Education

LA Teachers’ Union school reopening demands have nothing to do with COVID-19

Who knew? One might logically think that the main reason to keep schools closed would be to mitigate the risk of a secondary outbreak of COVID-19 even though there is no evidence that kids are super-spreaders. Over 40 countries around the world have kids back at school with no mass outbreaks reported. Australia is a case in point.

The LA teacher’s union (UTLA), a part of the LA United Schools District (LAUSD) has published a report titled, ‘The Same Storm, but Different Boats: The Safe and Equitable Conditions for Starting LAUSD in 2020-21

In order to ‘safely’ reopen, it says the following demands must be met:

  1. Defund the police
  2. End chartered schools,
  3. Wealth tax on billionaires
  4. Millionaire tax,
  5. More paid sick leave,
  6. Abolition of ICE,
  7. Supporting illegal immigrants financially,
  8. Medicare for all and
  9. and an additional $250 million to reopen schools.

Naturally, UTLA President Cecily Myart-Cruz pushed back saying it was just right-wing propaganda.

Note Myart-Cruz is the Chair of the CTA Civil Rights Committee, Chair of the NEA Black Caucus and member of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles. No bias there.

One can only imagine what kids in her care are being indoctrinated with.

Why wasn’t COVID-19 the focus of reopening? Why hasn’t the UTLA talked about the 30% of kids that haven’t logged in for distance learning once? Presumably money is the cure? Forget that kids are merely pawns in the UTLA’s sinister goals.

Don’t despair, Myart-Cruz said the following in a press release,

The astronomical amount of money that billionaires, charter school chains, and corporations have received during this crisis in comparison to the support given to healthcare and low-income communities is unconscionable and contributes to the skyrocketing infection rates…During the uprisings we have seen police in militarized gear while hospital workers beg for life-saving personal protective gear. The money is there for safer communities, but it is going to the wrong places. We cannot open school buildings during this crisis without the adequate support that our educators, students and communities we serve need.”

Forget finding a cure. Just hold kids to ransom. Keep them in perpetual poverty. Complain it is all to do with systemic racism and oppression.

Although there is a sense of irony to bash billionaires, many of the left in a city and state which are Democrat-controlled.

Proud Parents?

How proud these parents must be to have their toddlers carry profane signs to protest Trump?

Even worse their radical parents have taught them how to say “F*ck The Police“.

Insane.

0% math proficiency in 13 Baltimore high schools

It has become apparent that maths proficiency across 13 city run schools in Baltimore, Maryland is ZERO. Nada. Zilch. This is up from 6 schools in 2016.

One might assume that it is a lack of investment. Not so.

According to the Census Bureau, this is the seventh consecutive year the state of Maryland has had four public school districts rank in the top 10 of per pupil spending.

So for all of the destruction of monuments and painting of Black Lives Matter on many street corners, perhaps one might question improving this metric will have a much bigger impact than virtue signaling.

Baltimore has had a Democrat mayor since 1967. Or with the exception of 1963-67 when it went Republican, Democrats have been in charge for the last 80 years.

Education could change forever

College

This piece isn’t so much about Trump’s plan to do the above, but a precursor to where education is probably likely to head. Going forward, skills will be more prized than some kid with a liberal arts degree in Marxist philosophy.

The education sector needs to take a long hard look at the changes heading for it.

The declining standards in education are one thing. They are morphing into ever more political campuses, encouraged by the universities themselves. Here are 10 examples.

