Monday, January 20, 2014

Uncommon Thoughts on Common Core

Manufacturing a product requires uniformity.  It requires that any specific unit meet rigid specifications so that any one unit of a given product when pulled off an assembly line will be identical within specifications and performance.  This process assures the end user that the product will perform uniformly in the task for which it was designed. 

When it comes to human beings uniformity is not what nature seeks, rather within the biological sphere a measure of uniformity with diversity is the rule.  The wolf pack has uniformity but within the wolf pack some individuals develop into leaders and others followers.  It could be determined by genetics or environmental factors, probably both.

In the educational environment the federal government is precluded by law from interfering with state level curricula and standards.  It is “uniformly” the nature of governments that they wish to control whatever they can.  It will assume this control on every level by whatever means available.  In the case of education it would appear to me that the ultimate desire is to “produce” the model citizen, compliant and obedient and productive with the least amount of diversity.  Each citizen unit would go about its daily activity as determined by the “Swartzman-Heimlichen” test (I made it up) which determines the best ability of individual serial number 000-00-0000.  Failure to perform to the standard would be a failed product.

Now since the feds are mandated by law not to directly control or effect educational curricula and objectives other means must be found that could generate the influence needed to go around the law.  Now comes big business, which has a not-so-bad goal of generating a profit.  Big business has found that information that the general public deems insignificant is in fact worth a fortune.  Hence business will follow the citizens as they shop, do business, and participate in hobbies with a huge variety of interests.  This information is then used to market to the consumer products in which they have an interest and it all adds up to big bucks.  If you become a “person of interest” then big business will share your private and personal information with big government. 

Liberty on the other hand tends to take on the rough and tumble picture of organized chaos.  It has been described as like trying to herd cats.  Felines do not respond well to control and herding.  They are independent and not really herd animals, like say for instance, sheep or cattle.  It makes things so much easier to CONTROL if the product will perform in a uniform predictable and well trained group manner.  Therefore for purposes of efficiency it is important that training take place early and be uniform in manner.  Training obedience and compliance to the will of the master becomes the goal.  It becomes important to identify early those individual units who are not uniform and not compliant; people kind of like Samuel Adams, Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison, and well, you get it.  These defective units will need special attention and special remedial training in order to assure compliance to the demands of the master. 

I would agree that training is important.  I would declare that pounding children and school systems nationwide into one big uniform mold is counterproductive.  Small can be beautiful.  Small systems can adapt more easily to change.  Large organizations tend to be slow to respond to mistakes and slow to respond to changes which may lead to improvement. 

Diversity in education while still maintaining important key educational basic goals can be a good thing.  It may make it more difficult to “manage” or “herd” from the top down but I would look to the past and see that a country has been built into the leader of the free world without top down centralized direction in education.

I feel no need for big business or big government to spy on me and track me and follow my every move; in fact they need to stay out of my business both private and personal.  I do not need or want these entities intruding in my life. 

One of my favorite authors Robert A. Heinlein wrote the following:  “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly.  Specialization is for insects.”

I have so much respect for many of our local educators.  Many have gone out of their way to help educate my kids.  I don’t dare list them, I will leave someone out.  I don’t think they need direction from on high from either George Bush’s program, no child left behind, or the latest iteration to be promoted through the current administration known as Common Core, which is just another method of producing a product which is uniform and ‘common.’  Sometimes uncommon is best. 

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Public Liberty vs. Public Safety

In marked contrast to the Founders’ thoughts on a snoopy government meddling in the Peoples’ lives and “eating out of their substance,” our President has another opinion on the necessity of spying on the American public.  In a widely reported statement he stated:

“'I think it’s important to understand that you can’t have 100 percent security and then have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience,' Obama said.  'We’re going to have to make some choices as a society.' Quote from the Daily Mail Online (UK) Read more:

In my opinion if he had said, "you cannot have 100% security, therefore be prepared to defend yourselves, your families and your republic,” then I would have been much more in agreement with his statement.  The nanny state concept would have us believe that without the nanny state the generally dumb public could never survive.

The real truth is man has survived for thousands of years without NSA and without all the other alphabet soup agencies.  Our Founders’ thoughts, based on their writings, generally follow that of Benjamin Franklin when he stated, “Any society that would give up a little Liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.”

The People of Pike County have cast their vote to elect me to the County Board, whether their choice is good or not only time will tell.  I find myself on the Public Safety committee.  This committee is charged with a number of important tasks, which I take very seriously.  The interesting thing about laws, rules and regulations which are purportedly designed to increase public safety tend to decrease public liberty.

I have read little of concern in the Founders’ writings about public safety, while on the other hand I read much about concern for the Public Liberty.  It occurs to me that perhaps it is time to have a committee called the Public Liberty committee which is charged with preserving Liberty for all.  We have so much concern for public safety that a small ice cream stand cannot put out a picnic table for patrons to sit at and eat a little ice cream without building his and hers public restrooms that are handicap accessible.  “But it’s the law and you MUST comply!” is the cry of the tyrant.  “You must paint the bare plywood shelf or be shut down,” said to a volunteer not for profit group serving one small town’s youth.  You cannot drive and talk at the same time.  Next thing you will not be able to drink coffee or a Pepsi while driving.  You cannot drink a big gulp in another location.  Where does it end?  How ‘bout you shall not drive and think at the same time!” 

Another example:  tell me how disarming the general public increases the public safety.   Somebody help me understand how continuing the FOID card preserves public safety when any out-of-state felon can come and plop their out of state ID on the counter and buy ammo when a local person cannot.  No, I really don’t fear for public safety as much as I fear for the lost Liberty that seems always to be on the chopping block.  I think the Founders would be disappointed.