Third Party & Independents Archives

There Ought To Be A Law

When an injustice or problem comes before us we instinctively want something to be done to fix it. If someone is down on their luck or a person is being unfairly victimized based on something they have no control over, we want to see the little guy ‘win’ and beat the system that is causing their pain. So many times we say to ourselves, ‘There Ought To Be A Law’ to prevent this from happening again! But is making another law really the best way to handle these events?

When a law is made, no matter the intention, the reality is that every law carries behind it the force of the police over the citizens of the state. With each and every new law is a new encroachment on the lives of the citizens and the possibility that those who enforce the laws will abuse that power entrusted to them. No other institution can legally 'force' another do to something that they don't wish to do other than the government.

There are many times where there are other ways to resolve issues that do not involve bringing in the government and their enforcement of laws that are made. For example in dealing with the less fortunate, should we be involving the federal government into such issues or should the community, each individual deciding for themselves how best to help, or even if help is warranted in each case, get involved and resolved the problems as they occur without creating a bureaucracy that invariably leaves some who are deserving out in the cold while rewarding those who know how to ‘grease the system’?

In many cases the laws create new problems that need to be addressed by, yes, another law. We want a law to stop people from committing prostitution, but in effect we push the behavior underground, preventing the community from adequately dealing with the issue while involving the police state into the personal lives of two consenting adults. A similar issue with abortion, gambling and the use of recreational drugs like tobacco, alcohol and marijuana. We ignore the history of prohibition in regards to alcohol many decades ago and recreate the same situation in an unrealistic War on Drugs that has had little effect on the use of drugs while creating an underground mob culture, criminals out of people who need help and the filing of our jails with people who’s only offense is the smoking of a plant that grows naturally in the wild.

Of course, I am not advocating anarchy. Many will say, wrongly, that anyone suggesting a reduction of the influence of government in our lives is just trying to bring anarchy to our society. There are times when laws and government are definitely needed. The protection of an individual’s rights as prescribed by the constitution being the highest priority, the regulation of interstate trade and commerce, protection of the country from outside forces, etc. But when confronted with an issue that needs to be corrected, we should be asking first what we can do to resolve these problems ourselves without involving the institutionalization of rigid laws.

Posted by Rhinehold at February 27, 2006 11:16 PM
Comments
Comment #130137

Rhinehold:

Can you give us a few examples of your ideal world at work?

Posted by: Aldous at February 28, 2006 3:48 AM
Comment #130140

Rhinehold,
I agree with you. And while I can understand why the Law is the way it is, the truth of the matters is that our Elected Civil and Political Leaders lack the ability to argue it from the other side.

How do you keep a teenager from going to the mall without telling them no? Say sure as soon as you clean your room, do the dihes, take out the trash, and clean the garage. How do you keep Humans from doind “Stupid Things” and still keep Freewill intact? Ask a Judge for that answer belongs to The Robe of Justice. However, Societal Laws can be argued from the point of Law that it would make it Unprofitable for a person to pursue such venture. Thus, the penality would fit the burden that they placed on Society to put up with such foolishness.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at February 28, 2006 5:10 AM
Comment #130152

Rhinehold:

A reduction of government influence in our lives does not bring about anarchy, but a total lack of govt influence might. If there were no laws, then people would be at the mercy of what others felt was prudent. Prudent for one might be driving 65 while it might mean driving 110 for another.

A society, by definition, needs to have some level of group influence or it really isn’t a society, but rather just a group of individuals living in close contact with each other. The trick is to make just the right number of laws without making them too restrictive. Its quite a tightrope walk, with the main problem being that different people have different ideas of where the line should be drawn. Hence it moves back and forth depending on who controls the line.

Certain laws make sense to everyone, while others may not. I don’t know anyone who would decriminalize first degree murder, but there are those who don’t like seatbelt laws, helmet laws, certain drug enforcement etc. Democratic societies try to follow the general will of the people, though as any society gets larger, this becomes more difficult to manage. Others simply have the most powerful decide what the laws will be. I prefer the former despite its inability to ever achieve a perfect balance.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at February 28, 2006 7:45 AM
Comment #130216

One thing I have found is that when laws are enforced - usually both sides have lost something. Once you are forced to use the courts, you are trying to make the best of a bad situation.

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a great situation come out of a court battle. Maybe we need to limit the number of laws we have… but maybe we also need to grow up a bit and be more adult about our interactions, expectations and moderations with others.

Posted by: tony at February 28, 2006 12:44 PM
Comment #130238

The less the Government intrudes in the lives of the citizens the better. Laws are needed, and it can be and is a good tool to prevent and punish crimes.
We need laws against robbery, murder, rape, treason, and other crimes that cause harm to people. But to pass laws just because someone isn’t being treated as fairly as someone else is an unjust intrution on the rights of the citizens.

Posted by: Ron Brown at February 28, 2006 1:14 PM
Comment #130265

Well said, Rhinehold.

Every time we abdicate personal responsibility for government control, we sacrifice some of our individual rights.

We prefer that someone else keep our neighborhoods safe so we hire police officers. The majority of people prefer not to take up arms to defend our country so we hire people to staff our military services. We don’t want to educate our kids ourselves, so we ask the government to do it for us.

All of these seem quite reasonable, but of course they are just the tip of the iceberg. We now have government control over every facet of our lives. In every case, we’ve voluntarily given away some of our control to get it.

