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The State of the State’s Educational System

San Diego — Tomorrow the Spring Semester starts, and with it comes the onslaught of the issues and problems created for teachers and especially for students by the State’s budget crisis.  So this is perhaps a reasonable time to offer a somewhat jaundiced view of it all.

The underlying official California educational philosophy holds that education up to and including college/university ought to be free to all state citizens.  The concept is based on a truly benign and well intentioned perspective that holds, true enough, that it is through education and perhaps education alone that a society’s real future can be found and therefore, it is in that society’s interest to provide their citizens with a good education.

Most states agree that should include K-12 but California believes it really ought to include secondary education through undergraduate levels at least.   Unfortunately, within that desire lies a lot of places to go very much off the rails, not the least of which is in the definition de jour as to what constitutes a good education.  Whenever the propriety of a course of action – or course of study – can be determined by a political entity then the conclusion rapidly retreats from one based on practicality and even reality and becomes one based on political whims of the day.

Consequently I must openly disclaim that I oppose that idea on at least three grounds:

  1. People, including students understand that in this mercantile society you get what you pay for and when something is offered for free the price honestly tells you what it is likely worth.
  2. Education is not cheap to provide when done well and when the state is running low on money and education suffers, then the really good teachers are likely to go to the better paying schools resulting, sooner or later in the state schools being the poorer ones in terms of educational delivery by anyone’s definition of good.
  3. Since the goals are politically defined then the requirements tend to favor courses that help perpetuate the sponsoring political philosophies over any real world needs and the results are incredibly well educated people who have not a single real world skill and have no chance at employment except to re-enter the education system to perpetuate that which thy have been taught.

I cannot change those goals, they are what they are.  I can only try to reveal them and their results and do the best I can to prepare my own students for success in a real world even if it is not the world my academic colleagues wished existed.  You however, must understand that much of the current budget impasse flows directly from attempts to reach that goal and in the process, bankrupting the system.  This same sort of scenario where one group decides another group needs to carry them based on some idea of social good or justice is part and parcel of the problem.  But for now I want to concentrate on education since it is not only typical but it is the one I have to deal with daily.

A common mantra when viewing and trying to understand political theses and their results is to “follow the money.”  So let’s do that here and see where it goes.  At my school, part of one of the largest community college districts in the state, the actual average cost to the school to provide its educational services is a little north of $150.00 per credit.  But for years, the actual student fees were limited to $20.00 per credit with the rest subsidized by the state in a manner we will address in a moment.  The budget crisis has resulted in a couple of fee increases that, in Fall of 2012 will rise to $46.00 per credit.  You residents of other states can stop laughing or swearing any moment when you compare your own fees averaging nearly $100.00 per credit and often well over that amount.  Remember the state and most academics here really want it to be free.

The immediate problem is that even this new fee hike leaves a shortfall of about $100.00 per credit.  We have about 20,000 students for whom a full load is 12 credits.  To be conservative lets say that the average student load is only 8 credits.  That means the district and state is face with a real deficit of  $16,000,000 each semester.  That is not chump change and all of it must be made up from the state coffers.  So where does it come from?  States do not do anything to earn money, they get it by taking it from someone else… you.

Well most education money comes from property taxes.  The state also promised the taxpayers that if they allowed a lottery the money would be devoted to education to supplement property taxes… unless there was an emergency.  So, dutifully, every year at the opening of the state assembly, one of the very first orders of business by the state legislature is to declare an emergency that allows them to convert the lottery revenues into the general fund.  So with that account now raped, that just leaves the property taxes.

And who pays property taxes?  Well there is a portion that comes from business properties owned by large corporations.  But business regulation has become so restrictive, since Californians see corporations as per se evil, that they are, when possible, leaving the state.  Last year roughly 700 businesses left California for states like Texas and Florida or even Idaho to avoid the onerous restrictions and escalating taxes.  So the property taxes for them went away but with them went something perhaps even more important.

The major source of property taxes comes from homeowners.  And who are homeowners?  Well most of them are employees of corporations or businesses that are stable enough and have the income to get a mortgage.  Or they used to be…

Of course when the companies leave employees either go with them or remain and try to find some new employment somewhere, which today, is nearly always a lost cause because the State is true to its values, and make this a most business-hostile environment.  Those less productive individuals the state sees as vulnerable and to be supported and deserving of help on some level are certain to tug at the heart strings of most.  But by and large they contribute little or nothing to society and certainly do not create a demographic likely to hire people that can buy homes and pay taxes based on their employment.

Of course the CRA (Community Redevelopment Act) passed under Carter mandated that home ownership was a right and so forced lending institutions into accepting mortgage applications whether or not the lender believed them capable of repaying.  So in order to get out from under those toxic loans that were sure to fail they bundled and sold many of them to those fictional private lending entities that are really an arm of the government, Fannie and Freddie.  And now a huge proportion of those unqualified loans have done as predicted even in a stable economy, and failed, leaving the government holding the bag as house after house sits empty (meaning NO tax revenue) or under water and re-assessed for lower values meaning less tax revenue.

And into that revenue void comes a world where inflation, due to the increasing fiat money supply, is making every dollar worth less, able to buy less, and along with it, creating a perfect storm for education: dwindling tax revenues and increasing costs.

