Category Archives: education

I THINK … I think a minor overreaction by a person should not cause a major overreaction by government.

Francis Hajosy (pictured left) is a 54-year-old high school teacher in Stafford, Connecticut. He threatened an unruly female student with taking her over his knee for an old fashion spanking for refusing to take her feet of the desk and sit properly. She raised the ante by taking a can of spray glue and defiantly shooting it to the air. When he grabbed her, she starting kicking at him. There was a bit of a scuffle, but Hajosy apparently managed to get her over his knee at least long enough to apply three or four slaps on her butt.

I think we could all agree that his handling of the situation was a bit extreme … things escalated. Minimally, he needed to be sent to the principal’s office, as they say. Assuming that this was an exceptional situation in an otherwise exemplary teaching career, I see this as something to be handled by school administrators, with apologies and punishment all around.

There are still a lot of well educated people alive today who can remember corporal punishment as a routine part of school discipline – especially in the Catholic school system I attended. The criminalization of academic corporal punishment and the decline of quality education are pretty much similar chronological charts. I am not sure that this is an unrelated coincidence. Lack of classroom discipline is a major factor in failed educational systems. However, I will leave that argument for others.

Instead of some administrative discipline, Hajosy was arrested and charged with second-degree breach of the peace (whatever in Hell that is) and fourth-degree sexual assault. A judge issued a protective order against Hajosy. He was suspended from his job indefinitely. Out on $5000 bond, he faces years in jail and a life of a registered sex offender – not to mention thousands of dollars in legal fees from criminal charges and a possible civil suit. Right or wrong, win or lose, this case can screw up his life for years to come.

Frankly, I don’t see sexual motivation in his actions. This is just another example of the neo-puritanical component of political correctness that runs in conflict with the flagrantly liberalized sexual mores of our times. Without further evidence, his motivation seemed to be punishment, and his flaw was an anger that blew away his common sense and good judgment at the moment. Happens to us all, at times.

I know all the anal retentive, politically correct libs are going to be outraged over my opinion on this matter. They will produce a litany of “what ifs.” They will wax on about some imaginary psychological scar that will doom this young lady to a life of therapy. They will elevate her humiliation to the level of trauma when, in fact, punishment and humiliation are Siamese twins. You cannot have one without the other. The strident left-wing feminists will call Hajosy’s actions a form of rape (which is a cruel disservice to anyone who really has been raped), and declare both Hajosy and me as insensitive male pigs.

Let me stress, I am not endorsing his actions, but think the punishment should fit the crime – or in my opinion the non-crime, in this case.

What we really have here is another small example of an overreaching government. Every problem in our lawyer-ruled society must be handled by the lawyer-run legislative, juridical or enforcement communities. I wonder if we will close the loop with a civil suit filed by parents against Hajosy, the school, the local board of education and whoever else some opportunistic attorney wishes to put on the list — and on behalf of parents who are more motivated by money than justice.

With a sex component, Hajosy may well be placed into some government sex counseling program – which is intended to bring his thinking around to what he most likely already knows and embraces. These thought adjustment programs scare me. While seeming innocent enough at first glance, they smack of the thought control agencies depicted in futuristic sci-fi movies and novels and, for real, in the old Cold War Communist regimes in Russia and China.

When we are not allowed to settle difference between ourselves, or with minimal civic involvement, we are succumbing, inch by inch, to the oppression of a police state. One of the common retorts of yore was, “don’t make a federal case out of it.” In other words, don’t make it more than it is. Today, we seem to see government involvement as the first and only option.

As a parent, what would I do if this had happened to my daughter? First, I would want to know what behavior on her part caused the confrontation in the first place. I would want to know why she was unruly, disobedient and disruptive. I would talk to Hajosy and the principal in private to have them explain the behavior. I would demand an apology, BUT without absolving my daughter’s culpability.

In other words, I would have both Hajosy and my daughter sitting in the corner with the proverbial dunce cap. My fear is that Hajosy will be made a perverted criminal, and the girl’s bad behavior is not dealt with. I can almost see the smug look on her face. That would not be a good outcome for anyone.

>REACT: Pay-for-Grades … more nonsense from education industry

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As a long time education consultant, I take a special interest in the subject of urban education. I never cease to be amazed at the idiotic stuff the education industry comes up with to pretend to reform our city school systems which they do not really wish to reform. That is why decades of so-called “reforms” have failed at the bottom line – student performance.

