Education

Why winning matters

In a world that is sliding down the slippery slope of participation prizes and everyone is a winner, Ducati MotoGP rider Andrea Dovisioso proved why winning isn’t a bad thing (watch the video) and why competition breeds success and overwhelming joy to the victor. Since joining the MotoGP class in 2011, Dovi had only won 2 races til last season. This year he has won 5. He had been in positions to win in the past but misfortune (usually being wiped out by other riders) has stifled any shot at the title.

Today he was up against championship leader Marc Marquez who is without a doubt the toughest rider to face on a last lap. The word “give 150%” doesn’t even begin to describe his riding style.He rides that bike like he stole it.  Even in the pouring rain with no real safety aids in braking or traction control, Dovi managed to outbrake Marquez in a risky move that (literally) stuck.

Now these bikes way 157kg and have 270hp. These two riders are 1&2. Dovi is smelling the championship that he’s not attained (Marquez already 3) and had to risk it to stay in the hunt. So under intense pressure he produced a diamond and spoke of utter grit. No knees taken. No politics. Just a win that defied the odds. The satisfaction that came with his win could be felt by the crowd and even those who support others congratulated him.

So whenever I hear of read of participation medals given to all these kids in sports events I wonder what lessons are we teaching them about the real world which is nothing like this. Wrapping kids in cotton wool is pointless. The daughter of a friend said she was told after winning three races in a row would she mind not winning again in the following races to give the other kids a chance. Is it any wonder we have a generation of self entitled kids who expect to get a good paying job without having to “earn it”. Dovi if you manage to beat the best over the final three races then we’ll know you earned it and deservedly so.

4 more years

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Start laughing. It is ok. It is the same thing heard time and time again since forecasting it back in mid-2015. Yes, at this rate he is staring at another 4 years should his health hold out. This week capped off yet another mad push for so called ‘progressive’ (regressive) values will only drive the wedge of division ever deeper. People are growing sick and tired of being told how they must think. When liberal TV host Bill Maher admits openly that “Democrats, this movement to childproof the world has made Republicans the party of freedom and Democrats the party of poopers.” you know they are in trouble. Yet they can’t help being victims. Have you already forgotten how the liberals turned on Rachel Maddow over the tax returns? Yet one can guess they won’t run a more centrist candidate like Bill Clinton in 2020 but one pushing the thresholds of the identity kit. If they can find a genderless Dreamer who was raised by a North Korean Muslim lesbian couple they’ll have their ‘person’.

Sure liberals can celebrate the admission of girls into the Boy Scouts. It will probably become Scouts of America where tying knots will be replaced with wearing a rainbow scarf, learning gender fluidity while being banned from rubbing two sticks together to make fire because it is harmful to the environment.  No doubt they’ll learn the correct use of genderless pronouns which in reality will be of high value because the State of California would sooner jail citizens for incorrect use of language than properly vetting illegal immigrants. By the way how silent has the media been now that the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 to approve the revised travel ban? No matter how one might hate it or view its insensitivity, many of those that voted for him will happily chalk it up as a win. He ran that as part of his election campaign. Get over it.

Of course celebrating  Columbus Day 2017 was yet another chance to bash colonialists for things that modern day descendants had nothing to do with.  The City of Detroit wants to replace it with Indigenous People’s Day. Well truth be told that Michiganites born in America are indeed indigenous. We had this debate in Australia this year where socialist and Greens city councils in the Marxist state of Victoria went beyond their remit of collecting rubbish and keeping park amenities clean by announcing they would be scrapping Australia Day. Instead of asking their 240,000 residents for their opinion they rigged a poll by asking 80 activists and even then couldn’t muster more than 60% in favour of their preferred name of ‘Invasion Day’. Talk of pathetic when they can’t even get all of the victims onside. Yet the mayor of one of the councils decided to speak down to those who couldn’t accept it by telling them they lacked ‘education’. The irony was that many prominent aborigines are in favour of Australia Day because it celebrates togetherness and how far the nation has come rather than rake over coals that happened  230 years ago. Yet the socialists made out that calling it Australia Day for aborigines was the equivalent to the Jews as Germans celebrating ‘Holocaust Day’. Seriously?

This year statues of former Confederate generals like Robert E Lee sparked outrage when nary we heard a peep beforehand. Even people like basketball legend Charles Barkley said he has never driven past any statues and associated them with any excuse to grieve today. So once again Australia copied suit. Calling for the removal of statues of Captain James Cook, Governors Phillip and Macquarie, because they weren’t discoverers and settlers but ‘invaders’. Yet liberals will happily find this as another excuse to play the victim by erasing the history they don’t like. Get rid of the statues and it won’t be long before the next victim case arrives in the in-tray to protest over. Once again, people are tired of the lectures. Sick of being told they should feel guilty for things they had no control over because they weren’t even born at the time. How can we possibly move forward if they’re forever wanting people not responsible for things to apologize and be wracked with guilt? Move on!

