Intentional Meritocracy

I have told the story before.  It bears repeating every other year or two, even if no one wants to hear it.  Mostly, the pro union people don’t like hearing it.  However, it is an objective example of how unions encourage meritocracy.

My father was a carpenter.  At fifty, he was on a major union job in California.  A short time after he started, the union rep approached him and said, “You’re going to have to slow down.  You’re making every else look bad.”

Well, of course, he made sure to drop his speed some.  He wasn’t really in much of a hurry to begin with.  It just was, at his age, he had experience and knowledge going for him.  He was also in good shape.  He could walk on his hands for a city block and he could run faster than most high school kids.  Mostly, he was very experienced at driving nails.  It was always one swing to set the nail and one swing to drive it home.  Then it was on to the next.  I have seen him do it.

With the new instruction, I guess it meant he had to take a breath or two between nails.  I don’t know.  He never told me that part of the story.

The problem is that every person who is a member of union really has two bosses, the supervisor and the union.  In some cases, I’m not sure.  Maybe they just answer to the union.  It causes problems.  It encourages meritocracy.  When people work too well, when they do too good a job, someone is likely to take them aside and have a short but to the point talk with them.  “Be careful.  You are making the rest look bad.”

I have said all that to say this.  There is plenty of blame to go around for poor results from the schools.  Everyone deserves some of the blame, teachers, schools, administrations and certainly colleges.  Even parents must accept some of the blame.  Certainly, we need to step back and have another look at methods and techniques.  However, I firmly believe that the bulk of the blame goes to the National Education Association, NEA.  Though it is called an association, it is a union and likely one of the most powerful unions in the country.

As a union, it is even worse with the NEA.  Not only do they encourage meritocracy with the teachers, but they also determine what the teachers teach, also known as the curriculum.  I suspect they’d just as soon us not know that, but it’s true.  There have been a few times they have let it slip.  They have made public statements that back up my point.

You might think that what your child is taught comes down from the district, from the principal and from the state.  I guess some of it does.  However, not without the approval of the NEA.  It is, my guess, the main reason they oppose private schools so much.  They would have to relinquish their control.  And make no mistake; the NEA is all about control.  Education is the one thing farthest from their minds.  They are a political organization and, as all unions, they have a solid allegiance with the Democrat party.

Are you looking around, trying to figure out why your child can’t read.  You don’t have to look far.  It’s the dems and the NEA.

Good teachers that excel are frowned on.  It’s the meritocracy that finds advancement.  Rid the country of the NEA and the schools will experience an overnight improvement of 15 to 20 percent.  It would be a different world in which the teachers would be encouraged to teach at their best.

The meritocracy would be discouraged and, in some cased not tolerated.  I am convinced at least 5%, maybe 10% of the teachers in our systems should not be permitted to teach.  They should find some other kind of work, assuming they can.

Now.  All we need do is find out some way to rid ourselves of the NEA.  At least, we need laws to keep them out of the curriculum and methods. Let them represent the members, not the public. They in no way answer to the public, or as near as I can tell, anyone.

Literacy Is Not Optional

A few days ago, I posted my remarks about a report I thought I heard. The report was about the abject failure of the Tennessee school systems to teach reading. When I say school that means teachers.

Since then, unfortunately, it has been proven true.

These teachers have been trained in universities, many with masters degrees. The schools are given massive amounts of monies. They are given all the most modern technological teaching aids.

I have heard the reasons, really excuses for failure. Yet, in tmes past, teachers with no more than 12th grade educations have taught using nothing more than Bibles to teach and far more successfully.

Maybe I’m wrong. Perhaps it isn’t the teachers fault. Maybe the fault lies with the teacher’s teachers. Perhaps, the problem originated in the colleges. Maybe they can’t or don’t want to teach how to teach. It is entirely conceivable that their modern methods are at fault.

Then too, I’d really like to see a breakdown by school, by area, by district and yes by teacher. I don’t think we will ever see that. I suspect many teachers and administrators would be embarrassed, or should be.