  1. A Cambridge professor tweeted “whites they don’t matter.
  2. A Stanford law professor testified during the impeachment hearings that she crosses the road when she sees a Trump building.
  3. The University of Texas ran a MasculinUT program built around “restrictive masculinity” and tries to encourage men to drop traditional gender roles.
  4. Yale University’s Chaplain’s Office believes a $70,000pa education requires a bouncy castle and/or cookies & colouring to reduce anxiety for students.
  5. University of Manchester’s student union voted to say “applause” is not inclusive and can distress people.
  6. Cambridge University union students deemed Remembrance Day as something that glorifies war, not about respecting the dead and those who served.
  7. UTS thinks that lowering the ATAR requirements to get more girls into STEM fields makes sense.  
  8. Academia signed this open letter supporting the Extinction Rebellion which highlighted how poor the vetting processes were in trying to appear woke. The stats spoke volumes.
  9. Prof Peter Ridd won his court case for unfair dismissal against James Cook University for his challenging of the orthodoxy about the deterioration of the Great Barrier Reef.
  10. Sydney University students were being marked down by certain lecturers if students used language such as ‘mankind’, ‘workmanship’ or similar words in assignment work.

We could go on.

These much-prized institutions are hardly making a strong case for the fees they charge. We whole-heartedly agree with Bernie Sanders that education should be free. In our view if and only if this is the standard of the faculty staff. It is increasingly looking worthless against the exorbitant fees charged.

Australia makes a great case in point. It bet the farm on the surging ranks of foreign (especially Chinese) students paying exorbitant fees to get degrees from our tertiary institutions. So many thought the gravy train would never end that they expanded facilities and never made contingency plans for an exogenous shock – like coronavirus.

Downsizing of universities is inevitable. Good professors will be bid away to schools that can afford them. Many surplus-to-requirements faculty staff will be axed. With that morale will sink and internal finger-pointing will exacerbate the problem and standards will slip further.

The future of education may end up ditching $100,000s in student loans to an education business model which allows students to pick the academics they want in the fields they are interested in. We recall the MBA course taken 17 years ago. We were forced to pay $1,000s of dollars to take a course in basic economics, a subject we took 4 years to complete with distinction to attain a B Ec.

We are reminded post-GFC at the number of financial industry professionals who took up a CFA degree with the hopes of attaining a $200,000+ annual salary. Sadly, 85% of the job offers for people with that qualification were for $90,000 or less. Makes sense. Software sophistication is such that a lot of degrees have less value because AI can replace it.

Interesting that Aussie universities are planning to charge double for less useful degrees in liberal arts and less for traditional fields in economics, medicine or law. i.e. discouraging degrees that add little value in the real world.

The new model may end up looking like an educational supermarket. Someone who wants to get into marketing might want to take a course run by Prof. Michael Porter from Harvard University or someone in marine ecology could look to learn a course conducted by Prof Peter Ridd.

All we can say is that education in twenty years won’t look anything like today. Skills matter. Old systems run by faculties that push ideology over education will end up shooting themselves in the foot. The finance market has already moved to a new model where clients pay for “value” of the analyst, not the “firm”. Bring it on.

The most refreshing political speech ever

Last week we reported the surprise parade given to South Dakota (SD) Governor Kristi Noem for her handling of the coronavirus crisis. It is so refreshing to see Noem on the straight and level with her constituents. Talking at them, not down to them. Noem took office in January 2019. 

If she keeps up this attitude of respecting the personal freedoms of her residents rather than tie them up in red tape they may end up chiselling her face into the state’s most famous monument, Mt. Rushmore.

South Dakota took a similar approach to Sweden. Both put powers in the hands of the people to exercise common sense.

While infection rates place SD at 17th among US states per head of state population, at 0.1482% it is still 28% below the national average. Sweden has an infection rate of 0.2182%, broadly in line with the US national average.

When it comes to death rates, South Dakota ranks 44th out of  the 50 states. The death rate is at 0.0008%, which is 93% below the national average on a population basis. Sweden’s death rate is 0.0262%, or 33x higher than South Dakota.

A bit of history.

During the worst part of GFC, SD’s unemployment rate peaked at 5.1%, half the national average. Continuing unemployment claims in SD have surged from 2,800 to 19,664. Before the coronavirus, the SD unemployment rate was at 3.3%. May 2000 holds the record low of 2.4%.

Since the GFC, those with a bachelor degree or higher in SD has grown from 25.1% to 29.2%. Seems that even Trump-supporting hillbillies saw the value in further education. High School graduation has risen from 89.9% to 92.3%.

