Thursday, May 30, 2013

Day 2 on Mackinac Island

Day 2 at Mackinac Island was even more amazing than day 1.   This morning we joined with several business and education leaders from around the country to announce a new grant program for urban schools looking to bring yachting, equestrian, and polo to their physical education departments.  

Then it was off to hear some great speakers.   Today, I heard Michelle Rhee talk about the pitiful state of education and several Michigan based entrepreneurs talk about the positive miracle of Detroit.  I thought they were both equally valid.    

If I had any doubts about the education reform movement, Michelle Rhee deftly erased them all.  She repeated her often used statistic that this would be the first generation in this country that was less educated than their parents.  As the number of  U.S. college graduates hit a record high in 2012, it's clear that Ms. Rhee sees a very precipitous decline to get the numbers down from 30 percent to the 22 percent level of 1990. 

One thing Ms. Rhee emphasized was just how important teachers are.   I think that's why it gives her such joy to fire them.  Earlier today, she had our restaurant in stitches when she let several patrons videotape her firing a waiter on their IPhones.  Poor Emanuel left before even realizing that Michelle Rhee wasn't his boss.

I will be giving our speech tomorrow and I'm very nervous.  We have a new app which will make closing schools as easy as calling a snow day.  Tonight is free Bourbon night and as many of us think of ourselves as Gatsbys, that only seems appropriate.   I always say, there ain't no party like a Gatsby party.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Our Report from the Mackinac Island Conference.

Hello and a sunny welcome from beautiful Mackinac Island, Michigan where the beautiful people of the education reform set have all penciled in this beautiful island made famous by Esther Williams in the movie Grand Hotel, for their Spring getaways.  It's Mackinac Island Conference Week and if there's one thing on the menu besides Chianti Chef Keith Shockling's Semolina Dusted Lake Huron Whitefish, it's education reform.

Where else can you hobnob with celebrities like Michelle Rhee, Harold Ford, Jeb Bush, Robert L. Johnson, Joe Scarborough, Governor Rick Snyder, and U.S. Representative Fred Upton, without even leaving your hotel balcony. 

Today, we saw several great speeches on urban revitalization including Jeb Bush's keynote where he showed the characteristic Bush family charisma and grasp of facts.   If there is a better place to discuss education and urban issues than this wonderful little island community where even the servants are imported, I don't know what it is.

Today, Bush railed against our misunderestimation of our children's ability to learn.  Later on, as we shared a horse drawn carriage, I pointed out to him that as the third Bush to hold public office, he was in a unique position to notice the human capacity to learn from our mistakes.

Tomorrow, I hope to get in some yachting and swim in the pool built for movie star Esther Williams for the movie Grand Hotel.   After that, I hope to have a chance to talk to Governor Snyder about our plans to create double decker class rooms, that would allow a teacher on a moving pedestal to teach a class of 100 students, nearly double Michigan's current limit of 60.

Until next time, I bid you caviar wishes and innovative dreams from this hotbed of urban reform, Michigan's crown Jewel, Mackinac Island

Monday, May 20, 2013

Serial Trespasser's Arrest Brings Union Election Results into Doubt

Today, the Chicago Police Department was forced to arrest Chicago Teachers Union Financial Secretary Kristine Mayle after she refused to stop interfering with law abiding citizens who wished to use the elevators at Chicago City Hall.   Her arrest brings shame not only to Kristine, but to the entire Chicago Teachers Union who recently elected this serial trespasser to another term running the union's membership and finances.  I must think that had union membership realized they were electing a repeat offender, they might well have made a less controversial choice with their votes.

I mention that Ms. Mayle is a serial trespasser because this is not the first time she has been arrested.  We have manged to obtain the following picture from a June 2011 incident where Ms. Mayle and several other union radicals blockaded the street in front of an innocent Hyatt Hotel.  Shortly, after this picture was taken, Mayle was arrested:

I think we all must ask themselves what is a teacher like this going to teach students besides how to do their own prison tattoos (Mayle apparently has several), how to make a shank, or ferment their own Pruno from CPS orange juice and ketchup packets.  Sadly, this is not even the only criminal CTU member.  They have an organizer who loves to assault reporters by ridiculing their underdeveloped male equipment.   For shame CTU.  For Shame.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Last Stand for Children First Makes Endorsement in Chicago Teachers Union Election

Internal union politics is probably the last place that an education group like ourselves should be getting involved.  However, sometimes a candidate or a group of candidates come along that you have no choice, but to proclaim your admiration and support for.   In the Chicago Teachers Union election, The Coalition to Save Our Union is just such a group.

We do not like activist teacher's unions.   They bother us and bring visions of future class warfare or something.   Karen Lewis seems to have the Chicago teachers protesting something every single week.  We would much prefer a different type of leader, someone like Tanya Sanders-Wolff who knows that you don't have to open your mouth to let your voice be heard.

