March 2, 2008

Kerr-azy Education Solutions

Justin Katz

Last week's stunner was a feeling of agreement with Bob Kerr:

No summits, no rigorous testing of teachers, can restore what has been lost in too many schools — the basic respect for learning and for the place a teacher holds in making good things possible.

Until we can reverse the damage done before some kids even show up for the first day of class, there is little chance that equal opportunity will be the rule in Rhode Island schools.

Of course, disagreement may arise over the symptoms of the "damage done" and would certainly arise over its causes. Some common ground exists:

... at the heart of it all, as always, is the man or woman who prepares a classroom in the morning to welcome students who carry a full load of electronic distractions and social problems through the door. ...

Until we know what it's like to work in an environment where eager participation in class by a student can bring ridicule or worse — where text messaging claims more attention than the mathematical equations on the board — we will only look silly rushing to judgment.

But what to do about those insidious "social problems"? Experience reading Kerr should lead one to expect the usual: welfare programs, subsidized child and health care, affordable housing programs, laws against discrimination, and so on. In short, the parade of policies that have stood the poor in such good stead, the lessons of dependency, and the sense that things not given are not achievable.

If I may be overly simplistic, the guiding principle of this approach is that material circumstances create culture. Conflicting examples of cultures of varying health and wealth, however, suggest that it is not so. Rather, selective acculturation is the wellspring of opportunity. The hope of "yes you can" is incompatible with the pledge of "here you go." Better to project the message: "this you must."

The kids don't "stare and scribble and scratch and fail" because "their only real failing was being born into lousy circumstances." They've been born into circumstances of which most people throughout history would be envious (the classroom being a central emblem). They sabotage their opportunities because trying involves risk. They mock each other's academic success because if they bring each other down, they can continue to blame the system, the Man, the society for not handing over enough to ensure better circumstances.

And the worst part of the whole scenario is how long that attitude has existed — and been readily identifiable. We're into decades, now, and unless we adults find within ourselves the confidence to dictate terms of responsibility, we will continue to damn the kids to lives of staring and scribbling and scratching and failing.

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It's just so easy to be a liberal. No thinking is required. The heavy lifting of fixing problems never has, nor ever will be the calling of cowards. And that's exactly what liberals, like the Kerrs of the world, are - they are cowards. But more than that, they are intellectually inferior - or dishonest, they can choose - because history is ripe with examples of their thinking and the disastrous results is has produced.
It's easy to run for office telling everybody you are going to give them something. Try running telling them you are going to take something away.
Today we are at the tipping point. This state has, for so long, been voting in, the socialist liberals, the redistributionists, that their numbers overwhelm the tax paying populace. Come election time, the majority of voters sucks off the system, be them public employees or welfare recipients. Try running for office claiming you are going to reign that in.

Don't ever expect an intelligent thought from Kerr or his liberal friends. Thinking is too tough for those cowards. It's just so much easier to be a liberal.

Posted by: Mike Cappelli at March 2, 2008 8:03 AM

If the public employee union scum continues to ru(i)n the state here is the real RI Future: Chicago raised it's sales tax Friday to a business friendly 10.25%. No misprint-that's TEN AND A QUARTER PERCENT. The "progressives" who dominate C(r)ook County had wanted 11% but they compromised(LOL).
Stroger, Cook County get money for future
Budget fight ends with sales-tax hike that angers many

By Hal Dardick and Robert Becker | Tribune reporters
March 2, 2008
Oh, what a difference a percentage point makes.

Only a year ago, County Board President Todd Stroger was lopping bodies from the county payroll and closing health clinics as a way to heal a gaping budget deficit.

Along the way, he garnered a measure of goodwill from political opponents and showed signs of instituting some of the reforms he had promised in his bid to succeed his father -- the late John Stroger -- as the board president.

Now with the bitter passage early Saturday of a measure that more than doubles the county sales tax -- to 1.75 percent from 0.75 percent -- Stroger has the cash to hire more than 1,000 new employees and close the county's projected $234 million deficit.

The new budget was approved on a 10-7 vote shortly after midnight Friday, avoiding the need for court action to keep county government offices open. Perhaps more importantly for Stroger, the new revenue likely negates the need for the county to seek additional tax hikes before 2010, when he is expected to seek re-election.

The new tax increase, which confers the dubious honor on Chicago of having the highest sales tax -- 10.25 percent -- of any major U.S. city, will add about $426 million annually to the county's coffers.

But Stroger's victory was not complete.

Stroger settled for a smaller sales-tax increase than he originally sought. He also agreed to place the Health Services Bureau under some form of outside control for three years. Critics also say in the process, which was often marred by bitter personal attacks, that Stroger lost some of his credibility as a manager by raising taxes rather than instituting reforms.

