Archive for August, 2009

HEALTHCARE REFORM AND SERFDOM FOR AMERICA

Saturday, August 29th, 2009

I think the winner in the health care reform controversy might well be the insurance companies and their hiring people to show up at meetings with guns will win out; corporations have the power in America and not the people. Power is the winner; money is power. Eventually, the whole country will be run by the damn greedy corporations with a monopoly on everything.  America will cease to be a democracy and will become a plutocracy; the corporations will be the new royalty and the rest of us will be serfs, just like my grandfather was a serf in Europe as a child. History is a cycle.

PONDERING AND PANDERING THE UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE ISSUE IN AMERICA

Friday, August 28th, 2009

Is America the only nation in the world where the convicts on death row have better health care than factory workers do?

In democratic America, legislation providing for universal health care will be decided by who has the power; power in America is not held by the people, a majority of which want universal health care, instead power in America is wealth and the health insurance companies opposing universal health care have a majority of the wealth. So, the majority wins and there will be no universal health care in America.

Opponents of health care reform in America, health care insurers, are paying to organize opponents to disrupt town hall meetings of health care reform proponents; these opponents to health care reform are armed with assault rifles and hand guns and those favoring health care reform are now wondering whether or not their current health care provider’s policy covers gun shot wounds.

Democrats have a majority in the Senate but cannot pass health care reform legislation because all Democrats do not vote together; all Republicans vote together and Blue Dog Democrats so admire Republican loyalty that they vote with the Republicans. Loyalty is truly a thing to admire.

For Republicans, the health care reform issue is really all about family values; Republicans oppose health care reform primarily to prevent the Democrats from euthanizing their grandmothers.

Republicans oppose health care reform because they fear that illegal immigrants will get health care and the Republicans are definitely opposed to healthy illegal immigrants.

Republicans oppose health care reform because of the high cost; they were flabbergasted to discover that keeping Americans healthy might cost as much as killing Iraqis and Afghans!

Pharmaceutical companies are totally opposed to universal health care because they realize that they will be required to give a discount for selling drugs in large quantity.

Right Wing-Nuts are screaming that they do not want the government involved in their health care because the government is incompetent and cannot afford universal health care; last year the same Right Wing-Nuts were screaming at protesters of America’s needless wars that the American government was the best and richest in the world and if protesters didn’t agree they should move out of America and go elsewhere. Just how do these people arrive at the rationale for their thinking, spin a bottle?

Republican Congressmen oppose health care reform because it is socialistic; yet, the taxpayers provide the health care for the Congressmen.

Republicans oppose universal health care in America because it is socialistic; America’s Constitutional forefathers approved and endorsed the socialistic US Postal Service because they believed that communication was too important to Americans to trust it to private enterprise which was not as reliable as American government. It is obvious that the difference between today’s Republicans and our Constitutional forefathers is the Republican’s opposing perception of their own government. It is shameful that at times the Republicans actually were the government that they do not trust; I’m just glad Enron was not carrying the mail when I paid the bills.

One reason that privatized health care is so expensive is the attorney fees necessary to sue the health care insurance company to force them to give you the benefits that you’ve been paying for all these years; it seems strange to consider an attorney as a health care provider.

Ode to Senator Ted Kennedy

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

Teddy Kennedy is dead; with his last breath, an era has ended. The tragedy of his death is that this child of wealth and fortune was ironically the last champion of the ordinary American. Senator Kennedy used his wealth and position for the benefit of the less fortunate, the blue collar working stiffs who continued to elect their champion, year after year.

We are all the consequence of politicians and Americans, on the whole, curse the politicians who hold the power to destroy or subjugate. But on occasion, a politician comes to power with the intent to pull up the humanity that is struggling, to even the odds; Senator Kennedy was one of those and fortunately he did not need corporate wealth on his side, instead, they needed him and the power of his constituency.

