Lisa Longo

14Apr/140

My Vote Is Not For Sale

Why do Republican’s hate renewable energy? What is the real issue? It seems to me that renewable energy is the only truly responsible and fiscally conservative path we can take on energy policy and yet the constant conservative carping on this is beginning to make me wonder, what is really going on?

For example, why did Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) recently propose an amendment to repeal all tax incentives for alternative energy, including wind energy, which supports thousands of jobs in Pennsylvania alone?  Montgomery County, PA was the first wind-powered county in the entire country.  A pretty amazing accomplishment, but it seems like  Senator Toomey wants to pretend none of that matters while he panders to the fossil fuel industry. How much does converting to renewable energy save taxpayers? Potentially millions, maybe even billions, every year. Shouldn’t that be the first concern of legislators? Why are they, and by “they” I mean Republican’s, more concerned with protecting tax welfare to the oil & gas industry than with saving taxpayers money?

It is time to level the playing field. The oil & gas industry has received tax subsidies for decades. Taxpayers “gift” the industry billions every year, why? Why does an industry that makes trillions need billion in tax welfare? And why is it only now that we are investing in renewable energy that energy subsidies are being questioned by Republicans like Toomey? And not all subsidies are being questioned, only the ones to renewable energy. Why is that? While it is actually  a capital investment to provide credits to the wind industry, as we have for decades to the oil & gas industry, Toomey suddenly decides now that this is “bad” policy.

It was actually President Gerald Ford who authorized $10 billion in tax credits to the natural gas industry. So isn’t it time to add up all the money we’ve given to the fossil fuel industries and put that amount into renewable? We can create jobs, good jobs in manufacturing, research, installation, design and infrastructure. And we can save billions for taxpayers by converting our schools and municipal buildings. Renewable energy cuts costs, balances budgets, reduces deficits and can create a revenue stream for our public schools. But Republicans like Toomey think this is bad, why do you think that is? Could it be the thousands donated by the oil & gas industry to his campaign?

It is also disingenuous for Toomey to say that extending tax credits for alternative energy like wind is an example of government “picking winners and losers” and not having “a level playing field.”  We actually did pick winners in the oil and gas industry and, in fact, in response to Toomey’s comments during a Senate committee meeting, Senator Grassley (R – Iowa) replied, “The 100-year-old oil and gas industry continues to benefit from tax preferences that benefit only their industry.”  When, a Republican from Iowa has to make clear there is an unfair playing field that favors oil and gas, it really is time to point out the hypocrisy on this issue.

So what is the real reason that Toomey didn’t mention anything about repealing tax credits for oil and gas?  Is it because those industries pour hundreds of thousands of dollars into his campaign[LL1] ?  Toomey has shown himself to be no friend to the environment, and isn’t it time we insist our representatives in Congress vote with science rather than bias?  Did you know Toomey has voted in favor of oil drilling everywhere, even in the Great Lakes which include Pennsylvania’s Lake Erie?

It really is time for us to elect a Senator who will work to protect Pennsylvania, our jobs and our environment. It is time for us to stop allowing simpleton slogans and paid talking heads of the oil & gas industry to spew lies about “clean” coal or “safe” natural gas. The only true path to clean and safe American energy is renewable energy. Tell Senator Toomey what you think about his efforts to defund renewable energy.

And when the time comes, remember, our vote is way more powerful than all the money the industry can throw at this. We proved that in 2012. Don’t let anyone tell you that money can buy an election, because I know this one thing to be absolutely true, my vote is not for sale.

16Mar/140

The System Is Not Broken, But Maybe Some Of Us Are

It used to be if you worked for a company for 20 or 30 years you would retire with a pension and health care. For the rest of your life. It was the deal we made with employers. You give us a job. We make you lots of money. And when we are old we don’t have to eat cat food.

It was a very simple social contract. And it worked amazingly well. American workers built the strongest most amazing economic world power. We did something no other nation had ever done. We created wealth.

Wow. That is not a little thing. Think about it. For the first time money wasn’t just inherited. Or taken by force. America was the first nation to allow for the creation of wealth independent of family status. What an amazing thing.

Sadly, many people don't remember this. Somehow the system that worked for decades like a well-oiled machine became so skewed it started to screw the very people it relied upon to be successful. Who would do such a thing? And why would they do it?

