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Preview: Right on the Left Coast: Views From a Conservative Teacher

Right on the Left Coast: Views From a Conservative Teacher

Education, politics, and anything else that catches my attention.

Updated: 2017-05-23T13:27:39.704-07:00


Making The Numbers Match


While writing my last post I felt compelled to back up some of my numbers by looking at the state budget.  Looking at the budget document online prompted me to look at K-12 spending in particular.  I admit that I'm flummoxed, what am I missing here?

Here's the State budget for 2017-18:

Click on (and thus open the pdf's for) both Summary Charts and K-12 Education.

For summary charts, scroll down to Figure SUM-03, which shows a $183 billion state budget.  Note that the general fund portion of K-12 education is a little under $54 billion.  It also shows another $770 million in special and bond fund expenditures for a grand total of $54.3 billion.

Now open the K-12 pdf.  The 2nd paragraph on the 1st page says:
The May Revision includes total funding of $92.3 billion ($54.2 billion General Fund and $38.1 billion other funds) for all K‑12 education programs.
How, exactly, do you make the numbers on those two documents match?  Where is that $38 billion coming from?  Could it possibly come from the feds?  Wherever it comes from, it amounts to about a thousand dollars per person for everyone in California. That's a lot of money.

Single-Payer Health Care in California


The major Sacramento newspaper, never known for having a conservative bent, publishes this story about a proposed single-payer health care system in California:
The price tag is in: It would cost $400 billion to remake California’s health insurance marketplace and create a publicly funded universal heath care system, according to a state financial analysis released Monday.

California would have to find an additional $200 billion per year, including in new tax revenues, to create a so-called “single-payer” system, the analysis by the Senate Appropriations Committee found. The estimate assumes the state would retain the existing $200 billion in local, state and federal funding it currently receives to offset the total $400 billion price tag...

The cost is higher than the $180 billion in proposed general fund and special fund spending (budget is here, click on Summary Charts, then scroll to Figure SUM-03 --Darren) for the budget year beginning July 1.

Employers currently spend between $100 billion to $150 billion per year, which could be available to help offset total costs, according to the analysis. Under that scenario, total new spending to implement the system would be between $50 billion and $100 billion per year.
This is California.  We don’t let little things like reality stop us from doing what we know is right.

Read that last paragraph again; "could be available", when translated from California liberal to normal person language, means "huge extra tax on businesses", which is just what we need to make California businesses more competitive with the rest of the world, and to stop businesses from leaving the state.

Socialism is expensive.  How much are you willing to pay for "free" health care?

The 3 M's


I'd like to learn some more math, so I started looking at course offerings at a nearby community college, as well as at Sacramento State, to see if they offer Game Theory.  That search led me to the web site of Sac State's College of Continuing Education, where I find the Community College Faculty Preparation Certificate ProgramThis could be interesting!

One of the links at the CCFP site was to a 2014 online handbook called Minimum Qualifications for Faculty and Administrators in California Community Colleges.  It makes sense to see if I meet the qualifications for teaching at a community college before enrolling in a community college faculty preparation program, no?

So I started thumbing through the handbook, and it turns out I'm now qualified to teach 3 different subjects; here they are, along with the requirements I meet:
Manufacturing Technology (quality control, process control): any bachelor's degree and two years of professional experience
Mathematics:  bachelor's in mathematics or applied mathematics and a master's in statistics, physics, or math education
Military Studies:  any bachelor's degree and two years of professional experience (in the pay grade of E-7 or above)
It's nice to know I have some options.

By the way, I did find a game theory class--in the economics program at Sac State.  Haven't yet found whether it's offered at night or online.

Update, 5/22/17:  Turns out those three subjects align quite nicely with the 3 career fields in which I've worked.  I've been an army officer, a manufacturing manager, and a math teacher.  Funny, that.

So Crazy It Just Might Work!


