Friday, December 20, 2013

Liberals, Unions and Teachers Find New Uses for Dead Children

Note: This article contains explicit language that some readers might find offensive.

Liberals in Ohio have used the death of a 14-year-old homeschooler in order to try to pass legislation that would require all homeschooling families to first have a home visit by some bureaucrat or another to see if they’re worthy enough for homeschooling.

14-year old Teddy Foltz was pulled out of school by his mother because teachers suspected child abuse, the story goes.

The child was subsequently beaten to death by the mother's boyfriend who is now serving a life sentence for murder and is eligible for parole in 33 years. The mother was sentenced to 15 years for complicity in the death of her son. If it were up to me, I’d give the both of them the death penalty.

But as I said before a liberals never let dead kids go to waste. Or rest in peace.  One Ohio liberal is using this murder for all it’s worth, while practically ignoring the criminals.

“Loved ones of 14-year-old murder victim Teddy Foltz, have joined forces with State Senator Capri Cafaro, in an effort to pass Teddy's Law,” happily reports, the local Youngstown NBC affiliate. “Senate Bill 248, as it's officially known, has been introduced to the Ohio Senate, and the mission is to protect children. Senator Cafaro hopes to put the bill on the fast track, and get it passed for the next school year, so that other children won't fall through the cracks.”

Fall through the cracks?  The only cracks that Teddy fell through were the cracks between teachers and child protective services in Ohio.

So in the grand tradition of progressives covering for other progressives’ mistakes, the senator is introducing a bill that would require homeschoolers--who has a class are completely innocent in this affair-- to go through onerous background checks in lieu of holding the bureaucrats who let Teddy fall through the cracks responsible.

“[Teddy’s law] is breathtakingly onerous in its scope,” says Mike Donnelly, a staff attorney with the Home School Legal Defense Association. “It requires all parents who homeschool to undergo a social services investigation which would ultimately determine if homeschooling would be permitted. Social workers would have to interview parents and children separately, conduct background checks and determine whether homeschooling is recommended or not. If it is not recommended, parents would have to submit to an ‘intervention’ before further consideration of their request to homeschool.”

Teachers unions hate homeschoolers, considering them a drain on education funding that's divided per pupil. More homeschoolers, less funding. Senator Capri Cafaro, it will be noted, gets 100% rating from the Ohio Federation of Teachers (motto: "protect working families" should read "exploiting working families") only because the scoring doesn’t go past 100%. And her father pled guilty to fraud when he gave an undocumented $10,000 loan to her campaign. Sen. Capri denied any knowledge of the loan.

“The charge against John Cafaro is not his first go-around with federal prosecutors,” reports the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “In 2002, he was fined $150,000 and placed on probation for bribing former U.S. Rep. Jim Traficant.”  Traficant went to jail for bribes and racketeering.

Senator Capri is also a consultant to the United Nations and—snort-- according to Wikipedia“as a participant in the Clinton Global Initiative, she developed a project on anti-corruption efforts in emerging democracies.”

Ha! Anti-corruption efforts... pfft. It will be noted that the United Nations official policy is to consider home schooling child abuse.

Oh yes: This has union written all over it. In conjunction with United Nations. And supported by the Clinton Global Initiative. And brought to you by progressives everywhere.

Only progressives with ties to unions and a history of bad behavior would presume to set up themselves as lawgivers to all.

That’s why I don’t find it odd that the government, under the Cafaros, would presume that families are unfit to teach their children, when in fact the objective evidence points to institutionalized child abuse in the public school system run by the friends of Sen. Capri.

What else do you call it when eighth-grade children are taught about anal sex in a public classroom setting?

I mean besides unionized education under Common Core?

“Teddy Foltz-Tedesco was killed because those responsible for protecting him did not step in as the law or common sense would have dictated,” concludes Donnelly. “Why? Although news reports indicate that abuse had been reported for years prior to Teddy’s death, it does not appear that any serious intervention was made by government authorities charged with investigating such allegations.”

And you, the homeschoolers, and me, we’re going to pay.  That’s the union way.


