Tag Archives: education

Alice In Wonderland and the Twins

Read till you come to the end: then stop

Has your highschooler read Alice in Wonderland or Through the Looking Glass? Not Walt Disney’s or other abridged versions, but the original Lewis Carroll, illustrated with the fantastical drawings of John Tenniel. The original Through the Looking Glass delights with the quirky poem Jabberwocky. Here is a sample,

Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!

… and the equally zany The Walrus and the Carpenter — one of the best verses for sample,

The sun was shining on the sea,
Shining with all his might:
He did his very best to make
The billows smooth and bright —
And this was odd, because it was
The middle of the night.

Cautionary tales

Good heavens, you might say, read such nonsense when there is so much strife and challenges in the world?

Well, yes. If your kid can read Through the Looking Glass cover to cover at his own pace and find it fascinating, then he is playing chess while others are playing checkers.

Also, if the reader uses her imagination to turn the “nonsense” into cautionary tales, then she is ready for life’s challenges! Let’s consider tricky folks one of life’s difficulties – like Mr. Walrus and Mr. Carpenter. These snippets from the poem summarize the situation well,

O Oysters, come and walk with us!’
The Walrus did beseech.
A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,
Along the briny beach:
We cannot do with more than four,
To give a hand to each.’

The eldest Oyster looked at him,
But never a word he said:
The eldest Oyster winked his eye,
And shook his heavy head —
Meaning to say he did not choose
To leave the oyster-bed.

But four young Oysters hurried up,
All eager for the treat:
Their coats were brushed, their faces washed,
Their shoes were clean and neat —
And this was odd, because, you know,
They hadn’t any feet.

Guess what happened to the gullible little oysters.

O Oysters,’ said the Carpenter,
You’ve had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?’
But answer came there none —
And this was scarcely odd, because
They’d eaten every one.”

Alas, innocents that believe in wondrous promises from the powerful.

The mathematician who wrote children’s books

Lewis Carroll was the pen name of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, born in Daresbury, Cheshire, England, in 1832. He died in 1898. He is known for Alice in Wonderland (1865) and Through the Looking Glass (1871), although he wrote other books, short stories, and poems. His other most-often mentioned works are Bruno’s Revenge (1867), The Hunting of the Snark (1876), and A Tangled Tale (1885).

Carroll was not only a prolific writer, but also a mathematician, logician, photographer, and Anglican deacon. He taught mathematics and logic at Christ Church, Oxford, and wrote several mathematical books under his birth name. His mathematical puzzles are sometimes included in puzzle books. His most-often mentioned mathematical book is An Elementary Treatise on Determinants with their Application to Simultaneous Linear Equations and Algebraic Geometry (1867).

A whole lot of Carroll’s writings and puzzles were intended to teach children math and logic. His work can still do so today. The popular website Teachers Pay Teachers is just one of the several that have materials related to Lewis Carroll’s works for younger children as well as for highschoolers. Lesson Planet has good material on Lewis Carroll as well.

Gee, this book is long!

The last chapter of Alice in Wonderland has useful advice for readers of long books,

“There’s more evidence to come yet, please your Majesty,” said the White Rabbit, jumping up in a great hurry: “this paper has just been picked up …” “it’s a set of verses …” “Read them,” said the King. The White Rabbit put on his spectacles. “Where shall I begin, please your Majesty,” he asked.

Begin at the beginning,” the King said, very gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.

Alice at the Trial

Logo of the SEIU

CA AB 257 vs Fast Food Industry

The California Legislature passed Assembly Bill 257, the Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act, on August 29, 2022. If Governor Gavin Newsom approves AB 257, California will be the first state in the nation to broadly regulate wages and working conditions for an entire industry. Fight for $15 and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) California sponsored AB 257. Their hope is the bill will lead to European-style industry-wide unionization, and end company-by-company efforts. The fast-food industry predictably opposes the bill.

Although states, as well as the federal government, regulate several industries, like banking and petroleum, these regulations do not set minimum wage and labor standards. They do not attempt to regulate social inequities. That is why the bill is being touted by the media as “first in the nation.”

A Super Agency in the Making

AB 257 creates a council comprised of government officials appointed by the Governor, business leaders, and worker representatives. The council will draw regulation to apply to all fast food restaurants with 100 or more establishments nationally that share a common brand. The bill has broad powers to repeal or amend existing regulation to accomplish its mission of establishing wage and labor standards.

