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.)

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Educational Armageddon

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

If we fire teachers to fix schools, who will take their place?

Under No Child Left Behind, schools serving the most disadvantaged populations of students are doomed to jump through the Machiavellian hoops of norm-referenced accountability. Indeed the expectations of these schools share much in common with the perennial “Saw” movies. Schools are expected to chew off their own arms in order to escape the chains of the testing apparatus, only to find they must climb a ladder to get out of the cage.

In the star-studded film Armageddon, scientists discover a giant meteor racing towards the Earth, and summon up a crack team of experts and load them into a top-secret armor-plated space shuttle with unheard of capabilities. Just when you think the world is going to end, the U.S.A. pulls an ace in the hole by revealing that they have all the technology in place to stop an impending disaster, and the people to do it. (Why you would keep this technology secret is the real question.) Part of the metaphor, which will at some point be clear, is that, while no one knew about it, we had actually invested vast resources to address problem that, while inevitable, was highly unlikely in any finite amount of time.

In the real world, Armageddon is going on in many schools across the country. Thanks to No Child Left Behind, and its successor, Race to the Edge, States are implementing drastic measures at schools that have been deemed underperforming by intergalactic standards. These measures can include firing the principal, firing or moving the teachers, and closing the school.

Now, on its surface these measures might sound reasonable. If a school were something like Jabba’s Palace, it would make good sense to shut the place down. But to set foot on the grounds of some of these “failing” schools, one would be hard pressed to find a lack of effort, a lack of caring, or anything other than the hardest working people around, dealing with impossible objectives and stark realities that remain unchanged, and in some cases, worsened, by education policy.

I teach in a school that probably missed California’s official “Your F’’d List” by a decimal point. The characteristics of nearly all of the schools on this list are: 1) They serve students who live in poverty. 2) The education level of parents of their students is low (many having not finished elementary school) 3) Drugs and crime are common in the communities served 4) They have a high percentage of students who are still learning English. These are schools working extremely hard, some having great success, but not meeting the bar set in an ivory tower far away, where only data matters, and only th simplest and easiest to gather data (The McNamara Falacy).

In the card game, Magic, the Gathering, the card called Armageddon destroys all lands in play. Land, in the game, is the source of energy, the ability to make progress. The card debilitates everyone playing, including the “caster.” Firing all the teachers works the same way. The teachers are everything you’ve got.

There are some notable ironies in eliminating the teaching staff of struggling schools. Often, these schools have staff with the least experience. Many schools in tough neighborhoods have work conditions that are not conducive to teacher retention. Teachers might get frustrated with the quality of the facilities, the lack or resources and support, their sense of safety, the pressure of unreasonable expectations, or the overall difficulty of the job due to the disadvantages of the students. These teachers might not have the highest qualifications. Those who did, mostly went elsewhere. These teachers might have only 1 to 3 years on the job, they’re struggling to figure things out, and the State comes in and says they’re out of job, and replaces them with ???

Another ironic situation can arise for some of the most experienced, hardest working teachers who have committed their lives to working with the most difficult populations of students. Imagine a teacher who has taught for 20 years in a school where many others have come and gone, who knows the student population, has strategies for working with students from poverty, English Language Learners, or students without parental support. Now imagine that teacher caught up in a policy that fires all the teachers in a given school, in the name of reform.

Back to the movie: There is no secret bunker with an armor-plated space shuttle. There is no warehouse full of highly-qualified teachers ready and willing to go into any high-need school and perform miracles. We need policies that are based on best practices, not pipe dreams. Do we really want Owen Wilson teaching Math? Let’s work with the resources we have, intelligently, and not start Armageddon.

Something Called “Volcano Monitoring”

I don't see any volcano, just a big lake.

Crater Lake: It's just a mountaintop lake. I don't see any volcano.

The following is satire.

Bobby Jindal, the new “rising star” of the Republican Party captivated America with his riveting storybook tale of wasteful spending and repentant Conservatives. His sing-song delivery made for one of the best speeches since Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. He will long be remembered as the guy who put into quotes very ordinary and “reasonable” ideas, in a naive attempt at fabricating outrage over nonexistent issues.

I am a bleeding-heart liberal. But even I could find better examples of wasteful government spending in the stimulus package than Mr. Jindal. Jindal chose to take very ordinary, indeed NECESSARY spending, and highlight it in order infuriate anyone lacking an 8th grade education.

