New Feed Subscriptions in September

Here are all of the new sites I added to my reader in September. When I say “new” I mean new to me in most cases.

Total Diatribe
If you were impressed with Billymacs ability to consume adult beverages, you’ll be even more impressed with his ability to find nutty stuff and add cleverly biting commentary. A new blog, and I’m expecting great things from it.

Here’s one I can’t believe I just found. A common sense moderate political blog. I don’t mean to imply that common sense can’t be found there, but usually only as it exists on the line between Democrat and Republican. Very pragmatic, as opposed to the, uh, idealism(?) you find here.

Another new blog authored by Little Bigfoot SVD. So far a lot of the lowdown that exists there is on a personal level, but he’s running a poll right now asking what you want him to blog about. One man, one vote. If you don’t like it, you had your chance to change it!

Ideas From Free Minds
I found out about Michelle’s blog after seeing her on Tucker Carlson’s show and wrote a post about her. My only complaint is that she doesn’t post enough–there was a huge opportunity to make this blog big when she appeared on TV. I hope she takes advantage of it!

Taylor the Teacher
As Taylor states on her site, she’s a philosophical anarchist who loves to help children learn. Sometimes the public education system even helps her in this endeavor.

Technology, entertainment, and design videos. You’ll agree with some, you’ll disagree with others, but they are all pretty interesting.

Student Loans–Education by Doctor Evil

Student loans–yet another thing I’m against. I’m not against the fact that they exist, mind you, I just don’t think think they are a good idea for me or my posterity. You can do what you want, but Katherine Coble and several other people agree with me.

I still think that the student loans I took out were some of the biggest financial mistakes of my life.

And from the comments, Jim Voorhies adds this.

Being able to do what you love is the goal all of us should have. Knowing what that was at a time early enough in life to be able to mesh it with your degree is remarkable.

It’s totally contrary to the norm, but I think many 18 year olds would be a lot better off if they didn’t go to college right away. They’d be better off getting a job doing something, getting their partying out of the way, learning what it means to have real bills, saving some money (for school) and figuring out what they really want to do. It would have been good for me.

Maybe a good rule of thumb is to have two of these three things in place:
1) Absolutely sure of what you want to study
2) Can pay for it without loans
3) Have done enough real labor to know you don’t want to wash dishes for the rest of your life.

Five Quick Tips On Evaluating Your Kids’ Teachers

A couple of weeks ago I was listening to a conversation between the missus, a former elementary school teacher and education consultant, and a couple of her teacher friends. They were talking about good teachers, bad teachers, and the differences between them. For once, I just shut up and listened–they brought up a lot of interesting observations of their peers that help them make a quick judgments about the effectiveness of the teacher. There were a few that I thought were really interesting and could help parents when they head out to open house or when visiting the school.

1. Where is the teacher’s desk located in the classroom?
If the teacher’s desk is located in the back or on the side of the classroom, this is an excellent sign. This means that your child’s teacher most likely spends most of his instructional time standing and moving around the classroom, which helps hold the kids’ interest and helps the teacher interact better with all of the kids, not just the ones up front. If the desk is located in the front of the room, check to see if it looks “lived in”. The best sign is if the teacher doesn’t have a desk at all, or if it is located in an office separated from the classroom.

2. Are the kids’ desks in rows, or are they in groups, a circle, or some other configuration?
Rows may be fine for older kids, but in the younger grades U-shaped or grouped desks help the kids better interact with the teacher and one another. If your child always has an unobstructed and close view of the teacher during instructional time, chances are better that he’ll be paying attention. These configurations also allow the teacher to more easily keep tabs on what each student is doing and pick up on important physical cues as to whether or not the kids are absorbing the lesson. The ability to interact with other students fosters cooperative learning. Kids often learn things from one another that they don’t learn from the teacher.

3. What activities does your child do for homework?
Most of us grew up copying each vocabulary and/or spelling word three times or copying the definition from the book. The latest research has shown that while wrote memorization is a valuable component to learning when used in conjunction with other activities that reinforce understanding, it is at best marginally effective when used by itself. Words need to be made meaningful to the child in order for them to internalize them. If these are the only activities your child is given for homework, her teacher may be a little “old school”. He may not be up to date on the latest research, or may just be ignoring it altogether.

4. Are the materials on the wall functional, or just pretty?
Motivational posters from Wal-Mart are nice, but the classroom walls are best used by good teachers to reinforce what is being taught in the curriculum. Another positive sign is an abundance of materials made by the teacher and/or the students themselves.

5. What does the class look like when walking down the halls
Is the teacher a “mama duck”–heading up the line down the hallway while a chaotic mass follows her? Is he a “shusher”–constantly having to remind the kids to be quiet while they walk? Both of these are strong indicators of teachers who may lack discipline and control in the classroom. If the teacher really has control and respect in the classroom, that will carry over with her kids outside the classroom. The best teachers walk in the middle, beside the line. At corners, they stand at the apex so that they can view both the front and back of the line.

These tips are just a few starting points to help you get a feel for your child’s teacher, but just because your child’s teacher doesn’t meet every point outlined here doesn’t mean she is a bad teacher. Of course, you will learn much more by meeting with the teacher face to face and asking specific questions about your concerns for your child. Hopefully the tips covered here will give you some ideas about what questions you may need to ask.

Constitution Day — Creating Solid C Students Nationwide

The KNS says that a study reports

51 percent of high school students questioned had not heard of the day when they are required by law to learn about the Constitution.

