Saturday, May 8, 2010

Reason Number 58 Why We Homeschool

Fashion Trends! Hopefully both or our children will not have run-ins with silly trends like this.

The following piece appeared on

Spelling errors, grammar errors, misuse of homonyms and typos are left an exercise for my readers.

Homeschoolers sigh, wonder if baggy pants fad will soon be thing of the past

May 6, 10:08 AM Jacksonville Homeschooling ExaminerMarie-Claire Moreau

A collective sigh of relief echoed across the state this morning as the Daytona Beach News-Journal announced that some public school teachers are beginning to address their concerns about the saggy pants phenomenon.

The News-Journal reported that students in at least one Daytona Beach elementary school are being taught how to dress for success. Success, the students learn, includes pulling up their pants. When a teacher starting requiring that students wear suspenders to hold up their droopy pants, the grade schoolers realized how un-cool the "fashion" trend really was.

Typically known for a style that includes a more conservative dress code, homeschoolers have for the most part been able to avoid prolonged exposure to this trend. Commonly seen at schools and colleges, homeschooled kids have watched pants drop since the early 90's but, overall, not participated at all.

Although homeschooled kids are just that, kids, they ordinarily do not feel the pressures of conforming to trends seen in popular culture. Although some homeschooling families have very rigid rules involving dress, others merely opt for the slightly more modest, less-revealing styles by searching them out in retail stores.

There are even web sites aimed at providing homeschooling families with more conservative fashions...and if you are now visualizing long skirts and head scarves, you may quickly push that image aside. On the contrary, fashion-forward styles with very contemporary flavors are widely available to on-line shoppers. Tops that cover more skin and are longer than those typically found in department stores are popular with teenage girls and their moms. T-shirts with homeschooler-approved slogans are also widely available for teens and young men. A simple Internet search using the key words "modest" and "clothing" will reveal quite a few.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Bankruptcy? Say it is not so.

We did not see this coming, NOT! The following piece appeared in the Wall Street Journal. Be sure to visit the Wall Street Journal to see the picture associated with the story.

Jim and I have been reporting that States will bankrupt themselves if they do not control spending at least since 2005. If you are a company or work for a company making their living off the taxpayer teat there is a chance you won't get paid. Easy money is a suckers bet.

Spelling errors, grammar errors, misuse of homonyms and typos are left an exercise for my readers.

Illinois Budget Woes Come to a Boil


Illinois lawmakers were in disarray Thursday as they groped for stopgap measures to address a $13 billion deficit equaling nearly half of the state's general-fund revenue.

The state faces one of the nation's worst budget crises, spilled over in part from the broader national economic crunch, and its current bond ratings lag only California's. But the confusion in the legislature indicates that serious steps to fix state finances won't be taken until after the November elections—if then.

Most states have addressed or still face gaps in their budgets totaling $196 billion for fiscal year 2010, while tax revenue declined in the final quarter of 2009 in 39 of the states for which data is available.

Illinois lawmakers have little appetite for drastic spending cuts. An income-tax increase proposed by Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn is going nowhere. Even temporary steps, such as borrowing to make pension payments, have stalled. Illinois is months late on many of its bills and has no plan for catching up.

The legislature may push the problem to the governor's office by granting Mr. Quinn emergency budget powers and adjourning Friday, about three weeks earlier than usual. A bill under consideration in the state House would give Mr. Quinn greater leeway to shift money among state funds and to require agencies to set aside part of their budgets now in case of future cuts.

A state House committee on Thursday passed a cigarette-tax increase that would generate $320 million by raising the state tax from 98 cents a pack to $1.98 a pack over two years. The House also is considering authorizing a sale of expected tobacco-settlement funds, which could bring in $1.2 billion, said State Sen. Donne Trotter, a Democrat.

House Minority Leader Tom Cross called the tobacco-settlement plan "a gimmick" and said he and other Republicans oppose borrowing the pension payment. "We are having the same conversations today that we had a year ago about the need for reform," he said.

Regardless of its final form, the budget will leave the state borrowing for short-term operations and postponing its bills.

"We are lucky in that we still can borrow," Mr. Trotter said, noting that lawmakers responded to rating-agency concerns last month by reducing pension benefits and lifting the retirement age for new state employees to 67 from 60. Lawmakers also are weighing the idea of postponing pension payments for the first half of the fiscal year until January, Mr. Trotter said.

Illinois's problems are an exaggerated version of dynamics playing out across the U.S. All states except Vermont have at least a limited requirement to balance their budgets. In practice, many states rely on one-time revenue windfalls or short-term borrowing to scrape from one fiscal year to the next.

State budgets typically lag the national economy by several years, and the recession has decimated income-tax and sales-tax revenue. Lawmakers often don't want to aggravate voters by raising taxes during an election year.

But legislatures find cutting expenses politically difficult, too. State budgets are dominated by education and health care programs that many voters cherish.

As a result, Illinois, along with other states, routinely has postponed paying its bills, shortchanged pension plans and spent more than it collects in revenue.

It's possible lawmakers will keep working on the budget until they are required to adjourn at the end of the month. Rikeesha Phelon, a spokeswoman for Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, said Friday's deadline was "just a goal."

Mr. Quinn presented a budget in March that would still leave the state with a $10.6 billion deficit. His plan projected a deficit of $4.7 billion for the coming fiscal year beginning July 1—which he planned to cover through borrowing—and a $5.9 billion deficit carried over from the current budget.

The governor also proposed cutting expenses by $1.5 billion and raising the state income tax 1.5 percentage points, to 4.5% from 3%. He said the tax hike would be used to avert tens of thousands of teacher layoffs. A different proposal to raise income-tax rates passed the state Senate last year but has stalled in the House.

Any hopes that the national economic recovery would help the budget discussions were dashed this week when Illinois disclosed that revenue for April —when most citizens pay taxes—fell more than 15% from the same month a year ago, or $501 million, in part because of a $345 million drop in federal aid. Gross personal income-tax receipts, a major revenue source, dropped $103 million, or 8.1%.

Many states are likely to report similar disappointments. California officials said this week that April personal income tax-collections lagged projections by 30%. Federal estimates don't bode well for states, either.

As of April 30, federal non-withheld income taxes for April fell 17.6% from the same month a year earlier, said a report Tuesday from the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government at the State University of New York.

