Monthly Archives: December 2012

America’s Future Doctors: Less Qualified, Less Trained

by Christopher Paslay

Affirmative action policies and doctor shortages are prompting medical schools to accept less qualified students and shorten training.  

When it comes to healthcare, I don’t care what color the doctor is, as long as he or she is qualified and properly trained; Ben Carson, the world-renowned African American neurosurgeon from Detroit and winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, is a case in point.

I’d be willing to bet most Americans feel the same way.  There are those folks, however, who are obsessed with skin color and believe that everything should be balanced—even a profession as important as medicine.  In other words, racial quotas and percentages should dictate acceptance into America’s medical schools, not just ability or merit.

As Chris Mondie writes on American Thinker:

In examining documents made public by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), it becomes apparent that race plays a disturbingly large role in the medical student application process.  The documents provide data about the applicant pool from years 2009-2011 — namely, the number of applicants within a given GPA and MCAT score range, and how many of those applicants gained acceptance to a school.  These data, it turns out, are organized by race.

A quick scan of the documents reveals that white students applying to medical school with a GPA in the 3.40-3.59 range and with an MCAT score in the 21-23 range (a below-average score on a test with a maximal score of 45) had an 11.5% acceptance rate (total of 1,500 applicants meeting these criteria).  Meanwhile, a review of minority students (black, Latino, and Native American) with the same GPA and MCAT range had a 42.6% acceptance rate (total of 745 applicants meeting these criteria).  Thus, as a minority student with a GPA and MCAT in the aforementioned ranges, you are more than 30% more likely to gain acceptance to a medical school.

In other words, there are some individuals who are less qualified to be doctors yet are walking around with stethoscopes simply because of the color of their skin.  If this doesn’t make you nervous, consider the fact that some of America’s premier medical schools—like New York University—are considering shortening their training programs from four years to three in an effort to help students save money on tuition and better meet the growing shortage of doctors in America.  According to a recent story in the New York Times:

Not only, they say, will those doctors be able to hang out their shingles to practice earlier, but they will save a quarter of the cost of medical school — $49,560 a year in tuition and fees at N.Y.U., and even more when room, board, books, supplies and other expenses are added in. . . .

The deans say that getting students out the door more quickly will accomplish several goals. By speeding up production of physicians, they say, it could eventually dampen a looming doctor shortage, although the number of doctors would not increase unless the schools enrolled more students in the future.

Just what America’s healthcare system needs: cheaper, faster trained doctors who are proportionately representative of every color of the rainbow.  This ethnically diverse brand of doctor who is a graduate of a “fast-track” medical school will nicely complement the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which President Obama insists will save Americans hundreds of billions of dollars and increase the quality of healthcare.

Speaking of Obamacare, Americans for Tax Reform reported the following:

In a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid, 18 Democrat senators and senators-elect have asked for “a delay in the implementation” of the Obamacare medical device tax.  Like most of the significant tax increases in Obamacare [there are 20 of them], the medical device tax is scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2013, conveniently after the 2012 presidential election.

Now even Democrats (who voted for it in the first place) are realizing the medical device tax will serve to hamper—not stimulate—America’s struggling economy.

There are, to be sure, infinitely more goodies to come from Obamacare, and the 1,500 new IRS agents that are being hired by the federal government just to figure out the new tax laws.

I hope I don’t get sick anytime soon.

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Poor English Skills Cost Latinos $38 Billion in Missed Wages Annually

by Christopher Paslay

More needs to be done to break Latinos from the vicious cycle of linguistic isolation.

Remember the late great Joey Vento, owner of Geno’s Steaks,  and his infamous Speak English sign?  Well, a newly released study from the Lexington Institute shows that the inability to speak proper English is keeping Latinos from more than just South Philly Cheesesteaks:

Spanish-speaking Americans with poor English skills miss out on $38 billion in earnings each year, according to a new study by the Lexington Institute.

“The latest Census results show that we are seeing poor English skills passing down from one generation to the next, with Spanish speakers paying the heaviest price in economic terms,” said Don Soifer, Executive Vice President of the Lexington Institute and one of the authors of the study, The Value of English Proficiency to the United States Economy. “We need to do better at breaking these cycles of linguistic isolation.”

