Letters to the Editor for Fall 2018
Mid-term Election Prospects
The 2018 Mid-Term Election, November 6, many have stated is “the most important in my lifetime.” Well maybe not in mine, as the last Presidential election was one of the most, if not the most, critical elections in my nine-decade memory. That includes those in 1940 and in 1944 where PRESFDR-32 was candidate for third term. This was in repudiation of the tradition started by PRESGW-01 as his second term was running down declined strong efforts to be made “President for Life.”
The national media has continued building a crescendo of a “Blue Wave” in hopes of swaying enough uninformed voters into making a major change in Congress come to pass. If successful the result would be an undoing of all the beneficial changes that have occurred in the time since PRESDT-45 took office. The successes brought about by his dedication and determination are far too numerous to enumerate in the space allowed
here. One of the ones not mentioned in any media, except one radio report, seen or heard by me is the passage of a budget for the first time in years by Congress. Hopefully that will preclude any “shutdown” or continuing resolutions being needed.
The disgusting display of lying, nasty accusations, and other undignified words and actions, principally on the part of “paid disrupters” and Senate members with a “D” on their voter registrations, that was clearly on video
display during the Judiciary Committee hearings and vote is not expected to decline in the future. It seems to now be firmly established in their DNA, to the detriment of the dignity and civility of Congress in both Houses. In my
mind they seem to act more like C/F/S officials in foreign nations under that type of government, or where a movement is under way to bring such about.
And, of course, they are strongly supported by a, it appears, mistaken left leaning media personnel and management. There is a continuous barrage of attack opinion and “news” presented with the appearance of opinion
coming out of speakers on the TV and some radios. (Not having cable in my house the FOX channel is not seen by me, except occasionally when visiting in the homes of friends and acquaintances.)
Meanwhile in the traditional service of Kirk of the Hills (EPC) Presbyterian Church on October 14 there was great rejoicing and praise for PRESDT-45 and GOD for the, finally, release of Reverend Andrew Brunson, a member of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church denomination, from prison where he had been arbitrarily and falsely
accused, and convicted, of actions against the government of Turkey, now in control of the Muslim followers. At least there has been some coverage of this story in the national media. His plight had been pretty much ignored by PRESBO-44, but then he has often stated that he is really a Muslim and so stated to the rulers in Saudi Arabia when on a visit there.
While those in the Democrat Party and media prognosticators loudly proclaim they expect a “blue wave,” my opinion is that they may have pressed their case too loud and long to the exhaustion of the voters, even some long time supporters. It will just depend on how irritated we of the more “common sense oriented” have become to the point of voting in major numbers. My absentee ballot is already marked and in the mail, as has been my practice for decades. This was originally because of the demands of my professional activities in the oil exploration field.
As former Congressman Rev. Adam Clayton Powell, D, said while being lead to prison: “Keep the Faith baby.” All is not lost until the “honest” votes are counted.
Robert W. McDowell
Broken Arrow, OK
Freedom or Free Stuff
We humans are for the most part an intelligent species, but we have a bad tendency to also be a gullible species. Too many of our people are so obsessed with getting something for nothing they lose all perspective of what freedom really means. There is a story in the Bible where a young man sold his birthright for a pot of soup because he thought he was getting something for free; throughout the rest of his life that decision cost him dearly. It doesn’t help the situation when we have a bunch of power hungry politicians who make it a habit of promising taxpayer monies to any group they think will cast their vote for them in the next election cycle.
This scenario has happened countless times throughout history. The practice of raiding the public treasury has bankrupted empires; the Roman Empire is a classic example. Many politicians have the belief that the majority rules and our system of government is a democracy; they could not be more wrong. Our system of government is a Republic. Thomas Jefferson made the comment that a democracy is the vilest form of government. From history he could see that all democracies eventually destroy themselves from within, they all fail because of bad financial practices. They fail because the citizens learn it is easier to have worthless politicians siphon money from the public treasury instead of working for it.