Our re-treaded governor is now floating a plan to increase tax revenues by increasing marginal rates… on whom?  Businesses and people making as pre-tax income over a magic number that changes with the telling but lies somewhere between $200,000 and $1 million.  And who does that hit the hardest?  The answer is small and medium companies that are sole proprietorships and LLCs.  I had years as a photographer/industrial training videographer where my pre-tax income approached that amount but my business costs brought my actual take home down, often, to well under $100,000.00

To make matters worse the governor wants to increase the marginal tax rate.  Even though my gross tax rate might have been, let’s say, somewhere near 25-30 percent, once I had taken my deductions, my actual tax rate figured on adjusted income as compared to my gross made my tax rate closer to 12-13 percent of my gross.  The governor wants to increase those rates 2-3% according to his State of the Union address.  But going from 12% to 14% is, in actuality, over a 20% increase in my taxes.  That adds up to a big hit.

I don’t want to get off topic and into issues of what is fair or not here, although I am quite willing to debate the issue in another post.  All I am saying here is that the reality of what the governor is proposing is quite likely going to create a replay of what happened already in Maryland.  There, the state did a study that suggested if they do the same as is being proposed here, the tax revenues would increase by a rather huge amount.  But the year after the new law went into effect and the smoke cleared after tax time, it was revealed that the tax base itself dropped significantly and the actual revenues were down more from the previous base than the projections had shown an increase.

Why?  Because the targeted taxpayers simply left for less hostile territory and took their businesses and often their employees with them.

If that same result were to happen here the results for education would be catastrophic.  At my school we are already operating at a vastly reduced level after cutting classes every semester over a two-year period.  We have eliminated summer sessions and so many classes the few remaining are cutting seriously into our ability to offer our program towards either a degree or certificate.

Yes, tax revenues need to increase but they need to increase through growth in productivity not in growth of tax rates.  Yes schools need to get real with their student fees at least to the extent other states do.  And academia needs to do some housekeeping of its own.

If the avowed reason for education, that is to prepare students to enter the workforce and increase the tax base, is true then state schools need to re-appraise what classes are designed to do that and concentrate their efforts (and money) there and not in feel good “soft” topics that lead nowhere in terms of employment or in developing entrepreneurship.

And they need to get realistic about their faculty vis-à-vis who is providing quality education meeting those goals and who is not.

The rejoinder is that education should be about more than getting a job and therefore many of those feel good classes are important.  I would say that many soft subjects do indeed help prepare students for the real world but many do not and some that could are not taught from that perspective.  Learning to think critically, a very important skill, is not taught by historical revisionism or teaching students how to sing with the existing choir of the instructor and demeaning other perspectives.  I have no trouble with soft classes as electives, but when they become requirements then I think they need to be re-evaluated.

The solution to the budget crisis vis-à-vis the educational success in California schools has now gone way past the point of where it could be done easily and with minimal pain.  If – and I think it is obviously a HUGE IF – the politicians and the people truly believe that education is important even if only to help improve the tax base, then we are all going to have to deal with some pain.

The government needs to get serious about trimming waste and prioritizing its allocation of funds.  Surely education ought to be at the top or very near the top instead of being a poor stepchild to such things as prison guards and Delta Smelt. The governor promised to cut back on the size of government to demonstrate his commitment to dealing with that side of the problem.  The result, according to the State’s own figures, State Employees earning over $100,000 have been cut by 8-tenths of one percent.  Wow…

In addition to the government, the people need to understand that in the short term they too are going to have to give a little.  Perhaps the taxes may need a mild increase but the government needs to make sure that any taxes thus raised are absolutely and irrevocably dedicated to education, the law contains a sunset clause, and, while they are at it, give the lottery money back to education as well and pass laws to draw major companies that hire lots of people back into the state.  The political parties are worse than useless here, the people will have to do something I am normally opposed to and go around them to force the issues against both sides of the aisle.

And the schools have a part to play as well.  When sharpening the axe for cuts they need to look at priorities, a sort of ‘triage’ based on results, rather than trying to spread cuts evenly in the interests of “fairness.”  They need to prioritize costs toward classes and programs designed to prepare students to go out and earn a living and become productive in society and, until things turn around, be willing to axe some of the soft, feel good, politically correct programs that do not well serve those goals.  And they need to look seriously at quantitatively evaluating faculty along the same rules that courses are evaluated.

None of that is easy or painless.  But no less than a continuation of the terminal slide of the California education system is what is at stake.  It is, in my opinion, for each party to the problem and solution, the government, the citizenry, and academia itself to get real about solutions.

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Want to Know What is Coming?

San Diego – “As California goes, so goes the country” or so the saying goes.  So where are we going?  Well if you want to know what the so-called “Nanny” state is like then simply follow our politics.  In addition to the bill just signed into law that i mentioned a post or so ago, several more have been signed by our progressive governor.

Now admittedly they were crafted and voted on by the legislature before he had a chance to sign them but he was on record as supporting them all the way through the process.  Along with that previously mentioned Bill, allegedly about bullying, he wanted it to be known that he is all about protecting the children.  So first of all he made sure they were safe from the evils of tanning salons and raised the legal age for receiving those “treatments” from 12 to 14.

