Fighting With Facts

I will admit that in doing research for this blog, I read a lot of news. However, I don’t think I am any smarter than the average America. I may be better informed, but that is a choice I made. Anyone can make that choice. I believe that one of the major problems in America right now is that people are believing what they are told and not doing their own research. That was recently illustrated in a post at Townhall by Larry Elder.

The article reports:

A couple of years ago, I gave a speech before a conservative, predominantly white audience. I couldn’t help but notice a tall, heavyset Black man, arms folded, standing in the back. From time to time, I would look at him, only to see him frown and shake his head, I assumed disapprovingly, when I made what I considered important points.

After the speech, he came up to me. “I am angry,” he said. “Not at you — at myself. I thought I was well informed. I read the news. I watch the news. I now see I’ve been manipulated by the party that I voted for all my life.”

The article lists the things that the man learned from Larry Elder’s speech:

He said he had no idea that (according to a 2004 Thomas B. Fordham Institute study) 44% of Philadelphia public school teachers send their own school-age kids to private school. Yet the Democratic Party adamantly opposes school vouchers, which would give K-12 children of urban parents a chance at a better school.

He did not know that Democrats, including President Barack Obama, tried to end the Washington, D.C., Opportunity Scholarship Program. It is a lottery that allows fortunate parents to opt out of their local public school for a better private school. The program is so popular that there are far more parents who want to participate than there are seats. “What’s more important, ” he asked me, “than making sure are kids are well educated?”

He did not know that, in 1965, 25% of Black kids were born outside of wedlock, versus 70% today, a phenomenon that cannot be attributed to slavery and Jim Crow. He did not know that Barack Obama once said, “Children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of schools and 20 times more likely to end up in prison.”

…He did not know that, according to Harvard economist George Borjas, illegal immigration creates winners and losers. But the big losers are low- and unskilled American workers of color who compete against low- and unskilled illegal immigrant workers — who place downward pressure on the wages of the native-born.

The man did not know that, according to The Washington Post, in recent years, more unarmed whites have been killed by the police than unarmed Blacks. He was unaware of studies, including one by a Black Harvard economist, that found the police more hesitant, more reluctant, to pull the trigger on a Black suspect than on a white suspect. He did not know that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, police killings of Blacks declined almost 80% from the late ’60s through the 2010s, while police killings of whites have flatlined.

Please follow the link above to read the entire article. We need to remember that bias in reporting is not only reflected in the way things are reported, it is also reflected by the things relevant to a story that are not mentioned.

The Supreme Court Gets It Right

Yesterday The Daily Signal posted an article about the recent Supreme Court decision regarding religiously affiliated schools in state school choice programs. The court ruled that that families have a right to seek the best educational opportunities for their children, by preventing states from blocking the participation of religiously affiliated schools in state school choice programs. The decision was the usual 5-4 split–only this time the five were in favor of not discriminating against religious schools.

The article reports:

Tuesday’s decision in Espinoza removed the largest state constitutional obstacle by holding that so-called Blaine Amendments cannot be used to deny choice to parents.

Under the U.S. Constitution, states no longer may prevent parents from choosing religious schools if they are participating in a school choice program.

“A state need not subsidize private education. But once a State decides to do so, it cannot disqualify some private schools simply because they are religious,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the opinion of the court in Espinoza.

This decision struck a blow to the notoriously anti-Catholic Blaine Amendment in Montana’s Constitution that sanctioned explicit discrimination against religious schools in funding. Montana’s discrimination hurt families who have a wide variety of values and preferences when it comes to their children’s education.

As the Supreme Court had previously noted, Blaine Amendments have an “ignoble” history. The amendments are named after Sen. James G. Blaine of Maine, who in 1875 sought a federal constitutional prohibition of aid to “sectarian” schools.

The article concludes:

In Mitchell v. Helms, Thomas wrote of Blaine Amendments: “This doctrine, born of bigotry, should be buried now.” On Tuesday, the Supreme Court’s decision in Espinoza took us one step closer to achieving that goal.

Now is the time for states to cast aside these 19th-century rules rooted in prejudice that unfairly punish religious families, students, and schools. The Constitution requires states to provide a level playing field for religious and secular education.

The legal impediment to school choice programs is now gone, and it’s up to state legislatures to move forward advancing education choice.

The court made it clear that policymakers across the country now have the power to enact robust school choice programs. They should do just that.

If the education establishment wants American children in public schools, they have a responsibility to make public schools better. Until then, parents who want their children educated will seek out voucher programs that will allow them to send their children to schools that teach the basics–not get bogged down by the social justice trend of the day.

How Is The Money We Spend On Education Actually Spent?

Last week Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial explaining how the proposed tax bill might impact educational spending.

The editorial included the following chart:

As you can see from the chart, the number of administrators in education has risen much faster than the number of teachers and students, while test scores have remained essentially the same. It is definitely time that we examined our priorities in education spending,

The editorial also points out how the tax bill under consideration might impact education spending:

The National Education Association blasted the GOP tax reform plan saying that eliminating the state and local tax deduction for those who itemize taxes would be a severe blow to schools, putting 250,000 education jobs at risk.

“It would,” says NEA president Lily Eskelsen Garcia, “jeopardize the ability of state and local governments to fund public education. That will translate into cuts to public schools, lost jobs to educators, overcrowded classrooms that deprive students of one-on-one attention, and threaten public education.”

There are other provisions in the tax bill that might worry teachers’ unions, such as letting parents use 529 college savings plans to pay for elementary and secondary school costs. That would help make private schools more affordable — a small step toward encouraging school choice.

