Tag Archives: President George W. Bush

Book Review: DRIVEN BEYOND SUCCESS by Edward Primoff

2014-03-22 16.19.49Rating: 5/5 Stars

Recommended Audience: Advanced middle school student to adult

Genre: Autobiography

I was provided a copy of this book for review.

I am a reading fanatic. One of my biggest pet peeves is that my busy life simply does not provide enough time to read all of the books that are on my to-read list. I am always leery when I accept a book for review from an unknown author. You just don’t know what you might get. I do read them, and I try to be as fair and honest as I can. When I say what I am about to say, I want you to know that I am being completely honest because my time is valuable. For that matter, so is yours.

If I was asked to recommend a book that demonstrates the essence of America, I would offer this book to you. One of the things that is constant about conservatives is that we have an optimistic view of our country and the opportunities within it. We are not victims, and we don’t believe that people are either. Edward Primoff is a perfect example of what so many of us know to be true about this great nation. A person who believes in themselves, driven by principles and a work ethic, can truly accomplish great things.

As Primoff states near the close of the book, “The bottom line is that we live in a great country, the greatest in the world. Here the sky’s the limit, if you can think it, you can do it. I have little doubt in my mind that if I had to start all over again I would have no difficulty surpassing where I am today.”

And where he is today compared to where he started out is pretty darn impressive. It seemed from birth Primoff would face obstacles. His mother was actually advised to abort the pregnancy because of a kidney problem she had. Primoff’s largest obstacle was that he graduated high school barely able to read. He had such severe dyslexia that he was only able read 11 words per minute. This book itself was written on Dragon Naturally Speaking.

Despite his handicap, Primoff has managed to achieve every bit of the American dream and become financially independent. He has contributed greatly to his community and country. The book blurb on the inside jacket claims that he has led a life with more adventure than the fictional Forrest Gump. This is a fair assessment. While Primoff’s many adventures are not limited to the following list, he has been a successful business owner (8 figure net worth), he spent several years working with the FBI as an informant, survived a small plane crash, escaped a plot to murder him, struggled for decades with the side effects of an experimental intestinal bypass surgery, and became known as the “unofficial” photographer for the President George W. Bush administration. I think I spent half of my time reading this book with my mouth agape in disbelief at Primoff’s incredible experiences.

Primoff is a testimony to the importance of lifelong learning and self-education. Despite his reading difficulty, he has continued to learn and educate himself. Every time he learned something new, it made him more successful. As a teacher, I can see huge value to a book like this for a struggling student especially at the high school level.

Most of a book is a chronological account of his life from high school to present. I found some of his later life experiences most interesting, specifically his involvement in politics at the county, state, and national level. Primoff offers some interesting observations as he discusses ousting a corrupt county office holder and his involvement with the Maryland gubernatorial campaign of Robert Ehrlich.

Chapter 22, “Who is On the Side of the Angels?,” was probably the best of the entire book. Primoff gets a little philosophical in the chapter as he discusses his optimism for the future:

“The one thing I’ve learned best is that most people in our country are basically good. It may surprise you when I say that in spite of all the difficulties we are now facing as a country. I am very optimistic about our future. People in the United States are becoming more connected with our political system than at any other period in my lifetime and that is so important. When I became active in the mid-90s in local county politics, a member of our school board was asked what he thought of Ed Primoff.”

He answered, “He’s okay, but he’s too much into that freedom thing.”

It brings me great comfort to now see millions of Americans concerned about that silly old freedom thing.”

In my opinion, he is right. Despite all the negativity in our country, I see significant, positive change on the horizon. If there was ever a life to demonstrate the reasons to be optimistic, I think they could be found within the life experiences of Edward Primoff.

If you can, consider buying a copy of Driven Beyond Success. All profits from the sale of the book are earmarked for Wounded Warriors and St. Jude’s. I do not believe you will regret it.

