Thursday, August 17, 2017

Exceptional Students

Students must believe they are exceptional because they are always asking for exceptions. It has been going on for decades but has become all but universal recently. They've gone from the first day of class notification that they "are an 'A' student" to threatening to gang up for career-killing course reviews. It is not an idle threat.  Before launching the nuclear option they will demand "extra credit" oblivious to the fact they've not bothered to do the work required of "usual" credit. Once their god-given right to an 'A' seems threatened they run to the department head on their way to the dean. If the institution has integrity the entitled darlings will then provoke their parents to intervene usually leading to a discussion of FERPA.

But if a Prof really wants to screw with their little self-esteems it is easier than one might imagine. All you have to do is tell them they can have whatever grade they want. Don't want to do the work? Don't do it. Take an 'A'. Don't like the project team you're in? Get out. Take an 'A'. Upset because your loopy candidate lost an election? No problem. Take some down time. Oh, and take an 'A'. Turns out the entitled little snots find this 'Take an A' policy insulting. Almost as if the professor is telling them their work ethic sucks, they haven't learned and aren't likely to start any time soon and yet still expect an 'A'. It only hurts because it is true. But they want the transactional appearance of "earning a grade" when in fact they have no intention of doing half the work needed to earn a 'C' a mere thirty years ago.

And the University is in on it. Like any other business it is grow or die. Expand at all costs even if it means lower standards for entry as well as retention. A society that believes a college degree is a pre-req for success is not going to resist the decline past mediocrity into absolute educational fraud. Yet the school doth protest:
"The syllabus did not conform with the university's rigorous expectations and policy regarding academic standards for grading. Rest assured, this ill-advised proposal will not be implemented in any Terry classroom."
As an academic endeavour Business must be laser focused because this statement clearly ignores the history of the University. Turns out the University has a documented history of passing out grades without necessarily handing out tests. Passing grades for ball passers. And this University is not alone. The practice is nationwide. And now it is being expanded from money-making athletics to money-taking academics. All this professor did is what was done before: expose today's 'education'  for the sham it has become.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Trail Of Tears

The Georgia GOP, who otherwise advocate free-market economic policies, have come out against legalized gambling offering this nugget as justification:
legalizing gambling could open the door "for any Indian tribe to venue shop for property to open casinos" around the state
Really, Kemo Sabe? You mean like your forefathers venue-shopped the Cherokee to a distant state or a nearby grave? Do you really find it that offensive that descendants of the original inhabitants might return, buy back their land and operate a business offering a much-wanted service paying taxes, to you, all along the way? Or are you just protecting your gambling business from legitimate competition?

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Unenforced Ordinances

Someone with the City was noted for openly pondering why anyone would pass an ordinance that would go unenforced. Perhaps this was rhetorical. Perhaps it was just a thought, meant to remain unspoken, that escaped. Perhaps it was a sincere though naive question from someone new to government in the U.S. and this burg in particular. These ordinances are being used by politicians and bureaucrats to create a totalitarian government destroying what our country's founders intended as a free society.

In his book, The Permission Society: How the Ruling Class Turns Our Freedoms into Privileges and What We Can Do About It, author Timothy Sandefur identifies the radical innovation our country was found upon: personal liberty derived from inalienable rights and bolstered by self-evident truths.  He then spends the rest of the book chronicling how politicians and state bureaucrats have whittled away at these liberties creating an authoritarian state King George III would envy. One of the most powerful weapons in the statists' arsenal is the at-will enforcement of laws, regulations and ordinances. The ruling class attacks their foes, including you, cutting with both edges of this sword.

At-will enforcement pushed the power of judge and jury to the edges of the ruling class allowing officers and bureaucrats to punish or persecute those who meet with their disapproval. Look no further than Dunwoody's Police Department with a Driving While Black policy so egregious it put the City on the losing end of court cases. Or the City lawyer who took it upon himself to berate and threaten a taxpayer who hired goats to clear his property of weeds and brush because by the lawyer's assessment the property owner infringed on government dictated right-of-way. The other edge is the "don't ask-don't tell" approach to ordinances espoused by at least one member of Council. This allows members of the ruling class, Staff, Mayor and Council, to curry favor with Friends and Family in private and business sectors. The potential for filling campaign coffers or securing personal wealth is no disincentive to this practice.

If you believe the deflective ruse that at-will enforcement is really on-complaint then put it to the test.  Report speeding in school zones expecting serious, effective enforcement and you will be disappointed. Try that with trucks in a no-truck zone and you'll get a dismissive email about insufficient infractions to justify police attention. If you get anything. Try as you might you will find nothing but a City devoted to destroying what our fathers brought forth on this continent.

