The Guts to be BOLD: The Option of School Choice

It was bitter cold as I gazed across the windswept snowy tundra of several suburban Mason yards to the towering mass of the Big One’s radio tower looming in the distance. The evening sun preparing to drop over the horizon at only 5 pm lit the tower in a majestic way. It made me wonder if Doc Thompson of 700 WLW would actually show up at the School Choice event culminating School Choice Week at the Liberty Bible Academy. He said he would, and announced the event over the station’s 50,000 watts, so my hopes were high.

“Is this a religious event?” My wife asked me as we stepped up to knock on the door to Jennifer Miller’s house. Jennifer is a former Mason School Board member and firebrand for School Choice. She was hosting a dinner for the “key” people in Southern Ohio behind education reform and she wanted me to personally meet Jeff Reed, who was the featured speaker at the event that started at 7 pm.

“Why, because it’s being held at a bible academy?” I knew what she was thinking. “No. But people firm in religion tend to be support choices in education, so that’s probably why the academy is donating the space for the event. “

Our conversation didn’t have time to advance as the small frame of Jennifer greeted us with an open door. Jennifer is a “small” woman, but she had a reputation for being very “LOUD” when she set her mind to a fight.

She led my wife and me to the dinner table and a reunion with Sharon Poe and her husband. Sharon led the anti-Mason Levy effort and worked closely with me while I did the same for Lakota. Sandra Tugrul was putting bread from the lasagna dinner on her husband Yil’s plate as she enthusiastically said hello to me. Sandy is a former Board of Education member for Lakota and is very active in education reform. She along with Jennifer had realized long ago that the system was irreparably broken, and School Choice was the best option on the horizon. The two of them were the architects of tonight’s event. As Jennifer took a seat placing a bowl of salad in the center of the table, Vicky Roarke, a former teacher helped her out from her seat at the head of the table.

My wife, Wendy sat down next to Doug, Jennifer’s husband, a man we had come to know already and I sat down directly across from Jeff Reed who was speaking so rapidly that he held the same piece of lasagna on his fork for exactly 7 minutes. “Good to meet you, I’ve heard a lot,” he said taking my hand. “Glad to see so many people around here taking an active position on this. It’s a great program. Jeb Bush has made great strides in Florida…….the teachers union tried everything they could to defeat him…..Indiana is moving in this direction…..and Ohio is further along than you might think……….” He went on like that until we reminded him to eat his food. His passion was evident!

“How many states are doing this,” I asked. I first heard about School Choice from Jennifer only a few months back as I was looking for options. My role in defeating the Lakota Levy with the NoLakotaLevy Group was noted, but I felt responsible to offer a solution to the district instead of just saying “No” to school levies.

Jeff gobbled up a few more bites of his food then said, “I’m glad you asked that! So far, Arizona, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, and Wisconsin. Now they’re not what our goal is which 100% eligibility for every student in those states. Right now for instance, Ohio only has 3% eligibility, but it’s a start.”

My wife and I looked surprised at each other, and then I said to Jeff, “I’m surprised that I haven’t heard of this before.”

Jeff was still a young man with a well-groomed beard not yet 40, and fit looking. He smiled knowingly. “You probably wouldn’t. People are still attached to brick and mortar schools. And teachers unions have spent a lot of money to paint school vouchers in a bad way. For them, it’s protective business. School Choice brings competition to education, and that is something they don’t want.”

From that moment I liked Jeff Reed, he was speaking my language.

But Jeff wasn’t done. “Albert Shanker, who founded the teachers union, said it best regarding the union philosophy regarding education, ‘when school children start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of schoolchildren.’ That is the behavior that we are all dealing with, and why they hate school vouchers.”

Jeff was reflecting an opinion that I had formulated during the Lakota Levy campaign which is modern education is basically being run like a flashy casino in Vegas. When you go to Vegas, or any casino for that matter, they use flashy lights, alcohol, sexy imagery, and exotic buffets to draw human beings like insects to a trap. The goal of the casino is to get you to spend money so the house makes money. They’re not in the business of giving away money, even though they sell their service that way. Brick and mortar schools use sports, local patriotism, luxurious accommodations, and convenience of transportation to get local residents “addicted” to their services. I’ve met many people who display addictive behavior toward alcohol, and gambling, and the look of a parent that has built their professional lives around their children’s schedule at school, and the promise of sports scholarships as a kind of “jackpot” is the same basic human frailty.

“So is School Choice just another name for school vouchers?” my wife asked.

Jeff took a few more bites and wanted to answer, but Jennifer did it for him. “No, not at all, school choice can be that of course, but the money comes from the state and goes directly to the parent for homeschooling, which has grown from 15,000 students in 1970 to over 1.5 million now, the money can go to virtual schools of online schooling, it can go to charter schools, or it can go to your public school. The key is that if the parent has options, it will force all schools to do like all businesses do and that’s be competitive, and that will bring responsibility to what education costs.”

Then Sandy chimed in, “and that’s how we can break up these monopolies that the unions have over public education. It’s just not fair to the students, and it’s really not fair to the parents to have to endure the outrageous costs of maintaining these monopolies.”

Sharon had been pretty quiet listening attentively, “the cost in Mason per pupil is now almost $10,000. And most of the cost of that is tied up in salaries and that’s what’s driving up the cost and forcing these levies.“

“Because they have monopoly statues that is protected by government.” I added.