For example, it didn’t take a village to raise my kids. That was mostly my responsibility. But because of creeping, well-intentioned legislation, today’s parents are pretty much bound to do as they’re told by various levels of government.

Like you, I’m not proposing that we live in a lawless society. But the fact that we continue to give away more and more of our individual rights and responsibilities troubles me very deeply. I am not optimistic about the future of our society.

Posted by: Owl Creek Observer at February 28, 2006 2:32 PM
Comment #130270

Agreed.
The laws we need (e.g. common-sense, no-brainer reforms in government, itself), we can not pass, but we can pass lots of other useless or duplicate laws, of which are poorly (if at all) enforced. Take illegal aliens for instance. That is against the law, but government refuses to do anything about it, and pretends it is too difficult to deal with.

So we have a dysfunctional and corrupt legal system, in-league with corrupt government, perversion of the laws to do the very things they are supposed prevent, insufficient or selective law enforcement, pardons by presidents to release convicted felons (some who even pled guilty), legal plunder (e.g. abuse of eminent domain laws and recent, alarming supreme court rulings), wealth re-distribution, plundered entitlement systems, Gerrymandering to manipulate votes based on geographical boundaries, too many greedy, corrupt, and parasitic ambulance chasers, and idiotic juries allowing astronomical judgments for personal injury litigation with million$ and billion$ going to lawyers, etc.), identity theft (the fastest growing crime in the U.S.), no reliable form of identification (e.g. iris and/or finger-print and/or voice-print, and/or hand-print, and/or thermal facial geometry patterns, etc.), spying on citizens without a a warrant, releasing repeat offenders to repeat crimes of rape, child molestation, murder, etc.), violation or insufficient protection of basic rights (e.g. discrimination, and crimes based on religion, race, gender, age, wealth, sexual preference, etc.), and execution and incarceration of innocent people.

What we need more of is better enforcement of existing laws. Not more ignored laws that all resemble each other.

Posted by: d.a.n at February 28, 2006 2:50 PM
Comment #130323

listening and agreeing

Posted by: diogenes at February 28, 2006 4:38 PM
Comment #130325

Owl Creek:
“Every time we abdicate personal responsibility for government control, we sacrifice some of our individual rights.”

I think we simply have more laws because our population keeps growing and expanding. It just seems that the more people there are, the more laws must be enacted. But it’s important to remember that laws can be changed if they don’t work, or if they unfairly infringe on individual rights.

“We prefer that someone else keep our neighborhoods safe so we hire police officers.”

Personally I think it’s great we don’t have vigilante-style justice.

“The majority of people prefer not to take up arms to defend our country so we hire people to staff our military services.”

We have an all-volunteer military who get paid for their training and service — and every American pays for that service with taxdollars.

“We don’t want to educate our kids ourselves, so we ask the government to do it for us.”

What are you talking about? I don’t know where you live, but in most places in America, parents of children have to work for a living, therefore, most don’t have the time or the money to homeschool their kids.
Btw, the “government” doesn’t teach our kids, our states and the communities within those states run our public school system — and we pay for those schools with our taxdollars.

Posted by: Adrienne at February 28, 2006 4:52 PM
Comment #130341

i don’t think there have been any challenges levied against these particular institutions. the charge is that more than this is unnecessary as well as undesirable.

i would not personally draw the line with just these few governmental responsibilities, but i agree with the general sentiment. the founding fathers seemed to concur with it as well, which is why they made ours a federalist nation, not a unitary one.

large central government with vast powers and regulations is a flawed model - as i would think that bush has adequately demonstrated. that does not mean that there need be no regulations in the areas that concern your kith and kin - it merely alleges (correctly i think) that localities are more efficient, and better understand the needs and concerns of their citizenry. to each (community) their own (laws).

Posted by: diogenes at February 28, 2006 5:52 PM
Comment #130360

Adrienne:

I wasn’t suggesting that hiring police officers, soldiers and school teachers was a bad idea. Clearly that’s not the case. I’d rather not be chasing down bad guys in the middle of the night, which is almost as bad as having to teach in today’s schools.

I should have said “are quite reasonable” instead of “seem quite reasonable.” That was my intent.

OCO

Posted by: Owl Creek Observer at February 28, 2006 7:42 PM
Comment #130377

Law should be simple enough for even simple people to understand. Laws that are difficult to understand are bad laws. If you are not sure you have broken the law, it is a bad law.

How can you tell whether or not laws are good? Three simple thought experiments.

You have broken the law. How afraid are you of getting punished? If the answer is, “not much” you have a law that is not respected.

You are accused of breaking a law, but believe you are innocent. How confident are you that you will not be punished. If you are very confident, we have a good law with good justice. If you are not confident, we have a bad law or lack of justice.

You can break the law without fear of punishment, but everyone will know you did it. Do you break the law or not. If you choose to break the law, either you are a sociopath or the law is not a valid law.

Fewer laws are better. The more things are illegal, the more you will create criminals and the less respect people will have for the law.

I agree with Rhinhold that every problem doesn’t need a law.

Posted by: Jack at February 28, 2006 8:34 PM
Comment #130378

D.A.N.,
Actually, the Enforcement of the Law is not the problem in our Society. It is the fact that “We the People” have failed to educate Our Children on what their Civil and Constitutional Rights are as Individuals and Citizens of America.

