Uncommon Sense

politics and society are, unfortunately, much the same thing

Educational Choice Now: Video

Celebrities promoting real education reform that actually works to improve education, rather than cushion unions and line political pockets like common core.

By the end of this message another child will drop out of high school.
Dropout, gone, lost.
Our system is failing our children.
Our kids, too many kids, aren’t getting the quality education they deserve.
Too many kids are losing their future. Way too many kids.
We have got to make a change now. Now.
Now.
Right now.
We have to change.
Let’s build a system where every child gets a great education. Every child.
Every child, no matter their zip code, no matter their income,
no matter their race. No matter what.
Every child.
Let’s give parents the power to choose the very best school for their child.
The power. Power for every child.
Join us.
It’s time to help every family, it’s time to help every child. Every child. It’s time.
It’s time
It’s time for Educational Choice.

Filed under: children, crisis, culture, education, reform, video

A flip-flop on Arctic permafrost thaws – actually a net cooling rather than a warming

Originally posted on Watts Up With That?:

Since we discussed permafrost pingos today, I thought this story from the University of Alaska Fairbanks was a good sidekick story. It seems there’s a silver lining in melting permafrost after all.

Study: Climate-cooling arctic lakes soak up greenhouse gases

New University of Alaska Fairbanks research indicates that arctic thermokarst lakes stabilize climate change by storing more greenhouse gases than they emit into the atmosphere.

Countering a widely-held view that thawing permafrost accelerates atmospheric warming, a study published this week in the scientific journal Nature suggests arctic thermokarst lakes are ‘net climate coolers’ when observed over longer, millennial, time scales.

View original 607 more words

Filed under: Uncategorized

Before contract, teachers gave to de Blasio charity

Perhaps the term should simply be crony government, rather than crony capitalism.

July 15, 2014 by CHRIS BRAGG

Less than a month before Mayor Bill de Blasio struck a major contract agreement with the United Federation of Teachers, its parent union, the American Federation of Teachers, gave $350,000 to a nonprofit run by de Blasio advisers, which lobbies on behalf of the mayor’s priorities, newly released records show.

The AFT’s donation, on April 9, was the largest donation to the de Blasio-affiliated nonprofit, Campaign For One New York, since it was founded after the mayor was elected last November. Its timing raises questions about the ability of outside interests to advance their agendas before the city by supporting a nonprofit close to the mayor.

The group was formed to advance the mayor’s signature social reform: universal prekindergarten. Itwas founded by Mr. de Blasio’s campaign manager, and the pre-K campaign was run by consulting firms that worked on the mayor’s political campaign. The AFT donation came after the state Legislature approved funding for pre-K in late March. The nonprofit is now transitioning to other areas of importance to the mayor, including signing up children for pre-K.

Less than a month after the $350,000 donation, the teachers union and the city struck a nine-year deal that included raises and retroactive pay for teachers while also promising future health care savings for the city.

A governmental spokesman for Mr. de Blasio said the AFT’s hefty donation had no impact on the contract between the mayor and the city teachers’ union.

“In a word: zero,” the spokesman said. “This was a historic contract praised across the board by bond rating agencies as a fiscally responsible agreement that eliminated one of the biggest fiscal uncertainties out there. The factors that guided us to an outcome were doing right by taxpayers and by our students—and we succeeded on both counts.”

Ratings agency Moody’s did say the contract “could eliminate” fiscal uncertainty, but also said its cost to the city was “large” and might increase future budget deficits, and that the health care savings might not come to pass. Out-year deficits were later revised upward by $5 billion over three years, which Moody’s and Barclays frowned upon. UFT members will receive raises of 1%, 1%, 1%, 1.5%, 2.5%, and 3% over six years.

AFT President Randi Weingarten, a former UFT president, said of the donation, “The AFT has always been out there for early childhood education. This contribution was fulfilling a longstanding commitment, as universal pre-K is a central goal of our initiative to reclaim the promise. I’m honored to have been part of it.”

