How to destroy Texas’ public schools

Texas’ legislature is poised to approve the boldest school privatization program in the country. This is what happens when you place a mildly deranged radio host in a state’s most powerful elected office.

Sending public school students to private religious schools may not seem like a ticket to a well-educated citizenry prepared for 21st century demands. That’s ok. Those are not the goals of this program. Legislators are looking for ways to save money and rescue Texas children from the godless influence of science, history, and empirical knowledge.

There’s nothing particularly revolutionary about school vouchers. Thirteen states plus DC already have programs that let students attend private institutions with public funding under some limited circumstances. What makes Texas’ proposal special is its ambitious scope and its potential to remove the last major edifice of public capital in Texas.

Texas’ privatization proposal is based on two separate bills. One bill creates a right to attend private schools funded by vouchers. The second bill creates the funding structure.

Tea Party Senator Donna Campbell is the sponsor of SB 276. That bill establishes a right for students to opt out of public schools and take with them a voucher that funds their private education. Then it starts getting weird.

Campbell’s plan will only pay 60% of what the state was spending for that student’s public education. Common sense finally triumphs here over the demands of pointy-headed accountants. Want cheaper schools? Give them less money.

Campbell’s bill also works another little bit of magic. No government money will be spent on the program. Kinda…

Her bill stipulates that “Money from the available school fund and federal funds may not be used for reimbursement under this section.” So how are these vouchers going to be funded? Students aren’t the only people who would be opting out of the public school system under this program.

Campbell’s SB 276 has a twin. Funding for this program is delivered by SB 642, sponsored by Houston’s own Senator Paul Bettencourt. His bill creates an unusual new private entity called an “Educational Assistance Organization” (EAO).

An EAO would be a private charity with a twist. Any “taxable entity” making a donation to the EAO could get a full credit for their donation against their franchise tax liability, up to 50% of their total tax liability. All funding for private school vouchers would have to come from an EAO.

Bettencourt’s bill is what makes this approach truly radical. These two bills would not merely privatize schools. They would privatize the school funding system as well, creating an entire parallel world free from the liberal horrors of a real education infrastructure. Taxpayers could simply exit the existing public school funding system in favor of their own private school funding entities which they control entirely.

Scope of the program is limited under these two bills, at least for now, in order to make this a “pilot program.” Current versions of the bills would cap the total funding for the state’s EAO’s to $100 million. EAO’s would only be allowed to grant vouchers (the bill calls them “scholarships”) to students whose families earn less than about $60,000 a year. The program would not extend into rural school districts.

EAO’s would not be able to designate which kinds of schools they would fund, but that constraint comes with a Texas-sized loophole. There are virtually no constraints or review over which students the EAO might select for scholarships. What is blocked by one hand is allowed by the other.

So, let’s review. Texas’ proposed school reform would, at least on a limited scale for now, allow taxpayers to opt out of paying taxes to public schools in order to direct their contributions to EAO’s. Those entities would decide which students to fund in private schools, with no constraints on sending students to religious academies and no oversight on which students they fund.

If expanded, this offers a Texas’ religious fundamentalists a huge achievement. They could finally destroy their most hated public institution – the schools. This proposal would gradually starve the public schools of their revenue stream, further cutting the amount that the state pays after years of careful under-funding. Meanwhile it would leave the public schools trapped under their existing infrastructure and mandates, a trap that would finally finish off the beast.

Undersized vouchers would fail to deliver enough funding to support a competent private education. Affluent families would get to take the money and run, receiving a state subsidy which they could combine with their family own contributions to pay for a reasonably good private education. Middle income families who can’t afford to pay above the voucher value would be left in the lurch, trapped between a collapsing public school system and a collection of cheap, storefront Christian madrassas.

A new generation of young people will be spared from learning about their history or discovering anything about the natural world that might challenge their religious assumptions. They’ll be ignorant, bigoted, and reliably pious, which this legislature will see as a big fat win.

The roots of this concept are perhaps even worse than the shape of the plan itself. In response to the Supreme Court’s decision striking down racial discrimination in schools, Georgia passed a constitutional amendment in 1954 allowing their legislature to privatize the entire school system. They never took that radical step, but the law remained in place until Georgia introduced a new constitution in 1982.

One of the architects of Texas’ current plan is Arthur Laffer, a man who has manufactured a successful career out of being wrong about everything. He became famous for formulating what George Bush, Sr. famously called “voodoo economics.” Laffer most recently used his policy voodoo to rip the bottom out of Kansas’ state finances. People are still listening to this guy because results don’t matter in politics.

It isn’t clear whether the current proposals can gain enough support to pass in this session. The Senate has already approved the plan, but its future in the House is uncertain.

What is clear is that Texas’ experiment with radical Neo-Confederate government is reaching a crucially painful stage and there is no relief in sight. This disastrous and bizarre proposal may fail this year, but there is nothing to stop it from emerging again and again until it, something even worse, finally passes. Elections have consequences and there are no signs of Texas elections delivering sanity any time soon.

Chris Ladd is a Texan living in the Chicago area. He has been involved in grassroots Republican politics for most of his life. He was a Republican precinct committeeman in suburban Chicago until he resigned from the party and his position after the 2016 Republican Convention. He can be reached at gopliferchicago at gmail dot com.

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Posted in Neo-Confederate, Texas
277 comments on “How to destroy Texas’ public schools
  1. […] effort to privatize the state’s education system has stalled. Given the opposition from House Speaker Strauss it will be nearly impossible for this plan, which […]

  2. johngalt says:

    Here’s some fun: Congressman Randy Boehning (R-ND) has been seriously anti-gay in his legislative career. But he is apparently seriously gay in real life and enjoys sending, um, candid pictures of some of his anatomical features to potential mates on Grindr.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/30/randy-boehning-grindr_n_7176406.html

    • 1mime says:

      Guess he’ll be joining the Anthony Weiner retirement group? BTW, Weiner was “sexting” with women, not men!

      • fiftyohm says:

        I hope mime, you are not suggesting here that Weiner’s particular orientation made him any less a liar and a general schmuck than Boehning. Or Craig. Of the others…

      • 1mime says:

        No, what I am suggesting is that they all retire. Lying is not acceptable. Duplicity is the worst kind of hypocrisy.

    • Turtles Run says:

      I saw this earlier in the week. Part of the controversy is that some people feel that it was out of line of the person that outed him. Normally, I would agree but in this case this idiot is posting on a public site so I really do not feel to bad for him.

      • flypusher says:

        I’m fine with outing if it exposes hypocrisy. This dude was the worst sort of hypocrite and outing him was relevant to the issue (gay rights). Outing some as gay because you don’t agree with them on a completely unrelated issue is NOT fair game in my book.

    • fiftyohm says:

      Boehning just takes a “wide stance” on the issue of sexuality.

  3. lomamonster says:

    bubbabobcat – Curious! Hey, carolsb just emailed me about stexcat passing a couple of days ago, then I posted here not knowing the confusion swirling around. Turns out last time that I was in Rockport I called him up. It was a couple of years ago, and I almost went over to his casa to visit him and see how he was. He live(d) somewhere slightly west of Corpus Christi, so I almost went but they were busy with something and I didn’t go.

    Let me tell you that I miss all of you guys and girls from the first smeeping and fully intend to see you again if it becomes possible. We just have to get exercised about Bernie or something, right? Oh and by the way, “I ain’t dead yet!” hahahaha!!!!!!!!!!

    This is the second post with the same info, but just placed so that everyone knows that I am fortunately still here to carry on with you all. Just got off the tractor after shredding the hay field and thought that I might expound on the above, eh?

    • way2gosassy says:

      Glad to know you are still around Loma! Very sorry to hear about stexcat though. Can’t imagine what would happen to the net if all of us “old timers” were to disappear.

    • Turtles Run says:

      Thanks for the update I thought it was you at first. Carol straightened me out real fast. Glad you are still around. Stexcat will be missed he was definitely a great commenter from the ole Chron days.

    • bubbabobcat says:

      Again, my apologies for the mistake and confusion loma.

      And yes you need to attend another smeeping. You have been sorely missed.

    • Bobo Amerigo says:

      It is nice to see all the old names.

      • Turtles Run says:

        It would be great if Desperado and El Jefe Bob made an appearance here.

      • 1mime says:

        And, Owl.

      • Turtles Run says:

        Always gotta have Owl around. The bird has always been one of my favorites.

      • 1mime says:

        I haven’t seen a post from Owl in a long time. Hope he’s ok.

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        I distinctly remember when I first saw Owl on chron.com. It was as if the posters there had never before encountered such savage wit. They had been posting to themselves, righteous in their agreement, patting themselves on the back, until the owl showed up. It brightened my day.

      • lomamonster says:

        Thanks everyone. I don’t do social sites so I don’t really have access to what is happening from moment to moment. I can say though that our community formed in the blogs in which we participate have endeared you all to me, and I have been fortunate through Des and the Smeeps to actually have met some of you in person in Houston. That was a wonderful confirmation of friendship unsurpassed by anything else and continues even to this day.

        It’s great to see you all still actively involved in the things that matter and thanks to Chris we still have a forum where we can smile and hopefully gain some new friends while continuing to learn and contribute.

    • fiftyohm says:

      So glad to hear you’re not dead.

      I think the last discussion we has was regarding farm subsidies. I reckon you’ve not changed your mind about that!

      Welcome back, bud. Was it a NDE?

      • lomamonster says:

        fifty, it must have been someone else on that farm subsidy discussion although I do raise hay for sale on our place. During a good year, which we haven’t had for quite some time, it serves to help pay land tax. The main thing though is the ag tax deferral that helps from paying such a big nut to the taxman. I have never really explored subsidies through the county farm bureau or anything like that though. I hate paperwork like the plague! And the attendant supervision immediately placed upon those who opt for such subsidies…

  4. Turtles Run says:

    CHris – has written before about the lowering of the teen abortion rate due to increased choices for women. Colorado has a pilot program that was funded with donated funds that reduced unwanted pregnancies by 40% and teen abortion rates by 35%. This program has been so successful that it has garnered national attention and awards.

    The funding for this Colorado program is set to run out in a few months. The Colorado legislature had the opportunity to fund this program with taxpayer dollars. You would think that a program that saves taxpayers over $5.00 for each dollar spent and decreases abortion at the same time you would think that would be a no brainer. But lets remember this is the right wing we are dealing with here. Funding was denied by the GOP led state Senate.