Well the answer to that takes us down a slippery slope of conservative supply side economics. It takes us back to the days when Reagan was in the White House and the great scam began: the “democratization of money”. Yes, the American workers were sold on a scam that was going to strip them of their pensions and health care and they never saw it coming. As a matter of fact, they were convinced to give up their pensions willingly.

Unbelievable, but true. The American worker was told they would share in the billions that were going to be saved by getting rid of pensions and lifetime healthcare. I kid you not, this really happened.

How was it done? By lying to American workers.

Who did it? Conservative funded groups.

Why? To get rid of pensions and lifetime healthcare benefits.

What was the result? Poverty wages, job losses, and income instability.

Where are the billions of dollars the American workers were promised? In the Cayman Islands, mansions and yachts of those who decided that trickle down only went so far. As a matter of fact, it stopped at the door to their offshore bank.

The endless, and at this point mindless, rant of "small government, less tax" doesn't even make sense when you see the real purpose of "small government", which is evidently only small government for the working poor and middle class, and obtained by gutting programs and privatizing everything from our schools to our prisons, post office and military in order to launder our public funds into private profit for corporate masters, I mean sponsors, no sorry, corporate "persons". And that is only the first part.

The second part is even more convoluted. It is only "less tax" for the already excessively rich and those same corporate persons. I mean, you and I aren’t “entitled” to tax breaks. Nope, that is only for the rich. It is disgustingly simple what the conservative movement is all about; to give as much of our money to the already rich as they can before too many people catch on.

Well, are you catching on yet? Do you see what has been done? Are you beginning to see how we can change it?

Do you want to see more funding for schools, higher wages and a return to income equality and economic stability? We can do that.

Do you want more arts and less testing? Better food in our schools? More parks, less fracking? Do you want bike paths, gardens, renewable energy and community not real estate development?

We can do that too.

The taxes we pay, they aren't a bill, they are our share of the costs for our property. Because it all belongs to us. The roads, they belong to us. National parks? Ours. Schools? Yup, they belong to us too. It’s all ours people. We just stopped understanding that. And abdicated responsibility. And we know what nature thinks of a vacuum. So what filled it? And how do we now take it all back?

I’m here to tell you, the system is not broken. We are. We’ve been beaten, demoralized, belittled, overworked, underpaid and intimidated. We’ve been told when we can and cannot speak at meetings and our towns and state houses were taken over by fanatics and those who are motivated by self-interest and greed. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

In every town. In every school district. In every county. Every state. We are growing stronger every day. We are remembering that this is ours. This country. This land. And we are ready to take it all back. We aren’t going to let our world be trampled by trickle down fantasies and silly slogans.

If you want to change the world, stop complaining about the world and start changing it. How? Get involved. Go to meetings. Speak up. Call your member of Congress. Get together with your neighbors. Pick an issue, do you want better lighting in our parks? Let’s make that happen.

Last week I reviewed local ordinances and budgets. I contacted members of Congress and spoke to our School Board and Borough Council. This isn’t magic people, and they are not dragons for us to slay. They are our friends, family and neighbors. And until you get off your sofa, logoff your computer and actually show up at a meeting, we are going to have more of the same. Because though nature may abhor that vacuum, she also doesn’t care what fills it. And if you don’t, someone else is going to.

So if you are okay with the way the world around us is operating, fine, stay home, watch TV and continue to ignore everything. But then don’t say the system is broken. Because you have no idea if it is broken or not. You aren’t doing a damn thing to make sure the system works.

But when you are ready to change the world, I’ll be here waiting for you.

Filed under: We Start Here No Comments
7Mar/140

My Keystone XL Comment

A promise was made, this pipeline would not be approved if it were going to seriously impact our environment. We know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this pipeline is going to have a significant negative impact on our environment.

We don't need it. And we don't want it. This is Canadian tar sands sludge. This pipeline moves it through our country to a tax-free export zone. How is that patriotic or fiscally responsible? How does it help the US end its addiction to foreign oil? How does it help us move to a sustainable and renewable economy?

Not only should the pipeline be rejected, but we need to insist that transport by rail or truck is restricted. The spills, leaks, accidents, explosions and mistakes are happening more often, and costing US taxpayers more. The tar sands takes more energy to extract than we will ever receive. Why are we continuing on this dirty fossil fuel foolish path? We know there is a better way, we know how to do it.

