"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Monday, August 29, 2011

Parents, Take Note and Repeat: "I'm Just Quitting". What's the Use?

I've discovered a great website by David McElroy from Alabama. He describes himself as a "recovering political prostitute" and here is an introductory paragraph from his blog:

Do you have a love/hate relationship with politics? This is the beginning of a community of people who are looking for ways to say “no” to politics and say “yes” to real life. If you stick around, you’ll read about the futility of the state and you’ll also be subjected to the strange brand of humor that lives in David McElroy’s head, as well as random links and pictures of cute cats (and the occasional drooling dog). If you’re ready to move beyond politics, join our tribe.

.....If you’re still at a point where you believe in politics, I’m not here to talk you out of it. If you have an emotional attachment to the state, only you can decide you’re ready to give it up. If you believe in supporting a political party in order to avoid the “anarchy” you believe is the only alternative, I’m not going to change your mind until you believe there are other alternatives to the chaos you envision.

But if you believe the state is both immoral and incompetent to protect the natural rights of individuals, maybe you’ve found the right place to connect with people who believe the same thing. I’m not interested in debating the state. I’m interested in finding ways to live peacefully without it.

The more I learn the sad truth about the Department of Education and how it:

  • handcuffs good teachers and administrators and dooms them to mechanical test givers and beggars of money;
  • wields enormous amount of Federal power over states and local districts;
  • allows and perpetuates the continuing dumbing down of students;
  • is creating the nationalization of standards;
  • supports the multi-million dollar "school choice" movement that doesn't offer true choice, but rather a different version of public school education;
  • the lack of input and control of parents and taxpayers over the schools they fund;

the more I believe parents have three choices in public education.

The premise is this about public education: the system protects the system. Period. That is how government operates. It doesn't care about PEOPLE. It cares about providing a system. If you don't fit into the system, too bad. Either you are in or you are out. The government is not made of people...it consists of mandates. As McElroy writes: the state is both immoral and incompetent to protect the natural rights of individuals.

Are you unhappy about common core standards? If you live in Missouri, that's unfortunate. The legislators seem more intent on pushing the multi-million dollar school choice lobby reforms which do not promote local control or reduce federal spending than to attempt to stop their implementation.

We are receiving emails and twitters the pro charter movies are being shown in St. Louis again, so let's all take a guess what the educational legislative agenda will be in 2012. Probably the same as 2011 which were focused on trigger options, charter schools, open enrollment and mandated kindergarten programs? Despite requests from constituents, no bill was offered to rescind the State Board's adoption of the common core standards.

So what are parents' three options?
  • Homeschool
  • Private school education
  • Operate within the system but provide the academic education outside of school that your child is not receiving during the day and teach your child the moral and social values of YOUR family unit
That's it. Walk away if you can. Schools are becoming more of social service agencies than buildings of education. As McElroy states, look "for ways to say “no” to politics and say “yes” to real life." Stop looking to the government (the schools and your legislators) to provide for your children. It's up to YOU as the parent to provide a decent education for your child. Tell the system you and your child are "just quitting".

Don't stop trying to halt this nationalization of public education and the crony capitalism involved in the charter push; but don't leave your child to suffer in this flawed and politically correct system that cares less for your child than it does for quotas and subset test scores. Parents and taxpayers, keep fighting the fight but get your child off the battlefield.

Read McElroy's article about a business owner who made the decision to leave the system. Sometimes it's just not worth it. It was this man's business: it's your child and his/her future in your hands. As you read it, think about public education today. The mine owner talks about "environmental justice". The Federal government writes about education in terms of "civil rights" and "social justice" and "redistribution of teachers and administrators". The terms are interchangeable but the intent is the same whether you are debating educational, environmental, labor, economic issues, etc:

‘I’m just quitting’: A scene right out of ‘Atlas Shrugged’ in Birmingham

by David McElroy

If it had been a scene in “Atlas Shrugged,” the guy would have disappeared into the secrecy of Colorado with a shadowy figure who we would later learn to be John Galt. In real life, the story will probably be more complex. But I wonder how long it’s going to be before businesspeople really do start walking away and deciding it’s not worth doing business in America today. Or it it already happening and we just don’t know it?