AB 257 claims its intent is not to usurp legislative powers by creating or amending statutes. However, sections of the bill seem to send a contradictory message.

Section 4 (d) (1) (B) Nothing herein restrains the Legislature from enacting legislation that prevents a standard, repeal, or amendment from taking effect.

This wording seems to say elected representatives of the people do not have the power to simply veto regulations presented by the council, but instead can if they choose create legislation that would amend or repeal the regulation.

The council created by AB 257 seems in reality to be a super-agency, whose unelected members have de facto power to make and enforce law. As such, voters have no say in rules and regulations this super-agency implements. The only recourse of unhappy voters is appeal to their California legislators to try to enact more legislation that modifies or repeals the “law” created by the council – a council they themselves created.

The council will succeed where no agency has before?

California already has numerous laws, rules and regulations regarding wages and working conditions. However, AB 257 correctly states that enforcement is ineffective and problems in the workplace abound.

Section 2 (j) Furthermore, because existing enforcement and regulatory mechanisms have proved inadequate in ensuring fast food restaurant worker health, safety, and welfare, the Legislature concludes that sectorwide minimum health, safety, and employment standards, including standards concerning wages and other working conditions, identified by an expert body with subject matter expertise and experience in the fast food sector and which can represent the demographic diversity of the state’s fast food restaurant operators and employees, are necessary to protect, maintain, and ensure the health, safety, and welfare of, and to supply the necessary cost of proper living to, fast food restaurant employees.

So, AB 257 creates a super-agency (without discontinuing any of the ineffective agencies) and claims it will do the job none of the other numerous agencies have succeeded in doing. Seems this endeavor could only be accomplished either by amazing efficiency, for which government agencies are not well known, or tyrannical power over the fast food industry, approaching a takeover.

Interesting background of AB 257

AB 257 was originally authored by then Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez, who resigned from office in January 2022 to take the position of chief officer of the California Labor Federation. Ms. Gonzalez is also the author of Assembly Bill 5, signed into law September 2019, which reclassified numerous California workers from independent contractors to employees.

AB 5 caused enormous upheaval, like upending supply chains by curbing the work of hundreds of independent truckers. AB 5 has also spawned numerous high-profile lawsuits, the most prominent of which are those initiated by ride-sharing company Uber, the California Trucking Association, and the International Franchise Association.

It would not be unreasonable to expect the same upheaval from AB 257, given the bill’s unusually broad powers.

After Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez’s resignation from office, Assemblymember Chris Holden reintroduced the bill in January 2022.

There is a better way

Government micromanagement of industries, promising “living wages” and a plethora of “benefits” might seem to low-wage workers like a dream come true.

Unfortunately, they do not realize that life will find a way. The marketplace is a living thing that survives the harshest conditions – ask any underground entrepreneur thriving in the world’s tyrannies. Another quote is “money goes to where it is treated best.” Ask the many major companies that have left California for more business-friendly states. The cure promised by AB 257 might be worse than the ailments.

Another way to view low-wage workers, like those in the fast food industry, is that there are too many of them. Although sometimes denied by today’s progressives, supply and demand do determine prices. If companies see too many people with non-marketable skills (like graduates of California’s low-rated school system or graduates from Stanford with degrees in philosophy) then companies can pay their workers low wages without fear of exhausting the worker supply.

A more sustainable way to guarantee worker respect, good wages, and benefits is to encourage workers to obtain marketable skills. Never-ending battles with the realities of the market only serve to grow government power, increase taxation necessary to maintain bureaucracies, and divert resources from helping the populace obtain good skills.

Civil Rights march in Selma, Alabama

1619 Project: any equity yet?

When works with some merit are too forcefully publicized, they become hysterical rhetoric that require a set of illusory truths repeated ad infinitum. At that point they attract critics bent on stripping those works of all value. A good example of this phenomenon is The 1619 Project.

New York Times journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones assembled essays on America’s history and named the collection The 1619 Project, which was published by The New York Times in 2019 with great fanfare. The name refers to the year the first shipload of Black slaves landed in America.

According to the project, this seminal event in 1619 forever imprinted racism in the American psyche, causing foundational and expansion episodes to carry slavery’s imprint to this day. The project in its original publication contended that 1619 must be considered America’s founding date, not 1776.

Praises and Disdain

Immediately after its publication, The 1619 Project received accolades from liberals and searing criticism from conservatives. In 2020, Nikole Hannah-Jones received a Pulitzer Prize for her work. She also received denunciations of circulating junk history.

