American Elephants


Tucker Carlson Interviews Leader of Berkeley Protests by The Elephant's Child

Published on Feb 13, 2017

Yvette Felarca, a middle school teacher and “By Any Means Necessary” leader explains to Fox News’ Tucker Carlson her definition of fascism and why gay immigrant Milo Yiannopoulos shouldn’t be allowed to speak anywhere at any time.

Fascism seems to be any view that conflicts with her own, and she is quite sure of her diagnosis of all things fascist. Might be described as sheer venom. You may not disagree. Parents with a child in middle school might want to consider homeschooling.



#Black Lives Matter Seems to Be Remarkably Uninterested in The Lives of Poor Black Kids by The Elephant's Child

Oooops! Black Lives Matter just exposed their organization as entirely political, and not much interested in the lives of black children. Betsy DeVos, newly confirmed Secretary of Education, was blocked from attempting to enter the Jefferson Academy middle school in Washington DC by Black Lives Matter protesters blocking he way and heckling, reportedly organized by the Washington Teacher’s Union.

The Alliance For Educational Justice claimed,  “Today, families, residents and community leaders joined to block U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos from disrupting learning at Jefferson Academy.”

“Betsy DeVos has a track record of privatizing and undermining public schools that serve Black students for financial gain,” said Makia Green, an organizer with the Washington, DC chapter of Black Youth Project 100. “Today’s action made it clear: our community will do everything in our power to resist DeVos‘ destructive policies and her attacks on an entire generation of Black students.”

DeVos responded in a statement following the incident saying, ” I respect peaceful protest, and I will not be deterred in executing the vital mission of the Department of Education. No school door in America will be blocked from those seeking to help our nation’s school children.”

The reason that Betsy DeVos was nominated to be Secretary of Education is that she has been a long time advocate for poor black children trapped in poor schools, and pushes for charter schools as the best answer to the need for parents to have a voice in their children’s education.

There is a lot of misunderstanding about “charter schools.” Charter schools are public schools. Some presume that because of the word “charter” that they are somehow private schools. Not so. Those who wish to start a charter  must develop an educational plan to submit to the state, and when their plan is made public—gather enough interest to make a separate school viable. They may have more freedom from federal and state regulation than regular public schools.

A study reported in Forbes in 2014 showed evidence that charter high schools had 7-11%  higher graduation rates than their public school peers, boosted college enrollment rates by 10-11 percent, were more apt to complete at least 3 years of post-secondary education, and charter school attendance was associated with an increase in maximum annual earnings between ages 23 and 35 years of age, about 12.7% higher than those who attended a traditional high school.

Different states have different rules. Charter schools usually operate on a smaller budget—but better ideas, teachers are often paid less (because they get to really teach—some teachers go for it) (a big part of the reason that teacher’s unions oppose charter schools and charter teachers are not necessarily members of the unions). Like much in American life, schools operate under far more rules than they used to. I’m not sure if all states even have charter schools. New Orleans has the highest percentage of students in charter schools, over 90%. Here are five facts about charters from the Reason Foundation, in simple graph form.

Here in Washington State, the state teacher’s union lobby has fought endlessly to ensure that all public funds are given only to traditional public schools. As the populous Seattle area is reliably Lefty, the Supreme Court broke with the precedent set by six other states that faced similar battles, ignored the vast amount of evidence that charter schools improve academic outcomes for students, ignored the over one million students currently on wait lists for admission to charter schools, and their parents who favor charters, and ruled that public funding of charter schools was unconstitutional. The legislature has found funding from Lottery revenue for charters, but the state should work to ensure that funding follows the children, not the teacher’s unions. A better education means so much to minority children trapped in failing schools that it is particularly interesting to see Black Lives Matter opposing charter schools and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

You have perhaps noticed that leftists seem to always appear in organized groups — Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, the list goes on and on, but when you get down to what they actually advocate, it’s often just hard-left politics, not black lives, nor $15 an hour, nor economic equality.

