Saturday, January 29, 2011

Funding Education

I am tired of people blaming teachers for the problems in education. Teachers are not the ones making changes in education. These changes come from the General Assembly. We are now faced with major changes in funding. Our education system is being moved to the private sector. Are the critics of public education going to blames teachers for this? Here are a few of things we must not forget.

Public schools take every student who comes to enroll. Private schools can pick and choose among applicants and can reject any student without an explanation. Students being removed from private schools because they will fail their senior year and placed in a public school makes the public school failure rates go up.  It would be different if students were removed from public schools for bad grades, attendance, or discipline problems.  The stats would be much different.

Public schools need stable support to maintain and improve programs. Any incentive created by the General Assembly to use public funds to attract students to private schools will mean less money for the public school since the money follows the child. This dollar drain undercuts the stability of public schools.  Claims that vouchers are being directed to low income families is not true; the private school tax credit enacted in 2009 provided scholarships to families earning up to $81,586 for a family of four. House Bill 1003 would raise that limit to $101,982 for a family of four. If this is low income I'm in poverty.

Claims that Indiana’s public school performance is declining are simply untrue. Steady improvement over the past 20 years in Indiana’s public schools has been clearly documented.

Parents who press leaders to fund improvements for their public schools will simply be told to take their child to a private school if they don’t like their public school.

Regarding school choice many families would choose religious schools for their children for religious reasons. Taxpayers, however, should not be obligated to send students to parochial schools even if that is the choice of the parents. That is why the Indiana Constitution says: “No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution.” Our public policies must avoid financial entanglements with religious schools. School choice should be offered within the arena of public schools, through neighborhood schools, magnet schools, tuition transfer to nearby districts, virtual schools and the 62 charter schools now available. There is for the families who wish control of their children s education the opportunity to home school.

I know my view of not supporting religious schools may come as a surprise to some. Here is my concerns about supporting religious schools. Back in 2009 the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota filed suit against a publicly funded charter school alleging that it is promoting the Muslim religion and is leasing school space from a religious organization without following state law. The school is using federal and state money to promote religion in violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis against Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy, known as TIZA, and the Minnesota Department of Education, which the ACLU says is at fault for failing to uncover and stop the alleged transgressions. I never thought I would ever agree with the ACLU---but on this one I do.

In 2008 the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) released their annual school report cards and the results show that two taxpayer-financed Islamic charter schools operated by officials of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) have failed miserably yet again. But protected by powerful political connections. The Islamic extremists running the operation appear to have no fear of losing their cash cows. In fact, Ohio educrats has renewed one school’s contract after five years of complete academic failure. The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) released their annual school report cards this week, and the results show that two taxpayer-financed Islamic charter schools operated by officials of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) have failed miserably yet again. But protected by powerful political connections, including Ohio Governor Ted Strickland and Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman, and apparently indifferent to their exploitation of the Somali children that comprise the vast majority of their students, the Islamic extremists running the operation appear to have no fear of losing their cash cows. In fact, Ohio educrats have renewed one school’s contract after five years of complete academic failure. Students no doubt scored high on Jihad and anti-American activities.
Do I need to continue to add more examples why supporting religious schools should never be supported by taxpayer dollars? If a religious school was started on the premise it is the will of God---then God will provide the financial support. Government support means government control.
Write or call you Representative and tell them Public Dollars Should Stay with Public School Students and Should NOT Be Diverted To Help Private Schools.