The great tragedy of the original 1619 Project was its missed opportunity to add detail, nuance, and reflection to our historical understanding of slavery and its legacy. That opportunity was lost not upon publication but in the aftermath, when The New York Times met its scholarly critics with insult and derision. The ensuing controversies, initially confined to Hannah-Jones’ and Desmond’s essays, came to overshadow the remainder of the project, including its other historical contributions as well as its literary and artistic sections. The 1619 Project Unrepentantly Pushes Junk History, Reason, March 29, 2022

The principal purpose of The 1619 Project is not to inform but to agitate and entice action. Hannah-Jones wants to see acknowledgement of the persistent consequences of slavery and the ubiquitous nature of racism, present in the judicial system, housing, employment, education, and all other institutions. Her premise is that without that acknowledgement, society cannot begin to erase the negative effects of prejudice. In this regard, her premise aligns with the principles of Critical Race Theory.

Action is often best achieved with focus, flexible statements, relentless publicity, and fascinating storytelling. Lest The New York Times version of the project starts losing media space, Hannah-Jones expanded it into a book, The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story, and a school curriculum, Reading Guide for The 1619 Project Essays.

Measures of early action enticed by The 1619 Project could be the level of sales of the book, how many school districts adopted the curriculum, and the backlash. The book is an Amazon best seller. The number of school districts that adopted the curriculum does not seem to be available; there are only article, mostly published in 2020, saying that “4,500 classrooms” are using the curriculum. As of February 2022, 38 states have introduced or passed legislation banning the teaching of race-based curricula.

Illusory Truths

Possibly because of its dependence on illusory truths and storytelling, the Project is an easy target for criticism and dismissal. Here are three of the Project’s most salient, most often repeated, assertions and the JVN Blog’s opinion of how these assertions missed opportunities to enrich American history.

  • The American Revolution was fought over slavery

Traditional history does not fully discuss the crucial role slavery played in colonial economy, principally in the Southern plantations, but also Northern commerce. A deeper discussion would serve better to understand the words of the Declaration of Independence, the Civil War, Reconstruction, and government-sponsored segregation.

However, other reasons for the Revolution abound: British soldiers quartered in America starting in 1763. Devastating taxation and regulation in 1765. The Boston Massacre in 1770. The long list of other grievances listed on the Declaration of Independence.

Also, the British were the middlemen who exported slaves to America. Calls for abolishing slavery in Britain did not occur until 1780, five years after the Revolutionary War began.

  • The Second Amendment to the Constitution was placed there to allow White men to defend themselves against Black slaves.

Indeed, history needs to speak more about slaves’ discontent and frequent rebellion, which no doubt caused White apprehension.

History also needs to be clear that the ten original Amendments that make up the Bill of Rights were the result of the Founders’ mistrust of a central government and particularly government’s standing armies. Those Amendments, including the Second, were intended to protect the People against government, not against each other.

What, Sir, is the use of a militia? It is to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty …. Whenever Governments mean to invade the rights and liberties of the people, they always attempt to destroy the militia, in order to raise an army upon their ruins. Rep. Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts, Annals of Congress 750, August 17, 1789.

  • Slavery and racism were, and still are, root causes of unjust social, judicial, and educational systems.

There are events that could be better understood with more honest discussions of their relation to racism. For example, during the 1930s through the 1950s, the Federal Housing Administration guaranteed most private mortgages that helped build America’s suburbs. Only 2% of those mortgages went to non-white applicants. The FHA encouraged covenants that kept suburban neighborhoods “harmonious.”

Areas surrounding a location are investigated to determine whether incompatible racial and social groups are present, for the purpose of making a prediction regarding the probability of the location being invaded by such groups. If a neighborhood is to retain stability, it is necessary that properties shall continue to be occupied by the same social and racial classes. Federal Housing Administration 1936:233.

It is not difficult to determine what social and racial class was preferred when we consider what the American suburbs of the 1950s looked like.

Civil rights legislation of the 1960s removed housing discrimination, and many Black families did resettle to prosperous suburbs. But poverty kept more in the inner cities.

Poor Black neighborhoods share key characteristics that ensure poverty: Children living in one-parent families (64% vs. 24% of White children). Incarceration (in state prisons 5 times the rate of White incarceration). Gun violence, that results in high, mostly Black-on-Black, violent crime.