    “Coloradans oppose the imposition of these kinds of mandates on us as individuals. There are religious reasons,” said Michael Norton, an attorney representing Colorado Family Action, who once served as the U.S. attorney for Colorado. “These contraceptives are abortifacients, that is they cause the demise of an implanted or fertilized human embryo.”

    Once again the right proves it is not about stopping abortions but instead it is about controlling women and pushing their religious beliefs on other people.

    http://durangoherald.com/article/20150429/NEWS01/150429564/Contraceptive-funding-dies-in-Senate

    • 1mime says:

      I have been sort of following this and I’m so disappointed it didn’t get out of committee. I’ll bet it comes up again but Repubs have a one vote margin in the Legislature and things like this are the consequence. State is a real war zone between parties.

      Either way, the religious zealots have won this battle and our young women are the losers

    • Stephen says:

      One of my pet peeves is the GOP plays lip service to preventing Abortions but does nothing practical to reduce the number of them. This is a simple wedge issue and the powers that be could care less about aborted babies. If they did they would do practical things like what you wrote about.

      • 1mime says:

        Stephen………”Repubs do nothing practical to reduce abortions…”

        They do push abstinence education in schools, which, of course, doesn’t work.

      • easyfortytwo says:

        It’s pretty simple: The GOP does not want to lose their wedge issue of abortion, so why would they do anything to solve the problem? They have already seen their other favorite wedge issue (same-sex marriage) fade away, a process ongoing even in red states. They will hang on to the abortion issue as long as they can. Restricting sex education to the promotion of abstinence is the perfect way to do this.

    • johngalt says:

      A letter to the editor in the Economist a month or so ago posed the following question: if Bobby Jindal came to the United States in utero and (many) conservatives believe life begins at conception, is he a natural-born citizen and eligible to be president (though I would think this would be the least of Jindal’s worries in a campaign)?

      I completely agree with Stephen regarding conservative obsession with abortion.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Such a tangled web, eh JG? Really good observation.

      • Turtles Run says:

        Representative Steven King (R-eally dumb) is seeking to pass a bill he is sponsoring titled Birthright Citizenship Act of 2015. It would end the practice of granting automatic birthright citizenship. Seems that minority outreach program has hit a brick wall.

        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/29/house-republicans-birthright-citizenship_n_7174686.html

      • 1mime says:

        It will be interesting to see if the GOP leadership allows this bill the light of day. Talk about a “firebomb”!

      • flypusher says:

        “Representative Steven King (R-eally dumb) is seeking to pass a bill he is sponsoring titled Birthright Citizenship Act of 2015. ”

        What a dumbass. It is true that that portion of the 14th Amendment was intended to protect the newly freed slaves, and some people have been taking advantage of a loophole that developed because the people who wrote it didn’t anticipate illegal immigration. But the wording is unambiguous. “ALL persons born or naturalized in the United States”- there are no asterixes, no disclaimers about the immigration status of these persons’ parents, no fine print. If you want to change that, you need a new Amendment redefining citizenship.

      • Turtles Run says:

        I would also add that the debate concerning the 14th Amendment lasted for months. If the intent was to limit the amendment to newly freed slaves then the framers would have worded it so. The people that authored this amendment were very smart and understood the meaning of the words they wrote, unlike Representative King. The intent arguments are simply cover for their racist beliefs.

        I hate using the word racist because it is an ugly accusation that should never be used lightly but in this case I think the actions of these Representatives warrant its use. It is very disappointing to me that Pete Olson, my representative, is a supporter of this bill.

      • johngalt says:

        Agreed, fly. But if your real goal, as I suspect is true for King, is to throw red meat to your supporters and raise cash for your reelection bid, then a mere bill is probably sufficient.

      • 1mime says:

        This is why I have so little respect for the GOP. Everything is purposed to advance either a personal gain or a party political gain. How are the interests of the American people being served?

        It doesn’t have to be this way. It’s a contest to see who can “outdo” another outlandish proposal….an “anything goes” mentality. How can moderate conservatives not see this? How can they continue to vote for these people?

      • johngalt says:

        It’s not just the GOP guilty of this. Obama has tossed out some political fodder at times, such as the free community college idea. It has zero chance of being passed and seemed a ridiculous thing to push when his political capital was needed on other issues.

      • 1mime says:

        I agree. Especially given the GOP he has to deal with.. But, free college is being offered in many advanced countries, so conceptually, the concept has merit but under the existing circumstances and with our 18 T national debt, it is impossible, so don’t pander.

  5. 1mime says:

    Here it is in all its glory – the GOP budget. Note the term “balanced” budget despite a $90Billion off the books increase for Defense, and majority of cuts going to safety net programs. Clearly, the GOP is taking care of its base. They did defer on incorporating Paul Ryan’s voucherization of medicare for two primary reasons: (1) concern for finding agreement on the necessary cuts inherent in the process, and (2) concern for fallout for Repub seats in play in 2016. Laudable reasons, wouldn’t you say? Political calculus that their base will vote and the poor and middle class won’t. The GOP fully expects a triumvirate in 2016 and whatever it takes to get there will be fair game. More detail on safety net cuts will emerge.

    ” to win over defense hawks, the framework gives a more than $90 billion boost to an off-the-books war fund that critics on both sides of the aisle have termed a “slush fund.”

    “Medicaid, food stamps and other safety net programs would face cuts as well under the GOP plan. But for many conservatives, the major draw of the plan was the chance to repeal the Affordable Care Act through a budgetary maneuver known as reconciliation, which requires only 51 votes in the Senate.”

    http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/house/240720-house-approves-budget-handing-victory-to-republican-leaders

    • johngalt says:

      The GOP budget is a campaign commercial, not a real plan. No matter what happens with the Senate and reconciliation, Obama will veto it. This gives the GOP some fodder (obstructionist Obama) but it is not going to matter that much, since he’s not running again. The Chronicle this morning reported that the number of uninsured people in Texas has dropped by a third in one year (from ~25% to ~17%). Nationwide there have also been serious drops (from 17% to about 12%). Still too high, but the GOP will find that repealing the ACA is not as popular as they think it will be, particularly without any semblance of a plan to replace it.

      • 1mime says:

        That is why the GOP is so desperate for SCOTUS to do their dirty work. And, they might just do so. If you read my post from Kaiser evaluating the ACA, there are far more benefits than just numbers of insured. And, I truly believe that the GOP is in cahoots with certain justices in making it an easier decision by having a transition plan in place….to buffer public outcry and an outright disastrous impact on the broader economy. This hate that Republicans have for the ACA is so damaging to our country and our people.

      • flypusher says:

        “That is why the GOP is so desperate for SCOTUS to do their dirty work.”

        If ever there was a situation that fitted the old saying “beware of what you wish for, because you just might get it”, it’s this one.

      • 1mime says:

        Fly, this piece on Daily Kos is unusually well written and perfectly piggybacks on your observation that the GOP better be careful what they ask for……

        http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/04/30/1381494/-Republicans-scramble-to-get-out-of-the-Obamacare-mess-they-created-for-nbsp-themselves?detail=email#

  6. Anse says:

    I suspect this plan will fall apart approximately two seconds after it is discovered that some of the money ended up in Islamic schools.

  7. Anse says:

    Can we all please stop picking on Dan Patrick? Poor guy.

    • flypusher says:

      No deal. Patrick is a total RWNJ, and people’s noses need to be constantly rubbed into any and all idiocy he spews.

      • Anse says:

        I thought it would be a long time before I encountered somebody worse than Debbie Riddle or Louie Gohmert, but I think Taliban Dan might be that guy.

      • texan5142 says:

        Dan Patrick only respects those who agree with him and show total disdain for those that don’t.

      • 1mime says:

        Dan Patrick is a bully. He doesn’t respect people who agree with him, he “uses” people. His treatment of those who tried to testify against the bill was inappropriate at best, and small. The new leadership in TX almost (not really) makes one long for Perry or Bush…..at least they made sense some of the time. And, I have always said this about Bush (W) – NOT Perry – George W. Bush was/is a good man, but a weak leader. He picked people to mentor him who used him badly. He should never have been President but he was a pretty decent governor.

        Now, I hope all you conservatives have noted my statement in support of a conservative governor because this new one sucks.

  8. flypusher says:

    And now for something completely stupid:

    http://www.politico.com/story/2015/04/congressman-links-baltimore-crisis-to-same-sex-marriage-117495.html

    If you want to discuss causes of family breakdown, Congressman, might I suggest you start first with the lack of jobs in the Baltimore area that can actually support a family, as well as the racial disparities in the criminal justice system. I don’t see gay marriage even making the list of what causes those riots, much less the top of that list.

    I wonder what this guy’s educational background is- not doubt fellow alums are cringing and decrying the tarnishing of their degrees with such ignorant stupidity.

    • flypusher says:

      And to cleanse the pallet with something totally intelligent, a complete legal smackdown on the issue, delivered by the Notorious RBG:

      http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/apr/28/ruth-bader-ginsburg-gay-marriage-arguments-supreme-court

      Now SHE is doing her alma maters proud.

    • RobA says:

      Bizarre. The gop seems comoletely unable to understand demograpics.

      Gay marriage support is at 55% overall. But among young people it’s a whopping 80%.

      This is such a losing issue to go on the record on. It’s like putting your money on the Washington Generals vs Harlem Globetrotters

      • flypusher says:

        Rob, it just may that a certain segment of the base has to die off before the party can acknowledge defeat and move on. The more savvy GOPers absolutely are aware of those demographics, even if they lack the spines to stand up to the old social conservatives.

      • fiftyohm says:

        “…a certain segment of the base has to die off before the party can acknowledge defeat and move on” -FP

        Well I wish they’d just get on with it and decrease the surplus population. (Sorry, Charles.)

      • johngalt says:

        The certain segment of the population who may die off tends to vote reliably, have a considered opinion that the country is going to hell, and have a lot of money to donate to political campaigns if so moved.

      • 1mime says:

        JG, I think that is common knowledge, but I’m not sure what point you were trying to make. Could you elaborate?