At some point, someone has to be strong enough to stand up for our values. To say, this is wrong and we won't allow it. Greed is the only motivation for extracting the tar sands sludge. Greed is the only motivation for this pipeline.

It is time for the US to be a leader in energy. It is time for a strategic reduction of consumption and conversion to renewable energy. We have to start here, today, and draw our line in the dirty tar sands.

Our President said, "Let us be the generation to slow the rise of the seas...", we cannot do that and allow this pipeline. We cannot be that generation and ignore the devastation caused by extreme extraction. We cannot be that generation if we allow the contamination of our land, air and water so a few people can exploit our planet and move their profits offshore. We cannot be that generation if this pipeline is approved. We cannot be that generation if allow greed to overrule science. And we cannot be that generation if we sit idly by while our national security is traded for tax-free profit.

We can be that generation if we reject this pipeline. By rejecting the Keystone XL we send a message that we are serious about protecting our planet. We can be that generation if we begin a serious and strategic reduction of consumption of fossil fuels. We can be that generation if we stop extreme extraction on all BLM land and have a moratorium on all new FERC permits for drilling and pipelines while we draft a national energy policy based on reduction of consumption.

We can start today. We start by rejecting the Keystone.

And then tomorrow, we start moving forward on a path to renewable and sustainable development, staring with our schools. We convert our schools and we create jobs, cut costs, balance budgets, and we can even create a revenue stream for our schools. The dirty little secret of the fossil fuel industry is that we don't need to pay for fuel, we have an endless free source available to us. More than one. We have solar. We have wind. We have geothermal.

We move forward tomorrow by insisting Congress pass the FRAC Act. We move forward by insisting we stop the $4 billion annual gift to the fossil fuel industry and we invest in renewable and sustainable energy, as our US Marine Corps and US Navy are already doing.

We start here. We start now. We start by rejecting the Keystone XL today. And tomorrow, we start our renewable future.

2Mar/140

Gerrymandering, ALEC and The Red Tide That Is Stealing Your Vote

How many times a day do you catch yourself thinking, “What the hell is happening here?” We have gone from the “Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave”, to the land where we have secretive groups trying to push partisan political agendas, secret trade deals and convert them into legislation without public scrutiny, or even Congressional oversight. We have one party moving geographical party lines to basically rig elections and then attempting to shut down or seriously slow down actual voting lines. And we have proof they are doing this to shut down any chance of electoral fairness; read the quotes, watch to the video, we’ve got republican legislators, talking heads and paid pundits spouting how they can “win” elections by changing the rules, making sure the “right” people vote and basically explaining how they plan to “steal” your vote.

This most certainly is not what our Founding Fathers foresaw those many score and then some years ago.

And Democrats are by no means totally innocent in all this. We see them also playing games with redistricting, generally not quite as blatant as the opposition, but certainly they have done some gerrymandering as well. And after several hours of workshops on the TPP, the Trans Pacific Partnership, I have to say, I cannot understand why our President would be supporting what was described as a “Trojan horse” gift to corporations and a codification of the private corporation as having the same “rights” as a sovereign Nation-State. I mean seriously, what the hell is that about?

And we aren’t blameless in any of this. While we’ve been busy raising our kids, supporting the arts and posting about our angst, the right wing has been taking over state houses, moving district lines to ensure they control the legislatures, and thinking up new ways to force their dogma into our day to day lives.

And here is the thing, they are no longer even bothering to be subtle about it. Ted Cruz, with a little help from his friends at ALEC, that shadowy corporate shroud that pushed “Stand Your  Ground” and limits on voting rights, has published a plan to circumvent our government and usurp our elected officials. As one person said to me recently, “Ted Cruz is proof you don’t have to be sane to be in the Senate.” Mr. Cruz wants to increase state rights as a way of overruling our Federal government and he is doing it by proposing a series of “compacts” under the guise of what he calls the “Shield of Federalism”. And naturally they want to overturn everything from the ACA to funding public education. This isn’t just an effort to draft more business-friendly legislation, this is an all- out assault on our individual freedoms, national interest and separation of corporate interests and individual rights.