Call it a fear of “The Establishment” of the 60’s, but why is always The Government’s fault that something is not done right? No, a hardcore lesson in how and why America finctions as it does as a Nation and Society is needed so that the Youth of the 21st Century can come to terms with the Universe that “We the People” exist in.

The port deal would be a perfect issue to bring up the fact that “We the People” do not have the Right to Invest in DP through the Open Market and thus by the Nature of the Corporation does not meet the Level of what our Government is suppose to be doing. However, the UAE could make a huge statement by Legally moving DP into the Market so that others can invest in the Corporation and make Profit. No, wonder you and other suport VOID.org.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at February 28, 2006 8:38 PM
Comment #130397

Adrienne:

One other nit to pick:

You said “Btw, the “government” doesn’t teach our kids, our states and the communities within those states run our public school system — and we pay for those schools with our taxdollars.”

All funding for our public schools comes along with certain requirements established by the funding source. If federal tax dollars, state tax dollars and local tax dollars pay for our schools and the teachers who work there, then how is it not “government” teaching our kids?

OCO

Posted by: Owl Creek Observer at February 28, 2006 9:50 PM
Comment #130521

Owl Creek:
“All funding for our public schools comes along with certain requirements established by the funding source. If federal tax dollars, state tax dollars and local tax dollars pay for our schools and the teachers who work there, then how is it not “government” teaching our kids?”

I guess you might say that because the state and local governments get some education funding from the federal govt. that they’re involved in the process, but to me it seems to be stretching things to say they’re “teaching” the kids.
Actually, when I consider it though, Bush’s ‘No Child Left Behind’ is government interference in exactly what is going to be taught in our public schools. Those tests have already begun to dictate to teachers — because they’ve been forced to alter their lesson plans in order to help the kids pass whatever subject matter they’ve decided to include on those tests. And if the children don’t do well on them, federal funding dollars are lowered for those schools.
So, actually you’re right, Owl! The government has begun to teach our kids. :^/

Posted by: Adrienne at March 1, 2006 12:12 PM
Comment #130531

Adrienne:

I think we’d agree that schools need to be held accountable to what they teach our kids. There needs to be a somewhat objective measure of how our kids are doing. For instance, if a 10th grader cannot add fractions, he/she is obviously behind the scale. If he/she keeps getting passed along, then the school is not doing that child a service because eventually, the lack of learning will harm the child.

Assuming we agree on the above, then what is required is a way to ensure that kids are being taught and are learning what they should be. With math, for instance, testing can be much more objective. There’s only one answer to
‘what is 3+3’, so its an objective question. Other subjects, like English or art, are far more subjective, yet we still need to determine if we are successfully teaching kids.

We know that some teachers are better than others, and some are not good at all. We know that some schools are better than others, and some are not good at all. We should want the underachieving students and schools to improve their performance.

What kind of review format would you favor in order to determine whether kids from various schools are achieving the kind of success we want?

Posted by: joebagodonuts at March 1, 2006 12:28 PM
Comment #130551

Joe,

I think math skills are one of the two areas where national testing might be an excellent idea — the other being reading comprehension. But that isn’t what NCLB does. Since those tests cover almost every subject, they’re now starting to control what is being taught in classrooms all across this country. I strongly disagree with that idea, because I don’t think that the teachers or the children should be dictated to as though they are robots.

Posted by: Adrienne at March 1, 2006 1:39 PM
Comment #130555

Adrienne,

The federal government, since the creation (I say unconstitutional) of the Department of Education, has been ever increasingly teaching our kids. But that’s not the end.

Some federally funded universities are now making it their charge to teach morality to citizens, putting that charge over the need to teach math, english, arts, etc. It is no longer the requirement or charge of the PARENTS to teach morality, it’s the government. Doesn’t that scare even you?

The teachers unions are now joining forces with the AFL-CIO to increase their political power and enact ever increasingly rules preventing any kind of introduction of choice. It’s amazing that the democratic party, who most of the people who run the AFL-CIO and teacher’s unions belong to, purport to be ‘pro choice’ and yet undermine the attempt to introduce choice into aspects of our lives that doesn’t involve abortion.

Where are the real pro choicers? Why, they are increasinly joining the Libertarian Party, disillusioned with the lies and manipulations of the dems and reps.

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 1, 2006 1:49 PM
Comment #130557

Adrienne:

No one wants our children or teachers dictated to as though they are robots. The intent is to define acceptable standards of performance in teaching and learning. Again, I’m not sure how that can best be done.

Since you think the current method of testing performance is flawed, I’m hoping that you have some ideas on what method might be an improvement. You don’t strike me as the type to simply lodge a complaint without having suggestions for improvement.

If I understand you, you’re okay with the testing for math skills and reading comprehension. We might be able to include science in there to some degree, as chemistry and physics especially are more empirically and objectively based. How would you better the testing of performance for other subjects, with the goal of improving our educational system? Any thoughts?

Posted by: joebagodonuts at March 1, 2006 1:52 PM
Comment #130567

Rhinehold:
“Some federally funded universities are now making it their charge to teach morality to citizens, putting that charge over the need to teach math, english, arts, etc. It is no longer the requirement or charge of the PARENTS to teach morality, it’s the government. Doesn’t that scare even you?”

