Posts belonging to Category Education

Now That’s Real Money

I’ve been hearing rumblings that the Keller ISD is going to come back at us soon with another bond package.  It’s getting really tiresome.  After getting their dream package of $155 million rejected, they “pared” it down to only $99.75 million.  That bond passed.  I’m eagerly awaiting the release of information on the next bite at the apple.  Let’s hope they’ve come to their senses and don’t try any stupidity like putting artificial turf in this one.

Anyhow, I suppose it could be worse.  Frisco ISD is proposing a new bond package that could go as high as $1.2 billion (yes, that’s BILLION).

Voters in this swiftly growing city could be asked to endorse a school bond package as large as $1.2 billion in May, an unprecedented amount for suburban taxpayers in Texas.

With an average of 20 new students arriving every school day, a district committee is considering proposals, stretching from $600 million to $1.2 billion, to finance a massive building program for families lured to this Collin County suburb.

The largest proposal is more than twice the size of the district’s last record-breaking $478 million plan three years ago. It tops every plan ever put before voters in the biggest cities across Texas except for a $1.37 billion package approved in the Dallas school district in 2002, records show.

Dallas has roughly 1.2 million residents. Frisco, formerly a small farming community and now the fastest-growing district in the state, is home to slightly more than 80,000 people who would be asked to shoulder what could be several hundred dollars a year apiece in additional taxes.

Cobblers!  That’s a lot of money.  And it’s on top of $478 million from three years ago.  I’d be forming a taxpayer revolt and perhaps a tar-and-feather party if I had to suddenly pony up that much money in taxes.  Especially since I don’t have any kids. 

It’s really time to start considering having the users pay for the services they use.  I know I’ll get labelled as a cold-hearted bastard who hates children, but I’m past caring about that touchy-feel nonsense.  A user-pays system would put the burden squarely where it belongs, which is on those who caused the problem in the first place.  cool mad

<whine mode=“socialist”>
   But what about the poor?  How will they pay for school?

My first thought is that the bastards ought not to be having them if they can’t pay for them, but if you want to be all share-and-share-alike, then spread the burden across the user base.  But leave me the hell out of it.

This system would also benefit those who homeschool or who use private schools.  These people are effectively double-taxed in that they have to pay for a service they don’t use and still find the resources for educating their children outside of the system.


The NEA for some reason seems dead-set against any sort of accountability, and has filed suit against the “No Child Left Behind” act, which the President was quizzed about last night.  Setting aside the socialist tendencies of the NEA and the constitutionality of federal funding for education, I want to consider the notion of accountability.

My work is constantly checked and reviewed to guarantee that my designs will work and that they will result in a usable system.  There are reviews of the design, reviews of the physical architecture, reviews for standards compliance, etc all along the way.  Finally, the system itself has to be run through an acceptance test by the customer.  These checks can be a pain in the ass sometimes, and you have to try to maintain a certain humility during the process.

Anyway, all these checks and reviews are there for a reason.  These projects have the potential to cost the company millions of dollars if they don’t work right.  Being prudent about their spending, they don’t want these things to be implemented willy-nilly.

So why is it when it comes to education we get all this mushy feely crap about how we should “use our hearts” and not be so cold as to demand accountability?  Whenever I hear this sort of emotional tripe I immediately start looking under the bushes to see what they’re trying to hide, because it’s usually a smokescreen to divert attention from some sort of shenanigans. 

I’ve heard a lot of emotional horror stories about how people are teaching to the test or spending too much time on the test.  I’ve also heard how it’s putting too much pressure on the students.  I call bullshit on the lot of it.  If the students are actually learning the material, then they should pass the test without spending classroom time “teaching to the test.”  If teachers are spending time “teaching to the test,”  then it indicates that the students are not learning the material.  I also don’t buy the crap about the test being unfair to minorities.  These minorities have the same curriculum as the other students.  It’s up to them whether they want to learn it or not.  But spare me the racist crap.

Ultimately, education is a business and we spend billions per year on it.  If we truly want an education system that functions, then accountability is a must.  Fighting against accountability means that someone has something to hide and we should pay especially close attention to anyone who does so.

What Were They Thinking?

Eugene Volokh points us to an case where a 12-year-old boy received a three-day suspension for bringing a copy of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition to school and sharing it with his friends.  Supposedly it violated the school’s ‘non-verbal’ harassment policy. 

What a load of bollocks!  Have we really become such a bunch of ninnies that we can’t understand that 12-year-old boys will tend to want to look at this sort of thing?  If it’s a distraction to education, then maybe the school would be justified in confiscating it and returning it after school.  I recall that we used to cut the pictures out of the swimsuit issue and put them inside our lockers.  I guess that would make us criminals today, but we somehow managed to turn out OK.

