Tag Archives: Charter

Mark Steyn discusses pastor Stephen Boissoin’s victory against the HRCs

Story on the Corner. (H/T ECM, Blazing Cat Fur)


A couple of years back, the Reverend Stephen Boissoin committed the crime of writing a letter to a local newspaper objecting to various aspects of “the homosexual agenda”. The Alberta “Human Rights” Tribunal convicted him of this crime and imposed a lifetime speech ban preventing him, in essence, from saying anything about homosexuality in public or private ever again anywhere for the rest of his life.

Here’s an except from the judge’s decision:

The direction to cease and desist the publishing of “disparaging remarks about gays and homosexuals’ is beyond the power of the Panel. “Disparaging remarks”were not defined by the Panel. But clearly, “disparaging remarks” are remarks much less serious than hateful and contemptuous remarks and are quite lawful to make. They are beyond the power of the Act to regulate and the power of the Province to restrain.

More details here:

The thing is – Boissoin did not get off Scot-free. He had a gruelling 6-year trial and paid well over six figures in legal fees. It’s not clear to me what his remedy is to recover these years of his life and these funds. His accuser’s legal costs were covered by the province of Alberta.

I just don’t believe that things will turn out any different down here, given the kind of people that Obama surrounds himself with. Obama has signed a hate crime bill into law which paves the way for criminalizing speech critical of the minorities listed in the bill. And whenever the right to free speech conflicts with the leftist right “not to be offended”, the “right not to be offended” always wins. This is the way that the secular left is – they want to silence anyone who disagrees with them.

I don’t mind when people say things that offend me, and I sure hope that nothing I say offends anyone else. But in any case, I would rather be asked to apologize than be put on trial for 6 years and forced to pay over a $100,000 in legal fees just because I disagreed with someone and they felt badly. We need to get to the point where radicals on the left understand that it is OK for people to disagree with them, and that it is not OK to bring the force of the government down on people because of speech.

Next time, vote Republican.

Related stories

Here are some stories from the UK:

Here are some stories from Canada:

And in the United States:

New study reveals how school choice benefits the poorest students

Article in the Wall Street Journal. (H/T Jay P. Greene)


Opponents of school choice are running out of excuses as evidence continues to roll in about the positive impact of charter schools.

Stanford economist Caroline Hoxby recently found that poor urban children who attend a charter school from kindergarten through 8th grade can close the learning gap with affluent suburban kids by 86% in reading and 66% in math. And now Marcus Winters, who follows education for the Manhattan Institute, has released a paper showing that even students who don’t attend a charter school benefit academically when their public school is exposed to charter competition.

Mr. Winters focuses on New York City public school students in grades 3 through 8. “For every one percent of a public school’s students who leave for a charter,” concludes Mr. Winters, “reading proficiency among those who remain increases by about 0.02 standard deviations, a small but not insignificant number, in view of the widely held suspicion that the impact on local public schools . . . would be negative.” It tuns out that traditional public schools respond to competition in a way that benefits their students.

[…]One of the most encouraging findings by Mr. Winters is how charter competition reduces the black-white achievement gap. He found that the worst-performing public school students, who tend to be low-income minorities, have the most to gain from the nearby presence of a charter school. Overall, charter competition improved reading performance but did not affect math skills. By contrast, low-performing students had gains in both areas, and their reading improvement was above average relative to the higher-performing students.

Conservatives love choice and competition, especially in education. We oppose equalizing outcomes regardless of individual liberty and responsibility. Liberals want government to run everything to make sure that everyone gets the same crap level of service. This is what the lazy teacher unions prefer. But conservatives want teachers to be responsive to their customers – the children.

Video of Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn testifying against Canadian HRCs

Videos from Blazing Cat Fur, provided by SDAMatt!

Watch the first one, and you’ll be hooked! They’re awesome.

