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April 08, 2009

Views on Obama

Three reasons  to support Obama
I quote from Charles Krauthammer’s column “Obama agenda goes way beyond banks and autos” (4/7, Opinion): “The credit crisis will pass and the auto overcapacity will sort itself out one way or the other. The reordering of the American system will come from Obama’s real agenda: his holy trinity of health care, education and energy. Out of these will come a(n) … economic leveling in the name of fairness …”

Mr. Krauthammer, my hat is off to you. In very succinct terms you have identified the three primary reasons, and in the correct order. I might add, that I voted for President Obama. I hope and pray he is successful.

Dennis Nicely
Overland Park

Conned by Obama
As you may have noticed, President Obama has taken to invoking 9/11 in his Bush-like attempt to raise fear and support for his new never-ending wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan. That’s right, we have all fallen victim to the ultimate con man and the single greatest fraud ever perpetrated on the American people.

Instead of peace, we have war. Instead of economic equality, we have trillions upon trillions being funneled to the super rich on Wall Street. Our unions are being busted under a double standard that allows the honoring of AIG bonus contracts but not of union contracts. A generation has been robbed of its savings, retirements and futures while we talk about Michelle Obama’s sweaters.

Yes, it is true that our president did inherit some, if not most, of these problems, but it is also true that he has perpetuated most of them through his arrogance and bumbling. As long as we continue to be fooled by Obama’s media blitz and his Lincoln wanna-be persona, the middle class will continue to disappear as the unemployment rolls continue to swell.

Frank M. Hendricks
Kansas City



blame yourself, not the president. cop out.


Failing urban districts fail becuase of the culture and lack of parental involvement.
Look at Detroit, the HIGHEST cost per student in the public system of this country, YET one of the worst in performance of students. Money is not the problem, teachers unions and hip hop culture is a big part of the problem as well. Vouchers are PROVEN, look at what they did in Washington D.C.
Bottomline is the common demoninator seems to be urban so that pretty much tells us something. I am sick of the victimology. The sooner parents stop making excuses for their wannabe gangsta thug kids and stop telling them to go experiment with multiple sex partners and positions, the sooner we actually might see some change in academics. Kids and adults of the urban hip hop culture are too concerned with flash and showing off how hard they is rather than true character and moral compass.


"...issues that teachers had only partial control of, (such as student performance and other like issues)."


I'd tend to agree with most everything you said.

I guess my issue with the demand to increased merit-based bonuses and apply them across a wider swath is summed up in your above comment. Yes, some students need more help than others, and some face a host of external issues that hinder their learning process. In my mind, the real purpose of merit-based bonuses is to reward and incentivize those teachers that have the exceptional ability to overcome a students external issues and produce outstanding performance in spite of these issues. I'm sure that most teachers are very well intentioned (as attested by the pay they work for), but I see a need to encourage those that excel in their duties (producing excellent students), not just those with good intentions that "try real hard".

In the rest of the world (current banking industry aside), an employee's performance is often based upon a host of issues that they rarely have full control of. It's how you succeed in spite of these issues that make you exceptional, teachers are no different.

KC Educator


KC teachers had pay for performance in their contracts several years ago. The performance issues were evenly divided between issues that the teacher had direct control of, (such as teacher attendance as well as other like issues) and issues that teachers had only partial control of, (such as student performance and other like issues). The district discontinued the program after two years. There were two findings. First, the district was paying out more money than they had planned to pay bonuses issues that the teachers controlled. The reason given for ending these bonuses was because the district found that the people that were receiving the bonuses were the ones that had previously been coming to work every day and dong the things that were being expected of them without receiving a bonus for it. The bonus did not change teacher behavior. Teaching is a service oriented profession. Good teachers are not primarily motivated by finance. If they were, they certainly have the skills that would make them successful in some other career field that pays much better than teaching.

Second, almost all of the teachers that received student centered bonuses were teachers that taught in college preparatory magnet schools or in some of the more affluent elementary schools in the district. Few if any teachers in the most disadvantaged schools received the bonus. The reason why is that there is no standardized assessment at this time that is used to assess individual student growth. Student performance is measured strictly by whether a student is proficient, or not, and growth is measured by how well one group of students performed in comparison to another. Since all students begin school at different learning places, with different experiences and talents, how is it fair to assess teacher performance based on some subjective and arbitrary ending point.

As I stated earlier, finance is not the primary motivator for teachers, but that does not mean that it does not play a role. If our society wants to attract the best teachers to the schools tat need them the most then we need a dichotomy change. At the moment teachers are the lowest paid professionals. The highest paid teachers are in affluent suburban districts, (Research shows that student success in affluent districts is less dependant on teacher competency than in poor districts), where student success is less dependant on their ability. If we truly care about poor children then what is needed is a reversal. Pay in poor rural and urban districts should be much higher in order to attract the best teachers.

KC Educator


What was also not being addressed in the Bush study was the inherent lack of equity that vouchers bring. Proponents always profess that vouchers will benefit the poor minority students trapped in failing urban districts. What they will not tell you is that that after three years, almost all students attending private schools using vouchers are white middle class and upper class students who never attended a public school. There are several studies that show that the students that vouchers are supposed to help are the ones that are least served.

The biggest disadvantages that urban students face center around climate issues. These are issues that are not tolerated in private schools because parents take a more active role in those schools. Those types of parents have abandoned the urban public schools, and it is not a black/white issue. Few people with means send their children to twelve years of school in the KCMSD. Most people blame the board for the problems, but what they don’t want to see is that the board is an elected body. The citizens of Kansas City have it within their power to improve the schools, but they choose not to. It is easier to let the schools fail and point fingers.