Illinois Comptroller Daniel Hynes said in his April report that the state's cash position for the quarter ending June 30 "looks exceedingly difficult." By June 10, Illinois must repay $1.75 billion, plus interest, in short-term borrowing.

Meanwhile, the state still owes billions of dollars to hospitals, universities, social-service providers and others. Mr. Hynes said the state's backlog of unpaid bills probably will exceed $5.5 billion at the end of June.

"Eventually, many providers of essential state services may be unable to continue their operations at current levels, and those vulnerable segments of the population to whom they provide services will suffer the consequences," he wrote.

Write to Amy Merrick at

Thursday, May 6, 2010

If Some People Really Believed In Civil Rights they would Support Educational Freedom

I just love Walter E. Williams he types it like it is. If Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton really cared about civil rights they would fight for school choice. They are for keeping their fellow man down not lifting them up to their fullest potential. The following piece appears on

Spelling errors, grammar errors, misuse of homonyms and typos are left an exercise for my readers.

Black Americans and Liberty
by Walter E. Williams

Having recently reached 74 years of age, if one were to ask me what's my greatest disappointment in life, a top contender would surely be the level of misunderstanding, perhaps contempt, that black Americans have for the principles of personal liberty and their abiding faith in government. Contempt or misunderstanding of the principles of personal liberty and faith in government by no means make blacks unique among Americans, but the unique history of black Americans should make us, above all other Americans, most suspicious of any encroachment on personal liberty and most distrustful of government. Let's look at it.

The most serious injustices suffered by blacks came at the hands of government, at different levels, failure to protect personal liberty. Slavery was only the most egregious example of that failure. Congress and the courts supported the injustice of slavery through the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act and the Dred Scott decision. After emancipation, there were government-enforced Jim Crow laws denying blacks basic liberties and court decisions such as Plessy v. Ferguson that reinforced and gave sanction to private acts that abridged black people's liberties.

The heroic civil rights movement, culminating with the 1964 Civil Rights Act, put an end to the grossest abuses of personal liberties, but government evolved into a subtler enemy. Visit any major city and one would find that the overwhelmingly law-abiding members of the black community are living in constant fear of robbery, assault and murder. In fact, 52 percent of U.S. homicides are committed by blacks, 49 percent of homicide victims are black and 93 percent of them were murdered by fellow blacks. The level of crime in black communities is the result of government's failure to perform its most basic function, namely the protection of its citizens. The level of criminal activity not only puts residents in physical jeopardy but represents a heavy tax on people least able to bear it. That tax is paid in the forms of higher prices for goods and services and fewer shopping opportunities because supermarkets and other large retailers are reluctant to bear the costs of doing business in high-crime areas. This government failure has the full effect of a law prohibiting economic development in many black communities.

Then there's the grossly fraudulent education delivered by the government schools that serve most black communities. The average black high school senior has a sixth- or seventh-grade achievement level and most of those who manage to graduate have what's no less than a fraudulent diploma, one that certifies a 12th-grade level of achievement when in fact the youngster might not have half that. If the Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan wanted to sabotage black academic excellence, he could not find a more effective means to do so than the government school system in most cities.

Tragically, most Americans, including black people whose ancestors have suffered from gross injustices of slavery, think it quite proper for government to forcibly use one person to serve the purposes of another. That's precisely what income redistribution is: the practice of forcibly taking the fruits of one person's labor for the benefit of another. That's also what theft is and the practice differs from slavery only in degree but not kind.

What about blacks who cherish liberty and limited government and joined in the tea party movement, or blacks who are members of organizations such as the Lincoln Institute, Frederick Douglass Foundation and Project 21? They've been maligned as Oreos, Uncle Toms and traitors to their race. To make such a charge borders on stupidity, possibly racism. After all, when President Reagan disagreed with Tip O'Neill, did either charge the other with being a traitor to his race? Then why is it deemed traitorous when one black disagrees with another, unless you think that all blacks must think alike?

I hope it's misunderstanding, rather than contempt, that explains black hostility toward the principles of liberty.

Saturday Night Live does a skit on public employee benefits

California Pension Reform posted Saturday Night Live's skit on public employees benefits. I laughed so loud watching it because it is so true. To view the video visit California Pension

Spelling errors, grammar errors, misuse of homonyms and typos are left an exercise for my readers.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Added to Favorite Quotes

"[Democracy] is a fraudulent term used, often by ignorant persons but no less often by intellectual fakers, to describe an infamous mixture of socialism, graft, confiscation of property and denial of personal rights to individuals whose virtuous principles make them offensive" -- Westbrook Pegler, popular columnist of the 1930s and '40s.

There is a group called Democracy Now and within those words they have a picture of the Statue of Liberty. Democracy Now stands for the polar opposite of what the Statue of Liberty represents. A better name for this group would be Socialism Now or Communism Now. Any group that cares about freedom would demand Liberty Now or Restore the Republic Now.

Spelling errors, grammar errors, misuse of homonyms and typos are left an exercise for my readers.

Valley News Writes an Article about Jim.

Jim and I have been fighting for education reform and education spending reform for about 7 1/2 years now this is the most fair and most complete article we have seen written about us in that time. It is so nice to see a reporter without an agenda and one that just reports the facts. I will be kudos to Alex Hanson and the Valley News. I will let the story stand on its own without commentary.

Spelling errors, grammar errors, misuse of homonyms and typos are left an exercise for my readers.

The following piece appeared on the Valley News.

Unlikely Member of the Board
By Alex Hanson
Valley News Staff Writer
At Croydon's annual School District meeting in March, Jim Peschke took a firm stance against the school budget, urging his fellow citizens to vote it down.

Peschke also opposed an amendment to add $5,000 to the budget so the Croydon Village School could afford to send its pupils to the library and the skating rink in neighboring Newport.

“This amendment's definitely going in the wrong direction,” Peschke said. “We need to find ways to cut the spending and keep the taxes to a reasonable level,” he added. Peschke voted against the amendment and against the budget, both of which were approved by sizable margins.

If he had been sitting among the public, Peschke would have been a mere gadfly -- a smart, articulate and persistent opponent of higher spending on education. But he was sitting at the front of the room with the other two members of the Croydon School Board, a position that gives him an unusual platform for his message.

