Thursday, April 28, 2011

Taxes used to Raise Tax Bill

Well, I was curious how the "raise the tax bill" efforts of the various Unions were going. It looks like they are still focused on using their forcefully collected tax generated funds to bribe their local officials to raise their compensation, job security and power...

Now I don't mind when individuals use a portion of their income to support their political candidate. And I understand that it is likely that the money would flow towards similar candidates. However this mandatory Union membership with mandatory dues that are spent at the discretion of the the Union leadership seems oh so wrong, and against our concept of American freedom. (especially when paid to their employer.. ie Government officials) Where is the citizen's freedom to donate as they wish, and the effort to avoid conflict of interests?

Assuming the "Unions" give $1,000,000 to their selected "DFL" candidates, here are some questions:

  • If members had to write the check directly to their selected candidate, how many dollars would be donated?

  • What % would go to DFL, GOP, Independent, other?

  • If the employees had a choice, what percentage would be part of the Union and pay dues?

Fox News Unions Take Fight to States

CNN Money Union Fight to Congress
TPMDC Massachusetts and CB
Defend Wisconsin

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Made in America: Really?

I thought this would be interesting for the folks that rationalize that they are supporting American workers by buying their Toyota that is "Made in America". Apparently Toyota has already lost the production of 260,000 vehicles due to the Tsunami in Japan. This would imply that a large number of critical components are single sourced from Japan.

ABC: GM Likely to Retake Global Sales Lead

And apparently the Government is going to extricate itself from GM ASAP. If some of my friends are any indicator, this would be a good thing for GM. They feel so strongly that the Government should not be invested in companies, that they were refusing to consider buying GM vehicles. Though I am puzzled that they seemingly would have been happier with GM being sliced into it's parts and sold off.

Forbes: Treasury to Sell GM Stake

By the way, it looks like Ford is doing great. Though they may be impacted by the Japanese sourcing issues due to their high commonality with the Mazda product.

Reuters Japan Impact on Ford Earnings
Busn Std Motoring Ford Mazda Relationship

So what do you think will happen with regard to GM and Ford, and the stiff competition they face from over seas? What impact will this have on the American employees and their pursuit of the American Dream? What do you think the Government should have done regarding GM and it's bankruptcy? (ie you have the benefit of hindsight) Other?

G2A Made in America: The Myth
G2A Korean Challenges and USA Wealth
G2A Is a Recession a Bad Thing?
G2A American Dream

Sunday, April 24, 2011

This Could Take Awhile...

I am thinking we should start a pool regarding when the the Special Session will end??? Not whether there will be one or not... Any bets?

Parents United 22Apr11
Star Trib K-12 Mtg
Star Trib Budget Plan

Friday, April 22, 2011

Class Evaluation Forms

For years I have been wondering and commenting about why Public schools do not have the kids or their parents evaluate classes and Teachers through a simple one page questionnaire at the end of the school year. This is something that I have done in almost every training or college course that I have ever taken. You know the drill...

  • Was the Instructor prepared and organized?

  • Was the Instructor knowledgeable in the class content?

  • Did the Instructor encourage participation?

  • Did the Instructor answer questions adequately?

  • etc, etc, etc
I had finally accepted that they did not know how, or did not value this basic key tool for improving staff or courses... I mean they must know something that the rest of the Educational industry does not...

Then, to my chagrin I learn that our local RAS community education classes do have the kids fill out class and Instructor evaluations. Now this is part of the Public School district, and they value the student /parents perspective... So why doesn't the majority of the District? Thoughts?

G2A Attacking Unions or Saving Students?
G2A Policing Our Own?
G2A AYP: Pick Your Corner
G2A Why High Educational Stds are NOT OPTIONAL !!!
G2A Better Public Educations
G2A Report on Equity

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

MCA Testing

For those of you without kids in Public school, I thought I would notify you that it is test time again. Our little ones are being crammed with last minute sample tests and questions. The class routines are being disrupted to allow for the test taking blocks of time. And some level of anxiety, anticipation, chaos and excitement abounds in all the schools.

