How teacher’s unions make war on charter schools

Story here in the Wall Street Journal. (H/T The Heritage Foundation and Independent Women’s Forum)

Let’s see what Jay P. Greene has to say about charter schools:

In New York, for example, the unions have backed a new budget that effectively cuts $51.5 million from charter-school funding, even as district-school spending can continue to increase thanks to local taxes and stimulus money that the charters lack. New York charters already receive less money per pupil than their district school counterparts; now they will receive even less.

When I was a young man, I dreamed of becoming a prosecuting attorney or English teacher. (Software engineering was my third choice). But the political activism of left-wing teacher unions, and their opposition to merit-pay, stopped me from becoming a teacher. I always think of unions as a form of adult day-care, insulated from real world competition and consumer needs.

Unions are also seeking to strangle charter schools with red tape. New York already has the “card check” unionization procedure for teachers that replaces secret ballots with public arm-twisting. And the teachers unions appear to have collected enough cards to unionize the teachers at two highly successful charter schools in New York City. If unions force charters to enter into collective bargaining, one can only imagine how those schools will be able to maintain the flexible work rules that allow them to succeed.

…Eva Moskowitz, former chair of the New York City Council education committee and now a charter school operator, has characterized this new push against charters as a “backlash” led by “a union-political-educational complex that is trying to halt progress and put the interests of adults above the interests of children.”

…When charter schools unionize, they become identical to traditional public schools in performance. Unions may say they support charter schools, but they only support charters after they have stripped them of everything that makes charters different from district schools.

And why does school-choice matter?

In New York City, Stanford economist Caroline Hoxby found that students accepted by lottery to charter schools were significantly outpacing the academic progress of their peers who lost the lottery and were forced to return to district schools.

Florida State economist Tim Sass and colleagues found that middle-school students at charters in Florida and Chicago who continued into charter high schools were significantly more likely to graduate and go on to college than their peers who returned to district high schools because charter high schools were not available.

The most telling study is by Harvard economist Tom Kane about charter schools in Boston. It found that students accepted by lottery at independently operated charter schools significantly outperformed students who lost the lottery and returned to district schools. But students accepted by lottery at charters run by the school district with unionized teachers experienced no benefit.

I highly recommend you read the whole article, as Greene is a respected authority on education policy. In case you missed my recent article on Obama’s cancelling of vouchers, check it out here.

Conservatives in British Columbia defend free speech

Political Map of Canada
Political Map of Canada

Canadian columnist Mark Steyn has some welcome news on the sorry state of free speech north of the border. (H/T Free Canuckistan) Specifically, the good news is from the western province of British Columbia, (contains Vancouver), home to one of the 3 worst Human Rights Commissions operating in Canada.

Steyn writes:

BC is a bit like Quebec in that it has a two-party system in which neither choice is conservative: in la belle province, it’s a choice between the separatists and the Quebec Liberals; on the left coast, it’s a choice between the socialists and the BC Liberals. So the right-of-centre vote in BC goes, faute de mieux, to Gordon Campbell’s party.

So, there really is no way that the provincial conservatives can win at the provincial level, and conservative voters ending up voting for the Liberals, just to keep the socialists out of power.

But suddenly, the provincial conservatives decided that the status quo was not good enough for British Columbians:

Or at any rate that’s the way it was until the upstart BC Tories decided to challenge Premier Campbell from the right in next month’s provincial election. Robert Jago spoke to their leader, Wilf Hanni, about the “Human Rights” Tribunal and got the following response:

A BC Conservative Government will reform the BC Human Rights Tribunal:

* So that any complainant will be responsible for the legal fees associated with his or her human rights complaint.
* To make complainants responsible for paying the defendant’s legal fees should the complainant lose their Human Rights Tribunal case.
* To disallow individuals and organizations from making Human Rights Tribunal complaints when Human Rights Tribunals in other Canadian jurisdictions are already investigating the same issue.
* To disallow cases dealing with freedom of speech under Section 2 of the Charter.
* To allow appeals, to a court of law, for any decision made by the Tribunal.
* So that the Tribunal cannot render penalties outside the boundaries of Canadian Laws.