These self-inflicted wounds keep poor Black families poor and deluded by the cruel lie of victimhood.

Meanwhile, Black individuals and families that refuse to cling to victimhood prosper: Harriett Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Candace Owens, Clarence Thomas, the countless number of Black families who insist on discipline and have achieved economic well being.

Yes, slavery, government-sponsored segregation, and prejudice are the despicable triumvirate that shares a place in America’s identity. But they need not be the determining variables in anyone’s life. They need not be the relentless distraction from purposeful endeavors that Nikole Hannah-Jones and her fellow Critical Race Theorists want them to be.

A Great Experiment Goes Unnoticed

The 1619 Project’s plea to face history honestly makes sense, since nothing can be learned from an embellished version that ignores mistakes to be avoided. However, The Project’s version, stripped of understanding, has caused it to be dismissed in its entirely. Good understanding of history should include these three principles:

  • History is incremental. People develop knowledge of themselves and the world around them in bits and pieces.

Earth was once the center of the universe, until it was not. Slavery was once a fact of life going back to ancient times, until it was not.

  • America’s Declaration of Independence laid down a new concept of the rights to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness: these rights are not granted by government, but by The Creator.

At the time the Declaration was written, the Founding Fathers’ attitude toward slavery and an economy dependent on slavery was evolving. As Hannah-Jones herself pointed out Thomas Jefferson included in the Declaration a passage condemning slavery, but the passage was removed prior to ratification. One would have to speculate that the Founders must have figured that if they were to have a country at all, they could not obliterate their economy by suddenly freeing the slaves.

  • America’s Constitution laid down a never-before tried system of government 1) of rule by the people through the peoples’ representatives in Congress, 2) of enumerated powers in the Articles clearly indicating what each of the three branches of government does, and 3) of restrictions in the first 10 Amendments indicating what government cannot do.

In other words, the Founders wrote the American Constitution as an experiment in self-government, something never before attempted. It turned the idea of government held since time immemorial on its head. Under this Constitution, government works for the people, not the other way around. That means the People, through their representatives, can change (amend) any part of that document if they so choose.

Baby Gone With the Bathwater

In conclusion, The 1619 Project throws away the baby with the bathwater. That is unfortunate. However, if the Project’s intent, along with that of brethren Critical Race Theory, is to agitate, distract, and solidify Black adherence to progressive politics, then rational thinking does not matter.

Declaration of Independence

E Pluribus and More Pluribus

This 4th of July is a good time to reflect how our country today differs from the nation our Founders envisioned. A handy measure is to compare the national motto the Founders chose vs. how our country behaves today.

What is the national motto.

The U.S. national motto is “In God We Trust.” This phrase first appeared in some coinage during the Civil War, was officially sanctioned as the national motto in 1956 by then President Dwight Eisenhower, but is not the original national motto the Founders chose. Actually, the Founders rejected that and other similar phrases for obvious reasons: they were trying to build a secular nation that acknowledged the blessings of Providence but rejected the supremacy of any specific religion (including Deism, to which several Founders adhered). The subject was important enough to the Founders that they wrote this as the first clause in the Bill of Rights: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

The motto the Founders chose was “E Pluribus Unum” — From Many, One. The “many” were the several states carrying their own philosophies, economies, and customs. The “one” was the new nation governed by one Constitution and one goal of realization. Of course, one must acknowledge that the norms of that time and place, which allowed for a more homogenous leadership and electorate, facilitated the transition from many to one. However, the sentiment of E Pluribus Unum could have remained unaltered as our nation grew. It did not. At least it did not to the extent the Founders envisioned.

Sentiments of divide and conquer that permeate the national psyche have webbed and flowed since the nation’s birth. Today, we are on an upward flow. Media, including social media, compartmentalizes everybody into spheres of preference – echo chambers – and turn participants into one-issue zealots. Schools, especially government schools, are indoctrination centers, as are workplaces. When school children and employees are forced to sit through hours of diversity training, it is a good bet that a true preference for diversity (when persons will “not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”) is not occurring. Add to that brew, legislators that moved away from an ideological center that allows for rational discussion and compromise.

Happy 4th of July

Enjoy the hotdogs and the fireworks. Take a few minutes to cogitate on the new national motto vs. the old one. If you prefer the old motto, perhaps help turn the tide towards E Pluribus, Unum.