Jindal: “While some of the projects in the bill make sense, their legislation is larded with wasteful spending. It includes $300 million to buy new cars for the government, $8 billion for high-speed rail projects, such as a ‘magnetic levitation’ line from Las Vegas to Disneyland, and $140 million for something called ‘volcano monitoring.’  Instead of monitoring volcanoes, what Congress should be monitoring is the eruption of spending in Washington, DC.”

Others have debunked the false claim of the Disneyland to Vegas train (though doesn’t it sound fun! It really would be a small world after all). The fleet vehicles are a fairly ordinary expenditure. Then there’s the volcanoes…

Something Called “Volcano Monitoring

Indeed, Jindal the whistleblower caught the Feds red-handed wasting money on something called “Volcano Monitoring.” Further investigation has determined that this “science” consists of “monitoring volcanoes.” As if there were any volcanoes in the United States! We haven’t had volcanoes since there were dinosaurs- if you believe in them!

Apparently, the United States secretly created the “USGS”, a covert agency that seeks to instill fear of the so called “Earth.” This organization is responsible for disseminating a propaganda agenda they call “plate tectonics.”

Here, they blatantly copy Homeland Security’s highly informative terror alert levels:

standardicons

The agency has spread fear-speech such as this as part of their liberal agenda:

“The United States and its territories contain 169 geologically active volcanoes, of which 54 volcanoes are a very high or high threat to public safety”

They also claim that

“Since 1980, volcanic activity has killed more than 29,000 people worldwide.” -but do you know anyone who has ever fallen into a volcano? I think not.

volcanomap

–Notice the liberal spending VOLCANO in WASHINGTON D.C.!

The USGS also reports on all of the following, so called hazards:

Earthquakes, Floods, Hurricanes, Landslides, Tsunamis, and Wildfires

Can you believe it? Tsunamis! Our tax dollars are being used to fund yuppies eating raw fish!

They even put out phony up-to-date maps for volcanoes and earthquakes, to justify their so called “monitoring,” such as this map of California and Nevada that’s constantly updated.

eqmap

It’s time for this outrage to end. Americans don’t need big government getting between them and floods, tsunamis, or volcanoes. Private industry could much more efficiently manage the monitoring of volcanoes, or whatever else. It’s time we return geology to the people, along with their tax dollars. It was good enough for Rome, it should be good enough for America!

Let’s Run Schools Like Businesses

 

schoolbusiness

 

Imagine, for a moment, if we could go back to 2000, during the lead-up to the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, when many conservative lawmakers, intellectuals, and others who have no ‘business’ meddling in public education, were calling for reforms to model America’s education system after private industry. No Child Left Behind, did, in fact, include some of this business-like mentality with its emphasis on ‘products’, ‘quantifiable results’, and ‘accountability’, as well as a degree of privatization. But it could have been worse.

Senate Approves Massive Bailout for Education
Fake News 10-7-08
by Luke Laurie

The U.S. Senate today approved a $700 billion bailout of America’s education system, following seven years of corruption, mismanagement, and lack of regulation of the nation’s principle means of transmitting culture. Congressional investigators have attributed the collapse to the wholesale privatization of public schools and education services, and the increased use of a business model for school management.

Teachers Have Lost Their Voice
While teachers and liberal lawmakers have, for years, called for a return to public education, the powerful Education Reform Lobby has held a tight grip on Congressional appropriators and thwarted any intrusion by government regulators. Secretary of Education Bill Gates blamed the fallout on the handful of schools who refused to purchase Microsoft software, and suggested that schools sticking with Apple or Linux were the cause of the recent collapse. SInce the “Silence the Special Interests Act of 2002,” teachers’ unions and other advocacy groups have been unable to influence public policy. This measure limited lobbying access by establishing a rigid ‘pay to play’ principle that has limited congressional access to only the largest private conglomerations. In addition, the number of unionized teachers has greatly dwindled due to union-busting measures at the local, state and federal level.