Most people fail to realize that it cost about $129.00 a day to incarcerate a prisoner. That totals to $47,099.00 for each year they are in prison. In 2009 there were 27,000 incarcerated in Indiana at $47,099 a year that is $1,271,295,000 cost in crime just to keep them in prison! That does not include the cost in child support, and welfare payment to take care of the inmates family. The number of students enroll in public school in 2009-2010 was 1,047,145 at an average cost of $6,857 which is about $38.00 a day based on 180 day school year. You do the math which is better more money for prisons or schools.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Evil That Lurks In The Hearts of Men

I was a junior in high school in 1966 when I became aware of the depth of evil in our country. Mass murder would become a common event over the next forty some years. Some of these murders would make a lasting impression on me. The pictures of the eight nurses from South Chicago Community Hospital murdered by Richard Speck to the clock tower at the University of Texas campus in Austin where Charles Whitman, kills 15 people and wounds another 32 before being shot dead by police. That was in 1966. I have never forgotten the picture of the clock tower or the bodies scattered on the ground or the pictures of the eight nurses.  Evil hearts have a deadly face.

Over the years, I have also often asked myself this question, “What has changed in America that can explain the increase in evil by individuals?” After forty years in the ministry and almost thirty years as a teacher what has changed is that there is far less religious influence today. When I first started teaching in public school I was amazed at the number of students who had never attended a church and that includes funerals and weddings. So it is not surprising they would not know “Thou shall not commit murder.”

That brings to mind the next question, where does the idea for these horrible evil crimes originate? Violent movies? Violent video games? Political warfare language? Or, like the Arizona sheriff investigating the recent shooting said, “The vitriol affects the [unstable] personality. . .” Are these factors contributing to the increase in mass murders?

Not to sound arrogant but I do have the answer, as the Shadow would say, “It is the evil that lurks in the hearts of men.” The prophet Jeremiah said, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Murder starts in the heart. It is a spiritual condition. I know the progressive socialist won’t accept this. They will look everywhere for an explanation except where the answer lies---in the heart. To stop these violent acts the heart needs to be changed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Much of popular culture minimizes religion, glorifies foolishness, wallows in corruption, and revels in cruelty, mayhem, blood, gore and sadism. All of this feeds the evil heart. Will it ever stop? History would tell us, NO! In my life time, starting in 1966 I have followed the stories of the mass murders and they continue to show the evil heart of man.  Here is a time line of the mass murders which have occurred during my life time from 1966 to 2011 and I am sure I have missed some.

January 14, 2011 Tucson, Arizona, U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and 17 others were shot at a public event—6 were killed.

August 3, 2010, in Manchester Connecticut, Omar Thornton, shot and killed eight people before turning a gun on himself

April 3, 2009, Jiverly Antares Wong- Fourteen were killed and 4 wounded in the Binghamton, New York shootings

November 5, 2009 Nidal Malik Hasan killed 13 people and wounded 30 others

February 2, 2008 - Five women were shot dead in a clothing store at a suburban Chicago shopping center in what police said appeared to be a botched robbery.

Feb 7, 2008 - A gunman killed two police officers and three city officials when he stormed a city council meeting in a St. Louis suburb. The gunman was later shot dead by police.

February 8, 2008 - A nursing student fatally shot two women and killed herself in front of classmates at Louisiana Technical College in the state capital, Baton Rouge.

February 14, 2008 - A man fired into a lecture hall packed with students at Northern Illinois University, killing five people and wounding 18 before shooting himself dead.

June 25, 2008 - A worker at a plastics plant in Kentucky shot and killed five people inside the factory and wounded a sixth before killing himself.

April 16, 2007 - Virginia Tech, a university in Blacksburg, Virginia, became the site of the deadliest rampage in U.S. history when a gunman killed 32 people and himself.

December 5, 2007 - A gunman opened fire in a shopping mall in Omaha, Nebraska, killing eight people and wounding five, before fatally shooting himself.

December 9, 2007 - A Colorado man shot dead four people at a Christian missionary training center and a church, then died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after the rampage.

September 1, 2001, Twin Towers- 2998 killed.

April 19, 1995 Oklahoma City bombing 168 killed.

October 1991George Hennard drives his pickup truck to Luby's cafeteria in Killeen, Texas, then shoots dead 23 people before killing himself.

February 16, 1988, Richard Farley shot and killed seven people at ESL and wounded four others.