And it really is all connected. The TPP, ALEC, gerrymandering, they are the reason we can’t pass basic legislation that has both popular and bipartisan support. A few fanatics have been able to take control of the House, and they are going to hold up anything sensible as they plot and pander to keep the power they had to cheat to win. Gerrymandering and ALEC are the reason the republicans are defunding our public schools and defending private rules like “Stand Your Ground”. Here in Pennsylvania they drew voting districts that mean Democrats simply cannot win more than a few seats, despite having more votes.  And for more on that, watch the Ted Talk given by Daylin Leach, he explains exactly why and how this is happening.

How exactly does this fit in with the oft-repeated need for “small government” that conservatives constantly carp about and their supposed love of our Constitution and Founding Fathers? It really is quite the mystery. Some might kindly call it misguided, I say it is time to call it what it is, a cowardly plot to undermine our government and usurp our individual freedoms, launder our public funds into private profit and control everything from what we read to how we shop.

So I hope you will join me in calling out the republicans and put an end to the red tide that is stealing our votes. We start by paying attention. We change it by speaking up. We protect this great experiment by remembering, this is all ours. The government. The rules. The legislatures. They don’t rule us, they represent us.

So find out who is running in November. Because yes, right now, this is the most important election of your lifetime. And yes, I am going to tell you that every November. Because honestly, every election is the most important election of your life. We don’t get to skip an election and think nature isn’t going to abhor that vacuum. Science doesn’t care if you don’t believe in facts. And elections are won by those who show up.

So start going to meetings, from local councils and school board, to zoning, planning and election board. Meet with your legislators, call, write and email them. Don’t for one minute think that your voice isn’t important, because I have proof that the only thing that can change anything is you. I know for a fact that the one thing that can stop the TPP, ALEC and the theft of our votes and our collective inalienable rights is you, me and a few million of our closest friends.

We have a responsibility, to our children, to each other and to every man and woman who has died defending this idea of freedom and democracy. If every one of us who believed in progressive change stood up and called out those who are obstructing it, if we all show up at the polls, if we help elect strong progressive candidates and support them with our time and money, I promise you, we will change the world.

It is time to get started. It is time to do more than hope for change. It is time to make change happen.

 

How you can make a difference:

Contact Congress: http://www.usa.gov/Contact/US-Congress.shtml

Contact State legislators: http://www.usa.gov/Contact/State.shtml

ALEC exposed: http://www.alecexposed.org/wiki/ALEC_Exposed

23Feb/140

In Defense of the ACA

The ACA now protects children with a preexisting condition

I am going to tell you a very personal story. My story. It explains why I defend the Affordable Care Act against all attacks. It isn’t because I am an ideologue. I’m not a socialist. I am not ignorant, or a “low information”. I believe in the ACA because it is a good piece of legislation. One we worked very hard to pass, and one which has now been upheld by the US Supreme Court.  And the main reason I will continue to work to make this law successful is because I am the mother of a child with a pre-existing condition.

My daughter has had five surgeries. Starting when she was 5 years old and I discovered a mole behind her ear had dramatically increased in size and dramatically changed in shape. The mole was really a skin lesion and of enough concern that her dermatologist sent us immediately to CHOP, to one of only three Pediatric dermatological surgeons in Pennsylvania. Within two weeks she was being operated on. That first surgery removed three lesions and two came back pre-cancerous.

From that day until the day we passed the ACA my daughter was in danger of losing or being denied health insurance. She was now a pre-existing condition to the insurance industry, she was a liability and a potential huge expense item.

Last year when the ACA started going into effect I had one less worry. No longer was my daughter facing a potential death sentence by being denied care and coverage. After 5 surgeries and twelve years of annual checkups, she could now never be denied coverage. Nor could her coverage be dropped or limited. Suddenly, she was protected.

And I’ll tell you why, it is because Obama cares.

Even without the other powerful provisions that protect us, this one provision is protecting millions of children. But the ACA does so much more. With the first phase our premium dropped from $770 to $730. This year after my switch via the marketplace to an “ACA” policy my premium dropped to $530 for the same, exact policy. Same doctors. Same coverage. No, that is wrong, actually the coverage is different. It now includes dental for my daughter and mental health services for us both.

Yes, ACA is good for us, and it might be good for you too.

 

Like & share to spread the word, visit www.heathcare.gov to get more info and share your ACA story!