Instead of spending so much teachers' (and prospective teachers') time on diversity and equity and hate whitey and "unconscious bias" and God knows what else, what say we focus on curriculum?Slowly, slowly, a small but persuasive body of work is emerging which raises curriculum to an object of pressing concern for educators, and expresses long overdue appreciation for the idea that the instructional materials we put in front of children actually matter to student outcomes. A welcome addition to this emerging corpus is a new Aspen Institute paper by Ross Wiener and Susan Pimentel, which makes a compelling case—equally overdue—that professional development and teacher training ought to be connected to curriculum. A primary role of school systems, states, districts, and charter-management organizations, the pair write, “is to create the conditions in schools through which teachers can become experts at teaching the curriculum they are using and adapting instruction to the needs of their particular students"...Practice What You Teach begins with a discussion of research demonstrating the frustrating state of teacher “PD,” which, like the sitcom Seinfeld, is a show about nothing. Next, they discuss curriculum materials, which “have a profound effect on what happens in classrooms and on how much students learn.” When average teachers use excellent materials, Weiner and Pimental note, “student learning results improve significantly.” The general disregard for curriculum as a means to improve teacher effectiveness and student outcomes is reflected in the observation that “many teachers do not have access to strong, standards-aligned curriculum; in fact, most teachers spend hours every week searching for materials that haven’t been vetted and aren’t connected to ongoing, professional learning activities in their schools.”Honest teachers will tell you this is true:...Ashley Berner of Johns Hopkins described how schools of education “turned from academic subject mastery to developmental psychology as the foundational resource for teacher preparation” a century ago. This relegated curriculum to a thing not just beneath the notice of teachers, but beneath their dignity. We are encouraged to “teach the child, not the lesson” and other empty platitudes: Education is not the filling of a pail, it’s the lighting of a fire. Students won’t care what you know until they know that you care. Ad infinitum.I get so tired of educational platitudes.  Don't forget, "I don't teach content, I teach students!"  Sheesh.And I like this line of reasoning:It does not diminish our appreciation of the actor’s talent that he performs Hamlet but didn’t write it. No one expects their doctor to repair to the lab every night to prepare pharmaceutical compounds on the theory that she alone knows what her patients need. The master carpenter begins his day in the lumber yard, not in the forest.We flatter teachers’ professionalism by telling them they alone can best determine what will engage and enlighten the children before them, but the price of that flattery is that we make their jobs impossible to do effectively, forcing them to spend fruitless hours on Google and Pinterest hoping to find materials that a well-run and coherent system would provide to them—along with training on how to implement it effectively.True enough.So yes, let's insist that teachers focus on their subject matter and curriculum, not on social engineering--which might be more fun and less work, but it's not what we're paid to do.[...]

Typical Teachers Union Position


In theory, I'm not against unions.  Synergy, and all.  I am, however, against unions when they advocate for insanity, as in this case:
The bill for city teachers no principal wants will hit $34 million next year and has become a sticking point in deadlocked contract talks as fiscal watchdogs warn that cash-strapped Hub taxpayers can’t keep carrying the dead weight.

As of yesterday, 47 tenured teachers earning an average of $91,000 a year are without formal classroom positions in the so-called “excess pool,” school officials told the Herald...

The teachers’ union is digging in its heels and insists that unwanted teachers get placed in classrooms...

The teachers lose their positions because of poor performance, or no principal wants to hire them, or because they have failed to obtain proper licenses. Other times, they lose their positions due to school closures or budget cuts.
I really honestly truly would love someone to comment on why the teachers union's position is the correct one.  Be civil, be intelligent, and be clear. 

I Wonder If A *Two*-Party System Might Help


Maybe not, but the one-party system isn't doing any good, either:
But income tax revenue from the wealthy tends to be volatile and unreliable—in Connecticut’s case, as the WSJ notes, the hedge fund industry’s decline has led to lower-than-expected tax receipts (states like California have run into similar problems when taxing their own economic elite). Moreover, financiers are mobile, and can move to other states if rates get too high.

It’s tempting for blue model partisans to see the state and local pension crisis as a temporary problem that can be papered over with high-end tax hikes. And while the rich may well need to pay more to address the problem, it won’t be enough. The forces that have brought about the blue model crisis are structural: Overly-powerful public sector unions, dishonest accounting practices, chronic political can-kicking, and a defined-benefit pension model that doesn’t work in the 21st century. These are deep-rooted problems that will require major reforms in the way government runs and the way the civil service is organized. As Connecticut Democrats are realizing, the Bernie Sanders approach to government deficits—tax the millionaires and billionaires, then tax them some more—is simply not adequate to the scope of the crisis.

Lucid Dreaming?


Last night I collapsed on top of my bed around 8--and woke up around midnight, with the audiobook still playing.  Shut that off and went right back to sleep.