      • johngalt says:

        We’re using euphemisms to describe the older white voters who are core GOP supporters. I’m stereotyping, but they tend to be traditional and don’t understand gay marriage or, indeed, homosexuality in general, because they grew up in a time when they were all closeted. These older whites vote religiously (probably the highest turnout) and some of them have a nice retirement nest egg. I am basically describing my parents. Appealing to this demographic is not dumb if you want to win the next election and in the short-term memory of politics, that’s all that matters.

      • 1mime says:

        That demographic is a well known and very predictable except for an outlier group which I guess technically I would fall into except that I march to a different drumbeat – always have. How can moderates in this demographic intellectually accept the hard right within the GOP party? Is the alternative so much worse? Dying off of one group and maturing of the younger group is going to take time and lots of damage can happen if an opposing force can’t be mobilized to vote for a different belief system.

      • johngalt says:

        My parents are good examples of this demographic (which, of course, contains many people who do not share their political conservatism). They absolutely refuse to believe that gay marriage could mean that much to young people. They honestly think that economic issues trump social ones in the minds of voters in their 20s and 30s and, in a crucial mistake, assume that it is a universally accepted truth that the GOP is more trustworthy on the economy than the Democrats.

      • flypusher says:

        ” They honestly think that economic issues trump social ones in the minds of voters in their 20s and 30s and, in a crucial mistake, assume that it is a universally accepted truth that the GOP is more trustworthy on the economy than the Democrats.”

        I’m curious as to why they would think millenials would make that same assumption. That group has been zapped very hard by the economy- they’re putting off things like marriage, children, purchasing houses, etc because of the financial insecurity. What would trickle-down economics have to offer for 99%-er millenials?

  9. Crogged says:

    Ok Fitty, for your next trick–please find the errors in the below. I would go back to the prior post-but I’m lazy……..

    I do agree you have a point regarding general ‘liberal’ media taking a gentleman who really has been making a rather small point into an expert on ‘everything’–but on the below he has been consistently right, logical and consistent. It is a small point-home economic principles won’t tell you to do about all home economics together, your geographical map of Canada won’t help you find San Antonio.

    http://www.theguardian.com/business/ng-interactive/2015/apr/29/the-austerity-delusion

    • fiftyohm says:

      Crogged – [in a deep-voiced, Austrian accent] – “I’ll be baack”.

      • 1mime says:

        Bernanke’s assessment makes sense. The WSJ has become inextricably linked to the conservative political effort to denigrate benefits from monetary policy. The Journal used to be a solid, non-partisan journal, one that we subscribed to for over 40 years, not anymore. As Bernanke points out, monetary policy alone is not a singular solution to a serious recession. He cites positive unemployment numbers that demonstrate recovery and suggests that if coupled with a jobs program (desperately needed infrastructure attention), the “blended” effort would stimulate more robust growth and productivity. Is it possible that there has been a deliberate choke hold to restrain economic recovery until such time as Republicans can take credit? I’m convinced it has.

        Bernanke notes that the WSJ has failed in its dire predictions since 2006 regarding the surge in inflation and collapse of the dollar – NEITHER HAS OCCURRED. If they have been wrong about these two very significant economic factors, could they be wrong about other monetary policy efforts? Is it possible that the WSJ is taking the easy approach by piling on with their criticism of monetary policy and conveniently ignoring other valuable growth remedies such as a jobs push? An effort that is within the power of the business community to support and the Republicans to adopt through their budgetary control?

        It’s become too easy to take “pot shots” at the tough actions that have been on-going without an acknowledgement of the responsibility of Congress and the Business sector to do their part. It’s time for the WSJ and conservatives to focus on tangible efforts that will enhance economic recovery. Taxpayers need a little help in this effort and Republicans and business are standing in the way. Bernanke is telling it like it is.

  10. RobA says:

    Couple of OT link dumps this AM

    http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/iran-trolling-tom-cotton

    Cotton challanges Zaif to the adult equivalent of a schoolyard fight at recess. Meet at the flagpole. He actually gets pretty nasty. Seems clear he got under his skin. I suppose it is embarrassing for a senator being schooled on the US constitution by an Iranian minister.

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/ed/2015/04/27/400099544/in-texas-questions-about-prosecuting-truancy

    And they criminally prosecute kids and parents for absence in school in Texas? This is mind boggling to me. Do any other states do this?

    • flypusher says:

      Cotton went to Harvard Law? So what’s his excuse for all the stupid things he’s been saying?

    • Crogged says:

      RobA, of course Texas does! Some parents are bad (or have jobs), so pass a law making them good-rather than accept reality of working class Americans………The state rep has then done the ‘moral’ thing, goes home and drinks the blood of baby squirrels…..

    • fiftyohm says:

      The Iranian deal is crap.
      The Iranians are not to be trusted.
      Obama didn’t cover himself with glory.
      Cotton and the rest lack a fundamental understanding which branch of government is empowered to deal with foreign affairs.

      • 1mime says:

        Well, Fifty, we can agree on your last point that Cotton, et al, are a posse gone rogue. Then, there’s good TX Gov. Abbott – who’s ordered up state troops to monitor U.S. army training exercises? And he’s less nutty than the Lt. Gov., who’s as nutty as a majority of the TX Legislature. TX is going off the deep end if it’s not already there. I can’t believe I’m living in this repressive environment. Can’t wait to leave…

      • johngalt says:

        The problem is that all the options for dealing with Iran are crap. A strident hard line from us is likely to result in a hard line from them and at a time in which the Iranians have elected a relative moderate as president, that would be a step backwards.

      • 1mime says:

        A totally rational explanation of the value of the Iranian agreement to the world. Too bad so many have eaten the “cotton candy” . Fifty, think deeply and honestly about what JG is saying. He’s correct. You’re way too smart to buy the conservative line of crap on this critical issue.

      • fiftyohm says:

        What ‘conservative line of crap’? He’s right that that there are probably no great options. But the sanctions are working. There is a middle ground between the status quo and no sanctions *and* centrifuges, mime.

        You need to work on that partisan chip you seem to wear so proudly. Good grief.

      • 1mime says:

        The Cotton conservative crap is what I am referring to, Fifty. This is a multi-nation effort – it’s not an Obama effort alone. As JG points out, given no good alternatives – why not give this a chance? This is not partisan, it is real and it ought to concern all Americans. My frustration and criticism of conservative crap is strictly aimed at what I felt was a politically driven statement by someone who hasn’t the experience or intelligence to take the steps he took. There are many things I AM partisan about, this is not one of them.

        Just like im not partisan in criticizing Gov. Abbott for playing to the base by “monitoring” us military training. How absolutely absurd. The fact that he is a Republican doesn’t make me feel any better about his actions.

        So, no backing down on this one for me.

      • RobA says:

        What, specifically, do you not like about the deal?

      • Crogged says:

        It’s much too hard to figure out how to define categories, apply labels and I’m lazy, so I don’t do it unless I’m unfrequently motivated.

        Fitty has been convicted of liberalnosity, unfairly, and I’ve been a communist because of an idea which eliminates tens of thousands of government employees, telling people how to spend their money in their own pocket and eliminating all kinds of regulatory laws . Then again there’s elected government employees in Texas who take the label of “Republican” and my private thoughts regarding same aren’t so kind, but a foolish inconsistency defines me…..so there’s that………

      • 1mime says:

        Crogged, I’m one of your biggest fans, but I am not sure what you are saying in this post. Can you (as Roba says) “dumb it down for me” please?

      • fiftyohm says:

        Rob – It leaves far too many centrifuges, >5000

        There are no teeth. If, (and when) they cheat, there’s not much that can be done under the terms. Furthermore, the reimposition of sanctions, while perhaps quick, will take months to make any real impact.

        Nobody knows where the extant fissile material is to go.

        They are already making noises about what facilities are off limits for inspectors.

        It allows them to keep all (10,000 or so), of the existing high-performance centrifuges.

        The simple fact is this: Unless Iran’s intentions are to make weapons, there is absolutely no need for all those machines. Reactor fuel doesn’t require that level of technology. Furthermore, the Russians have offered in the past to enrich their reactor fuel for them, and they refused.

        The current framework allows far too short a ‘break out period’.

        They are playing the rest of the world for saps. pure and simple. The people of Iran really, really want the sanctions to go away. I don’t believe they desire nuclear weapons. They elected a relative moderate. Public opinion is (very) slowing gaining sway from the nutball fanatic leadership. Keep the sanctions in place while negotiating tougher. Let the process internal to the country continue to work.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Dammit mime – You said, and I quote, “You’re way too smart to buy the conservative line of crap on this critical issue.” I said, in my first post on the topic, that Cotton apparently didn’t know what he was talking about regarding separation of powers!

        Bad day today, or what?

      • 1mime says:

        As a matter of fact, yes, it is a bad day. From reading your response to Roba, I see your specific concerns, what I don’t understand is what we really have to lose, esp. since other nations are engaging with us. You suggest continuing to negotiate….and, what, more Cotton letters? How can the U.S. ever negotiate from a position of strength when you have conservatives – yes, conservatives – undercutting not only the President’s authority, but also displaying such a divided Congress. You may be correct in every concern you raise but I don’t think we have much to lose by trying and I don’t agree that we will gain much by continuing to negotiate. All the Iranians would do is use the time they’re buying to further any nefarious goals they might have. Nope, bad day or not, I flat out disagree with you on this.

      • Crogged says:

        In the Alice in Dunderland world of politics (esp. Texas style) ‘conservative’ is not. As RobA gleefully pointed out when another of my ironic postings (which was more about restating Religious Republican arguments in a perfect form) was too obtuse, the Founders wanted nothing to do with God. It was hard enough to decide which ‘men’ were equal to other ‘men’ in what proportion.

        So when I read ‘conservative crap’ I have no idea what you are talking about, but if you say “Texas Republican”, it’s a category with more certain meaning than I will speak of in polite company. Fitty don’t speak crap, except when he does.

      • Crogged says:

        I never played the card game bridge, so I barely have any idea of the rules other than your bidding was to indicate to your partner what your hand is. The US is strong, as are the, ahem, ‘conservative’ elements in Iran. The weak hand is in the ‘moderate’ President (I may know more about bridge than politics and governance in Iran) and he is our bridge partner. The ‘conservative’ Iranians have, unwittingly, the Israelis as their partner and the Israelis hold a considerably stronger suite of ‘centrifuges’ than the Iranians. No deal is perfect, except to the extent everyone is unhappy….and completely unwilling to actually play the hand………

      • 1mime says:

        Good analogy, Crogged. I do play bridge and this much I can say: you play the hand you have, not the hand you wish you had. And, when you’re playing with very smart people, you don’t bid what you don’t have a damn good chance to make….because your opponents will slap you down with penalities that will cost you far more than you would ever make with the bid. Calculated risk is one thing; grandiosity can be terribly humbling.