On average, each adult with poor English skills earns $3,000 per year less than he would have earned as a proficient English speaker. By comparison, the wage penalty facing Latinos who do not earn a high school diploma is $4,700.

The population of English learners in the United States has grown substantially in recent decades, to over 25 million, according to the 2010 Census. More than five million of these English learners are currently attending U.S. elementary and secondary schools. Only one in four is foreign-born — the rest are second- or third-generation Americans.

“When it comes to closing the language gap between English learners and other students, we are seeing widely varying results nationally, with small gains,” Soifer noted.

The report, The Value of English Proficiency to the United States Economy, is available online here.

States With Large English Learner Populations, 2010

State

LEP Population Percent Share

California

19.8%

Texas

14.4%

New York

13.5%

New Jersey

12.5%

Nevada

12.3%

Florida

11.9%

Hawaii

11.8%

Arizona

9.9%

Illinois

9.6%

 

Source: 2010 American Community Survey, Table B16001, “Language Spoken at Home by Ability to Speak English for the Population 5 Years and Over”

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Teachers Unions Need a Realistic Plan to Brace for Tough Times Ahead

By Christopher Paslay

Randi Weingarten’s latest message to AFT members avoids dealing with America’s harsh fiscal reality.     

During Arlene Ackerman’s tenure—from July of 2008 to July of 2011—the Philadelphia School District spent nearly $10 billion.  As hundreds of millions of dollars in federal stimulus were going God knows where, those in the Philadelphia education community with a shred of common sense knew that when the money dried up, the School District was in big trouble.  Instead of practicing austerity by prioritizing needs, Ackerman and her crew spent, spent, spent—which eventually led to the biggest budget deficit in Philadelphia School District history—a hole over $700 million deep (a hole that the District is still borrowing to climb out of).

What many in the Philadelphia education community may not realize, however, is that the financial woes of the School District are small potatoes compared to what is brewing at the core of the Budget of the United States Government.  Sure, most are aware there is a budget deficit as well as a growing national debt, but most don’t realize just how drastic the situation is and few comprehend the actual compromises that will be needed to begin to stabilize the situation.

AFT President Randi Weingarten’s latest article in American Teacher Magazine is a case in point.  Headlined, “We need a fiscal plan that safeguards priorities,” the piece calls for union members across the country to send a message to Congress to find a “fair-and-balanced” deficit-reduction plan that would stop America from going off the fiscal cliff; if Congress doesn’t reach an agreement by the end of the year, the Bush tax cuts will expire and devastating across-the-board cuts will go into effect.  Weingarten writes:

That’s why the AFT has called upon members from across the country to tell Congress to work together and agree on a fair and balanced deficit-reduction plan that safeguards vital priorities and includes revenue increases, such as requiring corporations and the richest 2 percent of Americans to pay their fair share of taxes.  This would provide needed revenues to ensure essential programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and aid to states and localities for public education will not be slashed.

For the record, I agree with Weingarten.  Vital public education programs need funding (such as Title I grants and Head Start), and Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid need funds as well.  Here’s the problem with Weingarten’s message, however: 1—it’s based on a fantasy; and 2—it’s dangerously vague.

First, the fantasy part.  Raising taxes on the richest 2 percent by allowing the Bush tax cuts to end for those making over $250,000 a year (their tax rate would go from 35 percent to 39.6 percent) would only generate a measly $70 billion a year.  This may seem like a lot of money until you realize that the U.S. government spends more than $10 billion a day.  Loose translation: this is only enough money to run the government for seven days.

When Weingarten states that making the rich pay more “would provide needed revenues to ensure essential programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and aid to states and localities for public education will not be slashed,” she is simply purporting an economic myth; Medicare and Medicaid together cost $1 trillion annually.  This is not to say that the taxes of the very rich shouldn’t go from 35 percent to 39.6 percent, as President Obama wants.  But the idea that simply taxing the rich is going to save public education and health care is ridiculous (and dangerous—but I’ll get to that part in a moment).

