Education Needs More Freedom, Not More Money

 

Jess on the benchBack a few weeks ago, Emily Domenech, wrote piece on education spending. My plate was running over like Niagara falls at the time so it got set aside. I’m in the process of catching up, and I think it to be important, so here it is.

 

If you’ve ever spoken to a public school teacher or administrator about how to improve the public-school system, the conversation inevitably comes down to one thing: “If we only had more funding.”

I experienced this firsthand a few days ago at “back to school night” for my daughter’s high school in Arlington County, Virginia, where I heard teacher after teacher talk about how there just wasn’t enough funding to provide opportunities offered in the past: no field trips for earth science, no extra resources for senior project, and certainly no school-sponsored trip to France for advanced French students.

While there’s nothing new about teachers lamenting limited funds, this struck me as particularly odd given the Arlington County Public School budget for fiscal year 2015, which shows yet another increase in spending for the district. Costs per K-12 student rose to $19,040 in this 2015 budget, up 2 percent from last year. Arlington County consistently ranks far above the national average in per-student costs (which, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, was $10,608 p

 

Continue reading Education Needs More Freedom, Not More Money.

 

Thing is, I know nothing about the Arlington County, Virginia schools, but what I have always seen is that the schools tend to be a featherbedder’s paradise. Not so much the teachers as a rule, although some likely are suboptimal. But it has always seemed to me that the administrative tail is ridiculously bloated, and far too much of the work for these districts, is done by connected firms, usually on no bid contracts.

 

I’m inclined to think she is right about the ESAs, I also think that charter schools are an excellent idea, as is homeschooling, or even a cooperative school, which frankly would be an outstanding model for public schools.

 

I have noticed that some British universities are moving towards a fee based tuition. I also note that they are beginning to pay attention to the results that their graduates get in the market. This is a trend that we should embrace and advance.

 

One of the major problems in our urban schools is that they are turning out graduates that are illiterate, innumerate, or both. We and our public schools have failed absolutely with these poor people. And our country is much the poorer in more than one way for it.

 

If we are honest, we know that having Washington involved nearly guarantees failure.  So why aren’t we taking it back at least to the state level, although the township, precinct would be best, I think

 

In short we need to find ways to hold our educational system responsible for results, we our paying them (quite well, too) to educate our boys and girls,. Perhaps we have a right to expect the schools to graduate young men and women that can read and write?

 

Be Strong, and of Good Courage

FVhF8GUBack many years ago before the real beginning of the modern world, back in the heady days not long after Henry VIII had turned England from being an adjunct of Europe to looking out on the world, not long after the Battle of the Solent where Henry beat of Francis I’s French fleet, and lost the Mary Rose. Not long after the smaller although more famous Armada attacked Elizabeth and she beat off the last attempt to re-catholicize England by force. Not long after all these earth-shaking events, Sir Walter Raleigh said.

“Whoever commands the sea, commands the trade; whosoever commands the trade of the world commands the riches of the world, and consequently the world itself.”

Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz reminded us of those words on the day of his retirement as Chief of Naval Operations of the United States Navy.They were true when Raleigh said them, indeed they were true when Athens defeated Sparta, when Rome defeated Carthage, when Nelson triumphed at Trafalgar, when Nimitz triumphed at Tokyo Bay. They are true today.

When you look at HMS Victory in Portsmouth, or when you look at USS Missouri in Pearl Harbor, or USS Constellation in New York you are looking at an artefact of world-wide power, and the reason that the world is mostly free.

The best definition of a superpower is this: A superpower is a country which is able to exert great force far from home. By that standard, there have been two, and only two in modern history, the British Empire, and the United States, and in many ways they have become indistinguishable, to the world’s benefit.

All the others have been able to exert great force, but only regionally. Spain, France, Germany, and now Russia in Europe, and Japan and now China in Asia. They are all regional powers.

For instance, Britain has fought four wars in Afghanistan, Germany and Russia have never fought a war outside of Europe. Britain fought a war in China, America fought Japan all across the Pacific both victoriously

Since that day in 1588 when Medina-Sidonia passed beyond the chance of success, some would say the day when the Golden Hind returned from its circumnavigation, the seas have been ruled by the English Speaking peoples. The modern world has been created by the singular fact that anywhere in the world, at any moment, the situation could be controlled by the militaries of first England and then the United States, and increasingly by both, joined by Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

This is why the world speaks English, this is why the common law is enshrined in so many countries. Indeed this is why the world is as modern as it is.

If you were an Islamic Imam striving to keep your seventh century world intact, would you hate people like these?

