Gas Prices Falling ahead of the Presidential Election?

So we may be in for a gasoline price plummet. Will Barrack Obama be credited? Does the president sit there at his desk and wiggle the gas price lever and watch what happens?

Republican strategists, advice for you: Blame Obama for not keeping the price of gas stable. Get on FOX and say how you would have been fine with high gas prices. Say that the real problem is market instability. Then somehow claim that the instability results from TOO MUCH government interference in a market that’s actually far too global and unregulated to impact significantly by government action.

Will Obama get an easy ride to reelection if prices do drop significantly? Perhaps. Whatever the case is, We need to double down on economics education for the general public, because the electorate seems clueless about the true complexity of economics issues.

The Economy and Education- Inextricably Tied

Hello world,

I’ve been away from blogging for a while.

Education funding is suffering mightily in the current economic downturn- as tax dollars drop, so goes education. This is not inevitable. Repeatedly, liberals have attempted to structure education funding mechanisms that were not so acutely tied to revenues. Their efforts are consistently thwarted at every level by conservatives who attempt avoid funding public schools.

The compromise that is inevitably reached in this power struggle is that school funding is inextricably tied to variable and fragile funding streams that vary with fluctuations in the economy, and variations in tax rates. Consequently, when taxes are cut, schools also suffer.

When taxes are cut in an attempt to create stimulus, during a period of economic downturn and low tax revenues, schools are hit doubly. Localities are then hit with devastating choices of loss of personnel, school closures, large classes, eliminated programs and services, and inevitably: education decline.

There are young people’s lives caught in this power struggle. Kids who need help, attention, and special services. Kids who need sports, or music, or technology to thrive; denied.

The economic downturn is wreaking havoc on education funding. There is no lesser need for high quality education during recessions. History has shown quite the opposite- that boosts to education and retraining during downturn and vital to economic recovery.

I beg our leaders to find a way. I urge conservatives to stop placing public education in the same category as expendable services.

The Constitution as Written: The Size of the House of Representatives

Blog Post at Luke Laurie’s Teacher Blog: https://lukelaurie.wordpress.com/

There are a number of people out there who believe the ultimate evil in U.S. policy is the treatment of the Constitution as a living document, to be interpreted to fit the times. These people call themselves Constitutional Conservatives. They believe that we have strayed far from the original intent of the Founders by not being as literal as we should be in interpretations of the Constitution, which they argue, is an infallible document, and just as applicable today as it was when it was written, to the letter.

The words of the Constitution are often invoked in various debates including gun rights, freedom of speech, separation of Church and State. Somehow, some lesser known aspects of the Constitution are NEVER brought up in this context, or included in the that list of infallible statements made by the Founders. In this series of posts, I will address some of these aspects. And for FOX news: this is satire.

According to the Constitution, Government is Too Small


There are 435 Members of the House of Representatives. According to the Constitution as it was written, and applied at the time it was written, there should be 1 Representative for every 30,000 people. The U.S. population, at this writing, is 309,121,451.

Sticking with the Constitution, we should have a House of Representatives with 10,304 Members.

Give Us Representation!

The Constitution is not a living document. We need to go back to the original words and original intent of the Founders. They clearly intended for the size of the House of Representatives to be proportional to population, and to be A PROPORTION of the population.

The Constitution says: “The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand.” And what this means is 1 for every 30,000 people. It doesn’t mean 1 for every 300,000 people! But that is what we do today.

Liberals have gone wild with their interpretations, and have exaggerated the meaning of the phrase “shall not exceed.” The founders didn’t want anybody cheating by having too many Members of Congress. So the House had one Representative for every 30,000 people, with a minimum of 1 from every State. At the current rate of the reduction in the ratio of representatives per capita, we will have no Representatives in about 15 minutes!

Crazy liberals started playing fast and loose with the Constitution in 1850, when they decided they would “fix” the size of the House. Didn’t you know it, the whole thing has been FIXED for 160 years! No doubt, liberals used this method to disenfranchise rural States with low populations but good old fashioned values.