KC Educator's right on the voucher study. When comparing children from similar races and similar family, social, economic statuses, the study concluded that there was no real difference in the performance of students from public and private schools.

What Educator didn't address, however, is options in areas where the public school system is obviously failing. The referenced Bush study was focusing on the inherent benefits (or lack thereof) of private education, and as such, held constant (in terms of economic evaluation) variations within school type. It's in these areas where the failure of the public system is obvious (umm, KCMOSD comes to mind) that vouchers or other alternative options make sense to me.

Educator, as a pro teacher's union person, I'm curious on your position with regard to merit-based bonuses for teachers. Obama has backed away from a pay-for-performance system (a smart political move) and instead has endorsed a merit-based bonus system for teachers whose students excel. After the administration announced their merit system, a few teacher's union reps came out and said the proposal didn't accommodate the "tough" situation of some students, and as such, using student performance to determine merit wasn't "fair". Thoughts?

KC Educator

"He against vouchers which have proven effective in Washington D.C., yet he refuses to endorse it, rather catering to teachers unions."

Six years ago, the Bush administration ordered the Department of Education to conduct a study to compare public school education to private school education. They wanted to specifically prove that private school students received a better education than public urban school students so that they could push their pro-voucher agenda. This was during his first term.
When the study was complete, the results were withheld for almost two years while they tried to find evidence of how the study was flawed. The results showed that public students, when comparing apples to apples, performed as well or higher than students attending private schools. If you remember, President Bush did not push a pro-voucher agenda in his second term. I would be very interested in seeing any data that says the D.C. voucher schools are any different.

As for teachers unions, there is strong evidence that they are good for children. The top five performing states, on which ever performance assessment that you want to measure, are in states that allow collective bargaining for teachers. Four of five of the worst performing states make it illegal for teachers to form local unions. There is the math.

KC Educator

"can not do simple math and fail to explain that renewables are fine for augmenting but WILL NOT SUSTAIN the world demand for electricity. This is finite, measurable."

I think you might be a little confused. Finite is measurable and has limits. Renewable means that there is a capability of being replaced. As long as the sun shines and the wind blows those sources are sustainable and limitless.

The reason why there is concern about the world wide demand for electricity is because almost 100% of electricity is generated through burning fossil fuels, which is what you were probably talking about as being finite. Some will say that we have already hit peak production. T. Boone Pickens has said it very well. "We can't drill our way out of this crisis." Renewables are the bridges to augment the remaining supplies of fossil fuel until we can find a more sustainable source of energy that is safe to use. We use more of the current supplies of fossil fuels than any other country. If we can reduce demand, we can lengthen the supplies and keep the costs of coal and oil low until we develop a better source of energy. If we don’t act now, we won't be able to afford it latter.

By the way, the country that spends the largest percentage of it's budget in research for alternative energy sources - Saudi Arabia. Do you think that we should be more dependent on them?

Keith Williams3

Maybe just maybe Obama is trying to do what's best for the country; everyone acts like he's purposely trying to take the country in a downward direction. No one politician that I know of has never been mistake free and plenty more that I know of have made mistake purposely by deceitfulness. So easy to complain and ridicule but none of you have a clear view or way out of this mess. Insults and criticism (the Rush syndrome) is all I hear and he hasn't even made it out of his first year. I don't fully agree with everything my self but prayer and HOPE that CHANGE will work is what I look for lol.

I do understand this is blogging so not saying you cant voice your opinion but sounds like everyone thinks they have a solution.

KC Educator

"As fairness, explain what is so unfair?"
"A flat tax would be fair and equal."

I will agree that the tax system needs to be over hauled, but a flat tax is not the answer and it is not fair. A graduated tax system has been recognized as the fairest system for years. This system puts more of the burden for the costs of government on those that can afford it the most. I know that you will say the rich will pay more than the poor with a flat tax, but the more money that you make the less the burden is. Financially, not everyone is equal, and to tax the poor equally with the rich is not fair.


Unfortunately he and his side kicks can not do simple math and fail to explain that renewables are fine for augmenting but WILL NOT SUSTAIN the world demand for electricity. This is finite, measurable.
As fairness, explain what is so unfair?
A flat tax would be fair and equal.
Fair would be earning a promotion or obtaining a job based on merit not on race, gender or marital status.
He against vouchers which have proven effective in Washington D.C., yet he refuses to endorse it, rather catering to teachers unions.
Health care, we have the highest quality of health care. You mean health insurance, maybe if individuals kept more of thier earnings, they would be able to afford health coverage on their own.
He is implementing fascism, so I hope he fails and fails bigtime. Just because he makes fancy speeches and smiles, and try to act hip and cool does not make him a good decision maker. He has already far more than Bush did an has done it in less than 90 days.


"his holy trinity of health care, education and energy". The big trouble being that he has not presented a workable plan to improve education. All he has suggested is "throw more money at it". We have seen how well that worked with the KC School District. As to energy, he only offers hope for a solution, ignoring the fact that the serious problems that keep wind and solar from being usable for the generation of the base load have been known for years and remain unsolved. As to health care, that subject has been discussed on a number of threads on this blog. In any event I am unaware of any actual plan that Obama has presented. And I mean a plan for providing it, not a statement of aims and objectives. If there is one, perhaps someone can give me a link to it.

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