What do you mean “even you”? Are you implying that I have no morality simply because I’m agnostic? I assure you that is far from the truth.
I think it is completely idiotic to put morality classes above the teaching of math, english or the arts. But no matter what they do or say, it will ALWAYS be the charge and the responsibility of Parents to teach morality to their children.
That being said, could you elaborate? In what way are they now teaching morality? There have always been civics and ethics classes in highschools and universities — so I assume you’re not speaking of anything like that?
Truthfully I would be very uncomfortable with the idea that a certain specific set of morals would suddenly be forced upon children in public schools — especially if what they’re actually trying to do is bring religious dogma into the classroom. Yet, I’m all for the teaching of ethics and civics in a generalized way — and think no harm could ever come from that.

Btw, various questions surrounding morality aren’t really all that new. When I was in highschool, there were certain books that were banned from the library. And, as soon as my parents would hear of that, they’d then go out and buy the book so that me and my siblings would still have the chance to read it. The idea always stressed at my house was that no one should keep you from knowing something simply because others might hold prejudices against certain thoughts or ideas.

Posted by: Adrienne at March 1, 2006 2:18 PM
Comment #130573

Joe,
I can understand why the federal government would wish to know whether math and english skills are being master across this country by our children, but I think testing and standards should generally be dealt with by the state and local communities. There are often regional differences that may constitute good reasons why certain topics or subjects will be stressed over others — and I don’t think it’s a good idea to want those things to be overlooked simply because the federal government wants to decide what all of American’s children should know.

Posted by: Adrienne at March 1, 2006 2:31 PM
Comment #130583

Adrienne,
I agree with you. However I think one of the main problems our children face is not even in the classroom - its at home with their parents.

I amazes me how few parents actually get involved with their children’s schools. I’ve actually met parents who didn’t even know where the school was that their children attended, because they go on the bus, and come home on a bus.

I started to be a smart-Alex and suggest that we teach read ‘en, writ ‘en and arithmetic, but instead I would like to suggest that perhaps we are teaching (or repeating) many of the same information over and over again.

A good example to ask ourselves would be: How far in American History do you actually go? I finally hit the ceiling while in High School and heard about Columbus for the umpteenth time. We never got managed to really get into the Civil War.

Perhaps we need to teach forwards one year - BC up to some some later time period, and backwards the next - from Bush through part of the 19th century, then forward again from the Civil War to the 20th century and so on.

These type of redundant subjects include Science, English, Art, Music, and Health!!! I want to repeat, I believe these subjects SHOULD be taught, but repeating the same information over and over again without going forward is a waste of the teachers’ and students’ time.

It would also allow more time to actually teach INFORMATION, instead of some stupid test that no one seems to be able to agree on.

Posted by: Linda H. at March 1, 2006 3:20 PM
Comment #130611

Rhinehold,
The argument given is that America’s Public School System was established becuase an Educated Society would promote “The General Welfare” of the Nation. How could a Nation obtain the Golden Ring of Life if all their citizens were Stupid?

Now, I know that I am not allowed to say what is Stupid Bebavior, but I do believe our Public Education has the right to teach what it is not. Math, Science, Reading needs to be left up to the person and the journey that they choice in life. However, given our students the Cardinal Knowledge and Wisdom that it takes to put this information into partice in the real world does fall under the Law. And on top of that agenda is the teaching of why you have Civil and Constitutional Rights.

However, if America is going to fix the problem with the Federal System, we have to educate the Educated of Society on what is important to the American Layman Citizen.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at March 1, 2006 4:57 PM
Comment #130627
Henry Schlatman wrote: D.A.N., Actually, the Enforcement of the Law is not the problem in our Society. It is the fact that “We the People” have failed to educate Our Children on what their Civil and Constitutional Rights are as Individuals and Citizens of America.

Henry, you are correct.
Law Enforcement is not the problem.
It is only part of the Problem and the Solution. Law enforcement is a responsible application of the Law.

Yes, Education is one of the most important of the six factors to understand
The Problem and the Solution.

Responsibility = Education + Transparency + Accountability + Power

Corruption = Power - Education - Transparency - Accountability

THE PROBLEM: Irresponsible and unaccountable government. Government needs Power to enforce the laws, but Power without Education, Transparency, and Accountability yields Corruption.

Henry Schlatman,
You’re right though. Most things must start with Education.

Posted by: d.a.n at March 1, 2006 6:15 PM
Comment #130630

Maybe we’re just not doomed to repeat history over and over?

We have been at (4) and (5) for some time, and a few hints of (1). Even if a great deal of oppression and totalitarianism is avoided, (1) and (2) are still likely to be painful.

Posted by: d.a.n at March 1, 2006 6:28 PM
Comment #130663

Adrienne,

I was not suggesting anything about you being agnostic, I’m an athiest. So I don’t think we have to worry about debating relgious values… ;) When I said ‘even you’ I was referring more to the liberal philosphy and your support of the democratic party.

However, what I was trying to point out is that our institutions, paid for by forced charity (taxes) are attempting to mold WHAT our children think, not how. It’s an indoctrination, not a healthy support for differing thoughts and mindsets.

The worst part, though, as is the case with any governmental institution, is that no mechanism for ‘choice’ or ‘competition’ are allowed. Teachers, once hired are almost impossible to get removed and a school who consistently fails continues to fail at the expense of the children in the community it is suppose to server.

And with the political expansion of the teacher’s union who’s number one enemy at this time is school vouchers, for precisely the reasons I mentioned above, there is no doubt that the continued failure of our society to teach our children to use their own minds and think for themselves will continue with the future extinction of our society through Darwinian laws as the end result.

