North Archives - March 13, 2007
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Something Like a Wheel
by John McClaughry
Apparently Vermont's NECAP
is around 30% more generous than the national tests in scoring pupils as
"proficient". This at least raises the suspicion that the three New England
states, by inventing their own homemade tests, have contrived to upscale
their pupil ratings, making it look to the voters like they are producing
30% more proficiency than the country as a whole. And since only three
states are using NECAP, it is not possible to compare Vermont pupils with
those of any of the other 47 states, including notably those like Utah,
that get far better results with considerably less money. --John McClaughry
is President of the Ethan Allen Institute
May Not Cut School Costs
By Robert Maynard
In fact, according the Heartland
Institute, a review of the research shows that investing in smaller rather
than larger schools is a wise move when the cost per graduate is taken
into account. In making the case that small schools are not cost-prohibitive,
the report identifies educational and social benefits of small schools
and contrasts these with the negative effects large schools have on students,
teachers, and members of the community. --Robert Maynard is an Editor
By Peter Behr
Governor Douglas has chided
the Legislature for its lack of action in its first eight weeks of this
session. He’s right - virtually nothing has happened. No real debate on
property taxes, which was the hot-button issue last November; no action
on the high cost of Vermont’s government, nor the cost of education. Rather,
our lawmakers have busied themselves learning about global warming (where
have they been?) and debating about whether to outlaw distractions while
driving (cell phones, cigarettes, coffee and other drinks), medical marijuana
and gay marriage.
Think in Montpelier
By Curtis G. Hier
I’ve seen the dangers of
groupthink in education policymaking. I’ve seen the education special interests
line up as a single bloc and oppose worthy ideas, such as charter schools
and the 65-cent proposal. I’ve seen myths and urban legends perpetuated,
largely by these special interest groups, for so long that they’ve become
absolute fact in the minds of even the most knowledgeable educators and
policymakers in Montpelier and around the state. --Curtis G. Hier is
a teacher at Fair Haven Union High School and Chair of First Class Education
# # #
Week’s Mail Bag
"Paul Beaudry Insults
Gold star Mother" This was the heading on the most recent postcard sent
to my husband; I have to respond.
The cowardice of the sender(s)
in not identifying his/her/them self is beyond what I can express; but
is reflective of what has happened to our state populace over the past
30 or so years. I would find it offensive if anyone claimed another person
(Paul Beaudry) had offended me without first consulting me in that regard
as the postcard author did regarding Marion Gray. This demonstrates the
deep disrespect that whoever this person(s) is, has toward us all. It’s
all about stopping the conservative message…and not at all about Paul Beaudry.
The shallowness of faith
in God this person displays is quite revealing. I care not to judge where
he/she/they sit in God’s eye - that’s God’s job, but Paul correctly stated
that God "protected" him during the 21 years he served in the military.
This is also God’s job. God protects and looks over us indefinitely. But
in reflecting on this we have to be careful not to assign interventions
to God that are not God’s. God does not interfere with what we choose,
but allows the world and us people to live our lives knowing fully that
it is those times of hardship (i.e. death of a loved one) or elation (i.e.
birth of a child), that we find ourselves closest to God; or furthest away.
This is how we grow and become enlightened (or not) by our experiences.
The name calling rhetoric,
insults to Paul’s close but not 100% accurate estimations, language arts,
etc are just plain mean spirited and certainly not made by a true Vermonter
- we don’t act that way. Paul is getting the conservative message out,
and yes, sometimes clumsily. But that is Paul and neither would I want
him to change his style nor would I desire True North Management to get
rid of him. If you don’t like his style, stop listening…he’s not the only
source of information. If the person(s) sending the postcards/petitions,
etc. are true conservatives they’d act like one and take credit/responsibility
for their actions instead of hiding behind anonymity. And for crying out
loud…STOP sending unsolicited mail.