I certainly understand that some of the blame lies with the parents. Still, the the teachers of the early 1900s got the job done under much worse conditions, while we were much more an agricultural nation.

More importantly, as the title of this post implies, we are in a different world today. Even the farmers have college degrees. Even they must be able to read and perform basic math. In this modern world, failing to be able to read and write is a recipe for failure.

Finally, it is imperative we keep the drugs out of our schools, out of our communities and out of our country. If we don’t, we will certainly need to shoulder some of the blame.

Color Me Surprised

For some time, I kept hearing about those Tennessee 3rd graders failing to meet third grade reading criteria would not be advanced to 4th grade. I thought little of it, though it did seem reasonable to me. The most important thing a child learn in early school is reading.

No one told me as much but I figured they would be holding back 3 to 5 percent. Then, I heard a news reporter casually say that 40 percent met the qualification.

Please! Please! Someone tell me the report was wrong or that my ears deceived me. If not, It does help me understand why Shelby County parents are trying to sneak their children into Desoto County schools.

Still, it would be far better if they fix their own schools. Somehow, I suspect that will not happen soon. I think they’re too busy teaching about going green or how bad Republicans are.

What is Your Diploma Worth?

So, how much is a sheepskin worth these days?  I don’t know.  I don’t have one.  I have looked around a time or two, though, and I wonder.  For years and years, I heard the term classical education, but had no idea what it meant.  Shows how much I know.

Then, one day I found out.  At least I think I know; for what good that is.  It seems that it is the study of history, classical literature and a little about science.  At one time, it was something that most college students strived for.  I don’t know.  I’m no expert.  They might still do.

However, I heard the other day that many people who run corporations don’t care too much for hiring college grads with classic educations any more.  It seems, before they can start pulling their weight within the company, they need to learn a few things, like how to be useful.

I suppose that, if a person has a small fortune, maybe a classic education would be really nice.  On the other hand, for those who need to pay back student loans while paying the rent, it just might be better to study business, engineering, or even simply math.

Then, there are those who seek degrees in anthropology.  I talked to a few folks who had degrees in anthropology.  I asked them where they could use it to make a living.  The truth is that there is not much need in this world for anthropologists.  To be sure, some are even now working in their field and making a good living at it.

My guess is that for every one that is practicing anthropology, there are likely ten who are doing something totally unrelated to put the meat and taters on the table.  I keep thinking of the one-frame cartoon I saw in a magazine.  The bearded man is standing next to the highway with a cardboard sign, “will do anthropology for food.”  My guess is that if real, not many would stop, except out of pity.

Today, I am looking at our college education system and I have come to the conclusion that there are three problems with it.  First, college loans should be 80% guaranteed by the collage.  If the graduate cannot get hired in the field of study, then the college should be required to pay 80% of the cost of the education.  It might not stop the teaching of unneeded courses or ridiculous classes, but it would certainly decrease the number of them.  More important, we would not have so many graduates in debt up to their necks.

Second, we need to get government out of our education, period.  As long as colleges realize they can keep raising prices they will.  Moreover, the government does seem to like such useless courses.

Third, just maybe they will start teaching students how to do things besides demonstrate.  Moreover, it might encourage those in the colleges to buckle down and learn instead of partying.

As an aside, it might not hurt to decrease the emphasis on sports.  I mean, it is about time we determine the purpose of schools.  Is their purpose to provide useful, intelligent grads for society or professional athletes to the pro leagues?  Maybe it is time the leagues start paying for the educations.  After all, the taxpayers are training the players for the pros.

Thinking over the above, the thought did occur to me.  Just what is a useful education?  What is it that college grads do?  Maybe it would be better to look at those who will not be able to work in their field of study.

Art, is a wonderful study.  It does add a lot to our society.  However, the vast majority of art majors fail to make a living at it.  Unless you’re independently, maybe it should be reserved for a minor instead of a major.  Certainly, tax payers ought not to foot the bill for the mass failure.