We realize that it is neither fair nor equitable that complainants currently receive free legal representation no matter how frivolous the complaint, while defendants must pay their own legal fees.

Stay tuned, because tomorrow at 11 AM I will be posting about how conservatives in another province are defending free speech against left-wing fascism.

Are polar ice caps really melting due to global warming?

This post is old, please take a look at some of my newer posts

Are global warming alarmists wrong?

Consider this article from The Australian: (H/T Watts Up With That)

ICE is expanding in much of Antarctica, contrary to the widespread public belief that global warming is melting the continental ice cap.

The results of ice-core drilling and sea ice monitoring indicate there is no large-scale melting of ice over most of Antarctica, although experts are concerned at ice losses on the continent’s western coast.

Antarctica has 90 per cent of the Earth’s ice and 80 per cent of its fresh water. Extensive melting of Antarctic ice sheets would be required to raise sea levels substantially, and ice is melting in parts of west Antarctica. The destabilisation of the Wilkins ice shelf generated international headlines this month.

However, the picture is very different in east Antarctica, which includes the territory claimed by Australia.

East Antarctica is four times the size of west Antarctica and parts of it are cooling. The Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research report prepared for last week’s meeting of Antarctic Treaty nations in Washington noted the South Pole had shown “significant cooling in recent decades”.

And here’s the graph that goes with the findings:

Source: Cryosphere Today
Source: Cryosphere Today

Why are global warming alarmists wrong?

Now we know that they’re wrong. Why are they wrong? Well, maybe I should start by showing that the media is cherry-picking data in order to delude the public. This post by Anthony Watts which explains how the media deliberately recycles the images and stories about imminent climate catastrophes. This time, it’s about a vast antarctic shelf that’s about to collapse.

Only one problem. It was just about to collapse last year, but the media is re-using the the same scary stock photo and story again this year and telling us again that it’s just about to collapse.

Excerpt:

Those masters of disaster are at it again, and it appears our friendly scientists at that National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) help this story along each year.

…It seems that not only is the photography recycled, so is the storyline. It seems to happen every year, about this time. Note the photos show shear failure and cracks, not melted ice. Shear failure is mostly mechanical-stress related, though ice does tend to be more brittle at colder temperatures.

National Geographic reported this story headline last year, March 25th 2008.

…From the Nat Geo story:

“[It’s] an event we don’t get to see very often,” Ted Scambos, lead scientist at the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, said in a press statement.

Now, how is it that an ice shelf breaks up in the spring of 2008 and again in the spring of 2009 and it’s “not very often”? Hmmm.

Watts goes on in his post to take a look at how much the ice shelf has really changed over the years (it hasn’t) and whether the air temperatures have gotten warmer (theyhaven’t) such that the air would be causing cracks. So all we really have is a scary re-used photo and a lot of propaganda.

What are the economic effects of policies based on global warming alarmism

Well, to start with, we’re going to lose a lot of jobs, due to increase taxation and regulation of “the rich” and “greedy corporations”. And, the EPA is going to raise consumer energy prices and put American money in the pockets of terrorists, by curtailing domestic energy production. And, we’re going to waste tons and tons of taxpayer money subsidizing corporations to be “green”.

The good news: public opinion is shifting away from global warming alarmism

A recent Rasmussen Reports poll shows that there is hope. (H/T The Chilling Effect)

Global Warming is Primarily Caused By…
Date Human activity Planetary Trends Other Reason
Apr 09 34% 48% 7%
Mar 09 41% 43% 7%
Feb 09 38% 45% 7%
Jan 09 44% 41% 7%
Dec 08 43% 43% 6%
Apr 08 47% 34% 8%

So at least we’re slowly winning the battle for truth. Unfortunately, Obama has got until 2010 until he can be challenged in the mid-term elections.

r.