August 1986 A former employee enters a post office in Oklahoma and shoots dead 14 workers before killing himself.

July 1984 Twenty-one people are killed when a 41-year-old man opens fire at a McDonald's restaurant in San Diego. He is shot by police.

February 1983 Three men shoot dead 14 people in the Wah Mee club in Seattle's Chinatown.

January 7, 1973 Mark Essex killed 9 people, including 5 police officers, and wounded 13 others in New Orleans between December 31, 1972 and January 7, 1973.

August 1966 Charles Whitman, a former marine, holes up in the clock tower at the University of Texas campus in Austin, where he had studied. He kills 15 people and wounds another 32 before being shot dead by police.

July 14, 1966 Richard Speck systematically tortured, raped and murdered eight student nurses from South Chicago Community Hospital.

The proverb, "Fear only two: God and the man who has no fear of God," is a warning to our country. Solomon says, The beginning of wisdom is the fear of God. Our country needs the fear of God put within our hearts--- that is the remedy for the evil that lurks in the hearts of men.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Quaker View of War

Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves,” Matthew 10:16.
Most Christians only see the last part of this verse to be harmless as doves. More often than not Christians dismiss the part about being wise as serpents. Jesus was sending His disciples out into the world, a world full of evil. His commandment still stands, He sends every Christian out into the midst of that same evil world overwhelmingly inhabited by evil, devouring, satanic wolves. There are many Christians who are content with remaining as sheep no matter who becomes their shepherd. We have been sent “In the midst of wolves.” Jesus used wolves as a metaphor referring to cruel, greedy, rapacious, destructive men.
Some might be surprised to hear me say this -- since I am a Quaker-- the Church absolutely needs to go to war. The Church doesn't wage war the same as nations of the world but she certainly does go to war. War is not made by giving in to the ideological adversaries we face daily and having a polite dialogue while we look for common ground so that we can affirm one another. This whole idea that we are in a battle is forgone from the Quaker church. The Quaker church thinks we should get a long with the world. I am not afraid to tell someone their theology is off. If that makes me militant then I am militant. It is time for the right change. It is time for change in the church leadership. We have allowed the wolves to take control and now we are disorganized and lack the unity needed to be victorious.
What were we thinking? Were we thinking the people in charge, in power, in control of the way things were being done knew what they were doing? What “wise serpent” would ever think that the people in charge know what they are doing? What “wise serpent” would never innocently think that the people in charge have the best interest of all their people? What “wise serpent” would ever innocently think that they could trust the people who were “minding the store”? This applies to both the religious as well as the political leaders in our country.
Jesus didn’t say, “Don’t worry! Be happy! Always think the best about people! If you don’t have something good to say, don’t say anything at all. And, it will all work out well for you in the end.” The idea that it will all work out well for us in the end is the most insidiously damning idea that has ever been cranked out of the propaganda mills being run by those in power. Jesus said, “Beware of the scribes and Pharisees.” He didn’t say, “Keep your head down, and your nose to the grindstone, don’t make any noise, and it will all work out for you in the end.”
Those who would have us believe it will work out for us in the end just want us to leave them alone so that it works out for THEM in the end. They are glad to tell us, “Don’t think about changing things! Don’t even complain about the way thing are. Just keep treading water without making any waves or rocking the boat, because there is always someone who has it worse than you, and you always have something to be thankful for, and it will all work out for you in the end.” How’s that for smooth, hypnotic, talk from those in power, soothing the masses into leaving things alone? How many “wise serpents” would buy it? How many “wise serpents” would buy into the idea of not upsetting the apple cart. If only you have faith and patient, trust those in control to know what they are doing, and who have our best interest at heart, then it will all work out in the end.
Who knows how it will “work out”—that’s the motto of “wise serpents.” Who cares how it will work out? What we know for sure right now is that things need to change. What we know for sure right now is that we aren’t buying the old, “Don’t stir up any trouble and we will take care of you” talk from those who are taking care of themselves and those like them, while the rest of us stand with our hats in hand, shuffling our weight from one foot to the other, waiting for it to be our turn.
It doesn’t matter how it “works out.” What matters is doing right now what needs to be done in the service of the best we can imagine. Maybe it “works out,” and maybe it doesn’t. But, we cannot let the good go untended. We cannot fail to say what needs to be said; we cannot refuse to do what needs to be done; hoping wistfully that somehow the magic will happen, and wrong will be transformed if we just close our eyes to it, and wait for it to be “swallowed up in victory.” That wasn’t Jesus’ way. Jesus’ strategy for transforming the world was to call a wrong a wrong; and to say, as clearly as he could, how things needed to be done. Jesus dealt with this wrong right now as though it were wrong. He didn’t say, “Well. If you just wait it out, maybe something good will happen.”
Wise serpents” don’t trust that the good will magically happen. And, “wise serpents” don’t take anyone’s word for anything. How much pain and suffering has been inflicted on the church, and on the world, by people in the church blindly believing what they were told to believe, even though it made no sense to them to believe it?
In the late 1970's I read The Art of War by Sun Tzu in the 6th century B.C. This is the most studied book on the art of war that has ever been written. If we are to “be wise as serpents” we must understand the thinking of the enemy. Here are a few of the principles of war used by the enemy. Count how many you have seen used in the church and politics by leaders.
War can be conducted by words, positioning, and control
In war the aggressor usually prevails
Position is defined by fear, hope and change
The weapons of politics are symbols evoking fear and hope and change
Victory lies on the side of the people who remain free
Take the enemy's strength from him by stealing away his money
A united nation is strong
A divided nation is weak
Never stop the fight when at war
Know yourself and know your enemy
See the opportunity for victory; you don't create it.
Never waste an opportunity to defeat your enemy.
You must not allow chaos
You must control chaos
Offer men safety and they will stay calm
Endanger them and they will act
Defend where it is possible to attack
Always pick your own battles
Do not oppose those with their backs to the wall
If your enemy has a quick temper provoke him with insults
To overturn an army you must kill its general
When men are slow to speak to each other they are no longer united