16Feb/140

Why I Am A Bleeding Heart Liberal

There are some people who try to make that into a negative label. I say, let them try. I’ll put my values and actions up to any scrutiny. And I am not going to allow a few conservative semantic clowns like Karl Rove define who I am. I am happy to compare my treehugging, arts supporting, public education and public service community organizing, rabble rousing acts against the obstructionist, tax entitlement millions for billionaires, corporate “person” welfare architects, Koch funded, NRA protected, ALEC scripted, drill baby drill, launder public funds into private profit crowd any day.

When I hear conservatives talk about it being “immoral” to extend assistance  to the needy but insist we give billions to corporations, particularly the oil & gas industry, I want to shake some sense into them. I literally want to drive to the TV network and go in and ask whoever is having their turn on the Sunday talk shows, the loquaciously loony Ted Cruz or the politically preposterous Rand Paul, and every now and then the elder hero, John McCain, who lost his way trying to be a “good” conservative, I want to go right up to them and ask how they can sleep at night.

It truly boggles my mind. While they are shoveling our money to their corporate sponsors, the poor are getting poorer and the middle class is disappearing. And then they have the chutzpah to blame this on our President. It’s “Obama’s economy now” they coo. “Don’t blame us, we didn’t vote for him, or Obamacare” they cravenly repeat to the commentators who are too well-paid by the same industries that fund the conservative campaigns to question them. One has to wonder at the level of ignorance it takes to continue to obstruct every effort of our President who managed to fix the economy after 8 years of the “free” market, or as I call it the “free for all” economy.

But I’ve noticed that some conservatives aren’t going to allow things like facts or science get in their way. That is why they have to be so good at semantics and rhetoric. It is why they will devolve any conversation into insult and innuendo. Because they can’t win on policy they have no choice but to become very good at persuading people that what they are saying is true when it obviously is not true. It means we have to become expert at decoding their double-speak. For example, “small government, less taxes”, I’ve finally figured that one out, it is “small government” for you and me, the working poor and middle class. Less money for education, less regulation to protect us from greedy acts, fewer funds for programs for Vets, the disabled and the elderly, less for all the programs that help those who need it most.  But more for their already rich friends and corporate “persons”.  The “less taxes” silliness. Well, that is less taxes for their already rich friends of course.  The GOP certainly isn’t going to bite the hand that feeds them, and keeps them in office. So sure they’ll throw out the occasional “compassionate conservative” sound bite. They’ll try to convince you that helping the poor is an entitlement but subsidizing a corporation is not. They’ll tell you how sad it is that rich people have to pay for private school tuition and not have school vouchers when they pay all those pesky real estate taxes for those horrible public schools they refuse to support. They’ll tell you teachers, police and firefighters are greedy union thugs while they employ their smoke & mirrors to hide their true greed machine; their endless support of the already rich and corporations.  They’ll launder your tax dollars into private profit and convince you they are being patriotic by giving all those tax breaks to companies that hide their profits overseas from this “overreaching Imperial” Administration.

And I’ve gotten to experience this conservative smear machine first hand. I was shocked and disgusted by the cowardly acts of a few people during our local election last November. Evidently they were so afraid of actually discussing policy and facts they took to going door to door lying about me. What is really amusing is they may have scared a few taxpayers with their “loony Longo will raise your taxes” bull, but they angered many more with their election day voter harassment and exposed themselves as both ignorant of financial policy and in denial about reality. For me it was a learning experience, and I’ve already been forewarned about what their next attack on me will be. I’ve been “warned” that my supposed “support” of two ex-employees of our school district will be “used” against me by the local Republican committee. The despicable part is this person is actually trying to say I “support” pedophiles, and to be clear I never supported nor defended the acts of either of these ex-employees, I pointed out that the charge was possession of child pornography, neither was charged as a sex offender to my knowledge, and I won’t allow ignorant comments to cause parents to fear our district had pedophiles on staff. I won’t allow someone to spout a lie and call it the truth. So I called his bluff. I told him to go for it. We’ll see who the public believes and who they know is a liar this time.

I think our actions speak louder than their lies. This winter I have given away my ski jacket, two pairs of gloves and paid way too many guys way too much money to shovel what I could have done myself for free. I’ve gone to meetings to defend our School Board members and volunteered at a local emergency warming shelter to help those who lost power. My daughter and I went door to door after the ice storm and drove a dozen people to that shelter. We donated food and time along with so many others in our community and we show by our actions what we believe in.