These are the folks who have jerry-rigged test scores to make results look better. They promoted black vernacular under some notion that black students cannot learn English. They produce Spanish-only education, insuring that Hispanics will not matriculate successfully into the American culture (<= read that, good jobs). They invented “social promotions” to shove ill-prepared kids out of their classrooms and schools. They keep students held prisoners in substandard schools rather than embrace school choice. They have opposed every effort to rid the schools of unqualified and underperforming teachers. Because diplomas are now meaningless as indicators of a student’s knowledge, the education lobby offers special senior year testing to see who has skill levels and who does not. They have shortened the school day and school year to provide more time off for teachers and less education time for students. (You wonder why the Asian education system is killing us).

Now cometh the newest doomed-to-failure idiocy from the folks in Chicago.
In 20 schools students will receive cash on the barrel head for grades. Not only does this create the wrong incentives. It violates every notion of the purpose of education as a life-long process. More importantly, however, it will further corrupt an already corrupt system. With that added incentive of money (the source of all corruption), students, parents and teachers will game the system. We will see superficial success in the improvement in grades, but it will not indicate an improvement in learning. The system will dumb down the grades even further to get the money. Simple as that.
This is a form of bribery – paying money for something that should be accomplished without monetary compensation. Oh! Wait! This is Chicago, where bribery, of one sort or another, is the only way to get things done.
We are not talking allowance and lunch money. A straight-A student in one of the select school can “earn” up to $4000. But even Cs can get you money. Being average, even mediocre, is no barrier to financial rewards. The kids get half the money with the grade, and the other half is reserved for them until they graduate.
Now, my cynical mind wants to know … where is the reserved money kept? Is it just a down the line expense that will have to be funded later. That’s one of the major problems already. Or … will the money be preserved in some sort of escrow account that can be manipulated for maximum political benefit like the underfunded retirement accounts? Either way it is a loser for the taxpayers.
Presumably, if this “experiment” is successful, all Chicago students well reap the rewards. Students who naturally get A’s simply now get a windfall of money from the cash starved school system and the overburdened taxpayers. This idea generated out of the academia sector of the education industry – specifically the Education Laboratory of Harvard University. In other words, we have a theoretical solution from those who spend their life with theoretical problems. I would be more impressed if Harvard would launch a program to pay there students for good grades. Don’t hold your breathe for that one.
Well, for a while this will produce some faux results, and eventually slip in the recycle bin of history only to be replaced by yet another non-start idea from and industry more interested in the appearance of reform than the reality. Urban education will not improve until we get it out of the hands of the entrenched liberal establishment that sees the primary purpose of education as the perpetuation of their political power.

>REACT: Thank God and John Walton for Wal-Mart.

>Wal-Mart just introduced the $199 computer. More about that below, but first a little preface …

The broad phalanx attack on Wal-Mart by the various battalions of liberal activists is typical of their hatred of the free market system, free trade and free just-about-anything-else — except lunch.

The unions grouse about Wal-Mart resisting representation – representation which would do nothing more than increase the costs of goods for the American consumer and make the fat cat leaders of labor a little fatter. They tell how Wal-Mart is paying wages in Asia that are a fraction of the American worker. They forget to mention that you can buy a bushel of corn in China for 12 cents. My tailor makes my pin-stripped power suits for under $100. I can leave KFC stuffed for about a buck and a half. I had $3000 worth of dental work (American dentist estimate) completed beautifully in China for $400. Also had a physical and the complete blood test cost me a Jefferson. (No, not a nickel. Geeez. A two dollar bill.)

In China, Wal-Mart is lifting tens of thousands of people out of poverty at every step of the supply chain. If Wal-Mart was such a damned awful employer, why is it when they open a store in China the job application line runs from Beijing to Shanghai? Unions also grouse about how poorly Wal-Mart treats its American workers. Same question. Why do they receive thousands of applications at every store?

Some of the alderman in my Chicago home town city council are fighting hard to keep Wal-Mart out of the Windy City – thus denying their constituents much-needed jobs and lower prices, and the city coffers some tax revenue. What is their motivation? Blind hatred with a dash of stupidity. Of course, that is only an opinion.

Then there is the crowd that complains that Wal-Mart’s lower prices are ruining the market. Pause and ponder here folks. These libs are so whacko that they think higher prices are good thing – competition is a bad thing. They say higher prices means more pay for the workers. Well, a lot of those wage gains will be eaten up by the higher prices…..duh. And the over-paid union leaders seem completely oblivious to the fact that a company also must serve its stockholders and the consuming public – and there are a lot more of them than workers. Wal-Mart has been a key player in bringing down the prices of tens of thousands of consumer products, even in the face of modest inflation. These are real dollar reductions, not the theoretical stuff we get from economists and accountants. Tee shirts that were once $14 are now $5.

