Saturday, March 11, 2006

Life of a Jacob's High School Student

The following was sent to us by a Jacob's High School Student.

Hello, I am a student at Jacobs High School. Supposedly, and by law as well, schools including Jacobs, Dundee Crown, Westfield, and all other District 300 schools are not allowed to push for a yes,yes or no,no vote on March 21,2006's referenda questions. However, this has been ignored. Let me show you a (currently) typical day at Jacobs High School regarding the referendum:
1.Come to school, and around 7:15/7:20, an announcement comes on (with a teacher speaking) about how students should sign up for canvasing(walking door to door for referendum support). Today's message was along the lines of this: "Subliminal(repeated several times), come canvas for Jacobs and District 300."
2. During the morning announcements which run from 7:40-7:45, there is 9/10 chance that pro referendum "prodigy" Matthew Bishop will come onto the intercom for an "important announcement," telling us about how we should not stand idly by, and all at the same time, support his cause.
3.During our flex block lunch, an announcement comes onto the intercom to remind us to go to today(Friday's) pro-referendum meeting in the auditorium. In today's meeting, they signed up people for canvasing, gave out t-shirts, and gave out wristbands.
4.After the 2:41 release bell has sounded, Matt Bishop (today at least) comes on to yet again tell us of the referendum and how we should care.

The above mentioned are a day-to-day basis, however other such things occur as:
1. Pro referendum tshirts being worn by students
2. Pro referendum "Yes,Yes" posters are put onto school hallways
3. Students wear "I am District 300" wristbands

How is it possible for this referendum to occur if the pro-referendum side cannot simply abide by not local, but STATE law?

Just like I am, my friends are also sick of this bombardment of propaganda.

Homeschooling, sweet homeschooling

The following article is by Nathanael Blake a senior in college who although he does not yet have children has decided to homeschool his children.

Homeschooling, sweet homeschooling
By Nathanael Blake
Mar 10, 2006

Last week a New York Times article profiled the ordeal of academic applications: essays, interviews, application consultants, tuition of $10,000 a year or more, and the stress of separating families.

The article was about private preschools in New York City. The following is representative of the tribulations chronicled among well-heeled parents. "When Ms. Malloy, a federal prosecutor, applied for her twins, a boy and a girl, she asked her husband to write the application essay. "I was so nervous," she said, "and I'm someone who took the LSAT, who's written for the federal judiciary and in law review."

The family applied to four schools. "There's not a week that goes by that I don't regret that I didn't apply to three or four more," Ms. Malloy said. And so the hamster-wheel rat-race is now beginning at the ripe old age of two.

For me, reading this story increased my determination that if probability wins out and I marry and have children (I'm archaic enough to believe that to be the proper order), they will be homeschooled.

But though over one million children are homeschooled in America, there's a surprising amount of resistance to the idea, even from many who support other alternatives to the state schools (i.e. charter and private schools).

When I tell people about my plans for my (hypothetical) children, I invariably hear the same infratentorial objection, which is that they won't "socialize" properly.
No one ever tells me that homeschooling will stifle my children's academic ability.

The stereotype is quite the opposite: homeschoolers are smart but socially inept. There are, to be sure, examples of failed homeschooling, but its general record is better than the government's schools.

There are occasional comments about the difficulty of homeschooling.

To be sure, it takes sacrifice, and there are some families that cannot undertake the task. Yet what are we to make of the wealthy New Yorkers who send their toddlers to pre-schools with tuition higher than my university's? They aren't driven by necessity, but by the desire to get their children out of the home and out of the way. This begs the query: why have children if you don't want them to interfere with your life?

I think that the least parents can do is to match the Spartans and allow the kids to be raised at home for the first seven years. Longer is better--even through high school.

But the cry goes up that they must be socialized. In response, most homeschoolers point out the many activities available to them, from sports to music to church.

They're right: as homeschooling usually teaches more in less time, it leaves more time for both play and social activities. And I can attest that most of the long-term homeschoolers I know posses fine social abilities.

Nevertheless, this view concedes too much. Why do we even assume that modern schools are a healthy way to socialize a child and set a standard homeschooling must match? The socialization of our school system is profoundly anti-social. Edmund Burke wrote of civilization as a partnership "between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born." In the schools, society doesn't even consist of the various generations of the living.

