Tag Archives: Socialist

INCOME INEQUALITY AND EDUCATION (Hint: Blame the left!)

John Mauldin

John Mauldin

I apologize in advance for the length of this post, but I think it will be worth your time.

I have mentioned before that I am a huge fan of John Mauldin. Mauldin is an investment analyst/economist from Texas. (You can check out my review of his newest book, Code Red.) I think he’s one of the most brilliant guys I have ever read.

He publishes a free weekly newsletter called Thoughts from the Frontline. There are close to a million people that read it. It’s basically Mauldin’s attempt to explain the world as he sees it. No matter whether you care about investing or not, I think Mauldin does an exponentially better job of reporting what is really going on in the world today. He is incredibly well read, and has quite a knack for the written word. Much of his analysis is done through the lens of economics.

Recentlym he had a three part series on income inequality (“The Problem with Keynesianism“, March 9, 2014; “Inequality and Opportunity“, March 16, 2014; and “When Inequality Isn’t“, March 29, 2014). The whole series is worth your time, but I thought I’d dish out the stuff I found most interesting and appropriate for our purposes here. I’m going to underline the parts I found most important.

Equality of Opportunity

In one of the most far-reaching studies I’ve seen, a group of Harvard economists have compared upward mobility – the ability to rise from lower to higher income groups – among US metropolitan areas, as well as among developed nations. Their rather remarkable website and database can be found here. Their one-paragraph summary is:

In two recent studies, we find that: (1) Upward income mobility varies substantially within the U.S. [summary][paperAreas with greater mobility tend to have five characteristics: less segregation, less income inequality, better schools, greater social capital, and more stable families. (2) Contrary to popular perception, economic mobility has not changed significantly over time; however, it is consistently lower in the U.S. than in most developed countries. [summary][paper].

Silence of the Left

Conveniently for the discussion of our topic, John Goodman posted a brief article on Townhall.com this week called “Silence of the Left”:

The topic du jour on the left these days is inequality. But why does the left care about inequality? Do they really want to lift those at the bottom of the income ladder? Or are they just looking for one more reason to increase the power of government? If you care about those at the bottom then you are wasting your time and everyone else’s time unless you focus on one and only one phenomenon: the inequality of educational opportunity. Poor kids are almost always enrolled in bad schools. Rich kids are almost always in good schools.

It turns out that homes cost roughly 20% more in areas with good schools. School choice is already in effect because people with more money buy homes in areas with better public schools. Children of families with less money on average tend to be stuck in lower-performing public schools.

Goodman cites a Brookings Institution study that investigated the same phenomenon nationwide:

  • Across the 100 largest metropolitan areas, housing costs an average of 2.4 times as much, or nearly $11,000 more per year, near a high-scoring public school than near a low-scoring public school.
  • This housing cost gap reflects that home values are $205,000 higher on average in the neighborhoods of high-scoring versus low-scoring schools. Near high-scoring schools, typical homes have 1.5 additional rooms and the share of housing units that are rented is roughly 30 percentage points lower than in neighborhoods near low-scoring schools.

Goodman continues:

You almost never see anything written by left-of-center folks on reforming the public schools. And I have noticed on TV talk shows that it’s almost impossible to get liberals to agree to the most modest of all reform ideas: getting rid of bad teachers and making sure we keep the good ones.

Here is the uncomfortable reality:

1. Our system of public education is one of the most regressive features of American society.

2. There is almost nothing we could do that would be more impactful in reducing inequality of educational opportunity and inequality overall than to do what Sweden has done: give every child a voucher and let them select a school of choice.

3. Yet on the left there is almost uniform resistance to this idea or any other idea that challenges the power of the teachers’ unions.

That “socialist” bastion of income equality and mobility – Sweden – uses vouchers for education.

Krugman argues against school vouchers because they might reduce support for public schools. And then he actually writes, “And – dare we say it? – we should in general oppose privatization plans if they are likely to destroy public sector unions.”

We have total academic, bureaucratic, and teachers’-union capture of public education. We are subjecting our children to an education system that that was designed for and that worked remarkably well during the first two industrial revolutions but that is now utterly inadequate for the coming Age of Transformation. The new New York City Mayor, Bill de Blasio, is working to shut down many of the best-performing schools in his city – charter schools – which are hated by teachers’ unions. Rather than ask what is good for the children, he and many others simply want to expand the power of the unions.