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 1, 2006 9:48 PM
Comment #130691

D.A.N.,
Thanks, but the fact that I think is funny is that we now have proof that Hardcore Democrats and Republicans do not use Reason and Logic to support their political party’s stances. I just want to know if it is Politically Correct to call them Mental Incompetence since that is also the mark need to prove one is fit to stand up in a Court of Law.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at March 1, 2006 11:25 PM
Comment #130717

Nice post, Rhinehold. In general, I agree.

Laws that are difficult to understand are bad laws.

That’s pretty simplistic, Jack. I probably wouldn’t understand finance law, but it’s obviously necessary. :)

Posted by: American Pundit at March 2, 2006 4:45 AM
Comment #130769
Henry Schlatman wrote: D.A.N., Thanks, but the fact that I think is funny is that we now have proof that Hardcore Democrats and Republicans do not use Reason and Logic to support their political party’s stances. I just want to know if it is Politically Correct to call them Mental Incompetence since that is also the mark need to prove one is fit to stand up in a Court of Law.

Henry, incumbents politicians are incompetent because they are consumed with greed and power which corrupts, when there is a lack of transparency, accountability, and education.

It’s really just that simple.

Every once in a great while, humans learn from their mistakes. Maybe it will happen again in our lifetime ?

I continue to hope always, but if I were going to make a bet, it appears that we will have to learn the hard way again.

Things are not looking good.

Unfortunately, pain is the only thing that can trigger change. When things get bad enough to increase the pain and discontent, only then will the people start paying attention (maybe).

Posted by: d.a.n at March 2, 2006 9:49 AM
Comment #130795

Linda H:
“However I think one of the main problems our children face is not even in the classroom - its at home with their parents.

I amazes me how few parents actually get involved with their children’s schools. I’ve actually met parents who didn’t even know where the school was that their children attended, because they go on the bus, and come home on a bus.”

I think that is very sad. There does seem to be a lot of problems with parents these days. Sometimes I wonder why people even have children if they don’t have the desire to get involved and make sure their kids are getting a good education. It seems like a certain percentage just don’t care or are too focused on themselves, and that another large segment are simply working too hard to find the time to do so.
And that’s a very serious problem for our kids, because I think the quality of parenting a child receives is actually a lot more important than the level of quality they receive in their education.
Don’t get me wrong, I think school is very important. But I personally believe I learned a great deal more about life and what is important, more about how to find out what I needed to know, more about real intellectual adventure and discovery — just more about everything — by being surrounded by the intelligent and caring people in my family than I ever learned in a classroom.

“It would also allow more time to actually teach INFORMATION, instead of some stupid test that no one seems to be able to agree on.”

I don’t know one public school teacher who doesn’t hate the NCLB tests. All of them claim that teaching to the tests take most of the fun out of teaching and the excitement out of learning.
I’ll give you a case in point. I have a friend who teaches highschool history and he was telling me about how the NCLB tests cover such a wide array of disparate questions and topics that he just ends up trying to cram a lot of facts into the kid’s heads as efficiently as he can. He then went on to describe to me the difference between how he used to teach the kids about the Civil War, as opposed to how he is forced to teach it now.
What he used to do was start every class by playing a recording of one of the songs of that era, and show them a few of the amazing pictures taken by photographers like Matthew Brady and George Barnard. At the beginning of the topic, they’d discuss slavery and the economic foundations of the war, then each day that followed they’d look at the various battles and important figures of the war. He tried to just immerse them in the whole time period and give them a sense of what it might have been like to live and to fight for either side.
Now, he claims he can’t do most of those things. He just tries his hardest to make sure the kids know every single one of the important dates and names of battles, and facts about the important people, and that’s it. So that they’ll correctly answer the Civil War questions on the test. There just isn’t time to do the other fun stuff — because he has to do the exact same kind of fact-cramming for all the other portions of the test they’ll be taking. (And there is a lot of administrative pressure on the teachers to make sure the kids do well on those tests because the level of federal funding they receive now depends upon it.)
I think that is a real shame — because the way he used to teach that subject is exactly the way you hold a childs interest and make learning history exciting — possibly even make them want to read more about that time period, outside of being forced to learn about it for school.
He also said something interesting to me during that conversation. He told me he gets the feeling that NCLB is intended to make public schools look bad, and make the teachers want to teach in private schools where they won’t have to worry about teaching to those tests. I think he might be right. It’s almost as though NCLB is a recipe for failure — a way to get people to disparage the whole idea of our public schools and make our citizens think that voucher-funded privatised schools are the only way that our children are going to be able to get a decent education.

Posted by: Adrienne at March 2, 2006 1:10 PM
Comment #130796

Adrienne:

I have yet to understand how we can establish some level of capability for our students. You’ve said in an earlier post that “testing and standards should generally be dealt with by the state and local communities”. But you haven’t really helped me understand what kind of testing would accomplish this. You seem in favor of testing, but not the testing that’s going on now. Perhaps you can elaborate on specifically how a locally given test would generate the results we both seem to want and how that test would specifically differ from those being given now.

Seems to me that localized testing might not accomplish what many want, which is to have schools generally at the same level of capability in all localities. If each locality or state has different testing, they will certainly get different results. Mightn’t they be influenced to giving tests that make themselves look good, rather than a stricter test that might identify problems?