Despite his own few human indiscretions, Senator Kennedy became one of those few politicians who will be truly mourned by we ordinary Americans; the Senator offered a ray of hope when we were down, but not out. The shear length of his legacy is phenomenal; there is now a huge vacancy in the force of hope and justice in America.

WHAT YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT PUBLIC EDUCATION BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

Much has been written and said about the problems of public education in America, today, and most is simple and pure teacher bashing with absolutely no empirical evidence to back up the crazy accusations. Perpetrators hate teachers and/or public schools. Personally, I spent my entire life as a public school teacher and the one thing in public schools that pains me the most is “bad teachers in the classroom”.

After a lifetime of service to public education and research in public education, I am sorry to have to disclose to you that the biggest problem in improving public schools is the fact that there is NO ACTUAL AGREEMENT IN EDUCATION OF WHAT IS A GOOD TEACHER AND A BAD TEACHER. It has always been this way and if you doubt it, consider that Jesus Christ and Socrates are considered great teachers and look at what happened to them for their efforts. The same is true today; I have witnessed, what in my opinion, were excellent teachers get fired and terrible teachers get promoted. It is a fact.

Just to make the public feel a little worse about the problems of our public schools, let me assure you that I can take the best of students and put them in the classroom with the worse teacher and the students will excel; student learn in spite of the teachers. So don’t really believe that it is possible to evaluate teachers, by comparing their students’ SAT scores: SAT tests account for very little of what teachers actually teach. The best thing that a teacher can do for America’s best students is to keep the heck out of their way; very simply, some students are more intelligent than their teacher and highly motivated.

Though I hate to disturb all of America’s ‘experts’ about public education and education in general but it is a truism that they do not know diddly about education.

Education is a necessity for a democracy to work but the public schools are not the only educators in America. Most Americans have to rely on the media for enlightenment. Now if you want to see some really bad teaching, just watch cable news for a while; in retrospect, it has been proven that you cannot believe a word they say. Some people think American democracy is in a crisis as well as public education; it is certainly something to think about?

America has many education problems and unfortunately America is totally wrong in their approach toward fixing it. Perhaps all is not lost though. If you want to feel good about something, think about what a horrible feeling it would be to wake up tomorrow morning and find there were absolutely no public schools in America; however, you must also realize that there are some few Americans like members of the John Birch Society who believe the eradication of public schools would be a good thing, because public education is socialistic and that is bad. Please, realize that much of the bad things you read or hear about our public schools is coming the those who hate public education.

IT IS TOUGH BEING A DEMOCRAT THESE DAYS

Friday, August 21st, 2009

Today it is very difficult to prove to Republicans that you are a true Democrat; you have to agree to have your grandmother killed and prove that you were never born, instead your mother knitted you while she was in Kenya.

Aetna Insurance Company’s “Death Panel”

Friday, August 14th, 2009

This is a comment that I wrote to an internet article that Gov. Howard Dean wrote about Sarah Palin’s statement about the Obama “Death Panel”.  The death of my best friend is something that I am very emotional about as I am emotional about Aetna Insurance Company and their ill gained profits.  It is also why my health care provider is “non profit” (Kaiser Permanente) and I support reform in health care.  Here is my comment:

My best friend died because Aetna Health Insurance panel of doctors would not approve life extending surgery; the Aetna panel did not disapprove, they simply withheld approval until my best friend died.  That, I suppose, is not a crime.   A few years later, Aetna was sued in a similar case and Aetna had to pay the largest award yet for failing to provide benefits because their ‘panel of doctors’ did not approve benefits.   Aetna announced that they were doing away with the panels and the reason was, “the panels are no longer serving a benefit to the insured.”  Since then, Aetna has become one of the biggest health insurers in America.  Medical care reform is suppose to deal with insurance companies that do not provide benefits that are due the insured.
No one else cared about my friends case, even some of her own friends, they all were confident that it could never happen to them.

In America, Faux News trains American brains.  Personally my hero is Gov. Howard Dean.