One of my more liberal friends (and yes I DO have liberal friends – quite a few, in fact) criticized Wal-Mart for practically putting FAO Schwartz out of business. If you are not familiar with them, they are a trendy upscale toy store that catered to the rich and famous. It seems that nasty old Wal-Mart began selling a lot of the same toys for a fraction of the prices charged by FAO to the price-is-no-object crowd. (Since my friend’s heart is bleeding for FAO, the term “limousine liberal” suddenly jumped into my mind.)

This is how the free market and competition works. This is a good thing. I mean, yeah, I am sorry to see FAO become more like a Macy toy department. They were a fun store. However, price rules for most people – as it should.

Now … about those $199 computers. I can’t wait for the libs to figure out how to criticize this one.

The left pays a lot of attention to public education (which, in and of itself, serves as an example of the failure of their philosophy). They like to think that they are the vanguard of progressive and innovative education. Everyone agrees that getting computers in the hands of students at an early age is a good thing. The education industry has expressed that need for decades (ever since Al Gore invented the Internet).

The fear and reality is that the computer age created yet another gap between the “haves” and the “have nots.” Those financially-challenged kids trapped in the liberal-run city school systems are at the greatest disadvantage. The affluent parents are buying their kids thousands of dollars of cutting edge electronics to support education, while the kids in the inner city schools are getting the benefit of electronic metal detectors to eliminate cutting edges of a different sort.

There have been scores of programs to try to provide computers. The Holy Grail was always held out to be the $199 computer. Most programs fell far short of success because of the cost of the equipment. Now cometh that nasty old Wal-Mart again, this with the $199 computer. Suddenly, the dream of every kid having a laptop is inching toward reality.

Just think of the impact on our children when we can finally bring modern technology to the disadvantaged. (We do not call them disadvantaged for nothing, folks). There have been tons written on the enormous benefits of computers for kids, so you can only imagine the impact Wal-Mart pricing will have on education.

Next time you hear one of these liberal groups kicking about Wal-Mart, just remember those kids who are getting a better education – something the lip-service libs and the kids-last unions have failed to do for a generation or two.

The free market works. Alleluia!

>SPECIAL INVESTIGATIVE REPORT!! Skullduggery in Chicago Olympic bid.

>Rumors abound that not only is Chicago Mayor Richard Daley attempting to bamboozle the International Olympic Committee to award the 2016 games to Chicago to save his political posterior in the wake of the unending string of scandals, but he is secretly attempting to introduce new events to the IOC which are designed to ensure that Chicagoans and Illinoisans win a disproportionate share of gold, silver and bronze medals. Other Illinois officials have joined in the effort to lobby the IOC

They have secretly proposed the introduction of a series of Olympic “civic” events. Due to my dogged sleuthing (even out doing The Drudge Report), I am now able to reveal the details of this plot. Here are the events they have proposed.

Job Placement I (cronyism): This event is simply judged on the number of political pals placed on the public payroll. Contestants are judged on not only the number, but also the rank and pay scale of the placed employees. Yet to be settled is the inclusion or exclusion of lucrative contract holders. Some argue that this is already incorporated in the Public Trough Feeding event (see below). With its long and colorful history of raw politics, Chicago has obvious advantages over other contenders. Several of the strongest players were previous winners of the World Shakman Cup.

Job Placement II (nepotism): This event is similar to Job Placement I except it deals only with the number of family members placed on the public payroll. With major politicians claiming so many “cousins,” qualification verification is expected to be difficult. Cook County President Todd Stroger is already in training and could be a strong contender. However, he will be hard pressed to challenge the long established Irish politicos, who literally invented the sport. The Mayor is pushing to have his brothers judge this event.

Under the Table Kick-Back: Government employees, in performing their civil duties are judged on how much money they can secure from citizens in need of services, permits, etc. Volunteered bribery, while quite lucrative, is excluded from the competition. The stack-o-cash qualifying event requires participants to secure the greatest amount of cash in the shortest amount of time – and no bill more than $100.

Official Corruption Marathon: This is the big kahuna of the proposed new events, with all-star competitors. Winners will be judged on the number of scandals that occur directly under their administrative rule. Indictments and convictions will be especially useful. Mayor Daley, himself, would have been a run-away favorite for the gold in this category, but Governor Rod Blagojevich is making a serious effort for the top medal. Many thought this event would be a Democrat sweep. However, Republican jail-bound Governor George Ryan looks like a potential medal winner. The Nobel Prize nomination is not expected to hurt his chances for a corruption award. He is also the only contender actually convicted of corruption. This could put him in contention for a gold medal. However, it is no small irony that the gold medal in this event will not be won according to the rules, but will most likely be stolen by the person most adroit at breaking the rules.