If we want to do something about income inequality, perhaps we should think about the data that shows the remarkable correlation between education, educational opportunity, and income.

report from the American Enterprise Institute gives us a good summary. Notice in the chart below that while the income of the highest fifth of the US population is almost 18 times that of the lowest fifth, there is only a 3.5x differential when it comes to the average earnings of the people actually working and making money in the household. It is just that high-income households have more than four times as many wage earners (on average) as poor households.

And married and thus two-earner households make more than single-person households. That seems obvious, of course, but it is a significant factor in income inequality. That doesn’t make the plight of the single working mom any better or easier, but it does help explain the statistical difference. And it does make a difference in lifestyle. Marriage drops the probability of childhood poverty by 82%.

The AEI report ends on this positive note:

Bottom Line: Household demographics, including the average number of earners per household and the marital status, age, and education of householders are all very highly correlated with household income. Specifically, high-income households have a greater average number of income-earners than households in lower-income quintiles, and individuals in high income households are far more likely than individuals in low-income households to be well-educated, married, working full-time, and in their prime earning years. In contrast, individuals in lower-income households are far more likely than their counterparts in higher-income households to be less-educated, working part-time, either very young (under 35 years) or very old (over 65 years), and living in single-parent households.

Take a look at this chart below. It looks at spending by households on various items split out by quintile. It goes back to 1986 because that was when pretty significant changes to the tax law occurred. Noticed specifically the differences in spending on education and reading.

annualexpenditure

At the beginning of this letter I promised you a “solution” to income inequality. Let me offer this one tongue-in-cheek, as an argumentum ad absurdum.

We simply need to penalize the incomes of older people, take away any advantage there is from being married, reduce opportunities for education, penalize people for working more than 35 hours per week, and of course levy a significant tax on any accumulated savings. This will quickly reduce inequalities of income. It has the slight disadvantage that it will also destroy the economy and create a massive depression; but if the goal is equal outcomes for all, then communist Russia might be the model you are looking for. Except that even there the bureaucrats and other insiders did quite well.

If you’re really serious about dealing with income inequality, you need to worry about equality of opportunity in education, and specifically about making sure that the education system is radically reformed by taking it out of the hands of bureaucrats and unions. We need to make sure the economic and legal playing field is level by getting government favoritism and bureaucratic meddling out of the way and making the pie larger for everyone. However, as I demonstrated a few weeks ago, a natural outcome of doubling the size of the economic pie over the coming 15 years will be that there is an even greater differential between those who have next to nothing and those who have accumulated the most. The only way to prevent such an outcome is to keep the total economic pie from growing, and that doesn’t seem like a very good economic policy.

If we truly want to do something about income inequality, we must stop listening to the left talk about it. They are completely and utterly uniformed on the topic. And more then anything else, they probably are the most to blame. They have destroyed our families socially and culturally, and they have destroyed our schools through unionization and bureaucratization.

Andrew Palmer is co-founder and editor of Conservative Teachers of America. You may reach him at [email protected]

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The Similarities Between CSCOPE and Common Core

by Gretchen Logue of Missouri Education Watchdog.

What is CScope?  From the home page:

CSCOPE is a customizable, online curriculum management system aligned with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). CSCOPE’s high quality curriculum, assessment  and instructional components assist schools in meeting the high standard of rigor and relevance required in the TEKS and STAAR assessments.

CSCOPE has come under intense scrutiny from Texas legislators, parents and educators because of the cost, the curriculum, the necessity for online infrastructure in the schools, the fact CSCOPE is copyrighted and the taxpayers do not have the right to access the curriculum taught to their children.  The school districts/teachers do not have the right to teach other curricula other than what is mandated in CSCOPE.

Donna Garner attended a Texas Senate Education Committee hearing on CSCOPE and the following is her transcript of the meeting.  Many of the same issues raised by the legislators seem to be many of the same issues in CCSS: the huge cost (not voted on by taxpayers) to local districts, private corporations holding copyrights to curriculum paid for by tax dollars, the need for online infrastructure in the schools, curriculum inaccessible to the taxpayers and the inability for teachers/school districts to change the curriculum/standards/assessments.

As you read Garner’s transcript, do you believe this is a glimpse of the future to come with CCSS mandates? Is there really any substantial difference between the two programs?