You also can check out the official book website at http://www.drivenbeyondsuccess.com/


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Are School Vouchers (and Charters) Really the Free Market at Work? Does the Free Market Include Government Funding/Regulations?

by Gretchen Logue of Missouri Education Watchdog

Andrew Coulson from CATO writes about the idea of “choice” and why many “choice” proponents who espouse “free market” are actually promoting unconstitutional ideas.  We at MEW have some rather spirited discussions the last several days with “choicers” about our recent articles on “choice” questioning whether this “choice” actually is free market or markets propped up by tax dollars.

Education is free market when the government doesn’t fund it and regulate its operation.  Coulson wonders how government funded vouchers can be considered free market by the choice movement.  How can does a government funded “choice” in education containing the same mandates as traditional public school be classified as free market?  Coulson explains why vouchers are not really choice at all in Obama, Romney, Teachers, and Choice:

Jay Greene has an excellent piece in the Wall Street Journal this week revealing that the teacher workforce has grown dramatically over the past forty years—and at enormous cost—without improving student achievement by the end of high school. And he rightly disparages President Obama for arguing that even more teachers would somehow do the trick. Even better, Greene notes that American education will not reverse its productivity collapse and become efficient until we allow it to benefit from the freedoms and incentives of the marketplace.

But then Jay cites Governor Romney’s goal of “voucherizing federal education funds so that parents can take those resources and use them to send their children to schools of their choice,” and he does so with apparent approbation. Even ignoring the fact that the Constitution does not empower Congress to run education programs, this is a very dangerous idea.

There has been no civilization in the history of humanity in which governments have paid for private schooling without ultimately controlling what was taught and who could teach, erecting barriers to entry and thereby crippling market forces.

For that reason, I recommended against a federal voucher program under the Bush administration. Since then, additional evidence has come to light. When I studied the regulatory impact of U.S. private school choice programs last year I found that even the small existing U.S. voucher programs do indeed impose a heavy and very statistically significant additional burden of regulation on participating private schools.

Perhaps a way will be found to enact and maintain minimally regulated voucher programs in the coming years. Until that time comes, it would be the height of folly to introduce a federal voucher program whose regulations would suffocate educational freedom from coast to coast.

In my statistical study of choice program regulation, I found that K-12 tax credit programs do not impose a statistically significant extra burden of regulation on private schools. But even a national K-12 tax credit program would be far too dangerous. By leaving education policy to the states and the people, we can see which programs flourish and which become sclerotic. We must encourage and learn from that policy diversity, not squelch it with federal programs or mandates.

Coulson has the correct idea about educational delivery and the only solution that is constitutional:  leave education to the states and the people.    Don’t try to sell the federally funded voucher idea as a viable alternative to traditional public schools when the private schools will have to conform to the same mandates and regulations of the traditional public schools.

He doesn’t mention charter schools in this CATO article, but I wonder if he would make the same argument when scrutinizing the free market argument made in favor of charter schools.  In this 2001 article from thefreemanonline.com critiquing a book on charters, he raises concerns about taxpayer funding of charters and understanding that once the government funds these schools, they lose their autonomy:

The risks and shortcomings of charter schools are several. For one thing, whenever the state rather than the consumer pays for a service, we have the breeding grounds for fraud and corruption. Parents cannot be duped into paying for children they do not have, but the same can’t be said of government agencies. The authors describe several fraudulent abuses, but fail to acknowledge that the problem is intrinsic to the separation of payment from consumption.

Allowing the government to hold the educational purse strings also draws the attention of charter schools away from families and toward the state. In a market, producers increase their income either by cutting costs or demonstrating improved services for which consumers are willing to pay more. Charter schools will only be able to raise revenues by lobbying the state. The 14-fold increase in inflation-adjusted per-pupil spending that has occurred in government schools over the past 75 years is a sobering harbinger of what to expect under charter schooling. The authors provide evidence of this lobbying already occurring among the country’s nascent charter schools, but seem not to understand its importance or inevitability.

