himself only as Mitchell, an 18-year-old senior at Traverse City West Senior High School, called in to Rush Limbaugh's radio show Thursday and said he was yelled at in front of his classmates for reading the "wrong" news.

The teacher of his video production class saw what he was looking at and "proceeded to give me a 10-minute lecture on why I can't read FOX News ... and that I can only listen to BBC and other news venues," the student said.

James Feil, superintendent of Traverse City Area Public Schools, told that any attempts to pressure students politically would go against his schools' policies.

"It would be inappropriate. I would clearly tell you that is not something that we would do anything to indoctrinate students here," he said. "That would clearly be a violation of our policies and guidelines, written or non-written."

Traverse City West principal Joe Tibaldi declined to comment about the inquiry he was leading, but school officials said the student hadn't violated any computer-use rules in his class.

But the school has a strict policy against bullying, which it says "may in circumstances be a violation of federal or state law" and goes against its commitment to provide a safe learning environment.

"Bullying, taunting, stalking, hazing and other forms of harassment ... by any member of the staff are strictly forbidden," according to the school handbook. "Any student or staff member found to have bullied, taunted, stalked, hazed or harassed another person in any form will be subject to discipline."

Traverse City West has several art and science teachers, but it was unclear who leads the video production class. The superintendent wouldn't confirm the involvement of any specific teacher.

Feil said the student never filed a complaint to the school and Tibaldi was following up "in a very responsible and a timely manner."'s Joseph Abrams contributed to this story.

Happy Anniversary to my Wonderful Husband

Happy Anniversary to the most wonderful husband in the world. It has been the best seven years of my life.


Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Poll About Taxes

There is a great poll about taxes on the American Family Association's website.

How to Avoid the Swine Flu..Do Not Do This

912 Project - Newport Group

Someone from the 912 Project - Newport Group asked Jim and I to come to the Newport meeting tonight. We can't make it tonight because the whole family is ill but we look forward to meeting the group in the future. The invite reminded me that I wanted to put a link on the BLOG but have yet to do so, so I will now.


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Failures of Our Public Education System

The following commentary was sent to me by Pete Speer the Finance Guy and fellow education reformer. The piece below his commentary appears in Education Week.


The Article below provides additional documentation to what I believe is the foundation of the smoke and mirrors being foisted on the public by the Education establishment. It is one other reason why the system can not be fixed from within.

Everybody who has a child in school, everyone who is or should be concerned about school performance should bookmark, print out and distribute the following article written by a professor at the Harvard School of Education.

The core measure of school performance comes from standardized testing prepared by the State Boards of Education. The ability to inflate scores by this body responsible for controlling and evaluating the true quality of education conceals the true performance of the students, their instructors and the school districts from the parents, the taxpayers and even the likely complicit legislators who appropriate huge sums in the professed hope that the schools are educating and graduating students who are able to contribute to the betterment of society and to enable the country to compete in the 21st Century World Economy.

Inflation of test scores is the primary method by which the Education establishment can bamboozle the parents and justify the teaching as well as the performance of the School Board. Perversely it can also be expensive to those Districts which have apparently raised the grade level performance of the ir students. This increased student grade level ranking can cause the District to lose State and Federal money. That means that to nmaintain and continue the improvement program the District must pay for it from its own funds. Perhaps your District is unaware of this result.

Pete Speer

Published Online: April 27, 2009
Published in Print: April 29, 2009

What's Missing in Obama's Education Plan?

By Daniel M. Koret

President Obama recently announced the broad outlines of a new education plan. ("Rigor, Rewards, Quality: Obama's Education Aims," March 18 and "Obama Echoes Bush on Education Ideas," April 8, 2009.) This plan has much to praise but also three critically important omissions.

The new approach, like the No Child Left Behind Act and many of its precursors, relies on holding educators accountable for student performance on achievement tests. Indeed, it would make this element of education policy even more important—for example, by encouraging pay-for-performance plans. But the effects of the previous accountability programs have been disappointing: relatively small improvements on trustworthy indicators of performance, and many serious side effects. Why should we expect more of the president’s proposed variation on this familiar theme?