The Featherbed Beer Run: Government workers are judged on the most unproductive hours on payroll. Extra points can be gained by being totally away from the work environment while being paid. Back room card games, sports events and motel trysts are among the more popular work day escapes. The event gets its name for the propensity of government to employ needless workers, and the ubiquitous beer guzzling that takes on shift. There is a major loss of points for being the subject of the semi annual newspaper expose on malingering public workers. Instead of the traditional Olympic medal, the winner of this event will receive a gold brick.

Education Dodge Ball: The winner of this event will be determined by the number of public school children who will go uneducated. While drop-out rates are significant, the big point gainer is actually graduating an uneducated student in the “social promotion.” Overall winners will have to do well in the “phony truant report” event. The medals in this event are almost certain to fall to the major American cities. Look for Chicago, once declared to be the worst school system in America, to be a top contender for the gold.

Public Trough Feeding Frenzy: This is one of the few proposed events where well-connected private citizens will compete. Contestants will be judged on both the number of contracts and the total cumulative value. Extra points will be given as part of the ‘Inferior Work Rip-Off” event. Inferior work resulting in permanent injury or death of innocent people can boost the point score significantly. Look for Tony Rezko and Bill Cellini to duke it out for the gold in this one, with Bill Kjellander picking up the bronze.

Airport Demolition Smack Down: This is likely to be a relatively exclusive event. Spectacular as it can be, there are very few contenders – especially if military bombings are eliminated from the event, as Mayor Daley demands. He is arguably the world’s leading civilian airport destroyer, and would mostly likely pick up the gold.

Taxpayer Raping: Always popular with the political contestants. Here public officials are judged not only on the sheer level of taxation, but on creativity as well. Hidden taxes, in the form of mandates, will garner extra points. Misuse of taxpayer money also can produce additional points. More points for tax increases which do not improve services, and even more if services are reduced in the face of the tax increase. Many consider higher taxes for fewer services to be the Holy Grail in this event. For those anticipating a salacious contest please be aware that the name is only symbolic.

Jailhouse Torture Tournament: In this event, contestants will be judged both on the number of people they can torture in the shortest time and the effective use of torture devices. Special emphasis is on creativity and effectiveness. Yet to be decided is whether contestants will be allowed to use any device, as an indication of creativity (the City Hall preference), or be limited to such devices as electric generators, billy clubs (a long Chicago sports tradition), rubber hoses, brass knuckles. Maximum pain with minimum physical evidence is important. There is some controversy over anal penetration events. It is more a matter of esthetics than effectiveness. John Burge is a local favorite for the gold, but some say there are many more currently unknown contenders.

Minority Profiling Relay: Another of the so-called “law enforcement events,” it will require contestants to carry innocent minority individuals through the judicial system – from driving tickets to false imprisonment. Special points are given for false arrests and advancing cases that have no merit whatsoever. Sub-events, such as “evidence planting” and “prosecutorial abuse,” will be key to victory. Contestants with racial profiling experience are expected to dominate this event.

Cops as Robbers on the Run: This law enforcement event is strictly for police officers. Winners are determined by the amount of cash and the cash value of merchandise stolen from the public. Additional points are given for pocketing evidence form the scene of a crime, and even more for stealing evidence out of the police lock up. While accepting bribes for not issuing tickets is included, such low level corruption will not take a medal.

Mafia Marksmanship: Though the Mob has been out of practice in recent years, it was felt that, with Chicago’s Capone reputation, there should be a least one event honoring so many great Chicago personalities. Only “made” mobsters, with funny nicknames, are eligible. There are two major events. The first requires the accumulation of “intimidation money.” Extra points for money extracted as a result of severe beatings, with permanent injury good for bonus points. However, killing the victim is a disqualifier. Rules forbid accidental killing, and planned killing falls into the second major Majia event – and will be much more exciting for the audience. It measures the number of hits. Wounding does not qualify. The Whack Job event is judged on the importance of the decedent, the method of extermination and creative body disposal. Team Hoffa could be real contenders. Flawless from hit to disposal. On the other hand, Team Spilotro lacks Olympic stature. Nice hit, but botched burial. Didn’t they know that every two-bit amateur killer buries the bodies in Indiana? The names of the judges in this event are being withheld since the first three named are now missing – perhaps to Olympic training.

Rejected Events: A number of City Hall’s recommended events did not make it past first review by the IOC. The proposed Friend Shedding event was to judge contestants by the number of friends cut off in the face of scandal. The rapidity of such excommunications was to be a major consideration. However, this event was vetoed by the Committee because it appeared to have been proposed solely to insure Mayor Daley a gold medal. The same fate befell the proposed Official Public Temper Tantrum event — for the same reason.