Raising taxes on the rich is only a drop in the bucket; the fiscal crisis cannot be remedied without very real spending cuts.  There is this fantastic idea harbored by idealistic education advocates that the U.S. is the land of plenty, one of the richest nations on earth, and that there is more than enough money to go around—if only we could get those greedy wealthy corporate types and the like to pay their fair share.  This isn’t exactly true, either.  Consider these facts using 2009 data from the IRS:

  • 8,274 people filed tax returns with incomes over $10 million, which totaled $240.1 billion in income.  If the government took 100 percent of their money—not the 39.6 percent that the President wants—it would only cover 24 days of federal spending.
  • 236,883 people filed tax returns with incomes over $1 million, which totaled $726.91 billion in income.  If the government took 100 percent of their money, it would only cover 72 days of federal spending.
  • 3,924,490 people filed tax returns with incomes over $200K, which totaled $1.964 trillion in income.  If the government took 100 percent of their money, it would only cover about six months of federal spending.
  • 17,446,537 people filed tax returns with incomes over $100,000, which totaled $3.765 trillion in income.  If the government took 100 percent of their money, they would still be $30 billion short of 2012 spending, which comes in at $3.796 trillion.

The notion that simply making the rich “pay their fair share” will save Title I grants, Head Start, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid is, as I mentioned earlier, pure fantasy.  The reality of the situation is that things will need to be cut (think of the past two years in the Philadelphia School District for those who still don’t get the picture).  Loose translation: crazy spending eventually catches up with you.

Which brings me to my second point: Weingarten’s message to AFT members is dangerously vague.  Vague in terms of specifics on what the AFT is willing to compromise.  Yes, I said the forbidden word: compromise.  I know what old school union folk are thinking: Off with his head!  But it doesn’t matter whether I say the word or not, because it’s coming and there’s nothing that can be done about it.  Whether the rich pay more or not, real spending cuts are coming.  The only question is when.

If the president gets his way and Congress agrees to once again raise the debt ceiling (maybe to 18.5 trillion), then the big cuts won’t happen for another few years.  They’ll probably (and conveniently) happen after 2016, but when they do, look out (think the Philadelphia School District fiscal crisis on a grand scale).  Which is why the AFT should be bracing now for the coming craziness.  Weingarten should be honest with AFT members: Taxing the rich sounds great and makes us feel good, but it’s not going to save us.  What are our priorities, our real priorities?  What do we absolutely need, and what are we willing to negotiate?  We can’t pretend this away anymore.  Here are the numbers, and here is the situation.

The AFT (as well as President Obama) should start seriously figuring out what’s going on the chopping block so all of us can honestly start preparing for the inevitable.

As writers say in the world of books when a publisher demands that words be cut from a manuscript in order to make space:  Better that I do the surgery myself than let some crazy editor decide.

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Ancient Chinese Secret: Why Asian Students Excel Academically

by Christopher Paslay

Despite institutional racism and discriminatory affirmative action policies, Asian students find ways to succeed.  

In the 1970s there was a commercial for Calgon laundry detergent where a middle-aged housewife asks an Asian owner of a dry cleaner how he got his shirts so clean:

Housewife: How do you get shirts so clean, Mr. Lee?

Mr. Lee: Ancient Chinese secret.

At the end of the commercial Mr. Lee’s secret is spoiled by his wife when she shouts out from the back of the shop, We need more Calgon!

A similar question could be asked of Asian American students regarding their academic excellence:  Is there some ancient cultural secret?   How is it that Asian American students dominate their White, Hispanic and Black peers in nearly every subject at every grade level from the start of kindergarten to graduate school?  And the word dominate is not an overstatement.  Consider the results of the following tests:

2002 Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (Conducted at the start of Kindergarten):

  • Math: Asian 22.2; White 21; Hispanic 17.1; Black 16.5
  • Reading: Asian 25.7; White 23.2; Black 19.9; Hispanic 19.5

2011 NAEP National Results Grade 4:

  • Math: Asian 256; White 249; Hispanic 229; Black 224
  • Reading: Asian 235; White 231; Hispanic 206; Black 205
  • Geography: Asian 224; White 224; Hispanic 197; Black 192

2011 NAEP National Results Grade 8:

  • Math: Asian 303; White 293; Hispanic 270; Black 262
  • Reading: Asian 275; White 274; Hispanic 252; Black 249
  • Geography: Asian 224; White 224; Hispanic 197; Black 192
  • Writing: Asian 165; White 158; Hispanic 136; Black 132

2011 SAT:

  • Math: Asian 595; White 535; Hispanic 462; Black 427
  • Reading: White 528; Asian 517; Hispanic 451; Black 428
  • Writing: Asian 528; White 516; Hispanic 444; Black 417