I am often astonished by how some individuals get elected into public office, I have come to the conclusion there are two main reasons why this is happening. Number 1, people don’t want to be bothered with politics; every election cycle I have people calling me at the last moment asking who they should vote for. While some of them are people holding down a job, they fail to understand the importance of voting the right people into office. So many taxes and fees are hidden in the necessities we use every day. One example is your phone or electric bill. By their nature those expenses are rarely the same month to month. It is so easy for another fee or tax to be added, because most people rarely take the time to analyze their bill. Number 2, when someone does not have any skin in the game, they have a tendency to not care about how government is operated as long as they keep receiving their benefits. From my own personal experience, there is nothing that will get my attention quicker than having more of my hard earned money taken from me for programs that only benefit a certain group and have no accountability. Our country would be in a whole lot better condition if more people had skin in the game and were able to see the consequences of ill-informed voting.
Until we Americans get out of the addiction of wanting something for nothing we will never experience true freedom. We become enslaved to a group of politicians and a system that know how to manipulate the voters into voting for them. We Americans are supposed to be a united people. We are dividing our society when we fail to look at the whole picture. The attitude of supporting something or someone if it benefits me, and not caring what it does to someone else, will be our downfall. The general election is just around the corner, and as for me and my house, we will take freedom any day over free stuff.
Spending a Lot for Less
In 2015, 75 percent of Oklahoma’s 4 year olds were enrolled in public school prekindergarten. Only two states, Vermont and Florida, enrolled a higher percentage. Meanwhile, 26 states enrolled fewer than 20 percent of their 4 year olds. Another 14 states enrolled fewer than 40 percent. You would think that if large prekindergarten programs led to success, Oklahoma would provide the evidence. Unfortunately, Oklahoma’s outsized public prekindergarten program likely accomplishes little more than enlarging the state’s school bureaucracy and providing free childcare.
Oklahoma’s prekindergarten program has been around long enough that if it really makes a difference, Oklahoma should have seen some gains relative to the rest of the country. In fact, Oklahoma’s 4th graders consistently score below the national average on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), despite a much celebrated blip in 2015 that was completely erased by 2017. It’s not as if the country-wide results are rocketing skyward and we are just lagging a little. NAEP results nationwide are flat.
Despite the less-than-stellar results, Oklahoma formula-funds prekindergarten at an extraordinary level, and has for more than 20 years. A prekindergarten student’s formula-funding is 30 percent higher than a 4th grader’s, and over 8 percent higher than a middle or high school child’s. Private school pricing in Oklahoma, not determined by politics, charges a slight premium for pre-school ages compared to other low grades, but nothing like the funding premium in public school formulas.
It makes sense to charge more for schooling 4 year olds than for 4th graders. Fourth graders respond more predictably to rules and discipline, are far less likely to have restroom issues, and they can sit still longer. But private school pricing suggests only a 5 percent bump in prekindergarten funding over 4th grade.
Why is public school funding for prekindergarten so high? One reason might be that there is a college-educated individual who qualifies for the minimum teacher salary schedule (at lowest, $37k this year) in every classroom. Prekindergarten classes are held to 20 or fewer students, and more than 10 students require a teaching assistant, according to a law that has been relaxed but is still largely adhered to. Though subject to regulation, private schools still find it less necessary to have college graduates work with 4 year olds and have greater flexibility with what they pay.
The political pressure for universal prekindergarten programs has been bolstered by research on early-age brain development and its seeming implications for life-time intelligence, indicating urgency for getting children into learning environments. Recently, an ongoing study of Tulsa’s prekindergarten results indicated tangible benefits for prekindergarten participants, that they are more ready for kindergarten.
For those of us who didn’t attend kindergarten, much less prekindergarten, but still managed a PhD in economics or, in the case of my brother, helped to engineer the Joint Strike Fighter, prekindergarten’s benefits seem mighty sparse. The fact is, prekindergarten’s positive effects on standardized test scores have long proven temporary. But recently, the Arnold Foundation’s Straight Talk on Evidence website reviewed results of a large randomized trial from Tennessee that shows prekindergarten has mostly negative long-term effects kicking in by third grade.
Because of our large prekindergarten program, our education funding is spread more thinly over more students, as compared to most states. Scaling back Oklahoma’s prekindergarten system to half its current size would save $140 million and the program would still be larger than those of most states. It might be time to rethink and limit our state’s prekindergarten to the truly disadvantaged, hopefully without hurting their future academic success.
Byron Schlomach is Director of the 1889 Institute,
a think tank based in Oklahoma City.
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