Elected last year, Peschke, 43, is perhaps the most unlikely school board member in the Upper Valley, if not in the Twin States. He oversees a public school, but his wife, Cathy Peschke, home-schools their two children. He was a tax-fighting libertarian before moving to Croydon a few years ago, and Cathy Peschke writes a blog that regularly takes to task school spending, teachers' unions and the Obama administration.

His presence on the School Board has produced consternation among Croydon parents and school supporters who don't quite know what to make of either Peschke's views or his vehemence.

“I don't know a lot about Jim other than that he doesn't want the taxes to get raised and that he's going to cut whatever he thinks needs to be cut,” said Kim McKinney, a Croydon resident with two school-age children.

But Peschke has galvanized those residents who want above all to see their property tax bills go down and who felt as if their views had gone unheard. And as the chairman of a committee about to start reassessing the decade-old agreement under which Newport educates Croydon children in grades four through 12, he is in a position to influence the district's future.

Above all, he has brought a wider debate about education taxes and policy to an unlikely place -- a small town with a one-room school.

“It's like they're taking a battle to Croydon that doesn't exist here,” said George Caccavaro, chairman of the Croydon School Board.

As anyone who has ever sat in on a local school board meeting can attest, most board members are parents of children in the school the board oversees.

“It becomes the norm, because they have the most vested interest,” said Winton Goodrich, associate director of the Vermont School Boards Association. Vermont has 1,488 school board members, and Goodrich estimated that there were only three or four home-schooling parents among that number. (The New Hampshire School Boards Association did not return messages left at its office in Concord.)

Peschke's status as a home-schooling parent and a vocal opponent of school spending cuts both ways.

“He has no stake in the final product, as far as what we offer in the Croydon School District,” Caccavaro said. “Sometimes, I think he looks at our public education program just as a taxpayer.”

But Croydon resident Dave Shackett, who spoke up during the annual meeting to suggest the town study whether to close its school and send all of its children to Newport, said he likes having Peschke on the School Board. “My position on the man is that I'm so glad that someone is finally on the School Board who doesn't have his children in the school,” and is willing to cut spending, Shackett said in an interview.

Peschke is aware of how supporters of higher school feel about him, and he's unrepentant. “It's been hinted,” he said, “that I have no right to be on the board because I have no plan to send my children to public school.” His response? “You can strip me of my say if you're willing to relieve me of my tax liability.”

But Peschke said he also hears from people who cheer him on, who felt their opinions were being disregarded. “That is wonderful motivation,” Peschke said.

Caccavaro, who is in his eighth year on the School Board, is a public education veteran. His wife teaches in Newport and his father is the longtime business manager of the Mascoma Valley Regional School District and was on the Claremont School Board. Still, he said having Peschke on the board adds a dimension to its deliberations. “I respect where he's coming from. He's a voice that hasn’t been heard at least since I’ve been there.”

Which is not to say that it's easy to sit next to Peschke at meetings. At first, Caccavaro said he took Peschke's views personally, but now takes them more in stride.

“My approach has been, it can either be a constant battle … or we can decide to work together,” Caccavaro said.

Peschke spoke out against school taxes when he and his family moved to Croydon in 2007, but the battle began in earnest in March 2009, when he won a School Board seat over a write-in candidate. Just days after his election, Peschke led a successful drive to cut the school budget by more than $65,000. (Initially, he proposed a cut of $132,000, but scaled it back.) Croydon's yearly school spending broke $1 million just a few years ago, and is now around $1.3 million.

But the budget cuts didn't work quite as planned. Even at the 2009 meeting, Caccavaro explained that the cuts to items such as tuition and services in School Administrative Unit 43, which covers Croydon, Newport and Sunapee, couldn't be made. Instead, the budget cuts affected Croydon's own school, which this year serves 27 pupils in grades K through three.

“He really just made more or less blind cuts,” said Matt Wittasek, a Croydon resident who ran as a write-in candidate against Peschke last year. “When it came down to it,” said Wittasek, whose wife won election to the School Board this year, “a lot of those areas were justified or required by law.”

Croydon's little red school was forced to cut staffing. The head teacher doubled as a special education teacher, Wittasek said, and classroom aides were cut. Wittasek proposed the $5,000 increase in the school budget at this year's meeting after talking with families in town about the school's needs.

As the last working one-room school in the state, and one of the last in the country, the Croydon Village School is a point of pride for residents. An image of it adorns the signs at the entrances to the village on Route 10, and aside from the Town Hall, which the school uses part-time, it is the only public building at the village center.

The turnabout at this year's meeting -- at which the amendment to increase the school budget passed overwhelmingly -- is a sign that the town is engaged in debate and political action on education, at least about Croydon's small school. “We tried to do more work this year,” before the annual meeting, Wittasek said of parents and other school supporters.

The atmosphere at the most recent Croydon School Board meeting, on April 14, attested to the increased tension. Peschke peppered school officials with questions. He was polite, even self-deprecating, but insistent. During a lengthy conversation about the school's math textbook, Peschke made clear where his allegiances lie, with parents and against the state and other higher authorities.

“I couldn't give a hoot in hell about the NECAPs,” he said about the New England Common Assessment Program, the school testing designed by New Hampshire, Vermont and Rhode Island to measure student progress. The acronym is pronounced “knee-cap.”

“Would you be satisfied if we have third-graders bomb the NECAP,” he said, but develop a solid grounding in math?

School officials use the NECAP results to see how their kids are doing, said Marilyn Brannigan, interim superintendent for schools in Newport, Croydon and Sunapee. The math textbooks, which have frustrated parents, aren't the problem, she said. “We as educators aren't helping our children learn sufficiently,” she said.

The discussion was intense, but participants professed themselves pleased to be talking about education. “That's my biggest frustration in eight years on the School Board is that all we talk about is money,” Caccavaro said.

When Peschke started on the board, meetings weren't always so collegial.

“Marilyn Brannigan and I don't argue as loudly as we used to,” Peschke said later. But that doesn't mean Peschke is starting to see things the way his fellow school officials do. Everyone is frustrated with mandates and requirements handed down by state and federal law, but Peschke seems eager to buck the regulations.