MLK I have a dream

Critical Race Theory: A Dream Cancelled

Andrew Gutmann, parent of a 4th grader at the elite Brearley School in New York City, has touched a nerve in today’s woke culture. His 1,700-word letter to 650 parents at the school, decrying the famed institution’s race-saturated curriculum went viral after being leaked.

Mr. Gutmann explained in his April 13, 2021, letter why he and his family decided not to reenroll their daughter at Brearley for the 2021-22 school year. The letter discusses his objections to the schools’ embrace of critical race theory. Here are two of his objections that are particularly forceful.

I object to the view that I should be judged by the color of my skin. I cannot tolerate a school that not only judges my daughter by the color of her skin, but encourages and instructs her to prejudge others by theirs. By viewing every element of education, every aspect of history, and every facet of society through the lens of skin color and race, we are desecrating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and utterly violating the movement for which such civil rights leaders believed, fought, and died.

I object to the idea that Blacks are unable to succeed in this country without aid from government or from whites. Brearley, by adopting critical race theory, is advocating the abhorrent viewpoint that Blacks should forever be regarded as helpless victims, and are incapable of success regardless of their skills, talents, or hard work. What Brearley is teaching our children is precisely the true and correct definition of racism.

Predictably, the response from the Brearley administration is to suggest Mr. Gutmann is a racist, ignoring that what he was so vehemently opposing in his letter was the racism inherent in critical race theory. Surely the Brearley administration is capable of grasping how anti-racism has devolved from the ideals of Martin Luther King Jr to the decrees of Black Lives Matter. Or perhaps not.

We express our unequivocal support for our Black, Asian, Indigenous, Multiracial and Latinx students, faculty, staff, and alums. Many of our students of color, especially those who identify as Black, felt that the letter questioned their belonging in the Brearley community. Their belonging and their excellence are unquestionable.

Brearley Is Not Alon

* Paul Rossi, a teacher at Grace Church High School in Manhattan, wrote an essay, which podcaster Bari Weiss published on April 13 (as she did Andrew Gutmann’s letter). Mr. Rossi warned that Grace Church’s focus on race was damaging to students. Here is a short excerpt of his essay.

As a teacher, my first obligation is to my students. But right now, my school is asking me to embrace “antiracism” training and pedagogy that I believe is deeply harmful to them and to any person who seeks to nurture the virtues of curiosity, empathy and understanding …

My school, like so many others, induces students via shame and sophistry to identify primarily with their race before their individual identities are fully formed. Students are pressured to conform their opinions to those broadly associated with their race and gender and to minimize or dismiss individual experiences that don’t match those assumptions.

* “Parents at Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles gather to strategize in their war on the school’s race orthodoxy. Bari Weiss was invited to one such gathering, and reported what transpired in “The Miseducation of America’s Elites.” This from City Journal

Affluent parents, terrified of running afoul of the new orthodoxy in their children’s private schools, organize in secret.

In a backyard behind a four-bedroom home, ten people sat in a circle of plastic Adirondack chairs, eating bags of Skinny Pop. These are the rebels: well-off Los Angeles parents who send their children to Harvard-Westlake, the most prestigious private school in the city.

Most of all, they worry that the school’s new plan to become an “anti-racist institution”—unveiled this July, in a 20-page document—is making their kids fixate on race and attach importance to it in ways that strike them as grotesque.

These are America’s cream of the crop $40,000 – $55,000 a year schools, feeders to Princeton, Yale, and Harvard. Average on-lookers might find it strange that any student at such schools would actually view themselves as oppressed. But, often reality is situational.

Chances are there will be more schools embracing a race-based curriculum

On April 19, The U.S. Department of Education proposed a two-prong approach to embed race-based curriculum in American schools. The proposals are described in The Federal Register (the public comment period of these proposals ends May 19, 2021).

Proposed Priority 1—Projects That Incorporate Racially, Ethnically, Culturally, and Linguistically Diverse Perspectives into Teaching and Learning. Proposed

Priority 2—Promoting Information Literacy Skills.

Proposal #1 is fairly clear. Proposal #2 is open to interpretation, but might mean simply don’t look at anything on Zero Hedge, The Keiser Report, or Alex Jones.

President Joe Biden is considering grants to support implementation of these proposals. Public schools always need more money. Private schools might be welcoming extra funding to make up for loss of tuition due to Covid-19 closure. Federal grant money could be the enforcing mechanism for implementation of critical race theory in American schools.