We believe no one should be cold or hungry. We believe everyone deserves equal opportunity and education. We believe that caring for each other is our greatest act of patriotism. And we believe that saying you are compassionate but cutting funds to the poor, ill, disabled, our Vets and children is an oxymoron. Because in the richest country in the world no one should be hungry, cold or homeless. Because we are better than this. Because you have been convinced to give up your best self without ever knowing why or even realizing it was happening. You have been lied to and conned by pretty words that have no content and commentators who twist the context of statements to fit their skewed views of what it means to be compassionate and patriotic.

I’m asking you to put a stop to it. Stop buying into the bullshit. Stop being angry at someone else. Stop blaming teachers, police and firefighters. Stop ignoring reality. Stop insulting each other. Stop being disrespectful. Stop believing the unbelievable.

We are starting something new. A wave of progressive movement to take us forward. Forward on education. Forward on equality. Forward on the environment. Come with us. Step up and speak out. Be a part of history as we say no to obstruction, lies and deception and say yes to the world we are going to create. A safer, cleaner, more perfect union. One that offers everyone the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Don’t be an ostrich. And don’t think we can do it without you. Don’t think someone else is going to do it. It is up to you, every one of you to reject the old and tired notions. The old ways of insult and innuendo. We are better than that.

So yes, I am a bleeding heart liberal. And I am a patriot. And a feminist. And an environmentalist. And I am an activist. Above all I consider myself a community organizer. Just like our Founding Fathers I am engaged in an effort to protect our way of life and preserve our values. And this effort by a few conservatives to paint the rest of us as evil anti-American socialists is truly disturbing. And despicable. So the opposition can take their small cowardly swipes at us. They can lie. They can call us names. Let them say with a sneer that we are “bleeding heart liberals”. I’ll just smile and say of course I am.

Filed under: We Start Here No Comments
1Feb/140

Why I Call It The Stupid Bowl

Someone asked me if I "research something before calling it stupid"? Actually I do. His question was on a post where I was referring to the stupid bowl. So here goes, here are my reasons for calling it the stupid bowl:

1. The NFL is not a bona fide non-profit in my opinion, an organization that generates $1 billion in one day is not a non-profit.

2. An organization that pays one person $27 million a year does not meet the standard of fiduciary duty to spend the bulk of proceeds on education or social programs.

3. Allowing corporations to deduct 100% of the ridiculous $4.5 million per 30 second commercials is outrageous corporate welfare and pandering to the NFL.

4. Allowing corporations to deduct up to $1 million for "access" sponsorships is just plain stupid and more obvious corporate welfare and pandering.

5. Allowing corporations to deduct up to $400,000 for party boxes so they can watch "millionaires playing catch" while watching a game on the taxpayer dime is really, really stupid and blatant corporate welfare.

6. Having taxpayers subsidize everything from the stadiums to the excessive salaries and then return nothing to them from the NFL is outrageous and yes, stupid, tax policy.

7. Sport is a community event, keep it that way, allow taxpayers to own the stadiums they built. Give the ticket sales to the taxpayers. give the concession sales to the taxpayers. The NFL generates enough from merchandise to pay the stupid salaries, the commissioner may have to make less than $27 million a year, but that is not the concern of taxpayers.

So yes, pretty clearly I feel confident about calling this the stupid bowl. Because frankly, people sitting staring at a screen for hours while millionaires are playing catch and then bitching that we need "small government less taxes", teachers and police are greedy union thugs and our system is bloody broken because both sides are equally bad and not even realizing that this one day could generate enough in tax revenue to fund free lunch for every student in America as well as fund our deficit and pay down our debt is pretty frigging stupid.

Take away the tax welfare subsidies, just the corporate tax on ONE "access" sponsorship at $1 million is $300,000.

This is the true tax welfare entitlement we need to get rid of. This is the problem. Not teachers pay, not police pensions. Not our public schools. This.

31Jan/140

High School Moving to 8 Period Day: What Are The Implications?

What do you think about the proposed change to an 8 period day at our High School? I have been told this is being done to "match" the Middle School, so students can come to the High School for a class, which I think it great, but wouldn't it be better for the Middle School to increase class time to match the High School? Why give our students less class time? How is that beneficial to students?

Monday February 6th there is a School Board Curriculum Committee meeting at 6pm, we need parents to attend and ask questions about the potential schedule change at the High School from a 7 period day to an 8 period day and how it will impact our students.