“I certainly get the urge sometimes, because I think the whole system is rotten to the core,” he said. Being on the School Board hasn't softened his stance on the issues he holds dear, or made him look more kindly on public schooling. “If anything, I have less respect for how things are done than ever before,” he said.

Morals often come up in conversation with Jim and Cathy Peschke about their views on education.

“Forcing one person to bear the burden of educational costs for another is not only a moral question but a major threat to personal liberty,” Cathy Peschke wrote on March 14 on the blog she maintains under the banner of Citizens for Reasonable and Fair Taxes. The Peschkes founded CRAFT in Harvard, Ill., to fight a referendum to build a new school and subsequent votes to raise school taxes. When they moved to Croydon in 2007, they started a new blog, called Citizens for Reasonable and Fair Taxes-Croydon (

When they started CRAFT, in 2003, the Peschkes were fed up with frequent votes on school spending and tax increases. “I told myself, ‘If they do this again, I'm going to do something about it,' ” Jim Peschke said in an interview.

When CRAFT entered the political fray in Illinois, “What was surprising to me was how many ordinary people were waiting in the wings,” he said.

What troubles Peschke the most about public education in general is “poor value. They spend too much and we get too little,” he said.

The remedy for this state of affairs, Peschke said, is to put parents in control of their children's education. Parents should be able to choose how and where their children are educated. Families without the means to pay for schooling would be issued vouchers.

“The government would support you, and you'd still get to choose,” Peschke said. “I consider it a fundamental civil rights issue” that parents aren't able to make such choices today. If public schools were forced to compete on a level playing field (that is, without government backing and mandates), the cost of education would decrease dramatically, he said.

Cathy Peschke expresses this idea another way on their blog: “Education is a privilege not a right. The only right one has when it comes to education is the right of a parent to educate their own children as they see fit.”

“I completely and wholeheartedly agree with her on that point,” Jim Peschke said. Children don't have a right to an education, he said; their parents have a right to pursue an education on their behalf.

The Peschkes chose to home-school for a variety of reasons, one of which was clear during an interview in White River Junction. Peschke, his 5-year-old daughter Anastasia in tow, had driven up to have lunch with some former colleagues. During the interview after lunch, Anastasia took some work out of her backpack and started in on it, without prompting. Home-schooling allows her to follow her interests, Peschke said.

“We do more or less what we want. That's the point,” he said. “If today she wants to learn geology and tomorrow she wants to learn math, that's what we do, and we get a lot more value out of that.”

As she does most days, on a recent Wednesday afternoon, with her 2-year-old down for a nap, Cathy Peschke put her beliefs about education into practice.

“What is salt?” she asked Anastasia.

“Sodium and chlorine,” Anastasia said.

“It's a molecule, right?”

Anastasia nodded.

Spread out on the Peschkes' dining room table were science and reading books that form part of Anastasia's curriculum, a tumbler of water and an egg, and two other glasses, one containing water, the other, cooking oil.

With the egg and the tumbler of water, they perform an experiment, adding salt to the water by spoonfuls until the egg is suspended in the center of the tumbler. “How many tablespoons of salt did it take?” Peschke asks. “Four!” Anastasia replies.

Before the Peschkes adopted their children, Anastasia and Alexander, Cathy Peschke worked as an audiologist. The Peschkes started fighting taxes around the time they were married, in 2002. They decided they would home-school soon after.

“My children, my responsibility,” she said. “I really don't think it's the community’s responsibility to educate my children.” Further, “I also think I can provide a better education than the public schools.”

Anastasia was reading the alphabet at 18 months, Cathy Peschke said. “Her ability to learn is limited only by the minds of the people around her,” she said. She estimates that home-schooling materials (which she gets from a private school the Peschkes declined to name) cost around “a thousand bucks a year.” As for her time educating her kids, “My time is nothing,” she said.

On a nearby counter, her black laptop computer sat open. She doesn't post to the blog as often as she used to, but she is still pretty prolific.

Her blog posts sometimes seem better suited to a larger advocacy organization than to a small-town homeschooler. The top of the blog features a pair of citations: “What luck for rulers that men do not think.” And, “Academies that are founded at public expense are instituted not so much to cultivate men's natural abilities as to restrain them.” The latter is Baruch Spinoza, the 17th-century rationalist philosopher; the former, Adolf Hitler. On the blog, Cathy Peschke is fond of calling public schools “Taxpayer Funded Socialist Indoctrination Centers.” She also blogged live from a Tea Party rally in Manchester last month.

In her view, the temperature of her rhetoric makes no difference. “If people are against taxation, it's not going to matter to them,” she said

But the harsh language has alienated some Croydon residents, who said they don't understand what the Peschkes are doing.

“We're confused about what his motives are, moving to this small town,” Christine Almstrom, head of the Croydon PTO, said from behind a bake-sale table at the School District meeting.

Jim Peschke said he and Cathy chose Croydon after drawing up a list of the qualities they wanted in a place to raise their kids. A small town, a good job market, a more welcoming political climate. They found a house in Croydon, and Peschke, who is trained as an engineer for nuclear power plants, found a job at Dimatix, a leading provider of inkjet printheads, in Lebanon. He was laid off in January, but found a position as a contractor for KMC, a firm in Merrimack that makes medical devices.

Although the Peschkes are libertarians, they are not part of the Free State movement, a wave of libertarians who moved to New Hampshire in recent years, Peschke said.

Jim Peschke's presence on the School Board comes at an important moment for Croydon.

For over 40 years, the Croydon Village School has had a close relationship with Newport schools, and for the past 10 years, they have had a binding contract under which Croydon agrees to send children to Newport and Newport agrees to accept them.

This year the deal comes up for reconsideration. If the two parties decided to do nothing, the agreement would simply continue indefinitely. Under state law, there's a lengthy process for considering whether to continue or to end the agreement. Peschke made his feelings clear in an interview before he was named last month to chair the committee that will study the agreement.

“I would like to see Croydon leave the AREA agreement with Newport,” he said. Croydon parents should be able to choose the school they send their children to, he said, adding, “I can think of no morally defensible reason why they shouldn't be able to do so.”

Peschke said he was expecting and hoping to be put on the committee studying the AREA agreement. “There are many people who want us to maintain the monopoly agreement with Newport,” he said.

A reason for that is one that Peschke holds dear -- cost.