Jeff finished chewing quickly so he could answer me, “exactly, do you know that schools in New Jersey are spending over $15,000 per student! And they aren’t getting any better results with those students than schools in say, Alabama, or Mississippi which are among the lowest per pupil.”

Sandy looked passionate, “That’s why Chris Christie is fighting the unions there so aggressively. I can say from experience that the unions put their own interests first and that’s what is driving up these school budgets so aggressively.”

Up till this point Vicky, the former teacher, at the head of the table had been quiet. “Back when I was a teacher, when a levy was passed, we saw money. That was the talk in the teacher’s lounge and that was our primary worry, it was about the pay day.”

I looked at her, “how did you end up with this group?”

She looked back at me with sincerity. “I want to help make it right.”

Jeff was all smiles, “may I say that I LOVE THIS GROUP. Man, I wish everyone had this much enthusiasm.”

I looked at my wife, then at Sharon, Jennifer, Sandy, then at Jeff. “We’re very serious about this. Something is going to be done and that seed is planted here in Southern Ohio. We’re here to fight and move forward.“

The conversation went on for another hour going into more detail over those same topics, much of it revealed in Jeff’s speech at the Academy which you can see below.

As 7 pm approached we left Jennifer’s house and headed over to the Liberty Bible Academy where Sharon, Vicky and Jennifer had to get everything set up. I had to find a good spot to set up the camera, whether or not to use a tripod, and figure out how to get good sound to my camera. I elected not to use a tripod because the room filled quickly with over 60 people and I wanted the freedom to move the camera around for different angles. This gave me some rough video moments, but the effort was worth it in the end.

At just before 7 pm I met Doc Thompson out in the lobby. I was glad to see him, a guy of his reputation and talent could have done half a million things on a cold Thursday night on the last of January. I recognized his tall, lanky form instantly and grabbed his hand to shake it.

“Hey, good to see you. “

“Is this the place? I just had dinner at Bravo’s right over there recently,” Doc’s voice boomed. His voice was magnificent, belonging on the radio which is theater of the mind.

“Yes, you’re at the right place. This is Sharon who was on with you yesterday, and this little woman here is Jennifer who was on with you on Monday, the day you had on Kyle Olson of School Choice.”

Doc took their hands and was genuinely happy to meet them. He stood what looked like well over 6’,3” and towered over Jennifer. After his greeting he returned to me. “So, is this it in here,” looking into the crowded room behind us.

“Yeah, I think we’re about to get started.”

“Yeah, yeah, OK.” His long legs took him to the front where Jeff Reed sat, who had been on his show the day before as well. Doc took Jeff’s hand and shook it sincerely. I noticed shaking hands and looking people in the eye was important to Doc, which is an admirable trait. He took a seat in the front so he could be engaged with the speakers. I found I respected Doc even more than I had before. He had just completed a 12 hour day working between 700 WLW in Cincinnati, and WRVA in Richmond Virginia. And here he was as promised looking at education options like the rest of us. He was far more than just another “radio shock jock.” He cared about the issues he covered on the radio.

People fluttered in and took their seats as Jeff took the podium and gave his speech.

Pete Beck was the next speaker. Pete was mayor of Mason from 2007 to 2009 where he became a member of the Ohio House representing the 67th house district of Warren County. Pete before that was a member of Mason City Council from 1995 to 2007.

Contact Pete here:
http://www.house.state.oh.us/index.php?option=com_displaymembers&task=detail&district=67

The next speaker was Bill Coley, whom I know because he represents me in Butler County. Bill did a good thing under the Strickland Administration. He managed to put Ohio on the doorstep to “true innovation” with digital technological learning. Under his plan, School Choice would be the ideal option to capitalize on the Ohio Revised Code that he’s already established, which is signed into law. In addition to being a Representative for the house 55th District he is an inaugural member with Governor Jeb Bush of the Digital Learning Council.

Here is the website Bill referred to.
http://www.oln.org/
Contact Bill here:
http://www.house.state.oh.us/index.php?option=com_displaymembers&task=detail&district=55

After the speakers there was a passionate Q & A session that went on for a couple of hours. The part that dealt with the Little Miami District I made into a section of its own, because the discussion was so constructive. But I put a good portion of that Q & A session here.

In this clip, Bill Coley is addressing State Senator Cates of District 4 who was in the back of the room sitting with my wife.

At the end, we all shook hands and went home. The event had the feeling of the “start” of something much larger. Doc spoke to Coley about putting him on his Richmond Radio show because this was the first Doc had heard about a digital learning bill that actually passed a state house anywhere and had a governor’s signature on it!

What I learned was this, that the money that the state would typically give the school district would go to the parent of the child instead, which sounds like a good idea. As far as who collects the property tax and where it goes is still something that will have to be debated in the state house. As discussed, the current method of collecting property tax was found unconstitutional. Currently the state of Ohio is spending about $4,100 on 13,000 students for a voucher program over 273 different schools. The program started in 2005 and began operation in 2006 and has increased steadily since then. That gives an idea how new the program is. The School Choice program would work much the same way. An amount of money determined by the state would go to the parent and depending on what school the parent wanted their child to go to, they’d cover the rest on their own. Either the parent would not pay the addition property tax and could afford to cover the difference in cost, or the property tax money would go into a savings account similar to the Flex accounts available in the insurance industry.