A group of 160 black education leaders are fighting against the NAACP’s proposed stance against charter schools, which shows the diversity of views of charters.

An article from AEI last August tries to offer some clarity on the battles, showing that advocates of different positions are relying on different evidence, and doesn’t clarify anything at all.

More troubling is a report from the Minneapolis/St Paul Star Tribune on the trend for violence in the public schools, and the dangers that teachers face. School disciplinary policies have removed many consequences for bad behavior in response to liberal demands for an ideology of “equity.” In St. Paul schools in 2010-11, “15 percent of the district’s black students were suspended at least once — five times more than white students. This racial differential mirrors those in schools across the Twin Cities and throughout the nation…. St. Paul school leaders have assumed that differences in discipline rates are the result, not of higher rates of misconduct by black students, but of the racism of teachers and administrators, who are believed to unfairly target black students.” To eliminate statistical disparities, they abandoned meaningful penalties. I read a lot, but I haven’t seen much reporting on violence in schools—just enough to suggest that it is perhaps far more prevalent than is realized. Do read this whole article if you care about kids and education.

Betsy DeVos has long been a passionate advocate for poor black children facing failing schools, and suggests that more charters will help. It’s a big job and I certainly wish her well. Progressives believe that all things are better done  by the federal government, with themselves in control of the government.  Conservatives believe that there are few things that the federal government can do satisfactorily, and that most tasks should be devolved to the states, or to the closest government to the people who are affected by the tasks. That old “We the People” thing.



Notable and Quotable by The Elephant's Child

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Daniel Hannan, Member of the European Parliament:

I have struggled for years to explain that politicians who cant about fairness don’t mean equal treatment or justice, or indeed, any practical outcome whatsoever. What they really mean is that they’re nice people. and they’re prepared to prove how nice they are with your money.

John Steele Gordon: An Empire of Wealth

This willingness to accept present discomfort and risk for the hope of future riches that so characterized these immigrants, and the millions who would follow over the next two centuries, has made a profound, if immeasurable effect on the history of the American economy. Just as those who saw no conflict between worshiping God and seeking earthly success in the seventeenth century, those who sought economic independence in the eighteenth had a powerful impact on the emerging American culture.

John Steele Gordon: ibid

Masterpieces created by a committee are notably few in number, but the United States Constitution is certainly one of them. Amended only twenty-seven times in 215 years, it came into being just as the world was about to undergo the most profound—and continuing—period of economic change the human race has known. The locus of power in the American economy has shifted from sector to sector as that economy has developed. Whole sections of the country have risen and fallen in economic importance. New methods of doing business and economic institutions undreamed of by the Founding Fathers have come into existence in that time, while others have vanished. Fortunes beyond the imagination of anyone living in the pre-industrial world have been built and destroyed. And yet the Constitution endures, and the country continues to flourish under it.



Memo to Peter E. Nordstrom & Janet Napolitano, Re: Human Nature 101 by The Elephant's Child

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When confronted with young thugs ( I do observe the Che tee shirt and “We need Socialism”sign, and probably Mexican flag). In the case of the University of California at Berkeley, the Black Bloc who threaten to, or  do create havoc when you surrender immediately to their silly demands, you will get more of the same behavior. If they can bully you into dumping a supplier, what will they bully you into next, Mr. Nordstrom? Mrs. Napolitano, you have taught the Black Bloc that you are so frightened of them that you will stand down your police force and let them do whatever they want. Human Nature 101. They will.

Businesses who engage publicly in politics are apt to find that their customers are just as able, or even more, to engage in politics as well, and take their business elsewhere for a very long time.

This time the Black Bloc and Anarchists have learned that a little breaking of windows, setting fires and scrawling signs on buildings, or destroying banks will get little, if any response—they’ll be back to do even worse. It’s clear that they enjoy creating havoc.

In Seattle, the anarchists turned out to disrupt the World Trade Organization Meeting. They were successful. Now, every time there is something to protest—surprise, there they are again.