A spokesman for the de Blasio nonprofit declined to comment. A UFT spokesman did not immediately comment.

In January, NY Progress PAC, another political action committee to which the teachers union has donated in the past, also gave $175,000 to the mayor’s nonprofit. NY Progress also supported Mr. de Blasio’s 2013 general-election campaign.

The donations to the nonprofit linked to the mayor have not yet been made publicly available by the state ethics commission, JCOPE. A list of donors was provided to Crain’s by the nonprofit’s public-relations adviser, BerlinRosen, which was a consultant to Mr. de Blasio’s mayoral campaign.

The deadline to disclose lobbying expenditures and fundraising was Tuesday.

read full article: Before contract, teachers gave to de Blasio charity

corruption, cronyism, Democrats, education, ethics, funding, government, greed, hypocrisy, ideology, left wing, liberalism, nanny state, oversight, politics, regulation, scandal, spending

Filed under: corruption, cronyism, Democrats, education, ethics, funding, government, greed, hypocrisy, ideology, left wing, liberalism, nanny state, oversight, politics, regulation, scandal, spending

Pedophilia, Incest, and Graphic Sex: Excerpts from a Common Core Reading List Book for 11th-Graders That Will Make You Blush

August 22, 2014 by Mike Opelka

Common Core, the controversial set of education standards being pushed by many state governors and education leaders, is coming under fire for its selection of a book that’s on the suggested reading list for 11th graders (i.e. 16- and 17-year-olds). The book — a past selection of Oprah’s Book Club — has graphic sex scenes and descriptions that are likely to make you blush.

Toni Morrison's book

The work in question comes from Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison. Listed on a Common Core reading list linked on the website, “The Bluest Eye” carries this description from the curriculum’s preferred bookseller: An Eleven-Year-Old African-American Girl In Ohio, In The Early 1940s, Prays For Her Eyes To Turn Blue So That She Will Be Beautiful.

Macey France, a writer for the online site Politichicks, actually combed the entire text of “The Bluest Eye” and catalogued some of the more offensive and questionable parts. And they are graphic:

Those six graphic excerpts cover incest, rape and pedophilia. In her research on the book in question, Macey France also exposes some pretty shocking support for those topics, from the author herself:

In fact, the author of the book, Morrison, says that she wanted the reader to feel as though they are a “co-conspirator” with the rapist. She took pains to make sure she never portrayed the actions as wrong in order to show how everyone has their own problems. She even goes as far as to describe the pedophilia, rape and incest “friendly,” “innocent,” and “tender.” It’s no wonder that this book is in the top 10 list of most contested books in the country.

The presence of the book on Common Core’s list, combined with Morrison’s descriptions of incest, rape, and pedophilia as “friendly,” “innocent,” and “tender” have sparked outrage in some communities. Parents in one Colorado school district are petitioning for the removal of “developmentally inappropriate and graphical content from the instructional reading list.” They are not asking for the book to be banned or even removed from the library, just taken off the suggested reading list.

read full article: Pedophilia, Incest, and Graphic Sex: Excerpts from a Common Core Reading List Book for 11th-Graders That Will Make You Blush

children, corruption, culture, education, ideology, indoctrination, left wing, liberalism, philosophy, political correctness, propaganda, scandal, sex, victimization

Filed under: children, corruption, culture, education, ideology, indoctrination, left wing, liberalism, philosophy, political correctness, propaganda, scandal, sex, victimization

This Government Program Leads to Rising College Costs

July 13, 2014 by Lindsey Burke

Federal lawmakers have been trying for decades to reduce the burden of paying for college. Congress has significantly expanded lending, lifted caps on borrowing, and cut interest rates on federal student loans. Parents even became eligible to take out loans to pay for children’s college in the 1980s through the Parent PLUS program.