It is time to wise up and pay attention to what is going on.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Tired of Being Tired

Ever have one of those days when you're just tired of listening to the news? Tired of hearing the same old story over and over again—today is one of those days. The following is in no particular order that I am tired of hearing. The progressive socialist elite who continue to propagate lies in defiance of fact and logic make me tired.

I'm tired of hearing that I need to "spread the wealth" to people who don't have my work ethic. I'm tired of being told the government will take the money I earned and give it to people too lazy to earn it. Yes, I do know some of these lazy people; I have found jobs for these people only to have them quit because they didn’t like the work.

I'm tired of being told that I have to pay more taxes to "keep people in their homes." Sure, if they lost their jobs or got sick, I'm willing to help. But if the millionaires in Congress who passed Fannie and Freddie and the Community Reinvestment Act that created the problems would help them with their own money I would feel a whole lot better.

I'm tired of being told how bad America is by the likes of Michael Moore, George Soros and Hollywood Entertainers who live in luxury because of the opportunities America has given them. If we continue down the road the progressive socialist elite would have us travel the United States will have the economy of Afghanistan, the freedom of the press of China, the crime and violence of Mexico, the tolerance for Christian people of Iran, and the freedom of speech of Saudi Arabia. 

I'm tired of being told that Islam is a "Religion of Peace," when every day I see dozens of news stories of Muslim men killing their sisters, wives and daughters for their family "honor"; of Muslims rioting over some silly cartoon; of Muslims murdering Christian and Jews because they aren't "believers"; of Muslims burning schools for girls; of Muslims stoning teenage rape victims to death for "adultery" all in the name of Allah, because the Qur'an and Shari'a law requires them to carry out these atrocities.   News flash--a Muslim blew-up a Christian church in Egypt killing twenty-one church-goers.  Where is the peace?