      • Crogged says:

        We couldn’t ‘sanction’ Cuba straight, it will prove less effective and more dangerous to try to ‘sanction’ Iran to modernity.

      • 1mime says:

        Might it be time to try something else? Even if it only has a small chance of success? Do we ever learn from history? Good point, Crogged. I’m with you loud and clear.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Mime – I sorta ‘minored’ in bridge in college. Yeah – duplicate, master’s points, and all that…
        Listen: Iran is vulnerable. They just preempted with three hearts and you’re looking 18 points, honors in spades, and even distribution. Watchu gonna do? Pass or open with three spades, and then go for game? Seldom are rubbers won purely on defense.

      • 1mime says:

        Hmm, depending upon bidding position (2nd/4th chair), spade length plus least two quick tricks in spades and strong stopper in hearts and not vulnerable, I would open 4 spades with 5 or double with 4332 distribution and at least 2 quick heart tricks. If Iran were my bidding opponent, and I was second chair with at least two quick spade tricks and a strong stopper in Hearts, I’d double and see what partner had to say, knowing that there would be at least 47 Republicans in the gallery putting money on the Iranians (-:

      • fiftyohm says:

        Heh! Excellent!

        But you never asked why they preempted from that position in the first place.

      • 1mime says:

        Good point, but we could both be vulnerable, you didn’t give me that detail. But I do have a strong partner pool (England, Russia, France, China, Germany), and my opponent and his partner are wearing skirts….Should be a breeze (-:

      • 1mime says:

        Here ya go, Fifty. Republicans in action. They can’t get enough of a good thing. Grandstanding and interrupting the process so they can stand out. What say you of GOP Pres. wantabe Rubio’s actions?

        http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/240715-conservative-senators-sandbag-mcconnell-jeopardizing-iran-bill

      • fiftyohm says:

        Yeah – I read that last night. Dumber than a box of rocks. Why do you think I self-identify as a Republican?

      • 1mime says:

        Am I wrong to do so?

      • fiftyohm says:

        Just one more thing in the Iran issue. What I’ve been saying here is really no different than France, who is not all happy with the framework, has been working on a nuke deal with Iran for far longer than we, and doesn’t trust them as far as you can throw a baguette. The French are clearly interested in a deal of some sort, but seem to be of the mind that a quick agreement for the simple sake of an agreement, and giving up all such a deal would entail, is not the best way forward.

      • 1mime says:

        Clearly, Fifty, it is very complicated. What is simple is that it is in our best interest, as Americans and as part of the larger world, to find a better solution than currently exists. That isn’t done by inappropriate intervention and divisive politics. How can we ever expect other nations to respect the authority of either the President of the U.S. or its emissary given the games that are being played. It’s dangerous, it’s wrong, and it’s got to stop. If this is how Republicans govern, they are reinforcing every negative view I have about their integrity and ability.

      • Crogged says:

        I don’t want grandstanding Republican’s demanding ‘recognition’ of the patently obvious conducting negotiations, (if Republican’s want the Jewish vote in total-they’ll have to do more than wear a yarmulke the month before the election and always always rattling sabers). There are other completely obvious ‘facts’ regarding Israel we always seem to forget and not ‘demand’ anything be done. Is there a link between Palestine, Israel, Iran and the last sixty years of history in the region-no and yes………the more we keep the issue(s) regarding same out of it, the better.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Yes, ma’am. A fiercer independent you’ll not find.

        And for the record, I don’t consider the letter to Iran ‘governance’. It was a stupid stunt, but one without really serious consequences, as even the Iranian FM recognized. It was like a loud fart at a black-tie dinner party – shocking to be sure, distasteful, but unlikely to spoil the dessert. And depending on your point of view, funnier than hell in retrospect.

      • 1mime says:

        My sense of humor is not piqued by self-aggrandizement at the expense of diplomatic efforts. Nor am I amused or will I ignore Rubio’s stunt. Showboating is not a quality I admire in anyone, but especially in the office of the President – and I don’t care what party they represent.

      • 1mime says:

        “unlikely to spoil the dessert…..”

        unless you’re sitting next to them!

      • Crogged says:

        “unlikely to spoil dessert’ depends on the proximity, noise isn’t the only issue…………

  11. lomamonster says:

    Well, they can take those 60% Under-educational Vouchers and (expletive delete them!)

    • lomamonster says:

      I just can’t get it out of my mind… A Tea Party education….
      Arrrrgh!!! “Pass the God, Guns, and ‘Merica ovah heaya!”

      • lomamonster says:

        They’ll be passing out masters in Climate Derangement!

      • fiftyohm says:

        You seem pretty talkative for a dead guy.

      • 1mime says:

        Ha ha….could be Loma just wasn’t down with that RIP suggestion!

      • lomamonster says:

        When did that happen?

      • bubbabobcat says:

        Sorry for the egregious mistake loma and all, but I was informed by a fellow original smeep that lomamonster is the online ID of another smeep and NOT Larry B. I had posted in the previous blog that Larry had passed away and mistakenly stated lomamonster was Larry’s online ID. Sorry dude for the mistake. I had been thinking you were Larry for the past 8 years. In case you weren’t aware loma, Larry also attended the first smeeping with his wife and he did pass away and his online avatar I am told was actually stexcat. Again my apologies loma and friends.

    • lomamonster says:

      Oh, you must mean “Dead to Rights”?

      • lomamonster says:

        Or maybe I was just at Padre for way too long, eh?

      • fiftyohm says:

        Sort of a Mark Twain moment, eh bud?

      • lomamonster says:

        bubbabobcat – Curious! Hey, carolsb just emailed me about stexcat passing a couple of days ago, then I posted here not knowing the confusion swirling around. Turns out last time that I was in Rockport I called him up. It was a couple of years ago, and I almost went over to his casa to visit him and see how he was. He live(d) somewhere slightly west of Corpus Christi, so I almost went but they were busy with something and I didn’t go.

        Let me tell you that I miss all of you guys and girls from the first smeeping and fully intend to see you again if it becomes possible. We just have to get exercised about Bernie or something, right? Oh and by the way, “I ain’t dead yet!” hahahaha!!!!!!!!!!

  12. fiftyohm says:

    Chris – I really like your new picture. You are some kinda limber guy to get your hand up on your own shoulder like that! I tried that trick, and have been on ibuprofen for days…

  13. Crogged says:

    It’s not complicated, nor is it cheap. Every child is treated equitably, which is not another way of saying equally. Post the criticisms, fire away.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/03/finnish-education-chief-we-created-a-school-system-based-on-equality/284427/

    • fiftyohm says:

      Well, duh. Finland is a monoculture. It’s also a country with very little income disparity, and massive taxation to enforce that. It’s a grim place with no diversity and few people. Our problem is slightly more complex.

      And don’t get me wrong here: I’ve been there a few times, and like the Finns. Damn sure wouldn’t live there though.

      • RobA says:

        Grim? You realize most countries of the world are not nearly so deathly allergeric to taxes of any form as Americans are, right? You are assuming that high taxes = unhappiness, and that is way too simplified to be accurate.

        Taxes are not inherently good OR evil. They are simply the way a government needs to fund itself. Certainly, taxes that are too high are abusive. Americans taxes are nowhere near high enough to be considered that, however.

        Finland was just ranked as the 6th happiest country in the world by the UN.

        http://worldhappiness.report/ed/2015/

        Interesting to see all the other countries on the top:

        1. Switzerland
        2. Iceland
        3. Denmark
        4. Norway
        5. Canada
        6. Finland

        America is 15th.

        Interesting how the top 6 are ALL countries with relatively high taxes and robust social safety net. Maybe they’re too dumb to know they’re supposed to be miserable with high taxes? Or maybe there’s something else at work here

      • 1mime says:

        Hey Rob, that list of “happiest” countries you posted? Lotsa cold places….Is that it? People just stay inside all the time and don’t mess with one another’s business? (-:

      • fiftyohm says:

        Oh bullshit, Rob. All of those countries are monocultures. Canada’s taxes are not substantially higher than ours. (I live there 6 months a year.). And have you ever been to Finland?

      • 1mime says:

        You do realize that monocultures are not sustainable (-: World agri-scientists are real down on monocultures. You were talking agriculture, right?

      • fiftyohm says:

        Oh yeah – did you bother to check Swiss taxes? (Not that Switzerland is in any way comparable to the US in anything but some bizarre alternate reality.)

        Dammit man.

      • fiftyohm says:

        And naturally, I use the UN as my “happiness gauge”! Don’t we all?

        Good god almighty. Anyone have some spare mouthwash? I just puked a little…

      • Doug says:

        “You are assuming that high taxes = unhappiness, and that is way too simplified to be accurate.”

        My wife, who has been around me on many April 15’s, would argue that point.

      • RobA says:

        50 – regardless of what one feels about the overall mission and effectiveness of the UN overall, theres no reason to not believe this poll. It’s just a poll, conducted according to best practices. No reason to discredit it because we might not like the UN.

        I wont pretend to know lots abkut all the countries there, I’m just stating the fact that lots of these “grim” countries are much happier then America.

        One thing I do know about is Canada though. It’s definitely not a monoculture, it has about as much diversity as America. And as for taxes. Income usually comes to about 32% right off the top. Then there is a GST consumption tax of 5% on all goods and services. On top of that, all provinces (except Alberta) have a provincial sales tax as well, usually around 8%.

        In Nova Scotia where I grew up, it’s blended into one called HST (harmonized sales tax) and it’s 14% on every good and service bought (excluding some things like groceries). On top of that, there are high gas taxes. gas sells for around $1.15/l last I checked. Around 4.40/gallon.

        Smokes cost $15/pack.

        Of course it’s hard to compare the two because there’s also universal health care, and that obviously acts lIke a rebate of some of those taxes.

        But i think it’s fair to say that overall, the Canadian tax burden is quite a bit higher. Very strict fun laws too.

        Don’t those fools know that more guns and less tax is the only recipe for happiness? 😉

      • RobA says:

        Lol. Strict GUN laws.