End of comment.

HOW NOT TO EVALUATE A PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHER

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

        Searching for teaching excellence is roughly akin to searching for the Holy Grail or an honest man.  Where and who the excellent teachers are, is a deep mystery, at least to the teaching profession.  Personally, I trained to be a teacher, I taught many years in public schools, I supervised and evaluated teachers, I taught students how to teach and taught students how to supervise teachers when I taught at the university, and I spent considerable time doing research about teaching at the university; basically, I spent a lifetime immersed in about every aspect of public education and generally considered myself somewhat of a success, when I retired; therefore, it is with a great deal of embarrassment that I must admit that there is no agreement among teachers, students, parents, or professors in regard to what an excellent teacher is?

     Unfortunately, politicians give the impression that they know exactly how to determine teaching excellence, they legislate it and actually evaluate teaching; they don’t know diddly.

     Of course, I actually am confident that I know what an excellent teacher is and so does every other teacher, the problem is that no one agrees.  Yet every year we read about award winning teachers who are recipients of a “Golden Apple Awards”.  The big question about the awards is, how did those giving the award decide on a winner?  In the case of Golden Apples, it is basically a popularity contest based on recommendations of people with knowledge of a specific teacher.  It is easy to determine which teachers are most popular but are they the best teachers.  Losing teachers with sour grapes can come up with a myriad of ideas why a teacher is more popular than they are and it is usually determined that they are popular because they are a lousy teacher; the rationale is that popular teachers give out too many good grades, they don’t discipline students, they set low standards, or they party in class instead of studying and students do not achieve.

     These critics appear to believe that being popular is a sure sign that a teacher is doing a bum job of teaching; however, the corollary of this concept would be that the most despised teachers are the excellent teachers.  Obviously, the whole concept of popularity and despicability is a totally inadequate measure of teaching excellence.

 

     In most recent years, the last two presidents of the United States, Bush and Obama, have made an attempt to establish themselves as experts in evaluating public school teachers, using Student Achievement Test (SAT) scores.  Out of respect for the Presidency, there surely must be a better way of expressing the notion that both Presidents are “full of crap” regarding their concept of teacher evaluation using students’ SAT scores; but “full of crap” appears to be quite definitive in this case.  A more literary terminology might be libelous of sedition.

 

     Why is it that statisticians are able to morph themselves into Einstein look-alikes and convince a nation, including its President, that by using scientific statistical data they can absolutely prove without a doubt that Jesus Christ was the result of an immaculate conception and through the administration of Student Achievement Tests, they can absolutely evaluate those students’ teachers, as easily as sorting strawberries.

 

     America has statues in effect today such as, No Child’s Behind Left Behind, that provides funding for schools based on students SAT scores and that includes the scores of students in classes for the mentally impaired; the rationale is that the funding is based on “teacher accountability”, which in essence is teachers being evaluated based on students SAT scores.  President Obama has recently announced that he is in agreement with this practice.

 

     The premise here is that if the students learned and could remember what the test writers believe that they should learn at school, and they could write enough answers down, then the teachers were successful in teaching what test writers believed teacgers were supposed to teach.  You really have to admire the simplicity of this method of evaluating teachers because it is so scientific and simple.

 

     The SAT tests are standardized tests which bases the results on a large population tested under identical circumstances.  Scientifically, to be effective, all variables have to be considered in the testing and that is where there is a problem; it is impossible to consider all the human valuables involved in SAT testing.  Physical defects are obvious human variables, but other human variables are not: temperament, environment, time of day of testing, day of the week, attitude, cultural differences, and the socio economic factors in the population.  There are certainly more factors than the teacher’s ability to teach involved in SAT test results.

 

     Imagine what goes through a student’s mind when he/she is told that they are to take a test, do their best, and this test will have no effect whatsoever on the grades they will receive; what is the students motivation?  One of my favorite comic strips, “Zits”, features an adolescent young man in high school; in one strip, the student is pondering a question on a test he is taking and asking him self, “What is the funniest possible answer that I could give for this question?”  I can empathize with the student.