Then we have had the NFL saga. The original BLM protest started by Kaepernick kneeling has been so diluted from its original purpose that the controversial quarterback promises to stand during the anthem if he can have a multi million dollar contract again. The initial shirt fronting bluster of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has turned into a 180 degree retreat after Trump tweeted about considering cutting the generous tax breaks the league receives. Money talks greater than protests in the end. Fans were sick of the in their face protests when they wanted to unwind in front of the ball game. While progressives scream the right to ‘freedom of speech’, fans merely exercised freedom of consumption – burning memorabilia and season tickets. The very money that pays the multi million dollar salaries of the players have a right to get what they handed over their hard earned dollars for. Even if they want to draw attention to a worthy cause do fans require it drilled into them every game? This is the problem with the left. It bangs on incessantly that it ends turning people off. I have not heard of fans complaining of any players protesting on their own time. Whether we like it or not, NFL players are employees. If any of us took a knee to our boss who told us to manage a difficult account you shouldn’t be surprised if you’re demoted or worse. It is not a violation of free speech. It is dissent – pure and simple. Just like those openly using tax-payer funded websites to vilify their boss. Once again, send a mail to your boss cc-ing the firm and tell him or her what a complete jerk they are and see how long you last.

Now we have Weinstein. Liberal celebrities are trying to cover up their own impropriety (Affleck, Kimmel et al) post the exposure of ‘one of their own’ by turning on POTUS. There has been tweet and post after post on Trump’s ‘p*ssy grab’ tape (which by the way he was elected in full knowledge of voters) being just as bad as Weinstein. While once can cry foul that these are double standards to OK the president but vilify Weinstein for disrespecting women, his legion of followers have more of an issue with Hollywood hypocrites try to push their heightened sense of values on them when they so blatantly hid a monster that served their lavish lives. The deplorables are sick of these liberals lecturing them. It is not a question of who is worse – Trump or Weinstein- but having actors talk down to them in such sanctimonious fashion.

Then it was only a few weeks back that Michelle Obama was bludgeoning American women for obeying their husbands at the polling booth and abandoning the ‘sisters’. Does Mrs Obama honestly believe she will sway female Trump voters back to being Democrats by calling out their supposed lack of intelligence. What a slap in the face to all women to have her patronize them. I do not recall her making those sweeping statements to get a woman in the Oval Office when Hillary ran against her husband in 2008?

So the only message to liberals is that if they want to get rid of the President then they ought to pay attention to all of the things which cost them the election in 2016. If anything they’ve amplified the noise which turned people away in droves. One can see the 2020 election campaign by the Democrats. It will crank up victimhood, identity politics and focus on trying to get people married to the state. Isn’t it telling that Trump said if politicians don’t want to overhaul Obamacare then they can switch from a bountiful taxpayer healthcare plan to the system they are resisting  change – how silent they’ve become…then again how many from both sides of the house are on the payroll of big pharmaceutical companies…? This is the thing – it is no longer GOP vs Democrats – both are not behind POTUS. If he ran as an independent he’d win.

The way the liberals can win is to encourage open, rational debate (like the Trump rally which gave their stage to BLM protestors to wonderfully unify them on many levels), allow conservatives to speak on campus on issues without causing trigger warnings, micro aggression and safe spaces and to refrain from shoving every political issue in the electorate’s face at every opportunity.  Failure to do so will practically guarantee a return of the incumbent in 2020. All the signs point to an even bigger defeat. Keep up the good work. The only fear is that any the rate your expending grievances you may run out of things to moan about when the next 4 years eventually arrive.

Educating the Educated on Education in America

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I read a load of barbs hurled at new Secretary for Education, Betsy DeVos. Much of it was labeled at her wealthy background and the fact that neither she nor her kids had spent time in the public education system to have a clue about the ‘real world’. Some of it related to her like of charter schools. The funny thing is you don’t need to dig far to work out the problems are decades old. While it is easy to point fingers at DeVos, we only need look at a survey taken by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) in the US back in January of 1993 to see successive administrations have dropped the ball. Poverty, alcoholism, student apathy and absenteeism were cited as big problems in secondary public schools. Lack of a parent was also high on the agenda.