“Most Amazing Senate Ed. Hearing Ever — CSCOPE”
by Donna Garner
1.31.13
 
Today’s Texas Senate Education Committee hearing  on CSCOPE was amazing. I watched the proceedings online from 8:30 A. M. until it finished around 3:15 P. M., and I took notes as fast as I could type. These may not be word-for-word, but I trust that I have captured the essence of the hearing. 
 
Texas Senator Dan Patrick led the hearing, and these are the Senators who worked alongside him to question the witnesses:  Donna Campbell, Larry Taylor, Eddie Lucio, Robert Duncan, Ken Paxton, and Kel Seliger.  (As best I could tell from online viewing, Royce West and Leticia Van de Putte did not attend the hearing.) 
 
What thrilled me is that all of us private citizens who have dug out the truth about CSCOPE and who have been vilified for our efforts were vindicated today because the evidence presented proved we were right all along.
 
FACTS REVEALED IN TODAY’S HEARING
 
CSCOPE was originally produced in 2005-2006  by outside consultants, one of whom was Linda Darling-Hammond who is tied to Obama and the Common Core Standards which is a takeover of the public schools by the federal government.  
 
In 2009 CSCOPE was incorporated as a 501(3)(c) non-charitable organization under the TESCCC (Texas Education Service Center Curriculum Collaborative), and the 20 directors of the Education Service Centers (ESC’s) make up the board of directors of TESCCC.  To do this incorporation, no legal counsel was sought from the Texas Attorney General’s office nor from the Commissioner of Education/Texas Education Agency. 
 
Now 875 districts are using CSCOPE and pay for it with taxpayers’ dollars costing from $7 to $9 per student to “rent” CSCOPE each school year.  The monies collected by the ESC’s are passed along to TESCCC and then to their fiscal agent, ESC 13 in Austin.
COST OF CSCOPE AND ORGANIZATIONAL ISSUES
The Senators asked the ESC 13 witness how much school districts have paid for CSCOPE over the last several years, but that information did not seem to be readily available.  Sen. Campbell mentioned that Ector County ISD alone had spent $1.7 Million for CSCOPE just this school year. 
 
Questions were also raised about whether the ESC staffers who handle CSCOPE  full-time are paid by TESCCC/ESC 13 or by their own ESC’s and whether such an arrangement represents a type of double-dipping.
 
Sen. Campbell wanted to know who owns the proprietary property of CSCOPE if it was developed using public funds — “Do the people of Texas own it?”  She also questioned whether only parents should have access to CSCOPE since all Texas taxpayers paid for it. She said there are many good educators who are active and retired who have a commitment to helping children gain a good education and that everyone in the general public should have easy access to CSCOPE — in the same way that they do to copyrighted textbooks.  Sen. Campbell wanted to know where the checks and balances are to verify the content of CSCOPE.
 
Sen. Patrick told Wade Labay, Statewide Director of CSCOPE, that when a governmental body seeks to form a 501(3)(c), TESCCC should have sought legislative authority.  None was sought by TESCCC.
 
The Senators were very troubled by the fact that the Texas Attorney General’s office has said that the TESCCC is a governmental body yet it is using public funds to develop its product; uses public dollars to pay its ESC employees;  has no TESCCC business office; does not post its agenda; does not allow the public into its meetings; and will not allow public access to its minutes. 
 
“PLAYBOOK” RESPONSE FROM EDUCATION ESTABLISHMENT
Throughout the hearing, whenever members of the “education establishment” testified (e.g., school administrators, curriculum directors, representatives from Texas Association of School Board/Texas Association of School Administrators), it was as if they spoke from one “playbook” which had obviously been put together by ESC personnel. 
 
The common line used by the education establishment was, “Our district bought CSCOPE as a cost-saving curriculum management system to help our students to raise their academic achievement and to master the new STAAR/End-of-Course tests. Our teachers could not live without CSCOPE.” 
However, when hard data and research were sought by the Senators from the “ed establishment” to prove the effectiveness of CSCOPE, none could be produced — only their subjective opinions.  Almost all of the ed establishment witnesses mentioned their close-knit relationships with the ESC’s, and most said they had first heard about CSCOPE through the ESC’s.  Nearly all said their districts were constantly trained by ESC staff on CSCOPE.
 
