Join Focus on Change in Education and Esolution

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The fundamental principle by which education proceeds is collaboration.

Listen to former Bush Secretary of Education, Diane Ravitch, as she trashes No Child Left Behind (NCLB = George W. Bush's attempt to privatize education by punishing public schools and lead to wide spread cheating by public school administrators).

Diane Ravitch claims that Charter Schools lack transparency and pull kids out of the public school system, and increase competition among schools and children.

"There should not be an education marketplace, there should not be competition," Ravitch says. "Schools operate fundamentally — or should operate — like families. The fundamental principle by which education proceeds is collaboration. Teachers are supposed to share what works; schools are supposed to get together and talk about what's [been successful] for them. They're not supposed to hide their trade secrets and have a survival of the fittest competition with the school down the block." - Ravitch

“Diane Ravitch is the rarest of scholars—one who reports her findings and conclusions, even when they go against conventional wisdom and even when they counter her earlier, publicly espoused positions. A ‘must’ read for all who truly care about American education.” - Howard Gardner, Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The truth about Prop.13

Listen and Learn

Ask any first year economists and you will learn that the current price for rents and leases are set by the supply and demand curve. If you increase property tax revenue by closing the Prop.13 loophole for commercial property, the merchants will not pass on that cost to their tenants, they can't, because the demand for their "product" doesn't change. Which means the wealthy holding corporation that owns the property, and produces no value, will have to eat the tax cost that they have been avoiding via this loophole.

According to KPBS more than 8% of commercial property in the state of CA, has not "changed hands" since Prop.13 in 1978. That means the property owners, holding corporations, are paying property tax based upon the 1976 property values. Ending this deceitful practice will force corporations to pay their fair share of the 1% property tax. That modest fee will have to come out of their profits.

Now this is tricky because the business community set up the system this way to confuse and deceive and manipulate the common voter. You see, when an investment property owned by a holding company makes money from rent, the owner disguises any profits by paying for "business expenses" like his own salary, bonuses, benefits, or other personal expenses, like the company car, travel, etc.

Thus, the owner of the corporation avoids the appearance of profit, and the subsequent tax burden. When the owners salaries get too high, and their personal income tax burden begins to be cumbersome, they hire family and friends, and write off their salary and benefits as "business expenses", too. When all else fails, they "invest" company profits in new properties, via subsidiary holding corporations, and the process repeats itself.

This is the pattern of wealth in California, a series of slum-lords become "Developers" and use their wealth to corrupt our government. Wake up California!

Monday, March 29, 2010

New Envision San Diego Report on Prop.13

Watch KPBS coverage about Prop.13, 9:00PM, Monday Night, March 29

This is not a complicated issue, there is not going to be any change in the TAX PROTECTION afforded home owners by Prop.13. It is not possible politically, homeowners vote.

However, Prop.13 affects ALL property, including second homes, investment property, and commercial property, and our state government is facing bankruptcy from underfunding. SHELL CORPORATIONS created as holding companies for commercial real-estate are responsible.

Homeowners sell their homes on average ever 5-7 years, even elderly homeowners die every 30-50 years, but CORPORATIONS NEVER DIE!

Under Prop.13, I can form a corporation, buy a property, live in that property, write off all costs of that property as "business expenses", and never have that property re-assessed for tax purposes.

When I'm tired of that property, or the property value has increased enough that I want to sell it and enjoy the equity, then I can simply sell the HOLDING CORPORATION. The property never technically changes hands, and is thus never re-assessed for tax purposes. The new owners simply keep the tax protection of Prop.13.

If I die, the corporation is passed to my heirs, without any loss of tax protection. And CORPORATIONS LIVE FOREVER.

Paying 1% on the value of Capital Investments is not extreme, it is the cost of government, the cost of schools, hospitals, libraries, roads, and other vital government services.

If your business can't afford to pay 1% property taxes, then it isn't a very good business, sell the property, and let someone else have the chance to make it work for them.

Split the Roll, stop the Property Tax Loophole for Corporations.

Watch KPBS coverage about Prop.13, 9:00PM, Monday Night, March 29

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, Part 1

As I watched the first episode of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, I saw this British Chef taking on American ignorance single handed. I was shocked and disgusted by my fellow Americans and they way they treated Oliver. Obviously Jamie is a TV star who wants to make dramatic impact and stir up controversy for ratings, but I also see that, for some reason beyond my comprehension, he actually cares about these horrible people. Jamie is on a crusade to help people who don't want his help. He is martyring himself for the sake of our kids.

It was shocking to see the state of public school nutrition, and worse to see the average home and the state of America's kids. I know these people, they are my family and friends throughout America, so I know that Jamie Oliver's reporting on their eating habits and sate of arrogant, willful, stubborn ignorance is factual. These lazy, fat, ignorant Americans live short, unhealthy, and ultimately miserable lives of their own making. I have no sympathy, and little compassion for them, except for their kids.