Broken homes and poverty seem to be a big issue. The report said, “Besides lack of parent involvement, the school problems viewed as serious by at least 10 percent of public school teachers included student apathy, poverty, student absenteeism, student disrespect for teachers, parental alcoholism and/or drug abuse, and student tardiness. Behaviors and attitudes of students were more likely to be seen as problematic by teachers at the secondary level than by teachers at the elementary level. Parent alcoholism, on the other hand, was described as “serious” as often by elementary teachers as by secondary teachers and poverty was described as “serious” more often by elementary teachers. “

img_0262Scrolling forward to 2014, approximately 20 percent of school-age children were in families living in poverty. The percentage of school-age children living in poverty ranged across the United States from 12 percent in Maryland to 29 percent in Mississippi. The map below shows the aggressive skew between the north and south with regards to relative poverty according to NCES

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When looking at ethnicity, the skew was also telling. The chart below highlights the change in poverty levels among various races/ethnicities between 2009 and 2014. GFC made a dent in almost every category. In 2014, approximately 15.3 million, or 21 percent, of all children under the age of 18 were in families living in poverty; this population includes the 10.7 million school-age 5- to 17-year-olds  and 4.6 million children under age 5 living in poverty.

Going another level we see that broken households seem to be relatively correlated. NCES highlights the extent of single parent households. You’ll notice that the totals exceed 100% in certain categories but this is down to double counting.

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Switching gears to free lunches at school for poverty stricken students. The percentage of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch (FRPL) under the National School Lunch Program provides a proxy measure for the concentration of low-income students within a school. Children from families with incomes at or below 130 percent of the poverty level are eligible for free meals. Those from families with incomes that are between 130 percent and 185 percent of the poverty level are eligible for reduced-price meals. In this indicator, public schools (including both traditional and charter) are divided into categories by FRPL eligibility. High-poverty schools are defined as public schools where more than 75.0 percent of the students are eligible for FRPL, and mid-high poverty schools are those schools where 50.1 to 75.0 percent of the students are eligible for FRPL. Low-poverty schools are defined as public schools where 25.0 percent or less of the students are eligible for FRPL, and mid-low poverty schools are those schools where 25.1 to 50.0 percent of the students are eligible for FRPL. In school year 2012–13, some 21 percent of public school students attended low-poverty schools, and 24 percent of public school students attended high-poverty schools.

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The US Dept of Education has celebrated higher graduation rates as an achievement but according to the American Psychological Association, “poor (bottom 20 percent of all family incomes) students were five times more likely to drop out of high school than high-income (top 20 percent of all family incomes) students…Family poverty is associated with a number of adverse conditions — high mobility and homelessness; hunger and food insecurity; parents who are in jail or absent; domestic violence; drug abuse and other problems — known as “toxic stressors” because they are severe, sustained and not buffered by supportive relationships…Community poverty also matters. Some neighborhoods, particularly those with high concentrations of African-Americans, are communities of concentrated disadvantage with extremely high levels of joblessness, family instability, poor health, substance abuse, poverty, welfare dependency and crime”

The Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, collects test results from 65 countries for its rankings, which come out every three years. The latest results, from 2012, showed:

“In mathematics, 29 nations and other jurisdictions outperformed the United States by a statistically significant margin, up from 23 three years ago,” reports Education Week. “In science, 22 education systems scored above the U.S. average, up from 18 in 2009.”

In reading, 19 other locales scored higher than U.S. students — a jump from nine in 2009, when the last assessment was performed.”

So before people rip into DeVos they might do well to analyze the long term economic related problems that feed into education. Poverty has never been as high in America with almost 50 million people on food stamps. In 2000 that number was around 17mn. It is not a question of calling one race dumber than another. Deteriorating economics, the breakdown of families and stable support networks are preventing better outcomes.

The charter school criticisms of DeVos are also out of place. Indeed former US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan who served under Obama faced the following criticism which I don’t see raised by DeVos haters,

“The agency’s inspector general issued a scathing report in 2012 that found deficiencies in how the department handled federal grants to charter schools between 2008 and 2011″ – in other words, during Duncan’s watch.

A recent report from the Center for Popular Democracy and the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools (AROS) uncovered over $200 million in “alleged and confirmed financial fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement” committed by charter schools around the country.because  much of the fraud “will go undetected because the federal government, the states, and local charter authorizers lack the oversight necessary to detect the fraud.”

With such a dreadful trajectory in scholastic achievement in part due to decades of poorly planned education policy not to mention growing poverty and economic hardship is it any wonder. Before questioning DeVos and her intentions, perhaps when looking at these so called deeply educated byproducts of the public sector that know better than her, they might look at what hasn’t been achieved in so long. It most certainly won’t be to chuck more money at the problem. One has to wonder that the plight of schools in impoverished areas is to secure high quality teachers willing to forgo their safety and try to reverse long standing trends that were highlighted by the NCES surveys in 1993.

Throwing stones at DeVos because of her wealth is hardly the way forward. Economic revival will be a vital tenet of that recovery but at the same time, the highly indebted world pushing on a string with multiple asset bubbles hardly sets the scene for a quick fix. Is it any wonder Trump was voted in – decades of negligence by former administrations who will now reap the risks of ill-thought out policy which protected the establishment at the expense of the plebs.