Although Peschke asserted that Newport is “where most of the waste is” in his town's school spending, Caccavaro said he doesn't think Croydon can get a better deal anywhere else. “It’s not going to be cheaper any other way we do it,” he said.

Croydon has only 98 schoolchildren, which doesn't provide the town with a lot of leverage. In the deregulated marketplace Peschke imagines, there would be more options for Croydon parents that might also benefit Croydon taxpayers.

The reconsideration of the agreement with Newport is a lengthy process, and Peschke's term on the School Board ends in 2012. “They will have a candidate fielded,” he said of his opponents.

Peschke might even step down if he feels the schools are too resistant to change. “If I sense a general futility in making substantive changes, I won't bother spinning my wheels,” he said.

Alex Hanson can be reached at or 603-727-3219.

This Was Bound To Happen, They Were Living Beyond Their Means

The following piece appeared on If school districts had been living within their means, increased spending at the rate of CPI or inflation and gone to defined contribution retirement plans instead of defined benefit plans schools would not be in this mess. Instead of commonsense, greed ruled the day.

Spelling errors, grammar errors, misuse of homonyms and typos are left an exercise for my readers.

More than 80% of school districts to cut jobs
By Blake Ellis, staff reporterMay 4, 2010: 3:41 AM ET

NEW YORK ( -- More than 80% of U.S. school districts are expected to eliminate jobs and more than half will likely freeze hiring during the upcoming school year, an education organization said Tuesday.

Based on a survey of school administrators from 49 states, a total of 275,000 education jobs are expected to be cut in 2011, according to the American Association of School Administrators.

"Faced with continued budgetary constraints, school leaders across the nation are forced to consider an unprecedented level of layoffs that would negatively impact economic recovery and deal a devastating blow to public education," said AASA Executive Director Dan Domenech.

While the jobs picture begins to stabilize across the broader economy, in its previous survey, the AASA projected job cuts in the education field between 2009 and 2011 to exceed the jobs created by the government in that same period.

In the survey released Tuesday, AASA said job cuts in the 2010 to 2011 school year alone would nearly negate the estimated 300,000 jobs saved or created by the government.

"This survey complements the results of our latest economic impact survey to truly illustrate that schools have yet to feel the economic relief and stability that is appearing in other sectors," said Domenech.

Of the projected job cuts, about 54% are teacher positions, 9% are support personnel, such as nurses and guidance counselors, 5% are administrative and 31% are classified, a category including maintenance employees and cafeteria workers.

The sample of Kindergarten through 12th grade public schools used in the survey accounts for about 11% of the nation's school districts.

And while 48 million students are expected to attend school next year, these significant job cuts are projected to raise the average student-to-teacher ratio from 15:1 to 17:1, AASA said.

For those districts that don't cut jobs, it's likely that they will freeze hiring instead, with 53% of districts projecting that they will not be bringing on new employees in the next school year.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Barreling Towards the Same Fate

The following piece appeared on the Financial Times website.

We are barreling down the same path of destruction unless we change how our public employees including teachers are paid, when they retire and how their pensions are calculated. Decent teachers and public employees with a good sense of character must educate their fellow members and encourage reform now before it is too late.

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

Greece agrees €24bn austerity package
By Kerin Hope in Athens
Published: April 29 2010 22:06 | Last updated: April 30 2010 08:10
Greece has agreed the outline of a €24bn austerity package, including a three-year wage freeze for public sector workers, in return for a multibillion-euro loan from the eurozone and the International Monetary Fund, according to people familiar with the talks.

Final details of the measures, which were intended to slash the budget deficit by 10-11 percentage points of gross domestic product over the next three years, were still being worked out, a senior government official said.

Negotiations with officials from the IMF, the European Commission and the European Central Bank are due to be completed at the weekend and the measures will be presented for approval by the Greek parliament next week.

The package also includes an increase in value-added tax, the second this year. “Discussions are still taking place on which of the three [VAT] tiers will be increased,” said the official.

Greek bond and stock markets soared on Thursday in what has been a roller-coaster ride for investors this week.

Greek two-year bond yields, which have an inverse relationship with prices, fell more than 3 percentage points to 12.74 per cent, while the stock market rose 7.14 per cent as confidence grew after it was reported on Wednesday that the EU and IMF were preparing a €120bn loan to bail out Athens.

Greece faces exceptionally strict monitoring by the EU and IMF because of its poor record of implementing previous economic reform programmes.

A Greek official said an IMF team visited “spending” ministries to examine details of yearly outlays and pored over the national accounts at the finance ministry during the 10-day negotiations.

“It was a big IMF team, and they went over the budget with a fine-toothed comb,” the official said.

Efforts by Greek negotiators to delay timetables and dilute some public sector reforms made little headway, he said.

“Given the seriousness of the situation, there weren’t really any arguments to be made for further delays,” the official said.

George Papandreou, prime minister, was last week forced to activate the EU-IMF rescue package after three previous rounds of austerity measures failed to convince financial markets that Greece could bring its public finances under control.

On top of the wage freeze, public sector workers will lose their “13th and 14th month” salaries, paid at Christmas and Easter, and see further cuts in allowances.

Andreas Loverdos, social affairs minister, told the Financial Times that pensioners would also lose seasonal bonuses as part of an overhaul of the underfunded state pension system. The average retirement age would be raised from 53 at present to 67, he said.

“The timetable for the pension measures is still being debated, but there isn’t much room for manoeuvre – this is about saving the country from collapse,” Mr Loverdos said.

Greece’s swollen public sector, which employs about 13 per cent of the workforce, will be gradually reduced through a recruitment freeze, the abolition of short-term contracts and closures of hundreds of outdated state entities.

Mr Papandreou outlined the measures in meetings with employers’ associations and trade union leaders on Thursday.

Emerging from the prime minister’s office, Yiannis Panagopoulos, head of the private sector umbrella union GSEE, warned of confrontation ahead.

Structural measures aimed at boosting competitiveness include the opening of “closed-shop” professions – from truck-driving to employment agencies – and a fast-track privatisation programme.

Three-year reform programme
Two to three percentage points increase in value-added tax

Three-year public sector pay freeze; recruitment frozen

Abolition of ‘13th and 14th monthly salary’ for public sector workers; 5 per cent cut in allowances

No renewals for short-term public sector contracts

Closure of more than 800 out-dated state entities

Opening up of more than 60 ‘closed-shop’ professions

Overhaul of pension system: raising average retirement age to 67 for men and women; cutting state corporation pensions.