This sort of thing bothers me because the punishment is way too harsh for the so-called infraction.  Further, it reinforces the idea among the kinds that the ‘authorities’ are a bunch of idiots.

Spread It Around

The whole issue of religion in school is one of those things that just makes me want to scream in frustration.  It’s like watching a car wreck as it happens, but in this case, both drivers are drunk.

The latest example to catch my attention concerns a case in Belle Fourche, S.D..

The mother of a Belle Fourche Middle School student has complained to the district after her son came home with a Bible that he said had been passed out in the school hallway.

“I was out of town. I came home, and it was sitting there in my house,” said Bonnie Matthews. “I questioned my son, and he said a man just handed it to him at school.”

When she contacted the school, an official said told her the Bible came from the Gideons International organization, which distributes Bibles throughout the world.

Matthews said the official told her school policy has allowed such distribution in the past, but that the school itself was not involved and did not sanction it.

Interestingly, the ACLU was OK with it.

Jennifer Ring, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union in North Dakota and South Dakota, said distribution of religious materials in school is a form of free speech and religious freedom.

But it should only be done with clear conditions. School officials should not be involved, the school should not promote any religion, and there should not be restrictions on the types of religious beliefs expressed, she said.

“The ACLU is a big defender of religious freedom, as long as the regulation isn’t one that allows only one religion, as long as it’s open to everybody,” said Ring.

This caught my attention, because I was behind a pickup truck yesterday that had the phrase “ACLU is bound for hell” on the back bumper (and it wasn’t a bumper sticker, but instead was made from individual stick-on letters).  I know that the ACLU attracts a lot of detractors, but there are times when they’re a necessary evil.  I just wonder what they did to tick someone off so badly that they’d feel the need to make a sign on their vehicle.  I suspect it was something to do with prayer, given the message (and the other stickers on the truck).

My personal belief system is that I don’t believe, but I don’t necessarily disbelieve either.  I’m an agnostic (alternating between apathetic (‘I don’t care.’) and militant (‘I don’t know and you don’t either.’) ).  In any event, I will be up front and say that I have some antipathy towards organized religion of just about every stripe.  I distrust any organization that wants to control my life (and that includes government as well, so I’m an equal opportunity pain in the ass).  But over time I developed defense mechanisms (after once being “saved” as a naive youth by some evangelical door-to-door Baptist types, which East Texas is lousy with).  I’ve come to an uneasy truce with religion (or at least I don’t go into a frothing rage when people try this crap with me now). 

But regardless of my position on religion, I never minded when people gave me bibles.  Maybe that’s because I’m something of a bibliophile, and free books were cool (regardless of the subject).  Anyway, I think that both sides of this issue have a lot of crap to take the blame for.  The religionists bother me because they seem to think that just because a majority of the people (or so they claim) are on their side it makes it OK to have organized prayer in schools.  The anti-religionists bother me because they’re a bunch of whining crybabies who can’t be bothered to teach their children to resist programming.  This would have been a good chance for the woman in this article to teach her child how to evaluate ideas in the context of her own beliefs.

But ultimately this fight is unwinnable.  No one will ever be satisfied by the result, because they aren’t looking at the fundamental problem.  That problem, as I see it, is that public education has a fatal flaw.  What we’re seing in so many places (religion, sex education, testing, etc) is that the public school system cannot respond to market demand.  It must attempt to cater to all needs and all tastes (as well as all the additional crap that has been thrust upon it over the years).  What we’re seeing here is a frustration of market demand because of the government imposed monopoly in education.  If people’s demands are frustrated in the marketplace, eventually they will look for other routes to get them satisfied, by force if necessary (either the courts or the tyranny of the majority) if there are no other outlets.

If we’d get past the idea that education must be public, we can start to look at satisfying the needs of each stakeholder.  If some people want prayer and bible studies in their schools, that can be handled.  If others want ‘just the facts’, the market will provide for it.  But until then, we’re going to witness the various groups fighting over the public school agenda like a pack of crazed pit bulls over a hunk of meat.

A Two-Fer!

The more I hear about public “education”, the more it scares me.  Jeff Medcalf is spluttering mad about some tool from the education establishment who trys to slam homeschoolers in an op-ed piece.

Rachel Lucas also comes across a mindnumbing example of political correctness run amok in the school book selection process.

The more I hear about this, the more determined I am to keep my future children out of public schools and homeschool them.  Provided that I ever have children, that is.