That said, I think the entire lunch staff and the Principal at the elementary school in Huntington, West Virgina, need to be fired, especially ALICE! They are completely incompetent people, not professional educators like they should be. They obviously care nothing about the children or the public they serve, they did nothing but complain about how hard it would be to actually feed kids good food and cover their ass at every turn. They are malevolent and they need to find other professions. In my opinion the entire population of the town are miserable bastards and they need to be left to live and die by their own choices.

Watching those kids throw away fresh fruit, and good baked chicken, choose to eat crap over well cooked nutrition ... the level of waste, the lack of standards, makes me sick. How can these "TEACHERS" not correct these elementary students about their behavior? These people are weak and stupid, completely anemic about their own health and nutrition information. The fact that the local radio station has to define what 'ANEMIC' means over-the-air proves they are stupid (they weren't being ironical).

The press was right when they portrayed these American Southerners as stupid and ignorant. Jamie Oliver may like these miserable bastards even if they are lazy, stupid, and willfully ignorant. but I believe they get what they deserve. I know I am right because during the second episode (below) I got to watch Trilipix Cholesterol commercials.

If this doesn't terrify you about the state of public education in America, nothing will.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

KPBS does new investigation of Prop.13

If you really want to understand the depth of the Prop.13 problem, you must educate yourself, but most Californian residents seem unable to think critically or understand complex systems. That and the math of compound interest leads them to general misunderstanding and misinformation about Prop.13. Lucky for us we have Public Media like KPBS to explain.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

What Makes A Good Teacher?

You must listen to this interview.

The drive to improve the quality of the nation's teachers is as important as raising test scores and ensuring that more students graduate from high school. But what makes a good teacher? Some say smaller classes, good discipline and engaged students. Doug Lemov is managing director of True North Public Schools in New York. He describes what he's learned through his extensive work looking at teachers who succeed.

Behind every artist is an artisan, this is the story of game changing teachers. Great teachers deliver instruction without belittling students.

Some teachers are naturals, they use non-verbal gestures to communicate while they lecture, they create a learning environment. They engage their students with specific, understandable directions with observable result. Teachers must have profound knowledge of their subject in-order to gain respect. Kids smell phony a mile away. You must have genuine enthusiasm.

Mr. LEMOV: Managing Director of Uncommon Schools in New York. There are a couple of things that Maryanne is saying that I think are really compelling, and that I see when I watch great teachers in the classroom. And one thing, you know, Maryanne said, I don't discipline. And one thing that we see about great teachers is that they manage to make the discipline they do invisible by catching it early. One of the things we tell teachers in training is if you're mad, you waited too long. That a gentle correction and a reminder to a student before it gets serious is the best and most - you know, is the best and most constructive thing to do.

The second thing is that, you know, my book, actually, is not just about classroom management. It's actually about great teaching techniques, because you can't have one without the other. That we actually define discipline in the book as teaching kids the right way to do something, and that the most likely reason why kids aren't doing what you ask them to, if they're not, is that you haven't taught them.

But beyond that, there has to be something for kids to say yes to. You have to engage them in a lesson with real content and real teaching. So half the book is actually about the teaching techniques that Maryanne's talking about that are, you know, questioning techniques. And one of the techniques, for example, is called stretch it. Which is, you know, when a student - many teachers, when a student gets an answer right, they say right or good. And that's the end of the conversation. And actually, I argue that the reward for getting it right should be another question, a stretch it question that pushes you to engage even more rigorously. And that sets the expectation that, you know, more learning is the reward for achievement. - Doug Lemov

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Solution: treat all students as gifted

Cabrillo is not the first school to try using gifted methods for all children or for younger children. An Encinitas charter school with the same philosophy was wildly popular among parents before it was shuttered for financial reasons. Different studies have shown that exposing children at all levels to methods and materials for gifted children can be fruitful, although each study tends to be highly specific, focused on a particular kind of method, said Margie Kitano, associate dean in the College of Education at San Diego State University. It ties into a building body of research that suggests that giftedness is not necessarily a fixed talent. It can be nurtured — or it can be cut short.

"It's really hard to say" whether the research backs what Cabrillo is doing, Kitano said. She added, "But one of the problems we have with so-called average learners is that we set our expectations too low."

Read more ...

An Educational Philosophy called Paideia

Three years ago, the K-12 magnet school in Clairemont turned to an educational philosophy called Paideia, a relatively rare approach that emphasizes freewheeling seminars, personalized projects and critical thinking. Lectures are frowned on. Nobody has the one right answer. Muir's immediate goal was to get students more engaged in class, but the method has a broader aim -- to teach kids to think, read and write critically all their lives.

Paideia methods echo popular techniques used with gifted students, but Paideia schools for all kids are scarce, especially on the West Coast. Paideia fans complain that government emphasis on standardized tests has thwarted schools from developing deeper skills like critical thinking that Paideia promotes. The term is derived from the Greek for "upbringing a child."

But as legislators try to rewrite No Child Left Behind, President Obama is pushing for better ways to measure schools, including advanced skills like critical thinking. In San Diego, honing skills like creativity and communication is one of the few things the fractured school board agrees on.

Read more ...