In Fairness To Woke Progressives

Parents rebelling against today’s critical race theory curriculum are often quoted as saying their children are being indoctrinated, not educated. True, indoctrination of what is occurring.

However, it is only fair to say woke indoctrination on race is not unique in America. Our country’s schools operated under strict government-sanctioned segregation by race for nearly 80 years. The school segregation mirrored the wider culture at the time, when white people felt they needed to be vigilant against black people “forgetting their place.”

Thankfully, there were brave people who fought to dismantle the race-obsessed, baseless indoctrination inherent in Jim Crow.

Let’s ensure today’s parents are not contributing, willing or unwillingly, to raising racists. Let’s not let our desire to foster inclusiveness to turn into obsession with race.

Parents of School Children are Fighting Back

The Just Vote No Blog recently discussed California’s BLM-inspired schools. Identity politics has permeated schools as it has other sectors of society. Some are fighting back. In San Francisco, a fuse that ignited a revolt was the Board of Education’s decision to change the merit-based admission policy of Lowell High School to a lottery-based system. This decision will bring Lowell down to the mediocre level of other San Francisco government/union-run schools.

One school official caught in the maelstrom is Alison Collins, Vice President of the San Francisco Board of Education. Her unfortunate Tweets insinuating that Asians behave like white supremacists to get ahead placed Ms. Collins in a difficult position. She offended both the race-focused progressives and the traditional-education-focused parents of Lowell High students. Mission Local in an article dated March 23, explains the situation well.

A petition calling for Ms. Collins ejection from the School Board has been posted on Change.org.

Perhaps petitions and other means of raising awareness need to be posted regarding the broader issue: school officials that descend into race peddling.

The BLM-Inspired Schools of California

On one of the windows of a public Marin County middle school there was recently not a display of children’s work or announcements of school events.  There was instead a poster issued by Black Lives Matter at School asking for a pledge of support for,

Restorative Justice. Transgender Affirming. Globalism. Collective Value. Queer Affirming. Unapologetically Black.  Loving Engagement.  Empathy. Intergenerational. Black Villages.  Black Women. Black Families. Diversity. 

One would have to wonder how a 12-year old might interpret this complex pledge.  Parents, as well as taxpayers, might want to ask themselves how time spent discussing such concepts affect time available to learn skills like reading and math. 

This Black Lives Matter at School poster falls comfortably under political propaganda.  The objective of all propaganda is to convert as many hearts and minds as possible.  Therefore, parents and taxpayers should know what they and their children are being recruited for. 

The BLM at School website from which the poster in question can be procured makes quite clear what the group wants their recruits to support.  As all attempts at winning hearts and minds, BLM at School principles contain both positive and dangerous objectives.  And, as is often the case, positive messages of love and understanding do not pass muster when the more aggressive messages are explored.  Here are samples from the BLM at School website.

It is our duty to fight for our freedom.  It is our duty to win.  We must love each other and support each other.  We have nothing to lose but our chains.   ~Assata Shakur

We are committed to collectively, lovingly, and courageously working vigorously for freedom and justice for Black people and, by extension, all people. As we forge our path, we intentionally build and nurture a beloved community that is bonded together through a beautiful struggle that is restorative, not depleting.

We are committed to fostering a queer‐affirming network. When we gather, we do so with the intention of freeing ourselves from the tight grip of heteronormative thinking or, rather, the belief that all in the world are heterosexual unless s/he or they disclose otherwise.

We are committed to disrupting the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, and especially “our” children to the degree that mothers, parents and children are comfortable.

The first objective quoted above might need clarification for those not familiar with Assata Shakur.  Ms. Shakur, a former member of the Black Liberation Army, is presently residing in Cuba, where she received asylum following her escape from prison in 1984. Her crime was murder of a state trooper during a 1973 shootout.  Her brother, Mutulu Shakur, also a member of the BLA is still incarcerated for his role in a 1981 Brinks armored truck robbery, in which two policemen (one, by the way, Black) and one Brinks guard were murdered.  In violent struggles for liberation people die, regardless of all professed love and justice.

Ms. Shakur is not the only radical honored in the BLM at School website.  Another name that should stand out, especially to residents of San Francisco, is BLM at School endorser Bill Ayers, a leader of the Weather Underground and foster parent of San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin.  However, his role in several bombings in protest of the Vietnam War during the late 1960s and 1970s is not what is significant here. 

