We’ve heard the stories from other school districts – no Musical Chairs, no Duck Duck Goose, no Tag, etc. Why? Because these games are inherently unfair or somebody might feel left out.
I live in one of the most conservative areas in Illinois – Effingham County. Fox News once said that Effingham County is the “base of the base of the Illinois Republican Party”. So you can imagine my surprise when I heard what took place at Effingham Junior High School this past week.
My girlfriend’s granddaughter was running for 8th Grade class President at EJHS & therefore, there would be an election by her peers. My future granddaughter was ready to campaign & was excited at the prospect of winning class President. She even spent her own time after school designing homemade campaign fliers.
Then she went to school.
When she went to the EJHS Office to get her fliers approved so she could hang them in the hallways, she was informed by the secretary that her campaign fliers were not going to be approved. Of course, she was upset by this because she had spent so much time making her posters.
When she got home, her mother called the school to find out why her daughter’s homemade campaign fliers were not approved. The answer? “Because it would make it unfair for the other candidates”. She was also informed that all campaign posters are supposed to be done using computers to make it fair.
First, isn’t making students do the work on computers inherently unfair? Not every student has a computer at home & if they do the work at school not every student has the same computer & creative skills to make a campaign poster that would look like everyone else.
Second, what is more inherently unfair than elections, whether in life or in school? Somebody has to lose & somebody has to win. In life, some candidates have a bunch of money, others do not. Some candidates have a grassroots effort in place & others do not. So why make elections fair in school? What possible lesson can you teach a kid if you level the playing field for a school election?!
Life is unfair & life’s outcomes are unfair. Yet our schools are teaching our kids that life IS fair & outcomes should be as fair as possible. That’s not how society works. That’s not how our economy works. That’s not how the workplace works. And it sure isn’t how elections work.
I’m ecstatic that my future granddaughter won her election but the ends don’t justify the means. She should have been able to campaign as she saw fit within normal school rules. The same goes for the other kids who ran for school office.
Why get bent out of shape over such a trivial thing when she won? Because “rules” like this are wussifying our kids to the reality of life & cuts down on any creativity or imagination they might have – the later an important skill to have in the workplace. This time it’ll be making school elections fair. Next time it’ll be getting rid of games that produce a clear winner & loser. Then it’ll be nobody gets an F on anything. Slippery slope my friends. Always, always be mindful of the future.
WACO, Tex., April 15, 2013 - Last week, the Economist featured a “special report” on internet freedom in China, bringing to mind the unprecedented public reaction to the introductions of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) debates in late 2011 and early 2012. Though the bills were notably over-hyped by critics, the reaction reflects the different views between the American and Chinese governments on internet regulation.
When SOPA was first introduced on October 26, 2011 by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), major media companies and organizations, including the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), clamored to support the legislation. The bill, if enacted into law, would have given the government power to force Internet Service Providers (ISPs), search engines, and payment processors to block access to foreign websites “dedicated to copyright infringement.”
The MPAA cited a study analyzing the consequences of content theft or piracy, which can be as large as $58 billion in output and over 370,000 jobs. Though the accuracy of these numbers has been criticized, some make a philosophical objection as well. According to Tim O’Reilly, the founder of O’Reilly Media and a consistent supporter of open-source movements, “The losses due to piracy are far outweighed by the benefits of the free flow of information, which makes the world richer, and develops new markets for legitimate content.”
O’Reilly makes a good point. Though most Americans can agree piracy at some level is unfair to artists and content-producers, regulating the Internet can begin a slippery slope toward the erosion of free speech.
Once petitions were circulated, millions of Tweets were sent, and Wikipedia engaged a “black-out” to oppose the new laws, the government quickly stepped back and gave in to the public’s demands.
China, on the other hand, has shown no qualms about regulating which websites its citizens can access. The Economist concludes, ”[The Chinese government] has shown great skill in bending the technology to its own purposes, enabling it to exercise better control of its own society and setting an example for other repressive regimes.”
In fact, many American media companies now consult Chinese censors or allow them on movie sets to approve scripts before the movie’s release in order to guarantee approval in Chinese theaters.
China immediately blocked sites such as Facebook and Twitter when they were released, wary of the danger information-sharing could pose to the government-controlled narrative. However, Chinese “micro-bloggers,” taking advantage of a service called Weibo, have made great gains in persuading the government to allow domestic Internet companies some freedom.
Though critical messages about government officials are quickly deleted, the micro-blogs have been able to achieve influence in crucial moments. When a high-speed train crash killed 40 people, word spread so quickly via Weibo that the authoritarian government had no choice but to take action and replace the railway officials responsible.