Gross State Product under Noem’s governorship rose 3.1% in 2019 which was below the national average of 4.1% in 2019.

It will be interesting to see net migration figures in the coming years as Americans address their experiences during this crisis.

 

Sheepishly downloading the COVIDSafe app is a warning for all of us

NSA raises significant concern to Government abattoir proposal ...

We have no problem with people individually choosing to sign up to the COVIDSafe application launched yesterday. After all, it is voluntary and we believe in personal freedom. However, we are perplexed why so many people feel compelled to post their newfound compliance on social media feeds. It is this blind obedience that worries us.

It is hard to see such self-promotion on social media as anything more than the same virtue-signalling mindset of those who drape their social media avatars with the flag of the country where innocent people were slain by terrorists. Comments such as “I’m doing my bit” reign supreme. Why do people so sheepishly comply to sign up to this when the data is seriously unconvincing to warrant its introduction? Should we report our friends who haven’t publicly declared their status? Admitting one has signed up to COVIDSafe is borderline accepting to become a slave.

The most important point people need to consider is that there is absolutely zero downside for the government during and after this crisis. Remember that number – ZERO. If the economy goes into a prolonged recession or depression, our politicians can simply play the “we did it to save lives” card and tell us it was all for our own good. They can claim they couldn’t have done anything else. Unfortunately, we bear all the risk no matter what the outcome. That is a bad equation in any language. Why would anyone willingly sign up to it?

Indeed, saving lives should be congratulated, not censured. Still, at what point will we realise that the draconian measures put in place are leaving a disproportionate drag on the economy? As we wrote yesterday, if we take the JobKeeper support package alone, it presently costs $1.5 billion per death. Or $19.5 million per infection. The $130bn JobKeeper program is almost as much as the annual federal expenditure on education, healthcare and defence spend combined, three of the four largest budget items. Is this sustainable? If we stay in lockdown beyond the date of the package, this universal income will undoubtedly be extended.

There is a snowball’s chance in hell that we will have a V-shaped recovery. Our central bank might send us comforting lies to maintain the illusion that they are competent but it simply won’t happen.

Our authorities have suggested that the domestic economy comprises 75% of GDP which will provide a great cushion but on what planet do they believe that a crushed export sector which employs so many can be airbrushed to give us a V? Double-digit unemployment, at levels double or treble the present figures will all but guarantee a slower recovery. With household debt exceeding 180% of GDP, any future spending will be directed at rebuilding the balance sheet, not consumption. We’ll be lucky to get an L!!

There will be no normality after COVID19 abates. So much of our domestic future will be driven by the rest of the world’s approach to their own economies. Our neighbours will undoubtedly pursue more nationalist policies which prioritise domestic production. They will also need to contend with the likely aggressive reset of their own relative risk weighting, currency and fiscal positions. For anyone to believe that the magic pixie dust sprinkled by Canberra will avoid any calamity is dangerously naive.

Australia faces a $1 trillion deficit. Await the raft of new taxes on housing, inheritance and income to pay for it. We will absolutely hate what is coming. The sad thing is that we could have taken the pain over a decade ago yet we put short term expediency ahead of rational principle and now await the consequences. We are reaping what we sowed.

Much of the reasoning given by Aussies to sign up has been this belief that it will accelerate the government’s ability to reopen the economy sooner. If the government requires this sort of overlaying safeguard on top of the 99.98% of Australians that don’t knowingly carry the coronavirus or the 99.9997% who haven’t died from it, we should worry about our lawmakers’ ability to manage risk. Seriously.

Why are governments using future hard dates to consider reopening the economy? If today is the best day to do so, why wait till May 30th? Our own experience is that people are broadly respecting the social distancing guidelines. Sure, some might hang out in a park to break the monotony of staying indoors, but we are falling for the taglines from the government to #StayHome a bit too literally. The government should be rebuilding confidence. It isn’t. This app is unlikely to do much given the law of already minuscule numbers. It is all a feel-good measure.