CONCERNS OF THOSE CLOSEST TO THE CHILD
When classroom teachers, parents, or the general public testified — the ones closest to the classroom students — they told a completely different story.  One of the most poignant moments in the hearing occurred when a veteran Algebra teacher almost broke down in tears as he told of having to quit his teaching job recently because he was required to teach CSCOPE.  He said he could not look his students in the eyes, knowing that he was “aiding and abetting ignorance…and giving them an allusion of an education.” 
 
A well-credentialed education researcher, who works with many Texas school districts and who intensely dislikes CSCOPE, said she had had doors slammed in her face when she sought to uncover the ideology behind CSCOPE.  She said teachers are afraid to speak out about the content of the CSCOPE lessons and the links that students are directed to investigate.  Several of these links take students to sites where Wiccans are said to be similar to Christians and where Islam and Christianity are harmonized as being similar. 
 
A current classroom teacher of 30 years’ experience told about being offended with the lesson in which students were required to make a Communist/Socialist  flag.  She said her father had proudly fought in World War II to keep our nation free and that our students should be taught American exceptionalism.  She also said that CSCOPE content teaches none of the great novels and does not teach the young readers a systematic approach to reading using phonics.  She complained that CSCOPE instead teaches whole language and that there is no formal instruction of grammar, usage, and correct writing.
This experienced teacher gave the Senators a copy of the TESCCC/CSCOPE legal document passed out during a CSCOPE 2012 summer training session that states, “To support implementation of this detailed curriculum, districts must have processes and people in place to insure that there is sustained monitoring of the curriculum and that individual teachers do not have the option to disregard or replace assigned content.”  This teacher said that when parents put their children on the school bus to come to school, they are not sending them to school for a controlled and compulsory learning environment.  They want their children’s teachers to be able to be creative and to meet the individual needs of each child.  She said, “I want it recorded for the record that I have never voted for a conglomerate to take over the Texas school system, and parents have not either.”
 
Another witness said there was no need for CSCOPE because the curriculum standards (TEKS) are on the Texas Education Agency website along with many other excellent helps that teachers can use to prepare their students for the new STAAR/EOC tests.  Good teachers working together can create their own timelines and lesson plans.
 
One witness asked why the TESCCC was incorporated as a non-profit.  Was it to be able to hide the content of CSCOPE from the public?  Was it to keep their meetings, minutes, and agendas secret? 
 
TESCCC/CSCOPE PERSONNEL — OOPS!
 
When confronted with this evidence, the CSCOPE personnel at the hearing repeatedly admitted they had “Oops! Dropped the ball.”  As the meeting proceeded, it became clear that a pattern of cover-up by Wade Libay/TESCCC/CSCOPE has been taking place since the public “sleuths” started digging out the facts.  The website has been changed substantially since the Senate Education Committee public hearing was announced. Now Labay says teachers are not prohibited from allowing parents to see CSCOPE materials, but Sen. Patrick could never get a confirmed “yes” that parents could go right now and see fully their children’s CSCOPE materials 24/7.   
 
OBJECTIONABLE CSCOPE LESSONS
When the CSCOPE lesson referring to the Boston Tea Party patriots as “terrorists” was discussed (which had been in CSCOPE for seven years), Labay said it had been removed. 
 
When Labay was confronted with concerns over a lesson teaching the 5 Pillars of Islam, a lesson in which students role play a trek to Mecca, a lesson that teaches Allah is the same as Almighty God, a lesson on Christopher Columbus that cherry-picks his diary to take out any of his references to his belief in God, and a lesson in which students create a Communist/Socialist flag, he gave a lame excuse about those lessons having been a part of the “old” lessons, having been left in CSCOPE at the request of teachers. 
 
One Senator said he found it perplexing that when these lessons were first revealed by the public “sleuths,” TESCCC accused these concerned citizens of circulating “fallacious claims.”  
 
Senators Taylor and Paxton were deeply troubled about the student project in which students were to design a Communist/Socialist flag.  They cautioned that teaching children to role play and sympathize with a particular cause is indoctrination of the mind, and they asked Labay to tell them who came up with that lesson plan?  Labay gave the lame excuse that there are over 1600 lessons and that ESC 12 CSCOPE staffers are the ones who are in charge of the content. 
 