I personally think the idea of someone living in sunny California and laying on a bed of harmful flourescent lights for a tan is right up there for the prize as the most idiotic idea to come down the pike in ages.  Sort of like smoking.  I would have lost a lot of money betting against it ever catching on.  Nevertheless, people here are terrified of nearly everything and that includes the sun so they have flocked to these “salons” to get their ersatz tans ’cause, of course, they still want to LOOK like they live in California.  And if you don’t have time or money to go to the specialty places that will airbrush a tan on your body (and no, I am not kidding) the place to go is one of these  tanning salons. But of course, the State recognizes that 12 year olds are not really mature enough to understand the dangers involved, or the later-in-life complications that can arise from exposure to the harmful UV rays, so they are now protected from that.  OK…

But at the same time another bill was signed dealing with 12 year olds.  That age group may not be old enough or have sufficient life experience to know whether it is good to get tanned, but they are, apparently, old enough and mature enough to  engage in sexual activity and know what is medically and psychologically good for them about it and whether or not they might have engaged in risky behavior that might expose them to danger.  So, this Bill allowed them to be vaccinated against Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) without parental permission or knowledge.

Ignoring that only the parent would know their medical history and any issues that might be caused by the drug, and setting aside the idea that put together it is now State sanctioned that 12 year olds can engage in sex without parental knowledge but not in tanning even WITH parental authority, and ignoring that we still pretend to ask for parental consent to see certain movies but not to be given a medical procedure, I’m sure you all feel our children are ever so much more secure and safe than in those other places where parents are expected to be involved in their childrens’ medical procedures.  And, as a by-product, I now know something about human development I was unaware of previously.  The State has decreed by implication that pre-teenagers have the maturity to engage in sexual activity but not to engage in tanning activities.

The next step will probably be to start carding kids that want to go to the beach where they can cook themselves for free.  but since they can find secluded beaches for more personal activities which are OK then that will put legislators between a rock and a hard spot.

But, of course it doesn’t stop there.  Thanks to another bill signed during this bill signing onslaught, now the police can also legally search your cell phone without your permission.  Personally, I don’t care; this doesn’t effect me because I rarely use my cell phone, always delete old calls, and knowing how easy it is to intercept cell phone traffic would not think of doing anything clandestine over a cell phone anyway.  And generally I am one of those troglodites that thinks if you have nothing to hide why would you care if they looked… except of course for that nagging issue of the Constitution re searches and seizures.

But liberals have always held that the Constitution says whatever they think it ought to say, especially when it seems to go against their enightened view of things, so that is not an issue for them anyway.  My problem, however, is the juxtaposition of the thinking that accompanies these recent bills when they are put side by side.  It is clear that the State wants for traditional parental rights and responsibilities to be taken over by the State itself and it thinks in medical and emotional kids are better able to handle their activities than their parents are.  But, what they cannot control themselves at is the tanning salon.  The State, however, in its infinite wisdom in the person of the Governor and legislature, will be the ones to decide what is OK or not and will reduce parental rights and general adult rights in order to accomplish that.

“Why on earth would they do that?” you ask, “It makes no sense.”  Well, not unless you read the sacred literature that forms the basis for modern liberal/progressive philosophies.  If you will take the time to read Godwin, Rousseau, Marx, etc., not for the economic vision but now for their SOCIAL vision and how to accomplish it, or at least look at the examples of countries that DID read them and followed them, you will see clearly the pattern of removing parents from the mix, replacing them with a State sponsored and directed education system that determines, based on its political goals, the training and care and dispensation for its young charges all the while instilling in them a love, not of the parents, but of the state.  They learn to be totally dependent on the State for everything from food to lodging to jobs to medicine.  Which means even if the State still allows a sham of a voting event, the utterly dependent will vote to keep the goodies flowing.  From that perspective it makes perfect sense.  Machiavelli would be so pleased with himself to discover that hundreds of years after the last real princes and monarchs, his advice still finds an audience.

Now, let me be clear, I do NOT think everyone going along with these early stage programs is a died-in-the-wool Marxist wolf hiding in some we-just-want-fairness sheeps clothing.  Rather I think most are our modern cadre of Lenin’s “useful idiots” that bought into the nice sounding rhetoric that is the dark underbelly of the inevitable results are so taken with the idea of being carried through life by the government they have turned over to it all requirements for thinking.  They are true believers in the process but probably would not buy into the final conclusion which they do not see coming and probably would shrink from if they were allowed to think that much for themselves.

They are. however, sincere, they believe they are doing good, and they believe that anyone who is opposed to them is mean spirited and generally a bad person.  Progressive re-education programs are stunningly successful.   They have been trained well by a compliant academia and their political masters. They are good, well-intentioned people down in the trenches voting over and over for the cradle-to-grave security they are told will ultimately lead to complete equality for everyone and never look at history to realize that in every case the equality that resulted was essentially the equality of slavery or, at best, being a serf to the government’s will.  The officially sanctioned historians give them a different history anyway.

These sincere, good folks do not see that every step they take towards that protected, secure, cared-for state takes them one more step away from a state of personal freedom.  And the process is so insidious that when they reach that same place as reached by the citizens of the early Soviet Union they will, like them, wave flowers of gratitude to whoever is our equivalent to Uncle Joe Stalin and have no clue what they have thrown away.

I have written before about the “brilliance” of students who will cut classes to go to a rally about education.  I’m sorry but if education is important don’t miss a moment of class.  Now we have people in this whiner’s brigade occupying various venues that have said they quit their jobs to come protest about unemployment.  Huh?

But that level of thinking is a perfect example of what drives the whole liberal/progressive behavior today.  It was not always so.  There was a time, back in the beginning with Rousseau and Godwin that serious intellectual discussions were being undertaken to throw a light on some very real inequities in the social order of Europe at the time, still staggering under the class-conscious remnants of monarchical systems.