The Obama administration recently used executive action to make federal loan terms even more-generous for students. The executive action extended something known as Pay As You Earn to students who took out loans prior to 2007, extending this taxpayer-financed subsidy to some 5 million additional borrowers.

PAYE is an income-based repayment option, created in 2012. Income-based repayment existed prior to 2012, but was less generous than the new PAYE plan. The PAYE plan caps the amount a student must pay monthly on his loans at 10 percent of discretionary income, with complete loan forgiveness kicking in after 20 years. If a student goes into “public service” — i.e., government or non-profit work — upon graduation, loan forgiveness kicks in after just 10 years.

Capping loan repayments, forgiving balances — none of these options are free. Taxpayers, many of whom don’t hold bachelor’s degrees themselves, must pick up the tab for this federal largesse.

Moreover, generous income-based repayment options and loan forgiveness — and federal student loans and grants generally — do nothing to mitigate ever-increasing college costs. In fact, college costs over the past few decades have risen in tandem with increases in aid, suggesting such aid might actually exacerbate the problem. Why should a university work to keep tuition and fees in check when there is a virtually open spigot of federal aid, readily available to students, with little concern about the student’s credit-worthiness or ability to pay back the loan later?

Equally problematic are issues of equity: Federal higher education subsidies shift the responsibility of paying for college from the student, who directlybenefits from attending college, to the taxpayer. College graduates will earn $650,000 more on average over the course of a lifetime than those with just a high-school diploma.

read full article: This Government Program Leads to Rising College Costs

budget, bureaucracy, entitlements, government, nanny state, politics, public policy, spending, taxes, unintended consequences

Filed under: politics, taxes, government, spending, public policy, nanny state, bureaucracy, budget, entitlements, unintended consequences

School breakfast, lunch programs suffer from $2.6 billion ‘payment error’ problems

July 9, 2014 by Pete Kasperowicz

The Government Accountability Office reported Wednesday that federal programs offering kids discounted breakfast and lunch programs at school are among the seven government programs most susceptible to “payment error.”

GAO released a report on improper federal payments, which found the government made a total of $106 billion improper payments in fiscal year 2013. As big as that number is, it’s a small reduction from the $107 billion in improper payments made in the prior year.

GAO stressed that the $106 billion in improper payments does not mean all of that money was lost — that total includes payments that should not have been made, but also includes payments made in the wrong amount, or payments made without sufficient documentation.

Still, GAO said the report again shows that the government needs to do more to put in place stronger controls to ensure that correct payments are made to the correct vendors, taxpayers and others who receive federal money.

According to GAO’s report, the federal school breakfast program was the most susceptible to payment errors. The report said this program, run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, had a whopping 25.3 percent error rate, which translates to $831 million.

The school lunch program was the fifth worst on a percentage basis, with its 15.7 percent error rate. But that translates to a much higher dollar figure because the school lunch program is so much bigger — $1.77 billion.

read full article: School breakfast, lunch programs suffer from $2.6 billion ‘payment error’ problems

budget, bureaucracy, children, education, funding, government, nanny state, scandal

Filed under: budget, bureaucracy, children, education, funding, government, nanny state, scandal

No truth allowed: TV reporter is suspended for speaking about ‘anti-cop mentality’

July 15, 2014 by ASSOCIATED PRESS

A white TV reporter who voiced his opinions about black families and relations with police during a segment about a fatal police shooting said Tuesday he was suspended from his station and won’t return.

Sean Bergin said he was suspended from News 12 New Jersey without pay on Monday and with pay on Tuesday. Bergin, a contracted employee, said the station told him that his assignments would be cut to one a week and he declined to remain in the position.
Bergin’s report, which aired Sunday, featured the widow of a black man who police say shot a rookie Jersey City police officer to death and who was then killed by officers responding to the shooting.

The widow, Angelique Campbell, told Bergin that Lawrence Campbell should have killed more officers, but she later apologized.

