Thursday, March 31, 2005

Sigh. Why try?

Sometimes I wonder why I even bother trying to have a rational discussion with most liberals. They can't defend their opinions in an honest exchange of ideas, so they launch personal attacks. It goes something like this:

Me: I think parents should be able to decide how and where their children are educated. Why do you disagree?

Them: She's villifying teachers! She wants to indoctrinate all children in private religious schools!! She hates education!!! She's a shill for Wal-Mart!! Aaaiiiieeeeee!!

Me: Um, do you need me to help you find your meds?

Here's a good example on David Goldstein's "Horse's Ass" blog. (Goldstein is the one who filed an initiative to declare Tim Eyman a horse's ass. I think he's wrong on many things, but certainly intelligent and entertaining. I don't group him with the liberals above.)

This'll make the unions mad

Here's a great op-ed by Michael Reitz of the Evergreen Freedom Foundation on why mandatory union membership is bad.

Mission Impossible

Three dozen school district superintendents signed an open letter to legislators this month in which they asked for more education dollars to accomplish a mission they claim “has changed from providing universal access [to a quality education] to insuring universal success for all students.” [emphasis added]

They need the same reality check many critics have wisely voiced in the face of President Bush’s federal education mandates: No amount of money or time will ever make it possible to achieve universal academic success. Period. There is no virtue in denying this reality. Utopian ideals may sound nice, but few things are more destructive than utopian policy. ...

Read the rest of my commentary here.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

In the news...

A smattering of interesting news stories this week...

- There's a good article about Francis Schaeffer in the March 26 issue of World Magazine. What's not to like about a man and his wife who opened their chalet in the Swiss Alps to all passersby who wanted to know more about Christian philosophy and life?

- ABC posted an article online announcing Terri Schiavo's death. Only she's still alive. Can you say "vultures"?

- The Colorado Supreme Court tossed out the death penalty for a convicted rapist/murderer because jurors in the case consulted the Bible in their deliberations about capital punishment. Never mind that the Bible provides the foundation for many of our nation's laws.

- The front-page headline in today's News Tribune is "Gregoire vows to save Sound". (In case you didn't know we were in danger of losing The Sound.) "We have met the enemy and the enemy is us," Gregoire said. "Our robust population leads directly to the health problems of the Sound." Price tag: $31.5 million.

- Spam-lovers unite! Senate Democrats want to tax canned meat to raise $11 million a year. What next? A tax on chocolate? They wouldn't dare.

- There's a picture in the paper of Richard Gere dancing with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. Koizumi is called the "Japanese Richard Gere" because they resemble each other in looks. That's weird.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Clone and kill?

I’ll be interviewing Wesley J. Smith of the Discovery Institute on Republican Radio tomorrow from 11:20am – noon PST. We’ll be talking about human cloning and the Terri Schiavo case. A bill moving through our state legislature right now (HB 1268) claims to ban human cloning but actually allows it as long as the cloned baby is killed before birth.

You can listen on several stations in Washington or live on the internet. Here’s the link for a station list and the streaming audio.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Foiled again!

If only those public employee unions weren't so smart!

I confess it. I infiltrated the editorial board of the Tacoma News Tribune. I didn't apply for that guest column because I have a passion for ideas and a personal enjoyment of writing. No. I work with a "shadowy front group" -- an "anti-government think tank" -- and my motives are, therefore, never what they appear on the surface.

There's no denying it because it's all on video.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Back again!

Long absences are the death of a blog. My apologies!

I took the comments down a couple of weeks ago because one person was getting a little out of control. I'm putting them back up, and hopefully everyone can use them in a normal way.

Looks like we're in for a few days of rain here in Washington, after weeks and weeks of glorious sun. Someone from California remarked recently: "Yeah, I came up here to get away from the rain."

Heh!

Thursday, March 10, 2005

I support state workers

I keep seeing drivers with signs stuck in their car windows: "We support state workers."

I support state workers too. Literally. Whether I like it or not.

I think most of the sign-people are state workers, and what they mean is: "We want more of your money, even if you never would have hired us in the first place."