Julie Trevor, Stowe
Do we really want to
control school spending? In a free market, purchasers vote with their wallets.
They buy the best quality products and services at the most reasonable
prices that they can find. Where there is plenty of competition, those
who do not provide good products or services at reasonable prices lose
business to the better companies, and the customers benefit by getting
good value for their money.
Just like the free
market, the only plan that will really work to control public school spending
is one where everybody who votes must share in the cost of what they are
voting for. The only way to do that is to have a tax that everybody must
Just like the purchaser
of goods and services, the voter who must pay for what he is voting for
will vote for the best deal; high quality at a reasonable price.
These more cost conscious
voters could: (1) Vote down excessive school and municipal budgets. (2)
Vote out school boards and the elected officials who submit those excessive
budgets. (3) Vote out legislators and elected state officials who support
and pass into law costly and unnecessary mandates upon our schools and
local governments. (4) Vote for candidates who will implement real cost
cutting programs such as a free market type school choice involving all
I can not stress enough
what economist Milton Friedman said: "People are never as careless spending
their own money as they are spending someone else’s money." Only the informed
voter who is affected by this careless spending can really control it
Bill Day, Barre, VT
PS: That did not happen on
Tuesday's town meeting day. Many seniors who have many years of experience
paying taxes and keeping up with inflation on fixed incomes could not get
to the polls.
"When members of Congress
pursue an anti-war strategy that's been called 'slow bleeding,' they are
not supporting the troops, they are undermining them ... Anyone can say
they support the troops and we should take them at their word, but the
proof will come when it's time to provide the money." --Dick
Cheney as he addressed the American Israel Affairs Committee
in Washington on March 12, 2007.
"The Democratic party can
always be relied on to make a damn fool of itself at the critical time."
--Ben Tillman(D) S.C. Senator.
"One ought never to turn
one’s back on a threatened danger and try to run away from it. If you do
that, you will double the danger. But if you meet it promptly and without
flinching, you will reduce the danger . . Never yield to force. Never yield
to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy." --Winston
"We agree with the goal of
the U.S. policy in Iraq as stated by the President: an Iraq that can ‘govern
itself, sustain itself and defend itself . . We believe it would be wrong
for the United States to abandon the county through a precipitate withdrawal
of troops and support . Al Qaeda would depict our withdrawal as a historic
victory. If we leave and Iraq descends into chaos, the long-range consequences
could eventually require the United States to return." --The
Iraqi Study Group (ISG).
# # #
Weekly News Round-Up
Very Slow With The "Mother Bill"
Caledonian Record Editorial,
March 7, 2007
Here are just some of the
questions that we must make our legislators answer before they endorse
this "Mother Bill." Will school choice, as we know it now, continue? If
the state is divided up into super districts, will towns without high schools
be able to choose a public or independent high school in a different super
district? Will school choice within a super district be extended to elementary
students? Will districts continue be able to vote a higher tuition than
allowed by the DOE's favorite (and woefully inadequate) formula for paying
an out-of-district tuition, whether to a public or an independent high
Reception Mixed: Anti-War Activist Met With Support, Outrage at High School
by Anika Clark, NH Keene
When anti-war activist Cindy
Sheehan spoke at Brattleboro Union High School Sunday, she stood in a divided
auditorium. One side, personally affected by the strain of war, spoke of
supporting the troops - of God, patriotism and defending the American people
against its enemy. The other side, also personally affected, said the same.