I'm tired of progressive socialist news media blaming Bush for everything.  Sure he made some poor choices for America but he is not the President--Obama is. I'm tired of being told that we need "tolerance for other cultures" that wish to destroy us.  I’m tired of listening to those who wish to fund mosques and madrassa Islamic schools that preach hate in America, while the religion of peace—Christianity is not allowed to build a church or religious school in Saudi Arabia to teach love and tolerance. 

I'm tired of being told I should eat less beef to fight global warming while the rich politician can fly across the country in their jets contributing to larger carbon footprint then I could ever produce with my hamburger. I tired of being told I need to change my light bulbs to ones containing mercury and pollute the environment more than my incandescent bulbs. 

I'm tired of illegal aliens being called "undocumented workers," especially the ones who aren't working, but are living on welfare or crime. What's next? Calling drug dealers, "Undocumented Pharmacists"? And, no, I'm not against Hispanics, I have grandchildren with Hispanic heritage.  I’m tired of people coming to this country who fail to learn English and abide by our laws.  I tired of illegals protesting our Constitution and politicians standing-up for them.

I'm tired of progressive socialist who trash our military. I’m tired of those who question the action of those who are putting their lives on the line to protect us from those who want to destroy our way of life.  I am tired of those who question the actions of young men who make split-second decisions under life and death circumstances. Do bad things happen in war? Yes they do--war is bad. Do our troops sometimes misbehave? I’m sure they do. Does this compare with the atrocities that are the policies of our enemies for the last 1400 years? Not even close. So as my grandfather would say, ”Hear is the straight of it”  All the  terrorists at Abu Ghraib or Gitmo that have taken the lives of young Americans, that brought war to our country, that have tortured and cut off the heads of the innocent do not have the right to make a mockery of our laws.  They are war criminals and should be treated as such.   

I'm tired of politicians telling me that they are honest and trustworthy and the other party is filled with corruption—both parties have corruption. I'm tired of hearing wealthy athletes, entertainers and politicians of both parties talking about innocent mistakes, or stupid mistakes when we all know they think their only mistake was getting caught. I'm tired of people with a sense of entitlement, rich or poor. 

Speaking of poor, I'm tired of hearing people with air-conditioned homes, big screen TV’s and two cars, cell phones, computer games and I-pods being called poor. I have been to third world countries where you see the real poor. The majority of Americans cannot claim poverty compared to the rest of the world.  The poverty promoters in Congress must keep changing the definition of poor to keep the dollars flowing. I'm real tired of people who don't take responsibility for their lives and actions. I'm tired of hearing the entitlement groups blaming everyone but themselves.  I’m tired of multiculturalism-- there is one culture that is the American culture it was founded upon the principles of God’s Word. I’m really tired of being tired.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Middle-Class Christians

The past week the wife and I traveled to Branson with some good friends.  We had a great time.  What stood out to me was the number of Christians we meet and saw.  How do I know they were Christians? By their fruits or by the character of their life.  They talked about being thankful for the Lords blessings, they prayed over their meals, they were polite, they were generous, and they were kind. These are characteristics of moral upbringing. This was rural America at its finest.  

The entertainment centered on God and country.  There were no derogatory remarks made about race, religion, or even ones sexual preference, there was no swearing and off-color jokes. No one was advocating the hording of guns and overthrowing the government.  People came to celebrate the birth of Christ and the joy of the Christmas season.  People were not being politically correct; they were being true Americans celebrating their Christian heritage saying Merry Christmas and not Happy Holidays. This is contrary to all the anti-Christmas advocates, anti-religious bigots, and the lawyers who work to take God from everything that is important to a free America.