In his last hours as president, Barack Obama pardoned 78 federal prisoners and commuted the sentences of 153 others. Most were convicted of drug crimes —selling and trafficking, not being caught with a joint. At least one of them is already back behind bars, being found with a couple of pounds of cocaine. Nice going, Mr. President. Obviously, anyone convicted of a drug crime is convicted because of “racism,” not because of anything they did.

The reason we have laws, courts and prisons is not because we are a bunch of meanies. It’s because the bad behavior of a few hurts ordinary citizens, and we want to prevent more bad behavior, and hopefully teach those who behave badly not to do it again.

Incentives matter—because ordinary people respond to them. Plain human nature.  Wise to keep it in mind.

P.S. Probably not Nordstrom regulars. It’s the rest of us who are.



Betsy DeVos is Confirmed as Secretary of Education by The Elephant's Child

john-stossel-what-trumps-education-pick-betsy-devos-should-have-said__850408_I consider myself a sort of expert on the subject of education— Not because I am a graduate of any graduate school of education—I am not.

My mother was a teacher, and quite a good one. I actually was one of her pupils, and she always graded me down to dispel any suggestion of favoritism. My grandmother was a teacher, an aunt was a teacher, and a grandfather was a college president. That doesn’t give me any qualification beyond a general family interest in education.

My expertise comes from 1. being tutored for first grade, 2. attending a small town grade school, 3. attending a one-room country schoolhouse for two years (pump on the front porch, woodshed out back with two separate outhouses) 4. attending an exclusive private girls school run by Episcopal nuns, 5. small town high school, 6. large town high school, 6. exclusive private college, 7. professional art school, 8. a California State College grad school. That should make me some kind of expert, shouldn’t it? I loved the one room schoolhouse. We had a very good teacher, and for science she sent us out into the fields to collect wild flowers and frogs and pollywogs—doesn’t get much better than that.

Betsy DeVos is an excellent candidate for Secretary of Education because she is passionately devoted to the idea that parents should have an important voice in their children’s education, and that charter schools are the best answer we have to give kids trapped in bad public schools a real chance for a good future.

Democrats have been opposed to Mrs. DeVos largely because she has been nominated by Donald Trump, and teachers unions. My expertise in education has noted over the years that all objections to anything in or about the public schools has one answer—they need more money. Even the courts have gotten into the business of ordering states to raise taxes in order to give the public schools more money.

Yet it is clear to anyone who is paying attention—that is not the problem. I suspect that the schools of education teach prospective teachers that if the teachers praise the kids enough in parent meetings, the voters will probably vote for more money. Yet teachers complain that they have to spend their own money for supplies. Hmmn.

Democrats have been complaining about children being excluded from school for bad behavior, and suggesting that it is not right. Racism, sexism, etc. Yet I did see an article that indicates that teachers are increasingly attacked in the classroom by violent kids, yet that is seldom reported.

I have a good longtime friend who is an expert in remedial education, and education policy. At one point she did some studies with convicts in prison, and found that large percentages of them were deficient in the ability to read. Inconclusive, for it would have taken many more studies to come up with verifiable fact, but interesting.

Democrats wanted to turn down Betsy DeVos on the basis that she attended private school and sent her children to private school, therefore she knew nothing about public school. (Actually she probably has a better idea of where public schools are deficient). Interestingly, many of the Democrat Senators who were most vocal in voting against DeVos also exclusively attended private schools. When parents have enough money for private schools, that’s often where their kids go. The two Republicans who voted against DeVos are singularly dependent on funding from the teachers unions.

I am deeply influenced by the fact that President Barack Obama sent his two daughters to the toniest private school in Washington D.C., yet tried hard to eliminate the Opportunity Scholarship program that gave poor black children access to the schools of their choice.

Here are some of the arguments for Betsy DeVos:

ADDENDUM: Thomas Sowell who just quit commenting returned to discuss the Betsy DeVos confirmation hearings.