Bill Ayers, along with other prominent radicals like Bernardine Dohrn (Weather Underground leader and retired Northwestern University law professor) and Kathy Boudin (Weather Underground leader and Columbia University co-founder of the Center for Justice), pivoted from violence to education (or indoctrination).  After his Weather Underground days, Ayers became known for his work in education theory, education reform, curriculum and instruction.

Things roll downhill, and the race/gender-focused socialism that radicals brought into universities is now sipping into primary schools.

The Marin County middle school poster could have been the idea of one teacher or one parent for all we know.  The concern here is not with that particular school, but with a wider trend of mainstreaming radicalism in children’s schools.  The California Department of Education website has a section describing California’s Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum and containing the following in the lesson plan.

… develop an understanding and analyze the effectiveness of #BlackLivesMatter and the broader Movement for Black Lives (M4BL), specifically delving into the movement’s structure, key organizations, and tactics/actions used to respond to incidents of police brutality…

The ultimate questions for parents and taxpayers need to be:  Is reform of schools, criminal justice, and some cultural conventions desirable at this time?  What is the track record of the race/gender-focused education that has gained ground during the past three decades?  Are parents and taxpayers these days willing to speak up if their answer to the first question is “Yes” and to the second question is “Lousy?”

This article was written for California Political News & Views, March 23, 2021

Proposition 13 Set for Another Jab

 

Howard Jarvis and Paul Gann
Howard Jarvis, Paul Gann and supporters celebrate the victory of Proposition 13 in 1978.

Proposition 13, overwhelmingly approved by voters in 1978, turned out to be not a mere voters’ initiative, but a cultural symbol defended by some and despised by others.

By placing a property tax cap on certain properties, Proposition 13 significantly reduced sources of revenue for a state that considers taxes lifeblood itself.

Never mind that the state devised a myriad other sources of revenue, and today stands #11 out of 50 in level of taxation – the focus remains on the loss of property taxes resulting from Proposition 13. Never mind that a 1976 court decision removed fiscal responsibility from school districts – the narrative remains that Proposition 13 destroyed local control of schools.

Because Proposition 13 enjoys some fierce defenders, the opposition has settled for incremental jabs rather than outright repeal. A significant blow will be attempted in the November 2020 election. The proposal would leave the cap on residences but remove it from commercial and industrial buildings in what has been called split-roll property tax assessment.

The California teachers’ union and others who view Proposition 13 as abhorrent are building a campaign war chest to support the 2020 proposal. Their narrative remains as it was in 1978.

The Just Vote No Blog recommends an article on California Political News and Views that provides a different narrative – Proposition 13 News: Split-Roll Proposal, Again.
If voters are to vote wisely, they need to acquaint themselves with the opposing views inherent in all proposals.

Looking for Free Education: Watch Hardfire TV

Hardfire TV 2

This is an interesting find, scholarly discussions on economics in lay-person’s language.  There are over 150 episodes on YouTube of Hardfire: Libertarian Issues in Focus, produced by Cameron Weber, PhD economics.

Dr. Weber is generally pleasantly soft spoken, which is a plus in today’s strident public dialogue. As the title of the show suggests, issues are discussed from a libertarian (versus collective or socialist) perspective.

Why is the Just Vote No Blog recommending this show? 

As a nation, we are in need of the basic education that allows us to competently fill out a resume, keep a financially sound household budget, point to where a country is located on a map, and assess the economic feasibility of what is proposed at the ballot box.  Some point to home schooling, charter schools, and on-line courses as a way for students to improve their chances of competing favorably in an increasingly complex job market.  Others point to free or low-cost life-long learning as a way for everybody to stay informed.

The trick is not only to find free or low cost instruction, but to avoid the echo-chamber trap of learning only what often agenda-driven groups prescribe.  One way to avoid this trap is to explore different sources of information.  It is good to listen to what Robert Reich (professor of public policy at U.C. Berkeley and partial to Keynesian economics) has to say, but counter that with what Thomas Sowell (Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and partial to Chicago School economics) says.

Cameron Weber’s show represents instruction that is freely available as well as libertarian (free market) economics which today is less widespread than the liberal central planning.

An Example of a Hardfire Episode

On the segment of August 2, 2019, Dr. Weber discusses what at first glance borders on the heretical – Adam Smith, father of free market capitalism, called for non-market government intervention!  However, as Cameron Weber explains, this apparent contradiction is the result of Adam Smith’s discussion of two separate situations.