To avoid replicating past mistakes, the president’s accountability program will have to follow three principles:
Make it broad. An assumption underlying the No Child Left Behind law was that if we initially focused accountability on just a couple of the critically important goals of education—math and reading achievement—the rest would hold steady and wait for us to turn to them later. Abundant evidence shows this assumption to be wrong. The activities and outcomes that do not count for accountability deteriorate, sometimes seriously, as schools shift resources from them to those few things that do count.
Many areas can suffer, including untested subjects, untested aspects of the subjects used in the accountability system, performing arts, student-initiated work, and physical activity. This should be no surprise. It is just common sense, and the same problem has been found in many other fields and in private firms as well as the public sector.

Confront score inflation. Commenting on the low performance standards currently set by some states, the New York Times columnist David Brooks quoted U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan as saying: “States are lying to children. They are lying to parents. They’re ignoring failure.” Indeed. But there is another reason that the public has been misled: bogus increases in scores. Many schools have responded to test-based accountability in ways that inflate scores, increasing them more than actual gains in achievement warrant. This does not require cheating. Scores can be inflated by many honest—although undesirable—forms of test preparation.

While not ubiquitous, score inflation is common and sometimes very large, and it is likely to hurt the most disadvantaged students the most. This too should not be surprising, because similar problems have been found in many other fields. Yet policymakers continue to ignore this inconvenient fact and use inflated scores to support exaggerated claims of success.
We should admit that our ideas for a better educational accountability system, however thoughtful, are partly unproven, need evaluation, and may require midcourse corrections.

If we fail to confront the problem of score inflation, we will be left, once again, with an illusion of effective accountability. Dealing with inflation effectively will require numerous steps. We will need frequent auditing of score gains to ensure that improvements on the tests used for accountability are trustworthy indicators of improved learning. We have had a small number of audits over the past two decades, but these have been the exception rather than the rule because neither federal nor state reform programs have established an expectation, let alone a requirement, that this type of evaluation be conducted.
We need to monitor how educators prepare students for the accountability tests—whether they improve their instruction or resort to inappropriate forms of test preparation. We also need to evaluate new approaches to test design tailored to lessening inflation. The Obama administration’s goal of developing tests that focus more on higher-order skills is laudable, but it will not address the problem of score inflation.

Experiment and evaluate. This nation has tried numerous approaches to test-based accountability over the past several decades, but all of them have shared one essential trait: None has been based on sufficient evidence. They have been designed without enough hard information about their likely effectiveness and side effects. Once implemented, they have not been adequately evaluated. Scores on the accountability tests usually increase, and for a time we are greeted with claims of success. Eventually, less-encouraging data catch up with us—for example, scores on other tests less vulnerable to inflation, such as the National Assessment of Educational Progress and international comparative studies. A crisis is declared, we make up a new accountability system, and the cycle begins anew.

This failure to rely on hard evidence hinders the improvement of policy and schooling, and the failure to monitor effects on children is unacceptable. We do not tolerate this in other policy areas (think of Vioxx). The administration should avoid the temptation to say, once again, that we have it right this time. We should admit that our ideas for a better educational accountability system, however thoughtful, are partly unproven, need evaluation, and may require midcourse corrections.
The upcoming reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind law should institute routine and rigorous evaluation of the program’s effects—evaluations that do not rely on potentially inflated test scores. It should also encourage states and large districts to experiment with innovative approaches to accountability, but with a price: evaluations that will tell the rest of us whether their systems should be terminated, modified, or emulated.

There is room to argue about how best to address these three principles. But a failure to address them will give us more of the same: a narrowed educational system, bogus claims of success, and children left behind.
Daniel M. Koretz is the Henry Lee Shattuck professor of education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the author of Measuring Up: What Educational Testing Really Tells Us.
Vol. 28, Issue 30, Pages 32,36

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

What is government monopoly education?