The standard (though rarely articulated) definition of successful socialization is to "fit in" with a lot of immature little savages raised by television, video games, and the internet. Spending at least 35 hours a week, nine months of the year, with 20-30 kids of one's own age (with a harried adult supervising) is the antithesis of what is needed in order to learn how to function in society.

Give me the shut-in homeschoolers any day; from their family and their books, they will at least have some notion of life beyond their cohort and how to interact with it.

Enough with socialization; let us look at a case for homeschooling.

The strongest argument for homeschooling is the education that takes place in the public schools, or rather, the lack thereof. Reports on the sorry state of America's schools come out regularly, and it's always interesting to see how many spots we've fallen and what tiny nations (like Luxembourg and the Czech Republic) outscored us academically.

The problem isn't a lack of funding.

Rather, much of it is due to a fondness for egalitarian gestures. As Christopher Lasch observed, "Given the underlying American commitment to the integral high school – the refusal to specialize college preparation and technical training in separate institutions – make-work programs, athletics, extracurricular activities, and the pervasive student emphasis on sociability corrupted not merely the vocational and life-adjustment programs but the college preparatory course as well." People have varying intellectual abilities, and however much it may offend liberals, half the population is below average.

Some people are ready for college work in their early teens and others will never be ready for it, but the school system is largely incapable of adjusting for this. Despite the burgeoning popularity of AP classes and the like, the brightest intellects are still stymied by years of waiting for their peers to catch up. Furthermore, the notion that schooling equates to an education has diluted the currency of a degree, as higher education has become a certification program.

To read the rest of the story go to

Thursday, March 09, 2006

A version of HB750 rears it's ugly head. The education establishments greed never ends and they have the money to buy off both sides of the aisle.

The following was sent to us by Marily Rickert of Fair Tax Now.

I received an alert from my local chamber of commerce which says in part:

On Feb 23, 2005 state Rep. Renee Kosel submitted and is the Chief sponsor of HB 3460 cited as the Local Property Tax Reduction Act which empowers local school districts to propose 2% income tax for schools. This new 2% tax along with the existing 3% state income tax will result in raising our overall income tax burden by 67%.

The Bill provides for the corresponding reduction in property taxes to be temporary if more money is needed by the school district.

This new bill is bad news for privately-owned business owners who reside in a school district that enacts this bill. Corporations are excluded and not subject to this tax, thus making it difficult to compete with owners who reside in a district that does not enact this option against those who live in a district that did.

Marilyn Rickert
It's time to pass the FairTax!
Note: Kosel is a Republican(?) and has a primary challenge

Why Ron Gidwitz should not be governor of Illinois

Dave Ziffer of the sent the following letter to the Chicago Tribune regarding their endorsement of Ron Gidwitz for governor.

Dear Chicago Tribune Editor:

I was very disappointed to read the Tribune’s endorsement of Ron Gidwitz as Republican candidate for governor in the upcoming primary elections. Gidwitz’ plan for education is so illogical that I must wonder whether he could possibly have any other sensible policies.

On his website (at Gidwitz openly acknowledges federal statistics indicating that our public elementary schools are essentially completely incompetent in teaching young children how to read. The failure rate is so high (40% completely illiterate, plus another 30% below grade level) that it indicates total systemic failure. (A system with an even moderate level of competency would have something more like a 2% failure rate.)

Gidwitz’ solution to this problem? He wants to force us to pay for more failure by requiring kids to spend more time with teachers who obviously don’t know what they’re doing (i.e. mandatory kindergarten) and by giving the failed system more license to occupy more of our kids’ time at an even younger age (publicly financed preschool). This makes about as much sense as pumping more money into Enron in the hopes of getting better energy services.

Gidwitz’ proposal to create a “seamless” education system is downright frightening. The same language was used by associates of the Clintons in the early 1990s who were planning to use the Clinton presidency as a springboard for creating an inescapable nationalized school system similar to those in socialist countries. What we need in education is school choice, not a seamless system of failure.

Your endorsement makes sense only if we hope to be choosing between two Democrats this fall. My hope is that other newspapers will endorse Jim Oberweis, a man who offers us a true alternative to the ever-increasing socialist nonsense in Illinois government.