        Damn these fat sausage fingers of mine!

      • fiftyohm says:

        Rob — Of course there’s good reason to believe a UN poll useless. First, you have no idea, nor do they, whether or not so-called “best practice” was applied. Next, virtually everything they do is intentionally biased. Third, polling for “happiness” is such an absurd and inane notion in the first place, that alone would make me hurl.

        Canada is as diverse as the US? Good grief. This one barely merits a comment. You can’t count Quebec, you know!

        When exactly did you leave NS? I have a sneaking suspicion I’ve paid more in Canadian taxes than you’ll make this year. Google Taxation in Switzerland. That will give you a synopsis of the data I used to dispute your last post.

        (By the way, you are correct that NS has the highest taxes. I’m in Ontario. Y’know – that province that was doing very well until Liberal fish stick Dalton McGuinty jacked everything up)

      • fiftyohm says:

        And what do you know about guns and gun laws? What you read in USA Today? Any comments on the failed (and repealed) long gun registry up here? That was a real crime fighter, wasn’t it? Just a few billion down the old outhouse, eh?

      • objv says:

        Just checking in …

        Did you know that the “happiest countries” usually have the highest suicide rates? I remember reading this in one of Malcolm Gladwell’s books. He speculated that seeing “happy” cheerful people all over the place drove the depressed people over the edge. He noted that people in places like Spain where a large chunk of the population claimed to be depressed had lower suicide rates.

    • Crogged says:

      Ok, much more expensive and harder to accomplish in Texas due to multi-culture and well, this…….

      http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/ncaaf/2014/01/13/charlie-strong-contract-texas/4455069/

      • fiftyohm says:

        I could not agree more, Crogged.

      • 1mime says:

        Crogged, you are having a banner day, my friend! Great comments, great links. I loved the article on Finland’s educational philosophy….value education for all…build self respect and incorporate multiple academic experiences, put more money to work in situations where students were struggling…give teachers autonomy…mentoring…All this is right up my alley. Loved it and agree with it.

        I’ve never been to Finland but I have been to Sweden and thought it was a great country……in June (-: But what struck me there was the high educational level of the general population and general health and well being of people. Finland is obviously doing a lot of things right. They may tax the stew out of their people but they’re not giving it back to them via free, quality educations….and many other social benefits .

      • 1mime says:

        Oh, yeah, boys must have their games…money is no object for some things. You just gotta get your priorities right!

      • johngalt says:

        Strong’s total compensation is eye-watering and makes him the highest-paid public employee in Texas (which, while depressing, is not that unusual, see here: http://deadspin.com/infographic-is-your-states-highest-paid-employee-a-co-489635228). But the UT football program runs a huge profit every year, so if Strong can keep the butts in seats (or eyes on screens), he’ll earn that.

    • Crogged says:

      Another old ‘fave’ and with a good review-you don’t have to read the source!

      “Wallace’s argument—for he has one—is that the goal of undergraduate education, and of all education, is free will. He holds that education’s greatest benefit consists in “being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience.” The reason he gives is simple and absolutely typical: “Because if you cannot or will not exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed.”

      http://www.bostonreview.net/leland-de-la-durantaye-david-foster-wallace

      Can we do this for every child? Of course not-David Foster Wallace committed suicide. The Finns are dour, unmarried and probably have a high suicide rate.

      Shouldn’t we try-even they do.

  14. unarmedandunafraid says:

    For those who rail against the regimentation of public schools and those who assume real learning and opening of the mind does not happen there.

    I spent one year in a one room Missouri schoolhouse in the middle of alfalfa and soy. Each class was assigned a row and the teacher moved from row to row discussing the topic. It was great for learning, it was a chance to catch up, listening to the lower classes and to stretch following the higher classes. Students were assigned to tutor the younger classes. The teacher was excellent and essentially her own boss. This was in the middle of school district consolidation, but it hadn’t struck here yet.

    That is where I came up with plate tectonics before there was a name for it. Also my first thoughts of racial disparities that we are dealing with now. Here I realized that world wide leveling of consumption and wellbeing would happen. And it might not be good for us in the US. A concept like eugenics even was discussed. (not promoted) It was the perfect situation for a curious mind.

    And a true story for those who think that family can teach as well. I brought home my report card, and the teachers comment was. “Your son is a bonafide student”. My mother read it and said, “What you been doing , boy”. I replied, “Nothing, Ma. I don’t know what it means either. I find out when I go back to school.”

    • 1mime says:

      Moms, the wisest of the wise…..

      • fiftyohm says:

        Wuddya think of the Baltimore mom who slapped the crap out of her son for rioting? (I wanted to kiss her!)

      • 1mime says:

        I didn’t hear about that. I don’t object to peaceful protests, and I understand the anger of black people, but I don’t believe in burning or stealing as a way of protesting. The old “two wrongs don’t make a right”.

        I will say this, if our kids got in trouble in school, they knew they were gonna catch it at home. It was a lose-lose situation. Great deterrent.

        I thought Rob’s post recounting Pres. Obama’s comments expressed my feeling on the subject perfectly. So, if you agree with what he said, you and I agree. Ain’t that a crock!

        (Of course, if you disagree, you’re wrong (-;

      • vikinghou says:

        Yes, that mom deserves heaps of praise. I imagine she’s grounded that kid forever!

      • fiftyohm says:

        I think he generalized, and completely mischaracterized the majority of conservatives insofar as motivation is concerned. The desire to be left alone is not the equivalent of wanting to build a moat. In general, and if I may cast a counter-aspersion, liberals just can’t seem to stay out of your shit and mind their own damn business.

        Neither RobA’s assertion, nor mine are universal truths.

      • 1mime says:

        “Liberals just can’t stay out of your shit”………….

        Really! Mr. probe up a woman’s ……I’m not thinkin’ so. But, tell you what I do think, liberals definitely have more fun (-: (-: (-: Conservatives, well, they worry too much…..like how much to pay the UT head coach, and how high to build the wall between Mexico and TX, and all that praying and stuff (now that’s gonna get me into trouble but, hey, I’m good with trouble…comes with getting into people’s s….all the time (-:

      • fiftyohm says:

        1mime – Do you seriously believe I support those things you mentioned?

      • 1mime says:

        I sure hope not, but I’ve learned not to expect rational behavior from conservatives (-:

      • fiftyohm says:

        Are you stereotyping? You’ve hurt my self-esteem.

      • 1mime says:

        Gotta learn from the master………then beat him at his own game !

      • fiftyohm says:

        Master debater, perhaps. Heh-heh.

    • “That is where I came up with plate tectonics before there was a name for it.”

      Unarmed, did you invent the Internet, too? 😉 I’m pretty sure ’twas Tuzo Wilson who coined the term back around ’65 or so. I had the pleasure of meeting Wilson at a GSA meeting in the late ’70’s; he was a contemporary of one of my favorite prof.s, Bob Dietz. Bob Dietz and Harry Hess coined the term, ‘seafloor spreading,’ which provided the definitive evidence for plate tectonics. I met my future wife in one of Dr. Dietz’s courses at ASU in ’79. Dietz was quite the character; he led the most fun geology field trips, ever. Dr. Dietz had a variety of amusing quirks; one was his habit of literally tossing out geo-baubles as rewards for high exam scores – as I write this I’m looking at a lovely Spanish Aragonite crystal that he bounced off my head one fine day, remarking that I’d do well to pay more attention to the prof. than to my girlfriend (my wife-to-be).

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        Tracy – I didn’t invent the Internet but I meet Alexander Graham Kowalski. He invented the telephone pole.

        It sounds like you really enjoyed your educational experiences. I envy you.

        Are you familiar with “Barren Lands” by Kevin Krajick? Read it recently and really enjoyed it.

        The plate tectonics comment came memories of things I learned in that one room school house. From contemplating the way Africa and South America would fit together and the similarities between the flora and fauna of the Southern hemisphere. This was all before I knew about mid ocean volcanic seams and magnetic field reversals and such. This was mid 50’s and I don’t know what the science was at that point.

        That comment about what I learned was intended to provoke comments on public schools and the best way to to organize them. If we could emulate just some of the positives. Such as mixing different age groups, allowing students to mentor others, the autonomy and efficiency of one teacher, etc.

        So much of my basic understanding of the world came from that one year when I was 10 or 11 years old.

      • 1mime says:

        How fortunate you were to have such an early start to your intellectual curiosity. Teacher must have been really good as well. I believe that children need to be taught curiosity, as a prelude to the creative learning process. The child with a thousand questions is going to do fine, because their mind has no borders. How that is instilled and when is probably different for each person. One of the joys of this blog is the interaction with people of different ages (I’m 71, RobA is 30, not sure about the rest and doesn’t matter) and from different walks of life. Just great to have the intellectual exchanges.

        Speaking about “plates”, my husband and I attended an interesting Elderhostel near Payson, AZ years ago, that focused on the Diamond Rim Fault that created the incredible geology of the area. The year after we visited, a major fire burned the area extensively but it was verdant and pristine when we saw it. One of the places I hope to see again before I kick the bucket (-:

  15. Stephen says:

    I went to both Public and Catholic schools growing up. The Catholic schools gave a better education in my opinion. What started my interest in science was my second grade class in Catholic school had a library in it and I found a book on dinosaurs. So much for the theory that religious schools are anti-science. But my dad paid a high tuition rate and the school was more rigorous than the public school was even though the public elementary school in my districts was one of the best in the country at the time. My guess is that the major military base located in Jacksonville Fl, Officers insisted on that for their military families. Right now Florida like Texas is on a race to the bottom in education. We have tried to pass state constitutional amendments to change this. The Republican control government have ignored them. Eventually people are going to turn on those guys and vote them out. This is only going to push Florida blue quicker.

  16. fiftyohm says:

    It’s interesting that the Right is forever pushing for performance metrics for public schools and teachers. This, in itself, is not necessarily bad. What is really, really bad is those same people would scream bloody murder were the state to require those same metrics be applied to schools receiving voucher money.

    Here in Canada, there exists a two-track system where public funds do indeed go to private, predominantly Catholic schools is the families opt to send their kids to one. Now, I’m not defending this, and in fact I think it’s a bad idea, but it hasn’t caused national collapse.