Take Montana, for example. The U.S. Constitution says that Montana can have 1 Representative for every 30,000 people. That’s right, 1 for every 30,000. With a population of  975,000 people, that means Montana could have up to 32 Representatives!

And how many Members does Montana have in the House today?

Only one!  –Denny Rehberg(Republican)- A down home Country Boy? Nope. Net Worth $31,372,505, one of the richest Members of Congress. This guy has requested 75 million in personal earmarks in the last 3 years, and over 300 million in earmarks requested jointly with other members of Congress. Now that Democrats don’t want pork going to private companies, he suddenly supports the earmark freeze.

Why does Montana only get 1 Representative. California gets 53!!!

If we adhered to the Constitution, Montana would be able to have 32 Representatives, and they wouldn’t all be fat cat Denny Rehbergs. Montana could have 31 ordinary folks from all walks of life, going to Washington D.C., and representing the ordinary people.

It’s time for America to go back to the intent of the Founders. Give Representation to the masses, and increase the size of the legislative branch of government by 2000%. It’s the right thing to do.

(By the way, California would have 1,233 Representatives.)

Hoping, wishing, and praying for Barack Obama’s long life.

It’s unpatriotic and immoral to wish harm or death upon the President of the United States, and Commander in Chief of our Armed Forces, yet that is exactly what some Facebook groups are doing. Be patriotic and join this group, whether you agree with the President’s policies or not.

Join this Facebook Group:

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=113007062068590

Ed Potosnak on Innovation

Ed Potosnak has a great post on innovation over at downwithtyrrany:

http://downwithtyranny.blogspot.com/2010/03/dont-be-deceived-by-new-jersey-democrat.html

“As a technophile and science nerd I may be biased, but I believe America’s economic stability depends on how seriously we respond to the challenges presented by an increasingly technological global economy”

Read More:

http://downwithtyranny.blogspot.com/2010/03/dont-be-deceived-by-new-jersey-democrat.html

Ed Potosnak for Congress

Blog Post from https://lukelaurie.wordpress.com/

Ed Potosnak, working hard for what's right.

Never before have I been so excited about a congressional candidate. Ed Potosnak is a teacher from New Jersey, running for that State’s 7th Congressional District. Ed is a science teacher who became an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow, and went to work in the U.S. House of Representatives. He worked on education policy with Congressman Mike Honda, and established himself as a skilled legislative analyst, making significant contributions in the realms of education policy, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education policy, appropriations (funding government programs), environmental policy, and other fields.

Now Ed is taking his experience as a teacher and small business owner, combined with his policy work experience as an Einstein Fellow and Legislative Staffer, and is making a bold run for Congress in New Jersey’s 7th Congressional District.

Ed is a clear-headed, critical thinker, with courage and tenacity. He is no career politician.

I hope you will join me in support of Ed Potosnak, he will make great contributions as a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

His campaign website is http://edpotosnak.com/

Kevin Phillips – Political and Economic Analysis from a Guy Who Keeps Being Right

I like to read books on economics. I’ve found time and again that my field, education, is inextricably tied to economic shifts and economic policy. Two books I’ve read recently deal with the details of what’s been going wrong in finance, monetary policy, fiscal policy, and government that has led to the current recession, and don’t bode well for the future of U.S. prosperity.

I highly recommend the following books: Bad Money: Reckless Finance, Failed Politics, and the Global Crisis of American Capitalism

and American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century

Below are some videos where you can hear Kevin Phillips discuss some of these topics:

U.S. National Curriculum Standards – for the future of the Nation

Liquid Density

Science is science, anywhere in the Nation.

The following is a blog post from Luke Laurie’s Blog: Teacher Blog.

https://lukelaurie.wordpress.com/

In this post, I explore reasons why implementing a National Curriculum is a vital piece for future educational and economic policy. I also discuss some of the guiding principals that must be adhered to in order to make a National Curriculum functional and applicable.

Why National?