Government monopoly education is when the government creates a local education monopoly using confiscated funds from homeowners who have little choice in the matter. Like most monopolies, this arrangement produces high costs and inferior quality.

A common characteristic of such corruption is the presence of shills who pretend it doesn't exist. The excuses for public ed failure absent the obvious union interference are laughable: "special ed", "troubled children", and "violent TV".

If government schools had to compete on even footing with private schools, they would be crushed underfoot. This is why the teachers unions oppose school choice.

Read about the way they ruined choice in Utah and more recently Washington D.C. These parasitic unions benefit from the monopoly. Public education will never be worth much until we rid ourselves of the teachers' unions.

Jim Peschke

Monday, April 27, 2009

Another Education Myth Bites the Dust.

The following is in response to the Editorial in the Union Leader.

Cathy Peschke

So much for the phony, union created "teacher shortage" myth.

In any other field of human endeavor, such a steep labor surplus would drive wages down where they belong. In government monopoly education, we just retain poor teachers making far more than the competent teachers ready and willing to take their place.

Is it any wonder our property taxes are so high (No, its not because we don't have an income tax!)?
Jim Peschke

1,200 applied for 40 high school jobs in Windham
Union Leader Correspondent

WINDHAM – School officials say they have found an upside to the economic turmoil of recent months, tapping into a large pool of experienced and enthusiastic prospective teachers for the new high school.

According to Superintendent Frank Bass, the district received over 1,200 applications for about 40 open professional positions within the new high school, some from neighboring schools and others from as far away as Africa. While Bass said it is not unusual to see a high level of interest in positions within a new school, the nation's economic woes have been to the benefit of the district.

"It's been to our advantage ... there's no doubt in my mind," Bass said. "We had them come in from a lot of places. Usually these people were fearful of how their positions were going to be maintained in their current schools."

As Windham opens up classroom positions to educators across the country, other districts are downsizing. In Salem, school officials declined to renew a total of 13 teacher contracts and Nashua may cut more than 10 teaching positions as officials hammer out the budget. Five teaching positions have also been cut in nearby Merrimack.

Just as the poor economy and municipal budget cuts have increased the pool of potential educators, Bass said the advantages his district's new facility offers teachers also plays a role. Classrooms will be equipped with SMART Boards and each student will be issued a school laptop to use both in class and at home as part of the district's one-to-one computing program. The high school will also have a partnership with Boston College and Plymouth State University, Bass said.

According to Principal Richard Manley, the technologically friendly environment at Windham High School has become one of the larger attractions for prospective staff.

"Almost every teacher has cited the idea of the advantages of technology as a draw to the Windham High School. They relate stories of the difficulties they have in their own schools (where) their equipment is older and not working or they're scheduling the available equipment among other teachers and students," Manley said. "We are attracting a pool of candidates that are more technologically savvy than we would otherwise have."

Manley also believes an interdisciplinary approach to teaching the school intends to adopt for next year's first class of freshmen and sophomore students has attracted educators. Students at the high school will take a humanities class -- a blending of social studies and English courses -- taught by teachers trained in both fields.

While Manley and Bass have finished with the first round of hirings, Manley said he expects to hire more educators as the high school population expands in subsequent years.

For the time being, Bass is pleased with the crop of teachers that will take center stage when the building opens its doors for the first time at the start of the new school year.

"We're really thrilled," he said. "We've got a wonderful cross-section; we've hired some kids and some seasoned veterans."

I'm a fan of Steve Varone!

I was glad to read that someone besides my husband and myself believe that schools should reject the stimulus money also known as the thank-you fund for getting us elected money. This "stimulus money" is printed taxpayer money that is putting our country deeper and deeper into debt, out children and grand-children will have to pay this back with higher taxes. If this was honestly explained to our children I am sure they would not want the stimulus money either.

The following LTE appeared in the Eagle Times.

Cathy Peschke
Spelling and grammar errors as well as typos are left as an exercise for my readers.