    In general, the concept of a two-track system is not necessarily bad – IF, and only if the same standards, and the same curricula are applied to both tracks. Spending public money teaching creationism is not acceptable. Spending public money teaching religion isn’t either. If those things are carved out, and standardized testing is applied, I find it difficult to argue against the basic concept – especially if only 60% of the funds otherwise spent per pupil are reflected in the voucher amount.

    • Crogged says:

      My favorite quote regarding how we have to do ‘more in education’ below……..NSFW, but I don’t care. I love angry ‘moderates’……….

      “Flip it. I don’t want anybody telling me what the fuck to do in my house. I don’t want my kid’s pediatrician who I otherwise like to quote me media effects research that I know a great deal about and regard with skepticism and make my daughter recite the appropriate catechism in order to get out of the annual exam without a lecture. I don’t want the guy down the street and his co-religionists to start relentlessly lobbying the school board to remove references to evolution from high school biology class. I want fellow professionals who push constantly for ever-more insane levels of meritocratic pressure to be structurally and culturally inflicted on our kids (or on my students at Swarthmore) to just cool it in public, if they have to be tiger moms and dads, to keep that as private as they would if their sex lives involved razor play and urinating on each other. I want to accept and marvel at human resiliency rather than build an endless managerial and supervisory apparatus for preemptively protecting every potentially vulnerable person from every potential kind of trespass or offense. I want rules and strictures to be a last resort rather than a leading preference.”

      Some kids need more help than others, give it to them and quit the bitchin about it.

    • 1mime says:

      I spent years monitoring voucher proposals and experiments in the U.S. when I was involved in public education activism. The most frequent argument is to level the playing field and the money follows the child, thus vouchers are non-discriminatory. HOWEVER, private schools don’t want a level playing field. They want the money and they want to retain control over which children they accept and, more importantly, the ability to discharge students at will. Because poor and minority children are likely segregated in communities where transportation is inadequate – if available, these children would have a very difficult time accessing a private school in another area of the city. And I can assure you, very few private schools are located in poor neighborhoods. Once again, income and racial disparity penalize kids.

      Brown v. Board of Ed drove a stake through the heart of public education. It has never recovered. Private schools flourished through “white flight”….you never saw so many protestants attending parochial schools as you did after integration occurred. Private schools were popping up everywhere – of every denomination and creed. There was never any consideration of a “separate but equal” alternative for minority students. Black schools got the textbooks white schools were no longer using. They got smaller, lesser quality schools, less money for materials of instruction, and less money for their teachers! In the best situation, where black schools represented community, there was pride and achievement. That was the anomaly, not the norm, but where it occurred, educational quality was good for these children.

      The changes being proposed in TX have nothing to do with helping all children. It is a money play, pure and simple. These proponents don’t give a rat’s $ss about public education. Like incarceration, let’s hide these misfits away and let ’em die on the vine.

      • fiftyohm says:

        I don’t think simple because every child cannot a attend private school for whatever reason is a valid reason to discourage all children from attendance in the name of equality. There’s an excellent tale in Vonnegut’s Welcome to the Monkey House entitled Harrison Bergeron everyone should read.

        Hell – our host Chris says one of the reasons he moved, and why he’s living in the (fairly ritzy) suburb he is, was for the schools for his kids. Perhaps because not every parent in Houston’s Fourth Ward cannot afford to relocate to the western Chicago suburbs, we should prohibit anyone from doing so?

        Look – public schools, especially in large metro areas, have a difficult task. They have to deal not only with underprivileged kids, but disengaged parents, and all the rest. The real problem is that in this environment, it is extremely difficult to provide for the best and brightest – not so much for the lower half. It is this segment where the big bang for the buck lies.

        HISD has done a remarkable job in this regard. The Vanguard high schools are among the very best in the nation – private schools included. And you know what? The vast majority of students attending them are black and Hispanic. This is to say, they represent almost perfectly Houston’s demographic. It’s true that they cherry-pick their students. But it’s also true that universities do too. Oh yeah – and employers. It’s just not fair.

      • 1mime says:

        Good points, Fifty, but I think you misread my remarks. I don’t have anything against private education, I just want them to remain privately financed. Our public schools have a hard enough time managing without having more tax dollars siphoned off to the private sector. My point regarding vouchers was that if you leveled the playing field…that is, allow any child to attend any school and all schools would have to meet the same basic academic requirements AND the acceptance and dismissal policies, I’m good with it. But my experience with private schools is they want to do just what you said: cherry pick. That’s fine, but don’t use tax dollars to tell some they can enter and others they can’t. That’s all. And, that’s everything if you did deeper.

        Charter schools have mostly done well but not all and there hasn’t been nearly enough accountability or monitoring. The KIPP school in Houston has achieved wonderful results and documents what minority children can achieve in the right academic environment. So, there are opportunities for kids within the public sector that negate the need for private education. If they want it, can get to it, and can afford it, and can get into it, go for it.

      • 1mime says:

        Just read this article on public education, vouchers, charters, etc and found it on the money.

        http://theweek.com/articles/551813/conservative-antipoverty-agenda-school-choice

      • fiftyohm says:

        Two points, mime:

        First, the incremental cost per student is not zero. If a kid attends a private school, there is some percentage of the cost of that kid that the school district does not have to pay, and at some voucher percentage, his attendance at the private school is revenue-neutral.

        Second, the family did in fact pay for the public school system through taxes. It is not unreasonable, subject to the caveats I’ve already stated, that some of that money should go towards the child’s education, where ever that may happen.

      • 1mime says:

        And, in many public school districts, there are quid pro quo services. In LA, bus transportation is provided to private schools as are textbooks, special education services including testing and personnel to administer same, and stuff I probably never knew. But, let me ask you this: you could elect to belong to a private health club with pool and yet pay taxes for a public facility. You pay taxes to staff airports where private planes travel, even if you don’t use those private planes. You pay taxes to staff emergency services – fire, ambulance, police – even if you never have to call on these services. You do so because they are needed for the common good. Private institutions, schools, clubs serve a specific membership and have their own rules and that’s fine. Just pay for them yourself.

      • 1mime says:

        If that is your premise, then what percentage of tax revenue allocated for a child’s education do you think should follow the child? TX Legislature is proposing 60%.

      • fiftyohm says:

        All fair questions, mime. But when you consider the percentage of taxes a typical family pays to HISD compared to those other services, it’s kind of a moot point. You cannot do without police. You cannot do without fire protection – though even that was once a opt in type of thing. You may not drive, but you can’t do without roads. And you can’t transport everyone that visits you, nor can you travel everywhere you may wish in your private plane.

        Your point is well taken, but the situation is one of degree. Nobody’s suggesting some kind of Galt’s Gulch here.

  17. johngalt says:

    In the meantime, the governor of Texas is taking important steps to protect the citizenry by calling up the “Texas Guard” to protect us from…the United States Army. Yep, a long-planned and publicly announced military training program is actually a federal invasion of Texas. I wonder how many private school vouchers this mobilization could pay for?
    http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/texas/article/Texas-governor-orders-troops-to-monitor-Jade-Helm-6229568.php

  18. RobA says:

    Way off topic, but just wanted to post this.

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/04/28/the-most-honest-15-minutes-of-obama-s-presidency.html

    what a tyrannical, America hating Muslim!

    Of course, I’m being sarcastic. Obama is starting to look like one of the better president’s in recent memory, especially if the ACA gains the legacy I believe it will.

    • Doug says:

      Did you know that Baltimore is second in the nation is per-pupil spending, behind only New York City? It’s a culture problem, not a spending problem. Here’s a different take:

      https://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2015/04/29/why-baltimore-matters

      • texan5142 says:

        Take it easy on Doug, after all, he might just be a victim of the Texas school system.

      • 1mime says:

        Doug, you’re smarter than this. Have you priced a private school recently? And, these schools can pick adn choose who gets in and gets out. Try spending a little volunteer time in the Baltimore schools and see if you could do the job for the money they’re spending. That’s not to say there’s not waste happening but the culture of these inner city kids is tough – really tough and the resources public schools need to try to educate them is greater than a lily white school district set in middle class America.

        Think of it this way – this may make more sense to you: pay now or pay more later. Prevention rather than intervention. There are few good choices for some kids and they didn’t ask to be born.

    • Crogged says:

      Yes, a culture problem. Hey child, you’re father’s gone, your mother is in jail, your grandmother is caring for four children and you don’t appreciate the new laptop and smartscreen the school district got you. So we’re going to create a new private school, give you half the money required to attend and pray to God it’s too far away for you.

      • flypusher says:

        Thumbs up for that one, Crogged.

      • Crogged says:

        And your instructor went to those liberal institutions of higher learning and is somehow incapable of being a replacement parent for you and the other 20 heathens in your class in addition to getting you to pass endless exams, ffffn liberals……….

      • RobA says:

        Could you dumb this down a bit for me? Can’t really understand what you’re saying.

        Doin’t worry, it’s not you, it’s me. gd coffee machine $hit the bed and my brain is mush this AM lol

      • Crogged says:

        And here’s a tax credit to use for buying a fishing pole.

      • Turtles Run says:

        I know the year is still early but Crogged has my vote for best response to an idiotic comment.

      • 1mime says:

        I’ll second that, Turtles!

      • 1mime says:

        You nailed it, Crogged. I have been in these schools with kids like these. Yes, it costs more to educate them because they come to school so poorly equipped and with needs that are incredible. I recommend to all posting here a great Hillary Swank movie, Freedom Writers, to give introduce you to kids whose lives are a world apart from your own experience. These kids weren’t born stupid, mean, resentful. They learned these things. Every day is a survival experience. TX legislators who are supporting these funding changes should be required to substitute teach in a school like these kids and teachers experience every day. They wouldn’t last 15 min.

        I’m with Lifer. TX has become a place that I don’t fit into. I would not raise children in this intellectually, morally corrupt environment. It pains me that five of our grandchildren are here even tho, as you might suspect, they are in “good” public schools and live in “safe” majority white communities and have a traditional middle class life – soccer clubs, parents who love them and are home every night, a nice home with other nice families – you get the picture. I’m happy for them but they have no idea what the rest of the world looks like to poor families. And, I want them to know about how different the lives of less fortunate kids are so they won’t grow up like the conservative adults who are ruining our state and our country.

        It is so sad to even have to discuss something like this here much less to try to communicate with people who share the view that this legislation is a good thing. It’s stultifying and heart-breaking.

      • RightonRush says:

        You nailed it Crogged.