Vt: Impeachment Motion Ruled Out of Order
by Julia Lloyd Wright, Contributing
Writer, Eagle Times
Weathersfield farmer Dave
Fuller called on town moderator Graham Hunter to "stand up and be counted,"
Monday night at the annual town meeting. But Hunter still ruled that a
motion made from the floor calling for President Bush's impeachment was
out of order. ...He pointed out, though, that under Robert's Rules of Order,
the decision of the chair could be appealed. Supporters of impeachment
quickly made a motion to that effect. ... Hunter's decision was upheld
Official Says Rising Unemployment Rate Cause for Concern
WCAX, Mar. 6, 2007
"Three straight months of
unemployment rate increases and slower job growth than previously measured
are cause for concern," said Patricia Moulton Powden, commissioner of the
Vermont Department of Labor. "We believe that some of the forces at work
may be temporary, such as in the construction and leisure and hospitality
sectors, but we are also seeing a faster slowdown in our manufacturing
employment sector than we previously observed. Some other states in the
region are seeing the same pattern occur."
finds friendly crowd in Kingdom
By Terri Hallenbeck, Burlington
Free Press, March 8, 2007
Ben Bangs of Newark told
Douglas that residents have collected 80 signatures on a petition they
started at Tuesday's town meeting declaring that they are "disheartened"
by legislators' focus on national issues such as global warming and the
war in Iraq. ...Gerard Gingue joined with several other area residents
in complaining about a loss of local control over spending. As she left
the meeting Wednesday night, Marlene Somerville, a Victory School Board
member, said that's her biggest beef, and she planned to write to Douglas
about it. Before Wednesday's meeting started, Somerville and her husband,
Dale, said they support Douglas and are frustrated by the Legislature.
"I don't think they're doing much of anything," she said. "They spent too
much time on global warming and fighting the war in Iraq," he said.
Moonlight for Vermont?
By Geoffrey Norman, Wall
Street Journal, Friday, March 9, 2007
Vermont is already a relative
good guy--its "carbon footprint" is fairly small. Why? Because the state's
electricity comes largely from dams and a nuclear plant, called Vermont
Yankee, located in the southeastern corner of the state. And here is where
the discussion gets really interesting. We have all become accustomed to
political anomalies. Democrats for balanced budgets, Republicans for Wilsonian
foreign policies, etc., etc. Now we have, among other odd spectacles, global-warming
zealots relentlessly bashing the best available alternative to burning
fossil fuels to make electricity.
Meanwhile, some serious environmentalists
who once opposed nuclear power as a threat to the environment now support
it as the most environmentally friendly means of producing large amounts
of base-load power (i.e., that is available even when the wind is not blowing
and the sun is not shining). Patrick Moore, among the founders of Greenpeace,
is one of these converts, and he visited Vermont recently to make the nuclear
case. Which, in Vermont, is not about building new plants but about extending
the life of the one that is operating now.
# # #
Hagelin, Heritage Foundation, March 9, 2007
When societies forget the
fact that families are the very basis of civilization – that they are,
in essence, society in a microcosm, reduced to its most fundamental building
block – it's from that point that they begin a slow but unmistakable decline
into helplessness and despair....For the time being, we're doing OK fertility-wise
here in the U.S. Our fertility rate is 2.11 births per woman, right at
what demographers consider replacement level. But other parts of the world
are in serious trouble. According to the World Congress, the overall fertility
rate for Europe is only 1.3. In Italy, it's 1.2. In Spain, 1.1.
These kinds of numbers, quite
frankly, spell doom for a country if left unchecked. There's a reason that
columnist Mark Steyn calls his latest book "America
Alone" – we're about the only Western nation not in the
throes of what he calls a "death spiral." Consider Russia, with a fertility
rate of 1.2. Britain is also below replacement level, at 1.6 births per
woman. So is France, at 1.89 – and a third of those births are not of the
French, but of the new Muslim community that has moved into the country.
Plainly put, France will very soon become a country that is not French
It seems ridiculous to have
to point out something so obvious, but a society that ceases to reproduce
is on the road to extinction. "How can a declining population maintain
a nation's infrastructure?" Carlson asks. "Who will man Europe's factories,
farms and armies? Who will pay the taxes for essential social services?
A birth dearth provides far more challenges than a population explosion."
the Islamist Menace: Mark Steyn’s new book is a welcome wake-up call.
By Christopher Hitchens.