Privatisation: sales of state corporations; flotations on Athens stock exchange; sales and leasing of state-owned properties

Additional reporting by David Oakley in London

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2010. You may share using our article tools. Please don't cut articles from and redistribute by email or post to the web.

To see related stories go to the Financial Times website.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Awakening

Wow Jim and I fought for education spending reform for 4 years in Illinois we then realized we were fighting a losing battle. It is great to see people in Illinois waking up. I hope that the battle can still be won.

The following piece appeared in the Northwest Herald newspaper.

It warms my heart to see the comments to the following letter to the editor.

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

Supports tax increase

To the Editor:

I’m really disappointed by your editorial in Sunday’s paper that said “no” to the call for a tax increase in Illinois as a way of helping to fill a $13 billion budget hole.

Certainly we need to look at places to cut unnecessary spending.

But to think we can solve the problems built up over years of irresponsible actions purely with cuts is naive.

I was one of the 15,000-plus people in Springfield last week to rally for a tax increase.

The rally was organized by the Responsible Budget Coalition, or RBC.

People who have jobs have a moral responsibility to pay a little more to protect education and to stop cuts from taking more jobs.

Your front-page story in that same Sunday paper is titled: “Municipalities vs. Gov. Quinn; Local officials speak out against proposed cuts.”

We need to encourage legislators to do the right thing – vote for revenue reform such as HB 174. We can’t continue the policies of the past.

We are responsible for each other in our society. We have to do the right thing even if it costs us individually.

Tony Casalino
McHenry County Federation of Teachers


unionroller wrote on May 1, 2010 4:07 a.m.
"When you were in Springfield, did you or any of your group make a donation to the state? We are all free to raise our own taxes any time we want. So did you lead by example? 15,000 people writing checks for $10,000 would be one heck of a story, and might save a few patronage jobs."

wendyro wrote on May 1, 2010 5:58 a.m.
"Tony, any legislator that votes yes for HB 174 will get voted right out of office. As far as accepting responsiblity for another persons actions. No!! I will not enable irresponsible behavior not to mention I carry more then my fair share of responsiblity as a employer, mother and supportive family member. Take your own advice, step up and take a cut in pay Tony. Last point, I did protect my daughters education and removed her from the sub standard public school system."

taxpayer wrote on May 1, 2010 6:20 a.m.
"Why is it that upon reading the title, I already knew it would be written by someone suckling off the public teat?"

cadman wrote on May 1, 2010 6:34 a.m.
"Taxpayer,your last 6 words describe perfectly how the teachers and union feel about taxpayers.When they went to Springfield it was for their benefit, not the students."

fedup2 wrote on May 1, 2010 7:04 a.m.
"I say CUT, CUT, CUT and then when your done CUT some more. Why should these "teachers" be special???? And at $13,000-$20,000 I would think parent would be better served to have their children prviately taught. At least that way the kids would come out somewhat educated, instead of "indoctrinated"."

fedup2 wrote on May 1, 2010 7:05 a.m.
"So when the state is spending this kind of money per student, I say privatize the whole system at this point. At least we would get some benefit from the private sector."

Redstripe wrote on May 1, 2010 7:18 a.m.
"Tony you fail to forget that people are hurting with and without jobs. You expect people to pay more however those days are over. We can't afford it. Illinois is in serious trouble. Spending has finally caught up to reality. The teachers union are a big part of this mess and we get it now. Enjoy your next mandatory raise!!"

HAVE MUD WILL TRAVEL wrote on May 1, 2010 7:56 a.m.
"The letter is just another example of why PUblic Servants need their voting rights suspended while in 'service to the Masters'. If I could get a dollar raise by paying a nickel more in taxes, I'd be pro-tax TOO. "

ManColter wrote on May 1, 2010 8:07 a.m.
"Y'all need to go back to school. And pay attention this time. "

ok-now wrote on May 1, 2010 8:21 a.m.
"Kids in college and one almost there, no raise last year and cut hours. No to any tax increase period."

daisymay wrote on May 1, 2010 8:22 a.m.
"I too would support a small tax increase if it would get IL out of debt and eliminate the problem we have with our state government, but as long as our elected officials are more interested in the vote than the welfare of the state it's a worthless gesture. As long as our politicians continue to give in to special interest groups, such as the teachers union, we will end up in the same place we started. Just take a look at what is happening with the "freedom of information act" which IL recently passed. It's heading toward ground zero because of special interest groups like the teachers U."

HAVE MUD WILL TRAVEL wrote on May 1, 2010 8:22 a.m.
"ManColter sayz,Y'all need to go back to school....'....You must be a real 'on fire Christian' knowing that the Law is a schoolmaster that leads to Christ and the unfaithful gov servants use law to bully the Masters. Is that the school you were referring to? Yes or no would be sufficient. "

dupe dupe wrote on May 1, 2010 8:23 a.m.
"So years of "irresponsible spending" should be excused and we should all just pay more to maintain the status quo. I don't think so."

City Raised wrote on May 1, 2010 8:30 a.m.
"Raise the state sales tax, this way everyone pays their fair share! Including the 15,000 people who went to Springfield to support irresponsible spending. "

HAVE MUD WILL TRAVEL wrote on May 1, 2010 8:42 a.m.
"City, the servants' wants are unlimited, tempered by Nothing."

Grandmacub wrote on May 1, 2010 9:43 a.m.
"Surprise! The teachers' union wants the taxpayers to give them even more. Aren't your benefits and pension enough? i'm retired and have no pension. Please don't ask for more. Our tax bill just arrived. I resent having to contribute to teachers' pensions. I didn't vote for that!"

imhotep wrote on May 1, 2010 10:31 a.m.
"The shrinking and financially oppressed private sector cannot support the growing and privileged public sector any longer. NO to tax increases!"

infielder wrote on May 1, 2010 10:52 a.m.
"Re 7:05am fedup said: "So when the state is spending this kind of money per student, I say privatize the whole system at this point."//// Great idea. Government agencies do have private companies, contractors bid for various products, services needed. Why not the educational system. Does anyone think that private companies, in competition with each other, could not run the educational system cheaper and more effectively? Would one or more Private Teaching companies authorized to teach K-12 in McHenry County have the great quantity of "Administrators" making $100K and UP? No way."