Since there is little competition in the schools (meaning an ability to go elsewhere if you don’t like the product you are getting), I’d be in favor of some level of overall guideline. There can certainly be some local flavor and input to it, but the idea should be to have all districts, regardless of where they are, achieving as similar results as possible. That’s idealistic, of course, but a bar should be set at minimum levels to ensure that at least that bar is being surpassed.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at March 2, 2006 1:22 PM
Comment #130804

Adrienne,

You seem to think that the public schools are just now failing. The public schools in this country have been failling much longer than NCLB. Ever since the establishment of the Department of Education the test scores of Americans compared to the rest of the world have spiraled downwards.

And if your friend were teaching in such a way that the children would want to learn more on their own, then they would be passing those tough tests. Or they could spend more than 2 weeks on the Civil War in their history class that usually only lasts 1 term. There are much better options than throwing dates and facts at him because the final desire is to teach the children critical thinking, something that amazingly enough doesn’t get taught to most people until college.

Basically, there is most definately a ‘better way’ that will get the children involved AND get them to pass those exams. Most of the private schools have no problems doing just that, why is it hard for the public schools? And maybe it is time for the public schools with their federally mandated cirriculum which may not be the best way to teach chlidren to fade into history. Instead, let’s let the parents decide which schools to send their children to? How can anyone be against that, I don’t know, but I do know that the teachers union sure is.

With a private school system using public funds through vouchers, parents would once again have a reason to be involved in their child’s educational needs and be able to have their children taught to their value systems and as successfully as possible instead of being indoctrinated into ‘governmentspeak’ like we have now.

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 2, 2006 2:03 PM
Comment #130806

Rhinehold:
“When I said ‘even you’ I was referring more to the liberal philosphy and your support of the democratic party.”

Oh, I see. Liberals and Democrats are bad because they like the idea that we have public schools in America.

“However, what I was trying to point out is that our institutions, paid for by forced charity (taxes)”

Taxes are the dues we pay to live in a civilized society. They are not charity, they are a common sense answer to creating something for the common good. Now we can talk about all the horrible waste and corruption that occurrs from politicians mishandling our tax dollars, but we probably aren’t going to agree on much if you think that public funding for education is forced charity.

“are attempting to mold WHAT our children think, not how. It’s an indoctrination, not a healthy support for differing thoughts and mindsets.”

I think people make too much of WHAT is being taught. So what if your kid comes in contact with a few people who don’t share your or their own viewpoints and values — it’s how they’ll learn about life and how to get along with those who they may not agree with. As I was saying in my post to Linda, it’s what parents teach kids that is more important. How to stand up for what THEY think and believe and know to be true. How vitally important it is to know what THEY’RE thinking and talking about by being grounded by facts, rather than always being ruled by their emotions. Kids learn that stuff at home, not in school.

IMO, all the levels of education that come before the college years are more an exercise in meeting expectations. It’s about discipline and knuckling down to the work more than anything else. The task of learning HOW to learn and study and research a subject or a topic is what they are learning to do during those years. And I think if a parent has given their kid decent values, they aren’t going to be harmed by coming into contact with people who think and feel differently than they themselves do. In fact, being able to meet someones expectations that you know you don’t agree with can often be a greater challenge and a lesson unto itself.

“The worst part, though, as is the case with any governmental institution, is that no mechanism for ‘choice’ or ‘competition’ are allowed.”

I like the idea of public schools. I think we should just be focused on making them better places to learn, rather than trying to eliminate them on behalf of the “free market”.

“Teachers, once hired are almost impossible to get removed and a school who consistently fails continues to fail at the expense of the children in the community it is suppose to server.”

Complaints from parents usually ensure that something will be done about teachers who don’t or can’t perform well.

“And with the political expansion of the teacher’s union who’s number one enemy at this time is school vouchers, for precisely the reasons I mentioned above, there is no doubt that the continued failure of our society to teach our children to use their own minds and think for themselves will continue with the future extinction of our society through Darwinian laws as the end result.”

That’s bunk. I don’t place the failure of society on public schools and public school teachers, I place it on two other factors. The first being bad parenting and on parents who don’t demand more from the schools on behalf of their kids. And other being the failure of our government who wastes, squanders and cheats us of everything our tax dollars should be providing, including our kids educations.
I look at this Neocon voucher plan as an attempt to privatise everything so that the wealthy can find yet another way to make a buck.

Posted by: Adrienne at March 2, 2006 2:05 PM
Comment #130817

Joe, as I said earlier, I think the only places where the federal government has a right to be concerned and to want to test is in math and reading comprehension. If the nations kids are mastering those two things, I think we don’t have all that much to worry about on a national level. You seem to be implying that states and local communities don’t have the best interests of the children at heart. I disagree. I think they do, and I think they’d do a much better job at designing tests and making sure that their standards are meeting the needs and expectations of their state and local taxpayers.

Posted by: Adrienne at March 2, 2006 2:21 PM
Comment #130823

Adrienne:

Complaints from parents usually ensure that something will be done about teachers who don’t or can’t perform well.

If only it were so. Unfortunately its truly not the way it is. See the following excerpt from an article from John Stossel (by the way, Stossel has a number of articles out there talking about schools. You might check them out, because he has a lot of interesting ideas that you should be aware of):


“Joel Klein once won fame as a fighter of monopolies. He worked for the federal government, and his most famous foe was Microsoft. Now he runs a monopoly of his own: the New York City public schools. It’s even more arrogant than Microsoft, because its customers have even less choice.