Of course I am talking about the MCAs (MN Comprehensive Assessments)... These are the mandatory assessments that evaluate how well our children and their schools, Teachers and Administrators are doing... A key step in the Plan, Do, Check, Act cycle.

So what do you think, is all this effort and anxiety a good thing or a waste?

MN Dept of Educ MCA Pg
MN Dept of Educ AYP Pg
MN Dept of Educ NCLB Pg
SG Controlling Legal Authority
G2A Teaching to the Test
G2A Sir, The Class is Too Hard
G2A No more NCLB ?

Monday, April 18, 2011

First Things First

If you have not read this before, it is definitely worth the time.

The Mayonnaise Jar

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle,
When 24 hours in a day is not enough;
remember the mayonnaise jar and 2 cups of coffee.

A professor stood before his philosophy class
and had some items in front of him.

When the class began, wordlessly,
he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar
and start to fill it with golf balls.

He then asked the students if the jar was full.
They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured
it into the jar. He shook the jar lightly.
The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls.
He then asked the students again
if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand
and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else
He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded
With an unanimous 'yes.'

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table
and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively
filling the empty space between the sand.
The students laughed.

'Now,' said the professor, as the laughter subsided,
'I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life.

The golf balls are the important things - God, family,
children, health, friends, and favorite passions
Things that if everything else was lost
and only they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the things that matter like your job, house, and car.

The sand is everything else --
The small stuff.

'If you put the sand into the jar first,' he continued,
'there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls.
The same goes for life.

If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff,
You will never have room for the things that are
important to you.


Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.
Play with your children.
Take time to get medical checkups.
Take your partner out to dinner.

There will always be time
to clean the house and fix the dripping tap.

'Take care of the golf balls first --
The things that really matter.
Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.'

One of the students raised her hand
and inquired what the coffee represented.

The professor smiled.

'I'm glad you asked'.

It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem,
there's always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.'

Please share this with other "Golf Balls

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Health Care Rating Factors

Continuing somewhat with Laurie's experiment. What is a Successful Healthcare System? Here is the Mission Statement from The Commonwealth Fund Organization that she referenced.

"The mission of The Commonwealth Fund is to promote a high performing health care system that achieves better access, improved quality, and greater efficiency, particularly for society's most vulnerable, including low-income people, the uninsured, minority Americans, young children, and elderly adults."

By this we know very quickly that their facts will be suspect. Since they will be consciously or unconsciously looking for interpretations that fit their Worldview and Mission. With this in mind, what grading factors would you propose for a Successful Healthcare System? And how would you weight them? Not how to attain it, or what is wrong today or with ACA, but how would you grade one?

See Decision Matrix links... We are not scoring, discussing options or fixing... Just discussing the ~10 key factors that we see as important.

The Commonwealth Fund
CW Fund Criteria
G2A Decision Matrix
G2A Decision Matrix 2

Thursday, April 14, 2011

RAS Magnet School Mtg

Back to one of our favorite discussions within the Robbinsdale School District. What to do with all those empty school buildings that we are paying to maintain? How many years ago did we close them? Man, gov't entities move slowly !!!

RAS will hold an informational mtg regarding the proposal to open another Magnet school in the Olson Elementary building. (ESC Building, 27Apr11, 6 PM) The front runners are STEM or Spanish Immersion. They decided to delay the start and pay for the empty buildings until 2012, even though they have an RSIS waiting list and experience with Spanish Immersion. Man, gov't entities move slow !!!

As an update, Beacon Academy (the charter school that was interested in renting/buying PLE) ended up moving to Maple Grove and is now located in a Church. (ie Open Door) What a shame that we have a perfectly good Tax Payer paid for Public School building sitting idle, and a local Public School that is liked by many ends up moving out of our community because RAS is scared of some competition... I guess unique school offerings are okay as long as RAS is the one providing it. Man, gov't entities are monopolistic !!!