Monday, August 7, 2017

It's All Your Fault

In his tenure as DeKalb School's chief Michael Thurmond started riffing on the notion that public schools were just fine and the real problem was failures in the communities they serve. Green and his administration brought deflective blame-the-society, blame-the-community to a crescendo complete with pep rallies and self-congratulatory billboards. This strategy does not supersede or obsolete the tried and true tactic of trotting out the teacher-proof student as a shining example of public schools' capabilities. In fact, a staunch proponent of public schools, the AJC is doubling down.

In a recent posting it is suggested that the success of public schools is due to work ethic, another external factor and yet somehow crediting schools, and not the external actors with that success. The author dances a jig around racial issues by singling out successful east asian families, Tiger Parents and their Tiger Cubs, for the high priority they place on academic achievement and the work they devote to that achievement. The posting paints a picture of "this is how public schools can work for you"--dedicated, devoted parents with high expectations taking primary responsibility for their children's care and education using the public schools as one of many tools at their disposal.

The author pulls up short in any examination of the primary and subordinate roles of the featured actors lest the argument backfire exposing that these academic success stories have little to do with public schools or their wrap-around services and bloated administrations. This would required poking around in Tiger Mom's toolkit. Music schools--violin, piano not Sousaphone and marching bands. Math programs--Kumon, Mathnasium, the Art of Problem Solving as teaching mathematics was abandoned decades ago by public schools in favor of "math concepts." Summer math, robotics and computer science camps. Perhaps, depending on what part of "East Asia" the Tigers come from there may be some soccer involved. World of Warcraft? Maybe not so much.

And then the author would need to explore how this works. How does the Tiger Parent find the programs? How do they choose between them? What does the student's schedule look like? You can cite directed, funded research to fill the page, but in Atlanta many folks know or are Tiger Parents. You may start with a beginning keyboard program advancing to smaller studio lessons based on Tiger Referrals, studio visits and recitals. Similar approaches are used to select the math programs, summer experiences and online education where Tiger Cubs acquire their educations. The key element here is why proponents of public schools avoid all but a passing examination of Tiger Families: they have choices and they make choices. Choice is a wooden stake thru the heart of vampiric public schools.

So just how does this all turn out? Well, you can get an immediate sense by googling Kumon locations noting where they are and perhaps more importantly where they are not. Now if you believe they are missing in south DeKalb because the schools in that part of the system are doing such a wonderful job that a market doesn't exist then you need to check some facts. To Thurmond and Green's original point, there are no supplementary educational operations in that community because there is insufficient demand. This drives the on-going wave of self-segregation with Tiger Parents putting miles and sometimes school districts between themselves, and their children, and those suffering from an Elektra complex with regards to paternalistic governments, including schools. Since it is politically impossible for even a concentration of Tiger Parents to break the stranglehold public schools have on education tax dollars they will leverage their political power to ensure that "working for the children" is more than a platitude. If the best teachers, measurably better than others, are not teaching their children there will be changes. This self-segregation and political pressure will continue until the system modernizes giving Tiger Families complete control over the full spectrum of education options. 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Dunning-Kruger Effect

The Wikipedia entry on the Dunning-Kruger Effect should include a picture of Dunwoody--Staff, Council, Mayor--the whole schmear. They, like all governments, work diligently to avoid transparency but many-a-time their disdain for competence shines a light. Take this faux-transparency on the Smart City website.


Pretty cool, huh? Who knew this City had any ethics let alone such an abundance that a Board is required to keep up with it? Only one problem with this. See that puke-green text "Ethics Ordinance?" That is one of them-there fancy "hyperlinks." You know, the kind that takes you to another web page. Only this one takes you down a rat hole.

Turns out Dunwoody doesn't have an Ethics Ordinance. Or maybe they do and just don't want anyone to know what it is. Or maybe, just maybe, they are hopelessly mired in the early phase of the of the Dunning-Kruger effect.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Thursday, July 27, 2017

School Silly Season

In preparation for the upcoming school start dates all the sayers, not doers, are out in force. We've got a billboard campaign out of DeKalb proclaiming "We don't suck as much as you think we do," perhaps a deflection from the school system's tax increase. We've had the release of what passes for state public school performance metrics followed closely by mainstream media dragging out the tired excuse of "free and reduced lunch stats as a proxy for poverty" -- an annual excuse for the abysmal state of public education implying it isn't the schools' fault but rather it is society. But their "investigative journalism" is weak as they never point out that qualification for semi-formal poverty is never verified by the schools' nor do they look into why society would continue pouring money down the rathole regardless of the root cause of the failure. The comedic value of media's juxtaposition of their neo-America impoverished state where many schools have 100% free/reduced and their stories on "healthy" bento-box recipes for your darlings' lunches is lost on no one. Given their dire depiction of poverty in the classroom how can they possibly justify that much ink for the dozen mothers in Georgia who can afford the food for a packed lunch?