Round-up of stories on adult stem cell research and abortion

As you know, Obama is making scientific progress and patient care take a back-seat to feminist ideology. He appeases his pro-abortion special interest groups by wasting money on unproven embryonic stem cell research, while neglecting proven therapies based on adult stem cell research. Who cares about patient liberty and curing diseases?

Let’s take a look and see what adult stem cells can do.

UPI reports that adult stem cells can revert to an embryonic state.

U.S. scientists say they have, for the first time, returned adult mouse cells to their embryonic pluripotent state, meaning they can become any cell type.

The University of California-San Francisco researchers said they used tiny molecules called microRNAs to reprogram the cells.

The achievement suggests scientists will soon be able to replace retroviruses and even genes currently used in laboratory experiments to induce pluripotency in adult cells. The researchers said that would make potential stem cell-based therapies safer by eliminating risks posed to humans by these DNA-based methods, including alteration of the genome and risk of cancer.

Adult stem cells provide solutions for stroke victims.

The good news continues to flow about the first stroke patient successfully treated in Houston using the patient’s own adult stem cells. The patient, Roland Henrich, was originally admitted to the emergency room at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center on March 25, 2009 with signs of stroke–he could not speak and had significant weakness on his right side. Because it was beyond the few hours window for use of the clot-dissolving drug TPA, the adult stem cell trial was his only option. The next day some of his bone marrow was removed, the adult stem cells separated, and returned intravenously to the patient. In less than a week doctors noted that he was recovering remarkably well and had not shown any signs of paralysis. Within 11 days of the treatment Mr. Henrich was walking, climbing stairs unassisted, and said his first word after the stroke, captured on a local news video and surprising his own doctor and leader of the clinical trial, Dr. Sean Savitz. His wife says now he has spoken several single words and phrases and has fed the cows by himself.

Adult stem cells provide solutions for infertile women.

Chinese scientists have published a study in Nature Cell Biology that suggests even older females retain adult stem cells that can stimulate fertility, including the production of more eggs. The evidence is in contrast to the usual dogma that women have a finite number of immature eggs, some of which mature and are ovulated, and that the number of eggs becomes depleted with age. Tilly et al. recently reviewed the evidence for and against production of new eggs after birth. Tilly’s group was one of those recently to challenge the dogma with evidence that new egg production could occur in mammals.

What the Chinese group showed is that ovaries contain stem cells that can produce more eggs, similar to the stem cells in testes that produce sperm.

Adult stem cells provide solutions for healing bones.

Patients confined to wheelchairs have been able to walk or live independently again because their broken bones finally healed, thanks to a drug that stimulates their adult stem cells. Preliminary results presented at the Orthopaedic Research Society meeting found 93% of those with an unhealed bone fracture had significant healing and pain control after treatment for only 8 to 12 weeks. Half of the 145 patients studied had non-healing fractures for 6 months or longer. The drug, teriparatide (Forteo), was approved by the FDA in 2002 for treatment of osteoporosis. A team led by Dr. J. Edward Puzas at the University of Rochester Medical Center discovered that this drug can also boost the body’s bone adult stem cell production to the point that adults’ bones appear to heal at a rate typically seen for young kids.

Adult stem cells provide solutions for diabetes.

Another success for adult stem cells, again treating Type I (juvenile) diabetes patients. As reported in a study published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 20 of 23 patients became insulin-independent after treatment with their own bone marrow adult stem cells. This report is a follow-up to the previous report by Voltarelli & Burt in 2007, and includes new patients as well as a longer period to follow the patients. Some of the patients have gone for four years insulin-free. The authors note in the paper that this adult stem cell treatment “remains the only treatment capable of reversing type 1 diabetes in humans.”