"As a result of a lack of a reasonable financial plan we're going to raise taxes and jeopardize the economic vitality of the Chicago region," said Laurence Msall, president of the Civic Federation, a fiscal watchdog group.

Msall said the county's increase is four times greater than the sales-tax increase granted to the CTA, which agreed to a series of "comprehensive and historic" reforms.

"There is no reform tied to this," said Msall. "There is nothing here the taxpayers can look forward to. ... Nothing in this budget that gives the Civic Federation confidence that the millions collected [under the tax increases] are going to be spent any differently than the other $3 billion in the budget."

Jerry Roper, president and chief executive officer of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, said the sales-tax increase "impacts our jobs climate and makes our region more expensive and less competitive as our country lies on the brink of recession."

Commissioner Mike Quigley (D-Chicago), who had voted with Stroger for budget last year, said the board president simply didn't keep his word.

"All of those promises of streamlining, reform -- none of that happened," Quigley said early Friday.

The stage for the budget impasse was clearly set in July, when Stroger agreed to give the county's 6,200 non-union workers -- including county prosecutors -- retroactive pay increases and a nearly 5 percent raise.

That deal, unanimously approved by the County Board, ended Stroger's running battle with State's Atty. Dick Devine. But the increases in wages and benefits for the county's workforce -- both union and non-union -- added an additional $113 million to the 2008 budget.

The implications -- even in the balmy days of July -- were clear.

"When you're talking about numbers that we're talking about ... there's no way you can talk about that without talking about a tax increase," Stroger said at the time.

As officials began preparations for the 2008 budget, the magnitude of the county's fiscal miseries emerged.

With a projected $307 million budget gap -- which would later shrink to just over $280 million -- Stroger in September called for increasing the county's sales tax to 2.75 percent from 0.75 percent.

Stroger later lowered the proposed hike to 2 percent.

In pushing for the increase, Stroger said it would give the county enough revenue to avoid coming back to the taxpayers every year seeking more money. Board opponents said Stroger had not reformed the $3 billion government enough to earn the tax hike, contending that streamlining operations could save millions.

"Reform has to come first, and if you pass new revenue for this government, that reform is never going to come," Commissioner Forrest Claypool (D-Chicago) said during an October meeting of the board's Finance Committee.

The board refused to endorse Stroger's tax increase.

Two weeks later, Stroger introduced his $3.2 billion budget for 2008, further angering his critics by also seeking to double the gas and parking taxes -- in addition to tripling the sales tax.

Commissioner Timothy Schneider (R-Streamwood), an opponent of the tax proposals, said Stroger should be looking to streamline the government rather than grow it.

"The real elephant in the room is the waste and bloat and bureaucracy here in the county," Schneider said earlier this year.

Stroger's new budget calls for boosting the total county workforce to 24,836.

He contended the new workers are needed mostly to comply with court mandates and the recommendations of outside experts.

"By passing this budget, the board has breathed life into this county government," Stroger said soon after his late-night victory.

- - -

All the extra cost will be no small change

Most everything you buy in Cook County will soon cost a little more.

The 1 percentage point increase in the sales tax passed early Saturday by the Cook County Board will hike the base sales tax rate to 9 percent, or 9 cents for every dollar. It kicks in this fall.

The tax comes on the heels of a quarter-cent-per-dollar sales-tax hike for mass transit that goes into effect in April.

Home-rule municipalities can set higher rates, so how much more you'll pay depends on where you live and shop.

In Chicago, the rate will jump to 10.25 percent, meaning city dwellers will be plunking down 41 cents in taxes on a $4 cup of specialty coffee.

In Evanston the rate will climb to 10 percent, and in Oak Lawn residents will soon be paying an extra 9.5 percent.,1,4246579,full.story

Posted by: Mike at March 2, 2008 9:31 AM

It is interesting that Justin would Blog “Kerr-azy Education Solutions” and today in the Hawaiian Advertiser newspaper “Needed: Leaders to transform education” was printed in the “Opinion” section of the newspaper co-written by the following:

Voices of Educators is comprised of some of Hawaii's top education experts, including: Liz Chun, executive director of Good Beginnings Alliance; Patricia Hamamoto, superintendent of the Department of Education; Christine Sorensen, dean of the University of Hawaii's College of Education; Donald B. Young, Hawaiçi Educational Policy Center; Roger Takabayashi from the Hawaii State Teachers Association; Sharon Mahoe of the Hawaii Teacher Standards Board; Alvin Nagasako of the Hawaii Government Employees Association; and Robert Witt of the Hawaii Association of Independent Schools.

Like Bob Kerr’s article, the Hawaii article “Needed: Leaders to transform education” points to a ballooning problem that stretches across the United States compounding the education of our nation’s children. That is administrative transformational leadership.

“Needed: Leaders to transform education” article can be found at the following link:

Posted by: Ken at March 2, 2008 9:04 PM
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