One of the Senators responded, “Oh, you mean the same group that has the closed door board meetings…We have already talked about several egregious lessons today.  How many more are there that are buried up in the rest of the CSCOPE lessons that we have not located yet?”
NO OUTSIDE, INDEPENDENT REVIEW OF CSCOPE
The Senators kept hammering at the fact that 875 Texas school districts have been using CSCOPE for the last seven years; yet there has been no outside, independent review of CSCOPE to make sure that its lessons align with the SBOE-adopted curriculum standards (TEKS) upon which the new STAAR/End-of-Course tests are based. 
 
Sen. Patrick said he found it highly upsetting that it had taken the chair of the Texas State Board of Education six months to get a password to CSCOPE.  Former SBOE member Charlie Garza testified that he had asked TESCCC to have extra time to study the CSCOPE lessons, but his request was denied. 
 
It was also brought out that besides the per-student CSCOPE rental, TESCCC also makes money by charging publishers $100,000 per event to see the CSCOPE lessons so that textbooks can be produced that align with it.  Other vendors pay fees, and TESCCC also makes money from its yearly educators’ conference. 

Senator Patrick said that the public had brought most of the CSCOPE problems to their attention over the last six to eight months and that he was upset over the lack of transparency and the secrecy demonstrated by TESCCC/CSCOPE.  He said this is the reason we need transparency, open meetings, and posted meetings  — so that a governmental body cannot violate every entity of being a public entity.  “How many more mistakes are there? … What is behind the curtain? … You are in 875 school districts … This is a very serious matter.”
 
SBOE OVERSIGHT OF CSCOPE CURRICULUM CONTENT
One Senator said he was investigating the possibility of charging the elected members of the Texas State Board of Education with the task of verifying the content of CSCOPE to make sure it is aligned with the TEKS.  Barbara Cargill, the chair of the SBOE, said that the Board has a review process already in place that could be used for CSCOPE since it is being used in 70% to 80% of Texas school districts. 
 
Cargill also mentioned her concern that TESCCC in its incorporation papers states that if TESCCC is dissolved, CSCOPE goes to the federal government.  She mentioned that she is concerned CSCOPE is not aligned with publishers’ textbooks and that it is very confusing for students when they read a CSCOPE lesson (or CSCOPE test) that says one thing and a textbook that says another. 
 
Ms. Cargill complained that CSCOPE does not align itself with the new Science TEKS in which all sides of scientific theories (both strengths and weaknesses) are to be taught. Instead, the only links she could find in the CSCOPE lessons go to material that teaches evolution as fact.
 
Barbara Cargill was asked by one of the Senators whether SB 6 (passed in the 82nd Legislative Session) triggered the explosive growth of CSCOPE since school administrators can now purchase CSCOPE (i.e., instructional materials including software and hardware) with state dollars without those materials having passed through the rigorous SBOE adoption process.  She said that having “100 eyeballs” to evaluate the instructional materials at the SBOE level is far superior to having only a few CSCOPE employees do so.
 
Pat Hardy, also a member of the Texas State Board of Education, verified that CSCOPE is a curriculum [not a “curriculum management system” as claimed by TESCCC/CSCOPE] and that it is the SBOE who adopts the curriculum standards — TEKS.
 
A parent whose children are in the public schools where CSCOPE is being utilized believes that the elected SBOE should have authority over CSCOPE.  However, she has a serious reservation because one of the present SBOE members is a registered lobbyist for Microsoft; and she wonders about the possible conflict of interest and corruption that could bias the SBOE/CSOPE alignment process.   
 
COMMON CORE STANDARDS INFILTRATING CSCOPE?
One retired science teacher said that at some point, Common Core Standards tried to purchase CSCOPE; and she is concerned because the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) is having a convention in California, using public dollars to pay for Texas school personnel to attend.  At this conference,  Common Core Standards and Linda Darling-Hammond will be featured.  Gov. Perry and both Texas Education Commissioners have said Texas will not participate in Common Core Standards.  Since CSCOPE is already in 70% to 80% of Texas’ school districts, the retired science teacher is afraid the CCS ideology could be permeating CSCOPE’s lessons right now.
 
CHILDREN BELONG TO PARENTS — NOT TO THE STATE
One of the last witnesses reminded everyone that children belong to their parents and not to the state; school children should be able to take their CSCOPE materials home each evening; and the public should have open access to see everything except the tests and answer keys.

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The Socialist Revolution via Education

Interesting video…

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