Some sciences.  Research is wonderful.  Have you ever seen some of the things they are researching on our dime?  I mean, really, shrimp on treadmills.

Even automobile engineers should be limited.  We only have three, maybe four major auto manufactures in the country.  Just how many engineers do they need in Detroit, anyway?  I don’t know.  However, I’d guess there are a few out of work right now.  Then, there will be more each year hoping to get on a GM, Ford or maybe Chrysler.

Certainly, we need lawyers, though I hate to admit it.  The problem is that we now have so many; they are inventing some pretty farfetched reasons to take a company or a person to court.  I suppose I should be thankful for them in one respect.  They are providing funding for the TV and radio.  Even there, they are using my money for it.  Every time they sue a store, I spend more in groceries.  Every time the car manufactures get sued, the price of cars goes up.  Certainly many suits are good and important.  However, you notice the planes some of these billionaire lawyers fly these days?  They bought the planes and limos mostly from settlements without proving guilt.  Those who pay, pay larger liability insurance.  In the end, they charge us more.  As I said, we paid for those planes.  Every one of them, and the fuel too.

In the end, the economy should determine who does and does not get loans.  It should be determined at banks, not by the federals.  The federals, I guess never learned math in school.  They keep spending money without limit.

Regardless of any of the above, do the smart thing when you go to college, loan or not.  Choose a major carefully.  You likely will not make much of a living on art appreciation.  Not much of a call for it.

While We Can

Invariably, the first thing tyrants do as they take over a country, it to silence populace.  One of the first things to disappear from a free country is the freedom to speak or publish freely.  It is odd here in the US that we have gained some freedoms of expression while we have lost others.  While books containing drag-queen literature is becoming prevalent, the Bible and literature about it are more frequently being banned.  If a teacher should have it on his desk, it just might be grounds for dismissal.

On the other hand, in my son’s intermediate school, the teacher thought it would be a good idea for all the students in the class to plot their astrological charts.  May I say, astrology is more of a religion than Christianity?

However, my point today only brushes with the subjects.  My real concern is beyond the argument of which religion is or isn’t true.  The fact is that Christianity is currently hated more than any religion from any country, and this includes religions that openly worship the devil.  Indeed Satan worship is protected in all military services and all chaplains are required to honor it.  It seems it is completely contrary to the reason to have chaplains in the first place.

To be sure, every time someone raises a voice against the way Christianity is treated, whoa to he who speaks it.  Oddly, in some cases, it is a person right within the church that speaks ill of him who has the nerve to say that homosexuality is wrong, though God, himself speaks against it many times.  For sure, it is the primary, if not the only reason for the utter destruction of Sodom and Gomorra.  It is at least one reason that God Brought Israel into the promise land.  God, through the hand of Moses said as much, though most would like to ignore it.

Most times, it’s not a matter of knowing right from wrong.  The vast majority of us know from our youth.  The two problems are getting people to admit to the obvious and then do that which they know to be right.

Let us take a look at it.  Do you find Bibles in porn stores?  When you enter a bar, will you see reruns of Billy Gramm sermons on the TVs?  Of course not.  To the current public, there are many other things more important, not to mention, they can get embarrassing…seeing such things in such places.  It is as if we can keep God from seeing us if we leave our Bibles at home.

So now.  I guess we can’t take our Bibles to school.  Why?  Because we just might do something that the Lord will disapprove of?  I guess, when it come comes to sex ed.; we really don’t want God looking over our shoulder.  We certainly don’t want God to see the encouragement of killing the unborn.  Boy, would that get in the way.

So, our neighbors, our community, our government is doing what they can to shut us up.

So, before they do.  Before they remove from us the most important right of all, while we still can, perhaps it is time to say something.  Or we may not be able to say anything.  While we still can, maybe we should remind one and all, just cause you say it’s right, doesn’t make it so.

If we lose the first amendment, most certainly the rest of our freedoms will soon follow.  Then.  You just might think, I should have said something.