Fighting Against the Fight against Rising Tuition Costs

Remember when the federal government took over student loans? That power grab was part of the Democrats’ push to make college ‘affordable.’ It didn’t work because it was never really designed to work, just to make people think they were ‘doing something’ to address the issue. But failure has never stopped our liberal/progressive friends from striving ‘forward.’

When it comes to soaring college costs, as President Reagan famously said, "Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem."

Since the government isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, cost savings in higher education have to be found elsewhere. But with government being the intrusive, ever-growing obstacle it is, you can’t expect it to sit by and do nothing as schools scramble to rein in costs.

I was talking with an education policy analyst friend of mine the other day about how much more expensive college has gotten ever since I graduated in 2000, and we bounced ideas around about how to control costs in ways that don’t involve government. (Yes, that’s what many of us inside this beltway bubble talk about over drinks. The rest of you are missing nothing!)

While government subsidizing education is a lion's share of the problem, one of the other issues we discussed is privatizing much of the administrative work. Just like in every public school district in the country, there is an enormous amount of overhead in the university system.

My friend told me about schools that were trying to control costs and the opening salvo of a move by progressives to stop even this modest effort.

About 1,600 schools across the United States have contracted with a company called Higher One to handle the disbursement of financial aid refunds to their students... Higher One saves these schools millions of dollars by disbursing these refunds at much lower costs than colleges can do it themselves. Needless to say, this helps slow the growth of tuition -- making school more affordable to low-income and non-traditional students.

You’d think this would be applauded by politicians and The Left. You’d be wrong.  See, Higher One commits the sin of making a profit.

Many students on financial aid receive funds to cover both tuition as well as books and living expenses. Instead of universities cutting students a check for expenses, they contract with a company like Higher One to handle the money. Higher One gives students choices about how they want to receive the remainder of their student aid for living expenses. Students can opt for either a check in the mail, direct deposit into a bank account or a Higher One debit card that can be used like any other debit card. That’s where liberal opponents have decided to target Higher One.

What Higher One does is what MasterCard and every other bank does – charging fees for using their cards. Apparently, making money from students is against the rules.

That's why Higher One has attracted some attention on Capitol Hill. Congressman George Miller (D-CA) is very interested in the activities of Higher One. Why? Because in his opinion, Higher One's fees are too high.

Never mind the fact that if students only use Higher One ATMs and hit "credit" instead of "debit" every time they make a purchase (and don't bounce any checks) they probably will never pay a fee. In fact, according to Higher One, the typical student pays less than $5 a month in fees. These facts don't matter to Congressman Miller.

The reason for Miller’s sudden interest in this issue isn’t altruistic, it’s something all too common in Washington. Miller has a staffer named Rich Williams who, before handling education issues for the congressman, used to work for the Public Interest Research Group, or PIRG, which has a long history of left-wing advocacy through ‘studies’ they produce as a means to an end – advancing the progressive agenda.

While at PIRG, Williams wrote a ‘study’ about how the debit card fees charged by Higher One accounted for 80 percent of their profits. The PIRG story is wrong; the real number is less than 50 percent, but that's irrelevant. After all, is there an acceptable percentage that PIRG and Rich Williams would accept? Probably not and they shouldn't have the right to pick how much money any company can or cannot make.

But Williams' work at PIRG, flawed and pointless as it is, is now being cited by Congressman Miller in his salvos against Higher One and, by extension, against colleges that attempt to reign in ballooning administrative costs.

Garbage in, garbage out is one thing. But when you can see that garbage is being used as the basis for government action, that makes it something entirely different. Today, the Department of Education is looking at debit cards issued by companies like Higher One. If Miller and Williams are successful, schools may be forced to stop working with these companies to process student loan refunds. That means schools will need to spend millions of dollars a year on unnecessary staff, check printing and postage costs. And oh yeah, tuition costs will probably go up because of it. I guess that's ok with Congressman Miller and Rich Williams as long as no one dares make a profit.

I don’t know if Williams has it in for Higher One for some personal reason or if it was just what he was assigned to do while at PIRG, but it doesn’t matter. That the mentality he appears to possess is now working for the senior Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee should be a concern for anyone who believes in the free market.