Americans energetically pursue commerce, science, medicine, technology and the arts. When these designs are halted by conflict, they energetically pursue absolute, decisive, and ruthless destruction of their enemies. After visiting violence and securing victory they energetically return to the pursuit of commerce, science, medicine, technology and the arts. (from Great Satan’s Girlfriend)

Great Satan, indeed, if your mission is to enslave your followers in the seventh century, because deep in your bones you know your slaves all want to go there, especially all those women and girls you’ve been enslaving and mutilating for millennia. And how uncouth is it when your wonderful warriors are scattered all over the landscape–by a girl. Sometimes, it is good to be hated. Many Nigerian blacks in the nineteenth century hated both the British and American Navies for taking away their living, by ending the slave trade.

Mahan famously said that Napoleon was defeated by “Those distant, storm-tossed ships, never seen by the Grande Armeé, were all that stood between it and world domination.” He was right. And as it was for Napoleon, so it was for Hitler and Tojo, separated by the beleaguered Empire forces in the Levant and the Burma-India theater, and so it was for the Soviet Union, which received its death notice from a young American president in October 1962, when its ships turned back from Cuba.

And so it is today, as the révanchist forces of Islam and Imperial Russia attempt to confront the free world. It is simply a matter of time and will before they, like all enemies of freedom are first contained and then destroyed by free people. The only way for us to lose, is to give up. They will kill many and cause much damage but history says that they cannot win.

Unless we let them.

The Honorable Daniel Hannan had some questions for us last weekend at CPAC

First published on 10 March 2014

The Ebola Firewall

Sorry guys, I’m neck-deep in a project, and the water keeps rising. But here’s Bill Whittle’s current Firewall.

What’s that? Yep, I agree with everything he says here.

Spanish Flu ≠ Ebola Virus; Unless We Make It

spanish_flu_newOK, let’s be honest here, Ebola is not anything to panic about. And there’s little reason it should ever be.

But we also all know the phrase, “Never let a crisis go to waste,” don’t we? And that’s the danger here. Because Obama is a statist and a progressive that believes everything should come from the government. Nor is he the first to put his politics ahead of his duty to the country. And for that matter there is a precedent for Ebola getting completely out of hand. Didn’t know that did you? I didn’t either.

But there is, and it’s a horrid story. It goes back to Woodrow Wilson, who may well be the worst man to ever be president, including Obama. Like him, Wilson was a statist, and a progressive, who thought the Constitution was outdated, and wanted to rule by his prerogative, to use the old term. He pretty much did, especially after we got into the Great War.

And as James Jay Carafano says in the linked article, the last time we made an epidemic/pandemic a national security matter, fifty million (50,000,000) people died, worldwide. Think about that for a minute.

Sufficiently revolted? Yeah, me too. Let’s let him tell part of the story.

Progressives like to expropriate the label of national security to help drive their agendas. Statist, centrally managed, with top-down direction, the national-security model is the perfect vehicle for any policy “crusade,” be it fighting global warming or raising taxes. Thus, for example, when the administration got the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to label the “debt the biggest threat to national security,” it had all the cover needed to press for cutting defense and raising taxes—two cornerstones of President Obama’s progressive political agenda.

But playing “national security” progressive politics with public health can bring outright disaster. When the United States entered World War I, Woodrow Wilson played the national-security card early and often. The war effort became an excuse for everything from jailing political opponents to spying on everyday Americans. But, when the president used a global war as an excuse to preempt sound public-health policy, he reaped a global catastrophe.

In 1917, the war to end all wars was well under way. At Camp Funston within the boundaries of Fort Riley, Kansas, sergeants were turning recruits into doughboys. During their training, the soldiers picked up backpacks, rifles, helmets—and a new strain of flu. They carried all these with them as they traveled from the camp to the railroads, the big cities, the ports and, ultimately, overseas. On every step of the way to the trenches in Western Europe, they spread the deadly disease.

When news of the epidemic reached Washington, the White House decided it was a national-security problem. The British and French desperately needed reinforcements to turn the tide of the war; getting our boys over there was far more important than stopping the spread of the flu over here.

I can understand their thinking, I guess, but it’s simply wrong isn’t it? Was delaying the American deployments until the flu was burned out going to cost the war? Doesn’t seem very likely, does it? And starting a pandemic is pretty callous, even for a progressive.

Of course, so is ignoring the problem to fundraise, campaign, and play golf. Although, the president did cancel a fundraiser and a rally yesterday, so he could look like he was doing his job. What I really detest, along that line is that Wilson kept having mass rallies to sell war bonds.

President Wilson took one precaution. He transferred the Public Health Service to military control. Support the military effort, not the public health, became Surgeon General Rupert Blue’s main mission.