David Ziffer


Public education’s consistent 70% failure rate: The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) has been reporting since 1992 that approximately 40% of our fourth-graders are “below basic” (i.e. functionally illiterate) and an additional 30% are “below proficient” (i.e. struggling) in reading. Please refer to Ninety percent of American children are in public schools. The low end of private school performance tends to dovetail with the upper end of public school performance.

Is a 2% reading failure rate reasonable?: A 98% success rate in teaching reading is a commonly quoted statistic among non-public-education service providers using the same sorts of metrics and sometimes the same metrics as their public school counterparts. During 1997-2002 I ran an after-school reading program servicing primarily “dysfunctional” readers. During that time we achieved a 98% success rate in promoting students’ reading capability one grade level per semester (that’s two grade levels per year), using a combination of licensed teachers and teachers’ aides. All statistics and raw data regarding this program are published at

Associates of the Clintons also gleefully anticipated implementing a “seamless” education system. Check it out at

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Were your children in school today?

The article below appeared at and explains why your teacher may have not been in school today.

he teachers unions are mad at me

By John Stossel

Mar 8, 2006

Teachers unions are mad at me. The New York State United Teachers demands I apologize for my "gutter level" journalism, "an irresponsible assault on public school students and teachers." This is because I hosted an ABC News TV special titled "Stupid in America," which pointed out:

-- American fourth graders do well on international tests, but by high school, Americans have fallen behind kids in most other countries.

-- The constant refrain that "public schools need more money" is nonsense. Many countries that spend significantly less on education do better than we do. School spending in America (adjusted for inflation) has more than tripled over the past 30 years, but national test scores are flat. The average per-pupil cost today is an astonishing $10,000 per student -- $200,000 per classroom! Think about how many teachers you could hire, and how much better you could do with that amount of money.

-- Most American parents give their kids' schools an A or B grade, but that's only because, without market competition, they don't know what they might have had. The educators who conduct the international tests say that most of the countries that do best are those that give school managers autonomy, and give parents and students the right to choose their schools. Competition forces private and public schools to improve.

-- There is little K-12 education competition in America because public schools are a government monopoly. Monopolies rarely innovate, and union-dominated monopolies, burdened with contracts filled with a hundred pages of suffocating rules, are worse. The head of New York City's schools told me that the union's rules "reward mediocrity."

All that angered the unions. But when they criticize my "bias and ignorance," I don't hear them refute the points listed above. They don't refute them because they can't. It's just a fact that rules that insist an energetic, hard-working teacher who makes learning fun must be paid exactly the same as a lazy, incompetent teacher are rules that promote mediocrity.

Ironically, before I did "Stupid in America," the New York teachers union wanted to give me an award. The United Federation of Teachers' Social Studies Conference wrote: "Our organization, ATSS/UFT, would be proud to present you with the Hubert H. Humphrey Humanitarian Award for the outstanding work which you have done for social causes. ... Your development and generous sponsorship of In the Classroom Media provide students with the opportunity to enhance their civics education. This is the highest award that we can give to an individual. Past honorees have included Mario Cuomo, Shirley Chisholm, Charles Schumer, Dolores Huerta, Major Owens, Charles Rangel ... "

Wow! Chuck Schumer, Charlie Rangel and me! Alas, after my education special aired, they decided not to give me the award. Apparently my work with In the Classroom Media -- which provides teachers with videos about the free market -- only helps kids as long as I stay away from the "social cause" most relevant to them: their education.

Instead, teachers' unions announced that Wednesday (3/8), they will hold demonstrations against me and ABC in New York City, Chicago, Atlanta, Detroit, and elsewhere. One police permit suggests the crowd outside my office will number 750-1,000 people. It should be interesting.

"We want to make sure that ABC hears the voices of incredibly hard-working teachers," says the union website, quoting New York City's UFT President Randi Weingarten. "The network needs to hear how unfair and biased those of you in the trenches believe their broadcast to have been."

I'm sorry that union teachers are mad at me. But when it comes to the union-dominated monopoly, the facts are inescapable. Many kids are miserable in bad schools. If they are not rich enough to move, or to pay for private school, they are trapped.