Even Marx, though his premises have not proved out when placed in the spotlight of history and reality, tried to undertake a serious inquiry into economic history as it drove social history.  He set the liberal model of arguing flawlessly from a flawed premiss, which, if you could simply keep people’s eyes on the conclusion and away from the foundational concepts, was sure to attract huge and lasting followings.  It did and still does.

The same is true for the early stages of the other side of the aisle; John Locke, Edmund Burke, Thomas Jefferson, all engaged in serious discussions examining the social and economic history of various peoples and their successful attainment of freedom — or not — to arrive at their very different conclusions. One side thought what was needed was a system guaranteeing an equality of outcome while the other side thought what was needed was a system guaranteeing an equality of opportunity.

But all of them, in examining a wide variety of approaches and openly writing them all down to set the stage for discussion, created the unfortunate ability for modern spinmeisters to take sentences and even whole paragraphs out of context and make it seem like they were supporting ideas that would have made them ill to hear anyone would think that was what they believed or was the conclusion they had finally derived.

Even our founding fathers, who could come together to agree on a political masterpiece, were not monolithic in their ideas.  Jefferson, Adams, madison, Hamilton, Washington, were constantly in each others’ faces going nose to nose over issues of the day.  They knew the difference between ideological purity of thought which makes for exciting debate, and the need for open discussion and, dare I say it, compromise, on ALL sides to agree on legislation that was BOTH sound AND practical for the government to provide what it was promising to its people.  And they all recognized that none of them had a pipeline to ultimate truth and that they had a long way to go to fully realize that dream.

Today, with a paucity of serious thinkers and intellectual chess players or, for that matter, even very competent philosophical checkers players, all we get is the bumper sticker cute phrases that pass for discourse excoriating and demonizing the other side.  “Compromise” now means either (a) getting the other side to give in to your side, or (b) giving in to a complete shedding of one’s ethical and ideological skin.  We are led on both sides by people who DO have the hubris to believe they have a pipeline to ultimate truth.  I personally believe that intellectual shallowness and the resulting intellectual dishonesty is killing this country.

Surely. I try to tell myself, there are some of the original models of American firebrands out there who believe not in a security blanket but in a flag of freedom.  But are there enough to change the tide now clearly rising by the parasitical and entitled class, or at least to slow it down?  i used to be convinced there were, but now, honestly and sadly I’m no longer sure.

Nationally, I think we will find out next year.  But here in Kalifornia the answer is clear and it is a resounding “No!”  I can only hope the nation does not go along.

 
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Posted by on October 13, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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More Grease on the Slippery Slope

San Diego – For a long time some have argued that new attempts to move us away from any sense of traditional morality is not leading to anything but simply making us more tolerant.  After all, they argue, ideas of right and wrong are outmoded moralities of the past.

Others have argued that some new measure to give government more authority to control our lives and activities was not to establish a trend towards greater authoritarianism but simply a measure to help or protect us.  After all, they argue, we cannot really protect ourselves from the abuses of bad guys of all kinds that scam us out of our money, pollute our food, or want to do us harm.

Others have argued that in the end, our protections under the Constitution were protected because we could simply vote the offending law makers out.  After all, they argue, who would ever, in the land of the free, have the nerve to even suggest we disenfranchise the public?

But others have noted, with some alarm, that each measure that is allowed to pass under such guises adjusts and resets the base.  So, following a quiet period when folks adjust to the new normal, then another measure can and will be proposed to subtly further eradicate our cultural mores, traditions, and freedoms and thus each one is taking us farther over the edge of a “slippery slope” from which there may not be a retreat.

Alarmists?  Paranoiacs? Luddites?  Fuddy-duddies?  Perhaps, but let’s see what is happening right now, in Fall of 2011, on those slopes, slippery or otherwise.

California SB 48

Here is an interesting State Bill, ready to be signed into law by an approving governor which mandates that all social science curricula, including history books and other instructional materials, are to teach children as young as five not just to accept but also to endorse transgenderism, bisexuality, and homosexuality.

It does not get better the further your read it.  This bill does not allow parents who object to having their children exposed to this material to ‘opt out.’  Now, remember, parents who object to their children doing something as morally repugnant as reciting the pledge of allegiance to our country can opt out, but not from this.

The bill was represented to the public as a measure designed to stop bullying. But mysteriously, despite that goal, the actual text of the law never even mentions bullying.   Rather it openly seeks to regulate classroom instruction.  It does this by requiring  all public schools – including charter schools – to, in the Bill’s own words, “…include positive discussions of the sexual orientations of transgender, bisexual, and gay Americans in all social science courses.”  The sponsors have repeatedly asserted that SB 48 mandates this provocative material for California students in all grades from Kindergarten to High School.

As a parent does this strike you as a good thing for five year olds?  Or is it a case of the state mandating that the schools teach the official state philosophy?  And even if you agree with it, with this precedent set what is to prohibit it from mandating, at a later date, teaching something with which you fervently oppose?  This is not about whether or not you approve of those behaviors, truly that is irrelevant here; it is about whether or not you think that the State legislature has a right, on its own, to demand specific philosophical tenets be taught or prohibited in the schools.

Wisconsin Milk

This is a really good one.  Wisconsin, the “Dairy State” has the toughest regulations on raw milk use and sale in the country.  But now a Wisconsin judge has ruled that people in the Dairy State have no “fundamental right” to consume any food, own or use dairy cows or consume the milk their cows produce, without government permission.  Specifically, on page four of his ruling are found these points:

  • “Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to own and use a dairy cow or a dairy herd.”
  • “Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to consume the milk from their own cow.”
  • “Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to board their cow at the farm of a farmer.”
  • “Plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to produce and consume the foods of their choice.”