In a similar vein, the Nutty Official event, proposed by Governor Blagojevich, will not be considered due to his pre-emption of the field. The Governor tried to convince the Committee that being recognized as a gold medal nut would be good for his career. To draw a comparison, the Governor explained how having almost every member of the legislature vote against his tax package was his greatest legislative victory. However, the IOC determined that the very idea to be a bit nutty.

The IOC also rejected Todd Stoger’s suggestion of a medal for Not So Bright Offspring of Powerful Politicians. They did not feel it was a very bright idea. In fact, they were not ever sure what the event would be. On the same basis, the OIC summarily rejected former Governor Ryan’s proposal for an event designed for Nobel Prize Nominees Currently in Jail.

State and city officials are lobbying hard against the proposed Convicted Public Official event. In this event, contestants would be judged on the number of public officials they have indicted and convicted. More points for higher-ranking officials. Though his would undoubtedly bring the gold to Illinois, city and state official believe the competition would generate too much enthusiasm among prosecutors, and could deplete the state and local governments of most of the current public officials. Mayor Daley argues that this event would be a set up for U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who, according to the Mayor, is not even his cousin.

Finally, the IOC rejected City Hall’s suggestion for a Snow Removal Race noting that this was the summer Olympics. The Mayor countered that he has several cousins with snow making equipment who would cover the course in several feet of snow. “Nobody knows how to do a snow job better then we do,” the Mayor argued.

>REACT: What’s next? An eleven-inch ruler

>If you do not believe government bureaucrats exist in a nether world of surrealism, then consider this.

The new contract between the Chicago public schools and the teachers’ union shortens the school year by approximately two weeks – essentially knocking off the June weeks.

At a time when America is losing the educational edge to the populous “backward” nations like China and India, the pressure is on to expand the school year. The most progressive education advocates talk of year-round schooling. Not only is this an educational advantage, but in today’s society, full time schooling conforms better to the career life of two-income families. The traditional school schedule is predicated on the anachronistic requirement to have the kids home for the summer farm chores.

Now cometh the Chicago Teachers’ Union and their cronies at the Board of Education. They have an explanation as to why less time at more money is better for the children – and the taxpayer.

This ought to get a really good belly laugh out of you.

By adding a marginal 15 minutes to each school day, the students will receive greater educational benefit than those two weeks on the eve of summer vacation. So, school administrator, Arne Duncan, suggests — with a straight face and I suspect crossed fingers – that the public school kids will get better quality time out of those few additional moments a day than two weeks of full time tutoring.

He proffers the idea that those two pesky weeks in June are really rather useless – not a lot of good quality education going on. After all, the kids are daydreaming of summer plans and the teachers are suffering from a form of “exit attitude.” Duncan does not explain why this same form of psychological meltdown would not occur in the last two weeks of May.

Also, the logic that a few minutes at the fudgey end of a school day can be equated with several full days of academic requirement is lost on me. How does that work? You add three minutes to each class? If you do the math, even those silly add-on minutes do not compensate for all the lost time.

(Hey, this gives me an idea. I am going to have my family add ten minutes to each meal, and then completely skip eating for a month or two.)

Furthermore, how professional are our Chicago teachers if they simply “lose it” when the weather warms up? My children were blessed with suburban public school educations or, in one case, a private school education. I do not recall a similar seasonal dysfunction in those institutions. Just this past June, we noted that our son’s teachers were pedal-to-the-metal within 24 hours of the close of the school year. It would appear the year-end malady is unique to Chicago public schools.

Basically, the new contact deal is grounded in the same philosophy that has produced all the old deals. It is very simple. The union fights for more money and less work – the children be damned.

Arguably, the group most responsible for the shameful and tragic decline of the Chicago school system is the union. With the complicity of weak or duplicitous administrators and cohort politicians, the union has been able to rape the public treasury of every well-intentioned new dollar the taxpayers coughed up. It is not about funding education. It is about funding union demands, and the political clout of billions of dollars in expenditures and pension investments – and those millions in campaign contributions.

As a person who was involved in several contract negotiations for both the Chicago and Detroit boards of education, I will tell without fear of refutation: I have never seen a time where the school unions placed the welfare of the student in the classroom above the narrow demands designed to strengthen the union. Never.

I like to remind people that the teachers’ union is not an educational institution. It is a private membership organization. Greater membership, more dues and growing pension funds are their objective. The public treasury is the means. Education is just the vehicle.

Once again, the school children of Chicago will be harmed for the sake of union peace – at any price.