Reform for Profit
In the early years of the “Bottom-Line for Schools Act of 2001”, the so called BS Act, everyone was a genius. Schools were encouraged to pursue a growth model akin to the tech startups of the 1990’s. Using leveraged capital provided by school vouchers, private companies created schools and networks of schools with lofty names that promised impossible services for little or no cost, and watched their stock prices skyrocket on speculation. These schools took many forms, and often resembled private religious schools, alternative charter schools, and academies of various kinds. They often touted emphasis in a particular industry or technical field, or sought to reinforce certain ideological or religious perspectives. The movement saw the creation of the Advanced Circuitry Kinder Lab, The Huffington School of Right is Wrong, Young Earth Youth Academy, and the A is A Ayn Rand School of Engineering and Architecture.

A Shining School on a Hill
Capitalized by inflated stock prices, fueled by speculation and day-traders, these new schools saw incredible growth, and were praised for success. States received massive bonuses and an influx of cash from the federal government for large-scale educational overhauls that were outsourced, often to fly-by-night contractors and textbook publishers, who took over all aspects of education, including everything from developing standardized tests to operating school buses. Glassy skyscrapers popped up in suburbs across America, the “District Offices” of the new education economy. Even Halliburton, a long-time military and energy services contractor, stepped in with their new Freedom Schools division. It was not unheard of to find the new school CEO’s showing up at D.C. cocktail parties.

A Break with Tradition
Perhaps the most damaging aspects of the movement were the wholesale abandonment of public facilities, practices, and personnel. In 2002, James D. Oldenfeller, Assistant Secretary of Education said, “States just don’t have the capacity to run schools the way that private industry does.” Oldenfeller left the administration that same year to oversee Halliburton’s Freedom Schools division. State and local governments relieved themselves of debt and balanced their budgets by selling school infrastructure to private contractors at discounted prices, receiving incentives from the Fed to do so. Some districts literally auctioned off desks, chairs, and even entire schools on Ebay.

Change for Change’s Sake
New startup schools were so heavily pressured to be different, that many school leaders professed that no long-standing educational practice could be continued. Schools abandoned antiquated methods of teaching reading, spelling, mathematics, history, and science. They scoffed at traditions like recess, summer vacation, and tenure for teachers. They embraced controversial new approaches like the “copy from Wikipedia” essay strategy, the “Yes you can use a calculator” computation method, and “Metaphysical Education- developing the mind and body without leaving your seat.”

“We need results, and we need them now,” Said President Bush in his State of the Union Address of 2002. “Like CEO’s on Wallstreet, schools need to be accountable. America can’t wait around for all this touchy-feely stuff to soak in. We need math and history, and math history. If our teachers can’t show results, then they’re not with us. If they’re not with us, they’re against us. If they’re against us, they’re with them. Who are them anyway?”

Goodbye Mr. Chips
The mass exodus of public school teachers, both forced and voluntary, is widely seen the most harmful result of the reform. Once considered the ‘core’ of education, the role of teacher was relegated to that of support personnel, number crunchers, script readers, and assembly workers on the educational factory floor. Disgusted, underpaid, and just plain fired for being too smarty-pants, career teachers were cast aside in favor of short-term ‘corps’-style teachers, who spent a few years in classrooms to erase college debts from overpriced universities.

Monetary rewards and penalties were applied to schools and teachers based on standardized test scores in Mathematics and Language Arts. Teacher pay was integrally tied to abstract quantitative data. Veteran teachers learned that their years of experience weren’t worth anything if they didn’t show up in the annual results. A massive redistribution of educational funding resulted, bringing even more State and Federal funds to the haves, and even less to the have-nots. Consequently, advanced placement classes and schools serving high income students became prized places of employment, and only people desperately needing work would take classes in low-income neighborhoods, or serving English Language Learners. In many-low income schools, undocumented immigrants were the only people willing to take the low paying, menial jobs as teachers.

To Good to be True
It wasn’t until the civil suit Rodriguez vs. LearnFunCorp.com (2007) was heard before the U.S. Supreme Court, that many of the problems of privatized education received national attention. The suit, brought by Jose Rodriguez, a 3rd grade student from Costa Verde, California, revealed that many students across the Country were no longer even going to school, and yet the companies that were responsible for educating them still had them on the books, and still cashed their vouchers.