Part 1: (Ezra goes first, takes 8 minutes, then Mark Steyn starts)

Part 2: (The rest of Mark Steyn’s testimony, 8 minutes, and then questioning starts)

The first questioner at the end of part 2 is a leftist Liberal party MP. He is extremely hostile! So it starts out very hot right away!

The remainder of the testimony is question and answer by the committee.


Blazing Cat Fur has a plan

Blazing Cat Fur has a round-up of reactions from around the blogosphere. Here’s someone who live-blogged it.

And he has a plan, too. Read this post and submit your questions for the Chief Fascist, Jennifer Lynch.


Jay Curry has got the ball rolling. We are proposing to forward a list of reader submitted questions you would like to see the members of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights hearing on Section 13 (1) ask Jennifer Lynch during her scheduled appearance.

We hope to do this formally with say a top ten list of reader questions e-mailed to each committee member but I also recommend you e-mail the committee members individually.

As Flea suggests you should make your questions short and sweet and back them up with publicly available evidence. You may submit your questions at the blog of your choice, or e-mail me – blazingcatfur@gmail.com if you wish. Thank you.

Previous posts

And here are some links to audio and video featuring Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant. (in reverse chronological order)


Are teacher unions interested in helping your children to succeed in life?

This is a great article from the Wall Street Journal. (H/T Club for Growth)


In her weekly “What Matters Most” newspaper column, Randi Weingarten recently bid the Big Apple farewell. Ms. Weingarten has been elevated to president of the national American Federation of Teachers from head of its New York City affiliate, and she had some notable parting words: “One of the most rewarding (and exhausting) things about working in public education in New York City is that it is the best laboratory in the world for trying new things.”

Well, it could be, if it weren’t for Ms. Weingarten’s union. Since taking over in 1998, she has done everything she could to block significant reforms to New York’s public schools. Take her opposition to charter schools. She resisted raising the state cap on charters from 100 unless the union could organize them. (She lost and the cap now is 200.)

Ms. Weingarten was also against merit pay for individual teachers. She supported a law that bars school districts from linking teacher tenure to student test scores. In return for even the mildest pension reforms, Ms. Weingarten recently won a concession that teachers no longer need to work on the two days before the start of the school year. Meanwhile, she has fought to ensure that the Absent Teacher Reserve Pool keeps allowing teachers whom no principal wants to hire to receive their full salaries. New York spends an estimated $150 million on this and on Teacher Reassignment Centers (for instructors who have been accused of misconduct) alone.

Speaking of money, Ms. Weingarten has long been among the union leaders claiming that more cash will fix public education. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has paid for the modest reforms he’s been able to implement by increasing spending to $22 billion from $13 billion, much of that in teacher salaries. The four-year high school graduation rate in New York City is now 56%. In union politics, results like these are how you win a promotion to national leadership.

I blogged before about the NYC teachers removed from their duties who are still being paid.

But there’s more to it than that. My Christian readers should also be aware that teacher’s unions, like most unions (but not all!), are also very interested in promoting left-wing, anti-family social programs. (Weingarten herself is openly gay)

If you missed my post about Obama’s appointment of a gay activist to be the director of “safe schools”, check it out here.

The take-home lesson for you is not to vote for Democrats just because they say they will spend more money on education. What Democrats really mean is that they will spend more money on teacher’s unions, so that the teachers can turn around and advocate for leftist policies, like abortion and same-sex marriage, using union dues.

Economist Walter Williams evaluates whether teachers are earning their huge salaries

I wanted to review a previous post before I go on to discuss some news regarding teacher’s unions and whether they contribute to improving the academic performance of their customers (students).

Here is my recent post about Walter Williams, on the education system.

I want to highlight this part where Williams explains how the schools that charge taxpayers the most money achieve the worst academic results for their customers (students):

The teaching establishment and politicians have hoodwinked taxpayers into believing that more money is needed to improve education. The Washington, D.C., school budget is about the nation’s costliest, spending about $15,000 per pupil. Its student/teacher ratio, at 15.2 to 1, is lower than the nation’s average. Yet student achievement is just about the lowest in the nation.