Micro-bloggers realize, however, that to avoid being blocked altogether, they must consent to some censorship measures. It’s a constant struggle of negotiation and deal-making. Says one web-editor of the micro-blogging platform Tencent (speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of repercussions), “If we did not have any free speech then this company would not have any influence, so the company must act proactively to safeguard our space. So that’s why they must go through this process of bargaining with the government departments.”
It is heartening that both American and Chinese citizens have recognized the importance of free speech, even while their governments have not. The future shows great promise for improving Internet freedom.
By: Danny Huizinga
Today, America was terrorized with attack leading to the end of several lives and over a hundred injured so far reported. Although it isn’t entirely clear who was behind this attack, what is known in the coming days and weeks fingers will be pointed in every direction. Already a CNN contributor has blamed “right wing extremists” being behind the attack. Here at Illinois Conservatives, it will not matter if the perpetrator is a Republican, a Democrat, a Muslim, a Christian, an American Citizen, or a foreign national, or anyone else. What matters is that . What is known is that this person and his/her actions have no place here in America, and what matters is that justice will and should be the result. This person came with the goal of changing the day to day lives of Americans, and that will not happen. During the toughest of times and the darkest of moments Americans have showed that they will help one another. After the attacks today it was widely reported that Boston Marathon runners continued to run past the finish line after the attacks all the way to a local hospital to donate blood. The quote of the day goes to District Attorney Dan Conley “Seconds after those bombs went off, we saw civilians running to help the victims right along side members of the Boston Police Department and Boston EMS. And in the hours that followed, police and medical personnel from across the region have sent dozens, maybe even hundreds, of volunteers to help us here in Boston. That’s what Americans do in times of crisis; we come together and we help one another. Moments like these, terrible as they are, don’t show our weakness. They show our strength.”
Together, America is always strongest. The best way to show that these attacks only made America stronger is to come together, pray, and to fly your Stars and Stripes tomorrow.
WASHINGTON, March 25, 2013 ― Education reform may be one of the few political issues that has bipartisan support. In spite of that, attempted solutions to our failing educational system have failed so far to achieve encouraging results.
Especially alarming is the fact that increased funding seems to have no effect on solving the problem. Since 1960, real (inflation-adjusted) education spending per student has more than tripled. However, test scores and graduation rates have not seen any improvement.
The award-winning documentary, “Waiting for Superman,” persuasively argues for much-needed reform in America’s education system. By following the stories of five children who are looking for better school opportunities, the movie demonstrates the many flaws with the current system.
The movie describes a “dance of the lemons,” in which bad teachers are shuffled from school to school because they cannot be fired. Good teachers are of paramount importance, the movie argues. Whereas good teachers can often cover as much as 150 percent of the required curriculum, bad teachers can cover as little as 50 percent.
Why do we not distinguish between good and bad teachers? Because, until recently, almost all attempts at merit pay (teachers’ salaries based on performance rather than years teaching) have been rebuffed by the two largest teachers’ unions, the National Education Association (NEA) and American Federation of Teachers (AFT).
Last November, New Jersey governor Chris Christie compromised with the AFT to implement a merit pay plan for Newark’s teachers. The plan marks a sudden change in the traditional conflict over this issue. Despite the AFT’s willingness to compromise, however, the NEA continues to oppose the merit pay measures.
The NEA also opposes any measures offering “vouchers” for school choice to parents. Dr. Michael Q. McShane, research fellow in education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, argues, ”Teachers’ unions fear vouchers, as students choosing to attend private schools cut into their market share and curtail the primary source of their revenue and political power, the dues of their unionized members.”
Although unions can sometimes serve a valuable purpose, many argue the NEA has overstepped its boundaries. The NEA consistently supports and articulates pro-choice and pro-gay marriage positions, inviting criticism that these issues are irrelevant to helping teachers improveeducation.
Teachers who do not wish to join or support the union often have no choice, facing possible termination if they do not pay union dues. The NEA needs this revenue in order to maintain their place as the highest campaign contributor. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the NEA spent $56.3 million in the 2008 election cycle. Though corporations are often criticized for their alleged spending power, the NEA spent more than ExxonMobil, Microsoft, Walmart, and the AFL-CIO combined.
Even statements from the organization itself offer a jarring truth:
“Why is the NEA an effective advocate? Despite what some among us would like to believe it is not because of our creative ideas; it is not because of the merit of our positions; it is not because we care about children; and it is not because we have a vision of a great public school for every child.