Adult stem cells provide solutions for treating ligaments and tendons

Recent news from London that adult stem cells will be used to repair damaged tendons and ligaments in patients. This isn’t really a new technique, but the interesting thing is that the technique is now used routinely in horses and other animals. Finally, the realization has hit that this adult stem cell treatment might work for people, too. More than 1,500 race horses have been treated using the same process, and follow-up data suggest a 50 percent reduction in re-injury over a three year period, compared with conventional treatment.

We don’t need to kill innocent unborn humans in order to make medical progress. We don’t need an excess of 32 million males due to anti-female sex-selection abortions. And we don’t need to subsidize Planned Parenthood with 350 million dollars when they already have net assets of 1 billion dollars.

And lastly, some good news. In contrast to the Democrats anti-life stance, Republicans in the Oklahoma legislature voted to ban embryonic stem cell research. Now that’s progress.

Is it OK for Christians to marry non-Christians?

I want to draw your attention to a talk given by William Lane Craig. Bill is the ablest defender of the Christian faith operating today. You may remember Bill from such famous debates as “Does God Exist?” with Austin Dacey, “Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?” with Bart Ehrman, or “Is Goodness Without God Good Enough?” with Paul Kurtz.

The 32-minute talk is in MP3 format and is available on his web site Reasonable Faith, here. This was Bill’s chapel address to Biola University students, and he is introduced by his son, John, a Biola grad. As you listen to the talk, and reflect on the quotations that I will reproduce below from his writings, the question “is it OK to marry a non-Christian?” will be answered.

In the talk, it becomes clear that Bill’s wife Jan plays an enormous role in his success. Indeed, you will see that if it were not for her, he never would have gotten either of his doctorates, or even his second Masters degree. Just imagine: Bill Craig with one M.Div pastoring a seeker-sensitive church, instead having 2 MAs and 2 Ph.Ds and stomping Christopher Hitchens with both feet! What a loss!

Here is a quotation that occurs about 11 minutes into the talk, as Bill describes the completion of his Bachelor’s degree at Wheaton:

And it was at Wheaton that my vision began to focus on presenting the gospel in the context of giving an intellectual defense of the faith, to appeal not only to the heart but also to the head, as well. And so I determined that I would go on to seminary for further training.

But, my senior year, in chapel, we heard a speaker who challenged us, before going on to further education, to take a couple of years out, and to wring out the sponge, so to speak, that had been soaking up all that knowledge, and to work with university students while we were still about the same age.

And so I joined the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ for 2 years, and was assigned to Northern Illinois University. And that was where I met my wife Jan. She was a graduate of the University of North Dakota where she had come to faith in Christ. And she had a similar vision for her life of evangelism and discipleship.

And as we worked at NIU together, she with gals and I with the guys, leading students to Christ and discipling them to walk with the Lord, we fell in love. And we decided that we would be more effective if we joined forces and became a team.

It is at this point in the talk where Bill begins to explain just how Jan molded him into the lean, mean debating machine that travels the world striking terror into the hearts of atheists today.

Bill’s first story about Jan occurs early after their marriage while he is working on his first Masters degree at Trinity:

And it was also at that time that I began to see what an invaluable asset the Lord had given me in Jan. I remember I came home from classes one day, and found her at the kitchen table with all the catalogs and schedules and papers spread out in front of her and she said, “look! I’ve figured out how you can get two Masters degrees at the same time that it would normally take to get one! All you have to do is take overloads every semester, go to all full-time summer school and do all these other things, and you can do two MAs in the time it takes to do one!”

And I thought, whoa! Are you sure you really want to make the commitment it takes to do this kind of thing? And she said, “Yeah! Go for it!” And it was then I began to see that God had given me a very special woman who was my supporter – my cheerleader – and who really believed in me. And as long as she believed in me, that gave me the confidence to dream bigger dreams, and to take on challenges that I had never thought of before.