With more than one million COVIDSafe app downloads in the first hour, many have proven that we are willing to conform to guidelines at a moments notice without considering the underlying facts. We saw this during the bushfire season. People blindly donated millions to the rural fire services when we proved their administrative skills were so severely lacking that these monies would unlikely be spent wisely.

In closing, many citizens have sent a wonderful signal to the government that they can easily strip more freedoms away by using panic as a tool to achieve it. The longer the economy is left to rot, the easier it will be to drown obedient plebs in even more regulations and restrictions because we failed to stand up and question the methodology. We will continue to do so. After all, former US President Ronald Reagan once said,

“The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the Government, and I’m here to help.”

Girls smarter than boys so why lower hurdles to force gender quotas?

It is kind of ironic that UTS thinks that lowering the ATAR requirements to get more girls into STEM fields makes sense. What happened to independently minded girls who want to pursue their interests as individuals rather than try to rig admissions to push ideological quotas?

Isn’t that what International Women’s Day is all about? To create equality of opportunity?

Forget that the average ATAR score for girls is 71.1, higher than boys at 67.8.

Could it be that girls and boys tend to like different things?

A Scandinavian study conducted across 470,000 subjects showed that while girls from nations that had pro gender equality policies in place qualified as well if not better than boys to do STEM, simply chose not to elect to study it. It had the exact opposite outcome of what was expected.

There is a reason why 99% of bricklayers are men and 80% of nurses are women.

Sensibly, Pymble Ladies College (PLC) principal Kate Hadwen openly said,

We don’t need it, do we, girls? No…It’s outrageous. The thinking is to try and encourage girls into STEM. But I just think that it’s absolutely saying women need help. We don’t need help. We’re great as we are, thanks very much.You have to earn your place there… I’m a believer in that.”

By all means, tell girls the virtues of what a STEM degree might bring in terms of a job and remuneration but leave it to them to pursue it if they feel it is of interest.

PLC 1 – UTS 0

Nothing to be proud about

Biz Ivest

Flipping through the latest RBA Chart Pack, it is no surprise that business investment keeps sliding off a cliff. As a % of GDP, it has slid from a peak of 18% off the short-term trough of 14% (GFC) to 11%, which now puts it at 1994 levels. It proves the old adage that businesses don’t invest because interest rates are low, they invest because they have confidence in the cycle.

Our government should be looking at this with alarm bells. It doesn’t take too much imagination to work out that political instability has played its part.

Australia was once regarded as the vanguard of political stability in the region which made it a sensible investment choice for domestic and international investors as a place to do business. There was a comfort in knowing that there wouldn’t be revolving door prime ministers and flip flops on policy positions. After all, much business investment takes years to get to the production stage.

The Howard years saw our business investment surge. Sensible fiscal policy was a feature too. While Rudd can be forgiven for GFC causing a slump in business investment it resumed until political instability put the mocker on business confidence.

We have been running deficits ever since and cranking up the national debt (we wrote about it here) because it is clear we don’t have sensible free-market conditions to self sustain direct investment at anywhere the levels we need.

Instead, we kowtow to radical activists who try to stop investment in projects like Adani and conduct illegal secondary boycotts on businesses like Greyhound Australia and Siemens without repercussions.

Whether coal is evil or not is irrelevant. The problem is such activism, which is further supported by ideologically corrupted government environmental departments – that push their own agenda on granting approvals – doesn’t endear domestic industries or foreigners to invest in us. These are dangerous precedents. All of this tokenism when we only need look at the realities of what will happen down the line.

Don’t take our word for it. Even our domestic businesses are leaving.

Thanks to Australia’s ridiculous energy prices, Aussie company Bluescope confirmed the expansion of capacity in Ohio. In Feb 2019, the company CEO said, “much cheaper energy in the United States is a major driver of the company’s preparedness to invest in a $1 billion expansion in Ohio.”

In 2017, Tomago Aluminium reported, “We have to grow to be competitive and to be ahead of the curve, but when the spot price went to $14,000 [per megawatt hour] we had to take that load off. It’s just not sustainable. You can’t smelt at that price. We have had to curtail or modulate the load [on occasions] or we get hammered by the price…We cannot continue to keep paying those prices. We have to find a solution. The prices are crippling”

Aust Manuf.png

Unfortunately, 28 years of unfettered economic expansion has made us complacent. We think this economical miracle has no off-ramp.