LearnFunCorp.com calls itself a ‘virtual school,’ with no real classrooms or schools, no teachers, and no desks. Students enrolled in its programs must log on to their website, where they engage in “interactive educational video games” pioneered by Senator Joe Lieberman. Student questions submitted online or over the phone, are routed to a call center in Bengal, India. With it’s headquarters listed as a P.O. Box in Bermuda, and only a smattering of employees in the U.S., LearnFunCorp.com has paid no Federal taxes since it was established in 2002, though it has had more than $300 million in profits. In fact, according to investigative journalism by this publication, LearnFunCorp.com is virtually non-existent.

The Supreme Court case revealed that Jose Rodriguez had been a student enrolled in a virtual class with LearnFunCorp.com since he was five years old, and yet, had never received any educational services. His parents had signed forms to enroll Jose in virtual school, unaware of the significance of the decision, but they had no internet access, and had been unable to connect to the virtual environment. Calls to the Bengal call center to un-enroll Jose had proved useless. Local schools would not accept Jose into their classes, because his vouchers were already being received by LearnFunCorp.com. The case also revealed how ineffective the virtual learning environments were for young learners, with hundreds of young students still unable to read. While the case drew attention to these issues, it was tossed out by the highly conservative court.

A Problem Becomes a Crisis
In 2007, 4 out of 5 Americans believed that the education system had reached its lowest point in history, yet only 4 out of 10 thought something should be done about it. Conservatives praised the innovations of the education industry, and insisted the fundamentals of the education sector were strong. Liberals complained that public education should be restored in full, but couldn’t garner enough support to back a major initiative.

“We cannot, should not, play the market with the future of America,” said liberal Democrat Dennis Kucinich. “Privatization and outsourcing of America’s most treasured institution is simply unacceptable. In business, there are no profits without risk. Risk should play no part in an institution that we need to be consistently strong to maintain our national security, our culture, and our economy. We are violating the Constitutional rights of citizens when we deny anyone the full opportunity to be an active participant in our Democracy. ”

In 2004, the Federal government raised the stakes on test scores created pressure for schools to exceed their previous performance. Said one Freedom Schools official, “At first, we couldn’t go wrong. Our growth targets were so low, you could phone it in and still meet your goals. We lobbied the state to mandate only 1st grade mathematics and reading for high school graduation proficiency. But with the mandated goal of reaching 100% proficiency by 2013, those standards were too high.”

As a result, many schools began to use unconventional methods for gaming the system and cooking the books, so as not to lose their all-important vouchers and subsidies. Some schools encouraged students to be absent on testing days. Others transferred students from one school to another, to minimize the impact of ‘damaging’ demographic subgroups such as children from low-income families, English language learners, and special needs students. Racial tensions escalated in one Alabama town when all African American students were expelled on the same day, right before testing. Virtual schools simply did not report on the progress of low-performing students.

Luke Laurie is a teacher in Santa Maria, CA. “Sure test scores were rising. We were only teaching two subjects- Math and Language Arts. The school was transformed from a place of developing life-long learners into a corral for rote math and reading. All resources were diverted to target the kids on the cusp. Art, science, music, many of the things that matter most to people, were cut back or outright eliminated. Even with gaming the system, we reached our limits.”

Communities in Illinois became suspect when dozens of youth were loitering around the local 7-11 and the shopping malls during school hours, in a community that was reporting a 100% graduation rate. Freedom Schools, which ran the local school system, had been purging ‘low margin’ students from the rolls, by listing the students as ‘transfer: destination unknown.’

Even schools serving wealthy communities felt the effects of fraud and mismanagement. One Beverly Hills school, which always had outstanding test scores, paid 450 dollars each year for each student, for a consumable workbook on environmental education. The publisher had attained exclusive rights for environmental education, so the school claimed they had no other choice but to buy the book. The FBI determined that one school official had received a yacht and a remodel on his home in exchange for adopting the controversial text.

These tactics were concealed from investors, who had sunk billions into the fledgling industry. Education futures commodities had become highly leveraged, and repackaged into secondary and tertiary instruments, which were subsequently traded. The true value of these commodities is unknown. When the test scores were rising on a logarithmic scale, so were profits. The market was in denial that this growth would ever stop, and few realized how illusory the growth was to begin with. Now that the game is up, panic over the uncertain value of the packaged education futures has led to a selloff in markets worldwide.

