Category Archives: Education

Want To Do Something In Wake of Sandy Creek? Arm our Nation’s Teachers.

“Gun Free Zones” are so incandescently stupid that only college-educated liberals could take the idea seriously. Review any recent mass shooting and you’ll not find one person who was saved by a “No Guns Allowed” sign. Bringing a placard to a gunfight is an idea that richly deserves unfettered ridicule by every man woman and child who gives a damn about public safety in a world where monsters live.

Teachers should be armed. Any teacher who is an otherwise law-abiding citizen and has a mind to should be permitted to carry a firearm. Personally, I would like to see teachers carry a firearm on their hip as a public warning to any who might menace their charges. Continue reading

Teaching Kids that Money = Labor

I have many grandchildren, so many in fact that in moments of confusion I refer to them by number, especially the string of boys all of whom have a name starting with the hard “c” sound.  Number six and I were enjoying “Just Grandpa And Me” dinner at Panera bread and the subject of money came up.

“Do you know how your daddy makes money?” I asked Six.

He paused, sensing a trick question. “He works” was his response.

“That’s right – your daddy works very hard.  As you grow up you work, and people pay you for the work you do”  I replied.  “Anytime we buy something, we trade our work for their work.”

Six was toiling to tear the crusty bread bowl, now emptied of its creamy soup, into manageable chunks.  I continued.  “How much was our dinner?”

Earlier, Six had been looking over the receipt. “About twenty dollars.”

“OK.  So, when you and I placed our order, the nice lady behind the counter wanted us to trade twenty dollars worth of labor for our dinner.  Does that make sense?”

He looked perplexed.

“If Grampa paid you twenty dollars to mow my lawn, and it took you two hours, how much labor would dinner cost you?”

“Labor?” he asked quizzically.

“Yes, labor is work.  When you mow the grass, you are performing work, or labor.”

He thought for a moment.  Six hates to be wrong.  He would rather not answer than not get the question right.  “Remember, you ‘labored’ for two hours and Grandpa paid you twenty bucks.  If you bought dinner, how much labor would it cost you?”

“Two hours?”

“That’s right!  About the time it takes to watch a movie.”

Six smiled, and went back to consuming his bread bowl.  He looked back up to me and I continued the lecture.

“So, how would you prove to the lady that you had really done twenty dollars worth of work and that she should give you twenty dollars worth of her work?”

“She gave us dinner, she didn’t work for us.” he objected.

“Actually, farmers, truckers, bakers and servers all worked to make us dinner.  We are always trading labor for labor.  Without labor wheat isn’t planted, flour isn’t ground, bread isn’t baked and dinner isn’t served.  Does that make sense?”  Six nodded, though not with confidence.

Moving along, I pulled out a twenty dollar bill.  “How long did you have to mow my grass to earn this?” I asked.

“Two hours.”

“So, if I give you this twenty dollar bill, its a way of proving that you performed twenty dollars worth of work, right?”

“Yeah”

“So, when the lady asks us to trade dinner with 20 dollars worth of labor, we use this to show her we have done 20 dollars worth of work.  Understand?”

Six nodded assent.  Then he shifted in his seat and said. “But you paid for it with your credit card.”

I smiled, “That’s another discussion, buddy.”

Retaking the High Ground

Ronald Reagan referred to Congress, the news media and special interest groups as an “Iron Triangle” that hampered his efforts to get the federal budget under control. In the decades since, I think we are learning that Reagan’s iron triangle is a symptom, not a cause.

The rot in the national consciousness that blinds our fellow citizens to the enormous danger decades of reckless big government spending is a result of a different triad. Those of us who believe in fiscal responsibility are pinned down by forces that control the high ground of the media, the academy and the bureaucracy. We are only able to eek out territory by inches while our opponents can advance miles at a time.

The media is a regular boogeyman among conservatives, but we often only talk about bias in the news. What we fail to understand is that the media includes everything from newspapers, network and cable news to movies, sitcoms and cartoons our children voraciously consume.

Within the walls of the academy, a liberal worldview is default. We as parents see our tax dollars used to send our children to seven hours a day, nine months a year, kindergarten through senior in high-school to live in a culture carefully crafted to reflect all the features of a liberal utopia. We then go deeply into debt to send our young men and women to four to eight years of intense exposure to liberalism actively hostile to a conservative way of thinking.

Politicians come, politicians go, but bureaucracy is eternal. Long gone are the legislators who gave the alphabet soup of agencies at the Federal level the power to enforce regulations as if they are law. Vast swaths of property rights have been placed under the purview of well-paid bureaucrats with budgets, time on their hands and a default view of government knows best. Minds comfortable with big-government policy are drawn to big-government jobs. Taxpayer funded unions for government workers make it extremely difficult to muster the political resolve to abate the power and reach of these agencies. What agency head would ever set a goal to reduce the number of agents by 10%? Who of these would ever try to voluntarily cut their enforcement budget by 10%?

This is the battle. So long as we have an academy redefining freedom, a media mocking freedom and a bureaucracy that exists to take freedom, political success will only take us so far. With our blogs, rallies and remarkable successes considering the forces arrayed against us, I fear we are only playing small-ball.

Our opponents have been playing chess while we have been playing checkers. We will always be on the defensive so long as our strategy fails to address getting conservatives to teach, conservatives to write scripts and produce entertainment and conservatives to chip away at the influence of the bureaucracy.

This is the battle before us. We must prepare for a multi-generational battle to take our portion of the opponent’s high ground.

School Choice in the City

The city of St. Louis is a great place to live as an adult.  The housing stock is sturdy and generally well maintained.  Prices are reasonable.  We have an infrastructure for a million with 400,000 residents.  We have a vibrant civic life, lots of churches and while corruption is never a laughing matter, the drama we see in our city government is laughably inept compared to Chicago.

The problem with St. Louis is the schools.

There are good schools in St. Louis, both public and private.  However, the private schools are dying because residents who can are leaving the city for the suburbs, where parents only have to pay for a good education once.

Think about that.  A young couple moves to St. Louis and buy a home.  After a few years they have their first, then second child.  When their firstborn is ready to go to kindergarten, they have to either send that child to the school down the street.

If a family determines that the school down the street is not to their liking – what are their options?  Pay for twelve years of parochial school to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars for each child or move.

Does it make sense for communities to force parents to uproot their families from friends and neighbors and move because the neighborhood school is their only choice?  Put another way, if you want to choose a different school you have to choose a different community.

That seems pretty stupid when you say it out loud.

Childhood schoolhouse of photographer Mike Bay

School choice is a plan where parents decide where educational dollars are spent, not educational bureaucrats and school board members.  Voucher programs  – like the one cancelled by President Obama in Washington DC – are very popular among poor residents because it allows kids to escape dysfunctional schools.

I do believe that dysfunctional schools are the result of educational bureaucrats tolerating dysfunction.  That’s another blog post – probably several – but when those who benefit from the current system start seeing their revenue go to schools who take education more seriously, they will be forced to abandon dumb ideas and policies and embrace smart ones – or end up shut down.

Public education has to fundamentally change.  The failures of St. Louis’ public schools are the number one reason our city is not the thriving metropolis it could be.  Doing the same thing the same way and expecting a different result is bonkers.  School choice will suck for the current generation of educators – at least some of them – but it would help us revive the city and heck – maybe some kids will get a good education.