The occasion, created by Congress in 2004, usually is observed on or around Sept. 17, the day the document was adopted in 1787.

There’s some irony for you. Congress makes a federal law regarding public education (which by the way is covered nowhere in the Constitution) that students must learn about the Constitution. Doing what it does best, our public education system then strikes right at the meaty part of the bell curve and makes sure that a healthy 49% of students actually receive the education as mandated.

Sounds about right.

Personally, my favorite part of the Constitution is “Congress shall make no law”. Ever wonder if we’d be better off if they’d just stopped there?

It All Depends On How You Ask

Justin Gardner asks the question:

In a time where we need unity, do you think Paul’s “Dr. No” way of politics will actually bring the country together?

There are some great responses to this question, and most actually address the first part–do we need unity necessarily? I think it would be great to have more unity in a love of freedom and a healthy appreciation for our differences.

But I’d settle for abiding by the Constitution and allowing individual states to decide how to deal with issues like health care, education, etc.

Bueller? Bueller?

FladaBlog has an excellent post on public school socialism:

Let’s consider an island with one family with children and one childless couple. Does the family have a right to force the autonomous couple to contribute to the education of their children? Most rational people will agree that they do not have such a right. Additionally, the childless couple does not have the right to force the other family to let the couple dictate how the family’s children should be educated. Does adding another family with children change the underlying principle of rights? Again, most rational people will agree that it does not.

So the question is: at what number of families does it become moral to force the childless couples to pay for the education of the families’ children? At what number does society gain the right to force families to start allowing the society to educate their children? Is 100 the magic number? 1000? 1,000,000?

Anyone? Anyone?

Read it again, substituting “education” with “health care”.

Again, this time with “retirement”.

Again, this time with “cable television”.

Again, this time with “reduced rates for energy” (corporate welfare).

Again, this time with “watermelon”, or “hair brushes” or “tire guages” or “jock straps”.

Of course, we all have the right, and I believe responsibility, to choose to contribute at any time. The question is, at what point do others have the right to force us to contribute?

This Story Had So Much Potential

I was all giddy to read this story entitled “Fury Face Greets Teachers“. I thought it may be about some parents who were up in arms about the quality of education their children are receiving. They were fed up with being ripped off by gov’ment education, mad as hell, and unwilling to take it anymore.


Never mind. It was just a feel good story (self-written PR), about 1/3 which was about a ground hog at a local school. The rest was singing the praises of how great the school is. I assume it was written by a teacher at the school who misspelled the word “furry”–twice.

God luk two all the kidz at Fort Craig Elementary in this yeers spilling be!

Happy Cost of Government Day!

Doug Mataconis points us to the report by Americans for Tax Reform that declares today the day of economic liberty in the United States. That’s right–beginning today, and every day for the rest of this year, every dollar you make actually belongs to you! This is very exciting. It’s a Festivus miracle!!!

It now only takes a little over half a year’s worth of work to pay your share of the bountiful gifts of government. Here are just a few examples of the wonderful things you have earned from your toils this year alone:

Failing education for all the kids in your neighborhood, whether you have any or not

A nation building project, err “war” that you probably don’t support

Housing for homeless alcoholics (offer good for Seattle residents only)

A fat pension for your former sheriff (Knox County residents only)

Substandard healthcare for wounded servicemen

A bankrupt government pension retirement fund–a.k.a. socialist security

Countless government subsidies for private industries–a.k.a. corporate welfare

Good job! I think you deserve a raise!!!


The idea that Americans should have to work more than half the year to pay for the state should be offensive to anyone. Instead we all just seem to blindly accept it.

So It’s the Oil Companies That Are Price Gouging?

I’ve had more arguments than I can count with people about this. They always claim that the oil companies (and Bush) are fixing the prices, there is nothing the common man can do about it, blah blah blah, waa waa waa.

Today in the KNS, Glen Eastes made a point that I think is utterly brilliant about the cost of education. The University of Tennessee is trying to justify another tuition increase, and I hope people will remember this the next time they feel like they’re getting gouged at the pump:

I attended a Big 10 university in 1948. The tuition was $75 a semester. Gasoline was about 25 cents a gallon. Today the tuition at UT will be about $3,000 a semester. Today, gas is $3 a gallon. So, if the oil companies are taking advantage of the public, I don’t know the word to describe the tuition cost.

Beautiful. I could write pages and pages on yet another gouging by the gov’ment, but you get the idea.

Knoxville’s Hot Topic–Rezoning

I’m still baffled by this uproar and outcry.

I wonder how many of the parents who are ranting and raving about the rezoning (the most common complaint is that their kids are going to be separated from their friends) would ever bother to complain to the school board about the fact that their children are graduating from these institutions with sub-standard skills in reading, writing, and math.

Sorry folks.  When you are willing to turn over your right (responsibility) to decide on how/when/what your children learn to the gov’ment, it is ridiculous to expect that you should be able to choose “where” they are sent to be indoctrinated.

It is a sad situation when what should be a wake up call for people to question the overall failure of the public education system is seen only as a possible inconvenience to the social lives of some teeny boppers.  After all, Farragut people could never learn to be friends with Karns people, right?  “They’re diff’rent from us!!!”

It’s nice to see that Knox County hasn’t compromised its priorities.  Football, social life, commute time, …, readin’, ritin’, ‘rithmatic.

We are getting exactly what we paid for.

No worries though. In a few months this will blow over, and we’ll once again be united as a community in our hatred of “Flarda”. Then we’ll debate the real issues that need to be addressed, like who should be the offensive coordinator and starting tailback