2011 ACT (National Average Composite Score):

  • Asian 23.6; White 22.4; Hispanic 18.7; Black 17

2010 Graduate Record Exam (GRE) General Test Score:

  • Quantitative Reasoning: Asian 622; White 569; Hispanic 509; Black 431
  • Verbal Reasoning: White 493; Asian 486; Hispanic 446; Black 398
  • Analytical Writing: White 4; Asian 3.9; Hispanic 3.7; Black 3.4

2010 Law School Admissions Test (LSAT):

  • White 152.88; Asian 152.03; Hispanic 146.57; Black 142.25

What’s interesting about the academic success of Asian Americans is that this success has been achieved in the face of some pretty serious racial discrimination.  Ronald Takaki, an Asian American emeritus professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, wrote in his critically acclaimed book A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America:

Asian Americans began arriving in America long before many European immigrants. . . .  As “strangers” coming from a “different shore,” they were stereotyped as “heathen” and unassimilable.  Wanted as sojourning laborers, the Chinese were not welcomed as settlers.  During an economic depression, Congress passed the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act—the first law that prohibited the entry of immigrants on the basis of nationality.  The Chinese condemned this restriction as racist and tyrannical.  “They call us ‘Chink,’” complained a Chinese immigrant, cursing the “white demons.”  “They think we no good!  America cut us off.  No more come now, too bad!”  The Japanese also painfully discovered that their accomplishments in America did not lead to acceptance.  During World War II, the government interned a hundred twenty thousand Japanese Americans, two-thirds of them citizens by birth.  “How could I as a sixth-month-old child born in this country,” asked Congressman Robert Matsui years later, “be declared by my own Government to be an enemy alien?”

Discrimination of Asian Americans by the U.S. government continues even to this day.  Affirmative action policies are particularly harsh against Asian Americans, policies which ultimately keep many deserving Asian American students out of the nation’s top universities simply because too many of them are highly qualified.  According to an article in the New York Times headlined “Asian Americans in the Argument”:

“Admission to the nation’s top universities and colleges is a zero-sum proposition,” asserts the brief from the 80-20 National Asian American Educational Foundation, one of the groups opposed to affirmative action. . . . Particularly hard-hit are Asian-American students, who demonstrate academic excellence at disproportionately high rates but often find the value of their work discounted on account of either their race, or nebulous criteria alluding to it.” . . .

“If you look at the Ivy League, you will find that Asian-Americans never get to 20 percent of the class,” said Daniel Golden, author of “The Price of Admission” and editor at large for Bloomberg News. “The schools semiconsciously say to themselves, ‘We can’t have all Asians.’ ” Mr. Golden says it is helpful to think of Asians as the new Jews because some rules of college admissions, like geographic diversity, were originally aimed at preventing the number of Jews from growing too high.

So how, despite institutional racism and systematic government discrimination via affirmative action, do Asian American students manage to succeed in school?  How do they not only dominate their Black and Hispanic counterparts but also out-perform the dominant White establishment?  Again, is there some (to refer to the Calgon commercial) “ancient Chinese secret”?

A possible answer lies in family, work ethic and the priorities of the Asian culture itself.  According to the New York Times Article “For Asians, School Tests Are Vital Steppingstones”:

Almost universally, the Asian students described themselves on one edge of a deep cultural chasm.

They cited their parents’ observance of ancient belief systems like Confucianism, a set of moral principles that emphasizes scholarship and reverence for elders, as well as their rejection of child-rearing philosophies more common in the United States that emphasize confidence and general well-being.

Several students said their parents did not shy away from corporal punishment as a means of motivating them. And they said that rigorous testing was generally an accepted practice in their home countries, with the tests viewed not so much as measures of intelligence, but of industriousness.

“Most of our parents don’t believe in ‘gifted,’ ” said Riyan Iqbal, 15, the son of Bangladeshi immigrants, as he and his friends — of Bengali, Korean and Indian descent — meandered toward the subway from the Bronx High School of Science one recent afternoon. “It’s all about hard work.”

Moral principles.  Scholarship.  Reverence for elders.  Hard work.