The reason School Choice as an option is important is the trend is for the cost of educating students in Ohio is hovering around $9,000 per student, communities all across the state must find a way to get those costs down, and only competition can do that.

About 6 months ago when my daughter went to the studio of WLW with me to photograph the experience for promotional reasons we had a long talk while driving there. She doesn’t live with me any longer, but we’ve always been really close, and father, daughter talks are hard to come by without spouses and other people always around. “Quality time” is something that is rare when kids grow up and move away. So we made my trip to The Big One studio a fun, father daughter day, which is why staring at that tower on the way to Jennifer’s house held so much reverence for me.

“Dad, don’t take this wrong,” as we pulled into the parking garage at The Death Star, where all the Clear Channel Stations are located. Scott Sloan was promoting my visit as we hit the garage and my daughter thought I was getting in over my head a bit. “You’re kind of a fist fight in the parking lot kind of guy. Why are you suddenly interested in school reform? I mean, you wear a cowboy hat, and you hate politics.”

I parked the car and we sat there a moment in silence. “Because it’s the right thing to do. I see that these unions are controlling the school districts and it’s bankrupting the community. I’ve worked around unions all my life. I’ve seen them destroy companies, and people making their minds lazy because through collective bargaining people forget how to fight for anything, even knowledge. I see kids your age looking blank and passionless, and I see senior citizens scared that property tax increases will push them out of their homes since they’re on a fixed income. I see parents addicted to the services schools provide with glee, that behaving like education is a right that must be provided to them, because their “drug pushers” have convinced them they’re entitled to a type of collectivism more at home in communist theory than in the guts of what America was built on, and it’s time to fight the drug pushers.”

My daughter made a face. “You’re not going to say that on the air are you, sounds a bit extreme?”

“No, I’ll calm down before I say anything stupid, but between you and me, the kind of extortion these people are doing is worse than what the mob bosses in Las Vegas have been guilty of doing. These people use the children of our community to gain for themselves a level of selfishness that is evil, because they’d be willing to hurt countless families to secure their own livelihoods. And it has to stop somewhere. So we’re going up to the Scott Sloan show and we’re going to tell 500,000 people what the real problem is. And we’ll let the people figure out for themselves what to do. I’m only going to make them aware of what’s really behind the curtain.

And that’s what we did, and that fight is just getting started.

Back when I was in school, there weren’t any alternatives, because technology was evolving. But the guy that made Star Wars was using a lot of the money he made off those films to change the way kids learn much to my admiration.

A lot of people don’t know it, but George Lucas has been out in front of this whole issue for over twenty years. He founded a company called Lucas Learning which would be an ideal program for Bill Coley’s new legislation in Ohio.

Check out the website here http://www.lucaslearning.com/

Lucas has always been committed to helping improve education. Education was his primary reason for producing the very good Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, which used a very popular character to teach his viewers a bit about history at the turn of the century.

George Lucas has done great things with his success and I learned to dare to think “outside” the education box by watching his work at Lucas Learning, and seeing the experiments he embarked on in popular forms of entertainment. I consider that Young Indy series to be a “pinnacle work.” Lucas’s method worked for me, and I used it on my own kids, and like I said, they spent their senior year’s touring Europe. If you want to do something great with your kids watch those films on DVD. They were released on DVD a few years ago and come with hundreds of hours of documentaries that were purchased by the History Channel. The work was for education to be taught in a fun way. The TV show was created as the computer industry was coming to its own, so it represents Lucas’s attempt to trying something different with the way kids learn.

But now that the computer is here to stay, education under the research started at places like Lucas Learning can greatly enhance our children’s lives. George is now involved in a company called Edutopia. Check it out:



When I finished my spot on WLW that day, my daughter and I went to the Kenwood Mall and had a Smoothie, just the two of us. She told me she was proud that I restrained my anger. She knew what I was talking about when I spoke about the thug mentality of teachers unions. She had spent thousands and thousands of hours watching movies that I showed her and her sister over the years, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles being most prominent and memorable among them. My wife and I had homeschooled our kids for a bit, and both kids finished their high school years online. So as a family we have experience in this issue and know what works and what doesn’t. My kids watched me and decided to push themselves into a lifelong education, not just a goal based education to secure employment.

Throwing money at public education just to meet the status quo isn’t the right thing to do. It doesn’t have any merit to me if a school has an “excellent” rating or not. Because the rating system comes from the same people that push the confusing and expensive legislation which are incentivized to support the whole current system that is producing mediocre results. If that’s what society wants, that’s fine with me. But I’m not going to endorse spending over $10,000 per kid to have it.

If mediocre results are what everyone wants, then I want a 50% reduction in cost.

Or we can embrace a program like School Choice to use competition to change the system not only for ourselves, but for the betterment of our children. If you still want your kids to go to Lakota, Mason, Little Miami, or wherever, that’s fine. But if those schools don’t give you good customer service, you could leave. And the threat of that will keep their costs in line.

It’s up to you. I have let you into my little circle of friends here, and introduced you to good people that have been working on education reform for decades. All you have to do is support their work and let them know you want options.