In less than a year, the Kansas outbreak had become a global pandemic. It was commonly referred to as the “Spanish flu.” Spain was a nonbelligerent in the First Word War. The government had not imposed press censorship. As a result, widespread news of the disease’s deadly progress appeared first in Spain. Most assumed that was where the problem started.

In the end, more died from the pandemic than from the war.

Stateside, at a military camp outside of Gettysburg, a young post commander named Dwight David Eisenhower ignored Washington’s advice to ignore the disease. Instead, he developed health protocols that broke the back of the disease’s run through the ranks. Impressed with the success of his methods, the Army ordered Eisenhower to dispatch his staff to other camps to train them on how to rein in influenza.

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Likewise, many American cities got the disease under control only by ignoring the federal government and adopting responsible public-health policies.

See the thing is, even then, how to stop an epidemic was conventional knowledge, likely we didn’t know why, until we figured out germ theory, and all that in the late nineteenth century, but we had known that quarantines worked since the Black Death cost Europe one third of its population in the middle ages.

The moral of the story is not that it’s 1918 all over again. Ebola and influenza are two very different contagious diseases. But this cautionary tale from the last century reminds us is that the best way to deal with a disease outbreak is to follow sound public-health policies, not cloud the issue with the trappings of national security.

H/T Moe Lane

Obama’s Great Big Ebola Error | The National Interest.

All accounts say that Ebola isn’t anywhere near as contagious as the (Spanish) flu. But that is no reason to screw around and generate another pandemic, while playing politics.

Naught For Our Comfort

I doubt that it is news to any of you but, one of the great joys of mine in writing this blog for the last two years has been the help and friendship of Jessica, and her co-author Chalcedon. I admire them both greatly, and one of the reasons for that is that they have rekindled my love for poetry, and you have seen all of us use it to reinforce our points. It is hardly a new method but, it is one used rarely these days. I suspect because most of us are so ill-educated that we are unaware of its richness, and ability to reinforce our point.

If you read much of Lincoln’ writings and speeches, for instance, you will see it used to great effect. For instance his famous, “of the people, for the people, and by the people’ was not original, nor did he claim it was, and his listeners knew it was not. The original is this: “This Bible is for the government of the people, for the people and by the people.” it is by John Wycliffe and it is from 1384.

And so they have enriched my life, and will continue to do so, God willing, and yours as well because it is reflected in my posts for you. And so

A sea-folk blinder than the sea
Broke all about his land,
But Alfred up against them bare
And gripped the ground and grasped the air,
Staggered, and strove to stand.

For earthquake swallowing earthquake
Uprent the Wessex tree;
The whirlpool of the pagan sway
Had swirled his sires as sticks away
When a flood smites the sea.

Our towns were shaken of tall kings
With scarlet beards like blood:
The world turned empty where they trod,
They took the kindly cross of God
And cut it up for wood.

He bent them back with spear and spade,
With desperate dyke and wall,
With foemen leaning on his shield
And roaring on him when he reeled;
And no help came at all.

There was not English armor left,
Nor any English thing,
When Alfred came to Athelney
To be an English king.

It was a very bad time to be King Alfred of Wessex, and I think it holds parallels to our time as well. to continue

“Mother of God” the wanderer said
“I am but a common king,
Nor will I ask what saints may ask,
To see a secret thing.

“But for this earth most pitiful.
This little land I know,
If that which is forever is,
Or if our hearts shall break with bliss
Seeing the stranger go?”

And here we come to my introduction to this epic by Jess, when she quoted to me on one of our political defeats

I tell you naught for your comfort,
Yea, naught for your desire,
Save that the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher

“And this is the word of Mary,
The word of the world’s desire
`No more of comfort shall ye get,
Save that the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher.’

Naught for your  comfort has become a catchphrase for us when things go awry, which has been often these last few years for us Americans, and for Britons as well.

We are living through a failed presidency (or at least trying to) and one of the reasons it has failed is that many of our countrymen have confused Obama with God, and I suspect he has as well. That never turns out well, and it is not here either.

I’m reminded that first class leaders hire the best men they can find to help them, and second class leaders hire third class helpers, and worst of all, third class leaders hire lackeys who will tell them what they want to hear. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

But we are going to have to soldier until after the next election, and hope we find a man (not a god) to help us lead in the rebuilding western civilization, for without our leadership it will fall. It’s going to be an epically hard battle, and we could do worse than to emulate King Alfred.

But remember, we remember King Alfred because he won. Let’s finish with the rest of the poem.