For over a year now I have been saying we need to look at longer class times, especially the AP classes. Asking students to do advanced level work with less teacher instruction is not fair to the students. This change will mean students have 1 less hour per class per 6 day cycle, but they will still have the same amount of work per class, which will mean more homework, on average an extra 3 to 4 hours by one estimate, but students will also be losing the morning study group and tutoring time, so how are our students expected to excel when the resources, teachers and study times, are being taken away?

The only potential benefit being discussed is students being able to take another class, but couldn’t we accomplish that with a longer optional school day? Wouldn’t that be more beneficial to students? Also, why aren’t we offering summer classes? Give students the option to continue academic pursuits year round? Wouldn’t that be better than cutting class times?

What are students thinking about this? Well, here is what some students are saying: they believe the district is doing this so they will be able to have fewer teachers and have smaller classes, leading to even fewer teachers. Students believe that the reasons for doing this have to do with cutting teachers not helping students. And ironically, in a year or two when student test scores go down the “blame” will be on the teachers, not this arbitrary change by the Administration that is potentially going to hurt student outcomes.

In my opinion, this is an effort we see nationwide: to have smaller school staff and fewer teachers and move toward more privatization. There are many ways to save taxpayers money and cuts costs, we can start by looking at energy costs and transportation as well as other areas, such as contractor and maintenance costs. But we should not be cutting the quality or quantity of our academic programs.

On a related topic, one of the major reasons we have an underfunded public pension fund is this constant cutting of public (i.e. union) employees and then outsourcing the jobs to private companies, moving our public tax dollars to private for-profit corporations. We see this in our district to some extent by outsourcing the Kindergarten “enrichment”. How does that save us money? And our district is getting ready to spend millions on more sports fields on top of the two new turf fields we put in already that cost us $2 million, and will cost us $2 million every 10 years. What are we allowing to be done with our money?

We need the taxpayers to know and understand these issues, and to speak up and ask questions. I believe this change to an 8 period day will potentially be very bad for our students, not only does it decrease class time, but according to several students, they were told the teachers are now required to have a 40 minute “work” time in the morning before classes start. This is time when some teachers have study groups and tutor students, this is time that will also be taken away from our students.

I know some of you don’t have children at the high school, but now is the time we need to be questioning these decisions. I hope I will see many of you at the meeting on Monday and that you will email your friends and neighbors and tell them to come too.

Filed under: Education No Comments
29Jan/140

Its The Economy Stupid

This is a basic economic tenet, you must pay workers enough to create demand for products and services.

Economics is not some mystical unknown, we know, and have known for a while now that higher wages creates demand which creates more jobs which leads to higher wages which creates more demand which creates more jobs and so on and so on and so on.

The reason why we have this partisan difference of opinion is conservatives have been sold a mystical unknown, the "free" for all market, that fictional utopia where everyone does whatever they want, needs no regulation and magically, economy is created by shoveling money to the top of the pile somehow creating "supply", though there is no evidence that has ever happened and logic dictates it never will, but that is what Trickle-Down Economics, also known as Voodoo Economics, supposes. This is actually taught as a flawed theory in some Economics classes. It would be taught as a flawed theory at all schools but Liberty University still exists and teaches a lot of flawed theories as do some others.

The problem, as the "Guru of Wall Street" once testified was that they "...forgot...to factor in greed".

You see, human nature does require regulation, and Henry Ford, the uber-Capitalist must have secretly been a Muslim Socialist just like our President, because he figured this out about 100 years ago:

President Obama during his speech today said, "A hundred years ago, Henry Ford started Ford Motor Company. Model T — you remember all that? Henry Ford realized he could sell more cars if his workers made enough money to buy the cars. He had started this — factories and mass production and all that, but then he realized, if my workers aren’t getting paid, they won’t be able to buy the cars. And then I can’t make a profit and reinvest to hire more workers. But if I pay my workers a good wage, they can buy my product, I make more cars. Ultimately, I’ll make more money, they’ve got more money in their pockets — so it’s a win-win for everybody."

26Jan/140

The Sum Of Us All

Synergy. It is one of my favorite concepts. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Together we are stronger than we are individually. Or as Jack often quipped on LOST, we can live together or die alone.

