Michigan

No.1 Reason why the Left rant about Charter Schools: Fear of Success!

There are only 5 Charter School in NZ so far. The unions rant about them, misrepresent them and exaggerate their funding. Hipkins and Cunliffe (who also exaggerate their funding) refuse to even visit, let alone explain – face to face – to parents and children why they threaten to close down something that is working already. See South Auckland Middle School or Vanguard Military School.

As the data set grows for Charter Schools the NZ Left’s biggest fear is exactly what is occurring – success and community empowerment without union or centralised control. Keep in mind that the NZ Left is years behind the play (best guess – 1970s) – Obama’s administration does understand that education is for children and their families.

The other thing that is clearly frightening NZ’s left is that major philanthropists in the US are seeing that the schools are avoiding the bureaucratic black holes of time and money and are actually getting results for needy kids – therefore they are prepared to help.

The Philanthropy Roundtable of the USA have just issued a book: From Promising to Proven about Charter Schools in the USA. It will frighten the unions and the political Left in NZ so much that they will avidly avoid reading it (as will most of the MSM). They prefer to blame the economy for any education failure and to see schools and teachers as helpless victims. The book has a different message so a number of points are summarised for them here (full references are in the book):

Bill Gates explains that after his foundation decided in the mid‑1990s to focus on U.S. schooling, it poured about $2 billion into various education experiments. During their first decade, he reports, “many of the small schools that we invested in did not improve students’ achievement in any significant way.” There was, however, one fascinating exception.

“A few of the schools that we funded achieved something amazing. They replaced schools with low expectations and low results with ones that have high expectations and high results.” And there was a common variable: “Almost all of these schools were charter schools.”

Other philanthropists had the same experience. Eli Broad, one of the biggest givers to education in the U.S., observed that “charter school systems are delivering the best student outcomes, particularly for poor and minority students. They are performing significantly better than the best traditional school district systems.” Ted Mitchell of the NewSchools Venture Fund drew some bold bottom lines: “Good charter schools have pretty much eliminated the high-school dropout rate. And they’ve doubled the college‑going rate of underserved kids.”

Some broad strengths of charter schools

  • They attract more entrepreneurial principals and teachers into the field of education
  • School autonomy allows wide experimentation with new ways of educating
  • This same flexibility is used to circumvent bureaucratic obstacles that often block conventional schools from succeeding
  • Charters sidestep the dysfunctional labor relations of many urban districts
  • They erode monopolies and introduce competitive energy into public education
  • Research shows that charters are more effective at recruiting teachers who graduated in the top third of their college class
  • Charters give parents who cannot afford private schools, or moving, another choice besides their neighborhood school
  • They give nonprofits and community organizations practical opportunities to improve the education of local children
  • Their emphasis on student outcomes fosters greater accountability for results
  • By functioning as laboratories and alternatives, charters foment change in conventional schools as well

In the 2013 U.S. News and World Report rankings of public high schools, for instance, 41 charters made it into the top 200. Read more »

DIY Stonehenge – no mystery at all

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Didn’t Obama already save Detroit?

Over the weekend Detroit finally declared bankruptcy, pushed under by a debt burden of locked in spending promises and shrinking tax revenues. But during the 2012 presidential campaign we were repeatedly told that Obama had saved Detroit…but did he?

The news that the city of Detroit is declaring bankruptcy may not surprise many observers who were aware of how economic decline, shrinking population, the burden of huge public employee contracts and political corruption was leading inevitably to this outcome. But it might come as something of a shock to the vast majority of Americans whose only thoughts about the subject prior to today were framed by the demagoguery on the issue that came from President Obama’s reelection campaign. As we all recall, Democrats spent a good deal of 2012 telling us that “General Motors is alive and Osama bin Laden is dead” and hounding Mitt Romney for saying that Detroit would be better off going bankrupt rather than being bailed out by the federal government. But yesterday we learned that all the sunny talk about what Obama had accomplished did nothing to save the city.

Now will come the weasel words…politicians have plenty of those.

Of course, Democrats will say that when they were talking about “Detroit” last year, they were just using the word as shorthand for the automobile industry and not referring to the Motor City itself. But the memory of the way the president pounded Romney on the issue should do more than point out Obama’s hypocrisy. The collapse of what was once one of America’s great cities should also inform us about the way the liberal project is dooming municipal and state governments around the country as well as Washington to a sea of debt that cannot be sustained. Detroit isn’t just the most spectacular example of urban blight. It’s the poster child for the consequences of liberal governance.   Read more »

Michigan has spanked the unions

Michigan has spanked the unions and defeated provisions that would have seen unions given veto control over state laws. It is astonishing that unions can spend so much of members money campaigning on patch protection measures.

Unions went for broke in Michigan and they lost big time.