The vastly different expectations for students in each of the fifty States is archaic and parochial. The technological, scientific, and ethical challenges our nation faces are not regional, they are universal. This is not a liberal or conservative issue. This is an issue of national security.

We need to look beyond the old notions of townships community schools serving the needs of the local community. The vast majority of our students won’t be working on the family farm or taking over the mom & pop. They will be out there, in the world. They will move to where the work is. They need concrete knowledge of a complex world, and preparation for a workforce in an uncertain future.

What do we say by NOT having National Standards?

By not establishing and implementing clear national guidelines for curricula, we have tacitly accepted that what we teach our children really isn’t that important, and that States and localities are equally qualified to determine what form of education is best suited to the future of the United States of America.

By clinging tightly to the totem pole of local control, we are denying pursuit of progress that’s in everyone’s best interest. Ironically, by passing the buck to lower tiers such as school districts to develop curricula, we impose undo burdens on these resource-strapped institutions. This blessing of local control becomes a curse of endless cycles of trial and error in curriculum development in small, isolated geographic regions. Some districts have found success, only to see their work destroyed by another cycle of textbook adoptions. Others continue to find a cohesive program that works, and would welcome a functional curriculum structure. In scattered schools and districts across the U.S., we’ve invented and destroyed the metaphorical wheel, thousands of times over, and we still can’t make it roll.

A balanced approach to National Standards would take away some of the guesswork in designing instructional programs, and save the time and effort of education professionals for the more innovative and creative tasks associated with delivering instruction. How many creative educators have spent years designing units, programs, or courses, only to see them swept away by changes in policy, funding, or curriculum? A national curriculum could provide the stable foundation that educators need on which to create innovations in education.

Every day we hear policy makers and academics talk about how to improve America’s schools and the “school system.” But until we have a common framework between states, we have no real “system” to improve. That framework should begin by deciding what should be taught. What we have now is a failure to decide.

No Unified Vision on Which to Base a National Curriculum

If we are to implement a National Curriculum, we need a clear set of guidelines for what education is really for. The curriculum should fit the larger vision eduction vision, and the education vision should, in turn, fit the national vision. But foresight is not an American value, and it’s certainly not a defining property of our public policy.

The following quote comes from Clyde Prestowitz, President of the Economic Strategy Institute, who served as counselor to the Secretary of Commerce in the Reagan Administration. From his Testimony before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission from 2005:

America needs to recognize that many of the assumptions guiding its economic policy are at odds with the realities of today’s global economy. Its performance in a broad range of areas—including saving, education, energy and water conservation, critical infrastructure, R&D investment, and workforce upskilling—is far below the standard of many other nations. America needs to understand that its refusal to have a broad competitiveness policy is, in fact, a policy. And it gives leading U.S. CEOs no choice but to play into the strategies of other countries. This policy, according to its proponents, leaves decisions to the unseen hand of the market. Actually, however, it leaves them to the highly visible hands of lobbyists and foreign policymakers. It is a policy that ultimately leads to impoverishment.

In other words, our failure to modernize education and to make an effective tool in encouraging scientific and technical innovations, and to create a capable and appropriate workforce leaves U.S. industries and finances in a reactive position. In the immortal words of Rush (the band, with lyrics by Neil Peart, not the talk-radio windbag) “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”

I don’t typically chime in on the scare tactics of xenophobia, but in this realm, the U.S. is completely vulnerable to the whims and intentions of other, more deliberate nations. There’s no invisible hand in China. Nor should we trust the invisible hand to fix our most valuable institutions.We don’t need to fear China and other rising economic powers, we should fear ourselves for the lack of backbone, commitment, and foresight to lead us to create national policies that will enable the U.S. to survive and thrive in the future. 90% of Americans attend public school for a large portion of their lives. There is no other institution so clearly capable of shaping the future of the nation.

A National Curriculum must be based on a national vision for public schools. Agreeing on such a vision has been avoided by policy makers throughout the history of public schools, because of the existence of so many differing viewpoints on the matter, and the acknowledgement that we have designated schools as the catch-all social institution. Schools are tasked not only with academic education, but are also responsible for health and well-being, drug, alcohol, and disease prevention, and fostering cultural changes; i.e. tolerance education, sexual harassment prevention, and dealing with any issue that is not be addressed in the homes and communities of students.