 

     But standardization is not the only fault in judging teachers by their students SAT scores.  SAT tests measure only a small fraction of what the teacher is actually teaching and that is not the most important things that the teacher is teaching.  Learning is defined as experience.  A student is learning if he does nothing all day; he learns how long a day can be, for example.

 

     There are three different kinds of learning: cognitive learning, affective learning and motor leaning.  The SAT tests are only testing cognitive learning, which is probably the least important of all.  Cognitive learning is knowledge recall and intellectual skills.  Affective learning is learning how to actually do something and the motivation to do it (attitude); affective learning should be the ultimate goal of teaching and the teacher’s primary objective.  “Motor learning is the process of improving the motor skills, the smoothness and accuracy of movements.”  Motor learning is leaning physical adeptness.

 

     In addition to teaching students the various kinds of learning, teachers are also obligated to teach social skills, motivation, self confidence, and many other things in addition to the cognitive subject matter they are assigned to teach.  It would appear to me that teaching civilized behavior should rank very high on teacher performance; behavior can only be taught by the teacher serving as the role model.  Behavior is taught only by having students do as the teacher does and not how the teacher says to behave. That is a big responsibility.

     Congress can pass legislation that uses student SAT scores to evaluate teachers, and Presidents can harp on teacher accountability measured by the students scores on SAT tests but that certainly does not scientifically prove which teacher is the better teacher, in any sense of the word.

 

     Personally, I have always been of the opinion that the students are the best judge of a teacher’s performance; most teachers disagree, saying students are not qualified.  At the end of each term, I would have my own students evaluate me on a number of items that I deemed important in teaching process.  Students would not be identified on the evaluation forms and I would not be able to see them until after I had recorded grades.  I was gratified and amazed that my students took the evaluation so seriously.  To me, my students’ evaluation was much more perceptive than my supervisor’s evaluation.

 

     Teaching is a complex profession.  When I was on the university faculty and teaching student to teach and supervisors to supervise and evaluate teachers, I developed a conceptual model of a teacher that was based on all the scientific research that I found applied exclusively to the specific job requirements of a teacher.  It did not appear to me that teachers should be evaluated on a scale of one to ten; it seemed to me that every teacher should meet the necessary requirements and teaching should not be a competitive sport.  In retrospect, it appeared to me that there was not another person in or out of the educational profession that agreed with my concept of teaching excellence.

 

      However, I would like for President Obama and Congress to be aware that my student’s scores of the SAT was not in any way a measure of my teaching skills; the politicians who think so are “full of crap”!

THE DANGERS OF UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE REFORM IN AMERICA

Sunday, August 9th, 2009

      Those Americans favoring Universal Health Care and health care reform in America should be advised that health care reform can be exceedingly dangerous and a threat to your health; there is an excellent chance that health care reform advocates can be attacked and injured by the fanatic Republicans opposing it.

KILLING DEMOCRACY AND HEALTH CARE REFORM WITH ONE STONE

Friday, August 7th, 2009

     It is certainly no secret that the Health Industry and the Republican Party are a coalition of evil bonded by their mutual selfish interests and their hoards of money.  The Republican party deserted their democratic principles in the 1960s, when the admittedly fascist, secret John Birch Society under fuehrer Robert Welch decided that America was never meant to be a democracy, and the elitist corporate America must resort to Communist methods to overthrow the government of the democratic American Republic, using democratic freedom of speech, lies, deceit, control of media, and out-shouting the majority.  The John Birch Society covertly took over the Republican Party in California in 1962 and eventually took over the National Republican Party.