Frequently Asked Questions

On the subject of Frequently Asked Questions, I have this to say.  Are they truly frequently asked?  Out of all the times I have ever consulted frequently asked questions, I never found the one for which I needed an answer.  Worse yet, I could never find a category.  They always list 4, 5 or 6 categories, then “Other.”  Then when I look under other, I can’t find my question there either.  Not a thing comes close.

I guess that either makes me weird or their questions aren’t as inclusive as they would like to imply.  Moreover, it would seem that I am mostly on my own.  Frequently, I actually figure things out, though it takes some time.  On the other hand, I just tried to install a product that should have not taken over 3 hours to install.  I gave up after 16.  I don’t need any piece of software that I can’t install after 16 hours.  Moreover, it was also difficult to de-install.  Moreover, it was difficult to use.

Taught me a lesson or two.  Next time I am going to install something, I will make sure to mark the spot so I can return to whence I came.  Even that brings me angst.  I have not yet established much trust in the ability of the software that can restore that well.

Be that as I may, the whole thing prompted a thought.  Maybe the US government could establish a frequently asked question web site.  I’m not suggesting it would help much but it would be interesting just what questions they would post and what kind of answers they would concoct, for instance, “What is a woman?”

God’s law was clear, “Though shalt not murder.”  Simple.  Requires little in the way of explanation.  On the other hand, the government at every level has pages and pages on the subject.  Can you imagine querying murder on frequently asked questions?  Did you say you have a day or two to read the reply?

How about something on the subject of abortion.  No problem for the dems…any time, any place, by someone with an MD after his name.  No follow-up exam necessary.

Then, there is the matter of theft.  All you can get away with as long it has a value of less than a grand.  And, by the way, if someone stops you, you can sue their socks off, and get them too.

Contrary to the commandment, we are not to honor our parents.  The job of parenting has been turned over to the daycares, schools and colleges.  In short the government.  By the way, we’d better not forget it or the FBI will be after us.

Incidentally, if we ask who should be in control, it’s the dems.  We best not forget that either or we will be tossed in the hoosegow and we’ll not see the light of day for years, if ever.

I guess it would be a bad idea to look for that on the FAQ list.  They will look for you and prohibit you from publishing a book, being on TV or radio.  Your name will instantly be mud, perhaps literally.

Incidentally, lest I forget, bribes too are wrong, even the ones that are completely legal. The Bible does make that perfectly clear. You wouldn’t doubt what this had you read the entire Bible. It really is in there, plain and simple to see for all. It says something about the way bribes cloud judgement. I am sure that is indisputable, even if you do not believe what is written.

Really Neat Invention

It’s about 3 by 4 by a quarter inch. There is a small monochrome LCD screen and it has a little microphone on it. You press a button on it and say into it the word you can’t spell and it displays the right spelling on the little screen.

There is but one big problem with it. To the best of my knowledge, it doesn’t exist. No one has made it yet. It has yet to be invented. Leastways, I can’t find it.

I looked to see if I can find an ap but couldn’t find any. Even if I found one, I’d prefer a separate device. I’d prefer no one looking over my shoulder, so-to-speak.

If properly configured, it would also display hyphenated words and differentiations for words with same or similar pronunciations. That way I’d know to use affect or effect.

Well, guess this one will have to just remain in the wishing part of my imagination ’cause I suspect it will not get into the design phase. I suppose the folks who design such things don’t figure there is a need of such things.

So, when I want to know how to spell some French word as soufflé, I will just need to try various combinations until I find the right one. Fortunately, I don’t have to use such words very often.

The Tenth Amendment

Many know not what it says or what it is for. Frequently, it is ignored. In some cases, methods are invented to get around it. When politicians in DC wanted to make all the states set a 55-mph speed limit, they were well aware that it would not get by the Tenth Amendment. No problem. the used the power of highway funding. Any state that would not drop the limit to 55, would lose the federal highway funding. So much for the spirit of the tenth amendment. It would seem that any time they want to nullify the amendment, they just make the appropriate threats. The feds, specifically the dems get around the tenth to control our schools. That’s a bad idea. The feds should have very limited control over schools.