On the upside, the Hosterman Building is no more. When I drove by I noticed that it is now a big pile of aggregate. Good thing District 287 had the Tax Payer funds to do some new construction. North Education Center Oh I forgot... They get their funding from member district like 281... Well, I guess it is job creation.

RAS Magnet Informational Mtg Flyer
Enrollment Committee PDF
Magnets January
281 Exposed Here Ye Here Ye
Star Trib Magnet schools lose pull
G2A RAS Conspiracy or Not?
G2A RAS Projections
G2A Spanish Immersion vs STEM
G2A RAS Areas Vanishing Children

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Problems with Blogger?

Since J, Laurie and Jason have reported having problems posting comments, is anyone else having problems? If so, is there any logic to it:

  • Only when you post with links?

  • Only when the posts are long?

  • Only at certain times during the day?

  • Only on a certain computer, operating system or browser?

  • Only when you are anonymous? Or logged in?

Now that I am officially earning a pittance for Google, I would be happy to ask them for assistance if we can narrow the problem down.

After challenges at other sites, I understand how frustrating it can be. (ie MNPublius/Disqus has me doing the same thing) Now, I try to make sure my links are solid, my comments are only a few paragraphs long and I wait for awhile after hitting post. Also, I simply post a few consecutive times when I feel the need to write a book.

As for Blogger, I have always been able to comment successfully. Even those I copy and paste from my notification email. So I'll need your help understanding what you are encountering.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

MN Education Bill Updates

At least it is not dull in MN right now. Thoughts?
Parents United Update 8Apr11
Parents United Update 1Apr11
Parents United News and Events
MPR Dayton Objects to GOP Plan
MN House HF934
HF934 Summary 1Apr11
See below Ad for a new post from Laurie

Facts, Opinions and Values: Health Care Edition

Guest Post by Laurie:

Health care policy is an area that is as divisive and polarized as anything between liberals and conservatives. I recently offended regular commenter J. Ewing, by asserting conservative leaders and the voters who elect them lack compassion for the uninsured. I also commented that opposites sides tend to operate from completely different sets of facts and suggested that he would dismiss whatever facts I presented out of hand. So my goal / experiment is to see if there is any common ground to be found on the facts related to the American health care system. I am also curious what facts people use to support their opinions about the benefits or drawbacks of the ACA act. Lastly, I'd really like to understand the values of conservative Christians who seem to advocate for health care policies that make absolutely no sense to my value system, but I am not too hopeful on this last one.

So to start off the discussion I would like to posit what I consider fact. The U.S. spends the Most On Health Care, Yet Gets Least. The linked study rates the US low on access, efficiency (cost), equity, life expectancy, infant mortality and even quality. I was going to argue that the USA has high quality care for the majority, but according to this study we are 6 out of 7 here as well. For further discussion the linked article ends with the following opinion, "About the only good news for America,.... is that the new health law could put the U.S. on a path towards improvement," which sounds about right to me. As the ACA act will not be fully implemented for a few more years, comments on it will necessarily stay in the realm of opinion. I suspect opposite sides will rely on very different sources of expert opinion of its likely impact.

Contradictory information?
Explanation of why affordable access to a full range of health care services in a country as rich as ours should not be considered a basic human right?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Best of G2A

Just like Public TV, I interrupt my broadcasts occasionally to beg for your help... I don't ask for money, or offer to give you a travel DVD for $200. All I ask is that you send this address to 10 people that you think will find this site interesting.

Or just tell your friends, office mates, etc to google give2attain. My goal is to get people thinking about what they believe and why they believe it... The more the merrier, and the greater the impact.


Thanks as always !!!