     The Neocon Republicans got the chance to eliminate democracy in a close election in 2000 when they were responsible for George W. Bush’s victory in the Presidential election by actually stopping the counting of votes in Florida.  Candidate Gore had not been defeated (he received a plurality of the votes) by the corrupted intervention of a Neocon Supreme Court majority, what had actually been defeated in the 2000 Presidential election was democracy and the American majority.  George W. Bush served up his masters by his secret (later made public) violations of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the inalienable rights of American citizens.  Any Republicans opposed to the Neocon takeover of their party were either defeated or became independents.

      Americans finally became aware of the demise of their American democracy and overwhelmingly voted the Neocon Republicans out of office in 2008, thinking they had soundly defeated them.  It is not that easy.  Money now makes political decisions in America, it has become obvious.  Neocon Republicans control the cash in America; the true control of the American mind is bought and sold by corporate America that controls all media, because it is corporate advertisings that drive the News: newspapers, TV, and even internet media dependent upon advertising to bring the internet “free” to all Americans.  Murdoch, News Corps, and corporate America own the American mind, lock, stock, and barrel.  The purpose of American media is not to inform the public of truth; the purpose of American media is to make profits, big profits, anyway they can.

     After the overwhelming defeat of the Neocon Bush Regime in 2008, the Neocon Republicans did not flee with their tails between their legs; they simply regrouped and waited their opportunity.  They knew by now, after 911, that the way to kill American democracy was to incite sinister fear in the people.  It was a no-brainer, that the health care issue would be their opportunity scare the American population into submission to the Republican lies and deceit.  Health care reform was the biggest issue in the 2008 election, when 70% of the people wanted health care reform out of fear of health and income consequences suffered if they did not have reform in American health care.  The Republicans and the health care industry, whose profits are threatened, put every million dollars at their disposal to feed fears of the people and convince Americans that health care reform would euthanize senior citizens, delay health care services for Americans, make Americans pay someone else’s medical bills, socialize doctors, pay for frivolous abortions, and force them out of their present health insurance coverage.  They would Swift-Boat health care reform.

      The media not only is thriving on the profits from anti health care reform propaganda advertising, the media has refused to accept advertising opposing the Republican lies and deceit; meanwhile, the media “news” broadcasters are supporting the Republican fear mongering and condemning President Bush for his efforts to satisfy the desire and needs of Americans for health care reform.  News no longer exists in the American media; there is only opinion based on Republican ideology.

     Groups of thugs are now being organized by the Republicans to disrupt legitimate town meetings that have been scheduled to explain health care reform to the public; the Republican hoodlums are instructed to attend health care reform town meetings to out-shout and protest health care reform in stead of making legitimate inquiries.  This is reminiscent of the Brown Shirts of Hitler’s Nazi Party in Germany; a classic example of how to use the freedom of speech in a democracy to destroy democracy its self.  

     Americans have come to be complacent regarding the enjoyment of the benefits of democracy; they seem to have forgotten that Thomas Jefferson admonished the people that they may have to spill blood periodically to retain their democracy; he wasn’t talking about foreign wars.

     It looked to many, like American democracy ended when President George W. Bush was elected in 2000; perhaps it was the end of American democracy because democracy is hanging by a thread in the balance today and the device the Republicans are using to eliminate democracy is fear and fear of health care reform.  Loss of the health care reform issue that was desired by 70% of the voters in 2008 will indicate that democracy in America is truly dead and the Republican opponents of democracy and health care reform have absolutely bought control of the American government. 

     These are the times that try men’s souls.

Hating Public Schools

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

        Today, I cancelled my subscription to the San Diego Union Tribune, our only local daily.  The young woman asked me why and I replied, “I know it is not your responsibility young woman, but the editorial policy of your newspaper has been expressing their hatred for public school teachers and it tells lies about them; I am a public school teacher.”

      For over fifty years I have subscribed to the paper, knowing of its policy of censorship to favor Right-Wingnut bias and I continued to read it as a resource of what the lunatic fringe is professing, which is an important thing to know if you are a local teacher.  It is also important to know what irresponsible opponents, who have a public forum, are espousing in order to defend the truth and honesty about current issues.  To cancel my subscription now, I will simply be required to use the perpetrator’s web site instead; I will miss the comics though.