None of this is remotely surprising.

Can we honestly say that the impact of higher electricity prices hasn’t been a factor in pushing away investment in engineering and manufacturing? So this mad push for renewables will not alleviate this pressure. Germany is the perfect beta-test crash dummy. It predicted flat prices. They doubled from those forecasts.

GEP.png

Yet our political class is playing with fire.

We never thought Australia was realistically going to have a surplus when it was announced. Secretly there must be a sigh of relief in Treasury that the impacts of the bushfires and coronavirus will provide a convenient scapegoat to miss those targets under the premise of ‘doing the right thing.’  And no that does not mean the government is glad those two catastrophes have happened from a humanistic approach.

We need proper reforms. We need to ditch these notions of political correctness in public policy. We are as unimaginative as many other governments around the world. Living on a low-interest rate fuelled debt bomb. Kicking the can down the road simply does not work. Why aren’t politicians convicting their cases with evidence rather than folding to ideological positions held by fringe dwellers on Twitter?

When we visited Israel on a business delegation in 2018, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu uttered the only 4 words that mattered for investors – “we want your business.” The innovation nation knows what it is good at and is prepared to back it to the hilt.

It would be so nice if our government spent some time in Israel to discover that we have it all wrong. Because we are only storing up a rude awakening. When our economy does suffer from the eventual ramifications of all of that lack of investment, the public will be howling that they can’t pay their mortgages, that they can’t get decent jobs and they can’t keep the lights on. None of that would have been necessary if they had been more open to business.

The ultimate result will be that we’ll put ourselves deeper into debt to fund some monster infrastructure projects that will provide short term relief, not long term solutions.

The foreign investors that could have helped had we treated them in a more dignified fashion will just buy our assets at fire-sale prices instead. Then we’ll have another moment to howl at the moon.

That will be the true price of our complacency. Experience is a hard teacher. You get the test first and the lesson afterwards.

Greyhounded into submission by striking school kids

When will Australian authorities realize that allowing the intimidation of corporates who are running legitimate businesses must stop? If we allow activists to bully companies into bending to a socialist ideology, will we be the least bit surprised when foreign investment dries up in the future? Because that will be the outcome.

It isn’t enough that activist environmental departments wrap businesses up in so much red tape in order to get approvals. We have to tolerate a small band of student protestors too.

Bus company, Greyhound Australia (GA), is the latest company to fold to activist pressure. It has rejected a contract to ferry workers to construct the Adani mine after being all for it.

SchoolStrike4Climate launched a campaign to boycott travel with GA until it publicly ruled out working on the mine. So now we have brainwashed teenagers dictating school transport policy even though they don’t pay a cent to fund it.

We’re somewhat surprised these kids aren’t dictating the school curriculum while they’re at it. Seriously, where are the schools in their quest to teach discipline? We already saw what happened to Newington College which proudly wilted to student pressure. Note it’s 2019 HSC rank fell from 98th to 176th. No connection, surely?

What our continued PISA education ranking slump tells us is that the teaching faculties have a lot to answer for to surrender to this garbage. It only suggests they’re willing accomplices rather than disciplinarians.

It is bad enough when adults push agendas. It is worse when they manipulate children to do their bidding for them.

Going back to GA, Had these children and teachers done their homework they would have realized that this wasn’t the first time the company has had ties with fossil fuel companies. Had their laser quick smartphone skills led them to the history page of Greyhound Australia they would have learned that,

in conjunction with the Shell Company, undertook a survey of the route from Adelaide to Perth – a distance of over 3,200 Kilometres – in 1957.

How could they have let this company transport them in the first place?!? It should have never been on the list. Common sense would prevail that the school only opened the yellow pages to hire a bus charter company. At no stage did the school demand a full audit on corporate carbon footprints.