Some believe our schools exist to make good citizens of a democracy, others say to achieve individual economic potential, and still others claim that public schools are the great equalizer, fulfilling a civil rights role. Learning is inevitably part of each vision, but agreeing on the primary purposes for the learning will influence how we go about teaching. Teachers themselves, possess different philosophies on their role and purpose, and consequently approach their work in different ways. In addition, various policies and legislation have added additional tasks, often well-meaning, but overreaching the limits of resources and time. Note that I am not arguing the virtue of these goals, they are all valid societal objectives. The issue here is that we have created an undo burden on a single public institution.

Consequently, we arrive at a situation where schools have been tasked with seemingly impossible goals. They exist to educate all students academically, while simultaneously overcoming any shortcomings of the family, community, or the nation. They are to do so with extremely limited resources. And even when they succeed in some areas, they will inevitably neglect others. It’s not just the raised bar that makes schools “fail”, it’s that there are hundreds of hurdles, and no one can even keep track of all of them.

In essence, schools have the function of providing for nearly every need, for nearly everyone, until they reach the age of adulthood. The inability of any adult to function in society or to have requisite employment skills always reflects back on their education.

Where to Start: A National Vision

A National Vision for Education needs to acknowledge that schools will inevitably serve a variety of purposes, but these goals must be carried out within the context of serving a unified national purpose. Education should be by design, not just a result of historical peculiarities. Developing such a vision will not be easy, and is most certainly not the work of a single individual or organization.

So what is this vision? What does it include? How different is what we should do from what we are doing? What new topics must be addressed? What historical baggage must we shed in order to evolve?

(See also my previous post on National Curriculum Standards: https://lukelaurie.wordpress.com/2009/05/27/national-curriculum-standards/)

Move Your Money

So, you may have heard of the new video and movement, Move Your Money, encouraging the patrons of big banks to move their accounts to small community banks. The video is quite compelling, featuring clips from It’s a Wonderful Life, along with damning clips of modern bank malfeasance. The video is worth viewing, even if the argument doesn’t sway you.

The premise is simple: hit them where it counts, in the pocketbook. It’s a grassroots attempt to undermine the “Too Big To Fail” institutions who continue to be found, time and time again to be complicit in or responsible for economic travesties, big and small.

Senator Bernie Sanders has his own idea: Break ‘Em Up.

Of course, small town banks can engage in their own shenanigans. They also may not have the capacity or breadth of services for all customers. But we should be good consumers and move our money where it serves us best.

If I ever have any money, I want some interest from that money, and it sure would be nice if some of the money was in turn invested in my community. I certainly don’t want a slice of my hard earned money to pay for six-figure financial services lobbyists who are tightening the screws on ethically challenged Members of Congress.

I think I just might move my money.

The Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship: Perspectives of a Science Teacher Working in the U.S. House of Representatives

I spent a year working in the U.S. House of Representatives on education and environmental policy in 2006 to 2007. In the Summer of 2009, I returned for a brief while to reprise my role. The following paper describes my experiences.

Download or view the .pdf of this paper

famouspeople

Al Gore, Luke Laurie, Mike Honda-in photo on the wall of the official Capitol "Shaft"

Overview
The Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship is a federal program that awards outstanding teachers of mathematics and science with the opportunity to work on federal policy in Washington D.C. for one year. The author was a recipient of the Einstein Fellowship in 2006, after working for nine years as a junior high science teacher specializing in robotics and engineering outreach. This paper summarizes the process of receiving the fellowship, the work completed during the fellowship year, and the perspectives of a classroom teacher working directly on education policy. The author returned to the classroom at the culmination of his fellowship year. On the eve of the 20th year of the Einstein Fellowship, readers may discover the significance of this program, and, if willing, pursue the fellowship and policy work themselves.