Finally, charter schools preclude the direct financial responsibility of parents that history shows to be crucial for the maintenance of parental involvement in, and control over, their children’s education.

Based on historical and contemporary precedents, charter schools are likely to be re-regulated to the point where they are indistinguishable from traditional government-run schools. The authors are aware of this “ominous threat,” but can offer no solution.

The downside of charter schooling would be of negligible importance if their impact were limited to charter schools themselves. Charter schools would still constitute some improvement over traditional public schools. The real concern is that previously independent private schools are being lured into the charter fold. If large numbers of private schools adopt charter status, the eventual re-regulation of charter schools will expand the government education monopoly. The authors make no mention of this Damoclean sword hanging over the charter movement.

Don’t try to pass charters off as free market when they are taxpayer funded.  Don’t privatize education via charters where taxpayers and parents have no decision making abilities and mandates (not laws) dictate how and what standards/assessments will be taught to students and pre-determined vendors cash in on supplying the curricula and systems needed because of the mandates.

If your state legislators espouse “choice” as conservative and free market ideas, send them a copy of Coulson’s article.  These “choices” as they are currently constructed are neither. 

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Recommended Reads 9/25/2011

Below you will find some educational articles from the past week that we think are worth reading.

Our Achievement-Gap Mania

This piece is by Frederick M. Hess, he is director of education-policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute and author of The Same Thing Over and Over: How School Reformers Get Stuck in Yesterday’s Ideas. This essay was made possible in part by generous support from the Hertog/Simon Fund for Policy Analysis.

The truth is that achievement-gap mania has led to education policy that has shortchanged many children. It has narrowed the scope of schooling. It has hollowed out public support for school reform. It has stifled educational innovation. It has distorted the way we approach educational choice, accountability, and reform.

And its animating principles — including its moral philosophy — are, at best, highly questionable. Indeed, the relentless focus on gap-closing has transformed school reform into little more than a less objectionable rehash of the failed Great Society playbook.


Dear Rick Hess: There is Nothing Wrong with “Achievement Gap Mania”

In the spirit of open and honest debate, please check out the response by RiShawn Biddle to the above article in Dropout Nation.

When your Dropout Nation editor has been brought low by that horrible viral-based disease called Influenza, it not only forces him to spend days sleeping in bed (when not coughing and other disgusting aspects of being sick), but limits him to reading a lot of really smart people writing and saying dumb things. And if you have been reading this publication long enough, there are few things that displease me more than smart people — especially Beltway school reformers — uttering statements that shouldn’t even come from their minds, much less their pens.


Five things students say they want from education

Technology, creativity, and choice are among the features students would like to see in school.


Obama rolling back Bush-era education law

Many teachers oppose NCLB, liberal and conservative, but this is not a solution to the problem.

President Barack Obama is giving states the flexibility to opt out of provisions of the No Child Left Behind law, a move he says is designed to energize schools but Republicans challenge as outside his authority.


Father upset over homework promoting polygamy, Islam

COBB COUNTY, Ga. — A father’s complaint that his daughter’s homework promotes the Muslim faith could lead to a lesson change in Cobb County.

Channel 2’s Tom Regan talked to the father who showed him where his daughter’s homework which said there’s nothing wrong with having multiple wives.


The Outrage of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is Misdirected

I have to say I am skeptical of Bill Gates asking for support of his educational vision. I am tired of the Gates Foundation putting out its version of how education should and can be fixed with The Gates Foundation plan using taxpayer money. Here is one of the latest articles and tweets from the Gates Foundation about “where’s the outrage”?


Finally, as just a fun item. Do you want to annoy a liberal educator from Wisconsin? We came across this piece by a Wisconsin teacher, and thought it might be fun to encourage conservatives to leave a comment. You’ll understand why once you get there and read this, it’s always fun to look into the mind of a liberal union educator once in a while. Just don’t stay there too long.


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