      On August 1, 2009, the headline of the San Diego Union Tribune’s column of Christ Reed read, “Fiscal Conservatives’ Help Secure Huge Bribe for CTA”; the CTA is the California Teachers Association or, in fact, public school teachers.

     In his literary style, Reed uses a device that other unscrupulous people and organizations like the Nazis, the Communists, and the American John Birch Society have used over the years and it appears to be very prevalent today.  The object is to ‘insinuate’ someone is guilty of wrong doing, and since there is no way to prove innocence or guilt, the accusation is all that is remembered and if the lie is repeated enough, eventually people will believe it.  For example, polls showed that over 60% of Americans believed that Saddam Hussein was responsible for the 911 Terrorist Attack despite the fact it has been shown to be absolutely untrue.

     The term bribery is a legal term, defined in Black’s Law Dictionary as “The corrupt tendering of a price for official action.”  Unfortunately, Mr. Reed does not allege that California’s public school teachers are guilty of bribery; as his own judge and jury, he states it as a fact.  Neither does Reed seem to distinguish bribery from negotiation.

     Reed’s condemnation of teacher bribery is based upon what he terms, “money that schools are purportedly owed”.   Strangely or not so strangely, Reed uses the term “purportedly” in his statement which is defined by Webster’s as “alleged” or “to offer as a reason” or “to assert without proof”. 

      Reed’s basis for absolutely saying teachers are guilty of bribery, is money that the State may or may not owe the public school children (not the teachers but the public school children).

     Chris Reed is either an ignoramus or if he is fully aware of the Constitutional provision that provides the public schools the first call on state funding in a defined proportion, then he is simply lying about his lack of  knowledge of it.  In the last few years, Governor Schwarzenegger’s budget for California schools violates that Constitutional provision by providing less than required funding for schools; to justify his violation of the State Constitution, the Governor has indicated to the schools that the State would make up the difference in subsequent years (for example, the State owed California’s public school children the money the Governor and the State shortchanged them).

     Public school teachers have long concluded that when Governor Schwarzenegger borrows from California’s school children’s education, there is little or no chance that public education will ever see the money repaid.  The Governor, of course, is a lame duck because he is the victim (or beneficiary) of the Term Limit Law.  And oh yes, Chris Reed has already forgotten about what the State owes to California’s public school children.

     Hating public school teachers and the schools is an obvious obsession with Chris Reed; he repeatedly has attacked public school teachers and he has used misinformation.  He reminds me of the John Birch Society member who regularly attended school board meeting in order to condemn public schools as “democratic socialized education”.  If the public schools status as a “democratic socialized institution” is Reed’s beef, I wish he would be honest and tell the people of San Diego that; because, the people of San Diego have always been proud of their public schools, supported them, and found no fault in the public schools being “democratic or socialized”. 

     America’s Constitutional forefathers approved of public schools even before the Constitution was adopted; in the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, our Federal Government provided for establishing public schools when they organized the Northwest Territory.

     It is not just Reed, the editorial policy of the San Diego Union Tribune appears to be a policy of hatred of public school teachers; they have consistently engaged in attacks on the integrity of California’s public school teachers?  If the newspapers hatred of public education stems form the public schools status as a “democratic socialized institution”; they should admit their belief.  Personally, I don’t believe that spreading hate for public school teachers will win new subscribers, retain old subscribers, or entice advertising for any newspaper in America.  I quit the Union Tribune for good reason and I hope advertisers to too.

     For most of my career as a public school educator, I was employed by San Diego public schools; never did I feel hated by the public.  In all my years of service to public education, I have always been proud of my profession, I have treated my position in public education as a public trust, and I have never felt any guilt upon receiving my pay check.  I certainly have no qualms about defending my profession.