Bergin said in his report that the underlying cause of an anti-police mentality is young black men growing up without fathers.

‘It’s important to shine a light on this anti-cop mentality that has so contaminated America’s inner cities,’ Bergin said after airing the widow’s comments and showing a memorial for her husband. “The underlying cause of all of this, of course, young black men growing up without fathers.”

The TV station said that the response to Bergin’s report was being handled internally and that it doesn’t comment on personnel matters.

read full article: White TV reporter is suspended for speaking about ‘anti-cop mentality’ among fatherless young black men after slaying of New Jersey policeman

bias, bigotry, culture, hate speech, hypocrisy, ideology, news media, philosophy, political correctness, racism, racist, relativism, scandal

Filed under: bias, bigotry, culture, hate speech, hypocrisy, ideology, news media, philosophy, political correctness, racism, racist, relativism, scandal

Dear daughter, please believe me that you’re beautiful | The Matt Walsh Blog

Dear daughter, please believe me that you're beautiful | The Matt Walsh Blog.

Filed under: children, conservative, culture, family, philosophy, right wing

Attacking Israel with the Big Lie: Genocide

July 16, 2014 by Jonah Goldberg

“Here’s the difference between us,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu explained on “Fox News Sunday.” “We’re using missile defense to protect our civilians, and they’re using their civilians to protect their missiles.”

It’s a classic talking point. It’s also objectively true, and that truth is very frustrating for Israel’s critics.

All one needs to do is delve into the muck of Twitter and read the timelines for such hashtags as #GazaUnderAttack and #GenocideInGaza: “They’re killing the women and children to ensure there won’t be a new generation of Palestine.” “One Holocaust can NEVER justify another.”

And let’s not even talk about the globally trending hashtag #HitlerWasRight.

Of course it’s not just on Twitter. Mahmoud Abbas, the head of the feckless Palestinian Authority, recently condemned Israel for committing “genocide” in Gaza. For decades, political cartoonists and cartoonish politicians have been jaw-jawing about how Israel now wears the SS uniform.

This too is basically a talking point — and a very old one. But this one is plainly a lie.

If the Israelis are, or have ever been, interested in genocide, they are utterly incompetent at it. As slanders go, it’s almost funny, like the old paranoid delusion that George W. Bush was simultaneously an idiot and a criminal mastermind.

On the one hand, the Israeli military is supposed to be ruthlessly competent and determined to wipe out the Palestinians. On the other, the Palestinian population has grown more than 100 percent since 1970. The population in the Gaza Strip has grown nearly threefold since 1990. The Palestinians themselves expect the population to double over the next two decades. “Genocide” is a loaded political term, but under any remotely reasonable definition, shouldn’t those numbers be going the other way?

It’s just a hunch, but if the Israelis wanted to wipe out as many Palestinians as possible, never mind commit genocide, they probably wouldn’t issue warnings to Gazans (by phone and leaflet) to get out of harm’s way. Nor would Israel continue to allow hundreds of trucks of food and medical aid to enter Gaza even as hundreds of rockets leave Gaza.

And if Hamas were chiefly concerned with protecting Palestinian lives, it would not implore Gazans to stay in their homes — serving as human shields and inflating the body count as a propaganda prop to increase international pressure on Israel.

One perverse complaint, often subtly echoed in the mainstream media, is that it is somehow unfair that Israelis are not dying, so far, from Gaza rocket strikes. The Israelis have the Iron Dome defense system, which intercepts the rockets aimed at civilians. They also have bomb shelters; the Palestinians do not. They have these things because, as Netanyahu said, Israelis are interested in protecting their citizens.

As Commentary’s Jonathan Tobin notes, no one is asking why the Palestinians don’t have bomb shelters. The assumption seems to be that the Gazans don’t have the wherewithal to build them. This is untrue because they do have bomb shelters — they just reserve them for Hamas’ leaders and fighters. Indeed, Hamas has dug thousands of tunnels under Gaza, largely so it can smuggle in, and store, more rockets to fire on Israel. Better that those tunnels were used as shelters for civilians, but that would mean not letting them die for the greater “good.”