The man you see in the picture at the right is named Ronnie Bryant. He operates coal mines in Alabama. I’d never heard of him until this morning, but after what I saw and heard from him, I’d say he’s a bit like a southern version of Ellis Wyatt from Ayn Rand’s novel. What I saw made an impression on me.

I was at a public hearing in an inner-city Birmingham neighborhood for various government officials to get public input on some local environmental issues. There are several hot topics, but one of the highest-profile disputes is over a proposal for a coal mine near a river that serves as a source of drinking water for parts of the Birmingham metro area. Mine operators and state environmental officials say the mine can be operated without threatening the water supply. Environmentalists claim it will be a threat.

I’m not going to take sides on that environmental issue, because I don’t know enough to stake out an informed opinion. (With most of the people I listened to today, facts didn’t seem to matter as much as emotional implications.) But Ronnie Bryant wasn’t there to talk about that particular mine. As a mine operator in a nearby area, he was attending the meeting to listen to what residents and government officials were saying. He listened to close to two hours of people trashing companies of all types and blaming pollution for random cases of cancer in their families. Several speakers clearly believe that all of the cancer and other deaths they see in their families and communities must be caused by pollution. Why? Who knows? Maybe just because it makes for an emotional story to blame big bad business. It’s hard to say.

After Bryant listened to all of the business-bashing, he finally stood to speak. He sounded a little bit shellshocked, a little bit angry — and a lot frustrated.

My name’s Ronnie Bryant, and I’m a mine operator…. I’ve been issued a [state] permit in the recent past for [waste water] discharge, and after standing in this room today listening to the comments being made by the people…. [pause] Nearly every day without fail — I have a different perspective — men stream to these [mining] operations looking for work in Walker County. They can’t pay their mortgage. They can’t pay their car note. They can’t feed their families. They don’t have health insurance. And as I stand here today, I just … you know … what’s the use? I got a permit to open up an underground coal mine that would employ probably 125 people. They’d be paid wages from $50,000 to $150,000 a year. We would consume probably $50 million to $60 million in consumables a year, putting more men to work. And my only idea today is to go home. What’s the use? I don’t know. I mean, I see these guys — I see them with tears in their eyes — looking for work. And if there’s so much opposition to these guys making a living, I feel like there’s no need in me putting out the effort to provide work for them. So as I stood against the wall here today, basically what I’ve decided is not to open the mine. I’m just quitting. Thank you.

I have no idea what Bryant will actually do. He might have made a quick emotional decision based on anger at feeling blamed for things that are frequently just normal health issues of life. He might reconsider and go ahead with his project.

The only thing I’m sure of is that what I saw today is a broken process and a sham. We all want a decent environment in which to live, but when various people at a public meeting — including federal officials and community members — talk about “environmental justice” and make it clear that their intent is to make it harder for businesses to operate, well, I can see why a businessman would decide to quit. I consider myself an environmentalist — because I want to live in a safe, secure, clean world — but what I saw isn’t reasonable concern for the environment as much as it’s an ideological agenda.

We need reasonable people to talk about how to balance various people’s property rights. (You have the right to use your property as you please, but I have a right not to be injured by it.) Even though we need a discussion, the modern equivalent of a kangaroo court that I observed today isn’t the way to go about it. It was more like a prelude to a lynching of business. If I were a businessperson or investor, I wouldn’t put the money or effort into opening new industry in this country today. I’d take my investment and jobs to somewhere they were wanted.

As Ronnie Bryant asked, “What’s the use?” Maybe Atlas really is starting to shrug.

Editor’s note: Here’s the audio clip of Ronnie Bryant speaking. The audio quality is poor since it was recorded on my iPad without any intention of broadcast or public sharing, but I’m providing it as verification of the story.

1 comment:

  1. Walk away, walk away, walk away. Take the tax dollars away from public education. Take your children from the system.


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