In an article on his web site, he talks about how Jan encouraged him to do his first PhD:

As graduation from Trinity neared, Jan and I were sitting one evening at the supper table in our little campus apartment, talking about what to do after graduation. Neither of us had any clear leading or inclination of what we should do next.

So Jan said to me, “Well, if money were no object, what would you really like to do next?”

I replied, “If money were no object, what I’d really like to do is go to England and do a doctorate under John Hick.”

“Who’s he?” she asked.

“Oh, he’s this famous British philosopher who’s written extensively on arguments for the existence of God,” I explained. “If I could study with him, I could develop a cosmological argument for God’s existence.”

But it hardly seemed a realistic idea.

The next evening at supper Jan handed me a slip of paper with John Hick’s address on it. “I went to the library today and found out that he’s at the University of Birmingham in England,” she said. “Why don’t you write him a letter and ask him if you can do a doctoral thesis under him on the cosmological argument?”

What a woman! So I did, and to our amazement and delight Professor Hick wrote back saying he’d be very pleased to supervise my doctoral work on that subject. So it was an open door!

And in the same article, he explains how Jan encouraged him to get his second Ph.D:

As Jan and I neared the completion of my doctoral studies in Birmingham, our future path was again unclear to us. I had sent out a number of applications for teaching positions in philosophy at American universities but had received no bites. We didn’t know what to do.

I remember it like yesterday. We were sitting at the supper table in our little house outside Birmingham, and Jan suddenly said to me, “Well, if money were no object, what would you really like to do next?”

I laughed because I remembered how the Lord had used her question to guide us in the past. I had no trouble answering the question. “If money were no object, what I’d really like to do is go to Germany and study under Wolfhart Pannenberg.”

“Who’s he?”

“Oh, he’s this famous German theologian who’s defended the resurrection of Christ historically,” I explained. “If I could study with him, I could develop a historical apologetic for the resurrection of Jesus.”

Our conversation drifted to other subjects, but Jan later told me that my remark had just lit a fire under her. The next day while I was at the university, she slipped away to the library and began to research grants-in-aid for study at German universities. Most of the leads proved to be defunct or otherwise inapplicable to our situation. But there were two grants she found that were possibilities. You can imagine how surprised I was when she sprung them on me!

Both of these Ph.D experiences are also described in the talk. And the talk concludes as follows:

I am so thankful to be married to a woman who is tremendously resourceful, tremendously talented and energetic, who could have pursued an independent career in any number of areas, but instead, she has chose to wed her aspirations to mine, and to make it her goal to make me the most effective person I can be, for Christ. And she has been like my right arm in ministry over these many years. And it is a tremendous privilege to be a team with a person like that.

And you young men, I would encourage you, if you marry, to find a gal who shares your vision, not some independent vision, but who is interested in aligning herself with you, and pursuing together a common vision and goal that will draw you [together], so that you will avoid the growing separateness that so often creeps into marriages.

And now you know the rest of Bill’s story. The person you marry will have an enormous influence on the impact you will have for Christ and his Kingdom. It is up to you to decide whether that influence is going to be positive or negative, by deciding if you will marry, and if you do marry, by deciding whom you will marry.

Conclusion

The level of influence of a significant other in a non-platonic relationship greatly impacts your ability to achieve the vocational task that the Lord has set for you. My recommendation is to avoid engaging in any romantic relationship in which self-sacrificial service to the Lord is not the main focus. And remember, physical contact greatly reduces your ability to make objective evaluations.

Today, Christians treat the Christian life as a hobby that we engage in for our benefit. And this includes romantic relationships. One way of screening prospective mates is by assessing how well prepared they are to defend the Lord’s reputation, when it is called into question. An authentic Christian should care enough to have prepared to defend God’s existence and character in public.

UPDATE: New William Lane Craig lecture specifically on the topic of Christian marriage:

  • Healthy Relationships (National Faculty Leadership Conf. 2008) (audio here)

Related posts

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

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