“The NEA and its affiliates are effective advocates because we have power.”
As long as the NEA continues to oppose these school reform measures and stand in the way of new ideas, American schools will still be “waiting for Superman.”
By: Danny Huizinga
Congratulations to Stefanie Nissen on becoming the new P.R. Director of the Illinois Conservatives.
WASHINGTON, March 16, 2013 — Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is always a favorite at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). She was introduced by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) as her influence and endorsement were the catalysts behind Cruz’s successful race.
Palin instantly fired up the crowd as attendees rushed to snap pictures of “Mama Grizzly,” as she is affectionately known by conservatives. “I can spot those liberal media folk here to write their annual ‘conservatives in crisis’ story!” she began. “Raise your hands!”
Palin jumped right in to attacking Obama’s performance and the state of America’s economy. “[Obama] is considered a good politician ‒ which is like saying that Bernie Madoff was a good salesman,” she said. Citing a lower median income, poor growth, and a stagnant economy, she lamented the failure of Obama’s leadership.
After acknowledging the lack of government transparency, Palin looked directly at the camera and shouted, “Barack Obama, you lied!” Her direct criticism of Obama did not stop there. “Step away from the teleprompter and do your job!” she commanded.
Peppered with dogsled references, “Amen, sista’,” and words like “ain’t,” her speech continuously drew shouts and applause. The biggest cheer of the day, however, came when Palin pulled out a “Big Gulp” full of soda from behind the podium and proceeded to drink it defiantly in opposition to New York Mayor Bloomberg’s new (and temporarily overturned) ban on the large drinks.
Palin discussed the 2nd amendment and her Christmas presents to her husband, humorously remarking, “My husband’s got the gun, I’ve got the rack.” She continued with the jokes, addressing Republicans on college campuses: “You’ve gotta be thinking Sam Adams, not drinking Sam Adams.”
Palin argued against an expanding government that supports the Washington elites. Unless you’re well-connected, you’re not “at the table” in Washington. “You’re on the menu,” she said.
Shake off the culture of consultants and pollsters, Palin advocated. “If we truly know what we believe, we don’t need professionals to tell us.” The message she wants to send to Washington? “Get over yourself.”
By: Danny Huizinga
WACO, Texas, March 4, 2013 ― In just over a week, thousands of conservatives will gather at the Gaylord National Resort Hotel and Convention Center at National Harbor in Maryland, just outside Washington. The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) moved this year to the new location to accommodate more guests after a record-breaking attendance last year.
The conference will feature most of the forerunners of the conservative movement, providing an opportunity for potential presidential nominees to test the waters. Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin look to be strong possibilities for a 2016 race.
Former contenders such as former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich of Georgia, former vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry will also make appearances.
In addition, former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, after nearly four months of silence, will appear publicly for the first time since the election. Though the details of his speech are largely unknown, most speculate that Romney will not use CPAC as an opportunity to make a farewell speech. Instead, he is expected to try to re-energize the future of conservatism, though speculation abounds about how he will accomplish this task.
Romney’s speech ties in perfectly with the conference’s theme, “America’s Future: The Next Generation of Conservatives.” In the past, over 50 percent of the conference’s attendees have been under the age of 24, and discounted ticket prices for that age bracket reflect a continuing desire to attract students and young professionals. The speeches will focus on redefining the message, likely in similar terms to Sen. Ted Cruz’s message of “opportunity conservatism.” Sen. Cruz will stress similar points in his closing address at the conference.
However, the conference is not without its drama. Perhaps most notable is CPAC’s decision to not invite Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey to address the conference.
The decision to leave Christie off the speaking list was likely influenced by his perceived friendship with President Obama, in addition to his leaning left on key positions such as gun control and global warming. Although some applaud the decision, most analysts believe it was a mistake. Prominent conservative columnist, Jonah Goldberg, argues,
“The problem is that CPAC is the first bottleneck in the Republican presidential pipeline, and at precisely the moment the party should be making every effort to be — or at least seem! — as open as possible to differing points of view, it’s chosen to exclude the most popular governor in the country.”
Christie was not the only one snubbed by CPAC. Conservative gay-rights group GOProud was not invited to the conference for the second year in a row, prompting considerable outrage from both liberal and conservative columnists, especially on an issue that resonates with many young people.
Although CPAC promises to reignite the future of conservatism, the exclusions of Christie and GOProud have already caused unwanted controversy and may grow into serious obstacles to conservative success. The challenge ahead is to present strong messages that can overcome these obstacles and motivate the next generation of conservatives
By: Danny Huizinga