Today, the Tenth Amendment has become the least effective amendment and it should be one of the most enforced. Today, our federal system is on the brink of collapse because most people just simply don’t know how important the amendment is. More and more, power is being transferred to the feds. it is just exactly what the founding fathers feared and for good reason.

For those who have no problem with the feds (effectively the dems) running everything, consider these two questions. How has it worked so far? How well will it work in the foreseeable future?

Well, let me add one more. Do we really want the feds determining how our children are being brainwashed? Do we really want our kids filled with a heap of false propaganda? (Actually, to some degree, this has already started.)

The Negative Side of Crutches

A number of years ago, I broke my ankle. I’m not going to say how. I had to do that enough times after the ambulance arrived. Didn’t like that much. It was sort-of embarrassing. None the less, they gave me a set of crutches, after which I immediately fell.

Believe it or not, there is a knack for using them and they turned me loose without so much as one lesson,

To be fair, they are very useful. If no one invented them, then someone would. They are more than just handy. For some they are a necessity. However, there are some things that take a little experimentation. The trial and error can be painful. For instance, did anyone mention that there is an art to climbing stairs with them. Even harder going downstairs. Some doors can present problems, too.

Even a good-sized curb can be a serious blearier for the novice on crutches. No one knows this better than me. Over time, I did get pretty good at curbs. I never could handle more than two stairs though. Fortunately, that never became a serious issue. I simply turned around and sat on the steps. It was a little slower than walking up or down the steps, but it worked.

Carrying much of anything was impossible. I was able to prepare a full dinner, but I had no way to get it to the table. My wife had to do that part. Believe it or not, I carried up to two Diet Cokes at a time…in my pockets about 300 yards from the break room at work. I also learned to use a backpack. I might suggest, if you are looking to rely on crutches for a while, get you a nice pack that is easy to put on and take off.

One thing that really got to me was the pain to my wrists. When I told the doctor that my wrists were sore, no sympathy there. He said, “Good. You’re using them right.” That was not what I expected. I guess if you ever need to use the things, maybe you ought not expect sympathy either. I mean, they just hand the things to you and expect you to be an expert overnight.

I will say this. They helped me lose over thirty pounds. Now that’s idea. An exercise program using crutches. I can guarantee it works. It’s simply a matter of what all you can put up with. Somehow, I just can’t envision someone leading an exercise class in some big classroom, especially on TV.

On the other hand, maybe it would be nice to lead a class of people through obstacle courses with crutches. They would be far more appreciative for those who must rely on the things on a daily basis, maybe the rest of their lives. I certainly learned my lessons.

Incidentally, maybe the “going green people” can actually invent something useful for those using crutches instead of pushing the idea of big props that kill birds and freeze up when it gets really cold when they are really needed.

Surprise, Not All Stove Are Hot

It is something, likely, as old as stoves. Most folks quickly learn not to touch hot stoves.

Actually, it is not so important today as it was a couple of centuries ago when ole Ben first started building stoves. Generally speaking, when someone would touch a hot stove, they were not apt to repeat it.

Actually, I suspect it went back even farther than that. Before there were stoves, there were fireplaces. Before fireplaces campfires, or their equivalent.

I even heard a tale of one of the big wigs at Levi learning not to kneel next to campfires…first time. It was then that they decided to remove one or two of the rivets from the area just below the fly of their famous canvas trousers.

The one thing brought away from the first experience was the probability of pain, sometimes a little embarrassment too. However, here’s the news. Not all stoves are hot. Not all rivets are hot. It just is that once exposed to these experiences we mostly come away thinking they are, or at least can be. It is referred to as inductive reasoning. Because the first stove we touch is hot, we assume all stoves are hot.

What if the reverse is true. What if the first stove you touch is ambient temperature? Do we then assume that all stoves are cool to the touch. If we do this, we expose ourselves to many painful experiences. This is called inductive reasoning.