While CORE is all about confrontation, TCTSOU is more about compromise.   When the current teachers contract was negotiated, neither Saunders-Wolff nor Ochoa felt the need to say anything against it when they were on the bargaining team.  They didn't have to.  That's what power is all about. 

Even know, one can look at the web page, the face book page, and twitter feed of The Coalition to Save Our Union and you won't find a policy statement.   Their concrete ideas are that Karen Lewis is a bad President and that they:

1. Believe in power in the Streets as well as the suites
2. Believe that CTU must both organize and service members
3. Believe that teachers and school staff know best about their schools

When your policy goals can fit onto a cocktail napkin or matchbook, you never have to worry about breaking a campaign promise and isn't that refreshing? 

Finally, electing TCTSOU will make for a more democratic union.  Look how CTU meetings were when PACT was the opposition and UPC was in charge:

That is Democracy in action.  Everybody not only gets to speak, but everybody gets to speak at the same time.   It is my hope that any teachers reading this will join with Rahm Emanuel, the Chicago Tribune, and Last Stand for Children First and support The Coalition to Save Our Union

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week

Teachers make such a difference in the lives of so many children.  I know this first hand because I was a student in San Diego for nearly a year before coming to work at Last Stand for Children First.  In that time, I was a truly and unsung hero and I remember it fondly.  I had wanted to do a drive to have parents donate used mugs that we could clean and then present to teachers as our little way of saying thanks, but unfortunately I forgot about Teacher Appreciation Week until it was too late.

Teachers give so much of themselves to their students.  I really wish there was a way to give them more money.  Recently, Last Stand for Children First call a blue ribbon panel of experts in education reform together to look at ways we could better reward top performing teachers.  After spending 18 months and $20,000,000 researching different approaches, we came up with a merit pay system that we thought would be a great way to make sure the best teachers are rewarded.  Wouldn't you know it?  Backed by their unions, district after district has rejected our plan.

In fact, teachers routinely block all the best things we have designed for them---from equipping students with dog collars that would alert a central computer when their focus drifted from their teacher to making sure that the best and cheapest teachers aren't automatically terminated when layoffs come.  It just seems that the entire profession is given a black eye because of these few no good jerks who seek fancy retirements and $40,000 a year lifestyles at the expense of their children.

Keep in mind that this is a job where you work from 10-3 with every holiday off and 4 and a half months off in summer time.   We pay teachers an exorbitant salary.  I know this because my job at Last Stand for Children First puts me in a very high tax bracket and I am astonished to see how much I get hit for in taxes and don't even get me started on property tax.  I refuse to believe that adding a stables and a tennis court adds that much to a home's value.   Still, my taxes keep rising because I'm paying for these people to retire on easy street.

On a personal note, I'd like to thank Mrs. Ward who cheered me up in 4th grade when I'd go to her music class after Mr. Altino's math class.  Wow! was Mr. Altino a jerk.   He always smelled of cheese, garlic, and onions and he was sooooo boring.  I wouldn't have giving this guy a dog license let alone a teacher's license.   So many of my teachers were such losers.

So  thank you for all that you do.   You are shaping are future and I think I speak for everybody in Last Stand for Children First when I say it's really appreciated.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Girl Arrested for Unauthorized Science

With all the attention that the Czechoslovakian terrorists in Boston received, it is very easy to forget about the homegrown terrorists that we have to contend with in this very country.  Fortunately, police in Florida were on the case.   If you're not familiar with Florida, here's a great recap of some of the terrific education reform going on in the sunshine state. 

At 7 a.m. Monday morning, it was one of those quiet April days that reminds you that Florida is God's waiting room.   The smell of citrus and orange blossom was in the air as 16 year old high school student Kiera Wilmot skulked towards Bartow High School.  Unbeknownst to her classmates, the 16 year old terrorist in training was packing household chemicals and an 8 ounce plastic bottle.  The label may have said "water", but it could have just as easily read, "death to America."  When she arrived on campus, Miss Wimot wasted no time in mixing the household chemicals together in her bottle of death and putting the cap back on.  Investigators later recalled, "the reaction caused a small explosion that caused the top to pop up and produced some smoke."

Police wasted no time in hustling Miss Wilmot to an undisclosed location where charged with possession/discharge of a weapon on school grounds and discharging a destructive device. She will be tried as an adult.

I for one do not approve of trying Miss Wilmot for this offense.  It seems that when dealing with terrorists, our criminal justice system falls far short.  What is to stop her from lawyering up before we find out if there was anybody else involved in her plot and why she hates our way of life so much.  Surely, Guantanamo Bay is where this girl belongs.

There is no room for this kind of experimentation in school.   If students wish to learn science, there are approved text books for doing just that.  Nobody has ever been arrested for taking a standardized test in science---administering, sure, but not taking.

There is no telling where this kind of behavior could end.   Chemistry is a gateway science.   If this girl is not incarcerated, next year she could be stealing neighborhood pets to direct before she ultimately destroys us all by creating a black hole in the middle of Florida.   I applaud the Bartow authorities for their quick and decisive action that no doubt saved countless lives.