Let your state representatives know you want changes and will have their back if they extend themselves to the teeth of teachers unions and other lobbyist that will attempt to make life difficult for them. Let them know that you’re there for them with an email, or a letter. But before you do any of that have the courage in yourself to be “BOLD.”

Victory goes to those “Bold” enough to demand action. And our kids deserve to have “bold” members of the communities they are growing up in to give them better than a mediocre existence.

Rich Hoffman
http://twitter.com/#!/overmanwarrior
www.overmanwarrior.com

The Little Miami School District: Standing at the gates of Change

The threats of dissolving the Little Miami School District are interesting. After all, what is a community supposed to do with a district that has refused to pass a tax increase eight consecutive times? Who in their right mind could afford to absorb the students of the district, because all school districts around Little Miami are in budget trouble too?

Lebanon, one of the closest districts, is facing another levy attempt of their own. Mason, also close by doesn’t have the money. They just made major cuts, and are flirting with another levy attempt also. Loveland has already said they can’t afford the students from Little Miami. So the threat is an empty one at the end of the day. It comes from clueless state officials that haven’t had to deal with this issue before. Nobody taught them what to do if a community refuses after all the extortion tactics of pay-for-play sports, busing cuts, and token lay-offs occur. After the perceived manipulation of disastrous property values are dealt with, and a community still says, “NO!” what is the next step?

I was at a School Choice event, which I’ll cover in greater detail, when the Little Miami issue came up with School Choice Representative, Jeff Reed, State Congressional Representative Pete Beck, State Congressional Representative Bill Coley, along with State Senator Gates who all engaged in a lively debate with the audience about the issue of dissolution. Watch it here:

What is the real crisis? Its wages and collective bargaining agreements that have shackled the school district and made the financial situation unreasonable to the tax payers and the residents have had enough. The voters have endured the beat downs and manipulation and held tight against the extortion. This last threat of dissolution is just what it is, a threat. There is no place for those kids to go without collapsing the neighboring districts.

And the fault is in the expectations negotiated behind the back of communities enduring monstrous wages and benefits, along with the power of collective bargaining making the legislative process a nightmare for state representatives. The fault of this situation is clearly on the backs of all who participated in the reckless spending of the district’s money. And when that money ran out, which nobody was prepared to deal with, the clueless minds behind the heist must take responsibility for their pillage of the community’s assets. And a school belongs to the community, not the unions.

The first step to fixing this whole problem is what was discussed in the above video, the State of Ohio needs collective bargaining reform, and it needs it now.

Rich Hoffman
http://twitter.com/#!/overmanwarrior
www.overmanwarrior.com

Governor John Kasich is not being “Sensitive”

Special interests are already salivating to have a crack at Governor Kasich’s defenses, quickly attacking his staff for their lack of “diversity.”

Diversity in “progressive” terminology means “no white straight people who are men.” But for the rest of us, diversity means anybody, of any gender, sex, or nationality. Yet the illness of progressivism muddies the mind so that common sense can’t be found. Evidence of that behavior can be found from Dave in the below blog post at the Progress Ohio website. Read the whole article at the link. A small portion of it is included below.

http://www.progressohio.org/blog/2011/01/tell-governor-kasich-gay-rights-are-civil-rights.html

Tell Governor Kasich Gay Rights are Civil Rights!
By Dave on January 28, 2011 12:18 PM

“When the governor acknowledges them [gays] as a minority group, which they are not, you’re also saying to them that their behavior is OK. And it’s NOT OK to engage in this type of behavior when it’s gonna cause you possibly to die from AIDS.”

– Phil Burress, Citizens for Community Values

With those short sentences, Citizens for Community Values, a group that endorsed John Kasich for governor, proved that bigotry still exists in the public square. They oppose any protections for LGBT workers and made outrageous, inaccurate statements that played on radio stations across Ohio on Tuesday.

The irony is that Governor John Kasich has already found a way to deny state workers basic rights they had under Gov. Ted Strickland. Last week, Kasich signed a “non-discrimination” Executive Order and purposely removed ‘Gender Identity’ from the employment protections, despite promises that he would keep those protections during his campaign.

Even better than this little diatribe of infantile rendering of law, listen to Doc Thompson confront two of the Governor’s attackers on his show at 700 WLW.

The interviews aren’t intended to protect John Kasich. When Doc interviewed a radical socialist organizing the Defend Ohio Rally a few weeks ago, (you can hear that interview too) Doc agreed with the socialist when the activist criticized the amount of money the Governor was paying members of his cabinet. So as would be the tendency of progressives, not everyone follows “bullet point” politics as they do, where they follow without question the rhetoric of their “leaders.”

The people I know, myself included don’t follow leaders, so we can criticize public officials and still support aspects of their political platforms.

Most progressives that I know think the world is some tribal council where a tribe leader tells the whole village how to behave. Wasn’t it Hillary Clinton that said “it takes a village?”

The goal behind the attacks on Kasich is to put him on a defensive so these radical groups can gain some form of control of the Governor’s behavior. Because Kasich could never make those radical types happy unless he ignored “qualified white men” and hired blacks, Asians, and homosexuals, and sadly a lot of politicians actually cave under that type of pressure.

I find it ironic that when Ken Blackwell ran for governor against the white Ted Strickland none of these progressives stood behind Ken. Ken was a very good candidate for governor. I was ready to support him. I would have helped with his campaign in less than a second. When I think of Ken it NEVER occurs to me that he’s a black man. But he’s a smart guy, and I’d vote for him any day.