You need to read those rulings very very carefully and try to align them with any vestige of a belief in freedom of property you may think still exists.  Without freedom of property, there really is no freedom at all.

Election Suspension Idea

What is one of the very first things autocrats do?  Right after they disarm the populace they suspend elections until they can figure a way to rig them to their own satisfaction.  This is a process repeated over and over throughout history.  Think it could never even be voiced here?

Think again.  Democratic Governor Beverly Perdue of North Carolina, who is headed for defeat in 2012, created quite a stir recently when she said at the Rotary Club in Cary, North Carolina:

I think we ought to suspend, perhaps, elections for Congress for two years and just tell them we won’t hold it against them — whatever decisions they make — to just let them help this country recover.  I really hope that someone can agree with me on that.  You want people who don’t worry about the next election.

Remember a few posts ago I wrote and then wrote again that the issue is about FREEDOM and with it the very heart of what made America great, warts, scars, and all.  Certainly not perfect but a place that most of the rest of the world wanted to come to and partake of our culture of opportunity.  But opportunity can only exist in an environment of freedom.

Want to give up some more of the freedoms you thought were all shared by Americans and protected by the Constitution?  Here are just three chances for you to do that by supporting these actions.  And don’t even begin to think these three examples exhaust the efforts being undertaken to remake this country into something very different than the place that became that “shining city on the hill.”

These people, from King Barrack on down, do sincerely believe that this transformation needs to take place.  They despise what we are and see it is anathema to their visions for such philosophical concepts as “social justice” and fairness.  We are in the midst of perhaps the most important debate and conflict this country has ever faced.  The civil war was simply to peel off some of our territory and not to transform the entire country; but  this is.  If you believe that the direction this is leading is not a good thing for us then as never before it is time to get involved.

And if you truly believe that we should become Democratic Socialists like much of Europe then you have the right to lobby for that change.  You do not have the right, however, to throw away the Constitution, the national rule book, until you have, by the processes enumerated in it, changed the rules.  To the extent that you try to circumvent those rules, you have made of me a serious opponent.

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Snail Darters 100… Education 0

San Diego – There is no joy in being able to say, “I told you so” when the results leading to that really hurt yourself and your passions.  THat is certainly the case for us in the Photo Program at City College.

I have been writing, for several years now, that the liberal screeds on the importance of education were BS and utterly disingenuous unless that education was to indoctrinate the non-liberals in the wonders of socialist thinking and Keynesian economics.  California, the poster child for liberal policies and a main testing ground for progressive experiments, is the perfect case in point.  When the new liberal governor took over, realized to his horror that rhetoric aside, the state finally had spent all of other people’s money it could get and had to actually cut back on spending, what got cut?  Did anything negative happen to programs to protect snail darters, spotted owls, and delta smelts?  No.  Did anything positive happen in terms of allowing the state to start producing energy from its own reserves? No.

What went up? Regulations.  Resulting, last year in California being a leading state considered hostile to business and in over 650 major businesses leaving the State mostly to go to Texas and a few to Florida. Now that is brilliance beyond the call of the most progressive sense of duty.  Where does state revenue come from mostly? Income Tax.  Who pays income tax? People with jobs making an income.  And who provides the jobs?  Businesses.  So what would be the logical and anticipated result of driving away businesses? Less revenue.

Duh…

To be fair there were some spending cuts.  And just what spending did get cut?  Well first to go to the block was education.

Remember that education has been taking hits since at least 2007 when City College had to start cutting class sections.  Every semester since 2008 we have had to cut approximately 10% of our class offerings.  The district had wisely set aside a large reserve fund but even that well had, as i predicted, a bottom, and now we are reaching it.  Consequently, for Fall 2011, we received the cruelest cuts so far.  Our Academic Budget (from which we get supplies, maintenance, etc.) was cut in half.  50% across the board cuts were instituted without regard to the varying needs of the vastly different departments and programs.

You want to know what social justice really means?  What leveling the playing field really results in?  Well here, boys and girls, it is.  Typically for liberals the solution is to bring everything down rather than trying to bring the bottom up.  Some programs with little more than dry erase markers to buy are treated the same as programs, such as ours, where we live and die by our labs.  Perhaps the new math is not capable of any analysis more complex thinking…???

But then we got the really bad news.   Our hourly lab techs were cut from 72 total hours per week down to … wait for it… wait for it… 3.  That is correct, you did not misread it nor did i misrepresent it.  We are cut from 72 hours to 3.

That means we cannot staff the labs we were approved to run or are necessitated by the course curricula. That bombshell was just verified as accurate today so we have not had time, as faculty, to meet and come up with some plans.  But whatever those plans are to be, they cannot include another penny of funding from the state or district.

Nor will they allow us, as of this point, to charge lab fees.  Why not?  It’s not fair (for God knows what reason) nor is it within the guidelines because, according to some attorney completely ignorant of photographic logistics, do the students “get to keep what they paid for.”  Only in an environment inundated by liberal thinking is it better and more fair to force us to close the labs entirely than to allow students the opportunity to help defray the costs and at least keep them open a little.

To be fair, education was not the only thing our retreaded Governor Moonbeam cut.  Infrastructure was cut, state parks and rec was cut.  But how about state employees (other than teachers) such as prison guards who make up the largest group?  Well, no, their union is too strong.  How about pension reform in a state scandalized by pension abuses?  Well, no, again, the unions involved are too strong.  And no liberal can, by definition, see the unions as anything other than the saviors of mankind.