Joel Klein now presides over a calcified monopoly where it’s hard to fire anyone for anything.

One New York teacher decided that one of his 16-year-old students was hot. So he sat down at a computer and sent a sexual e-mail to Cutee101.

“He admits this,” said Klein. “We had the e-mail.”

“You can’t fire him?”

“It’s almost impossible.”

It’s almost impossible because of the rules in the New York schools’ 200-page contract with their teachers. There are so many rules that principals rarely even try to jump through all the hoops to fire a bad teacher. It took six years of expensive litigation before the teacher who wrote Cutee101 was fired. During those six years, he received more than $300,000 in salary.

“Up, down, around, we’ve paid him,” said the chancellor. “He hasn’t taught, but we’ve had to pay him, because that is what is required under the contract.”

Now of course this is just one anecdote, and I don’t subscribe simply to anecdotal evidence. But we all know that teacher’s unions are quite powerful, and they support their members—-even when logic would suggest they shouldn’t.

There are many good teachers. Your friend sounds like someone who wants to do well, and I’d hope he has the creativity to teach the kids what they need to learn in a fun manner. The problem exists more at the “management” level of schools, starting with the overblown administrations.

Competition of some sort would be good for schools—it would make them better. And that’s what we want, isn’t it?

Posted by: joebagodonuts at March 2, 2006 2:30 PM
Comment #130831

Joe,
If I found out about such a thing, I’d insist that my kid be removed from that guy’s classroom. If enough other parents did the same, something would be done about him by the school administrators. Parental pressure and solidarity can go a very long way from what I’ve been told.

Posted by: Adrienne at March 2, 2006 2:54 PM
Comment #130847

Adrienne:

Still looking for what kind of test you’d approve of. We agree seemingly on the need for testing, but you’ve said you don’t like the current tests that are called for. I’m still in the dark as to what specifically you want for a test, and how it specifically differs from whats being tested now.

As for insisting that your kid not be in that guy’s classroom, that’s only part of the issue. I’m sure many parents did just that, but the fact that Klein as superintendent could NOT fire the guy is preposterous, don’t you think? I assume you would want him fired, but seeing that the union is strong enough to prevent that is indicative of their power, isnt it. And that leads to wasted money in still paying him.

Those are some of the realities in our schools. With competition, you’d do just what you said…pull your kid out and send him/her elsewhere.

Posted by: jeobagodonuts at March 2, 2006 3:51 PM
Comment #130856
“I was referring more to the liberal philosphy and your support of the democratic party.”
Oh, I see. Liberals and Democrats are bad because they like the idea that we have public schools in America.
No, they are bad for a whole variety of reasons having nothing to do with support for public schools. And I don’t necessarily have a problem with public shools themselves, but that’s not what we have now.

What we have now are insitutionalized federally controlled bureaucratic monoliths dedicated to government indoctrination.

I want our chlidren to learn the basics. Not be taught about ‘social injustice’ and graded badly based on their political views. (yes, this happens all of the time, there are documented details of it all over the place. See the recent video a student shot of his teacher ranting against the US and Bush in a history class).

The PROBLEM is that once it became FEDERALLY ran, we now have people trying to pound square pegs into round holes by trying to teach people in California the same as people in Georgia, New York or Alaska. There are just too many different factors that should be taken into account in teaching that it should be a much more localized prospect, to the point of your school system in your local area is not doing the job, you can easily move to another location to get better education while still retaining the basic rights that our constitution guarantees.

Yes, today the local schools have SOME control, but with ever increasing FEDERAL mandates and FEDERALLY controlled teacher’s unions with new ties to the Teamsters, it is becoming almost impossible to provide anything adequate to meet the basic local needs of the students anymore.

People keep saying we need to spend more money on education, but the reality is that we spend so much now on each child that it’s rediculous. We need to look at HOW we are managing our educational system and consider the notion that the experiment of the Department of Education is a failed one and look at a better way.

What is your problem with allowing people who are underprivledged to have the same choice as rich people to have their children taught by a private institution who might better match the type of education that they want their children to have? Don’t the poor deserve to have the same access to good education as the rich?

It’s just like Europe who has ‘public healthcare’. The reality is that the pisspoor healthcare that the poor has to suffer through is not as good as the private healthcare that the rich opt out of the system to obtain, just like the educational system. It’s such a problem that Canada recently tried to make it illegal to go ‘out of network’ but it was found unconstitutional, just as it would have been when Hillary was attempting to do the same thing in her failed (thankfully) healthcare debacle.

“However, what I was trying to point out is that our institutions, paid for by forced charity (taxes)”

Taxes are the dues we pay to live in a civilized society. They are not charity, they are a common sense answer to creating something for the common good. Now we can talk about all the horrible waste and corruption that occurrs from politicians mishandling our tax dollars, but we probably aren’t going to agree on much if you think that public funding for education is forced charity.

All taxes are taken by the government at gunpoint. It is a ‘majority rule’ system, not an ‘individual choice’ system. IMO, as few things as possible should be done by mob rule as possible when there are ways to allow for the same, or often better, service by allowing the citizens choices in how those services are given to them. While there are times where that is not very possible, education is NOT one of those times.