In that same post, I linked to an L.A. Times article about a charter school that produces amazingly high academic output for a tiny fraction of the cost, and with some very poor students who are from first-generation immigrant families that can barely speak English.

Here is the secret of this high-performing school:

That, it turns out, is just the beginning of the ways in which American Indian Public Charter and its two sibling schools spit in the eye of mainstream education. These small, no-frills, independent public schools in the hardscrabble flats of Oakland sometimes seem like creations of television’s “Colbert Report.” They mock liberal orthodoxy with such zeal that it can seem like a parody.

…School administrators take pride in their record of frequently firing teachers they consider to be underperforming. Unions are embraced with the same warmth accorded “self-esteem experts, panhandlers, drug dealers and those snapping turtles who refuse to put forth their best effort,” to quote the school’s website.

Read the whole post for the whole amazing story.

Below, Ed Morrissey explains why public schools suck up so much taxpayer money, while providing horrible results.

Do teacher unions help students to learn?

This is a MUST-READ story from Ed Morrissey, writing at Hot Air. (H/T Ace of Spades)

In a free market capitalist system, teachers, like other grown-ups, are paid based on their performance. Parents should have a choice of schools, and they should be able to pull their children out of any school that doesn’t produce a quality education for their customers, the children. But what happens when the government, to please their union supporters, decouples teacher pay from educational outcomes?

Yahoo News reports:

Hundreds of New York City public school teachers accused of offenses ranging from insubordination to sexual misconduct are being paid their full salaries to sit around all day playing Scrabble, surfing the Internet or just staring at the wall, if that’s what they want to do.

Because their union contract makes it extremely difficult to fire them, the teachers have been banished by the school system to its “rubber rooms” — off-campus office space where they wait months, even years, for their disciplinary hearings.

The 700 or so teachers can practice yoga, work on their novels, paint portraits of their colleagues — pretty much anything but school work. They have summer vacation just like their classroom colleagues and enjoy weekends and holidays through the school year.

…“You just basically sit there for eight hours,” said Orlando Ramos, who spent seven months in a rubber room, officially known as a temporary reassignment center, in 2004-05. “I saw several near-fights. `This is my seat.’ `I’ve been sitting here for six months.’ That sort of thing.”

Unbelievable. These unions got Obama elected and they are no different than the auto union workers who expect something for nothing. Who cares about whether children learn anything? So long as Democrat supporters get their taxpayer money, why should they have to produce any results?

Ed Morrissey continues:

If ever one wanted an argument against Card Check, this would be it.  Imagine if you will an entire private sector with “rubber rooms” filled with employees left dangling in limbo because their union contracts made them “extremely difficult to fire.”  There are enough teachers in these rooms in NYC to fill several schools, and yet the taxpayers are shelling out money to have them sit in rooms, play Scrabble, and act like children.

The Big Apple isn’t alone in this process, either.  Los Angeles has almost 200 teachers in rubber rooms at the moment.  Apparently, neither system has the competence nor the inclination to process wrongful conduct or poor-performance hearings with any speed, which is not just unfair to the taxpayers, but also unfair to those teachers wrongfully accused of either or both.

If this was the private sector, it would at least get handled expeditiously, as no business can afford to have hundreds of people sitting around and producing nothing.  Perhaps as well as a cautionary tale about Card Check and the expansion of unions, it also serves as warning to those who want to replace the private sector in health care and energy production with public employees instead.

This is why I am a small-government capitalist. I want Democrat-supporting unions abolished. Let them earn their salaries like everyone else who works in the free market economy. Consumers deserve performance in exchange for their hard-earned money. And if consumers don’t get value, we should demand refunds so that we can take our money to a competitor.

To understand why school choice matters, take look at this video posted over at the Heritage Foundation, featuring 14-year old Johnathan Krohn. Notice how he is the only one of the panel of 3 kids who isn’t reciting memorized facts but is actually make a cause-and-effect economics argument.