PayingTaxes wrote on May 1, 2010 11:16 a.m.
"Give Teacher's SSI benefits, and terminate the teacher's retirement plan. Give them a 401k like plan. No more UNION's negotiating "soft" costs. We need a "pay-as-you" go plan for both Union's and school boards to manage. "pay-as-you-go"."

PayingTaxes wrote on May 1, 2010 11:18 a.m.
"When Huntley was striking last year. I said this statement.... As sure as the sun will come up tommorrow, so to will Tax revenue decline because of economy. I respect teachers, but layoffs is there own doing. Reality Bites."

PayingTaxes wrote on May 1, 2010 11:19 a.m.
"It's The Spending Silly. "

Howler wrote on May 1, 2010 12:51 p.m.
"The teachers act like they are getting nothing. I just got my tax bills for both home and business. Funny taxes went UP! What made them go up? Teacher pension assesments! While I believe that education is everyones responsibility when do you stop bleeding us? I have no kids, graduated college 30 years ago. When do I get to stop being soaked? Not only that the product these teachers are turning out is pathetic.We need to stop the bleeding. Make teachers and school districts responsible for the quality of their product! "

Othello wrote on May 1, 2010 1:49 p.m.
"Tony, post your address. I just received my RE Taqx Bill and it went up 5% at a time when Washington claims there is NO inflation. I will send you my bill for your payment, since you feel so strongly about taxes. I will let you lead by example. Interestingly, most of the increase (in dollars) is going to the various schools and their many pots of money (operating, salaries, pensions, etc.). As UNIONROLLER (first post states), no one is stopping you from paying additional taxes, but from YOUR checkbook, not ours!!!"

Othello wrote on May 1, 2010 1:52 p.m.
"Tony, who paid the salaries/expenses of those 15,000 in Springfield? I hope NO tax dollars were used but I know better."

Othello wrote on May 1, 2010 2:08 p.m.
"Tony, get a real job where you have to compete using skills and not be protected by tenure."

Othello wrote on May 1, 2010 2:10 p.m.
"Quit feeling sorry for the teachers (some of you). They accepted the position knowing the salaries/benefits. Now they want us to feel sorry for THEIR CHOICE!!!"

GerryWalsh wrote on May 1, 2010 2:18 p.m.
"1. Abolish tenure. It protects incompetent teachers. 2. How is it so many teachers can take the day off for a protest, and the taxpayers don't have a counter-demonstration?"

Othello wrote on May 1, 2010 2:20 p.m.
"Vouchers, let the taxpayer decide whom to support."

ek09 wrote on May 1, 2010 2:22 p.m.
"The democrates are spending like crazy. We need to replace everyone with Republicans. At least they don't spend money like water. Republicans understand that it's the people's money and are always very careful with it. If we had only Republicans in power, national, state and local economies would be looking great right now."

Howler wrote on May 1, 2010 2:54 p.m.
"Ek09...apparently you missed the entire li'l bush administration...he spent like it was burning a hole in his pocket. Unfortunately it was our pocket!"

Othello wrote on May 1, 2010 3:01 p.m.
"The Democrats are racing downhill over the speed limit, the Republicans are going downhill at the speed limit. Both parties are taking America downhill, just at different speeds. No one in either party has yet to identify the brake pedal, much less use same."

GerryWalsh wrote on May 1, 2010 3:24 p.m.
"After posting my comment here, I wrote letters to my State Rep and State voicing opposition to HB174. They can't read minds."

1wallcloud wrote on May 1, 2010 6:21 p.m.
"righties= they don't have any problem spending it, but don't want it to cost them anything. Sounds childish to me. They want bits and pieces of socialism, but deny that they are socialists. What a joke they are."

readingonline wrote on May 1, 2010 6:47 p.m.
"Personally I don't think I've seem many examples of all the money we've poured into the schools over the years benefit anyone but administrators, teachers, and building fantastic palaces they call school buildings. Must be when the beneficiaries of good pay, benefits, and a nice retirement package are happy, the kids learn better. Only problem is we keep pouring in the money year after year. I know "it's for the kids"."

NONOTNOW wrote on May 1, 2010 7:28 p.m.
"Oh here we go ,same old song and dance. Tugging of heart strings=Let me part your wallet once again!"

Tricia2 wrote on May 1, 2010 8:10 p.m.
"Tony- when I read your letter, I wanted to get sick! I can not believe anyone actually had the nerve to wright such trash. You are the perfect example of what is wrong with a lot of folks today. It's the "entitilment" mentality. The ones that think the rest of us owe them for life. Tony, it's time to get a grip and take a cut just like the rest of the country. I pay not only to your salary but I also pay to put my daughter in private school. To ask me to do more is more then unfair."

Tricia2 wrote on May 1, 2010 8:10 p.m.

Tricia2 wrote on May 1, 2010 8:12 p.m.
"Oh and.... I WANT MY VOUCHER!!"

kenbob wrote on May 1, 2010 9:12 p.m.
"Spoken like a true union representative. The problem with simply raising taxes without cutting wasteful spending is that it gives politicians the approval to spend more and to be more wasteful. Unions and government - like two peas in a pod."

IceAge wrote on May 1, 2010 9:13 p.m.
"Tricia2, you have inadvertently described the major problem in America today and what is driving the modern Tea Party movement. The revolution was fought, in part, because America was being taxed without being represented in its governance. Today we face the issue of groups being represented without being taxed according to representation (taxation without representation). When it became evident that certain groups could, through the use of their vote, grant themselves a portion of the treasury then democracy was doomed. The Teachers Unions are just such a group. "

IceAge wrote on May 1, 2010 9:15 p.m.
"If they really cared about American children, as they claim, then in this time of economic hardship for so many American families they would be offering wage and benefit cuts. Instead they are demanding even more from an already stressed public. Time to shut down the public school system and fire all of the bloodsucking leeches."