Strange dreams.  The one I remember the best was going to some friends' house, and then noticing I was naked.  I knew I couldn't have gotten all the way to their house while naked but I couldn't explain what had happened, so I grabbed a towel and wrapped it around my waist.  Moments later I looked down and, on my legs sticking out from under the towel, were jeans.  Apparently I was now wearing jeans under the towel.   Puzzled I said, "Is this a dream?"

And I immediately woke up.

Cool Coin


As I type this (in December!), this bimetallic beauty from Mexico, denominated 10 pesos, is worth about 50 US cents.
click images to enlarge

College Accreditation


This article identifies many problems in the current accreditation system, but this one is pretty telling:
Note what’s missing from this list: improving quality in the classroom. No institution seeks accreditation to improve the education it provides. If any improvement results, it’s a byproduct, not a goal. (Talk about an elephant in the lecture hall!)
As someone who used to *volunteer* at the Commission on Teacher Credentialing and worked on ensuring state universities met CDE’s standards for teacher credentialing programs (it’s a type of accreditation), I can state categorically that form over function was the rule of the day.

Some Dem Actually Tweeted This


Michael Savage is right, liberalism is a mental disorder.  Some lib actually tweeted this, after another Dem suggested President Trump be removed and replaced by Vice President Pence:
Dems now hoping the guy responsible for an HIV outbreak in Indiana takes control#TheResistance is trash
That's right, VP Pence is now apparently responsible for an HIV outbreak in Indiana.

Too Much Potential To Go To Jail


People screamed and yelled--and justifiably so--when Stanford swimmer Brock Turner got off light for rape.  Rich white male privilege doesn’t explain this one; why were people so riled up about Turner's case but have nary a peep to say about this one?
Oxford University student who stabbed her Tinder lover in a drink and drug fuelled row could be spared jail by a judge because she's 'extraordinary' and it would damage her surgeon career
Don't you see yet?  It's not about sex, it's about class.

When The Truth Is Too Uncomfortable


You can read the entire story about a school/district in which too many students--mostly of a specific race--are out of control. Students don't feel safe, adults don't feel safe. What the heck? The conclusion really hit it out of the park for me:
Between public racial sensitivities, current federal regulations, and (it’s a good bet) their own reluctance, the administrators’ hands are more or less tied. In 2013, the Obama administration’s Department of Education Civil Rights Division warned school districts that schools violate Federal law when they “evenhandedly implement facially neutral policies and practices that, although not adopted with the intent to discriminate, nonetheless have an unjustified effect of discriminating against students on the basis of race” (author’s emphasis). Cheltenham’s ruffians will be safe from discipline and stigma, though not, of course, from each other.

The bitter irony of the widespread evasion about racial discrepancies in “externalizing” behavior is that it harms Cheltenham’s blacks above all. The large majority of kids who are well prepared to walk the halls and talk to teachers with a modicum of civility are forced to cede their educations and safety to the uncivilized few. Cheltenham has a committed (for now) cadre of white parents dedicated to diversity, but the township’s population is considerably whiter than its schools; a sizable number of whites have clearly already fled the local schools or decided not to move there in the first place. They’re not alone. Several disgusted black parents said that they had pulled their children out of the local schools despite paying “astronomical” taxes in order to live in the reputedly excellent district.

Now this lovely suburb with once-envied schools is facing black as well as white flight. (boldface mine--Darren)  Let’s see how the Education Department’s Civil Rights Division deals with that.
To paraphrase an old saying: you may not be interested in the reality, but the reality is interested in you.

You can pretend all you want, but the reality still reigns.

"Global Warming is Pseudoscience"


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He's a Nobel laureate in physics.

Update, 5/18/17:  Maybe this is because CO2 isn't pollution, it's plant food:
GLOBAL GREENING: Scientists Find ‘Lost’ Forests The Size Of Seven Texases



If you scroll down through posts from the past week you'll see that I updated a few of them today.  Scroll down and take a read!

I Like Camille Paglia's Version of Feminism


I'm all for equality and empowerment:
Rather tragically, feminism is now fully synonymous with the most absurd and regressive of far-left neuroses.

Whether we’re talking about the disproportionate outrage that is Slut Walk, turning a blind eye to sex crimes in migrant and Muslim communities or the fabrication of numerous “rape culture” incidents, today’s incarnation of feminism is increasingly disconnected from reality.

Rebel feminist icon Camille Paglia will have none of it, though. The author and Philadelphia-based professor has always kept her feet firmly grounded in the real world, backed up by history.