      • 1mime says:

        Good to hear from ya, Righton.

      • Crogged says:

        Who needs a village, the wilderness is calling……..

      • fiftyohm says:

        Another question to ask is exactly why a parent is in jail. And that’s not a cultural problem, it’s a social one. The US incarceration rate is a complete embarrassment.

        Good post, Crogged.

      • 1mime says:

        Fifty, America’s incarceration problem is another example of the isolationism Rob spoke to. If a commensurate effort was spent on crime prevention by working early on the social and cultural factors that contribute to crime, incarceration rates would drop. Affordable child care, pre-K programs for at risk kids, good schools with after school programs to keep kids in a safe environment and offer extra learning time, access to family planning (yes – contraception to give moms control over family size and timing), better community law enforcement, judicial equity, more community church support, and so forth. When these things break down early in a child’s life, schools have a really tough time putting Humpty Dumpty back together again.

        The U.S. incarceration rate is a fairly accurate indicator of how America addresses class, race, income problems. Bury them. Cut the social safety net that’s helping people survive. It’s easier to practice the “out of sight; out of mind, jail em and get em off our streets” solution. And, btw, set up a private cottage jail industry to profit from all these societal misfits…..at taxpayer expense….another “stealth tax”. The really bad ones who should be imprisoned get no sympathy from me and should be locked up.

        Where we disagree is in thinking that crime problems are social, not cultural. It’s both. Do more of the things I cited above and you positively impact both. I agree with you that America’s imprisonment rates are obscene and a sad commentary on a country that prides itself on being the Democratic leader in the world. IMHO, the United States is slipping badly in its claim of “American Exceptionalism”.

      • Crogged says:

        On the ‘criminal’ thing it’s kind of simple–for many of these young men convicted of selling dope to white punks on dope, and each other,-a pardon and records expunged. Start with pot-do what you can with the past and move ahead with a full decriminalization. Most of those men will not change, human nature reverts to what it was when set in youth.

        I don’t have a problem with a hippy dippy set of new programs–if the upshot was most of the money went to salaries of responsible adults in the school who the children felt safe talking too and could help the adults in the house of same navigate what we charitably call our ‘welfare’ system.

      • fiftyohm says:

        1mime – I think it’s even simpler that all that. It’s the stupid laws that lock people up for nonviolent drug offenses that are doing this horrific damage, particularly to the minority communities. That’ the ‘social problem’ to which I was in reference.

      • 1mime says:

        We agree, Fiftee!

      • Doug says:

        “So we’re going to create a new private school, give you half the money required to attend and pray to God it’s too far away for you.”

        The per-pupil cost is over $15K there. Don’t you think there would be a few private schools willing to give it a go for $9K? And some parents?

      • Doug says:

        Agree, fifty. The drug laws need to go.

      • flypusher says:

        “The per-pupil cost is over $15K there. Don’t you think there would be a few private schools willing to give it a go for $9K? And some parents?”

        Enough high quality private schools to actually make up for the loss of the public schools and serve the educational needs of the lower socioeconomic classes? No. I see nothing to indicate that would happen.

  19. EJ says:

    Hanlon’s Razor tells us never to believe in conspiracy when we can believe in idiocy and the Law of Unintended Consequences instead. As such, this may simply be an attempt to let the American Taliban pull their children out of the mainstream schooling system, and not an attempt to destroy said system. However, even if it’s not intended, it may have that effect: intent is not magic.

    Phil Sheridan was right. Chris, my consolations for the state of your fair homeland.

    • flypusher says:

      The fundies have always had the choice to opt out. They just don’t want to have to pay to keep the public schools open. I have zero sympathy. I don’t have any children, but I own property and there’s this big tax that happens at the end of the year. Unlike them, I don’t complain or try to get out of paying my share of school funding. Why? Because I actually think of things beyond my personal bank account, and have enough sense to realize how educating all children benefits EVERYONE.

      Also the Texas Taliban has infested the TX State Board of Education for too long, and it’s all out war on science there. Again, if it truly were about THEIR children, they have the private school choice. No, it’s about indoctrinating other people’s children with their religious beliefs.

      • RobA says:

        Seems to me that infused in most of conservatism is a strong vein of isolationism and what I’ll call moatism.

        Nothing inherently wrong with a bit of isolationist policy (at it’s core, it’s kind of like a “you do your thing and I’lll do mine” concept) except that it’s unrealistic and unsustainable in a globalized economy.

        Conservatives think if they can just seperate themselves from the rest of society and buiild a proverbial moat around them, their homes, their schools, and instutiions that they’ll be free to live in their religious utopia free from the corrupting influence of those commie libs.

        But the world we live in doesn’t work like that. 100 years ago, you COULD have a relatively prosperous, self sustaining society within a society. Today, not so much. These fundies don’t realize that we all count on each other much more these days, and if you impoverish a large swath of the population by cutting them off from education, everyone will lose, inclulding themselves.

      • Crogged says:

        The Masque of The Red Death is just a story written by a drunk pagan, but the Bible is fact. So let’s build a wall on the Rio Grande and remove ourselves from the Union–those idiots who wrote the Constitution never knew what they were doing when they didn’t put God in the opening paragraph.

        It wasn’t Darwin, Woodrow Wilson, rap music, liberals or bureaucratic Europeans who killed God. Our own founding fathers, by decreeing the People make the law by which we live, drove a stake in his heart. It is unsettling, quite un-Christian of them, but now that we know what they did, what are we going to do about it?

      • 1mime says:

        Show me “God’s” hand in these mean-spirited, bigoted actions. I want to keep church and state separate. I’m ecumenical in my spiritual beliefs, but I am considering conversion to the Catholic Faith. One condition: Pope Francis has to be pope as long as I live. Today he spoke out in favor of equal pay for women, spoke up for women who work outside the home, and against Global Warming that is making the world a more difficult place for the poor.

        Nope. The “god” I see being paraded through the Legislature and Congress doesn’t pass the smell test.

      • 1mime says:

        Yep, feel the same way about school taxes (and other taxes), Fly. It’s called “good citizenship”, as opposed to the conservative label “rip off”.

      • RobA says:

        Crogged – The Bible is a fact? Based on……..?

        I had a friend tell me, the other day, basically “The Bible is fact! Want proof? It’s in the Bible!” and that sounds an awful lot like what you’re saying.

        That is, unfortunately, not a valid argument. Surely you can see the logical and rational inconsistencies there?

        With regards to the Founding Fathers, do not think that them leaving God out of the Constitution was an accident or an afterthought. It was a conscious decision.

        Going through the Washington letters (it was for a project at uni) I came across a letter written to the original George W. In it, tey asked him why no mention of Jesus in the constitution and basically ask him wtf bro? (I’m paraphrasing, because they talk in a weird manner):

        “Among these we never considered the want of a religious test, that grand engine of persecution in every tyrant’s hand: But we should not have been alone in rejoicing to have seen some Explicit acknowledgement of the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent inserted some where in the Magna Charta of our country.”

        Basically saying, look W. we’re not all that crazy or psycho. We don’t need the “religious test” or anything. But would it have killed ya to explicitly mention Jesus Christ?”

        to which, he replies:

        “and, here, I am persuaded, you will permit me to observe that the path of true piety is so plain as to require but little political direction. To this consideration we ought to ascribe the absence of any regulation, respecting religion, from the Magna-Charta of our country.”

        In his diplmatic and roundabout way, he’s saying “seriously? why do you need this enshrined in the Constitution? The path to God is so obvious and known to all that it hardly needs any political direction. Because of this, and the abuses inherent if we did so, we’ve decided that the Constitution must be free and clear of all refences to Jesus or any other religion”

        http://founders.archives.gov/?q=%22path%20of%20true%20piety%22&s=1621311121&sa=&r=1&sr=

        To be clear, Washington knew what would happen if one religion became the offiicial state religion.

        ” I beg you will be persuaded that no one would be more zealous than myself to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of spiritual tyranny, and every species of religious persecution”

        http://founders.archives.gov/?q=%22zealous%20than%20myself%22&s=1621311121&sa=&r=1&sr=

        “horrors” of “spiritual tyranny”? And when he refers to “religious persecution” he means it the opposite of how it’s used today. He doen’t mean persecution OF religion. He means persecution FROM religion. Doesn’t really sound like something a “man of God” (or at least, a man of God as the modern religious right) would ever even think, let alone write down.

        America was not ever founded as a Christian country. The majority of citizens are christian. But those are two completely different things.

      • Crogged says:

        RobA-it seems Canadians are just too straight shootin’ to tolerate that irony stuff…….

      • 1mime says:

        Hmmm, maybe I’ll move to Canada and spend the rest of my days eating poutine (-: I like straight shooters! I’ll have to get back to ya on how I like the poutine…

    • 1mime says:

      On behalf of other aware, thinking, appalled Americans (there are a few), I accept your condolences, except, please delete the word “fair” when describing our homeland. It’s anything but.

      Ciao

      • EJ says:

        I’ve been to America and I quite liked it. As such, I shall consider to refer to that land as “fair”, albeit in the sense of “fair maiden” rather than “fair share.”

      • 1mime says:

        Being a “fair maiden” myself, I’ll go for that; “fair” in terms of social and economic issues, no way.

    • 1mime says:

      roba,
      The problem with isolation is that the very nature of withdrawing from the mainstream skews understanding and awareness of the broader world, which, of course, reinforces ones skewed belief system. If they don’t see, hear, know…it doesn’t exist, right? Things are getting to a tipping point in America. I keep thinking – this can’t be happening in a Democracy? In America?

      There hasn’t been any comment here on another piece of TX legislation (which has already passed the TX Senate), that would prohibit a woman or couple from electing an abortion for a grossly deformed fetus. We all know abortion is a horrible choice, as it should be, but my god, will these people never stop in their insane efforts on this issue? On the one hand, the wingnuts want “unbridled freedom”, but – only for those things they approve, right? The very worst kind of hypocrites.

  20. johngalt says:

    So we can assume based on the terms of this bill that poor students in Bellaire’s Chinatown could use vouchers to attend a private Chinese school or down in Sugar Land Muslim students will be using this quasi-public money to attend a Madrassa. That would seem to be within the spirit of Mr. Loeb-Patrick’s bill, would it not?