IceAge wrote on May 1, 2010 9:16 p.m.
"Burn down the system and start again. It is the only way the Unions will understand reality. One more point here – in the new public school system outlaw unions. They are doing much more harm than good. Their time has come and passed."

kenbob wrote on May 1, 2010 9:20 p.m.
"maybe the state should take the revenue from the lottery and put it into schools. Oh ya, they promised they'd do that but then changed their minds. nope - cut, cut, cut and then cut to the bone. Then and only then is any discussion about tax increases on the table. Too much waste in state spending to allow union mobsters to pull at the heart strings and say its "for the kids.." no it isn't. it is about money and power."

illuminati wrote on May 1, 2010 10:01 p.m.
"wall street transactions aren't taxed at all. None. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Donut hole. Nothing. You get taxed when you buy your children a pair of shoes, but NONE of the more than 1 QUADRILLION flowing through the slime pit full of thieves and banksters known as wall street gets taxed. We are all struggling just to keep homes and our families fed and they are receiving record bonuses. A 1% Tobin Tax would pump 10 TRILLION worth of taxes into the system for every QUADRILLION the banksters manipulate to their benefit and our detriment. Tax wall street AND end the fed. Prosperity will follow."

Bukowski wrote on May 1, 2010 10:31 p.m.
"Imhotep says: ""The shrinking and financially oppressed private sector cannot support the growing and privileged public sector any longer." S&P says over 80% of corporations showed very favorable profits during the 1st quarter of 2010. What "shrinking and oppressed private sector are you referring to? Bernie Taupin wasn't referring to education, kingtut. He was referring to "the man" which was Nixon then and is the stranglehold of the corporations on our country now."

KevinB wrote on May 2, 2010 6:35 a.m.
"I welcome these letters from Democrats calling for tax increases...Especially Union Democrats....get em on the record ..their leaders too"

KevinB wrote on May 2, 2010 6:55 a.m.
"paperorplastic...this letter advocates taking more money out of our pockets to pay for democrat party union loyalist jobs...maybe that is why there isn't a mad dash to run over and comment on the editorial...though I certainly understand democrats don't want to talk about raising taxes and the current democrat unemployment rate"

Harrison Bergeron wrote on May 2, 2010 7:49 a.m.
"Spoken as a true union goon, getting largesse from the government."

1wallcloud wrote on May 2, 2010 8:02 a.m.
"we have to pay taxes to support our police, military, roads, fire departments, etc. etc. Why do some vote to spend on trillion dollar wars but don't feel responsible to pay for it? This baffles me. Its all about you isn't it. Get Get Get and let others pay. You probably shop lift too. Sickening. I feel like I shouldn't have to pay for schools since I have no children attending, but I'm wise enough to know that if children don't attend school, they end up republican."

imhotep wrote on May 2, 2010 8:09 a.m.
"reply to Bukowski 5/1@10:31pm, here's from an article from Mail Online: "Nearly a million jobs in private industry and commerce have been lost in just 15 months, the latest unemployment figures showed yesterday. But the full impact of the recession has been shrugged off in the public sector, which has seen a boom of over 300,000 in recruitment of bureaucrats." Read more: That's what I was referring to..."

Pete12 wrote on May 2, 2010 12:09 p.m.
"I love it, the "Responsible Budget Coalition" whose members include "THE CHICAGO DEMOCRATIC SOCIALISTS OF AMERICA"...ate least these guys ADMIT THEY ARE SOCIALISTS!!! "

Redstripe wrote on May 2, 2010 7:23 p.m.
"Wow, I really didn't know about HB 174. Now my neighbors and I are writing our legislators and telling them to oppose this.. Thanks for firing up a storm Tony.."

Bukowski wrote on May 2, 2010 8:07 p.m.
"Thanks more making my point, Bubba-Ho-Tep. Unemployment at record highs while financial sector and corporate profits soar. See any inconsistencies? I do. These same corporations and their high income employees who still have the jobs are paying record low tax rates. I don't know the source of the stat on public employee recruitment, but I do know that in Illinois 20,000 public sector employees will file for unemployment on May 30 as a result of public sector reductions."

Wake up America wrote on May 2, 2010 8:13 p.m.
"Tony Casalino President McHenry County Federation of Teachers YOU (union teachers) ARE THE PROBLEM!! You and your federation MUST be stopped...and we taxpayers WILL stop you!"

Pete12 wrote on May 2, 2010 8:57 p.m.
"I call 20,000 public sector job cuts a good start....let's cut 20,000 more on June 30, and freeze ALL public sector pension contributions IMMEDIATELY."

imhotep wrote on May 2, 2010 10:12 p.m.
"Hi Waldo (Boysenberry)! So nice to hear from you again! Did I "make your point"? Hmmmn? Private sector jobs tanking, public sector jobs growing? And that is "good" for our Economy, how? I have only an Econ. 101 level of understanding. It sounds BAD to me? Explain where I am wrong?"

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Yes, What about the children?

The following piece appeared in the Chico Enterprise-Record. Not until teachers put the children's interests ahead of their own will we see improvement in public school performance. For now we will see good little socialist graduating from Taxpayer Funded Socialist Indoctrination Centers. The success of graduating said socialists over the last 40 years assured the election of Obama in 2008.

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

Letter: What about the kids?

Chico Enterprise-Record
Posted: 05/02/2010 12:09:06 AM PDT

Excepting our immortal soul, nothing is more important than our children. We have high expectations and dream of their future successes.
Teachers' unions reduce our chances and, most important, the children's chances of reaching some level of life success. The main stumbling block for education today may be union interests standing between our beloved teachers and the kids.

CTA, the main culprit in California, spends over $20 million annually just on lobbying. CTA more or less owns the Legislature through its campaign contributions. In turn, the Legislature has rewarded the unions.

Unions made more sense back in the early 20th century when our industrial economy treated the work force shabbily. The pendulum has swung wildly the other way, with the teacher work force showing up only about 180 days per year. Parents who notice the children's knowledge drop over a long summer might wonder why we don't have year-round schools.

We know education is important to our entire society, yet we leave so much of the decision making to the unions, whose interests are so different from parental interests, taxpayer interest and America's interests.

Is it realistic to expect our beloved teachers to rise, toss out the cosseted unions through decertification and focus on the kids? Probably not. But what would happen if the public encouraged such a move? Could the teachers trust the public to treat them fairly without the presence of their union reps? What about the kids? Would they be better off or worse off without unions?
—Curtiss Landers, Paradise