Related Links and Reminders:
G2A Magic of They
G2A Snopes Relativity
G2A Beliefs and Environment
G2A Barstool Economics
G2A Crisis of Credit
G2A Recession Bad?
G2A American Dream
G2A Conflict and Collusion
G2A Conflict and Collusion Break the Cycle
G2A Conflict with Heart
G2A Gratitude and Happiness
G2A Principles

Thursday, April 7, 2011

That Stubborn Achievement Gap

An interesting post for your review... Speed Gibson Happy Hour

Some comments to discuss:

I have to agree with Speed on this one. The unlucky kids come into Kindergarten behind in academic and behavioral skills. And with a lower level of support and/or discipline at home. And it logically only gets worse from there. Here are some of the root causes I see based on watching some neighbor kids.

- The number of in-school hours are about the same for all the kids. The Lucky kids get additional learning hours via their Parents after school. (ie that homework diligence that kids dread, that effort makes a huge difference) The same Parental behaviors that made the Pre-K difference just continue to magnify for both the Lucky and Unlucky kids. (ie spread widens)

- The Lucky kids are often more academically gifted and capable. It is not fair, but genetics plays a role.

- Reading and Math are definitely subjects where future gains are highly dependent on past proficieny. If you can not understand basic math, you will be ever so screwed in advanced math. Similar for reading.

- Parents of Unlucky kids see failing grades, extra homework and Summer school as bad or proof that their kid truly is stupid. (confirms their beliefs, demotivates) Parents of Lucky kids see these as an opportunity to dig in and help their kids overcome the difficulty. (conflicts with their beliefs, motivates)

With these and Speed's note that holding kid's back until they are truly proficient in a subject is socially and financially unacceptable. It is no wonder the gap persists.

I once had a school Administrator tell me that they wished the school year was longer. They felt this would help close the gap, but were frustrated that constrained budgets and union inflexibility made this impossible. I then raised the point that this would actually increase the gap, which surprised the Administrator.

Then I explained that only the Unlucky kids need much longer school years, and that the Lucky kids really do not need any more time in school. It seemed that a light kicked on for them at this Brilliant Glimpse of the Obvious.(BGO)

What do you think Parents, Teachers, Citizens, Lawyers, ACLU, Politicians, etc would say if we went to mandatory 12 month school years for every child that was not meeting the proficiency requirements. Seems like common sense to me. (who has the money to fund this?)

Ironically, from what I have seen it is the Unlucky kids (ie losers...)that sign up for study hall... This is unfortunate since they need the most class time. Also, the Schools seem to use the Study Halls as part of the Teacher prep time... Therefore if there are fewer study halls, they need to hire a few more Teachers to cover the additional class hours... So they seem to actually try to encourage/force kids to take study hall if they are not in band, choir or orchestra... Supt Sicoli's statement seems at odds with the District practice.

Kathy's Hint

Bad Students Not Bad Schools

BSNBS Review

BSNBS Review 2

BSNBS Review 3

RAS Agenda with Links to Gap Closure report outs

Middle School 4Apr11

GAP Projections 21Mar11

Secondary Math Science - New Reqts 7Mar11

RAS Mtg Video and more


Monday, April 4, 2011

Can Politicians be Efficacious?

First things First: efficacious - adj "capable of having the desired result or effect; effective as a means, measure, remedy, etc.: The medicine is efficacious in stopping a cough. " Now that we have a common definition. I would like to discuss the following quote that J Ewing made in a recent comment string. And some thoughts regarding Wants and Needs that were triggered by Speed's 2 Nickel Post.

"There are four kinds of spending, listed here in order of decreasing efficacy – that is, productive of the desired results for the least cost.

The most efficacious form is spending is when you spend your own money on yourself. You know exactly what you need or want, how much you have to spend on it (and all other things), and thus what you are willing /and able/ to pay to get it.

The second most efficacious form of spending is when you spend your money on somebody else. You know exactly how much you are willing to spend, but you have little or no idea of what the other person needs or wants. Most private charity works this way, where you give cash to a charity rather than directly to an individual. If, on the other hand, you give directly to an individual, for example offering transitional housing to an abused woman and her kids, it's even better, almost as good as spending your own money on yourself.