While it is useful, it can easily lead to errors. For instance, if we see a brown Labrador retriever, it would be wrong to assume that all dogs are brown and weigh eighty pounds. Indeed, it would be wrong to assume that all Labs are brown. Oddly there are some that are black.

On the other hand, suppose we touch a hundred cool stoves. Can we then assume are stoves are cool? If we see a hundred brown Labs, are we to assume that all labs are brown.

You see, even though we see a large number of examples, we cannot truly assume anything.

Until we see a large enough number of examples, we cannot positively say that we know all labs are brown and that all stoves are cool. Even when working with large numbers, inductive reasoning can lead us astray.

I wish that kids in the eighth grade were required to spend a few hours learning about inductive and deductive reasoning. I am convinced the concept is extremely important in so many parts of life.

Let’s take for instance, the woman that is robbed by an African American. Is it right for her to be afraid of all African Americans? Of course, not. Yet, it may take her years to get over the experience. Our fears are not always founded on good logic. Indeed, her fear might keep her from many good friendships.

The somewhat opposite of inductive reasoning is deductive reasoning. In deductive reasoning, we draw conclusions from many, perhaps exhaustive numbers of examples. It is best that these examples are at random. It is the way that medical research is done. I suppose we can say that statistics and deductive reasoning are interrelated. The more the examples and the more random, the more accurate will be the stats deductive reasoning that depends on the stats.

If we have a random selection of a million dogs, it is likely that only a few will be Labs and we will likely see a few black dogs, white dogs and even a few multi-color dogs. Therefore, we can have a more accurate idea of the coloring of dogs. If we take a random measurement of a million stoves, we might actually find that only 30% are hot enough to cause pain, or even discomfort. (only a wild guess, not am actual statistic)

I’m not going to try to create an equivalent example with the thievery. It’s far too complex and there are too many ways it can go wrong with my imaginary statistics. Moreover, I am not going to suggest that a woman should get robbed a million times. Two or three maybe, but no more. Still, the principles remain firm. With a larger number of examples, we would be able to draw more accurate deductions.

However, we need to be careful about drawing snap conclusions. When we go from the millions of examples and try to derive a single situation from millions of examples, we can still be wrong. For instance, if I may. It would not indicate that a thief is of any ethnicity, and it would be wrong to make any such suggestion.

Yet, every day, I see some people blame Black men because of individual as well as vast statistical data. Those methods just don’t work. And, by the way, the methods don’t work on Caucasian policemen, again, regardless of past inductive or deductive reasoning. You cannot convict a policeman based on past experience just as the woman cannot convict based on past thieves.

Perhaps the most horrible example of inductive reasoning is when the person says, “Single parent families are just as good as two-parent families.” Then they go about calling out two, three or four examples of good kids brough up by single parents. That logic has two holes. First, it is based on a very small count of examples. Second, there is the probability that, if there is a second parent, the child would likely have turned out better. The statistics back it up. We are talking millions of examples not just two or three.

On the other side of the coin, I see people say that a particular person turned out good or bad because of his parent(s). The stats prove that some good kids come from bad or broken homes and bad kids come from homes with good parents.

In this case, the inductive logic gets us nowhere and the deductive logic only shows trends. The trend shows overwhelmingly that two parent homes are better. But logic tells us that it is only true if they are good parents. Abusive and or alcoholic parents rarely qualify as good parents. Yet, again, some good kids come from homes with abusive parents. Sorry. I have no explanation for that. I’m not sure there is one.

For those who are not truly familiar with the terms inductive and deductive reasoning, may I suggest you take an hour or two and look into it on the net. Most will find it far more complex than most of us realize. For instance, one thing that must accurately be determined in inductive reasoning is an accurate correlation. For instance, that dance by that Voo-do doctor likely has nothing to do with that solar eclipse. On the other hand, all that rain I dumped on my lawn the other day likely had nothing to do with the thunderstorm we got the next day, though it did seem a little coincidental. If we collected enough data, it is likely to be proved that the one thing had nothing to do with the other.