So here we are watching helplessly as liberal chickens come home to roost on the heads of education generally and students specifically.  So tell me, all you progressive teachers out there, is this what you really wanted?  I hope so; because it is the logical, predictable, and historically inevitable result of the policies you backed; so if it is not seeming like a step toward the ideals and social utopia you desire then, to be frank, you are too stupid to continue being a teacher.

And if it IS what you wanted, then don’t you dare complain in my presence about the low educational standings of California students and schools.

 
 

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Yosemite Addendum

San Diego/Yosemite NP – I have managed to prep a few more shots from the Yosemite trip and it has mercifully gotten my mind off of the idiocy of our state and federal governments.  There are few things which, for me, are more relaxing and able to clear my mind of junk than the natural places of the earth.  I know the appeal to see the beautiful places around the world but I have to confess, in my opinion, there are so many incredibly gorgeous places in our own country, I could easily spend the rest of my days visiting them and trying to render my reactions to them and never feel cheated that I did not get to see some of the other places that do interest me.

My previous images from this workshop showed evidence of the great amounts of water starting to flow from the snow pack on the upper elevations of the park.  But because I am slowly, and at glacial speed, putting together a book of my Yosemite images, I also like to take what I call “book” images.  These are shots that would never stand up as wall display art, but which contribute, sometimes as segue images, to the visual story the book is telling and are important for inclusion in that type of venue.  Below are a couple of those plus a fun experiment.

First is a shot of the very top of Bridal Veil Falls.  You can see the wind is already whipping the water into a spray that may end up falling anywhere in the valley and not just drenching the visitors at the base of the falls.

However, farther into the valley is a waterfall called Horsetail Falls.  It is famous because early each spring the sun sets in such a way that, when the atmosphere is just right, the raking sunset light makes it look like a cascade of molten lava or like the famous but now stopped “Fire Fall” over Curry village.  But when I was there, the angles were not quite right for such a view.  Nevertheless, when the sun starts to go down and the winds change, they can rip the falls apart to where the water is completely turned into spray to water the newly sprouting plants all through the valley.

And now, time for some fun.. at least for me.

Most of you know i was initially trained as a more traditional artist working in paint, sculpture, and printmaking.  So i’ve never been a “purist” of any media.  When I was setting up for one of the shots I took of a little cascade coming through the forest I really saw it as a colored pen and ink drawing.  I took a normal shot but then took one with a different approach designed with that vision in mind.  After a little work on it my initial idea started to come to life and below is the result.

OK, now back to getting ready for finals week!

Oh, by the way, to see some of the other Yosemite pictures I put a few in the post that is two posts below this one.  You can scroll down to see it or simply clock on the name in the right hand column…

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Union Blinders, Border Blunders, and a Failed Educational System Whining for Handouts

San Diego – it was so nice to get back into photography topics for a moment, especially about such beautiful places as Yosemite.  But once again. against my better judgement, I read the weekly, sometimes daily political male bovine excrement from our AFT guy even though I keep promising myself to just delete it from the mailbox to keep my blood pressure in some sort of survivable range.  This time they want us to march on the local state senator to “send him a message” to extend tax increases and to add tax hikes on the wealthy.  At least here they are targeting those making over $500K and only asking for 1% increase which I could probably support.  Then they go on to talk about other taxes that need to be installled in the system.

The problem is simple math… I mean REALLY simple math.  The measures proposed would decrease (using the Union’s own figures) the state deficit by about $10 billion.  This is, of course, assuming there were no unintended consequences… like driving more businesses out of the state.  Last year wee lost over 600 good sized businesses to Texas, Florida and other states where they do not see business success as something somehow evil.  And with those businesses went the corporate jobs, the corporate taxes, the home ownership and property taxes, the sales taxes, the gas taxes, the othere state “fees,” etc.  We are already considered to tie New York as being the most hostile to business states.

But let’s assume for a moment that the additional taxes would not drive away any more businesses and end up losing any more state tribute…uh… revenue.  The math problem remains: we have a $25+ Billion deficit so these measures do not even address half of it.  And, there was not a single proposal coming from this bastion of Marxist economics to cut ANYthing, nor even to prioritize the spending.  And if suddenly we were only $15 Billion in the hole, how does that help education?  How typical.

In a previous post on “Scorn for Teachers” (you can use the search field in the right hand column to find it) I said we needed to clean our own house if the educational system were to be even WORTH saving, much less saved.  We have a top heavy system in which, at this college, over 99% of the budget (Yes, that is right, OVER 99%!) is for personnel.  The remaining less than 1% is for EVERYTHING else that goes into providing an educational experience for the students.  Meantime, new blood with new ideas and enthusiasm (which would be lower on the pay scale) is blocked from entree by a tenure system designed to protect the tired old dead wood from moving on or even having to perform well.

Don’t get me wrong.  I think good teachers should be protected and utilized until they are ready to retire or drop dead behind the podium.  It is not about the age, it is about the teaching skills.  Meantime, those that are not good teachers should be fired the next day whether they have been teaching ten days or ten years or a lifetime. Education is simply too important.  As a teacher, if I am not doing my job well then I need to be seeking another line of work rather than to continue to inflict my sorry rear on one more student.