By Jonathan D. Strong, American
Thinker, March 09, 2007
The evidence suggests that
Mr. Putin and his FSB/KGB cronies are systematically killing dissent and
any investigation into the Russian government's activities. It is also
very apparent that Russia is aiding and abetting the enemies of the United
States in the Middle East and throughout the world by supplying them with
sophisticated weapons and technology. Russia is now going so far as to
openly be assisting Iran in its nuclear program. In February of 2005, Russia
and Iran agreed to Russia supplying fuel for Iran's nuclear reactor in
Bushehr. The agreement called for Iran returning the spent rods from the
reactor to Russia so that they would not be used for nuclear weapons. However,
are we willing to believe both Russia and Iran are trustworthy non-proliferators?
The Great Global Warming Swindle
A BBC Documentary, March
Are you green? How many flights
have you taken in the last year? Feeling guilty about all those unnecessary
car journeys? Well, maybe there's no need to feel bad. According to a group
of scientists brought together by documentary-maker Martin Durkin, if the
planet is heating up, it isn't your fault and there's nothing you can do
about it. We've almost begun to take it for granted that climate change
is a man-made phenomenon. But just as the environmental lobby think they've
got our attention, a group of naysayers have emerged to slay the whole
premise of global warming.
as Biofuel "Implausible" for U.S., New Study Says
by CEI Staff
Biofuels are attracting increasing
interest around the world, with some governments announcing commitments
to biofuel programs as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and diversify
energy sources. Advocates of biofuel subsidies and mandates often
point to Brazil as a model. But in this careful analysis, Brazilian
Renato S. Xavier finds similarities between his country’s bioethanol
industry and that of the United States—but also many crucial differences.
He concludes that ethanol’s success in Brazil cannot be replicated in the
United States. ...
In the U.S., corn-based ethanol
does not compete in the market on the same basis as other fuels. American
taxpayers today pay twice for ethanol: once in crop subsidies to corn farmers
and again in a 51-cent subsidy for every gallon of ethanol. Without such
a subsidy, ethanol simply would not be cost-competitive with gasoline.
To Destroy America
Corn-based ethanol produced
in quantities large enough to displace a significant percentage of U.S.
petroleum consumption could have significant environmental impacts.
by Dick Lamm, March 25,
We know Dick Lamm as the
former Governor of Colorado. In that context his thoughts are particularly
poignant. Recently there was an immigration overpopulation conference in
Washington, DC, filled to capacity by many of American's finest minds and
leaders. A brilliant college professor by the name of Victor Davis Hansen
talked about his latest book, Mexifornia, explaining how
immigration - both legal and illegal - was destroying the entire state
Five Years Later, by Victor Davis Hanson
We Really Need A Gen. Pelosi?
Los Angeles Times Editorial,
March 12, 2007
House Democrats have brought
forth their proposal for forcing President Bush to withdraw U.S. troops
from Iraq by 2008. The plan is an unruly mess: bad public policy, bad precedent
and bad politics. If the legislation passes, Bush says he'll veto it, as
well he should.
Undercuts Troops, Cheney Says of Spending Bill
By Sheryl Gay Stolberg,
New york Times, March 13, 2007
Softly, America, and Start Carrying a Bigger Stick
by Edwin J. Feulner, Ph.D.
Heritage Foundation, March 8, 2007
Osama bin Laden and Ronald
Reagan wouldn't have agreed on much. But both men understood one thing:
Military weakness invites trouble. ''When people see a strong horse and
a weak horse,'' bin Laden said, ''they naturally gravitate toward the strong
horse.'' He (mistakenly) hoped to be seen as the strong horse and to portray
the United States as a weak horse. Reagan made the point a bit differently.
''Of the four wars in my lifetime,'' he said, ''none came about because
the U.S. was too strong.'' There's rarely a downside to being strong. But
threats quickly emerge when a country is seen as too weak.