I am sure that you have as I have noticed that among the progressives and religious socialist who claim to have a firm understanding of privilege and oppression find no problem in stereotyping and making jokes about rural white poor and middle-class Christians as acceptable. While these same individuals call people out for enacting other forms of oppression, they don’t consider making derogatory comments about hillbilly culture, rednecks, gun clinging Christians as part of the same paradigm of racist-classist-white supremacy that they claim they are fighting against.  The progressive socialists are the biggest hypocrites.  They have a double-standard for every aspect of life and never see the evil they commit.  Do progressive socialist engage in this kind of hypocrisy because they think it’s all right to make fun of a cultural group commonly assumed to be homogeneously white and racist? Is it fine for individuals from affluent, cosmopolitan areas to make fun of rural whites, who are primarily Christian.

Let’s face it, many progressive socialist see the middle-class white Christians as expendable. Consciously or not, when poor and middle-class white Christians are stereotyped as white, uneducated, backward and racist the progressive socialist feels justified in their derogatory indictment of all white Christians.  If Christians were as prejudiced and vocal as the progressive socialist are it would not be tolerated.

It is not difficult to see the link between the engrained stereotypes about rural white Christians with especially those who are poor or middle-class.  The media and progressive socialist slander us with comments that suggest that we are depraved, evil, ignorant, licentious, and the prevailing belief that there is nothing worth honoring.  To truly create a social ethical context where rural Christian Americans are seen as important to the culture of this country, progressive socialist must stop the dehumanizing public representations of white rural Christians.

Are there rural, white middle-class Christians who are racist? Certainly. There will always be ignorant individuals calling themselves Christians pushing a message of hate.  Do I think it’s important to call people out on their racism, prejudice and bigotry and show them how anti-Christian their actions are? Yes. But the dialogue must include an examination of the prejudices of the elite news media, progressive politicians and the pseudo intelligent socialist religious leaders as well.

I see racism and scorn among the elite news media, progressive politicians and the pseudo intelligent socialist who are not in touch with middle-class rural-America. These elitist groups are more racist & sexist than most people with white rural Christian roots.  I have found that those who are so critical of white rural-American Christians avoid confronting their own prejudices and hate. Stereotyping also carries with it an inherent classism and cultural bias that lets the privileged elite pseudo intelligent progressive socialist certain waivers from being politically correct when it comes to middle class conservatives white Christians. 

I’ve found conservative middle class white Christians are more tolerant, more empathetic, more charitable and open minded of individuals who are different in race and social status than the critics of white Christians.  Conservative white Christian activism has had a greater impact on the foundation of American culture and values than any progressive socialist individual or group.  What has the comic or entertainer who slanders Christians ever contributed to the betterment of society?  What progressive socialist has lifted the poor from poverty, or provided a better way of life? If you want to fight injustice and exploitation you have to do it with a culture that changes a life from the inside.  The progressive socialist has never brought about a change in an individual that makes them love their enemy, has a greater love for their family, and becomes a productive member of society.  Progressive socialist make people dependent on government, take away their dignity, lower their standard of living, and enslave them to the whims of the elite.

Do white conservative Christians have problems? Sure.  Just as with every family we have those who make us dysfunctional.  We have those who fail to follow Christ as they should.  But it should be apparent  as Christians we work all over the world fighting injustice, poverty and bigotry.  The largest provider of social aid in the world is a Christian organization.  It was Christians the brought about the end to slave trade in the 19th century. Millions of Christian missionaries have brought education, medicine, and a higher standard of living to people all over the world.  We work to make the world a better place by showing men, women, boys and girls that they can have peace and freedom within through Jesus Christ.  The largest number of those who have provided money for these endeavors have been the poor and middle-class American Christians.

By the way, I am educated so I am a Hill-William not a hillbilly and proud of my cultural Appalachian roots.  I am proud to be an American and do not see the need to apologize for who I am.  I am grateful for a God that sent his Son to die for me and that I do not need to send my son to die for my God.  I am thankful for the plan of salvation that changes the life from within and gives peace and freedom to the soul of man.