The Spontaneous Demonstrations at Our Airports Were Carefully Planned. by The Elephant's Child

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Those “Spontaneous Anti-Trump Airport protests weren’t Spontaneous at all,” reports Investors Business Daily. They were carefully planned by hard-core left-wing activist groups. Professional organizers have been waiting for, and planning for Trump’s orders on deportations, bans and detentions. Trump made it clear early that he planned ‘on day one’ to issue a temporary ban on visas and refugees from countries where terrorism was rampant. All these groups had to do was be ready when he made good on his campaign promise.

The news media was astonished, and rushed to report every last sign, shout, shouter, bullhorn and count the crowds. Yet the groups planning the “spontaneous” protests had been eager to share , and claimed to be in “constant contact with lawyers’ associations, lawmakers and reporters.” So how much was fact and how much was made up or wildly exaggerated? How many times did you hear that it was a “Muslim Ban?” It was not. There was no Muslim Ban.

The protests are absurd. Trump’s orders are clearly within his executive powers. The Washington State judge who granted a federal stay suggesting that the executive orders were unconstitutional was out of line, and his suggestions that the orders were harming the people of Washington, silly.

The executive order instituted a 90 day suspension (not ban) of immigrants from countries listed by the Obama administration as having a significant presence of foreign terrorist organizations. It also suspended the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days to give Homeland Security and the DNI time to determine how to make sure that terrorists weren’t slipping in as refugees—something ISIS has said they are doing. It also sets a slightly lower cap on refugees this year  than has been the norm for the past decade.

The countries concerned were listed by the Obama administration, not by Trump. President Obama barred large groups of immigrants at least six times out of national security concerns. But then his most recent executive order was to ban any refugees from Cuba—sending them back to the Castros’ communist Cuba.

Catholic Archbishop Bashar Warda of Irbil in Iraq plaintively asked:

“Where were all those protesters when ISIS came to kill Christians and Yazidis and other minority groups? They were not protesting when the tens of thousands of displaced Christians my archdiocese has cared for since 2014 received no financial assistance from the U.S. government or the U.N. There were no protests when Syrian Christians were only let in at a rate that was 20 times less than the percentage of their population in Syria.

I do not understand why some Americans are now upset that the many minority communities that faced a horrible genocide will finally get a degree of priority in some manner.

The Center for Immigration Studies suggests that we can help far more refugees if we help to settle them close to home, where they can more easily return home when the current danger passes. Most refugees don’t really want to move to a new country and an unknown new life. but would rather remain at home where everyone speaks their language and their relatives live, if it was safe.



The Summing-Up: At Some Point Reality Appears by The Elephant's Child

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People generally liked Barack Obama. He was handsome, stylish, clearly a good family man and cared deeply about his daughters. I’m not sure if he liked his dogs, but he put up with them for his daughters’ sake.

When it came to the economy, it gradually became clear that he didn’t know what he was doing, nor did his advisors. It’s not clear to what extent he listened to advisors. He remarked more than once that he knew more about speeches than his speechwriters, and more about most any subject than the experts he picked. There is a suspicion that he really meant that.

So what we ended the Obama presidency with was a fairly high approval rating because people liked him, and a very terrible approval rating on the right direction/wrong direction part. He will return from his post-inauguration vacation soon, and we can expect him to have forgotten completely George W. Bush’s polite silence to give the new guy a chance to do his best.

Progressives can’t help themselves. They want to control, to regulate, and to fix ordinary human nature, unfortunately they want to do it with other people’s money. To fix things and make themselves feel good about what they are doing, they want to do lots of welfare, but they can’t manage to take away enough of the money of the well-off to make the not well-off equal, which was their goal.  It never works, but the lure of socialism seems eternal.

Venezuela, out of toilet paper and most anything usually found on store shelves, can’t afford to deliver the oil which they have in abundance to anyone who might pay them for it. They are dead broke. Another lesson in why socialism never, never works, but the enthusiasts won’t learn it this time either.




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