A Bailout is Necessary
With the assets of dozens of education providers being seized by government regulators this week, and schools being shuttered across America, it is clear that the privatization movement has come to an end. Local communities are struggling with how to educate youth, when they no longer have public school facilities and teachers. Virtual school websites are now showing 404 errors ‘server not found.’ In a desperate move, Congress acted to bailout the private education providers with a $700 billion package, designed to recapitalize the struggling education companies, like Freedom Schools. “They’re just too big to fail,” said House Democrat Barney Frank.

The House Republican Study Committee issued the following statement yesterday: “It is the opinion of House Republicans that education is the cornerstone of American culture, and that only the free market can truly deliver the high quality education that Americans deserve. A few bad apples in the education sector have led us to this necessary and prudent bailout. Though we believe the cost of the bailout is an unfair burden for taxpayers, we reluctantly support the measure and encourage its passage.”

It is unclear if the bailout will work.

Economic Stimulus-Creative Solutions

stimuluspainting

Over the holiday, I’ve done my part to stimulate the economy. I’ve been keeping the paint people at the hardware store employed. I’ve been spending money on gifts and things I’ve procrastinated on buying for some time, and have frequented many restaurants. I feel better about buying stuff, because: A) Everything is cheaper. B) Every dollar I spend is a dollar put into the economy, and C) The more moving dollars, the more employed people.

It’s a little strange, but irresponsible spending is almost, and I must say almost, the responsible thing to do. Now of course, I’m not spending beyond my means, but I am spending. But I can’t do it alone. My income isn’t enough to keep all the wheels of industry going. So here I’ll propose some unconventional approaches to economic stimulus, some serious, and others not. What the heck, when we’re in such a downward spiral, shouldn’t all ideas be on the table?
The Problem: The economy is based on the exchange of goods and services, it’s not just about money. Think of money as water, and the economy as the waves, turbulence, and currents. Without the movement and energy, water just sits there, just like money in the bank. Now there’s also all that complexity of markets, securities, and finance, but let’s just ignore those ivy-league concepts, and look at what ordinary people can do, right now to stimulate the economy, to make waves, so to speak. Feel free to post your own ideas below.
10 pounds for America: People sell weight loss drugs, diet programs, and surgeries to make money. It is a multimillion dollar industry. But the industry that makes tater-tots, donuts, and ice cream, the agricutural-food industry, is even bigger. Why don’t we help agribusiness and America by making the commitment to eat more.

If everyone in America made the commitment to gain 10 pounds in 2009, it would increase GDP by an estimated 900 billion dollars! Think of it, more pizza, more burgers, dessert every day. By eating more, and buying more food, we’ll be supporting the grocers, eateries, shippers, truckers, food producers, and farmers- tons of domestic industry. Sure we import pineapples and bananas, but a heck of a whole lot of food is made right here in the good old USA.
Eat out, Every Day: Every time you make your own food, you’re taking away income from wait-staff, bussers, dish washers, management, and restaurant corporations. When you eat at home, you’re also likely creating less waste, and smaller portions than if you were to eat out. It’s less efficient to eat out, and therefore better for the economy. So visit your favorite diner often, and ensure that they’ll be around for the far-distant boom times.
Sell random stuff: So, if you don’t need something, don’t throw it away, don’t give it away, sell it, or let somebody else sell it. Remember: Moving dollars means economic activity. If you can’t think of anything to get rid off, sell something anyway. So grab that lamp shaped like a woman’s leg, or that clarinet you can’t play anymore, or your snowmobile, and put it up on Craig’s List or ebay. Even if you sell it for cheap, you’ve added to the economy, and increased the likelihood that we’ll all be employed.
Decrease efficiency: Work slower so that your employer will need more employees. Suggest the removal of some time-saving technology to be replaced by unskilled laborers. Replace cell phones with messengers. Buy things and use them once before replacing them. Talk slower. If your job pays by the hour, pace yourself, and save some work for someone else. Remember- do as little as possible without risking getting fired. America will thank you.
Hire Someone: If every working American hired just one person, we would have 200% employment! It’s important that their pay is less than yours, but these are details. Pay someone to do something (legal) for you.
Offset Imports: Buying American is a difficult thing to do. It’s nearly impossible to buy electronics or household goods that are made domestically. So, instead of stopping all purchases, find a way to offset these purchases with domestic investment. So go to Walmart and spend to your heart’s content, but then turn around and spend equal dollars in some fundamentally American industry- like at a Christmas tree farm, or at the movies.