It doesn't have to be that way. We know what works: choice. That's what's brought Americans better computers, phones, movies, music, supermarkets -- most everything we have. Schoolchildren deserve the joyous benefits of market competition too.

Unions say, "education of the children is too important to be left to the vagaries of the market." The opposite is true. Education is too important to be left to the calcified union/government monopoly.

Award-winning news correspondent John Stossel is co-anchor of ABC News "20/20" and author of "Give Me a Break."

182 billion reasons to vote "NO" on education referenda

182 billion reasons to vote "NO" on education referenda. The following letter to the editor appeared in the Daily Herald.
Why all should care about District 15

There are 182 billion reasons why taxpayers in Mundelein (and Peoria and East St Louis) need to care about salary increases at McHenry District 15. This is my answer to Tracy Simon’s letter of Feb 20 justifying 41 percent average salary increases for teachers in District 15 the last four years.

The 182 billion is the amount of taxpayer dollars that will be required to pay teachers pensions over the next 40 years. That’s according to Buck Consultants actuaries for the Teacher Retirement System.

That’s an average of $4.5 billion per year. And pensions are paid at the state level, not at the local referendum level. And since pensions are directly related to salaries, every increase in every school district affects every Illinois taxpayer.

The other issue is transparency or more correctly the absence of transparency. Why did it take someone outside of District 15 to bring up the point of 41 percent increase over four years? Why didn’t Ms. Simon and the school board mention this fact in 2001?

They should have said “We think our teachers are underpaid and we would like them to average 41 percent increases over the next four years, and we are going to tax you accordingly to pay for it.” Either the school board did not know 41 percent raises were in store, which is nonfeasance, or they decided that it was not important that the taxpayer be made aware of the magnitude of the increase, which is malfeasance.

Considering the lack of forthrightness by school boards and administrations in regard to previous referendums and bond issues (as reported by the Daily Herald), I would guess it is the latter. If they had notified the public and the public voted for it then I have no complaint.

Now the public does know, and let’s see what they say on March 21.

Bill Zettler


Monday, March 06, 2006

Teacher accountability

The following letter to the editor appeared in the News Sun on March 6, 2006.

Teacher accountability

For 30 years the NEA has supported Democrats almost 100 percent. From September '04 through August '05, they spent $25 million on political activities and lobbying. They spent another $65.5 million on contributions, gifts and grants. What does the NEA get in return for all of these huge expenditures? They get repeated hikes in educational spending at all levels — federal, state, and local. One more reason why your taxes go up every year.

Any Democrat seeking to improve his party standing must adhere to the NEA educational policy. This includes opposing school choice, advocating smaller class size, hiring more teachers, and very important, blocking all efforts at accountability. Observant taxpayers who live in the school districts covering Gurnee, Winthrop Harbor, and Waukegan understand what lack of accountability means when it comes to the school districts and their continued salary and pension increases.

In view of the above I have three questions:

1) Is it right to have the largest teachers union in the country being so active in the political arena?

2) Is the NEA active in areas they have no business being in?

3) Under the pressure of the NEA policies are our young people really learning what they need to exist in our world of today?

My final comment — due to the lack of accountability, students are not being taught necessities, thus are not learning due to teachers not being held to some level of accountability. Maybe a merit system would provide better teachers on a more consistent basis.

Chuck Guthrie

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Taxes add up

Light reading for Sunday. The piece below appeared in the Friday, March 3, 2006 edition of the Daily Southtown, in the Speak Out section.

Not one of these taxes, 52 of them, existed 100 years ago and our nation was the most prosperous in the world, had absolutely no national debt, had the largest middle class in the world, and only one parent had to work to support the family. What has happened? I hope I have enough time to mention all the taxes: Accounts receivable tax, building permit, capital gains, CDL tax, cigarette tax, corporate income tax, court fines, dog licenses, federal income, federal unemployment, fishing license, food license, fuel permit, gasoline tax, hunting license, inheritance tax, inventory tax, IRS interest charges, IRS penalties, liquor tax, local income tax, luxury taxes, marriage license, Medicare, property, real estate, septic permits, service charge, Social Security, road usage taxes, sales taxes, recreational vehicle, road toll booth, school taxes ...

Sorry, time expired.