But to assign personnel because they are “gay” or a “woman” or of some exotic nationality is to actually discriminate against people!

The facts of the matter are that none of this is about “equal rights.” It’s about control, power, manipulation, and turning the minds of the American people so they get dizzy and look to a progressive leader for clarification.

So a note to progressives, the people of Ohio did not send Kasich to the governorship of this state to be a lap dog to anybody. Everyone, including myself, may not like everything he does as a person or as a governor. But it’s expected of him to balance the budget and does the work of the people of Ohio without concern for his political future and to let the chips fall where they may with regard to all the weak-kneed emo’s that seek to further undermine our great republic.

Want to hear from Kasich himself, click here for an interview.

Rich Hoffman
http://twitter.com/#!/overmanwarrior
www.overmanwarrior.com

Epcot’s The Land and the Celebrity Farmer: A Look at the wonderful and important world of horticulture

The primary reason I started this site back in August was because I caught a group of union members working a local message forum in order to apply “peer” pressure on potential Anti-Lakota Levy advocates to keep their opinions to themselves. I thought the comments I was reading were “thuggish” and inexcusable toward good people who were just trying to voice their opinion.

In March of 2010 the Pulse Journal published in a special edition the wages of all the teachers and administrators of all the local schools. And it amazed me how quickly people forgot, and how shallow the waters of our collective memories really were. Local TV news, newspapers and other media were doing the stories but people forget. 6 months later when that information was needed it was lost when those decisions were needed, such as during an election.

So I saw a need to create a site that would make it easy for people to remember where we were, and watch over time how we got where we’re going. I have a conservative opinion and a literature background and enough business training to break down issues as well as any reporter. I also have a background in video editing and visualization technique, so I set out to use all the assets of a web-based site, video, sound, and literature to create a unique web-based news service that does not have any commercial ties, political affiliation, or otherwise special interest that might taint the content of my posts. They would simply be my opinions that I have found many, many other people share.

That’s why this site has been successful, because it utilizes all the benefits of what a web site can offer. And it would be noted by now that I have a lot of radio clips up here, mostly from Doc Thompson. Well, there’s a reason for that. Since Doc came to town, I have found that I like the man. He has similar views as I do, so I enjoy his program. I’ve met him and I like him personally too. He has a deep sincerity in what he is doing, and I respect that. There are parts of his shows that I think deserve to live on in a sense of permanence instead of reaching people’s ears over the 50,000 Watts of the Big One, and then becoming lost among the millions of radio waves that emanate around the globe. I have found that many people miss a lot of the good stuff he broadcasts because they have busy lives themselves, and could benefit from listening to his show at their convenience. And the things he talks about are very similar to the things I’m writing about, and as I mentioned in my About Me section, I like to write these blogs in two ways, with the typical literary style, then again with the assistance of video and audio. I have put thousands of videos on this site to help bring depth to the discussions expressed here. So it is only natural to use Doc’s show to assist my topics and let the reader get more from these articles than just text.

That’s why when Doc had on the Celebrity Gardner it had coincided with many thoughts I had been dealing with, and that’s how the progressive and liberal movements have captured the environmental movement. If you’re a conservative, you hate trees, you hate rivers and streams, you hate green space, and you hate animals. That’s how the left has painted the right, and it has always bothered me.

A few years ago when I was touring The Land Exhibit at the Epcot Center, I was intrigued by their horticultural activity and thought the work at Epcot was way out ahead of the rest of the nation. It brought to my mind, “why is it that the farmers in our country aren’t producing with the techniques at the Epcot Center?”

The Celebrity Gardner had sent Doc some great vegetables grown from a farm in Northern Ohio using innovative techniques that led to a great discussion from a man on the fore-front of innovative horticulture. Listen to that interview here:

As usual, progressive government with its farm subsidies and other intrusions have created a status quo environment that is actually preventing the beneficial evolution of horticulture evolution. It is a shame now that many of today’s youth won’t have a grandma or grandpa that run a farm. Growing up, both of my grandparents ran farms. Farm life was a fact of life, and was part of the community experience. Many kids today have to go out of their way to see a farm, let alone know somebody that runs one. Heck, most kids are lucky to have contact with two biological sets of grandparents, or even parents, another wonderful legacy of progressivism.

That’s a sad fact, and another sign of weakness in our American Society. Everyone wants to be lawyers, and doctors, and politicians, but nobody wants to be a farmer. Just some of the comments leveled at me, because I love my background, and the backgrounds of my family, that I’m some kind of “hillbilly” or country “hick” of “low intelligence” because I wear a cowboy hat yet live in a “professional” community. Those opinions come from women with rear ends the size of busses and men that surrendered their manhood to dominating women long ago, so I weigh them properly in perspective. Those types of people are shallow in their understanding of how things work, and it’s because of people like that which allow politicians to think we’re all stupid, because those people behave foolishly. They are the first ones to put down a hunter for skinning a deer, because they buy their meat in a grocery store, and they are the first to call a farmer a “hick.”

My wife and I went to Amish Acers up in Indiana one day just for the fun of it. Amish Acers is a really cool community located just on the fringe of the Chicago Skyline, which you can just barely see over the horizon of the Earth. Amish Acres is like the amusement park of everything Amish.