Had it occurred to these kids that these buses that ferry them on school excursions run on diesel? While the per passenger carbon footprint might be smaller than alternative modes of transport, these kids should demand that the schools ban them outright, or doesn’t that count when they are having fun? Maybe the lesson should be that they don’t get to go on excursions to save the planet and will now have to walk or cycle to school instead of hitching a ride in mum’s SUV.

Although GA does list a pretty pithy section on lowering emissions

Limit the size of your luggage by packing only what you need – the more a bus or plane weighs, the more carbon emissions it produces. Enjoy local food and drink which haven’t been imported from far away – not only will you help the environment, you’ll also experience new flavours (and maybe find a new favourite). And finally, avoid plastic bags and bottled water – take your own reusable shopping bags to the local farmers markets, and refill your bottles throughout the day. Every little bit helps!

Had GA truly believed in this garbage, they would have never bothered to entertain the Adani contract in the first place.

Looking forward to seeing the private bus company that steps up to fill the void for Adani. Surely the same Queenslanders that voted for Adani’s go ahead in the last federal election will back GA’s replacement to transport workers, many of whom probably have kids at school.

This is getting too stupid now

Just when we thought Trump Derangement Syndrome had peaked, 750+ historians have signed a letter demanding the House impeach Trump.

Yet more liberal sanctimony trying to talk down to the minions that they know better. Further evidence as to why education should be free in America. It’s worth nothing. Voters can make their own determination and the polls suggest people don’t support impeachment. Ahh, but we are educated historians. Who are you to question our intelligence?!?

Who next? Parking Ticket Officers against Trump or Online Retailers for Impeachment? It is all too silly.

The historians’ letter is as follows:

We are American historians devoted to studying our nation’s past who have concluded that Donald J. Trump has violated his oath to “faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States” and to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” His “attempts to subvert the Constitution,” as George Mason described impeachable offenses at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, urgently and justly require his impeachment.

President Trump’s numerous and flagrant abuses of power are precisely what the Framers had in mind as grounds for impeaching and removing a president. Among those most hurtful to the Constitution have been his attempts to coerce the country of Ukraine, under attack from Russia, an adversary power to the United States, by withholding essential military assistance in exchange for the fabrication and legitimization of false information in order to advance his own re-election.

President Trump’s lawless obstruction of the House of Representatives, which is rightly seeking documents and witness testimony in pursuit of its constitutionally-mandated oversight role, has demonstrated brazen contempt for representative government. So have his attempts to justify that obstruction on the grounds that the executive enjoys absolute immunity, a fictitious doctrine that, if tolerated, would turn the president into an elected monarch above the law.

As Alexander Hamilton wrote in The Federalist, impeachment was designed to deal with “the misconduct of public men” which involves “the abuse or violation of some public trust.” Collectively, the President’s offenses, including his dereliction in protecting the integrity of the 2020 election from Russian disinformation and renewed interference, arouse once again the Framers’ most profound fears that powerful members of government would become, in Hamilton’s words, “the mercenary instruments of foreign corruption.”

It is our considered judgment that if President Trump’s misconduct does not rise to the level of impeachment, then virtually nothing does.

Hamilton understood, as he wrote in 1792, that the republic remained vulnerable to the rise of an unscrupulous demagogue, “unprincipled in private life, desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper, possessed of considerable talents…despotic in his ordinary demeanour.” That demagogue, Hamilton said, could easily enough manage “to mount the hobby horse of popularity — to join in the cry of danger to liberty — to take every opportunity of embarrassing the General Government & bringing it under suspicion — to flatter and fall in with all the non sense of the zealots of the day.” Such a figure, Hamilton wrote, would “throw things into confusion that he may ‘ride the storm and direct the whirlwind.’”

President Trump’s actions committed both before and during the House investigations fit Hamilton’s description and manifest utter and deliberate scorn for the rule of law and “repeated injuries” to constitutional democracy. That disregard continues and it constitutes a clear and present danger to the Constitution. We therefore strongly urge the House of Representatives to impeach the President.

Signed,*