And this was the might of Alfred,
At the ending of the way;
That of such smiters, wise or wild,
He was least distant from the child,
Piling the stones all day.

The King looked up, and what he saw

Was a great light like death,
For Our Lady stood on the standards rent,
As lonely and as innocent
As when between white walls she went
And the lilies of Nazareth.

[…]

They shall not come in warships,
They shall not waste with brands,
But books be all their eating,
And ink be on their hands.

Yea, this shall be the sign of them,
The sign of the dying fire;
And man made like a half-wit,
That knows not of his sire.

What though they come with
scroll and pen,
And grave as a shaven clerk,
By this sign you shall know them
That they ruin and make dark;

By all men bond to nothing
Being slaves without a lord,
By one blind idiot world obeyed
Too blind to be abhorred.

By thought a crawling ruin,
By life a leaping mire,
By a broken heart in the breast
of the world
And the end of the world’s desire.

By God and man dishonored
By death and life made vain
Know ye, the old barbarian,
The barbarian come again

The eternal battle against barbarism is ours to win for our generation or to lose for generations to come. It has taken us a thousand years to get where we are, and it might take longer to recover. So, Stand Fast, my friends.

Did that interest you enough to wonder about the poem and its author? I hope so. It was written by G.K. Chesterton (and its much longer than the excerpts here) it’s called The Ballad of the White Horse. You can find it at Project Gutenberg.

The way to defeat jihadis is to offer something better

Daniel Hannan has an outstanding article up on the Telegraph yesterday. He is talking about how to defeat the young Brits that wish to be jihadis. The thing is, you never defeat something with nothing, he’s right.

British history, like its niece American history, is the story of man’s ascent from slavery to individual liberty. In great measure, it is a story that is one of the most attractive in the world. But we have allowed it to be corrupted, by those who use it for  political ends, who have convinced many that Britain, and America, are evil incarnate.  We, like the Brits, have allowed this to creep in, unnoticed, over the years until this evil nonsense is what is being taught to our children as our history.

There are things in our histories that are cringeworthy, but that is true of everyone’s history. There is also the fact that of all the peoples in the world, the Anglo-Americans have done more for the individual, than anybody else.

And in a related matter, our young people are looking for something when they join the jihad, or even when they convert to Islam. I think they look for certainty, a system that knows right from wrong, good from evil. Islam is a system that is flawed of course, It reflects the flawed nature of its founder, and is easily corrupted to evil, if it is not evil in itself.

But, one knows that there is another system in the world that does the same thing, it offers a choice, and a stark one, between good and evil, but unlike Islam, it while rooted in antiquity, has grown. The wisest men of the last 2000 years have contributed to it, and enriched it.

But it, like Anglo-American history, has been greatly maligned and diluted, both from within and without. But also like our history, the record is still there, and accessible, we merely need to read, learn and share it.

A Polish friend, an MEP of my sort of age, was telling me the other day about how his life changed when Pope John Paul II toured his home country. The papal visit set in train the events that led to the Gdansk protests and, in due course, the unravelling of the tyranny. But my friend added a detail that I had never before appreciated. “The Holy Father never directly condemned the Communist authorities,” he said. “He didn’t need to. He was offering something better”.

When you put it like that, it’s obvious, isn’t it? Offer something better. It worked during the recent Scottish referendum. For months, Unionists had warned of the horrors that would follow from separation: companies leaving, markets collapsing, Scotland left without a currency. The more frenetically they warned, the further they fell behind in the polls. Only in the closing days did the “No” campaign make the positive argument it should have made all along: the UK was doing pretty darned well, Scots were prospering within it, and it was silly to discard a precious thing. That was when the polls turned.

Continue reading  The way to defeat British jihadis is to offer something better

And that is the thing that I find so frustrating, Anglo-American history is the story of man’s ascent from slavery to freedom, and its sharing all over the world. It is one of the most remarkable and uplifting stories ever writing, and written in blood by the common man.

And the other story that I referred to above is even greater, although the two are intimately entwined. Because the story of Christianity is also a story of free will, and enlightenment. It has justly been called The Greatest Story Ever Told, and it is. It the story of man’s civilization, from a violent past. Only Christianity has developed, and lived by a ‘Just War Theory’ . The rest still live by the rule of the most powerful, while we live by the ‘Rule under and through the law’ and apply y it not only to ourselves but even to those who presume to rule us.

That is what President Reagan, Prime Minister Thatcher, and Pope (St.) John Paul II used to defeat the Evil Empire of the Soviet Union.

It is a wonderful uplifting story. Because something always defeats nothing, and humanism, and Islam, are nothing, Simply the rule of the powerful.

Be For Something, Something Good

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