Of course, not being as bad as the Nazis is a very low bar. And the fact that Israel clears it like a pole-vaulter leaping over a brick is not the same as saying Israel is without fault. But Israel’s shortcomings stem largely from the fact it is trying to deal with “peace partners” openly uninterested in lasting peace. Solving that problem is hard. So hard that some would rather shout “Nazi!” at Jews.

It’s a moral scandal that it’s even necessary to bring up this inconvenient truth. But it is necessary because even many of the people who would never say “Hitler was right” have nonetheless internalized another lesson from the Nazis. It was Joseph Goebbels who said, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

original article: Attacking Israel with the Big Lie: Genocide

bias, bigotry, bullies, corruption, crisis, discrimination, foreign affairs, government, hate speech, hypocrisy, ideology, indoctrination, israel, justice, news media, pandering, philosophy, political correctness, politics, propaganda, racism, relativism, scandal, security, terrorism, victimization, war

Filed under: bias, bigotry, bullies, corruption, crisis, discrimination, foreign affairs, government, hate speech, hypocrisy, ideology, indoctrination, israel, justice, news media, pandering, philosophy, political correctness, politics, propaganda, racism, relativism, scandal, security, terrorism, victimization, war

Do Irish students know more about American history than American students?

July 11, 2014 by Michael McShane

Well just a few weeks ago, thousands of Irish students sat for their leaving certificate exams, a set of exams that they must pass in order to graduate from high school. They also double as college placement exams. Students are required to sit for six exams (though most take seven and keep their six best scores). They must take English, Irish, and Math, and can then choose from a host of other subjects for their remaining three (or four) exams.

Students must simply pass their exams to successfully graduate, but to matriculate to college, they must acquire enough points for the university and major they are interested in pursuing. There are two levels of exams, “ordinary” and “higher.” Each ordinary level test has a maximum score of 60 points and each higher level test has a maximum score of 100 points.

The various programs and universities set different bars for admission. If, for example, you would like to study social science at University College Cork, you would need to amass 385 points. Want to enter the nursing program? 450 points. Finance? 475.

If you’re interested in studying at Trinity College, the top University in Ireland, the points are even higher. To study history, you need 465 points. Law? 530. Pharmacy? 565.

As a professional education researcher and amateur history buff, I love to learn what students around the world need to know about history, particularly if (and what) they need to learn about America.

Ireland’s leaving certificate exam for history offers a couple of “Document Based Questions” that those familiar with the AP test would recognize. Students have to read an original document and relate it to what they know about the history of the time.

But then, Irish students have to write a series of essays on a wide range of historical topics. For the “modern history” exam, the last section of the test offers a set of questions for each of six separate time periods: 1815-1871, 1871-1920, 1920-1945, 1945-1992 (Europe), 1945-1990 (Asia/Africa), 1945-1989 (The United States).

The “higher” level questions from that first section are a doozy. Students had to choose one from the follow four options:

What were the main political developments in the Germanic lands during the period 1815-1871?
Why was France politically unstable during the period 1815-1871?
What were the main social and economic developments in Europe, 1815-1871?
What were the key developments in one or more of the following during the period 1815-1871: science; technology; city planning?
Not too shabby. But I was most interested in the last section—the good old US of A.

They had to be able to answer one of the following four questions:

Why did race relations remain a major issue in the US, 1945-1989?
What were the strengths and weaknesses of Lyndon Johnson as a political leader?
What were the significant developments in the US economy, 1945-1989?
How did the Americans achieve a successful moon landing in 1969 and what was its importance for the US?

read full article: Do Irish students know more about American history than American students?

american, children, education, history, tragedy

Filed under: american, children, education, history, tragedy

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