Think what you want about the Amish. They have their religious beliefs, but they have a culture that decided not to follow down a progressive path, and people flock in large herds to Amish Acres to buy “authentic” Amish goods, watch “Amish” plays, and in general experience a much simpler life where things make sense.

What does that say about the American consciousness? American’s deep down inside love quality. We love independence. And we love the simplicity of a straight approach to religion, life, and family. And American’s see in the Amish what they used to be. That’s why they drive to Amish communities to buy items of “quality.”

Horticulture is yet another victim of Progressive ideology, and it is the progressive oriented government that is hindering the wonderful technology that is currently available.

What a shame, because like everything else in our lives, we could have better food and a higher quality of life, if only we had the courage to have it.

Rich Hoffman
http://twitter.com/#!/overmanwarrior
www.overmanwarrior.com

Progressive Politics 100 Years Later: Report Card gets and “F” “Epic Fail”

I’ve been doing a lot of reading about the start of “progressivism” as it emerged in the early 1900’s. I was shocked to learn that the first “socialist” congressman was elected during the election of 1910, that gives you an idea of the kinds of discussions that were taking place during that time. I can understand to some point the hunger to bust up the monopolies that business had over the working population. I admire Teddy Roosevelt for sticking up to the court decision by Simeon E. Baldwin for the ruling of Hoxie v. the New Haven Railroad of 1909 which denied liberty of labor compensation for the loss of a leg of an employee in a collision of two trains. Such stories ushered on its back progressive ideas that sought to regulate “big business” abuse.

Now, after 100 years of asking questions, we know what went wrong, and why it went wrong, and the experiments of “fairness” have caused trouble on the radical opposite end of the political spectrum. And that trouble has literally bankrupted our nation.

Listen to Doc Thompson discuss the State of the Union the way President Obama should have done during his State of the Union Address on Tuesday January 25th, 2011.

Obama should not have said that the state of our nation was “good.” While I understand not wanting to scare people, saying such things is like a football coach telling his team at half time, when his team is down three touchdowns, “hey, you guys are playing good. Keep it up.” What the coach should say if he’s a good coach is, “hey, you guys are down three touchdowns. You still have a chance. Toughen up and win this game!” No, instead the President said America is strong, because he doesn’t want to admit to anybody that changes are coming.

But who can blame him. All politicians at all levels are doing the same kind of put-off game. They behave like children that didn’t study for a big test, and hope by some miracle even up to the moment they have to take the test that somehow they will just wing through it. City council members fail to level with the people on a regular basis. School Boards do the same leaning to preserve the structure of education monopolies instead of looking out for the residents of their communities, like they’re supposed to. Everywhere virtually everyone in elected positions is weak to make the announcements that need to be stated to the voters. Why, because the money is good. The benefits are too good, and the wrong kinds of people are attractive to public service. And the situation was exacerbated with “progressive” thought at the turn of the century over a hundred years ago. Politicians get into public service because of what they will get out of it, not out of a feeling of service. I’ve met a few politicians here and there that are the exception, but mostly the rule of corruption applies to the minds of the elected representative because the quality of their minds is weak to start with. The strong minds make their livings in the private sector. The weak seek the public.

How screwed up is it? Listen to this radio bit about the Death Tax. Here Doc has on an expert about the Death Tax as it applies to Ohio, but the examples could be applied nation wide.

We have a lot of problems dear reader. A lot! But they can all be solved as long as you are willing to do for yourself, and keep the government out of your life. They can help with the big issues, but the reason for the Constitution was to keep government at bay. The central argument in 1787 was between the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists and that argument created the Constitution that we have today, and it is the most unique document of its kind the world has ever seen. We should cherish it, because it worked! History proves it!

The hinge-pin of American society is self-reliance however, and people like Teddy Roosevelt knew that. The Progressive Party wasn’t supposed to become the monstrosity of naïveté that it currently is. It was supposed to free people to live good lives. But weak, power-hungry politicians quickly distorted the policies to create jobs for themselves by expanding government to an extraordinary size that it was never intended to become. And now government is collapsing on itself.

America will survive because the people that made up the country are still out there. But the government in the size it is now will not. It would be advisable that everyone unhook themselves from as many Federal shackles they can handle, and to do it rapidly. It will be less painful now than later when you won’t have a choice.

I spent a year reading the Federalist Papers, the Anti-Federalist Papers, and the work of John Locke. It was not easy, because it can be a dull read, and is sometimes repetitive. The volume of that work however is deeply innovative and provable, and far more philosophical and intellectually sound than anything produced in any nation in the history of the world. And if you want to see this nation succeed in the future, America will stick with the blueprint that works. The other social experiments that have been attempted need to stop, now.

Rich Hoffman
http://twitter.com/#!/overmanwarrior
www.overmanwarrior.com

Mason School District Gives Community the “Finger”

The Mason School Board in a meeting on Tuesday, January 25, 2011 more or less gave the people of Mason the finger; (figuratively speaking of course) The people of Mason were told that because they didn’t pass a levy in November that painful cuts were headed their way. Basically, they’re going to “extend” the busing routes, along with some “pay to play” initiatives that are designed to cut nearly $6 million out of their budget.