Another possible factor of Asian success: Home environment.  Consider these findings from the Educational Testing Service’s 2007 policy information report, The Family: America’s Smallest School:

Percentage of Out-of-Wedlock Births to Women Under Age 30, by Racial/Ethnic Group, 2003-2004:

  • Asian 16; White 34; Hispanic 46; Black 77

Percentage of Children in Families Where No Parent Has Full-Time, Year-Round Employment, by Racial/Ethnic Group, 2005:

  • White 27; Asian 32; Hispanic 39; Black 50

Percentage of Children Ages 3 to 5 Who Were Read to Every Day in the Past Week by a Family Member, 2005:

  • White 68; Asian 66; Black 50; Hispanic 45

Percentage of Eighth-Grade Students Who Reported Missing Three or More Days of School in the Previous Month, 2005:

  • Asian 12; White 19; Hispanic 23; Black 24

According to the ETS report, Asian American students also watched far less television, played far less video games, and had higher parental involvement in school than did their White, Hispanic and Black counterparts.

Although the late Harvard professor Richard J. Herrnstein and American Enterprise Institute Bradley Fellow Charles Murray used 70 years worth of cognitive tests to conclude that Asians have an average IQ of 105 (which they claimed was 5 points higher than Whites, 15 points higher than Hispanics, and 20 points higher than Blacks), the fact that Asian Americans dominate their peers academically clearly has more to do with nurture rather than with nature.

In other words, the Asian American culture is very academically oriented.  This, above all else, could be the “ancient Chinese secret.”

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California Teachers Union Video Shows Rich Man Urinating on Poor

Photo

by Christopher Paslay

A new video produced by the California Federation of Teachers spreads propaganda and gives unions a bad name.

Every so often I run across a person, usually on philly.com’s comment board, who hates teachers unions with the fire of a thousand suns.  I’m talking about a palpable, venomous hate, as if teachers unions were not a collection of hardworking professionals dedicated to educating America’s youth but a pack of child molesters who hung out with Jerry Sandusky and his crew of pedophiles.

I never understood this level of disgust, and have written tens of thousands of words trying to defend the good name of teachers and our unions in an effort to improve our public image and show the world who we really are.  Recently, however, I ran across a video produced by the California Federation of Teachers that boiled my blood and helped me understand why some folks detest teachers unions with such passion.

Fox News reports:

An animated video produced by a California teachers union uses the crude imagery of a rich man urinating on common folks to decry what narrator Ed Asner claims is rich people’s refusal to pay their share of taxes.

The crude footage is part of a “Tax the rich: An animated fairy tale,” an eight-minute video written and directed by California Federation of Teachers’ communications director Fred Glass. In it, Asner describes a mythical land that seems to represent the U.S. and how it financed its services. He says the rich sought to evade taxes and put their money into “Wall Street” – yet another clue to the real identity of the storybook country. . . .

The word “trickle” is illustrated with the bodily function metaphor, which Kyle Olson, founder of the Michigan-based Education Action Group, said left him disgusted.

“That was the most galling thing about it, the image of the rich guy standing at the top of the scale urinating down on the poor,” Olson said. “It’s nothing more than leftist propaganda.”

On Thursday I wrote an article here on Chalk and Talk about Capitalist Pimps and Marxist Hustlers fighting for their piece of the educational pie which prompted some readers to ask for specific examples of such behavior.  Well, this video by the California teachers union is a glowing illustration of Marxist Hustler nonsense.  I understand the need for political persuasion and spin–even for a touch of propaganda to brainwash the uninformed.  But a rich old white guy pissing on the working class people (specifically, right on a black woman’s head) is over the top.

A number of my fellow teachers claim class warfare is a tactic used only by the right, such as Mitt Romney’s now infamous “47 percent” comment.  Compassionate folks on the left, they argue, are above this kind of divisive behavior.  Not true.  The california teachers union video is not only class warfare at its mud-slinging worst, but it’s also race and gender baiting as well.  The CFT disagrees:

Union spokesman Stephen Hopcraft said the complaints about the image amounted to “mock outrage,” but said it may be edited out to prevent it from overwhelming the underlying message of the video.

“We’re very proud of the video,” Hopcraft said. “But maybe we’ll adjust that frame so it doesn’t take over the video. We don’t want any distractions about the message, and we don’t want any debate about a particular frame to drown out the real issue.”

