Collective Bargaining Hurts Teachers

January 8, 2019

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(Guest post by Greg Forster)

OCPA carries my article on why collective bargaining hasn’t been a good bargain for K-12 teachers:

I’m not against unions. My wife worked for a union for years, volunteering long hours as an employee advocate in company dispute resolution. She signed up to work for the union when she saw managers mistreating workers, and the company violating its contractual obligations to them. The union was the only effective protection those workers had.

But collective bargaining and representation simply isn’t a good fit for K-12 teachers. Not all types of workers are well-served by unionizing. Doctors and lawyers don’t unionize. The nature of the work they do just doesn’t permit the standardization, controlled processes, and highly specified work outputs that are necessary for collective bargaining to be effective.

Let me know what you think!

Update: Also worth noticing: “our regression results indicate that unionization has a powerful negative influence on educational outcomes.”

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Today we are CANCELLING the APOCALYPSE!!!!!!!!!!

December 18, 2018

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Over at RedefinED I pay homage to the dumbest awesome movie of all time, or is it the most awesome dumb movie of all time? Silly me- IT’S BOTH! Oh and also there might be some discussion of why it is absurd to talk about Florida education in apocalyptic terms.


Racism in Public Schools

November 28, 2018

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(Guest post by Greg Forster)

OCPA carries my article on racism in public schools:

Robinson’s case attracted wider attention, threatening to make the system look bad. So, Robinson was able to get permission from the guardians of the government school monopoly to transfer her grandchildren out of Edmond North.

But most cases of racism, harassment, and bullying don’t make media headlines. Those families are stuck. They have to keep sending their children to school to be preyed upon, day after day.

Don’t listen to me, listen to Robinson: “The students still there, they feel helpless, they feel like their hands are tied and they just have to tough this out,” she told KFOR. “No kid should have to tough it out.”

This is just one of many reasons all parents ought to have school choice:

America continues the struggle to build a genuinely pluralistic society. That means overthrowing the continuing power of racism, our great national original sin. To pursue the American principles of equality and freedom, we must labor diligently to dismantle the structures of racial oppression.

The government school monopoly was created in the 19th century to consolidate the power of social elites. They wanted to homogenize what was, in their eyes, an unacceptably diverse population. A society where differences are valued can only emerge when the monopoly they built is broken.

Let me know what you think!


Best Songs You’ve Probably Never Heard

November 23, 2018

The blog has been a little empty lately and your shopping carts may be too full, so I thought I would share some songs you might like that you’ve probably never heard before.  Consider it my gift to you.

First up, we have this beautiful song by the Vulgar Boatmen.  I wrote a blog post before about how great this band is (was), but I didn’t mention this gem.  It’s called There’s a Family.  Here is the studio version:

Here is a live version from a club concert in the early 90s.  I’m not sure which version I enjoy more.

Next we have the “Twee” band Allo Darlin’.  It’s probably that I’m getting old, but I don’t mind a sweet pop song, especially these vulnerable and heartfelt pieces:

You’ve probably heard the Kinks’ song, Strangers, but I bet you haven’t heard this cover by Lucius before:

This Tiny Desk Concert by Lucius is also pretty amazing.  I especially enjoy around the 12 minute mark when they are asked if they would play one more song and they then scavenge through the desks to find items to use for percussion while playing Genevieve.

These aren’t quite Matt’s punk or heavy metal covers, but I hope you enjoy them anyway.


And the Winner of the 2018 “Al” is… Joy Morton

November 1, 2018

It was a very crowded field of excellent nominees for this year’s Al Copeland Humanitarian Award. In total there were 8 nominees (two of whom shared the honor): Leo MoracchioliRichard GarfieldElizabeth VandiverEric LundgrenAdam Butler and Autumn Thomasson, George Henry Thomas, and Joy Morton.

Of all of these worthy individuals, Joy Morton best exemplifies the way in which Al Copeland improved the human condition.  Morton, like Copeland, promoted good by doing well.  As Collin noted in his post, Morton sought a competitive advantage for his salt company by adding iodine and advertising the health benefits of doing so.  It was known at the time that small amounts of iodine could prevent goiters, which were a widespread and damaging problem throughout America’s heartland. But no one was doing anything about this until Morton saw a way to make money from adding iodine to people’s diet.

It was later learned that iodine is crucial to healthy brain development.  By adding iodine to salt, Morton reduced cognitive disabilities among those with the lowest access to iodine in their diet, raising IQs by one full standard deviation in that population. Collin emphasized how much good Morton achieved through his profit-seeking enterprise relative to what has been achieved by billions in non-profit expenditures:

One. Standard. Deviation. Countless foundations have invested countless dollars to achieve impacts a fraction of that size in [a] tiny fraction of the population – and most have failed. Morton accomplished it all with table salt.

Al Copeland similarly improved the human condition through a profit-seeking enterprise.  Rather than prevent goiters and raise IQs, Copeland satisfied our desire for spicy chicken.  And both efforts have in common a significant reliance on salt.