But it’s the so-called SALT deduction that has the unions up in arms. Why? Because getting rid of it might force high-tax states — which benefit the most from the deduction — to cut taxes and rein in their own spending.

Of course, that’s pure speculation on the NEA’s part. States won’t be obligated to change anything if the SALT deduction goes away.

I think we need to understand that the Trump Administration is generally a goal-oriented group and sometimes their goals are very subtle. The Secretary of Education is a proponent of school choice, and it seems as if the tax proposals might also encourage school choice. The public schools are not doing their job of educating our children, and parents are becoming more willing to find alternative solutions. The amount of children being home-schooled has rapidly increased in recent years. Part of this is due to the fact that test scores have not improved, and part of this is due to the fact that the schools are teaching children values that in many cases contradict the values of their parents.

It would probably be a really good idea to take a look at where our education dollars are being spent. Somehow our students managed to learn more before there was a federal Department of Education.

 

The Key To Racial Equality Is Equal Education For All Children

One of the major keys to racial equality is to make sure that children of all races have access to a good education. Because of the makeup of most of our major cities, the only way to achieve that is through vouchers and school choice. Most Republicans have been encouraging these programs for years. Unfortunately, because of their relationship to the Teachers’ Unions, the Democrats have worked very hard to oppose both vouchers and school choice.

Yesterday John Hinderaker posted an article at Power Line detailing the latest battle on the school choice front. The source for the Power Line article is a Fox News story from yesterday.

One of the unexpected consequences of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans was the birth of a new school system. Many failing schools were replaced by Charter Schools and other schools that were not failing. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has worked very hard to provide children in New Orleans a good alternative to the failing city public schools. However, the Justice Department is blocking his efforts.

Fox News reports:

The Justice Department is trying to stop a school vouchers program in Louisiana that attempts to help families send their children to independent schools instead of under-performing public schools.

The agency wants to stop the program, led by Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal, in any school district that remains under a desegregation court order.

In papers filed in U.S. District Court in New Orleans, the agency said Louisiana distributed vouchers in 2012-13 to roughly 570 public school students in districts that are still under such orders and that “many of those vouchers impeded the desegregation process.”

The federal government argues that allowing students to attend independent schools under the voucher system could create a racial imbalance in public school systems protected by desegregation orders.

John Hinderaker at Power Line states:

This Louisiana case is typical: Holder wants to keep the archaic residue of the civil rights movement alive forever, as a club with which to beat the Southern states, and as a means of screwing African-Americans. After all, if blacks can’t escape from terrible schools, their employment prospects will be lousy. They likely will be welfare-dependent, and therefore reliable Democratic voters for decades to come. That is, as best one can infer it from the facts, the calculation that Obama and Holder have made.

Eric Holder’s Justice Department is a disgrace. They have become totally political. I would suggest that Eric Holder be replaced, except that I think President Obama would simply find someone equally bad.

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Lt. Col. Allen West Speaks In Stoughton

Tonight I had the privilege of hearing Lt. Col. Allen West speak at the Ahavath Torah Congregation in Stoughton, Massachusetts. The subject of his speech was America’s past promises and current realities. Below are some of his observations:

Col. West reminded us that Massachusetts was the birthplace of America. The spirit that gave birth to those documents was born in Massachusetts. The promise was one of limited government whose power rested in the individual. That promise has allowed America to exist for 237 years. The promise included the individual freedom to participate in the free market. Part of the promises of the past was faith in something bigger than ourselves.

We need to protect the promises of the past. In our own homes we need to practice fiscal responsibility. We need to demand that our government also practice fiscal responsibility.

Booker T. Washington described the three pillars of society as education, entrepreneurship, and self-reliance. Right now our children are not receiving the education they need to prepare them to be responsible citizens, the government is taking more control of the economy, and the government is encouraging dependency by actively recruiting people to sign up for food stamps. Our current government is destroying the promises of the past.

We need to bring America back to the promises of the past.  Col. West ended his planned remarks with a question all of us need to ask ourselves, “What did I do today to insure that my children and grandchildren will have a greater America?”

During the question and answer period after his remarks, Col. West pointed out the need for a select committee to investigate Benghazi. He suggested that we tell our Congressmen to support House Resolution 36. He also pointed out some of the areas that we as Americans need to challenge the current politicians. He mentioned that school choice is the number one issue in the black community, yet one of the first things President Obama did after taking office was to shut down a school choice program in Washington, D.C. As Americans who care about our country, we need to learn to frame the issues in a way that shows how those issues impact people’s lives every day. Abstract numbers are not nearly as effective in getting out a candidate’s message as pointing out to a person how something the government is doing directly impacts their standard of living.

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Something Good Was Done In Washington Today

When I look at that headline, I am reminded of all the admonitions to reporters, “If a dog bites a man, it’s not a story, if a man bites a dog, it’s a story.” However, something good was done in Washington recently.

The Hill is reporting today that John Boehner and Senator Joe Lieberman have announced that a deal has been reached to implement a renewal and expansion of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program.

The article reports:

The private school voucher initiative in the nation’s capital is a top priority of Boehner’s, and the agreement comes after the Speaker and Lieberman complained that President Obama’s decision to zero out funding for the program in his latest budget contradicted a law he signed in 2011. Boehner had successfully attached legislation extending and expanding the scholarships to a government funding accord last year.

The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program has been a fantastic program for the city. It has allowed children from low-income families who would be at risk in the public schools in Washington, D. C., to get the education they need to be successful.

The article reports:

Under the agreement Boehner announced, there will be no cap on enrollment, and the program will remain open to both new and current applicants.

Bi-partisanship works when the issue is valid!

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