Proud of the video?  Amazing.  This makes me ashamed to be in a teachers union.  I understand full well that as a union member I’m not supposed to say such a thing for purposes of solidarity–our power is in our numbers; both the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers and the California Federation of Teachers are members of the American Federation of Teachers.  Good little union members are supposed to swallow this garbage whole for the sake of the big picture.  But I can’t.    I can’t stomach that whole leftist blind allegiance group-think mentality.

Besides the tasteless crudity of the video, the facts aren’t even accurate; the top 10 percent of America’s earners pay 70 percent of federal income tax, and the top 1 percent pay nearly 40 percent of income tax (and the bottom 50 percent pays a measly 2 percent).  According to Education Action Group News:

The video also claims that when the housing market crashed, the government printed money for “rich people” but they didn’t give any to “ordinary people whose houses and jobs were broken by the crash.”

That’s a patently false statement, as evidenced by a handy-dandy chart courtesy of the New York Times. Here’s a sampling of what was contained in President Obama’s $787 billion stimulus package:

  • Help states prevent cuts to essential services like education – $53.6 billion
  • Extend and increase unemployment compensation – $35.8 billion
  • Health coverage under Cobra – $25.1 billion
  • Increase food assistance – $20.9 billion
  • Increase the maximum Pell Grant by $500 – $15.6 billion
  • Provide cash payment to seniors, disabled veterans and other needy individuals – $14.4 billion
  • Provide additional money to schools serving low-income children – $13 billion
  • Provide additional money for special education – $12.2 billion
  • Create new bonds for improvements in public education – $10.9 billion

And the list goes on and on.

The California Federation of Teachers’ video is little more than unsurprising leftist propaganda, aimed to indoctrinate children with no basis in fact.

Video creator Fred Glass at least got the pissing part right–the golden showers part.

Speaking of golden showers, why stop there?  If you’re reading this, Mr. Fred Glass, why not let the CFT get real raunchy and incorporate some brown showers or a little scat play?  You could edit in some rich old white curmudgeon squatting and taking a dump right on a black woman’s head.  Maybe some feces fingerpainting?  Perhaps the CFT could ask Ed Asner, the video’s narrator, to do the dirty work.  He’s a white old rich Marxist fart (I’m sure Ed would go for it being that he also supports convicted Philadelphia cop killer Mumia Abu Jamal).  We could have old Lou Grant himself fingerpaint a KKK on the woman’s back and incorporate some “coded racism.”

Bravo, Mr. Glass, you goofball.  Way to sweeten the image of all us hardworking school teachers.

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School District Turf War: Capitalist Pimps vs. Marxist Hustlers

by Christopher Paslay

On the surface, the battle over school closings and the expansion of charters is about the kids.  In reality, it’s about money and power. 

Here are some facts about the residents of the City of Philadelphia:

  • 21 percent over the age of 25 have not graduated high school
  • 78 percent over 25 do not have a college degree 
  • 21 percent speak a language other than English at home
  • $36,251 is the median household income
  • $500 million are owed in delinquent property taxes
  • 81 percent of students attending public schools are economically disadvantaged

What do these facts indicate?  Simply stated, they show that the engine driving Philadelphia’s public schools—families and communities—is weak and sputtering.  Unlike the more affluent suburban districts where families use their knowledge and clout and power to micromanage nearly every aspect of their child’s education—successfully influencing policy and arranging for the dismissal of teachers, administrators and school board members if things don’t go according to their wishes—the majority of families at the core of the Philadelphia School District are, to put it bluntly, passengers instead of drivers. 

Unfortunately, this leaves the district and its families open to all manner of opportunists looking to funnel money or push political agendas.  In broad terms, these opportunists fall into two major categories: Capitalist Pimps and Marxist Hustlers.   

Capitalist Pimps

The main goal of the Capitalist Pimp is short term: to make money, and lots of it.  Their mindset is to get in and get out.  Profit comes first, even before politics, even before power.  In fact, politics and power only matter in terms of the net effect they have on money.  The bottom line is the bottom line is the bottom line.  Such is the mind of the pure Capitalist Pimp.   