What they didn’t do was what Lakota has done, and that is see what the actual budget requirements are going to be once Governor Kasich eliminates many of the unfunded mandates he’s promised to cut, to give districts the chance to take their fates in their own control. That information comes out in March. What Mason did was decided to point their finger at the community and play the extortion game.

The following clip is from the day after, and on the eve of Jeff Reeds visit to promote School Choice, ironically in Mason on Thursday. Jeff and Sharon Poe, the woman behind defeating the levy in Mason went on the Big One with Doc Thompson to cover the various issues percolating in the shadows of the Big One’s radio transmitter.

Everywhere that monopolies exist, extortion of the consumer of the products monopolies produce can take place. If you’ll remember, the Federal Government during the Clinton Administration went after Microsoft, to bust up the market monopoly Microsoft had over other companies. And at the turn of the last century, Teddy Roosevelt, the Progressive Hero, went after the Railroads. But where are the demands from these same progressives to go after the monopolies of “public education?”

That’s what it is. Mason has no right to play the guilt game with the citizens of its district. However, Kevin Bright is one of the highest paid superintendents for a reason. He’s has been one of the instructors of Levy University, taught at the annual OSBA event in November of each year at Columbus. So he’s the master of getting levies passed, so in his district, they are “choosing to play the game.”

And the game is a thuggish exchange of protecting the top paid administrators and teachers at the sacrifice of the teachers and personnel of lower stature, and the goal is to secure their wages and pensions so as to maintain their monopoly on education far into the future, to protect the livelihoods they’ve manipulated for themselves.

I had a teacher send me an email, “you’re not going to stop until we’re all making minimum wage are you? We’d all have to take a 30% cut to meet the budget at Lakota.”

All I can do is shrug my shoulders to that comment. Nobody said anything about teachers making minimum wage, but a 30% cut to meet the budget is something I suggested almost 6 months ago. If Lakota, Mason, and the rest of the districts that are in trouble, which is everyone, had taken such a step, they would have taken the steps to make themselves competitive for the future. A teacher that makes a $105,000 and takes a reduction of 30% would pay that teacher $73,500, which if they have tenure, and a master’s degree, is much more in line with a proper salary. Does anyone believe that making $73,500 a year with great benefits, summers off, and every federal holiday through the school year is asking teachers to work for minimum wage? On the other hand, I would argue that new teachers should be paid in line with what they are currently making. It’s the top end that is wrecking these school budgets, not the new teachers that are only making $35 to $45K per year.

Yet there is only silence to that obvious problem, and all districts are willing to deal with is the extreme low hanging fruit. And they do that because they are effective monopolies that feel empowered to punish its consumers because they lack competition. A district like Mason knows that parents are forced to use their product, and because of the property taxes residence are forced to pay, are literally pushed into accepting realities that would otherwise be completely deplorable.

In the end it’s more about ego and PR relations than doing what’s right for the community. What would happen if the man who teaches Levy University in Columbus couldn’t even get a levy passed in his own district? What message would that send to the surrounding districts?

Find out soon? The power is in the voters hands.

Rich Hoffman
http://twitter.com/#!/overmanwarrior
www.overmanwarrior.com

Lakota is Blind to the Coming Change: No Levy in May, but soon.

At first I was ready to praise the Lakota School Board when they made the announcement that they were going to wait and look at the numbers from the state budget before placing the next levy attempt on a ballot. Until Mike Taylor commented, “Lakota needs new revenue, there’s no question about it. That need has not diminished, but no matter when a levy is passed, May, August, or November, funds would not be collected until 2012.”

What??????

What is the plan if Lakota doesn’t get another revenue stream, because the community hasn’t shown that it wants to add to their tax burden of $11 dollars per $1000 evaluation. Any more than that would actually be detrimental to home values of the community because people won’t move here in droves for a good school if they can’t afford the property tax. The school system needs to look hard at itself and figure out how it can survive on a $155 million dollar budget.

What will happen to the revenue stream if people decide they can’t live in the district because the taxes are too high, and they leave, collapsing the housing market? It’s happened in cities, it could happen to West Chester, and Liberty Twp. If the tax base left, where would the revenue stream come from? Another levy on top of the one they intend to pass sometime in 2011?

These are questions the arrogant school administrators just aren’t willing to look at. And I say arrogant because there are still comments to the effect that schools going well into the future will still be Zip Code oriented. Such a position is a refusal to look at the facts of what’s to come. In fact, the whole concept of public education has become less about reading, writing and arithmetic, but more of “social justice.”

That guy is out of his mind, but if you talk to most people who head up public education, especially union leaders, they think the same way. They just want to give children a good life. But they do so at the expense of individuality, and that costs money. A lot of money. What happens if parents don’t want their children’s individuality educated out of them into some collective ant colony that is perpetuated by public education? It’s a question that comes up by many parents that are deeply religious, or parents that take an active interest in their children’s lives.