Her new book Free Women, Free Men: Sex, Gender, Feminism makes this much clear. And for this fresh dose of sanity we must give thanks...

Another thing that still riles the feminist establishment is that the Bernie Sanders-supporting lesbian never bought into victimhood.

Paglia’s always been an empowerment feminist, actually wanting women to succeed instead of finding meaning through wallowing in victimhood.
This same philosophy applies to race, too.

It May Not Be Official Yet, But...


I received an email from my instructor today, confirming that I did well on the last test and congratulating me on completing my degree :-)  He also said that it was the grade on one homework assignment that kept me from scoring 90% in the class, so he dropped that grade and gave me an A in the course.  I'll take it!

When Truth Brings Trouble


When you can get in trouble for saying what is obvious, things aren't good:
Almost anyone who has been forced to sit through diversity training has probably thought, "What a complete waste of time." No slideshow presentation is going to undermine one's beliefs, so any real bigots taking such training won't be swayed, for one thing. For another, it takes time out of doing actual work in a pathetic attempt at indoctrination.

When Paul Griffiths, a professor of Catholic theology at Duke University, said what most of us happen to think about so-called diversity training, however, he stirred up a whole storm of social justice viciousness...

Now he’s the subject of two disciplinary proceedings – one for “unprofessional conduct” and one for “harassment” – and he is reportedly resigning after the 2017-2018 academic year.
I wonder what would happen if conservatives behaved this way.

Cool Coin


Pure symbolism from Hong Kong:
click images to enlarge

Another Nail in the Obamacare Coffin


Congress shouldn’t do anything. Let this 100% Democrat-approved disaster die the death it deserves. Let everyone see the strength and wisdom of Democrat ideas:
Health insurance giant Aetna said Wednesday that it will not be participating in any Obamacare exchanges in 2018.

"Our individual commercial products lost nearly $700 million between 2014 and 2016, and are projected to lose more than $200 million in 2017 despite a significant reduction in membership," T.J. Crawford, Aetna spokesman, said in an email.

The reason for the losses, he said, came from structural issues within the exchanges "that have led to co-op failures and carrier exits, and subsequent risk pool deterioration." He did not cite uncertainty over the future of Obamacare, as the company had done when it announced last week that it would be exiting the exchange in Virginia.

Aetna also announced in early April that it would be pulling out of the exchange in Iowa, and the latest announcement adds Delaware and Nebraska to that list, both on and off the exchange.
Aetna is only the most recent company to pull out of Obamacare exchanges.

Update, 5/14/17:  Where's that $2500/family savings?
Early moves by insurers suggest that another round of price hikes and limited choices will greet insurance shoppers around the country when they start searching for next year’s coverage on the public markets established by the Affordable Care Act.

Insurance companies are still making decisions about whether to offer coverage for individuals next year on these markets, and price increase requests are only just starting to be revealed by state regulators. But in recent weeks, big insurers like Aetna and Humana have been dropping out of markets or saying that they aren’t ready to commit. And regulators in Virginia and Maryland have reported early price hike requests ranging from just under 10 percent to more than 50 percent.
Note that this story is from the Associated Press, which is not known for a conservative bias.