There have been a number of Capitalist Pimps who’ve managed to extract large amounts of cash money from the Philadelphia School District in recent years (and some continue to do so).  I won’t name names, but I’ll give a basic character description: they are in positions of power, either lawyers, politicians, business owners, private consultants, charter operators, or academic elites.  They have a knack for showing up at just the right time, and schmooze and manipulate their way to lucrative paydays.  They always promise big results but end up delivering the status quo (or worse, they destroy what they were claiming to save).  They are of all races, genders, and political affiliations.  Their motives are simple, linear, and direct.  They are curt, shrewd, and standing in plain sight in front of our children and schools.    

Capitalist Pimps have brought us the following: corrupt charters; ineffective education management organizations (EMOs); out-of-touch consultants; scripted curriculum; a “Facilities Master Plan” that recommends closing 40-50 District schools in the near future and ensures that charters make-up 40 percent of the PSD; performance pay; achievement networks; a Shared Services Organization that cuts the pay of union workers; outright union busting; a proposal to end teacher tenure and seniority; and the Great Schools Compact, among other goodies.     

Marxist Hustlers

The main goal of the Marxist Hustler is long term: to sow his political oats in such a manner as to lay claim to the land for eternity.  Their aim is to grow roots and infiltrate the school system with orthodoxy.  “Social justice” comes first, and drives every decision, every breath, every movement.  The kind of curriculum taught in school is rooted in social justice, the types of tests given are about social justice, pedagogy and instruction stem from social justice.  Grading is about social justice.  Discipline is about social justice.  The spoken word itself is about social justice.  And yes, even thinking is about social justice.  Social justice is, of course, a means to an end: power.  Power to control curriculum, testing, pedagogy and instruction, grading, discipline, speaking, and thought.  Why?  Because the Marxist Hustler at his core is a guilty elitist (and privileged) control freak who thinks he knows better than everybody else. 

What does the Marxist Hustler think he knows?  That things are unfair, and that everything—everything—must be done to make things “equal.”  The Marxist Hustler operates out of a postmodern perspective that preaches there are no universal human truths, that all things are a matter of cultural perspective and the result of a social construct, an oppressive construct that is ultimately dominated by 1.—the Rich, and 2.—the White Western Establishment.  The Rich and the White Western Establishment are inherently the root of all injustice and must be deconstructed at all costs (any skeptic of the Marxist Hustler agenda need only to enroll in any university multicultural education course or read academia’s educational canon of Paulo Freire, Jonathan Kozol, and the like).

Since the early 1990s (until the Capitalists Pimps showed up, that is), Marxist Hustlers have ruled the PSD and its surrounding communities.  I won’t name names, but I’ll give a basic character description: they are the radical grass roots activists who block traffic and engage in political street theater; they are the civil rights advocates who habitually pull the race card; they are the academic elitists who push postmodern progressivism; they are the privileged whites who romanticize ethnic poverty and whose guilt drives a well-intentioned yet patronizing interaction with the disenfranchised; they are the bleeding heart law firms that have a fetish for the incarcerated.         

Marxist Hustlers have brought us the following: a toothless school discipline code that puts the rights of the unruly few over the rights of the hardworking many; detracked classes; student-centered instruction; fuzzy group work; A.P. classes that take non-A.P. students; gifted classes that take non-gifted students; the erosion of real deadlines; the erosion of real grammar; the erosion of real math; the erosion of real literacy; fuzzy project-based learning; hip-hop in place of real science; credit recovery; grade inflation; the erosion of respect for authority; the erosion of family, religion, and traditional values; Ebonics; Whole Language; ethnomathmatics; the erosion of student accountability; identity politics; the fantasy known as “coded racism”; race-based school discipline; and an all-round socialist education system that attempts to make everyone equal, keep all students and their families “on the plantation,” and attacks any outsider who challenges their collective suffocating group-think mentality. 

No Winners

Unfortunately, the turf war between the Capitalist Pimps and the Marxist Hustlers for the hearts and minds (and dollars) of Philadelphia public school students and their families will wage on for years to come.  Who comes out on top remains to be seen.  Although both sides will ultimately tell you that they are fighting for the good of the people, there are no winners; the kids are the ones who suffer.  Until our children and their families accept change on an individual basis (and adopt the principle that all change is self change), they will remain the raw materials that the aforementioned pimps and hustlers are fighting to possess.

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Filed under Achievement Gap, Charter Schools