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Marriage

The Marriage (traditional marriage) rally in Olympia today drew a crowd of (I estimate) several thousand. I added myself to the crowd because I support traditional marriage -- one man, one woman.

I believe God defined marriage and no matter what humans want to call it, His definition stands.

That said, I still don't support a federal marriage amendment on principle. Maybe I'll change my mind on that after I attend a debate on the issue in Seattle tomorrow sponsored by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. 7pm at UW.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Comments

Just want you all to know I read all of the comments left on my blog, though I haven't had time to respond to most of them lately. Love 'em. So thanks.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Enough is Enough

My News Tribune column about taxes is getting some great responses from people urging me to stop complaining about how much I must pay when I can apparently afford it, and reminding me of my duty to support the many wonderful services government provides to the downtrodden.

I'll be responding to some of these later on.

Read it and chime in if you'd like. My email address is mushra@hotmail.com. (For those who wonder, "Mushra" is a nickname bestowed years ago by a toddler and tenaciously reinforced since by gleeful friends. To my great surprise, no one had claimed it for their email account before I came along.)

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Hurray. The union hates me.

I testified before the state's Senate Committee on K-12 Education yesterday regarding the issue of fraudulent teaching degrees.

The teachers' union has, of course, taken the opportunity to blast me as a Teacher-Hater. Under the benign headline "EFF lobbies against teachers," the union writes:

The Evergreen Freedom Foundation, funded by wealthy out-of-state businesspeople [hiss! businesspeople!!], claims it's not a political group.

Yeah, right. With funding from the Arkansas family that owns Wal-Mart
[HISS!!], EFF continues to advance its anti-union, anti-public education agenda in Olympia.

An EFF lobbyist
[meaning me! hiss! hiss!] recently testified before the Senate education committee, urging lawmakers to base teacher pay on student test scores instead of education and experience. She said the current pay system encourages teachers to cheat and "creates perverse incentives to defraud the system with false credentials."
1. I sure hope EFF gets funding from some businesspeople. I can't help but admire successful entrepreneurs and job-creators.

2. The union hates Wal-Mart because the company is non-union. The union really, really hates Wal-Mart. I like Wal-Mart because it sells cheap stuff.

3. If by "anti-union" the union means I'm against forcing some Americans to give large sums of money to an organization for the privilege of working, then yes, I suppose I am. I don't have any problem with voluntary unions though.

4. If by "anti-education" the union means I'm against forcing parents and taxpayers to submit their children and billions of dollars to institutions that can't manage to teach children to read, write and do math in the course of twelve years, then yeah, I suppose they're right. I'm all in favor of competition, choice and parent control over education so kids can actually get a good one though.

5. What in the world is wrong with expecting teachers to be able to show results (student achievement) in the classroom? What is wrong with allowing excellent teachers to earn pay that reflects their success? What's wrong with identifying teachers who can't do the job and allowing them to go ahead and move on to a career more suited to them?

6. As for "lobbying against teachers," you can certainly say I don't support teachers who spend $14.95 at an online diploma mill so they can submit a fraudulent degree and collect an illegitimate salary increase from taxpayers. The union conveniently left out the rest of my short testimony though, which you can read or hear here.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

A Good Scene

I'm here working in my Tacoma office (i.e. Starbucks) and there's a little kid a couple tables away who has the Best Laugh in the World. He's erupting.

His dad just reminded him that there are other people in the cafe' as well and he should be considerate and keep his volume down. He listened respectfully and then erupted again about ten seconds later when his friend said something funny. So his dad reminded him again, kindly but firmly.

Now he's quiet, but happy.

Gotta say: I love the kid's laugh and the dad's training.

Good Teach, Bad Teach

My latest over at Sound Politics:

According to our Superintendent of Public Instruction, a "below standard" teacher is one whose "students believe there are right and wrong answers to questions and work to determine what those are. [They] come up with immediate responses to questions and move quickly to the next task."

An "above standard" teacher is one whose "students know their ability to construct understanding and think reflectively about a problem is more valuable than correct answers."

I wish I was kidding.

Here's the Word document with her rubrics for "assessing teacher capacity." (Hat tip to Research Mom.)