I think people make too much of WHAT is being taught. So what if your kid comes in contact with a few people who don’t share your or their own viewpoints and values — it’s how they’ll learn about life and how to get along with those who they may not agree with. As I was saying in my post to Linda, it’s what parents teach kids that is more important. How to stand up for what THEY think and believe and know to be true. How vitally important it is to know what THEY’RE thinking and talking about by being grounded by facts, rather than always being ruled by their emotions. Kids learn that stuff at home, not in school.

Personally, I think that children should be exposed to all kinds of thinking. Too bad our schools are NOT doing that. They are focusing on teaching a specific social agenda. Again, documented examples exist, including mission statements from schools who say that their number one priorty is to teach social activism and international cooperation. No, it’s to teach math, science and language skills. It should also be to teach critical thought. Unfortunately, much of the social agenda being pushed in many public schools fails to stand up to critical thought, which is why it is not taught until college I fear… We need an uneducated docile sheeplike indoctrinated work force flipping our burgers for us…

Wow, you really think that what a child is exposed to for 8 hours a day is less than what they get those other 8 hours of awake time at home? The fact is that our schools have a HUGE impact on our children, being one I remember very much how the treatment I had while in public school was both very positive (I learned a lot) and very negative (I was picked on and bullied for most of the time I was in school for being a ‘nerd’).

The reality is that we are allowing our children to learn ‘social interaction’ from children their own age, not from adults. I’m not sure I want to go into all that is wrong with that, but I get the unfortunate feeling that you feel that its just fine.

“The worst part, though, as is the case with any governmental institution, is that no mechanism for ⣨oice⠯r ⣯mpetition⠡re allowed.”

I like the idea of public schools. I think we should just be focused on making them better places to learn, rather than trying to eliminate them on behalf of the “free market”.


fine, how do you suggest we do that? remember, we’ve been trying to ‘make them better’ for thirty years now have been failing miserably that whole time. When are we actually going to be getting around to ‘making them better’?

In the meantime, rich parents just put their chidren in FUNCTIONAL private schools so that the rich can keep getting richer while the poor… well, they can keep being less and less educated and able to stand on their own so that the government can continue increasing it’s powerbase of needy sheep. I would like, personally, to provide them a way to attend those same schools the rich do. I shure would have like to have had that opportunity when *I* was growing up.

“Teachers, once hired are almost impossible to get removed and a school who consistently fails continues to fail at the expense of the children in the community it is suppose to server.”
Complaints from parents usually ensure that something will be done about teachers who don’t or can’t perform well.

Huh? You actually believe this? Trying to get a teacher fired, who doesn’t have tenure (if they are awarded tenure, forget it) is such a pain and costly experience that most people just give up and spend the money on the private education, which works.

What incentive does the PUBLIC school have to fire a teacher that a complaint has been brought against? Is their funding going to get cut? Ha! Is an administrator going to lose their job? Fat chance. No, most likely there is more incentive not to ‘rock the boat’. Only the most egregious are taken care of, at they usually are back to work somewhere else within a year.

Posted by: Rhinehold at March 2, 2006 4:59 PM
Comment #131075

Joe:
“Still looking for what kind of test you’d approve of. We agree seemingly on the need for testing, but you’ve said you don’t like the current tests that are called for. I’m still in the dark as to what specifically you want for a test, and how it specifically differs from whats being tested now.”

Well, I certainly can’t approve of tests that are all multiple choice questions the way the NCLB tests are designed — because I honestly don’t see how they could give anyone an accurate idea of whether students are truly making real educational improvements, or not.

IMO, to get an true picture of what is happening within our public schools, I think evaluative testing of students should be done twice a year (once at the beginning of the school year, and once towards the end), and that they should take place on a county-wide, or even on a district-based, level.
Unlike NCLB, these tests should entail the student to either provide a single correct answer to any given question (no multiple choice options to simply choose between), or a true/false response. For the evaluation of things like writing skills and reading comprehension, these kind of tests should entail the student to read something, then answer one or more questions that will require them to write a paragraph or two. This should be done so that they will to be able to demonstrate true reading and writing ability, and to gauge whether real understanding of the subject matter provided is actually occurring.

This pair of tests would then be graded at the state level so that they might evaluate what kind of job the teachers and students in these various counties or school districts are doing, and how much and exactly what kinds of improvements are taking place.
In this way, they might be able to truly determine whether the students all over their state are showing reasonable improvement from where they start at the beginning of the school year, to where they end up at the close of that year, as well as what level of performance the teachers are being able to achieve within those schools.
So, those are my opinions. What, if any, are yours?

Btw,if you’re at all curious here is an interesting article about what a longtime educator and advocate for public school reform thinks about NCLB. It echoes so many of the comments I’ve heard on this subject from the public school teachers I personally happen to know.

Rhinehold,
I don’t have time today to reply to your post, but maybe it’s pointless anyway. You and I probably wouldn’t agree — and we’d just go round and round, only to end up right where we started. You want to reinvent America’s educational wheel, while I want to strengthen and possibly replace parts on the one we’ve already got — and have paid a lot of money into. All I can say is that I was a product of a public school education, and it has never made me feel inferior, or hurt me the least little bit.

Posted by: Adrienne at March 3, 2006 11:57 AM
Comment #246501

what is the percentage of students using drugs while in middle school?

Posted by: Myreah Williams at February 26, 2008 7:25 PM
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