Williams is not unique. Capitol Hill, and government in general, is populated by people who come to serve not the public, but their own or some organization’s agenda. They have every right to. Just as we have every right to know about them, especially when they’re finding new and creative ways of costing taxpayers more money.


Is university worth it?

Comment from Australia

Are university degrees overpriced? How many students considered this question when choosing what and where to study in 2014, or the potential return on a six-figure investment?

Three years of a university undergraduate degree and lost wages during that time (assuming full-time work was available) would easily crack $100,000 for even general degrees. Wages aside, many students leave university with tens of thousands of dollars in loans that take years to repay.

Is the debt worth it? The standard answer – university graduates achieve higher employment and wage outcomes than non-graduates – is true of many students. But will that trend be as strong as the labour market is transformed and university graduates are less in demand?

Some universities are pushing for 10 per cent fee increases – at a time of rising graduate oversupply – such are their growing costs and funding pressures.

How many university graduates does Australian business need each year? A lot fewer than are being pumped through the system. Even professions such as law and veterinary science have recently warned of a graduate oversupply.

Yes, university degrees are highly valuable for the right students. As a part-time uni lecturer, I see students who develop terrific critical-thinking skills that will last a lifetime and repay the cost of their degree many times over. Also, some degrees are exceptional value considering the work that goes into each student and the resources available.

But I am concerned for the bottom half of students, many of whom should not be at university – at least straight after school – and who will leave with an average degree and a $40,000 debt, only to work in a succession of low-paid part-time jobs as they struggle to find professional employment.

Too many students go to university when they are not ready – or not at university level, academically and emotionally. Some young men, in particular, seem to have little or no interest in higher learning – only scraping a pass – even though they incur huge debt to laze about.

You could blame universities for this: lower entry requirements and softer marking in some courses compared with previous generations may have devalued bachelor degrees. If more people can do the course and fewer fail, is it still worth as much? And have universities, generally, sacrificed student quality in the quest for quantity?

However, the real problem is society attitudes: we still expect young people to spend years at university and pay huge course fees to prove they are smart and diligent enough to be employed in a graduate position. It’s dumb and outdated.

We railroad young people towards university straight after school, when many would be better off finding lower-paid work and studying part-time, or deferring full-time study until they are more mature, experienced and better able to fund their degree.

I’m worried about the outlook for graduate employment in Australia. One in eight employers recruited no graduates in 2012, down from one-in-10 a year earlier, Graduate Careers Australia reported in February. I expect that proportion to fall further in the next few years.  My guess is there will be more stories about a rapidly deteriorating graduate recruitment market in the first half of 2014 or 2015.

I hear about employers deferring or reducing the size of their graduate recruitment program, given rising economic uncertainty and less incentive to invest. It’s an easy cost to cut when business is slow, even though it can have long-term repercussions when trade improves.

Perhaps less graduate employment is a cyclical consequence of a sluggish economy. I suspect it is as much a permanent, structural change as business recognises that:

* It can automate more graduate jobs or outsource them overseas.
* A worldwide shift towards micro-jobs and freelancing provides a much larger, more flexible workforce and less need to hire as many university graduates.
* The cost of hiring and training university graduates, some of whom may only work for the firm for a year or two, outweighs the benefits.
* Some university courses are not producing enough graduates of sufficient quality who can create short-term value for their employers, and are highly innovative and adaptive.
* Recruiting a large pool of graduates and developing the next generation of managers is no longer as pressing issue for as many companies.
* An increasing oversupply of graduates gives companies more recruitment options.
* A growing recognition that the rapid pace of change in global business means skills need to evolve faster than ever. Three years in a classroom might be less effective as a learning technique.
* Wages and on-costs for graduates in some industries are too high.

I wish more companies would take back part of the training function – greater on-the-job learning through internships and cadetships – and less reliance on full-time university study, at least at the undergraduate level.

More part-time study on top of full-time work; less full-time study. Earn and learn at the same time – not one or the other for three years when many students are still unsure about their favoured profession.

Working full-time and studying part-time for four or five years takes incredible commitment: I’d hire such a student any day over one who only studied full-time.

Even better would be a recognition that many young people are better off going to university in their mid to late twenties, after a few years in the workforce, and when they are ready to learn and have some real-life experience to back it up.


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