  21. flypusher says:

    “What is clear is that Texas’ experiment with radical Neo-Confederate government is reaching a crucially painful stage and there is no relief in sight. This disastrous and bizarre proposal may fail this year, but there is nothing to stop it from emerging again and again until it, something even worse, finally passes. Elections have consequences and there are no signs of Texas elections delivering sanity any time soon.”

    Probably the only thing that gets people’s attention is a severe brain drain- trouble with that is that it’s then too late.

    As Crogged mentioned, I see a bit of conflict with the state Constitution brewing over this. Somebody’s going to sue if it doesn’t die a well deserved death in the House.

  22. Doug says:

    This is terrible news. Parents have no business making important decisions about their children.

    • Bobo Amerigo says:

      Not to mention getting other people to pay for their religious beliefs. Oh. The. Humanity.

    • flypusher says:

      The government has no business subsidizing anyone’s religious education- that pesky separation of church and state thing again.

    • Crogged says:

      Parents have every right to make all decisions for their children, but the elected officias of Texas government are sworn to uphold the Constitution for their decisions.

      ‘A general diffusion of knowledge being essential to the preservation of
      the liberties and rights of the people, it shall be the duty of the Legislature of the
      State to establish and make suitable provision for the support and maintenance
      of an efficient system of public free schools.”

      You may, in addition to the above, brain wash your own children with all manners of superstitions and supposed traditional values with your left over funds.

    • goplifer says:

      ***Parents have no business making important decisions about their children.***

      That snotty comment is a pitch-perfect summary of why I decided to raise my children a thousand miles away from that joint.

      By some mysterious algorithm, “liberty” in the South always means having fewer, crappier choices. Let’s review.

      Parents today have the choice to send their children to public or private schools. They can even choose their public schools, to an extent, by deciding where they live.

      Now let’s apply Southern Liberty.

      After returning that “choice” to parents, you no longer have the option of sending your kids to a healthy, community-supported public school. They’ll be systematically starved out of existence because they depend on public capital. You will have a range of competent private institutions that you can’t afford or Joe’s House of God Children’s Center in the strip mall next to the payday loan store, where little Bobby will learn that Noah rode dinosaurs.

      With Southern Liberty, there is never a public or community option. It is part of a heritage of exclusion. You can find your way to work in any way you please, as long as you didn’t want to take the train. You can entertain yourself any way you want as long as it doesn’t involve a park.

      That logic closes off options by closing off any investment in public capital, from transportation to health care and beyond. It’s a liar’s Liberty. We inherited it from a slave society. It needs to die.

      • flypusher says:

        “You will have a range of competent private institutions that you can’t afford or Joe’s House of God Children’s Center in the strip mall next to the payday loan store, where little Bobby will learn that Noah rode dinosaurs.”

        And what little upward mobility we still have gets its coup de grace too.

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        This is your best writing.

      • 1mime says:

        Lifer tells it like it is. Without exception. A rare person.

    • RobA says:

      Come on Doug. Parents are free to make whatever educational choices for their children they see fit already. The issue comes from cannabalizing the public school system to do so.

      Not every family can afford to pay the difference to send their kid to a private school. In fact, I’d say the vast majority can’t. So to enact a system that will gut the public system and result in a huge de facto spending-per-child decrease for all except the upper middle class is ethically and morally bankrupt. Full stop.

      There are many things that reasonable righties and lefties can disagree on, and both sides are at times wrong on some issues. This isn’t one of them. This is as thinly veiled an attack on the bottom 50% as you can get without coming out and saying outright “fck the poor”.

      These righties haaaaaaate those government handouts. Until their given to them, of course. Then it’s just God’s righteous will, I guess.

  23. irapmup says:

    It is an unfortunate pleasure to read your smart and humorous commentary, unfortunate because between both parties and the electorate there is less than one brain.

  24. BigWilly says:

    I must be going native or something. A Colonel Kurtz ensconced in his compound deep in the heart of Katy, TX. The horror, the horror!

    I actually support this action on the part of the RPT. Education needs to be shaken up. We cannot sit idly by while the left indoctrinates the children of Texas into Godlessness and socialism.

    Beyond that education is not a panacea. It will not solve all problems. In fact it tends to create more problems than it solves. Every adult in my family has at least a Bachelor’s Degree, and the only take away that I seem to get is that they have no sense of proportion and an over inflated ego.

    • 1mime says:

      Hmmm, “education tends to create more problems than it solves…” Imagine my surprise, here I was thinking education is key to jobs and security….guess I got it wrong….

      • BigWilly says:

        Did you attend a human institution?

      • 1mime says:

        I had a wonderful public education experience, BW. How about you?

      • BigWilly says:

        I found education to be a very mixed bag. K-12 had its moments, but college turned me into a Republican. I wanted to study the Liberal Arts, I just didn’t realize how liberal they were.

        I tried one semester at UW-M….Reds! I mean literally Reds! So I switched to a small Franciscan college where they were only a little pink. They were still pretty bad. A whole Department of Victimology. It’s not history, it’s her story. Barf, gag me, ick.

        I ended up studying accounting. At least if I was wrong I was objectively wrong.

      • Doug says:

        BW, you’ll find fewer reds in the economics department. The downside is might end up with an economics degree.

      • BigWilly says:

        I don’t think education is the key to jobs or security. The job market moves a lot faster than the educational process and knowledge can become obsolete almost as quickly. A certain amount of education allows the individual to self educate.

        You can access Keynes work on your own, and with persistence you can understand it. This is where learning diverges from education. Can you really know anything unless someone else says so?

      • 1mime says:

        Education doesn’t guarantee success but it is critically important. There are many different ways of learning and technology has opened lots of doors for independent study. But, foundation skills? Kids need those, BW, especially children who come from difficult backgrounds. Self education never stops….for intellectually curious people. The desire to learn, the creative process – those qualities are instilled in children, mostly by family influence, but also through special teachers or interesting and inspirational ideas. If you can teach a child the joy of learning, they have the best tool they need to succeed in the education of their choice.

        Back on point to Lifer’s post, the changes the TX Legislature is debating will cripple public education. Let there be no doubt as to the intent of these bills – they are to re-direct public tax dollars to private education. More entitlement, more income divide, more class divide. It’s a lose-lose scenario. This is a terrible idea.

      • Crogged says:

        Education isn’t key to jobs and security, just civilization ex post eating grubs and wondering why the sun is eating the moon.

      • flypusher says:

        Education is the single biggest contributor to me being able to live life on my own terms.

      • 1mime says:

        And, that, Fly, is the essence of education.

        In TX, as in many Republican dominated states, it has become commonplace to cut public education funding – either directly in the budget, by raising pupil-teacher ratios, cutting the length of the year and other sleight of hand gimmicks. Guess who makes up the shortfall? IF THEY CAN….Property tax owners – principally, residential in TX as business has more exclusions. You want to talk about stealth taxes? These GOP balanced state budgets are a crock, as is the GOP federal budget. Always, the cuts are to vital services to the poor and middle class. These changes are piling on.

    • unarmedandunafraid says:

      BigWilly – Do I sense a bit of trollishness?

      I for one, wish that I had a better secular education. It seems I spent too much time learning stuff I had to unlearn before I could appreciate the real explanations of the physical world.

      How else could I learn about indo european proto hippies.

      • 1mime says:

        I would posit that the real explanations of the physical world are rarely ever learned in the academic classroom. The classroom merely plows the field and nurtures the seedling, life fertilizes.

      • BigWilly says:

        The physical world is but an extension of the spiritual world. Stuff does emanate. Speaking of stuff laminating, this Gatto fellow has an interesting take on education.

      • Crogged says:

        So educating kids is hard, there are so many of them and you can’t trust a soul in this world. They learn things you didn’t know and work your cell phone better than you can. I’m just another brick in the wall, what about my need to tell my children the Truth?

        You got through it, why won’t they?

    • The late Warren Zevon says:

      “Land of the brave, and home of the free
      Where the less you know the better off you’ll be”

  25. Crogged says:

    At what point doesn’t this clearly require an amendment to the Texas constitution? I’ve pasted the damn exact wording so many times that I should have it memorized (insert grey hair here). 10,000 Baptists can be wrong said Elvis.

  26. vikinghou says:

    Of course the ultimate result will be a state full of young people with insufficient knowledge and skills to survive in a highly technological society. Employers will avoid investing in Texas, and employers who are presently here may abandon the state in search of competent people. Stupid people are bad for business and, when Texas politicians finally see the error of their ways, it will be too late.

    • vikinghou says:

      As an addendum to my previous comment, now is the time for business leaders in Texas to weigh in. Money talks.

      • johngalt says:

        They have. The Texas Association of Business has repeatedly encouraged the state to put its education and infrastructure first, before tax cuts to businesses or individuals. The Lege is ignoring them.

      • 1mime says:

        Lip service, JG. IF the business community put its full muscle behind making the Legislature responsible, it would work. At the same time, many businesses seek tax exemptions for their facilities which deprive area schools of revenue. And how many of these business people send their kids to public schools?

        Sorry, the business community needs to really step up and be forceful or they’re not going to get any kudos from me. They would be a tremendous force for good if they really worked at it.

    • Crogged says:

      Why? To the leaders and us, knowledge and people are fungible–the educated can be anywhere dispensing what you need. Just look it up on the internet, maybe every once in a while look at Snopes or Scholarly Open Access (hat tip to JG). Machines are starting to replace brains in addition to our hands and perhaps thinking less is better than thinking too often.

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        Crogged – “Machines are starting to replace brains in addition to our hands and perhaps thinking less is better than thinking too often.”

        Which relates to the last lifer blog entry, What happens when all technical expertise including medical and legal info can be dispensed with silicon and algorithms?

      • Crogged says:

        Who needs economists and all these useless speculations seemed to be the consensus.

        http://www.thenational.scot/comment/alex-salmond-economics-is-about-human-beings-something-the-ifs-doesnt-understand.2383

      • Crogged says:

        The prior post reflected a battle between “Keynesians” and the Australopithecus school of economics. The Australopithics believe economy is money, the object, not money, the exchange. So money creates demand, which is why stuffing the banks with money borrowed from the government was more effective than giving an unemployed person a job or money to acquire goods and services. Next we will receive the CroMagnon school of economics and continue down the road of evolutionary economics.

  27. 1mime says:

    I can’t even begin to comment on how irrational the TX political structure is. It is heartbreaking in its scope and potential for harm.

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