Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Congratulations to all candidates and voters! We made it to Election Day, and the end is in sight. Special thanks to all those who worked so hard in state and local school-board races, and for state senators who will make improving education a high priority. Three cheers for the wonderful army of Nebraskans who waged what looks to be a successful campaign to restore our state’s elementary-only country schools by urging “repeal” on Referendum 422.

Looks like Amendment 5, which will put K-12 school bureaucracies in charge of early-childhood education, is going to pass. What a shame. It takes probably one week to equip a child with kindergarten readiness, but now Nebraska taxpayers are going to have to pay for babysitting, basically, from birth to age 5. Oh, well, though, eh? We’re driving another nail in the coffin of the dream of an equal, constructive, all-encompassing public education system in Nebraska. Middle- and upper-class parents are going to choose private day care and preschools to avoid all the governmentese of the government early-childhood programs. Their kids won’t mix with diverse kinds of kids, and income-based segregation will widen. From private preschools, parents with means will enroll their kids in private K-12 schools. Again, the melting pot will separate into layers instead of mixing. This change will increase the already-huge gap between rich and poor in this state. But it is what it is, and here’s hoping we can make the best of it.

It doesn’t appear that Initiative 423 has a chance of winning, which is too bad. But in the aftermath of the discussion it raised, especially Nebraska’s tax problems, here’s hoping that voters will toss out the incumbents on the State Board of Education. Why? They put in place all the policies and mandates that have CAUSED Nebraska’s spending on K-12 education to increase by 43.6% in the last eight years. Academically, they’ve brought us mediocre results, and economically, they’re putting many of our job-producing, wealth-producing taxpayers in precarious positions.

According to
http://ess.nde.state.ne.us, average cost per pupil in Nebraska has increased from $5,589 per year in the 1997-98 school year, to $8,013 in 2004-05, the latest figures available from the Nebraska Department of Education’s website.

Voters apparently aren’t thinking the way to control that is to put a modest spending cap in the state constitution with Initiative 423. So be it. But we could do just as much good with a fiscally-conservative, common-sense State Board of Education – one which would deep-six Nebraska’s enormously expensive and totally farcical assessment system, allow a modest amount of school choice since our private schools are doing better than our public schools both in academic quality and cost-wise, get some innovations going to zero in on meeting the needs of needy urban and isolated rural students and teachers, allow (finally!) alternative teacher certification to break the propaganda chokehold of the teachers’ colleges and unions, and most of all, get our teachers trained in systematic, intensive, explicit phonics instruction so that our kids can become first in the world in reading – which they would if they were taught to read correctly in the first place.

I’m not sure the following candidates would go for all those things. But I am sure of one thing: they’d be much more likely to innovate, achieve, and cut out the fluff than the rubber-stamp, union-kissing incumbents on the State Board.

Please, please, please vote for, and urge your friends to vote for:

District 5: Alan Jacobsen
District 6: Marilyn Carpenter
District 7: Paula Pfister
District 8: Dick Galusha


Quote of the Day:

Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.

-- George Jean Nathan (1887-1958),
drama critic and editor

Useless Trivia of the Day:

Ancient Greece had one of the earliest forms of democracy, since at least 508 B.C. Each year, the Greeks had a negative election. Voters were asked to cast a vote for the politician they most wanted to exile for 10 years. Votes were written on broken pots, ostraka in Greek, and from this name comes our present word to ostracize.

If any politician received more than 6,000 votes, then the one with the largest number was exiled. If no politician received 6,000 votes, then all remained. If there was a fairly even spread of votes, nobody would get over 6,000 and no one would get exiled -- hence only very unpopular politicians were ostracized and exiled.

Corny Joke of the Day:

Five surgeons are discussing the types of people they like to operate on.

The first surgeon says, "I like to see accountants on my operating table, because when you open them up, everything inside is numbered."

The second responds, "Yeah, but you should try electricians! Everything inside them is color coded."

The third surgeon says, "No, I really think librarians are the best; everything inside them is in alphabetical order."

The fourth chimes in: "You know, I like construction workers. Those guys always understand when you have a few parts left over."

But the fifth surgeon shut them all up when he observed: "You're all wrong. Politicians are the easiest to operate on. There are no guts, no heart, no brains, no spine, and the head and the hind end are interchangeable."

Agenda, 2008 Democratic National Convention:

7:00 P.M. Opening flag burning.
7:15 P.M. Pledge of allegiance to U.N.
7:30 P.M. Ted Kennedy proposes a toast.
7:30 till 8:00 P.M. Nonreligious prayer and worship; Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton.
8:00 P.M. Ted Kennedy proposes a toast.
8:05 P.M. Ceremonial tree hugging.
8:15 - 8:30 P.M. Gay Wedding; Barney Frank Presiding.
8:30 P.M. Ted Kennedy proposes a toast.
8:35 P.M. Free Saddam Rally; Cindy Sheehan, Susan Sarandon.
9:00 P.M. Keynote speech: The proper etiquette for surrender; French President Jacques Chirac.
9:15 P.M. Ted Kennedy proposes a toast.
9:20 P.M. Collection to benefit Osama Bin Laden kidney transplant fund.
9:30 P.M. Unveiling of plan to free freedom fighters from Guantanamo Bay, by Sean Penn.
9:40 P.M. Why I Hate the Military, A short talk by William Jefferson Clinton.
9:45 P.M. Ted Kennedy proposes a toast.
9:50 P.M. Dan Rather presented the Truth in Broadcasting award, presented by Michael Moore.
9:55 P.M. Ted Kennedy proposes a toast.
10:00 P.M. How George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld brought down the World Trade Center Towers, by Howard Dean.
10:30 P.M. Nomination of Hillary Rodham Clinton by Mahmud Ahnadinejad.
11:00 P.M. Ted Kennedy proposes a toast.
11:05 P.M. Al Gore reinvents the Internet again.
11:15 P.M. Our Troops are War Criminals, by John Kerry.
11:30 P.M. Coronation of Mrs. Rodham Clinton.
12:00 A.M. Ted Kennedy proposes a toast.
12:05 A.M. Bill asks Ted to drive Hillary home. . . .

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