Michigan voters soundly defeated a measure that would have given public-sector unions a potent tool to challenge any law — past, present or future — limiting their benefits and powers. It would also have permanently barred Michigan from becoming a right-to-work state where payment of dues is no longer required as a condition of employment in unionized companies.

Will this defeat now open the right-to-work floodgates?

Although both sides raised a whopping $20-plus million for their campaigns, ultimately the proposal lost by a wide margin because of opposition across the political spectrum. Both theDetroit News and the Detroit Free Press, the state’s flagship conservative and liberal papers respectively, counseled a “no” vote. The Free Press, usually an ardent supporter of collective- bargaining rights, concluded: “Michigan just can’t afford those kinds of limitations in an era when debt from pension and health obligations to current and retired employees are pushing many local governments to the brink of insolvency.”

All of this would have rung the death knell for the last two years of fiscal reforms by GovernorRick Snyder, a moderate Republican, paving the way for future tax increases on individuals and businesses. This would have been economically devastating for Michigan, which went into a recession several years before the rest of the country — and is only now beginning to post a slow recovery. Its unemployment is still about a point above the national average.

The unions may wish they had never overplayed their hand in this battle. They were field-testing a strategy to take back existing right-to-work states that allow legislative action through ballot referendums.

Wednesday Weapons – Why the terrorists will never win

I read this post at Federalist Paupers and thought about the parallels here in new Zealand after the tragic killing of Rosemary Ives. There were a great many calls from gun-grabbing liberals for tighter controls on firearms, without them thinking that the controls were quite tight enough and that Andrew Mears broke every single one of them with his stupid action. The point was missed utterly about how few people actually get killed or injured during hunting, and the fact that it is actually more dangerous driving to recreational areas than being in them.

The post at Federalist Paupers nicely provides some numbers and some facts that counteracts the gun-grabbers. The post also nicely shows why no one will ever successfully cow the United States, either politically or externally.

The state of Wisconsin has gone an entire deer hunting season without someone getting killed. That’s great. There were over 600,000 hunters.

Allow me to restate that number. Over the last two months, the eighth largest army in the world – more men under arms than Iran; more than France and Germany combined – deployed to the woods of a single American state to help keep the deer menace at bay.

But that pales in comparison to the 750,000 who are in the woods of Pennsylvania this week. Michigan’s 700,000 hunters have now returned home. Toss in a quarter million hunters in West Virginia, and it is literally the case that the hunters of those four states alone would comprise the largest army in the world.

These numbers are part of why those of us who grew up in rural parts of the country simply don’t comprehend the gun-grabbing impulses of some. Every single year, millions of Americans carry high power rifles into the woods and more or less do as they please – some shoot at deer, some just drink a lot – and it is a complete non-story. The number of people injured and killed by these guns will pale in comparison to those injured and killed in driving accidents during the same time period.

But however well or badly we handle our guns, woe will befall he who thinks he can conquer America. 500 years ago, Machiavelli compared ancient Persia with then-modern France. Persia was highly centralized, so the emperor was firmly in control of all parts of his realm, and could muster enormous numbers of men to any part of the country. But if you could defeat that army and the central authority that raised it, then you would almost immediately control the whole nation, as Alexander showed. Medieval France, on the other hand, was very decentralized, with petty dukes controlling small centers of power throughout the country. Because of this, the king of France had only marginal control over vast swaths of his country , but no invader could stand a chance at conquering France because of all the small bands of local opposition.

I wish N.M. was around today, if only to hear the praise he would have for a nation that every year assembles and then disbands the world’s largest army purely for the purpose of managing its deer population. For millenia, philosophers have pondered how one can maintain a well-armed population that can fend off all attackers, while simultaneously maintaining ordered governance.  In America, we’ve fulfilled this dream, and we’ve done it so well and so effortlessly that no one seems to have noticed.

That kind of puts things into perspective and shows up the nonsense of the gun-grabbing liberal elite who have never had the pleasure of  tracking, and matching guile and stealth with deer or any other animal. Ironically the same greenie gun-grabbers that want to stop hunters are also the ones wanting to rid the country of deer and other pests, they seem quite happy to dump literally thousands of tonnes of toxic poison on our forests but don’t want people to enjoy the outdoors and dispatch a few pests along the way.

In the US deer hunting, for example, is largely limited to defined seasons. Here in New Zealand we would be better to manage our deer populations by changing the laws to remove them from the noxious pest list and to instead create a new tourism industry encouraging people to come to Ne Zealand seeking trophy animals. The only thing stopping this is the dogmatic instance of DoC and the green lobby for the total eradication of deer from New Zealand, something that is unachievable and un-needed.

It is high time that the facts were shown to politicians in a meaningful way and that isn’t through Peter Dunne. He pretends to support hunters and fisherman and yet he hasn’t done a single thing for them. Far better would be the establishment of list of hunting and fishing friendly MPs, so that people who enjoy the outdoors can see for themselves whether or not their local MP is on their side or not.