Synergy. The ability of people to come together, work cooperatively, and together create something stronger, something bigger, something more important than we can do alone.

I see this over and over, when working with my clients, to our students who come together for a project or team effort, and every day I see examples of cooperative action and its importance to us all.

Shockingly do you know where I don’t see synergy in action at all? Congress. State legislatures. Local politics.

Our two party system has devolved into the Hatfields and the McCoys. Or more accurately, the Haters and the Musers. There are those who will do anything, say anything, tell any lie to get what they want and those who won’t but who barely put up a fight while they consider every option.  It is a pissing contest between two groups who seem to have forgotten that they are there to represent WE THE PEOPLE. This is important, they represent us, they don’t rule us. And they aren’t there to represent corporations, special interests or their own particular brand of religion.

We have the one faction that seems hell bent on forcing whatever they want, including their religious beliefs on the rest of us. One minute shouting that we can NEVER infringe on a Constitutional right, and the next shutting down health clinics to do just that. They spin and squirm, and when they are confronted with logic and facts, they are willing to lie, manipulate or lash out to deflect the criticism. We see these masters of the universe engaging in a campaign of misinformation so complex they seem sometimes to forget they are speaking out loud and spout the most nonsensical of nonsense. They wrap themselves in a false cloak of patriotism and play on peoples’ fears and insecurities to undermine the policies they deem unacceptable.

On the other side we have a group that can’t seem to recall why they were sent to govern or who voted them there. They are slightly ineffective, seem timid and only come out swinging every third or fourth pitch. We see them engaging in sometimes petty tit for tat mentality plays and most of the time, just shaking their heads at the antics of those on the other side.

Now, don’t get me wrong, the duality of partisan politics is exactly what the Founders wanted. They believed a minority opposition was essential to our system, providing some needed checks and balances. What our Founders could never imagine is the absolute lack of civility, honor, trustworthiness and reason being displayed by these new players. These self-proclaimed “patriots”. The “darlings” of the “tea” “party” are not Statesmen and women. They are not Patriots. Some of them seem ignorant not only as to the procedures of our government, but on basic skills like spelling, math and history. The gerrymandering, races rigged by republicans and then redone in retribution by democrats are a big part of the problem. But the even part of the problem is this belief by the few that they are more important than the many. That they have the right to lie, manipulate, rig and wrangle whatever they want to achieve their goals. They don’t care about the method, and it seems to be leading them to madness.

That this small group of fanatics in this extreme caucus is willing to throw away several hundred years of democracy to get what they want has had a polarizing impact on our system.

They forget that the Founders who they love to quote but don’t really understand drafted the Constitution so we had Freedom of Religion, and guaranteeing we also had freedom from religion in our government. We aren’t guaranteed many things. But that is one they were pretty clear on. The pilgrims came here to escape religious persecution and a tyrannical rule. And if you think insisting a woman has to have a vaginal probe because you don’t like our laws isn’t a tyrannical persecution and abuse of power then you don’t understand our Constitution.

And we have allowed it to happen. We took the “pursuit of happiness” part as more important than we did the protection of our freedoms and we sat back and watched as slowly money and fanaticism replaced patriotism and civility in our government.

And the time has come for us to get together and fix it. To form a coalition that is stronger than any of our individual efforts. We the people have a duty and a responsibility to future generations and to each other. We aren’t here to hate each other.  We are here to create a more perfect union. We are here to be a community. To find a way to continue our evolution. No man is an island right?

I don’t believe we are here to be isolated. I have many friends who refuse to even consider that they have a civic duty. They ignore my constant pleas that they get involved in local politics. “The system is corrupt” they tell me, or “Politics is boring”. “Both parties are equally bad” they say, as if they have no responsibility to making them better or allowing them to become what they are.

We need to remember this, our country was founded by a bunch of rabble-rousing activists who believed that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness were worth dying for. Don’t you think it is at least worth a few hours a month of your time?

Come meet me for a coffee. Get in touch. Let’s talk about what really matters to you and how we can get started making that happen. Monthly discussion group meets the 1st Sunday of the month, What Matters Most, my Sunday salon. Come and be a part of the synergy being created.

Reach out via email: lisa@consultcts.com

Find out how to get involved locally through your Democratic Committee. Come to a School Board meeting or local Council. Call your state legislator. Reach out to your member of Congress. This is our country. Let’s take it back.

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