Less efficacious still is when you spend somebody else's money on yourself. You don't consider how much is being spent because your incentive is to simply spend it all. You don't necessarily care about the price you pay and whether or not what you buy is a need, a want or completely frivolous. This is characteristic of those who receive government checks. For example, when building a new taxpayer-funded building, do we really NEED marble fountains, gold statuary, and pearl-inlaid floors? If the money is there, why not? A better example: would anybody in their right mind build a light rail system with their own money, even if they had the billion dollars?

The least efficacious form of spending is when you spend somebody else's money on a third party. you have no idea what the third party needs or wants and you don't care what it costs. The sole incentive seems to be to rid oneself of the responsibility for the spending as quickly as possible. THIS is what all government wealth transfer programs are. [Note: government programs that provide essential services to the general public, such as courts and law enforcement, are closer to category three. Not necessarily as effective as private business would be, but if they can't be contracted out they should be scrutinized occasionally for inefficiencies.] "

The key to measuring how efficacious a spend was, is that someone has to know what the DESIRED RESULT is... Otherwise one can not tell how effective the spend was in helping to attain the DESIRED RESULT... The problem with this based on the G2A WANTS vs NEEDS comments, is that there seems to be a SUPER WIDE RANGE of desired results. We have Liberals that say they think everything in the budget is a NEED. (and we NEED it NOW) And on the other hand we have Conservatives that would probably let folks starve before they voted for a tax increase. (ie "aren't their work houses???") So is efficacious then like beauty? (ie in the eye of the beholder) And if the Liberals truly can not separate WANTS from NEEDS, then how do they seem to always threaten the NEEDS first? Does this not mean that they are intentionally MANIPULATING the citizens? Here are some examples:

  • School districts always threaten or enact larger class sizes before chopping the electives, choice programs, arts, sports, bad teachers, busing, etc. Is this because class size is only a WANT and the others are NEEDS, or because their goal is to get parents excited so that a referendum will be passed.

  • The cities threaten that reduced local aid will mean fewer cops, firemen, etc instead of proposing chopping park maintenance, activities, administration, etc. Is this because safety and security is a WANT and the others are NEEDS, or is it because FEAR motivates citizens to become involved more than unmowed parks?

  • The State threatens lack of health care, increased starvation, increased homelessness, etc instead discussing fewer bike paths, less light rail, less arts /DNR funding, etc. Is this because HHS is only a WANT and the others are NEEDS, or is it because fear and empathy are a very powerful combination when you want to sway public opinion and raise tax rates.
So, I think the Liberals are playing us. They truly do know what the majority of citizens see as NEEDS, however in order to get their WANTS funded... They are willing to prey on our NEEDS, FEARS and EMPATHY for others... It is either this or they truly have no clue that feeding people is more important than a bike path... Thoughts? Note: I'll likely go after Conservatives later this week...

Saturday, April 2, 2011

MN School Legislative Updates

Here are some useful links to the K-12 discussions that are going on. Most are from Parents United because even though they are somewhat pro-status quo Public School, they do a good job of keeping track of what is happening.

Parents United Home Page

Parent Leadership Summit Flier Parents United April 1st Update

Parents United 2 Results 1 Bill Sen Olson - New format (pg. 1-14) Sen. Stumpf - Trad'l format (pg. 15-28)

Summary of Differences Dayton's Letter to Legislature

HP: Targets Poor

MP: Formidable Group

CBS Funding and Tenure Cuts

Pol in MN:Ed Committee Passes Bill

Inforum: Senate Bill

Education News: House Passes...

MPR: Dayton Objects

So what do you think?

  • Have the Republicans lost their minds or are they on the right track?

  • Are they doing the right things? If so, your rationale?

  • Or just grabbing money for their constituents?

  • What will Gov Dayton do when these unacceptable bills hit his desk?

  • What does your crystal ball show happening?

Just a reminder, I am a fan of spending more on K-12 education if the Unions and Administrations stop protecting inefficiencies and ineffective personnel. Until then... Let the cuts continue... It must not be too bad if they haven't offered up that poor performing 5% to appease the funding Gods... Thoughts?