Many moons ago, my wife and I home-schooled our children for about a year, I had to pay for the cost of educating them, and I still had to pay the property tax to the local school district, which I shouldn’t have had to do. Now it was important to us that the kids were home-schooled, because I felt the school system was holding them back, and we didn’t want our kids to feel that wall in front of them. I wanted my kids to want an exceptional life. Not just some silly life tossed into a big pot with everybody else like discussed in the above video. So we took the wall away, much to the opposition of friends and family. They just didn’t understand why we’d do such a thing. After all, wasn’t the school experience going to football games on a Friday night? Wasn’t it having a school jacket, a sense of belonging to a group identity(check out what Bill Ayers says at that link, 4th video down) Wasn’t part of the school experience graduating with your class mates and tossing your hat into the air? Isn’t it all about school year books and other social aspects of the education process, because that’s what people told my wife and I when we were home-schooling our kids. They really didn’t understand our whole reluctance to the “social justice” concern.

I accomplished pretty much what I wanted after a year, and we re-enrolled our kids into Lakota. My kids had friends in school, but many of them have since fallen away now that they are all grown. Anymore, if they don’t speak to people on Facebook, they don’t care to maintain friendships with the kids they went to school with. Out of all the members of our family, only I graduated with my class-mates, and to be honest, I thought the whole experience was a waste of time. My wife graduated early, even though she was an honor roll student. And both my kids did the same, graduating a whole year early, finishing their senior years with online courses. To this day, my wife expresses no regrets about missing her graduation ceremonies; she and I went to dinner at The Golden Chain Restaurant as a married couple while her classmates were running around like idiots on their graduation night. We had fun in a way many of those people couldn’t even imagine at the time. Both of my children had similar experiences exploring Europe while the kids they went to school with were opening graduation presents and trying to figure out what party to go to that night. My kids find school pride sentiments to be trivial, and rather childish.

The reason I support alternative education methods is because I’ve seen the benefit. And obviously I have no sentimental value to those other social aspects of the school experience. Because of that, I don’t see why anyone would value any of those things. If you want to have friends, talk to them on Facebook, or Xbox. Why do you have to have relationships established in the halls of a school building? In the age we live in, it really doesn’t make any sense any more.

So why is there so much focus on a “revenue stream?” And why does Lakota have to increase it?

What happens to Lakota’s revenue stream if the money they get from the state doesn’t just go to the district but to the student, for the parents to use any way they see fit. Because a group I’m involved with, School Choice is about just that very issue. That’s the article I wrote that had all the giant sand castles only to have them wash away in the ocean. That’s really an appropriate metaphor for the situation. Most school systems are just elaborate sand castles that communities have grown attached to out of sentiment, and they are willing to spend infinite amounts of money to fight back the encroaching waves.

What’s going to happen as more and more people move into the country working from their home computers and aren’t needed in a centralized building as is currently required. Or because of the efficiency of cars and other transportation devices that are emerging, people move further away out of the districts. What’s going to happen to the revenue at schools like Lakota when that happens?

If we look at the sentimental avenue of education being all about the “experience” of school, so it’s football games, class-rings, and school jackets, then paying extraordinary amounts of money to educating children is something to entertain. But increasingly, the world we live in is becoming less centralized, and people will want the options of that freedom. Sentimentality has a terrible cost, and these days, fewer people are willing to pay it. I’m certainly not alone in my lack of sentiment.

I’m strictly a performance based individual. I expect an education that continues throughout life, and doesn’t just end at grade 12, or even college. My experience with college is that people are putting their lives on hold to fulfill the dreams and market sentiment of the baby boomer generation that swallowed whole the pill of a college degree will be a cure-all and is a life-time of security. We’re learning now that’s not the case. I’ve had to give job interviews to grown adults with 4 to 6 year degrees trying to get a job paying ten to twelve dollars an hour, and wanting the job badly. The world that was promised to those recipients of degrees isn’t there. It is for some, but more and more, people are discovering that they are terribly in debt after their college experience, because the tuition is just too expensive for what you get, and the jobs available in the marketplace are not paying the type of wages that will allow those people to pay off their debts.

According though to the Lakota School Board, they seem to think everything will always be as it has been, and that’s not very forward-looking. To survive, they need to look hard at their expenses and not only consider a loss of revenue because of the next failed levy, but also the loss of revenue from parents that take their money from the state and use it on a program like School Choice. The only real hindrance to School Choice has been the union lobby in Columbus, and given the inefficiency in schools and the continuing increase per pupil of the cost of education, and the continuing problem of our state funding structure being unconstitutional, the new Governor could go a long way to solving all those problems by using School Choice to create competition and using that competition to drive down the cost of education per pupil. Think about it, $10K per kid is out of control. The state funding issue can never be addressed when the cost per pupil is that high. Changes to that perception have to be implemented now.

That’s what’s coming, and why comments like the Lakota School System will need further revenue streams, are arrogant. Lakota needs to prepare for less revenue streams, not more. To assume that education is so central to the community, not just the parents that enjoy watching their kids play sports, but the entire community, is audacious, and short-sighted.

Innovation and the embrace of technology will bring down the cost of education in the future. It will start first with parents that take an active role in their children’s education, which will put pressure on parents that are basically using the schools as a day care facility, or possible scholarship generator, clinging to the education methods that have been in place since frontiersman settled the North American Continent is expensive, archaic, and will be phased out soon. The schools that survive will be the ones that adapt to those changing circumstances. The ones that stand in the way will find themselves on the outside looking in.

If I ran the LEA, I’d renegotiate that expensive contract quickly, before I became irrelevant. Just some friendly advice.

Rich Hoffman
http://twitter.com/#!/overmanwarrior
www.overmanwarrior.com