To school boards

Friday, April 24, 2009 1:23 PM

To the Editor:
An open letter to area school boards:
On April 21, the federal government released information regarding millions of dollars granted to local school districts which must be spent on supplemental special education programs. Area superintendents and other school administrators have already been quoted making salivating remarks about how they will spend the money and some have even talked about sustaining the spending when the grants end.

So, the big question now is, will the school boards strap on their bibs and belly up to Uncle Sam's pig roast picnic table to get their heaping helping of federal pork (borrowed, of course) or will they demonstrate fiscal responsibility and reject the funds outright? This money is just more hair of the dog that bit us. We're in this mess because for years we have borrowed recklessly, with both political parties to blame. Does anyone really believe that the solution is more borrowing? This country is debt drunk and our leaders just keep uncorking more bottles. It's time to join DA folks -- that's Debt-aholics Anonymous. If we really care about our children, we'll stop spending them into a hole.
As a Fall Mountain resident, I hope that my school board members will demonstrate the real leadership that's needed here and reject these funds. I also hope that if they do so, that they will encourage other school boards to do the same. In a way, I guess this is a test. The next few weeks will determine if they pass or fail.
Steve Varone

Sunday, April 26, 2009

American Stinker

The article below is garbage. There are so many flaws, so much conclusion jumping, I'm not even sure where to begin...

Weissberg's outright rejection of what he calls "Say's Law" is unsubstantiated and flat-out untrue. Few people demanded cell phones before they became available en masse. Same with iPods. In some instances, supply DOES create demand. Henry Ford commented that if they had listened to what the public wanted, they would have built faster horses.

Second, Weissberg mischaracterizes what "demand" actually means. To say "I'd like a cheeseburger" is not demand in the economic sense. To say "I'll pay $5 for a cheeseburger" IS demand. What advocates of free market solutions to education point out is that the unionized government monopoly destroys demand (backed by money, in the economic sense) by confiscating private funds which could otherwise go to the private sector. Absent this abhorrent seizure of national wealth, parents would have insatiable demand backed by real dollars.

Today's "choice" schemes only apply to those privileged few able to support the unionized government monopoly AND their own private needs. Ironic and hypocritical from a political party self identified with working class Americans.

The idea that parents must be satisfied with the monstrosity that is public education because they're not all flocking to Sylvan is preposterous. It would be like saying people prefer Ford to Porsche because more people own Fords. (Apologies to Ford, as they do in fact deliver a decent product unlike our public schools).

Weissberg goes on to state that "Ironically, free-market reformers mistakenly believe that only the state can permit free-market solutions". Untrue and idiotic. Free market reformers aren't asking government to somehow "permit" free-market solutions. They're asking government to stop obstructing the free market. Creating a third rate school system propped up by seizing private property is the most egregious form of market interference one can imagine. The unions and their puppets don't oppose school choice because they fear it will fail. They oppose it because they fear it will succeed and thereby expose the system for what it is: a multibillion dollar entitlement parasite.

Weissberg's article is so dumb, so ill-conceived and so contrary to what is obvious that it almost seems like a shill article. I certainly hope not, but I have seen first hand how desperate educrats have become in discrediting an end to their gravy train.

Jim Peschke

The above was in response to the American Thinker article titled Demand, Not Supply Drives Educational Achievement by Robert Weissberg.

Free market conservatives passionately insist that school choice will solve America's education woes. So as schools proliferate and competition heats up, academic achievement will soar just as fierce market competition has delivered better and cheaper computers and TVs. This seductive analogy is, unfortunately, hardening into unchallenged dogma. Worse, it misdiagnoses the problem. It is demand, not supply that drives academic attainment. In economic terms, Say's Law -- supply creates demand -- is wrong and Keynes -- demand creates supply -- is correct. If youngsters and parents truly desired academic excellence, the market would happily supply it. Absent demand, no amount of supply, regardless of price, can whet appetites for learning.

To read the rest of the article go to American Thinker.

Cathy Peschke