So where does the educational community get the gall to ask for more money when we have so disastrously allocated what we have?  Without systemic changes, more money simply goes to perpetuate and facilitate the broken system.  And who suffers? Not the deadwood, but many of the adjuncts who, in direct contradiction to state rules, make up nearly 3/4 of the teaching force.  Many of these adjunct professors are enthusiastic, young exciting new teachers who are savaged by the cuts while those entrenched in their positions are secure and could not be dynamited out.  Until evaluations are based on objective measurements of merit and ability and not the good-old-boy network that will never be solved.

And the State has to get off of the equally Marxian ideal that higher education should be free.  Our State students pay the lowest tuition fees in the country by a huge margin.  That would be fine if the State had it or would prioritize education financially to match the rhetoric, but neither of those is true.  We protect the prison guards but not the educators; we protect the Snail Darters and Delta Smelt but not the students, we prohibit drilling or any resource gathering and by protecting the dead wood also inhibit education gathering by our population.  if the state prefers to spend its money on other things it should at least let the schools raise enough money to come closer to pulling their own weight or making up the difference between what the state has left over after protecting aliens and what it costs to run the schools.  That way they could at least stay open.  of course now with ridiculously low tuition and ridiculously low standings as schools go, one could argue that the students are getting what they are paying for.  And when you give something away for free, you have told everyone what its worth.

But in the liberal mind, “leveling the playing field” is done by bringing down the top rather than raising the bottom, so they would rather see schools cut classes or even close down, than to for all them to raise tuition so that at least the enthusiastic and interested had a shot.  My folks could not afford my tuition though my mom helped when she could.  So I worked as a mechanic and truck driver, and it was damned hard to juggle all of that but i knew first hand the value of that education and worked hard there too.  I earned my education and did not have it given to me and to be honest I think that is how it should be.  if you want it bad enough then you will find a way; if not, if you are not willing to sacrifice to get it then, in my opinion, you do not deserve it because you probably also will not be willing to put in the effort it takes to succeed at whatever it was you were studying.  I do not want class seats that should go to the serious dedicated students being warmed by the fannies of those using school as a financial aid revenue source or a baby sitter to keep them from the horrors of the real world.

Then, ss if the idiocy from the union were not enough for one day, we also just got a memo from the legal department reminding admin and faculty that we are mandated by “new federal regulations” to provide our services to any and all regardless of citizenship status.  Most also need financial aid so they not only go for free they pay virtually nothing back into the system or the economy in the form of buying educational needs or paying even the taxes on them.

One of the things i do know a bit about is the Constitution.  I studied it in Law School, chaired a  group who for some time studied and delved deeply into it, Have copies of it at home, in my office and on my PDA.  I can tell you categorically there is not one word or mention of a “Right” to education and there is sure as Hell no mention of a Right of foreign nationals to our educational system especially at the expense of citizens when competing for seats.  That is just wrong.  Here, you can sneak across the border and if you are here long enough to establish “residency” then you can go to our schools for in-state tuition.  What?

So where does the anointed one get the cojones to stand up in Texas and sarcastically mouth the words that he is protecting the border and American jobs as never before (you need to listen to the speech not just read it).  The words are right out of a conservative playbook but to hear it, to hear the inflections, tells you a very, very different story.  Plus it was mostly an outright lie… but we should expect little else at this point…

Meantime local Border Patrol officers are so disgruntled they are increasingly going public with their orders to not detain aliens but to “TBS” (Turn (them) Back South) or let them go in order to change the statistics to look like the administrations “efforts” are succeeding. It is astonishing that anyone is fooled by this but the disciples of the Messiah seem to be completely entranced and are buying it all.  And anyone who does not think that the immigration problem does not feed the economic problem is simply spending too much time at one of the new clinics smoking some newly legalized substance.

We have an incredibly huge problem, but we have let it go so far out of kilter that any workable remedy will have to be painful for many.  But it can never be solved in the environment that lets us continue to overspend.  Ask any addict what the odds are of slowly weaning yourself from the drug of choice and in the state and this country the drug of choice is money.  Rather the “treatment” ought to be prioritized so that it is more painful for those feeding off the public trough that do not contribute to the betterment of the society than for those who are critical to it.  When the government “shut down” was nearing there was talk of letting go all “non-essential” personnel.  I want to know why we, the taxpayers, should EVER pay for a single non-essential government employee!

Now, of course, it is the other way around.  It is as if those legislators were the incapable-of-thinking products of the very educational system they are now working hard to destroy. Who else would think you can spend your way out of a debt crisis or solve it by borrowing more money?  Maybe that’s the answer… they are not TRYING to solve it.  Maybe they are so angry at the failed system they are willing to tear it down completely and they are learning from their Lord, King Barrack I, that before you can transform a system in your own image you must first tear it down pretty completely.  What other rationales make logical sense?

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Extremist & Draconian Math

San Diego – We all know about “New Math.”  That is the math that has left our kids without the ability to count change and depend on calculators.  But now we have Extremist Math.  Since good ol’ Chuck Shummer told his fellow Democrats to label anyone who wanted to cut spending as extremists and their ideas as Draconian that has been the obligatory label used for nearly anyone who disagrees with them.  “Draconian” is a fitting label for them to use since they also accused their opposition of coming to town to kill women and old folks.

I hear a deafening silence… “Draconian?” you ask.  Oh come on, all of you ever-so-educated and informed voters surely are so steeped in history you remember the Athenian Greek, Draco?  In 621 BC Draco was asked to codify all laws so that everyone would know them and not be able to claim ignorance or to break them unknowingly.  His code decreed death for virtually every offense.  He stated he believed death was appropriate for ANY crime and could not think of something more severe for the bigger crimes.

