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home : opinion

Comrade Dorn wants to raise your taxes 49 percent
The problem with a monopoly is those in charge are never measured against a competitor. And that's the problem with our public schools. It isn't that teachers are bad people. It isn't that they don't have sincere concern for the students they are charged with educating. The problem is that without competition there is no objective measure of the quality of the product they produce.

And so it is that Washington's Superintendent of Public Instruction. Randy Dorn says there is nothing wrong with our schools that more money can't fix. Let's be clear here. It's not just a little more money. It's $7.5 Billion. That represents a 49 percent increase in state expenditures over the 11.4 percent the state legislature already appropriated during the most recent session.

When queried about what changes he would make in education as a result of the new funding Dorn said essentially - none. It seems that Dorn views our system as perfect, but if that's the case why does he need more money? If our educational system is currently functioning perfectly and providing our students with a top quality education why do we need to spend nearly half again as much?

Thursday, April 10, 2014 More...

Of meaning, pain, and belly buttons
"No one can define the meaning of life without first defining what it means to be human" - Ravi Zacharias

Being human, in my opinion, is to desire love and goodness; as warped as those things have become in our thinking we need them and we know it. Consider this. Think of a person who is so full of hatred and evil desires that they seem consumed with it. Those who do horrible things are said to be "Animals"; beyond normal thinking so as to be subhuman. Those things we call love and goodness we consider sacred and the embracing of the sacred is where we find meaning.

The Holy Scriptures have been used in America to define the sacred for hundreds of years. The Ten Commandments were the measure of goodness - the greatest and second greatest commandments, as given by Jesus, to love the Lord your God and Love your neighbor were the foundation of love. We have changed that and thus we have lost the sacred and so lost the meaning of life.

We think of ourselves as a body in search of a soul when in reality we are a soul that for now has a body. The only true meaning which satisfies is that which is good for the soul.

Thursday, April 10, 2014 More...
Where's the Inflation?
I'll admit it: I'm scared to talk about inflation. It's hard to understand why such a nerdy economic term gets people so riled up... but it does. The last time I mentioned inflation was low, I was enthusiastically ridiculed by all three people that read my writing. However, I will not live in fear. So, I'm just going to come out and say it: Over the last few years, inflation has been almost non-existent. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, PCE (or Personal Consumption Expenditures) has only averaged 1.4% since 2009. PCE is not a perfect measurement, but it's clear to me that inflation is not a problem right now.

Let me follow that up right away by acknowledging something: Yes, all the contortions of the Fed, and the various bailouts and stimulus programs we've seen in recent years are inflationary. In a vacuum, those things would cause rampant inflation. However, the real world isn't a vacuum; it's a vast, complex system - and there are many things working to keep inflation very low.

The most significant thing keeping inflation low is our economy, which is still weak. That weakness translates into low demand, and it is very difficult for prices to rise when demand is low. Another thing keeping inflation at bay is globalization. With so much of our "stuff" made in parts of the world where labor is incredibly cheap, businesses are competing with each other to cut prices. Further, improving technology is lowering prices for all kinds of things.

Thursday, April 10, 2014 More...
Local levies help teachers get pay raises
Executives at Washington's public teachers union (the WEA) announced recently that gaining access to greater pay increases was their primary lobbying goal for 2014, not raising student test scores, closing the achievement gap or improving low graduation rates.

To support their message in Olympia, union executives say they have not received a state-funded cost-of-living-adjustment, or COLA, for six years. Some proponents argue this means teachers have either not received a pay increase or received a cut, because pay has not gone up as much as they think it should have. By citing only one type of pay increase, though, the union gives the impression that teachers haven't received any pay increases.

The good news is that teachers also receive compensation from local school districts, and regular, annual pay increases are built into the state's compensation system. For example, since 2006 average teacher pay has increased by about $9,000, or more than 16 percent, even as many working families have lost jobs or experienced reduced hours.

Total average teacher pay, from state and local sources, is now almost $65,000 a year, plus benefits. A typical benefits package includes health coverage, dental, vision, life insurance, long-term disability, up to 12 days of sick leave, cash for unused leave and a generous public pension. In all, benefits add an average of $19,200 a year in compensation. Also, unions receive public funds to pay the salaries and benefits of their executives, even though labor unions are private entities.

Thursday, April 10, 2014 More...
Letter to the Editor: History Repeating
Thursday, April 3, 2014 More...
Results not reasons
Is education failing in America?

Undeniably -

NPR, in December: "In mathematics, 29 nations ... outperformed America ... up from 23, reports Education Week. In science, 22 education systems scored above America, up from 18. In reading, 19 locales scored higher than US students, a jump from 9. The top overall scores came from Shanghai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Macao and Japan, followed by Lichtenstein, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Estonia. American Education Secretary Arne Duncan calls it 'a picture of educational stagnation."

Even Duncan is wrong. The data above show our education system is not 'stagnant' meaning motionless ... no ... it's dropping like a greased anvil.

What to do? Take lessons from the US Army, I say.

That odd sound you hear is sneers from the American education establishment at my suggestion. But consider:

In one year, our Army can train 18-year-old youngsters to become excellent military helicopter pilots in a highly technical and very demanding field that would take American colleges four years to even approach. I know. I was both college student and Army instructor pilot.

Thursday, April 3, 2014 More...

Barns Etc READY MOBILE - Jeff


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