One situation describes economic relationships between individuals.  For example, you sell widgets and I know you for being an honest and knowledgeable maker of widgets, so I decide to buy widgets from you.  In this situation, the free market is the best judge of who are the most successful widget makers.  Adam Smith discussed this theme in one of his two principal books, The Theory of Modern Sentiment (1759).

The other situation regards not individuals but nations, thus the title of Smith’s other principal work, The Wealth of Nations.  Now, the free market must take second place to national wealth and security.  Any benefit that might accrue to individuals comes as a result of government-determined policies on manufacturing and trade that aim to make nations wealthy and secure.  Such policies according to Smith must include exceptions to the free market that protect 1) products used in national defense, and 2) infant industries.

From a libertarian viewpoint, the questions would be 1) are we really talking about national defense or imperialism, 2) do industry protections ever end once implemented, and 3) where does the line of protectionism end.

Sprinkled throughout this segment are explanations of mercantilism, social scores, analytic egalitarianism, and other interesting terms.

The Just Vote No Blog hopes you will enjoy this show and also watch a variety of points of views on economics, so much of it free of change on YouTube.

Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body & mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day.  Thomas Jefferson

4th of July: Hotdogs But No History?

On Thursday, communities across these United States will celebrate 4th of July with hotdogs and fireworks, but all too often without much understanding of what the Founding Fathers aimed to create when they signed the Declaration of Independence.

Understanding requires objectivity, emotional stability, and perspective – all of which in short supply. Students do not study history objectively, people readily respond to sound bites and catchphrases, and single-minded views take the place of perspective of events. Thus, Thomas Jefferson has descended to the level of a mere slaveholder. Thus, schools call for the removal of statues and murals depicting our nation’s history. Once history is erased, there is no way to learn from it, or avoid repeating horrendous acts such as building an economy based on indentured servitude.

So, what is going on? Are voices calling Jefferson and Washington brigands uncovering ugly truths that need to be told, or do such voices represent another agenda?  Let’s compare what the Founding Fathers aimed to create vs. what today’s politicians want to do.

What the Founding Fathers Wanted

When leaders in the American Colonies decided to break with Great Britain, they were faced not only with a War of Revolution but also with a clean slate upon which to design a new nation. They did not wish another Britain or France, but a nation that embodied the ideals of individual liberty and self government. To do that, they needed to codify the ideas contained in documents that discussed such ideals. For example:  The Magna Carta (1215) spoke of curtailment of a King’s absolute power and of limited government.  In his Second Treatise on Government (1690), John Locke discussed natural rights that everyone is born with and the duty of government to protect those natural rights.

Revolutionaries like Thomas Paine (“If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace.”) and Patrick Henry (“Give me liberty or give me death!”) are best known for the oratory that spread the word about Independence. George Washington led the War of Independence. John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison were the principal architects of the new nation. Thomas Jefferson wrote the first draft of the Declaration of Independence. All these and many more placed their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to create a republic in which the individual was paramount, and government existed only to protect the natural rights of the people.

What Today’s Politicians Want

With few exceptions politicians today want unlimited government, an obedient populace that does not understand government is their servant not their master, and replacement of natural rights with civil rights.

But the words of those pesky Founding Fathers and that bothersome old U.S. Constitution are in the way. Give such politicians a chance and they will do away with just about every single word in the Constitution. However, since they feel that time has not yet come, best alternative is to crank out rules and laws that keep expanding the reach of government and malign those who called for limited government.

Have a Great 4th of July! Here is a Suggestion:

If you are having a 4th of July get together with family and friends, maybe take a moment to reflect on what you are celebrating.  If you want to frame your call for reflection with a topic du jour, pose the question: If you were a Founding Father creating a new nation out disparate colonies, how would you go about changing the structure of colonies whose economy was based on slave labor?

Would you visualize such an endeavor as challenging for the new Republic?  For example:  In his first draft of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson condemned the importation of slaves into the colonies as an “abominable crime.” Delegates to the Continental Congress of 1776 removed that language and replaced it with ambiguous reference to “domestic insurrections” so as to ensure support for Independence from the Southern colonies. What would you have done instead?

Do you view individuals even possessing the best intentions to be fallible?  Do you see a comparison between the fallibility of today’s politicians who are unable to remedy tragedies such as homelessness and deaths from drug addiction with the fallibility of yesterday’s politicians who failed to end slavery in a rational and peaceful manner?

Enjoy your Independence Day!

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