Leo Moracchioli shares with Morton and Copeland the fact that he makes money from his humanitarian activities.  Making heavy metal covers on Youtube brings plenty of joy to his followers as well as money to his pocket.  And Matt was right to note the importance of “disintermediation” in producing this and other positive developments.  But it is hard for fun music to compare with preventing goiters and raising IQs let alone to providing spicy chicken.

Ben Ladner’s personal and well-written nomination of Magic: The Gathering’s creator, Richard Garfield  was also compelling.  But like my previous nomination of D&D promoter, Gary Gygax, Garfield falls short.  As much as I identify with and root for the Geek tribe, their amusement and acts of solidarity do not rise to the level of improving the human condition like spicy chicken does.

My nomination of Elizabeth Vandiver also falls short.  Promoting awareness of human nature through understanding of Classical Mythology is enormously important work, but Vandiver reaches too few people to make enough of a difference.  If only our schools thought this was an important part of their job and made use of Vandiver’s materials, it might be a different story.

Greg had several nominees.  We may have to consider a rule regarding whether an individual can have multiple nominees in a single year and whether multiple people can share a nomination.  In any event, Greg’s nomination of Eric Lundgren was excellent but it felt more like a Higgy nomination for Bill Gates. Making use of old computer parts is indeed noble, but the way Microsoft sought to block it shows that profit-seeking enterprises can also promote bad while doing well.  The nomination of Adam Butler and Autumn Thomasson for providing legal assistance to lemonade stands while also making a profit selling lemonade also sounds like a Higgy nomination for the PLDDs who seek to shut those stands down. Lastly, George Henry Thomas is also a very worthy nominee for his demonstration of true patriotism and understanding that victory can only be achieved when one’s opponent admits defeat.  Thomas’ example is actually in keeping with Daniel Pipes’ more recent promotion of the Israel Victory Project.  While victory can only be achieved by the admission of defeat by one’s opponent, Thomas actually failed at achieving that, as Greg concedes.  Some Southerners continue “The Cause” to this day, so it is now our responsibility to complete what Thomas started.

Fortunately, because we are goiter-free and enjoy elevated IQs we are now positioned to pursue the total defeat of The Cause, rocking on YouTube, playing games with other Geeks, understanding human nature, and fighting PLDDers of all sorts.  For this we owe a debt of gratitude to Joy Morton and award him the 2018 Al Copleand Humanitarian Award.


Stop the Clock! The Al Will be Announced Tomorrow

October 31, 2018

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We had so many excellent nominees for The Al this year that I need some extra time to select the winner.

Our nominees include Leo MoracchioliRichard Garfield, Elizabeth Vandiver, Eric LundgrenAdam Butler and Autumn Thomasson, George Henry Thomas, and Joy Morton.

As you enjoy your candy you can review all of these nominees and await the announced winner tomorrow.


Religious Schools and Science

October 30, 2018

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(Guest post by Greg Forster)

We interrupt this deluge of Al nominees to bring you . . . something about education! Namely this post at OCPA about why religious private schools can teach science so well. The main reason is that religious people’s beliefs about science are not very different from everyone else’s:

This is partly because the extent to which less-religious people “believe in science” is overrated. Consult your daily horoscope for guidance on whether secular reason and revealed religion are the only belief systems in modern America. Don’t worry, if you can still find a newspaper, you’ll have no trouble finding a horoscope—nearly every U.S. paper has printed them for generations, in spite of unanimous opposition to astrology from the world religions. If you’re a Libra, you can weigh the evidence and find that secular Americans are imperfectly rational. If you’re an Aquarius, you can pour cold water on the illusions of secular rationality. If you’re a Gemini, you can pour it twice.

The more important factor, however, is that ignorant people have vastly understated the extent to which religious people and institutions in the modern world “believe in science.” None of the foundational commitments of science—that nature works regularly, that the human mind is capable of discovering and describing that regularity—are in conflict with religion. That is why all the world religions have embraced modern science; indeed, the Christian assumption that nature and the human mind were made by a rational God was, historically, an essential precondition for the emergence of modern science.

Belief that miracles have sometimes occurred is no hindrance to science. On the contrary, you can’t believe in miracles as exceptions to the ordinary course of nature until you believe that the ordinary course of nature is rational and regular. And you can’t believe miracles serve to demonstrate visibly to their observers that nature is being disrupted—which is what miracles are for in the first place—unless you believe that the human mind is capable of knowing the regularity of nature (and hence knowing when it has been disrupted). Belief in miracles, far from contradicting the view that nature is regular and that we can know its regularity, presuppose this view.

The underlying problem for the way we think about this, unsurprisingly, is that people are more concerned with advancing their view of religion than with getting their facts straight:

These observations force us to recognize that we have to do better at distinguishing two questions. One is whether people ought to “believe in science” given their worldview, and the other is whether those people do in fact “believe in science.” Whatever you think about what people ought to believe, as a point of empirical fact the relationship between people’s beliefs about religion and their beliefs about science simply does not justify the confident assertions made about these beliefs.

Let me know what you think!