Unicorn Farts Are Expensive


I wonder how much further California will go before even lefties will ask what the heck we're doing.  There is a cornucopia of Crazy California stories today.  Margaret Thatcher told us decades ago that the problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money, and nowhere is that more true in the US than in California:California Governor Jerry Brown on Thursday revised his proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year, raising total spending by 2.2 percent and increasing funding for schools and transportation, even as he warned that the state's economy likely cannot sustain the growth of recent years...Still, Brown said the budget was considerably more constrained than in any year since 2012, when California struggled through years of deficits. California faces a $3.3 billion revenue shortfall, down from a $5.8 billion shortfall in January.It's not bad enough that we're overtaxed, we're overregulated, too--and we're going to lead the world to a brighter tomorrow even if it bankrupts us:When Stanford University energy economist Danny Cullenward looks at California’s policies on climate change, he sees a potential time bomb.The state wants to slash greenhouse gas emissions so deeply in the coming years that oil refineries and other industries could face skyrocketing costs to comply with regulations, driving up gasoline prices until the system loses political support. If that happens, an effort touted as an international model for fighting global warming could collapse...Although it’s not yet clear how the rebates would function, the proposal is an acknowledgement that costs for gasoline and electricity are likely to rise, and lawmakers want to help insulate voters from the effects. The state’s transition toward low-emission technology could prove expensive over time, requiring the purchase of millions of electric vehicles and shuttering natural gas operations in favor of new solar plants.How, exactly, do we "insulate voters from the effects" of higher gas and electricity prices?  So much of California lawmaking seems to operate along the same lines as the business plan of the Underpants Gnomes.So California is, yet again, in an economic hurt box.  How to raise money?  The Colorado way--the most cowardly way possible, and on the backs of the people least likely to be able to afford it:Pressed to come up with the money to stave off its public employee pension time bomb, the state of California is jacking up the cost of traffic tickets...This is a variation of what we call the “blue civil war”—the way the tightening fiscal vise around state and local governments end up pitting Democratic constituencies against one another. In this case, poor and minority Californians, who tend to need to drive further to work, are paying the brunt of the increased traffic fines—which are going to cover the retirement hole for unionized public employees.California's one-party government is a debacle.Update, 5/14/17:  Clearly we have solved every other imaginable problem in California, if this is what the legislature is working on:Acting on purported consumer protection concerns, the legislature recently expanded its autograph law (which formerly only applied to sports memorabilia) to include any signed item worth over $5—including books.  Under that law, sellers must produce a certificate of authenticity and maintain detailed records of every sale for seven years.  [...]

Free At Last!


My original plan was to take the last test of my master's program after school tomorrow.  Tomorrow turns out to be a bad day for test-taking, though, and since I figured "there's no time like the present", I arranged to take the test during my prep period this morning.  So that's how I occupied myself from about 8 to 9 this morning.

Unless I missed something horrific, the test was relatively straightforward.  There was nothing unexpected on it, and my answers to the problems seemed reasonable.  I'm predicting a very good grade on this test.

That was the last test of the last class of my master's program.  It's all done except the paperwork-filing.  I dug out the papers from 5-1/2 years ago in which district mucky-mucks approved my participation in this program--as soon as I can get a transcript I'll take all this paperwork to the district office and ensure I get that pay raise I've worked 5 long years for!

And now that I have my afternoons free--no more studying!--I think I'll go take a walk :)

Lavish Expenditures of Taxpayer Money


This comes from the San Francisco Chronicle, hardly a conservative mouthpiece:
University of California President Janet Napolitano’s office spent more than $4,000 on one employee’s retirement party and thousands more on other going-away, staff-appreciation and holiday parties, perks that are not typically seen in the public sector and that raise questions about lavish spending practices as the university increases tuition and fees on students.

The new details come after state auditors found $175 million in secret reserves in the office of the president, money that lawmakers said should have been disclosed to the public and the Board of Regents, which oversees the 10-campus university system. 
Financial misconduct at the highest levels of academia--in California, no less?  I'm shocked, shocked, I tell you.

Remember this story the next time you hear someone talk about "free" college.

The Non-Existent Pervasive Rape Culture


Got this from Instapundit today:
LIES, DAMNED LIES, AND STATISTICS: Fake Statistics Created ‘Rape Anxiety’ Among Female Students.

Keep them scared and they’ll demand protection, instead of maturing into strong, responsible, and independent young women.
If anyone truly believed that 20% of women will experience rape or sexual assault in college, no one would let their daughters go to college. No one. Common sense dictates that.

But then, how would liberals rile people up if they couldn't lie?

Update, 5/14/17:  Yes, this article focuses momentarily on the fact that not all rapes are reported,  but if you want to play that game, I ask how many of the reported "rapes" were just morning-after regrets?
Most U.S. colleges — 89% — reported zero incidents of rape in 2015, according to American Association of University Women (AAUW) analysis of data provided by schools to the U.S. Department of Education.

In Deep Blue California


Maybe the reason liberals think everyone is a racist is because they themselves are racists:
Sacramento County lawyers who were found last week to have improperly excluded African American jurors from a trial over a lawsuit brought by a black former inmate at the downtown jail agreed Monday to settle the case for $2.5 million.

The trial was supposed to start last week but was halted after one day of jury selection when U.S. District Court Judge John A. Mendez sided with attorneys for James Joshua Mayfield, finding that the county was striking blacks from sitting on the jury “because of the color of their skin.”

On top of the $2.5 million settlement, the judge charged the county for an extra $13,640 in costs "with respect to the jury selection issue."