So lets put the Draconian objectors to the budget deal to the microscope.  it has become pretty well established that Americans. almost somewhat uniquely (and, in my opinion due in part to new math) cannot comprehend or deal with really big numbers.  A million is slightly out of grasp and a billion or more are just abstractions.  THe only way to make sense of what is really at play is to deal in percentages and bring down examples into the realm of the understandable.  That is what I tried to do when I showed that, following the math done by a friend, using the Democrats’ reasoning, my own $3,000 credit card debt could be properly dealt with by my cutting $.08 (that is eight cents) from my annual spending.

Well here is another example.  First the reality as described here in an article on the issue:

“Currently, the Federal debt amounts to $14.2 trillion. (Washington has) borrowed every penny the law allows. In fact, that’s the reason for the current war of words. If Congress won’t raise the debt ceiling, the government can’t borrow any more money. If it can’t borrow any more money, it can’t pay for all the boondoggles and giveaways that are already law. [DK: And that means that expenditures and liabilities were passed into law knowing full well they were above to so-called debt limit and now they need to hike the limit to pay for them. So much for any real debt ceiling: you just authorize the spending and then tell the people they will be devastated if they have to “cut” the programs.  Can we spell “fraud?”  Oh well, back to the quote… )

“The deficit is already scheduled to grow by $1.6 trillion this year. In other words, even if Congress can’t agree on spending one more dollar this year, we taxpayers are already on the hook for our government to fork over $1.6 trillion more than it collects in taxes.

“The deficit for February (the shortest month of the year!) was $223 billion. That was the largest single deficit of any month in our country’s history.  Let me put it another way: The same day that Republicans in the House voted to cut spending by $6 billion, our national debt jumped by $72 billion. That’s $72 billion in new deficits, every day of the week, every week of the year.”

So lets convert that all to pennies where one penny equals a trillion dollars (from an analogy first presented by Chip Wood). The debt is roughly 15,000 pennies or a pile of 300 of those red penny rolls. And the pile is growing by 72 pennies a day or about a roll and a half. (for those who have never been in business or saved their change, a penny roll/wrapper holds $.50.  Oh, I’m sorry, that is 50 pennies.

The nasty evil Draconian House wanted to cut 10 pennies from that pile of 15,000 pennies
but had to settle on less. The Dems were willing to cut 4.5 pennies and in the end settled on about 6 pennies or 1/16 of the amount of NEW debt being racked up that very day.  Draconian?  Extreme?  And in following our analogy how do the liberal folks tell the tale?  They say those nasty Draconians are trying to cut all of ten pennies at once (can you even imagine?) which will be disastrous because we only increased the deficit this month by 1.44 rolls. And the sychophants readily buy into that bit of verbal mis-direction.  The nasty conservatives want to cut 10 but only increased 1.44.  Uh, but wait a minute… the cut is 10 pennies but 1.44 rolls is 72 pennies… you have to not let them keep you from reading the fine print.

When it looked like they actually might lose the fight Dems accelerated the misdirection approach and added an old staple technique… they lied.  they lied by also started telling people that if the government shut down then soldiers in the field (“America’s flowering youth now in harm’s way”) would not be paid.  That is a lie.  The Law is clear that active duty military are considered essential personnel and exempt from furlough or layoff without pay.  And who else is excempt?   I know this will surprise you.  Congress and all of their staffs are also exempt.  Reality is not kind to the liberal position but they can happily (for them) rely on voter ignorance and short-term memory and their fear of nasty labels.

King Barrack loves telling the world he inherited a Trillion Dollar deficit, as if that somehow excuses boosting it to the current levels.  But it is a lie.  $800 billion of that deficit was the one time, never to be repeated TARP bailout.  But the new administration, instead of keeping it as a one time expenditure, rolled it into the base line for the continuing budget and then rolled their own additional “Stimulus” money of several more trillion into the base line.  In a truly bizarre and utterly ironic twist of events, the idiot Michael Moore was partially right: we are not as broke as it seems because the reality of one-time expenditures has been rolled forward on paper as if we should be spending that money EVERY year, and God knows King Barrack wants to do just that.

Anybody know of a small isolated island needing a Photo Professor where the national budget is counted in fish and coconuts and one cannot run a deficit because the exchange is based in tangible goods?  No one can say that a pound of fish is, today, worth 1.8 pounds of fish.

I want to declare a moratorium on the use of all labels and personalities used in place of national political debate.  I want to make it mandatory that only the facts be presented and let the voters decide based on facts, not on fear-based labels and emotional arguments.

P.S. – re local/State issues.  I do not support a tax increase; we are driving businesses out-of-state in record numbers and with them, losing the tax base on both corporate and employee levels.  But I do believe the voters have a right to decide for themselves and it should be put on the ballot. and if, according to law, 2/3 of them vote to increase specified taxes then that should be allowed.  Plato referred to pure Democracy as “the rule of fools” but the petition/referendum process in California has already totally subverted the 3-part government approach and created a third branch which is totally unaccountable and has consistently refused to pay for the schemes their petitions have put in place.  Now I think we should give them a choice to face reality.

On the budget ballot we should list the amount that needs to be raised to pay for all of the schemes and let them chose to pay for them with additional taxes or not.  Those that do not get the votes would be scrapped the day the votes are counted.  For those that do, taxes will be raised accordingly unless enough are dropped to make up the difference.

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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