Monday, July 24, 2017

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Daddy Dearest




Dad's mad.

You see Dad bought each of his kids a car. Not really his idea but he was at the Friday Fish Fry and heard all the other Dads talking about the cars they bought for their kids. When, make, model, options...you know, regular "man-measure" kind of talk. So Dad starts to thinking...if you can call herd mentality "mentality" then Dad was thinking. He was thinking he better be fixing to get ready to get his kids some cars.

And so he did.

Then something unexpected happened. Kids took to driving. Every chance they got. Seemed like if they didn't have to be at home they were gettin' in them cars and gettin' the hell out in a Dodge. Probably because Dad was paying for the car, the insurance and the gas. Why not? Road Trip!

Unintended consequences. See, Dad wanted the kids hangin' 'round town not toolin' 'round north Georgia with their buds. 'Murican Iron but not Chevys and Levees. What's a Dad, especially a Mad Dad to do?

Well, being the kind of parent that Rosemond says has destroyed America, Dad figured he'd just pay them to stay home. So that's what he's gonna do.

The real problem, in case you were wondering where this was going, is with the City and Petty Paternalism. Not the kind where they want to keep your goats outta their right of way, make you cut your grass, make sure your roofer installs drip edge or prevent you from working at home. This is turned inward. As hard as it is to believe this is directed towards the police, arguably the most responsible folks on the payroll and certainly the only folks held in high enough esteem to be packing in City Hall. When there is political hay to be made Cops Is Tops but when it comes to deciding how to live their own lives they are just like the rest of us.

Cops shouldn't take this personally as it is basically as thoughtless as the Fish Fry Decision. Other cities give their cops "take home" cars and if Dunwoody is anything it is unoriginal so our Cops get cars too. They also get pretty much the same craptastic pay because, well, that is what all the other cities pay. It has come to the Sauron-like attention of our Powers-That-Are this level of pay might keep your take home car out of a Dunwoody Driveway unless you marry well or are on a call. Persistent paternalism precludes them entertaining the possibility of a cop wanting to not live in Dunwoody. It's not like any of the Cops out there are Ryan Seacrest.

But there is a simpler way than playing the Parenting Game. Here's a thought: let's pay Cops a living wage. Yeah, yeah. That's not what everyone else does and well, we're part of the herd. But we don't have to be and it really isn't that difficult to break free.

Take the cars for instance. What does it cost to own and operate one of those beasts? Before you add all the do-dads that make a nice ride a Cop Car. Cipher on that and come up with an annualized cost, gross it up and add that to their top line pay. Let them pick their own car. If they want to get an off-lease Camry because they're saving for a college education then that is their choice. After all if we can trust them to make responsible split-second decisions where firearms are involved we can probably trust them to pick a ride.

Then there is the calamity of where City Hall wants them to live. First requirement: City Hall needs to get off its collective high horse and let our employees decide where they want to live. If you think the factors influencing a car buying decision are tricky try juggling school choice, two jobs and increasingly "what do we do with the parental units?" Not to worry. Someone down at City Hall knows just what you need. NOT! Like the cars, housing is a cost/comparative study. How expensive is DaVille? Compared to? Pick some comps, here and abroad. Make an assessment, gross it up and make the adjustment. No one is saying that a Cop's pay gets you a million dollar infill McMansion but there are some Four-Four-and-a-Door Dunwoody Classics needing a little TLC that are well within reach.

The bottom line is this: pay Cops a living wage and let them live their lives. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Because You're Too Stupid

Living in The Smart City it can be ice-bucket shocking being told you're stupid. But the Associated Press reports that Federal Bureaucrats have done just that:
The USDA had indicated that it would use "soy beverage" in official policy documents, but it wanted to use "plain language" in materials for the public.
This all came about when the powerful milk lobby objected to the [mis]use of the word "milk" to brand anything other than lacteal secretions of mammals, preferably cows. The bureaucratic pissing contest pitted the FDA against USDA with the FDA taking the "F-Word" seriously with the position that "milk" was directly from a lactating mammal objecting to the USDA's cavalier [ab]use of "milk" when it wasn't "milk" at all. The USDA acting as federally funded shills for Big Ag defended their position on the basis that while fellow bureaucrats are intellectually equipped to handle such a fine distinction, you, with your Sesame Street intellect are an idiot.